Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White

Alfred Hitchcock. His name alone can brings chills, fond spooky memories, discomfort, and nostalgia. 

I was still ten years old in 1963 when I saw The Birds from the back seat of the family car, parked at the local drive-in movie theater. My parents thought I would fall asleep.
 
I didn't. The scene of a man missing his eye balls gave me nightmares for years. 

The next year, in 1964, I was nearly twelve when I saw Marnie. I am sure my folks did not expect me to be asleep that time. I did not understand it, I had no concept of sexual dysfunction, so of course watched it every time it came on television, trying to puzzle out the feelings it raised in me. 

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) was a childhood staple. I learned the theme song, The Funeral March of the Marionette, on piano. It impressed the neighbor boy who was also a Hitchcock fan. I had story collections like Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery: Eleven Spooky Stories for Young People.

Over the years, watching the classic films I had seen in the movie theater with my folks, including Vertigo. Rear Window, and North By Northwest, and those I only saw later on television, like Psycho, I understood things I could not as a girl.

And I wondered why in the world did Mom take me to see those films! Today, scenes of rape, obsession, murder, and suicide would not be considered proper fare for the under-13-year-old child.

As far as I can tell, the only harm these movies did me, other than nightmares about eyeless men, was a penchant for stylish suspense stories.  I knew that birds would not flock and attack me in reality, or crop dusters chase me. 

"He was a child, you know, a very black-comedy child" screenwriter Arthur Laurents said of Hitch. Perhaps that was his appeal to children. Raised on Dick and Jane while undergoing 'duck and cover' drills and watching adults glued to the news during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, we were ready for the safety of theatrical horror.  War became daily television fodder and political assassinations punctuated our teen years and watching Hitchcock movies on television were not as shocking any more.

I had never explored the man behind the persona. The nine-line sketch Hitch walked into on his show was all I needed to know. The sketch, I learned in The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock, Hitch himself drew and propagated as part of his image.

Edward White's biography considers the man through the lens of twelve aspects of his personality, each fully explored through Hitchcock's life and art. 

On the one hand, the book is hugely informative and gave me a full picture of the man and the artist.

On the other hand, Hitchcock remains a mystery. He carefully controlled his persona, as deliberately and thoughtfully controlling our image of him as his films controlled our responses.

Was his marriage to Alma platonic? Did he remain a virgin expect for once, resulting in the birth of his daughter? Did he lunge at actresses and ask his secretary to 'erotically entertain' him? I saw Tippi Hendren talk about her experience. Can we tell the difference between the persona Hitch offered and truth?

He grew up with WWI air raids, the 1918 flu pandemic,  in a rough part of town, with a Catholic Education. There is a lot of horror to draw from with that background. 

And yet, Hitch was averse to conflict and could not deal with "complex emotions."  He would not use animal cruelty in his films and preferred to have his victims thrown off a building than shot as in American films. 

Still,  he was fascinated by violence and cruelty, grew up reading classic British crime fiction including G. K. Chesterton and John Buchan. He once expressed his belief that he would have made a great criminal lawyer.

I learned about his  middle class, Catholic childhood, his struggle with his appearance, the art and film and stories that inspired him.

The book is always fascinating, always interesting, and often disturbing. Especially when I ask myself what kind of person is a Hitchcock fan, as perhaps it reveals things about myself I would rather not consider.

I received a free galley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense
by Edward White
W. W. Norton & Company
Pub Date: April 13, 2021 
ISBN: 9781324002390
hardcover $28.95 (USD)

from the publisher

A fresh, innovative biography of the twentieth century’s most iconic filmmaker.

In The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock, Edward White explores the Hitchcock phenomenon—what defines it, how it was invented, what it reveals about the man at its core, and how its legacy continues to shape our cultural world.

