A Reblog of a poem from Sue Vincent and Ani

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Couldn’t not spread this offering from Sue Vincent and her adorable dog Ani:

Go to    https://scvincent.com/2018/12/08/from-the-small-dog-3/#comment-170064 for the original!

From the small dog…

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“The time has come,” the doglet said,
“to talk of many things;
Of tennis balls and squeaky ducks,
and sneaky bees with stings;
of why the sparrows fly so fast
and if that cat has wings.”
“Just wait a bit,” the writer said,
“I’m busy with these things.”

“But writer,“ said the small dog then,
“The sun will shortly set,
the pheasants will be playing out,
and rabbits too, I bet.
I really should be practising,
I haven’t caught one yet.”
“Hmm. Never mind, it’s raining
and you don’t like getting wet.”

“Ok then,” sighed the little dog,
“We could consider, please,
the therapeutic benefits
of sharing Cheddar cheese.
Or why that spider’s sitting there,
Or why do you have knees…”
“You scratch a lot,” the writer said,
“You sure it isn’t fleas?”

The clouds were turning dusky pink,
Upon the fading blue.
The writer sighed, put down the pen
another task was through.
“Come on, small dog, go get the leash,
your walk is overdue.”
The small dog answered sheepishly,
“Tough luck, I ate your shoe.”

With apologies to Lewis Carroll….
But none at all to her.
She should come out more.

Laughter 1Thank you Sue and Ani for the chuckles!

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Book Review and Blog Tour: The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau (@Tudorscribe) #RBRT #historicalfiction

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This review was supposed to be published yesterday, at the end of the tour, but due to a mix-up I am blogging this review as what I call a clean-up at the very, very end!

This book is about porcelain, something I’ve never really thought much about, except for choosing my tableware pattern before I married. I never realized that in eighteenth century England, fortunes could be made or lost on it. In The Blue, historical fiction writer Nancy Bilyeau crafts a story as lovely and colorful as the porcelain about which the tale centers.

Genevieve Planché, London-born descendent of French Protestant Huguenots who fled the persecution of Kings Louis XIV and Louis X, views porcelain with disdain. She has talent and wants to be an artist, but her grandfather, with whom she lives in London, has arranged a career for her as a decorator of porcelain at the Derby Porcelain Works. The thought of it makes her want to scream. No male artist in London will take on a female apprentice, so in a last desperate attempt to avoid her fate, she crashes a party at the home of William Hogarth, the internationally famous painter. She pleads with him to accept her as a student but is rudely rebuffed. While there, she meets Sir Gabriel Courtney, a charming roué, from whom she escapes when she leaves the party.

Her unavoidable departure for Derby is complicated by two things – first, the reappearance of Denis Arsenault, journeyman silk weaver with whom Genevieve had been besotted. Arsenault is wanted by the law for leading a riot in the workshop where he worked. He’s returned to take Genevieve to New York with him. But before that can happen, the second complication occurs: Sir Gabriel reappears as a dinner guest at her home and offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse – learn for him the secrets of porcelain manufacture at the Derby Factory and in particular the formulation of a new, unknown color of blue. If she does, he will send her to Venice to study art.

She travels to Derby, takes up her apprenticeship, but in doing so learns more than she wants – not only about porcelain but also about industrial espionage.  Genevieve resolutely faces the obstacles to her dreams with no idea of the danger that lies in what she’s been asked to do.

The Blue is a rich romp into 18th century patriarchal society and the role of women. The author has crafted a tale with colorful, memorable characters against the teeming background of London and the midlands in the 1700s – all impeccably researched. Even the lesser characters have a three-dimensionality. The political animosity between England and France during that century (the colonial wars, the Carnatic wars) creates an unsettling daily environment in which the reader becomes immersed and feels much in the time.

