Esteemed thinker: Louisa May Alcott

When it comes to hearty, size is not always the defining feature. Most of us have the perception that “big” equates to strong, however that particular idea is frequently a misconception. It is often in nature where we wsnow on crocusitness “small” being just as robust as  its counterpart. A mighty oak is surely a visual spectacle of greatness however; it is the tiny crocus that often seems to defy all weather challenges put forth upon it.

The crocus is one of the first blooms appearing even as early as January; a time when most dwellers of North America are still donning winter coats. So don’t be surprised to see these flowers’ colorful little “heads” pop up out of the ground before all the others… and they will remain faithfully in bloom, with buds held high defying its covering of snow, gently unfolding towards the sun as if they were sunbathing on the beach!

Today’s blog brings you the acclaimed American author, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, she is best known for her novel Little Woman. Alcott’s parents were progressives for the time, taking part in the mid-19th century social reform movement, supporting the abolition of slavery and even acting as station-masters on the Underground Railroad. They were also active in the temperance and women’s rights movements.

Louisa May Alcott was educated mainly by her father, although Thoreau, Emerlouisa may alcottson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller were family friends, also providing her lessons. She began writing when she was young, and she and her sisters enjoyed acting out some of her stories.

During the American Civil War, she volunteered to sew clothes and provide other supplies to soldiers. Including volunteering to be a nurse in Washington, D.C.

Her career as an author was wide spread, including stories and poems. A lesser-known part of her work are the passionate, fiery novels and stories under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. In her later life, Alcott became an advocate of women’s suffrage, and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.

From her novel, Little Men (1871) I now bring you a quote; few in words but mighty in spirit…like the crocus.

 “Love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive.”  

 

Calling all book clubs! Let me send you a copy!

Thank you book lovers for the wonderful response!

“Reviewers’ Choice 2015”: a selected Indie release favorite. “… the most beloved books among the best we’ve read.” – Foreword Reviews

An epic novel of substance and style, Orphan in America is a compelling fiction that follows three generations across vast distances and the impact of a dark and unfamiliar episode of America’s past; the Orphan Train.Orphan in America front cover_with badge

Book Clubs across the United States, would you like 1 free print copy ? At this time I have 7 novels to give-away to historical fiction book lovers. Perhaps your club would enjoy this “2014 Best Indie Book!” as your next reading club selection.

Here’s how: Send the name of your book group, along with a contact person and mailing address to: mrsavery@ hotmail.com. On the subject line write Book Club Entry.

The first 7 clubs to respond will be be notified by email and receive their complimentary copy shipped directly to them.

I apologize to my friends off the continental U.S. At this time the offer is via snail mail traveling just across from east to west coast and north and south on the mainland. 

However!!! For those book clubs anywhere on the globe, if you choose to read on a Kindle, it is available as an ebook. Kindle edition

Here is a preview of the print copy your club can read of Orphan in America!   Orphan in America

GOOD LUCK! I am honored that you care enough to respond. Thank you!

 

 

Orphan in America

A signature is a common word we often use to mean personally signed name or mark. However, a signature can also represent something more; such as a musician’s “signature piece” or a chef’s “signature dish”. An artist signs a signature on their painting or photograph… but for the author, the work is sometimes the signature. For today’s blog I bring you my signature.

“Bringing back to the twenty-first century an epic novel of substance and style, Orphan in America is a compelling fiction that follows three generations across vast distances and the impact of a dark and unfamiliar episode of America’s past; the Orphan Train.”

Orphan in America front cover_with badge

In the UK you can find it here!

In the USA you can find it here!

For those who still like the feel of a book in their hands...  UK find it here!      USA find it here!

Alfred Stieglitz and Mother Nature

Nashville winter trees_Resized_with nameThere is little doubt that 21st century technology has offered most of us advantages over those of the past. We are able to transport ourselves with little effort, feed ourselves with little strife, and communicate with the same degree of ease. Simple chores, such as laundering our clothes and cleaning our homes are no longer grueling; all easily accomplished using modern day conveniences.