The book’s twelve chapters illuminate different aspects of Hitchcock’s life and work: “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up”; “The Murderer”; “The Auteur”; “The Womanizer”; “The Fat Man”; “The Dandy”; “The Family Man”; “The Voyeur”; “The Entertainer”; “The Pioneer”; “The Londoner”; “The Man of God.” 

Each of these angles reveals something fundamental about the man he was and the mythological creature he has become, presenting not just the life Hitchcock lived but also the various versions of himself that he projected, and those projected on his behalf.

From Hitchcock’s early work in England to his most celebrated films, White astutely analyzes Hitchcock’s oeuvre and provides new interpretations. He also delves into Hitchcock’s ideas about gender; his complicated relationships with “his women”—not only Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren but also his female audiences—as well as leading men such as Cary Grant, and writes movingly of Hitchcock’s devotion to his wife and lifelong companion, Alma, who made vital contributions to numerous classic Hitchcock films, and burnished his mythology. And White is trenchant in his assessment of the Hitchcock persona, so carefully created that Hitchcock became not only a figurehead for his own industry but nothing less than a cultural icon.

Ultimately, White’s portrayal illuminates a vital truth: Hitchcock was more than a Hollywood titan; he was the definitive modern artist, and his significance reaches far beyond the confines of cinema.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Covid-19 Life: Gardening, New Books, Quilts

Spring has come. Daffodils and hyacinth are in bloom, as is the pear tree. The robins are splashing in the bird bath, the sparrows have a family in the bird house, and the mason bees are finding nooks in the bricks.

About one year ago we went to the local gardening center to buy herbs. It is mostly outdoors, and even indoors, the building is open and has high ceilings. Last year we only had a mask for protection; this year we had our vaccinations, too.

We bought parsley and dill and Nasturtium seeds and some tools and things.

A dozen years ago we pulled the English ivy up from under the apple trees and I put down stones. This spring, we took up the stone and are planting companion plants for fruit trees. Our oregano patch had become huge, so we divided it up and took most to plant under the trees. I sowed Nasturtium in the sunnier parts. In the fall we will transplant our bulbs under the trees. Next spring, we will see the daffodils and hyacinths from the family room patio door!

The stones are now along the house and driveway where we put the Stella d'Oro lilies when the front yard was landscaped three years ago. They have done wonderful there!


It is to rain tomorrow and I can return to machine quilting my Water Lily quilt. It is a lot of work! But it would be even more had I hand quilted it. My other projects are backing up, waiting for me to finish this quilting. But I did the first month block for Barbara Brackman's new quilt along project, Ladies Aid New York Sampler. Being from New York, I 'had' to participate! 

I am not using reproduction fabrics for this quilt. I have loads of that background fabric and need to use it. Truthfully, the fabric was once bedroom curtains in a house we lived in for 17 months! I kept it figuring I would use it some day.

A few more books have been added to my shelf.

  • The Writer's Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five by Tom Roston
  • Among the Beautiful Beasts by Lori McMullen, the story of the early life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, known in her later years as a tireless activist for the Florida Everglades
  • Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang, about her undocumented Chinese immigrant family
I won A Good Neighborhood by Theresa Anne Fowler from the Book Club Cookbook.

And I purchased some poetry books for National Poetry Month. First to arrive are two books by Joseph Fasano, whose The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing I reviewed here.


Fasano shares his poetry online, as well as his music, and I have greatly enjoyed both.

We are watching Ken Burn's Hemingway on PBS. I have my grandfather's For Whom the Bell Tolls, printed in 1943, and two 1970 books I bought as a high school senior, and the short stories we bought for our son to read in school.
Here are the grandpuppies at doggy day care, looking very springy.
The quilters are meeting in the park. Most now are fully vaccinated. Years ago, I donated fan blocks I had made to the 'free table' and Bev Olson has been embellishing them with her wonderful embroidery and beading. She has created an amazing quilt from them!

