Monday, August 23, 2010

Marvellous Monday!

Today in NOTL:  Lovely, cloudy, drizzly day!  Cool and damp, with noonish temps of 64F/18C and 90+% humidity, but temps will rise to a still-cool 72F/22C with a bit lower humidity.  Glorious!

A busy day!  We've already done our blogtalkradio show, and at 2 we have a distance conference with the participants in our Way of the Angels course.  Eeek!

I've been reading old literature since May - I started with the Five Little Peppers and then detoured to an old Trixie Belden, but then discovered, where many many out of print and public domain literature resides.  I reacquainted myself with the Bobbsey Twins, beginning with the first book, which I had read as a child.  I had to stop reading them, though, as Dinah and Sam, the black couple who worked for the Bobbseys, were depicted in such a buffoonish way that it bothered me.

Next, I looked for a book from my very early childhood I have longed to reread - The Merry Girls of England by L.T. Meade.  I read it when I was eight or nine, and it got lost over the years.  I remember loving it, though, and would like to see how I regard it as an adult.  I didn't find it on Gutenberg, though it is an 1896 book, unfortunately, so the search continues.

I did discover 'girl series books' though, books written for young girls back in the day.  Many, like the Merry Girls of England, were set in school, but others like the Ruth Fielding or Betty Gordon books, named for their heroines rather than their authors, were not.  Some books, forerunners of the Trixie Beldons, featured groups of girls and sometimes included brothers and friends. had a good many of these, and I enjoyed reading the Outdoor Girls books and the Motor Girls as well.  They are good for a chuckle, as times were certainly different back then, but I am really enjoying a glimpse into how people thought and what they valued back then.

For example, self-discipline was a major value.  Mrs. Pepper, upon seeing her son Joel's grades, is disappointed.  Joel explains that he intends to study harder but the lessons are boring and other things distract him and he just can't help himself.  Mrs. Pepper gives him a withering look.  "Well, I'd be master of myself [if nothing else]" she tells him.

This idea comes up repeatedly.  Crying, which we regard as healthy, is viewed as a sign of weakness.  In the book I am reading now, it is considered 'early Victorian' and scorned as old-fashioned.   Rule-following (in the school stories) is seen as placing the good of the group over the good of the individual, an idea which still held force when I was a schoolgirl.  Good manners - and kindness was considered part of good manners - were prized.

It was a very different time, and immersing myself in its literature has made me greatly conscious of how ungracious our own time is, when it appears that we celebrate all that is crude, crass, dark, and low-class.  I know that we've made strides in many ways since then - civil and women's rights being major steps in the right direction, but we've lost a lot, I think.

Artwork today is an angel card for a swap.  Her wings are pale blue and pink, which didn't come out in the scan; her halo has a gorgeous yellow mini-glitter, which also didn't show.  I'm working on faces....

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