Nod’s Birthday

Several years ago we started a tradition without realizing that is what we were doing. It was by accident, really, which is how the best traditions begin.

It was one of our children’s birthdays and I couldn’t really spare the money for gift wrap and wasn’t feeling inspired by comics-paper wrapping (we didn’t have it anyway, we didn’t get a paper), or brown paper bags potato stamped in bright colors, or a bit of yardage that could double as dress up clothes, or a bandanna that could also go in the dress up box or be used to fold, roll, and tie to make a handkerchief baby doll, or any of the other ideas for substitute paper.

So we did a scavenger hut for the present. I hid it somewhere, and made a list of rhyming clues and riddles, each one leading to the next, and the children ran through the house following up on the clues. They loved it, and henceforth there was at least one scavenger hunt for presents each year.

A few years ago we found ourselves with Blynken on his birthday and we learned that if we didn’t celebrate his birthday, he’d been told it wouldn’t be celebrated at all (don’t ask, I won’t tell more than this- it made us all very angry and it wasn’t fair to him). This was a state of affairs not to be born so we quickly put together a birthday part celebration for him- I almost always have a stash of goodies for gifts in my closet, so I pulled out one of those, but lacking paper, I did a scavenger hunt.

Blynken also needed to work on his reading and he’d been rather intractable about cooperating on that front. So I made his clues up to include words he should be able to read and needed to practice- something he never has known. He did read his words and find his clues and get to the present at the end, and ever after, the boys come to our house the week of their birthdays and request a scavenger hunt.

Yesterday, can you believe it? Nod had his 8th birthday. 8 years since the day I watched him being born and then got to be the first person to hold him, all wrapped up warmly, vernix still moisturizing his beautiful newborn cafe au lait skin.

Earlier this week his mother called and asked if the boys could come for the weekend, and “Can you give Nod a scavenger hunt or his birthday? He really wants one.”

And so we are.

I’m writing the clues on these turkeys:

six stand up turkeys to one page

I thought about telling him the clues were inside a book- that would certainly be a scavenger hunt to remember, but I thought that might seem a little unpleasant to clean up the aftermath.

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Free Kindle Books, some Victorian reads

we love books bookshelf vintage

Guy Fawkes or The Gunpowder Treason

Extract: More than two hundred and thirty-five years ago, or, to speak with greater precision, in 1605, at the latter end of June, it was rumoured one morning in Manchester that two seminary priests, condemned at the late assizes under the severe penal enactments then in force against the Papists, were about to suffer death on that day. Attracted by the report, large crowds flocked towards the place of execution, which, in order to give greater solemnity to the spectacle, had been fixed at the southern gate of the old Collegiate Church, where a scaffold was erected. Near it was a large blood-stained block, the use of which will be readily divined, and adjoining the block, upon a heap of blazing coals, smoked a caldron filled with boiling pitch, intended to receive the quarters of the miserable sufferers.

The place was guarded by a small band of soldiers, fully[Pg 2] accoutred in corslets and morions, and armed with swords, half-pikes, and calivers. Upon the steps of the scaffold stood the executioner,—a square-built, ill-favoured personage, busied in arranging a bundle of straw upon the boards. He was dressed in a buff jerkin, and had a long-bladed, two-edged knife thrust into his girdle. Besides these persons, there was a pursuivant,—an officer appointed by the Privy Council to make search throughout the provinces for recusants, Popish priests, and other religious offenders. He was occupied at this moment in reading over a list of suspected persons.

Reader Review: This book, written around 1840, is a historical novel, rather than a history. At the same time the authors seem to have studied the subject well. They begin by telling of the severe persecutions of Catholics in England in the reign of James I.

There had been persecutions under Elizabeth I, but they were stepped up a year after James took the throne. This was partly to provide finances to the king’s less wealthy friends. Putting them in charge of collecting from the Catholics gave them a nice income. They were supported by those Protestants who still harbored a grievance for the bloody reign of Mary I, even though she had been dead nearly a century. The surprising thing is not that the situation led to the Gunpowder Plot by a handful of Catholics, but that it didn’t lead to outright revolt by a majority of them.

The suffering of those condemned is not dealt with in the gruesome manner currently in fashion. You’re told what is going down, and then left to use your imagination (or not) as to the details. Altogether, I think the book is worth a look, if only to remind us of the fact that there’s a difference between disagreeing with someone’s views and becoming obsessed with “saving” them from their errors. (BTW if you’re wondering, no, I’m not Catholic, but I am a Christian, and I find nothing in our Lord’s teachings about hating thy neighbor.)

If I had teens I’d want them to read this to help them understand the history of the establishment clause in the Constitution, and to let them see where unchecked prejudice can lead.

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Old Saint Paul’s A Tale of the Plague and the Fire

Reader Review: One thing I learned long ago is that just because a book is old and written in a style modern readers may no longer appreciate, doesn’t mean it should be ignored, and this book is a fine example of it. Ainsworth proves he is an outstanding writer as he tells his tale of romance and horror as he describes the way the plague ravaged London in the 1660s, and ends the book with an incredible description of the great fire of London.

Ainsworth tells us upfront that the book is based on a small volume called “preparations against the plague” that is attributed to Defoe. I have not read that particular work, so I can’t comment on on how much of it was copied from that work. I can only talk about “Old St. Paul’s” itself.

Like a lot of works from this time period (1841) you need to have a bit of patience while the plot develops, although it develops more quickly than many works from this era. The author focuses on a single family of London, a successful grocer, Stephen Bloundel and his family, and especially on his daughter, Amabel (that is not a typo, that is the correct spelling) and his apprentice, Leonard Holt.

Leonard is infatuated with Amabel. But, unfortunately, so is just about every other male in London, including a notorious libertine well known for seducing and ruining the lives of attractive young women.

Meanwhile the plague is approaching London, and beginning to attack the outskirts of the city. The grocer develops a plan for locking himself and his household into his large home, isolating the entire family from the rest of the city, and hoping to avoid the plague.

I thought the book was going to turn out to be a mere romance novel, but it is far, far more than that. The descriptions of the way the plague ravages London are incredible. It’s hard to imagine the horror of it, the way the sick were teated, and the ‘plague pits’, the mass graves where bodies of the victims were unceremoniously dumped. And as is the case during every tragedy, there are people who are willing to take advantage of the situation to make a profit. The town abounds with quacks selling every manner of fake remedies, taking advantage of the desperate and the sick.

The book is long and convoluted and detailed, and I was fascinated with it right up until the very end. It concludes with an incredible description of the great fire of London.

I just don’t have the space to delve into everything that goes on in the book, and I don’t want to spoil anything for potential readers. So take a look at the book. After all, the price is right.

Extract: One night, at the latter end of April, 1665, the family of a citizen of London carrying on an extensive business as a grocer in Wood-street, Cheapside, were assembled, according to custom, at prayer. The grocer’s name was Stephen Bloundel. His family consisted of his wife, three sons, and two daughters. He had, moreover, an apprentice; an elderly female serving as cook; her son, a young man about five-and-twenty, filling the place of porter to the shop and general assistant; and a kitchen-maid. The whole household attended; for the worthy grocer, being a strict observer of his religious duties, as well as a rigid disciplinarian in other respects, suffered no one to be absent, on any plea whatever, except indisposition, from morning and evening devotions; and these were always performed at stated times. In fact, the establishment was conducted with the regularity of clockwork, it being the aim of its master not to pass a single hour of the day unprofitably.

