Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, November 22, 2021


 Openers:  Years upon years ago, when all the world was young, when Atlantis was among the chief islands of it, and the Ayrans had not yet descended from their cradle on the Roof of the World, there wandered up past the sources of the sleepy Nile the patriarch Kintu, and his wife.  For many months he travelled, he and his old wife, their one she-goat, and one cow, and carrying with them one banana and one sweet potato.  And they were alone in thir journey.

From out of the leagues of papyrus fen the ibis and the flamingo screamed, and through the matete-canes the startled crocodile plunged under the lily-covered waves.  Overhead circled and piped vast flocks of strange water-fowl, puzzled by the sight of human beings, and from the path before them the sulky lion hardly turned away.  The hyenas in the rattan brakes snarled to see them pass, and, wailing through the forests that covered the face of the land, came the cry of the lonely lemur.  A dreary, desolate country, rich in flowers and fruit, and surpassingly beautiful, but desolate of man.

The elephant was the noblest in the land, and on the water there was none to stand before the river-horse.

And so they plodded on, old Kintu and his wife, until coming to where the Victoria Nyanza spreads its summer sea through four degrees of latitude, flecked with floating groves, "purple isles of Eden," the partriarch halted, and, for the first time in many years, laid down his staff upon the ground.  And the mark of the staff may still be seen, lying like a deep scar across the basalt borders piled up on the western shore of the great lake.  And then his wife laid down her burden, the one banana and the one potato, and the goat and the cow lay down, for they were all weary with the journey of half a century, during which they had never rested night nor day.  And the name they gave the land they stayed at was Uganda, but the name of the land they from no one knows.

-- "The Legend of the Blameless Preist" by Phil Robinson (from his collection Under the Punkah, 1881)

Kintu magically cut the banana and the potato into many pieces and planted each piece twenty miles apart, where the grew rapidly and flourished.  And his wife gave birth to many sones and daughter, all of who were born as adults, and they intermarried and soon populated the country. and the goat and the cow also gave birth to many offspring, also all born as adults, and, by the second generatin, every man in the land had a thousand cattle.  And the land was at peace for no blood was shed since Kintu had declared that no meat should be eaten.  The people called Kintu "The Blameless Priest," because he never did wrong to anyone.  But, after many years, the people forgot their pure ways.  They made banana wine, and drink from from plam fruit, and firewater from mtama grain.  They got drunk and slaughtered cattle for meat.  And soon Kintu was the only person in the country to wear a pure-white robe -- the only person who had not shed blood.

Not only was the blood of animals spilled; one drunk person got into an argument and killed another with a spear.  Soon, everyone was killing one another.  At the same time, the people were shocked at their actions, for they had never seen a dead person.

And Kintu and his wife left quietly, with a she-goat, a cow, a banana, and a potato -- they're leaving was witnessed only two young children.  Thirty-eight kings then ruled over Uganda, each searching in vain for Kintu, but each expanding the country's boundaries and conquering their neighbors.  The thirty-ninth king was Ma'anda, who was different from all the rest.  He embodied much of what Kintu had taught the people and shed no blood.  One night Ma'anda had a strange dream about meeting a peasant who told him wonderful news.  The next day a peasant came with news only for the king and his mother.  Ma'anda and his mother were told to go into the forest to meet an old man -- but they must come alone, and not even bring their dog.  One person did see the king and his mother leave and followed them.  When the king met the old man, the old man asked him why he came with another man when told not to.  The follower then emerged from the trees and Ma'anda realized that he had been followed.  Angered, he pierced the other man with his spear and, for the first time, Ma'anda had spilled blood.  Ma'anda was shocked at what he had done.  He truned around and the old man had disappeared.

"Nor from that day to this has any one in Uganda seen the "Blameless Priest."

A well worked out folktale/legend based on "notes taken in Uganda by Mr. H. N. Stanley...[that] will be found already partially worked out in that traveller's 'Across the Dark Continent,' which fell to [Robinson] [the] pleasant lot to edit it."  I found the combination of magic, mysticism, and miracles irresistable.

