Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Hallowe'en customs in Bantry Bay, Cork, Ireland, ca.1896

My grandmother, Jennie Walsh Reilly was an active bearer of the oral tradition, she died October 23, 1987, at the age of 93. Ever since I was a young, she'd tell me of Irish customs she practiced from when she was a girl especially Samhain—or Hallowe'en—(Oct. 31st). Many of these calendar customs have died out or transmuted into something else, which was a sore point of contention with her.

I remember how she'd snort as if to set the record straight: "Americans! They don't know anything about Hallowe'en. All this nonsense. They think jack-o-lanterns are made from pumpkins, but pumpkins are a New World food. We didn't even have them in Ireland. We used to carve out big turnips and put a candle in them and placed them in each window of the house so that our dead could see their way back home.

"We'd decorate the window frames with evergreens: ivy, holly, yew. Hallowe'en—or Samhain, which is its proper name—the priests were great ones for renaming all the pagan holidays. You see, they couldn't get the pagans to stop worshipping the holidays. Especially not Hallowe'en which was the first day of the Celtic New Year. You have your All Hallow's Eve, that's Hallowe'en, that's for the pagans; All Saints' Day—that's November 1st; and All Souls' Day, which is Nov. 2nd. That's for all the rest of us.

"Hallowe'en was the time when the world between the living and the dead had thin boundaries, and spirits form the Otherworld could come visit. That's why we wore masks—so they wouldn't recognize us. Sometimes the boys would blacken their faces with charcoal. And we made bull roarers out of pig's bladders on the end of a stick that made a great noise when we whipped it. Sometimes the boys would kill a wren and put it on the end of the stick too.

"There were pranks too. And we'd go visit the neighbors to trick AND treat. It's not trick OR treat. You have to do a trick first. It means that you do a trick, sing a song, recite a poem, and then they'd give you a treat—sometimes an half-penny if they had it. Not like here where kids want candy without doing a trick first. No siree...."

My grannie was very upset with the American commercialization of Samhain; though she was Christian, she had a lively interest in keeping the old traditions alive. In J.H. Brunvand's "The Study of American Folklore," (Norton, 1966), he offers a quote from folklorist Sylvia Ann Grider who noted: "Halloween costumes used to represent the supernatural beings of the otherworld..." (p 574).


From the UC Berkeley Kroeber Hall Folklore Files.

Folklore: Fertility Rites

Family story about a farm fertility custom, driving cattle between two fires on Samhain & Beltaine, circa 1896.

My grandmother, Jennie Walsh Reilly was born in 1893, on the Walsh family farm, Coomb an nOr (valley of gold), outside the town of Bantry Bay, Co. Cork, Ireland. She emigrated to California with her aunt Mae in June, 1912—literally having missed the boat when the Titanic sailed—and sank—in April), and raised me in Forest Knolls, West Marin, Ca. Ever since I was a young child (and sole companion after her husband died in 1956), she was always after telling me stories about life and customs on their family farm in Ireland.

I remember the story (usually told on Hallowe'en), of how her father, Michael Walsh, would fill two oak barrels with tar and then drag them to the top of their hill at Coomb an nOr each Beltaine Eve (April 31st) and Samhain—or to use the Christianized name, Hallowe'en—(Oct. 31st), he'd light them at dusk, and then he'd drive the family cattle between the two burring barrels.

She said that the custom was to make the cattle fertile for the coming season. Then, after the cattle were smoked, he'd finish up by rolling the still-burning barrels down the hill to make a firetrail.

My grandmother explained that this custom was done on the evening of Oct. 31st, which is the first day of the Celtic New Year (The Celtic day begins at sunset); and Beltaine (the god Bel's fires) was the beginning of summer. Sometimes on Beltaine, he'd also cover a wagon wheel in tar and roll that down the hill too. Someone later said it was a Catherine wheel.

We had several fire-related rituals that had seasonal significance. My grandmother's attempt to recreate for me a version of this ritual—since to roll a burning barrel down our dry, grassy hill (also named Coonb an nOr) in West Marin, was a form of pyrotechnic suicide—her solution was to build a big fire in the fireplace (which was a converted ship's boiler), or to light herbs and to smudge the house.

And once, when I was eight or nine (1968), she put a candle in the middle of the living room floor and told me leap over it. I don't know whose idea it was to sing the nursery rhyme, "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick," since this causal magic act was never repeated, I'm not sure if it qualifies as folklore, but it had a profound lasting impact on me.

My grandmother explained that the people of pagan Celtic Britain and Ireland traditionally celebrated these two dates with bonfires, and told me how she celebrated Hallowe'en in Ireland, hollowing out turnips and placing them in the windows, etc.

Ann Ross in "Pagan Celtic Britain" (Academy Chicago Publishers, 1967), wrote, "During the festival [Beltaine/Samhain] Druids seemingly drove cattle between fires." (p 83).

I believe my grandmother and her father were both aware of the ritual use of causal magic to promote cattle fertility, but probably didn't believe in it, and that the use of smoke as a purification was a practical application of folk medicine to remove parasites, a sound agrarian practice. For me, the story captured a lost fragment of our pre-Christian past.


From the UC Berkeley Kroeber Hall Folklore Files.

Folklore: Stumbling = Death

"The one who stumbles (in the grave) is the next to go"
and a variant,"they're grabbing after you."


In 2001, my third cousin Mary Kate Walsh and her sister came to visit us in America, from Bantry Bay, Co, Cork, Ireland, and we had a big party at the Sullivan's on Skyline in SSF. As everyone was catching up on who was still alive and who was dead, the talk gravitated toward stories of death and the supernatural.

What was interesting was their avoidance of the words "death" and "grave," it was suggested with pauses in speech. Mary Kate didn't elaborate on the saying, it was "understood," rather than spelled out. When we asked her about it, she meant, stumbling anywhere—as opposed to only on graves.

This sign superstition seems to be a fairly common one as several of my sources used variants of it. The idea being that you invited death in by stumbling on the graves of the dead. What intrigued me, this particular saying didn't even mention the word "grave" at all, so theoretically, the act of stumbling anywhere could be a portent of a death to come. Which made one think about being doubly careful about walking around.

Suddenly the taboo zone of danger exponentially broadened to include everywhere, not just graveyards. So many times when an elderly person falls and breaks a hip, it is the beginning of the end, and many do die within the year. It as if the act of stumbling is akin to dying, and that you're always a step away from the grave.


From the UC Berkeley Kroeber Hall Folklore Files.

DINSMORE folk narrative


DINSMORE

Sean is John in English. Sean’s great-great-great-grandfather was John Reilly and his great-grandfather’s name was John Joaquin Santos. In the Irish family tree, John is a common name.

Sean was adopted by his aunt Sinead when he was a baby. His cousin Sean Ritter was also adopted at birth by his aunt Kathleen, or Toddy. Sean Ritter has three daughters Tiffany, Brittany and Taryn. The family adored playing with Tiff and carrying her everywhere. 

