gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Songs about a bird, a wall and a cross

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

My whole life is full of music. Our house is bursting with musical instruments of all shapes and sizes,melodies, rhythms, singing, scales. I have to check trouser pockets for stray plectrums before doing the laundry. When I go walking or running my steps are to the beat of personalised playlists on my Spotify account. My diary revolves around music lessons for both myself and my boys. A real treat is to a live concert whether classical or contemporary musicians. My children laugh at me because I frequently burst into song and they equally are astounded by my recollection of song lyrics from days of yore when Madonna ruled the charts and Sony Walkmans were The Thing. There are many childhood memories of musical shows my father sang in and countless repetitions of “a dog called Bingo” and “London’s burning” on the 114 mile car journey to visit granny. And on granny’s stereogram – Mantovani, or James Last LPs.
It’s hard to pick just three songs. But I am constantly reminding my family of the three pieces of music I would like to be played at my funeral service. Allow me to be open and honest with all of you out there in blog land, these are my choices, this is my life, my life choices, my faith, and someday my own funeral I am writing about here.
the Lark Ascending by Vaugh Williams
This is the most exquisite piece of music. Lyrical, melancholy, uplifting, soaring like the bird it was written about. When this comes on the radio I have to stay listening to the very last note, despite it being nearly 15 minutes long. I have never heard this played live however this may be a good thing as I would probably be a sobbing wreck by the end. You may not be aware that Vaughan Williams was inspired to write this music by a poem by George Meredith. How fabulous that a piece of writing led to the creation of such wonderful music. Choose your words carefully my fellow bloggers, you never know what you in turn may inspire.
Wonderwall by Oasis
I was too busy having babies to get into the whole Britpop 90’s thing but I loooove this song. I probably prefer the Ryan Adams cover of this song. I can’t really explain what the appeal is. I certainly am no fan of Oasis, and the lyrics are the usual tale of a guy appealing to his love, reminding her that he loves her more than anyone else ever could, that he is as much there for her as she is for him even when life’s journey is full of twists and turns. It has to be the guitar chords, an acoustic sound full of suspended and unresolved mostly minor chords.
in Christ Alone by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend
This is the most fantastic modern Christian hymn which takes the singer through the entire foundation of their faith in God. I particularly love the version where the words are echoed by the drama of the music, quietness describing Jesus in the tomb then quite literally bursting with sound at the resurrection.

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In the final verse acknowledges that Christ has been with us from the start of our lives to the very end, through the journey of our days, through life’s twists and turns, ups and downs.
My soul like a lark ascending. God with me to the very end of my life, my Wonderwall.

