Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Poor Woman and the Little Canary Bird

The Poor Woman and the Little Canary Bird The Poor Woman and the Little Canary Bird

There once was an old woman so poor that she could not afford a casket for her recently deceased husband. A canary flew in through the window and sang happily to her. The old woman fed it. Another woman came in and said it had been in the papers that a family was missing a canary and that this might be the very bird.

The old woman took the canary to the family who was so happy to have the bird back that they paid for the casket for her husband and invited her to dinner. The old woman prayed to God and thanked him for sending the canary to her.

Observations

Any time I hear of a bird being returned to its owners, I find it quite remarkable. Birds can fly away. One of my friends in Okinawa actually found a parakeet just flying around outside. Someone had lost it and she took it as her pet when no one reported one missing. She had it for a while.

Themes

This canary was such a small thing, but it caused great things to happen for the old woman. Small things can lead to very big things. Maybe that dime on the sidewalk is just a dime, or maybe it’s going to lead you to an entirely different life. No one can really for sure. As the scriptures say, “By small and simple things shall great things come to pass.”

Overall

This was a sweet little story.

Weigh In

What would have happened had the woman not encountered the canary?

Is the family better off for having known the woman?

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Books Based off of other Books, Children's, DeKeyser-Stacy, Fantasy, Fiction, Social Commentary

#634 One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser

One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyserOne Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser

Rudi was going to market with the tanner’s daughter, Susannah, she was six. Rudi said he was allowed to sell a cow as well as the milk and butter, if he got a good price. At the market Rudi is separated from Susannah. She says she has sold his cow for magical beans. They look like ordinary beans to Rudi. He knows his family will not want to lose a cow for beans to a foreign person no less.

Rudi races home where he talks to his grandmother. She thinks that the beans might indeed be magic, but they should go ask the witch up on the hill. Everyone knows she is a witch, but people simply say she is an old woman. Rudi and Susannah go to see her. She confirms that the beans are indeed magic and they should go back to the land from which they came, but she could not go there herself because only one witch was allowed in one land at a time. Rudi and Susannah would have to go. She tells Rudi to plant one of the beans at the border between the lands. He does and a beanstalk grows.

Rudi and Susannah climb to the top where they endeavor to return the beans to the witch there, who is a giant and a man. A girl named Agatha is going with them, but it turns out she’s the girl who started the trouble in the first place. She helps with the task, sort of, but she doesn’t like the witch. Rudi tells her that there can only be one witch so if someone were to take the place of the witch there, then maybe Agatha could get what she wished.

What I liked

This was a fairly entertaining story. I liked the twists on traditional fairy tales. I liked how the people in the story admit there’s a witch, but don’t admit there’s a witch. They secretly acknowledge that they don’t know all the pieces of things, but outwardly they persist in putting on a front that everything can be explained. Typical humans.

What I didn’t like

The whole one witch at a time thing seems illogical, but it’s not my written world.

Overall

Everything ended up ok.

Weigh In

Would you trade a cow for magic beans?

If there is something you can’t explain do you admit you know the answer, or do you put up the front that you think it’s silly?

Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Snow Queen-Third Story: The Flower Garden of the Woman who Could Conjure

The Snow Queen-Third Story: The Flower Garden of the Woman who Could ConjureThe Snow Queen-Third Story: The Flower Garden of the Woman who Could Conjure

Since Kay had been gone, Gerda had been very sad. No one knew where he had gone. Gerda looked for herself, she thought the river might have taken him. She offered up her red shoes in return for Kay, but the river would not take her shoes. Gerda decided to get in a boat and look for Kay, but as it turned out, the boat was not tied up and Gerda drifted and drifted away.

An old woman saw her and pulled the boat in. The old woman heard Gerda’s story and wanted Gerda to stay with her because she had wanted a little girl around. The woman had a beautiful garden, which was beautiful all the time. Because of Gerda’s story about Kay and the roses they used to sit under, the woman caused the rose bushes, which were beautiful, to sink into the ground.

