Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ancient Akkadian Language Dictionary Finally Done!

I love the University of Chicago's Oriental Studies Institute! Well done!  Check out the history of the dictionary online! 

Ancient world dictionary finished — after 90 years
AP (Associated Press) reported at Yahoo News
By SHARON COHEN, AP National Writer Sharon Cohen, Ap National Writer – Sat Jun 4, 9:56 am ET

CHICAGO – It was a monumental project with modest beginnings: a small group of scholars and some index cards. The plan was to explore a long-dead language that would reveal an ancient world of chariots and concubines, royal decrees and diaries — and omens that came from the heavens and sheep livers.

The year: 1921. The place: The University of Chicago. The project: Assembling an Assyrian dictionary based on words recorded on clay or stone tablets unearthed from ruins in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, written in a language that hadn't been uttered for more than 2,000 years. The scholars knew the project would take a long time. No one quite expected how very long.

Decades passed. The team grew. Scholars arrived from Vienna, Paris, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, Berlin, Helsinki, Baghdad and London, joining others from the U.S. and Canada. One generation gave way to the next, one century faded into the next. Some signed on early in their careers; they were still toiling away at retirement. The work was slow, sometimes frustrating and decidedly low-tech: Typewriters. Mimeograph machines. And index cards. Eventually, nearly 2 million of them.

And now, 90 years later, a finale. The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is now officially complete — 21 volumes of Akkadian, a Semitic language (with several dialects, including Assyrian) that endured for 2,500 years. The project is more encyclopedia than glossary, offering a window into the ancient society of Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, through every conceivable form of writing: love letters, recipes, tax records, medical prescriptions, astronomical observations, religious texts, contracts, epics, poems and more.

Why is there a need for a dictionary of a language last written around A.D. 100 that only a small number of scholars worldwide know of? Gil Stein, director of the university's Oriental Institute (the dictionary's home), has a ready answer:

"The Assyrian Dictionary gives us the key into the world's first urban civilization," he says. "Virtually everything that we take for granted ... has its origins in Mesopotamia, whether it's the origins of cities, of state societies, the invention of the wheel, the way we measure time, and most important the invention of writing.

"If we ever want to understand our roots," Stein adds, "we have to understand this first great civilization."

The translated cuneiform texts — originally written with wedged-shaped characters — reveal a culture where people expressed joy, anxiety and disappointment about the same events they do today: a child's birth, bad harvests, money troubles, boastful leaders.

"A lot of what you see is absolutely recognizable — people expressing fear and anger, expressing love, asking for love," says Matthew Stolper, a University of Chicago professor who worked on the project on and off over three decades. "There are inscriptions from kings that tell you how great they are, and inscriptions from others who tell you those guys weren't so great. ... There's also lot of ancient versions of `your check is in the mail.' And there's a common phrase in old Babylonian letters that literally means `don't worry about a thing.'"

There were omens, too — ways of divining the future by reading smoke patterns, the stars, the moon and sheep livers.

"Like all people at all times, they wanted to try to find some way of controlling their world," says Martha Roth, the dictionary's editor-in-charge and dean of humanities. "It's very difficult to draw the line between actually believing and being superstitious."

Robert Biggs, professor emeritus at the university, devoted nearly a half century to the dictionary, sometimes uncovering tablets on digs in the Iraq desert, sometimes poring over texts in museums in London and Baghdad. His specialty is Babylonian medicine. For almost an entire year, he studied thousands of references to sheep livers.

For example: If a sheep's gallbladder — part of the liver — was long and pointed, it meant the defeat of the enemy king. If there was a certain kind of crease on the liver, it could mean the king was going on a journey. A lunar eclipse could mean danger for a king.

But the tablets reached far beyond royalty. Biggs says they included everything from a disputed paternity case to agricultural loans to famine, where desperate people sold their children for cash. "Life was very fragile ... it was much more risky that it is now," he says.

Making sense of it all was painstaking work. Some of the wedge-shaped characters changed over the thousands of years, and the tablets excavated from ancient temples, palaces and cities were frequently crumbling. Often there was no punctuation, so it was hard to know where one word ended and the other began.

"You'd sit in a room with a good light and turn the tablet in various directions to see as much as possible," Biggs explains. "Quite often the tablets were broken so you might see part of a sign. And different people looking at the same thing would see something different because of the way you'd hold it."

"Sometimes it got to be very tedious," he adds. "Other times there was a sense of exhilaration if you could solve some problem or figure out what a rare word means."

Regardless, the work continued.

"You always saw the light at the end of the tunnel," Biggs says. "But the end of the tunnel kept getting further and further away."

An early 10-year completion deadline was soon deemed unrealistic. "Scholars always underestimated how difficult it would be," Roth says. "People always expected the project would end in their lifetime. What can I tell you? That's not always the way it goes."

There was much to research, much to record. By 1935, scholars already had 1 million index cards. It would take more than 30 years before the first of the 21 volumes was published. Most cover a single letter. The entire collection spans about 10,000 pages and 28,000 words. The definitions are more fitting for an encyclopedia; they provide cultural and historical context, similar to those in the Oxford English Dictionary.

"It's not such a word means king," Roth says. "It's a matter of understanding the thousands and thousands of references to the word king in every document in every period."

Roth notes that after arriving at the university in 1979, she asked to work on the word witness or witnessing. That took four to five years. On the other hand, there might be just a dozen references to a jar holding grain and that research could be complete in an afternoon.

Now that the dictionary is finished, Roth says there's a feeling of tremendous accomplishment and "a little bit of a sense of loss.... This has occupied my waking and sleeping moments for 32 years. You dream this stuff."

The end also brings a realization as more tablets are unearthed, more discoveries will be made.

"It's like driving a Porsche off the lot and looking in the Blue Book (listing a car's worth) and seeing how much value it's lost," Stolper says. "The moment it's done, it's out of date."

Biggs says the scholars are satisfied with the final version, but there is that lingering temptation.

"It might be nice to start over," he says, "but no one has the courage to do it anymore."

