Friday, March 29, 2013

Brook Evans by Susan Glaspell

The setting for Brook Evans is Normal, Illinois in 1888.  When I first picked the book up I thought it was going to be about a man, but Brook Evans is the daughter of Naomi Kellogg.

Naomi is in love with Joe Copeland who is the only son of a widow and works their farm which adjoins the Kellogg farm.  His mother thinks she's a cut above everyone else and nobody is good enough for her son, so secretly, Naomi and Joe meet under the willow tree near a Brook, hence the name Brook for their daughter.

"... her hand was on moss deeper and smoother than velvet, ..."

Resting in her bedroom which was always very special to Naomi, just thinking about Joe.

"The magazine lay under her hand, drowsily she thought of Italy, a land of romance.  The perfume of roses came in through her window, there was that good smell of drying hay - full clear song of the thrush.  The water of the brook - waters of Venice.  Ardent whispers, through the centuries.  She was close to Joe.  His eyes were loving her.  His voice whispered."

Unfortunately Joe dies unexpectedly when he is hit by the thrashing arms of his new combine harvester.  This is a tragedy not only for Naomi but the family an unwed mum.

"If you would and for my sake - stand a little disgrace?"  she asked timidly.  "Mostly it would be for just me. Then I would go away and make my living for my child.  O father, I would like that so much better."

"...and words Mrs Copeland and her father had used ... they were like rats."

 In comes Caleb Evans who has always liked Naomi and says he will marry her, even with the child.  They do so and move to Colorado farming country, east of the Rockies.

Caleb is very religious, he is good in his pious way, but Naomi never loved him and she never grows to love where she is, her only love is Brook and Brook is closer to her father not knowing that she is not his daughter.

Brook is invited to a dance by Tony Ross a  part Indian mostly Italian boy.  Her mum makes her a most beautiful dress in a pale yellow, Brook looks lovely in it.  Against her father's wishes with her mothers push she goes to the dance.

"This boy would not be riding to this love had there not been Joe, it was almost as if he were Joe, thus riding through the light sent down from Big Chief."

I think here Naomi equates Tony, of Italian heritage, with that long ago day of dreaming in her bedroom, of romance and Italy.

Joe, aided by Naomi, secretly courts Brook.

Caleb says:

"Turned from her he ventured:  "Well maybe you and Brook'll have a good time here together.  Kind of like a visit just you two."

Tears surprised her; even though he had not turned to her she turned back.  Words she so sorely needed - but could not accept from him."

Sylvia Waite is a missionary back for a while to visit with her mother before going off again, they all attend the same chapel.

"Outside she could hear Sylvia Waite's voice and Brook's acquiescence.  She moved nearer the dress twisted marked with tears.  She put her own hand upon it, as if seeking strength for what she had to do."

"Oh, there must be that little girl - sweet baby voice - not barren years with Caleb Evans."

While Caleb is away she knows that Tony is planning to ask Brook to elope with him, she approves of this, although Brook doesn't know she knows.  Brook leaves the house this will be the last time she sees her, as Tony is planning to take her to California and get married.  This is Naomi's sacrifice for her daughter's happiness.

"What would happen if every one were to give up what there was between what they were supposed to know and think, and what they really did know and think?"

There is a terrible twist in these events, which leads Brook to go off with Sylvia Waite on her missionary endeavors to Turkey, and her father signs the papers needed for her to leave the country.

The bitterness of this for Naomi, it is too much, she never sees her daughter again as she also has never returned home to see her family.

In Turkey Brook meets an English officer Bert Leonard and marries him, they have a son together Evan.  Time passes WWI comes and Bert is severely injured.  For a long while Brook nurses him, he dies and she decides to go and live in France.  Where she is courted by her husband's Colonel, Colonel Fowler, who all think she will marry.

Over the years her mother's family have written to her and she to them, they let her know that her aging father Caleb is living with them in Normal, her mother long since dead and will she come home to see him?

By chance at a party a friend is giving, she meets Eric Helge.