Sean’s grandfather’s name is James John Santos and his uncle is James John Santos, his dad’s name is John James Santos.

My last name is Dinsmore, which means large fort. But this is a story of name changes a generation ago. I’m also a Robinson of the Clan Gunn of Scotland, from the Highlands of Scotland. My great-grandfather Jarold Robinson made some changes. He had troubles in Alaska, or in the Orient, and on his way back to San Francisco, he became David J. Dinsmore. 

During WWII, the Federal Government insisted that he legally get his name changed, to David J. Dinsmore. He had a wife and child. Our great-great-grandfather was an actor with a new name. John Stark Robinson became John Stark, the actor. Vaudeville would become a way of life. His younger son, John Stark, was a pilot during WWII.

I began life as Sean Joseph Cobb. When I was adopted, I became Sean Joseph Dinsmore. The plan is when I reach 13, my new name will be Sean Joseph Santos—after my biological father. Santos is Portuguese and it means "saint" in English. So All Saint’s Day has special meaning to my family.

My mom’s grandfather lived in Nicasio, in my house now. Great-grandpa David J. Dinsmore was a adventurer. He traveled by trains, hobo style from Missouri to California. He was out plowing the fields and heard the train, he left the mules tied. During his many trips he boarded ship to the Orient and traveled to Alaska. 

During the stock crash of 1929 he went from being a rich man to buying his bride a dime store wedding band. Grandpa William was born during the Great Depression of the 30s. The house in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco caught fire, Great-grandma threw her son from the window and jumped out herself. The doctor told Great-grandpa to take his wife and child away from the city for awhile. Nicasio was where they settled, Great-grandpa was part of the WWII efforts in West Marin/Nicasio war preparation. 

Grandpa William went to school at the Old Red School House in Nicasio, he was the last graduate of 1948. Great-grandpa was a barber in Novato until he retired. He was always dressed in suits and snazzy clothes of the time. 

Great-great grandma Gogee lost her sight and had to live in care facilities until she died. Great-grandpa had troubles with his sight and he became blind. Whenever he walked to the mail-box he’d walk across the baseball field. If a game was in play the guys would stop while he walked through. Peter Edwards would be were he’d stop to have his mail read....


(Another victim of ASCI mind domination. Since they end mid-word, there's no way I didn't finish them. These are all part of a family memoir with a fictitious Sean telling the story. I was collecting folklore and also taking playwriting classes, so I suspect I was working on a larger monologue piece. I'm fairly certain I never printed any of these up so they may be lost forever. Unless they're intact on a CD somewhere.Still the serve as memoir. —MH 11/2015)

REILLY folklore


REILLY

My great uncle, John Alexander Reilly was named after Alexander O'Reilly who escaped Ireland during Cromwell's time. He went to Spain, a Catholic country, and became a general, and he was appointed Governor of Louisiana territory and Puerto Rico. While in the Americas, he built a fort in Puerto Rico’s El Castillo. His portrait is hanging in the fort today.

Another ancestor, Myles The Slasher O’Reilly fought at the battle of Fean. Myles was a soldier who was defending a bridge in Westmeath at Fean. During the battle Myles single-handedly with sword beat back the invading force of English soldiers, but he also sent for reinforcements to come help defend the bridge. Myles did battle for hours with his soldiers. They were under heavy attack, when Myles was almost done for from his wounds when his reinforcements arrived. This bit of history is being saved by Ireland's historical groups.

Within the Reilly family, my great-great uncle became John O’Reilly. Uncle John’s own family started out with Della Reilly (no O), and then John O’Reilly—with more to follow. All with O's.

One story goes that during the Troubles in Ireland, Bernard and John were here in America. They got stolen guns scheduled for destruction at the Armory in the Presidio. During the theft their wives participated, carrying gun within their long dresses. The guns were taken to a church were the serial numbers were lifted. Except a few slipped by, the law enforcement was on the case. The scheduled fall guy took the rap and went to prison at Leavenworth for 12 years. 

Then Great-great uncle John moved his family to Los Angeles were he worked as a policemen. Great-great grandpa and Grandma moved to Marin County full-time until everything mellowed out. 

Another story goes that John was fleeing the law in Ireland and needed to get out of the country undetected, so he changed his name. We'll never know.

Great-great grandpa’s sister Ellen was a character. Early 1904 was when another migration from Ireland began. The stories are shadowy and Great-great grandpa sent money to Ireland—100 dollars every three months. He worked for the Post Office for a few years, stable but didn’t pay that well. 

Probation forced our whiskey-loving family into strange occupations. Great-great aunt Ellen became a brewer of hootch or bathtub gin. When the customers bought batches that were "a little stiff," the guys would be found around town. 

Great-great grandma’s aunt Mae was in the family business of bathtub gin, the revenuers came busting things up. Aunt Mae was napping on the bed with some babies and the jugs hidden within her skirt. Unfortunately what signaled the law, was that the plumbing was a little full of mash.

Great-great-grandpa’s brother lived in Los Angeles and Hollywood was right there. So Great-great uncle John was chosen for an episode of “This Is Your Life.” The brothers got together for the T.V. show in L.A. 

Great-great-great grandma Brigid Reilly was on her way from Ireland. When she landed in New York she was given prizes, luggage, refrigerators, and other trinkets. These trinkets never stayed with her, and never went back to Ireland. The Irish family still wants them to this day. She arrived in Los Angeles and they all did the T.V.  thing. They hadn’t seen their mum since 1904-1910 or thereabouts. Here in the 1950s, they were able to see her, the families were able to meet.

Grandma’s memory of her grandmother was that she was a tiny lady. Grandma brought her grandmother some chocolates and she said, “Oh that women won’t let me have those, take them with you.” Great-great-great grandmother was staying with Ellen and she was a “bag” who demanded respect and compliance from even her mother....

(Sadly the rest of this family history monologue as told from the point of view by a fictitious Sean, is lost, an ASCII rebellion? I don't know. But it does preserve some of the family stories in memoir format. MH 11/2015)

WALSH folklore


WALSH

Walsh is a old Irish family name that refers to Welsh soldiers who were the troops that settled In Ireland after early invasion by Norman English troops. This happened around the 11th or 12th century. The Kings of this part of Ireland are Sullivans. The branch of our family is O’Sullivan Coom Beir.

I visited with my relatives in County, Longford and County Cork, Bantry, Ireland. I was able to meet my Great-great Aunt Mary Driscoll Walsh, as well as cousins from both great-grandparents.

Paddy Walsh was born in Ireland, he came to America as a young man. A pioneer of 1860s Nevada, he founded Home Ranch and supplied the miners of the Comstock in Virginia City, Nevada, with oats and grain, making more money than the miners ever did. The Reese River Valley was improved with the existence of Home Ranch.

