Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Robert Frost!

Today (March 26th) was American poet Robert Frost's birthday. He was born March 26, 1874 and passed away January 29, 1963.

Robert Frost is my father's favorite poet and consequently my dad gave me some of his many poems to study in my high school English classes. Being a young teen I didn't always understand the poems but grew to love them as they were explaimed to me through my dad and our study time.

Now that I'm older I appreciate Frost's work even more. The pictures of New England country life that he painted with words are so near and dear to me. I've lived in New England most of my life and I just love the climate and the thoughtful hardworking people who live here.

To me one of the loveliest scenes in New England is the old stone walls still visible today. I especially like the scenes in Autumn or Spring. These stone walls are a reminder of the history behind them. A time when simple farming folk and their animals survived year after year of harsh Winters, blooming Springs, warm breezy Summers and colorful Autumn harvests.

"He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."
-Mending Wall, poem by Robert Frost

One of Robert Frost's most well known poem is The Road Not Taken, which tells the story of a man who came to a place where he had to make a choice between two roads. This is one of my favorites!

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

-The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

Here are links to some of my other favorites of his work, well worth reading!

Have you read any Robert Frost? Which is your favorite poem?

What is your favorite thing about where you live? 

Sorry I haven't posted this week, it's been kind of crazy around here. Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Very Truly Your's,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Blog News & Reader Questionnaire

Thank you all for joining me for my Irish Week. Now that St. Patrick's Day is over I think it's time for a blog news post and some Spring cleaning.

Welcome Spring! I'm so glad the days are getting warmer and longer here and our snow is almost all melted away (well it was here until a storm today)! Now it's time for mud and the early plants to spring out of the ground. Yay!

Spring Header: My blog has a new header, background and side bar images that all reflect Spring. Images are from the delightful period drama Under the Greenwood Tree. If you're interested in this drama check out my review here!

Period Film Reviews: If you're looking for a Period Drama Film Review please check out my list of film reviews on my sidebar. I update the list often and hope to do more reviews soon! If you're looking for something good to watch also take a look at my Period Films page which lists most of the period dramas I've seen and recommend.

Blog Features: I've added new things to the About Me page, rearranged the My Favorite Blogs page, simplified the Blog Buttons and Banners pages. The main blog page has been rearranged a bit too. Labels are listed at the very bottom of the page, I've added the Google search option so you can search for anything on my blog and it works very well! Also I've tried to simplify the art and quotes in my sidebar so it's not as long.

Questions for my Readers:  Your answers to these questions will help me make Old-Fashioned Charm easier to use and more reader friendly for all of you.

  1. Does the blog and blog images load easily for you?
  2. Are you able to easily maneuver through pages and find blog posts easily?
  3. Do you find it easy to contact me with questions or comments via post comments or e-mail?
  4. Would you still follow me if I added related advertisements to my blog? 
  5. Are there any period films you would like me to review? 

Thanks to all my lovely readers for your support and encouragement as I continue to blog about all thing old-fashioned!

Very Truly Your's,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Miss Bea!

Today is a very special day for a very special young lady! 
Today my sweet sister Miss Bea celebrates her 15th birthday!

I'm so blessed that Miss Bea is in my life. She is my best friend and we have so much fun together! I remember the day she was born I was so excited to have a baby sister. I almost can't believe it's been fifteen years since then. Miss Bea has grown up into such a sweet and talented young lady!

If you haven't checked out her blog yet head on over to Miss Bea's Scrapbook and wish her Happy Birthday!


Lots of Love,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish Ballads: Carrickfergus

I'm continuing my Irish week with a few more posts highlighting my favorite Irish songs and singers.

The two photos in this post are from the real town of Carrickfergus a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Carrickfergus stands on the north shore of Belfast Lough and is home to the 12th century Carrickfergus Castle (pictured at right), one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland. Carrickfergus has just been added to my list of places to visit if I ever get over to Ireland!


I wish I was in Carrickfergus
Only for nights in Ballygrand
I would swim over the deepest ocean
The deepest ocean for my love to find

But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over
Neither have I wings to fly
If I could find me a handsome boatsman
To ferry me over to my love and die

My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy times spent so long ago
My childhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on now like melting snow

But I'll spend my days in endless roaming
Soft is the grass, my bed is free
Ah, to be back now in Carrickfergus
On that long road down to the sea

I'm drunk today and I'm seldom sober
A handsome rover from town to town
But I am sick now my days are numbered
Come all me young men and lay me down

Video of Órla Fallon singing Carrickfergus from the DVD concert Celtic Woman: A New Journey--Live at Slane Castle. I like this version best of any I've heard. Órla's softer deeper voice and the simple music of her her harp and the orchestra behind are so lovely! 