While in Paris:

"Ici!  she called rapping.  In this window was one dress.  Yellow you would call it, only it was more like light than like any color, unless it was like champagne ..."

Evan asks:

"For whom then?" he demanded."

"For my mother", she said, and he had never seen her face like this."

"Oh, you are lovely, Mother,"  her boy cried (Oh, you are lovely, darling!"  she heard the other voice, the voice she had not heard for twenty years."

Thus after all these years she understands, she is reconciled to her mother.

More happens, the book has an interesting ending it seems to come full circle.

I read half the book as it is divided by being marked as four books with chapters.  I read two and then put it down for a while, picked it up again with a fresh eye and thoroughly enjoyed it.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Sunday

The beastly Amending of the Taxes has been done, that was like a mountain in my mind.

This was my Sunday, some reading, some writing of letters using my new fine nib fountain pen and some Blogging.  Plus a little knitting on my loom.

I am enjoying reading The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens.  If you are in your fifties I think you will love this book.  Even though it is written in the fifties and the views are of those times, it is a great read, for a woman of a certain age.

Non of this, was poor, became rich, lives in high society, just a down to earth very real story.  A Persephone read, but mine again old shelving at the library, it had not been taken out for the last seven years.

I also rearranged my flowers, pulling out the dead ones and giving a bouquet of flowers a little extended life, isn't that what we all need?

And my little Shakespeare notebook is where I write my notes for my book reviews, I enjoy doing this.

Daffs in the garden just waiting to bloom, but it's been so cold and meant to snow again tomorrow, enough  Some years at this time we have been basking in eighty degree weather.

If Tuppy could only open that back door with the power of thought it would be swinging open off it's hinges, if only.

Hope you enjoyed your Sunday.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Keyhole Garden Uganda

I think I'm going to make one of these gardens this spring a Keyhole Garden with the composter in the middle.  Just link here to see numbers of variations on a Keyhole Garden, what about the one with the bottles?  Or the one with the round black composter in the middle, I have one of those, but I think that I like the more natural look for a garden.  Do you think I could use bamboo for the central frame?  I have some lengths of that.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Martha Stewart Loom A Weekend To Weekend

The weather has been cold, rainy, sleeting some hail and not much of Spring in sight, so flowers are very much needed to lift ones spirits.  My loo roll seedlings are coming along and I do see that the daffs are trying, but it's to cold.

So two weekends ago Mr Bit Brit bought me a lovely bunch of flowers and I still have them.

As I mentioned I was in need of a little Springtime yellow, he also picked me a little bunch of flowers.

Which I put in a vase my grandma gave me many a year ago.  It's just right for those tiny delicate flowers, that hardly stand on their own.

Then I saw the sun very briefly and grabbed the camera.

I'll get you all excited by saying that I bought this Martha Stewart loom set.

As you can see here I'm also working on another fishnet ruffle scarf.  Only this time I am knitting it.  I was so fed up with using long knitting needles, that I took a pair of circular bamboo needles and cut the circular part and made them into two short knitting needles.  I know that's desecration, but you only cast on about six stitches for the ruffle scarf and it works for me.

I have a friend who wears a lot of those Autumn colours, so will give the scarf to her when it is finished.  They really are her colours. I hope she'll like it.

I started using the Martha Stewart Looms, and after much thought decided that the kit really did not have enough circular looms or options, which I think is a shame because the kit and the idea of the way it clicks together is really nice.

Another reason I decided to return it was because one peg on the circular loom kept coming out and I thought if that comes out every time I go around it will drive me crazy.

I found this lovely yarn on clearance reduced from $7.00 to $3.00 per ball, it's cuddly soft with 22% wool content and I always like some natural fibre in my yarn.

 Aren't these colours lovely?


So this is the much cheaper little circular loom that I bought.  It feels much more solid and more comfortable in my hand, and the pegs are rigid which means they will not become loose and come out.  I may buy another one in a larger size.

Will keep you posted on how this turns out.  I have in mind to make a scarf with a matching hat.

