onsdag 19 oktober 2011

Comfort book(s)

"Ten cents a bunch"

I don’t think I was meant to live a modern life with computers, cameras and cars. Not that I dislike those things — it’s rather the other way around, they dislike me. The computer I like to use is indisposed — nothing serious (I hope) but I don’t have the much needed energy to tackle the problems, so I’ve simply put the computer out of sight and mind. In the meantime I’m using another computer, a tiny thing where my fingers get lost and where I don’t have half of the information I gathered during the years. What I miss most is my e-mail account — if you intend to write me (yes do!) you have to use the yahoo address that you find somewhere to the right here!
So while I wait for everybody to write me, the computer to miraculously heal and my energy to return, I roam around at Gutenberg. Choosing easily chewed books.
For the moment I’m reading ”Hope Benham” from 1864 by Nora Perry.
Hope has such a noble character — but is still likable — she is intelligent and well educated, although she comes from a rather poor family.
Mr. Benham's salary was only fifteen hundred dollars a year, and it took every cent of this to keep up that simple little home…
(What cost $1500 in 1894 would cost $37307.24 in 2010.)

The author is pointing out, several times, how unimportant class is. Maybe it wasn’t as uncontroversial in 1864, as it is today.
He did not think that the poor were always in the right, and the rich always in the wrong in their relations with each other, as a good many working-people do. No; he was too intelligent for that. But what he did think, what he knew was, that the rich were not hampered and hindered by the daily struggle for existence, for the means to procure food and clothing and shelter from week to week. He knew that his own abilities were hindered and hampered by the necessity that compelled him to work almost incessantly for the necessaries of life.
Mr. Benham, Hope’s father, managed, through hard work earn quite a lot of money and is able to send Hope to a good boarding school. It is fascinating to read about the school’s New Years party:
…which, according to Kate Van der Berg, was the best fun of the year.

"But what do you do, what is the fun?" inquired Dolly Dering, who was present when Kate made the above statement.

"What do we do?" answered Kate. "Well, in the first place, on New Year's eve, we have a jolly little party of just ourselves,—we girls in the house, none of the outside girls, the day pupils,—and we play games, sing songs, tell stories, do anything, in fact, that we want to do, and at half-past ten there is a little light supper served, such as ices, and the most delicious frosted sponge-cakes, and seed-cakes, and then there is bread and butter, and hot cocoa for those that want it. After this we feel as fresh and rested as possible, and all ready to sit the old year out and the new year in."

"Oh, you don't do that?" cried Dolly, delightedly, for to sit up late was one of her ideas of happiness.

"We do just that"

"Well, and then?"

"Then," went on Kate, laughing, "we begin to grow a little quieter. We tell stories in lower voices; we watch the clock, and as it strikes twelve, we jump to our feet and all break out singing a New Year's song or hymn. Sometimes it is one thing and sometimes it is another. Last year it was Tennyson's
"Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky:
The year is dying; let him die."

I’m not so sure that fifteen year old girls of today would call that ”the best fun of the year”.
I meant to tell you of other books I’ve read, but I’m afraid I became a bit too verbose here — so I’ll be back another day to let you know what other edifying books I’ve read.

söndag 9 oktober 2011

To garden or not to garden

The formal garden, with its insistence
on strong bounding lines, is, strictly
speaking, the only "garden" possible.
..... .—R. F. Blomfield

We've had our first frost with -2°C, but I haven't been out yet, to see what might have survived. The pictures are from yesterday, when the we woke to a cold morning, but no real frost.

The axiom on which landscape gardening rests is declared by Messrs. Blomfield and Thomas to be
Whatever Nature does is right; therefore let us go and copy her (p. 5).

The horticulturist and the gardener are indispensable, but they should work under control, and they stand in the same relation to the designer as the artist's colourman does to the painter, or, perhaps it would be fairer to say, as the builder and his workmen stand to the architect.

The remarks quoted below on Nature and the clipping shears are not from Josh Billings, but from The Formal Garden, of which the literary merit, we are told in the preface, belongs to Mr. Blomfield.

A clipped Yew tree is as much a part of Nature—that is, subject to natural laws—as a forest Oak; but the landscapist, by appealing to associations which surround the personification of Nature, holds up the clipped Yew tree to obloquy as something against Nature. So far as that goes, it is no more unnatural to clip a Yew tree than to cut Grass.

"An unerring perception told the Greeks that the beautiful must also be the true, and recalled them back into the way. As in conduct they insisted on an energy which was rational, so in art and in literature they required of beauty that it, too, should be before all things rational."—Professor Butcher, in Some Aspects of the Greek Genius.

As always on Saturdays I spent a good part of yesterday with Gutenberg. Today, after seeing my photos, I can't resist to show you what a garden might look like — if you're bank account is more substantial than mine, and you have a gardener with a cadre of workers.

The book "Garden Design and Architects' Gardens" is from 1892 and written by W. Robinson m. Under the title it says:

"Two reviews, illustrated, to show, by actual examples from British gardens, that clipping and aligning trees to make them 'harmonise' with architecture is barbarous, needless, and inartistic."

Exactly what I think, even if I don't think the person who said so, had my kind of neglected garden, in mind.

Old Place, Lindfield. Picturesque garden of old English house, admitting of charming variety in its vegetation
Broadlands, Hants
Clipped trees at the Little Trianon

lördag 8 oktober 2011

torsdag 6 oktober 2011

tisdag 4 oktober 2011

måndag 3 oktober 2011

söndag 2 oktober 2011

Mainly pictures

We have been one tenth of a degree from frost a couple of times — even if some trees have turned red, brown and yellow, it is still lush and quite green. Some flowers take the opporunity and bloom again — and again.

For some reason it's almost impossible to post — I think it is because I was stupid enough to upgrade my browser. At least that's when the problems started. Hopefully I can get it solved and show you some of my Gutenberg finds.