Monthly Archives: September 2013

Knitting with Jane Austen

Making Stockings

I love when  two  worlds collide.

So when I had the chance to organize a Jane Austen Knit Day with the good folks at Black Sheep Yarn Shop I jumped at  it.




What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday Afternoon!

In preparation for the day I did a little research into who would be knitting during the regency period. Which of Austen’s heroine’s would pick up a set of needles I wondered.

Lizzie, we know, picked up a little needle work  while stuck in the drawing-room at Neitherfield Park. Could she have been knitting? I can see her whipping up a scarf or stockings much more readily than I can see Caroline or Mrs. Hurst doing so.

lady knitting lace

Ladies who enjoyed a certain income would pay for their knit wear, so if Emma ever picked up a pair of needles it was for her enjoyment, or for charity. She never had to learn a Kitchener stitch or how to turn a heal. THAT is something I think Harriet could have taught HER.

Fanny Price on the other hand probably had a little knitting basket to keep her hands busy — when she wasn’t running errands  for  Aunt Norris or Aunt Bertram that is.

Elinor and Marianne might not have needed to knit at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility but you can bet their disposable income for knitwear was slashed (along with everything else) once they moved to Barton Cottage.

Catherine Moreland’s first knitting project might have been nappies  for her flock of younger brothers and sisters .

I suspect that Sir Walter would frown upon something as useful as knitting and would discourage his daughters from taking it up, but there are plenty of characters (Mrs. Smith comes to mind) in Persuasion who are sure to have knitted and purled their way through a garment or two.

Knitting with double pointed needles while watching a baby.

Knitting with double pointed needles while watching a baby.

The poor, both men and women, would have kept their fingers flying to keep the rich ladies in Austen’s world warm and fashionable. At the time of her death a poor family could make between 12 and 20 pounds annually just by knitting.

Knitting was an all age activity, and was done by both men and women.

Knitting was an all age activity, and was done by both men and women.

Today knitters can relive the Regency period through patterns found in such publications as Jane Austen Knits.


24/11/11 (Photo credit: fifikins)


You can even make yourself a pair of mittens emblazoned with Jane’s silhouette.

Chawton Mittens

Chawton Mittens (Photo credit: The Bees)


How divine.


Secondary Character Saturday: Pointy Haired Boss (Dilbert)

Pointy-haired Boss

Pointy-haired Boss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHO: the Pointy Haired Boss

FROM: Dilbert

BY: Scott Adams

PUBLISHED: Dilbert began running as a syndicated cartoon strip in spring of 1988.

PROS: He comes to work every day. (Although Dilbert, Alice and Wally probably wish he wouldn’t.) Yeah, that’s about it for the pros.

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam's

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam’s

CONS: He’s arrogant, selfish, and stupid.

He’s every employee’s worst nightmare. He wasn’t born mean and unscrupulous, he worked hard at it. And succeeded. As for stupidity, well, some things are inborn…His top priorities are the bottom line and looking good in front of his subordinates and superiors (not necessarily in that order). Of absolutely no concern to him is the professional or personal well-being of his employees. The Boss is technologically challenged but he stays current on all the latest business trends, even though he rarely understands them.  []

MOST SHINING MOMENT: I think EVERY frame he’s in is a shining moment, but maybe not for the people who have to deal with him.

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam's

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam’s

LEAST SHINING MOMENT: I think EVERY time he steps into the frame takes the opportunity to be the worst boss ever. That’s dedication, that’s skill.

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam's

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam’s

WHY I CHOSE the POINTY HAIRED BOSS: We all know one. Maybe we know more than one. They may not have pointy hair, but they have the attitude and the cluelessness that Scott Adams perfectly captures in his PHB (Pointy Haired Boss). And you gotta laugh right? Cause you know what the alternative is…

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam's

All art is courtesy: Scott Adam’s

Fiction Friday: The Other Place

Viewfromtheside gave “Something I have never done before” as a writing prompt this week. I love that premise. The fish-out-of-water theme is one of my favorite writing devices. So I decided to share the first chapter of a story I had squirreled away, The Other Place. I know it is a bit long, but I hope you ENJOY….

The Other Place

When he went to bed at 3:42 A.M. everything was all right.

Chick was bushed. It had been a long night at the club. He’d stopped three fights. (But one not quickly enough. He was nursing a sore spot on his chin from some john’s right cross. He’d have a bruise in the morning.) He’d gotten a dozen people into cabs, and had poured enough coffee into a dozen others so that they were O.K. to drive home on their own. The low point of the evening had been when Colby, the owner of the club, had given him a load of crap for taking a five minute break and getting a beer — one beer — when there were customers out side.

Oh well, screw it. Chick planned to sleep away the morning and start the whole damn thing over again when he woke up.

But he didn’t sleep in late.

