Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When Uniforms Weren't So Uniform...18th century military dressed to impress

German Soldier, 1718 by Johann Christof Merk
Nowadays, everyday and combat duty military uniforms are based on comfort, utility, and the ability to blend into the landscape. Not so for our 18th century ancestors. In an era when most battles were fought hand-to-hand on open fields of combat, uniforms served to distinguish friend from foe. Generals sat on horseback, spying through their telescopes and depended upon easily recognizable uniforms to check on the progress of their troops. The uniforms were often constructed of heavy wool, hot and itchy in the heat of battle, miserable in the heat and humidity of summer but made for durability as well as identification. In a time when keeping up appearances extended to the battlefield, the richer looking the army, the more successful and intimidating they appeared.

Today I bring you a gallery of contrasting views: contemporary vs 18th century uniforms. 
German Soldier per Wikimedia Commons


Polish Soldiers 1697-1795 by Jan Matejko
Polish Soldiers per Wikimedia Commons

British Soldiers, mid 18th century by David Morier
British Soldier (defenceimagry.mod.uk)
American Soldiers, 1781, per Wikimedia


American Soldiers per Wikimedia


French Soldiers, 17th to 19th Century by Charles Vernier



French Soldiers by Isafmdeia per Wikimedia




Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!

Kate




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What to Drink After Colonial Tea Parties?...revolutionary thirst quenchers

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor, 1846 by Nathaniel Currier
Here, in Edenton, North Carolina, the month of October, 2014, was set aside to commemorate one of the first organized political actions by a group of American women: the Edenton Tea Party. On October 25, 1774 (ten months after the famous Boston Tea Party in which male colonists disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and dumped shiploads of tea into Boston Harbor,) Edenton's Penelope Barker organized a tea party of 51 ladies who signed a petition addressed to King George, pledging a boycott against the purchasing
Penelope Barker, 18th cent, artist unknown
of tea and cloth imported from England. The protests were spurred by The Tea Act in which England imposed a tax on tea bought by the colonists. Although the tax placed upon the tea was actually lower than it had been in the past, it was the notion of “taxation without representation” that fueled the patriotic protests.

Penelope Barker is a fascinating subject and I will dedicate a post to her at some time in the near future. But for now, I’ve been pondering what took the place of tea in America once its consumption was deemed unpatriotic.
In 1773, Susannah Clarke penned the following:

We’ll lay hold of card and wheel,
And join our hands to turn and reel;
We’ll turn the tea all in the sea,
And all to keep our liberty.
We’ll put on our homespun garbs
And make tea of our garden herbs,
When we are dry, we’ll drink small beer
And freedom shall our spirits cheer.

Schokolode by By Itisdacurlz via Wikimedia Commons
As alluded to in Mrs. Clarke’s poem, herbal teas brewed from native American roots and plants, and small beer (the Colonial version, made with very low alcohol content) were two beverages of choice. In addition, coffee gained great popularity (to this day, still ranking higher than tea consumption on the western side of “The Pond,”) and my personal favorite, chocolate, maintained its place at Colonial American tables. (***Interesting Chocolate Factoid!*** Although drinking chocolate had been the delicious norm for centuries, did you know that, other than chocolate used to flavor baked goods, there was no form of solid “eating” chocolate prior to 1830? A big “Thank You” to England’s Joseph Fry and Sons for all the leftover chocolate Halloween candy taking space in my cupboard! Of course, it won’t be there for long.)

Mint Tea By Onderwijsgek via Wikimedia Commons
The non-tea “teas” brewed in the Revolutionary era, were often made by steeping the leaves of strawberry, rhubarb, blackberry, or goldenrod plants. One favorite was called “Balsamic Hyperion” brewed from dried raspberry leaves and another called “Liberty Tea,” was made from the leaves of a plant aptly named loosestrife.

