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.

Gifties

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is EGGS. So I’ll post this little collection:

Eggs image by Alexas_Fotos at Pixabay.
Quote from the poem “To a Louse” by Robert Burns

For those of you not familiar with “To a Louse,” Bobby Burns was sitting in church one Sunday morning taking note of the fine Jeanie sitting ahead of him. She was dressed to the nines, with fancy gown and lovely Sunday-best hat and putting on airs like quite the elegant lady. But then Bobby noticed a tiny louse crawling along the edge of her hat brim. Wouldn’t she be mortified to know that, for all her pride in dressing to the nines, folks behind her could see she had lice in her hair? If she only knew what others were seeing! And how dare this ugly little beast reveal the flaw! So the poet concludes in his last line, “If we could see ourselves as others see us, it would from many a blunder free us, and foolish notion.”

So do others see me as a good egg, hard-boiled, usually scrambled, or even seriously cracked? Hmm…maybe I’d best not know? What do you think: would it be “a gift” to get a glimpse of ourselves through others’ eyes now and then? Or would we be apt to think, “Well, that’s just their opinion/attitude.”

Capricious Climate

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SECURITY

The calendar may say Spring starts March 21st, but here in the northern clime we have no security in that. Today is gray, gray, and a frigid blast from the northwest is driving small snowflakes past our window, sometimes lots, sometimes less. My phone tells me it’s -9 C at 11 am. So not spring!

As I looked out this morning I thought of a poem I read in an old IDEALS magazine. Apart from the autumn sky it fits well. This poem, full of personification — at least I think that’s what it’s called — was written by Oliver Herford. (See bio below.) It was included in a poetry book titled An American Anthology, 1787-1899:

BELATED VIOLET

Very dark the autumn sky,
Dark the clouds that hurried by;
Very rough the autumn breeze
Shouting rudely to the trees.
Listening, frightened, pale, and cold,
Through the withered leaves and mould
Peered a violet all in dread—
“Where, oh, where is spring?” she said.
Sighed the trees, “Poor little thing!
She may call in vain for spring.”
And the grasses whispered low,
“We must never let her know.”
“What's this whispering?” roared the breeze;
“Hush! a violet,” sobbed the trees,
“Thinks it 's spring,—poor child, we fear
She will die if she should hear!”
Softly stole the wind away,
Tenderly he murmured, “Stay!”
To a late thrush on the wing,
“Stay with her one day and sing!”
Sang the thrush so sweet and clear
That the sun came out to hear,
And, in answer to her song,
Beamed on Violet all day long;
And the last leaves here and there
Fluttered with a spring-like air.
Then the violet raised her head,—
“Spring has come at last!” she said.
Happy dreams had Violet
All that night—but happier yet,
When the dawn came dark with snow,
Violet never woke to know.

And here’s one I think we can all identify with:

To Music
Here's to Music,
Joy of joys!
One man's music's
Another man's noise.

This bio comes from publicdomainpoetry.com

Oliver Herford, 1863-1935, was a British born American writer, artist and illustrator who has been called “The American Oscar Wilde”. As a frequent contributor to The Mentor, Life, and Ladies’ Home Journal, he sometimes signed his artwork as “O Herford”. In 1906 he wrote and illustrated the “Little Book of Bores”. He also wrote short poems like “The Chimpanzee” and “The Hen”, as well as writing and illustrating “The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten” (1904), “Cynic’s Calendar” (1917) and “Excuse It Please” (1930). His sister Beatrice Herford was also a humorist.

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.

Lengthy Lines

Editorial Trivia

As you will know if you’ve been reading my recent posts, I started doing the weekly Six Sentence Story challenges. And it is indeed a challenge to get a tale stated tersely enough to fit into six sentences. However, I’ve just started reading a story published in 1907: The Red Thumb Mark. This is the first story in a collection called The Austen Freeman Mega-pack and it can be bought as a single story from Amazon Kindle.

Dr. Richard Austin Freeman, April 1862 – Sept 1943, was a British writer of detective stories, mostly featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr. Thorndyke. In the story I’m reading, Dr Thorndyke is trying to prove how an innocent man’s bloody thumb-print turned up so conveniently at the scene of a theft.

I’ve run into some delightfully mega-layered sentences! If I’d adopt this writer’s style, I could easily get a story told in six sentences. I’ve also come across several words that, if I ever read them before, I’ve forgotten.

Exhibit A: Example of five multi-clause sentences:

“Why should you expect that?” I demanded, reddening somewhat, I suspect, as I met his twinkling eye. There was something rather disturbing in the dry, quizzical smile that I encountered and the reflection that I had been under observation, and I felt as much embarrassed as I should suppose a self-conscious water-flea might feel on finding itself on the illuminated stage of a binocular microscope.

“My dear fellow,” said Thorndyke, “you have not spoken a word for the last quarter of an hour; you have devoured your food with the relentless regularity of a sausage-machine, and you have, from time to time, made the most damnable faces at the coffee-pot — though there I’ll wager the coffee-pot was even with you, if I may judge by the presentment that it offers of my own countenance.

I roused myself from my reverie with a laugh at Thorndyke’s quaint conceit and a glance at the grotesquely distorted reflection of my face in the polished silver. “I am afraid I have been a rather dull companion this morning,” I admitted apologetically.

Intriguing words:
She said oracularly.
Oracularly means resembling an oracle. An oracle, definition 2, is a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions.
I wondered what he thought of this rodomontade? A bragging speech; vain bluster or boasting.