At 6:04 a screech of alarm filled the room.

Chick jumped to a sitting position and tried to focus his still sleeping eyes. The words “What da…” left his lips as he tied to find the source of the noise. It was really loud, but it wasn’t a general alarm. The apartment building wasn’t on fire or anything. His eyes and ears zoned in on a what looked like a small propeller on the chest of drawers across the room. He  stumbled to his feet as he heard a bang from the room above and a woman’s voice shouting. “Alarm clock, you idiot.” He got to the propeller and focused enough to see that there was a round clock face set into the middle of its too thick blades. He picked it up and tried to find the off switch but his eyes couldn’t seem to adjust enough. He gave it a swat but the damn thing still screamed at him.

Shrill as it was, it wasn’t so loud that he couldn’t hear the angry muttering from the woman above, or her loud foot steps as she trudged down the steps toward him. With one quick angry motion she slammed open the door, crossed to him at the dresser, tore the propeller clock from his hands and switched off the alarm. “Glad to see you made it home all right.” She said as she fussed with the clock, making sure she had completely turned off the alarm, and not just put it in snooze mode.

Chick looked at her — or tried to look at her, his eyes still wouldn’t clear — “Get the hell out of my room, lady!” with as much of his bouncer voice as he could manage after two hours sleep.

At the sound of his voice the woman looked up at him. Her face fell in horror then she panicked and threw the clock at his face. “Stay away from me!”

Image courtesy:

Image courtesy:

The clock hit him in the right temple as he tried to duck out of the way. “Jesus!” He stammered as he half fell back. He had one hand to his his brow and the other out toward her. “Get the hell out of here, NOW!”

Caroline, the woman, shook with fear. She did not recognize the tall, muscular man standing in front of her, but she knew why he was here. They had done it. After several warnings and reprimands they had finally come through on their promise/threat of exiling her no-good, cheating, husband, Clay to The Other Place. This, she supposed, was his replacement from that side.

And she had hit him with the alarm clock.

In all the years with Clay, no matter what he’d done, she’d never thrown anything at him.

“I said get out of my room!” He barked at her.

“It’s not your room.” Caroline said as calmly as she could.

“What?” He yelled back at her. But Chick was beginning to come out of his fog of sleep. He knew this wasn’t his room. He was a bouncer, he didn’t need to get up until 3:00 in the afternoon, so he didn’t have an alarm clock. He certainly didn’t have a heavy brass alarm clock made to look like a boat propeller. And the room was smaller than what it should be. Chick had an efficiency apartment. It had two rooms, a bathroom and a bedroom/living room/ dining room/kitchen combination. This room was just a bedroom, it didn’t do double duty as anything else.

He stumbled backwards away from the woman until his leg hit the bed. “What’s going on here?” His voice was still loud and demanding but now there was uncertainty, almost panic, too.

“Please calm down and lower your voice.”  She realized that they were making too much noise. If they woke a neighbor with their arguing they’d be reported. She last thing she wanted was a peace man coming by to give them a warning.

“I don’t want to calm down.” Chick told her just as loudly. There was way too much weird shit going on in this situation. If he knew anything, he knew that the loudest dog was given the biggest berth.

A car came down the street fast and came to a noisy halt in front of the house. Caroline’s stomach sank. She didn’t know what the penalty was for hitting your husband’s government sanctioned impersonator, but it couldn’t be good. “Look, I’m sorry for throwing that thing at you.”  She was sorry, and not just because she was going to get in trouble for it.

He was still rubbing the spot. “Yeah?” He said with sarcasm, “Me too.”

The door bell went off down the hall.

Caroline hesitated and it rang again.

“You gonna get the door or you gonna wait for them to break it down?”

Caroline ran for the door and Chick sat down on the bed. He wondered how much trouble was he in? Was it possible that he’d broken into this house and fallen asleep in some one else’s bed without knowing it?

He heard the lock in the door click open and two women talking. The angry woman, the one who’d lobbed the propeller at his head, was calmer now, chagrined. The other woman was excited.

Caroline led her into the room and shrugged at Chick. then disappeared down the hall way again.

“O.K.” The second woman said in a very fast, very businesslike manner. “First, I apologize. I was delayed. I should have been here when you woke up to explain things, but… Well… I was delayed.” She was in her fifties and all the rushing she’d done this morning made her normally well made up face and hair look mussy and dank. She had large blue watery eyes that she dabbed at with a linen hanky. And she kept biting her lower lip so her lipstick only held on to the edge of her lips.

“Look” Chick said emphatically, “I don’t know where I am, I don’t know how I got here, I don’t know who that lady is, and I don’t know who you are. But I didn’t do anything wrong. And what ever is going on… I’m sorry.”