Gerda had a wonderful time. She had her own room with beautiful things inside of it. The garden was always beautiful. Gerda played in the garden often and thought it was beautiful, but it seemed there were flowers missing, but she couldn’t place her finger on it. One day she saw a hat of the woman’s. On the hat was rose. Gerda knew that roses were missing from the garden. She looked for them and could not find them. She cried tears which fell to the Earth and softened the ground. The roses sprang up.

She remembered Kay. She remembered her family, which would surely be sad for her. She knew she had been kept at the woman’s house and from her quest. She began asking the flowers were Kay was. The flowers talked, but had no stories about Kay. Each flower seemed to have its own story, empty of anything about anything real. Every flower said something. No flower had information about anything.

Gerda finally decided to get out. She ran to the garden where there was a gate and forced it open. Once outside, she ran. She looked back and no one was following. She looked around her and it was Autumn, where it had been spring when she left. The world was turning to winter and everything was dark and dreary to her.

Observations

Talking flowers is a concept that has happened a few times in literature, most notoriously, in Lewis Carroll’s stories of Wonderland. In Lewis’ description of flowers and in this story, the flowers seemed to be concerned with only themselves. They all seem very vain. I couldn’t say what all goes on in a flower’s mind, but maybe they are vain.

Themes

Gerda was distracted from her goal and only reminded when she saw one rose. It is easy to be distracted from something if there is nothing around to remind us of it. Gerda’s worry for Kay was replaced with nice things and she forgot the cares of the world. That’s how it would happen with any of us. If someone took our worries away from us and put something else in their place and hid the reminders of those things, we might be very apt to forget all of those things ourselves. Only our minds would hold the key to where we were and what we had been doing. Our minds would forget, for a while, until there was a trigger, just like there was for Gerda in this story.

Gerda spent all this time without even realizing that it was passing. She had been drawn away from everything real, at least to her. That’s not to say the garden wasn’t real or the woman wasn’t real. Each of these things were real in the story, they just weren’t real to Gerda. They didn’t fit into her reality.

It’s the same way with us. If some prince road up to us and was like, “Marry me,” you might be thrilled, but you would know there was something fishy about it. It just doesn’t fit in with how your world usually works. We can be awfully pessimistic about how our lives go, but we’re generally right about the general nature of our lives. Would a prince ride up to you and propose marriage? Probably not, even though you might really like for it to happen.

In another literary note, think of the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter. It’s a similar concept to Gerda’s time in this garden.

Overall

The old woman sought to trap Gerda, but Gerda also trapped herself to an extent.

Weigh In

If someone took away your worries, do you think you could ever truly forget them?

Would you question the most wonderful and surprising thing in the world, if it happened to you, or just go along with it?

Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

What the Moon Saw-Twenty-Fourth Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Twenty-Fourth Evening

On the twenty-fourth evening the moon is in Frankfort looking over a peculiar scene. There is an old woman being carried down the stairs. Her sons are there. They are rich and successful. They carry her not to grand house, but to a mean little house in a dark street.

The old woman refused to leave her house for fear that the prosperity that her sons were experiencing would be lost if she left the home where it all had started. The woman had but to say a word and she would have been able to have the most wonderful mansion ever, but she did not. The woman’s name was Rothschild.

That was the twenty-fourth evening.

Gutle_Rothschild_LZ407Observations

Rothschild is a dirty name to a lot of people. When I say “dirty,” I’m talking about people having utter disgust for the Rothschild family. People hate them. The family is very, very rich and has their fingers in a lot of pies. They are very influential in making policies and legislation around the world. If you believe the conspiracy theorists, the Rothschilds are out for your blood, essentially. They don’t care about you and they want you dead. I’ve never met a Rothschild so I couldn’t say for sure if this is true or not.

What is true is the story about the old woman. That old woman who refused to leave her house was named Gutle Rothschild. Her house actually wasn’t all that bad. It was a mansion, but it was in a less desirable part of town, being namely the Jewish part of town. The house was in disrepair, but she didn’t leave it. She was a bit superstitious and chose to remain at this house for her very long life. The woman lived to be at least 100.

