Monday, February 1, 2021

These Fevered Days, Ten Pivotal Moments In the Making Of Emily Dickinson, by Martha Ackmann

 Hi Dear Folk,

I have been hunkered down with this book for far too long, and it now, absolutely must go back to the library, no more renewals.   I wanted to do a review and this is the stick I needed.

Emily Dickinson had a fertile mind but lived a life confined to house and locality, at this present time it seemed absolutely the correct read, as my mind is busy, but confined to home and hardly venturing forth beyond our little area on the map.  Can one in such circumstances live a full life?  And I say yes, Emily Dickinson did.  Life other than an external situation.

To some it seemed she lived an ordinary life, 

... resided in one town, went to school, never held a job, lived in her parents home, remained single and died at fifty-five.  She loved passionately, wrote scores of letters, anguished over abandonment and fought with God, found ecstasy with nature, embraced seclusion, was ambivalent towards publication, and created 1,789 poems that she tucked into a dresser drawer.  Only after her death, when her sister opened the drawer, did the world begin to realize, that the life of Emily Dickinson was far from commonplace.

Author's Note.  

Martha Ackmann taught a Tuesday afternoon class in the Dickinson homestead.  I have often thought of that class and how it would be to sit in her very home discussing Emily's poetry.  There is such an ambience of setting to learning, hence my heart goes out to those students sitting at a computer doing remote learning.  Here it is a snowy day in January and my mind goes back to my days at Hadham Hall, sitting in a tower turret room, on a snowy day, with leaded glass windows, looking out over the snow covered cedar trees, taking a history class.

Emily was born December 10th, 1830 in Amherst, MA to Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson, schooled at Amherst Academy and Mt Holyoke Female Seminary, South Hadley, MA.  Published posthumously in 1890.  She did not keep a diary, but frequently corresponded with friends and of course wrote poetry.  She could be reclusive, and reserved the right to hold lengthy lively conversations with you if she so chose, or not to.  Of the town she lived in:

One professor's wife Deborah Fiske, put her finger on two qualities that made Amherst unique.  Amherst, Massachusetts, she said, was filled with "a very spending evening sort of folks" and its best women were "free from the silly very birdish airs."

Emily held dear the group she called her Circle of Five:  smart and lively girls ...

With friends Emily even produced a literary journal they named "Forrest Leaves"  which reminds me so much of the March sisters, in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  The surrounding of oneself with learning and learned people, the founding of schools for just such a purpose, including girls.

Emily came from an academic family who believed in the value of education and had the means to pursue it.  A year at Mount Holyoke cost $60.  Her maternal grandfather, Joel Norcross, was one of the founders of Monson Academy and at the same time Samuel Fowler Dickinson was getting Amherst Academy off the ground.  Emily's mother and Aunt Lavinia had attended Monson, and later Mr. Herrick's School for girls, in New Haven, Connecticut, where young women regularly attended lectures at Yale.  Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke, from which many pupils went on to be missionaries and teachers.  Religion was most important at these institutions.

President Hitchcock once remarked that religion was at the very core of Amherst College.  Area newspapers shared his point of view.  In reporting on commencements at Amherst and Mount Holyoke, newspapers listed students who read prizewinning essays as well as the number of seniors who had professed their faith.

The Dickinsons were Congregationalists the largest faith in Massachusetts at that time.  Emily was part of the "no hopers."  As such she was still allowed to attend Mount Holyoke, Mary Lyon was a liberal thinker.

Miss Lyons rooms were behind the double parlors and across from the Seminary Hall.  Emily could remember the many words Mary Lyon had spoken there.  "Don't be a hypocrite," she had told them, "be honest." Distinguish between what is very difficult and what is impossible.  Do what is difficult."  "The difference between great and small minds is the power of classifications.  Little minds dwell on particular things.  Great minds take in a great deal."

Fidelia Fiske had been a teacher at Mount Holyoke, her missionary letters from Persia were often read to the girls.

... and more letters in Seminary Hall from the intrepid Fidelia Fiske.  Emily knew she would never set out for Persia or teach Choctaw Indians. ... she would bore into her own interior, confronting an unknown as wild and uncertain as any new world missionary had seen.

Valentine's Day was celebrated with a Festival in town where ice cream was served and Valentine's were penned.  Esther Howland an enterprising young women who had attended Mount Holyoke; mass produced Valentines from her father's stationery store in Worcester, she hoped her brother could find $200 worth of orders, he came back with $5,000.  Emily loved to write Valentines and spar with them.

"A little condescending, & sarcastic, your Valentine to me," she teased a male cousin, "a little like an Eagle, stooping to salute a Wren, & I concluded once, I dared not answer it, for it seemed to me not quite becoming; in a bird so lowly as myself; to claim admittance Eyrie, & conversation with its King."

Emily did not like housework, it took time away from her beloved writing.  This was especially so when Vinnie her younger sister was away at school.

"Vinnie away," she had written, "and my two hands but 'two' - not four, or five as they ought to be - and so many wants - and me so very handy - and my time of so little account - and my writing so very needless."  Emily said that if she took so much as "an inch of time" to write, she would be castigated - not so much by her family as the world and her own guilt.  Housekeeping, to her, was a way to cultivate a woman's submission and steal time, and she wanted nothing of it.  "God keep me from what they call households," she said.

There are so few literary works written by working class people before the fifties, to find any is a rare and special gem, they just didn't have the time to do so.  One can say that has changed for the better.  Even Emily came from what can be considered a more well to do background, begrudged the time spent on, as she said "households."  Neither was she a fan of small talk and as she got older her solitude became more pronounced, fewer people were let into her secluded world,

That winter when the Sewing Society began its meetings, Emily declined to attend.  She knew "the public"  would be puzzled by her absence and make her the object of prayers, and she let loose with a torrent of sarcasm.  "Now all the poor will be helped - the cold warmed - the warm cooled - the hungry fed - the thirsty attended to - the raged clothed - and this suffering - tumbled down world will be helped to its feet again," she wrote her friend Jane.  

In reference to her hand sewn little books which came to be know as 'Facicles.'

Sometime Emily would carefully write a poem and fold the sheet as if for mailing, but never send it.  She dated practically nothing and almost never included titles.  One poem was as short as two lines and others extended to five or six stanzas.  There were countless images from nature - robins, gentians, owls, snowflakes - and verses that echoed the religious cadences of her youth:  

In the name of the Bee - 

And of the Butterfly - 

And of the Breeze - Amen!

Several poems described an aching void that she refused to identify.  

Emily and the people of Amherst were heart broken by the loss of Amherst men in the Civil War, thirty-one men from the town died for the Union cause.  

She delighted in standing apart, and sneered at puffed-up somebodies who forever croaked about themselves.  "I'm Nobody!  Who are you?"  she wrote in one verse.  "Are you - Nobody - too?"

Yet it was unclear - as it always would be - if Emily were speaking for herself in her poems or inventing a persona with vastly different opinions.  Amherst residents would have been surprised if they had discovered the shy, reclusive daughter of Edward Dickinson was capable of writing such bold lines as  

I'm "wife" - I've finished that - 

That other state - 

I'm Czar - I'm woman now - 

She rarely showed such audacity in person.

Thomas Higginson was the co-editor of the first two collections of Emily's poems.  She corresponded with him for eight years before finally agreeing to meet with him.

First he heard her.  From upstairs on the second floor came the sound of quick, light steps - footsteps that sounded like a child's.  Then she entered.  A plain woman with two bands of reddish hair, not particularly good-looking, wearing a white pique dress.  The white stunned him.  It was exquisite.  A blue worsted shawl covered her shoulders.  She seemed fearful to him, breathless at first, and extended her hand, not to shake - but to offer something.  "These are my introduction,"  she said, handing him tow day-lilies.

Jostling along on the tracks, miles from Amherst, ... She was not capable of casual conversation, he told Mary, (his wife) or of friendship.  It took every ounce of his being to meet her level of intellectual intensity... "Without touching her, she drew from me.  I am glad not to live near her."

Helen Hunt one of her closest friends, who lived in Colorado and had just married for the second time.

Helen was pleased to hear from Emily, but baffled by the second verse.  What did "dooms" mean and how did the idea of calamity connect to her wedding?

When fleeing from the Spring

The Spring avenging fling

To Dooms of Balm - 

Emily died May 15th, 1886.

That Wednesday afternoon, May 19th, the funeral service took place in the Dickinson's family library.  "To Amherst to the funeral of that rare & strange creature Emily Dickinson."  Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote in his diary.

I never studied Emily Dickinson, or her poetry, but in my year of coming to grips with who is an American? this is just a little cog in rounding out my thoughts.  I feel as did Helen Hunt, much of her poetry baffles me, but my favorite Emily Dickinson poem is this, I'm Nobody!  Who are you?  A question we all should be asking in this present time.

I prefer the first published version.

I'm Nobody!  Who are you?

(First Published Version)

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Dont tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

I did enjoy this book and would recommend it.

Keep safe,


Monday, January 11, 2021

The Story of English by Robert MacNeil

 Hi Dear Folk,

The Story of English, narrated by Robert MacNeil.  I first saw this on PBS in the eighties and was so interested in the history that I bought the book and still have it.  

I've been going through my library revisiting many of my books, with the thought of reading them again and maybe turning them into altered books, or just keeping them. When I came across my Story of English, and thought let me see if that is on You Tube.

If you've never seen this series and love English, where it came from, what it is, and what it is becoming you will enjoy this series.  I will say that looking back to the eighties, I had just got married, forty years ago does look old fashioned, but the history of the English Language does not change.  If anything it is more entrenched now forty years later, than ever.

If you like history, geography and people, why we are, who we are, and why do we speak the way we do, you will want to watch this.

I grew up within fifty miles of London, to the North. Living within the triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford; which was to form the centre of standard English.  I would say that my English was close to BBC English, because I grew up in the era that how you spoke was most important.  My mother worked on it closely, although I never spoke with the accent of either my father, London or my mother country Essex.

At the age of eleven I got my first tape recorder, and with my friend Jill, we would make up plays and record them.  I wish I still had those tapes, I could listen to how I sounded back then in the sixties.  Of course I have lived the better part of my life now in the USA, Philadelphia area and it is reflected in my speech and intonation of speaking.  I no longer speak the same as my eleven year old self and that is what spoken language is about, how it morphs and changes.  

My son had my accent until he went to school.  But even then I worked on his speech, and I would say he speaks well.  As a child his spelling and writing could be improved on, but he had an extensive vocabulary, because we love words in our family.  They are the subject of conversation.

We speak the way we do because where we grew up, how our parents wanted us to speak, the era we grew up in.  Dialects or varieties of speech are not wrong, in fact there are reasons you speak and I speak, the way you do and I do, and that is what this series is about.  

Enjoy, Christine

The Story of English episode 1 - An English Speaking World - Part 1 / 7

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Where To Start?

 Hi Dear Folk,

I seem to have succumbed, morphed over to Instagram.  I'm not going to berate myself I'm too old for that.      2021, where to start?  What to say?  A word that comes to my mind is "Endurance", we've just got to keep on keeping on.

2020 was a year of change.  Mr. B. lost his one and only job contract, then when COVID hit lost his little part time job, we both opted to get our Social Security, now being income less, and we had that option.  Thank goodness for options, when so many fellow Americans do not.  Our son moved out in the Autumn and thus we did an internal decorating and switching of bedrooms.  We're happy for him and for us, because so many children are moving back in and not out in this time of pandemic.  He went in with some friends and found a house.  The Boy is picky, had to have a basement for his sound system, a garage for his Miata.  I said did he leave anything for the other two boys?  He has the smallest bedroom, well so he should.  

I do like to have a project in mind, just the thinking about it, I find can give joy.  We got an awful lot done around the house last year, both outside and inside;  which I've posted over the months on Instagram.  My next project is the one hundred year old bathroom, which still has the original bath, open on two sides and not so bad, the original tile work.  Actually for its age it could look worse.  It has that old white brick tile and black edging, so black and white.  I'm going to keep that colour scheme.  

Needs new plumbing for the bath and shower, new tile, I'm going with white brick tiles again, but I'm thinking of black grout, not set on that.  Refinish the bath, I cannot imagine trying to get it out, you'd probably need a crane. An oval shower rail to enclose you completely, and keep the water off the tile.  It is in need of a new floor and tile, maybe black and white, similar to what's there now and a new toilet, one that really works.  Keep the carrara marble sink top, but I do not like the base, so want the builder to come up with some kind of stand, and have open plumbing underneath.

Over the sink will be a nice large mirror, right down to the sink, because for the past twenty years, I have only been able to see from my eyes upwards in the original medicine cabinet mirror.  Obviously a six foot man put it in, as it's just the right height for my husband.  To replace the under sink storage, we just found an Eastlake hanging wall cupboard and shelves on FBM, so that will go up over the toilet.

I do love wallpaper, so I'm thinking a black and white forest scene with animals, I'll know it when I see it, and of course that may change.  Well that's my next project, we'll see if it comes to fruition.  2021 here I come, one hundred year old bathroom.

I do have a project that should be finished by next week, which involves the basement.  I view my basement as the many headed hydra that keeps rearing up and has to be slain.  Why?  However many times I sort and get rid of things, there is still more.

I want just a nice open flat service to be able to do projects on, spread out and have room.  I have two old desks down there, so I'm going to use those, to define the space and behind them I'm thinking of hanging fabric murals so I have something to look at, rather than a basement full of basement things.  I need to do some wall and floor painting.  I've almost finished the crochet red rug, which I've decided to use in the basement.  My that took some yarn, a good project for left overs, but I think I'm up to fourteen hanks, and I wouldn't consider the rug huge, fortunately I had all that old yarn, that belonged to my friend's mum, had to be from the seventies.

I got to sit down at my new vanity the other evening, in my new bedroom, feeling like the lady of the manor.  I was getting ready for a Zoom Meeting where I was giving a five minute discourse, so felt I had to try my best.  I bought my lighted German design vanity mirror on FBM, where a lady said she was getting rid of hers, because it showed up every wrinkle, I know the feeling.  

Of course a hope is that at some point we can travel, but I'm not counting on it.  I could see possibly taking the trip we had planned for this year, which was a cottage all on it's own up in Maine.  As to a trip to family in England, if at all it would be the end of the year, and there're so many factors that weigh in on that.

I count my blessings, and you know I sometimes don't like using that word or phrase, I wish there was another one in the English language, because if you're doing better than someone else it kind of denotes that they weren't blessed and you were, and I don't think that at all.  

2020 the lost year, the lost generation, who knows, time will tell.  Moving onwards.

Take care, 


Monday, January 4, 2021

Starting off 2021 My Word is Conversation

Hi Dear Folk,

Many folk put out a word each year and the one I've chosen is CONVERSATION.  Just make conversations with people.  That is hard right now because no one wants to make conversation because they don't want to spread the virus.  But there are other ways through your network of friends and over the phone.

It's called the art of conversation, because it is an art, one party has to listen while the other talks, it's an interchange of thoughts and ideas. 


  1. a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged

Friday, December 11, 2020

The1940s House

Wartime Farm Part 1 of 8

Make Do And Mend and Wear A Mask

 Hi Dear Folk,

With all this staying at home hunkering down and not traveling anywhere, it's rather taking me back to bygone days. I seem to be reverting back to a Make Do And Mend Era and Attitude.

I have been watching 1940s House and Wartime Farm, which if you've never watched them, you'll be in for a treat.  If you follow my Instagram which you can view on the sidebar, I've been using up odds and bods of yarn to crochet slippers, as gifts for friends.  

I also wanted to crochet a slip rug for either side of my bed in an off-white Aran, but after using one whole skein of yarn I realized how expensive these rugs might prove to be, so decided to use old 1970s red acrylic yarn which was destined for the thrift shop.  My friend gave it to me when her mum died.  It came from the old Korvette's Store.  I think I have enough for two rugs. I hope to be able to dye it with Rit DyeMore for synthetics, has anyone tried it?  I hope it works, as synthetics are almost impossible to dye.  I'm thinking some shade of green.  If they do not dye at all well, I will just use them in the basement.

I found this crochet stitch on You Tube.  Quite simple but thick and puffy for a rug. I love it.  Chain what ever width of rug you want, turn miss the first stitch.

Hook though loop pull up yarn, YO pull through 1 loop, 2 stitches on hook, hook through same stitch, pull up yarn and though 2 stitches on the hook.  I do not know what the stitch is call.  

On a more sober note I think at this stage there isn't anyone in the USA who does not know of a friend or relative who has not caught COVID or died from it.  My friend's husband died early on in the pandemic,  another whole family we know caught it in about May, and just last week our son caught it, but is OK.  He had a headache, fever and sore throat for a full day and then was feeling like he was getting better the next day.  

He felt ill on the Sunday, he had just come to visit us on the Saturday, the day before, as he moved out about two months ago and has been coming home to pick up odd and ends.  Obviously he was contagious, but when he came in the house we all wore masks.  He did have something to eat, just on his own, but we stayed at a distance and he didn't stay a long while, later going out to the garage to pick up different tools.

Rob phoned on Sunday to let us know, as he was concerned for us.  He was not able to get a test until the following Wednesday, when he was feeling much better.  I'm sure the wearing of masks saved us from getting ill, we never caught it.

As an older gentlemen in the Dakotas said it attacks your weak spot and of course when you're older you have a lot more to attack.  But still young people are dying, one must keep vigilant.  So really from our own experience we feel the wearing of a mask helps.  

Take care,



Saturday, November 14, 2020

Take Time to Daydream - A Weekend of Daydreaming

 Hi Dear Folk,

How has your week been?

I've been thinking about daydreaming.  It's something one needs to do.  I heard that your mind is actually filing when you daydream, just as at night when you sleep and dream.  One could say the word "daydream" is quite appropriate.

With all that's going on around us in the world, I don't know about you, but I feel my mind is under constant assault.  It's tired of sorting all the clutter of lies and rhetoric.  So I'm giving myself license to just daydream.  A weekend of daydreaming.  Clear the clutter of the mind.

Sit and file the paperwork.  Some will go up in the attic, it means something to me, but not right now, to be reviewed again in a different light.  Maybe it will be kept, maybe at a later point thrown out.  One can't dictate what the mind keeps or throws out, that's the funny thing about the mind.  But maybe a little daydreaming will clear the decks for now.  I like my mind, it just works away in the background, silently sorting.

All the files have keys.  What key is found at what moment, to open what filing cabinet, is again not dictated  to but happens naturally.  One day you hear a sound and it brings back a memory from long ago.  A certain smell, a certain scene, a certain friend.  All these trigger the brain to go routing around and come out with a snippet of memory.  

Give your mind the time.

Have a Weekend of Daydreaming.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Tale About A Clock and FBM

 Hi Dear Folk,

I am taking a cosmopolitan respite or my neurons will go into meltdown.  So I'm going to tell you a tale about a clock and FBM (Facebook Marketplace.)  

Once upon a time a lady saw a very pretty clock on FBM and decided that it might be a nice addition to her clock collection that had languished for many a year.  A price was negotiated and an agreed price set.  The clock in question that caught her attention was a Citizen clock, a good make, battery run but quite eye catching.  See said clock in question.

Pendulum, etched glass and quite appealing.

I could see that the person selling the clock was quite young, early twenties and I thought maybe she was selling it for her grandfather, possibly it had been a retirement clock, it seemed the type of clock you'd receive as a retirement clock, in the day.

We get the address give a time of arrival, I Google the address, I know it's in a pretty upscale area, Mr. B. drives and off we go, said cash in pocketbook (handbag.)  It's almost an hours drive but with the help of that wonderful technology GPS we find it quite easily.  Not a big thing these days, it's an event to go out.

Sharp little turn into the drive out in the country, but with houses around.  Typical old Pennsylvania stone house, with a big deep front porch.  Some barn buildings at the end of the drive and just a very nice house.  We go up on the porch and I see a package about the right size, but it turns out to be an old pair of sneakers in a box.  Nothing on the porch.  In this time of Covid, most things are contactless pickup and leave the money under the doormat.  

I walk up onto the porch and knock on the front door.  Big old heavy door knocker, where you know you will be heard.  A few minutes go by and a man comes to the door, he looks at me like who in the earth are you?  I said the address and the name of the contact person and he said, "Yes that's right." I said "I'm here to pick the clock up."

He turns shuts the door and I'm left standing there, wandering what to do.  A few minutes later a lady comes to the door, the man and woman were approximately both in their mid fifties and I guessed were probably the girl's parents.  She has the clock in her hands, hands me the clock, not packaged or anything, I give her the cash, she closes the door.

Mr. B. had been standing on the path between the front door and the car.  He said well we need to take the pendulum off and that's when I notice the clock had not been running because it was set to the same time as the photos on FBM, so I thought let me check the batteries and they were absolutely corroded, so I knew the clock had not been running for a while.

We got in the car and I said to Mr. B.  I don't want the clock if it's not running, because the girl said it had been running.  I get out of the car with the clock, knock on the front door, Bang, Bang, Bang, it was a very rewarding door knocker.  The man comes to the door again.  I say, the batteries are all corroded and I would like my money back please.  He takes the clock, shuts the door and I am left there for an age.  Back comes the woman with my money and the clock.

"Here," she says "Take the money and take the clock."  I said no "I just want the money."  She said you wanted the clock didn't you?"  I said "Yes"  "Then take the clock, I don't want the clock, take the clock."  So I took the clock.

It was all most bizarre, I was trying to work out a number of scenarios as to how the daughter came to be selling the clock, which I feel was her parent's clock.  None of them were a totally satisfying answer.  

When we got home Mr. B. took out the old batteries cleaned the area and put in new batteries and it's been running like a top ever since and I do like it.

Unbelievably the clock is still up for sale on FBM, they have never taken it off.  I never sent any messages to the girl, she never sent any to me and that's where I left it, the least said the better.

And that's my peculiar tale.

I have another FBM tale, but it is not to do with the purchase just the journey.

My concluding remarks to you all are breath deeply, have a lovely cup of tea and stay calm, as we Brits say.


PS:  Thank you for all the lovely comments left about my Mum's cookbook.  I will be revisiting that.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

My Mum's Old Cookbook, Farmhouse Fare, 1963 Edition.

Hi Dear Folk,

Another wet and windy day, although yesterday was sunny but chilly.  Mr. B. did get out to do some more painting.  It was in the fifties and you can still outdoor paint at that temperature, so we're pushing on.  It seems we're going to have a hard job matching the colour.  As I bought the paint a year ago from Sears when they were closing up their hardware store, and although it's a good outdoor paint the color is much more of a yellow cream than I wanted, but I'm not going to waste it.  I honestly think it has yellowed over time, the colour of my shed which I painted last year with this paint looks just the right colour cream.  Of course he may not have mixed the second two cans the same as the first, as he did have to play around with them a bit.  I just think all the upper floor will be a slightly different colour, but you know I'm not going to worry.  

I wanted to share with you my mum's old Farmhouse Fare Cookbook.  You can still buy an updated version of this on Ebay or other platforms.  Of course it has a different cover.  My mum basically had two go to cookbooks.  One was a cookbook that I think came with an old gas stove and this one from 1963.  My sister BB gave it to me when I was there two years ago.  So I got this book and BB kept the other one.

This book was first published before Christmas in 1935, they are a collection of recipes collected by the Farmer's Weekly and these must have been gathered all throughout the Commonwealth.  It was very popular and grew in size as later editions were published.

I've been looking through at her marked recipes and thought I'd share her tried and true recipes with you.  Starting at her first ticked recipe.

 Which is:-

Onion Quiche

Line a sandwich tin with short-crust pastry.  Make a filling as follows:-

Make 3/4 pint thick white sauce, add a cupful of chopped boiled onions, 2 tablespoons of grated cheese, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley.  Season well.

Garnish with slices of tomato and a little grated cheese.

Bake 1/2 hour in a moderate oven.  It can be made beforehand and warmed up when required.

From Mrs. Willis, Salop

I make a quiche with milk and eggs, so it's interesting that the base of this is a white sauce.

Old recipes assume that you have a certain amount of cooking knowledge, such as how to make a white sauce.  I just was reading a blogger from France who is American and he said French recipes are not set out like American recipes, many can be just one long continuous paragraph.  As many of these are.

I love it that it tells you the name of the person who contributed and where they lived.  I didn't recognize Salop but it seems that Salop is an old name for Shropshire.

Salop is an old name for Shropshire, historically used as an abbreviated form for post or telegrams, it is thought to derive from the Anglo-French "Salopesberia". It is normally replaced by the more contemporary "Shrops" although Shropshire residents are still referred to as "Salopians".

I think I'll have fun in visiting all the recipes mum made and many of which I remember eating.  I'll have to have a go at some of them and try some new ones in the book.

I hope you enjoy them too, and travel on this little journey with me.  A journey though Mum's Cookbook.  We can't do much else travel wise.

Keep safe,

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Driech Day and Pandemic Life

 Hi Dear Folk,

Cup of tea and raisin and lemon scones on a driech day.  Along with mascarpone cheese, which I think tastes most like clotted cream here in the USA, unless you want to go to a specialty store and my cherry conserve.  It is so tasty and apart from having to take out all the stones is very easy to make.

Long time no see.  It's pouring with rain today and is meant to tomorrow, I think it's the remains of hurricane Zeta that hit New Orleans.  It's been a busy day already and it's only noon.  We are eight months into this pandemic and as a couple of retired people, well I was and Mr. B. lost a contract at the beginning of the year before COVID hit and then lost his second job when COVID hit and did not return because he had too much contact with the public.  So eight months of both being home and I don't know where the time goes.

We had planned a trip to Maine in September but cancelled that, so here we are.  In September we started in earnest on getting some outside work done on the house.  Painting which we have done, and contractors will be here next week to cover some of the top soffit and roof rakes.

It's been a lot of work, but I do feel some kind of accomplishment that at sixty-six years old I can still climb up a ladder, I painted a lot of our sunroom exterior, Mr.B. did the prep work, I hate prep work, sanding and cleaning.  We are working our way across the front of the house.  Weather has been good to us up until now, and it may become too cold to paint.  Still I feel we have broken the back of it.  Our summers are just so hot and humid you almost seem on hold until the cooler summer days hit in September.

Our dear Tuppy died, our cat. We had been thinking of having her put to sleep as she was almost twenty years old and had some problems, but we were working with her medication and I cooked all her food for her.  She had always been an indoor and outdoor cat, but had taken to wandering and had become afraid of nothing, so unfortunately she was killed on the road in front of our house, our neighbor found her and picked her up for us so I didn't see it, which was very kind of him.  It's very hard to make that decision with a beloved pet.  We had spoken for a while about having her put to sleep.  With our other cat Tinkerbell she had a stroke so no decision there, it was the kindest thing to do.  In hindsight with Tuppy I think we should have had her put to sleep sooner, but Mr. B. disagrees, it's a hard call.  The Boy and the Mr. buried her together, in a corner area of our back garden, near my shed, where Baggy and Tinkerbell are buried.  There will only be three cats there as I'm not getting anymore pets, as much as I love a cat around.  All my cats seem to live to an old age.  Baggy was twenty and Tinkerbell my Himalayan was at least seventeen, I got her from the SPCA as a lost adult cat.  So I'm thinking that a cat at this point could actually outlive me.  Every time I open a tin of tuna fish or go out the back door, I think she'll be waiting there, it's so funny how the brain works.

Part of our spruce up of the house, is that Mr. B.  replaced two screens on the bedroom windows above the sunporch as Tuppy used to sprint up the pine tree, not when she was older, and would claw at the screens on Rob's bedroom windows to be let in.  And then as she got older she'd spy me in my Simla/sunroom and claw on the door screen there.  Obviously while she was still around we were not going to replace them.

This is rather a dry report of my life, but as long as you can keep mobile and ones brain is too, it's good.  Our Boy moved out a few weeks ago and just the aftermath of that is a chore.  I said to Mr. B. it's a good job he moved out now or I'd be too old to do the clean up.  He had the large bedroom which was used as a kind of audio room and TV room for him and his dad, so now we're making some changes.  The couch was listed on FBM (Facebook Marketplace) for free and went out the door the next day.  We also sold his bed on FBM, that went out the door today.  So now Mr. B. has moved his leather recliner to a central position for maximum surround sound experience, and it looks like grandpa's mission control, with all the left over cushions from the couch on it.  

We plan to move our bedroom back into the big bedroom and the medium bedroom will Mr. B's TV and audio room, of course lots of painting to do in both rooms.  So this quasi lock down thing has enabled us to focus on some much needed jobs around the house.

Some of Rob's things have left the basement, but not all.  Before he came back from college I had that basement all sorted and then he came back and stuff got dumped there, certain car work was done down there and hence was invaded and has never been the same since.  So I've been working on that and I'm still not done.

A lot of stuff is being listed on FBM.  You know the funny thing is you can never tell what will sell.  So I had fifteen plastic shoe boxes stacked, I washed them, listed them for $10, heck they only sell new for about a $1.  Do you know I had way over 200 views and at least 15 people contact me within one hour to buy them.  The thing is they could buy them on Amazon for not that much more.  All the antique furniture, that we collected in the eighties era ie. Eastlake style, clawfeet tables etc., you can't hardly give that stuff away.  But MCM (Mid Century Modern)  which of course The Boy wants for his place, well you had better be pretty quick to the draw on that.  It comes around and goes around, the thing is you have to live long enough to see it happen.

This morning the lady picked up the shoe boxes, then the bed went out the door.  Then a friend in our congregation delivered boxed food, all part of the feed America program, you know to keep the farmers working and paid, which of course they should be and I never say no because every little bit helps.  The one gallon of milk I received came all the way from Johnstown, PA.  All this while following COVID guidelines, it just makes ones head spin.

So then I felt a great need to bake, so I made raison scones and added lemon zest and juice which I'd had a hankering to do.  I used my tried and true recipe from here.  I'm looking forward to a nice pot of tea and a scone this afternoon, by the stove in my Simla Room where I hang out for now.

I have a bizarre if not funny story about a clock purchased on FBM, but will leave that for another time.  The trouble is the more you get on to sell, the more you see to buy, one needs to keep blinkers on and not to become side tracked.

As I said I don't know where the time goes, busy, busy, busy, even though I hardly leave the premises.  My creative endeavors have been on the back burner for a bit, just getting all this other stuff done.  But I have set the stage with the sorting and organizing of all my yarn stash, so I'm ready to go.

Have read some good books from the library, one of which I will give special mention to, The Convert, by Stefan Hertmans, probably I should do a review on that.  He's a Flemish author and a professor at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, in Ghent.

The Convert is based on a true account, which history only gives us the bare bones of and the author fleshes that out into a wonderful story, set in France, a thousand years ago, the time of the crusades.  I will leave it there for now, but will try and write a review.  If you like history and learning history while reading a good story, then you'll really like this.

Well will close for now friends.  Hope all is well for you.

Keep safe, Christine

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Everyone Should Have A Moleskine

 Hi Dear Folk,

Well I guess Blogger went and did it, now you cannot even revert back to the old interface.  First of all my labels are gone and I guess I'll have to enter them back in manually, why have they always got to try and fix what was not broken, really.   Blah! Blah! Blah!

Do you have a Moleskine? I have one, it's small, red, has a ribbon marker and a wrap around elastic, where I write down all sorts of odd things, statistics, meanings of words, crochet patterns, what makeup to buy after watching one of those You Tube videos on how to do your makeup when you're older, and so on and so forth. I thought I'd share with you a few of the random things written in my Moleskine.

Crochet Japanese Flower Pattern

The Face of Age

Job 26:14  Look!  These are just the fringes of his ways:  Only a faint whisper has been heard of him!  So who can understand his mighty thunder?

Average age of a woman in USA 78, Man 71

Road to Hani.  Waianapanapa State Park.  Black Beach

If invited to a good meal.  Do we send a thank you note saying "Dear pots and pans, spaghetti and meatballs.  No, so where does our praise and thank you go?"

King Ferry, NY.  A Wobbly Reisling is good.

Shalwar kameez, Indian tunic and trousers.  Dupatta, head scarf

It's a pity the Hun prefers fighting to fun - Noel Coward

I refuse to join a club that would have me as it's member - Grocho Marx

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right - Henry Ford

Daniel 5:24  Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin.  May have said mene twice to show the fall of both father and son - Nabonidus and Belshazzar.

Imposter - from the Latin impose

Gutsy Gorgeous.

People are as happy as they make up their minds to be - Abraham Lincoln

Learned behavior - 
1.  Identify the thought that produces negative thinking
2.  Talk back rationally
3.  Short circuit thought
4.  Consciously replace bad thought

Miss Grief, cost $15.99 left out in the rain.  Pay the library.

Evolution - Irreducible complexity, cannot come about in a gradual manner, useless unless all in place.

PNES Psychogenic seizures.  Stress, Anxiety, trauma, depression.
NES Nonpilectic seizures.  

Progress and Poverty by Henry George

To give birth in Italian, to give to the light.  Clare alla luce.

Longly School of Music Project, BC, Canada.  1978  Kids singing, Hans Fenger, teacher, recorded his students.

Evil in the absence of empathy.

Irish Gaelic - Senility - duino le dia.  A person of God.

Lord Vestey, who's estate was just down the road from where I grew up, owned huge holdings of land in Australia.  Who knew.

Life is freedom, dying is a denial of freedom.  Vasily Grossman

Seersuckeer, from the Persian, milk and sugar

Crochet, Bonni Lass Capelet

Tour of British Museum, 2 Kings 10:31 -32 Assyrian King Shalmanezar III, 2nd panel, man bowing, Jehu son of Israel.

Mosquito yard spray

Old age like being increasingly penalized for a crime you never committed.

Herd Immunity, 60% of world 4.7 billion people out of 8 billion would need vacination.  Have only ever made 100s of millions of vaccinations, over decades of time.

Russia's economy the size of Texas.

COVID in USA has killed twice as many people as have been killed in the Korean War and all the wars that American has been in since then.

Abrunt, one whose behavior departs substantially from the norm of a group.

Regiments No 166409 N Somerset Yeoman, private Henry Reginald Sansom

The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk

Passing of time should not be detrimental to the solving of crime.

French say, not a cat in sight - pas un amerce de chat

Fibula - Latin, means to fasten.  Tunisian Berber Fibula

Object Trouve - A natural or discarded object found by chance and held to have aesthetic value.

Rising tide carries all ships.  When things go up all rise.

Love makes the world go round, hatred stops it dead in it's tracks.

Just a cross section of my Molskine.  Now you have a cross section of my brain under the microscope.

Take care, Christine

PS I found my labels, hurrah!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Oppermanns by Lion Feuchtwanger

Hi Dear Folk,

I read a book I wanted to review and share with you, it was pertinent in it's time and I would say today too.

The Oppermanns written by Lion Feuchtwanger and published in Amsterdam in 1933 and the edition I have was published in 1934 by The Viking Press, in the USA.  As I've often said love my local library, but I have to say it was brought to my attention by Persephone Books, as one of their newer releases.

It is set in 1932 Germany, current at the time, and is the story of a German Jewish family who own a furniture store, founded in the late 1800s, by their grandfather Immanuel Oppermann, and their coming to terms with National Socialism and all that that will mean for them.  Lion Feuchtwanger saw the writing on the wall, but did not have the skills to decipher it, no powers of prophecy.  Who could have foreseen? And thus makes it even more poignant.  Nationalists, even the name sounds benign but it and they were not.

Goethe:  "There is nothing the rabble fear more than Intelligence.  If they understand what is truly terrifying, they would fear ignorance."

I will set down the characters as it is hard to get a handle on who's who.

The Siblings:-

Gustav Oppermann - Batchelor, fifty years old, a minor literary scholar and writing a biography of Lessing, living in a beautiful house in a lovely suburb of Berlin.  The eldest.

Martin Oppermann - Running the family furniture business from which they all receive an income.

Edgar Oppermann - A world renowned doctor, who came up with a special procedure for throat surgery.

Klara Lavendel - Married

Souses and Children:-

Lisolette Oppermann - Martin's wife, who is a Christian, son Bethold (Baruch) seventeen years old.

Gina Oppermann  - Edgar's wife.  Ruth their daughter is a Zionist and wants to move to Palestine.

Jacques Lavendel - Klara's husband, a Jew, born in an Eastern European country, but has lived in and holds an American citizenship, as does his wife and son Heinrich.


Sybil Rauch - Mistress of Gustav

The story opens on the day of his fiftieth birthday, Gustav in his home, reminiscing on the beauty of his house, where he lives and how well he looks for his age; he has an indolent, self-absorbed existence.  About twenty guests gather together in the evening at his house for a birthday party, the talk is of politics.

"Here in the charming rooms of Gustav Oppermann, people were not inclined to concede that a thing as imbecile as the Nationalist movement had a chance."

"The paltry varnish of logic is being scraped away."  Says Freidrich Wilhelm Gutwetter an aryan literary critic and writer.

Frau Emilee Francoise, nicknamed Little Thundercloud is the wife of Rector Alfred Francoise, headmaster of a boys school, which Berthold Oppermann attends.  They were originally from France.

"He always believed everything was all right as long as one could prove one's statements.  If she tried to explain to him that accuracy meant nothing ..."

Jacques Lavendel:-

"Why, in the devil's name, had so many French aristocrats been so asinine as to be caught in the Revolution, whereas any schoolboy nowadays knows that the writings of Rouseau and Voltaire, decades earlier, had indicated precisely what would happen."

Winds are changing everywhere and at the hospital where Dr. Edgar Opperman works along with his faithful Nurse Helene and his protege Dr Jacoby, who looks very Semitic.  He believes:-

"He was a German doctor, a German scientist.  German science and Jewish science did not exist, the only thing that existed was Science."

Rector Francoise has had to accept Master Bernd Vogelsong, from Bavaria who is a Nationalist.  He finds it hard to listen to his speech, as it is a low German and even harder to listen to his rhetoric.

"The bombastic German, the ranting, mass-meeting oratory made him physically uncomfortable. ... The worst of it was that he sincerely believed the gibberish he was talking.  Due to an inferiority complex, he had encased himself in an armor of the cheapest nationalism, ..."

Vogelsong quotes Hitler to Francoise:-

"He had made a mistake.  He ought not to have quoted the Leader's book to this misguided man.  It was unfortunately only too true.  Rector Francoise was right in a certain sense.  The greatest living German, the leader of the German movement, was not familiar with the rudiments of the German language."

I found this most interesting that Hitler, who of course was born in Austria, did not speak and have a grasp of higher German.

Professor Mülheim, the family lawyer urges Gustav to invest some money outside of Germany.

"He had been urging Gustav for years to invest his capital abroad.  The outlook in Germany was becoming steadily more threatening.  Would he not be a madman who should  continue to sit in a train, the staff of which showed unmistakable signs of madness?"

"... Gustav agreed with Goethe, who preferred to put up with injustice rather than lawlessness."

Bertold Oppermann's form teacher was Master Vogelsong, his previous form master, who had died suddenly; had asked him to prepare a lecture for the class, a lot of work had gone into this.  He asks Vogelsong if he may give the lecture, but Vogelsong does not like the theme title and gives him an option to write a lecture on the life of Arminius.  A character held in high esteem by the Nationalists as a true aryan hero, who fought against the Romans.  Bertold gives the lecture the way he has been taught pros and cons as to character and outcome.  Vogelsong can only take the pros, no cons must be said about this hero.  He goes into a rage, he considers the Jewish boy, not just a problem in class, but a problem in the school.  He must apologize.  Berthold does not see it that way he was just presenting Arminius in the way he had been taught.

Rector Francoise must set this right, he sits on it for a while, he agrees with Bertold, but as Little Thundercloud points out to him this could mean his job.  He agrees to ask Gustav to intervene and say something to the family about this.

"It could only be hoped that the irritating new teacher who they had planted in his beloved institution, like a potato in a tulip field, would not spoil things too much.  And then he related the Vogelsong affair." 

"On the 30th January, the President of the Republic appointed the author of the book entitled My Battle to the post of German Chancellor."

That was in 1933.

Things are not looking well for Oppermann's Furniture Stores and it is decided very quickly to change their name to the German Furniture Company.  This had been discussed previously but now they see the necessity of changing their name and taking on Herr Heinrich Wels a competitor; who's grandfather had established his furniture company at a similar time to which their grandfather had established theirs.  In fact Wels had made previous offers to come in, but they had always turned him down, but now as a Nationalist, it would be good to have him on board.  Herr Wels has the upper hand, they no longer do.

Martin speaking to Herr Brieger, Herr Hintze who help run Oppermann's Furniture company, along with Jacques.

".... Do you believe that, because a few thousand young, armed ruffians roam about in the streets, there is an end of Germany?"  

"There are no pogroms in Germany nowadays."

Back at the hospital Nurse Helene is trying to warn Dr. Oppermann of what could happen at the hospital.

"In the hospitals, in the University, on all sides, medical men without ability were seeing signs of hope.  An era was beginning in which the requisites were no longer talent and accomplishment but the ostensible consanguinity to a certain race."

"On one of the following afternoons it so happened that a patient of the third class, which was treated gratis, was caught smoking a cigar contrary to strict instructions."

The nurse told him to put it out, he would not do so, so she called in Dr Jacoby.

"The sight of the Jew made the man raving mad."

Dr Jacoby:-

"He had nothing to offer the shouting, rebellious ward but the arguments of reason, the least suitable of all sedatives."

Herr Markus Wolfsohn is a shop floor salesman at the furniture store.  His brother in law Moritz Ehrenreich has booked passage to Palestine.

"Perhaps his brother-in-law Moritz Ehrenreich was right in clearing out now as he was doing.  Yes, they had got to that point now:  Moritz Ehrenreich was due to sail for Palestine on 3rd of March, from the French  port of Marseilles, on the steamer Mariette Pacha."

Herr Rudiger Zarnke lives next door in the same two-hundred and seventy apartment building to Herr Wolfsohn.  He would like Herr Wolfsohn's apartment for a relative.  It isn't fair that Oppermann's has a special block deal on a number of the apartments especially for their employees.

"In booming tones, impossible to ignore, he would tell his wife how the Nationalists, the moment they took over the reins of government on the fifth of March, would make mince-meat of the Jews."

Herr Wolfsohn:-

"Yes, it was all over with his snug security in the beloved flats in Friedrich Karl Strasse."

Berthold has been in a turmoil over his speech and the thought of apologizing to Vogelsong.  He decides to visit his uncle Joachim Ranzov, his mother's brother who holds a high position as a Commissioner.

Berthold says:-

"Must I now go and confess that I am a bad German because I spoke the truth?"

Muhlheim entreating Gustav to leave Germany:-

"What nonsense!  Because the Reichstag was on fire, he, Gustav, would have to leave Berlin."

Gustave decides to travel to Bern, Switzerland.  He is given a bundle of papers to read from a man who introduces himself as Dr. Bilfinger this man has documented atrocities in Germany, he reads it.

"The aged President had handed the Reich over to them in good order.  They had ruthlessly broken their solemn pledges, trampled law underfoot, and submitted caprice, disorder, and brutality for civilization and order.  Germany had become a madhouse in which the patients had overpowered their warders.  Did the world realize this?  What was he going to do about all this?"

In this passage I wonder whether the writer Lion Feuchtwanger had a spark of hope, but I think not.

"Very many people had left Germany but very many more had remained.  The Nationalists could not kill or imprison all their adversaries, for their adversaries comprised two-thirds of the population."

Bernd Vogelsang is appointed as Minister of Education.  A former student of his Werner Rittersteg a tall blond nicknamed Long Lummox, of no great intelligence, takes it upon himself to stab a journalist Richard Karper for printing the truth.  He does it to attract the attention of Heinrich Lavendel, a great football player at school, who he has silently hero worshipped for a long time, the cousin of Berthold.  He Rittersteg gets of scot-free.

Did they intend to entangle a young hero in the maze of stupid rules, to impede his career, his activity on behalf of New Germany, merely because his scholarship had not stood the hazards of an examination?"

Rector Francoise stands up to Vogelsong, he knows he will lose his position.  His wife is pragmatic.

"These comforting words did Francoise good.  He had always known that Socrates must have had some good reason for marrying Xanthippe."

"Jacques Lavendel informed Friedrich Pfanz, the head of the Department of Economics, that he proposed to leave Germany and that he would liquidate his German business interests."

A turn of events with Herr Zarnke, who has become disillusioned with unfulfilled promises.  He listens and agrees with his little troop, not turning them in for subversive speech.

"Such rebellious views were gaining more and more control over the simple soul of storm-troop-leader Rudger Zarnke."

The Oppermann family are together at the Lavendel's house in Switzerland.  They are celebrating Passover. Enjoying each other's company and using all the old utensils dedicated to the celebration, reading the Haggadah.

"They wanted to sterilize all Jews, as well as the Socialists and the intellectual classes.  Nationalists only were to be allowed to propagate, there would be no one left to spoil their power."

"In Nationalist Germany there was no worse crime than the profession of reason, peace, and honorable sentiments."

"Unemployment figures rose to staggering heights.  Germany's percentage of unemployed became the highest in the world.  But the stiff-necked Nationalist declared that they had reduced unemployment.

Lies, profiteering, and selfish indulgence went hand in hand.  Anyone who belonged to the party in power could have his competitor spirited away to a concentration camp."

The story by no means ends here, the ending is quite incongruous.  I think it had to be, because it was published in 1933 and at that time it had taken National Socialism fourteen years to rise to power, and only at the beginning of their government control of Germany.  So how could Lion Feuchtwanger actually end his story.  The Third Reich did not come to an end until 8th May, 1945.

I hope my humble review of The Oppermanns has moved you to read this book.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Mazda Miata Engine Swap, Honda K Motor

Dear Folk,

The Boys creation.  My, he has put some work into this.  Last thing was adding a roll bar, which made mum and dad happy.  He has a clutch problem to sort, but I know he will.  He is totally self taught.  Long conversations with his dad and I do wish his grandfather had known him, coming from that aircraft engineer background.

He added the front bump to cover the bigger engine.

All the dash-board and door panels have been covered in kid leather, he did all that.

New Honda engine.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

In the Fog as to what is a Blog, Vlog, Podcast, Video Podcast

Hi Dear Folk,

Thank you for all those who left comments on this subject in my previous post.  As always I love to hear everyones comments.  Thank you for taking the time.

So on doing a little further research I think this is the best definition I can come up with.

So we all know what a Blog is because we are doing it here.

A Vlog I have concluded is like a diary only as a video log of daily things, also can be weekly, or monthly.  Everything you want to record that's happening in your life.  Your Blog in Video.

Podcast is just audio.

The Video Podcast is different.  It is like a podcast; which is audio, but with video too.  The major difference I think is that of having a theme, and can include guests.  Also another key is, that it provides some information for the audience.  So content informative.

I have come to the conclusion that what I have been watching are Video Podcasts, but they just refer to them as Podcasts.

Glad I've got that straight, in my mind.  Do hate to be in the fog.

Take care, have a great weekend.


P.S.  If you disagree with that or want to add to that please leave a comment.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Technical Question - Podcast or Vlog?

Hi Dear Folk,

I have a technical question to ask.  I showed my son a You Tube video of a person I subscribe to on You Tube and said how much I like the way she presents her podcasts.  In fact in the title it calls the program a podcast.

Now my son said strictly speaking that is not a Podcast but a Vlog because it is visual and audio, podcasts are only audio.  But I have noticed that a number of people on You Tube, call it and have it in their very title that it is a podcast.

So what is the consensus?  Is it strictly speaking as my son says a Vlog, or is it a Podcast or can one loosely call it a podcast, or does it matter?

My son majored in photography, film and visual media, so I feel technically he is right.  But if the majority of people call it a podcast then by doing so that becomes the predominant way of referring to such a media.

For example in the UK we never say I'm going to Vacuum the house, we say I'm going to Hoover the house.  If one was being truly technical Vacuum would be the correct terminology.

So this is my conundrum of word usage.  Please give me your input.  I would like your thoughts.

Thank you,

Thursday, August 13, 2020

I. D. Stamper, Appalachian Music

Hi Dear Folk,

I've been thinking of America and it's immigrant folk, who they are and what they've bought with them adding to the diversity.  I'm an immigrant and everyone here is except for the Native American Tribes and what a diversity of language and culture they have.

I've also been thinking of music on Podcasts and Vlogs, which led me down the rabbit hole of remembering I had an old cassette tape recording of Kentucky Appalachian music.  The recording had been given to me in the late eighties.  So last night I routed through a number of drawers and eventually came up with it.

How did I come to have this, well in the late eighties I went to eastern Kentucky as a volunteer with some friends  and stayed with a local family the Stamper's.  He was the son of I. D. Stamper.

Isaac "I.D." Stamper was born in Arkansas, but raised in Letcher County, Kentucky, where he lived until his death in 1986.  He worked nearly forty years in the mines until he left the "bad air" for a safer and better paying job as a maintenance man in a Louisville children's hospital.

The harmonica was his first instrument, followed quickly by the banjo, guitar and fiddle.  I.D. and his brothers had a band that played at many of the local dances.  Which reminds me of my grandfather from the thirties in the Hedingham area of Essex, he also had a band and played guitar and banjo, playing at local dances and events.

The legendary Uncle Ed Thomas, was his mother's uncle, the roving dulcimer builder and player, that struck his fancy to the instrument that was to become his hallmark.  It wasn't until the 1940's that I.D. finally put together his first dulcimer, from a butternut log his father brought in for firewood.  His first instrument was fashioned after his recollection of Uncle Ed's design, but, by his own admission, "improved on it."  I.D. Stamper constructed over 500 instruments during his lifetime with buyers from California to England.

I.D.  had a brief career in his retirement, playing at Folk Festivals, Folklife events at National Parks  and dances until he was cut short by Parkinson's disease as was my father.

I ran across this and I think you'll enjoy listening to his music.  His blend of white dance music and black blues, offers the only blues dulcimer music most people have ever heard.  His rarely-heard versions of "Darlin Corey," "Lost John," and "Little Pink" act as a musical milestone, to a time and a life that you can only read about.

He only made one album recording and this was "Red Wing"  I think you will enjoy listening to his music.  What a wonderful rich heritage from Eastern Kentucky, many songs derive from English, Scottish and Irish ballads brought over with these immigrants, such as "Pretty Polly."

I enjoyed my time there and remember I was told to never pull in front of a loaded coal truck coming down the mountain.  Now over thirty years later you probably wouldn't see a loaded coal truck, the coal industry was on the wain even then.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Katherine Mansfield

Hi Dear Folk,

I often listen to BBC Radio 4.  This week they are running a reading of five of Katherine Mansfield's short stories.

  • The Stranger
  • Miss Brill
  • A Cup of Tea
  • Poison
  • The Doll's House

She is a brilliant Short Story writer and well worth reading, I love Miss Brill.

Katherine Mansfield was brought up in New Zealand; which I've always felt an affinity with, because my great grandmothers half siblings, Mary and James, who my great grandma was very close with emigrated to New Zealand the year before WWI.

A regular correspondence was kept up with them.  In fact after my grandfather died 1938 of Polio, and grandma was left a widow with four children, they invited her to migrate to New Zealand after WWII and I often wonder what that would have meant for the family had my grandmother taken them up on that.  I honestly think she personally would have had an easier life, rather than staying on in post war England.  But I digress.  Click on my New Zealand label on side bar to see some old family photos taken in New Zealand.

Katherine Mansfield 1888-1923 did not have an easy life and eventually died of tuberculosis.  She had many contemporaries and was friends with such people as Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence and Elizabeth Von Arnim was a cousin.

As with many New Zealand writers she made the trek and relocated to London, on a more permanent basis in 1908, she had lived there before from age 14 to 17 as a boarder at Queen's College, Harley Street.

After her diagnoses she often lived abroad on the Continent, one place being the Montana region of Switzerland where she wrote many short stories.  The Montana Stories published by Persephone Books contains her short stories from July 1921 to her death in France, January 1923.

I ran across this lovely link to the Katherine Mansfield Society where you can read her stories.

Off down the rabbit hole now.


P.S. A quote from Virginia Woolf

"...then Morgan Forster said the Prelude and The Voyage Out were the best novels of their time, and I said damn Katherine! Why can't I be the only woman who knows how to write."  Virginia Woolf writing to Katherine Mansfield, 13 February 1921

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ants !!!

Hi Dear Folk,

Well it's been a long time.  I'm just going to blame Instagram, fulfiller of the quick fix need.  But maybe I'm in more of a longer contemplative mood today.

I have been waging war with tiny ants in my kitchen.  We are loath to spray but these troop brigades are relentless, their sorties ongoing.  It has made me super vigilant even a crumb of food left anywhere brings out a long trail of workers.  You have to admire them.  Cat food left on the ground for any longer than it takes Tuppy to eat it is an absolute no, no.  They also seem to like water and I will find a number in and out of the kitchen sink.  It's driving me crazy.

