Monday, October 8, 2012

The Small-Tooth Dog....a folktale from England

Once upon a time there was a merchant who traveled about the world a great deal.
On one of his journeys thieves attacked him, and they would have taken both his life and his money if a large dog had not come to his rescue and driven the thieves away.

When the dog had driven the thieves away he took the merchant to his house, which was a very handsome one, and dressed his wounds and nursed him till he was well.
As soon as he was able to travel the merchant began his journey home, but before starting he told the dog how grateful he was for his kindness, and asked him what reward he could offer in return, and he said he would not refuse to give the most precious thing he had.

And so the merchant said to the dog, "Will you accept a fish I have that can speak twelve languages?"

"No," said the dog, "I will not."

"Or a goose that lays golden eggs?"

"No," said the dog, "I will not."

"Or a mirror in which you can see what anybody is thinking about?"

"No," said the dog, "I will not."

"Then what will you have?" said the merchant.

"I will have none of such presents," said the dog; "but let me fetch your daughter, and bring her to my house."

When the merchant heard this he was grieved, but what he had promised had to be done, so he said to the dog, "You can come and fetch my daughter after I have been home for a week."

So at the end of the week, the dog came to the merchant's house to fetch his daughter, but when he got there he stayed outside the door, and would not go in. But the merchant's daughter did as her father told her, and came out of the house dressed for a journey and ready to go with the dog.

When the dog saw her he looked pleased, and said, "Jump on my back, and I will take you away to my house."

So she mounted on the dog's back, and away they went at a great pace, until they reached the dog's house, which was many miles off. But after she had been a month at the dog's house she began to mope and cry.

"What are you crying for?" said the dog.

"Because I want to go back to my father," she said.

The dog said, "If you will promise me that you will not stay there more than three days I will take you there. But first of all," said he, "what do you call me?"

"A great, foul, small-tooth dog," said she.

"Then," said he, "I will not let you go."

But she cried so pitifully that he promised again to take her home.
"But before we start," he said, "tell me what you call me."

"Oh," she said, "your name is Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb."

"Jump on my back," said he, "and I'll take you home."

So he trotted away with her on his back for forty miles, when they came to a stile.
"And what do you call me?" said he, before they got over the stile. Thinking she was safe on her way, the girl said, "A great, foul, small-tooth dog."

But when she said this, he did not jump over the stile, but turned right round again at once, and galloped back to his own house with the girl on his back.

Another week went by, and again the girl wept so bitterly that the dog promised to take her to her father's house. So the girl got on the dog's back again, and they reached the first stile, as before, and the dog stopped and said, "And what do you call me?"

"Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb," she replied.

So the dog leaped over the stile, and they went on for twenty miles until they came to another stile.
"And what do you call me?" said the dog with a wag of his tail.

She was thinking more of her father and her own house than of the dog, so she answered, "A great, foul, small-tooth dog."

Then the dog was in a great rage, and he turned right round about, and galloped back to his own house as before.
After she had cried for another week, the dog promised again to take her back to her father's house. So she mounted upon his back once more, and when they got to the first stile, the dog said, "And what do you call me?"

"Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb," she said.

So the dog jumped over the stile, and away they went -- for now the girl made up her mind to say the most loving things she could think of -- until they reached her father's house.
When they got to the door of the merchant's house, the dog said, "And what do you call me?"

Just at that moment the girl forgot the loving things she meant to say and began, "A great --," but the dog began to turn, and she got fast hold of the door latch, and was going to say "foul," when she saw how grieved the dog looked and remembered how good and patient he had been with her, so she said, "Sweeter-than-a-Honeycomb."

When she had said this she thought the dog would have been content and have galloped away, but instead of that he suddenly stood upon his hind legs, and with his forelegs he pulled off his dog's head and tossed it high in the air.
His hairy coat dropped off, and there stood the handsomest young man in the world, with the finest and smallest teeth you ever saw.

Of course they were married, and lived together happily.

