Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Welcome to November

Le Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry-November
Jean Colombe (1430–1493)
Public Domain (Wikimedia)

November is the last month of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and the last month of Spring in the Southern. The name November comes from the Latin novem, which means nine. This was its position on the old Roman calendar as that calendar only had ten months. The name remained despite it becoming the 11th month of the newer Julian and later Gregorian calendars. Daylight Savings Time, if it has not come to an end already, ends for everyone in the Northern in November. The annual Leonid Meteor Shower is usually around November 17-18. The first full moon of November is often called the Beaver Moon since many beavers build their dams around this time. In the United States, the major holiday is Thanksgiving celebrated on the last Thursday of the month.

The symbols for November are the topaz (birthstone that symbolizes friendship), and its flower is the chrysanthemum.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Headless Horseman pursuing Ichabod Crane
The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, 1858
John Quidor (1801–1881)
Public Domain
Smithsonian American Art Museum artwork ID 34285

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannonball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk, hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. (Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a unique American story written by Washington Irving in 1820 and remains popular to this day. The story takes place in a small village in New York called Sleepy Hollow. There in this idyllic location that seems full of enchantment and magic is where the action takes place. And it is here that a wandering teacher arrives to teach the children of the farmers the basics they need to know. Ichabod Crane is a figure of some amusement to the people. He is exceedingly lanky with long arms that came out of sleeves and feet that could be shovels reminding one of a scarecrow, only this one walked. To cap it off he had a small head with large ears with a long nose to boot.

“…tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew.” (The Legend of Sleepy Hallow)

Teaching paid just barely enough for him and as was the custom of the time, he was boarded and lodged with the parents of the children for a week at a time. He wants most desperately to advance and get well situated so he will not starve or be poor again. And he sees in Sleepy Hollow just such a chance in perhaps currying favor with locals and marrying into a family of means. He also considered himself expert on the supernatural having read the important books of his day. He would share is knowledge of it when attending dinners or other events relating interesting anecdotes along the way. And he would hear the story of the Headless Horseman, a Hessian soldier who lost his head in a nameless battle during the Revolution, who rides to and fro at night in search of it and perhaps to collect one from the living.

Crane becomes attracted to Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of Baltus Van Tassel. He begins courting her in the hopes of marrying her and enjoying the life of a gentleman farmer. He has images in his head of his future life with her and seems confident he will win her heart. Alas there is one wrinkle in the form of Abraham “Bram Bones” Van Brunt, the town rowdy, who wants to marry her. Despite his efforts to humiliate or punish him, Ichabod is undaunted. It is at a harvest festival where things come to a head. He apparently asks her to marry him but alas, it did not go as planned. He leaves the harvest festival “with the air of one who had been sacking a enroots, rather than a fair lady’s heart.” Ouch. It turns out that Katrina was courting him to increase Brom’s desire for her. So, Ichabod leaves feeling quite desolate and not in any hurry to get home.

“Gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless! But his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle!” (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

It is on his way home that Ichabod encounters the Headless Horseman, who gives him chase as Crane pushes the old stead Gunpowder to move fast. He gets to the bridge where it is said the ghost cannot cross but alas Ichabod does not make it. The Horseman throws his head at him knocking Ichabod off the horse. The horse is found the next day and backtracking they find his hat near the old bridge along with a shattered pumpkin. He is never seen again but many believe he was carried off by the Headless Horseman. However, the account also indicates that Ichabod, frightened by his encounter and not wanting to face his angry landlord (and probably not wanting to see Katrina much again), left that night for parts unknown. It is related he may have become a judge. Meanwhile Katrina marries Brom. And whenever the subject comes up about Ichabod Crane, seems to be “exceedingly knowing” and laughs. Whether he just upped and left or was taken by the Headless Horseman remains a mystery. And makes the tale, now internationally popular, wonderful to read each Autumn and on Halloween.

Screen Adaptations (Selected List)

There is a 1992 silent film called The Headless Horseman and has a young Will Rogers as Ichabod Crane. It was filmed on location in New York’s Hudson Valley. I saw this on Amazon Prime and it was pretty good. It was mostly faithful to the story and well done considering the limitations of the time.

