Category Archives: Historical Cool Stuff

Oratorio Oh No

I volunteer with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and this past Saturday was their annual Messiah Sing-Along, and I had the privilege to work this performance. It was also the same day as Richard’s work Christmas party. The review of the Christmas party gets its own block for another day.

As we live out of town, it would have been too far out for me to go to the show and run back to Waldheim to pick up Richard in time for his par tea. I decided to buy him a ticket for the show. I should have guessed from the look of his face I made a mistake.

We all know Handel’s Messiah. Well, not really; we know the Hallelujah part of the deal. Most of the world does not realise there is a beginning, more of a middle and an end. The Hallelujah isn’t even the end of the work. Ricky O’Bannon of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gives a great historical review:

5 Thing You Might Not Know About Handel’s Messiah

Richard suffered greatly through the performance, stating during the intermission that he should have gone to a movie. He does not like opera, though I told him this was not an opera, he obviously could not care less. I value his opinion on this subject. He has been blessed with my constant grumblings on Star Trek and The Walking Dead. 

Richard told me the combinations of sounds bothered him. I have never played my CD version of Messiah for Richard. He does find some choral performances uncomfortable to his ears. At first, I could not understand, but after taking a step into his space, I realised his point. Unlike hymns sang in church, with harmonies, the voices are singing the same words at the same time. Choir performances are not always so simple. The art comes in the waves of words, interminglings of sentences and the musical instruments filling in some of the voids. The airs and recitatives sung by the soloists mirror opera, of course, but in Messiah, these introductions to the various parts of the story are so important.

Though I no longer adhere to any religious beliefs, this piece somehow makes me miss church. The point of Messiah is to invoke feelings of love, compassion, and the need to believe. I think the history of the work, the process and the purpose for its creation is enough for me to feel the feels. I have listened to this throughout the year, like a puppy, it is for life, not just for Christmas.

I tried my best to make this performance special for both of us. As mentioned, I volunteered this day and this meant I had to leave him alone at times. The concert took place at Knox United Church in Saskatoon, a 104-year-old building, a place of history. The setting of Messiah was perfect, though not written for Christmas and not originally performed in a church (almost an unheard of thing to be done in the 18th-century), this building needed this piece played here. The beauty of Handel’s music and the words of Charles Jennens made for a wonderful moment. I was part of a truncated performance of Messiah in university when I was part of the Concert Choir. our performance of the work was done at First Presbyterian Church in Regina. The vibe was not the same; there was no weakening of the knees . Not like Saturday.

Though Richard did not like the time spent amongst the chamber players, the chorus – spectators were encouraged to sing along (hence the name of the show), and the soloists, the day was brightened by him just being there. I understand not to play this for him on our trip to Tisdale for Christmas. Granted, I do give him credit for not liking Schubert’s Ave Maria, everyone’s favourite Christmas dirge. He skips this one every time. *praise hands* 

Unfortunately, I will still be blessed with Michael W Smith’s Greatest Christmas Hits.


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Okay, Here’s The Deal

I find out my times for volunteering at the SSO on Saturday. Excited muchly, I am. Also, after posting a photo of the model train display by the Saskatoon Railroad Modellers Group at the Western Development Museum to Tim Dunn (@MrTimDunn), a model villager and railroad fan, he suggested I join the club. Oh, the thought had crossed my mind. I failed to tell him I also have some videos. I had so much fun.

My parents came up for the Easter weekend, which was the reason for the visit to the WDM. This weekend was fantabulous. I did not feel any pressure to explain myself to my parents. They understood my last breakdown, which a few of you had to witness. I watched Richard go to church on Sunday. I did feel a bit sad for him, as we used to go together, but my feelings for what this holiday represents brought back a memory of a recent moment in time I think may have been a hint I was in the wrong place. It took a couple more to finally get me to a different place.

After a busy summer of a job shake-up, it was decided our small group was to no longer exist. Most of me was glad, as it was getting to be rather uncomfortable; not due to the people, but due to the people. Yes, you read correctly. Gosh, I feel silly to talk about this, but I really cannot find the nerve to do it out loud.

Not having the bible school background and to ability to fake my way into promoting the kingdom made some of the sessions unbearable. My secular university education did not prepare me for this. Nobody wanted to hear about the early church in the UK. History of the “church” only includes Peter, Paul and Mary (sadly, no dragons).

This brings up the point about the one speaker at my former church commending Charlemagne for spreading Christianity throughout Europe. After a number of conversations with other Bethany College (now closed) it would not surprise me that this speaker would not know Charlemagne (as stated in writing) committed genocide.

Charlemagne vs. The Saxons (1)

As pointed out by one of the classmates, bible schools are mostly denominational; so the curriculum is somewhat one sided. Fair enough, but nothing is stopping these good Christian kids from taking the time to expand their knowledge of their faith. I got tired of offering alternatives to the “stories”. Maybe my attempt at teaching sounded more like sarcasm? I will admit there were times it was intended.


The conversating also became very difficult. Whilst Richard and the other boys talked about hockey, The Walking Dead, comics and The Walking Dead reading comics during a hockey game, I got to listen to tantrum stories and bottle feeding issues. Sometimes I would join the discussion, but due to a useless womb, my additions were rather mundane. Though I have nothing but the highest regard for stay-at-home mums (my mother was one), I wanted to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone for a couple of minutes. Why did I have to conform to their idea of wonderfulness?

It felt like that moment at a family gathering where you are too young to sit with the adults, but too old to play with the cousins. I felt like I did not fit in; it was 1984 all over again.

I can count on my hands and feet the number of times I got the “I’m sorry to hear that” nod. I must have come across as not very bright. I would walk home, though mostly in silence, complain about not fitting in. How do I fit in now?

