Browsing Archives for September 2009

The last few days of our trip were the ‘Mike and Liz Leg’ whereby we met up with our friends Mike and uh…. Liz… and uh… also their three sons.  Liz grew up in a house of five sisters.  During our trip, I got to meet one of her sisters.


Jane lives in a house that is 600 years old.


Fortunately all the plumbing and electric wiring have been updated.

The above photo is of Jane’s garden.

Jane is a professional caterer and she also makes a very special Christmas cake of which she sells hundreds during the months prior to Christmas.  Making and storing the cakes in Jane’s 600 year old house is a juggling act that requires the strength of a bear, the agility of a puma and the gymnastic skills of a chimpanzee.

Jane makes the cakes in a small building in her garden and then moves them to her house until they overtake the upstairs guest room and eventually she moves them carload by carload to an off-site storage space.  Jane moves hundreds and hundreds of cakes this way every year.

Jane’s house is very close to a Domesday Church.

Until I visited England, I had never heard of the Domesday Book.  It wasn’t until we were wandering among the tombstones which are piled up in huge drifts on three sides of the church, that my friend Mike mentioned that it was a Domesday Church.

Me – A what?

Mike – A Domesday Church… have you ever heard of the Domesday Book?

Me – No.

Mike – Well then…

As we continued to walk among the graves and into the church, Mike filled me in on this fascinating bit of history…

You see…

Once upon a time there was a girl named Herleva.  Herleva was the daughter of a tanner and quite free of the fetters of conventional marriage and family life.  In some circles she was known a ‘Party Girl Herleva’ but the more clever folks of her small town in Normandy called her “You Visit Her- Leave- A Baby Behind”.  Herleva already had one baby outside of the bounds of holy matrimony (with one of the most powerful Counts in the country) but she happily traded him in when Robert the Duke of Normandy glanced her way.  She managed to have both a son and a daughter with the Duke of Normandy.  One night, the Duke sent her a message that said - Herleva – there is a friend of mine… a man friend of mine… I would like for you to meet him. Herleva was always up for meeting new man friends and when her current lover, the Duke suggested that she marry this man friend of his (Herluin of Conteville), she saw no reason not to and together, Herluin and Herleva had three more children.  She named the first, Odo, the second Robert (after the Duke), and the daughter she named Muriel.

Shortly after the marriage of his friend and his former lover, the Duke then went off and died in some far land leaving his son William (who he had with Party Girl, Herleva) as his only heir.  At seven years of age, William became the new Duke of Normandy.  Years later, William would marry Matilda of Flanders and prove a faithful husband and father to nine children.

Time passed and so did Edward the Confessor, the King of England.  He was called ‘the Confessor’ not because he had a blog, but because his Dad was named ‘Ethelred the Unready’ and his brother was named ‘Hardicanute’ and everyone knows that parents tend to give their first born children bizarre names to prove that they are more interesting than everyone else.  Shortly after the birth certificate is signed, the new parents realize that no one can spell or pronounce their child’s name, and they give subsequent children much simpler names.

So Edward The Confessor died.  William believed that he deserved the Crown of England, because one time he saved this guy named Harold from drowning.  Harold swore on the bones of a Saint that he would support William for the crown of England.  The only trouble is that Harold didn’t know he was swearing on the bones of a Saint because William hid the bones and only brought them out after Harold had promised to support him if the question of the crown of England should arise.  This pissed Harold off greatly, but he pretended not to care and then when the Witan all got together and voted over who should be King of England – they chose Harold.  (And by the way… A Witan is a bunch of Anglo Saxon Lord types getting together for a board meeting.)  William then reminded Harold that HELLO!  You owe me buddy!  Not only did I save your sinking ass, but you also swore on the bones of a Saint to support me for the Crown!  To this Harold replied something along the lines of ‘In your dreams Willie’ except it was a tad bit more colorful than that.  So Harold takes the throne, and William becomes William the Conquerer when his army shoots Harold through the eye at the Battle of Hastings on English soil on October 14th 1066.

Twenty years later William commissioned a book to find out exactly what it was he won when he won the Battle of Hastings.

I don’t really get the delay here, except that maybe in times without high-speed internet, super highways, and McDonald’s french fries, twenty years is just really not that long of a time to wait.

The book he commissioned became known as The Domesday or Doomsday Book.  Written in 1086, the book is a ‘reckoning’ of all the land, buildings, people, farm implements and livestock that existed throughout England in 1086.  William The Conqueror wanted this information so he could determine how much tax revenue he could generate from his English subjects (William ruled from afar in Normandy).  Surveyors were sent to the four corners of England to collect information and survey the land.

Only two individuals wrote the massive volumes that comprise both the Great Domesday and the Little Domesday.  One of them did the actual writing and one of them was in charge of occasionally clicking on the spell-check icon… except back then, the icon was an actual icon.  You can read more about the fascinating history of this book here.

To the medieval inhabitants of England, the vast scale of the book and the irreversible nature of it’s contents made it seem like a final judgement, a Hail Mary, a Come to Jesus, the distant thunder of impending doom or ‘dome’ as they said back in Medevial times, and so the Domesday Book received it ‘s name.

Of course, the church you see in the photo is not the exact same church that existed 900 years ago, but there are parts of the original church that still stand.  There are still some Saxon stone walls and Norman doors and there is an irrefutable entry in the Domesday book regarding a church in this very spot.

Here ends my Domesday report.

I am going to go read up on Ethelred the Unready now.


Big Brother

September 9th, 2009

My fourteen year old is always telling us how his little brother Jack is the most irritating human on the face of the planet.






And my seven year old claims that his oldest brother Cal is the most annoying person he knows.






But none of us….







Believe a word they say.

The Little House, A Parable

September 9th, 2009

Emmi, one of the Country Doctor’s nurses, recently brought a box of toys over to our house that her grand-kids had outgrown.  

Inside the box was this plastic house.




There were also a few people.




The house has been sitting on our kitchen table for a few days, and every time I look over at it, I am troubled.  





The male figure is the only person who can stand up.




Because of this, you can do all sorts of things with him that you can’t do with any of the other figures.




The house also came with a swing-set.



And a mommy who is permanently molded to be forever seated and holding a baby.




And a little girl who is also forever seated.




Because of the mommy’s seated position and the odd weight of the baby she is holding, it is very difficult to get her balanced.  




To place her on the swing or on any other type of seat, you have to place her very carefully… slowly remove your fingers… and hold your breath.  




But even if you are extra careful, both the mother and the daughter in this family have a strong tendency to fall out of their chairs and and lie in a semi-fetal position on the ground until someone helps them to get back up again.







The dad can only stand and watch.







Or he can stand and hide.






But to be fair, he truly is unable to help.

He is simply not sophisticated enough.





He needs help to help them.

And the woman on the ground holding a baby is never going to be able to understand this.




And that is the cause of 99.9% of all fatal lawn mowing accidents in the plastic house world.




The End.