On a more sober note it was a very hard week and weekend for us to get through, especially for Rob.  The Memorial Service for Mike was on Saturday and the actual Funeral was today.

Rob cancelled quite a few classes at College and now has a lot to catch up, fortunately he is coming into Spring Break.  He just couldn't focus.  It's been very hard to wrap one's mind around, when someone dies so young.

Very hard for Rob.  As my husband and I discussed we never went through one of our friends dying when we were young.  And what pains your children, pains you.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Reuben Sachs by Amy Levy a Persephone Book

Set in Victorian Bayswater, London.  This is a story about Anglo-Jewish families of the time, written by Amy Levy, referred to as the Jewish Jane Austen.  Although it seems these days that many writers are referenced as the something Jane Austin, but I digress.

It is about how little there is for a young woman to do except to marry well, and for an aspiring young man of promise to marry very well.

The main character is Reuben Sachs a beloved son and grandson of whom great things are expected.  He is a lawyer and now working for a local bi-election candidacy.  It is said of him -

He came straight across the room to old Solomon, a vivifying presence - Reuben Sachs, with his bad figure, awkward movements, and charming face, which wore tonight it's air of greatest alertness.

He is loved and loves a distant cousin who he has known from childhood, from a poorer family, and bought up in the family of a better off aunt.

...the whole face wore for the moment a relaxed dreamy, impassive air, curiously Eastern, and not wholly free from melancholy.

The settings in the book are mostly in one relatives parlour or another, gathered for various festivities.

Conversation flagged, as it inevitably did at these family gatherings, until after the meal, when crabbed age and youth, separating by mutual consent, would grow loquacious enough in their respective circles.

... the great majority gay with that rather spurious gaiety, that forcing of the note, which is so marked a charateristic of festivities.

That is so true, I have been at, let's call them do's and have felt that way.

There is a young family friend, from a very well to do English family, he is certainly a most eligible bachelor, although not Jewish, but by marrying him Judith Quixano would be elevated to a different level in the social strata and it certainly would be very good for her relatives too.

Generally speaking, the race instincts of Rebecca of York are strong, and she is less apt to give her heart to Ivanhoe, the Saxon knight than might be imagined.

I think said Leo "that he was shocked at finding us so little like the people in Daniel Deronda."

So it is for Judith as she loves Reuben, but Reuben must marry money MMM.  Her father -

He was one of the world's failures; and the Jewish people, so eager to crown success, form, so  ... have scant love for those unfortunates who have dropped behind in the race.

They acted and reacted on one another, deceiving and deceived, with the strange unconscious hypocrisy of lovers.

I felt this book so caught the nuances of Jewish life, a circle orbiting within a circle, sometimes touching, but never meshing.

The Jew it may be remarked in passing, eats and dresses at least two degrees above his Gentile brother in the same rank of life.

...What help is there?  There is no help, for all these things are so.  A. C. Swinburne.

Reuben Sachs is not a long book but it carries you along very quickly, although the settings and plot are predictable, the verbiage, flow and wit of writing is smooth.

I loved it and therefore will rate it a 5 Star, I know not all would agree.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rob' Friend Died

We just found out today that Rob's friend Mike died yesterday.  We are all in shock.  He died while undergoing a corrective operation procedure, he almost died several months ago, but was doing well so when this happened it was and is quite a shock.

This is a night time photo Rob took of his friend Mike, he is terribly upset. We are all grieving.


Friday, March 8, 2013

The Fortnight In September by R. C. Sheriff a Persephone Book

I just loved this book.  It's about an everyday suburban family taking their annual fortnight holiday.  The time period is about 1920s.  There is mum and dad, a teenage daughter who works at a dress makers, a teenage son who has just started at an office in the City and a younger son still at school.

The evening before a busy time of last minute preparation,  don't we all relate to that.  When they all come home from work and school, father's special list carried over from year to year refined and upgraded.  His rituals before the household departs.

He always had an absurd pang of sorrow when he locked the tool shed door each year before going away ..