The Rothschild family is an old family, but came to be a prominent banking family with the help of Mayer Rothschild, Gutle’s husband. The name essentially means “red shield” which is a reference to either their house with a red sign or their crest. No doubt Gutle’s stubbornness contributed to the success of the family.

mamahappyThemes

If Mama’s not happy, aint nobody happy. Mothers can be a very large part of our lives, in fact, they are because without them we wouldn’t be here. Some mothers are more domineering and queen-like than others. Gutle Rothschild was one of those women. Her determination no doubt played a role in the success of her husband and her children. They respected her and her seemingly crazy wishes. They could have bought her a big house, two big houses, three big houses, but she wanted to stay. I don’t know if she was actually as superstitious as everyone claims she was, but it was her life and she could do what she wanted with it.

If you have a good mama, a strong mama, it can get you pretty far in life. My entire family looks up to and respects my grandmother, who not only raised five children of her own, but other people along the way. I’ve lost track of how many grandchildren my grandmother has. Then there are the great-grandchildren. Then there is the great-great-grandchild. We all look up to her and admire the things she has been able to accomplish in life. This was with her getting married at 15 and lacking a college education. Like I said, if you’ve got a determined mama, a lot of things can be good in your life.

I don’t know enough about the Rothschild family to call them evil demon, Molech-worshipping, lizard people, but their mama was a strong and determined woman.

Overall

Hans knew his stuff. I’m impressed that he knew so much about the world.

Weigh In

Does your mama have strange superstitions? If so, what are they?

Do you admire the Rothschild mama or do you think she was crazy?

Fiction

The Aged Mother

The Aged MotherThe Aged Mother

Well, we’re back to death again in the Grimm’s children’s legends, but this one isn’t quite so bad. The picture is of the Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Sautee, Ga. I was trying to think of a good picture of a chapel to post, but I wasn’t familiar with very man, so this is what you’re getting. It’s a very old church, well, in the time line of the United States this chapel is old.

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived alone. She had already lost her entire family, a husband and three sons. She had also lost the rest of her relatives and her friends. She blamed God for her loss and her solitary existence.

One night while she was at home sitting lost in her thoughts and bemoaning her continued existence, she heard the church bells ringing. She grabbed her lantern and went to the church. The inside was dimly lit, but not with candles as usual. It was lit with a ghostly light. The chapel was full, but her usual place was empty. As she looked around she noticed all the people were pale and people she knew.

Nobody spoke or sang, but she could hear a soft humming. An aunt of hers, who was dead, walked up to her and told her to look around. She told the old woman to look at the altar. There she would see her three sons. As she looked she saw her three sons, but two were hanging at the gallows and a third was on the wheel. The aunt told her that this was what would have happened had they lived to adulthood. She should be thankful that the Lord took them away before they had a chance to become so evil.

The old woman went home and got on her knees to pray to God to thank him for dealing so kindly with her. Three days later she lay down and died.

The End

Observations

Everybody died, again, but not really at the same time. The old woman died as well. Everybody dies, eventually. This is kind of sad situation and I wouldn’t want to be in it. Do I want to live to be a hundred? No darn way. I don’t want to be a hundred. I don’t want to be anywhere near a hundred years old. The longer you live, no matter if you enjoy being alive or not, the more likely it is that your entire friend and/or family structure will be gone. The friends will have died years before. Parents will have died. Siblings will have died. Maybe even children will be dead. Sure, you have your long life and maybe you’re even super healthy, but you’ve lost the people that matter to you. Is the long life worth it?

This old woman is obviously of an advanced age. This is exactly how she feels. She’s wondering why God took everyone away from her, but she’s still alive.