Genevieve is a great leading lady: dogged, intelligent, and brave, but has compassion and understanding, even when she’s been wronged. Sir Gabriel is a worthy villain, debonair and desperate. The reader may find themselves almost liking him when his reasons for drawing Genevieve into his plots is revealed. Thomas Sturbridge, the chemist responsible for formulating the blue, is an aw-shucks sweet man with a backbone of kindness. In general, with the exception Thomas and Genevieve’s grandfather, the men in this book are unpleasant, rude and often crude; I suspect that in a competitive situation with the amount of money and fame at stake, this would be the case. In any event, the author is clearly invested in her characters.

The real surprise is the descriptions of the production and decoration of porcelain, something fragile and unimportant in the historical scheme, but which fans the flames of fancy and avarice in people rich and poor and tests the limits to which the very rich and important will go to possess the finest. I was heretofore completely ignorant of this aspect of 18th century life, and the author demonstrates a fine touch of ingenuity in making this the centerpiece of the story.

The plot has many surprising twists and turns which take the reader one way and another. Spies, secret writings, robberies, chemical experiments, kidnappings and escapes – there are many things to entertain woven into the story. I also appreciated that the morality of industrial espionage, even in those times, was not ignored.

If you are looking for an increasing wild ride of well-informed historical fiction, this book is for you.

About the author

Nancy Bilyeau is a magazine editor has lived in the United States and Canada and who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Good Housekeeping, and Rolling Stone.

She is also the author of the Tudor mystery series The Crown, The Chalice, and The Tapestry. In The Blue, Nancy draws on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy studied History at the University of Michigan and clearly feels most comfortable with writing about past centuries. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to Town & Country and The Vintage News.

She currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

You can find her on

Twitter: @Tudorscribe

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyBilyeauAuthor

On her own book site: http://nancybilyeau.com/

And on her blog: http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com/

And here is the banner for the book tour, which you may have missed. Mea culpa!

Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat

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I’ve always loved this carol. It was one of the few my Dad could sing on key!

Before we left for a three day trip to the mountains, we went to see Hamilton. I can’t say enough how I enjoyed it. My daughter and her husband bought us tickets in the orchestra, about eight rows from the front, so we were really in the musical. The voices were wonderful, the story great, with lots of humor and also some pathos. The fellow playing King George had us rocking with laughter. I had listened to a CD of part of the production, following along with the libretto, and had no trouble understanding the rap. If you get a chance to see Hamilton, do it. The ticket cost is worth it, and you will learn a lot about our early history from the all minority cast!

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So we spent this past weekend up in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains, near the Pisgah National Forest. Our friends built a house on a low mountainside with spectacular views of Grandfather and Tabletop mountains. It was just what we needed after the energy we expended over Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

We visited a small arts and crafts store where I bought my first decoration of the season. Yes, that’s Garfield in the background – he liked the poinsettia, which it turns out are NOT poisonous to cats but can give them a tummy upset if they decide to chew some leaves. He was alone while we were gone and has been purring and sitting all over me since we got back. I’m sure he’ll have something to tell you soon. He’s been talking to me non-stop!

 

We returned home to find our Japanese maple in its full fall glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a deep breath, make your holiday list, and enjoy the season.

 

Happy Post-Thanksgiving to My Blog Followers

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I hope you are all enjoying the posy-turkey glow of a full stomach and lots of football and basketball. We had a terrific meal with turkey and all the trimmings (including my great-great-grandothers meat stuffing and creamed turnips) and my two favorite Thanksgiving pies – sour cream pumpkin and bourbon pecan. Belch!

I want to recognize that I have a goodly bunch of new followers. I wish I could recognize you individually as I used to do, but the numbers are overwhelming my time! I thank you so much for being willing to read my scribblings as I wander where my little gray cells lead me from one topic to another.

Since I can’t follow all my followers, here’s a challenge. If you stop by a post of mine that interests you and leave a comment, I’ll wander over and visit you! That way we can keep in contact,

Thanks so much for your support  –  you are the jewels!

