|—||Carl Jung (via im-simply-me)|
This is where I am right now, almost exactly. I’m taking my heroine here (she has a lot to learn at this point), to a place that will change her life. Just look at it, who wouldn’t be changed by that?
To be less obscure, I’ve at last sat down at the computer again and started writing /editing the book. It’s taken many weeks of nagging, cajoling, promising and pleading with myself to get me here. Whoopee!
(Thanks Grumpy George, your love is my love)
Snow Sequoias, California
photo via chad
Once upon a long ago time, I lived in an old gardener’s cottage on a biggish estate in Scotland. The house was as sweet to look at as you can imagine, with many paned, leaded windows and wood and stone coming together in such a way as to resemble a gingerbread house. This was the 150 year old cottage belonging to the head gardener of this gorgeous country estate. As it had been inhabited by the gardener, his presence was in evidence in the variety of unusual things growing, all contained within a lengthy beech hedge. Within the hedge there were flowers, blue California poppies which were rare for that climate and at the top of the garden, a giant redwood, the stately sequoia. My children used to run up the garden and give it a hug now and again, their arm’s spread a tiny part of the breadth of this great tree. The bark spoke of adaptability and survival, spongy and deep and this is how they can survive even fire - the core is protected, much like the thick stone walls of the gardener’s cottage. Their cones I remember were not sharp and spikey as some evergreens produce but small, with no sharp edges, little packages of life and hope. I love these trees, the real giants among men.
This morning I was reminded of a game I used to enjoy playing - Cluedo, or Clue to those in North America. It was originally published in Leeds in 1949 by Anthony Pratt. The idea of the game was to move around the board strategically collecting clues in order to discover who killed the game’s victim, Mr. Black, with which weapon and in what room. You did this in the guise of various characters.
In 1944 Mr. Pratt, a solicitors clerk with an unfortunate name, filed his patent for the game, then called ‘Murder.’ It was designed to be played in the sometimes lengthy air raid drills in underground bunkers. Not long after, Pratt approached a Waddingtons’ executive who gave the game its new name, Cluedo. The name is a play on the word ‘clue,’ and the game, ‘Ludo,’ Latin for ‘I play.’ It took two years to launch it due to post war shortages.
I liked this game because it’s a game of a story, with colourful characters who do dastardly things. It has most of the elements of a good tale and from it sprang books where you pick the ending, Murder mystery role play nights and more. I’ll be looking at some of these elements for this week’s blog piece (to be posted tomorrow) - what we like in a story, what works and what doesn’t.
(Thanks to Wikipedia for background information)
"I share this with you not though, most earnestly, I WAS DYING INSIDE, DESPERATELY TRYING TO ESCAPE MY HUMILIATION, RUNNING FOR COVER, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN!"
"Psychologists can identify many common causes of embarrassment, not only nudity…"
© S. Marian, July 10, 2012
An excerpt from “It’s In The Blush,” a lighthearted piece for the summer about embarrassment, to be found on “A View From Outside The Box,” url: adialogue
(“Embarrassment” by Madness)
"We may be together in our humanity but at times of acute embarrassment, we feel completely isolated. The spotlight is shone on our shame and it is a singular experience, we alone suffer it."
© S. Marian, July 10, 2012
An excerpt from a lighthearted piece titled, “It’s All In The Blush,” to be found on “A View From Outside the Box,” url: adialogue
If embarrassment is a state of discomfort due to something you’ve said or done being witnessed by others, I ask, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? In this case, no.” There is no embarrassment without someone else knowing about it.
© S. Marian, July 9, 2012
So, I share with you some light embarrassing stories for your entertainment, perfect reading for the summer. Please find your way to, “A View From Outside the Box,” tomorrow, Tuesday, July 10 to read, “It’s All In The Blush,” url: adialogue
The piles of unwashed laundry are getting frisky. They sit in the corner looking innocent enough, but as soon as I turn my back they’ve multiplied. Despite training everyone in the house to use the washing machine, I tend to be the only one who possesses the initiative. According to the L’Ossovatore Romano, the newspaper of the Vatican, the single most influential factor in the emancipation of women is the washing machine. I don’t agree with this statement as it conveniently downgrades the impact of birth control on women’s lives. Setting aside the emancipation question for now, what about the humble washing machine – how did it get here and how has it affected our lives?
The first English patent for a washing / wringing machine was issued in 1691, a device a little more primitive than we’re accustomed to today. Early machines tried to imitate the motion of hands on washing board. Observation of life on the high seas demonstrated the effectiveness of agitation – sailors would hang their washing overboard in a cloth bag, the dragging motion and water forced through it rendering the clothing clean. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Canadians for the invention of the first agitation machine around the 1920’s. In an age of greater equality, one would think that such a labour saving device would be saving the labour of all – not so. If statistics in the U.S. are representative of other countries, almost 90% of laundry is done by women. The average American family does 8-10 loads of laundry each week. Were all of that to be done by hand, there would be no time for much else, not even to complain about inequality.
You would imagine then, that every woman would be delighted to own a modern washing machine…I once had a boyfriend who watched his elderly Mother struggle with the wash, first in the twin tub with laborious manual filling, putting laundry and detergent in and waiting for it to agitate sufficiently, then draining it and doing the whole business again and then, into the spinner to further rinse and wring out the water. That wasn’t enough because then she’d put it through the mangle. The mangle took the rest of the water out before the laundry could be hung to dry. Her son bought her a surprise one day, a modern, time saving, space saving washing machine - which she refused to use. I guess she didn’t like the change. She kept it next to the twin tub and mangle, a pretty cloth draped over it like a coffin at a wake. It would eventually become a convenient counter surface for sorting the clothes on.