  This story can be found in  Household Tales and Other Traditional Remains: Collected in the Counties of York, Lincoln, Derby, and Nottingham written by Sidney Oldall Addy printed in 1895

***Small-Toothed Dog illustration found here

Honeycomb candy is an easy-to-make candy that has an interesting texture caused by carbon dioxide bubbles getting trapped within the candy. The carbon dioxide is produced when baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is added to hot syrup. It is the same process used to make some baked goods rise, except here the bubbles are trapped to form a crisp candy. The holes in the candy make it light and give it a honeycomb appearance.
(information and recipe found at

Honeycomb Candy Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Honeycomb Candy Instructions
  1. Grease a cookie sheet. You can use oil, butter, or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Add the sugar, honey, and water to a saucepan. You can stir the mixture, but it isn't necessary.
  3. Cook the ingredients over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 300°F. The sugar will melt, small bubbles will form, the bubbles will become larger, then the sugar will start to carmelize to an amber color.
  4. When the temperature reaches 300°F, remove the pan from heat and whisk the baking soda into the hot syrup. This will cause the syrup to foam up.
  5. Stir just enough to mix the ingredients, then dump the mixture onto the greased baking sheet. Don't spread out the candy, as this would pop your bubbles.
  6. Allow the candy to cool, then break or cut it into pieces.
  7. Store the honeycomb candy in an airtight container.

Great step by step pictures can be found at

 How to make a Honeycomb Wax Candle

How to cut Honeycomb Beeswax sheets for Candlemaking

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Bremen Town Musicians.... a tale from Germany

Bremen Town Musicians block cut by Walter Crane

A man had a donkey, who for long years had untiringly carried sacks to the mill, but whose strength was now failing, so that he was becoming less and less able to work. Then his master thought that he would no longer feed him, but the donkey noticed that it was not a good wind that was blowing and ran away, setting forth on the road to Bremen, where he thought he could become a town musician. When he had gone a little way he found a hunting dog lying in the road, who was panting like one who had run himself tired.

"Why are you panting so, Grab-Hold?" asked the donkey.

"Oh," said the dog, "because I am old and am getting weaker every day and can no longer go hunting, my master wanted to kill me, so I ran off; but now how should I earn my bread?"

"Do you know what," said the donkey, "I am going to Bremen and am going to become a town musician there. Come along and take up music too. I'll play the lute, and you can beat the drums."

The dog was satisfied with that, and they went further. It didn't take long, before they came to a cat sitting by the side of the road and making a face like three days of rainy weather. "What has crossed you, old Beard-Licker?" said the donkey.

"Oh," answered the cat, "who can be cheerful when his neck is at risk? I am getting on in years, and my teeth are getting dull, so I would rather sit behind the stove and purr than to chase around after mice. Therefore my mistress wanted to drown me, but I took off. Now good advice is scarce. Where should I go?"

"Come with us to Bremen. After all, you understand night music. You can become a town musician there." The cat agreed and went along.

Then the three refugees came to a farmyard, and the rooster of the house was sitting on the gate crying with all his might.

"Your cries pierce one's marrow and bone," said the donkey. "What are you up to?"

"I just prophesied good weather," said the rooster, "because it is Our Dear Lady's Day, when she washes the Christ Child's shirts and wants to dry them; but because Sunday guests are coming tomorrow, the lady of the house has no mercy and told the cook that she wants to eat me tomorrow in the soup, so I am supposed to let them cut off my head this evening. Now I am going to cry at the top of my voice as long as I can."

"Hey now, Red-Head," said the donkey, "instead come away with us. We're going to Bremen. You can always find something better than death. You have a good voice, and when we make music together, it will be very pleasing."

The rooster was happy with the proposal, and all four went off together. However, they could not reach the city of Bremen in one day, and in the evening they came into a forest, where they would spend the night. The donkey and the dog lay down under a big tree, but the cat and the rooster took to the branches. The rooster flew right to the top, where it was safest for him. Before falling asleep he looked around once again in all four directions, and he thought that he saw a little spark burning in the distance. He hollered to his companions, that there must be a house not too far away, for a light was shining.

The donkey said, "Then we must get up and go there, because the lodging here is poor." The dog said that he could do well with a few bones with a little meat on them. Thus they set forth toward the place where the light was, and they soon saw it glistening more brightly, and it became larger and larger, until they came to the front of a brightly lit robbers' house.

The donkey, the largest of them, approached the window and looked in.