Song History: "Carrickfergus" is an Irish folk song of unclear origins. But it has been traced to an Irish language song, "Do bhí bean uasal" ("There Was a Noblewoman"), which is attested to the poet Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, who died in 1745 in County Clare. The Irish lyrics were about a man being cuckolded, a bawdy and humorous ditty. By contrast, the English lyrics are nostalgic. With the Industrial Revolution, a linen-trade developed between Co. Antrim (where Carrickfergus is situated), and Co. Cork. It is possible the English lyrics came from snatches picked up in interactions with the Ulstermen.

Singer: Órla Fallon was born in Knockananna, Ireland. She is is an Irish soloist, songwriter and former member of the group Celtic Woman and the chamber choir Anúna. She plays the harp and sings traditional Irish music, most often in the Irish language. Her debut album, Water Is Wide, was released in Europe in 2000 and in North America in 2006. In 2005, she was offered to be in the Irish group Celtic Woman. She was featured in the self titled debut album Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration and Celtic Woman: A New Journey. In 2009 was when Orla left the group to have a full break and spend time with her family. Her solo career seems to be taking off with the release of four albums: Distant Shore, Orla Fallon's Celtic ChristmasWinter, Fire & Snow and My Land. She also has two corresponding DVD concerts: Orla Fallon - My Landand Orla Fallon's Celtic Christmas.
Besides her lovely voice and amazing talent Orla seems like such a nice person. I've seen bits of her solo concerts and I love the way she connects with the audience and keeps the history of Irish music alive. She's on my list of singers I'd love to see live in concert and meet in person one day! And I love her Irish Gaelic name!

Also here's a video of Charlotte Church's version of Carrickfergus. The words are very different and a bit more romantic than the original words. I'm not a huge fan of her voice and the beat is a bit much, but the words in this version are lovely!

What are your thoughts on this song? Which version do you like best?
Have you heard of Órla Fallon before and what do you think of her voice and style of singing?


Finian's Rainbow & The Happiest Millionaire

I wanted to share with you two of my favorite movies to watch on St. Patrick's Day! Both of these are family friendly musicals featuring fun tunes.

The Happiest Millionaire

This is my mom's all time favorite musical! It's such a fun film!

Plot: The story begins in Autumn of 1916, and follows Irish immigrant John Lawless (Tommy Steele) as he applies for a butler position with eccentric Philadelphia millionaire Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (Fred MacMurray). Even though the family is a bit strange, Lawless soon fits right in and serves as the narrator for the rest of the film. Mr. Biddle runs Biddle Boxing and Bible School (located in his stable) and collects strange things like the live alligators in his conservatory. His wife, Cordelia (Greer Garson), stands quietly by, accepting his eccentricities with a sense of pride and class. Their two sons, Tony and Livingston (Paul Petersen & Eddie Hodges) are jokesters who are overprotective of their sister. The Biddle's daughter Cordy (Lesley Ann Warren), is a tomboy with a mean right hook who was educated by private tutors and has had limited contact with conventional society. She's frustrated by bot being able to attract suitors and wants to see what's beyond the Biddle manor. Mr. Biddle reluctantly lets Cordy go to a boarding school where her roommate humorously teaches her how to attract suitors. At a social dance hosted by her aunt and uncle, Cordy meets Angier Buchanan Duke (John Davidson) and they fall in love. He is fascinated with automobiles and wants to head to Detroit, Michigan to make his fortune instead of taking over his family's tobacco business. Cordy's parents are surprised when she comes home to announce her engagement, but, after meeting Angie, they take a liking to him. Then Cordy travels with Angie to New York City to meet his mother (Geraldine Page), but she feels out of place especially with the condescending comments from Angie's mother. When the Biddles and the Dukes make arrangements for a grand society wedding tensions between their families rise while Cordy and Angie feel pushed aside. Will the couple be able to stick together and make their own way?

This beautiful film is filled with lively songs that set the tone and move the story forward. From the very start of the film the viewer is whisked away into the vibrant story and delighted by the dancing and humor.

This is the opening song 'Fortuosity', sung by Tommy Steele as the Irish immigrant John Lawless. This is Miss Bea's favorite song because it's so lively and fun to watch!

The song 'I'll Always Be Irish' is one reason we love to watch this film around St. Patrick's Day. It's so much fun to watch John sing about his Irish heritage and hopes for a future in America. Although actor Tommy Steele isn't a true Irishman I think he does a wonderful job and seems to enjoy himself immensely in this scene.