Well, time for a cup of tea, I think…or coffee…or maybe small beer…or hot chocolate. Yeah, definitely chocolate! (Just for research purposes, of course…) 


Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!
Kate

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

300 Years of Haunted Edenton...taking the Ghost Walk in my hometown

Edenton's 1767 Courthouse (photo by K.L. Wood)
When you live in a town which is over 300 years old with many homes continuously occupied since the 1700s you have to expect there to be a few hauntings…or at least stories of haunted houses and spectral visitations. This year, my family and I went on the town's annual October evening walking tour: the Edenton Ghost Walk.

Young women from John A. Holmes High School carried candlelit lanterns to help illumine our path along the uneven, often brick, walkways in the dark of night. But what a perfectly beautiful night it was! Cool and crisp with bright stars above us, quiet enough to hear the water lapping gently against the town docks.  Our tour guide led us by several homes and buildings and shared their stories...historical and suitably creepy. Come close, dear Reader, and I will tell you some tales…but keep in mind these are just a few of what we heard and these are limited to the area in which we walked. Edenton is full of many more homes filled to the brim with lore and legend.

Standing outside the 1767 Edenton Courthouse, our guide told us of an eighteenth century man who committed several crimes and was tried and convicted in the historic building. Once sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment, he bolted to the front door and tried to escape. The exit was locked from the outside and he beat futilely on the heavy wooden door hoping someone would unlock it and let him out. The man ultimately died in prison. People walking by the old courthouse, late at night, sometimes hear the sound of banging as they pass the door.

Beverly Hall is a beautiful and stately mansion, built as part bank, part residence in 1810. It
Beverly Hall, photographed in 1936 by Frances Johnston
is home to a particularly grisly tale. It seems there was a clerk working in the bank who was discovered to have been swindling the townspeople out of their hard earned money. One night, the clerk saw a crowd of disgruntled people coming toward the Hall carrying torches and all manner of weaponry. He decided to shoot himself before the angry mob reached him. Disappointed at not being able to bring the man to justice, they took his corpse to the old Courthouse, sat it up for “trial,” accused and sentenced him to “death,” and then carried his body back to Beverly Hall where they strung him up in a tall tree in the backyard. There they left him for crows to pick his corpse apart. Today there appears to be an unusual amount of crows that hang out on Beverly Halls lovely grounds…looking for more, perhaps?

Built in 1850, elegant Pembroke Hall is popular today as a gorgeous wedding venue. Every weekend from spring through fall, festive white tents pop up on its generous grounds for happy couples to exchange their vows and celebrate their union. One hopes the brides do not encounter the spirit of a man who has been seen there, wearing a Confederate uniform and bearing horrific facial wounds from a Civil War battle in which he lost his life.
Pembroke Hall, Edenton (photo from visitedenton.com) 

Speaking of bridesanother lovely home is the source of a sad tale of a happy eighteenth century bride who decided it would be fun to play hide and seek with members of the wedding party on the day of the nuptials. During the game, the bride went missing and although the guests searched thoroughly and called her name repeatedly, she was never found. With a number of pirates wandering the streets, it was feared and assumed she must have been kidnapped by some dastardly piratical crew. Generations later, after the house had changed ownership a few times, a woman went into the attic and witnessed a filmy form sweep past her and hid for a far corner. The woman peered into the far recesses of the attic and found a beautiful wooden chest she thought might make a lovely coffee table. When the chest was brought down and opened, the body of long dead woman in a wedding dress lay within. Apparently the unfortunate bride hid in the chest during the game and it locked on her, sealing her in and sealing her fate.

Another story involves the restoration of the Roanoke River Lighthouse, in active
Roanoke River Lighthouse, Edenton (photo by K. L .Wood) 
commission from 1886 to 1941. This is the original lighthouse that marked the entrance of the Roanoke River into Albemarle Sound. In recent years it was moved from its working site to Edenton’s harbor where it has undergone extensive renovation and is now open for tours. Part of the restoration involved removing some sad, old carpeting. One of the workmen was bending over and pulling up a section of the carpet when he felt a hard and distinct kick on his backside. Looking around he expected to see he had bumped into something but there was nothing anywhere near him that could have caused the sensation. Evidently, one of the old keepers was indignant at the man’s removal of his beloved carpet!