Disney did an adaptation of in its 1949 the Adventures of Ichabod ad Mr. Toad. This light-hearted version has Bing Crosby as the narrator and singing most of the songs. It tones down the story to make it family friendly. The famous chase scene at the end is very well done and longer than the book. And in this adaptation, there really is a ghost Headless Horseman rather than Bram Bones dressed up as the ghost. So, it leaves you in the end with the possibility he was indeed spirited away although rumor may suggest otherwise.

Tim Burton went a very different route in his 1999 movie Sleepy Hollow. He decided to change the story entirely making Ichabod Crane a police constable from New York sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the murders of several people who had been beheaded. The Horseman is a real ghost raised from the dead and being used to kill those who are claimants for the Van Tassel property. Like the book, Ichabod falls for Katrina (who practices some white magic) and Bram Bones is more sympathetic and gets brutally killed by the Horseman. An excellent movie and has all the usual touches of a Tim Burton movie-whimsy mixed with horror. Note: this movie is not for young children and is very violent at times.

Check out the Halloween Store for deals, candy, and spooky items.

Happy Sunday & Welcome to October

Autumn Landscape
Charles Rondeau (


Happy Sunday everyone. Summer officially came to an end with the Autumnal Equinox  back in September. Some areas, in particular in the American Northeast are seeing the fall colors in full bloom. So much so in some cases that people are traveling long distances to see them in sometimes remote locations, small towns, and often to the distress of locals their own property. A few small towns have decided to limit traffic into their areas due to the large crowds trampling about, causing delays in traffic, and since their are no toilers nearby some choose to relieve themselves in private land.

In most areas signs of Autumn and Halloween are everywhere. Houses are being decorated, pumpkins are being carved, spooky hayrides are taking places, and Haunted Houses are open. That perennial favorite-the Headless Horseman-is supposedly making appearances as well. But appearances of the next holiday season-Christmas-are also being seen. My local grocery store already has the Christmas decorations out and set up displays to merchandise for the holiday. The minute Halloween is over, those items go into the sale bin and replaced. But for the moment we can enjoy the fall even though in some places it is still hot as summer.

October Information

October is the 10th month on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Under the old Roman calendar this was the eighth month and retained its name. October in the Northern Hemisphere begins the full transition to Autumn while in the Southern Hemisphere it is Spring.

Autumn harvests are underway this month with apples, artichokes, cranberries, pears, and pumpkins becoming widely available in many areas. Pumpkins are important this time of year as decorations and the source for pumpkin pie and delicious roasted pumpkin seeds. Oktoberfest is a major event in Munich, Germany but has spread into Europe, the United States and South America. It began in 1810 to honor a Bavarian royal wedding and now is in many places like a carnival with rides, lots of German themed food and of course beer. Beer of all kinds, especially craft beers find their ways to such events to be judged. Octoberfest usually goes from mid-September to October (it used to end on the first Sunday in October) but it usually goes on later these days. One figure estimates the consumption of beer to be around 1.85 million gallons (7 million liters) of beer. Now that is a lot of beer!

Daylight Savings Time comes to an end in Australia and Europe this month. In the United States, that will occur on the first Sunday in November. Though legislation was passed in the U.S. Senate to change to Daylight Savings Time for the entire year, the House of Representatives did not pass it due to multiple objections. So the United States will remain on using both Standard and Daylight Savings Time.

What used to be a day to prepare for the feast of All Saints Day now has morphed into an event primarily for children to put on masks and ask neighbors for a treat. Haunted House exhibits are open, hayrides through a haunted landscape, and of course scary movies to watch. We get the obligatory Halloween themed commercials and lots of scary themed promos. Many parents opt to have simpler old fashioned celebration with friends and children assembling for food, entertainment, and of course hearing very spooky stories.

Welcome to August

Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping-hooks
Circa 1310
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

August is the eight month on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. One the old Roman calendar this was the sixth month called Sextilis since that calendar start in March. It is named for the Roman emperor Augustus and this month was chosen as many important battles he won were done during this month. It is the last full month of summer in the Northern Hemisphere but in the southern the equivalent of February. In Europe, it is often the month where many workers take vacations.