Caroline had come back in for the end of his disclaimer. She handed him a zip lock bag filled with ice chips wrapped in a dish towel. “My name is Caroline McAdams, this is my husband Clay’s bedroom, and you’re not in trouble.” She gave him a thin smile — it was all she could manage under the circumstances — and  indicated to  his face. “Put the ice on your forehead before it begins to swell.”

Chick did as he was told with the ice.

“And I’m Lucy Dingle.” The chipper, other woman told them both. “I’m your case worker.” She blinked her watery eyes toward Caroline while inclining her head toward Chick. “And, well I suppose you’ve guessed that Charles here is Clay’s replacement.”

“The name is Chick, no one has called me Charles since I was five.”

“Well, dear,” Lucy said as she fished into her large hand bag and pulled out a pair of glasses in a hard leather case, “your name is Clay now.” She handed him the glasses.

English: A pair of reading glasses with LaCost...

English: A pair of reading glasses with LaCoste frames. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I don’t wear glasses.” He told her, but this morning it sure felt like he needed them, his head ached and his eyesight has still not cleared.

“Put the glasses on, dear, there’s a good boy.” Lucy said with authority.

“Clay wears glasses.” Caroline explained.

“I don’t want to be your husband.” Chick argued. Then he realized how rude that sounded and amended it with a muttered “no offense.”

Caroline gave him the same brave thin smile and said very quietly, “Well neither did Clay, lately.”

“So what’s the deal here?” Chick asked. “And where IS here?” The birds had awaken outside the window and were cooing and twittering their welcome to the new day. Clearly he wasn’t in his little apartment on the 10th floor of a city block.

“Well,” Lucy sat on his bed with a flop and patted her brow with the hanky. “You see, 46 years ago the Freedom of Meanness Act went into effect. Each citizen was officially given a bank of 25 Meanness Event Warnings. If a citizen uses up his bank of warnings certain actions, by law, need to happen. The citizen needs to be removed from Crystal City and sent, as punishment to the Other Place.”

“Badham” Chick whispered. He knew all about the Freedom of Meanness Act. His biological parents had been reprimanded and sent to the Badham before he was born.

“Yes, Badham.” Lucy confirmed perkily. She plunked her large bag between them and began to pull out various contents from its interior. She found a black leather e-book and flipped it open and on. She took a second to review the file before turning back to them. “Well, it seems our friend Clay has had almost double the amount of Event Warnings allocated by FoMA.” She looked over to Caroline who was leaning against the chest of drawers and trying not to shake. “Its my guess that there would be a lot more if you’d filed any complaints.”

There wasn’t much accusation in Lucy’s statement, but Caroline grew stony at the reprimand. “I was under the impression that what happens inside the walls of my house was my business.”

Lucy shrugged and returned to her paperwork. “Well, as I say we had too many other E.W.s not to act.” She fixed her watery eyes on Chick and smiled. “We did a search in Badham and came up with you.” She looked at her e-book and read the report: “82% achievement record, 93% learning index, clean record.” She blinked back to him. “And you’ve got a similar build and coloring to Clay. You’ll do nicely.”

“I don’t want to be some FoMA replacement.” Chick told them. “I have a life in Badham. I’m happy there. I want to go back.”

Lucy steeled herself. She’d seen this before. Some times the replacements would just rather not be bothered with a better life. “Well,” She folded her hands on her lap and spoke to him like a middle school guidance councilor, “one could argue that familiarity  does not equal happiness. Or one could impress upon you that this is your big chance to fulfill your potential as a human being. But, frankly… you don’t have any choice.”


“Section 235, Article  17, states–”

“Fine.” If he was stuck, he was stuck, he didn’t feel like having this old bat reciting the code book at him. “I’ll stay. I wouldn’t want to break Article 17.”

But Caroline wasn’t happy. “Wait a minute. What makes you think he’s a better person then Clay?” She asked warily. “What did he do to get sent to Badham in the first place?”

Lucy turned her sugar coated, don’t-mess-with-me smile to Caroline. “Calm down Caroline.” She said very pleasantly.

Caroline took a deep breath. She knew better than to antagonize a FoMA agent.

“Sit down, there’s a good girl.”

Reluctantly Caroline took a seat at the opposite corner of the bed, making a triangle with Chick at the point and the women at the base. Lucy gave a satisfied smile toward Caroline and turned to Chick “Would you like to tell her Charles or shall I?”

“This blows.” Chick threw the ice pack to the center of the bed and turned away from the women.

“Then I guess I’ll tell you. Charles was born in the Other Place and raised by his parents until he was five when he was removed from their custody and sent to live at a group home.–”

Chick turned back to them to interrupt. “Which was run by two lesbians teachers who decided to move there and live with each other rather than stay here and live a lie.” Miss Karen and Miss Lynn treated him right. They took a lot better care of him than his drug addled parents ever did. “There are plenty of shitty people in Badham, but there are plenty of good ones too.”

