I get a fair amount of spam, and some of the subject lines are funny. Sometimes I send them to amuse TeaBird. She had a brilliant suggestion: collect spam subject lines and arrange them into poetry! I decided to make them into spamkus, that is, spam haikus. Here, Dear Reader, is my first effort, a poem which is fitting for New Year's Day.
"Look at this. Throw down
your doubts and fast join us. Pray
thee, scale greater heights."
Watch this space for more spamkus.
May you be blessed with all you need and lots of what you want this New Year.
Thanks to blog reader, Jenny, who told me about www.teacuppa.com. It looks like another good site for us tea-lovers. I haven't ordered anything from there, but I recommend you visit the site now while its snowflakes still flutter and while a darling gift set is still featured.
A friend of a friend enjoys tea. Last year my friend gave his friend a box of English Breakfast tea, brand unknown. His friend was delighted enough to hint about this year's Christmas gift. My friend asked my advice. Naturally I was flattered, and sought to deliver my best recommendation. I learned that the recipient did not know much about tea. I took this as a good sign, as was his pleasure with last year's gift. I had a vague idea of his taste, and I could assume he was open to new ideas. Only see what I suggested because you, too, may have a lovely gift tea to try or to give. Since the gift recipient liked English Breakfast tea, I suggested blends of black teas known to be sturdy standbys. The first is loved tea-dom, PG Tips. It is hearty, bold and unassuming, takes well to milk or cream should you desire, and also has enough heart to accept honey or sugar. The second tea is Yorkshire Gold, which was, several years ago, named the best-tasting tea in Great Britain. It has similar properties to PG Tips while standing on its own for taste. It has a pretty box, too. I know that last sounds silly, but I think eye-appeal is part of a gift. I took the liberty of ordering the tea, and I used www.englishteastore.com. The ordering was easy, the shipping was a lightning-stroke of rapidity, and the prices were so reasonable that I won't go anywhere else from here on. Ah, and there was a bonus: my friend told me to pick something for myself in payment for my help! Here is another recommendation, and this one is for a honey that is copacetic with tea. Here I am with a few work holidays, so of course I also have another nasty cold. Today I am drinking a cuppa PG Tips (my "payment" tea mentioned above) sweetened with blueberry blossom honey. This honey is produced by Laney Family Honey, Inc., and was at my grocer. I find it congenial in my comfort tea. It was absolutely perfect during one of my spasms of health-seeking, when I bought Celestial Seasonings' Blueberry Breeze green tea. In fact, it was just what was needed to give the tea a blueberry taste. (Moon Rani)
This is not a book review. It's not a tea review. It's a recommendation for a font size. I am so pleased with an early Christmas gift that I wanted to let others know about it in case they are in need of the same thing. A friend and I agreed to exchange one Christmas gift apiece. We kept it inexpensive, and each specified the gift desired. My request was for a giant-print Bible. Illness and presbyopia combined to make my ordinary Bible harder and harder to read. In fact, I avoided reading it at all, of late. I buy large-print Reader's Digests and devotional books, and it occurred to me that there must surely be a large-print Bible, too. What I found was that the "large-print" Bibles could be printed in fonts as small as ten-point. That's not very large. But a "giant-print" had thirteen- or fourteen-point fonts. It makes all the difference in the world! My thoughtful friend decided to give my Christmas present early because he said that no one should have to wait to read a Bible, so I can offer you this modest review. Perhaps you or someone you know has trouble with ordinary size fonts. Now you know to look for GIANT-PRINT wherever the option is available. If it is a Bible you want, be sure to look at it before you purchase; this is one time when an online purchase might not be the best idea. The thin pages do not bother me, but I can see where they would make reading hard for people who are bothered by the print's showing through from the pages' other sides. I keep learning how to make reading more accessible to people. Learning to read was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I have tried, in small ways, to help others enjoy reading, too. I used to read aloud on radio stations to blind and visually-impaired and physically disabled people. I used to tutor small children in reading-readiness. Now I am learning about giant-print and thin pages. I offer this information to others in case they don't know such things exist. These innovations might allow others to continue to enjoy reading. This is an appropriate day to publish this post, as I look at the date. It was my late mother's birthday. Illness and age affected her reading pleasure, too, and I remember how thrilled she was when she discovered large-print books at the library. It was like watching someone learn to read, just seeing her excitement and pleasure when books were, once again, accessible to her. Remember: if reading is hard for you, make an effort to find a way to work around your difficulties. Don't quit reading. Never quit reading! (Moon Rani)
Mary Saunders, the focus of Slammerkin, is thrown out of her house after being raped for her desire for a red ribbon.
Does the red ribbon establish a kinship between Mary and me? Perhaps. Lacking a common desire or situation, the reader may have difficulty opening herself to a character – in my case, the relationship between a middle-aged librarian and a doomed teenaged prostitute.
Slammerkin places a very young woman in a desperately poor household, where she is neither loved nor consulted about how her life will unfold.
All evidence points to a miserable and colorless continuation of her mother’s life of poverty, drudgery, and subjugation that was sealed when her father was killed in a misguided protest by men who believed that they were going to lose, literally lose, eleven days of their lives when the government changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 -that they would lose time.
I was fascinated by the subjective inconstancy of Mary’s perception of time. In her mother’s house, time is nearly a solid mass, changing only by suffering and the family’s heartless response to Mary’s pregnancy. This response, a product of the times, is doled out without mercy.
How could the family understand the depth of Mary’s need to escape the faded beige of their lives, or the magical hope symbolized by that red ribbon? And yet, how could a mother cast out her raped, pregnant daughter?
(As I write, I realize that Mary’s mother is the only truly unforgivable character in the book. Perhaps my modern-time sensibility intrudes. All of the subsequent damage and tragedy that defined Mary’s brief time, and all of the bitter focus on the actual material that she craved in this world, began with this primal betrayal. If she was not loved for what was within, she could, at least, adorn herself with the transitory beauty of clothes.)
Time, and the times, were different when Mary fled to London. London was fast-paced, and the woman who accepted her into the sisterhood of prostitutes were fast. Doll’s love and practical guidance showed Mary that society can tolerate – even require – actions and beliefs far larger than she had ever imagined. Through prostitution, Mary acquired financial independence and freedom to see some of thewonders of her modern world. Likethe fireworks over London, she and her sisters of the night were brief flashes of beauty, dressed in their colorful slammerkins (loose dresses) and masked behind their paint.
Mary’s sudden need to escape a street thug impelled her to Magdalene Hospital, a residence founded to purge the evil from the street-wise women. Time was suspended there, with silence, blandness, and time to think without fearing starvation or death in the freezing streets. With Doll’s death, Mary realizes that she has to leave London, and her retreat ends in a desperate flight from the sanctuary to the town where her mother had grown up. Glimpses of the possibilities there almost melt her cynicism, but her nature has been formed, and she can not escape.
This novel is based, loosely, on the actual life of a Mary Saunders who was executed for murder in 1764. From the beginning of the novel, when Mary is 13, to her death by hanging at age 16, Mary passes through more lifetimes than many experience in ten times the years.
How many such lifetimes can a child endure? For Mary is a child, and my working-class perception of childhood makes me ache for this young girl, whose only transgression was the love of a piece of red ribbon.
How does the red ribbon bind me to Mary’s life? For both the 18th -century child and the 21st century woman, the red ribbon symbolizes hope. Mary’s hope for a better life is destroyed, but thehopes of my Eastern European Jewish ancestors for the children who would be born in the new world, and would escape the Evil Eye of the old. have been realized. After reading Slammerkin, I realize anew that I am, indeed, blessed.