Category Archives: History

Does It Hurt and Have A Temperature?

Today’s post comes from Wessew.

That is line from a 1963 Bayer Children’s aspirin commercial. The little boy makes an inquiry of his playmate’s health and receives reassurance from her mother that things will be fine. His delightful response? “Mothers are like that. Yeah, they are.”

With the C-19 pandemic, many of us have heard similar screening questions. “Pain? Temperature?”

My construction work at medical facilities requires a negative response to gain entrance into the building. I’m quite sure that over these past months that I’ve had my temperature taken a hundred times and it has consistently been 97.5. This is a surprise, as I recollect normal body temperature being 98.6 or did Keith mis-inform me with the lyric in his 1967 song:

“Hey, 98.6, it’s good to have you back again! Oh, hey, 98.6, her lovin’ is the medicine that saved me! Oh, I love my baby!”

Somehow “Hey 97.5” doesn’t work as a lyric.

 

Do you have a favorite fever song?

A Different Point of View

I thought about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on our recent trip to Brookings, SD, as we drove through Edgely, ND and Aberdeen, SD on our way.  Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen around the time he wrote the book, and the girl he used as a model for Dorothy was his niece who lived on a god forsaken farm near Edgely.  (That girl’s daughter became the first woman senator from ND). The area is pretty swampy and remote, in the James River Valley, close to the Red River Valley, but without the good soil. I confess I never read Baum’s  book, but I really liked Wicked, which was the story told from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West.

I liked Jane Eyre as a teen, but I really liked Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which is the story told from the point of view of the first Mrs. Rochester.

I suppose one could argue that writing a story from the point of view of another character from an established novel or story is an easy way to make a buck, but I think it is so interesting  to consider. I also don’t know how they figure out copyright and royalty issues, but it must be doable.

What novel or story would you like to see written from another character’s point of view? What novel or story would you like to see written from the point of view of a character from a completely different novel or story?

To Baader-Meinhof or Not to Baader-Meinhof? That is the Question.

Photo Credit:  Hulki Okan Tabak

A few weeks ago a friend came over for some socially distant muffins and tea.  We had a wonderful time chatting in the backyard about all kinds of things.  At one point she recommended a series called “Walking Through History”.  The host walks around Britain and archaeologists and historians pop out of the surrounding country add information as he walks.  Sounded like my cup of tea so I searched it out.

I didn’t actually binge watch it but over the next couple of weeks, I had seen them all.  The host, Tony Robinson, seemed vaguely familiar, so I googled him.  Turns out he is SIR Tony Robinson, an English actor and host and he seemed familiar because he played Baldrick in the “Black Adder” show a gazillion years ago.  I read through his entire Wikipedia page and found that he has had a fascinating career of acting, presenting and writing and has made charity part of his life’s work.

I’m waiting for a DVD of Black Adder from the library (to re-watch) and have checked out Bad Kids: Naughtiest Children in History .  It was very funny – a kids’ book about various ways in which kids are raised (and punished) in various cultures throughout history.  There are quite a few children’s books about history in his bibliography.

Another thing that caught my eye in his biography was a television show that ran for 20 seasons on BBC called “Time Team”.  A group of archaeologists and historians (and Tony Robison as presenter) go someplace in Britain (often invited by a town or home owner) to look into the history of some ruin – they give themselves 3-5 days and then present their findings.  It took me a bit to find it, but eventually I did – on demand cable – all 20 seasons.  It’s fascinating.  I’ve watched 2 seasons so far.

So imagine my surprise when this morning, while reading In the Woods, a murder mystery that takes place in an archaeological site by Tana French (which has been on my shelf for a few years and I’m just getting to), I found this:

“How’s the dig going?” Cassie asked sociably.
One corner of Mark’s mouth twisted sourly.  “How do you think?  We’ve got four weeks to do a year’s work.  We’ve been using bulldozers.”
“And that’s not a good thing?” I said.
He glared at me.  “Do we look like the f***ing Time Team?”

French then adds a couple of sentences explaining Time Team for those readers who don’t happen to be binge watching it this week.

I’m sure a mathematician can probably explain the odds of this occurrence, but I’m thinking there just has to be magic involved.  And maybe dragons.

For what kind of show would you like to be a presenter?

Biscuits And Gravy

Husband, as a rule, has excellent taste in food. There are  exceptions,  like cornmeal mush, that I won’t touch.  That is traditional to his mother’s family who came from southeastern Ohio.  I don’t understand it. I like polenta,  but the mush his family makes isn’t like that at all. He also likes fried clams. My nonexistent gallbladder, which rebels over fried food, can’t tolerate it.  The main  food disagreement we have is over biscuits and gravy.

He never started eating biscuits and gravy until we moved to North Dakota. Don’t ask me why.  I like biscuits. I like sausage. I just don’t like glutinous, gloppy gravy on top of them. Husband has taken to making it in secret. He says the combination of softness (from the biscuits) and the  spiciness (from the sausage), all held together with the comforting gravy, is too appealing to him to give up. I noticed this week that there were bags of biscuits in the freezer I hadn’t noticed before, and he admitted he had made biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and tossed out the leftovers before I got home.

I think part of this has to do with his diabetes, and his feelings of hunger when he wakes up in the morning.  He says there isn’t really isn’t anything I like that he doesn’t like, but that he finds biscuits and gravy so comforting.  He blames it on the diners and truck stop cafes that he ate in while he worked on the Rez for six years.