2011 Chicago Open - Final Standings

These are the standings from the Open (139 players):

#NameRtngStRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Rd 5Rd 6Rd 7Rd 8Rd 9TotPrize
1GM Timur Gareyev2610UZBW70L19W46W57W20D14W16W26W57.5$10200.00
18IM Irina Krush2469NYW111W10D62D48D81D9W72W22L36.0$126.67
24WFM Tatev Abrahamyan2335CAL2W112L87W50D89W103W46D14W476.0$126.67
35WIM Iryna Zenyuk2222PAL27W107H—W130W37L8L68W80W695.5$714.29
46WIM Viktorija Ni2178LATW99L38L1W100W117D23L24D63W885.0
104Myriam Roy1924CAND50W80L48D93L45L79D85L77B—3.5
117Margaret M Hua1973MOX113D74D59L30L46L61L60D115D1213.0
118Sarah Chiang1962TXL36L60L111L110W135W126D114L76D1163.0

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Lovely Blog by WGM Jennifer Shahade from Madrid

Madrid, Spain - first week in January, 2012. That's our Goddesschess destination!

I saved this url several days ago.  I'm sorry for not posting it earlier, I've been busy with other things, darlings!  Tonight is lovely - not quite as hot and humid as predicted.  The house is still wide open and, unlike earlier in the week (Tuesday) when it was 90 degrees F inside when I'd got home from work and I turned on the central air conditioning to cool the place down, tonight it was cool inside (I'd shut down all the windows before I left at 7:25 a.m. this morning).  I spent a good hour or more on the deck feeding nuts to the squirrels and chipmunks while sipping a long, cool glass of wine. 

Photo at
 Here is Jen Shahade who, amongst other things, plays poker to earn some daily bread - a lot of bread, so I gather :)  Blogging from Madrid in mid-May, 2011 ... My notoriety in the world of chess also spread quickly, and several poker players approached me to ask which game I prefer. I arrived from Madrid directly after providing live commentary from the US Chess Championships in Saint Louis...
by Jennifer Shahade on May 31, 2011 7:34 AM

Seat draws are the curse or blessing of a traveler. My trip to Madrid began on an ominous note. On my flight from Philadelphia, I was seated next to a toucher. This man had a habit of telling me a bad joke and then accidentally brushing my leg or arm with the punch line. I couldn't sleep the entire trip. Still, soon after landing in Madrid, I immediately took to exploring the compact, energetic city.

After taking in some great art, including Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofia, I sat in an outdoor cafe to enjoy some anchovies, chocolate and churros (not all at once). A couple of ladies asked to sit next to me as there were no other outdoor tables open. I was scribbling in my notebook and not in the mood for company--I silently grimaced, but of course agreed. After some innocent conversation, I discovered that one of the women was the president of an art foundation, filled with the work of an artist whose sculptures were also puzzles. She was also the daughter of an alleged Portuguese princess. I couldn't have invented a more fascinating lunch mate if I tried. Poker players take note: allow some time before you judge your table draw.

Rest of article...

Check out Jen Shahade's website for an interesting weave of chess, poker, and the game of life. 

Picky, Picky Females!

Any female hominid roaming around 2,000,000 year ago, while certainly not human (I don't believe in evolution so I don't believe any of these earlier hominids were ever human or on-track to become human beings) showed more sense than a lot of modern human females do today, that's for damn sure!

Ancient Female Ancestors Roamed Far and Wide for Mates
by Ann Gibbons on 1 June 2011, 1:01 PM

When it came time for members of the human family to find a mate in South Africa about 2 million years ago, it was the females, not the males, who made the first move. A new study of the teeth of 19 australopithecines from cave sites in South Africa suggests that females moved away from their birthplaces far more often than the larger males, who stayed surprisingly close to home and kin.

For several decades, researchers have debated whether early human ancestors lived in close-knit social groups made up of related brothers and fathers, with new genes introduced by female mates gathered from other groups. Chimpanzees follow this pattern too, but in most primates, new males move into groups of related females; in gorillas, for example, one male lives in a harem with many related females. It has been a “monumental task” to test models of the social organization of early members of the human family, known as hominins, says Matt Sponheimer, a co-author of the new study and a paleoanthropologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “It’s as if someone told you to investigate the ecology of a giraffe but you were forbidden to observe them in the wild and confined to a room that contained a relatively small number of giraffe bones.”

...blah blah blah. In other words, cutting through all the crap, we still don't know - and we never will, as long as scientists continue to insist upon the crazy idea that human beings "descended" (or perhaps "ascended?") from chimpanzees and their ilk.  Well, eventually they'll figure it out - it may take another 50 to 100 years for DNA science to catch up and interpretation of data, likewise -- and then who knows if the truth will finally be fully told? There are a lot of vested interests at stake at work against revealing the truth. I'll probably die around 2045, so I may not be alive to see it. Goddess, I sound like X Files!  LOL!  I'm not a conspiracy theorist person by any means, but after having lived for 60 years on this poor, abused Mother Earth, I have learned that when it comes to big money interests, THEY WILL STOP AT NOTHING to preserve their money stream. 

You can read the rest of the story if you like - but it's more of the same blah blah blah...  I do wish that modern human females would get with the program regarding selecting suitable males with whom to breed and produce offspring that represent the future of human society.  Politcians - NO!  Rap singers - NO!  Drug Dealers - NO!  Males who have taken religious "vows" or undertaken religious study and perpert to be "authorities" (even if they have a 70 IQ) - regardless of race or creed - SUPER BIG NO!  That excludes, oh, 99.9999999% of religious males. Professional athletes - NO!  If they don't already have 10 or more baby-mommas out there clammering/suing for support/paternity actions/contracting a hit to take them out for revenge (say what?), they think they're immune to the normal trials and tribulations that affect the rest of humanity. That's just plain dumb stupid.  Why would you ever want to breed with a just plain dumb stupid man, regardless how cute he appears at present? 

Whatever, darlings.  It seems we were taken over by Disney World long ago, and these days femmes who otherwise have most of their shit together are really, really stupid when it comes to selecting males with whom to copulate.  Just goes to prove - Darwin's theory is full of baloney!  If it were true, we should have been extinct within a thousand years or so after the time so-called "modern man" appeared on the scene.  But then, there is always hope. There was, for instance, Ringo Starr...

Marshall Matt Dillon a/k/a Actor James Arness Dead, at 88

Actor James Arness died today. 

