Writing Lessons

She is wearing pearls, and white brocade embroidered with stiff little sprigs of carnations. He recognises considerable expenditure; leave the pearls aside, you couldn't turn her out like that for much under thirty pounds. No wonder she moves with gingerly concern, like a child who's been told not to spill something on herself.

This is Hilary Mantel describing Jane Seymour through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell in Bring Up the Bodies (Wolf Hall, Book 2) . Page 11 in my paperback copy. Read more about Writing Lessons


Seminal Works

"We were the radical women of Door County," I said, explaining the origin of the four poems I had just read at the monthly meeting of R.A.S.P., in conversation with a couple of women afterwards. "They were seminal figures in my life at that time."

I realized, as I said it, that seminal was the wrong word. "There must be a better word, " I added, but my companions seemed willing to go along with it. It was time to go anyway, but that word has stayed on my mind. Read more about Seminal Works


Hard Times

...Ike Osteen grew up in a dugout. A dugout is just that - a home dug into the hide of the prairie. The floor was dirt. Above ground, the walls were plank boards, with no insulation on the inside and black tarpaper on the outside. Every spring, Ike's mother poured boiling water over the walls to kill fresh-hatched bugs. The family heated the dugout with cow chips, which burned in an old stove and left a turd smell slow to dissipate. The toilet was outside, a hole in the ground. Water was hauled in from a deeper hole in the ground.

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First They Came For the Trees

There's a row of books stashed on a bottom shelf of one of my bookcases where I keep books I intend to read but haven't as yet. I don't even remember where I got some of them, only that when I see them I think, oh, yeah. Wanna read that one some day.

One such is Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors , by Stephen Ambrose, originally published in 1975. Finished it last week. In his introduction, Ambrose wrote, Read more about First They Came For the Trees


River of Stars

Late autumn, early morning. It is cold, mist rising from the forest floor, sheathing the green bamboo trees in the grove, muffling sounds, hiding the Twelve Peaks to the east. The maple leaves on the way here are red and yellow on the ground, and falling. The temple bells from the edge of town seem distant when they ring, as if from another world.

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