The ordinary prayers gone through, Stephen Bloundel offered up along and fervent supplication to the Most High for protection against the devouring pestilence with which the city was then scourged. He acknowledged that this terrible visitation had been justly brought upon it by the wickedness of its inhabitants; that they deserved their doom, dreadful though it was; that, like the dwellers in Jerusalem before it was given up to ruin and desolation, they “had mocked the messengers of God and despised His word;” that in the language of the prophet, “they had refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears that they should not hear; yea, had made their heart like an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of Hosts had sent in his spirit by the former prophets.” He admitted that great sins require great chastisement, and that the sins of London were enormous; that it was filled with strifes, seditions, heresies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and every kind of abomination; that the ordinances of God were neglected, and all manner of vice openly practised; that, despite repeated warnings and afflictions less grievous than the present, these vicious practices had been persisted in. All this he humbly acknowledged. But he implored a gracious Providence, in consideration of his few faithful servants, to spare the others yet a little longer, and give them a last chance of repentance and amendment; or, if this could not be, and their utter extirpation was inevitable, that the habitations of the devout might be exempted from the general destruction—might be places of refuge, as Zoar was to Lot. He concluded by earnestly exhorting those around him to keep constant watch upon themselves; not to murmur at God’s dealings and dispensations; but so to comport themselves, that “they might be able to stand in the day of wrath, in the day of death, and in the day of judgment.” The exhortation produced a powerful effect upon its hearers, and they arose, some with serious, others with terrified looks.

Before proceeding further, it may be desirable to show in what manner the dreadful pestilence referred to by the grocer commenced, and how far its ravages had already extended. Two years before, namely, in 1663, more than a third of the population of Amsterdam was carried off by a desolating plague. Hamburgh was also grievously afflicted about the same time, and in the same manner. Notwithstanding every effort to cut off communication with these states, the insidious disease found its way into England by means of some bales of merchandise, as it was suspected, at the latter end of the year 1664, when two persons died suddenly, with undoubted symptoms of the distemper, in Westminster. Its next appearance was at a house in Long Acre, and its victims two Frenchmen, who had brought goods from the Levant. Smothered for a short time, like a fire upon which coals had been heaped, it broke out with fresh fury in several places.

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The Master of the Inn

REader Review; Great little novella which I read in one sitting on a flight from Edinburgh to Brussels. I’m long been interested in this period of American literature and assumed, wrongly, this work might have had strong influences from the Naturalism movement of the time. Some of the descriptions of nature and evocations of place are absolutely first rate and give the early part of the book a meditative, arcadian feel. You’ll find yourself really wanting to go and stay at the Inn (if you are a man at least!). The later part of the book seems like it’s losing its way but then comes full circle and achieves closure just when you fear it will drift into in-conclusion. A minor gem but a gem nevertheless which I’d absolutely recommend spending a hour or two with.

Extract: And so, as one was added to another, they began to call themselves in joke “Brothers,” and the Doctor, “Father.” The older “Brothers” would return to the Inn from all parts of the land, for a few days or a few weeks, to grasp the Doctor’s hand, to have a dip in the pool, to try the little brooks among the hills. Young men and middle-aged, and even the old, they came from the cities where the heat of living had scorched them, where they had faltered and doubted the goodness of life. In some way word of the Master had reached them, with this compelling advice—”Go! And tell him I sent you.” So from the clinic or the lecture-room, from the office or the mill—wherever men labor with tightening nerves—the needy one started on his long journey. Toward evening he was set down before the plain red face of the Inn. And as the Stranger entered the old hall, a voice was sure to greet him from within somewhere, the deep voice of a hearty man, and presently the Master appeared to welcome the newcomer, resting one hand on his guest’s shoulder perhaps, with a yearning affection that ran before knowledge.

“So you’ve come, my boy,” he said. “Herring [or some one] wrote me to look for you.”

And after a few more words of greeting, the Doctor beckoned to Sam, and gave the guest over to his hands. Thereupon the Chinaman slippered through tiled passageways to the court, where the Stranger, caught by the beauty and peace so well hidden, lingered a while. The little space within the wings was filled with flowers as far as the yellow water of the pool and the marble bench. In the centre of the court was an old gray fountain—sent from Verona by a Brother—from which the water dropped and ran away among the flower beds to the pool. A stately elm tree shaded this place, flecking the water below. The sun shot long rays beneath its branches into the court, and over all there was an odor of blossoming flowers and the murmur of bees.

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Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes and Home Made Candy Recipes

Reader Review: This book begins with a brief history of chocolate so that may be of interest to you. Then it is mostly filled with recipes that the modern cook will have trouble with in today’s times. Like for instance who measures flour by the pint? Who cooks in a moderately hot oven? If placing something over a fire, would that be a gas burner? How do you get an entire box of gelatine? Now it is sold in envelopes. What is “soluble” chocolate? I find most of the recipes sound delicious but making them would be quite the effort. First you’d need to write out the recipe again with all the ingredients listed first and the instructions after. In this book the recipes are all written in an old-fashioned style that won’t be appreciated by cooks who want something fast to make. If you do read this book do it only for the pleasure that a foodie would get from reading about cooking.

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The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes

Why Monday should be fixed upon as washing-day, is often questioned; but, like many other apparently arbitrary arrangements, its foundation is in common-sense. Tuesday has its advantages also, soon to be mentioned; but to any later period than Tuesday there are serious objections. All clothing is naturally changed on Sunday; and, if washed before dirt has had time to harden in the fiber of the cloth, the operation is much easier. The German custom, happily passing away, of washing only annually or semi-annually, is both disgusting, and destructive to health and clothes; the air of whatever room such accumulations are stored in being poisoned, while the clothes themselves are rubbed to pieces in the endeavor to get out the long-seated dirt.

A weekly wash being the necessity if perfect cleanliness exists, the simplest and best method of thoroughly accomplishing it comes up for question. While few women are obliged to use their own hands in such directions, plenty of needy and unskilled workwomen who can earn a living in no other way being ready to relieve us, it is yet quite as necessary to know every detail, in order that the best work may be required, and that where there is ignorance of methods in such work they may be taught.

The advantages of washing on Tuesday are, that it allows Monday for setting in order after the necessary rest of Sunday, gives opportunity to collect and put in soak all the soiled clothing, and so does away with the objection felt by many good people to performing this operation Sunday night.

To avoid such sin, bed-clothing is often changed on Saturday; but it seems only part of the freshness and sweetness which ought always to make Sunday the white-day of the week, that such change should be made on that morning, while the few minutes required for sorting the clothes, and putting them in water, are quite as legitimate as any needed operation.

If Monday be the day, then, Saturday night may be chosen for filling the tubs, supposing the kitchen to be unfurnished with stationary tubs. Sunday night enough hot water can be added to make the whole just warm—not hot. Now put in one tub all fine things,—collars and cuffs, shirts and fine underwear. Bed-linen may be added, or soaked in a separate tub; but table-linen must of course be kept apart. Last, let the coarsest and most soiled articles have another. Do not add soap, as if there is any stain it is likely to set it. If the water is hard, a little borax may be added. And see that the clothes are pressed down, and well covered with water.

Monday morning, and the earlier the better (the morning sun drying and sweetening clothes better than the later), have the boiler full of clean warm suds. Soft soap may be used, or a bar of hard dissolved in hot water, and used like soft soap.

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Euthenics, the science of controllable environment a plea for better living conditions as a first step toward higher human efficiency

Mainly of a sort of geeky historical interest



I. The opportunity for betterment is real and practical, not merely academic 3
II. Individual effort is needed to improve individual conditions. Home and habits of living, eating, etc. Good habits pay in economy of time and force 15
III. Community effort is needed to make better conditions for all, in streets and public places, for water and milk supply, hospitals, markets, housing problems, etc. Restraint for sake of neighbors 39
IV. Interchangeableness of these two forms of progressive effort. First one, then the other ahead 59
V. The child to be “raised” as he should be. Restraint for his good. Teaching good habits the chief duty of the family 73
VI. The child to be educated in the light of sanitary science. Office of the school. Domestic science for girls. Applied science. The duty of the higher education. Research needed 91[xii]
VII. Stimulative education for adults. Books, newspapers, lectures, working models, museums, exhibits, moving pictures 117
VIII. Both child and adult to be protected from their own ignorance. Educative value of law and of fines for disobedience. Compulsory sanitation by municipal, state, and federal regulations. Instructive inspection 131
IX. There is responsibility as well as opportunity. The housewife an important factor and an economic force in improving the national health and increasing the national wealth

Excerpt: The less spectacular but more effective office of prevention of the need for charity, in the maintenance of cleanness in the markets, streets, and shops, yes, even in the homes of the people, has been neglected. Through lack of belief, and especially [46]through inattention to causes so common as to escape notice, many details of great hygienic importance have been overlooked.