Ohmygoddess.  I don't know what it was about that show that gripped me so -- 

I don't remember watching it while I lived at home, growing up.  The very first time I remember watching it was when I lived with a roommate, a high-school chum, Linda M., in a 2-bedroom place off Cambridge Avenue on Milwaukee's trendy East side.  That had to be about 1971 or 1972.  I don't know how we started watching the show, but I think it was on Friday nights.  Watched it a few times and thereafter watched it faithfully until it went off the air.  I thought it was later than 1975.  Wow.  I remember good story lines and fine acting. 
From IMDb.
 We were totally enamoured of the relationship between the Marshall and Miss Kitty.  So much of it was unspoken - but that they loved each other intensely, and respected each other greatly, was apparent in the words they did say, and each and every nuanced gesture between them.  It was the great love story that spanned 20 years that I remember first and foremost, and then - the stories themselves, week after week. Such fine writing!  Oh, I know it sounds ridiculous that a hot chick in her early 20's was hooked on Gunsmoke, but you know, back then, like EVERYONE watched that program! 

Now that I'm taking a trip down memory lane to those years, I remember how pissed I was when the network took the show off the air.  It was on CBS - the network with the big "eye" logo that was always just a bit spooky - too much like 1984, I guess. 

There were lots of westerns on when I was growing up.  My friend Ann loves watching re-runs of The Big Valley today - she loves the character of "Nick Barkley" - he's her true idea of what a real man should be (can't say I totally disagree).  I remember growing up watching Bonanza.  There were also rotating western series that I remember -- Bronco (Bronco Lane), Maverick, Wyatt Earp, Daniel Boone (not really a "western"), probably a few others.  And such shows as Have Gun Will Travel (Paladin was the last name of the main character), Wagon Train, and The Rifleman. 

An era is truly gone now.  My Dad, a WWII vet who died just a few days before Veteran's Day in November, 2002, used to speak highly of James Arness and his war record. Even as a young inexperienced chick in the early 70's I could appreciate a man that my Dad spoke highly of.  Marshall Dillon never disappointed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Horror in Aba, Nigeria

Goddess only knows what the fate of the infants was.  How sick and warped the world has become, where it is routine to victimize the weak and the helpless.  Females and children.  Always the victims.

From Yahoo News
Nigerian 'baby factory' raided, 32 teenage girls freed
– Wed Jun 1, 10:32 am ET
LAGOS (AFP) – Nigerian police have raided a home allegedly being used to force teenage girls to have babies that were then offered for sale for trafficking or other purposes, authorities said on Wednesday.

"We stormed the premises of the Cross Foundation in Aba three days ago following a report that pregnant girls aged between 15 and 17 are being made to make babies for the proprietor," said Bala Hassan, police commissioner for Abia state in the country's southeast.

"We rescued 32 pregnant girls and arrested the proprietor who is undergoing interrogation over allegations that he normally sells the babies to people who may use them for rituals or other purposes."

Some of the girls told police they had been offered to sell their babies for between 25,000 and 30,000 naira (192 dollars) depending on the sex of the baby.

The babies would then be sold to buyers for anything from 300,000 naira to one million naira (1,920 and 6,400 dollars) each, according to a state agency fighting human trafficking in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

The girls were expected to be transferred to the regional NAPTIP offices in Enugu on Wednesday, the regional head Ijeoma Okoronkwo told AFP.

Hassan said the owner of the "illegal baby factory" is likely to face child abuse and human trafficking charges. Buying or selling of babies is illegal in Nigeria and can carry a 14-year jail term.

"We have so many cases going on in court right now," said Okoronkwo.

In 2008, police raids revealed an alleged network of such clinics, dubbed baby "farms" or "factories" in the local press.

Cases of child abuse and people trafficking are common in West Africa. Some children are bought from their families to for use as labour in plantations, mines, factories or as domestic help.

Others are sold into prostitution while a few are either killed or tortured in black magic rituals. NAPTIP says it has also seen a trend of illegal adoption.

"There is a problem of illict adoption and people not knowing the right way to adopt children," said Okoronkwo.

Human trafficking is ranked the third most common crime after economic fraud and drug trafficking in the country, according to UNESCO.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Goddess Demeter - in the Christian Form

We've seen this in other cases of ancient goddesses (particularly) incorporated into the Christian pantheon (although Church Fathers would never describe it that way!) as "saints."

Fragment of "Demeter" stolen from Eleusis in 1801 CE, now residing in the
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, England.  According to the
Fitzwilliam, this is not a bust of Demeter, per se, but part of a pair of colums
that flanked the entrance into the sanctum sanctorium of Demeter's Temple at Eleusis.
 It supposedly represents one of the daughters of Appius Claudius Pulcher, the
Roman consul who dedicated the gateway that they supported, between 54 and 48 BC."
 From Barbara G. Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

Demetra, Saint [not to be confused with Saint Demetria]
[This is the entry directly under Demeter, the Goddess]

As was the rule with other manifestations of the Great Goddess, there was an attempt to Christianize Demeter by making a saint of her.  Though the church refused to canonize "St. Demetra" officially, yet she remained a great favorite of the people, who told miracle-tales abou her and prayed to her as fervently as if she were a certified member of the canon.

The classic myth of Kore-Persephone and Demeter was retold as a popular fairy tale centering on St. Demetra.  The saint's daughter {Kore} was kidnapped by "a wicked Turkish wizard" {Hades} and locked up in a tower.  A young hero rescued her, but perished miserably, chopped in pieces by the wizard and hung from the tower's walls "between heaven and earth."  Guided by a stork {her ancient toemic bird of  birth}, St. Demetra arrived on the scene, reassembled the hero, and brought him back to life.(1)  Several elements of this story were repeated in the Germanic fairy tale of Rapunzel.

A masculinized version of Demeter - or perhaps one of her Demetreroi - was accepted into the canon as a "St. Demetrius," of no known date, and no real biograpny.  His legend, established in the late Middle Ages, made him a warrior saint like the equally mythical St. George.  The basic story was invented to publicize his healing relics preserved at Salonika.(2)

(1)  Lawson, 80-84.
(2)  Attwater, 102.

The Cabinet of Curiosities has further information and historical background to fill in the legend of Saint Demetra.  It recalled to my mind something I knew but had forgot - that the Turks (Muslims) in the form of the Ottoman Empire ruled Greece from the 15th century CE until 1821 CE!  The updating of the legend of Demeter and Kore/Persephone was thus updated very late, indeed, to satisfy the mandates of the Greek Christian Orthodox Church.  Wink, wink. 

I found Lawson (see Note 1 from Walker, above) online at Google booksModern Greek Folkore and Ancient Greek Religion: A Study in Survivals, 1909.  John Cuthbert Lawson.  You can read the entire updated tale that has the "Turkish" villain/kidnapper/ravisher of Kore/Persephone there.