August in the Northern Hemisphere is also when the first harvest and harvest festivals begin. The dog days of summer end officially on August 11. The Perseid Meteor shower which began in July continues to August 24. Usually the best viewing days are between August 9-13th. The August full moon is sometimes called Sturgeon Moon but since harvesting begins in the Northern Hemisphere it has also called Grain Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon.. For the people that live in the town of Ny-Ålesund in Norway, August is very important. As the northernmost town in the world, the summer has been one long day. The sun has been staying above the horizon since April and finally during August Polar Day occurs. That often occurs on August 24 though it can vary year to year. Tourists often visit between May-August. The sun does not rise between late October to mid-February.

The symbols for August are:

  • Gladiolus(Gladiolus imbricatus)
    Photo: Christer Johansson(via Wikipedia)

    Birthstores: peridot, sardonyx, and spined.

  • Flowers: Gladiolus or Poppy

Welcome to July

July, from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Limbourg brothers (fl. 1402–1416)
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to July everyone! July is the seventh month in the Gregorian calendar and is named for Julius Caesar. On the old Roman calendar, it was called Quintillis meaning fifth as July was the fifth month on that calendar. It is generally the hottest month in the Northern Hemisphere and the coldest month in the Southern Hemisphere, which is in winter. The old phrase “Dog days of summer” has nothing to do with canines, but an event in the night sky. During the early parts of July–often the most hot and humid–the star Sirius can be seen in the night sky and is part of the constellation Canis Major (the largest dog). The hot days of July then became described as the dog days in reference to the astronomical event.

July has another astronomical event of note, a Supermoon. There are different names for it (Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Hay Moon etc) This occurs when the Moon is the closest to the Earth making it appear larger than it normally would appear. It can be either a new moon or a full moon. The July Supermoon is often called a Buck Moon since it in this month new antlers appear on the deer buck’s forehead. It turns out that male deer shed their antlers every year and grow new ones.

There are many observances and events, but two biggest national holidays are Independence Day (U.S., 4 July) and Bastille Day (France, 14 July). Independence Day celebrates the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on 4 July 1776 while Bastille Day in France commemorates the storming of the Bastille in Paris on 14 July 1789. It is considered the start of the French Revolution.

Today is the Summer Solstice

The sun rising over Stonehenge on summer solstice(2005) Photo:Andrew Dunn (Wikimedia)
The sun rising over Stonehenge on summer solstice(2005)
Photo:Andrew Dunn (Wikimedia)

Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the equatorial line, it is the Winter Solstice. The June Solstice usually takes place between June 20-22.  For both the UTC and local time of the solstice, go here.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it usually is the longest day of sunlight as the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun. Which translates into more sunlight particularly the further north you live. For those more closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night. For them, it is the Winter Solstice.

The coming of summer is usually a time for celebration in many cultures. Festivals in Northern Europe celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated to mark the festival. Many cultures honor the sun in some fashion. Modern day pagans and druids also celebrate the day with their own festivals and many go to Stonehenge in England to witness the first rays of summer.

Welcome to June

June by Leandro Bassono (1557-1622)
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

June is the sixth month on the Gregorian calendar. It is named for the Roman god Juno. Juno was the equivalent of the Greek god Hera, though with a few differences. Like Hera, Juno was the wife and sister of Jupiter (the Roman version of Zeus, king of the gods). Juno was the protector of the nation and watched over women. On the old Roman calendar, June was usually the fourth month as their new year started in March. June has 30 days.

June is also the month that has the most sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere. The summer solstice (winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) takes place during the month. It is a month of celebrations and weddings are very popular during this month. During Roman times getting married during the month of June was considered lucky and has become traditional since then as the month for preferred weddings.

The June symbols are pearl, alexandrite and moonstone for the birthstones, with the rose and honeysuckle for the flowers. Although officially summer does not begin until the solstice, for commercial and agricultural purposes summer begins when the month begins.


Happy Mother’s Day (US)

Karen Arnold (
Karen Arnold (


For our mothers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them reverence and love, we pray to the Lord.

For mothers who have lost a child through death, that their faith may give them hope, and their family and friends support and console them, we pray to the Lord.

For mothers who have died, that God may bring them into the joy of his kingdom, we pray to the Lord.

(,:Book of Blessings: Blessing of Mothers on Mother’s Day)