As I have stated before, living in a 300 year old town is a wonderment and an inspiration. I hope you can come and visit our town someday…perhaps you will experience your own spirited encounter!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now! (And beware of things that go bump in the night!)


Kate

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In Praise of Pancakes...ancient food--timeless yumminess

The Pancake Bakery, 1560, by Pieter Aertsen
With the welcome nip of autumn in the air, glowing orange displays of pumpkins in every American town and strewn throughout the countryside, often with a backdrop of dried cornstalks, I had a hankering for something corny, pumpkiny, and yummy. And, voila! I found the perfect combination when I ran across several recipes for Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes.

The Pancake Baker,  1625, by Andriaen Brouwer
This led me to websites featuring fascinating facts about the history of pancakes. It seems frying thin layers of batter and serving them with a variety of toppings (or simply bare) is a culinary creation that’s been around about as long as the human race and made in one form or another around the world. Focusing on English and North American varieties I found they’ve been called many different names including: pancakes, flapjacks, johnnycakes, hoecakes, and Indian cakes (if made with cornmeal.) Up until the 1800s, they were made without any leavening agent (baking powder) and were, therefore, flatter and denser than what we are accustomed to eating. 

The recipe below, combines the traditions of Colonial era American cooking with the more modern addition of baking powder. Following the directions, I’ve included an excerpt (odd spellings and all) from The Country Housewife’s Family Companion, an English cookbook published in 1750 that devotes an entire section in praise of pancakes. It includes “receipts” of pancakes for “poor people,” pancakes for “rich people,” and even pancakes made from beer and ale! Who knew?!

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes
Corn, The Food of the Nation, 1918, USDA
(thanks to http://thehungrymasses.blogspot.com/ for this recipe)
-serves 2- increase ingredients as needed
The Elder Family in Kitchen (making pancakes!) 1759 by Jan Josef Horemans
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
½ cup pumpkin (pureed, from a can) 
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup milk1 egg
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Maple syrup

1. In a large bowl, whisk to combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine pumpkin, milk, egg, brown sugar and orange peel.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring to combine (but don’t over mix).
4. Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Grease pan with a bit of oil or butter (I use a tad of both…butter for flavor, oil because it doesn’t scorch in the pan), and cook pancakes in batches, flipping once when bubbles form and burst on the surface of the cakes.

5. Serve warm, topped with toasted walnuts and maple syrup.


THE
COUNTRY HOUSEWIFE'S
Family Companion
WILLIAM ELLIS

How commodiously Pancakes answer the Farmers, the Yeomens, and Gentlemens Interest.
Pancakes are one of the cheapest and more serviceable dishes of a farmer's family in particular; because all the ingredients of the common ones are of his own produce, are ready at hand upon all occasions, saves firing, are soon cook'd, are conveniently portable, and supply both meat and bread; insomuch that in harvest, and at other times, they become a pleasant part of a family subsistence, to the saving of much expence and trouble in a year, by causing the less consumption of fleshmeat, &c. This piece of frugal Ĺ“conomy likewise affects the yeoman's and gentleman's family; for altho' the master and mistress of these can afford to eat better than the plain sort of pancakes, yet their servants may be often supplied with them as a changeable, light, and pleasant diet, for either breakfast, dinner, or supper. And that a proper sort may be made for both masters and servants uses, I shall be the more particular in giving various receipts for the same as followeth,viz.

The Hertfordshire plain cheap Pancakes for Farmers Families, &c.--Are made with wheaten flower, milk, eggs, and powder'd ginger. To a pottle of wheat-flower they put two quarts of new milk, four eggs, and some powdered ginger; these they stir together into a batter consistence, and fry them in hogslard; when one side of the pancake is fried enough, our housewife, or her maid-servant, turns it in a clever manner, by giving it only a toss with the frying-pan, and when this is dexterously done, it is the best way of turning them. Thus she goes on frying pancake after pancake, and as she lays them one upon another, in a platter or dish, she sprinkles some coarse sugar for their sauce; but takes what care she can that the family eats them hot, for the hotter they eat them, the less danger there is of rising in their stomachs, if the lard should be rankish. But whether they eat them cold or hot, if the ingredients are fresh and good, they are agreeable victuals; and though I mention sprinkling of sugar over the pancakes after they are fry'd, as sauce to them, yet some think it the better way to mix sugar in the batter, for mixing it the more regular to the taste.
Woman Holding Pancakes, about 1625, by Jan van Bijlert