According to the Cabinet of Curiosities, the tower-like structure on this maiden's head is called a cista and it may have held sacred artifacts used in the Eleusinian rights.  That may be correct, but I think it could also be a representation of the "tower" that the "archaic" Goddess Kar wore on her head.  Kar was an important Goddess in "walled cities" such as Carthage and was, like Demeter, a primal Mother Goddess. Kar - was a manifestation of walled fortifications that the earliest "cities" used to protect themselves against raids and unwanted visitors, and the custom was copied down through the ages - indeed, into cities built in the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe.  The "Old City" of Jerusalem is just one example of a city using Kar's walled fortifications.  Many cities today still survive with this remnant of the Goddess' name of "KAR" or "CAR" in their names.   

Goddess Demeter

Posts of prior interest:

The Former Getty's Aphrodite Might Not be Aphrodite After All
May 20, 2011

Chicomecoatl and Chimalman

June 6, 2010

Dogs in Myth and Legend (Keres related to Demeter)
December 27, 2009

From Barbara G. Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.

Tholos tomb at Mycenae - note the "de" (delta/triangle) above
the door into the tomb. 
Greek meter is "mother."  De is the delta, or triangle, a female-genital sign known as "the letter of the vulva" in the Greek sacred alphebet, as in India it was the Yoni Yantra, or yantra of the vulva.(1)  Corresponding letters - Sanskrit dwr, Celtic duir, Hebrew daleth - meant the Door of birth, death or the sexual paradise.(2)  Thus, Demeter was what Asia called "the Doorway of the Mysterious Feminine ... the root from which Heaven and Earth sprang."(3)  In Mycenae, one of Demeter's earliest cult centers, tholos tombs with their triangular doorways, short vaginal passages and round domes, represented the womb of the Goddess from which rebirth might come.  Doorways generally were sacred to women.  In Sumeria they were painted red, representing the female "blood of life."(4)  In Egypt, doorways were smeared with real blood for religious ceremonies, a custom copied by the Jews for their Passover rites.

The triangle-door-yoni symbolized Demeter's trinity.  Like all the oldest forms of the basic Asiatic Goddess she appeared as Virgin, Mother, and Crone, or Creater, Preserver, Destroyer, like Kali-Cunti who was the same yoni-mother.  Demeter's Virgin form was Kore, the Maiden, sometimes called her "daughter," as in the classical myth of the abduction of Kore, which divided the two aspects of the Goddess into two separate individuals.  Demeter's Mother form had many names and titles, such as Despoena, "the Mistress"; Daeira, "the Goddess"; the Barley-Mother; the Wise One of Earth and Sea; or Pluto, "Abundance."  This last name was transferred to the male underworld god said to have taken the Maiden into the earth-womb during the dark season when fields lay fallow.  But this was a late, artificial myth.  The original Pluto was female, and her "riches" were poured out on the world from her breasts.(5)

The Crone phase of Demeter, Persephone-the-Destroyer, was identified with the Virgin in late myth, so the Maiden abducted into the underworld was sometimes Kore, sometimes Persephone.  Some of the Destroyer's other, earlier names were Melaina, the Black One; Demeter Chthonia, the Subterranean One; or The Avenger (Erinys).  Her black-robed, mare-headed idol, her mane entwined with Gorgon snakes, appeared in one of her oldest cave-shrines, Mavrospelya, the Black Cave, in Phigalia (southwest Arcadia).  She carried a dolphin and a dove, symbols of womb and yoni.  Like the devouring death-goddess everywhere, she was once a cannibla.  She ate the flesh of Pelops, then restored him to life in her cauldron.(6)  She was as fearsome as every other version of the Crone.  The legendary medieval Night-Mare - an equine Fury who tormented sinners in their sleep - was based on ancient images of Mare-headed Demeter.

See note for this image from Eleusis below.
Her cult was already well established at Mycenae in the 13th century B.C. and continued throughout Greece well into the Christian era, a length of time almost equal to the lifespan of Christianity itself.(7)  Her temple at Eleusis, one of the greatest shrines in Greece, became the center of an elaborate mystery-religion.  Sophocles wrote, "Thrice happy they of men who looked upon these rites ere they go to Hades's house; for they alone there have true life."  Aristides said, "The benefit of the festival is not merely the cheerfulness of the moment and the freedom and respite from all previous troubles, but also the possession of happier hopes concerning the end, hopes that our life hereafter will be the better, and that we shall not lie in darkness and filth - the fate that is believed to await the uninitiated."  Isocrates said: "Dementer . . . being graciously minded towards our forefathers because of their services to her, services of which none but the initiated may hear, gave us the greatest of all gifts, first, those fruits of the earth which saved us from living the life of beasts, and secondly, that rite which makes happier the hopes of those that participate therein concerning both the end of life and their whole existence."(8)

Eleusis meant "advent."  Its principal rites brought about the advent of the Divine Child or Savior, variously named Brimus, Dionysus, Triptolemus, Iasion, or Eleuthereos, the Liberator.  Like the corn, he was born of Demeter-the-earth and laid in a manger or winnowing basket.(9)  His flesh was eaten by communicants in the form of bread, made from the first or last sheaves.  His blood was drunk in the form of wine.  Like Jesus, he entered the Earth and rose again.  Communicants were supposed to partake of his immortality, and after death they were known as Demetreioi, blessed ones belonging to Demeter.(10)

Revelations were imparted to the initiate through secret "things heard, things tasted, and things seen."(11)  This formula immediately calls to mind the three admonitory monkeys covering ears, mouth, and eyes, supposedly to illustrate the maxim "Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil."  Was the "evil" a secret descended from Eleusian religion?  Demeter was worshipped as "the Goddess" by Greek peasants all the way through the Middle Ages, even up to the 19th century at Eleusis where she was entitled "Mistress of Earth and Sea."  In 1801 two Englishmen named Clarke and Cripps caused a riot among the peasants by taking the Goddess's image away to a museum in Cambridge.(12)

Early Christians were much opposed to the Eleusinian rites because of their overt sexuality, even through their goal was "regeneration and forgiveness of sins."(13)  Asterius said, "Is not Eleusis the scene of descent into the darkness, and of the solemn acts of intercourse between the hierophant and the priestess, alone together?  Are not the torches extinguished, and does not the large, the numberless assembly of common people believe that their salvation lies in that which is being done by the two in the darkness?"(14)  Fanatic monks destroyed the temple of these sexual mysteries in 396 A.D., but the site remained holy to the Goddess's votaries, and the ceremonies were carried on there and elsewhere.(15)

