Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wednesday 29th July 2020

Today I clicked on my 'Bodhisattva' blog.  At the time I had been writing about the York registry office and other things but with no comments.  Fortunately the comments came back on but I never replied having missed them. So thank you Weaver, Yorkshire pudding, Rachel, Starting over, Accepting Changes and Morning Minion for your kind thoughts.

This Bodhisattva is hiding her face shyly behind the peony, which flowered lusciously this year, the statue  is too heavy to move.

Well having gone out into town on Monday, delivered my library books, post office, chemist and petrol station, have broken my long hermit like existence.  Pleased to say most people were wearing masks.
Today took a book to lend to a friend with half a dozen eggs and in return got a bowl of plums, so barter is the word.  The bantams have been laying furiously, this was the second lot I had given away this week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Many years ago, I bought a book called The Modern Antiquarian, written by Julian Cope.  Cope was musician, writer, poet and many other things but he was the first to turn the tables on archaeology and write about prehistory in a different manner.
Cope's writing was deep and profound and you had to look beyond the clothes, and presumably drugs, to see his commitment.  Julian Cope lived near Avebury for many years he wandered the paths of prehistory, striking 'goth like' poses against the stones, Odin's image stalked him. 

I met Paul through the Modern Antiquarian clan, so let it be said that TMA is and was a part of my life. We all shared a love of the old stones, the history that lay at the back of the marvellous Neolithic long barrows, Bronze Age barrows, the stone circles and every stone that appears in an upright manner in this country and around the world.
Falling in love with stones seems a foolish pastime but people do, cults are born at some stone circles, offerings to whatever god you believe in.  And never forget that many of the stones were aligned at solstices, both summer and winter.  They echoed the sun and moon.  The barrows were the last resting place of leaders, chieftains?  Who knows.

That is where you must stop and think, for there is no written evidence from prehistory, it is all speculation and a few archaeological clues as to why in a Neolithic barrow we would find jumbled up bones from somewhere else in the landscape, it came to be called 'worshipping the ancestors'.  Carrying their bones around.

There are so many anomalies we cannot unpick now, the stones seem to represent a later stage when in fact it was wooden posts that dominated the landscape earlier, the great trees were cut down to make posts.  Stanton Drew stone circles have a strange wooden circular temple? inside the stone circle.  Nine concentric circles to be precise, all long gone now, their vague imprints shown by modern day detecting machines.

The following video is over two hours long, you can actually find chapters on Youtube, but you will begin to see through the length and breadth of our beautiful countryside, how prehistory reigned supreme for a small part of our history.

Amateurs such as Julian Cope, Michael Bott and Rupert Soskin opened up the world for others to see in a different way.  Their enthusiam follows all pioneers who strive for a better understanding of their world.  So enjoy

A link to Paul's site-Megalithic Poems  He called himself Littlestone and loved poetry.

Monday, July 27, 2020

On a book - quick preview

I am an Island by Tamsin Calidas   - brilliant book.  Someone has used the word 'visceral' to describe it, and it is the  word I would use on how she lived near to nature.  It had a sad beginning, two people setting off for a Scottish Hebridean island, it is not named in the book probably because of the behaviour of the islanders. Husband and wife take on old dilapidated croft, through hard work they do it up, but sadly the husband is playing away and his infidelity breaks her down. She is also has fertility treatment which  does not work.

Off goes husband, sick of the life of self-sufficiency, back to the mainland and London.  She is left alone, and here we come to a twist in the story, she has an Asian parent resulting in a different colour of skin.  It is not accepted by some of the narrow minded people of the island, she is also attractive and the men treat her appallingly.  Let us take some words, bitch, whore, darkie, words that are still used for women.

Think of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC for short) eminently sane speech on being called a bitch and you will understand the humiliation she suffers, the tight rope she has too walk.  But she perseveres, her writing about the natural world is superb, wild swimming in winter, her closeness to the animals around her, her determination to succeed.

Selling her lambs at the local auction is another embarrassing moment for her as the auctioneer offers her as a fine young filly to sell, but she wins the prize in the end it is her sheep that get the most money.

All the time she is made to feel unwanted, it is Hector's croft what the hell is she doing, a single 'incomer' of a woman with no family running it.  She tackles this in the end as she does her life there. What I found from her writing was a life so fully lived and felt through the emotions that one wanted her to succeed - she did! 