Phil Robinson (Philip Stewart Robinson, 1847-1902) was an India-born British naturalist and popular author humorous Anglo-Indian literature.  In 1869 he returned to India to help his father edited a newspaper there.  He became a professor in English at  Muir Central College in Allahabad and was appointed Supreme Governor of Censor for the vernacular press in India.  Shortly after marrying, he retired and returned to England.  His marriage was acrimonious, his wife suing for divorce on the grounds of cruelty, adultery, and desertion.  British society was scandalized when she took the witness stand in her own behalf.  In Englan, Robinson returned to newspaper work, covering the Second Afghan Campaign and the Zulu War.  He worked for the Daily Chronicle, The Daily Telegraph, The Pall Mall Gazette, had been an editor at The Sunday Times.  He was fired from the Times after he had published an article on the finances of the Prince of Wales.  From 1882-1885 he was a war correspondent in Egypt and the Sudan.  In 1898 he was a correspondent in Cuba.  The following year he declared bankruptcy.  He later worked for the Associated Press in Cuba where he was imprisoned (I'm not sure for what).  After imprisonmnet he was in poor health until he died.

He was the older brother of E Kay Robinson (1855-1928), who was a well-known journalist and popular writer of natural history.  Kay Robinson went on to found the British Empire Natualist's Association in 1905.   He was also noted for being an early supporter of Rudyard Kipling, who was his assistant when Kay edited the  Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore.  While working at the The Globe, he initiated the popular "By the Way" column for which  P. G. Wodehouse was editor from 1904 to 1909.  He gave many popular talks on Natural History to schools and was one of the first to give natural history talks on British radio.  With his brothers, Phil Robinson and H. Perry Robinson (1859-1930) , he published Tales by Three Brothers (1902, the year that Phil Robinson died), a collection of eleven short stories with no indication of whihch brother wrote which story, although several stories from Phil's Under the Punkah were included.  (Perry Robinson had emigrated to America in 1883 to hunt for gold.  Failing, he turned, as his brothers did, to journalism.  In 1896 he managed William MKinley's successful presidential campaign.  He returned to England in 1900, became a war correspondent covering World War I from beginning to end, which earned him the the French Chevalier Legion of Honor, as well as a knighthood from King George V.)  A talented family, indeed.

Under the Punkah can be read online.


  • "James Vogh"  (John Sladek), Arachne Rising.  A hoax book detailing the so-called thirteenth sign of the zodiac.  A marvelous bit of pseud-research and my FFB last Friday (which see).

Hokey Pokey:  Alas, is no more.  The sweetest hedgehog in the Florida Pandale ever had to be euthanized a few days ago.  Erin is devastated and we are all saddened.

Thanksgiving (Times Three):  Hokey Pokey and Marjorie Taylor Green notwithstanding, there is a lot to be thankful for this Thursday.  I hope your day will be one of food, family, friends, and a greatful awareness of all the wonder and joy that surrounds us.

And while you are giving thanks, remember to smile.

The historical record:

The greatest turkey event in Ohio:

Travelling back 74 years with Jack, Mary, Phil, Dennis, Rochester, and Don:

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish:  Today is National Cranberry Relish Day, and with Thnksgiving coming up it's a perfect time to make Mama Stamberg's famous cranberry relish.  Every year since 1972, N PR's Susan Stamberg has shared her mother-in-law's unusual recipe for this relish.  It has become a holiday staple in many homes across the country.  We've tried it and it is delicious!

(BTW, today is alos Love Your Freckles Day.)

