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Kit Perriman

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September 24, 2018

Feral

A wild woman born

has many flagons of magic

(and still other dungeons

remain in cobweb clasps)

Warrior

She can drop her spells as stepping stones to glamor

turning each lock behind

in the black labyrinth.

 



September 21, 2018

What’s Your Poison? Cyanide!

Did you know:

  • Cyanide is found naturally in apple seeds.

apple

  • It also occurs in almonds, apricot kernels, lima beans, orange pips, cassava roots (tapioca), and bamboo shoots.
  • These seeds contain a toxic compound called amygdalin that degrades into hydrogen cyanide (HCN).
  • The form of cyanide found in cassava becomes harmless if the root is dried, smoked, or baked.
  • Cyanide is also found in cigarette smoke.  It can be chemically released from burning man-made products and  plastics in industrial fires.
  • It smells of bitter almonds, though not everyone can detect an odor.  Some people get bright-red faces.
  • Other signs of poisoning include dizziness, headaches, sickness, rapid body functioning, weakness, convulsions, unconsciousness, and lung failure.  Cyanide stops the body from absorbing oxygen.  Death comes from asphyxiation.
  • Long-tern exposure to small amounts leads to weakness, paralysis, miscarriages, liver, and kidney damage.
  • There is no natural antidote, but immediate hospitalization and medical intervention can prevent death in some cases.
  • Cyanide (Zyklon B) was used in the German gas chambers at Auschwitz, and for many judicial executions in USA gas chambers.
  • It is available in a quick-acting pill form for instant suicide.  Soldiers in high-risk-of-capture situations were sometimes issued with cyanide pills.
  • But don’t worry if you accidentally swallow some apple or orange pips.  They have a hard protective coat that passes through the human body intact so that any harmful chemicals are not absorbed!

Sources

CDC, “Facts About Cyanide” at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/cyanide/basics/facts.asp

Snopes.com, “Apple Seeds and Cyanide” at http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp

Stuart, Malcolm. The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism (London: Black Cat, 1987)

Wikipedia, “Cyanide Poisoning” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanide_poisoning



September 20, 2018

Olde English Gingerbread

gingerbread This traditional recipe has been a great favorite since medieval times!

Ingredients

1lb honey

1lb fine white dried breadcrumbs

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper

pinch of salt

butter for greasing pan

Method

  1. Lightly grease a 1″ thick shallow baking pan.
  2. Boil the honey over a medium heat and skim off the scum.
  3. Lower the heat and add the spices.
  4. Slowly add the breadcrumbs and stir well until you have an evenly-coated thick mixture.
  5. Turn the gingerbread mix into the pan.  Spread evenly. Push well into the corners.  Leave to cool.
  6. Turn out onto parchment paper and tap the base to release from the pan.
  7. Turn the gingerbread face up and cut into squares.
  8. Place a small clove in each piece.
  9. Decorate the plate with clean, dry leaves – or candy shapes.
  10. The cooled mixture can be molded like marzipan for special events!


September 18, 2018

What’s Your Poison? Mushrooms!

Did you know:

  • Mushroom poisoning is called mycetism.
  • About 100 types of fungi are toxic to humans.
  • Most deaths occur from eating the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides):

Death Cap Death Caps

  • Death Caps are a sticky pale yellow or olive green color, and their caps measure 3-6 inches.
  • They are easily peeled and often mistaken for edible varieties like the Button or Caesar mushrooms.
  • Found during the Fall, this fungus grows in woods near the bases of trees.  It likes hardwoods, preferably oaks and pines.
  • Death Caps are pretty and taste pleasant.  The effects of poisoning do not appear until 2-3 days after ingestion.  Death occurs 6 – 16 days later.
  • Toxicity is not reduced by cooking, baking, drying or freezing.
  • Poisoning produces diarrhea, vomiting, delirium, seizures, coma, and eventually results in fatal organ failure.
  • Victims of mushroom poisoning may have included Emperor Claudius (AD 54), Pope Clement VIII (1554) and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1740).
  • The Death Cap is closely associated with The Destroying Angel.  This all-white mushroom is just as deadly as its cousin.

