Travel By The Book

I subscribe to BookBub so this morning I received my daily list of suggestions for possibilities that might interest me. Frank Zappa once said, “So many books; so little time!” I can definitely identify.

The book suggestions completely crossed the planet, going from Fatal North by Bruce Henderson–about the 1871 Polaris expedition–clear down to Antarctica by Gabrielle Walker. Everything you ever wanted to know about the South Pole explorations. Then we have The Art of the Compliment by Christie Matheson. probably something everyone should read. 🙂 And Peter Singer writes about The Most Good You Can Do.

The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy by David Halberstam would be a book for US political history buffs. The blurb says: “An in-depth examination of the political career, personal life, and untimely demise of Robert Kennedy.” Like most everyone during those years, I heard & read about the Kennedy family tragedies but now it’s “water under the bridge” and not high priority reading for me.

One writer has decided to time-travel, literally, to Victorian England. The Victorian Life by Sarah A Chrisman. Blurb: “Fascinated by the 19th century, one couple decided to fully commit to a Victorian way of life. From tending oil lamps to wrestling with corset laces, this charming and insightful read chronicles a modern exploration of a bygone era.”

Have these folks chosen an upper class lifestyle or do they give glimpses of life for the rest of society in that era? I have a book of written records made by various people back in Victorian England, describing the living conditions they observed among the working class and the destitute. The average George Brown, victim of the Industrial revolution, who had only a cup of tea yesterday, nothing today. Homeless men spending nights in a poor-house. Women doing men’s jobs–cheaper labour costs, you know–working hard in a factory for twelve hours a day, with a nursing baby strapped to their chest and a toddler or two beside them. Or a family in London’s East end in a slum where landlords rented by the day and if you couldn’t pay, your belongings–what few you had–were thrown out in the street so your apartment could be rented to someone who could. Corset laces were the least of their worries.

I’ve noticed that people who claim to be reincarnated weren’t, in their former life, an average Joe, Pedro the galley slave, Lizzy the overworked scullery maid, or Piers the crippled soldier. History is full of unknowns barely surviving, but the folks who claim to remember a past life were usually a famous/notorious SOMEONE. Biblical character, prophet, Rajah, Prince or Princess, doctor or scientist. I don’t know as anyone’s ever claimed a past life as a writer. 🙂

Time travel books work the same. The traveler’s dropped into an intriguing time in history and accepted by the locals. These from-the-future visitors always have the means to keep from fatal accident, starvation, or execution as a heretic or witch, until they head home again. Well, I suppose that’s fiction for you: writers have complete control of their character’s fate.

I believe that now and then we all need an accurate picture of life as it was way back when. Last night I was listening to the audio-book about Nicholas Nickleby and his life at Dotheboys Hall. Kudos to Charles Dickens, an author who gives us a realistic view of life for the lower classes of his day — and through his novels actually managed to change society’s attitude toward the poor. If we only knew it, we still benefit very much from what he accomplished.

BookBub, Book Cave, Reading Deals and various other outlets are ways for writers to advertise and get their books out to readers. There are lots more book deals but I have a very restricted list of interest. Subscribers can tailor their selections to their own interests when they sign up.

Micro-poetry

What’s MICRO POETRY? Anything short, I suppose. 🙂

Background image: Pixabay

A lot of the old nursery rhymes were micro-poetry, as are haiku & senryu. I hear of Twitter verses now, which must be 140 characters or less. Here’s my effort, using 139 characters:

Snatched an egg from our hen,
the egg was good; I tried it again.
What a thief! the angry hen squawked.
Now I have one hand with chicken pox.

🙂

Another type of micro-poetry is the limerick like this one — I think it’s quite well known — by an unknown author:

I raised a great hullabaloo
 when I found a large mouse in my stew.
Said the waiter, "Don't shout and wave it about
 or the rest will be wanting one, too!"


Some years back I found the book PIPING DOWN THE VALLEYS WILD — “A merry mix of verses for all ages.” Edited and © 1968 by Nancy Larrick Crosby, published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books. So many fun examples of long and short verses, old and new.

Here are a couple of my own micro-poems — the first one mainly for lovers of big words:

FLETCHERIZE

What is this new word fletcherize?
It brings no vision to my eyes;
its purpose I can’t crystalize;
all sense of rhythm it defies.

A word that is so obdurate,
with sounds that cannot resonate
a poet true will obviate
for fear it would obfuscate.

(Fletcherize, a word given as a writing prompt one day, means to reduce (food) to tiny particles, especially by prolonged chewing.)

FRIENDS

The real jewels in this world
Aren't found midst piles of gold;
They're found in friendship's sparkling eyes
Where love and warmth enfold.