Some daring ones in commercial ventures are showing the possibilities of a standard in cleanness, and model establishments, dairies, bakeries, and restaurants should receive the hearty support of a community. If they do not receive this support, it is more than discouraging to the promoters, for it costs to be clean, a lesson the community must learn. The saving of money and the consequent loss of life through disease, or the spending of money and the saving of life through prevention, are the alternatives.

Undoubtedly the old view of charity as tenderly caring for the sick—because there must always be a certain amount of sickness in the world—has held men back from attempting to make a world without sickness. The charity worker of the past had no hope of really making things better permanently.

The new view, based upon scientific investigation, is that it is not charity that[47] is needed to support invalids who once stricken must fade away, but preventive action to give the patient hope and fresh air. Most important of all, the experience already gained shows how far from the truth was the old fatalistic notion of the necessary continuance of disease.

While the support of many agencies—dispensaries, clinics, hospitals, sanatoria, etc.—must for a time depend upon private philanthropy, the expense is in the nature of an investment to bring in a high rate of interest in the future welfare of the race. As soon as the belief in the efficiency of these agents reaches the taxpayer he will willingly furnish the funds for public agencies.

Today the child in the school is examined; then, if need be, is given special consideration at the dispensary, then sent to school, where, with fresh air, pure food, and hygienic surroundings, he will so strengthen himself as to combat the ravages of disease.

The Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor, New York[48] City, not only sends bread to fill the hungry stomach, but now sends a wise and sympathetic worker to help women to understand food and money values, which means a permanent help. And it no longer simply says to the tired, worried woman who has had no education-stimulus along the line of cleanness, “Be clean,” but sends in women to make the house an example, an exhibit of clean conditions, if you will. Example is stronger than precept.

In the rapid growth of cities, so often beyond anticipation, preparation for development or plans for extension have seldom been laid. Much suffering has been wrought to the families of men in our crowded cities, for there is no greater evil than the congestion of streets and buildings.

Many students of social conditions of today believe that the most serious menace is the situation best described as housing—the site, the crowding, the bad building, poor water supply and drainage, lack of light and air and cleanliness. All believe that it is economically a loss to the city in general, however profitable to a very few.[49] To rent such buildings is a far greater crime than cruelty to animals or even the beating of women and children.

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Baby Mine

Baby Mine is a farce, not to be taken too seriously, although it has a couple of excellent moral lessons (don’t pretended to be somebody you’re not in order to land a man).

Excerpt: Sitting alone in a secluded corner of the campus waiting for Alfred to solve a problem in higher mathematics, Jimmy now recalled fragments of Alfred’s last conversation.
“No twelve dollar shoes and forty dollar hats for MY wife,” his young friend had raged and he condemned to Jimmy the wicked extravagance of his own younger sisters. “The woman who gets me must be a home-maker. I’ll take her to the theatre occasionally, and now and then we’ll have a few friends in for the evening; but the fireside must be her magnet, and I’ll be right by her side each night with my books and my day’s worries. She shall be taken into my confidence completely; and I’ll take good care to let her know, before I marry her, just what I expect in return.”
“Alfred certainly has the right idea about marriage,” mused Jimmy, as the toe of his boot shoved the gravel up and down the path. “There’s just one impractical feature about it.” He was conscious of a slight feeling of heresy when he admitted even ONE flaw in his friend’s scheme of things. “Where is Alfred to find such a wife?”
Jimmy ran through the list of unattached girls to whom Alfred had thus far presented him. It was no doubt due to his lack of imagination, but try as he would, he could not see any one of these girls sitting by the fireside listening to Alfred’s “worries” for four or five nights each week. He recalled all the married women whom he had been obliged, through no fault of his own, to observe.
True, all of them did not boast twelve dollar shoes or forty dollar hats—for the very simple reason that the incomes or the tempers of their husbands did not permit of it. In any case, Jimmy did not remember having seen them spend many evenings by the fireside. Where then was Alfred to find the exceptional creature who was to help “systematise his life”? Jimmy was not above hoping that Alfred’s search might be a long one. He was content for his friend to go jogging along by his side, theorising about marriage and taking no chances with facts. Having come to this conclusion, he began to feel uneasy at Alfred’s non-appearance. Alfred had promised to meet him on this spot at four-thirty, and Alfred had decided ideas about punctuality. It was now five-thirty. Ought Jimmy to look for him, or would he be wiser to remain comfortably seated and to try to digest another of his friend’s theories?
While Jimmy was trying to decide this vexed question, his ear caught the sound of a girlish titter. Turning in embarrassment toward a secluded path just behind him, whom did he see coming toward him but Alfred, with what appeared to be a bunch of daffodils; but as Alfred drew nearer, Jimmy began to perceive at his elbow a large flower-trimmed hat, and—”horrors!”—beneath it, with a great deal of filmy white and yellow floating from it, was a small pink and white face.
Barely had Jimmy reversed himself and rearranged his round, astonished features, when Alfred, beaming and buoyant, brought the bundle of fluff to a full stop before him.
“Sorry to be late, old chap,” said Alfred. “I have brought my excuse with me. I want you to know Miss Merton.” Then turning to the small creature, whose head peeped just above his elbow, Alfred explained to her graciously that Jimmy Jinks was his very best friend, present company excepted, of course, and added that she and Jimmy would no doubt “see a great deal of each other in the future.”
In his embarrassment, Jimmy’s eyes went straight to the young lady’s shoes. It was possible that there might be more expensive shoes in this world, but Jimmy had certainly never seen daintier.
“I hope we didn’t disturb you,” a small voice was chirping; and innocent and conventional as the remark surely was, Jimmy was certain of an undercurrent of mischief in it. He glanced up to protest, but two baby-blue eyes fixed upon him in apparent wonderment, made him certain that anything he could say would seem rude or ridiculous; so, as usual when in a plight, he looked to Alfred for the answer.
Slapping Jimmy upon the shoulder in a condescending spirit, Alfred suggested that they all sit down and have a chat.
“Oh, how nice,” chirped the small person.
Jimmy felt an irresistible desire to run, but the picture of himself, in his very stout person, streaking across the campus to the giggled delight of Miss Fluff, soon brought him submissively to the seat, where he sat twiddling his straw hat between his fingers, and glancing uncertainly at Alfred, who was thoughtful enough to sit next him.
“Goodness, one could almost dance out here, couldn’t one?” said the small person, named Zoie, as her eyes roved over the bit of level green before them.

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People of the Whirlpool From The Experience Book of a Commuter’s Wife

Collection of letters, essays, and journal entries from back in the day:
“January 25th.

“I dwelt on that little dinner episode, my dear Barbara, because in it you will find an answer to several questions I read between your lines. Since my return I find that practically all my old friends have flown to what Archie Martin called ‘a different roost,’ or else failing, or having no desire so to do, have left the city altogether, leaving me very lonely. Not only those with daughters to bring out, but many of my spinster contemporaries are listed with the buds at balls and dinner dances, and their gowns and jewels described. Ah, what a fatal memory for ages one has in regard to schoolmates! Josephine Ponsonby was but one class behind us, and she is dancing away yet.

“The middle-aged French women who now, as always, hold their own in public life have better tact, and make the cultivation of some intellectual quality or political scheme at least the excuse for holding their salons, and not the mere excuse of rivalry in money spending.

“I find the very vocabulary altered—for rest read change, for sleep read stimulation, etc, ad infin.

“Born a clergyman’s daughter of the old regime, I was always obliged to be more conservative than was really natural to my temperament; even so, I find myself at middle life with comfortable means (owing to that bit of rock and mud of grandma’s on the old Bloomingdale road that father persistently kept through thick and thin), either obliged to compromise myself, alter my dress and habits, go to luncheons where the prelude is a cocktail, and the after entertainment to play cards for money, contract bronchitis by buzzing at afternoon teas, make a vocation of charity, or—stay by myself,—these being the only forms of amusement left open, and none offering the intimate form of social intercourse I need.

