Monday, November 15, 2021
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As discussed below, due to recent world events our discussions of U.S. political issues have moved to a U.S.-only web site called Freedom Connector. Many writers, elected officials, and others active in U.S. politics have pages at this site. U.S. readers should find it easier to comment and socialize at FC than it's been here.
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Friday, November 28, 2014
In real life the pastel colors are a little brighter than they appear on the computer screen, but yes, this is the "baby rainbow" of pink, coral, lemon yellow, mint green, baby blue, and lilac.
Although the cables draw in and make this a medium-small, snug-fitting cap, human head sizes don't change a great deal and most adults could wear this cap if they so chose.
The material is machine-washable acrylic. It may stretch a little; it won't shrink.
The price is $5 for the cap, $5 for shipping, and you can add a few other things to the package for one $5 shipping fee.
Author: Lillie B. and Arthur C. Horth
Publisher: J.B. Lippincott
ISBN: none; click here to see it on Amazon
Length: 176 pages, plus index
Illustrations: some diagrams
Quote: “The main purpose of this book is to provide girls of various ages with something to do during leisure hours.”
Boys of various ages would enjoy some of these activities too. They include leatherwork, linoleum printing, “simple jewellery work” and “mounting stones in silver,” and making candy...but you couldn’t publish this as a children’s book today. These authors assume that “girls of various ages,” though reading at a sixth-grade level, would be able to assemble a weaving loom, able to use a fretsaw, likely to have “done a little bookbinding,” and familiar with soldering.
It’s not that college “girls” would not be attracted to these hobbies—indeed, soldering might be a more wholesome thing for a college student to do than broadcasting her secrets into cyberspace. And I’m all in favor of the idea that children’s pastimes are not dictated by “age groups,” that parents are more likely to recommend the right books, toys, and crafts by observing a particular child than by reading generalizations about children of a particular age. Still, even for me, the blithe assumption that a fast-reading third grade girl who found this book in a school library could dive into metalwork as easily as she could take up watercolor painting seems a bit much. The references to “girls,” I think, give readers a certain right to expect instructions for pressed flowers, potato-head figures, and folding paper to make chorus lines of paper dolls. Those crafts are not discussed here. And far be it from me to make the decision for my niece that she’s “too young” to string beads on wire or take wind-up clocks apart, or “too old” to make chorus lines of paper dolls if that’s what amuses her, but personally I don’t think of anything that involves extremely high temperatures and nasty fumes as a pastime for children even with adult supervision.
101 Things for Girls to Do is definitely in the collector's book price range by now. Although it's too late to offer it as a Fair Trade Book, the best price I can offer online purchasers is $20 for the book + $5 shipping. (But at least you can add other things to the package for that $5.)
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Title: 100 People Who Changed America
Author: Scholastic Books staff, primarily Russell Freedman
More about Russell Freedman and his work: http://www.ric.edu/astal/authors/russellfreedman.html
Length: 64 pages
Illustrations: lots of graphics, black-and-white photos
Quote: “The photos and facts included on these pages are snapshot invitations for you to explore more about an individual’s life.”
Russell Freedman, who wrote Lincoln, a Photobiography, wrote several of the mini-biographies in this book.
The best and worst thing about a book like this is the selection of subjects, so here are the people Freedman thinks children should read about: Bill Gates, William Randolph Hearst, John Jay, Juliette Gordon Low, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Connor, John D. Rockefeller, Muriel Siebert, Madam C.J. Walker, Oprah Winfrey, Benjamin Banneker, Alexanderr Graham Bell, Clarence Birdseye, Nolan Bushnell, Willis Haviland Carrier, George Washington Carver, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Milton Hershey, Steve Jobs, Maya Lin, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Elisha Otis, Noah Webster, Eli Whitney, Frank Lloyd Wright, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Mary McLeod Bethune, Jimmy Carterr, Cesar Chavez, Shirley Chisholm, Frederrick Douglarss, Thomas Jefferson, Helen Keller, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Wilma Mankiller, Rosa Parks, Alice Paul, Pocahontas, Ronald Reagan, Eleanor, Franklin, and Theodore Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, George Washington, Maya Angelou, Chuck Berry, Margaret Bourke-White, Emily Dickinson, W.E.B. DuBois, Ella Fitzgerald, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Martha Graham, D.W. Griffith, Jim Henson, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, “Jelly Roll” Morton, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elvis Presley, Norman Rockwell, Steven Spielberg, Mark Twain, Andy Warrhol, Walt Whitman, Neil Armstrong, Clara Barton, Rachel Carson, William Clark (why not Meriwether Lewis?), Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Robert Goddard, Mae Jemison, Charles Lindbergh, Sally Ride, Sacajawea,Jonas Salk, James Watson, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Billie Jean King, Bruce Lee, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Tiger Woods, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
Obviously, parents who may have thought they could trust Scholastic to pick good role models for children may have some doubts about this list. According to page 41 “Jelly Roll” Morton “worked as gambler, pool shark, and comedian.” There are things about Morton that children might be encouraged to admire and emulate, but do you really want your kids thinking of “gambler” and “pool shark” as career options?