Idealism Takes A Hit

Occasionally I read an article posted on POCKET, historical articles or some journalist’s take on a recent news story. I’ve read about the newest wave of CENSORSHIP, an issue that often boils down to an idealistic approach versus a realistic one. I read about one young man who responded to the many PROTESTS and CONSPIRACY THEORIES by starting his own. Others said, “Hey, why not?” and the crazy thing went viral.

I’ve heard about the social upheaval massive immigration has caused in Texas. Last night I started reading J D Vance’s HILLBILLY ELEGY, describing the “hollowing out” and desperate poverty in the US Midwest — “the Rust Belt.” All this input rattling around in my mind, plus my own experience, has produced cogitations I’m going to share in several upcoming posts. Starting with…

Idealism In a Real World

A few years after we were married we were discussing a politician of our day and my husband commented, “He’s too much of an idealist. I’d rather see a crook elected to run the country than an idealist.”

I understood where he was coming from. A crook usually has a good handle on how things really work. A dreamer who isn’t facing reality can be dangerous when handed the reins. Now, with almost fifty years of practical observations as well as a keen interest in history, I understand that sentiment so much better. Especially after I read a number of accounts of how the ultimate idealism, PROHIBITION, worked, especially in the US.

An elderly friend once told me about Nellie McClung’s sad observation on being hit by reality. McClung (1873-1951) was one of Canada’s original suffragettes and women writers. She worked hard to get the vote for women; once women had the vote she was elected to the Alberta Legislature. Being all for home and family, and opposed to the demon drink that destroyed homes and left wives and families destitute, she was totally in support of Prohibition.

The sad remark she made in her old age, according to my friend, was: “We thought when women got the vote, we’d outlaw liquor. But we never thought we’d see the day when women would take to drinking!”

I could have told her that. When I was young most of the women I knew drank. My own mother, according to my sisters, “spent half her life in the beer parlour.” My younger sister, Donna, unsuccessfully fought a lifelong battle with alcohol, though it was finally a drug overdose that took her out. Always a feisty kid, I think she would have loved a swig of bootleg booze.

Evangelical Christians have always leaned heavily toward idealism, thinking they know what’s good for the rest of the country. But there’s a whole ‘nother world in their midst – my own non-religious people – that Protestant Evangelicals haven’t really been able to acknowledge. And when those citizens rise up and start following their inclinations, idealism will crash.

Bootleg booze, rum-runners, organized crime: the Christian Women’s Temperance League never foresaw how these would flourish.

Now for a secular example…

Breast-feeding Is A Natural Act

Definitely it is. However, there’s a reason why North American women have been hesitant – some may say “inhibited” – from breast-feeding openly in public places. In fact, one weekend in Saskatoon a group of zealous women set up a display in the Midtown Mall promoting the natural act of breast-feeding. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” they claimed, “Nursing a baby should be allowed openly anywhere with no embarrassment or legal questions.”

In an ideal world, it would work. In this awfully real world…

In the course of shopping, I passed by their display several times. They’d set up a prominent booth and hung huge posters above it showing mothers nursing their babies. Lots of posters and pamphlets displayed around the booth. But reality lingered in the shadows. Each time I noticed a number of fascinated men strolling, or lingering by walls and in corners, so obviously drinking in the visual stimulation.

Yeah, it’s awful – but are you surprised? In a society where respect for women, consideration for motherhood, respect and decency in general, ran the show, this blatant display of lechery wouldn’t be. Pardon me, but I hope those ladies so inspired by their rosy ideals had their eyes opened to the reality of lust. Nursing openly may work in a different, more accustomed, less sex-focused society. But in ours, I believe this peeping is something nursing mothers in our society will deal with if they start to bare it all in public places.

Goals and ideals are great, but a person — especially a leader — needs a clear understanding of what will actually work in our imperfect world.

A Great Book Free This Weekend

Today I’m sharing the love for a good book. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially World War II stories with a touch of romance, you’ll want to read Dan Walsh’s books. He’s done a lot of research on WW II, especially about the US involvement and German activity in the US. Dan has written several books with this setting as a back drop to an amazing tale.

This story starts out in the present, as a budding writer inherits his grandfather’s home and discovers a manuscript his grandfather left for him to find. As he reads his grandfather’s own history, he’s taken back to the early days of WWII and a subversive plot carried out by the Germans in the US.

Free today and tomorrow at your Amazon store.

Word Lovers Look Up!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is LOOK UP. This expression may well yield a lot of different perspectives. When I looked out my window this morning and up into the sky, I saw the first-returning flock of Canada geese. What delight!