And then as if by magic there is a review, or at least words from her book in the Observer.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Simply Red

This appeared on F/B this morning, a slightly grainy video of a song by Simply Red - I'll Keep holding on.  It is naive, slightly out of focus, but is about Whitby.  Wander around St.Mary's church yard ;)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Friday 24th July 2020

I am feeling my age, fell asleep after lunch.  Went shopping, wore my mask and forgot things but that is normal.  I have started digging the ground where Paul's ashes are to go in front of the statue of the Bodhisattva.  Something I have put off but it has to be done.  The weather was beautiful, Lucy scratched away the bed in the background, the hens chuntered around and the kitten sprawled wherever we were.
Yesterday I had an email from Paul's brother asking about how he had become so ill, I explained as best I could.  He had not come to the funeral, it was a long way and on the day the rains had poured and there was a lot of flooding round York. In the room where a celebrant takes the ceremony, the rain beat against the roof very noisily.  When I asked a friend as to how it had gone they said it was very particular to us both. So the photos, flowers, music and words expressed a well lived life, but I would have wished for so much longer with him.
A book has arrived from my daughter, 'I Am an Island' by Tasmin Calidas, it looks good.  There is always a family joke about me wanting to live in a small cottage in the woods all alone, away from family.  Well I have had the experience the last three months and it is not what I had expected!
The other book is from my son, Alice Walker is a black writer who I have never come across before but her essays are good and gives the perspectives we all need to know.  Now children dear, will you send me a decent pair of glasses to read with? 👀

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Not shutting one's eyes

Well I am not listening to news particularly, but American news is percolating through.  God it is scary! 

When a leader turns on his own people in the supposedly free world than one has to question the sanity of the people around him who keep him in power.  Who would have thought when pulling a statue down we would then be embroiled in BLM.  Of course black lives matter but to use this as the basis for shutting down one's country and trying to frighten it into submission so as to be able to win the next election - scary.
I would like to think of Trump running scared, and I am sure he must feel the niggles of fear as he contemplates his future but I am beginning to wonder what this is all about.  Is it the rich calling on the armed guard to quell the forces of the poor.  Does democracy die in the face of one family, one political party intent on keeping their power?  Poor America.

Haven't quite lost my sense of humour yet though it has been AWOL for a while.  But have been listening to Noam Chomsky on Youtube whilst sewing and knitting. His breadth of knowledge is extraordinary, and he is so well received by his audiences that as always I see light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Thoughts on Swallets

Woke up to a beautiful morning, the natural world does not care about our woes.  Interesting email from a friend sent my mind racing.  Recently an archaeologist called Gaffney had made the declaration that he had found shafts, whether Neolithic or later remains to be seen, around the settlement of Durrington Walls,  which should be linked into the greater landscape of Stonehenge.  Now he has not dug these shafts so in all truth he is speculating. All he has to prove in my mind is the geological nature of the site, to show evidence that if not deliberate digging of shafts they are in fact sinkholes or swallets.

This is where I must state my love affair with words, I fell in love with the idea of swallets and streams, the water being swallowed by the earth and then the rituals of prehistory became engulfed in 'beings/gods' that inhabited the nether part of the world.  

But my friend had sent a link to Brian Johns blog, a controversial figure in that he has argued for the past few years, that the central bluestones of Stonehenge were carried from their home on the Preseli hills by glacial movement and not transported overland or by boat.  It is difficult to imagine these stones being moved by human endeavour,  but the argument against Johns is that there is no evidence for any other bluestones on Salisbury Plain and that these stones were moved via roll log walking, rivers and the sea.

The Mendips is a special part of England for it has caves and gorges hewn out of the rock.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Whitehead and her Nissan Hut

Rachel Whiteread;  Wandering through my email blogs I came across the fact that one of Rachel Whiteread's works of art was displayed in Danby Forest which is not far from here.  Whitehead's artistic art work always raises the question in my mind - Is this art?  Slapping plaster on a shed or house is more artisan but each to his own. The installation is fairly recent and the Nissan hut sits rather solitary in its woodland glade.  The following video by the Forestry Commission gives a clue to its final resting place.