How a Woman made three Pancakes that dined herself and three Men.--This housewifely woman, that lives in our neighbourhood, made her batter for her pancakes thus: In the first place, she pared, cored, and chop'd her apples very small, then prepared her batter with wheat-meal, four eggs, milk, and powder'd ginger; these being all mixed, she put some of the batter into a large frying-pan, with a good quantity of hogslard, and though she laid her batter in thinnish, the pancake came out thick, because all the several ingredients contributed to it. And when she had fry'd three of these pancakes, herself and three men eat them without any sauce, saying, They had a dinner to their satisfaction.

How Small-Beer or Ale Pancakes are made.--These are sometimes made, not only by the poorer sort of people, but also by farmers and yeomens wives, when milk cannot easily be had; for although most farmers and yeomen keep cows, they are not always in milk, as being in calf, or that they go, what we in Hertfordshire call, guess or dry: In this case milk may be supplied by the use of small-beer, or better with ale; but whenever either of these are wanted, it should be of the mildest newest sort, and free from the bitter taste of hops. Then mix this liquor with wheat-flower, a few beaten eggs, sugar, and ginger, and fry it into pancakes with lard or other fat. I must own, that a pancake made with malt liquor is not so palatable as one made with milk; but where the bellyful is mostly consulted, it will do well enough. 

How Water Pancakes are made by poor People.--This pancake is made by many poor, day-labouring mens wives, who when they cannot afford to make better, make this; by stirring wheat flower with water instead of milk, for if they can get milk, they generally think it put to a better use when they make milk porridge of it for their family. The flower and water being stirred into a batter consistence, with a sprinkling of salt and powder'd ginger, they fry the pancakes in lard, or other fat, and without any sugar they and their family make a good meal of them.
Mmm...pancakes  by Jeffrey W. Wikimedia Commons

How Pancakes are made for rich People.--Rich pancakes are made by some to eat as the finishing part of a dinner; to make such, they melt three quarters of a pound of butter with a pint or more of cream; when this is done, stir into it as much flower as will make a common batter for thickness; fry with butter or lard, and turn each pancake on the back of a pewter plate; strew fine sugar over them, and they'll be rich pancakes indeed: But for a farther choice of rich pancakes, I shall add the receipts of several authors.--One author by an old receipt directs, that to make good pancakes, three eggs should be beat till they are very thin; this done, beat them up again with an addition of water, powder'd cloves, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little salt, next thicken them with fine flower, and fry them with lard or sweet butter into a thin substance till they are brown, then strew some white sugar over them, and they are ready for eating. Upon which this ancient author remarks and says, there be some, who in pancakes mix new milk or cream; this, says he, makes them tough, cloying, and not crisp, nor so pleasant and savoury as clear water makes them.--Another author says, make use of eight eggs to a pottle of flower, powder'd ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and some salt: Make, says he, these into thin batter with milk, and beat the whole well together with half a pint of sack; then put the pan on the fire with a little butter or other fat, and when hot, rub it with a cloth; the pan being thus cleaned, put in a sufficient quantity of fat to melt, and your batter on that, very thinly spread, which in frying must be supplied with little bits of butter, lard, or suet; toss the pancake to turn it, and fry it crisp and brown.--Says another author, for making pancakes in the thinnest manner, mix eight eggs with a quart of cream, six spoonfuls of flower, six of sack, one of rose-water, a pound of butter, and two grated nutmegs; the butter must be melted with the cream, and the whole mixed together into a batter. Observe also to butter the fryingpan for the first pancake, but not afterwards, and spread the batter as thin as possible each time you fry. This pancake, says he, being so very thin, needs no turning, for if one side of it is brown, it is enough, and this quantity of batter will make above thirty pancakes; and as they are fry'd, strew fine sugar over each pancake and lay one upon another for eating; or (says he further) if you think fit, you may beat up the eggs with a pint or a quart of water instead of cream, which when mixed with the other ingredients, will make good thin pancakes; but you must take care you do not burn them in frying. Also, that if you make this sort of batter early in a morning, to stand till dinner time, it will make the better pancakes.