Having just read a couple of stories written around 1910, I’ve had to do some looking up. I’ve come across a number of words that may have once been common in educated circles – the main characters are medical men – but are now rare. So I’ve looked up some of these, though I won’t be throwing them into my own literary endeavors or everyday conversations.

OBLIQUITY
– ambiguity, mystery
– having a veiled or hidden meaning
Though his remark was made with clever obliquity, the meaning was caught by a few of the listeners.

OBLOQUY
– verbal abuse or condemnation spoken publicly
– the condition of one who’s been disgraced
If we couldn’t discover the truth, she may have to endure forever the obloquy of being the main suspect in a murder case.

ANALOGOUS
– alike, comparable, similar in general or in some specific detail
– similar in a way that invites comparison
Berating someone publicly is analogous to a vicious physical attack. Obloquy causes deep wounds, too.

A CURRANT SHIP
I know what a currant is, but I couldn’t find any definition of this expression. The ship in question is always referred to as a currant ship or boat; I assume it was a cruise ship of some sort.
“He has gone for a trip to the Isles of Greece on a currant ship”

AGGREGATE
– clustered in a dense mass or head
– a mass or body of units or parts somewhat loosely associated with one another
The character of an individual tends to be reflected in his dress…this fact, though less familiar, is equally applicable to aggregates of men. Lawyers, for example, tend to dress…”

OBTRUDE
– to thrust out, extrude
– to force or impose (oneself, one’s ideas, etc.) without warrant or request
“I should apologize for obtruding upon the reader these somewhat trite reflections.”

IMPECUNIOUS
– impoverished or penniless
LITIGANTS
— people engaged in a lawsuit

“There are no hospitals for impecunious litigants; it is assumed that only persons of means have a right to go to law.”

Spring Clusters

Good morning everyone! I’ve been more-or-less away from blogging for a couple of weeks, just popping in occasionally while we had a week of meetings at our church and I’ve had a few medical appointments to get through, but now I’m ready to get back into life’s normal routine.

It’s a cloudy Monday morning here where we live, and yesterday was the first day of spring, so I decided to celebrate the new season by changing my Header image. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CLUSTER so I searched on Pixabay for a nice cluster of snowdrops. I came across this picture of crocus, another spring flower. Doesn’t this make a nice soft, seasonal Header?

And here’s the cluster of snowdrops I found. They’re such hearty little flowers, braving the chill to pop up in early spring despite the snowy ground around them.

Image by pasja1000 — Pixabay

We’ve had about five days of spring that did a lot to reduce our whiteness, and yesterday we got a soft steady rain to further reduce the shrinking snowbanks. So nice to see water in the ditches again — a good beginning for replenishing our water table, so drought-stricken last year. However, endeavoring to chip away at the ice buildup on our sidewalk Thursday, I strained my right knee and am still hobbling a bit while it recovers.

I was feeling quite tired in January — an abnormal fatigue, I decided — and starting to get night sweats again. So I called the doctor to ask about my last blood test. He confirmed what I suspected: my white cell count is going up again. In other words, my CLL is coming out of remission and making itself felt.

For my newer followers, I was first diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL in May of 2013 and needed six months of chemotherapy treatment starting in March of 2016. That time I had chemo by IV, but my oncologist says this time she’ll give me pills. Much preferable!

I did a phone-call visit with my oncologist on Thursday and she isn’t very worried yet; the white cell count isn’t that high yet and the other blood counts are quite normal. My family doctor told me last Monday that my lymph nodes are still good. As cancerous lymphocytes build up in the body they tend to cluster in the lymph nodes, which hardens them.

In moments of leisure I’m sewing seven-inch squares of fabric together for blanket tops for our Sewing Circle to use. And reading of course — currently an Austin Freeman Collection of books and short stories written in the early 1900s. The author was a doctor himself and didn’t skimp on medical details as his main character, Dr Thorndyke, solved mysteries by clever forensics. Just finished THE EYE OF OSIRIS, which was compelling in spite of long details about the human skeletal structure.

Stumbling around YouTube yesterday, searching for books by D E Stevenson, I came across the channel of a woman who was recommending her favorite books by Scottish authors and/or stories set in Scotland. Books by Josephine Tey, O George, Nancy Mitford, Jean Shaw, Alexander McCall Smith. She gave them such good reviews — now I have more books on my “TO READ SOMEDAY” list!

I’ll leave you now with a few more CLUSTERS to inspect.

A cluster of blue butterflies –image by Hans Braxmeier
And a cluster of Christmas cookies –image by Jill Wellington.