However, hard as we try, when it comes to producing exquisite images… Mother Nature still out does even the most up to date cameras. And though we have come a long way from the first image makers, earth’s natural splendor from the beginning of time is still superlative. Her winter vistas produce the most daunting of black and whites while springtime, autumn, and summer test the boundaries of original colors beyond any means we can imagine.

Alas, with her infinite array of vistas and spectacles, we are only privy to her delights for a wink of time. Like a lovely dream we try to remember, so are her dawns, her sunsets, her sun showers so very elegant. All she asks of us is to indulge in these fleeting moments and then… sigh; for no modern trick nor gimmick can hope to offer such a grand performance as hers.

Alfred StieglitzToday’s blog returns the esteemed thinker: Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946 b. Hoboken, New Jersey.), the innovative photographer and art promoter who received his formal education in engineering in Germany. Upon his return to the New York City in 1890, he set his sights on establishing photography as a “legitimate” form of art. In his early career he began to promote photograph as ‘art’, comparing his use of the camera as a tool to an artist and his/her paintbrush. Stieglitz’s artistic and creative talents harnessed the use of natural elements, such a weather, to create effects he wished to achieve and the camera’s focusing abilities to soften the frames.

In 1905, he founded the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, with Edward Steichen, which later became known simply as ‘291’. Here he succeeded to elevate photography to the status of sculpture and painting.

In 1917, he met the much younger American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who became his lover and finally his wife in 1924. Over a period of 20 years, he had taken over 300 individual pictures of her, demonstrating his unique and undeniable artistic ability to capture many facets of a single subject.

Let us know take time out from your hectic day to ruminate a most inventive work of art; a platinum print by the renown Alfred Stieglitz titled “Out of the Window” (1925). It is certainly one even Mother Nature would sit up and take notice of…after all…she did have much to do with its creation!Steiglitz_Out of the window

Esteemed thinker: Winslow Homer

landscape Nature’s influence is as expansive as the wonders she endows upon us. And with this thought one can only turn to the arts for examples of such marvels. From poets, to painters, to musicians, the natural surroundings have inspired.

Our inspirations come from the both large and small, tiny and grandiose. A warm breeze or a tidal storm; all products of nature; she is the source, the “ah ha moment” that stirs the creative process… gets the brush dipped into paint, the fingers flowing across the keyboard, and the first notes on the staff.
It is not hard to become inspired by nature; what is difficult is taming her for our distractions. It is true that some may pass her by with a carefree smile; however there are others who are propelled into her world as great as the passion provoked.

Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Winslow Homer,( 1836- 1910) a American artist and illustrator. Homer, considered to be one of the greatest American painters, was born in Boston, Mass. His career as an artist began at the age of 19 when he apprenticed at John.H Bufford’s lithography shop, teaching himself to draw by illustrating or the copying of photographs for sheet music covers of popular songs (1855-57). Two years later he moved to New York, attended a few art classes, later freelancing for Harper’s Weekly where he was sent to Virginia as an artist correspondent to cover the Civil War. winslow-homer

Homer travels and paints in France for a short time, only to return to the United States developing an impressionist style of painting years before the established school of Impressionism. His return to the United States takes him to seasides and rural communities where he is surrounded and enchanted by the beauty of nature, enticing him to experiment with technique, style, watercolor and oils. Throughout his life he travels to destinations such as the Caribbean, the Adirondacks, and rural Maine where he completes some of the most dramatic paintings. To date he continues to motivate and awe with his energy and artistic skills…for to see a Winslow Homer” is to be in the presence of greatness.

I now present to you one of our great American paintings, The Gulf Stream, 1899, an oil on canvas, inspired by Mother Nature and two winter trips to the Bahamas in 1884-85 and 1898-99. Painted by none other than Winslow Homer, take a moment from your hectic day and enjoy!

The Gulf Stream Winslow Homer

Gelett Burgess and cursive writing

cursive When I was younger, well, let us say much younger, back in the day when recess consisted of jump robes and hopscotch, there was one event that occurred which truly made you feel as though you were growing up. It was the time when the teacher announced that she was going to teach us how to write in cursive. Writing in cursive was a rite of passage…a style of penmanship that was introduced at the very end of second grade…directly before summer vacation… so that it gave you just a hint of what would be in store for you when you returned to third grade.