“I thought I was giving the case history, Charles, did you want to take over from here?” Lucy smiled at him.

Chick returned the cheesy smile. “No, not really.” He turned away again. He burned with embarrassment at having his story told out loud.

“This was long before Act 71. Now children born in The Other Place are adopted back here immediately, of course, but up to 20 years ago they were assimilated back into that society.” She smiled satisfactorily to herself and glanced back at her e-book. “He did well in school and graduated from High School with good grades. He has worked a number of jobs leaving by his own will for a better paying position each time. His last job there was as ‘bouncer’ for Lucky Fred’s Bar and Grill.”

“Bar and Girl. It’s a strip club.”

Lucky Fred's matchbook

Lucy’s smile did not diminish. “How interesting.”

“I some how doubt you have those here.”

“No.” Lucy admitted. “But we’ve got something lined up that uses many of those same skills.”

“Yeah, what?”

“Coach of an elementary school wrestling team. You’ll also teach Math and Science.”

He shook his head, how was THAT like being being a bouncer. “I can’t be a teacher. I don’t even like kids.”

Lucy was ready for that complaint. “Well, not having seen one in 20 years, I’m not surprised.”

“I don’t know any thing about teaching math and science, or coaching for that matter.” Chick told her firmly. He wasn’t going to get railroaded into doing something he had never done before.

“Clay was a real estate agent, not a teacher.” Caroline reminded her.

“Well, since he hasn’t shown a house in six months, I doubt the real estate world is going to miss him.” Lucy dealt with Caroline first. “It’s time for Clay to have a mid-life crisis and start reexamining his choices. He’s about to have an epiphany that he needs to give back to the community. He will sign up for courses at the local college to pursue his teaching career.” Her eyes were watering from reading the little screen of her e-book for so long and she dabbed at them before continuing. “You start Fall Semester in two weeks. Between now and then you are going away to a retreat. You and Caroline have to confront YOUR past indiscretions. You are going to meet with a marriage councilor and the two of you are going away to rethink and rebuild.”

“HIS past indiscretions.” Chick told her firmly. “Can we keep that in mind? It’s not my fault that this Clay shit-head was such an idiot.”

The prim look on Lucy’s face hardened. “We don’t use curse words here Charles, except in extreme circumstances.”

“Yeah” Chick said dryly. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He couldn’t help but catalog the thousands of other, more potent, curse words he could have used.

“And we’ll keep in mind that you are not at fault for Clay’s actions.’ She threw a smile at Caroline. “Wont we dear?”

Caroline gave Chick an icy look. “We’ll do our best.”

Chick rubbed at his eyes, “Well, WE appreciate it.”

“Glasses Charles.” Lucy told him bossily.

“I told you, I don’t wear glasses.”

Lucy’s smile hardened. “Put the glasses on, dear.”

Chick finally obeyed and his vision instantly cleared. “So what’s wrong with my eyes?”

Caroline gasped and covered her mouth. He looked a lot more like Clay with those glasses on.

“When you were relocated this morning the technicians sprayed your eyes with a special formula to moderately numb the optic nerve.” Lucy told him sweetly. “The effect will wear off in a few days. You’re  scheduled for ‘laser surgery’ while you are on your retreat. And you won’t have to wear the glasses by the time you get back.”

Chick looked at her, “You people are insane.”

“It is essential that you look as much like Clay as possible these first few days–.”

“Well, it’s a good thing I’m already circumcised.”

Lucy chose to ignore him. “–Fortunately Clay has alienated his close friends, his parents are dead, and his sister no longer sees him.”

“Fortunately?” Chick shook his head.

“He’s never engaged in more than a half a minute’s conversation with any of the neighbors here. You’re not going to be working at the same place. So with a little physical touch up no one should notice that there’s been a switch.”

Caroline stood up. With his glasses on Chick could see that she was crying. “I might notice.” She said bitterly, but with a calm voice.

“Caroline, you know that this if for the best.”  Lucy said firmly, but kindly. “And you need to make the best of it.”

Caroline shrugged. “I always do.” She said blandly.

Lucy, satisfied with this half-hearted acceptance, turned to Chick. “And what about you Charles? Can you make the best of the situation?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” He said dutifully.

“And you’re not going to cause any trouble, or attract attention.” Lucy pushed.

“No Ma’am.”

“I’m glad we can count on your discretion.” She smiled at his ‘good behavior.’

“Three bags full, Ma’am.” He said under his breath.

Lucy realized that he was being sarcastic. “Excuse me?”

Chick realized that he’d gone to far in pushing back. “Nothing.” He said a little chagrined.

“No, I heard what you said and I’d like an explanation.”

Like? Demanded more like. She’d been demanding things of him since she came in the room. He put aside his chagrin and looked her coldly in the eyes. It was his bouncer stare and he knew this puffy little old bat wouldn’t hold up against it.