So, this is a book parents need to share with their children. Parents may meet some interesting historical figures whose names they didn’t know. (Did you guess that your air conditioner was named after a man? Did you realize that “Carrier” is a family name? Did you ever wonder who invented air conditioning?) Parents will also think of well-known Americans who might be better role models than the characters discussed in this book—what’s Morton doing in here anyway? Maybe Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were more controversial? If so, why isn’t Marian Anderson mentioned?
Even the facts in this book are not beyond questioning. According to 100 People Who Changed America, Abraham Lincoln was still the tallest President we’d ever elected. That was probably true when Freedman started writing Lincoln, a Photobiography, but it ceased to be true in 1992; Lincoln was 6’4”; Bill Clinton was 6’5”. This kind of thing does not make the book useless. In fact, some children may be attracted to the idea that they need to check and correct a Real Book...but parents should be aware that it is that sort of book.
Scholastic Books tend to be widely distributed, so this one's unlikely to reach the collector price range for a while. As a Fair Trade Book, it will cost $5 + $5 for shipping. (Shipping prices consolidate for as many items as fit into one package.) You can find better prices online, but I'm not aware that any other seller that distributes secondhand books pays royalties to living authors. If you e-mail salolianigodagewi @ yahoo that you want to buy this book here, Freedman or a charity of his choice will receive $1 out of your total cost of $10.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Don't let the cheap cell phone image fool you. This sweater is actually a pale aqua and silvery-white boucle, even though, when the image comes up on this computer, it looks pink.
Gena Greene adapted this design from a vintage issue of Knitter's magazine (I'm not seeing that specific issue listed at http://www.knittinguniverse.com//). She used Bernat Baby Coordinates yarn; the aqua color of this sweater is shown at the commercial link only as a splotch in a swatch of ombre yarn, and as the sample of a smooth yarn shown at the bottom of the page.
Baby Coordinates is, or was, an acrylic yarn that can be machine laundered.
Size: 36-40" bust, 5'3-5'6"
Price: $60 for the jacket + $5 for shipping. (You can add a few other things to the package for that $5 shipping fee.)
Book Title: Sticks
Author: Joan Bauer
Author's web site: http://joanbauer.typepad.com/
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell
Length: 182 pages
Quote: “The tournament’s for ten- to thirteen-year-olds and I’m finally old enough to compete., Pool is big stuff in this town.”
Ten-year-old Mickey Vernon has a grandmother who owns a pool hall and is determined to win the pool tournament. Thirteen-year-old Buck Pender, a bully, is also determined to win the tournament. When Pender and two of his friends try physical intimidation on Mickey and one of his friends, Mickey’s late father’s friend, Joseph Alvarez, takes Mickey’s side and offers to coach Mickey for the tournament.
Problems? Well...sort of. We all know that sports stories for boys have to be pretty straight success fantasies; the hero has to win a tough game. In the hands of Joan Bauer, though, even a sports story for boys has some human interest. Mickey thinks Mr. Alvarez is great. Mr. Alvarez has never married. Mickey’s mother has never remarried. Will she...?
It’s a light, mostly cheerful, often funny story, with comic scenes like a lesson on the Boston Tea Party in which the teacher dumps tea bags out of a toy boat into water. Mickey's friend, the math nerd, analyzes the game of pool mathematically for a science project and uses math to win a contest by guessing the number of candies in a jar. Mickey’s sister learns to make enchiladas.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Author: E. Stanley Jones
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Length: 160 pages
Quote: “I cannot die now. I have to live to complete another book—The Divine Yes.”
Dr. Stanley Jones organized Methodist missions, which he called “Christian ashrams,” in India. He had written more than two dozen books before 1971, when, at 87, he had a stroke. After the stroke he insisted that his daughter, Eunice Jones Matthews, help him finish this last book during the fourteen months before he died. Mrs. Mathews’ introduction reports that he tried writing parts of the manuscript with his right hand, but couldn’t see well enough to write legibly and had to dictate the book on tape.
An ill-natured person commented on the Amazon page that the resulting book was "unjointed" and "free of logic." Er, um...it's not Mere Christianity by a long stretch, but then it never claims to be. It's the last book by a celebrity author who'd promised his fans, who included Gandhi and Martin Luther King, one more book. That's what you might like, and what you might hate, in a nutshell.
The easiest way to describe how The Divine Yes differs from other books of evangelical Christian sermons is to remember that much of it was written in India; it reflects a dialogue with Hindu audiences. There are quotes from the Vedas and references to respected Asian writers including Rabindranath Tagore, Keshab Chandra Sen, Srinavasa Shastri, and Swami Vivekananda, and some leaders who are left anonymous for obvious reasons.