Writing in cursive separated you from the lower elementary classes; for if you could write it then you could also read it; with its swirly letters flaunting curlicues and slants… like deciphering a secret language… it was called “script”.

But today the teaching of cursive is becoming more and more obsolete… so much so that there are debates whether or not they should demote it from scholarship at all… Some arguments contest that it an antiquated skill; a form of writing that is not needed with the advent of computers and the like.
So, like many other things we may find that it will become a lost art, out with the old and in with the new…. However what will really be lost with its notoriety of becoming passé will be the extinction of a youthful celebration in one’s life.

Gelett BurgessToday blog brings back the esteemed thinker: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) American poet, artist, and humorist. Best noted for his iconoclast creations, the Goops, those less than perfect children! As an illustrator, Burgess created not only the persona of his characters, but also what they looked like, round headed and wiggly!

From his book titled More Goops and How Not to Be One (1908), I have extracted the poem “Write Right”. For those of you who may have encountered a ‘stringent’ penmanship teacher in your youth, this may hit home a wee bit more!

“If you were writing with your nose,
You’d have to curl up, I suppose,
And lay your head upon your hand;
But now, I cannot understand,
For you are writing with your pen!
So sit erect, and smile again!
You need not scowl because you write,
Nor hold your fingers quite so tight!
And if you gnaw the holder so,
They’ll take you for a Goop, you know!”

First image: Elementary school children standing and watching teacher write at blackboard, Washington, D.C., Johnston, Frances Benjamin, photographer, 1899?

Ralph Waldo Emerson and gifts

sky_compressed_with name We live in a world that often regards material things as having great value, and it is often not until one is feeling poorly that we begin to value health with greater esteem. Yet, this notion of placing importance on tangible items is not a concept that is germane only to our present century, but rather one that has been well rooted seemingly forever. And so it appears that we rank highly those gifts that fit among the category of expensive or prestigious.

Perhaps this trait is a characteristic inherent to most all humans, for realistically, who would like to trade their personal comforts with those who are less endowed with equal possessions. After a weekend of camping, a hot shower and clean sheets are indeed most welcome.

But there are gifts bestowed to us with unprecedented value and are delivered by unlikely sources, such as the artist, the poet, the musician, Mother Nature; this sampling of such makes us take pause and silently reminds us that valuable gifts are not just the things we like to wear or ride in, but those things that bear witness to the uniqueness of life…that we must stop for a moment and enjoy … just because….

Ralph Waldo Emerson 2jpg Following our theme of gifts, I welcome back the “gifted” and esteemed thinker: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) preacher, philosopher, and poet, considered having the finest spirit and ideals of his age. He was a bold thinker having penned essays and gave lecture that offer models of clarity, style, and thought, which guaranteed him a formidable presence in 19th century American life. Emerson offered his views on the harmonies of man and nature, intellectual and spiritual independence, self-reliance, and utopian friendship. He was a committed Abolitionist, a champion of the Native Americans, and a crusader for peace and social justice.

From his essay so aptly titled, Gifts, take a moment for his words. Written in the 1800s, they still resonate with reason.

“It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into chancery, and be sold. I do not think this general insolvency, which involves in some sort all the population, to be the reason of the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year, and other times, in bestowing gifts; since it is always so pleasant to be generous, though very vexatious to pay debts. But the impediment lies in the choosing. If, at any time, it comes into my head that a present is due from me to somebody, I am puzzled what to give until the opportunity is gone.

Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature; they are like music heard out of a workhouse. Nature does not cocker us: we are children, not pets: she is not fond: everything is dealt to us without fear or favor, after severe universal laws. Yet these delicate flowers look like the frolic and interference of love and beauty. Men used to tell us that we love flattery, even though we are not deceived by it, because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted. Something like that pleasure the flowers give us: what am I to whom these sweet hints are addressed?

