77 Spices

I found 77 different spices and herbs in my spice cupboardThe spice trade changed world history. To Europeans, spices and herbs were rare and precious, and worth as much or more than gold and jewels. Explorers and traders literally went to the edges of their maps and beyond to find treasures of cinnamon, peppercorns, nutmeg, and cloves.

In his Friday, October 19, 1492 journal entry, Christopher Columbus wrote, “But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.”

This past week, I have been spring cleaning and inventorying my kitchen cupboards. There were 77 different spices and herbs in a single cupboard in my kitchen! A fortune to Christopher Columbus!

From allspice to vanilla beans—with fenugreek, star anise, and 74 others situated alphabetically between them—I have a wealth of spices and herbs. So, in this small way, I am rich. And although I do not have gold or jewels, I do have the world inside a fragrant spice cupboard.

It Never Ends! Words I Learned From Sir Walter Scott

I have yet to exhaust Sir Walter Scott’s vast vocabulary. These words all appear in the novel The Abbot, which is something of a sequel to the novel The Monastery.


A coronach is the third part of a round of keening, the traditional improvised singing at a death, wake or funeral in the Highlands of Scotland and in Ireland. (Wikipedia)


A culverin is a medieval ancestor of the musket, used in the 15th and 16th centuries. (Wikipedia)

Don-jon Keep

A donjon is a massive inner tower in a medieval castle (Merriam-Webster) and a don-jon keep is a dungeon. (Merriam-Webster)


Galliard is an adjective that means gay or lively. Also, a galliard is the name of a sprightly dance with five steps to a phrase that was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. (Merriam-Webster)


A galopin is an urchin, scamp, brat, or ragamuffin. (Wiktionary)


A lurdane is a lazy, stupid person. (Merriam-Webster)


A petard was a small bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications, which dates back to the 16th century. (Wikipedia)

[At last I know what the Shakespearean phrase “hoist with his own petard” means! If a petard detonated prematurely, the petardier would be lifted, or hoisted, by the explosion. In other words, the bomber would be blown up by his own bomb.]