Most American books are U.S.-centered. We can travel so far without a passport that many of us live our lives without ever having a passport. We have an abstract idea that people live and things happen in other countries, but it’s not quite real to us. We tend to have muddled impressions of countries whose names sound alike, whether they’re neighbors like Zambia and Zimbabwe, or near-polar opposites like Belarus and Belize. Jones was American, and this is an American book, but it’s not U.S.-centered. Jones had listened to what people in many other countries were saying. Sometimes he agreed with them, sometimes he debated with them; anyway, his book has a degree of international literacy seldom achieved by American writers.
The sermon that forms a sort of outline for this book is given as chapter one: Some people had presented Christianity as a series of “no’s,” and Jones wanted to present it as a “yes.” During the last forty years Christians have heard many variations on this theme. It wasn’t really new in the 1970s either; as Kathleen Norris shared in the 1990s, medieval writers found a “yes” quality in even monastic Christianity. It was fresh in the 1970s, a period when the word “sermon” had picked up the image of “fierce, though perhaps Bible-based, denunciation.” During this period some Christians apparently thought “You can’t get to Heaven on roller skates; you’d roll right past the pearly gates” was serious doctrine rather than comic nonsense.
Why did so many preachers focus on “don’t” sermons? Possibly because people who’d already said “yes” to the “yes” of Christianity wondered what more they were to learn at church. In the 1970s one of my relatives announced that she’d graduated from Sunday School. My parents tracked down obscure points of biblical scholarship, and took an interest in fringe groups. Preachers whose audiences did not include real Bible mavens like us, apparently, found it easier to offer “more truth” to the converted by preaching against sins great and small.
An old joke that has multiple versions may be useful here. The story is that one of these preachers, no great scholar, took a job in Kentucky. He preached a good sermon on the evils of liquor. Next week half the congregation stayed home. He asked what he’d done wrong and was told, “Why, half of us work at the distillery. Don’t preach against liquor again.” So he preached against gambling, and the head deacon said, “Half of the people who came here today raise race horses. Please don’t preach against gambling again.” So he preached against murder—and the head deacon said, “Half of the men who came to church today were involved in those coal miners’ strikes, on one side or another. You’ve got to do something different or we’ll have no church left.”
In one version of the joke the preacher went home, read Congo Kitabu, and preached against fishing with dynamite. The head deacon said, “Preacher, what is the matter with you? Don’t you know the only men who still come to church are the ones who spend all their time ‘fishing,’ and the river’s so depleted that the only time they catch a fish is when one of them can steal a stick of dynamite?” So the preacher gave up and joined the Navy.
In another version, the preacher’s next sermon was against joining the Communist Party, and the parishioners began to come back to church, so the preacher spent the rest of his career denouncing the Communist Party.
There are other versions...what I know is that, as a young Christian, I was confused by the “yes, yes, yes” school of preaching and teaching. As an adult I can read this book in context and realize that baptized Christians were supposed to buy it to give to all their unbaptized friends. As a teenager I remember wondering why people gave such books to me. The Divine Yes was written to make Christians, not to educate Christians already made...although it does give Christian book lovers lots of obscure foreign books to track down and read.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Congressman Nunnelee recently gave the opening prayer at one of the House Republicans’ regular meetings, quoting I Thessalonians 5:18:
As Thanksgiving draws near, I am reminded of the many things for which I am grateful, including my wife, my children, and my health. I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve our community, first in the state legislature and now in the halls of Congress.
I am deeply thankful in the Lord for these blessings and others bestowed upon me and my family, and for the blessings on this nation, where a man or woman can determine their fate by the sweat of their brow and their ingenuity. This is true no matter what family you are born into or whom you are fortunate enough to know.
In preparing this column, I looked into some of my books for additional guidance on Thanksgiving messages. While doing so, I found the “Old 100th” as a hymn listed under ‘Thanksgiving’ in my 1952 Book of Common Prayer/Hymnal:
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Like Congressman Nunnelee, many in the Ninth District have experienced losses that we are not thankful for, but we remain thankful in the Lord for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. To again borrow from Congressman Nunnelee,
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.
Author: Alletta Jones
ISBN: none, but click here to find it on Amazon
Length: 168 pages of text
Illustrations: drawings by Mary Stevens
Quote: “I didn’t suppose I’d ever be any place but the Home until I die.”
Peggy is an orphan. Her wish is to be adopted. Luckily, since she’s a character in a book published for children by a church-sponsored press, we know her wish will come true.
How it comes true is a nice, nostalgic story, full of the good things about traditional American farms. Every cow and chicken could easily be made a pet. Children’s summer chores are done outdoors and are as much fun as games. Games aren’t supervised; the kids catch polliwogs and look for birds’ nests in the pasture. There’s excitement, though, when a bull choses a child up a tree, or children who think it’s fun to explore the empty schoolhouse get locked in and have to slide down a scary oldfashioned fire escape. Going into town is a special treat, with banana splits and penny candy. In Kansas, where this story is set, Gypsies camp in the neighborhood and tell fortunes, and occasionally a “real honest-to-goodness Indian” comes to collect turkey feathers.