The sweet courtship between Cordy and Angie is so much fun to watch. Lesley Ann Down and John Davidson both made their film debut in The Happiest Millionaire and they do a fantastic job! Such a cute couple!

This son is The Land of Golden Chariots, which Angie sings to Cordy to explain his love for automobiles and desire to manufacture them in Detroit. It's a short-ish clip but fun to see the couple as they drive through different seasons. Cordy's costumes are so lovely! 

Finian's Rainbow

One of my grandmother's favorite musicals. Every time I watch this it makes me think of her!

Plot: A lovable rogue named Finian McLonergan (Fred Astaire) absconds from his native Ireland with a pot of gold secreted in a carpetbag, plus his daughter Sharon (Petula Clark) in tow. His destination is Rainbow Valley in the mythical state of Missitucky, where he plans to bury his treasure in the mistaken belief that it will multiply. Hot on his heels is the leprechaun Og (Tommy Steele), desperate to recover his stolen crock before he turns human. Among those involved in the ensuing shenanigans are Woody Mahoney (Don Francks), a ne'er-do-well dreamer who woos Sharon; his mute sister Susan (Barbara Hancock), who expresses herself in dance; Woody's good friend and business partner Howard (Al Freeman Jr.), an African American botanist determined to grow mentholated tobacco, and bombastic Senator Billboard Rawkins (Keenan Wynn), who wears his bigotry as if it were a badge of honor. Complications arise when Senator Rawkins, believing there is gold in Rainbow Valley, attempts to seize the land from the people who live there and makes some racial slurs while doing so. Sharon furiously wishes he'd turn black himself—and, because she is in close proximity to the magical pot of gold, which is capable of granting three wishes, Rawkins does exactly that. Sharon is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned at the stake unless she can make him white again. Will Finian be able to find the pot of gold in time to save his daughter and will Og have to stay a human forever? 

This is really quite a silly musical, it's not my favorite storyline but there are some things that make it interesting. There are some lovely tunes sung by Petula Clark and Tommy Steele that I really enjoyed. The other songs are just pretty silly.

I wasn't able to embed any videos from the film but here's a video of Kate Baldwin & Jim Norton singing  How Are Things in Glocca Morra? on Broadway last year. This song is a lament sung by Sharon and her father wondering how things are in their home town, the fictional Glocca Morra, Ireland. Probably my favorite in this musical.

Yes, that's right, Fred Astaire is in this film! He's older so his voice and dance isn't as great as in his early years, he also struggles with keeping the Irish accent up. But he's charming as ever! You can see a video of him singing and dancing in the song When The Idle Poor Become The Irish Rich, by going to YouTube here.

I was unable to embed these videos of songs from the film but you can view them on YouTube:

I highly recommend The Happiest Millionaire to all ages! It's a great older family film by Disney. I you haven't see it buy a copy, I'm sure you'll love it as much as my family does! Finian's Rainbow is fun too, especially around St. Patrick's Day.

Have you seen either of these? What did you think of them?

What are your favorite films to watch on St. Patrick's Day?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Ballads: Red Is The Rose

Red Is The Rose

Come over the hills, my bonnie Irish lass
Come over the hills to your darling
You choose the rose, love, and I'll make the vow
And I'll be your true love forever.

Red is the rose that in yonder garden grows
Fair is the lily of the valley
Clear is the water that flows from the Boyne
But my love is fairer than any.

'Twas down by Killarney's green woods that we strayed
When the moon and the stars they were shining
The moon shone its rays on her locks of golden hair
And she swore she'd be my love forever.

It's not for the parting that my sister pains
It's not for the grief of my mother
'Tis all for the loss of my bonny Irish lass
That my heart is breaking forever.

This video is of The High Kings singing Red Is The Rose, for radio, on the street in New York City. I love their acapella version, their voices blend together so beautifully it made me teary eyed!

Song History: This is an Irish variant of the Scottish ballad Loch Lomond and is sung with the same melody but different (although similarly themed) lyrics. It was popularized by Irish folk musician Tommy Makem. Even though many people mistakenly believe that Makem wrote "Red is the Rose", it is a traditional Irish folk song.

Singers: The High Kings, again! My own opinion is that Finbarr starts this song out because of his family's relation to the song. It makes me think of his uncle Liam Clancy singing with Tommy Makes. I just love their version it's so sweet!

What's your favorite version of this song?

Did you have a good St. Patrick's Day?