“I did mission schools and parish visiting pretty thoroughly and conscientiously during forty years of my life,—on my return an ecclesiastical, also, as well as a social shock awaited me. St. Jacob’s has been made a free church, and my special department has been given in charge of two newly adopted Deaconesses, ‘both for the betterment of parish work and reaching of the poor.’ So be it, but Heaven help those who are neither rich nor poor enough to be of consequence and yet are spiritually hungry.

“The church system is necessarily reduced to mathematics. The rector has office hours, so have the curates, and they will ‘cheerfully come in response to any call.’ It was pleasant to have one’s pastor drop in now and then in a sympathetic sort of way, pleasant to have a chance to ask his advice without formally sending for him as if you wished to be prayed over! But everything has grown so big and mechanical that there is not time. The clergy in many high places are emancipating themselves from the Bible and preaching politics, history, fiction, local sensation, and what not, or lauding in print the moral qualities of a drama in which the friendship between Mary Magdalene and Judas Iscariot is dwelt on and the latter adjudged a patriot. I don’t like it, and I don’t like hurrying to church that I may secure my seat in the corner of our once family pew, where as a child I loved to think that the light that shone across my face from a particular star in one of the stained-glass windows was a special message to me. It all hurts, and I do not deny that I am bitter. Those in charge of gathering in new souls should take heed how they ignore or trample on the old crop!

“So I attend to my household duties, marketing, take my exercise, and keep up my French and German; but when evening comes, no one rings the bell except some intoxicated person looking for one of the lodging houses opposite, and the silence is positively asphyxiating—if they would only play an accordion in the kitchen I should be grateful. I’m really thinking of offering the maids a piano and refreshments if they will give an ‘at home’ once a week, as the only men in the neighbourhood seem to be the butchers and grocery clerks and the police. There is an inordinate banging going on in the rear of the house, and I must break off to see what it is.”

* * * * *
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Sweet Cicely – or Josiah Allen as a Politician

This is temperance movement book written to show the reader the evils of demon rum and other spirits, but there is plenty enjoy about this quaint old fashioned tale as well:

It was somewhere about the middle of winter, along in the forenoon, that Josiah Allen was telegrafted to, unexpected. His niece Cicely and her little boy was goin’ to pass through Jonesville the next day on her way to visit her aunt Mary (aunt on her mother’s side), and she would stop off, and make us a short visit if convenient.
We wuz both tickled, highly tickled; and Josiah, before he had read the telegraf ten minutes, was out killin’ a hen. The plumpest one in the flock was the order I give; and I wus a beginnin’ to make a fuss, and cook up for her.
We loved her jest about as well as we did Tirzah Ann. Sweet Cicely was what we used to call her when she was a girl. Sweet Cicely is a plant that has a pretty white posy. And our niece Cicely was prettier and purer and sweeter than any posy that ever grew: so we thought then, and so we think still.

From another section:
“It must be we can get the laws changed before he grows up. I dare not trust him in a world that has such temptations, such snares set ready for him. Why,” says she—And she fairly trembled as she said it. She would always throw her whole soul into any thing she undertook; and in this she had throwed her hull heart, too, and her hull life—or so it seemed to me, to look at her pale face, and her big, glowin’ eyes, full of sadness, full of resolve too.
“Why, just think of it! How he will be coaxed into those drinking-saloons! how, with his easy, generous, good-natured ways,—and I know he will have such ways, and be popular,—a bright, handsome young man, and with plenty of money. Just think of it! how, with those open saloons on every side of him, when he can’t walk down the street without those gilded bars shining on every hand; and the friends he will make, gay, rich, thoughtless young men like himself—they will laugh at him if he refuses to do as they do; and with my boy’s inherited tastes and temperament, his easiness to be led by those he loves, what will hinder him from going to ruin as his poor father did? What will keep him, aunt Samantha?”
And she busted out a cryin’.
I says, “Hush, Cicely,” layin’ my hand on hern. It wus little and soft, and trembled like a leaf. Some folks would have called her nervous and excitable; but I didn’t, thinkin’ what she had went through with the boy’s father.

P.S.  There’s also some pretty funny, in a dry sort of way, commentary on the types of men who lectured about why women shouldn’t have the vote.

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perspectiveI’m reading an old book called Love of a Lifetime by Caroline Gardiner Cary Curtis (published in 1894). The young protagonist is experiencing some ups and downs and disappointments in her life, and one night she asks her very elderly grandmother if things that happened when she was young seem very different to her now. She wants to know if it really matters all that much at the end of a long life.  I really love her grandmother’s reply:


“You’re lookin’ forrard, and I’m a-looking backard, an’ t ain’t likely but what the light falls different.”

Sure, some things will obviously look different later than they do now- but not everything. Some things really are worth grieving over and they will always sting.  Her grandmother goes on:

“but I can’t say but there’s things that stands out just as sharp, an’ hurt just as much as they ever did. No, Marthy, ‘t ain’t no use saying it’ll all be the same a hundred years hence. You make the best of it, or the wust of it, just as you kin, but there’s some things you’ll a-wantin’ all your days if so be’s they can’t be your’n.”

So often we want to dismiss people’sorrow and pain- thinking we’re helping- by telling them it won’t matter a hundred years from now.  But it’s not a hundred years from now.  They are suffering and in pain now, and because they matter right here and right now, so does what they are feeling.

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Vintage Thanksgiving Colouring Page

vintage colouring page thanksgiving by margaret ely webb

From Teacher’s Month by Month Books, by Sara Hicks Willis, Florence Virginia Farmer
E. L. Kellogg & Company, 1908

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Free4Kindle- Escapist Reading in the Public Domain

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Brewster’s Millions

Did you know this is an older book? And there’s an older movie, too (not the one with Richard Pryor)!

Here’s a part of a reader review from the original book; About all I’ll say in comparing the 2 versions is this: the one and only similarity is they both center around a man named Montgomery Brewster having to dispose of a certain sum of willed money within a specified time period, without telling anyone why, in order to be eligible for a larger fortune. That’s it. The novel’s amounts are different, Mr. Brewster’s profession and friends are different, and even the reason for the whole game is totally different – more complex and interesting in the novel, I thought. So it follows that Monty’s methods of spending his money and the adventures, setbacks, and romances he experiences along the way make the novel a completely different story. Without giving away the book’s ending, I will say that’s different too, but equally satisfying.

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The Upper Berth
by F. Marion Crawford

I can tell this isn’t my cup of tea- it’s a horror story, or a ghost story. But if you like that sort of thing, this is supposed to be very well done.

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An American Politician

From the first chapter: Mrs. Sam Wyndham was generally at home after five o’clock. The established custom whereby the ladies who live in Beacon Street all receive their friends on Monday afternoon did not seem to her satisfactory. She was willing to conform to the practice, but she reserved the right of seeing people on other days as well.

Mrs. Sam Wyndham was never very popular. That is to say, she was not one of those women who are seemingly never spoken ill of, and are invited as a matter of course, or rather as an element of success, to every dinner, musical party, and dance in the season.

Women did not all regard her with envy, all young men did not think she was capital fun, nor did all old men come and confide to her the weaknesses of their approaching second childhood. She was not invariably quoted as the standard authority on dress, classical music, and Boston literature, and it was not an unpardonable heresy to say that some other women might be, had been, or could be, more amusing in ordinary conversation. Nevertheless, Mrs. Sam Wyndham held a position in Boston which Boston acknowledged, and which Boston insisted that foreigners such as New Yorkers, Philadelphians and the like, should acknowledge also in that spirit of reverence which is justly due to a descent on both sides from several signers of the Declaration of Independence, and to the wife of one of the ruling financial spirits of the aristocratic part of Boston business.

As a matter of fact, Mrs. Wyndham was about forty years of age, as all her friends of course knew; for it is as easy for a Bostonian to conceal a question of age as for a crowned head. In a place where one half of society calls the other half cousin, and went to school with it, every one knows and accurately remembers just how old everybody else is.

From somewhere in the middle: They shook hands cordially, and John Harrington turned down Charles Street, while Vancouver pursued his way up the hill. He had been going in the opposite direction when he met Harrington, but he seemed to have changed his mind. He was not seen again that day until he went to dine with Mrs. Sam Wyndham.