Walshes dot the landscape in cemeteries and phone directories. He had two families during his lifetime, his beloved son died in a blizzard. He had two daughters, Julia and Mary (Marie)—one sister was not “all there,” the other was a genius. 

Mary was whisked out of school, was educated in Chicago and began working with “like minds.” For the next few decades, The Manhattan Project, became her life. The Hydrogen Bomb of WWII and all the testing and development affected her life, she died in the sixties of cancer.

Great-grandma’s aunt came to Ireland on a visit. My Great-grandma worked in Dublin as a tailor’s apprentice. Aunt Mae Walsh Forbes wanted her niece to come to America. Great-grandma said “yes” —only if her brother Joseph could come too. 

The family scheduled a passage on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. The ship was built in Belfast. Family plans changed her passage plans— “thank God.” The next ship they booked passage on was “The Baltic” which had a fire. The last voyage of the Lusitania to New York in June 1912 was their passage to America. 

They went through Ellis Island, trains were taken across America to Battle Mountain, Nevada and Galveston, Texas. Joseph took a boat around the tip to save some money. Great-grandma went on to Battle Mountain, Nevada, then she took a stage to Austin. Great-grandma always enjoyed her time at Home Ranch with family. She traveled to Home Ranch often on vacations from her domestic service in San Francisco.

When my grandmother was a little girl of 5 or 6, she was home, making chocolate on the stove. She lit the stove with a match and threw it into the wood box. The kitchen caught fire and destroyed the room, but the house was saved. Great-grandma was upset. 

When Great-grandpa got home, she told him the story. Grandma was expecting Great-grandpa’s anger, instead he handed her a Hershey bar and said nothing about the damage.


SANTOS folk narrative

SANTOS FAMILY FOLKLORE as if told by Jimmy's grandson, Sean

(We pieced this family folklore together while we were in the Azores, and I added bits to it right after we returned. It's a story for my 1st cousin once removed, Sean Dinsmore, who was a child at the time. Now Sean is 21. I transcribed the folklore as if told from Sean's point of view, so he would have a family record for later. (I was taking a monologue class at the time....I did one for each family name. I was planning to use them in a monologue in several voices, since I couldn't use them for my folklore class.)
At the time, I was desperate to fill my required 40 bits of collected folklore for my anthropology professor, Dr. Alan Dundes' folklore class at UC Berkeley, and this unexpected piece came out of the collecting process. 
My informants were my aunt Canice, who was married to Jimmy Santos, and her daughter, my cousin, Sinead Dinsmore, who was Jimmy's step-daughter. So it all came from second-hand informants. I wasn't sure how to clarify the information from two sources.  It was disjointed, Sinead and Canice would begin a story, we'd be interrupted, then, out of the blue, hours or days later, they'd finish the story.
Alan Dundes said he only wanted first-hand informants, in their own authentic language structure, replete with hem-haws, ahems, and warts. So I wasn't able to use this piece. Then I changed the story, to be read as if told from Sean's point of view. I have the original fragments in my journals, but they are fragments, not contiguous.
How I collected the stories: We were traveling together, over a period of a month, In September, right after 9/11. The fragments were collected in San Francisco, Boston, Azores, London—in hotel rooms, boats, and planes. The stories are fragments, as they were always interrupting each other. A tape recorder would've come in handy. Or not. Canice was on a pilgrimage to the land of Jimmy's ancestors, in the Azores.
Canice and Sinead were the ones Jimmy told these stories too. And my cousin David, too (I've never collected his Jimmy stories). I heard a few stories too at Thanksgiving dinners. Sadly, Jimmy (James J. Santos in the story) never met his grandson Sean. Jimmy died too soon, at the age of 54, in the 1990s, of heart failure, though his heart was big.
I never finished writing this piece. There were a lot more stories that I didn't capture—Jimmy in Mill Valley, and working in Sausalito, etc. Sinead still tells a few Jimmy stories, and I always mean to write them down, but I never do. If I wasn't trying to upload and post-date my old writing for this blog, this piece might have languished in cyberspace forever. Several of my old files from 2000 are corrupted, with bits missing. This blog is an attempt to rescue old files.
Regardless of how this memoir was captured, and transcribed, it does chronicle the times. The story was as true as I could make it. A record for the future. And now that that little boy I traveled to the Azores with, Sean, has a son, Jameson, perhaps it's time to give Sean this small piece of his past, now that he's a father, himself. —MH 11/20/2015)

As if told by Sean Dinsmore:

Great-grandpa John J. Santos and great-grandma Bernice D. Santos were new parents to my grandpa, James J. Santos. Great-great grandma Desalla didn’t approve of how her grandson was being cared for. She took it upon herself to whisk James home to her house. He lived with his grandparents until he was ready for school. 

One day his mother decided it was time, and brought him home. His grandmother would be an important figure in his growing up. He often went fishing with his Uncle James and played in Sausalito amongst the boats. His father took his favorite car and sold it without his permission, because Great-grandpa needed the money. This bothered James for the rest of his life, so he supported his sons when they bought their first cars.

During the Big Fire on Mount Tam in the ’40s, Grandpa told stories. How his father worked on the Fire Crew and all the men. The canteen service that worked the fire, the giant amount of food they served. Grandpa was a small child and the portions of steak and chicken were huge massive servings. These men worked long and dangerous hours that seemed longer and they were filled with emotion. This was a defining memory of his childhood.

Great-uncle Jimmy was a fisherman during his youth, and when he was older, he took men sport fishing. The sea was his environment and he fished and worked the sea his whole life. He lived in Mill Valley with Sally in his parents’ house where Great-great-grandma lived. Stories of Grandpa coming home from school crying and sad because the kids were mean. Great-uncle Jimmy telling James to stick-up for himself.

The next day he came home with a smile on his face. The story is that Grandpa James didn’t back down from the bullies and so his battle was over. Grandpa had problems with discrimination his whole life because he was dark, not black but not pure white. So kids who didn’t know him would think wrong thoughts. Adults that he worked with often mistook his ancestry and assumed it wrong.

The Azore Islands is were my great-great-grandpa was from. The Azore Islands were discovered in the 14th century by the Portuguese and Europeans. My mother and grandmother and godmother went with me to the Azores a few years ago. When we were there, we saw volcanic rock beaches. The landscape is similar to Ireland with fields marked with stone fences. We saw a farmer riding his donkey from the corn field with the fresh corn under his bottom. 

The Soares and Bettencourts and Desallas are names in my family tree. My father John, and uncle James would fit right in with their dark hair and eyes, though they're half-Irish. My father John, is very tall—6’5,” and for his heritage, he’s a little big—with size 15 shoes, a little hard to find. 