Themes

This is another story for people to cope with short lives. This woman’s sons died before they got a chance to grow up. She is comforted in the fact that they died before they grew up to become criminals. You can always say “what if.” You can always guess about what someone might have done. These three boys could have equally have grown up to become good, upstanding citizens, but I guess if God says they’re going to grow up to become criminals you better listen. The woman in this story knew what her sons would grow up to become, but everyone else doesn’t, but learning something like this would make them feel better. Truly, if you knew your kid was going to grow up to become the next Hitler, but he died when he was ten, sure, you would miss him, but you would be glad that he never got the chance to become the next Hitler. You wouldn’t feel quite as sad about the whole thing. It’s just a way to take the edge off of the mourning that you would inevitably do for a child who dies prematurely.

Overall

I bet this woman was relieved to finally die. Her entire family was gone. It must have been very hard for her to face each day knowing that she was the last one.


 
ghosts in the church, ghosts of family members, grimm’s children’s legends, grimm’s fairy tales, old woman, old woman alone, old woman has lost her sons, sons are criminals, sons grow up to be bad, The Aged Mother
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Fiction

The Three Green Twigs

The Three Green TwigsThe Three Green Twigs

Here’s another rather sad story in the Grimm’s children’s legends.

Once upon a time there was a hermit up lived in a forest below a mountain. Every day he would carry water up the mountain for various animals to drink. He spent his time being pious and was blessed by God. An angel would bring him food every day so that he would not starve. One day, after many, many years, the man saw another man go up to the gallows. The man remarked on how this man was getting what he deserved. The next day there was no food. There was no angel. The man knew that God was mad at him.

For a while, the man did not know why God was mad at him. Finally, he asked a little bird bemoaning his lack of a reason. The bird told him why God was mad at him. The bird told him that she had judged another man in God’s place. The bird told him that he must do penance to be forgiven.

The angel appeared again, this time with a stick. He was told that he must carry this stick until three green twigs sprouted from it. He must wander the face of the Earth begging both food and lodging for each day. Each night he must put the stick underneath his head as he slept. He went about begging for his needs, but many times doors were shut in his face and he went hungry.

One particular day brought him with no luck at all. He knocked on a door and an old woman answered it. He asked her for lodging for the night. She said it wouldn’t be a very good idea because her three sons would be coming home and they were just terrible people. They were robbers; there was no telling what they would do to the old man once they found him there. He asked the woman to just let him sleep under the stairs. She finally gave him. When she saw that the man put the stick beneath his head she asked why. The old man told her of his penance to God. She bemoaned the fates of her sons, who were bad men. If a good man was being punished this much for one word, what would happen to her sons?

The sons came home as expected and they were not at all happy about the old man under the stairs. They demanded of their mother who he was. She told them he was just a poor sinner trying to do his penance for God and she told them what he had done. The robbers were so frightened that they immediately began to repent of their wicked ways. After the hermit had helped the three men turn a new leaf, he went to sleep. In the morning he was found dead, but his stick had grown three green twigs. He was again taken back into God’s favor.

The End

The Three Green TwigsObservations

God is pretty harsh in this story. There are two camps in the religious community about God’s disposition. One camp believes God is harsh and unforgiving in many aspects, but another camp believes God is more forgiving and more encompassing. Most religion believers tend to fall somewhere between the two camps. This story is clearly in the camp that believes God is basically a drill sergeant. I don’t agree. This isn’t how I see God or any other deity. I don’t see anybody that way. It’s true there are some who tend to be more unforgiving than others, but I think by definition God has to be pretty forgiving. The God in this story is not very nice.

This story actually reminds me of a story that is in the Book of Mormon. It’s a story about a man named Alma and some of his friends. They go around doing all kinds of terrible things. They’re just awful. One day an angel of the Lord appears to them and they suddenly realize that they’re awful people and they have to straighten themselves out right now. The story from the Book of Mormon has similarities to this story. I don’t think it’s because the stories came from the same place. It’s because most communities are going to have a story like this, especially when they’re religiously based communities.

Notice that the three green branches do not grow until the three robbers recognize God. God was essentially asking this man to bring three more souls to him before he could be forgiven.

