twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
My grandmother Nellie had a younger brother, Jack, who was friendly and cheerful and helpful and became a baker (and all-around general cook, but that was later). He taught my mother his recipe for piecrust, and it never failed either of us: behind cut -- my comments in ( ) )

Jack was the kind of character that I wish I'd met when I was older -- I think I met him once when I was 4, which wasn't that memorable. As I said, he was a baker, and he was engaged to this girl that everyone in the family liked (which might have been difficult, since Jack was the youngest of 9 and the family tended to be protective of their littlest brother, never mind that he was in his 20s.) And on the day of the wedding ... she didn't show up. Neither did his best man. They'd eloped.

It broke his heart. He couldn't stay in the Ottawa Valley any more; it was just too uncomfortable. So he took a job as a cook on a ranch in Alberta, took the train west, and came back at Christmas when he could. He taught my mom to knit, because he knew how to knit his own socks, and held her skeins of yarn for her while she wound them into balls, telling her stories of the ranch all the time. He taught her how to make piecrust, and a cake that wouldn't fall, and a lot more. Nellie would write to him and get frustrated when he didn't reply -- someone from the ranch would stop at the post office in town once a week or so -- so after two attempts that got no answer one year she put on the address, "If not claimed within two weeks, addressee is deceased; please return to sender." He wrote back really fast after that, and made a big joke of it.

When he came back during World War I, both his parents were dead (his mother a few years earlier but his father died in about 1917-1918) and were buried out in the little cemetery by the river church, without a headstone. He went around to visit all his brothers and sisters, asking for a little money to pay a stone cutter, and got nowhere. And yeah, he could understand that farmers and small merchants had a hard time during wartime, but there was family pride at stake too. So he dug into his own pocket, and one day a gravestone, a tall, elegant granite marker, appeared over their graves. Engraved on it was, "Sacred to the memory of Daniel and Catherine McNeely," and their dates and I think (it's been a while since I saw it) a pious verse of some sort. But in another line, underneath, "Erected by their son, John McNeely." (Never mind his three older brothers, and five sisters.) Nobody in the family took it badly, and some found it really funny, but under it all people were grateful that it had been done. And they all thought it was very much a Jack thing to do.

When he died in the late 1960s, after several years in a nursing home back in the Ottawa Valley, near family, he was buried near his parents, and the marker was altered to add his name and dates.

So, please, use Uncle Jack's Piecrust Recipe, and welcome, and pass it along. I don't want it to vanish into the place where good memories go when nobody remembers them any more.
[personal profile] ron_newman posting in [community profile] davis_square
Yes, it's that time again. Broadway between Ball and Magoun Squares will be closed to traffic this Thursday, June 29, for a street party followed by fireworks at 9:15 pm. Before the fireworks, enjoy outdoor performances by the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, local Disco-Funk band Booty Vortex, and the Somerville Sunsetters. Full details, including other street closures and parking restrictions, here.

Build it and they will come?

Jun. 27th, 2017 01:54 pm
oursin: Painting of Clio Muse of History by Artemisia Gentileschi (Clio)
[personal profile] oursin

I don't know if anyone else has been aware of the hoohah over the Chalke Valley History Festival, an event which has not been on my radar even though it has been going since 2011, though when I see that it is sponsored by A Certain Daily Rag of Which We Do Not Speak, unless we really have to, I would guess that it's NQOSD. Certainly no-one has come begging yr hedjog to address the crowds on ye syph in history (with or without my sidekick Sid, now available as a keyring), Dr Stopes, the inner meaning of the 1820s cartoons of Ladies Strachan and Warwick canoodling in a park or towsell-mowsell upon a sopha, wanking panic over the centuries etc etc.

But anyway, there has lately been a certain amount of OMG History of Dead White Males (and a few queens) and the fact that it is overwhelmingly DWM d'un certain age giving the fruits of their knowingz to the audience:
Historian pulls out of Chalke Valley festival over lack of diversity
(and, cynically, I wonder how many of the 32 women historians are Hott Young Thingz researching queens, aristo ladies, and so forth, though I may be doing them an injustice.)
The lack of women and non-white historians at this year’s Chalke Valley festival sends out a worrying message to Britain’s young

There have been defences made of the event by saying that you need to have Nazis and Tudors because that is what pulls in the punters, and maybe eventually get them onto something else not so overdone and ubiquitous.