Rustics never ceased believing that Demeter's spirit was manifest in the final sheaf of the harvest, often called the Demeter, the Corn Mother, the Old Woman, etc.  At harvest festivals it was often dressed in woman's clothing and laid in a manger to make the cattle thrive.(16)  Secret anti-Christian doctrines of medieval Freemasonry also drew some symbolism from the cults of the ancient Mistress of Earth and Sea, particularly the masonic sacred image of Plenty: "an ear of corn near a fall of water."(17)  The ultimate Mystery was revealed at Eleusis in "an ear of corn reaped in silence" - a sacred fetish that the Jews called shibboleth.(18)

(1)  Mahanirvanatantra, 127.
(2)  Gaster, 302.
(3)  de Riencourt, 175.
(4)  Hays, 68.
(5)  Graves, W.G., 159, 406; G.M. 1, 61; G.M. 2, 25.
(6)  Graves, G.M. 2, 30.
(7)  Encyc. Brit., "Demeter."
(8)  Lawson, 563-64.
(9)  Graves, W.G., 159.
(10)  Angus, 172.
(11)  H. Smith, 127.
(12)  Lawson, 79, 89-92.
(13)  Angus, 97.
(14)  Lawson, 577.
(15)  Angus, vii.
(16)  Frazer, G.B., 473.
(17)  Elworthy, 105.
(18)  d'Alviella, 2.

Regarding the use of red on the door area of a tholos (or beehive) tomb, see The Tholos Tombs of Mycenae: The great doors opened between two half colums of green serpentin with relief decoration while the pediment and relieving triangle were clad in red marble.

For some interesting comments regarding the antiquity (or not) of the practice of painting doors red, see The Garden - This Old House forums

Both of the images above are from that appears to be a synopsis of a tour it offered in 2007 for a mere $1800 - that sounds absolutely fantastic!  It included Eleusis and Mycenae among other sites over 7 days.  The information the website provided accompanying the photograph from Eleusis is particularly interesting - note the mention of Pluto (noted by Barbara Walker, above, as another aspect/name of Demeter before the she-Pluto was turned into a 'he' by the Greeks).  Also note the reference to the comb as a sacred female object used during the Eleusinian rites -- we've seen a comb show up in both Lamiak imagery and Lilith imagery! 

Eleusis was the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the most important cult religion of antiquity before Christianity. Like most ancient religious centers, Eleusis was used for cult practices far into prehistoric times, but its fame and importance greatly increased during the 6th century BC, when a major building project was carried out by the Athenian tyrant Peisistratos. Another large-scale reconstruction occurred during the 2nd century AD, especially during the reigns of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. The cult continued to function until the end of the 4th century.

The Eleusinian religion was based on the myth of Demeter and her daughter Kore (Persephone). After Kore had been carried off by her uncle Hades to be his bride and the queen of the underworld, Demeter searched for her everywhere; when she came to Eleusis, she disguised herself as an old woman and sat by a well; the women of Eleusis, coming to draw water, tried to talk to Demeter but got no response until a woman named Baubo or Iambe exposed herself to the goddess; Demeter smiled and told the women the fiction that she was Doso from Crete, that she had been captured by pirates, and was now wandering friendless and penniless; having secured a position as nursemaid to the infant son of King Keleus and Queen Metaneira, Demeter held the baby every night in the fire, trying to burn away its mortality; one night Metaneira came upon this scene and cried out; Demeter revealed her true identity, commanded the Eleusinians to build her a temple, and sealed herself inside; since she was the goddess of fertility and vegetation, nothing grew during her isolation; finally Zeus, realizing that without crops, animals, or humans being born there was no future for the gods, commanded his brother Hades to return Kore to her mother; Hades did so, but since Kore had eaten pomegranate seeds in the underworld she was compelled to spend half of each year above the earth and half below (in fact, despite this arrangement, we never hear of Kore/Persephone henceforth other than as the queen of the underworld).

The annual ceremony of the Greater Eleusinia took place every September; initiates holding a small pig purified themselves (and the pig) in the sea, then marched in procession to Eleusis for several days of varying activity, sometimes orgiastic, sometimes in silent mourning; at the climax of the rites, the high priest (Hierophant) and priestess enacted the marriage of Zeus and Demeter (perhaps quite graphically, as analogy with other cult rituals indicates) and the birth of their child; the celebrants handled sacred objects (e.g., a triangle, a serpent, a fennel stalk, a women’s comb, all condemned as obscene by early Christian converts from the mysteries) and then, stunned by the sudden appearance of a great fire from the inner shrine, were shown the supreme sacred object (probably a sheaf of wheat).

The great attraction of the religion was surely that it promised a special sort of afterlife to its initiates. However, since revelation of the nature of the religion and its rites was strictly forbidden, we have no sure idea of what this afterlife consisted. Since the charter myth of the religion concerns the separation of a mother and her child and the eventual reunion of mother and child, I would suppose that the afterlife promised to good Eleusinians was in some way represented as a return to the blissful situation of earliest childhood, before that fateful separation of mother and child, the basis of all subsequent anxiety, took place. Our only ancient evidence says merely that the Eleusinians after death continued to practice the Eleusinian mysteries. In any case, almost anything would be preferable to the usual Greek concept of the afterlife, which regarded the souls of the dead as insensate and powerless, flitting around in the darkness of the underworld and making squeaking noises like bats.

