Monthly Archives: April 2008

hard times

Lately, I have been watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie.  I’ve discussed them with my brother who, like me, was a fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books both when he was a kid and as an adult.  We get back to the subject of how closely the series followed the books, and how the characters on TV seem to speak in seventies vernacular.

This ongoing discussion has led me to researching the author online and I have gleaned a few interesting facts.  One is that the books didn’t follow Real Life as closely as one might think and are more fictionalized autobiography than memoir.  The TV series goes even further astray.

Laura Ingalls Wilder achieved financial security late in life through her writing.  Prior to that, her daughter Rose supported Laura and her husband Almanzo for a time on the earnings from her own writings.  What impressed me was that Rose achieved this during a time of economic depression.

Now the news analysts et al are talking recession and depression.  I didn’t know there was one until I read about it in the news.  And sure enough, my internet business has dropped off to almost nothing.  Maybe this type of news feeds upon itself.  Maybe I will spend more time on my writing, and keep my fingers crossed.  Hard times ahead?  Makes a person wonder……

old norse poetry

Many, many years ago I did independent study in ancient Scandinavian literature at the local university, under the direction of a professor of English who had grown up in Cavalier, North Dakota.  I visited that area once and found it to be true, that quite a few of the residents were of Norwegian or Icelandic descent.  This professor whose name was Ruth has long passed on, but I have a book she loaned me and which I sadly did not return.  The title is Skaldic Poetry, and now and then I thumb through its pages.  The time has come for me to delve into the intricacies of Old Norse poetry, which has been made less daunting by the presence of Wikipedia on the web.

My first observation is that Old Norse poetry can be viewed  as consisting of two broad types, eddaic and skaldic.  The eddaic is straightforward, informal, anonymous.  Authorship of skaldic poetry is assigned to known poets, some of whom may have been kings, is fairly complex and employees fixed literary devices.  Some skaldic poetry is so obscure that allusions may be lost on the modern reader without extensive footnotes.  And I will get back to this topic when I sort out the relevancies.

Christian Ladies

For a while I posted to a message board for authors and wannabe authors of inspirational novels. Christian romances. Gag me. Perhaps I should have stuck with them, for I would have learned discipline. The publishers’ main outlet was Christian bookstores and the managers of those stores had very strict rules about what was Christian and what wasn’t. The imaginary characters in these books couldn’t have a glass of wine with dinner, and they couldn’t dance, or refer to anyone as an angel unless that person was certifiably celestial. No card players unless they were the bad guys. No references to underwear, or to a breast unless the subject was cancer. I could go on. No novels set in medieval times for those folks were Catholic. And don’t say dagnabit. The plus side was that in spite of their strict guidelines, they could take on grimmer subjects such as child abusel I suggested many times that there should be denomination specific lines, or at least mainline books. To me nondenominational suggests a very specific theology/doctrine. But their attitude was, “Oh, no. We are ALL Christians”. This group was very big on praise songs in lieu of church hymns and I don’t think they cared much for liturgy but I’m not one hundred percent sure about that. They seemed to be the Are You Saved type, and to those people, there is no other kind.

poem about my avatar

This night is not for sad souls such as I,

My hours underneath these stars are long,

A thousand lights of lust have passed me by

I do not know what I am doing wrong.

I think it is because I did not learn

The little lessons of deceit and guile,

The whirling of the skirt, the eyes that burn,

The rippling hair, the elemental smile.

Too late for me. I love my face too much

To sacrifice one angle or one line,

The truth will keep me from a lover’s touch,

And hold from me the shared glass of wine.

And yes, I wonder……have I chosen well?

I’ve kept the parts that are my very own.

Ah, had I bought the dream that vendors sell,

I do not know whose heart I might have won

I have never read Snow Crash….

but I think I understand.

Last night I went dancing.  The music was lovely.  Jazz, I think, or Big Band.  My partner was Danish.  I’m not sure how old he was but he seemed…mature.  Prior to that I was at an oasis and I spoke with someone whose first language was Arabic.  He was half my age and he knew nothing about camels.  He said I seemed old.  My skin is flawless but my hair is sometimes white, and I was wearing a garnet colored dress from a bygone era.  And, oh yes, a Mary Poppins hat with a veil.  He was most likely looking for someone younger but he was polite.  I doubt that we shall meet again.

birthstones

Most of the writing I have done in the past few weeks has been about birthstones, a boring topic if ever there was one.  But sometimes we need a starting point, and I  was needy!

Interesting facts I learned:

There are five species of garnet (I guess I already knew that) and it comes in every color of the rainbow even the recently discovered blue!  Amethyst was once one of the “cardinal” gems, expensive and rare, but discovery of new deposits took the price down dramatically.  Aquamarine is associated with mermaids.  Some diamond sales finance human rights abuses.  It is acceptable trade practice to “oil” emeralds.  Alexandrite was named for one of the Russian czars.  Synthetic rubies were used in lasers.  The most prized peridot is a golden green in color.  Sapphires can be any color except red (that’s called ruby).  Australia produces 90 percent of the world’s fire opal.  Saint Hildegarde claimed to read by the light of a topaz (a stone thought to generate its own internal light).  Blue zircons and other zircons are often confused with zirconia but the two substances have entirely different chemical compositions.

I just wrote these off the top of my head without referring back to my notes. I do hope to research a more interesting topic soon.