However, only today there was a piece in The Guardian about the Bradford Literary Festival: Irna Qureshi and Syima Aslam have upended the traditional festival model to create a 10-day cultural jamboree that holds appeal across the city’s diverse communities

(Okay, does have the Brontes, and why not, but does not, alas, have ritual mud-wrestling by the Bronte Society...)

'They have upended the traditional literary festival model and attracted a demographic that is the dream of all forward-looking funders.'

So it can be done.

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coalescent!

Oh, God will save her, fear you not

Jun. 27th, 2017 04:42 am
sovay: (I Claudius)
[personal profile] sovay
I enjoyed this review of a new biography of A.E. Housman, but I got to the last paragraph and disagreed so violently that I spent my shower fuming about it:

But that sweetness, verging on sentimentality, is also Housman's limitation: the lads and lasses slumbering under the grass, never growing old or sick or worrying about how to find a job. Sadness in Housman is a one-size-fits-all emotion, not one rooted in particulars. It puddles up automatically. And reading "A Shropshire Lad" you can find yourself becoming narcotized against feelings that are deeper and more complicated. That may be the real secret of the book's enduring popularity, the way it substitutes for a feeling of genuine loss the almost pleasant pain of nostalgia.

The reviewer claims earlier that "one reason 'A Shropshire Lad' has been so successful is that readers find there what they want to find," so perhaps I am merely following this well-worn tack, but I don't see how you can read Housman and miss the irony, the wryness, the sometimes bitterness and often ambiguity that never prevents the pleasure of a line that turns perfectly on itself. Some of his best poems seem to take themselves apart as they go. Some of them are hair-raising. Some of them are really funny. (It is impossible for me to take "When I was one-and-twenty" as a serious lament. In the same vein, it wasn't until tonight in the shower that I finally noticed that "Is my team ploughing" owes a cynical debt to "The Twa Corbies.") That is much more complicated than a haze of romantic angst and the vague sweet pain of lost content, especially seeing how much of Housman's language is vividly, specifically physical for all its doomed youth and fleeting time, not dreamy at all. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale. I am not sure why the reviewer knocks Housman's Shropshire for not being "particular," either. Of course it's not actual Shropshire, where the poet himself acknowledged he never even spent much time. It's Housman's Arcadia, et ego and all. I finished the review and found myself thinking of Catullus—again, I had to have my hair full of soap before I realized why. I don't understand why anyone looks for the undiluted Housman in A Shropshire Lad any more than the Lesbia poems should be assumed to contain the authentic Catullus. Pieces of both of them, sure. But my grandmother didn't need the identity of the addressee of "Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over" pinned down in order to copy out the poem and save it after a college relationship broke up badly. (I thought it was hers for years.) Who cares if its second person was Moses Jackson or fictional? It spoke to a real loss. I don't think there is anything anesthetizing in that. I doubt Housman would have wanted the particulars known, anyway. I have to figure out a way to stop fuming and start being asleep.

decide for me

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:44 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I am supposed to go to rounds every Tuesday from 6 to 7 at the raptor rehab where I volunteer. It's good to be up-to-date on protocols, and to get the news about the cases. On the other hand, there is always a lot of information I don't need, and there are other ways to get the information I do need.

Tomorrow night there is a storytelling event at a coffee house from 7 to 9. "The event will showcase a selection of community storytellers sharing stories on the theme of food and farm. We’ve invited six storytellers — writers, poets, performers, journalists, speakers — to prepare true, personal stories and share them in front of a live audience." I'd like to go. I am always interested in anything that could help me become a better storyteller.

I could skip rounds.
I could leave rounds 10 minutes early and go to both, but I hate getting up when everyone else is still sitting patiently, and also that would be a very long evening for me.
I could just stay home. Staying home is always good.

Local news

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:34 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Mosque approved despite pleas to think of the little turtles and an odd assertion that the mosque would produce more sewage than "normal " spiritual use.

Unexpected encounters, part 3

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:55 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
It was the first day at St. Bonaventure University, to which I was transferring after two years above the Adirondacks at Potsdam State. One of the girls down the hall, who had been there for a couple of years, was showing me around the campus and filling me in on which professors to take for which classes, and which to avoid because they weren't as good, and which to avoid because they hit on the students -- all good things to know.