The Three Green TwigsThemes

This is a “scared straight” type of story. This is a story people would tell their kids when they didn’t believe they were being pious enough. They threatened their children with hell-fire and damnation, which probably isn’t something you should be doing to children, but it was probably the best thing they could think of at the time to keep their kids in line.

There is a phrase in the South, “Come to Jesus meeting,” or, “Come to Jesus moment.” This phrase essentially means you’re laying everything out on the table to an offending person or entity and your expectations of said person of entity and if they don’t straighten up, that’s it. You guys are finished. You’re going to fire them, shun them, bad mouth them, leave, or whatever; it all depends on the situation. The “come to Jesus” part of the phrase does go back to exhortations of Southern preachers to the wicked sinners in the  congregation. These preachers would want you to leave your sinning ways and come back to Jesus or meet him for the first time, whatever the case may be. It was sort of like an intervention.

That’s what this story is about. This story was a “come to Jesus moment” not only for the three robbers, but also for the original guy. It’s a scare tactic; there is no way around that. These three guys saw that this guy had to carry around a twig until it grew three new branches and they were scared into upstanding citizens. Who wants to wander around begging and carrying around branches?

Overall

Well, he died, what a surprise. I’m actually surprised everybody didn’t die. I was thinking that maybe a big meteor would hit the house or something and everybody would die. That would have been apt. All these others Grimm’s children’s legends have lots of people dying.


 
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Fiction
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Fiction

The True Bride

The True BrideThe True Bride

Apparently, someone has made a movie of this story. I’m going to have to track it down. Where would I look for such a thing? I’ll find it.

Once upon a time a girl lived with her step-mother who was never pleased with anything the girl did. One day she assigned her the task of collecting twelve pounds of feathers. The girl knew that this was impossible because twelve pounds of feathers are quite a bit of feathers. Everything the girl had just a little pile of feathers collected she was stamp her hands down or blow out and the feathers would all fly away. She would then have to collect them again. Finally, the girl put her head down on the table and cried. She called out to ask if there were anybody who cared about her at all.

She was surprised to hear a voice. The voice belonged to an old woman. The old woman asked her what was wrong. The girl told her of the impossible task. The old woman told her to lie down and get some rest and she would take care of the feathers. When the girl awoke, all the feathers were collected in great heaps and the rest of the house was clean as well. The step-mother came home and was surprised. She thought that she must give the girl more difficult work to do.

The next day the step-mother told the girl to empty out the garden pond using only a spoon with holes in it. Once again, the task was impossible. Once again, the old woman appeared and asked her what was wrong. The old woman told the girl to take a nap and she would take care of it. The entire pond rose up as a mist and moved elsewhere. All that was left were the flapping fish at the bottom. The step-mother told the girl the pond should have been moved sooner.

The next day was the most impossible task yet. The step-mother told the girl to build her a castle out in the field and it had to be ready by that evening. There were great stones there, but they were too large for the girl to move. She was once again upset, but, once again, the old woman appeared and asked her what was wrong. The girl told her of the third impossible task. The old woman told her to take a nap under the tree and she would take care of it and if she desired she could live in the castle herself. When the girl awoke there was a castle, and not only was there a castle, it was furnished with all of the finest things.

The step-mother could not find anything wrong with the castle. She searched every inch of it to find something the girl must have forgotten. She finally asked to see the cellar because if there weren’t great casks of wine down there, the girl was going to be sorry. The door to the cellar was heavy. As the step-mother descended into the cellar the door slammed shut and there was a great noise. The girl opened the cellar and saw her step-mother dead at the bottom. She now lived in the castle alone.

Soon, men heard of her great wealth and came to court her. None of them really tickled her fancy until one man showed up. He knew the way to her heart and they decided that they must be married. He asked her to wait under a lime tree while he rode home to get his father’s permission for them to marry. He would be back shortly.