The less pleasant things about early twentieth century farm life are here too, but they’re pushed into the background. Peggy’s parents have died; her adoption is a foregone conclusion because the family who invite her to spend the summer on their farm had a daughter about her age (ten) who also died recently. Peggy’s adoptive brother claims to hate all girls; at this historical period hating the opposite sex was considered innocent and cute. Peggy’s foster mother doesn’t seem to mind canning vegetables, or expect the children to work in the steamy kitchen until their faces are flushed too; this was possible, but not typical. The hired man is a nice, kind, cheerful fellow, not one of those whose frustration with low wages and poor marriage prospects led them to drink, steal, and abuse the boss’s animals—or children. And of course, when the bull chases the children, a tree is right where the children need it to be...and even the tornado passes by without doing the characters any harm.
If you’re one of the dedicated few who don’t think that “developing” your family farm into condominiums or a federal facility would be “progress,” you’ll appreciate Peggy’s Wish as a chance to share what you’re trying to do with children. This is one of those short, easy chapter books that encourage fast learners to read and sound out words, even in the first grade. If not ready to read this book before age ten, kids are likely to pass it up in favor of books about the teen scene or the grown-up world.
However, the book may recover a little respect when you find out that it's become a collector's item. Currently Amazon is listing the "best price" for this book as $79. And was I ever stupid to sell the copy I physically owned, back at the time when the first draft of this review was written, for fifty cents! To buy Peggy's Wish online from me will now cost $80 for the book + $5 shipping...and it's not even a Fair Trade Book, because I can't imagine Alletta Jones having any use for $8.50 by now.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
- completing and strengthening the southern border fence;
- tracking foreign visa holders via an exit-entry system;
- canceling visas to nations that will not take back its own citizens;
- stopping the issuance of child tax credits to illegal immigrants;
- targeting those cities that defy immigration law.”
Friday, November 21, 2014
Author: Joseph Heller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: none, but click here to find it on Amazon
Length: 408 pages
Quote: “Gold longed unreasonably for a blast of arctic air...to induce the abrupt departure for Florida of his father and stepmother.”
How good is Professor Bruce Gold? He’s not heroic. At forty-eight, he’s still as much embarrassed by his family as a fourteen-year-old. As a writer he’s not widely read. As a citizen he thinks he’d leave his home in New York, even his parents, wife, and children there, the minute he got a chance to move to Washington and take a better-paid government job. As a Jew he thinks he might write a book about being Jewish, but he’s not religious and thinks he wants to abandon his family, so how good could any book he'd write about his heritage be?
Gold’s old colleague, Ralph Newsome, a successful “unnamed inside source” who never says anything positively, can just about guarantee Gold the appointment. It might help if Gold were associated not with his loyal, thoroughly Brooklyn working class, wife Belle, but with young, attractive, horsey, academically brilliant, morally retarded, neurotic Andrea Conover, the daughter of a truly loathsome carpetbagger in suburban Virginia.
To his credit, Gold becomes disgusted by the Conovers before Belle finds out that he’s slept with Andrea. He even gets a miracle he can’t be said to deserve; although nobody’s ever counted how many men have already slept with Andrea, he doesn’t seem to have caught anything...well, in the 1970s most venereal diseases were treatable anyway.
To his discredit, Gold has no empathy for Andrea’s howling need for feminist consciousness-raising; he plans to exploit it to get rid of her after using her connections. He also puts up with Pops Conover’s ineluctable loathsomeness to the point of...let’s just say that Conover is a satire not based on the actual or legendary behavior of any real diplomat living or dead, but people who are prone to nausea should have naturally flavored ginger ale within reach while reading any scene in which he appears in the book.
Actually, even the scenes with Conover aren’t as nauseous as parts of Catch-22, but all stories about twentieth century warfare are nauseous, so readers of Catch-22 knew what to expect. Stories about diplomats aren't supposed to be gross-outs.
If the test of a “good” practice of any religion is compassion, as my late husband used to say, then Gold is not a good Jew. He has no compassion for Andrea, little for Newsome. He’s not what in 1979 was known as “warm and caring.” As the plot unfolds he does discover, deep in the basement of his consciousness, tiny amounts of compassion for his family, but nothing you could really call sympathy or affection. Gold is not the man any boy wants to grow up to be; he’s the kind of man male readers might fear becoming, or female readers might fear finding themselves married to.
If that’s how good or bad Gold is, how good or bad is Good as Gold? It has its comic moments; it’s not as hilarious as Catch-22. As a movie it might be rated PG-13; sex takes place outside of the context of pair-bonding, mostly offstage, and some characters have foul mouths...violence is mostly narrated in gross-out lines, especially Conover’s. Kids read worse in the daily newspapers but I’d still recommend this book only to adults, because a big part of its comedy is a long sardonic inside joke that’s never explained and may confuse young readers.
But I'll explain it: There were overtly Jewish diplomats in Washington in 1979. (I used to work for one of them; he'd been there since 1969 or before.) There were, in fact, overtly Jewish diplomats in Washington even in the nineteenth century, as there were in London, and in Richmond during the Civil War. In Washington, by the 1970s, they had a well entrenched social network and seemed to own the suburban town of Wheaton, Maryland. What is doubtful is whether there were working-class diplomats.
In theory Americans detest elitism as much as we do the other forms of bigotry; in practice we’ve opened up and discussed and formally condemned the other forms of bigotry, but we’ve never confronted elitism and we’re still actively practicing it; we tend to feel that people without some experience handling large amounts of their own money can’t be trusted to handle public or corporate money. And Gold never understands this fundamental defining fact of his situation. Throughout the book, anyone who knew Washington in or close to this period would know that Gold’s being Jewish has nothing to do with his chance at a diplomatic post, that his thinking it has is evidence of his cluelessness, and that Newsome’s failure to give him a clue is proof of Newsome’s satanic function in the story...but Gold never guesses this, and for Heller, obviously, it all goes without saying.
Heller no longer needs a dollar, and to sell this book online I'd have to charge $5 for the book + $5 shipping, so go ahead and buy it cheaper if you can.
This is a woman's batwing-style jacket. The shape came from a back issue of Fashion Knitting, in which the title was "Santa Fe"--I think (going by that magazine's editorial practice at the time) this referred to a novelty yarn that was made that year. In this photo I focussed on a detail of the front in order to show the colors, and sure enough, on this computer the brown, tan, and cream yarn is showing up realistically, at least in the middle third of the picture. The jacket has a round neckline, a wide center front panel with room for either one or two rows of snap fasteners, and full-length batwing sleeves.
Material: 100% acrylic. Machine wash and dry.
Size: 40-44" bust, 5'6"-5'9"
Price: $25 for the jacket, $5 for shipping. (Yes, you could fit something small, such as a cap, into the package with this jacket and pay only one $5 for shipping.)
By the way, would anyone like to see better photos of the handcrafts available through this web site? E-mail salolianigodagewi (at yahoo) to donate a better-quality digital camera, and we'll post them. These were snapped with a $5 Tracfone.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
ISBN: none (click here to find a newer edition on Amazon)
Length: 133 pages
Illustrations: watercolors by Alton Raible
Quote: “Give the searching heart an eye, and magic fills a summer’s sky.”
Pamela would rather travel with her father, a salesman, than live with her Aunt Sarah on a failing farm where the only horses left are the model horses on Pamela’s bookshelves. Guess where she has to spend the summer anyway. But she meets a mysterious boy whose only family seems to be a herd of strange-looking, slim, dainty, odd-colored ponies. He lives in fear of a wicked witch, the Pig Woman, who sings a terribly beautiful song that causes males of all species to give up their free will and turn into pigs. These pigs are as different from any real pigs you may know as the Ponyboy’s ponies are from real ponies, but the Ponyboy’s magic doesn’t turn Pamela into a pony, as seems indicated. He only needs her energy to help him resist the Pig Woman.
All fairy tales have to get their inspiration somewhere. This one, which seems most closely related to the myth of Circe on the surface, really taps into the early 1960s fear that women who made decisions for themselves would “lose their femininity” and make bad decisions.
At the same time, it’s still a simple but well-written fantasy. You’ll wonder whether the real Zilpha Keatley Snyder ever had a real pony, but you’ll love her glass and china ponies come to life.
What about the innocence of Pamela’s sneaking off alone to meet the Ponyboy? This was heady stuff in the 1960s. Some parents wanted to believe that preadolescent children were too innocent to be in any danger. Some would say that, the more innocent children are when they sneak off to be alone with just one other child, the worse the results might be.
Maybe, although this fantasy was written to entertain third and fourth grade readers, it’s best enjoyed by adults. The misogyny may be too toxic, and the children may be undesirable role models, for children. And yet...when I was about the age of Pamela, I enjoyed this book, just for the delightful fantasy ponies. And it did not cause me to sneak around with boys, or turn anybody into a pig.
At the time when I wrote this review, Season of Ponies would have been a Fair Trade Book. I had the first hardcover edition, too. Together with a Gena Greene Recycled doll dressed like Pamela, it sold for $5. I hope the person who bought that copy of the book checks out the current price of the first hardcover edition on Amazon. You got a real bargain. In order to keep things real at this web site, what I can now offer to sell online will be a recent paperback reprint, $5 + $5 shipping, and if you find a better price, go for it. Zilpha Keatley Snyder no longer needs a dollar.
This is one of the designs in Maine Island Classics, which you can buy from me as a Fair Trade Book ($5 for the book, $5 for shipping). In real life the main color is dark blue, with a light summer-sky blue yoke, white sailboat, and blue-green trees knitted in.
Size: 36-38" bust/chest, 5'3"-5'6". Gena Greene did not add a sleeve gusset to this sweater. We've been advised that some women with 36-38" busts think all the women's sweaters in Maine Island Classics needed sleeve gussets...the designers were young. (In my twenties I knitted some jackets with waistlines a lot of women hated, too.) If you have trim, firm upper arms and want to show them off, wearing this lightweight cardigan over a short-sleeved or sleeveless shirt is a nice subtle way. If you have wide upper arms, we can insert the gussets.
Material: acrylic--machine wash and dry
Price: $25 for the sweater, $5 for shipping, $5 to add buttons, $10 to add sleeve gussets.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Author: Ellsworth Jaeger
ISBN: none, but click here to see a copy with a dust jacket that shows the author's name as "Jaeger Ellsworth." (Probably the pen name of a writing team, since the inside front page of my copy has "Ellsworth Jaeger" and so has the dust jacket of the companion volume.)
Length: 129 pages with black-and-white illustrations and diagrams
Quote: “Simple craft suggestions...that untrained hands may undertake with materials easily secured.”
These are the crafts people my age learned at summer camp: smoke printing (with grease), spatter painting, potato printing, shelf-fungus sculptures, track casting, insect collections, tin-can birdhouses, bird feeders, baskets, sock animals, clay pots, cornhusk dolls, cardboard weaving, fuzz sticks, and green-twig toasting forks.
The beauty and usefulness of these objects varies considerably even when they’re made well. Usually they weren’t made well. Many of them, being made from all-organic materials, weren’t meant to last long. A green-twig toasting fork has two uses: it teaches us that, if metal toasting forks weren’t available, we could still toast things; and it teaches us why our ancestors celebrated the cleverness of the first few humans who thought of making metal toasting forks.
Anyway, the objects are fun to make, even if some materials (blueprint paper, blotters, inky coprinus mushrooms) are harder to find than they seem to have been in 1949.
Some materials are, in fact, so much harder to find that making these projects now seems unthinkable. Spruce roots and willow bark are not to be wasted on beginners’ baskets that could be made with phragmite reeds and honeysuckle vines. The idea of killing butterflies for a collection is disgusting to most people today, although my brother and I filled a large case with butterflies and moths that we found in good condition after the short-lived animals died. Even though wild birds normally shed and replace all their feathers every summer, and many are likely to drop lovely little feathers at camp sites where a feeder has been set up, using feathers that aren’t obviously the dyed feathers of white chickens now seems tasteless.
On the other hand children can still enjoy recycling outgrown socks into toys, cutting scraps of paper into snowflakes, tying cornhusks into fanciful shapes, weaving, beading, braiding, and similar crarfts described in this book.
No attempt to “grade” the projects has been made. (Children who are growing up on their own schedule always appreciate things that aren’t limited to some arbitrarily defined “age group.”) Directions for things four-year-olds can do without much supervision, like shaping clay pots, are interspersed with directions for crafts that require strength and coordination, like snipping tin and sewing leather. Know the children with whom you share this book. My brother shaped some cute fuzz sticks when he was six, and did not hurt himself, but fuzz sticks are made with a sharp knife. In the eighteenth century little girls made elaborate alphabet samplers while learning the alphabet, at ages four to eight, but embroidering with a blunt plastic needle on plastic mesh may be a safer way for a whole first-grade class to learn the craft than embroidering with a sharp sewing needle would be.
Whoever Ellsworth Jaeger, or Jaeger Ellsworth, or Jaeger and Ellsworth were, it's unlikely that they have any use for a dollar. To buy Easy Crafts (and/or Nature Crafts) from me online will cost $5 for each volume plus $5 for shipping.
From a design by Helene Rush. In real life the background color is a bright deep blue, like the U.S. flag, and the moose are brown...on this computer this photo actually looks like the sweater. (Helene Rush's design in Maine Woods Woolies was originally a jacket; Gena Greene had enough of this yarn to make a vest.)
Material: 100% acrylic; machine wash and dry. May stretch while wet. Will not shrink.
Size: average two-year-old child
Price: $10 + $5 shipping. (Shipping price is per package, and you could fit other things in a package with this vest.) For an extra $5 we'll add snappers, and for another $5 decorative buttons.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
This web site officially offers our condolences to the families affected by these cowardly murders--U.S., Israeli, and otherwise.
This web site officially calls on Muslims of good will to denounce the murderers...in ways that are not affected by the different possible understandings of words. I read that under Islamic law the penalty for murder is supposed to be negotiated with the bereaved family. Right. If the families seriously, coolheadedly think that the kind of penalties Arlene from Israel is recommending today are appropriate, then the Muslim leaders should walk their talk and do as their law prescribes.
At least this post is balanced. First, from Senator Tim Kaine:
Now, from Congressman Morgan Griffith:
"Monday, November 17, 2014 –
Keystone XL Pipeline – Solutions
On Friday, November 14, the House of Representatives again passed legislation (H.R. 5682) to approve the application for the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been slow-walked by President Obama and the State Department for more than six years. This is despite other pipeline projects requiring a Presidential Permit having taken 18 to 24 months to review and approve.