Apple Pancakes for Gentry.--For this, after you have pared your apples, cut them in round slices, first taking out the core part; these fry in fresh butter; next beat up twelve or sixteen eggs in milk, or better in a quart of cream, which mix with ginger and nutmeg powder'd each two drams, powder'd sugar six ounces; then pour this batter on the fry'd apples, and fry altogether: Sprinkle with sugar, and they'll be good eating. Others mince the apples, and then mix them with batter.

A quick and plain Way to make Apple Fritters.--In Hertfordshire, to make these, we cut large apples in thin slices, and only dip them in batter, and fry them in lard or dripping.

A quick and plain Way to make pickled Pork Pancakes.--To do this, we make no more to do in Hertfordshire, than to cut thin slices of pickled pork, and dipping them all over in batter, we put them among batter in the fryingpan, and fry them in large pancakes.
Vegan Pancakes by Suzette, Wikimedia Commons

The Dugdale Flower Pancake.--This is a wheaten pancake, because it is made with wheat-flower, tho' with one of the coarsest of English wheat. Yet it is well known to many yeomen and farmers, who sow this Dugdale or Rivet-Wheat, that if the flower of it is sifted fine, it makes the best of pancakes, because its flower or meal is of a sweet short nature.

To make fine Pancakes fry'd without Butter or Lard, according to an old but good Receipt.--Take a pint of cream and six eggs, beat them very well together, put in a quarter of a pound of sugar, and one nutmeg, and as much flower as will thicken it like ordinary pancake batter. Your pan must be heated reasonably hot, and wiped with a clear cloth. This done, put in your batter as thick or thin as you please.

To make Rice Pancakes.--The same author says, boil a pound of rice in three quarts of water till it is very tender, then let it stand covered in a pot a while, and it will become a sort of jelly; next scald a quart of milk and put it scalding hot to the rice jelly, when this is done, mix 20 eggs, well beaten, with three quarters of a pound of butter first melted over a fire, and stir all these together with salt, and as much flower as will hold them frying in butter. This mixture is best done over night.

The Hertfordshire Bacon Pancake, or what some call Bacon-Fraise, for Plowmen and others.--Cut the best part of bacon into thin pieces, about two inches square, then with milk, flower, and eggs make a batter; when the eggs are well beaten, mix all of them together, and then put into your fryingpan hogslard or good dripping, which when thoroughly hot, lay in your bacon batter according to discretion, and as the pancake fries, cast some of the fat on it;--when it is enough on one side, turn it. This pancake needs no spice nor sugar, and serves well to fill our plowmens and others bellies instead of intire flesh.

See http://www.soilandhealth.org/ for a digital copy of the entire cookbook.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!
Kate


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Flowery Language...the secret code of flowers


Tansy
"Tanacetum vulgare - harilik soolikarohi Keilas2" by Ivar Leidus
 Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 
President Theodore Roosevelt once famously proclaimed, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” But if Teddy knew the language of flowers he might have said, “Speak softly and carry a big Tansy!” Tansy flowers may look fairly delicate and innocuous but for those in the know, they mean, “I declare war against you!” It seems there’s a whole vocabulary of all things floral that reached its height in Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901.) There is even a name for the study of flower-speak: Florography.

In my research I found many lists with contradictory meanings for the same flowers so if you decide to send a message with your bouquet, you might consider including a translation. Wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression! For example, some lists claim a Peony means “Happy Marriage” while others say it’s crying “Anger!” I must say, I found an inordinate amount of hostility associated with yellow flowers. Occasionally yellow-colored flowers are said to represent joy or chivalry but more often they’ve been associated with less pleasant qualities such as jealousy or falseness. Being a fan of that sunny hue I think it’s gotten a bum rap! The list I compiled, below, is taken mostly from meanings during the Victorian era. Have fun (and think twice before you send those flowers!)

