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Daddy Long Legs - book review

One of my Dreamwidth friends recently mentioned "Daddy Long Legs" in her journal.  My brain went "You can get it free on Project Gutenberg!" and about half an hour later, I had it on my ebook reader. 

It's an absolutely delightful book. I originally read this when I as young and never forgot it.  I was pleased to discover that I enjoyed it even more as an adult.

It's a series of letters from an orphan to the mysterious benefactor who is paying for her college education.  She doesn't know what his name is, but the deal is that he supports her education as long as she writes him a regular letter about what she's doing.  As she's only even seen his elongated shadow, she nicknames him "Daddy Long Legs".

She tells him about what she's learning, what she thinks of it, cheerfully berates him for never writing back, tells him of what she gets upto with her friends, comments on all kinds of things with a cheerful irreverence.  (She knows that one of the reasons he chose to help her is that she wrote a humorous school essay mocking the trustees' annual visit to the orphanage)
 
It's partly a wonderful window into the world of 1912, from the social attitudes to orphans, to the clothes worn by young women, but it's also very funny.   I laughed out loud several times while reading it.

There's a romance that develops between Judy and a relative of one of her college friends, but she is concerned about her background and the fact that he comes from an upper-class family.  (Orphans really were low status back then)
 
It reminds me a little of "84 Charring Cross Rd". There's the same love of literature, and the same cheerful, humorous, slightly disrespectful but fond  attitude towards the correspondent.

You can get it for free!  Read it.  Far more fun than most classics.

(Just discovered that there is a sequel - "Dear Enemy", back to Project Gutenberg!)
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Climate change - 12 years

 We have to cut our carbon emissions by 45% in the next twelve years to avoid catastrophic (and probably irreversible) climate change.

This isn't some dim, distant future: it's happening now.  This is my lifetime, my children's lifetime, and all of my granddaughter's lifetime.

It's hard for many people to know what they can do to make a difference, so I'm going to try posting regularly on the subject. (I find it difficult to post much about climate change because so many people are in denial, and even people who understand the problem still tend to say "But I can't give up 'x', and the rest just move onto the next post because it's less stressful to read about cats....  But we have to take action, or we lose everything.)

It's hard to visualise what the effects of climate change are. We're already seeing the droughts,storms,  floods and fires, but there is far more to it than that. eg. by 2050, the area where coffee is grown is expected to halve, as the climate becomes unsuitable for growing coffee.

So, what can you do?  Because there are things you can do, and you CAN make a difference.

The big issues are:

Heat
Travel
Meat


Let's look at meat.  Beef and lamb are the biggies here. Cows and sheep both fart methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas.  The ideal solution is to go vegetarian, but you don't have to do that to make a significant difference.  We don't eat meat more than once a day, and there are usually several days a week in which we don't have any meat at all.  My son's fiancee is vegan, and that's given us a real motivation to find interesting meals that contain no meat or dairy at all.  

I've made the decision to cut out beef and lamb entirely and only eat pork, venison and poultry from now on.  Venison where I live comes from non-native sika deer that over-graze the vegetation in nature reserves and have to be shot for pest control (as they have no natural predators).  That's definitely environmentally friendly meat!  

In a nutshell, cut out beef and lamb. Eat pork and poultry, and if you're an Aussie, eat rabbit and kangaroo. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.

Quilts

 I know several of you found it very interesting when I posted a while back about some of my sister's antique quilts.

Here's a talk she gave on wholecloth quilts.  These are quilts that involve no patchwork, but just decorative stitching through the wadding to create a pattern.




If you'd like to see photos and discussion of her quilt collection, then go here.

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 If you like to know what traditional dances were recorded in your locality and you live in Yorkshire, then this is a must have.

If you like a good overview of the inter-relationships between different forms of dance and customs like plough stots and rushbearing, then this is also a very useful book.
It's not a book that writes a history for you; what it does it to list village by village all known records of morris/sword dances and related customs. This tends to make it a book to dip and browse rather than read all in one chunk. However, if you do persevere and read it cover to cover, several interesting patterns start to emerge.
For instance - we tend to think of customs as belonging to very specific areas: processional morris (North West morris) is seen as being a Manchester/Lancashire tradition, but there are many recorded instances in Yorkshire as well.
Plough gangs on Plough Monday are not just East Anglian, there were plenty in Yorkshire too.

All kinds of interesting references to all kinds of things: women morris dancers in 1842 in Almondbury; the decoration of rushcarts with silverware; a "Sailor's Plough" (in more than one place) that went out on Plough Monday as well as the more usual farm boys, the term 'rapier' dancing; which might be an origin of the term 'rapper'; the text of a sword play from Gayle that I hadn't seen before; the Grenoside sword dancers wearing clogs; an interesting discussion on what is 'correct' (a traditional dancer from Grenoside complained that Sharp's version wasn't what they actually did); a reference to sword dances as part of a Robin Hood event (Robin Hood events were massive at one time); the style of dance done by the Flag and Bone Gang has its origins here in the village of Roos; some plough gangs called themselves "Vessel Cuppers"; 
On page 101, there is a 1903 use of the word 'raper' (which predates Sharpe's visit to the North East in 1910), which to my mind at least knocks out the theory that Sharpe misunderstood someone referring to a 'wrapper' round a sword handle. (though I admit it is raper rather than rapper here. But add a Geordie accent and you may be there.)

There are one or two points where I disagree with Davenport eg. On page 72 he assumes that changing direction when doing a high clash automatically means a change of hands: I've done dances where that was not the case. 
On page 77 he assumes that a reference to a three man sword dance would be a real struggle and assumes that a party of three would not perform a dance. As a member of a sword dance team that regularly performs three man dances, I politely beg to differ- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENjoYrdS240&t=5s

My only real gripe with the book is that all the pictures are unlabelled and you have to go to the picture reference page to find out who and when the dancers are. In my copy, I've written the details under each picture. (and that he failed to read all of Dommet's notes on Lingdale and thus overlooked the same figures that Allsop missed.)