There was no one there but Mr. Topeka and young John C. Hannibal, well-dressed men of five-and-thirty and five-and-twenty respectively, belonging to good families of immense fortune, and educated regardless of expense. No homely Boston phrase defiled their anglicized lips, their great collars stood up under their chins in an ecstasy of stiffness, and their shirt-fronts bore two buttons, avoiding the antiquity of three and the vulgarity of one. Well-bred Anglo-maniacs both, but gentlemen withal, and courteous to the ladies. Mr. Topeka was a widower, John C. Hannibal was understood to be looking for a wife.

They came, they dined, and they retired to Sam Wyndham’s rooms to don their boots and skating clothes. At nine o’clock the remaining ladies arrived, and then the whole party got into a great sleigh and were driven rapidly out of town over the smooth snow to Jamaica Pond. John Harrington had not come, and only three persons missed him–Joe Thorn, Mrs. Sam, and Pocock Vancouver.

The ice had been cut away in great quantities for storing and the thaw had kept the pond open for a day or two. Then came the sharpest frost of the winter, and in a few hours the water was covered with a broad sheet of black ice that would bear any weight. It was a rare piece of good fortune, but the fashion of skating had become so antiquated that no one took advantage of the opportunity; and as the party got out of the sleigh and made their way down the bank, they saw that there was but one skater before them, sweeping in vast solitary circles out in the middle of the pond, under the cold moonlight. The party sat on the bank in the shadow of some tall pine trees, preparing for the amusement, piling spare coats and shawls on the shoulders of a patient groom, and screwing and buckling their skates on their feet.

“What beautiful ice!” exclaimed Joe, when Vancouver had done his duty by the straps and fastenings. She tapped the steel blade twice or thrice on the hard black surface, still leaning on Vancouver’s arm, and then, without a word of warning, shot away in a long sweeping roll. The glorious vitality in her was all alive, and her blood thrilled and beat wildly in utter enjoyment. She did not go far at first, but seeing the others were long in their preparations, she turned and faced them, skating away backwards, leaning far over to right and left on each changing stroke, and listening with intense pleasure to the musical ring of the clanging steel on the clean ice. Some pride she felt, too, at showing the little knot of Bostonians how thoroughly at home she was in a sport they seemed to consider essentially American.

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Green Fancy

Reader Review: This story takes place during WW1 and it holds a great mystery but the book is more than that,it has I thought some of the funniest dialogue and funny scenes that I have seen in a long time,so download and read and enjoy.

Random Excerpt: “You must let me take you on to the Tavern in the car,” she said. “Turn about is fair play. I cannot allow you to—”

“Never mind about me,” he broke in cheerily. He had been wondering if she would make the offer, and he felt better now that she had done so. “I’m accustomed to roughing it. I don’t mind a soaking. I’ve had hundreds of ‘em.”

“Just the same, you shall not have one to-night,” she announced firmly. The car stopped beside them. “Get in behind. I shall sit with the driver.”

If any one had told him that this rattling, dilapidated automobile,—ten years old, at the very least, he would have sworn,—was capable of covering the mile in less than two minutes, he would have laughed in his face. Almost before he realised that they were on the way up the straight, dark road, the lights in the windows of Hart’s Tavern came into view. Once more the bounding, swaying car came to a stop under brakes, and he was relaxing after the strain of the most hair-raising ride he had ever experienced.

Not a word had been spoken during the trip. The front windows were lowered. The driver,—an old, hatchet-faced man,—had uttered a single word just before throwing in the clutch at the cross-roads in response to the young woman’s crisp command to drive to Hart’s Tavern. That word was uttered under his breath and it is not necessary to repeat it here.”

And here’s another:

“I see. My name is Jones, Putnam Jones. I run this place. My father an’ grandfather run it before me. Glad to meet you, Mr. Barnes. We used to have a hostler here named Barnes. What’s your idea fer footin’ it this time o’ the year?”

“I do something like this every spring. A month or six weeks of it puts me in fine shape for a vacation later on,” supplied Mr. Barnes whimsically.

Mr. Jones allowed a grin to steal over his seamed face. He re-inserted the corn-cob pipe and took a couple of pulls at it.

“I never been to New York, but it must be a heavenly place for a vacation, if a feller c’n judge by what some of my present boarders have to say about it. It’s a sort of play-actor’s paradise, ain’t it?”

“It is paradise to every actor who happens to be on the road, Mr. Jones,” said Barnes, slipping his big pack from his shoulders and letting it slide to the floor.

“Hear that feller in the tap-room talkin’? Well, he is one of the leading actors in New York,—in the world, for that matter. He’s been talkin’ about Broadway for nearly a week now, steady.”

“May I enquire what he is doing up here in the wilds?”

“At present he ain’t doing anything except talk. Last week he was treadin’ the boards, as he puts it himself. Busted. Up the flue. Showed last Saturday night in Hornville, eighteen mile north of here, and immediately after the performance him and his whole troupe started to walk back to New York, a good four hunderd mile. They started out the back way of the opery house and nobody missed ‘em till next mornin’ except the sheriff, and he didn’t miss ‘em till they’d got over the county line into our bailiwick. Four of ‘em are still stoppin’ here just because I ain’t got the heart to turn ‘em out ner the spare money to buy ‘em tickets to New York. Here comes one of ‘em now. Mr. Dillingford, will you show this gentleman to room eleven, and carry his baggage up fer him? And maybe he’ll want a pitcher of warm water to wash and shave in.” He turned to the new guest and smiled apologetically.”

And one last bit:
“”I don’t mind having a cocktail. Will you join me?”

“As a matter of fact, I’m expected to,” confessed Mr. Dillingford. “We’ve been drawing quite a bit of custom to the tap-room. The rubes like to sit around and listen to conversation about Broadway and Bunker Hill and Old Point Comfort and other places, and then go home and tell the neighbours that they know quite a number of stage people. Human nature, I guess. I used to think that if I could ever meet an actress I’d be the happiest thing in the world. Well, I’ve met a lot of ‘em, and God knows I’m not as happy as I was when I was WISHING I could meet one of them.”

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Her Weight in Gold

A collection of short stories. Here’s the beginning of the first:

“Well the question is: how much does she weigh?” asked Eddie Ten Eyck with satirical good humour.

His somewhat flippant inquiry followed the heated remark of General Horatio Gamble, who, in desperation, had declared that his step-daughter, Martha, was worth her weight in gold.

The General was quite a figure in the town of Essex. He was the president of the Town and Country Club and, besides owning a splendid stud, was also the possessor of a genuine Gainsborough, picked up at the shop of an obscure dealer in antiques in New York City for a ridiculously low price (two hundred dollars, it has been said), and which, according to a rumour started by himself, was worth a hundred thousand if it was worth a dollar, although he contrived to keep the secret from the ears of the county tax collector. He had married late in life, after accumulating a fortune that no woman could despise, and of late years had taken to frequenting the Club with a far greater assiduity than is customary in most presidents.

Young Mr. Ten Eyck’s sarcasm was inspired by a mind’s-eye picture of Miss Martha Gamble. To quote Jo Grigsby, she was “so plain that all comparison began and ended with her.” Without desiring to appear ungallant, I may say that there were many homely young women in Essex; but each of them had the delicate satisfaction of knowing that Martha was incomparably her superior in that respect.

“I am not jesting, sir,” said the General with asperity. “Martha may not be as good-looking as—er—some girls that I’ve seen, but she is a jewel, just the same. The man who gets her for a wife will be a blamed sight luckier than the fellows who marry the brainless little fools we see trotting around like butterflies.” (It was the first time that Eddie had heard of trotting butterflies.)

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The Little City of Hope A Christmas Story


“Hope is very cheap. There’s always plenty of it about.”

“Fortunately for poor men. Good morning.”

With this mild retort and civil salutation John Henry Overholt rose and went towards the door, quite forgetting to shake hands with Mr. Burnside, though the latter made a motion to do so. Mr. Burnside always gave his hand in a friendly way, even when he had flatly refused to do what people had asked of him. It was cheap; so he gave it.