Saturday 18th July

I have been quiet, the days drag on but I haven't been idle.  Got my secondhand camcorder a few days ago, and after dissing the little booklet it came with just sat down and worked it out from the 'touch' system. I expect a high rank smart phone would do exactly the same job, but I hate phones.  I tried flowers and insects, followed the hens around but my mode of operation is too fast at the moment, will keep trying.
Went through my wardrobe, decided to turn a couple of dresses into skirts, and ordered some elastic from Ebay.  It is quite extraordinary how we have settled down into ordering things from the net.  Each day I see the supermarket vans go by or a parcel delivery van slowly hawking past on the lookout for a particular house.
This means that the shops lose out in the end, it is so much easier to order stuff than take a ride out to our nearest town.  Times are definitely changing.
Perused my New Statesman yesterday, there is a 'subscriber of the week' profile at the back, and often when asked people do exactly what I do, read from the back into the front.  The back is devoted to 'The Critics' books, art, television all appear.  There is also a very good article by Anjana Ahuja - The Race for a Covid-19 vaccine..........

“When mass vaccination programmes start, they will involve a public health logistics endeavour of manufacture, distribution, vaccination and monitoring, bigger than anything humankind has ever attempted,” said Danny Altmann, who heads an immunology laboratory at Imperial College London. “Think along the lines of mobilising for a world war. I’d be gratified to see that arrive some time during 2021.”

This is where we are at, forget the Russians are coming to steal our formulas that really is utter bollocks in the real world.  To try the old campaign about 'reds under the bed' and yes the Russians are pretty wicked but we have lived with that for a long time.  Simple headlines of news is what we are dished out at the moment, though I was grateful to see Grayling booted out by proper politicians not the two upfront manipulators, yes I am talking about Cummings and Johnson.

The weather is gray and miserable, so no talking over the fence to neighbours today, could it be that the forecast for St.Swithin Day will be the 40 days of rain - joy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Wednesday 15th July 2020 - accents

Just a short note.  This morning reading the blogs I came across Yorkshire Pudding's niece's song, which was rather beautiful.  I noted the name Theasby and it made me think of another favourite singer Katy Rusby.  Both very Yorkshire sounding. So yes the surnames come from 'up North' but the Yorkshire accent of Katy Rusby is very pronounced in her songs.  But a rather delightful video of hers made me watch, and listen to the tones of the people in her village. So here it is.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Monday and a walk

Last night I watched the 'slow' canal trip along the Kennet and Avon Canal.  Two hours of watching the scenery slip by as the canal boat slipped through the water from Bath to Dundas Aquaduct.  In truth I did not watch all of it, fast forwarding now and then.  It was a walk I did often in my 30 year stay in Bath, leaving the car at Bathampton and walking to Bradford on Avon to see that medieval wonder, the great 13th century tithe barn. 
No-one has taken this beautiful barn and turned it into a mod-con house, protected for evermore by English Heritage, it belonged to those monks who took their gold from the land and piled it high in their barns.  Images taken from the net. 

A forested wonder - stone and wood

I suppose being married to an archaeologist my eyes were opened to this historic world around me, there were plenty of books to read and contemplate past lives, weekend trips but this barn was to me one of the seven wonders of England, I did my thesis on Wiltshire abbeys, those self-sufficient islands of beauty and industry. When Paul and I moved up to Yorkshire, my first thought was Cistercian abbeys.

But that is too digress, I was walking the canal path from Bath to Bradford on Avon, a distance of about 6 miles and you could catch the train back to Bath if you did not want to walk back.

This walk went through some beautiful countryside, at Claverton  Water pumping station, where water from the River Avon was pumped up to the canal above, people came and swam in the weir there.  Then further on you would come to the Dundas Aqueduct, a beautiful construction of Bath stone.  At this pinch point in the valley,  you would have the A46 road, the railway line, the River Avon and then the Kennet and Avon canal taken over the river, a graceful engineering masterpiece from the last part of the 18th century.

Dundas Aquaduct

The walk over time became more frustrating though, it turned into a cycle path as well, and with a couple of dogs to be kept on the lead almost impossible.  Not sure walkers and cyclists should be together, the cyclists were still to be trained in their use of the bell, it tends to make you jump when a cyclist came up behind you silently.
One of the things I have forgotten was almost opposite the Water Pump station, on the other side of the valley was the American Museum, another beautiful old building with gardens.  Its chief glory was American style rooms, and quilts exhibitions.  There was also a small building in the garden devoted to naive American art.  I notice that the gardens have been redone to a different pattern as well, see this virtual tour.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday's rambling

This morning I picked  dark red nasturtiums and the pale pink perennial sweet pea to go into the small narrow necked copper vase.  I am trying to let my mind free roam, disappointed in the new to be archbishop of York, - Steven  Cottrell he sounded such a dull creature, quacking on about his books, and consider he is the second most important bishop in England, had very little to say on the poverty up North. He is a southerner by the way!  The figure for the Church of England assets  is 6.7 billion pounds, as the churches close it would be rather good to see those assets out in the wider world of their flock.  On another note, it seems that Jehovah Witnesses are rationalising their properties under one heading, scared of court and the sexual abuse cases coming up?

