State of the Farm, February 2021: Snowbound

Up here in Massachusetts, we haven’t had much in the way of winter for the last couple of years.

I mean we’ve had winter. There are days of below zero cold. The ground freezes. The heating bill goes up—we’re always willing to do our part for global warming.

But we haven’t had much in the way of snow.

Starting back in December, that came to a close.

After thaw and compaction, I’m still looking at about twelve inches of snow on the ground. Last night we started another round so that twelve inches now has another inch or so on top. The weather report says the temperature is staying below freezing so I’m going to be lazy and wait until tomorrow to clear.

Given that, it’s a nice time to reflect on what we chores do around here that make winter so special. Continue reading

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The Oregon Mesteño

Tomorrow, the husband and I will be eligible for our COVID 19 jabs. Maybe. Oregon plows ahead with eligibility, but the number of those eligible does not match the numbers of doses. Simple math, really.

(Watching “Bringing Up Baby” as I write this. Epitome of silly comedy)

I saw a cool thing in the Oregon/Idaho AAA magazine, called Via. Check out Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) flickr page to see the Kiger mesteño.

I’m assuming most people, when they think about Oregon, envision mist-covered, rugged seacoast forests and Fred Armisen in “Portlandia”. At 98,000 square miles, Oregon is the 9th largest state in the U.S. The majority of this astonishing space is desert.

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The Rambling Writer’s Italy, part 5: Fountains of Rome

Join Thor and me as your Italy virtual vacation continues with walks taking us to some of the famous fountains of Rome.

NOTE: Since travel is still on hold with the pandemic continuing, I’ve started a new blog series offering a virtual vacation and time-travel to my first big trip with Thor in 2008. Italy! Starting with highlight photos posted here on Saturday, Jan. 30, I’ll continue every week. Join us in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Milan. Buon viaggio!

Rome is a vibrant, bustling city seemingly made for rambling on foot (with assist from the underground). This week we’ll take you on bits of our walks around the central areas, focusing on some of the justifiably famous fountains. Continue reading

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New Worlds: A Trip to the Dentist

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

However much you dislike going to the dentist now, you’ve got it good.

Like surgery, this is a field that has benefited immeasurably from the widespread use of anaesthetic. Imagine your dentist drilling out a cavity, pulling a tooth, or draining an infected abscess with you feeling every moment of it — or better yet, don’t. (I recall once reading an account from a dentist who mentioned that some of her macho-men patients declare that they don’t need numbing . . . and then seriously regret their choices a couple of minutes in.) Dentists basically used to be torturers you avoided if at all possible.

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Fobbed Off

Charm bracelets have been in fashion for decades, right up until the present day; girls (and women!) still seem to love them. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, they weren’t necessarily for girls…and they weren’t bracelets, either.

Pocket watches began to come into their own in the second half of the eighteenth century, thanks to improvements in technology and metals science. A pocket watch usually is attached to one’s person somehow; the last thing anyone wants is their expensive and delicate timepiece falling out of their pocket every time they chance to bend over. A length of ribbon or cord sufficed, but a chain or strip of chain mesh was both sturdier and offered more scope to show off with. Continue reading

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BRIDGERTON and Regency Romance

 

Regency romances have been a “thing” since the Silver Fork novels of the 1830s, which I suspect Georgette Heyer grew up reading.

I started reading Heyer as a teen, which taste combined with my love of the Hornblower series by C.S. Forester and Annemarie Selinko’s Desiree, sparked my interest in early modern Europe. That was cemented when I discovered Jane Austen.

Before long I began to discern the difference between Austen’s Enlightenment-era comedy of manners and Heyer’s unabashed glory in Silver Forkness.

And that was okay, because both writers were doing different things with escapism: Austen envisioned an ideal of human behavior imbued with Christian principles and forbearance, reserving her satire for those who fell short, and Heyer fashioned an ideal social hierarchy where birth will always tell, but one must play by the rules to win happily ever after amid title and riches, and satire was aimed at the audacity of the social climber.

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BVC Spotlight: EMPRESS by Alma Alexander

Book View Cafe member Alma Alexander recently suffered the devastating loss of her husband. To help support her through this difficult time, we are shining a spotlight on her novel EMPRESS. You can also purchase other books of hers here, join her Patreon, or donate to the relief fund organized by her friends at GoFundMe.

Empress by Alma AlexanderEmpress
by Alma Alexander

A whispered prayer on a holy mountain:
“Give me the life I was meant to live.”

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Our Daily Water

We moderns are in the habit of carrying our own water with us. There are entire sections for bottled water in the grocery store. Plastic or steel or whatever water bottles are sold everywhere so we can refill them and take them with us to the gym or on a bike trip.
But this was not always so. When I was a girl there were no plastic bottles. If you wanted to carry water with you, you might have a glass bottle or a thermos, heavy and fragile. If you didn’t carry water with you, you might hope to seek out this sort of thing. The picture is of an old water fountain in downtown Portland, Oregon. It doesn’t have to be turned on — the water runs all the time. It is the modern descendant of the old fountains. Continue reading

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A Chat about a Cathedral

I’m plenty busy now with writing-related projects, including my own which are back-burnered for a chance to make some real money—not to disparage the importance of my own work, just sayin’. But I keep thinking about jigsaw puzzles. And relearning how to play chess. The attempt to teach cribbage to the husband got very bad reviews (from him) because I had to look up the rules all over again. I used to play this game with my grandmother and I marvel how that, as a 9-year-old, I understood them then.

She was a whiz at card games and Scrabble. Canasta, Casino, solitaire—my sisters and I played a sort of solitaire race game—Klondike—to see who could get all their cards onto the aces first, and you could use anyone’s ace pile.

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The Rambling Writer’s Italy, part 4: The rest of the Roman Forum

Follow along with Thor and me as your Italy virtual vacation continues with our ramble through the Forum, the heart of ancient Rome.

NOTE: Since travel is still on hold with the pandemic continuing, I’ve started a new blog series offering a virtual vacation and time-travel to my first big trip with Thor in 2008. Italy! Starting with highlight photos posted here on Saturday, Jan. 30, I’ll continue every week. Join us in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Milan. Buon viaggio!

We broke off our exploration last week at the Temple of Vesta, where those brave Vestal Virgins kept the sacred flame alive to ensure Rome’s security. Now let’s take a look upward at the Palatine Hill that overlooks the Forum. The cruel emperor Caligula built a sprawling palace atop the hill, which overflowed into the Forum behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux: Continue reading

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