Category Archives: Holidays

A Christmas Message from 1513 A.D.

Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University
Photo © Jon Oliver.

Longtime readers of my blog may remember this entry. I’m rerunning it today in honor of the season.

For many years I attended the annual Christmas concert at Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. First because I had friends in the choirs that performed there, later because I loved the music and it had become an annual tradition for me and my friends. When I moved to southern New Jersey I couldn’t get to it any more, and I miss it.

I’m not a very religious person, belonging to no church or other organized religion, but I did grow up in a church-going family, and what I always liked most about it was the music. Particularly choir music. For over twenty years the annual concert at Rutgers gave me a joyful chance to hear some great choral singing. Between the songs, there would be readings from the Christmas story in the Bible, and also another reading. I don’t know where the tradition began, or how long ago it started, but most of the years I attended, there was a reading from a letter written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo. A google search will tell you more about the historical figure, though there seems to be some uncertainty that he did indeed write the letter. Whoever the author was, I find it very moving, especially at Christmas.

Fra Giovanni letter

Many years ago I lettered up this document and gave it out to friends as a Christmas present. I thought I’d do the same for all of you this year, in the spirit of the season. There’s a higher resolution copy HERE which you can download and print if you’d like.

Thanks to Linda for reminding me about this, share it with anyone you think might be interested. And if you ever get the chance to attend “Christmas in Carol and Song” at Kirkpatrick Chapel, don’t pass it up. It’s a wonderful experience.

Ten Years After

Today is the tenth anniversary of this blog and my website, which launched July 3rd, 2007. At times that seems like yesterday, at others it seems I’ve always been doing it.

According to a new plug-in I just installed, there are 3,202,106 words on the blog (until this post). I’m guessing that includes comments and every word everywhere, as it’s a lot larger number than the last time I checked a year ago with a different plug-in, but that one doesn’t seem to work now. There have been 3,117 posts by me (including this one), and 3,951 approved comments. (That leaves out any I didn’t approve, including about half a million spam ones.)

I will be attending Comic-Con International: San Diego this year from July 20 to 24, and will no doubt be blogging about it here. Work continues on my Ira Schnapp and Danny Crespi research when I have time. I’m still reading and reviewing books and comics, though less of the latter these days. No major new comics history articles are underway, but there’s always a chance of that at some point.

I have no particular insights into how things will go on the blog in the future. I’ve cut back my workload this year, but that hasn’t meant much more time spent on the blog, at least so far. Possibly in the winter months it might. I’m still enjoying being here and having this forum for my work and interests.

Thanks to you, the readers, for stopping by and joining in! I appreciate your attention and interest in this ever more distracting world. Wishing those of you in the U.S. a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Traditional Easter Eggs 2017

We were kind of mentally exhausted from the pysanky egg decorating on Saturday, but we wanted to do the traditional hard-boiled eggs too, so we’d have some to eat. Also, the egg decorating has become a tradition and a fun competition in our family group of Ann, Dave, Ellen, Tim, Ina and myself (Zack is away at college this year). We took a dinner break and then colored the hard-boiled eggs in the evening. I didn’t get any pictures of the process this time, but past years have plenty of that, I’ll add some links at the end of this article. Each of us dyed about a half dozen eggs, and then we judged them as a group this time rather than appointing one person to judge. It worked out fine, we arrived at a consensus. Fortunately Ann had saved the winner categories from past years, and we used those. Above is the entire winner group. Continue reading

Pysanky Easter Eggs Part 2

Here’s our pysanky egg-decorating group at work at Ann and Dave Greene’s kitchen table. Left to right are Ann, my friend Tim, Dave, and my wife Ellen. I sat at the near end. It took each of us many hours to create one pysanky egg. Mine was the most ambitious and took the longest, over six hours. Here’s the entire process described. Continue reading

Pysanky Easter Eggs Part 1

For years Ellen and I and Ellen’s sister Ann and her family have made a ritual and contest of dyeing Easter eggs when we visit them for Easter. We’ve always used hard-boiled eggs and traditional dyes, but sometimes have talked about trying the more difficult and involved Pysanky egg dyeing, example above found online, which uses raw eggs and non-edible colors as well as hot wax for the shapes and lines. This year we are finally trying it. My friend Tim, who’s joined in the Easter egg coloring the last few years, bought Ellen and I a pysanky starter kit for Christmas, and Tim and Ann each bought additional supplies and tools. Two weeks ago, Ellen at I tried out our set at home, results below.

The first thing we did was to mix the twelve colors that came in dried powder form in packets. As instructed, I bought a set of 12 pint canning jars and put the colors in each one. To the powder we added 1.25 cups of boiling water and a small amount of distilled vinegar, EXCEPT for the orange, which gets no vinegar. Above, I kept the packet under that jar to remind me. I also labeled the jars to avoid confusion later.

Here are the colors mixed. They had to cool completely, then could be closed up and stored. They’re supposed to be good for about a year. Continue reading