After the Azores, we went to Lisbon, and to Fatima, a religious site. Then we went to London, England, and stayed in Maidenhead. In “Harry Potter” they show the train station Mom and Grandma took me through. We visited Buckingham Palace and Westminister Abbey as well as Harrod’s department store. The lemonade was very expensive.


Saturday, October 20, 2001

Fartist retort


Neil, a prodigious fartist, was thinking he could rip off a quick fart while standing in line while waiting for Dylan, but the guy behind him overheard, and complained loudly to his teenybopper girl girlfriend, What's that smell? Neil turns and says, Hey my asshole maybe prolific, but it knows when to keep its mouth shut. The young guy responds with a punky, Oh yeah? Neil says, No shit! Thinking there might be a brawl in line, I said, And yeah, he can't keep the other gobshite shut either. Neil said, I know when to open my gob. I retorted, He'd talk the legs off a chair, vaccinated with the gramophone needle he was, and now he's just a cheapsnake, meaning cheapskate. The young guy, perhaps defending his oblivious girlfriend's honor, is way in over his head, can't make heads or tails of any of it. We laugh, the line shuffles forward, dissipating the problem.

10 /2001

Folklore: Too many babysitters


Genre: Proverb, Russian 
Renee Perelmutter female, age 25
UC Berklely linguistics student
born in L’Vov, Ukraine
Russian-Israeli-English-speaking
Oct 20, 2001
UC Berkeley, Dwinelle Hall


Y CEM HEK T  bE3   T A3Y
(u simi nynak ditya biz ghlazó)
To seven babysitters [a] child without eye
Too many people doing things, it goes wrong.


Renee, a UC Berkeley linguistics student is from Israel (her parents moved there from the former USSR in the 1980s ). She first remembers overhearing her parents use this proverb when she was about six years old when they still lived in L’Vov, Ukraine. 

She said it meant that when two many people are doing the same thing, it goes wrong. Like having too many baby-sitters. She said she overheard it from her mother. “My parents were probably discussing work or something.” Renee added that Russians are always using lots of proverbs, and especially half-proverbs in order to describe all sorts of conditions. It is very typical.

I think a possible cognate proverb might be, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Cooks/baby-sitters are both servants, too many of them doing their job spoils the outcome—the job they were trained to do. 

There is also the nuance suggested that petty officials, insecure with their lack of power, all compete to try and run the show, to disastrous results—a common occurrence in Russia. 

In Archer Taylor & Bartlett Jere White’s “American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, 1820-1880,” (Harvard, 1958), I found: “There are so many cooks the broth must always come out rather bad.” (33, Smith, “Downing,” 167); and, “If five cooks can spoil the broth, what may not five captains do with a pleasure excursion.” (Clemens/Twain, “Innocents,” 1 20). (p 79).


UC Berkeley Folklore Collections
Kroeber Hall, Dr. Alan Dundes


I imagine the Cyrillic is wrong, font keyboard layouts have changed since 2001. There was no standard keyboard layout, and if you don't have that particular font installed, then you'll get odd characters on a US keyboard.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Folklore: Narrative St. Joseph


Genre: Folk Narrative

Concetta Orlando, female, 91
great-grandmother/housewife
Italian-born, Italian-Sicilian-Albanian-English-speaking
Richmond, CA
Oct. 14, 2001 


The Story of St Joseph in the American Desert

Concetta, or “Connie” Orlando was born in 1910 in the village of Piana digli Albanesi, in Sicily, Italy. She arrived in New York in 1930, when she was 20, to meet her new husband. 


Connie was a child bride, betrothed at 13. “He sent his parents to my parents to approve.” She described her wedding dress, a traditional costume in red satin with floral designs in gold thread. She said it took her years to embroider it and it weighed a ton. The bodice was in gold, and she wore a big gold belt buckle. 


She said, “There was no honeymoon, I came to America [alone]. But I had to prove he married me before I came. Paperwork! We marry in June. I come in October, by boat, from Palermo to Napoli. We lived in Bronx, now is no good. Then to Tarrytown 5 years, and to California.” Her husband, an Italian American by birth, was also an Italian citizen, and so had to serve in Mussolini’s army, it was a long time before they were reunited in America.

Connie speaks English, but Italian and Albanian are her native languages. In Italy, her father was a caretaker on the Baroni estate, she had six sisters and a brother; three grandparents lived with them. (I forgot to ask what her maiden name was.)


She says her ancestors settled in Piana digli Albanesi in 1492, when the village, the Plain of the Albanians, was founded by Albanian refugees fleeing from the Ottoman Turks for religious reasons. The village was called Piana al Greci, but Mussolini changed the name as the villagers weren’t Greek. Connie said that a cousin (she meant a distant relation), a priest, who lived in a village in the Pelopponneses—in what is now Greece, formerly Albania —came to Italy when the Turks invaded. She said “They all got into a boat and came to Sicily.”

Connie relates, “It was 1936, we were here [in America] for six years.” Vito (her son) was six months old. (Vito, age 65) takes over a portion of the story. “My father worked for General Motors. There was a bulletin board, a notice for California. It was during the Depression...” (Notice there’s a slight discrepancy of the date) 


Connie speaks, “We wanted to go to California. We had a Model A. We left from Tarrytown, Westchester County. We didn’t have much money so we came in the Model T...”(Vito says: “A, Mom!”). “There was danger. We was in the desert, the southern route. You didn’t see nothing. All a sudden I saw a man that was all covered up with a cloak. I turned to my husband, ‘Should we pick him up?’ He turn around, nobody there. That was St. Joseph. That’s the way he was walking." 

"St.Joseph, a big saint of our village. He was a protector of the Holy Family. My husband had an uncle in LA [with a house]. We rent the house, that was when my husband started working at the General Motors assembly plant.” 

St. Joseph is the patron saint of family and household needs; they were in need, and because he was their village saint, it was plausible to Connie that he should appear in the desert to look after them.



UC Berkeley Folklore Collections
Kroeber Hall, Dr. Alan Dundes

Folklore: Place Name: Piana degil Albanesi/ al Greci


Genre: Place Name, Albanian-Sicilian 

Concetta Orlando, female, 91 
great-grandmother/housewife
Italian-born, Italian-Sicilian-Albanian-English-speaking
Richmond, CA
Oct. 14, 2001

Piana digli Albanesi, formerly Piana al Greci (1941)
(The Plain of the Albanians,  The Plain of the Greeks)

Connie Orlando was born in 1910 in the 500-year-old village of Piana digli (degil) Albanesi, a mountainous plateau located 15 miles south of Palermo, in Sicily, Italy. She came to the United States to meet her husband in 1930, where she learned English. Her grandparents were also from Piana digli Albanesi. She didn’t know how far back her ancestors went, but she thinks their settlement dates back to 1492.

The history of the village, the Plain of the Albanians, is interesting as it was founded by Albanian refugees fleeing from the Ottoman Turks in 1492. The Turks didn’t believe in the Greek Orthodox Church, so they fled for religious reasons. 


