Friday, July 30, 2010

Skeindalous, first of all.

My mother’s writing name, her maiden name, was Anna Mary Wells. Her Emily Dickenson book was “Dear Preceptor”, a biography of Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Since my mother was primarily a Dickinson scholar, and since Higginson’s claim to fame lies largely – although not entirely – in his friendship with Dickinson, appreciation of her genius, encouragement of her, and his role in the publication of her poetry after her death, that is what the book is largely – although not entirely – about.

Long sentence. “Dear Preceptor” was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1963 and very well received. Not a light under a bushel or anything like that.

My soapbox moment – whenever it occurred; I can’t remember either – concerned Brenda Wineapple’s book “White Heat” in 2008. That book is about Dickinson and Higginson and was billed on the dust jacket as “the first book to portray one of the most remarkable friendships in American letters…” Reviewers believed and repeated that statement. I’m still seething.

My sister and I got nowhere, complaining to the publisher and to reviewers.

I don’t know about Lyndall Gordon. Is that the new book that says ED was epileptic? If so, I had a look at it in a bookshop, found that it had “Wineapple” but not “Wells” in the bibliography, and gave it no further thought.

I can see that there’s not going to be much room for knitting, in this post. I did virtually none while we were away. I have resumed Green Granite Blocks since returning, and last night added the spots to the second rank of blocks on the right front. I am feeling rather bogged down – there’s a long, long way to go. I have also started some KF socks for Helen.

The vegetables are on the whole fine. I was very happy working among them. It's a very special sort of happiness.

The bunching onions continue to promise well.

The walking onions turned out to be healthy-looking little bulbs with vigorous roots. They are not above ground yet. We’re eating mange-tout peas (but mange-tout peas never taste as good as my father’s snow peas, from his Victory Garden in Detroit in the war years) – and salad and the first potatoes with beans and real peas to follow soon.

The summer pudding was a great success. I made another one with white currants for consumption after we left. I’m told that was just as good.

The rosa mundi is in bloom.

Helen and her family and friends trekked up to Loch Esk for a day’s fishing. Here is Mungo showing my husband the catch.
Mungo is now in CT with my sister and her husband and their new dog. We’re all eagerly looking forward to his blog reports.

Here’s another problem for you: I have taken to doing a few minutes’ brisk walk in Drummond Place Garden in the morning. It is very boring, so I have been trying to activate an MP3 player I was given for Christmas. I gather in order to grab podcasts and transfer them to the player, I need a podcast-grabbing-program. Any tips or suggestions on how to proceed? I use Windows XP.


  1. I really envy the view you get from your vegetable patch. We have mature trees around the allotment ground but no view. however, the gathering of beans, courgettes, potatoes and various berries, then eating them for supper is very satisfying.

  2. Itunes can be used with Windows XP. It is free to download, and you can subscribe to podcasts and it downloads them automatically each time you open the program, as long as you are connected to the internet, of course. Glad the vegetables are doing well. My garden has gone wild in the heat.

  3. Glad to see that you are back. I check in almost every morning just in case you've returned early.

  4. Theresa I2:11 PM

    I would not want to be without my mp3 player. I use Windows Media Player to transfer media to it. Make sure you have the latest version of Media Player.
    My usual thing is audio books from the library; great for listening to while doing long boring stretches of stockinette.

  5. How frustrating about your mother's Dickinson book! My father published a Mark Twain biography about 5 years later that has been similarly forgotten by all but his family and close associates. (Although no one else has since put out a book that claims it is the first to cover Twain's research for "Innocents Abroad.") Having been a journalist myself, I think the main problem is lazy reviewers who take a book's publicists' puffery at face value and don't do the (fairly straightforward) research of finding other books to compare it to. Or, to be fair, not lazy, but underpaid and overworked, and probably not even on the staff of the publication. Congrats on the veggies!

  6. Mary Lou beat me to it, but I use iTunes when on Windows.

    My brandywine tomatoes have blossoms. Because they're such a long season variety and we've got maybe another two months of season, it will be a bit of a nail biter to see how much of a harvest I get. I think that next season I should plan an earlier variety, as well, but the brandywines have such incredible flavour.

  7. I use iTunes too but I have an iPod. I think for the least amount of format annoyances I'd go with Windows Media Player.

    I would think that it would simply be a matter of downloading the MP3s into a dedicated file, plugging in your player to appear in your Windows Explorer as a new drive, then drag and dropping the files into the that drive from the dedicated file. I may be wrong though. Try that first to see if that works.

  8. I find iTunes needlessly complicated and usually drag and drop the mp3 files to the player using Windows Explorer.
    The heat on the US east coast has broken and it felt good to get out in the garden again without fainting from heatstroke.