September 9th, 2009

Fly Free

Poem: "Come Midwinter at Carterhall"

You folks get a double treat today, courtesy of new prompter dormouse_in_tea who hit upon one of my favorite folk songs, performed here in a bonny rendition I've not heard before. Since the following poem is based on a traditional source, I choose to make it freely available so that people may sing it if they wish. It ought to scan to the original tune, since the old verses wander all over in syllable count anyhow.

Now look at the "Tam Lin" lyrics, by which we may deduce:

  1. Fair Janet is not what might be delicately termed a "good girl." Note how quickly everyone spots that she's pregnant, and how widely her father ranges for possible fathers.

  2. Tam Lin boffs (or simply robs) everything with long hair that comes his way. Nor does he seem overburdened with with wits.

  3. Interestingly, both Janet and Tam Lin are fair of coloring. This leaves room for some bardic mischief.
  4. This relationship is doomed with a mighty doom, making the Faerie Queen's curses utterly redundant. (What, she thought Tam Lin was monogamous?)


So herein the tale resumes, a couple months after Samhain...

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Errand Day Today

Today we need to go grocery shopping, pick up supplies for a drum-making workshop this weekend, and do other errands. I'll be extremely busy, and away from the computer for some hours.

So far, several poems from yesterday's Poetry Fishbowl have been sponsored, and I hope to get those posted later today. When I have time, I'll also send copies of poems to their prompters, and work up the post-fishbowl report. I just wanted folks to know that's not going to happen first thing today and that I haven't forgotten about it.

Thank you all for your support and your patience.
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Poem: "The Bindweed Blues"

This poem came out of yesterday's Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by minor_architect, who directed my attention to High John the Conqueror, a piece of African-American folklore. The rambling pattern of rhyme and rhythm is typical of many blues songs, as High John has appeared in this type of music before. I think this would sound good with some saxophone and harmonica.


The Bindweed Blues


Out of Africa I came –
You folk remember my name,
Little John the conqueroo.
Tell you what I’m gonna do,
I’ll leave you folk this root.
Just rub it, and be free.

High John get the boy his girl,
Conker bring the gambler luck,
Bindweed choke your enemy –
Rub that old root, and be free.

I got to go back home,
Back to Africa now.
I beat those slavers, though,
I beat ‘em like a drum –
And I can show you how.
Dig up that root and come.

High John get the boy his girl,
Conker bring the gambler luck,
Bindweed choke your enemy –
Rub that old root, and be free.

Take a shovel to that vine,
See it twist and twine.
Dry that root a spell
Then make your mojo well.
Rub it and summon me –
High John come to help you.

High John get the boy his girl,
Conker bring the gambler luck,
Bindweed choke your enemy –
Rub that old root, and be free.

Take it to the courthouse
And to the voting booth.
You can change that old world
They left you, rag and bone –
High John in your pocket
Will make the world your own.

High John get the boy his girl,
Conker bring the gambler luck,
Bindweed choke your enemy –
Rub that old root, and be free.

Bind the world to your will,
Bend it like a bow.
My power’s good still.
The Man will never know.
Bindweed’s stronger than rope,
Longer than time itself.

High John get the boy his girl,
Conker bring the gambler luck,
Bindweed choke your enemy –
Rub that old root, and be free.
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Family Skills: Trips

Trips serve many functions in family life. They allow us to visit distant relatives, explore cultural events, spend time with each other, and much more. Where you go and what you do there will depend on your personal tastes and budget. But do something -- at least once a year, and preferably once a month or more, get out of your house and make a trip.

Where to Go

  • Visit relatives from both sides of your family. Visit friends in far places too.

  • Look up some state parks and national parks in your area. World parks are listed too. Don't forget that there are many smaller local parks that you could enjoy.

  • Go to a zoo, animal sanctuary, or other wildlife exhibit.

  • Explore a museum. The big national and state ones are cool, but can be crowded and overwhelming. My personal favorites tend to be obscure little places like quilt museums or local history displays.

  • Go to a fair. County and state fairs are fun in summer, but there are many other types of exposition.

  • Shop at a megamall. I have a soft spot for Wall Drug.

  • Tour a Renaissance Faire or other historical event.

  • Visit places where you grew up.

  • Take a road trip just for the heck of it, and go where the wind takes you.



What to Do on the Road

  • Sing. Get a good songbook such as Rise Up Singing.

  • Hold discussions. If... is a fun book of questions to get you started. Courting couples may enjoy Intellectual Foreplay.

  • Practice a foreign language.

  • Hold a spelling bee.

  • Play road games. Some of these teach good mental skills -- observation, spelling, reading, memory, etc.

  • Read. If one person doesn't get carsick reading but others do, consider reading aloud. Another good choice is to play books on tape.

  • Be safe, though -- remember to teach young kids the rule, "Don't bother the driver!"


What to Do When You Get There

  • Talk about old times and exchange new family news.

  • Go camping. While you're out in the wilderness, also go hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, or anything else you can't ordinarily do at home.

  • Take lots and lots of photos. Everyone should learn at least enough camera skill for snapshots.

  • Shop for souvenirs. It's fun to pick a single thing you will collect everywhere you go. On one of our great excursions, I collected keychains and my father collected patches.

  • Eat at unique restaurants, not chains. Ethnic restaurants are especially fun.

  • Ask the locals what places are worth visiting. That's a good way to find stuff off the beaten path.

  • End each day with a discussion of what you enjoyed most and what you learned.



Trips are some of our best memories. Make them count.