Monday, July 27, 2009

From Riseholme to Tilling

"... and I fully expect I shall settle here for good."

Mio giardino segreto has moved here. Everything will be just the same, only more so ("Angel!" said Irene).

Most photos above from the Blossoms for Books garden walk, Evergreen Park, IL, July 19; homeowners' permissions for photographs were obtained.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Look closely, to spot the monarch butterfly resting in the mulberry tree.

He's resting on a spike of lavender.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another grand day out

The beauty of "Big Education," as Rush terms it, is that by its commands and arrogant arrogating of your time, it does force you to take the train into your own city and see things while your child is off attending an eight-hour "orientation." (Pretty boring, she said.)

Memo to readers, and even to you, my first and one subscriber, bless you: I've been busy writing for eHow and sundry people who actually pay money up front for content. Crazy. I'd like to finish that essay on how publishing has come full circle from the days of the eighteenth century, with today's revenue-share, web content providers taking the place of the London streetcorner booksellers who bought an author's copyright for a relative pittance but, as a consolation, printed just about anyone literate. I say I'd like to. But thumping out things on actual paper and submitting those actual things through the mail into a magazine's slush pile seems so ... well, it just takes forever.

Still. I haven't forgotten.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Tudor year: July

Theme: survival

Lady Jane Grey's prayerbook, believed to be the one she carried to the scaffold. The pale writing at the bottom is a farewell message in her own hand to the lieutenant of the Tower, adjuring him to obey God's laws. (Image from the British Library online gallery.)

July 6: execution of Thomas More, 1535; death of Edward VI, 1553
July 10: proclamation of Jane Grey queen, 1553
July 12: Divorce of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves, 1540; marriage of Henry to Catherine Parr, 1543
July 19: Proclamation of Mary Tudor queen, 1553
July 26: Marriage of Queen Mary to King Philip of Spain, 1554
July 29: Defeat of the Spanish armada, 1588

Political events moved quickly in an age when royalty -- and its henchmen -- still governed by divine right. Lady Jane Grey's famous nine days as Queen (she was a scion of the Tudor family through her descent from one of Henry VIII's sisters) sped by in mid-July, 1553, after the death of the teenaged king, Henry's long sought son, Edward. In quieter times July would be a month for the royal court to begin its summer progresses to freshly cleaned rural mansions. Smallpox, the plague, and the mysterious "Sweat" were the scourges of the season, especially in London. Filth, sickness, vermin, and bad teeth were a part of all people's lives to an extent that we can hardly imagine. So was hunger and the fear of hunger. In the country, a supply of beef and mutton would already have been slaughtered at midsummer, and would have to last, salted, till winter. St. Swithin's Day, July 15th, was a day for the farmer to look at the sky with apprehension: rain on this day was thought to mean a rainy summer and possibly a spoiled harvest.


Emmison, F.G. Tudor Secretary: Sir William Petre at Court and Home. London and Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 1970 (first published by Longmans, Green, and Co., 1961) p. 239

Ibid, p. 253

Fussell, George Edwin. The English Rural Labourer: His Home, Furniture, Clothing, and Food from Tudor to Victorian Times. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1975 (originally published by the Batchworth Press, London, 1949), p. 27.

Cressy, David. Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989, p. 28.