"What do you see, Gray-Horse?" asked the rooster.

"What do I see?" answered the donkey. "A table set with good things to eat and drink, and robbers sitting there enjoying themselves."

"That would be something for us," said the rooster.

"Ee-ah, ee-ah, oh, if we were there!" said the donkey.

Then the animals discussed how they might drive the robbers away, and at last they came upon a plan. The donkey was to stand with his front feet on the window, the dog to jump on the donkey's back, the cat to climb onto the dog, and finally the rooster would fly up and sit on the cat's head. When they had done that, at a signal they began to make their music all together. The donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat meowed and the rooster crowed. Then they crashed through the window into the room, shattering the panes.
The robbers jumped up at the terrible bellowing, thinking that a ghost was coming in, and fled in great fear out into the woods. Then the four companions seated themselves at the table and freely partook of the leftovers, eating as if they would get nothing more for four weeks.

When the four minstrels were finished, they put out the light and looked for a place to sleep, each according to his nature and his desire. The donkey lay down on the manure pile, the dog behind the door, the cat on the hearth next to the warm ashes, and the rooster sat on the beam of the roof. Because they were tired from their long journey, they soon fell asleep.

When midnight had passed and the robbers saw from the distance that the light was no longer burning in the house, and everything appeared to be quiet, the captain said, "We shouldn't have let ourselves be chased off," and he told one of them to go back and investigate the house. The one they sent found everything still, and went into the kitchen to strike a light. He mistook the cat's glowing, fiery eyes for live coals, and held a sulfur match next to them, so that it would catch fire. But the cat didn't think this was funny and jumped into his face, spitting, and scratching.

He was terribly frightened and ran toward the back door, but the dog, who was lying there, jumped up and bit him in the leg. When he ran across the yard past the manure pile, the donkey gave him a healthy blow with his hind foot, and the rooster, who had been awakened from his sleep by the noise and was now alert, cried down from the beam, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

Then the robber ran as fast as he could back to his captain and said, "Oh, there is a horrible witch sitting in the house, she blew at me and scratched my face with her long fingers. And there is a man with a knife standing in front of the door, and he stabbed me in the leg. And a black monster is lying in the yard, and it struck at me with a wooden club. And the judge is sitting up there on the roof, and he was calling out, 'Bring the rascal here.' Then I did what I could to get away."

From that time forth, the robbers did not dare go back into the house. However, the four Bremen Musicians liked it so well there, that they never left it again. And the person who just told that, his mouth is still warm.

story by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales published in 1857       online source for story is here

Become a Musician!
Making your own instruments can be fun and very simple. One of the easiest instruments to make is a kazoo.

A Kazoo is defined as
"a musical instrument with a membrane that produces a buzzing sound when a player hums or sings into the mouthpiece."
Wiki goes on to say:
The kazoo is a wind instrument which adds a "buzzing" timbral quality to a player's voice when the player vocalizes into it. The kazoo is a type of militron, which is a membranophone – a device which modifies the sound of a person's voice by way of a vibrating membrane.
"Kazoo" was the name given by Warren Herbert Frost to his invention in Patent #270,543 issued on January 9, 1883. In the text of the patent he refers to it as "This instrument or toy, to which I propose to give the name 'kazoo' ".
The simplest and fastest kazoo to make is a Comb Kazoo.

 You'll need:
*An ordinary old fashioned plastic comb ( small fine toothed pocket combs work best, you can get a bag full at a dollar story)
*Wax Paper

1) Cut a piece of wax paper that is slightly smaller than the length of the comb and twice the size of the combs height.
2)  Fold the wax paper in half length wise
3) Place the comb inside the folded paper with the teeth in the folded seam.

You're now ready to "play" your kazoo.
Hold the paper over the teeth of the comb and put the comb against your lips. 
Then, keeping your lips open a little, hum a tune into the comb. 
You'll need to experiment to see what gives you the best sound.

Here's the link to a youtube video, that for some reason I can't embed, that shows How to Make a Kazoo using a Toilet Paper Roll

 This link is to the Kazoologist where they give lots of scientific information on kazoos and militrons.

Before leaving, I want you to remember the most important rule of kazoo playing: