Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu and the Spanish Influenza of 1918

I always thought that the Spanish Influenza started in Europe, but actually it started at Fort Riley, Kansas. Monday March 11th 1918 ce. Fort Riley held 26,000 men over 20,000 acres, with horses and mules, producing 9 tons of manure a month. The way to dispose of the manure was by burning it, not a great job in an area where a wind would whip up a dust storm. This is what happened on Saturday March 9th 1918 ce. The dust combined with the ash kicked up a stinking yellow haze. By Monday 100 men came down with flu.

In March 80,000 'dough boys were sent to Europe, followed in April by 118,000 to help bring WWI to an end. Little did they know that their travelling to Europe, with the virus would kill more people than their guns. Then when the war ended all these ones travelled home to the far flung corners of the globe. 675,000 died in the States alone and between 20 to 40 million world wide.

This PBS Show gave a lot of insight into the epidemic.

The Spanish Influenza started in the Spring as with this Swine Flu, and and it took young healthy adults.

Is the Swine Flu of today going to run a similar course?

We are at Code Phase 4, what does that mean?

I personally did not have any family who died of the Spanish Influenza, and of course today there are better drugs to help, but so many did loose family members.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Musing on Dorothy Whipple's Writings

OK I know I've written several reviews of her books. But I was thinking about a comment I read as to why she fell out of favour in the fifties. 'Someone at a Distance,' being her last book. Why did such a good writer fall out of favour?

From the books I've read, I think it's because her families are all Upstairs families and not really Downstairs families. Even the one's that fall on hard times, are upstairs families. There are downstairs characters in her books, but these are not the major characters in her stories, but supporting characters.

You could make the same comment about Jane Austin, but I think the distance of time, period setting and more of a romantic genera keeps her in vogue.

During WWII, many social classes worked side by side, as you can see when you read Housewife 49. People were not going to go back to the upstairs, downstairs mentality. They were not going to be called by their last name only, as servants were, when they had a perfectly good first name. Neither did they want to read about it, however well written. Yes the angry young man was now coming into vogue.

One thing that I did notice that came out very strongly in all of the books of DW that I have read so far. Is that women needed to have a sound education. It came out in 'Someone at a Distance,' when Ellen could only get a job as a live in house-keeper type position. She lamented that being a wife that's all she was trained to do.

In 'The Priory,' Christine has to take a position as an assistant in a London salon and cannot even pay her way in a rooming house, let alone have her little girl live with her. And promises herself that Angela shall have an education and never be put in the position she is in.

Greenbanks, Rachel is encouraged by an enlightened head mistress to strive for excellence in her education, and she wins a scholarship to Oxford, although her father does not let her take it.

DW addressed very valid family issues with beautiful language, and a deep understanding of character and thinking; which in review makes her writings timeless.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books and Mary Hallock Foote

Persephone's new website has just gone live, and is delightful for any book lover to browse. I was also reading about the founder Nicola Beauman, both here and here.

I was interested to read how they come across the books they publish. At Cup of Tea and Cake Jess was able to attend a talk given by Nicola Beauman, at The Suffolk Book League. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, was a favourite book of a customer's mother.

I must say I submitted an author which I very much enjoyed reading and will have to revisit. Mary Hallock Foote.

I was browsing through Ebay a few years ago looking for old poetry books, preferably with lovely illustrations and I came across Mabel Martin, by J. B. Whittier, Illustrated. So I bid on the book and won. More for the beautiful illustrations than the poetry. The book was in a tatty condition, but could not take away from the beauty of the illustrations.

Several years later I was looking through all the books Mary Hallock Foote had illustrated and of course Mabel Martin rang a bell. So I looked for it in my many book cases and yes here I had a book illustrated by her.

She led a very interesting life, traveling and living in many places out west. She grew up in the Hudson Valley and you always felt that she was a wanderer, estranged from her roots. Very often she kept the family afloat with her illustrations, which were published in books and magazines. She had a personal friend and agent who she would send them to back east.

Look her up and read her life story. I think you'll enjoy it.


St Michael's Mount Art Work

An old family friend gave this drawing to us of St Michael's Mount, Cornwall; which I wrote about in a previous post. DT was an architect and on holiday he would always sketch and paint. We have several of his drawings and water-colours.

One year we were on holiday in Devon and just ran into Doug and Maisie at the quayside, sketching, and Maisie always wrote poetry.

They met during WWII. They were at a dance together and Doug said I'll give you a lift home, and when Maisie got outside, there was his push bike and he rode her home on the handle bars. I've always loved that story because I can just imaging him doing that.