And another friend dove into her fabric scraps to make a double sided quilt; Roman Coins on one side, and on the back is this very cool assemblage.(Sorry, the quilt is sideways!)
We are excited that our son and his girlfriend both received their first covid-19 vaccination this week at Ford Field! The virus is wrecking havoc in Michigan, even in our small town. We have scheduled doctor appointments over the next few weeks, but otherwise are continuing to social isolate.

But, hopefully, in a month we will be able to have a family gathering again.

Stay safe. Find your bliss.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Sound Between the Notes by Barbara Linn Probst


Obviously the notes have to be right. But they're just a path to the music."~from The Sound Between the Notes by Barbara Linn Probst

Schubert knew he was dying when he wrote his B-flat major sonata. The piece was going to be Susannah's reentry into her lapsed career as a concert pianist. Her early gift had been set aside when she became a wife and mother. Now it was time to put music a priority in her life. Especially as there was a chance of being on a CD of composers who had died young.

But Susannah's little finger was not as responsive as it should be and a doctor delivered the horrible news: she had Dupuytren's contracture, and no one could predict how quickly it would progress or how severe it would become. There was no cure, and few treatments available.  

Susannah would not to listen to the doctors, or her husband, and merely wait and see what developed. She would do everything to make her comeback a success and to prevent another sidelining of her career. Misha Dichter had overcome Dupuytren's. So would she.

I loved how the story is filled with music, composers, and the stories of the challenges they faced. I remember hearing some in concert, like Alicia de Larrocha and Vladamir Horowitz. The author is a serious amateur pianist and understands what she is writing about, and it shows. Susannah's search for just the right piano with the right touch struck home; I always had a challenge when I played a piano not my own. 

When Susannah met her future husband Aaron he bonded with her father over Thomas Kuhn. I loved this reference! I had read Kuhn's book Structure of Scientific Revolutions in a Poly Sci class in my early college career. 

Now, Susannah's father is losing his memory and will need to find Assisted Living soon. With her dad, preparing for her upcoming concert, her teenage son going his own way, and her husband trusting her to take care of all the domestic duties she had always been responsible for, the stress is building.

Aaron was the logical thinker, the scientist. Susannah was the creative one, the one who could speak through music. They had always relied on each other's strengths to balance. Now, by not listening to her husband's advice, a wedge had appeared between them. She had broken the unspoken contract; would their marriage survive it?

The Sound Between the Notes has great depth into human nature and family connections, including Susannah's feelings and relationships with her adoptive parents and biological family. The climax is dramatic and the resolution satisfying. Readers of women's fiction will enjoy this novel. Many of us will recognize the challenges of how changing marital roles require a paradigm shift that some couples overcome and others can not.

I previous read the author's novel The Queen of the Owls.

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

The Sound Between The Notes
by Barbara Linn Probst
She Writes Press
Pub Date : April 6. 2021 
ISBN: 9781647420123
paperback $16.95 (USD)

from the publisher

The highly anticipated new novel from the multiple award-winning author of Queen of the Owls . . .

What if you had a second chance at the very thing you thought you’d renounced forever? How steep a price would you be willing to pay?

Susannah’s career as a pianist has been on hold for nearly sixteen years, ever since her son was born. An adoptee who’s never forgiven her birth mother for not putting her first, Susannah vowed to put her own child first, no matter what. And she did.

But now, suddenly, she has a chance to vault into that elite tier of “chosen” musicians. There’s just one problem: somewhere along the way, she lost the power and the magic that used to be hers at the keyboard. She needs to get them back. Now.

Her quest—what her husband calls her obsession—turns out to have a cost Susannah couldn’t have anticipated. Even her hand betrays her, as Susannah learns that she has a progressive hereditary disease that’s making her fingers cramp and curl—a curse waiting in her genes, legacy of a birth family that gave her little else. As her now-or-never concert draws near, Susannah is catapulted back to memories she’s never been able to purge—and forward, to choices she never thought she would have to make.

Told through the unique perspective of a musician, The Sound Between the Notes draws the reader deeper and deeper into the question Susannah can no longer silence: Who am I, and where do I belong?

Advance Praise

“The climax, on the night of her performance, is a tour de force steeped in suspense, and Susannah’s subsequent revelations are satisfying and authentic. A sensitive, astute exploration of artistic passion, family, and perseverance.”—Kirkus Reviews

 “As soaring as the music it so lovingly describes, poignantly human, and relatable to anyone who’s ever wondered if it’s too late for their dream, The Sound Between the Notes is an exploration of our vulnerability to life’s timing and chance occurrences that influence our decisions, for better or worse. Probst creates her trademark intelligent suspense as Susannah, an adoptee trying for a mid-life resurrection of an abandoned music career, confronts lifelong questions of who she is. A story that speaks to our universal need to have someone who believes in us unequivocally, and how that person had better be ourselves.”—Ellen Notbohm, award-winning author of The River by Starlight

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik


What struck me most about San Francisco so far wasn't the newness of the place--that I'd expected--as the absence of the past.~ from The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik

In 1918, Dorothea Lange set out to travel the country when she became stranded in San Francisco. She meets the Bohemians of Monkey Block, artists and photographers and actors who don't fit into mainstream society. It is where Lange belongs, and she settles in with hopes to open her own photography studio.

Her entree into this world is through a beautiful Chinese woman with green eyes; as a Chinese person she is reviled and harassed; as a person of mixed race she has no people--except for the Bohemians. Based on references to Lange's Chinese 'Mission girl' assistant, her affecting story weaves through the novel.

Jasmin Darznik uses the story of Lange's early life and career as the skeleton of her novel, but the city itself is the star: it is a place of great beauty with a history of horror and disaster; a place of hate and corruption and a haven for artists; the home of the nouveau riche and dire poverty. 

When Lange arrives, the city still bore the scars of the devastating earthquake of 1906, but on the ruins a new city has spring up. Including Chinatown, the only place the Chinese are allowed to live, slums run by wealthy and powerful white people.

Darznik writes about the waves of Spanish Influenza, the collapse of Lange's business, and the subsequent anti-Chinese and anti-immigrant fervor that arose in the aftermath.

Readers will follow Lange's love affair and unhappy marriage with the artist Maynard Dixon and her work for the WPA that brought her fame. The final chapter gives closure to all the story threads. 

Readers who enjoy historic fiction with strong female characters and who appreciate historic parallels to contemporary problems will enjoy this novel. 

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

See Lange's most famous photographs here.

The Bohemians: A Novel
by Jasmin Darznik
Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
Pub Date Aprril 6, 2021 
ISBN: 9780593129425
hardcover $28.00 (USD)

from the publisher

A dazzling novel of one of America’s most celebrated photographers, Dorothea Lange, exploring the wild years in San Francisco that awakened her career-defining grit, compassion, and daring.

“Jasmin Darznik expertly delivers an intriguing glimpse into the woman behind those unforgettable photographs of the Great Depression, and their impact on humanity.”—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things

In 1918, a young and bright-eyed Dorothea Lange steps off the train in San Francisco, where a disaster kick-starts a new life. Her friendship with Caroline Lee, a vivacious, straight-talking Chinese American with a complicated past, gives Dorothea entrĂ©e into Monkey Block, an artists’ colony and the bohemian heart of the city. Dazzled by Caroline and her friends, Dorothea is catapulted into a heady new world of freedom, art, and politics. She also finds herself unexpectedly falling in love with the brilliant but troubled painter Maynard Dixon. Dorothea and Caroline eventually create a flourishing portrait studio, but a devastating betrayal pushes their friendship to the breaking point and alters the course of their lives.

The Bohemians captures a glittering and gritty 1920s San Francisco, with a cast of unforgettable characters, including cameos from such legendary figures as Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, and D. H. Lawrence. A vivid and absorbing portrait of the past, it is also eerily resonant with contemporary themes, as anti-immigration sentiment, corrupt politicians, and a devastating pandemic bring tumult to the city—and the gift of friendship and the possibility of self-invention persist against the ferocious pull of history.

As Dorothea sheds her innocence, her purpose is awakened and she grows into the figure we know from history—the artist whose iconic Depression-era photographs like “Migrant Mother” broke the hearts and opened the eyes of a nation.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Finding Freedom A Cook's Story Remaking a Life From Scratch by Erin French

 For me food wasn’t a competition about who could make the best dish. It’s greatest power was to take taste and turn it into a long-lasting memory.~ from Finding Freedom by Erin French

I had never heard of The Lost Kitchen or Erin French before I read an excerpt of her memoir on BookishFirst. The author described her idyllic childhood in Maine with such detail and love, I was charmed. 

Erin French's memoir made me recall how much we loved Maine, leaving behind Philadelphia with its yellow haze and heat and noise and rush. We spent seven years vacationing in Maine, one year for a whole month, tent camping at Acadia National Park. We loved sitting along the pink cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, watching the lobster boats pulling up and setting their traps.  

Mostly we ate around the campfire, but several days we would splurge on a meal of lobster on the beach or steamers in a diner. One year we went to a post-season, $5 dinner of lobster, rock crab, and corn on the cob  at a little diner. We were surrounded by locals who coolly watched me struggle to cracking open the crab. Finally, a grizzled man in a cap and denim jacket stood up, and grabbed the crab from my hands and expertly cracked it, shaking his head.

French lovingly describes the food of her childhood, made by her grandmother or by her father at his diner. Building on these roots, she took simple, wholesome, locally sourced foods,and with a artist's creative twist, served culinary delights.

But French's story was not all pink Rugosa roses and wild berries. She grew up in a dysfunctional family ruled by her father, a man who worked hard running his diner and drank too much, a distant, judgmental, controlling man. French planned to escape life in small town Freedom, Maine, by going to college in Boston. Instead, she returned to her family home, an unwed mother.

French had built a life for herself and her son when an older man pursued her and she fell in love. When she finally started her dream restaurant, her marriage became strained along with her health. Her husband was a man much like her father, controlling, selfish, a drinker.

A physician over-prescribed medications to help her cope with her pain and depression, which lead to rehab and her husband ceasing the restaurant--and her son. When insurance ran out before she was fully recovered, broke and in despair, she returned to her family home to start over. 

Again.

French needed to prove she could support her son. She worked hard and created her pop-up restaurant, using locally sourced foods and building a clientele. She remembered the foods served by her grandmother, recreating the joyous experience for others. 

The Lost Kitchen became famous, people lining up for a chance to experience French's cuisine.

French's vulnerability and openness about her struggles allows readers to become immersed in her sorrows and her joys. It is a story of the ways women are victims and how women can fight for self-determination. 

French credits her New England heritage of hard work as the root of her success. But also the eighteen-hour days working at her father's diner, even while pregnant, even when he was having a private drinking party with friends on the back porch as she ran the restaurant, for he taught her the basics of cooking.

If you love food, if you love a story of a woman's resilience and success, if you like a family drama of pain and healing, if you enjoy books about healing and finding wholeness, you will love Finding Freedom.

I received an ARC from the publisher through Bookish First. My review is fair and unbiased.

Finding Freedom:A Cook's Story Remaking a Life From Scratch
by Erin French
Celadon Books
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
ISBN: 9781250312341

from the publisher

Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad’s diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir—a classic American story—invites readers to Erin’s corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the “girl from Freedom” fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin’s life triumphant. 

In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food—as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin’s experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom

.