Daisy
 (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man). Co-attribution
 must be given to the Chanticleer Garden.  via Wikimedia Commons
Amaryllis: Pride
Azalea: First love 
Begonia: Caution (Red: Dark thoughts)
Bluebell: Constancy
Camellia: My destiny is in your hands 
Carnation (Pink): I’ll never forget you
Carnation (Yellow): Disdain
Dahlia (Red): Dignity and elegance
Daisy: Innocence
Edelweiss: Noble courage
Evening Primrose: Inconstancy
Forget-me-not: Forget me not (well, duh)
Freesia: Lasting friendship 
Gardenia: Refinement
Geranium (Scarlet): Comforting
Honeysuckle: Sweetness of disposition
Hyacinth (Purple): Please forgive me
Iris: Message
Ivy: Fidelity
Jasmine (Madagascar): Happiness in marriage
Jonquil: Desire
Pansy
"Pansy Viola tricolor Flower 2448px"
 (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)  Licensed under Creative Commons 
Lilac: First emotions of love
Lily-of-the-valley: Return of happiness
Magnolia: Magnificence 
Myrtle: Home and Love
Narcissus: Self-love
Nasturtium: Patriotic
Orange Blossom: Your purity equals your loveliness
Orchid: Refined beauty
Pansy: Think of me
Petunia: Do not despair
Queen Anne’s Lace: Safe Haven
Quince: Temptation
Rose (Red): Love
Roses (Red and White Together): Unity
Stephanotis: Happiness in marriage
Sweet William: Gallantry
Tansy: I declare war against you
Tulip: Declaration of love
Verbena (White): Sensitivity
Tulips
"Tulip - floriade canberra" by John O'Neill -
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 
Violet: Modesty
Water Lily: Purity of heart
Wisteria: Welcome
Yarrow: Cure for a broken heart
Zinnia: I mourn your absence

Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now! (and send flowers!)

Kate 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Moonstruck...Native American names for each full moon

"Bluemoon (1)" by Craig Deakin from Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 
I’m back! Completed my first draft of Through the Hourglass and on to the editing phase. (Because of my intense writing schedule, I will be posting new blog posts every two weeks for the foreseeable future.)