Entering from the east we are in a large forecourt, with a temple of Artemis and a well. We pass through what was the Greater Propylaia, patterned after the Akropolis Propylaia; part of the pediment is in the forecourt, and the relief bust on it may be Marcus Aurelius, who built the Propylaia; we then pass through a second gate, the Lesser Propylaia (forbidden to the non-initiated in antiquity under pain of death); to the right is the Ploutonion, an area and cavern sacred to Plouto; we then come to the Telesterion, or Temple of Demeter, with an inner sanctuary, the Anaktoron; the chief ceremonies of the cult took place in this temple, which was about 170 feet square with 42 columns and eight rows of seats on each side; West is a late Bouleuterion (Council hall) and above is the Museum, very small and very interesting. Outside is a beautiful Roman sarcophagus of the 2nd century AD. Inside are 6 small rooms: 1 contains a magnificent archaic amphora with scenes of Odysseus blinding the Cyclops Polyphemos and Perseus fleeing the pumpkin-headed Gorgon sisters of Medousa; 2 has a cast of the Demeter/Kore relief we saw in the National Museum; 4 contains two models of the site (the lower is the Peisistratid [6th century BC] and the upper is the 2nd century AD Roman); 5 has part of a caryatid column from the Lesser Propylaia and a piece of burial cloth, the only surviving example from Classical times; 6 has pottery representing continuous habitation from the early Bronze Age to the 5th century AD, including fertility idols of the Cycladic type.
The baby pig used as a flesh and blood sacrifice (I suspect it was in place of the symbolic "son" who was born every year after the sacred marriage and mating of the hierophant and the priestess of Demeter) was an animal sacred to the Great Goddess and Walker has some interesting things to say about the pig/boar, too.  I'll get to that in another post.

Further information on the mare-headed (night-mare) aspect of Demeter.  As per usual, the Greeks added a misogynistic twist to the original tale of Demeter and Kore/Persephone by adding a rape of Demeter by Zeus.  Those Greek dudes sure did a lot of raping of non-Greek female goddesses.  Of course, it was just political glossing over of the extremely powerful (and thus greatly feared) ancient goddesses of non-Greek origin.  Those goddesses had to be made into relatively harmless icons of female powerlessness and what better way to do that than through the brutal force of rape?  In the case of Demeter, raped by Zeus when she took the form of a mare; in the case of Kore/Persephone, who was the virgin aspect of Demeter but the Greeks called her Demeter's "daughter" - she was carried off by Hades and raped in the underworld.  This is all rather perverse, though, because Hades was just another version of Pluto, who was, as noted above, Greek-ized into a male but was originally just another aspect of and name for Demeter!  So, in effect, Demeter "raped" herself. this is the best the ancient Greek dudes could come up with.  Geez!

Image from The Chess Piece
 I haven't located any actual ancient images of the mare-headed "night-mare" Demeter aspect (with Gorgon serpent mane) (like an ancient sculpture or painted on a krater or other vessel), but I suspect that this is a tamed-down image of her. She is modelled, of course, after the famous horses depicted on the Parthenon of the Goddess Athena on the Acropolis in Athens, and Staunton used those very horses as his inspiration for his "classically designed" chess "knights!"  A "knight"?  Heh heh heh...

I don't know about you, but if I had been one of those ancient Greek male rapists (whether literally or figuratively), I'd have been plenty scared to fall asleep and see one of these coming after me in my dreams.  Those wild eyes!  Those snapping big teeth!  That crazy smile! That wavy, hairy mane that could actually be Gorgon serpents!  EEK! 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Former Getty's Aphrodite Might Not Be Aphrodite, After All...

Fascinating.  My first impression when I saw this image was that it's a man in drag.  The tiny head, sans hair and headdress, doesn't help the impression any!  It does not look like it belongs to the rest of the sculpture!

From The Los Angeles Times
She's no longer the Getty goddess, but statue is still a puzzle
Jason Felch
May 29, 2011
The goddess statue leaves one controversy behind to find a new home in a small museum in Aidone, Italy, but still in question is which deity she actually represents.

Reporting from Aidone, Italy —— In ancient times, central Sicily was the bread basket of the Western world. Fields of rolling wheat and wildflowers, groves of olive and pomegranate and citrus — even today, fertility seems to spring from the volcanic soils surrounding Mt. Etna as if by divine inspiration.

It was here on the shores of Lake Pergusa that ancient sources say Persephone, the goddess of fertility, was abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld. She was forced to return there for three months every year, the Greek explanation for the barren months of winter.

When Greek colonists settled the region some 2,500 years ago, they built cult sanctuaries to Persephone and her mother, Demeter. The ruins of Morgantina, the major Greek settlement built here, brim with terra-cotta and stone icons of the two deities.

It seems a fitting new home for the J. Paul Getty Museum's famous cult statue of a goddess, which many experts now believe represents Persephone, not Aphrodite, as she has long been known.

Since the Getty's controversial purchase of the statue in 1988 for $18 million, painstaking investigations by police, curators, academics, journalists, attorneys and private investigators have pieced together the statue's journey from an illicit excavation in Morgantina in the late 1970s to the Getty Museum.

The Getty returned the goddess to Italy this spring, and a new exhibition showing the statue and other repatriated antiquities from a private American collector and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was inaugurated here last week.

The goddess' new home is a 17th century Capuchin monastery that now serves as the archaeological museum in Aidone, a hilltop village of about 6,000 residents. The cozy museum, which holds up to 150 visitors at a time, contains the most important objects discovered in the nearby ruins of Morgantina.

During its 22 years at the Getty Museum, the statue was virtually ignored by scholars, thanks largely to the aura of controversy that surrounded it. But as the scandal recedes, new, deeper mysteries about her are finally coming to the fore.

Who is the goddess? Does her slightly awkward marble head really belong atop the massive limestone body? Where precisely was she found? And what can she tell us about the ancient Greek colonists who worshipped her some 2,400 years ago?

The fact that so little is known about the marble and limestone statue — one of the few surviving sculptures from the apex of Western art — illustrates the lasting harm brought by looting and the trade in illicit antiquities. As the goddess was smuggled through the black market, she was stripped of her meaning and rendered a mute object of beauty.

The one thing scholars agree upon is her importance. The goddess' clinging, windblown drapery is a clear reference to Phidias, the Greek master who a few decades earlier carved the figures that adorned the Parthenon in Greece — many of which now reside in the British Museum.

"It's one of the very few examples we have from the high Classical period," said Katerina Greco, a Sicilian archaeological official and leading expert in Greek art who wrote one of the few studies of the statue. "There is nothing like it in Italy."

Today, central Sicily is an underdeveloped backwater of Europe. Just 17,000 visitors currently see the archaeological museum in Aidone where the statue now sits. At the Getty, about 400,000 saw her every year.

Residents here hope that the statue's return marks the beginning of a new chapter, one focused on economic development and a deeper understanding of the goddess' identity and significance.

"The statue didn't exist by herself, she was made for a specific place and a particular purpose," said Flavia Zisa, president of Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Kore in nearby Enna.

Most experts today agree the goddess most likely does not represent Aphrodite, as former Getty antiquities curator Marion True surmised when she proposed the statue for acquisition. But because some key fragments are missing from the goddess, scholars remain divided.