The village was formerly known as Piana al Greci—greche, or Greeks, but in 1941 Mussolini changed the name because "the villagers weren’t Greek." Italy had attacked Greece so it was an expunging. After Connie left home to come to America. Connie said that a cousin, I think she meant a distant relation, a priest, who lived in a village in the Pelopponeses, in what is now Greece—it was Albania then—came to Italy when the Turks invaded. She said “They all got into a boat and came to Sicily,” then eventually settled in Piana digli Albanesi.

What is amazing is that they retained their language and customs for 500 years, even though Italy, a different culture and language, was now their homeland. Connie (who lives at 653 W. “H” Street, in Ontario, CA 91762), is still very active, and her memories of her village and its customs are amazingly detailed. She was married in a traditional heavily embroidered Albanian wedding dress (similar to Balkan and southern Ukrainian/Romanian wedding dresses) in a Byzantine Orthodox church.










UC Berkeley Folklore Collections
Kroeber Hall, Dr. Alan Dunde


Folklore: Italian dandle song


Genre: Counting Rhyme, Albanian-Sicilian 

Concetta Orlando, female, 91
great-grandmother/housewife
Italian-born, Italian-Sicilian-Albanian-English-speaking
Richmond, CA
Oct. 14, 2001
Genre: Dandle Rhyme, counting


Natare Natare (it begins in Italian)
(na-tar re na-tar re) 
(nonsense sounds)
cerca diu
(cheshka deeo)
Look for two [people]
cerca diu un lavandare
(cheshka puu un lav andare)
Look for 2 people
lavandare ki kiri ki
( la van dar re (nonsense sounds: a rooster)
una due e li tri
(oona dew way ee lee tree)
one, two and three
yetz ze ata di mauri (last line is in Albanian)
yets zee ata dee mauree)
Go to those two poor wretches.


Connie, who was born in 1910 in the 500-year-old village of Piana digli Albanesi, Sicily, Italy, came to the United States to meet her American-born husband in 1930, where she learned English. 

She learned this counting baby dandle song from her own nonna, her grandmother, who was also from Piana digli Albanesi (Plain of the Albanians, founded by Albanian refugees fleeing from Ottoman Turks in 1492). She says that she first learned this dandle rhyme in 1912 when she was two or three. She had six sisters and a brother; three grandparents lived with them. They all grew up with the dandle.

Connie lives at 653 W. “H” Street, in Ontario, Ca., 91762, and is very active. She is a great-great-grandmother so there are always plenty of babies around to dandle. Using a pillow, she showed me how she rocked the baby who either drooped over at her knee, or sat on it, depending on how big it was, and how she patted his back, saying the dandle, her hand keeping time with each syllable of the dandle rhyme. 

Like many rhymes, this has a chant-like quality, almost a song. She said that many of the words were nonsense words, but when pressed, she was able to translate many of them. I suspect that the Albanian line is written in phonetic Italian. 

And I wonder if Natare has anything to do with natal—as in birth, as it does sound like a real word. 

Another Albanian dandle, Neo neo na, which I wasn’t able to get the complete version from Connie (but we have it on video-tape), translates something like this: Neo neo na (nonsense words), we’re all going to Lacabau (a make believe place), we went there, didn’t want the ???, they took the meat, two rams ate them up, two elves grabbed them by the horns, and the little girl has two eyes. Connie says that it’s a fairy tale dandle. 

Neil O'Neill said that he collected Neo neo na ca. 1999, so the Albanian dandle should be in the Folklore Archives in Kroeber Hall.

To dan·dle, a verb, dan·dled, dan·dling.
To move (a baby, child, etc.) lightly up and down, a son one's knee or in one's arms.
Origin: 1520–30; dand- (obscurely akin to the base of French dandiner to dandle, se dandiner, to waddle, and related Romance words)

In my family we sang a few English dandles:
Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John
Went to bed with his britches on.
One shoe off, and one shoe on;
Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John.
Deedle, deedle dumpling, my son John,
Went to bed with his stockings on
One shoe off, and one shoe on,
Deedle, deedle dumpling, my son John.  

(And off came the shoes. An undressing dandle?)

(Roud Folk Song Index number of 19709. ca.1797)

To market, to market to buy a fat pig.
Home again, home again, Jiggity jig!
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog.
Home again, home again, Jiggity jog!


( Another shoe undressing dandle? Followed by This little piggie went to market...)

(Roud #19708, ca. 1611)
And there was one about a hobbity horse that I can't remember. But it would be interesting to trace the subject matter of the Albanian dandle: meat, elves, eyes, sheep, and compare it with other dandles.


UC Berkeley Folklore Collections
Kroeber Hall, Dr. Alan Dundes



List of English nursery rhymes

Thursday, October 11, 2001

STARVING BABIES

STARVING BABIES

The little boy's mother kept hounding him
over and over again to eat his pasta. 
Mangia! Mangia! she said, twisting his ear.
Think of all the starving pagan babies in China,
she said. One day she went to the mailbox, 
inside there was a large manila envelope 
soaked through with oil and tomato sauce, 
addressed to the starving babies of China.

10/2001


(from a true story as told by Joy Quilci, of a neighbor child...but I thought it was a found poem, and collected it as such.)






I later found the original transcript in another damaged document before it was cleaned up. (I cleaned it up...it was a real  ASCII mess). 

Dialogue:
Man, I’m so full.

Well, don’t finish it.

But I’m a member of the clean plate club.... (laughter of recognition).

So my friend recounted a story: When I was a kid I always had to clean up my plate. My grandmother was always going on about the starving pagan babies. Eat your raviolis, she’d say. One time my little brother got fed up and decided to do something about it. When my mom went out to get the mail, she found a manilla envelope dripping with sauce and oil addressed to the starving babies. She never made him finish his plate again.

I said: My first boyfriend was italian, his name was Doe. We were four, I remember his eyes, like a doe's. I remember watching his mama make raviolis for his birthday. She said Mangia, mangia. In this way, I learned Italian.

She said: It’s all those Catholic rituals, the nuns that got me all twisted up. Ridiculous things. You know like don’t wear white because it reminds the boys of bedclothes.

My grammie used to make our bedsheets out of flour sacks. Mine said Gold Medal Self -Rising Flour right across your butt.

Our sheets were never white so it wasn’t a problem.

 And how many boy’s sheets were white? More like gray sump water.

And don't forget the Mary Janes: don’t wear patent-leather shoes 'cuz boys can see up your dress. Not that we even had patent-leather shoes.

rev. 11/2015


Monday, October 8, 2001

Portugal Journal: Lisbon London SFO 5

9 AM London time, 1 AM California time

10/8 Monday 8:45 AM: I'm going to arrive at SFO at noon aboard United flight 955 Heathrow to SFO. Landing last night from Lisbon, we learned that the US and Great Britain had just completed a five-hour bombing of Afghanistan. I am seated in business-class wondering if this might be my last few moments on earth, at least in this format.