 Tuesday it will be my son's birthday, he seems settled in his world, I doubt he will ever marry but still he is content enough.  Here is a photo of him and Ephraim at the Red Lion at Avebury.  We are having lunch, it must be a summer megalithic meeting.  Free, easy days when you lunched at the nearest pub, there are many photos of family at local pubs.  Now we are constrained by rules and regulations, lines across the floor, it will change.

Red Lion Avebury

Hare and Hound Chelmer Village

Cats Pub in Woodham Walter, Essex

Now I live next door to a pub, the village hub, a place where the local farmers come to play darts and quaff beer, occasionally you will find yourself sitting next to guns, sure that it is illegal, but they have been out shooting pheasant.  Harriet has erected a large white marquee outside, and carefully marked the two metre limits as well.  I like our pub, it is informal, serves very large meals but is the general meeting place for events in the village.  In fact, as everyone kept reminding us, before this cottage was built on the small field adjacent to the pub, this is where the village barbecue was held.
The other pub which we used to visit, was The Plough at Wombleton, yes such a place exists, but the new owners rather spoiled the ambience of the place.  Pubs get bought up by newly retired people who think it will be fun, but they are incomers and have no general knowledge of the locals and of course one thing you don't find in pubs these days is the groups of males that you see in every film of 'olde England',  wives and children are part of the drink/meal package.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Friday 10th July

A concert in Barcelona given for house plants, who says the human race isn't creative?

Some thoughts on those who would bring others down, the odd troll or two.  A few years back Paul and myself were subject to a real nasty campaign.  I rode over it, but Paul gave up his allegiance to that particular forum.  At the heart was one spiteful man.  Clever, he had the time to frame an anonymous blog of such nastiness that it would have hurt the most sensitive of people, and Paul was definitely sensitive.  What surprised me is the way that others joined in, it was a bit like when you see a man on the ground, and then everyone joins in kicking - sheer undiluted cowardice.
I hate bullying of any kind and am primed by an instinctive response to hit back, which some would say is foolish.  It all blew over but I would say that there are many sensitive people out there - we should learn to frame our words.  Me I write as I feel, history is a great substitute for warring with other people. Now I potter amongst flowers and other blogs which fascinate me..  I do see proper trolls,  and also I see people who are needy for that moment of contact.  Unfortunately I am ready to forgive the trolls, my reason being that they must be unhappy in some other way.  Our political tendencies, or even our religions will make us speak out, we have different cultures, different ways of viewing the world but one thing I would say that 99 % of the bloggers I read I love their blogs and forgive their errors of judgement ;) because we should be able to laugh at each other and ourselves.

Interesting long read on how we view food now.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Walk in the village

I have not been well these last few days, no, I doubt it is the dreaded virus but just feeling ill and cold.  But today I felt a little better and baked bread, than Rod and wife mowed the lawns.  So I decided to go and look at the meadowsweet down the green lane. Cross, they had 'tidied' the verge and hedgerow the people who lived in the bungalow - suburbian values should not be allowed in villages is my particular refrain.  At least in my mind!  I found bird's foot trefoil lurking in the long grass and then ox eye daisies both on the 'green' list which says there is plenty around.  But for meadowsweet, try here and here  This was a long ramble in Essex where nature is abundant around the river Chelmer.

And then, noticed that our old post box is a 'priority' post box, which means our testing posts get royal treatment.
You may be asked to post your sample in one of over 30,000 specially selected Royal Mail priority postboxes. You can find your nearest priority postbox on ... or here in our village.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