“Hey Wendy, you don’t have to; you are just fine as yourself,” I hear you say. That is why I feel a separarion is needed. Though I was well-liked for my scripture reading, very few wanted to get to know me. I am more than capable of reading non-biblibal works out loud. I read to Richard in the car quite a bit and he laughs. The SSO will give me an opportunity to branch out.

I don’t think I am quite ready for the model train club, however, I may volunteer at the WDM.


(1) Evans, G. R. “Christian History Institute.” Christian History Institute. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

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“To conserve or not to conserve, that is the question”


From time to time this blog shows damaged manuscripts. One may be inclined to think that books are better off in pristine condition. However, Karin Scheper, conservator at the University Library Leiden, explains why it is sometimes better to leave a book be. Here is an intriguing guest post about useful disrepair and the upsides of damage. Enjoy! Erik Kwakkel

Custodians and owners of old books will sometimes have to make tough decisions. They want their books to be used – why else would they have them? – yet they also want them to be preserved for the future as well. In the case of manuscripts and early printed books, the materials themselves are old and often fragile, and part of the textblock or binding may have come apart. While in most cases it would technically be possible to repair the damage, this is not always the best option for…

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The Boar’s Head Carol and Why I Remember It.

Dodging Arrows... a (mainly) Medieval Blog


And now for something completely… well, seasonal… as part of a December Blog Hop organised by IndieBRAG.

The Boar’s Head Carol is pretty distinctive and easily recognised by the fact that it starts with the line: “The boar’s head in hand bear I…”

It sounds like this: The Boar’s Head Carol – Steeleye Span  … once you get past the advert…

Now this carol was one of my formative influences, but more of that later.

Why, you might ask, did someone ever have the idea of writing a carol about a boar’s head? The term carol is, for us, associated completely with Christmas but in medieval times a carol might just have been a popular song often involving a bit of dancing. In this case the song celebrates the serving of the boar’s head but it does not always refer to Christmas.

The boar – with or without its head…

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You Are Welcome For Dinner

Seat Guru

I am having a dinner party and I have to come up with a seating arrangement that will fit all, yet will encourage conversation. Here is the list:

1) Curtis Mayfield
2) Nelson Mandela
3) Jackie Robinson
4) Marilyn Monroe
5) George Sand
6) Ada Lovelace
7) Charlie Chaplin
8) Mary, Queen of Scots

I have decided to do this seating arrangement a bit differently. I will be using my limited drawing skills to visually envision an event that may (or may not) be exciting. There is a formal for the number of variations in the seating order, but the maths does not take emotions, experiences, and relationships into account. I hope to be able to express the connections between my guests in a creative way. Not knowing any of the people personally is going to make this an interesting get-together.


What I meant by limited drawing skills should mean I cannot draw very well. My biggest concern was placing Marilyn Monroe. I thought placing her with beside Nelson Mandela would make her more comfortable. She seems to be a shy person, but some good conversation may bring out something great. Plus, she was married to Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson is going to be there, so we can talk baseball.

Nelson Mandela and I share the same birthday – 18 July. No, that is not why I included him. I have always been interested in his drive to end Apartheid with non-violence (though that was not necessarily the case most times). Remind me not to say how much he looks like Morgan Freeman.

On Ms Monroe’s left is Curtis Mayfield, an accomplished singer and songwriter. Both Mr Mandela and Mr Mayfield are very politically minded in their own way and strive to bring forward the need for equality for people of colour, though Mr Mayfield takes a more direct approach on the language front. I will ask him pick out the music for the evening.

Next to Mr Mandela is Ada Lovelace, the woman who is considered to be the inventor of the computer. And a countess. She is also the daughter of Lord Byron, that randy poet. I find her a facinating person, as mathematics and computer science is not my thing. I really hope she does have a little compassion about this fact.

Skipping to the left of Mr Mayfield is George Sand. I find her experiences a lot more interesting than her books. I am sure she has a lot to talk about. I think I will be careful not to say I am not a huge fan of Chopin, which is why I am asking Mr Mayfield to choose the music.

Charlie Chaplin. At first I was not sure about inviting him because I have not seen any of his movies in completeness. He is a comic genius, from the opinions of others, and I hope some of that shows through. His commentaries on politics through comedy are something I would like to discuss a bit further.

Between Mr Chaplin and me is Jackie Robinson. Mr Robinson was the first American Major League baseball player of colour in the modern era. His stories of the magnificent sport of baseball will make the night. I will not bring up the fact I am a Giants fan.

My last guest is a bit of a surprise. Mary, Queen of Scots. She has a language connection with Ms Sand, a title like Countess Lovelace, has had multiple husbands like Ms Monroe, and was not liked for being Catholic like no one else at this function. I am sure she is bitter, but a little wine may loosen her up a bit.

I think this set-up is fine. If this goes well I may try it again.

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Battle of Agincourt 600 25 of October 1415 #Onthisday


Hey there today i talk about the Battle of Agincourt 25 of october 1415,

the images of the battle of agincourt are from google images commons .

Folk Round by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (
the music for the intro is by the permission i can use of :Derek Fiechter
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Medieval Posters

Source: Medieval Posters

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Statues and Monuments: Queen Caroline

Pete's Favourite Things


Queen Caroline was the wife of King George II. In 1727 she decided to re-landscape the parks adjacent to Kensington Palace. Her vision included the damming of the river which ran through the park to create a large lake, known today as the Serpentine and the Long Water. She did not live to see the work completed as she died in 1737 and it was not eventually finished until 1781. However her vision had created one of the most stunning vistas in London.

The monument to Queen Caroline and her vision was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 and records her part in the creation of the lake on whose banks it stands.

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800 Years Old “Gay Graffiti” Carved on the Nidaros Cathedral –

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8 Myths About the Middle Ages –

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