Having had a déjà vu sequence, while in line to board, I was suddenly struck with fear, and burst into tears as I sat down in the waiting room. A British woman put her arms around me which really got me going, and now I'm continually on the verge of tears.

Having started the day sampling whiskey, a first ever before breakfast, I joked with Linda the shopkeeper, saying I might need the whiskey. She said come back later for the really good stuff… But the two thimblefuls I tried sent me over the edge, I've had so little sleep these past few nights. Everyone is so kind to us because of 9?11. I was not expecting that.

And as I boarded the plane, the elevator music became an unconscious dialogue. In my business class seat, I listen to Will you go, Lassie go? I thought: is this it? And are you ready to leave? My exit pass… it is highly possible the Taliban might retaliate with an airstrike on a US airline, and United has already been in their sights twice…

So many people seem to be leading normal lives, sitting reading the newspaper or pulp fiction – but at this point even the news is pulp fiction… I am profoundly saddened by the turn of events, but not surprised. As Bush did warn us that he'd strike… But this time, not alone. Great Britain too is joining in…

Tim, the taxi man, or Grandpa, as he preferred to be called, from Maidenhead, said, "It's the only way. I was in World War II. Like with Hitler. We should've taken care of it in '32 and not in '45. Better to kill 6 million now, than 10 million later," he said.

I cannot work my mind around these abstractions. Of what is right or wrong, or ultimately better in the long run? I just know my heart hurts.

I left 1,000 escudos with Marria in Lisbon to buy to heart milagros at Fatima, so whether or not I survive this fligh,t at least there will be a remembrance for me, of me. The other heart is for Canice's heart. Maria said, "You have to believe in something, why not Fatima?" The maid singing Fatima adios to because she doesn't believe. Ultimately, what do I believe in?

The message email I tried to send Neil last night wouldn't go through. Dave Challis, our knight in shining armor, sent my email for me—brief and to the point, and signed it, the temporary landlord. Dave is a stranger who slept on my cousin Dave's couch, and is returning the Pay it Forward favor.

At the airport, I run out of time to call either Neil or Sinead. Is this the exit pass, not enough time? Or not the right coinage to call home? Nature is indifferent; the chaos theory is fully operational.

It is a relief to know that daylight will follow us all the way to California. At this point, I'm afraid of the dark. I wonder where night will occur? Are we flying into the light or do we chase the darkness across the globe?

I'm sorry I didn't take the free champagne from the flight attendant.  I'm in a muddle as to whether or not to be clearheaded, though I suspect no amount of alcohol will have an effect on me if something were to happen.

Here we go… The stars and half moon over Maidenhead, a beautiful surprise. Liftoff… We are no longer creatures of the land, but of the air, having joined the birds at their own game – hopefully not that of angels. I think of Wim Wenders angels walking the earth, wanting human emotions – to love. And the woman…

The flight attendant plies me with endless port the rest of the way home.

8 PM Great Britain time, noon California time. Dank you well dear, crew for safe journey. I cried when I saw the land of my birth, blowing kisses to Point Reyes, Bodega Bay, and Double Point, naming each landform and lake, as if in benediction, realizing how much the metaphor of Christianity is embedded within me.

The flight attendant, equally moved, though she be British, thanks me for my words of thankfulness—for within their job, within their duty, they have performed herculean tasks, they have restored bits of humanity to me. Touchdown on the hot sleek surface of the runway, we all spontaneously applaud the captain.

Here it is noon in California and 8 PM in Great Britain or Lisbon, time to day goodbye. The flight attendant Derby Walker's friend was Finnish. Kitos, she said, Thank you. Kitos, I reply.  Thank you.


Saturday, October 6, 2001

Folklore: Stairs & bad luck


Genre: superstition, Irish
Adrian McGarrity, male, mid-40s
electrician, golfer
Irish-born, Irish-English speaking
Oct 6, 2001
Collected in an airplane enroute, Lisbon to London
somewhere over Galicia, Spain


“Crossing someone on the stairs brings bad luck.”


Adrian is an electrician from Belfast, Northern Ireland, whom I met on a turbulent plane ride enroute from Lisbon to London. Adrian said, “My mother wouldn’t cross you on the stairs, Every day she’d yell down from the top or bottom [of the stairs], ‘don’t you cross me on the stairs!’ And one of yous would have to go back up or down the stairs. She’s the boss.” When I asked him why, he answered, “because it would bring you bad luck.”

The first instance Adrian remembers the stair incident was when he was very young, it was in the ‘60s. Adrian continued, “it was a daily occurrence. If she was in the toilet, she’d shout down, and you’d have to go back down the stairs. In general, even though you might have a mishap, you’d never try to bring it [bad luck] on yourself.”

I (the interviewer) wonder how this superstition might tie in with the complexities of giving direction in Irish. Embedded within the Irish language, which is a very specific, exact language, are numerous wods regarding direction. Irish is highly inflected, and is also one of the oldest and conservative of the living Indo European languages.

Many Hiberneo-Irish sayings are direct translations of Gaelic, or Irish speech patterns.

To explain in Irish that someone is about to go, is going, or has already gone up or down the stairs, requires a complex verbal circumlocution of no less than six separate words—depending on the position of the speaker and on the position of the person descending, or ascending the stairs. In irish up is not always up, and down is not always down. It's about relativity. BBCs Upstairs Downstairs wouldn't translate easily into Irish. Hudson!

The words suas (up) and síos (down) and anuas (come from up); and aníos (come from down) and the reverse direction: thuas/ thíos all differ if both people are at the top of the stairs, or one or the other person is at the bottom, and vice versa. Or if both people are at the bottom, versus one or the other is at the top—going up or coming down. It's sort of like are you for or against? When I was learning Irish, I never could keep it straight—literally both coming or going.

The four directions: north, south, east, and west In Irish also carry this complex linguistic paradigm.



UC Berkeley Folklore Collections
Kroeber Hall, Dr. Alan Dundes

Folklore: Common Sense


Genre: Folk saying, Irish
Adrian McGarrity, male, mid-40s
electrician, golfer
Irish-born, Irish-English speaking
Oct 6, 2001
Collected in an airplane somewhere over Galicia, Portugal


“Common sense isn’t so common.”

Adrian is an electrician from Belfast, Northern Ireland, whom I met on a turbulent plane ride enroute from Lisbon to London. He was on holiday in Lisbon to play a golf tournament. Adrian was often told that “Common sense isn’t so common.”

Adrian said, “When I was a boy [in the ’60s], my mother would tell me, ‘it’s only common sense to do it that way...’ especially when you thought you were being pretty clever. It was a way of keeping you in your place. If you were doing something really stupid in the house, my father would say, ’or God’s sakes, use your common sense!’ and my mother (Eleanor) would say, ‘common sense isn’t so common.’”