DCF 1.0 Destroying Angel

Sources:

Adams, Cat. “Most Dangerous Mushroom” at slate.com

Fischer, David. “The Death Cap Mushroom” at americanmushrooms.com

Wikipedia. “Amanita phalloides” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_phalloides

 

 

 



September 17, 2018

Ella Fitzgerald’s / Frank Sinatra’s “That Old Black Magic”

That Old Black Magic

(Johnny Mercer, Dub Allbritten, Harold Arlen, and Ronnie Self)

That old black magic has me in its spell,
That old black magic that you weave so well,
Those icy fingers up and down my spine,
The same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine.

The same old tingle that I feel inside
And then that elevator starts its ride,
And down and down I go, round and round I go,
Like a leaf that’s caught in the tide.

I should stay away, but what can I do?
I hear your name and I’m aflame,
Aflame with such a burning desire
That only your kiss can put out the fire.

Because you are the lover I have waited for,
The mate that fate had me created for,
And every time your lips meet mine,

Darling, down and down I go, round and round I go,
In a spin, loving the spin that I’m in,
Under that old black magic called love.

Ella Fitzgerald version:

Frank Sinatra version:

Who sings it best?



September 14, 2018

Kit’s Crit: The Witch of Eye (Mari Griffith)

The Witch of Eye

Mari Griffith

witch-of-eye

Set in the mid-Fifteenth Century, The Witch of Eye is a historical fiction based on the true story of Margery Jourdemayne, a wise woman from Eye Next Westminster who eventually burned at the stake.  The infamous Witch of Eye acts on behalf of the Duchess of Gloucester, Eleanor Cobham, who is desperate to give Duke Humphrey a son.  Into these known facts Mari Griffith skillfully weaves an invented love story between a dairymaid called Jenna Harding, and Margery Jourdemayne’s yeoman farmer husband, William.

Griffith draws a convincing scene of life in medieval England and her attention to detail is very impressive.  She portrays that ambiguous time when people of all ranks looked to supernatural forces to help them achieve their desires, sometimes even assisted by members of the clergy.  Jenna Harding is the most modern – and appealing – character who is drawn into dangerous circumstances over which she has little control.  Fortunately, things work out well for her in the end.

I enjoyed this well-paced book.  Highly recommended if you like a touch of romance in your historical fiction!



September 13, 2018

What’s Your Poison? Mandrake!

Did you know:

Mandrake

  • Mandrake – Mandragora officinarum –  was historically known as Satan’s Apple.
  • The roots and leaves are highly toxic.  They result in coma and asphyxiation.
  • If ingested in large doses, mandrake causes delirium, madness, and death.
  • Its thin tuberous roots look like parsnips.  Ancient Greek and Roman physicians offered patients pieces of root to chew on before surgery because it acted as an early anesthetic.
  • This plant grows best on poor, sandy soil in full sunlight.
  • The greenish-yellow (sometimes purple) flowers are followed by round, orange seed pods.
  • Because mandrake has a narcotic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic effect, it has been aligned with Black Magic and mystical rites since the Dark Ages.
  • Also, the roots often resemble human figures.
  • Anyone who digs up a mandrake root is supposedly condemned to Hell, so animals were usually used to harvest it instead.
  • Legend claims that the mandrake root screams when it is pulled from the soil, and that anyone hearing this cry will instantly die.  This explains Shakespeare’s reference in King Henry VI, Part 1: “Would curses kill, as doth the Mandrake’s groan.”