Caroline intervened. “It was a joke.” She told Lucy, not really sure if it was a joke. “Yes, sir. No, sir. Three bags full, sir.” Caroline’s gentle smile soothed the old woman. “From the nursery rhyme.”

“I don’t see what a nursery rhyme has to do with anything.”

“Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.” Caroline sat back down on her side of the bed, diverting Lucy’s attention from Chick, breaking the starring match. “And he is the black sheep, he’s the one who is out of the loop, isn’t he?” She turned her smile on him and raised her eyebrow a little. That added inflection told him that he shouldn’t mess with a front line FoMA agent. She might look harmless, but she could make both their lives miserable. “I believe it is his ironic way of telling us that he’d like more information. Is that correct, Chick?” She asked just as cheerily.

Chick lowered his offense a little. He didn’t want to get into trouble. And Caroline’s use of his real name had earned her enough cred that he didn’t want to cause any trouble for her either. “Yeah.”

Caroline breathed a little easier.

Lucy considered them both. She decided to use this as an  instructive opportunity. “You will find, Charles, that while some gentle sarcasm is acceptable as part of friendly rapport, while more pointed sarcasm is considered offensive, and could very well earn you a meanness credit.” She smiled very hard at him. “You’ll need to watch your language.”

Chick took the reprimand. “Yeah, O.K.”

Lucy considered adding a lecture on how the proper word for the affirmative was “yes” not “yeah”, but she decided to let him slide on this. Clay, after all, wasn’t a stickler for proper language. He often employed slang. Perhaps Chick’s slippery grammar would add to his imitation of Clay.

She reached into her bag and pulled out another e-book which she handed to him. “You’ll need to study this.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a detailed biography of Clay McAdams.”

Chick fingered the little black device. As a bouncer didn’t need an e-book. He couldn’t afford one if he’d wanted one. He knew that over here they loved their gadgets, but most of what came over to Badham was used, the tech was out dated. Anything this new would have cost a fortune. “I, uh,” He tried to hand it back, but Lucy wouldn’t take it. “I don’t know how to use this thing.” He admitted reluctantly. “Don’t you have it printed out some where.”

Lucy gave a little snort, “We treasure our natural resources here, Charles, a paper book of Clay McAdams’ life and indiscretions would be a waste of far too many trees.”

Caroline shifted on the other side of the bed. This was her husband they were talking about. Clay had some good qualities. Did they think she would have married him in the first place if he didn’t have any good qualities? Did they think she would have stayed with him for fourteen years if she didn’t think there was something worth saving?

“No offense, dear.” Lucy patted her hand.

She shook her head. “None taken.” She lied. “I’ll show Chick how to use the e-book.”

English: EBook Reader from "Condor Techno...

English: EBook Reader from “Condor Technology Associates” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, that was one hurdle overcome. “Very good.”

Chick gave a low, grumbled “thanks.” He wasn’t used to admitting he didn’t know something. And he sure wasn’t used to having some one help him. His life had been pretty much sink or swim up to now.

“Caroline,” Lucy said evenly, “I’ve noticed that you’ve used Charle’s nickname twice so far in conversation.”

Caroline looked over to her, her eyes were brimming with tears again. “Yes.”

“Don’t you think you should start calling him Clay, dear, that is his name now.”

Caroline swallowed and ducked her head. Despite her best efforts she couldn’t help a tear from escaping her left eye. “Please don’t make me call him Clay.”

Chick looked from one woman to the next and his temperature rose a little.

How mean was this? How mean was it to sever every thread that linked this woman to the husband she clearly still loved? “Why?” He asked, a little too gruffly.

“Excuse me?” Lucy’s voice tensed again, Chick still wasn’t grasping the whole respectful tone thing.

“Why does she have to call me ‘Clay’?” Chick asked in a less offensive tone.

“Because, THAT is your name now.” Lucy let a little of her frustration surface.

“But we’re supposed to go on this warm fuzzy retreat and fall in love all over again. Why can’t Caroline decide to give me a warm fuzzy nickname while we’re there, and start calling me Chick?”

“I hardly think ‘Chick’ is an appropriate substitute for ‘Clay’.” Lucy hesitated.

“Well, I’m hardly a substitute for Clay, so it kind of fits, doesn’t it?” He picked up the e-book and held it against his chest. The unspoken offer was that he would be a good little boy and learn all about Clay McAdams, if Lucy would allow Caroline the dignity of not having to call him by her husbands name. He saw Lucy consider it. “Come on,” he coaxed with a little smile, “Chick McAdams, it has kind of a cool ring to it.”

It was an acceptable bargain. Lucy nodded. “I see you point.”

