Saturday, March 29, 2014
Grandparents used to look like this:
Does this make you think of Turner Classic Movies? Look at this substantial couple dressed in equally substantial woolen coats and hats, perhaps on their way to Sunday service. Hats are a fashion statement that is mostly the province of rock singers these days, but back in the mid-forties, when this picture was taken, hats were something no respectable person went out in public without.
Here's the generation before theirs. This picture was also taken in the 1940's, in a summery backyard. The subjects are still looking hale and hearty, despite being in their late eighties. Do you detect a slightly different air here, a difference in style? I think so.
As in period movies, the woman's hair style, in this case all those sculptured curls carefully contained in a net, tell us something about the days of her youth. In this case, it harks back to the 'twenties. Again, admire their clothes, especially the gentleman's three-piece suit and watch fob and the lady's lovely bouquet and necklace! I believe that the couple pictured here lived into their late nineties, something which was far less common than it is today.
BTW, the subjects here are all New Englanders, but all four of them know how to smile. They appear to be studying the picture taker with genuine fondness. Many years of life experience shines from their eyes.
We're far less formal today, and take pictures constantly, so we don't tend to dress up for them. These grandparents are with their "baby" boy at his workplace. They too are smiling at the person taking the picture, who, I happen to know, is their granddaughter. Frankly, I don't see a lot of difference in bodies or faces or hair color here. We're just grandparents--and not the celebrity kind. We're wearing a lot of bulky clothes on this occasion because it's darn cold. We live farther apart and must conduct our family visits mostly via the internet and cell phone. Otherwise, the bodies are old and the faces are old and the hair is either or white or non-existent. Nothing much has changed.
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Friday, March 21, 2014
“Oh, dammit, Bobby!”
Historical Novels with Passion and Grit
Friday, March 14, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
I'm sure some of you are asking, "Why would anyone go to the bother of researching crows?" Two years ago, I blogged about researching dogs. Despite being a dog lover, I won't force them into a story if they don't fit. It just so happens that I had a couple of plots where dogs did fit into my stories. Not only that, but I was able to use my own breed, the Belgian sheepdog, in my Civil War ghost story Whispers from the Grave and the sequel Whispers Through Time. In my more recent work, The Dreaming: Walks Through Mist, a greyhound was my cunning woman's familiar spirit. That's also why I began researching crows. In the upcoming sequel to the dreaming series, Wind Talker, a crow is a recurring spirit animal.
Originally, I had chosen a crow because in many Native American cultures, the bird is a shape shifter. A shape shifter is a master of illusion, transforms themselves, and can travel many realms, including passing between the physical and spiritual worlds. The theme fit nicely with my original plot. In Wind Talker, the crow spirit took on much greater depth, so I began researching what the birds are really like.
Crows are highly intelligent and tend to live in family groups. They mate for life. What's more, they have a language. The most familiar sound is a "caw," but they can imitate other species, including humans. They make a variety of vocalizations, of which very few have been deciphered. Some observers also say that crows have a culture because the birds seem to be able learn new information through observation or instruction, then share the information with other members of their species.
They have been known to protect humans who feed them by dive-bombing the threat in the same manner as people often see crows harassing hawks, which are a danger to them. Crows have also been observed holding funerals. They'll surround the dead bird, sometimes in great numbers, and give piercing cries over it. Usually a silence grips the group before they start cawing again. They often spend hours with the dead one before flying off. I've never witnessed a funeral myself, but a close friend of mine has. She didn't know what was happening at the time and was truly amazed.
Because of my interest in crows, I started feeding my local flock. Being omnivores, they eat just about anything. The only things I've really seen them turn their beaks up at are leafy greens, tomatoes, and carrots. When I feed, they'll often come swooping in, sometimes within a couple of feet, and if I leave for a week on vacation, they'll shriek to me a welcome home. Then again, maybe they're saying, "It's about time you got back. Now feed me!" At other times, they'll make clicking or rattling sounds at me. I know they're talking. I only wish I knew what they are saying.