The House has now voted nine times to advance this landmark jobs and energy project. 31 House Democrats voted in favor of this bill, and the Senate is now expecting to consider a similar measure.
At a recent press conference in Myanmar, President Obama is reported as having said that his position hasn’t changed on the Keystone pipeline. As far as I am aware, however, he has not taken an opinion publicly, only saying that the proposed pipeline should be studied more. According to the New York Times, the President said in a major speech on the environment in the summer of 2013 that “…he would approve the pipeline only if it would not ‘significantly exacerbate’ the problem of carbon pollution. He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be ‘absolutely critical’ to his decision.”
Of course, the State Department in late January found – again – that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly worsen carbon pollution. And yet the President has not made a decision.
The pipeline has been studied, and the facts are in. It is time to build Keystone XL pipeline, creating jobs and a more energy-independent North America.
The House knows a solution to create jobs and energy is to work with our friends in Canada, and we have voted repeatedly to do so. Because there is a runoff election in Louisiana, the Senate may finally join the House in agreeing to this solution for jobs and energy. Then we’ll see what the real opinion of the President is when he gets his chance to use his pen and veto this pro-jobs bill. "
Which one does this web site support? Actually, the position of this web site is that good things may come out of the debate.
Title: Under the Tuscan Sun
Author: Frances Mayes
Publisher: Broadway / Bantam Doubleday Dell
Length: 280 pages
Quote: “My reader, I hope, is like a friend who comes to visit, learns to mound flour on the thick marble counter and work in the egg.”
Frances Mayes bought a house in Italy. More people wanted to visit her than she could entertain, so she wrote a book about the house. This book has been a bestseller, even though it’s family-friendly with only occasional flashes of dry humor. It’s not likely to make any college reading lists, but it’s a very enjoyable read, a sensory tour of a big country house written skillfully enough to give readers a wholesome mental escape from their boring commute or dismal hospital stays. It’s an almost perfect pillow book. Sort of ironic, in view of recent news stories from Tuscany, but a pleasant read.
Its one flaw as a pillow book might be the continual references to Real Italian Food, or specifically Tuscan food, the delicacies that grow in Tuscany and wouldn’t be the same in other parts of Italy. The secret is all those fresh vegetables. Our protagonists live in the country and have masses of vegetables to use up. “We no longer measure, but just cook...ingredients of the moment are the best guides” to creating their own new, authentic Italian dishes. Simmer chicken and vegetable scraps, skim the broth, add tomatoes and herbs as available, and sup. Cook pasta until it’s soft enough, add greens, cream, cooked meat, and grated cheese, toss them together and eat. Shell peas, mince shallots, soften them in butter, add a little mint, salt and pepper, chop this into a paste, and spread it on toast. Absolutely nothing to it...if you have garden-fresh vegetables. If you have to buy vegetables in a supermarket the recipes won’t turn out half as good. And if you don’t need to think about food when you’re not cooking or eating, Under the Tuscan Sun qualifies as “food porn.”
But of course Italians do other things as well as eat. Our protagonists settle in, and see the sights in the nearby towns. They go to night concerts in the town square, visit a museum and describe the elaborate fourth-century candelabrum, go to what’s ordinarily the movie theatre and watch the ballet. Nothing more “exciting” or like the plot of a novel happens to them than the renovation of the house, but it’s all fresh and new to Americans and it all feels good.
This book was a bestseller because everyone enjoys reading it once. So, Under the Tuscan Sun is recommended to anyone who hasn’t read it. It's tasteful, it's tasty, it's a Fair Trade Book, and if you buy it here for $5 + $5 shipping we'll send Mayes or a charity of her choice $1. And you can add a few other things to the package for that $5 shipping cost, too.
In real life these caps are white, black, and a medium gray-green. (And they're photographed lying on a wooden table.) They are a small, medium, and large size, but there's not much variation in head sizes and knitting is fairly forgiving, so most people could wear whichever of these hats they fancy. On me the ribbing around the small (gray-green) cap would look stretched, and the ribbing on the large (black) cap would need to be rolled up.
All three caps are 100% acrylic, machine washable and dryable. They'll stretch if worn while wet. They will not shrink.
Price: $5 each + $5 shipping...only one $5 per package, and there's room for a sweater or a few books in the package with these caps, even if you buy all three.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Author: Arthur S. Maxwell
Publisher: Monde Français / Pacific Press
ISBN: none (but click here to see seven of the nine other volumes in the series, because these are picture books and you have to see the pictures)
Length: 190 pages
Illustrations: full-color paintings on most pages
Quote: “La Bible est le plus merveilleux livre d’histoires qui ait jamais été écrit.”
Arthur S. Maxwell was English. Some of his early books for adults were published only in English. With his Bedtime Stories series, published between 1920 and 1970, and even more with his Bible Stories series, published in the 1950s, publishers knew they’d struck gold. Maxwell’s storybooks have been widely translated in a variety of beautifully illustrated editions.