Greco has argued that the goddess represents Demeter, noting her matronly build and the remains of a veil covering her hair, a feature most often identified with older women in Greek times. In a forthcoming study, New York University professor Clemente Marconi will expand on his argument that the goddess is Persephone.

In an acknowledgement of the changing views of the statue's identity, Sicilian officials have re-branded the statue as the "goddess" of Morgantina and abandoned earlier references to Venus, the Roman name for Aphrodite.

More definitive answers to the mysteries of the goddess may rest with the looters who dug her up. If the statue's exact excavation spot were known, archaeologists could re-excavate the area and build a better understanding of her purpose.

But omerta — the Sicilian oath of silence — has long kept that key piece of information a secret. Whispers in Aidone tell of two shepherd brothers who found the statue on the eastern flank of Morgantina where a sanctuary to Demeter and Persephone has been found.

"It is time for them to speak," said Silvio Raffiotta, a local prosecutor who investigated the statue's looting in the 1990s. "Now there is no risk."

The journey of the Getty's cult goddess is told in Felch's new book, "Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum," co-written with Ralph Frammolino and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Oh my my, Dr. Zahi Hawass throwing another hissy fit...

See post from yesterday about infrared satellite images being used to great advantage to discover future archaeological dig sites in Egypt.

Egypt’s Hawass says BBC broke regulations
May 29th, 2011 | By Desmond Shephard
Bikyamasr Blog

[Excerpted] CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass wrote on his official blog that the BBC had broken government regulations on the reporting of the discovery of 17 previously unknown pyramids and thousands of tombs via satellite.

“According to Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) regulations, it is prohibited for anyone to announce a discovery before notifying and obtaining the approval of the Ministry first,” he wrote.

“This procedure is in place to ensure that any discoveries people want to announce are real and have been officially verified. If every mission authorized to carry out work in Egypt was allowed to announce things without them being checked first, there could potentially be lots of false claims made all the time,” Hawass added.

Hawass' blog comments.

Upcoming Women's Events

The remainder of 2011 is jam-packed with great women's chess events:

Panamerican Women's Championship, Guayaquil, Ecuador, 12 Jun 2011 - 18 Jun 2011
 1st Hangzhou Women International 2011, Hangzhou, China, 31 Jul 2011 - 11 Aug 2011
 World Junior Girls 2011, Chennai, India, 1 Aug 2011 - 16 Aug 2011
Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series Rostov, Russia 1-Aug-2011 15-Aug-2011

Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series Shenzhen, China 6-Sep-2011 20-Sep-2011
 European  Club Cup 2011 for Men and Women, Rogaska Slatina, Slovenia, 24 Sep 2011 - 2 Oct 2011
 Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series Nalchik, Russia 8-Oct-2011 23-Oct-2011
Women's World Championship Match 2011 10-Nov-2011 5-Dec-2011
Women's World Team Championship 2011 Mardin, Turkey 18-Dec-2011 28-Dec-2011

So, the Women's World Championship Match is on the calendar - but no city listed to host it.  Hmmmm.  The deadline for submitting bids is May 31, 2011 (in my time zone).  Will FIDE surprise us by announcing an accepted bid?

Some items of interest from the Official Regulations for the Match:

13. Prize Fund

13.1 The prize fund of the match, provided by the organizer, should be a minimum of 300,000 (three
hundred thousand) euros, net of any applicable local taxes. The prize fund will be divided 60% for the
winner and 40% to the loser if the FWWCM ends within the 10 regular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55% and the loser 45%.

13.2 The organizer shall pay to FIDE an amount of 20% over and above the total prize fund, net of any
applicable local taxes.

13.3 If the match is played in the country of one of the players, then the opponent shall receive 5%
from the Prize Fund. The balance of the Prize Fund shall then be shared in accordance to Article 13.1

13.4 Before the start of the FWWCM, the players shall each receive 50,000 (fifty thousand) euros in
accordance to the terms of the contract to be signed with FIDE. This amount shall be deducted from the
Prize Fund. The balance of their share of the Prize Fund shall be remitted to the players within ten days
after the completion of the FWWCM.

14. Other expenses

14.1 The organizer shall pay to FIDE an additional 5% over and above the prize fund, net of any local
taxes, to receive the commercial rights (does not include live broadcast of the event or the games).

14.2 The organizer shall pay to FIDE an additional 15,000 (fifteen thousand) euros over and above the
prize fund, net of any applicable taxes, for the budget of the FIDE Commission for World Championships and Olympiads. This budget includes all expenses of FIDE concerning inspections,
meetings with the Organizer, stipend of FIDE Supervisor (where appointed), other meetings of the
WCOC, etc.

14.3 If required by FIDE, the organizer will provide an electronic device to block all mobile signals
around the playing area of the FWWCM. The total cost should be included in the budget of the
organizer and will not exceed the amount of 8,000 (eight thousand) euros.

14.4 If the FWWCM is played in the country of one of the players, the organizer shall provide an
amount of 3,000 euros to the opponent as compensation for transportation and hospitality for inspection

14.5 The stipends to be paid to the FIDE Principals of the FWWCM are (in euros):

Chairman of Appeals Committee: 7,500
Two members of Appeals Committee: 9,000 (4,500 euros each)
Chief Arbiter: 6,000
Deputy Arbiter: 4,000
Press Officer: 4,000
FIDE Medical Commission: 2,000

I come up with a "maximum" total of 415,500 Euros - net of taxes, which presumably the organizer(s) would have to pay out of their own pockets either directly to the taxing authorities, since turning the additional "tax money" over to the players would in no way guarantee that the funds would subsequently be used to pay the requisite taxes.  Hmmmm, wonder what the potential tax liability would be?  Another 100,000 Euros or so (using 20% as a tax rate)?  More? 

FIDE is nuts!

2nd Danzhou GM 2011

Here is what Mark Crowther at The Week in Chess said:

Mark Crowther - Tuesday 24th May 2011

The 2nd Danzhou tournament took place 15th-24th May 2011. Yu Yangyi was the clear winner with 7/9. After a lot of hard, and broadly successful, chess recently, probably in preparation for her match with Humpy Koneru Women's World Chess Champion Hou Yifan had a disaster coming last with 2/9.

To be fair, Hou was playing against her toughest competition todate.  She started out with a bang by winning the first game behind the white pieces against Zhou Weiqi.  That was her first and last victory. Even Zhou managed to garner 4 points in 9 games.

