Feb. 2nd, 2010 05:18 pm
theoldwolf: (Default)
Shut up, you deviants. I mean Jack Sparrow-type booty. Arr...

Arr, a chest o'treasure arrived in me mailbox yesterday, from a pretty wench in a far-off land. A whole bundle of silly, fun things: most useful, all appreciated.

The tie was the most interesting of all. To look at, it's just a nice Christmas-themed cravat (since I only have one other, this will be a fine addition next Yule season.) But on closer examination, there are bits and snatches of words running through the candy canes.

I could tell the writing extended through the candy canes onto the blue background, but it was impossible to see in normal light, especially with the reflection from the shiny silk. So I scanned it, hoping to bring out a bit of detail.

With a little contrast and gamma manipulation, I was able to get the words to come out a bit more (this is just a small section, and my working image was much larger):

What jumped out at me was "The Christmas Joy", "around the year", "spot", and "frozen". Doing a Google search on these words came up with one - and only one - hit, a poorly-scanned copy of Down Durley Lane and Other Ballads by Virginia Woodward Cloud, published in 1898(!), and illustrated by Reginald Bathurst Birch which included this poem, "Old Christmas":

It's a long way round the year, my dears,
A long way round the year.
I found the frost and flame, my dears,
I found the smile and tear!

The wind blew high on the pine-topp'd hill.
And cut me keen on the moor:
The heart of the stream was frozen still,
As I tapped at the miller's door.

I tossed them holly in hall and cot,
And bade them right good cheer,
But stayed me not in any spot,
For I'd traveled around the year

To bring the Christmas joy, my dears,
To your eyes so bonnie and true;
And a mistletoe bough for you, my dears,
A mistletoe bough for you!

What a delightful, hidden, and serendipitous message!

Miraculous it was that these words were even clear in the transcription, because it was a raw optical-conversion, and much of the text came out as garbage. What's more, Virginia Woodward Cloud is a rather obscure poet, not unlike Grace Noll Crowell, (whose works I had hunted for over a period of 40 years, only having success last year thanks to another deep internet search). So the odds of finding one of Cloud's poems on a Christmas tie are pretty slim.

A bit more digging found a beautiful online, zoomable copy of the book - "Old Christmas" is on page 99.

And all this because I gave the wench a stale crust of bread...
theoldwolf: (Default)
Huge hugs to [ profile] r_caton who for no ruddy good reason gifted me with some wonderful old time radio CD's - Glums Take It From Here and Lines from Grandpa's Forehead

'Tis good to have friends...
theoldwolf: (Default)

A surprise gift from [ profile] alaskawolf

Made my day, pilgrim.

Can't wait to try that birch jam. I've had Pinesap chewing gum, but this ought to be a lot better than that.
theoldwolf: (Default)
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Sometimes it's harder to receive than to give... for me to truly "receive" a gift, I have to get past old programs that shout "YOU'RE NOT WORTHY!" in the back of my mind.

Having taken that step, however, the gifts that have pleased me the most were the unexpected ones. Just this year, for example, a dear friend from Israel sent me a copy of "Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson. I struggled through Cryptonomicon and have wanted to read this for years, but never took the time to make it a priority. It was a delightful surprise.

As has been said by others, "things" tend to accumulate and rapidly lose their meaning. Gifts of self are the ones that stay in memory forever. I think the best gift I was ever given was the opportunity to take a year off from university and live in Naples, Italy for 18 months.

The gifts I have enjoyed giving the most have been gifts of service. They neither rust, nor break; neither can they be lost, or stolen.


theoldwolf: (Default)

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