Book Shelf – Black Beauty

Black beauty – Anna Sewell

Black Beauty, is an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. It was composed in the last years of her life, during which she remained in her house as an invalid. The novel became an immediate best-seller, with Sewell dying just five months after its publication, but having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success. With fifty million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time.

The novel traces the life and adventures of Black Beauty, a horse in 19th-century England. It opens with Beauty’s descriptions of his life as a colt (young horse) in the home of a kind master named Farmer Grey. He runs and plays in the meadow and receives lectures from his mother, Duchess, about the importance of being kind and gentle and never biting or kicking – basically the horse equivalent of an English gentleman.

When he is two years old, Beauty witnesses a hunting party going after a hare and the tragic death of one of the riders in a fall from his horse. The horse, also injured, is put down. The experience frightens him.

When Beauty turns four, Farmer Grey trains him to carry riders on his back and pull carriages. After being sent to a neighbour’s pasture near the train station to get used to the sounds of the road, Beauty is sold to Squire Gordon at Birtwick Hall. This is where he gets his name; other than a white star on his forehead and a white hoof, his coat is shiny black.

At Birtwick, Beauty meets and befriends the other horses in the stable: Merrylegs, Ginger and Sir Oliver. Squire Gordon and his coachman, John, are kind men who believe in treating horses well, and Beauty’s work with them is humane and happy until the Gordons must move to a warmer climate for Mrs. Gordon’s health.

Beauty is sold to a number of different homes, from Earlshall Park, a fashionable home where his mistress, Lady Anne, works her horses hard, to a stable that rents out carriages and finally to a London cab driver named Jerry Barker, the first really kind master Beauty has after leaving Birtwick. His other masters and stable managers overwork him, neglect his care and hygiene and even steal from his oats.

After Jerry becomes sick and needs to leave the cab business, Beauty gets sold to a corn dealer and then to another cab driver who is lazy and treats his horses unkindly. When Beauty collapses from overwork, he’s sold at auction to a kind farmer who nurses him back to health before selling him to the Blomefields, who were neighbors of the Gordons. Under the care of their groom, who had once been a stable lad at Birtwick, Beauty lives out the remainder of his days in a kind and loving home.

Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are the smallest dogs in the world. They weigh as little as two pounds and seldom are more than six pounds (1 to 3 kilograms). They stand only about five inches high. Chihuahuas have a domed skull. In some, there is a soft spot on the top of the head where the bones have not joined. This is called molera. They have large prick ears and short and pointed muzzles. Their eyes are round and large. The dogs are slightly longer than they are tall and have a longish tail that is carried up or over the back.

There are two coat varieties. One is smooth and short. The other is long and soft with fringed ear and legs. The Chihuahua coat comes in almost any colour and pattern.

The Chihuahua is a tiny but confident dog that loves to give and receive attention. Despite its petite and fragile appearance, ​the breed is quite bold, even brazen. Its wide eyes and big ears are its other distinctive features. The ears are usually erect and very large in relation to its small head and body. The Chihuahua has a unique personality and can be a quite affectionate, loyal companion dog.

Chihuahuas are considered long-lived, with a typical life expectancy of up to about 14 years.

The Chihuahua originated in Mexico and was developed in the state for which it was named. A likely ancestor of the breed was the Techichi, a sacred dog of the ancient Toltecs. The ancestors of the Chihuahua may have been present earlier than the ninth century. Some believe that the smaller size of the breed may have resulted from crossing with Chinese crested dogs.

First registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904, the Chihuahua is one of the oldest breeds on the American continent and one of the smallest breeds in the world. It’s also highly recognizable, thanks to its tiny size and big personality. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Taco Bell ad campaigns starring the breed boosted its popularity, as did Chihuahuas being featured in reality television series as purse dogs of rich, famous young women.

The saucy Chihuahua has earned his place as a favoured toy dog because of his intense devotion to a single person. He is reserved with strangers but good with other household dogs and pets. Some try to be protective, but they are not very effective. Some may be quite bold; others may be timid. He may often  be temperamental. Some bark.

The sassy attitude of the Chihuahua demands proper socialization and in-depth obedience training. Without adequate socialization, the breed can become fearful and defensive, especially around new people or animals. An untrained Chihuahua can act defiant and defensive toward its owners and other people. Though stubborn at times, the breed is smart and can become well-behaved with dedication and consistency from its owner. It is also essential that you teach your Chihuahua to tolerate being handled at a young age, especially for things like nail trims.

The Chihuahua is a lively dog that nonetheless can get his exercise running from room to room indoors. He enjoys exploring the yard or going for a short walk on leash and especially enjoys accompanying his owner on outings. He hates the cold and seeks out warmth. Coat care for the smooth is minimal. Care of the long coat entails brushing two to three times a week.

Asterix in Switzerland – Book 16

Asterix in Switzerland – Book 16

Asterix in Switzerland (French: Astérix chez les Helvètes, “Asterix in the land of the Helvetii”) is the sixteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote magazine issues 557–578 in 1970 and translated into English in 1973.