My own grannie, Jane Walsh Reilly, who was from Bantry Bay, Co. Cork (b.1893), would often say something similar to me, “You’ve no more sense than the man in the moon.” The first time I heard it was in the mid-50s, when I was six or seven. 

The Man in the Moon is annotated with many variations in Archer Taylor & Bartlett Jere White’s “American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, 1820-1880,” (Harvard, 1958) (p. 236), but my grannie’s version is more succinct.




UC Berkeley Folklore Collections
Kroeber Hall, Dr. Alan Dundes

Portugal Journal: Fatima Story 4

10/6 Saturday, Lisbon.

Our concierge, Maria Santos Pinheiro, of Pensão Residencial Estrela do Mondego, walked to Fatima, she said it took her four days. She slept in pilgrim hotels along the way. She said she went because of a promise she had made. She wouldn't say what.

I asked how the custom began, the walking on the knees. She doesn't know how, or when, but said that when people make promises because something bad happened in their lives, and then they just do it. They fall to their knees and walk.

She said there's a big (holm oak) tree on 93 Azinheira, near there where the Lady appeared there at the Capelinha das Aparições (Chapel of the Apparitions, where three shepherd children saw the Virgin Mary in Cova da Iria, Fátima), in 1917.

She said that people took bits of the tree, they even took the land, until there was nothing left. The faithful finished off what the anticlerical liberal factions couldn't destroy, when they cut down the wrong tree in 1922.

On 13 May, when Our Lady first appeared, and every month until October 13, people walk from all over Portugal for the Peregrinación to the Santuário de Nossa Senhora de Fátima. She said "I like it better on the 12th at night, because of all the candles. And everyone waving white handkerch1efs. There's a song the people sing when they go there." 

The  maid begins singing El Adeus de Fátima, as she makes the beds. It's a very touching, if droll, song, perhaps it is a fado, and I am moved to tears.
Ó Virgem do Rosário, da Fátima Senhora. De Portugal Rainha, dos homens protectora. Ó Virgem do Rosário, da Fátima Senhora. Do Vosso Santuário, forçoso é ir-me embora. Uma prece final, ao deixar-Vos Mãe de Deus. Viva sempre em minha alma este grito imortal: Ó Fátima, adeus! Virgem Mãe, adeus!
On 12 June, Maria said, "On my birthday it's very joyous. And when you're there when you see Fatima, it's very touching. I cried and I cried," she said.

Thousands and thousands of people attend the services, and most of them have walked to Fátima on foot. The Virgin is paraded around the courtyard on a raft of white flowers, and everyone singing O Fátima, Adiós! while waving a sea of white handkerchiefs. Even the rosaries are white.

"The house where the shepherd children were born, is still there", she said. Milagros, the candles... You've got to believe in something." she said. "Heads legs children—that's what the Milagros are made for. You make a wish and you throw it in the fires that burn day and night."

Maria said that sometimes when people get married, they leave their flowers at Fátima for no special reason, other than for a blessing.

She said there's a lava-pés, a place where you wash your feet, and then the nuns will bandage your feet. She said that it's a recent custom, not an old one.

She explained, Our lady was brought to the Basilica on 13 May and was there until 13 October. When she was brought back, we sang a special song, Fátima, adeus! because she went around the world.  People pray with the rosary, they pray for whatever they want, there is no set thing that they pray for. Whether or not they believe, it doesn't matter.

Now the maid is singing it too because she doesn't believe. I left 1,000 escudos with Maria to buy us two heart milagros at Fatima, next May, one for me and one for my aunt Canice, whose heart keeps rhythm with the help of a new pacemaker.

 Portugal Journal: Lisbon London SFO

Friday, October 5, 2001

Independence Day, Fatima, Portugal


Pilgrims line up at the square, wearing kneepads, commercial, and homemade, Some pilgrims wear towels wrapped around their knees others wear polyester pads. Brown, to hide the dirt, and the blood.

It's raining. Men hold umbrellas over their wives, or mother's heads as they shuffle their way down the hill to the fountain. It's called an indulgence. Mostly Portuguese women. The sight is so bizarre, and so moving, we too want to join their ranks. Fall on bended knee. But I wouldn't last long. Too many falls from horseback.

They traverse the courtyard, a half a mile, perhaps three quarters of a mile on their knees, then up the steps to the church, praying all the wile. Everyone fumbles their rosary beads. Some wail, and beat their chests. Pull their hair. I have never see the outpouring of so much collected grief. People praying for a miracle, or divine intervention.

There are several altars to choose from. The one to our left, is situated before a perpetual flame of indulgence candles. it's a huge vat, an Inferno smelling of honeybees. I ask, do the fires ever go out? Nothing prepared me for this.

People toss in armloads of candles—40 to 500 at a time into the flame. Some people light them first, most do not. The beeswax, drips and hisses like snakes. It is so hot, the rain has evaporated from this station of indulgence.

My aunt Canice lit her candle first, with her cigarette lighter, but it went out. Probably from a profound lack of oxygen. My candle wouldn't stay lit either. It probably means bad luck—or too many wishes. When the candle goes out, your wish is not granted, it's like a vast birthday party for the dead.


10/5/2001
10/15/2015

travel journal



Azores Journal: Terceira, São Jorge

Portugal Journal: Lisbon to Fatima 3


10/5/2001 Lisbon-Fátima: We took the metro to bus station to Fátima where we're on the blue line, things aren't clearly marked and it isn't easy negotiating as there's so much lack of information etc. We miss the bus to Fátima. 

My cousin and aunt are too slow in the morning and again we missed a significant portion of the day. It's raining and we're wet and miserable.

Yesterday was a total waste in that they all were so late getting ready, it was noon before we even got out the hotel door. I said to them previously, if you want more time in the morning, just tell me and I'll go out by myself but as usual it didn't happen.

Then my aunt wanted to go to the bank. Sinead had to go with her. So Sean and I went on ahead, only to get caught by the trolley inspector, who insisted that my 24 hour pass, which I just bought, was no good. We been told so much conflicting information from the information people were beginning to feel ripped off.

This is the third time it's happened and so I began to holler and scream and we missed our bus stop and had to walk two miles back to the Monastery of Jerónimos and we missed Sinead. 

Sean was tired, and I wound up carrying him on my back for blocks. I was exhausted by the time we got to the monastery I wanted to cry, but I had to maintain face, and not have a meltdown, for Sean's sake. 

I sat in the hot sun waiting for them for 4 and a half hours. They'd ignored our Plan B to meet at the information booth and went on inside. I was pretty upset.

The upshot is that I ran through the monastery and cloisters, through the back door, so I didn't have to pay, I managed to get to the Museum of Archaeology, but the Celtic stuff was in storage so that was a waste of time.

