Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Dangers of Summer

Well my son's summer has officially gotten worse.

He went off to a kids activity camp several days ago. The camp had planned activities like swimming, sports (tennis, soccer and softball) and the occasional video movie. On the second day of camp they went swimming at an OUTDOOR pool with no water bottles and no sunscreen. And the organisers never bothered to tell me to provide said items.

My son came home that day with very red skin - both on his chest and his back. He was obviously in a lot of pain. His shoulders developed blisters. One blister was particularly large (over 1 inch across at least) and there were quite a few small blisters as well. These indicate that he had second degree burns.

He could not tolerate the aloe vera I applied. So we had to use moisturiser instead. The next 3 nights were quite hard to get through as he couldnt sleep in any one position for very long.

Fortunately the large blister has now gone down and the peeling has begun. The pain has gone and he has slept right through for the last 2 nights.

From now on we will remember sun screen and T-shirts if he ever goes swimming again. Obviously my son has not returned to this particular camp and he wont be going back again either. I will be complaining to the director of the centre next week about the incompetancy of their staff.

I remember one summer long ago (25 years at least) when I fell asleep in the sun and was burnt all down my back and the backs of my legs. I was on a working holiday and I still had to continue working outdoors picking fruit, even while my back and legs blistered and peeled.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Lost Quilter

The Lost Quilter
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon and Schuster Books 2009
Author's website

This novel (The Lost Quilter) is actually a sequel to an earlier novel - called The Runaway Quilt (which I have not yet read) - in which the slave seamstress Joanna escaped from the plantation in Virginia, and managed to get as far as Elm Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. There she was taught how to read, how to quilt and gave birth to her son (Douglass Frederick a quadroon - Joanna herself is a mulatto - born of a slave mother and a white master - Douglas was also born of a white master so he is 1/4 African American)

The beginning of the Lost Quilter briefly tells the story of Joanna's journey from Virginia to Pennsylvania and of how she was betrayed by Anneke to the Slave catchers and dragged back to Virginia. The year is 1859 and the rest of the novel tells Joanna's story in detail of her life as a slave in Virginia and later in South Carolina (after she was sold) in the months before the Civil war began.

While Joanna is enslaved in South Carolina, she begins making a quilt that tells of her journey from Virginia to Pennsylvania so that she can remember how to get back to freedom.

Joanna marries Titus, another slave on the South Carolina Plantation, and gives birth to a daughter Ruthie. The family is split up when Joanna is taken to Charleston by her masters newly-married daughter. Titus and Ruthie are left behind on the plantation.

Some months later Ruthie is brought to Charleston to be with her mother. The reason given, is that her job will be as a personal playmate and child minder to the mistress's baby - if the child is a daughter. The mistress gives birth to a son Thomas so Ruthie is not put to work yet. She is barely 2 years old.

This was an excellent story to read - especially for its minute detail about the daily life of a slave. I must find the earlier novel The Runaway Quilt to read.

Fantastic Fiction review

Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson treasures an antique quilt called by three names -- Birds in the Air, after its pattern; the Runaway Quilt, after the woman who sewed it; and the Elm Creek Quilt, after the place to which its maker longed to return. That quilter was Joanna, a fugitive slave who traveled by the Underground Railroad to reach safe haven in 1859 at Elm Creek Farm in Pennsylvania.

Though Joanna's freedom proved short-lived -- she was forcibly returned by slave catchers to Josiah Chester's plantation in Virginia -- she left the Bergstrom family a most precious gift, her son. Hans and Anneke Bergstrom, along with maiden aunt Gerda, raised the boy as their own, and the secret of his identity died with their generation. Now it falls to Sylvia -- drawing upon Gerda's diary and Joanna's quilt -- to connect Joanna's past to present-day Elm Creek Manor.

Just as Joanna could not have foreseen that, generations later, her quilt would become the subject of so much speculation and wonder, Sylvia and her friends never could have imagined the events Joanna witnessed in her lifetime. Punished for her escape by being sold off to her master's brother in Edisto Island, South Carolina, Joanna grieves over the loss of her son and resolves to run again, to reunite with him someday in the free North. Farther south than she has ever been, she nevertheless finds allies, friends, and even love in the slave quarter of Oak Grove, a cotton plantation where her skill with needle and thread soon becomes highly prized.

Through hardship and deprivation, Joanna dreams of freedom and returning to Elm Creek Farm. Determined to remember each landmark on the route north, Joanna pieces a quilt of scraps left over from the household sewing, concealing clues within the meticulous stitches. Later, in service as a seamstress to the new bride of a Confederate officer, Joanna moves on to Charleston, where secrets she keeps will affect the fate of a nation, and her abilities and courage enable her to aid the country and the people she loves most.

The knowledge that scraps can be pieced and sewn into simple lines -- beautiful both in and of themselves and also for what they represent and what they can accomplish -- carries Joanna through dark days. Sustaining herself and her family through ingenuity and art during the Civil War and into Reconstruction, Joanna leaves behind a remarkable artistic legacy that, at last, allows Sylvia to discover the fate of the long-lost quilter.

Jennifer Chiaverini (the author) is pictured on the cover of the latest issue of Country Women magazine - August/September 2010 issue. The article has an interview, some photos and a new quilt pattern.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

50 Famous Books That Were Posthumously Published

50 Famous Books That Were Posthumously Published

I received an email about this article, and I beleive it warrants being mentioned

Even after an author dies, his or her work can live on to educate and inspire. Many famous authors have had their works published after their death, some with their blessing and others against their expressly stated wishes. For better or worse, here are fifty such works that have been published after the author has passed on.

50 Famous Books That Were Posthumously Published

Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
The Aeneid by Virgil
Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen by Wilfred Owen
The Prelude by William Wordsworth
Armageddon In Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Lighthouse at the End of the World by Jules Verne
Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf
Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man by Joseph Heller
Hadji Murat by Leo Tolstoy
The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

And many more.....