What do you eat that your housemates won’t eat? Do you eat anything in secret? What are your comfort foods?

Following Directions

On June 24, 1497, John Cabot and his ship bumped into Nova Scotia, thought it was Asia, and claimed it for England.  My, was he wrong!

I love maps and reading maps. I hate being told I am wrong. I don’t know if Cabot learned he was wrong or how he felt if he found out he was wrong.  I reluctantly use Google Maps in cities if I don’t know my way around.  I am a visual person, and I prefer to see where I am going. I wonder about the maps Cabot had to follow. I would have had a word with chief navigator about this entire continent being in the way of Asia, and no one knowing about it.

When have you been wrong? What is your favorite way of getting information?

Mass Hysteria

I news clip caught my eye yesterday about incidents of hysterical dancing that broke out in Germany in the 1300’s.  Men and women started to dance, and were unable to stop.  Others  joined them. The dancers rarely stopped to eat or sleep for days and sometimes weeks.  They did not appear happy to be dancing, but they didn’t stop. Outbreaks of this dancing continued through out the Middle Ages.  It was sometimes called St. John’s Dance, and, later, St. Vitus Dance and the Tarantella. There are theories that it was caused by ergot poisoning, but that is still up for debate. Other theories attribute it to living in stressful times. It seemed to die out with the advent  of Protestantism.

There was a modern outbreak of hysterical laughing  in 1962 in a girls’ mission school  in Tanganyika which eventually affected  around 1000 people in the surrounding community for 18 months.

Given the stressful time we are living in, I started to wonder what sort of mass hysteria might we see occurring. I thought it would be nice to see mass recycling or picking up litter and trash.  Unstoppable acts of kindness would be refreshing as well.

What mass hysteria would you like to see? Have you ever been “hysterical”?

What Party Do You Belong To?

Husband started volunteering  at the local food bank on Thursdays, and was asked rather pointedly by another volunteer what political party he belonged to.  The questioner was a disabled Gulf War Veteran who was rather unhappy with the possibility of a George Floyd protest march at the local mall, and who was supportive of the local bikers who surrounded our mall to make sure there wasn’t any destruction or looting. (It was the most peaceful, non-eventful happening our town has seen.)  Husband answered, quite brilliantly I thought, that he was a member of the Lutheran Party and Lutheran Tribe. That seemed to puzzle the questioner, but ended the discussion. If asked the same question, I suppose I would say I was a New Deal Democrat, but I don’t know how many younger people would know what that meant. I am so proud of the questioner to be volunteering at the food bank, no matter what his political persuasion. I am dismayed to think that he would judge someone on the basis of their answer.

What party do you belong to?  Be creative.

What To Read Right Now

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

When Toni Morrison died on August 5th last summer, I was amazed to realize I’d never read anything by this Pulitzer (and Nobel!) Prize winning author. Then I watched, on CBS Sunday Morning, and excerpt from an NPR interview, and promptly read three of her books to get a sampling of her writing. They were not an easy read.

What I’ve realized in the past few weeks is that, while I’ve heard myself say I love to read about women’s lives (and lately some men’s, too), I’ve read precious few books about black women’s lives, most by Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker – either fiction or memoirs. There have been tons of posts on FB, etc., about what it is like to be African-American in this country (not to mention Native, Hispanic, Asian) – stories that try to explain what the term “white privilege” means, and I think I’m just beginning to understand.

Something  PJ said the other day on the Trail spoke to me:  “At the moment I’m immersed in learning more about American history, race relations, politics, and the changing vocabulary and strategies that have been used over time to divide us along racial, economic, and political lines. I’d much rather be doing something else, but it feels as if it’s my civic duty to be as informed as I can be so I can better understand what’s going on all around us.”

To that end, I’ve ordered James Baldwin’s Collected Essays, after hearing a conversation about him with MPR’s Angela Davis. I came upon this “Anti-Racist Lit. Starter Kit.”

It can be argued that we need to do much more than try to fix it by “throwing a book at it”. But like PJ, educating myself is what I can do right now.

Do you have any recommendations for books we could read right now, to further understand what needs to change in our culture?

Successful Combinations

In 1892, on this date, macadamia nuts were first planted in Hawaii.  They are native to Australia. This was a rather a successful combination, and Hawaii was a leader in macadamia nuts until South Africa took over that role in 2010.

I am not a great fan of macadamias, preferring pecans and pistachios.  When I think about successful combinations, I think about hazelnuts in Oregon, wine grapes in France, and potatoes in Ireland. I suppose there could be successful combinations with people, too, such as Julia Child in Paris.

What is your favorite nut? What are some successful combinations that you can think of?

Bloomsday

Happy June 16th, Baboons!  It is Bloomsday, the day that Ulysses was set. I have to admit I read that book several decades ago and couldn’t  make sense of it. I am tempted to reread it now, as I think I have some added maturity to “get” what Joyce was trying to say.  We will have to see about that. It may be as incomprehensible as it was the first time I tried to read it in my 20’s. I have really enjoyed hearing recitations of Ulysses on Bloomsday, as it seems to be more accessible when it is read aloud.

What are your experiences with James Joyce’s works? What do you reread?