ACORNS

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     I’ve been collecting acorns for the last two autumns, mainly to feed my squirrels. When they are full of acorns and fat and sassy, they don’t try to empty my bird feeders.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about these nuts. Did you know that some oaks bear acorns so low in bitter tannins that they can be eaten raw?  One mature Valley Oak can drop 2,000 pounds of acorns in a really good year. We have no oak trees on our property so I have to depend on friends who do, and who consider  the acorns a big headache in the fall.

Other than eating the sweet ones raw (or feeding squirrels), there are other things you can do with the mighty acorn. Several cultures roast and salt acorns and serve them like roasted chestnuts.

Did you know that their innards are a carbohydrate (starch) and you can make flour with them? Turns out the acorn-eatingest people in the world right now are the Koreans. If you go to a good Asian market, there is a good chance you will find acorn flour and acorn noodles, which look just like soba noodles. From what I can tell the noodles are eaten in the same way soba noodles are; and yes, they also appear to a lesser extent in Japanese cuisine. Berbers will sometimes make couscous from acorn flour, and Italians make acorn flour pasta, too

Acorns, which are, for the most part, bitter and need to be water-leached at least once or twice to be palatable. They lack gluten, and acorn cooks up dark, because of the sugars in them.

The acorn may have been one of the earliest foods. From a blog comment (a person named Claire) I learned the following: “I am reading about the Druids and they think the word is cognate with the Greek “drus”, meaning “an oak”, and “wid” meaning “to know” or “to see”. My book says “The origin of the Druid caste has had its root in the ‘food gathering age’ when extensive oak forests covered Europe. We are speaking of a period prior to 4000 BC when primitive hunter gatherers saw the oak as a symbol of plenty, collecting acorns as a means of food and finding them easy to store for more difficult days….According to Pliny, the acorn was ground and baked into bread. Publius Ovidius Naso, the poet Ovid, speaks of the acorn as the first food ever given to humans when they were dropped from the great tree of the sky-god Jove or Jupiter. Strabo speaks of acorn bread as a staple diet of the Celts of Iberia, while the Leabhar na Nuachonghbala, composed about AD 1150, records that in one particular bad year every ear of corn bore but one grain and every oak only one acorn, which indicates that the acorn was still regarded as an article of food classed with grain by the Irish.”

I’d love to try an acorn recipe – maybe a tortilla with acorn flour? – but it would deprive my squirrels of food this winter.

RED OAK

 

Coming Out of the Closet…

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It is with great trepidation that I reveal to my followers and friends…I’m a Republican.

I know this must come as a shock to many of you, and I’ve been afraid, very afraid, to reveal this. Yes, I did vote for Trump. I did not put a Trump sign in my yard, because it would have been stolen or possibly had vile things spray-painted on it. I did not put a Trump sticker on my car because the car would have been keyed. Democrats at my voting place tried to force a Democratic sample ballot on me until I told them to back off because I was one of the Deplorables, a label that truly hurt. That was when I decided to ‘come out.’

I live in a very deep blue area, and being a Republican in this sea of blue is not something you want to advertise. After all, a Republican headquarters just down the road was fire-bombed. When my son joined the military, several people came to console me. Imagine their surprise when I told them I was proud of him. I’ve lived in the closet by choice in order to get along.

What I am not: homophobic, zenophobic, sexist, racist, Islamophobic and any of the other -obics and -ists that Republicans have been labelled. I am one of the women and white college-educated professionals who came out of hiding on election day to give the Republicans their victories.

What I do believe in (adapted and expanded from an article in The Washington Post, which said it better than I could) in no particular order:

  1. An originalist theory of constitutional interpretation that seeks to determine the intended meaning of the text and does not grant judges free rein to think up new rights and powers.

  2. Faith in the private sector to afford opportunity, reduce poverty and create jobs.

  3. A conviction that our debt crisis is real and must be addressed.

  4. Support for Israel.

  5. The conviction that civil institutions including the family, voluntary associations, churches and synagogues are the lifeblood of a society and should be protected from government meddling and pressure. Having said that, I am not against gay marriage and believe that the rights of the LGBTQ communities should be upheld. Where they conflict with the religious beliefs of others, I trust in adjudication.