But he was not pleased when they did not take it, for whatever he chose to give seemed [2]of some value to him as soon as it was offered; even his hand. Therefore, when his visitor forgot to take it, out of pure absence of mind, he was offended, and spoke to him sharply before he had time to leave the private office.

“You need not go away like that, Mr. Overholt, without shaking hands.”

The visitor stopped and turned back at once. He was thin and rather shabbily dressed. I know many poor men who are fat, and some who dress very well; but this was not that kind of poor man.

“Excuse me,” he said mildly. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I quite forgot.”

He came back, and Mr. Burnside shook hands with becoming coldness, as having just given a lesson in manners. He was not a bad man, nor a miser, nor a Scrooge, but he was a great stickler for manners, especially with people who had nothing to give him. Besides, he had already lent Overholt money; or, to put it nicely, he had invested a little in his invention, and he did not see any reason why he should invest any more until it succeeded. Overholt called it selling shares, but Mr. Burnside called it borrowing money. Overholt was sure that if he could raise more [3]funds, not much more, he could make a success of the “Air-Motor”; Mr. Burnside was equally sure that nothing would ever come of it. They had been explaining their respective points of view to each other, and in sheer absence of mind Overholt had forgotten to shake hands.

Mr. Burnside had no head for mechanics, but Overholt had already made an invention which was considered very successful, though he had got little or nothing for it. The mechanic who had helped him in its construction had stolen his principal idea before the device was patented, and had taken out a patent for a cheap little article which every one at once used, and which made a fortune for him. Overholt’s instrument took its place in every laboratory in the world; but the mechanic’s labour-saving utensil took its place in every house. It was on the strength of the valuable tool of science that Mr. Burnside had invested two thousand dollars in the Air-Motor without really having the smallest idea whether it was to be a machine that would move the air, or was to be moved by it. A number of business men had done the same thing.
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The Lock and Key Library The most interesting stories of all nations: American

A collection of classic American short stories

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Ave Roma Immortalis, Vol. 1 Studies from the Chronicles of Rome
Extract: The story of Rome is the most splendid romance in all history. A few shepherds tend their flocks among volcanic hills, listening by day and night to the awful warnings of the subterranean voice,—born in danger, reared in peril, living their lives under perpetual menace of destruction, from generation to generation. Then, at last, the deep voice swells to thunder, roaring up from the earth’s heart, the lightning shoots madly round the mountain top, the ground rocks, and the air is darkened with ashes. The moment has come. One man is a leader, but not all will follow him. He leads his small band swiftly down from the[Pg 2] heights, and they drive a flock and a little herd before them, while each man carries his few belongings as best he can, and there are few women in the company. The rest would not be saved, and they perish among their huts before another day is over.

Down, always downwards, march the wanderers, rough, rugged, young with the terrible youth of those days, and wise only with the wisdom of nature. Down the steep mountain they go, down over the rich, rolling land, down through the deep forests, unhewn of man, down at last to the river, where seven low hills rise out of the wide plain. One of those hills the leader chooses, rounded and grassy; there they encamp, and they dig a trench and build huts. Pales, protectress of flocks, gives her name to the Palatine Hill. Rumon, the flowing river, names the village Rome, and Rome names the leader Romulus, the Man of the River, the Man of the Village by the River; and to our own time the twenty-first of April is kept and remembered, and even now honoured, for the very day on which the shepherds began to dig their trench on the Palatine, the date of the Foundation of Rome, from which seven hundred and fifty-four years were reckoned to the birth of Christ.

And the shepherds called their leader King, though his kingship was over but few men. Yet they were such men as begin history, and in the scant company there were all the seeds of empire. First the profound[Pg 3] faith of natural mankind, unquestioning, immovable, inseparable from every daily thought and action; then fierce strength, and courage, and love of life and of possession; last, obedience to the chosen leader, in clear liberty, when one should fail, to choose another. So the Romans began to win the world, and won it in about six hundred years.

By their camp-fires, by their firesides in their little huts, they told old tales of their race, and round the truth grew up romantic legend, ever dear to the fighting man and to the husbandman alike, with strange tales of their first leader’s birth, fit for poets, and woven to stir young hearts to daring, and young hands to smiting. Truth there was under their stories, but how much of it no man can tell: how Amulius of Alba Longa slew his sons, and slew also his daughter, loved of Mars, mother of twin sons left to die in the forest, like Œdipus, father-slayers, as Œdipus was, wolf-suckled, of whom one was born to kill the other and be the first King, and be taken up to Jupiter in storm and lightning at the last. The legend of wise Numa, next, taught by Egeria; her stony image still weeps trickling tears for her royal adept, and his earthen cup, jealously guarded, was worshipped for more than a thousand years; legends of the first Arval brotherhood, dim as the story of Melchisedec, King and priest, but lasting as Rome itself. Tales of King Tullus, when the three Horatii fought for Rome[Pg 4] against the three Curiatii, who smote for Alba and lost the day—Tullus Hostilius, grandson of that first Hostus who had fought against the Sabines; and always more legend, and more, and more, sometimes misty, sometimes clear and direct in action as a Greek tragedy. They hover upon the threshold of history, with faces of beauty or of terror, sublime, ridiculous, insignificant, some born of desperate, real deeds, many another, perhaps, first told by some black-haired shepherd mother to her wondering boys at evening, when the brazen pot simmered on the smouldering fire, and the father had not yet come home.

But down beneath the legend lies the fact, in hewn stones already far in the third thousand of their years. Digging for truth, searchers have come here and there upon the first walls and gates of the Palatine village, straight, strong and deeply founded. The men who made them meant to hold their own, and their own was whatsoever they were able to take from others by force. They built their walls round a four-sided space, wide enough for them, scarcely big enough a thousand years later for the houses of their children’s rulers, the palaces of the Cæsars of which so much still stands today.

Then came the man who built the first bridge across the river, of wooden piles and beams, bolted with bronze, because the Romans had no iron yet, and ever afterwards repaired with wood and bronze, for its sanctity, in perpetual veneration of Ancus Martius, fourth King of Rome. That was the bridge Horatius kept against Porsena of Clusium, while the fathers hewed it down behind him.

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A Roman Singer

Reader Review: This is the story of a rather ugly boy with a great voice. While still non-famous he falls in love with a Count’s daughter and pretends to be a professor to gain access to his lady love while tutoring.

One day, he goes on a “field trip ” with Hedwig, her father and another man to the Roman ruins at midnight so Hedwig can see the full moon through the hole in the ampitheater ceiling. While there, in the darkness he gets the urge to sing and does so but no one can tell where the voice is coming from. Nino says it’s his cousin who has now disappeared into the night.
Hedwig falls in love with the voice and keeps asking about his cousin…

Then the day of his debut arrives and Hedwig and her father are in the audience…

To cut a long story short, the Count refuses to allow his daughter to marry a phlebian musician and he takes his daughter away to an undisclosed castle location far in the mountains of Italy.

There’s a villain, and a love story, a great escape and a subtheme of opera. Add to that, the dialog has fantastic wit which makes it a winner in my books. (see my status updates for examples)

I took it down a star because I dislike someone else narrating the story. (in this case it was Nino’s adoptive father). You miss so much with explanations of “how I know what happened “.

But its a good fairytale like story and I enjoyed it.