After we'd wandered around most of the buildings, she took me to the nature trails, on the wilder part of the campus by the river. The trails had been there for a century or more, weaving through the woods and the nearby swamp; the longer trail we ended up on ran from the village to the west, past the campus, and into a park halfway to the city of Olean, on the east. It was well-worn dirt, not bad for walking, and she was talking and gesturing as we walked and I listened.

Then I looked up.

There were trees on both sides of the trail, so we were walking under the arch of their branches. And on one of those low branches -- say, 15' from the ground -- there was a bald eagle, and it was staring at me. It shifted around on the branch to face me full on.

I tried to get her attention; I couldn't manage to interrupt her, and we kept walking forward toward that branch.

The eagle lifted off, watching me the whole time, and swooped low, its claws nearly touching my head, and swung off into the woods.

The girl with me never saw a thing.

I learned later that the eagle was one that had been found injured in a farmer's field, had been taken to a branch of the Audubon Society, where they had a vet who patched up wounded birds, and rehabilitated. When she was released, she built a nest on the edge of the swamp, near the river. That wasn't a bad choice for a fish-eating bird -- that river had four-foot carp, not to mention catfish and other fish.

I used to see the eagle again, when I was walking through the trails, taking a break from class. There was a small clearing in the woods, with a stone bench that caught the sun, and it was a good place to study or catch up on reading -- I've never been able to study with other people around me. After a while, the animals would come out to see what this odd thing was that smelled like a human but didn't move like one. I would see deer fairly often, and parts of wild turkeys (you never saw a whole one -- they always kept part of a tree between you and them), and once or twice a fox. But they left when I moved, and none of them gave me the intense close encounter that I had with that eagle.

The exgf's cats meet Fig

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:42 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ibid has a ... troubled history with Nigel so we're holding off on that.

No histrionics but somehow Rufus established himself as a cat Fig needs not to annoy, whereas Nigel is someone Fig will happily follow around.

Also, Fig made himself sick eating daisies, then tried to eat one again.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I finally found out where I misshelved this.

(no idea what review series I can fit it into)


Dumb Calibre/Kobo question

Jun. 26th, 2017 03:20 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I can see my Kobo has about 300 more titles on it than my laptop Calibre does (because I got the Kobo well before the laptop). How do I move the titles that are on the Kobo to Calibre?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
One issue: I really suck at giving people their free reviews. Would appreciate pointers on how to suck less.

Free comic book collection

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:34 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
There is an interested party. Will update if this changes.

Jasmine's closets are filled with the late MV's comic collection. She's been trying to find home for the 30 cartons of comics for the last decade. If anyone would like them, they are free for the picking up (in bulk, not piece meal. Sorry.).

If she cannot find a taker in the next week, they are going out to recycling.

Please contact me here or at jdnicoll at panix dot com for more details.

Clarification: you can take individual boxes if you like. You just cannot take individual issues.
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

10 Famous Book Hoarders

(I think we may contest the term 'hoarders' for people with lotsaboox, hmmmm?)

In most of those cases I think we do see a real love of books, though I'm not sure about Hearst and whether 'ostentation' was not on his mind rather than use?

In some cases those appear to be the personal libraries that have fetched up in public collections, and one wonders whether there was a certain amount of weeding and selection at the point of accession. (I'm not saying that Houdini or Arendt also had vast collections of pulp westerns or school stories or whatever, but I'm not ruling out that choices were made at some point.)

And indeed, while calling your private collection 'the Library of the History of Human Imagination' is indeed quite a long way along the pretentiousness scale, I look at that picture: 'It has three levels, a glass bridge, floating platforms' and feel a certain covetousness.

And even if it's ponceyness turned up to 11, it's not as cringe-making as this, which crossed my radar pretty much on the same day: Meet The App That Revolutionized Book Reading For 2 Million People

We sort through the approximately 2,200,000 books published worldwide to find the best nonfiction books out there. Then, our subject specialists, writers, and editors identify the key ideas from each of these hand-selected books and transform them into smart, useful summaries of insights we lovingly polish and refine until they are nothing but the absolute most essential elements of the writer’s main ideas. We do the filtering for you, then we share those ideas with you the way your dream-friend would.
Tonstant Weader called for a stiff drink.

*'Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested the variety of his [Gordian II's] inclinations; and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than for ostentation.' Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol I.

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