Condatum’s Roman governor Varius Flavus has been embezzling a majority of the local taxes in order to finance a debauched lifestyle of never-ending parties, sending only a pittance to Rome, until Quaestor Vexatius Sinusitus is sent to investigate. Flavus, upon finding the Quaestor will not be easy to corrupt, serves him poisoned food and provides inept doctors making absurd guesses at his ailment.

Realizing his life is in danger, Sinusitus sends for the druid Getafix, who instantly identifies the malady as attempted murder by poison. Getafix agrees to brew an antidote for Sinusitus but lacks an essential ingredient: a flower called the “silver star” (edelweiss), and sends Asterix and Obelix to Helvetia (Switzerland) to find it. He also insists that Sinusitus remain in the Gaulish village as a hostage; apparently to guarantee Asterix and Obelix’s return, but actually to protect Sinusitus from Flavus.

Asterix and Obelix reach Helvetia but soon run into difficulties set by the Romans, as Varius Flavus has warned his colleague in Helvetia, the equally-corrupt Curius Odus, of their arrival. Thus the Gauls find themselves continually chased and delayed by the Romans, but are assisted by the hotel manager Petitsuix, bank manager Zurix, and some Helvetian veterans who hold a celebration at Lake Geneva. During the celebration, Obelix is rendered senseless by plum wine, and the veterans are attacked by the Roman army; whereupon Asterix and some of the Helvetians, tying themselves to Obelix and each other, obtain the ‘silver star’ from the mountainside, while the remaining Helvetians repel the Romans.

Later Varius Flavus comes to the village, expecting Sinusitus to be near death, either from the poison or execution by the Gauls after Asterix and Obelix have failed to return. Instead, the now-healthy Sinusitus marches out of Getafix’s house, and empowered by the druid’s magic potion, punches Flavus into the sky, announcing that he will now expose the corruption and sentence Flavus and Odus to their fate in the Circus in Rome. The story ends with the usual banquet for the villagers and Sinisitus, making it the first banquet featuring a Roman as a guest.

Next book in  the series : The Mansion of the Gods

Feast of Our lady of Mount Carmel – July 16

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is celebrated  on July 16. It was first instituted in the late 14th century in commemoration of the approval of the rule of the Carmelite Order a hundred years earlier. According to legend, a religious community was established even before the time of Christ on Mount Carmel. This is the mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on which the prophet Elijah successfully challenged the priests of Baal and won the people to the true God. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel entered the Calendar of the universal Church in the early 18th century.

Although there is no historical evidence for the pre-Christian Carmelite community, references in the 12th century record a community of monks on the holy mountain. Despite continual difficulties, the community built a monastery and church dedicated to the Virgin Mary on Mount Carmel in 1263. Saint Louis, King of France, had visited Mount Carmel in 1254, and brought back six French hermits for whom he built a convent near Paris.

Mount Carmel was taken by the Muslims in 1291, and the brothers were killed and the convent burned. The spread of the Carmelites in Europe is largely attributable to the work of Saint Simon Stock (1247-1265). The Carmelite Order was formally approved in 1274 at the Council of Lyon.

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, according to the Carmelite tradition, was presented by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock, the then Father General on July 16, 1251.  Our Lady gave St. Simon a scapular for the Carmelites with the following promise, saying : “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire …. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.”

Another important aspect of wearing the Scapular is the Sabbatine Privilege. This concerns a promise made by Our Lady to Pope John XXII. In a papal letter he issued, he recounted a vision that he had had. He stated that the Blessed Virgin had said to him in this vision, concerning those who wear the Brown Scapular: “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

Many popes and saints have strongly recommended wearing  the Brown Scapular to the Catholic Faithful. Pope Pius XII  said: “The Scapular is a practice of piety which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone, and has spread widely among the faithful of Christ to their spiritual profit.” In our own times, Pope Paul VI said: “Let the faithful hold in high esteem the practices and devotions to the Blessed Virgin … the Rosary and the Scapular of Carmel” and in another place referred to the Scapular as: “so highly recommended by our illustrious predecessors.”

In order to receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally enrolled in the Brown Scapular. The enrollment is made only once by a priest or authorized person. The Scapular can be replaced afterwards by a medal, which has on one side the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the other, the image of Mary.

There is a short  form for giving the scapular: “Receive this Scapular, a sign of your special relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, whom you pledge to imitate. May it be a reminder to you of your dignity as a Christian in serving others and imitating Mary.

Reflection

You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favour it; the appointed time has come. Psalm 102:13

Unlike our transitory problems, God, and therefore, God’s faithful love, is eternal. The difficulties that we face today can depress and divide us when we forget that God desires both our growth and our good. When we take the long view, we realize that the heartaches we face today may one day be the very things that plant the seeds of justice, compassion and mercy. God works all things to the good, but it often takes time and faith to fully recognize that truth.