It might be said that translators took some liberties in retitling Bedtime Stories as La Route Enchantée and inserting Belles into Histoires de la Bible, but cultural sensitivity was probably a factor. On the whole the translation of this volume is more faithful than a disgusting “modernized" English edition I’ve seen. This is an authentic Bible Story book, printed on low-gloss but durable paper, bound to stay bound in a wonderfully waterproof, even peanut-butter-and-jelly-proof cover. You’d have to look at the copyright date to know that my copy, although handled extensively, wasn’t printed within the last ten years. (Actually my copy was printed in the 1970s or 1980s. You can tell because the contemporary pictures were updated; some people have dark skin, and the fathers of the churchgoing families on page 60 have 1970s “mod” haircuts.)
The illustrations of all Bible Story books deserve introduction to those who don’t know them. In commissioning paintings for these books, the publishers spared no expense. Professional landscape painters supplied at least one full-page, poster-quality image to introduce each story. Some pictures were done from photographs of the Middle East, and some, done by Harry Anderson while he was staying at an historic home in Maryland, come from Takoma Park.
In The Faith Club, the Jewish participant asked the others to describe the stereotypes the word “Jewish” brought to their minds. The unflattering images they described aren’t totally unfamiliar to me. I’ve seen cartoons like that; I’ve even seen a few people like that. Yet that’s not the image the word “Jewish” brings to my mind. The first context in which I met the word “Jews,” as a child, was The Bible Story. As an adult I can observe that the painters were directed to select attractive models whether they were painting faces, landscapes, buildings, or whatever. In any case they succeeded in making “Jewish” suggest, to me, “good-looking people, with either dark or snow-white hair, usually observed in attitudes stereotyped as noble and devout.” Even the wicked characters have, at worst, scowling expressions on their classic faces. Since most of the stories focus on good characters these books can be said to give child readers a favorable image to go with the word “Jewish.”
I’ve actually heard some complaints about the fabulosity of the models painted in these books. While the artists gave Moses and Abraham white beards, they couldn’t bring themselves to make heroines like Sarah and Miriam age at all—some of the virtuous women of the Bible seem to have luxuriant black hair and girlish faces at ninety.
The books are, of course, Christian. They’ve been endorsed by rabbis, but I suspect these rabbis were Messianic Jews, since four of the ten volumes are about the life and teachings of Jesus. They stick to the literal sense of the Bible stories, without many attempts to explain any “poetic,” “allegorical,” or “metaphoric” interpretations or abstract theological teachings. They are, however, padded out with explanations of Bible words and concepts, from “the begats” (preschoolers are told that "begat" means "was a daddy") through “kindness” and “generosity.”
Stories some adults prefer to construe as metaphors are presented as literally true, with illustrations of the traditional picture-book school. Adam and Eve always stand behind convenient bushes or large animals; domestic animals that hadn’t been fully domesticated even in New Testament days appear as types bred in the nineteenth century, marching into Noah’s Ark two by two.
Volume one takes the child reader as far as “The Girl with the Kindly Heart” and “The Boy with the Friendly Spirit” (La jeune fille au coeur aimant...Le garçon à l’esprit amical). These stories expand on how Rebekah was chosen to marry Isaac because she was kind enough, as well as strong enough, to draw water for ten camels, and although we’re not told whether Rebekah had ever met Isaac before she rushed off to marry him, we can guess that they were compatible because Isaac later dug two wells for Ishmael before keeping one for his own farm. This kind of approach is typical of Maxwell.
Maxwell wrote down to children of picture-book age in some ways but he expected them to look up, or ask adults about, new words. Translators have preserved this quality in Les Belles Histoires de la Bible. Second-year students whose native language is English should be able to read this book without much recourse to the dictionary; it’s not dumbed down for first-year students.
All of Maxwell’s picture books are warmly recommended to anyone who is a child, used to be a child, or knows a child. Although thousands of copies were sold (door to door, by deserving students at Christian schools) and many copies printed in the 1950s are still readable, these books tended to be handed down through families rather than resold on the Internet, so when they're available online they tend to be sold for collectors' prices. Note the price tag on the incomplete set linked above...single volumes in this series seem to start high on Amazon. The non-English versions aren't easy to find in the U.S. and I'm afraid the best I can do for this volume, online, is currently $120 + $5 for shipping. If I find a better deal I'll update this post. At least Arthur S. Maxwell no longer needs 10% of whatever you have to pay for his books.
Both this little bonnet and a beret I posted on Bubblews match a child's sweater that's likely to show up here later. The color is a brighter, more watermelon-ice-like pink than it looks on this computer screen.
The material is a blend that contains rayon, so "dry" cleaning is recommended. (I tested...rubbing alcohol works about as well as it ever does on spots. Scrubbing does not work. Discourage the child from activities that are likely to attract really stubborn spots, if you want to pass these garments on to another little princess-in-pink.)
Size: average two-year-old child
Price: $5 + $5 shipping. (One $5 shipping cost per package.)