Happy weekend! We’re going in search of one of these picnic-bikes.
Ogden, Utah-based Graeme Abraham, owner of the Etsy store GreenCüb, has repurposed a collection of recognizable video game controllers as useful desk organizers (Nintendo 64, GameCube, Xbox 360 and PlayStation). Each controller comes equipped with a three foot gold-plated USB extension, action buttons or joysticks replaced with pen slots and a magnetic paperclip holder.
See also: Nintendo Zapper Lamp.
Obit of the Day: End the Beguines*
When Marcella Pattyn died on April 14, 2013 she took 800 years of history with her. Ms. Pattyn was a Beguine. A creation of the Middle Ages, beguines were lay women who formed communities that allowed them independence, both socially and economically.
During the Medieval period women of the upper class were given two choices for their adult lives: marriage or religious life. They were to either be under the rule of their husband or the rule of God, serving as a nun. (Women of the lower classes could sometimes live alone and run a business but usually only as widows.)
In the 12th century in Flanders (a region that now is part of Belgium and The Netherlands) lay communities sprang up in cities where widows of the Crusades would congregate but without the rules of a convent or giving up their freedom. They could travel freely on their own. They could marry at any time. Some even lived in homes with servants.
At their peak Beguines were found across northern Europe and could have thousands of members. They would provide services for the poor and needy as well as sell handmade textiles.
To no one’s surprise, the group was quickly considered a threat. Independent women who were without strict supervision? It must be heresy. And in 1311 Pope Clement V banned the movement. (Less than a century earlier in 1233 Pope Gregory IX had given papal backing to the Beguines.)
In order to maintain their existence some of the Beguine orders partnered with monastic orders in order to continue their work with some level of “supervision.” (Random note: There were male communities similar to the Beguines called the Beghards who were also considered heretics but less for their service than for their theology which bordered on anarchism.)
Although the orders persisted for centuries in France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium their numbers dwindled. Belgium at one time had 94 Beguine communities. In 1856 they were down to 20.
In 1941 when Marcella Pattyn, a partially blind 21-year-old, was sent to the beguinage in Ghent there were two. Unable to join convents because of her disability, a wealthy aunt sponsored her entrance into the Beguines. This last small group of Beguines moved to the town of Courtrai and in 1960 there were nine left.
By 2008 Marcella Pattyn was the last of her order. The town of Courtrai celebrated her with chocolates and champagne and had a bronze statue made in her likeness to stand outside the beguinage.
Ms. Pattyn died at the age of 92, taking with her a glimpse into medieval life.
(Image of Marcella Pattyn and her statue is courtesy of FOCUS-WTV in Belgium.)
* The title of the post is a play on the Cole Porter song, “Begin the Beguine,” written in 1935. The two words are unrelated. There is no known etymology for the order, although the community in Lieges, Belgium was founded by Lambert de Begue. By the time of the Porter song the term “beguine” was commonly used to mean a “close couples’ dance” in the Caribbean. - Wikipedia