We’ve just experienced our third and final Super Moon of 2014 this past Monday, September 8th. Granted, in my part of the world, rainy skies precluded viewing the Super Harvest Moon, however, there is some argument in the astronomical community over whether or not the full moon on October 8th could also be considered a Super Moon. If it were, it would be a Super Hunter’s Moon. (Also known as a Super Blood Moon and, this year, coincides with a full lunar eclipse as seen in North America!) Whew! A whole lot of lunar action going on. It’s a wonder we’re not all moonstruck lunatics! To learn more about the eclipse, see this website: 
"Supermoon" by Peter2006son - File:Supermoon - Howrah 2011-03-19 1881.JPG.
 Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 
http://earthsky.org/tonight/total-lunar-eclipse-blood-moon-hunters-moon-october-7-8-2014#eclipse
A Super Moon is one in which it comes to its fullest phase on the same night it swings closest to the earth, at its perigee. (As opposed to when it’s at its most distant, apogee.)  All that’s fine scientific information to know but I’m in love with the names Native Americans gave each full moon, names adopted by our Colonial American ancestors. Each full moon was named to represent something important going on in the natural world, a world in which our ancestors (Native American and otherwise) lived in much more direct contact than do most of us today.
 So, here is a list of those full moon names, some of their alternatives, and an explanation of each (Thanks to the National Geographic website for this fascinating information.) 
January: Wolf Moon
Native Americans and medieval Europeans named January's full moon after the howling of hungry wolves lamenting the midwinter paucity of food. Other names for this month's full moon include old moon and ice moon.
"Blue Canyon Moon (5020077179)" by John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA -
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 
February: Snow Moon
The typically cold, snowy weather of February in North America earned its full moon the name snow moon. Other common names include storm moon and hunger moon.
March: Worm Moon
Native Americans called this last full moon of winter the worm moon after the worm trails that would appear in the newly thawed ground. Other names include chaste moon, death moon, crust moon (a reference to snow that would become crusty as it thawed during the day and froze at night), and sap moon, after the tapping of the maple trees.
By Hahn Family Wines (Flickr: Harvest Moon8.JPG)
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
April: Pink Moon
Northern Native Americans call April's full moon the pink moon after a species of early blooming wildflower. In other cultures, this moon is called the sprouting grass moon, the egg moon, and the fish moon.
May: Flower Moon
May's abundant blooms give its full moon the name flower moon in many cultures. Other names include the hare moon, the corn planting moon, and the milk moon.
June: Strawberry Moon
In North America, the harvesting of strawberries in June gives that month's full moon its name. Europeans have dubbed it the rose moon, while other cultures named it the hot moon for the beginning of the summer heat.
July: Buck Moon
Male deer, which shed their antlers every year, begin to regrow them in July, hence the Native American name for July's full moon. Other names include thunder moon, for the month's many summer storms, and hay moon, after the July hay harvest.
"Harvest Moon" by Original uploader, Roadcrusher at en.wikipedia - 
August: Sturgeon Moon
North American fishing tribes called August's full moon the sturgeon moon since the species was abundant during this month. It's also been called the green corn moon, the grain moon, and the red moon for the reddish hue it often takes on in the summer haze.
September: Harvest Moon
The most familiar named moon, September's harvest moon refers to the time of year after the autumn equinox when crops are gathered. It also refers to the moon's particularly bright appearance and early rise, which lets farmers continue harvesting into the night. Other names include the corn moon and the barley moon.
October: Hunter's Moon
The first moon after the harvest moon is the hunter's moon, so named as the preferred month to hunt summer-fattened deer and fox unable to hide in now bare fields. Like the harvest moon, the hunter's moon is also particularly bright and long in the sky, giving hunters the opportunity to stalk prey at night. Other names include the travel moon and the dying grass moon.
"Hard to focus on! (4317424759)" by Bernal Saborio from Costa Rica
- licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
November: Beaver Moon
There is disagreement over the origin of November's beaver moon name. Some say it comes from Native Americans setting beaver traps during this month, while others say the name comes from the heavy activity of beavers building their winter dams. Another name is the frost moon.
December: Cold Moon
The coming of winter earned December's full moon the name cold moon. Other names include the long night moon and the oak moon.
The Blue Moon
Each year, the moon completes its final cycle about 11 days before the Earth finishes its orbit around the sun. These days add up, and every two and a half years or so, there is an extra full moon, called a blue moon. The origin of the term is uncertain, and its precise definition has changed over the years. The term is commonly used today to describe the second full moon of a calendar month, but it was originally the name given to the third full moon of a season containing four full moons.
From Amazon.com
*And on a less scientific but very romantic note dear Reader, in the 1920’s while on a trip from New York City to Miami, lyricist Benny Davis, pining for his sweetheart and seeing a beautiful moon reflected in the Perquimans River as he crossed the bridge in Hertford, North Carolina (just up the road from my Edenton,) penned the words to the famous song “Carolina Moon”. …Carolina Moon, keep shining, Shining on the one who waits for me…*
Have a good couple weeks dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!

Kate

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Word Nerd's Delight...everyday phrases and their surprising nautical origins

Captain Lord George Graham in his Cabin, 1745, by William Hogarth
Working Cover of my novel-in-progress, Through the Hourglass
I guess I’m just a word-nerd (which, I suppose, most writers are) but I love to learn the origins of some of our commonly used terms and phrases, especially the more colorful ones. In researching for my current novel-in-progress, I ran across several glossaries of nautical terminology and was tickled to see how many we’ve transposed into our everyday land-lubbery speech. Below is a sampling for you to enjoy and to hold you over for a couple weeks or so as I near the finish line of the first draft of my Young Adult  novel, Through the Hour Glass (the first installment in my series, Time Shadow.)