We are learning

To quote our leader, stupid bugger. And that is all I will say on the political scene ;).  Feel much happier now!
What made me smile this morning was the fact that on television a hot air balloon had flown over Bristol and where it had landed  in the background far away I spied Freezing Hill outside Bath.  It brought back memories of medium walks along to Langridge and the small field full of wild flowers.  The balloons would often get airborne from Victoria Park, rising on the air currents, surfacing the hills round Bath and then they were off and away, frightening the cows and my dog Suki, who was always reduced to a shivering wreck should one fly over.
Bristol is famous for its balloons and festivals, they fill the sky with colour and strange shapes, they can only go up when the thermals allow -  they are a sign of fun and freedom.
Once one Sunday morning, several had taken off from the park, then the thermals let them down, and about three hovered over our village of Weston, we were attached to Bath but still liked the independence.  One went down the valley of gardens and looking out of the window people were shouting up 'can we get you a pint from the pub', another balloon hovered around the spike of the church tower, until it eventually pulled itself up the hill.  Crashes averted, though they do come down fairly slowly.  I once watched one land on the racecourse, the balloon pulling the wicker basket along at a very quick pace, but it stayed upright and the occupants safe.
Well I have delved in my external drive for a photo but can't find one, just pulled out some with their memories attached.

I could never grow enough flowers!

Suki and Moss up at the race course

Such an old photo. Here with the Canadian side of the family.  Me in white fur hat with first husband

Early morning walk

The woods up on the downs

Edit.  I am not the only person pissed off with Boris, see the Irish journalist Fintain O'Toole, which I have just read here.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Monday 6th July 2020

Woodpecker, Shasta daisies and a kitten that needs to be caught.  Notice how curious Green Eyes is about life in the house.  She is not scared of Lucy, and her companions the bantams are her crowd of friends.
Life is quiet, the news rolls off the airways, more money is being sunk into the economy, (are the Conservatives becoming socialists?) But of course we know there is a great big wave that will come crashing in as the jobless start to surge.
Watched 'Legally Blonde' yesterday with Reese Witherspoon, it always makes me laugh and was just right for a Sunday afternoon.  After that in the evening my daughter had recommended Jon Richardson podcasts, basically about how we approach the future, and amongst the male banter there was some shrewd observations.
There is something rather wonderful in the way that radio and the internet has flourished in this time of plague.  People are not shy of talking to camera, we learn so much more about other lives, long may it continue. 
Below not very good photos of firstly my woodpecker, though I think there is two coming to the nuts. Then the Shasta daisies which are out in full flush and lastly the little cat, making herself at home outside but too timid to come inside.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Saturday 4th July 2020

Today is the day we can get out and socially mix within a distance.  Grace restaurants, cafes and pubs.  I hope it goes well for the sake of all those businesses that have suffered under the lockdown.  I will not be taking up the offer but expect a lot of people will.
I have had my quota of people meeting this week, first with the plumber and his young female assistant on Thursday when they sorted blocked drains, though the kitchen sink still has to have strong stuff to melt down a bit more. 

Yesterday I went to our garden centre and eventually managed to keep to the rules when I went to the green grocery side. I use a lot of vegetables in my cooking and this always seems the first thing on my list, though animal food is never far away.  Lucy has decided she doesn't like dog food all that much, so crunching through carrots, broccoli and cabbage stalks keeps the hunger beast at bay, till she joins me in whatever I eat, and then, only then will she touch her own food.

The garden centre owner is a great chatterer, so with the perspex screen between us I learnt of her views on the subject.  Typically she doesn't agree with letting people wander round the country as tourists and with all those holiday cottages up for renting I expect the people in villages will have the same views, with strangers mooching around.  She is short tempered with people who will not abide by the rules, bless her and tales of walking off and refusing to help people are her ways of punishment.

Second wave? we will have to see, but everyone seems to be putting a lot of effort into protecting customers, all we need is sensible people to respond not these idiots quacking about freedom of choice to do what they want.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Chalk; or waiting for the plumber;)

Finding old blogs, this from 2010, Pat mentioned 'meditation' this morning, and to be honest I always need to be doing something, so my acts of meditation were in fact those long walks round places like Avebury, Wayland Smithy long barrow, West Kennet Barrow, I could go on.  Wandering amongst the stones of the past is a meditation.  

So a poem by Jeremy Hooker, and a video on a  meditation on chalk, which everyone should watch.