Fruits are acceptable gifts because they are the flower of commodities, and admit of fantastic values being attached to them. If a man should send to me to come a hundred miles to visit him, and should set before me a basket of fine summer fruit, I should think there was some proportion between the labor and the reward…”

Esteemed thinker: Gelett Burgess

the goops Manners are the simple etiquettes between humans that can dictate whether an interaction will be a pleasing or unpleasing experience. Manners are not instinctive; for example we will not find a pair of dogs discussing which one will have the bone but rather they will grab and grapple until the victor is munching happily away at the marrow.

Instead, manners are learned activities that can be passed down from generation to generation like grandmother’s linen tablecloth. But unlike that tablecloth which only dons the table on special occasions; we can only hope that manners are always showing. Alas, this is not always the case and what was once considered ill mannered are now simply part of the norm.

Let me present a few examples of manner interpretations having changed through time. In the earlier part of the 20th century, speaking on the telephone in public was conducted in a private “telephone booth” so as not only to maintain some modicum of privacy but also as consideration to others around. Today, speaking on a cell phone is as conducted everywhere and those around, whether they like it or not, are subjected to its intrusion.

Food today has been packaged in a fashion whereby children hardly need to use any utensils but rather finger their way through a meal; yogurt is squeezed through tubes, chicken is pre-cut as finger- food, and fruit is rolled into plastic-like material to be peeled and eaten. Even waffles are now designed to be neatly fit in the hand and dunked in syrup without the assistance of a fork. Often table manners have been modified for convenience.

And then there was the removing of a man’s hat when indoors, which was once considered good manners but is now regarded as quite archaic.

However, as times have changed our interpretations of manners the one conduct that has not gone out-of-style is the custom of please and thank you whereupon I say, I am pleased that you have stopped by and thank you for taking time from your busy day to read this post! And oh yes … have a most pleasant day!!

Gelett Burgess Today’s post acquaints you with the esteemed thinker: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) American poet, artist, and humorist. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, his career began after graduating from MIT with an engineer degree. Best known today as the creator of the Goops and the famous Purple Cow verse, he was also the author of many books and a brilliant, iconoclastic American humorist.

From his title, More Goops and How not to be Them, I bring you one of his poems, “At Table” which will indeed fit neatly into today’s post. Enjoy!

At Table

Why is it Goops must always wish
To touch each apple on the dish?
Why do they never neatly fold
Their napkins until they are told?
Why do they play with food, and bite
Such awful mouthfuls? Is it right?
Why do they tilt back in their chairs?
Because they’re Goops! So no one cares!

First image: 1900

A.A. Milne and the library

library For many the public library is synonymous with tranquility; it is a place where one can find things they may have lost and find things they may not know they wanted. It is one of the few places left where you can receive something without giving back anything except your time.

What a wonderful establishment, rows and rows and shelves and shelves of books; all maintained by others, cataloged in a way where they are easily found, and allowed to be taken home with little more than a promise that you will return them within a reasonable about of time. So much so that if one wished they could renew the book for many weeks thereafter.

Yet, with all its positive attributes, it has been threatened like an endangered species; for as much as many praise its existence, patronage and funding has been reduced in many communities where its very existence may soon become merely a memory of the past. And oh what a shame that would be, for though we may enjoy our digital ebooks and a coffee shop attached to the bookstore… wouldn’t it be a disgrace to lose such a dear and faithful friend, the one place where tranquility resides, the good old library.

Today’s blog returns the the esteemed thinker: A.A. Milne (1882-1956); an author whose books you may have first encountered at your earliest trip to the library. Poet, journalist, playwright, and writer, Alan Alexander Milne was born in London, England. After serving in the British army in WWI, he devoted his career to writing. His best known works include the children’s poetry collections in the 1920s, When we were Very Young and Now we are Six. a.a. milne

From his book, Not that it Matters, I have selected the essay “My Library”. Having carefully snipped and strung together some of his fanciful words, I hope you will find them to your liking. Take time from your hectic day to read and enjoy A. A. Milne; I believe you will find him still quite entertaining…

“When I moved into a new house a few weeks ago, my books, as was natural, moved with me. Strong, perspiring men shovelled them into packing-cases, and staggered with them to the van, cursing Caxton as they went. On arrival at this end, they staggered with them into the room selected for my library, heaved off the lids of the cases, and awaited orders. The immediate need was for an emptier room. Together we hurried the books into the new white shelves which awaited them, the order in which they stood being of no matter so long as they were off the floor. Armful after armful was hastily stacked, the only pause being when (in the curious way in which these things happen) my own name suddenly caught the eye of the foreman. “Did you write this one, sir?” he asked. I admitted it. “H’m,” he said noncommittally. He glanced along the names of every armful after that, and appeared a little surprised at the number of books which I hadn’t written. An easy-going profession, evidently.