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Excerpt: In the year 1865 Rome was still in a great measure its old self. It had not then acquired that modern air which is now beginning to pervade it. The Corso had not been widened and whitewashed; the Villa Aldobrandini had not been cut through to make the Via Nazionale; the south wing of the Palazzo Colonna still looked upon a narrow lane through which men hesitated to pass after dark; the Tiber’s course had not then been corrected below the Farnesina; the Farnesina itself was but just under repair; the iron bridge at the Ripetta was not dreamed of; and the Prati di Castello were still, as their name implies, a series of waste meadows. At the southern extremity of the city, the space between the fountain of Moses and the newly erected railway station, running past the Baths of Diocletian, was still an exercising-ground for the French cavalry. Even the people in the streets then presented an appearance very different from that which is now observed by the visitors and foreigners who come to Rome in the winter. French dragoons and hussars, French infantry and French officers, were everywhere to be seen in great numbers, mingled with a goodly sprinkling of the Papal Zouaves, whose grey Turco uniforms with bright red facings, red sashes, and short yellow gaiters, gave colour to any crowd. A fine corps of men they were, too; counting hundreds of gentlemen in their ranks, and officered by some of the best blood in France and Austria. In those days also were to be seen the great coaches of the cardinals, with their gorgeous footmen and magnificent black horses, the huge red umbrellas lying upon the top, while from the open windows the stately princes of the Church from time to time returned the salutations of the pedestrians in the street. And often in the afternoon there was heard the tramp of horse as a detachment of the noble guards trotted down the Corso on their great chargers, escorting the holy Father himself, while all who met him dropped upon one knee and uncovered their heads to receive the benediction of the mild-eyed old man with the beautiful features, the head of Church and State. Many a time, too, Pius IX. would descend from his coach and walk upon the Pincio, all clothed in white, stopping sometimes to talk with those who accompanied him, or to lay his gentle hand on the fair curls of some little English child that paused from its play in awe and admiration as the Pope went by. For he loved children well, and most of all, children with golden hair—angels, not Angles, as Gregory said.

Reader Review: This is a romance set in Rome in 1865-6. It’s about a prince who loves a duchess, but she’s married, and…if I say any more it’ll ruin the story for you since the plot isn’t very deep. It’s very well written and moves along at a good pace.

At the beginning and a couple times later in the book Crawford writes about European politics, and he does it so well that I wish that he did it more. He could have easily given Giovanni some sort of occupation and worked in some intrigue, but he preferred to write page after page about what a character is thinking or feeling.

This book is the first of a tetralogy, and at the end Crawford says that “to carry on the tale from this point would be to enter upon a new series of events more interesting than those herein detailed…,” so hopefully the succeeding books will have more to them. (The other books are Sant’Ilario, Don Orsino and Corleone.) This book is well worth reading, though, so I recommend it to anyone who likes romances, especially historic ones.

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The Wings of the Morning

reader review: A little mystery, adventure, and romance in a well written book. 2 people are shipwrecked on a deserted island and fall in love while trying to survive hardships. I had a hard time puting this book down.

Excerpt; The girl choked back her emotion, and sadly essayed the task of providing a meal which was hateful to her. In doing so she saw her Bible, lying where she had placed it that morning, the leaves still open at the 91st Psalm. She had indeed forgotten the promise it contained—

“For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

A few tears fell now and made little furrows down her soiled cheeks. But they were helpful tears, tears of resignation, not of despair. Although the “destruction that wasteth at noonday” was trying her sorely she again felt strong and sustained.

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Pushing to the Front

American writer and editor ORISON SWETT MARDEN (1850-1924) was born in New England and studied at Boston University and Andover Theological Seminary. In 1897, he founded Success Magazine.

Reader Review; Orison Swett Marden was the original editor-in-chief of the now defunct “Success” magazine. In fact, he probably rolled over in his grave when the magazine went out of publication. It was a time of mourning for me. In fact, I was just in the process of renewing my subscription when I found out…”Success” was no longer successful (how ironic).
This set of books is excellent. Most of the writing is examples of successful people from the past and present (1911). This type of motivational writing tends to get repetitive, however, there is a lot of advise tucked carefully between the many examples given. It was a very different world when the author wrote this book, but as I read it I noticed, the more things change, the more they stay the same. One difference I like is the chivalry and honesty exhibited from the time period. Even the highest standards of decency today are a far cry from that time. It was a lot of fun reading some of the examples from that era and knowing they were current events. These books are well worth the read, if you can find them.

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The Westerners

This is an old fashioned western written at the time when words like savage and half-breed were as common as the insensitivity that allowed people to use them ease.

Excerpt: Jim agreed to transport the three in his schooner, which was one point well settled. Billy suggested at least a dozen absurd methods of keeping the camp in ignorance until the start had actually been made, each one of which was laughed to scorn by the practical Jim.

“She might put on men’s clothes,” he concluded desperately.

“For the love of God, what for?” inquired Jim. “Stick to sense, Billy. Besides, there’s the kid.”

Billy tried once more.

“They might meet us ’bout a hundred mile out. He could take Jim’s schooner, here, and mosey out nor’-west, and then jest nat’rally pick us up after we gets good and started. That way, the camp thinks he palavers with Jim and us to get a schooner, and maybe they thinks Jim is a damn fool a whole lot, but Jim don’t mind that; do you, Jim?”

“No, I don’t mind that,” said Jim, “but yore scheme’s no good.”


“He wouldn’t get ten mile before somebody’d hold him up and lift his schooner off him. They’s a raft of bad men jest layin’ fer a chance like that to turn road agent.”

Billy turned a slow brick-red, and got up suddenly, overturning the coffee-pot. A dozen strides brought him to the camp of the Tennessee outfit. There he raised his voice to concert pitch.

“We aims to pull out day arter to-morrow,” he bellowed. “We also aims to take with us two tenderfeet, a woman, and a kid. Them that has objections can go to the devil.”

So saying, he turned abruptly on his heel and returned to his friends. Jim whistled; but Alfred smiled softly, and began to recap the nipples of his old-fashioned Colt’s revolvers. Alfred was at that time the best shot with a six-shooter in the middle West.

Seeing this, Billy’s frown relaxed into a grin.

“I’m thinkin’ that them that does object probably will go to the devil,” said he.

In half an hour the news was all over camp. When Michaïl Lafond heard of it, he left his dinner half eaten and went out to talk earnestly to a great variety of people.”

And here’s another:

“He was a queer man, the doctor, a pathetic little figure in the world’s progress—an outgrowth of it, in a certain way of thinking.

Born of good old New England stock, he spent his studious, hard-working boyhood on a farm. At sixteen he went to the high school, where he was adored by his teachers because he stood ninety-nine in algebra. Inconsequently, but inevitably, this rendered him shy in the presence of girls, and unwarrantably conscious of his hands and feet. So, when he went to college, he spent much time in the library, more in the laboratory, and none at all in the elemental little chaos of a world that can do so much for the wearers of queer clothes and queerer habits of thought. He graduated, a spectacled grind, bowed of shoulder, straight of hair, earnest of thought.

Much reading of abstract speculation had developed in him a reverence for the impractical that amounted almost to obsession. Given a bit of useless information and a chunk of solid wisdom, he would at once bestow his preference on the former, provided, always, it were theoretical enough. He knew the dips of strata from their premonitary surface wiggles to their final plunges into unknown and heated depths. He could deliver to you a cross-section of your pasture lot, streaked like the wind-clouds of early winter; and he could explain it in the most technical language. Nothing rock-ribbed and ancient escaped him in his frequent walks. He saw everything—except, perchance, the beauty that clothes the rock-ribbed and ancient as a delicate aura, invisible to the eye of science—and he labelled what he saw, and ticketed it away in the pigeon-holes of his many-chambered mind, where he could put his finger on it at any given moment in the easiest fashion in the world.

It is very pleasant to know where the Paleozoic has faulted, and how; or why the stratifications of the ice age do not show glacial scorings in certain New England localities. To verify in regard to lamination green volumes of obese proportions, or to recognize the projection into the geological physical world of the thought of a master, this is fine, is noble; this makes to glow the kindly light in spectacled blue eyes.

Adoniram Welch left college with many honors. He returned to his little New England village, and for a space was looked upon as a local celebrity. This is a bad thing for most youths, but Adoniram it affected not at all. It availed only to draw upon him, in sweet contemplation, another pair of blue eyes, womanly, serious blue eyes, under a tangle of curly golden hair.

And so, although Prue Welch was a homely name, and Prue Winterborne a beautiful one, when Adoniram accepted the chair of geology offered him by his alma mater, the owner of the blue eyes went with him, and the new professor’s thick spectacles somehow glowed with a kindly warmth, which even fine specimens of the finest fossils had never been able to kindle. He settled down into a little white house, in a little blossomy “yard,” under a very big, motherly elm, and gave his days to the earnest mental dissection of the cuticle of the globe. His wife attacked the problem of life on six hundred dollars a year.