A little alarm buzzer sounded in her purse and she dug through it to find a beeper. She looked at it and sighed. It was another case. “I’m afraid I’ve got to leave you so I can take care of this.” She nodded at Charles. “Please begin studying that.” She turned to Caroline. “The Agency will, of course, settle any of your husband’s depts. Would you please gather any outstanding invoices.” The beeper buzzed again. She frowned at the little box. “I’m coming, I’m coming.” She handed both of them a business card. “Call me if there’s an emergency.” She re-packed her bag, “But,” she nodded to the beeper, “please do make sure it is an emergency before calling.”  She got up and headed toward the door. “I’ll be back at 6:00 pm.”

Caroline walked her out. There was short quiet conversation that Chick couldn’t make out at the door. Then Lucy said “It will all work out, dear,” before she opened the door and left.

Caroline came back to his bedroom after watching Lucy’s car drive off. “Um.” She stayed at the door. “Are you hungry? Would you like me to fix you some breakfast?”

Chick looked at the little propellor clock. It read 6:38. “Actually I think I could use some more sleep, if that’s OK.” He gave a little involuntary yawn. “I don’t usually get up til well past noon.”

Caroline nodded. “Clay sets the alarm so he can go for a morning run. But he turns it off and goes back to sleep more often than not.” She shrugged. “I don’t think any one will notice if you sleep in.”

“Good, cause I don’t think I got more than a couple of hours.” Chick looked at the e-book in his hands, “I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with this better once I’ve had a little more shut eye.” He yawned again. And maybe he’d wake up to find this had all been a really weird, bad dream.

She straightened up. “Goodnight then.” She shut the door.

T.S.Eliot 9.26.13 Thought of the Day

Drawing of T. S. Eliot by Simon Fieldhouse. De...

Drawing of T. S. Eliot by Simon Fieldhouse. Deutsch: T. S. Eliot, gezeichnet von Simon Fieldhouse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You are the music while the music lasts.” — T.S.Eliot

“In the room women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.” — T.S.Eliot

“In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning.” — T.S.Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on this day in St. Louis, Missouri, USA in 1888. Today is the 125th anniversary of his birth.

He was the youngest of six surviving children born to Charlotte and Henry Ware Eliot. He was definitely the baby of the family. His closest sibling was 8 years old when Tom was born. “Afflicted with a congenital double hernia, he was in the constant eye of his mother and five older sisters.” [] The inguinal hernia kept him from playing sports and largely from interacting with children his own age. He took refuge in books.

Tom (the family called him Tom) attended Smith Academy in St. Louis then Milton Academy (a prep school near Boston) before entering Harvard. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Harvard  in 1909.

It was at Harvard that Eliot read The Symbolist Movement in Literature by Arthur Symons. It…

introduced him to the poetry of Jules Laforgue, and Laforgue’s combination of ironic elegance and psychological nuance gave his juvenile literary efforts a voice. By 1909-1910 his poetic vocation had been confirmed: he joined the board and was briefly secretary of Harvard’s literary magazine, the Advocate. [Ibid]

In 1910 he moved to Paris to study Philosophy at the Sorbonne for a year. Then he came back to Harvard to study Indian Philosphy and Sanskrit.

In 1914 he went to Merton College, Oxford, England on scholarship. He was disenchanted with life in a university town and moved to London where he worked as a teacher,  for a bank, and continued to write. He soon met poet Ezra Pound.

Book by T. S. Eliot

Book by T. S. Eliot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


recognized his poetic genius at once, and assisted in the publication of his work in a number of magazines, most notably “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in Poetry in 1915. His first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, was published in 1917, and immediately established him as a leading poet of the avant-garde. With the publication of The Waste Land in 1922, now considered by many to be the single most influential poetic work of the twentieth century, Eliot’s reputation began to grow to nearly mythic proportions; by 1930, and for the next thirty years, he was the most dominant figure in poetry and literary criticism in the English-speaking world. []

Other major poems include:
  • Ash Wednesday (1930)
  • Four Quartets (1943)
Literary and social criticism include:
  • The Sacred Wood (1920)
  • The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933)
  • After Strange Gods (1934)
  • Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1940).
Plays include:
  • Murder in the Cathedral
  • The Family Reunion
  • The Cocktail Party
[See for more information]
English: T. S. Eliot, photographed one Sunday ...

English: T. S. Eliot, photographed one Sunday afternoon in 1923 by Lady Ottoline Morrell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eliot took British citizenship in 1927. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. He was a heavy smoker and he suffered from bronchitis and tachycardia for many years, in the end he died of emphysema in London in 1965.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

. . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


I love finishing a bad book

Yeah, I should have posted yesterday, but I was busy. SORRY.

I mean I WAS busy. I went to the gym, lined up a freelance project, canned tomato sauce, cooked dinner for two of my favorite guys Bill and Mikey, and had music rehearsal. So I really wasn’t slacking off. But, well, maybe I’d have had enough time to do a post if I hadn’t sat down to finish that book I’d been nursing along on my Kindle.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon (Yeah, that’s not my hand. Or my Kindle)

Its not like it was a GOOD book.