There were two stone Celtic warriors with torcs, shields, and bigotes. I asked a docent about them, and he took pity on me, and guided me to the library. I looked up and cross-referenced some postcard photos. There was lots of gold, but mostly plain gold. No La Tène culture, I slogged through Portuguese anthropology books, and discovered it was easier to read Portuguese, than to speak it.

Then we went onto the Torre Belém. By this time it was 4:35PM and the guard wouldn't let us in so I guess I won't get to see the inside. Altogether, it was a shitty day. The very two things I wanted to see most. I hope today improves. Blame it on the full moon.

It's 115 km from Lisbon to Fátima. At Fátima, believers board the bus. Imagine plays on the radio. We are sardines, soaked through to the skin. A young cancer survivor, with the bug-eyed beauty of Sinead O'Connor, boards the bus. Was she one of the lucky ones?

At Fátima, I gazed into the eyes of a young boy, olive skinned, and old before his time. My indulgence, for all the living and the dead of the World Trade Center, I buy candles to light their way.


added, rev. 9/17
the story continues:
Independence Day, Fatima, Portugal
see also Fatima Notes
AFTER READING BROWNING’S SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE


      Portugal Journal: Lisbon London SFO 5

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Portugal Journal: Lisbon 2

2
10/3–4 Wed. Lisbon: I can't sleep – that chocolate mousse after dinner was too much. My mind was racing. There are cockroaches in the bathroom, and I can't reach them. One jumped on my leg trying to hide from the light.

They're all snoring in the other room—even the baby. Not the cockroaches, my family. The baby Sean nearly got burned in the shower this morning. It was a rough start.

Suddenly the time is running out and there is still so much to see. Lisbon is growing on me. The trolley pass finally did it. It gave us wings, and the city with its seven hills became friendly, not like that crazy taxi ride from the dive that we spent the first night in.

There was no lift (elevator) and I thought Canice was going to die going up all those stairs. Five flights. The first floor begins above the reception desk. Which was already one flight up so the fourth floor was really nearer to the sixth floor then the fourth.

I had to exercise my Spanish or Spanglish in order to survive here. Sinead and Canice can only achieve rudimentary communication as most people don't speak English here. But I'm able to prattle on, and get the nuts and bolts out most of the time. Except for today at the castle.

The castle WC was in the lower depths of the ramparts and I thought my bladder was going to burst. The WC guard wanted valuta and I saidI was desperate throwing down some escudos but still she screamed at me. How much did she want. I eventually understood that she was saying: too late too late. And pointed at the symbol of a man.

It was the men's room. I ran down the hall like a crazed woman, and the little old ladies took pity on me. I was wild eyed and they let me go in first.

Linda was right, at times the Portuguese is is different from Spanish as Chinese is to Russian, though I think that's an unfair analysis. I can understand a fair bit but the Brazilian soaps on the TV don't help much. The women with painted eyes look as silly as the retro 60s woman in the airport. Elizabeth Taylor's paint job on Cleopatra come back to haunt us on late night TV. All the TVs in this hospidaje, or pension (pensão) happen to watch the same canal, or channel as there's only one satellite receiver so we flick the channels—all forty-something of them to the same inane game show with men lounging around, dressed in skins and bad makeup jobs. Big Brother it's called, a talk show of sorts, I guess. 

All the azuelos, the tile buildings, surprise and delight the eye. The trolley is a magic ride. We took the number 15 trolly down to the recently restored Torre de Belém (or Torre de São Vicente, the patron saint of Lisbõa) and we saw the Gothic Manueline monastery of Jerónimos (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) by moonlight.

Both are Unesco world heritage sites. Torre Belém in the distance, like a wedding cake confection, surrounded by water. Hard to imagine something of that beauty inspired by the art of war.

At Vasco da Gama's monument, (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) we traced our route on the stone map of the world. I wasn't too sure I wanted to celebrate Vasco's discoveries as Europeans in the New World (or India) weren't too good for the local populace—no matter how you reassembled the history. Vasco da Gama is buried at the monastery of Jerónimos. A faint odor of pepper and cinnamon in the air.

All the gold and silver altars we've seen, are mind-boggling. On Praça 25 de Abril, a woman shows us a back room at the Igreja Convento da Graça, one of Lisbon's oldest churches, made of azuelos and painted ceilings. Last night's downpour took its toll and a portion of the ceiling vault fell through, and I realized that much of the ceiling detail is based on illusion.

Wondrous interiors to fool the eye into believing the fabulousness of their new world and wealth has no end. All this gold from the Americas what extraordinary artifacts were melted down so that we may celebrate religion?

I saw a submarine traverse up the Tagus River with a couple of military ships. From Vasco da Gama Square I could see the far shore was comprised of oil tanks. I can't seem to escape them. The tragedy of 9/11 seems to be fading a bit, but today as we come down from the castle or the citadel, I found myself in in tears once again.

Sinead, in the bank this morning, was talking to a Portuguese man about 9/11, and later a newspaper tumbled down the street and stopped at my feet. Even in Portuguese the headlines were perfectly clear.

Many people in Lisbon certainly have Moorish ancestry, but here and there, the Celt is still visible, though more so in the Azores.

I'm getting a bit tired of being sidestepped all the time as tourist bait but we have taken to fighting with the kiosk ticket sellers and taxi drivers who insist upon cheating us on on every turn. Usually usually we pay, but not without a fight.

Lisbon is definitely a bit rougher, but we are, for the most part, left unmolested because we are three women traveling alone with a small child.

I collected lots of folklore, but mostly from my family. It's been hard collecting from the Portuguese. You need to build a relationship first, and that takes time. When we haven't got a lot. Also, we're not meeting the Portuguese in Lisbon it's not as friendly as the Azores.

As Sinead said, yesterday her palm is still itching that means give it away, not a good sign in that yesterday a lot of money part parted itself from us unwillingly and hopefully that's in the past but her palm still itches.


I'm sitting in the hall listening to everyone snore behind closed doors in the middle of the night. Wired and allergic to all the cigarette smoke, I'm sitting on the floor, an ignoble midnight studio.

I'm certainly seeing lots of things. First time away from home in five years. Hard to believe it's been that long. I've always had such a travel bug and now I'm not used to all this stimulation. I think travel requires a certain fortitude. Certainly with family. 

We absolutely hated Lisbon when we first arrived. We almost packed it up and left town. I'm glad we're giving it another chance because it really is an extraordinary place.

At the castle, the opidda, where Roman, Visigothic and the later layers of history are visible too, but not much of the 12th-century castle is original. Zealous restoration and re-Christianization creates a Disney-likeeffect. But I love walking along the ramparts with Sean. White peacocks and sickly cats added a surreal effect. Gone is the bustle of a medieval city, though the Alfama surrounding it, is a warren of streets enticing one onward.