They are both dead, but live on on in God's memory and mine.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thrifty Finds

I was hoping that these might be diamonds, as I got them from the type of thrift shop that is run by very wealthy little old ladies, for the hospital, but knowing me, they're not, but pretty.
I never noticed until I took the macro photo, that the little center beads are missing their pearl finish, but I still like the broach.

I partake of a little Bailey's Irish Cream in this glass.

I already have some pink and brown Japanese plates, so will run these in with them.

Thrift shops are fun, because they allow you to purchase a little something in this economy, without spending a fortune. Plus you are recycling. Soon our local Hospital will have their twice a year yard sale. M and I go and have the greatest of fun.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Susan Boyle Brought My Husband to Tears.

Susan Boyle, I know she's been around the world and back, but it's worth sharing again.

Saint Michael's Mount & Mont Saint Michel

These are great little tartlets that I buy at Trader Joe's, from France.

The picture of Mont Saint Michel on the package brings back memories. Mont Saint Michel is in Brittany, the corresponding one to that is Saint Michael's Mount in Cornwall; which I visited as a child. It's an island when the tide is in and when the tide is out you can walk across a stone causeway to it. Originally it was a monastic abbey, but after the time of Henry VIII, became privately owned.

I have never had the opportunity to visit the one in Brittany, but hope to see it some day.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rob's Messenger Bag

In a previous post here I spoke about Rob getting a messenger bag in Malaga, Spain. This is what he chose.

When we were in Barcelona, he picked these up at a market at the bottom of Las Ramblas, two badges the Coca Cola Es La Musica, going with the Spanish theme and then The Beatles, a must have; which I think were nice choices. He added the two other badges when he got home.

Las Ramblas is a very wide street, with shops running along either side with a narrow road either side, a pavement and trees. Down the centre is this very wide pedestrian area, with all stalls running down the length of it. It's a great area to walk down and observe people and things.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Priory, by Dorothy Whipple, Book Review

The Priory by Dorothy Whipple is set on the cusp of WWII. The Priory around which the story revolves is the stately home of Major Marwood and has been in the family for generations, along with surrounding farms and farmland, which are gradually being sold off to keep the Major happy in his expensive hobby of cricket.

His daughters Christine and Penelope are entering into womanhood, still occupy the upstairs nursery, having the whole floor to themselves and liking it that way; their mother died when they were young, and they've pretty much been left to their own devices.

Into this comes Major Marwood's idea, that he maybe should remarry, someone who will take over the household and possibly guide his girls. So with the least effort he proposes to Anthea. Isn't he shocked when Anthea declares that she is pregnant with twins. But in his usual style he carries on with arranging for the annual summer cricket tournament. Aided by his trusted retainer, Thompson.

Anthea decides she needs a nurse and implores Nurse Pym, to aid her through the pregnancy. They become so attached that this becomes a permanent arrangement.

Thompson, who is a bit of a lad, but most handsome, and good at heart has got himself entangled with Bertha, who on seeing that she is about to be ditched for the young housemaid Bessy, who he really is in love with, says she's pregnant and he had best do the right thing by her; which he does. Only to find out it was a lie.

Bessy wants to leave but Anthea with the pregnancy wants her to stay and persuades her to do so. "In the end, she persuaded Bessy to stay. She meant to be kind."

The Major has invited an excellent player to join his team for the summer, Nicholas Ashwell, who comes from a wealthy industrial family, his father is Sir James a little blustery, and his mother Sarah, good people.

Christine and Nicholas fall in love and marry, but not all is rosy as young Mr. Ashwell, has never found his own path and made is own way in life. They have a child, a little girl, Angela. After things revealed Christine leaves him, taking Angela, and goes to live with her sister, who has also married, but not for love, to the ever faithful Paul.

What transpires to both of them in the mean time, makes them grow up and see things so much more clearly.

Saunby Priory is to be put up for sale. Christine is the one who truly loves the house. Sir James is the means by which all is fulfilled and brought to a happy conclusion for all.

In 'Somewhere at a Distance' money is the ruination of the family. In 'The Priory', money makes all things possible, an interesting contrast.

I found the beginning a tad slow and it took me a while to become in tune with the characters. By the time I got to the end I was enthralled by her wonderful fleshing out of characters.

This book was written and published in 1939, it brings out how the people of Britain and indeed Europe, were so hopeful that the Prime Minister would bring about peace with Hitler and Mussolini, and for a moment they were ecstatic in thinking that it had been achieved. Dorothy Whipple writes.

"Life had been given back to them and they were delirious with the gift. The immense wave of hope and goodwill that was sweeping over the world engulfed Red Lodge too. This was the time when miracles could have been accomplished, when if they could have come at each other, the peoples of Europe would have fallen on one another's necks like brothers and wrung one anothers hands with promises of peace."