So we got the books up at last, and there they are still. I told myself that when a wet afternoon came along I would arrange them properly…
If I gave you the impression that my books were precisely arranged in their old shelves, I misled you. They were arranged in the order known as “all anyhow.” Possibly they were a little less “anyhow” than they are now, in that the volumes of any particular work were at least together, but that is all that can be claimed for them. For years I put off the business of tidying them up, just as I am putting it off now. It is not laziness; it is simply that I don’t know how to begin….

Let us suppose that we decide to have all the poetry together. It sounds reasonable. But then Byron is eleven inches high (my tallest poet), and Beattie (my shortest) is just over four inches. How foolish they will look standing side by side. Perhaps you don’t know Beattie, but I assure you that he was a poet….

You see the difficulty. If you arrange your books according to their contents you are sure to get an untidy shelf. If you arrange your books according to their size and colour you get an effective wall, but the poetically inclined visitor may lose sight of Beattie altogether. Before, then, we decide what to do about it, we must ask ourselves that very awkward question, “Why do we have books on our shelves at all?” It is a most embarrassing question to answer…”

First image: At the children’s library, John Collier, Date Created/Published: 1943 Aug.

Christopher D. Morley and the haircut

hair cut There are some things that we do which is universal; for example, getting a haircut. For within my lifetime I have yet to meet a person who has not at one time or another returned home rather unhappy. And although we know in our heart of hearts that the locks that have been cut will grow back, we may still feel like a lamb having just been sheared.

So traumatic is a bad haircut that it is enough to send a young person coming up with any excuse to stay home from school. For who doesn’t remember the emotional pain and embarrassment which was executed by a rather unkind classmate.

A poor haircut can make you believe as though you have the largest ears or the longest neck. It can make you feel as though you are ten years old again, or have been transformed back to the 1980s. And although your hairdresser or barber will look at you like they have just painted the Mona Lisa, no amount of lies will make you feel better when staring back at you in that over-sized mirror is you with a very miserable haircut!

So take note that the world may be a very big place but in spite of its vast landmass… you cannot hide from a getting at least once… a bad haircut!

christopher morley 3From his essay Sitting in the Barber’s Chair I bring back to you the esteemed thinker: Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American author, journalist, poet, and essayist. I believe that once again he will stir you away from your hectic day and enchant you with a small but worthy bit of humor.

“Once every ten weeks or so we get our hair cut… Of course, we believe in having our hair cut during office hours. That is the only device we know to make the hateful operation tolerable…
We knew a traveling man who never got his hair cut except when he was on the road, which permitted him to include the transaction in his expense account; but somehow it seems to us more ethical to steal time than to steal money…

We like to view this whole matter in a philosophical and ultra-pragmatic way. Some observers have hazarded that our postponement of haircuts is due to mere lethargy and inertia, but that is not so. Every time we get our locks shorn our wife tells us that we have got them too short. She says that our head has a very homely and bourgeois bullet shape, a sort of pithecanthropoid contour, which is revealed by a close trim. After five weeks’ growth, however, we begin to look quite distinguished. The difficulty then is to ascertain just when the law of diminishing returns comes into play. When do we cease to look distinguished and begin to appear merely slovenly? Careful study has taught us that this begins to take place at the end of sixty-five days, in warm weather. Add five days or so for natural procrastination and devilment, and we have seventy days interval, which we have posited as the ideal orbit for our tonsorial ecstasies…”

First image: Sergeant from Fort Benning getting his son’s hair cut at a barber shop in Columbus, Georgia 1941