Edwardian layers

I may have intimated (a time or two) that I grew up in a climate in which a cotton dress and ankle socks were appropriate attire for a little girl pretty much year-round.  For really cold weather, I had tights, and all my sweaters were acrylic, since my mother’s and grandmother’s childhoods were a horror-show of scratchy wool.

Thus, I was bemused by stories like those of E. Nesbit, in which children wore woollen combinations, long black woollen stockings, wool dresses, and pinafores.  Later, of course, I learned about central heating, or its lack, and why home decor used to feature layers of rugs, velvet curtains pooled on the floor, and other draft-cutting devices.

And here I am, wearing wool tights and a merino pullover under a thermal-knit dress.  All I need is the white pinafore.  If I had a Psammead, every day I’d wish we could both go spend the day in a nice desert.

R.I.P. Philip Levine

With some writers—well, probably this is generalizable to “some people”—I can’t tell whether the work is any good because I have lived with it for so long that it seems like part of me. Margaret Soltan analyzes another Levine poem, showing where it may be lazy or unspecific, and I suspect that similar criticisms could be levelled at this excerpt; but this has been mine since I was 14.  It evokes a specific house filled with the sea’s sounds and reflected light, it raises those eastern ranges in my mind’s eye, and it was a comfort to me in many times when I wanted to cry forever with no one to hear.  I can’t find it online, so I hope I copied it accurately as a teenager!


That is the sea, that is the movement that fills
my house with the wailing of all we’ve lost
until there is nothing left but dust falling
into dust, either in darkness or in the first
long rays of yellow light that are waiting
behind the eastern ranges. Hear the moaning
of those great tiring arms. That is the sea
of all your unshed tears, that is all anyone
can finally hear, so you can cry, Cherry,
you can cry forever and no one will hear.

Why I love Sir John

He came home from a conference-thingy yesterday and said, “I’ve decided I have to be the guy in the audience who stands up and asks the guy on the panel to stop interrupting the women on the panel.  It’s better if men police each other.”

He may be available for rent, if anyone wants to take him to a conference. 🙂