  6. Personal opposition to abortion – I’m a Catholic – and especially abortion after 20 weeks and definitely late-term or partial-birth abortion, except in the case of the mother’s health. Would I stand in an abortion clinic’s door and prevent a woman from entering to have an abortion? No, but I’d like to know the reasons behind her choice.

  7. A belief in limited government, a desire for less regulation and a defense of constitutional rights – especially first and second amendment rights.

  8. A belief that national security is the first obligation of the federal government.

  9. Rejection of the view that the U.S. has been the problem-making or corrupting influence in the world. I believe the U.S. is a force for good in the world and we are the most generous of all people. Have we done some reprehensible things? Yes, but hopefully we as a people are learning from them.

  10. Belief that the history of our country, both good and bad, is worth learning. It can’t and shouldn’t be rewritten to remove what is offensive. That is part of our history and if we don’t know it and understand it, we are doomed to repeat it.

    11. A reasonable immigration policy. The country can’t afford unlimited, illegal immigration, on many levels – support for the illegals once they are here and the competition for jobs with citizens, just to name two. We are already seeing the effects on our economy, our health care system and schools. Our neighbors to the north and south have strict immigration policies. Why don’t we?

    12.

    The belief that each person is responsible for their own place within society. The government’s role is to enable the people to secure the benefits of society for themselves, their families, and to help those who are unable to do so for themselves, with limited intervention.

This is the one and only post on politics I will ever write. I do not want to get into arguments with anyone, and thus will not reply to any comments to this post. If you still find that I am deplorable, feel free to unfollow me.

I love and respect all of you, because of your many thoughtful and heartfelt points of view. God bless this country. I am so very fortunate to live here.

 

Plymouth History Tour – the John Alden House

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One day I devoted to seeing the John Alden house in Duxbury. John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden moved from the main settlement to a tract of land near the acreage Alden had been granted in 1627. All the acreage had a creek, river or the ocean adjacent to five of the acres so that the owners could sail back to Plymouth on Sunday for their Sunday services. There were no roads in those day – travel was by water.

Here is a map. on which you can see Plymouth and the location of the Alden land.

John Alden married Priscilla Mullins on May 12, 1622. She was the only survivor of the Mayflower Mullins family. They had ten children! Priscilla died in Duxbury between 1651 and her husband’s death in 1687. Both were buried in the Myles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury.

The house I first saw was built by their son, John Jr. and lived in by subsequent  generations.           

 

There is a path to the site of the original house, through the woods and across a soccer field behind a high school.

This house was ten feet wide and approximately forty feet long and was built in 1632. It had, according to the excavations done there, a cellar at one end and, although poorly visible, traces of a hearth one half the distance from one end to the other. Such an arrangement would suggest possibly a two-room plan, each room ten by twenty feet, although even smaller internal divisions of either or both halves could have existed. The located site is marked by a brick outline.  This would have been the house John and Priscilla Alden lived in for most, if not all, of their lives.

The Alden house I first saw –the second house – is located on a knoll overlooking the Bluefish River. It has been variously dated as built in 1653 or 1700, and was probably built by John Alden’s grandson, John III. This property has been under the continuous ownership of the Alden family since that time, and it is now managed by a family foundation as a historic museum.

This is a model of the original house, to which an addition was made, probably for a kitchen.

Its interior is much more modern than the original Pilgrim’s houses, with finished walls and elaborate fireplace surrounds..

Interesting for me was the ‘women’s work room,’ which contained a small spinning wheel for spinning flax and a loom for making linen, along with a much larger ‘walking wheel’ for spinning wool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alden family figures large in the history of this area. John Jr was a soldier (he held a military command during King William’s war,a politician, a merchant in Boston and a sea captain.  He is most remembered for surviving the Salem witch trials, when he was accused and held for 15 months before breaking out and hiding in Duxbury. He was the only condemned person not put to death, and he was later cleared of the charges by acclamation. He had fourteen children.