P.S. 3 Stars ***

Monday, April 13, 2009

April Showers

Just back from a bike ride and Dear Boy was caught in an April shower.

His dad said go straight down to the basement and strip off and I'll get you a change of clothes.

Unfortunately Dear Boy put his clothes in the washing machine to wash, along with his IPOD. So no more IPOD, the ear phones work.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's On Your Desktop?

What is on your desktop?

This is on my desktop, looking forward to quiet space.

The Isle of Skye

After working on the taxes yesterday, aways a joy of joys, a task that is procrastinated on. This year more than others. Fed and State taxes are done, still have Local to do.

I wish I was there now, but my sister and I are planning for September.

Enjoy your weekend,


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kukuxumusu, A Flea Kiss in Euskara

Kukuxumusu. Where did I first run across this crazy name. Well we were on vacation last year, and visiting the town of Malaga in Spain, where Picasso was born. Dear Boy was looking for a messenger bag for school. As he would be starting High School in the September. He was going to buy one online in the States and I said wait until we go to Europe, you might find something really different.

We walked in a lovely leather bag shop and in there they had a messenger bag with a stylized bull on it, which has come to represent their trade mark. I thought it represented Spain so well, and the messenger bag was actually made in Spain. How good is that as most things world wide are made in China. But no it wasn't his style, however the name Kukuxumusu, just stuck in my mind.

So when the following Autumn I saw some of their notebooks made in Spain, at Barnes and Nobles, I couldn't resist buying one.

This is Kukuxumusu's Store (If my blogger would only work and put the link in, yes success CTR+SHIFT+A, thank goodness) For the longest while I've had no success with their link, by just clicking on it.

Read about their history, it's interesting, they started in Pamplona, Spain, where the bulls run each year, they just wanted to sell a few T-shirts and make a little beer money.

By the way as I said in the title Kukuxumusu, means A Flea Kiss in Basque, Euskara.


P.S. The boy did buy a messenger bag. A hessian fabric one that he really does like and he did buy it in Malaga.

Friday, April 10, 2009

To Welcome Spring, BBC Swiss Spaghetti Harvest 1957

This aired April 1st, 1957 on the BBC.
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax generated an enormous response. Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query the BBC diplomatically replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

A Helpful Guide to Cooking Terms

A new 1949 wife needs to know cooking terminology, so does a 2009 fifteen year old son. I think I'll let him watch this.

The kitchen in the first house we bought had the same cabinets as you will see and we had that stove.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old Shelving, Dorothy Whipple and Lucy M. Montgomery

That's, what the library calls their old book section, 'old shelving'. So I asked for all their Dorothy Whipple books and of course 'The Blue Castle' which as you know I have already read and done a book review on.
I think I've been a little over zealous in taking all these out at the same time, but who was to know they would have so many. I do like our library, I think it's the third largest in Pennsylvania.
Some of the original members of out town library, of which the library has their signatures, were also signers of the declaration of independence.
At the moment I'm reading 'The Priory' not so good I don't think as 'At A Distance', but still a good read.
I like this statement; which is how I think we all feel sometimes when we go somewhere, but we have a lot troubling us and we are just, I would say 'putting on a face.'
"But she felt that nothing that was said had any bearing on reality. She must talk, she must eat, she mustn't disturb anyone else in any way, but her thoughts ran in a dark current away from all this.
It was like paying a visit on a dark night to a house where there were lights, fires, friends, and that knowing sooner or later you would have to go out into the dark."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Persephone Catalogue

I urge you to order the Persephone Catalogue, they sent it from London to the States. Even if you didn't order a book, which you should, it is so cosy just to look at. Sit down with a cup of tea and browse through it.

The catalogue came along with this, their bi-annual magazine, also a cosy read.

Either I'm older than I feel I am, or we had a very old stove when I was a child, but the above picture was the stove we had, a gas stove, in our first house.
The graphics for the covers are especially appealing and well thought out.
I first ran across this book 'A London Child of the 1870's', by Molly Hughes, in the 90's, it was a discard from the library. If I remember correctly a Penguin publication re-released in the 70's. I just loved it and if Persephone had asked me for a book recommendation to be re-released I would have recommended, that book.

A few years ago I re-read the book. On doing research I realised it was part of a series of autobiographical books; which in the 30's had been published as one complete book. I turned to one of the greatest resources, E-Bay and found it, the first week I looked, $7.00, I was thrilled.

It goes through her childhood, everyday life. Living in rooms with her mum. Life in a Welsh village on visiting her fiance's mother. Just a delightful book.


P.S. So don't miss out, order the Persephone catalog.
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