He thinks - The man on holiday becomes the man he might have been, the man he could have been, had things worked out a little differently ...

One gets further insight how things might have worked out differently for him.

A wonderful description of the train journey, through Clapham Junction, they have taken this journey each year for many years and know every changing of the box junctions.

At last they heard rumping of it as it came over the bridge just round the corner ...

Each year they go back to the same Guest House, ran by a widow and becoming a little more run down, but they are loyal and know that the board they pay is important to the land lady, even though many have left over the years.

I loved the insight into how sometimes one feels on holiday.

They had reached the strange, disturbing little moment that comes in every holiday; the moment when suddenly the tense excitement of the journey collapses and fizzles out, and you are left vaguely wondering what you are going to do, and how you are going to start.  With a touch of panic you wonder whether the holiday, after all, is only a dull anti-climax to the journey...

One of the delightful passages in the book is the acquiring of a beach hut.  Could they afford it?  But it would be so very nice, and makes one feel well richer some how.

...that sudden pride that comes to cautious people when on rare occasions they boldly step beyond the ranks of those around them ...

It is said that Sherriff had in mind Bognor Regis when he wrote this book, but I could so easily see it applying to any number of link English seaside towns, equally well to link Southwold in Suffolk which I visited last year, especially with the Victorian Guest Houses and all those Beach Huts there.


When Do You Spring Forward?

I was just wondering when all the folks in the Northern Hemisphere Spring Forward, we change our clocks this Saturday at Midnight, so March 9th, but I know that my sister in the UK is usually different.

So when do you change your clocks for Spring time?


P.S.  My son The Boy, Rob won an award, The Keystone Award for some news photography photos that he took during President Clinton's visit, a few months ago.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sewing Seeds in Loo Rolls

I have been saving loo roll tubes, obviously not soon enough, but I saw where they had been used to start your seeds off and then you just plant the whole tube in the ground and it decomposes.

I went to the Dollar Store and bought three washing up bowls in black, plus some seed packs four for a dollar, then of course the potting soil.

I usually start seedlings outside, keeping them in the garage overnight and putting them out in the daytime, but they do not come along that quickly.  So this year I thought I'd just start a few seeds in the house.  They will sit in the vestibule, where it catches a lot of afternoon sun, if the sun ever comes out.  It's my little pantry area by the back door.

Another reason it might be good for me is because after I plant seeds straight in the soil, I forget where I've planted them and start digging them up unknowingly, very frustrating.  I'll let you know how it works out.

Don't you love seed packets, such promise of the season to come. I labeled and dated them, I will keep adding and dating them.  I don't usually plant any plants out until the middle of April to the beginning of May.  So I should have a good head start.

I can still see my grandfather pouring over his seed and plant catalogs, how he loved them.  There was always a pile of them in his cottage pushed to the back of the dining room table.

Just a couple of photos of my tax preparer helper, she wanted to make sure that none of those important papers flew off.

Why do cats do that?  They all do.

I finished reading Fidelity by Susan Glaspell, a pretty good read.

Helped the Boy with his Spanish, he has a test coming up on Monday.  I'm afraid I did five years of French, but if there's any second language you should speak over here in the Americas it is Spanish. Unfortunately the French only got Quebec, so here we all are learning Spanish. If only history had been different I'd have a head start, but I am thinking of learning Spanish.

About half the basement is sorted and painted, but it's slow going because it is pretty cold down there.  If we ran the central heating it would be the warmest place in the house, with all those pipes running around, but as we heat the house with the wood stove the basement is pretty chilly.  So we'll pick up on it again when it gets warmer.  The other half needs sorting, more than it has been sorted.

Did a little clearing out of my clothes closets, which if you live in a 1920s house are tiny, so one tiny bedroom closet and two doors of hanging clothes, now organized.  Still need some more sorting, but I actually got it done after a day at work and that's an achievement.

Well that's my week and weekend nothing special but a few things done.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Baby Koala Bear

And just to bring a smile to your face today, a baby Koala Bear, how cute is that?

Love that little nose.

01 09 10