Irish Blessings,

The Wearing of the Green

Happy Saint Patrick's Day Everyone!!!!

The Wearing Of The Green

Oh, Paddy dear, and did you hear
The news that's going round?
The shamrock is forbid by law
To grow on Irish ground!

St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep,
His color can't be seen,
For there's a bloomin' law agin'
The wearing of the green.

I met with Napper Tandy
And he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's poor old Ireland
And how does she stand?"

"She's the most distressful country
That ever yet was seen;
They're hanging men and women there
For wearing of the green."

Then since the color we must wear
Is England's cruel red,
Sure Ireland's songs will ne'er forget
The blood that they have shed.

You may take the shamrock from your hat now,
Cast it on the sod,
But 'twill take root and flourish still,
Tho' under foot it's trod.

When the law can stop the blades of green
From growing as they grow,
And when the leaves in summertime
Their verdue dare not show,

Then I will change the color that I
Wear in my canteen;
But 'till that day, please God, I'll stick
To wearing of the green.

Song History: "The Wearing of the Green" is an anonymously-penned Irish street ballad dating to 1798.The context of the song is the repression around the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Wearing a shamrock in the "caubeen" (hat) was a sign of rebellion and green was the colour of the Society of the United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary organisation. During the period, displaying revolutionary insignia was made punishable by hanging.

Are you wearing green today? 
Which of these lovely green items would you most like to wear?

Irish Blessings,

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy Saint Patrick's Dear Friends!

"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic." 

- Adrienne Cook

"When after the Winter alarmin',
The Spring steps in so charmin',
So fresh and arch
In the middle of March,
Wid her hand St. Patrick's arm on..." 

- Alfred Percival Graves

Today is Saint Patrick's Day! I always enjoy having a mini celebration of my own. Why celebrate? First because of St. Patrick himself, one of the first missionaries to spread the gospel to Ireland. I've enjoyed Patrick's story since I first heard it dramatized on Adventures In Odyssey by Focus On The Family. After reading some of his writings his testimony is clearly faith in Christ.

"If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me." 
 - Saint Patrick

Another reason I enjoy St. Patrick's Day is because it's another excuse to listen to my favorite Celtic music! Lively and fun, Irish ballads, reels and other songs sung by Irish natives are among some of my favorites to listen to.
Who do I listen to? I really appreciate the vocal talents of Celtic ThunderCeltic WomanThe High KingsHayley WestenraDeantatraditional Irish favoritesreels and jigsdancesGaelic songs, and popular tunes.
There are also a few good period films that I enjoy watching around this time: The Quiet ManWidows' PeakFinian's RainbowThe Happiest Millionaire and Behind The Waterfall (not period but a good family film).

Green is also a lot of fun to wear this time of year because after the white and brown of winter it is wonderful to start seeing color! Green reminds me that soon spring will be upon us and plants will soon start to grow. St. Patrick's Day is also a wonderful reminder to me of God's love and saving grace that makes us new creatures growing in His love.

So what do you do special for St. Patrick's Day?
Hope you're having a lovely day!

Irish Blessings,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The High Kings!

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow!!

This post is a homage to one of my favorite Irish groups, The High Kings!
Their group consists of the amazingly talented and charming Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Darren Holden and Martin Furey.

Michaela and Anna Olivia, this one's for you! ;)

I first heard about The High Kings back in 2008 when they were advertised on the Celtic Woman website. I immediately checked them out and loved their sound. I loved them so much I went right out and bought their DVD concert The High Kings: Live In Dublin. I was hooked!

My personal favorites in the group are Finbarr Clancy and Brian Dunphy (at right in photo). But comparing High Kings is a bit like comparing different types of chocolate - they are all so good it's a bit pointless!

I currently own only their DVD concert and the Christmas compilation album which I really enjoy. Their two CDs are on my wishlist though and I hope to buy them as soon as I'm able!

Some of my favorite songs:

Marie's Wedding 

Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore

Red Is The Rose

The Fields of Athenry

And there's so many more lovely tunes! I don't think I could even try to choose a favorite!

I adore their harmonies as they join their voices together. I also enjoy the variety of instruments they play in their concerts. By all accounts they are as charming in person as their voices are in song. My dearest wish is to one day see The High Kings live and meet them in person! Until then I love searching YouTube for videos of their various appearances. 

Keep up the awesome work lads! You are loved!

Okay, comment away!

Have you heard of The High Kings before? 
What do you think of them? 
Do you have a favorite singer from the group? 
Do you have a favorite song they sing?
What's your favorite type of chocolate?

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