It wasn’t.

It was an OK mystery and I don’t even LIKE mysteries.

The writer kept TELLING things that she should have put into dialog and kept putting things in dialog that she should have just TOLD the reader.

There was a big side plot about knitting and fiber and yarn and that kept my interest tied up long after the mystery got stale. (See what I did there? “Tied up”)

… And there were dogs. I’m a sucker for dogs. Shame the chemistry between the protagonist and her boyfriend wasn’t as warm as the connection between her and her dogs.

Third generation Amazon Kindle, showing text f...

Third generation Amazon Kindle, showing text from the novel Moby-Dick. Esperanto: Amazon Kindle de la tria generacio, montranta originan tekston el la romano Moby-Dick. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [Again, not my Kindle. But you can see the indicator bar at the bottom. This person is about 25% the way through a book about Greenland right-whales.]

There’s an indicator at the bottom of the Kindle page that acts as a book marker of sorts. It tells you how far you’ve gone in a book. I found myself looking down there an awful lot with this book. I kept thinking she’s got a half an inch to go, she can pull this out the tank and make this worth the time I’ve invested. … OK a 1/4 inch to go there could still be something worth while. … 1/8 an inch– I am the master of my own Kindle I WILL finish this book!

And I did, dag-gone-it!

There’s something liberating about finishing a book you don’t really care about.

With out the usual emotional investment I attach to a book at about page 70, I was able to put this book down and just walk away. I just didn’t care.

I don’t find myself thinking what the characters are doing post book or daydreaming about them as I walk the dog.  Nope. Don’t care.

So thank you bad book author. Because the only person who apparently cares less about your characters than you … is me. 🙂

I can’t wait to read the next book on my Kindle, Ending Up by Ellen Dye. Or the one I got out the library. Or the one my friend Joyce sent me as an out-of-the-blue present in the mail (an actual present in the mail!!! for no reason at all!!!) Which ever one I read has already been granted the prize of not having to follow a wonderful book.  So YEAH them! And yeah me!


English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

English: Stack of books in Gould’s Book Arcade, Newtown, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [Not my books, but my pile is almost as big.)

Muffin Monday: Ginger Carrot Muffins (DF?)

Ginger Carrot muffin

Ginger Carrot muffin

My favorite day of the week… Muffin Monday.

Today I made some yummy Ginger Carrot Muffins. It’s a double batch because I’m sending some to Cincinnati and St. Mary’s for some college buddies of mine. (Lets see if they are paying attention to the blog and send me a reply!)

Can my Dairy Free ladies double-check the recipe and weigh in? I think I did OK here, but I always like to check with my experts.


  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 cups Rolled Oats
  • 4 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons Ground Ginger (powdered, not fresh)
  • 2 cups Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 cup s Apple Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 2/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups grated Carrots
  • 2 cups grated Zucchini

Topping —

  • 3 tablespoons Rolled Oats
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar


1. preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the muffin cups by spraying with baking spray. This recipe actually made 28 muffins!

2. In a large bowl (I know I always say a LARGE bowl, but this time I mean it, OK?) combine the All-Purpose Flour, Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour, Rolled Oats, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, Cinnamon, and Ground Ginger.

Dry ingredients

3. In another large bowl combine the Almond Milk, Apple Sauce, Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Eggs and Vanilla Extract.

4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. (Aren’t you glad you pulled out a large bowl?)

5. Add the Carrots and Zucchini.

mix in the Zucchini and Carrots

6. Divide evenly into the muffin cups. TOP with topping.

Muffin ready to go into the oven

Muffin ready to go into the oven

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until muffins pass the toothpick test.

8. Let cool 5 minutes before eating.


These muffins are wonderfully light and moist. They are not particularly sweet and the ginger/cinnamon combo gives them a nice kick without being overwhelming.

Moist, fluffy, delicious and ready to eat.

Moist, fluffy, delicious and ready to eat.

Mary Roberts Rinehart 9.22.13 (d) Thought of the Day

“A little work, a little sleep, a little love and it’s all over” — Mary Roberts Rinehart

Mary Roberts Rinehart, American writer

Mary Roberts Rinehart, American writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Roberts Rinehart died on this day in 1958. She was the “American Agatha Christie”.

She was born on August 12, 1876  in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) to Cornelia and Thomas Roberts.

Her father was an inventor. Although he held a patent for “a rotary shuttle for sewing machines was the first patented, though he created many other enterprising gadgets to no avail. ” [Online] The family was financially insecure through out her childhood, and eventually her father committed suicide.