On This Day:

  • John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  (1963)  I was in George Simonian's high school biology class when he was told to turn on the television.  It was the last class of the day and we were stunned -- the thought of someone killing an American president was beyond comprehension.  Later that afternoon, I was at our local library and I told librarian Goldie Cramer that Kennedy was dead and she just looked at me strangely.  A few days later she came up to me and apologized -- she had thought I was joking even though she knew I was not one to joke like that,
  • Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still dead.  Juan Carlos declared president of Spain (1975).
  • The vessels of Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard) were board by the British Navy of the coast of North Carolina.  Among the casualties was Teach.  (1718)
  • Cutty Sark (the ship, not the whiskey) was launched in Dumbarton, Scotland.  (1869)   It wasn't until March 23, 1923, that the whiskey was launched.  "Cutty sark" was a Scottish term for short shirt (skirt); it had been prominently mentioned in Robert Burns's poem "Tam o' Shanter" (1791).
  • In the Cairngorm Plateau Disaster, five children and one adult were found dead from overexposure while mountaining in the Scottish Mountains.  (1971)
  • Amgela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.  (2005)
  • Abigail Adams (nee Smith), wife of John /Adams and the second First Lady of the United States was born.  She was also the mother of John Quincy Adams.  (1744)
  • Aldous Huxley, and C. S. Lewis, aa well as John F. Kennedy died (1963)

The Flintstones:  Scenes that went over the heads of most young viewers:

An Addams Family Values Thanksgiving:

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Clifford Anthony Bliss, Jr., 58, of  Umatilla, got upset when a neighbor's cat walked onto his property.  For a Florida Man, that's almost as bad as having "those danged kids" on his lawn.  So Bliss got his .22 calibre rifle and went to his neighbor, James Arland Taylor, Jr., and threatened to shoot the cat.  Taylor pleaded with Bliss not to shoot his cat, so Bliss fired one round into Taylor's chest, killing him.  Bliss was described as being "sort of the neighborhood hothead."  No cats were harmed in the reporting of this story.
  • When asked by his ten-year-old son to take him on a "paint-ball drive-by," Michael Williams proved himself to be a true Florida Man.  Following his son's instructions, Williams drove to a certain house and, while hanging out the window, the boy fired several paint-ball pellets at the house.  The owner of the home, Gregory Barns, thought he was being fired upon by real bullets.  Since Florida is a Stand-Your-Ground state, Barns grabbed hus rifle and fired back, hitting the boy once, whereupon the boy fell out of the car and was run over by his father.  At the time this story was reported, the boy was in the hospital with injuries and Williams was charged with child neglect with great  bodily harm.  Stupid is as stupid does.
  • Florida Man and Rapper Billy Bennett Adams, III, 23, also goes by the stage name Ace NH.  Young Mr. NH had just finished recording a music video when he celebrated by alledgedly shooting two men to death.  Bennett and at least one of the victims were members of the Crips, according to police.  Rap...Can it be the Devil's music?
  • Florida Woman Maria Jurgilewicz, 45. was stopped in St. Petersberg for erratic driving.  According to police she had a strong scent of alcohol on her.  Jurgilewicz tried to convince officers that he erratic driving was due to an egg roll she was eating. even though the old egg roll excuse has never been held up in court.  I'm giving her points for originality, though.
  • Florida Man Daniel Patrick Patrignani, 33, ran over a young woman and then began punching and choking her in a brutal daylight attack.  Police say the victim and Patrignani were travelling in the same vehicle when the woman jumped out of the car moments before the incident.  Several off-duty officers had to restrain Patregnani before he could be arrest and charged with attempted first-degree murder.  The victim was listed at a local hospital as in critical but stable condition after emergency surgery.  By the way, Patrignani was naked at the time of the incident on the Pineda Causeway at about 2:00 p.m. on Thursday.  

Good News:
  • 500 humpback whales and a recod number of calves return to Seattle coast. while there were none 25 years ago
  • Argintinean woman becomes as "natural supressor" of HIV as her immune system naturally rids her body of the disease, perhaps leading to major breakthroughs
  • World's most premature baby survives 1% odds of survival to enter Guiness Book of Records
  • Bride surprises blind groom by wearing a "tactile" wedding Tam o' Shanter
  • 13-year-old boy granted a "Make a Wish" and uses it to feed the homelss every month for a year....

Quote:   "All human beings shout try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why." -- James Thurber

Today's Poem:
Tam o' Shanter

(Here's the Robert Burns poem as recorded by Karen Dunbar, from BBC Scotland.)

No comments:

Post a Comment