Before twin tubs or mangles there were just tubs, no running water, gas or electricity – needing plenty of time and hard labour. A single load involved boiling, rinsing and you would need over 50 gallons of water to do one load. This had to be transported from pump or well or possibly the tap to whatever receptacle you were using. Consider the carrying, lifting heavy water and water sodden clothes, sheets and all in the days of weighty wool and cotton and voluminous clothing. I didn’t always have a washing machine and can sympathise with these early women. Some of my years in Scotland were spent in a small caravan without running water or electricity. That was fine I thought at first, there is water all around me, I’ll simply take my washing to the nearby shore. Don’t ever try this! The first discovery was that detergent (which is also not great for sea life) or ordinary soap doesn’t lather with seawater. While I was figuring out this conundrum I placed my knickers and socks in the water to soak, forgetting the most important thing. I was not in a pool or tub but in the sea, a body of water subject to tidal flow. My knickers and socks were flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, on their way to Ireland or who knows where. Eventually I developed a solution to this problem much like women of the past.
I started collecting rainwater in big barrels and this was the beginning of a remedy. It took some planning but with time and soaking I was able to get through my wash. Many years later, I still had an unusual appreciation for the washing machine due to my caravan experience. What a miracle it was to simply put the wash and detergent in and press a button. One morning some years ago I was gathering wash to do exactly that, put a load on. I left the door of my front loading machine open while I nipped upstairs to the children’s rooms to get their wash. Having found nothing, I came back down and closed the door, pushed the button on and then went to have a soak in the bath. Half an hour passed and then I came out, wondering why I hadn’t heard the washing machine. I looked at it and it seemed fine, it was on and I couldn’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be running. I bent down to look in the window and saw, on top of the pile of wash, our small kitten and she wasn’t moving. The next five minutes were tense as I tapped on the glass, wondering why she wasn’t moving and waiting for the time lock safety device to let me open the door. When I heard the click of release I threw open the door and pulled, a very dazed looking cat out of the wash. She had simply gone to sleep. It was just as well that I came out when I did because I also found out that while she was moving, the load was not evenly distributed and this safety device saved her. The machine would not run with an unevenly distributed load. In a few minutes she would have been washed. She must have climbed in while I was upstairs looking for laundry. In my home it’s now standard to check our machines for cats before we turn them on.
Despite these traumatic experiences, I still really value the convenience of a washing machine. Today I read about Ida B. Wells, an amazing heroine of American history and worth looking up. When she was quite young herself, both her parents and one of her siblings died of yellow fever. She was determined to keep the family together and worked very hard to do so. In her words,
“I came home every Friday afternoon, riding the six miles on the back of a big mule. I spent Saturday and Sunday washing and ironing and cooking for the children and went back to my country school on Sunday afternoon.” We have it easy comparatively, although we still like to complain.
It’s apparent that labour saving devices such as washing machines have liberated us in one regard, probably freeing us up for other work and expectations that ensnare us in different ways. I know I wouldn’t like to go back to a scrubbing board and the hard graft of hand washing. Interestingly, James Dyson, inventor of the famous Dyson hoover and other machines, claims that 15 minutes of hand washing cleans clothes better than one hour in the best German machine available. He says that hand washing flexes the clothing, which machines cannot do. Don’t despair; there is hope as he also says that he has invented a machine that does precisely this.
Washboard: An often wooden or glass board with ridges, of which the fabric can be rubbed up and down vigorously against to scrub and it release dirt.
Twin tub: A machine with two built in basins, one for washing the clothes in requiring the addition of water by hose, the other which spins, for rinsing and wringing the clothes out.
Mangle: A device consisting of two rollers and either a handle to crank it or an electric device. The clothing is put between the two rollers and the water is squeezed out of it.
Ida B. Wells: A crusader for justice and defender of democracy. She was described as a militant and uncompromising leader for her efforts to abolish lynching and establish racial equality. She challenged segregation decades before Rosa Parks, ran for Congress and attended suffrage meetings.
The Daily Telegraph, March 9, 2009
© S. Marian, July 3, 2012
Any of you who like to read will know that feeling of nearly complete absorption in a story. A good book will transport you from your environment, to another place in your head of which the book and words are merely vehicles. You will also know that you are not fully gone, not gone in body but also not in mind as you are semi-aware of what is happening around you. Now you also understand the world of the writer who is very focused on the task of writing, creating a world within their heads to be communicated on paper or screen. Even when they’re not writing though, it’s still going on, the imagination working, characters practicing dialogue, changing images of place and circumstance. I feel like I’m hardly living these days, or rather the living is going on somewhere else. People say things to me and I have no memory, the dishes pile up and reach Alp height before I see. I’ve come out long enough to say hello and tell you that I’m almost at the end of Chapter 8 with the book, by the end of the day, about a third of the way there.
"I was a highwayman.
Along the coach roads I did ride
With sword and pistol by my side
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
The bastards hung me in the spring of twenty-five
But I am still alive.
I was a sailor.
I was born upon the tide
And with the sea I did abide.
I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico
I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow
And when the yards broke off they said I got killed
But I am living still.
I was a dam builder across the river deep and wide
Where steel and water did collide
A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado
I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below
They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
But I am still around…
I’ll always be around… and around and around and around and around
I fly a starship across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I’ll be back again,
and again, and again and again and again.
(From the song the Highwayman, written by Jimmy Webb and performed by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash)
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.”
(William Shakespeare from the play, “As You Like It.)
"Who can say with any certainty what ‘one man’s time’ is, or all the parts he may play."
© S. Marian, June 19, 2012
Excerpts from a piece posted today titled, “Echoes From Another Life,” to be found on “A View From Outside the Box,” url: adialogue