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Picturing a World

Sleeping with a dog

My husband drew my attention to an article, How our ancestors used to sleep, which included an image of this window. I already knew that people went to bed at sundown and generally slept in two nightly stages (I've come across the phrases "first sleep" and "second sleep" as early as Chaucer and as late as Emily Brontë). What interested me here were a dog sleeping on the beds with its people and stained glass.

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Vogue 1921

I thought of posting this yesterday for New Year's Day 2021 because it suggests mysterious possibilities and because I like to give readers a valuable takeaway—in this case, a link to the Vogue magazine archives. Yesterday's insouciant skaters seemed more fun, but, now imagine them on their way back, where? What to make of those shoes in the snow? Graphically, I love the cocker spaniel at the bottom. Does he fit into the story?

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Planting a tree in Paris

A blog post, The Spectacle of Paris Streets, has just alerted me to a book I wish I had known about when I was researching Where the Light Falls: A Travers Paris par Crafty. For instance, I'd never thought of large trees being planted on a Parisian boulevard until I saw this image. It's the sort of sight that could cause a character to loiter, or spark a train of thought, or even somehow play into the action of a story. Or it could prompt an imaginative excursion: what if there were a world where a steampunk technology was used by trees to facilitate their own migration? The whole book is worth exploring.

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Gilbert’s Market Day

Besides the great central food market, Les Halles, there were, of course, lots of neighborhood street markets throughout Paris in the 19th C. While poking around after finding yesterday’s painting by Béraud of Les Halles, I came across this picture by Victor-Gabriel Gilbert,  Read More 

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Marie-François Firmin-Girard

Blog post alert:> Thanks to a post at Line and Colors for introducing me to Marie-François Firmin-Girard. I love finding pictures that I might have used for Where the Light Falls had I come upon them in time.  Read More 
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Girl with a dog

This morning's post on girls with dogs in the blog It's About Time ties in nicely with a question I had for myself last night. I have just finished a short story set on a farm about a family who would surely have had a dog. Should I have given them one? I didn't because dogs have such personalities it would have to become a character with a role in the plot. Writers, have you found yourself making similar decisions? Readers, if there is a dog in a story or novel, how much do you expect it to contribute to the action or the emotions? What about a cat? Read More 
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Learning by blogging

To complement Bellows’ Steaming Trains, I was looking for one of Hassam’s American urban landscapes when I came across this image of Paris. Aha! One of the Wallace water fountains I didn’t know about until this summer. Well, well.

My experience is that you don't leave a fictional world behind even after you finish a story. Things keep reminding you of it and adding to your understanding of characters, setting, and motives. And there’s nothing like blogging to make you bring together bits of this and that! Read More 
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Pont Neuf

Jeepers! I've just noticed that Thursday's post was not published. Better late than never, take a walk on the Pont Neuf!

When Jeanette returns from Pont Aven at the end of August 1879, she and Edward walk along Left Bank of the Seine on a Sunday afternoon. The scene is set farther down river than the Pont Neuf, but Béraud’s painting captures the casual, strolling ease that I wanted readers to feel.

Notice the Morris column advertising kiosk, the grille around the trees, the black-clad Parisiénne, and the little dog—recurring motifs for imagining Paris in this period.  Read More 
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Winter's cold

In Pont Aven in August 1878, Amy warns Jeanette about the everlasting gloom of Paris in winter. That slushy, dark, urban chill is captured in Buhot's 1879 etching (complete, notice, with dogs on the street). In August 2013, why not welcome a momentary shiver?!
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Les Halles

After his fencing less, Edward finds himself in the vicinity of Les Halles, the great covered food market of central Paris. Outside its steel-and-glass structure, street vendors gathered in the open air as Gilbert depicts them here and as they still gather in the tree-shaded squares of smaller towns in France on market days.

NB: an inquisitive dog on the loose in the lower right-hand corner and two more cheerfully settled behind a stand. Read More 
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