About the Author

Erin French is the owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen, a 40-seat restaurant in Freedom, Maine, that was recently named one TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places and one of “12 Restaurants Worth Traveling Across the World to Experience” by Bloomberg. 
A born-and-raised native of Maine, she learned early the simple pleasures of thoughtful food and the importance of gathering for a meal. Her love of sharing Maine and its delicious heritage with curious dinner guests and new friends alike has garnered attention in outlets such as The New York Times (her piece was one of the ten most read articles in the food section the year it was published), Martha Stewart Living, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Food & Wine. 
She has been invited to share her story on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Chew, CBS This Morning, and The Today Show. Erin was featured in a short film made by Tastemade in partnership with L. L. Bean, which won a James Beard Award, and The Lost Kitchen Cookbook has been named one of the best cookbooks by The Washington Post, Vogue.com, and Remodelista and was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Meditations: The Annotated Edition by Marcus Aurelius

I first learned about Marcus Aurelius's Meditations when my World Literature teacher handed out mimeographed sheets to my twelfth grade high school class. 

A year later I was in an Ancient Philosophy class at a small liberal arts college reading the Meditations. Shortly after, I purchased a antique copy with a 1902 gift dedication. 

Inside is a vintage Wendy's napkin, yellow and red, on which I had written down favorite passages.

I was eighteen when I first read the entire Meditations. Fifty years later, seeing this annotated version in a new translation, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the work again. 

My antique volume is stilted in language. "But do thou, I say, simply and freely choose the better, and hold on to it--" is one quote on that napkin. In this new version I read, "So, as I say, you must simply and freely choose the better course and stay with it."

The Preface introduces readers to Stoicism and the historical Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor whose military victories protecting belies the private man who would have chosen a life of contemplation. But, as Aurelius reminds himself often in these thoughts, we must uncomplainingly embrace our lot in life. And besides, nothing external can alter our command center and internal values. Unless we allow it.

It is that which I recall most being impressed with--the idea that what people think and do is their problem, and cannot affect me, unless I allow it. It gave me a great sense of control and also the freedom to think and act differently.

...remember that it's not people's actions that disturb our peace of mind...but our own opinions of their actions.~Notebook 11, Meditations

The Stoic world view embraced by Aurelius is moral and ethical, and divinely ordered. Life and death is a natural cycle, our bodily atoms reentering the matter of the universe, while our spirit had a brief pneumatic afterlife. 

The present is all one has.~ from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Aurelius constantly reminds himself that we only have this moment in time; the past and the future is not ours. So every moment we must decide to live according to our 'command center' and Stoic values. 

A core part of those values involves being a part of human society, showing fairness and forgiveness, for we are to serve one another. 

Have I done something that contributes to the common good? Then I've been benefited.~from Mediations by Marcus Aurelius

Comfort and Pleasure should not affect our actions, we should not complain or become angry or lose control over our passions. We have no control over what happens to us. But we can control our response. 

The notebooks were Aurelius's contemplation, self-examination, and a reminder to follow the discipline of Stoicism. There is repetition of ideas, references to well known Greek philosophers and to forgotten men.

I read an ebook. I could click on the footnote number and up popped the annotation for the passage, a very useful device. The notes greatly increased my understanding of the passage. 

The translation is accessible and modern, sometimes even conversational as if the writer were talking to us. 
At the start of the day tell yourself: I shall meet people who are officious, ungrateful, abusive, treacherous, malicious, and selfish. In every case, they've got like this because of their ignorance of good and bad....None of them can harm me, anyway, because none of them can infect me with immorality, nor can I become angry with someone who's related to me, or hate him, because we were born to work together, like feet or hands or eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. To work against each other is therefore unnatural--and anger and rejections count as "working against." ~Notebook 2, 1, Meditations The Annotated Edition
These teachings are as relevant today as in Roman times. We need to be continually reminded to "work together."

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

Meditations: The Annotated Edition
by Marcus Aurelius
Perseus Books, Basic Books
Pub Date: April 6, 2021
ISBN: 9781541673854
hardcover $28.00 (USD)

from the publisher

This definitive annotated translation of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations is an insightful look into the mind of Ancient Rome's sixteenth emperor.  

 Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180 CE) was the sixteenth emperor of Rome—and by far the most powerful man in the world. Yet he was also an intensely private person, with a rich interior life and one of the wisest minds of his generation. He collected his thoughts in notebooks, gems that have come to be called his Meditations. 

Never intended for publication, the work has proved an inexhaustible source of wisdom and one of the most important Stoic texts of all time. In often passionate language, the entries range from one-line aphorisms to essays, from profundity to bitterness. This annotated edition offers the definitive translation of this classic and much beloved text, with copious notes from world-renowned classics expert Robin Waterfield. It illuminates one of the greatest works of popular philosophy for new readers and enriches the understanding of even the most devoted Stoic.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Covid-19 Life: Vaccinated! and Some Interesting Handkerchiefs Find a Home

Hooray! My spouse and I have both received our second Covid-19 vaccinations. April 8 is the day we can begin to cautiously reenter the world: missed doctor appointments are first up on the list. 

New on my TBR NetGalley shelf is

  • Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid: The Fraught and Fascinating Biology of Climate Change by Thor Hanson
  • The Magician by Colm Toibin, fiction about the novelist Thomas Mann 
  • Rooted by Lynda Lynn Haupt whose Mozart's Starling I deeply enjoyed
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, story of a daredevil female aviator
  • Theater for Dreamers by Polly Sampson
The pandemic has motivated me to think about 'last things' and where 'things' will at last end up.

In other words, its time to find homes for some things I have collected.

First up, three handkerchiefs signed by First Ladies.


In 1993 a signed handkerchief collection belonging to Mrs Mildred Maulding was sold off on eBay. I purchased three of the handkerchiefs signed by First Ladies, including Bess Wallace Truman, Patricia Nixon, and Betty Ford. I believe I paid about $15 each.


The handkerchief signed by Betty Ford came with a letter from the White House that is dated February 5,1975. It is addressed to Mrs. Mildred Maulding, 1301 Northeast Glendale Avenue, Peoria, Illinois 60603 and is from Nancy M. Howe, Special Assistant to Mrs Ford. The letter confirmed that the handkerchief was from Betty Ford. The handkerchief signed by Bess Wallace Truman is dated 6/7/68.


The seller, Nancy Ashburst, included an appraisal of the collection in a letter dated 1993. In the collection were handkerchiefs signed by astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, James Lovell, Frank Borman, William Anders, Wally Schirra, and James McDivitt; actors and entertainers Mary Pickford, Jane Withers, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Grace de Monaco, and Richard Chamberlain; Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, Harry S. and Bess Truman, Hubert and Muriel Humphrey, Everett Dirksen, and Eugene McCarthy; religious leaders Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale; authors Zane Grey, Pearl Buck, Edgar Guest; famous physicians Jonas Salk and Charles W. Mayo and Christian Barnard, the first transplant patient; and from the world of music, Robert Merrill, Herb Alpert, and Meredith Willson. The total collection was valued at nearly $3,000.


I would have LOVED TO BUY THEM ALL! But I did not have much to spare. These three hankies were a steal at half their appraised value.


The collector, Mildred Dorothy Maulding, was born February 6, 1897 to Charles Sturman and Minnie Alice. She married Charles DeWitt Ashby and they had two children, Charles DeWitt and Billy Dee. On June 11, 1949, Mildred married Emory Maulding.


Mildred died at age 80 in 1977. Her obituary shows she was born in Shawneetown and was buried in McLeansboro, that she was a member of the Baptist church, Eastern Star, and White Shrine.

I got in touch with the presidential museums for each First Lady and have arranged to donate the handkerchiefs to them.



I also got in touch with the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. I want to donate a rare campaign souvenir handkerchief to them, sold on eBay as a 'circus elephant' for a dollar or so. It is silk, with a Republican elephant wearing a blanket with a bit 'H' for Hoover and a 'C' for his VP Curtis.


So, a trip to the post office is also in my post-vaccination to-do list.

Next it is time to clear out some quilts. I have a double closet and a linen closet filled with them...