Danzhou (CHN), 17-24 v 2011cat. XVII (2659)
1.Yu, YangyigCHN2646*1½½½111½172880
2.Wang, YuegCHN27140*11½½½½½12733
3.Bu, XiangzhigCHN2662½0*½1½½1½12739
4.Zhou, JianchaogCHN2636½0½*½110½152704
5.Wang, HaogCHN2732½½0½*½½½1152694
6.Zhou, WeiqigCHN26100½½0½*½11042621
7.Ni, HuagCHN26610½½0½½*½1½42616
8.Li, Chao bgCHN26560½01½0½*½142616
9.Ding, LirengCHN2664½½½½000½*½32533
10.Hou, YifangCHN2612000001½0½*22444

2011 Chicago Open

Final round is tomorrow.  Here are standings through Round 5 (Open -- 137 players):

#NameRtngStRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Rd 5Rd 6Tot
1GM P Harikrishna2666INDW56W15W22D20W9~24.5
19IM Irina Krush2469NYW109W3D73D49D29~243.5
28WIM Iryna Zenyuk2222PAL32W124H—W119W81~233.5
46WIM Viktorija Ni2178LATW117L35L4W120W100~333.0
56WFM Tatev Abrahamyan2335CAL1W43L74W91D52~772.5
100Margaret M Hua1973MOX87D62D67L34L46~882.0
103Myriam Roy1924CAND91W112L49D85L45~892.0
129Sarah Chiang1962TXL70L86L109L83W137~1321.0

Weed Wars!

I have finished "cutting" the backyard.  That is, I have given it a rough cut through foot-tall sprouts from my supposedly guaranteed not-to-sprout Newport plum trees and fought my way through a jungle of ground ivy in full bloom, rousting more than one big, fat bumble fee from a resting place! 

This image isn't quite my yard but it's close...  Despite raking three prior times and spending whatever temperate days we've had (not many) this spring raking up branches and twigs thrown down during the winter and a series of strong wind storms and just plain strong winds we've had, the yard is STILL a MESS!  It looks semi-reasonable in its present state, though, with the worst of the weeds cut down to 2 inches.   What a chore!  I've already got two full yard waste bins so I'm going to have to stuff the third one full once again as I commence raking up what my mulching mower didn't chop into miniscule bits and pieces.  And there's plenty left behind me, including half a ton of nut shells!  Those three large plastic garbage containers on wheels that I use for my yard waste sure get a work-out -- already been picked up two times prior to next pick-up on June 7th -- stuffed full to overflowing.  And they'll be full to overflowing again. 

Well, that's what I get for feeding the animals all winter.  It's threatening rain at the moment - we may get thunderstorms this afternoon.  So, I'm just catching my breath and will put down an application of weed and feed.  Later in the week I'm having the front and back yards core-aerated.  I hope that helps promote growth in the compacted areas.  I haven't had that done for several years.  I may hire someone to come in and over-seed with a slit-cutter - but I'll see how my war against the weeds goes first.

Oh oh - thunder to the west - better get my butt out there now...

Fourteen minutes later:

I put down an entire bag - probably too much (covers 5,000 square feet) - and only covered about half the yard, oh oh.  Well, I have another bag in the garage but I'll change the settings on the spreader before I put that bag of weed/feed down -- later on.  It's raining in earnest now and I've got to dry out, plus the house is rattling with the thunder and there are streaks of intermittent lightning.  Not going out now, nope!  I got coverage on some of the worst ground ivy and dandelion infested/overrun areas with the first batch of weed/feed, so now it will get rained in.  GOOD!  I won't go down without a fight, weeds! 

We may be dodging intermittent t-storms the rest of today, but tomorrow is supposed to be dry, sunny and warm/hot -- in the 80's with high humidity.  Like summer.  Except we've hardly had any spring.

Chores for tomorrow include putting down that second batch of weed/feed out back, raking and, if I have any juice left after raking, continuing the pruning out/chopping down of volunteer trees in the "island" and planting beds.  I'll leave the digging out of grass that has invaded the planting beds for another time, and hope we get some sunny, dry and cooler weather to do that.  That is a MAJOR pain in the you-know-what and I'm breaking out in a sweat right now just thinking about it.  Yechy!

Time for lunch!  My stomach is making feed-me noises.  As this is a three-day weekend and a holiday weekend to boot, I'm treating myself tonight and tomorrow night with steaks!  Got 'em thawing in the fridge even as I type and I picked up some carrots  to add to my other favorite veggies for side dishes and some mushrooms -- can't have a good steak without sauteed mushrooms!  I've got a nice red wine from the latest shipment 'Sis sent to me a few weeks ago that I'm going to use to make a sauce for the steaks.  Hmmm hmmmm hmmmmm, can't wait!  But right now, I've got left-over shepherd's pie in the fridge calling my name.

P.S.  After I took a nice long nap, it had stopped raining.  About 4:15 or so I finished the application of the weed/feed beads in the backyard, so that's done!  It was too wet to do anything else.  We got a good soaking.

Is spring finally here?

It must be here.  While walking to the Pick 'n Save this morning I got wolf whistled at from a passing car.  Now, darlings, that hasn't happened for a couple of years at least.  I thought my wolf-whistle days were behind me. I must look pretty good from the back, LOL!

Maybe it's the hair.  I had it highlighted recently (to hide the grey) with honey blond.  Yes, I gave up my signature red hair in early 2008. It was no longer flattering, so I thought, to my skin tone.  I went to brown but it was too dark.  So I went to a pro and had my hair colored and, starting about 16 months ago, gave in to her gentle badgering and allowed her to put in a few minor highlights. I've been very happy with the results, but I can no longer call myself a redhead. I had new highlights put in a few weeks ago. Now it's as light as I've ever worn it, and it's gotten lighter of late because of working outdoors so much.  My hairdresser told me that would happen, but I didn't believe her.  Turns out she was 100% spot on.

Maybe it was the nearly blondish hair I'm now sporting that caught someone's eye, or maybe my sashshaying walk -- Mr. Don once told me that I had a "particular" walk that he could pick out in a crowd.  Not sure he meant it in a good way...  Anyway, to the man who must have spring on the brain and gave me the wolf whistle - THANK YOU :)

Okay - I've got to get outside and continue the back yard clean-up.  I'm racing against incoming storms!

More later...
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