Mary was a good student and graduated from high school at age 16.  went to the Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses. There she met Dr. Stanley Marshall Rinehart. The two married once she graduated from the school. They had four children in quick succession, three boys and a girl.

English: Mary Roberts Rinehart with french bulldog

English: Mary Roberts Rinehart with french bulldog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A hectic life of working in her husband’s practice and raising her children didn’t stop her from putting pen to paper. A number of her short stories were published in magazines and newspapers. The Man in Lower Ten (1906) was followed by The Circular Staircase (1908) and The Window At The White Cat (1908). [Ibid]

She wrote short stories, plays and became a war correspondent  for the Saturday Evening Post when World War One broke out.

Works to follow were Where There’s a Will (1912), The Case of Jennie Brice (1914), The Breaking Point (1922), The Red Lamp (1925), The Door (1930), and another Broadway play The Bat (with Avery Hopwood, 1932).  [Ibid]

The Bat was made into a movie (in 1926 and again in 1959) as was its sequel The Bat Whispers (1930). RCA Victor turned The Bat into one of the first recorded books.  It later became one of the inspirations for Bob Kane’s Batman.

Cover of "The Bat"

Cover of The Bat

Rinehart wrote in a variety of genres but was best known (and best received by the critics) for her murder mysteries. She invented the “Had-I-But-Known” sub genre.  And, although she never actually used the phrase, she is credited for “The Butler Did It!” because in her novel The Door the Butler actually DID do it.

The Rineharts moved to Washington DC where Dr. Rinehart worked for the Veteran’s Administration. He died in 1932, and Mary moved the family to New York in 1935. There she worked with Stanley Jr. and Frederick to start  Farrar & Rinehart publishing house. She left her publisher Doubleday and published exclusively through Farrar & Rinehart (giving the new company a much needed boost). She also served as a director of the company.

Rinehart & Company

Rinehart & Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rinehart died in her New York City home on September 22,  1958.

Cover of "The Window At The White Cat"

Cover of The Window At The White Cat

Cover of "The Case Of Jennie Brice"

Cover of The Case Of Jennie Brice

Secondary Character Saturday: Aunt Winnie (Murder at Longbourn)

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

WHO: Aunt Winnie

FROM: Murder at Longbourn, Murder on the Bride’s Side, Murder Most Persuasive. (She is in Murder Most Austen too, but I haven’t read that yet)

BY: Tracy Kiely


[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

PROS: Aunt Winnie is feisty, smart, and she knows her mind. Since I am now eligible for an AARP card I really appreciate heroines (and heroes) who have a few  years on them. Aunt Winnie has me beat by several decades, but she still knows how to have fun (even if she doesn’t always know how to dress.) She’s her own woman and I like that. She’s devoted to her niece, which an aunt ought to be if she can. And she loves Jane Austen.

CONS: She’s stubborn, and her “throw caution to the wind” attitude some times gets her in trouble.

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

MOST SHINING MOMENT:  Murder at Longbourn takes place at Winnie’s B&B, so she is most intricately involved in that plot, but I think her most shining moment comes in Murder Most Persuasive when she puts her sister-in-law, a Scarlett O’Hara wannabe, in place on several occasions.

WHY I CHOSE AUNT WINNIE: Well I couldn’t choose Elizabeth, because she’s the MAIN character   …and I would have chosen Peter, but Peter is  a stand in for Darcy — and if I was going to pick Darcy I would have PICKED DARCY! So Aunt Winnie was a good next choice. She’s the type of gal I hope to be when I grow up.

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

In this book series Tracy Kiely manages to channel Austen and Agatha Christie at the same time. I’m not a big fan of the Mystery genre, but Kiely throws in plenty of Austen references and an abundance of self deprecating humor and manages to make each of these books a fun, easy read. I’m looking forward the fourth novel, Murder Most Austen.

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]


Related Sites:

Roses Are…

Roses Are

Roses are red, pancakes are flat.

That Maggie can knit, she made me a hat!

I am looking for contributors to my e-book “Roses are…” (a collection of witty riffs on the old Roses are Red, Violets are Blue style poem).

This is purely an intellectual / learning project. I want to see how many contributions we can get (and from how far around the globe.) I also want do a real life project creating the interior of an e-book and the best way to do it to DO IT.

So express yourself…

Keep it clean(ish)…

Keep it fresh…

And send it to me either by replying here (if you wish me to us your WordPress handle) or in a emailing me at (where you can tell me how you’d like to be identified — if at all. Please put “Roses Are” in your SUBJECT line).

If you write a bunch of Roses Are poems I’ll even give you your own Chapter.

Really hoping to get a LOT of contributions from all over the world for this project. So PLEASE spread the word.

DEADLINE is… October 1st, 2013.

Roses are Red, so is your face,
Next time don’t cat call a girl who has mace.

— Maggie Singstomuch

———————————————————————————————- reserves the right to refuse any submission.

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