Chalk; A poem by Jeremy Hooker

This poem came from a library book long out of print, called Soliloquies of a Chalk Giant by Jeremy Hooker.  The book had to go back to the library but I managed to copy a couple of the poems, and I must have written to him about the provenance of another poem.  Hooker came from Southampton but a lot of his working life was spent in Wales as a lecturer.  His heroes were Edward Thomas and  Richard Jefferies and his writing here captures the essence of chalk on the downlands and the long line of prehistory as those first neolithic people settled on this dry upland.  So as I have no title I shall call it Chalk, to go with a youtube video on meditation that Bovey Belle has put up on her blog  and also to speed  BBs recovery too getting better.
Collecting a stone, feather or a shell stays with us from childhood, the act of collecting a wild flower or some token is a reminder of the natural world and our place in it.  Macfarlane would always collect a stone from where ever he walked, the bright whiteness of quartz, or the the dark stones of the cliffs.  Natural chalk figures can be found round Avebury, take the Green Road up to the downs and you can pick strangely shaped lumps of chalk or even flint nodules their shiny surface sometimes like striped toffee. Such collections will litter a window sill with their untidiness, I remember picking up a small bluestone stone, and marvelling at the slaty-blue colour not quite believing that this particular type of stone was quarried here on Carn Menyi  in South-West Wales and transported all the way down to Stonehenge in Wessex.  But at the same time that small fragment of stone held in my hand felt like something special, and now with the new theories they are saying that the building of Stonehenge was a way uniting  the many clans and tribes from all over Britain perhaps those special bluestones were transported down to the sea to follow the paths of sea and rivers till at last they arrived in another land.......
From my walk yesterday, I bought home the barred brown feather of a hawk and some wild oat grass I think, as the grasses and the red flowers of the docks are at their best alongside the pale pink of the mallows...


A memorial of its origins, chalk in barns and churches
moulders in rain and damp;petrified creatures swim
in its depths.

It is domestic, with the homeliness of an ancient
hearth exposed to the weather, pale with the ash of
countless primeval fires. Here the plough grates on an
urnfield, the green plover stands with crest erect on
a royal mound.

Chalk is the moon's stone; the skeleton is native to its
soil. It looks anaemic, but has submerged the type-sites
of successive cultures. Stone, bronze, iron; all are assimilated to
its nature;
and the hill-forts follow its curves.

These, surely, are the works of giants; temples
re-dedicated to the sky-god, spires fashioned for the
lords of bowmen;

Spoils of the worn idol, squat Venus of the mines.

Druids leave their shops in the midsummer solstice;
neophytes tread an antic measure to the antlered god.
Men who trespass are soon absorbed, horns laid beside
them in the ground. The burnt-out tank waits beside
the barrow.

The god is a graffito carved on the belly of the chalk,
his savage gesture subdued by the stuff of his creation.
He is taken up like a gaunt white doll by the round hills,
wrapped around by the long pale hair of the fields.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Erwin Balz

"In 1902, he was appointed personal physician-in-waiting to Emperor Meiji and the Imperial household of Japan."

There we have it in a nutshell.  Why were there Japanese artefacts in Bietigheimer, because he was the doctor for the emperor. Spending 27 years of his life in Japan and doing what all good men of his time did, collecting goodies in the way of a hoarder.  
I remember going into the room dedicated to Balz in the museum in Bietigheimer and seeing a photograph on the wall with a very 'English dog' in front of the cart that he was sitting on. The Emperor Mejii was riddled with ill health, all down to interbreeding and his family suffered in the same way.  Interbreeding has always been a problem with royalty, you don't marry a commoner, you marry into the elite who may consist of cousins.  Listening to the radio the other day and Cleopatra married two of her brothers before she had affairs with the Roman Caesar and Alexandra.  It is an interesting subject consult the Kennel Club on breeding outwards;)
The emperor had a consanguineous  marriage, which translated means a 'cousins marriage'

cousin marriage is a marriage where the partners are cousins (i.e. people with common grandparents or people who share other fairly recent ancestors). The practice was common in earlier times, and continues to be common in some societies today, though in some jurisdictions such marriages are prohibited Worldwide, more than 10% of marriages are between first or second cousins Cousin marriage is an important topic in anthropology and alliance theory.

The emperor fathered 15 children, most of whom died as infants, his brothers also had early deaths, and as a side note, apparently Charles Darwin and his wife were first cousins, which I find surprising of a man who studied the natural order so much.

So a brief exploration has bought some interesting facts up, the rather hideous scrolls of gods and lesser beings have been on journeys of their own, taken from their own land of Japan, found a home in Germany, been restored in England and now reside in Bietigheimer museum and there are also other Japanese treasures in a museum in Stuttgart.  The magpie instinct of Balz echoes the magpie bird, who just loves a bit of glitter in his nest.
With the help of one of those computer gadgets you can whizz round the room here in the museum.