Ichabod Alden, John Alden Sr.’s great grandson lived in this house and was an American Revolutionary War officer and commanding officer during the Cherry Valley Massacre.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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To all my followers and readers of my blog: Happy Spook Day!

We live so far off the main road that we don’t get visitors in costume, but where we lived in Evanston, Illinois, our house was frequented by many trick or treaters. Our outlay for candy each year was ginormous. One year, long before all of the razors appeared in candy and drugs were found in treats, I made candy apples for the children. They were eagerly snapped up, and I heard someone yell down the street, “Hey, this lady had candy apples! Come and get ’em!” A stampede ensued.

This year, I offer a picture of my daughter and son in law, who went to a Halloween Party dressed as megalodons, in honor of the recent movie (which I thoroughly enjoyed): The Meg.

A Visit to the Aptuxcet Trading Post, 1627

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One of the days of my research in and around Plymouth led me to the Aptuxcet trading post in Bourne, on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. I always love driving down that way to admire the Canal and its bridge. I went by boat to the Canal one night when I was in high school to collect plankton.  The Canal is integrally related to the Separatists*!

File:Cape Cod Bourne Bridge and Railroad Bridge.jpgIn 1627, colonists from Plymouth established a trading post at Aptuxcet, about 20 miles south on the Manamet River. They had visited the site earlier to trade for corn and beans and to search for the missing son of John Billington. Aptuxcet is the Wampanoag word for “little trap in the river,” a reference of Indian fishing weirs.

The site was accessed by sailing south from Plymouth and up the Scusset River, then portaging over land to the Manamet River. Construction of a canal linking the trading post to the ocean was first considered by Myles Standish, the Separatists’ military advisor. Trade at the site was prosperous between the Indians of Narragansett Bay and the Dutch of New Netherland, who traveled north to acquaint themselves. The first attempts sat building a canal did not take place until the late 1800s.

Aptucxet was the first trading post established by the Plymouth colonists, and it was followed in 1633 by the Metteneque Trading Post in Windsor Locks, Connecticut and the Cushnoc Trading Post in Augusta, Maine. Because these posts were located at a distance from the colony, they were manned year-round by colonists.

The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 tore the roof off the post and it was finally abandoned in the 1650s. It has been estimated this storm was at least a strong category 3 when it made landfall on Long Island and swept northward. Much of the area between Providence, Rhode Island and the Piscataqua River in Maine was damaged by the storm. Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony wrote that the storm drowned seventeen Wampanoags and toppled or destroyed thousands of trees; many houses were also flattened.

The structure existing today is a replica erected on the original foundation which was archaeologically excavated in the 1920’s, and it sits on the southern shore of the Cape Cod Canal. The museum also features a replica saltworks, similar to ones that were used in the area to manufacture sea salt in the 1800s. The saltworks consist of square wooden vats where seawater was left to evaporate. Each vat is equipped with a sliding hipped roof that can be used to protect it from dew and rain.

Here are some pictures from my tour. I was introduced to wampum during the tour and I wil tell you about wampum in another post! In this first picture, there is a circular structure made out of bricks on the left of the hearth. It is an oven with a large metal kettle on top and was used for making beer.

These are Beaver pelt on the left and a I believe a marten pelt on the left.

This is the way the Dutch shipped sugar to the Separatist, in a cone wrapped in blue paper. The goodwives uses the blue paper for bluing in their wash. If children were told to scrape some sugar off the cone, they were told to sing or whistle while they did it, so their mother would know they weren’t eating it!

 

*The Pilgrims did not acquire their name until the mid 19th century. Until then they were referred to as Saints or Separatists. In 1840, someone resurrected William Bradford’s (Plymouth Colony’s first governor) original phrase describing the Saints who had left Leiden to sail on the Mayflower to the New World. They left Leiden, he said, “that goodly & pleasante citie which had been their resting place for near 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrimes, & looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to ye heavens, their dearest cuntrie, and quieted their spirits.”