Now, from this state of affairs sprang two results. The professor evolved a theory, and Mrs. Professor, although she did not in the least understand what it was all about, came to believe in it, to champion it, to consider it quite the most important affair of the age. The professor thought so, too; and so they were happy and united.”

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In the Bishop’s Carriage

Excerpt: When the thing was at its hottest, I bolted. Tom, like the darling he is—(Yes, you are, old fellow, you’re as precious to me as—as you are to the police—if they could only get their hands on you)—well, Tom drew off the crowd, having passed the old gentleman’s watch to me, and I made for the women’s rooms.

The station was crowded, as it always is in the afternoon, and in a minute I was strolling into the big, square room, saying slowly to myself to keep me steady:

“Nancy, you’re a college girl—just in from Bryn Mawr to meet your papa. Just see if your hat’s on straight.”

I did, going up to the big glass and looking beyond my excited face to the room behind me. There sat the woman who can never nurse her baby except where everybody can see her, in a railroad station. There was the woman who’s always hungry, nibbling chocolates out of a box; and the woman fallen asleep, with her hat on the side, and hairpins dropping out of her hair; and the woman who’s beside herself with fear that she’ll miss her train; and the woman who is taking notes about the other women’s rigs. And—

And I didn’t like the look of that man with the cap who opened the swinging door a bit and peeped in. The women’s waiting-room is no place for a man—nor for a girl who’s got somebody else’s watch inside her waist. Luckily, my back was toward him, but just as the door swung back he might have caught the reflection of my face in a mirror hanging opposite to the big one.

I retreated, going to an inner room where the ladies were having the maid brush their gowns, soiled from suburban travel and the dirty station.

The deuce is in it the way women stare. I took off my hat and jacket for a reason to stay there, and hung them up as leisurely as I could.

“Nance,” I said under my breath, to the alert-eyed, pug-nosed girl in the mirror, who gave a quick glance about the room as I bent to wash my hands, “women stare ’cause they’re women. There’s no meaning in their look. If they were men, now, you might twitter.”

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Happy reading!

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Stewed Pumpkin with Tomato

vintage pumpkin in field illustration I make something like the recipe below- or rather, I used to, when money was much tighter and I had more mouths to feed. I usually added garlic and some salted nuts or seeds to mine. I would use arrowroot and butter or ghee for the thickener instead of flour and margarine, and then it would be a Whole30 compliant meal.

I learned to make it from one of the sidebar comments in my old standby, the More with Less cookbook. It was an African dish.   The recipe below is taken from the 1920 Good housekeeping’s book of menus, recipes, and household discoveries (every recipe tested and approved!)

stewed pumpkin with tomato recipe

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Husband’s Lunch: Asian Goulash

I think I’ll call the noodles Asian goulash- lo mein noodles boiled with the dried squid jerky for lack of a better word- it’s different from the saki ika I usually buy ( This stuff (second picture)- is harder, really difficult to chew, I think because the skin is still on it. I love saki ika, but this stuff, not so much.

After boiling the noodles and the dried squid, I cut up the squid strips, which were now less like tree branches and more dried rubber, added green onions, garlic, red pepper threads, sriracha sauce, Thai peanut sauce, ghee, shrimp, calimari, and scallops, as well as mixed stir fry veggies from Trader Joes and fried it all up quickly.   My husband took a quick taste and said it was more than enough spicy stuff, thank-you. I topped it with Furikake ( Side dishes are simple- just a baby greens and baby kale salad and frozen blueberries with a spoonful of coconut cream.


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I have committed an act of cranial terrorism

…. against myself.

I’ve been picking individualized ring tones for each of my family members. Yes, I did this once before, but somehow I accidentally undid it yesterday so I had to repeat my efforts. I couldn’t remember for certain what I had chosen for everybody before.

Some of them are impossible to forget, of course. The Babies’ Uncle (see previous post) has Big Bang’s “I’m Still Alive”- see last year.

My husband is still Big Bang’s “Baby, I’m Not a Monster” for Reasons.

The Mop Top is Batman’s theme because he loves Batman.

JennyAnyDots, getting married in January, has ‘Going to the Chapel.’ (she also could have been the Gumbie Cat song from Cats).

One of the Progeny is nicknamed Bear. I chose a snatch of this as her ringtone:

You’re welcome.

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What the Dread Pirate Grasshopper Wants to Be When He Grows Up

Five Year Old Grandson: When I grow up I’m going to be like Uncle ___.
Me: Really? That’s cool. What do you want to do that your uncle does?
Five Year Old Grandson: I’m going to be The Babies’ Uncle!

I instantly shared this with all my friends and relations in my private FB acct and said, “Help! I’m melting and I can’t get up.”

I was also babysitting while the grandbabies’ mama packed for her upcoming move, and so I couldn’t stay melted for long. There were fractious arguments to referee, predicaments children needed to be extracted from (one involved a stool and the kitchen trashcan), and play dough to make. Y’all young mothers, my hat is off to you. Mothering is for the young, my dears, the young.

I told the Boy later that this was going to be his new nickname forever- The Babies Uncle.

He said he needed to go punch a wall just so he could feel more manly, and he also said that it was definitely better to be The Babies’ Uncle than a Baby’s Daddy right now, but he couldn’t stop grinning while he said all this.

It’s also youth bow hunting season, a friend gave him some snazzy new arrows that light up for better tracking at night, and he got paid today. He’s having a very good day, is The Babies’ Uncle.

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1920 Interchurch Movement

This is an ad by the I found it in the 1920 publication of The Christian Advocate, Volume 95.  The ad is for/by a group called The Interchurch Movement

Highlighting is mine

Church ADvocacy ad 1920


The Christian Advocate, Volume 95, published in 1920

Several things caught my eye- the indication of the technological society Jacques Ellul wrote about, the confusion there seems to be between Christianity and a political ideology, the similarity between concerns about plague being brought in by foreigners then as now, the focus on self-interest- never mind the dying Indian children, help India to keep *our* children safe, for example.

I don’t know much about the Interchurch Movement- skimming through The Christian Advocate, it seems to begin with enthusiasm for the organization and end with bitter recriminations.

In April of 1920, there’s an article about their fund raising.  It was decided to collected funds from unchurched members of the communities where the organization canvassed, people who had associated themselves with no church congregation at all, but might be supposed to be of good will with general humanitarian impulses- these people were designated “Friendly Citizens” (a change from their first designation of ‘no man’s land,’ Friendly suitable, and “Wherever a community canvass is put on in the Interchurch Financial Compaign,  these Friendly Citizens will be visited and invited to give proof of their friendliness by subscribing to the fund.”

That sounds vaguely threatening, doesn’t it?  The article continues,

“Vigorous objection has been made to this feature of the Interchurch policy. The Continent (Presbyterian) condemns it as “reversing the apostolic ambition to get men to give first their own selves to the Lord.” The Sunday School Times makes it one of a number of counts in the harsh, and as we think, unfair indictment, which it brings against the Interchurch Movement, saying “It seems to be concerned not at all as to where the money comes from provided only the desired amount comes.”

I’m inclined to agree with the above criticisms on general principles.   And by December of 1920 the same paper was reporting that the Methodist board had agreed the Interchurch Movement was uanble to continue and should liquidate its assets and surrender its charter and dispurse the funds amongst the member groups.

In November, they published this:

Christian advocate interchurch movement failure

I found this from a Baptist site:

An ecumenical effort of about thirty denominations to combine their resources, cooperate in ministries at home, and parcel out their overseas efforts to avoid overlap and duplication. One motive was to assist in rebuilding war-torn Europe and reestablishing ties with European Christians. For all its worthy motives, most observers now concede that the Interchurch Movement was premature, poorly planned, and structurally flawed. For whatever reasons, it failed to enlist the necessary cooperation, and its failure almost pulled down the Baptists’ New World Movement in its wake. Northern Baptist reaction to linking the NWM to an ecumenical effort was so overwhelmingly negative that by 1920 the convention voted reluctantly to pull out of the Interchurch movement.

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