Apparently, pigs have been flying for quite some time. (Poor little guy. He must have been terrified.) Found on Messy Nessy Chic.
What literature will do to you. I found it on the pinterest board Ludicrous Vintage Ads, which are a lot of fun when they aren't completely enraging.
Update! Here is some more information about it, from the Library of Congress. This image seems to be a variation of an illustration from a book called Social Purity, by one John W. Gibson, published in 1903.
Here is the original (?) image with the central text still intact, which reveals that the girl is reading the novel Sapho.
This is the Dunkley Pramotor -- a motorized pram sold in 1923. "We should get that. That's what I'm thinking," says Sylvie as she looks over my shoulder.
Whenever I had to lug around one of those incrediblyawkward and heavy removable car seats with one of my babies in it -- say into the grocery store -- I liked to imagine that in the future, a podlike car seat would hover in the air beside the mother, trailing her wherever she went. Recently I tossed around the idea of a kind of remote control stroller that would follow a parent, so he or she could be hands free for shopping or holding the hands of bigger toddlers or whatever. Are these ideas as crazy as this stroller looks? Via I Cannot Go to Bed -- There is Epic Shit Happening on the Internet, which I found through Lizzie Skurnick.
The third season of Downton Abbey premieres in the UK today. If you are not fortunate enough to live there, there are a couple of blogs that are suggesting ways you can watch it in real time today or, failing that, tomorrow. Worth a try, don't you think? This blog suggests ways you can make it seem as if your computer is actually located in the UK, so you can watch the livestream from itv.com. And this one is going to provide links to other sites that are livestreaming and they are going to share the episode on Monday. (I just noticed the Dowager's new hat. Wow.)
Last night at the Pirate Festival in Mahone Bay, they reenacted the burning of the American privateer the Young Teazer in 1813 during the War of 1812 (the war both Canada and the U.S. think they won). A larger British ship chased the Teazer into the bay where it got trapped. The Teazer's first mate, who had been captured by the British before and had been released on his gentleman's promise that he would no longer fight against them, decided he wasn't going to be taken alive -- he would surely have been hanged -- so he blew the Teazer up.
That orb hanging in the sky to the right of the ship was a giant orange harvest moon. (I have never been able to photograph incredible moons very well.s Who knows the trick?)
There were a group of enthusiastic Loyalist reenactors on the wharf next to us, firing off authentic cannons in the direction of the "burning" ship. Their leader told us our hearing would probably not be affected if we covered our ears and kept our mouths slightly open. It was one of those moments when one questions one's parenting decisions. Not only was this event taking place well past both the children's bedtimes, but it might also permanently damage their hearing. (We had a moment like that last weekend, too, when we gave permission for both Luke and Sylvie to hand-feed unshelled almonds to a black bear at Oaklawn Farms in the valley. I remember hoping this wouldn't be remembered by the children as the moment of gross negligence on our part that resulted in a life-long handicap but it turned out just fine. Immediately after feeding Blueberry, Luke said, "This is the best vacation ever!" It could have gone either way. Sometimes you just have to take a chance.*)
So last night I wrapped a blanket around Vivi's head and instructed her to use her hands to cover her ears over that. Luke also covered his ears. After a couple of blasts, which caused the dog next to us to run away from his people in sheer terror, Vivi fell deeply asleep and slept through the rest of the cacophony.
For a little while I worried that the first blast had rendered her completely deaf and so immune to the rest of the blasts but her hearing is just fine today.
*I promise, it really wasn't as risky as all that.
My new obsesssion: Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and BBC presenter of fascinating documentaries, including this one, which looks back at the historical development of four rooms in the modern home: the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, and the living room. Someone has made all the episodes available on youtube. She has also written a book called If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, which I have reserved at the library. Next up: Worsley's documentary called Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls. According to her blog, she is currently researching a series on the history of the murder mystery and its fascination for British society. (Big thanks to Sara O'Leary for suggesting Worsley's documentaries to me!)
I just discovered this painting Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent on pinterest, where I pinned it to my board entitled "Noses." (It is a board devoted to attractive people with prominent and/or interesting noses. You'd think I had way too much time on my hands.) Curious about the identity of the lady, I looked it up. She is Virginie Amélie Gautreau, a Parisian socialite and notorious beauty originally from New Orleans, and this gorgeous, elegant painting was her undoing -- she had to retire from society after it was shown. And Sargent had to leave Paris. From Confessions of An Unrepentant Art Junkie:
So what did cause such a scandal with Mme. X that Sargent could no longer find commissions and soon had to move to London? According to Mary Alexander, it was the strap and the jewels. Let me explain. Sargent has portrayed Mme. X in the notorious black dress with jeweled straps. She shows off her wedding ring by displaying it against her black satin skirt. She also wears the tiniest of tiaras, barely there, in the shape of a crescent moon: the symbol of Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt. In the 1880s no one would wear evening dress without jewelry, earrings, bracelets, brooches and necklaces. The fact that Mme. X has only her wedding ring and tiara on, suggests that she is home from an evening out and has removed her outer wrap and jewelry. The wedding ring is, however, intentionally prominent. When Sargent originally showed the work in 1884, Mme X’s right strap was painted so that it had fallen off her shoulder, baring her chest suggestively. As Ms. Alexander pointed out, while these standards would change completely within the next couple of years, in 1884, the only contemporary works showing women in such states of undress, were Toulouse Lautrec’s paintings and drawings of prostitutes. Showing Mme. X in such a state lacked the propriety one should expect in a society portrait. Simple as that, according to Ms. Alexander.
Through letters between Mme X and Sargent, Ms. Alexander proved that initially the sitter was pleased with the portrait, though she found the process of posing for it tedious, so we know her initial reaction to the work was not the reason for its infamy. Ms. Alexander says that because it showed the Parisian society matron in a state of undress and posed as Diana “the Huntress,” with her haughty, aristocratic bearing, it lacked the dignity that Parisians expected of society portraits. Though there was a long tradition in French portraiture of portraying aristocrats as classical heroes or goddesses, this was not Mme. X as a Goddess. Her tiara and its reference to Diana allude to her as a huntress/seductress, not the embodiment of a classical goddess, and the strap, fallen off her shoulder and pressing into her arm reinforced the sexual power of the image, but all that seemed acceptable even to the sitter, until the picture was shown in the Salon of 1884.
This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone is a memoir by Melissa Coleman that got a lot of attention last year when it first came out. Coleman's parents, Eliot and Sue, were among the first back-to-the-landers of the late 60s and 70s. They moved to a plot of land in rural Maine that adjoined the farm of Helen and Scott Nearing, the couple who wrote Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World, which is the book credited with inspiring the movement. Eliot and Sue built their own home, grew their own food, and Sue gave birth to two little girls while they did it. It sounds Edenic, particularly for children, and partly, it was. (This NYT review of the book does a good job of describing the basic events of This Life is In Your Hands and also the sort of see-sawing the book does between the poetry of the family's life, rooted as it was in nature, and an increasing sense of ominousness.)
It's easy for people who have never attempted to be self-sufficient through farming to romanticize the idea (witness the current resurgence of what Emily Matchar calls the New Domesticity, which admittedly doesn't seem as hard-core a movement) but the fact is that it makes for a very hard life. (I am guilty of romanticizing it myself -- in high school I gave a speech on my version of "the good life" in which I would retreat with my little family to a cabin in the woods, where I would homeschool my children and we would all survive, I guess, on nuts and berries.) Coleman, who is now a nationally recognized expert on organic gardening, actually had a thyroid disorder, largely untreated, that spurred him on to ceaseless physical labour. And if I were going to try to accomplish what he did, I think I'd want one, too. From Melissa Coleman's descriptions of her mother, Sue, it seems to me that she suffered terribly from post-partum depression and that this was horribly compounded by the relentless, back-breaking work that homesteading actually entailed, not to mention possible malnutrition.
Now here is where the spoiler comes in. Consider yourself warned. One day, busy preparing a feast for some visitors (as if she doesn't have enough to do), Sue shoos Melissa's little sister Heidi, who is around three at the time I think, out of the cabin, telling her to go float her toy boat on the pond. Heidi actually comes back once or twice, begging for attention, and Sue turns her away. You can guess what happened to Heidi down at the pond. She drowned.
Melissa Coleman doesn't blame her mother for this in the book, but she doesn't exactly absolve her, either. After reading it I was left feeling absolutely bereft for the poor woman, whom I was unable to track down via google, hoping to learn she has found some sort of peace. And I must admit I was also left feeling a bit pissed off about Eliot Coleman's (and the Nearings') subsequent success as folk heroes.
Now of course children die. They die in car accidents in suburbia and of childhood cancers and all kinds of things. But all it takes is a short stroll through a pioneer-era graveyard to see how many children died when there was no choice for anyone but a "lifestyle" of relentless physical labour in order to put food on the table. A lot of those deaths were from childhood diseases we can now vaccinate against (if we aren't against vaccinating) but many of them were from accidents that happened when parents didn't have the time and the energy to hover over their kids.
Posted by Stephany Aulenback on March 16, 2012 at 01:27 PM in Books, Childhood, Compendium of Terrible Parenting Advice, Culture, Family, Food and Drink, Gardening, Health, History, Memoirs and Biography, Nature, Nesting, Parenting, Parents in Literature | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
| | |
Gorgeous image of snowflakes by Yuji Obata, found here.
"The old woman is shaking her feather bed." Grampa mentioned this one just now because enormous soft snow flakes are falling from the sky. "What old woman?" I asked him. "I have no idea," he said. "Just the one who lives in the sky," said Luke.
"The devil is beating his wife." Grampa explained that this one was said when it rains while the sun is shining. "Is the rain supposed to be the devil's wife's tears?" I asked, wondering about the poor devil's wife -- why have I never heard of her before? -- and her wretched life. "I have no idea," said Grampa.
"Freckles are caused by raindrops falling on your face." How did they get this one so very wrong? It's too much sun on your face, not rain. Unless, like me, you were simply born with them.
"If you go to someone's house and when you walk in the door, there is a broom lying on the floor in front of it, whatever you do, do not bend down and pick it up." "Why not?" I asked. "Because it will prove you are a witch. Just step over it," instructed Grampa. As a boy, Grampa himself visited the houses of people who performed this test on unsuspecting guests. "They were known to be fanatical about witches," he explained.
See also: the devil's darning needles.
(I get these in dribs and drabs. "Is that all you can remember right now?" I just asked him. "Yes, that's all," he said. But while I was searching for a good image of snowflakes, he came back into the room. "Did I ever tell you I wasn't allowed to watch during pig-killing time?" he asked me. "No," I said. "Why weren't you allowed to watch?" "Because if you pitied him, he wouldn't die," said Grampa. "I was allowed to watch after he was dead.")
I made Impossible Pie -- have you ever heard of it? -- on the weekend and wrote about it for The Awl. I also made cheeseburger cupcakes, which excited Vivi no end. We had to have a mock birthday party for her with them.