 

Sources:

Grieve, M.  “Mandrake” at https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mandra10.html

Medieval Bestiary, “Mandrake” at http://bestiary.ca/beasts/beast1098.htm

Stuart, Malcolm. The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism (London: Black Cat, 1987)

Wikipedia, “Mandrake” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandrake

 

 

 

 



September 10, 2018

Chris De Burgh’s Spanish Train

Spanish Train

(Chris De Burgh)

There’s a Spanish train that runs between
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
and people hear she’s running still.

And then they hush their children back to sleep,
Lock the doors, upstairs they creep,
For it is said that the souls of the dead
Fill that train, ten thousand deep.

Well, a railwayman lay dying with his people by his side,
His family were crying, knelt in prayer before he died,
But above his bed just a-waiting for the dead,
Was the Devil with a twinkle in his eye,
“Well God’s not around and look what I’ve found,
this one’s mine!”

Just then the Lord himself appeared in a blinding flash of light,
And shouted at the Devil, “Get thee hence to endless night!”
But the Devil just grinned and said “I may have sinned,
But there’s no need to push me around,
I got him first so you can do your worst,
He’s going underground.

But I think I’ll give you one more chance”
said the Devil with a smile,
“So throw away that stupid lance,
It’s really not your style –
Joker is the name, Poker is the game,
we’ll play right here on this bed,
And then we’ll bet for the biggest stakes yet,
the souls of the dead!”

And I said “Look out, Lord! He’s going to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, He’s going to win.”

Well, the railwayman he cut the cards
And he dealt them each a hand of five,
And for the Lord he was praying hard
Or that train he’d have to drive.
Well, the Devil he had three aces and a king,
And the Lord, he was running for a straight,
He had the queen and the knave, and nine and ten of spades,
All he needed was the eight.

And then the Lord he called for one more card,
But he drew the diamond eight,
And the Devil said to the Son of God,
“I believe you’ve got it straight,
So deal me one, for the time has come
To see who’ll be the king of this place.”
But as he spoke, from beneath his cloak,
He slipped another ace.

Ten thousand souls was the opening bid,
And it soon went up to fifty-nine,
But the Lord didn’t see what the Devil did,
And he said “That suits me fine.
“I’ll raise you high to a hundred and five,
And forever put an end to your sins”,
But the Devil let out a mighty shout, “My hand wins!”

And I said “Lord, oh Lord, you let him win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, don’t let him win.”

the-chess-players[1] (Moirts Retzch)

Well that Spanish train still runs between,
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
And people fear she’s running still.
And far away in some recess
The Lord and the Devil are now playing chess,
The Devil still cheats and wins more souls,
And as for the Lord, well, he’s just doing his best.

And I said “Lord, oh Lord, you’ve got to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is still on time, oh my soul is on the line,
Oh Lord, you’ve got to win!”

 

Check out this creative slideshow version below!

 



September 10, 2018

What’s Your Poison? Aconite!

Did you know:

Aconitum_napellus_JPG1a[1]

  • Aconite – Aconitum napellus – was used by the Ancient Chinese to poison the tips of their arrows.
  • All parts of the plant are extremely toxic.  Death occurs in 2 – 6 hours and is caused by the paralysis of the heart.
  • Poisoning produces symptoms similar to rabies – frothy saliva, poor vision, disorientation, and coma.
  • The helmet-shaped flowers are usually a violet- blue color, but they can also be white, yellow, or pink.
  • This plant grows in moist mountain meadows and has glossy, dark green leaves.  The root looks like small turnips.
  • Aconite was historically used to kill wild predators – hence the nicknames Wolf’s Bane and Leopard’s Bane.
  • It is also commonly known as Monkshood, Devil’s Helmet, and The Queen of All Poisons.
  • Cleopatra used Aconite to kill her brother Ptolemy XIV, in order to place her own son on the throne.

 

Sources:

Stuart, Malcolm. The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism (London: Black Cat, 1987)

Wikipedia, “Aconitum” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconitum

 



September 07, 2018

Witch Dance

witch dance

Mary Wigman’s interpretation of the witch:

Drawing of Wigman by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner



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