All in all, it's a good little book with plenty of interesting pictures and a collection of information that must have taken many years to put together. If you enjoy dance history, particularly sword dances or Plough Monday customs, then I definitely recommend it. It's nicely printed on good quality paper. Why not ask for a copy for Christmas?

You can buy it from Hallamshire Traditions and the price is very reasonable -https://www.hallamtrads.co.uk/sales.html

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Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

There are several books in my collection that owe thanks to SallyMn.  This is one of them - I would never, ever have bought this book if she hadn't recommended it, but I'm very glad I did.  I rate it 10/10. 

A delightful book that brings to life the era of the silent movies.  In theory it's a horror story about an actress being stalked by an ancient demon, but in practice it's a wonderful description of the lives of the movie stars (incredibly long working day, parties with drugs, strain, early camera techniques, etc.) written by an author clearly in love with the era.
The POV character is an outsider, a poor relation employed on a whim by a star, who can view Hollywood with an open mind.  Norah becomes embroiled in the threat to Christine's life from an ancient Chinese curse.  With the help of a Chinese sage, and Alex the cameraman, Norah and Christine struggle to survive.
As I said above, don't read it for the plot (the plot is actually pretty good, but it's not what makes the book so enjoyable), just revel in the descriptions of filming a chariot racing across the desert, of leading men who are decorative, but can't act, of what Los Angeles was like in the past, and what people will choose when offered anything they want by a demon...

This is also a book guaranteed to make you love Pekingese dogs.  There are three of them, and they are real characters.
 
(If you have the Del Ray edition, ignore the blurb on the back - it has events out of order and keeps making you think you've missed something in the text!)
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House Buying

 All going manic now.

My son and his fiancee had their offer accepted yesterday, so they're just starting the applying for mortgage, finding solicitor stages, etc.

The house my daughter is buying is being sold as part of an estate, so there is no information provided on fixtures and fittings or anything else.

We've just ordered electrical and gas safety inspections.  Also need to check for lead pipes as the house is of an age where that needs considering.

We had a survey done which threw up nothing unexpected.  It's clear that the surveyor we used has a sideline in acting as an agent for you with estate agents and getting a commission for haggling the price down.  (he advertises the service in his report, and gives a low valuation on the property to encourage you to do this).  However, all the things that he flagged as lowering the value of the property, like dated kitchen fittings, are things that we were perfectly well aware of and were not concerned about.  

The basic structure and the roof are in very good condition and that's what we wanted to know.  (there's asbestos on the garage roof, but my daughter had already spotted that and will remove it in due course - as long as we don't drill holes in it, it isn't an immediate danger.)

So, one sale and two purchases on the go.

By rights, I should be going mildly insane, but selling my mother-in-law's house (which did drive me insane) taught me a lot about the process and what to do to keep things moving and how to spot when things are breaking down.  Hence follow up phone call to estate agent to see how our buyers are getting along with their mortgage application.  They should be ringing me back this afternoon.

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Three things at once

 I can call a dance. I can play for a dance.  I can dance myself.

I can dance and call at the same time, but I can't call and play.

My friend Sam Skey can do all three at the same time.  I'm not sure what kind of brain power this requires...


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Twelve years to save Nemo

 We have twelve years in which to reduce our carbon emissions by 45% or face catastrophic climate change.

It's not a topic people are comfortable talking about, because it requires us all to make difficult choices about our lifestyles, but it's a topic that we have to raise for our own sakes, let alone the sake of our children and grandchildren.

This is not some far distant future.

Drought in the UK this summer had a massive impact on crop yields (our allotment produced half what it normally does - and we watered as much as we could).

Fire in the USA had devastating results.

Floods last winter caused massive damage.

The Great Barrier Reef is dying from heat stress, much of it is dead already. If we can keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, then we will only (and I stress the word 'only') lose 90% of the world's coral reefs.  If the temperature rises by 2 degrees, then we lose ALL the coral reefs.


We're past the point where recycling your rubbish will make a global impact. (It's useful and virtuous, but it can easily be mistaken for making a serious impact on the problem)

The big carbon issues are :Travel, Heat, Meat.

Cut out aviation and you will have made the single biggest change that you can make.  The last time I flew to the USA was shortly after 9/11.  I was damned if terrorists were going to stop me visiting my American friends.  What terrorists could not achieve, environmental issues did.  The next year, I did a carbon footprint calculation - I have never flown since I did that calculation.  The cost was simply too high.

My annual carbon emissions are around 3 tons.  One return transatlantic flight would add another ton to that. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.

Lydia the Tattooed Lady

 For no reason other than it's fun!

The immortal Groucho Mark singing Lydia the Tattooed Lady


And the Muppet version for good luck.




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Sailing is fun

 Went out on Molly for the second time.

This time I got to take the rudder and main sheet (at least I think that's what the rope in question is called...) for a while and learnt the very basics of sailing.

The wind was very light and we got caught in the lee of Brownsea Island.  Lin took the tiller while Richard and I rowed (very handy that Molly came with oars).  I quite like rowing - we've taken Oswin out in hired row boats on the River Stour.  We got two or three times the speed when rowing added to the sail power.

Mind you, both Richard and I row better solo.  With an oar each, we don't keep good time, even with someone calling the strokes.

Here we all are as a family.  Lindsey at the tiller, Richard and myself on the centre thwart and Oswin in the lifejacket.

You can see how flat the water was, hardly any waves at all.

It's very good having a boat that can take a family.
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Judith Proctor

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