So, not to cut and run but since the completion of the all-important first draft is in the offing and I must ensure its ending is first rate I shall bid you adieu for just a little while as I focus my attention on it. Thanks for your kind understanding and your interest in this, my fifty-second blog post, marking my first year anniversary as a blogger! Woo Hoo!
The West Indiaman Britania 1838, by Joseph Walter

Between the Devil and the deep blue sea -  The Devil Seam is the curved seam in the deck planking closest to the side of the ship, next to the scuppers. A sailor slipping on the deck would be "between the Devil and the deep blue sea". This also relates to the phrase, Devil to pay since  ‘Paying' the Devil is sealing the devil seam. It is a difficult and unpleasant job (with no resources) because of the shape of the seam (closest to the hull).
Bitter end - The anchor cable is tied to the bitts, when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been reached. The last part of a rope or cable.
Booby - A type of bird that has little fear and therefore is particularly easy to catch, hence Booby prize.
By and large - "By" means into the wind, while "large" means with the wind. By and large is used to indicate all possible situations "the ship handles well both by and large".
Chock-a-block- Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another  they cannot be further tightened.
Clean bill of health- A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases.
Clean slate - At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.
As the crow flies - A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.
Cut and run- When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.
First rate- The classification for the largest sailing warships of the 17th through 19th centuries. They had 3 masts, 850+ crew and 100+ guns.
Fly-by-night- A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.
Footloose - If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose, blowing around in the wind.
Groggy - Drunk from having consumed a lot of grog.
Hand over fist - To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a sailor climbing shrouds on a sailing ship (originally "hand over hand.")
In the offing - In the water visible from on board a ship, now used to mean something imminent.
Know the ropes - A sailor who 'knows the ropes' is familiar with the miles of cordage and ropes involved in running a ship.
Leeway - The amount that a ship is blown leeward (away from) the wind.
A British Man of War before the Rock of Gibraltar, late 18th cent, by Thomas Whitcombe
Let the cat out of the bag - To break bad news (the "cat o' nine tails" being taken out of the bag by the bosun was bad news, announcing a flogging).
No room to swing a cat - The entire ship's company was expected to witness floggings, assembled on deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the 'cat o' nine tails' (the whip).
Over the barrel - Adult sailors were flogged on the back or shoulders while tied to a grating, but boys were beaten instead on the posterior (often bared), with a cane or cat, while bending, often tied down, over the barrel of a gun, known as (kissing) the gunner's daughter.
Overwhelmed - Capsized or foundered.
Pipe down - A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew
Pooped - 1. Swamped by a high, following sea. 2. Exhausted. (Poop deck - A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship from French for stern: la poupe.)
Rummage sale - A sale of damaged cargo (from French for stowage: arrimage).
Shakes - Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase No great shakes.
Skyscraper - A small, triangular sail, above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few ships.
Slush fund - The money obtained by the cook selling slush ashore. Used for the benefit of the crew (or the cook). Slush - Greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew's meal. In the Royal Navy the perquisite of the cook who could sell it or exchange it (usually for alcohol) with other members of the crew. Used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the ship and therefore valuable to the master and bosun.
Son of a gun - The space between the guns was used as a semi-private place for trysts with prostitutes and wives, which sometimes led to pregnancies. Other thoughts on this are that the gun deck afforded the necessary amount of space for a woman to give birth aboard ship and that sometimes shooting off a canon would give a woman’s labor a kick start.
Taken aback - An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails 'backwards', causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.
Taking the wind out of his sails - To sail in a way that steals the wind from another ship. To overbear.
A Seaman of The Pallas Leaning on a Bowchaser ,
 1776 by Gabriel Bray
Three sheets to the wind - On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also, a sailor who has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.
Touch and go - The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.
Under the weather - Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.
Wide berth - To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) to allow space for maneuver (To give a wide berth.)

Have a good (couple) weeks (or so,) dear Reader. (There's lots to read or re-read over the last 52 posts. Probably enough to keep you busy till I return!) Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!
Kate


(Although my research sent me far and wide, the bulk of the information for today’s post is thanks to http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Glossary_of_nautical_terms#H)