The girl waited. He didn’t come. The next day came and he wasn’t there. Then the next day passed and he wasn’t there. She determined that something must have befallen him so she packed a bag with three beautiful dresses. One had stars all over it, the next had moons, and the third had suns. She went out to seek her beloved. When she didn’t find him she took a job shepherding. She buried her dresses underneath a rock.

The prince of the land was to be married and there was a great procession. When the girl looked up to see who the prince was, it was none other than her beloved, but he did not appear to recognize her. The girl felt awful. She put on her dress with the suns and went to the castle as there was celebration for the wedding. She dazzled the prince in her dress, but he still did not know who she was. She went back the next night in her dress with the moons. The prince was still entranced but didn’t know who she was. The next night she went back in her dress of stars, which was the most dazzling out of them all. The prince had been waiting for her arrival. He told her that he felt like he knew her. She kissed him and he remembered everything. They ran away back to her castle, where a priest was waiting to marry them.

The End

The True BrideObservations

Maybe I’m just a skeptic, but this guy kind of sounds like a player. Sure, he forgot her, that’s awfully convenient. Usually when we read a story like this the prince has been enchanted away from his “true love.” There is absolutely no mention of enchantment in this story. This dude was just a jerk.

Hey, guess what, in this story, they’re not married. The woman rescues her man, but they’re not married yet. That’s different. Usually, the woman rescuing the man means they’re married already.

Lime trees generally only grow in more tropical environments. I could be totally wrong on that, but I think I’m right. It’s a citrus fruit and citrus fruit likes warmer environments. That means this story was not set in Germany; Germany gets pretty cold from what I know. This story probably takes place Mediterranean-ish.

Ok, I was right, but I was also wrong about the lime tree thing. I was right because citrus lime trees do only grow in tropical-ish environments. I was wrong because the lime tree referred to in this story was most likely a Linden tree. Basically people call the linden tree a lime tree because someone screwed up how they pronounced “lind” and everyone started calling it “lime,” even though it’s not a lime tree at all. A linden tree is a regular old tree that doesn’t bear fruit and drops its leaves in the autumn.

So the step-mother is dead. It was probably an accident, but where did the body go? This girl lived in this castle by herself right? How did she dispose of the body? Did she call on some people and be like, “Hey, my step-mom fell down the stairs; she’s dead,” and they just showed up to take her to the graveyard? Wouldn’t anybody else suspect foul-play? I’m kind of wondering if the girl just lived with a decomposing body in her basement. I know that sounds creepy, but the story never says what happened.

The True BrideThemes

We have the great number three, again. We have three tasks, again. We have three dresses to rival the sun, the moon, and the stars, again. That’s the whole three degrees of glory thing going on. We have a woman rescuing her man, again.

There are many common elements in this story. This story doesn’t seem as nice as other similar stories though. The step-mom is dead in the basement, the prince seems like a class-A, herpes carrying jerk. The themes are similar. A woman should do anything to keep her man. If you’re a jerk of a step-parent you might end up dead in the basement. Here’s a good one, don’t think something is impossible.

I read somewhere that Benedict Cumberbatch likes the quote, “Nothing is impossible.” Right on, Benedict. I know I totally sound like I’m from the 90s right now. It’s just my frame of mind right now, go with it. I also happen to really, really like that quote. It seems very similar to another quote I like, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” This girl, was an abused and neglected step-child, she probably even had red hair, but because she kept moving forward and was determined, she ended up with this awesome life. She tried these impossible tasks knowing that they were impossible, but she tried anyway. You know what, she freaking did it. She did it. She had some help of course, but she totally did it. You go girl, seriously. Then she gets to choose her man, which was pretty much unheard of for the time period. Then when that man disappears, she’s like, “No way, honey, he’s mine,” and she goes off to search for him.

The point of all of this is that she did a lot. She rose up in life when no one, least of all her step-mother, would have ever envisioned that she could. They were probably all thinking she was going to end up on a street corner. She made a very good life for herself.

Overall

Even though this story is a bit darker than its companions in ways, I liked it. I like how this girl took charge of her life after growing up in an abusive household. High-five unnamed girl!



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