We think we've found where they are coming in and obviously we will have to put something down out there, because the war is full on.  Of course maybe it's hypersensitivity during lockdown madness.

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."  The summer that was, but was not and for some it never will be again.  So I keep that in mind and stay close to home, which is basically pottering around in my garden.

Will one ever need to buy another piece of clothing?   And I'm certainly not bothering to dye my hair, I have not done so since last February.  I'm going to go with the gray trend , well it's certainly easier and who really sees you, except for Zoom Meetings.

I had planned to visit my sister in England, but of course early on I knew that was all off.  In anywise who's going to let anybody out of America when we are 22% of the cases of Covid in the world.  We are now locked in, we can't go out to play, just like the naughty children we are here in the USA.  Unless we change our behavior we're never be let out.

So what keeps you sane and happy?  I do like my garden and my crochet.  Reading a book under my giant oak tree can be quite satisfying.

I think compared to so many in this giant land I am most fortunate and count my blessings, when so many others are not doing well.

Take care, keep safe.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

I Think This Says It All, Niagara Falls, Maids of The Mist

Hi Folk.

Hope you are all keeping well and safe this summer.

I'm viewing this time as stepping back and smelling the flowers.

Take care,

Monday, June 29, 2020

Day What?

Hi Dear Folk,

We are on day 96 of this pseudo lockdown state.  We are back to green but with the use of masks strongly suggested, which of course we adhere to.  I take a one time look at the data every day.  Mr. B. was called back to work, but we made the choice not to do so, we are both in that higher risk age group.  We follow the statistics to see if in our area since opening up, is it still tailing down, staying level or going up.  The truth is it is beginning to rise mildly, and we're in a North Eastern State, not a Southern State where it seems out of control.  We want it to go down for all, and then Mr. B. will go back to work.

If you look at the scenarios that they run, projections of how many people will get Covid, how many people will die and they run this with are people wearing masks or are people not wearing masks, and the truth is if you wear a mask less people will die.  Doesn't seem a hard choice, it's like wearing a seatbelt.  Less people die in an accident if they wear a seatbelt, it is mandatory, it safes lives.

I have been able to connect on a regular bases with my aunt Joan and it has been so good, such fun and she is a wealth of information, things my mother never told us.  One story was this, she said she still has a guilty conscience over.  She was staying with my mum, aunt Joan is the younger sister by five years, I was a little girl and a huge spider was on the staircase, they were both scared of it.  I had a little toy dust pan and brush and they sent me up to scoop and brush the spider into my pan, of course, it ran, I ran and they ran, when they came back it had disappeared.  They were naughty sisters, obviously the trauma could not had been too bad, because I do not remember.

This time has given me a lot of time to reflect on just all sorts of things, as I think it has many others. It's like being in the Eye of a Hurricane, total calmness but all sorts of cyclones are going on around you.

I have enjoyed my garden.  Mr. B got an extender for our Wi Fi router to reach the far end of the garden, down to my shed, and that has been great.  It has meant I can sit under the oak tree and be online if I desire to do so.  It was actually The Boy who suggested it, he wanted to be able to use his laptop and tune his new engine and for that he needed Wi Fi in the garage.  I ask the question, why we didn't think of doing this for ourselves, we probably benefit more from it.  But when the children ask, we jump, even now.

If you follow my Instagram you know that Rob has installed a new Honda K engine into his 1997 Miata.  He's pretty much ripped the whole car apart and put it back together.  That's kept him busy all winter he started I think about last October time.

It's truer than ever that you need to enjoy the day to day activities of life, live in the moment and make it the best you can.  Books are a great comfort and I found two lovely ones at Ollies, which is a discount store, buying out lots that don't sell elsewhere.  The Shepherd's View, by James Rebanks.  I instantly knew who it was because I had listened to him reading his book, The Shepherd's Life on BBC Radio 4 and was absolutely inthralled with it.  Lots of wonderful pictures of the Lake District Fell lands and the Herdwick sheep so suited to their environment.  Herdwick comes from the Nordic word Herdvyck which means sheep pasture and these sheep do have Nordic relatives.

I love their Heaf instinct passed down from generation to generation of sheep.  Fell famers have access to Common Land which has ancient grazing rights that go back for generations, in fact many back to the Doomsday Book.  The cottage I grew up in was very old and had grazing rights that went with our cottage, on the heath land, Patmore Heath in front of our house.  The newer built properties did not.  I remember that my mum and dad filed legal documents to make sure that this was passed down with the cottage and so did our neighbor.  Well it was a good job we did because a number of years later a whizz kid builder came along and tried to grab that Common Land to build on, plus he seemed to be in with the local authorities, but the locals were able to stop him, after a big fight.  Not only that Patmore Heath was a biological sight of specific scientific interest, but where money is concerned who cares.

Going back to Heaf instinct of these Herdwick sheep, they know exactly what is the pasturage that goes with their little farm on the fells, they do not wander off, even though there are no fences or outward signs of where one area of farm grazing rights starts and stops.  Thus a herd of Herdwick must be sold with the farm, poor things would become confused.

The other little gem I found, and tied in so well with what my sister and I had just been talking about was Chinese, Celtic and Ornamental Knots, by Suzen Milodot. My sister BB, said she had great grandmas, old wood bead necklace from WWI when the disabled soldiers came back from the war, I think it was the blind soldiers that made wood beads.  The beads needed restringing and to do that one would need to know how to knot between each bead.

I'm happy with the results of repainting a lot of our garden furniture, more to do but we've done a lot. Photos can be seen if you go to my Instagram account on the side bar.  I have a little ongoing project involving an old mirror, I'm hoping shabby chic but who knows.  It all happened because of a bit of a faux pas.  I had an old wood bathroom medicine cabinet, probably about 100 years old, I put it up for sale on Face Book Market Place and it didn't sell.  I had tried to fit it into my shed but it was too big.  I mentioned to the Mr. that maybe if we cut the front from the back I could use the mirror door, and then maybe the shelves inside separately.  He did this quiet promptly, of course didn't someone message me, and somehow I didn't get them until two days later, my lack of technology know how, and of course the deed was done, even though I had taken the post down.  So now I have to follow through, lots of sanding.

Another little joy was the small harvest off my cherry tree, from which I was able to make a number of jars of cherry conserve and a tasty cherry crumble.  An additional fun project has been the making of elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne, which reminds me I need some gin.  Both have turned out to be quite refreshing.

I can say for June the weather has been unbelievably delightful, blue skies, a breeze and more often than not low humidity, it does make this lockdown period more bearable, today is positively windy and my wind chimes under the oak tree are really chiming away.

We have been graced with no less than three bird nests in our garden, we have, a cardinal nesting right by our kitchen window, she seems to always face inward and you see her tail sticking out at the back.  I left that thorn bush just for the birds, because this would be the thorn bush that they made Jesus crown of thorns from, they are deadly and I've had many a nasty encounter with it.   What we do for the little dears.  The other two nests are gray catbird nests in our hedge.  I always think of birds nesting earlier than June, but I guess not, although cardinals have two lots of eggs one earlier March/April and the other later May/June.

My crochet has been sidelined a bit, although I do have a Harvest Shawlette on the go with a cake ball of yarn in variegated colours, its a lot of backwards and forwards, crocheting in the front loops and the back loops.  I think I will like the finished article.  Some more creative crochet is calling me, like the basket I covered in crochet and flowers.

Yesterday we took a picnic to the park, back to our favorite spot by the cabin, I love the wide open vista there.  A little reading, a little crochet and a little nap.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Well I'm not climbing Mount Everest or have found the code for a break through vaccine, but I am being a responsible citizen for humanity and my neighbors.

Take care, keep safe, be good.

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