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Gone with the Wind

A weather vane (or weathercock) is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind . They are typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building.
The design of a wind vane is such that the center of gravity is directly over the pivotal axis, so that the pointer can move freely on its axis, but the surface area is unequally divided. The side with the larger surface area is blown AWAY from the wind direction, so that the smaller side, with the pointer, is pivoted to face INTO the wind direction. For example, in a ‘Nor-Easter’ (a wind that blows FROM the north-east), the pointer will point TOWARD the north-east. Most wind vanes helpfully have directional markers beneath the arrow, aligned with the geographic directions.
But why do so many vanes have roosters on them?
In the ninth century A.D the pope reportedly decreed that every church in Europe should show a cock on its dome or steeple, as a reminder of Jesus’ prophecy that the cock would not crow the morning after the Last Supper, until the disciple Peter had denounced Him three times (Luke 22:34). Because of this story, “weather cocks” have topped church steeples for centuries, both in Europe and in America.Rather cheekily I think the ladies who embroidered the Bayeux Tapestry back in the eleventh century even included a scene of a craftsman attaching a rooster vane to the spire of the Westminster Abbey. In the picture you can see him on the left hand side.
Alternative theories about the origin of weathercocks on church steeples are that it was an emblem of the vigilance of the clergy calling the people to prayer, like a rooster crowing at sunrise, that it was derived from the Goths and is only possibly a Christian symbol, and that it is an emblem of the sun.
It is probably the banners which flew from medieval towers in Britain, Normandy and Germany which are the precursors to our modern weather vanes. The word “vane” actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “fane”, meaning “flag”. Fabric pennants would show the archers the direction of the wind. Later, the cloth flags were replaced by metal ones, decorated with the insignia or coat of arms of the lord or nobleman, and balanced to turn in the wind. From come the banners which the early American colonists favoured for their meeting halls and public buildings for example the butcher would have a bull or pig on his vane.
Early weather vanes had very ornamental pointers, but modern wind vanes are usually simple arrows that dispense with the directionals because the instrument is connected to a remote reading station. An early example of this was installed in the Royal Navy’s Admiralty building in London – the vane on the roof was mechanically linked to a large dial in the boardroom so senior officers were always aware of the wind direction when they met.
According to the Guinness World Records, the world’s largest weather vane is a Tío Pepe sherry advertisement located in Jerez, Spain. The city of Montague, Michigan also claims to have the largest standard-design weather vane, being a ship and arrow which measures 48 feet tall, with an arrow 26 feet long.
A challenger for the title of world’s largest weather vane is located in Whitehorse, Yukon. The weather vane is a retired Douglas DC-3 CF-CPY (yes that is a full size airplane!) atop a swiveling support. Located at the Yukon Transportation Museum beside Whitehorse International Airport, the weather vane is used by pilots to determine wind direction, used as a landmark by tourists and enjoyed by locals. The weather vane only requires a 5 knot wind to rotate.

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Nowadays if you have the cash and the inclination you can have a personalised weather vane. This one with the mummy hen and her chicks is actually covered in gold leaf, I’ll let you read the manufactures blurb for yourself….

This Hen with Chicks weathervane design is a new favorite here at West Coast Weather Vanes. We love the picture of the mother hen marching proudly ahead of her two chicks with a clutch of eggs balanced on top of each directional (north, south, east and west arm). As shown in the image here, we applied optional gold leaf to the hen’s beak, comb, and legs as well as the chicks’ beaks and legs. We also created four golden eggs….we stamped the names of the couple’s four children on the four eggs. Inside each egg is a lucky penny from the year each of the four children were born. The weather vane can be made in all copper or a combination of copper and brass. Because the weathervanes are made to order, the choice is yours.

Personalised Weather Vane
I think the Gillybirds would really love one of these atop their coop. Or maybe not. Perhaps if one of them lays a golden egg we will consider ourselves vain enough to having our own weather vane made.
In the meantime my usual indication of wind speed and direction is looking at Lucas the pup!

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A Live Nativity

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A couple of months ago I was a very proud momma as the Gillybirds were invited to star in our church “live Nativity” which took place last Thursday. The thought of my feathered ladies worshipping in the stable with a real donkey, sheep, dwarf goats and a cow was initially very exciting but then common sense took over. Since arriving here in a cardboard box back in May, the Gillybirds have lived a quiet pastoral outdoor existence. I have learnt that hens are easily stressed by rain, heat, cold, a change of diet etc etc. Apart from me, they have had very little contact with people. Sensibly I decided that they would be best declining the invitation and tucked them up in bed before heading out to join the torch lit procession, followed by a barbecue (hope the attending animals weren’t too offended) with live music from some of the Gillyboys and their mates, and a fabulous community carol service. We even had a real life Mary and baby Jesus! Have no fear dear reader, the Christmas story was not acted out with a live birth, the baby is actually several months old and sucked contentedly at his bottle throughout.
The animals were a huge hit and I knew I made the right choice to leave the hens at home with all the petting and pawing of livestock going on. Our Christmas gathering even made it onto the local news, a pleasant change after all the negative press our little city has been getting in recent weeks.
And I have put a donkey on my Christmas list.

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The Reason for the Season.

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