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Picturing a World

Sydney Gardens, Bath

Blog post alert: A post at Jane Austen's World, Sydney Gardens Restoration in Bath, provides information on an upcoming celebration of a restored garden in the English city of Bath—and much more. I loved the video on laying out a labyrinth and followed the links to renting Jane Austen's house (£165 a night for the end of September 2022). The image is from an article, The History of Sydney Gardens at The Bath Magazine on-line. It shows the bandstand as Jeanette and Edward might have seen it if they visited on their honeymoon (for a larger version, click here).

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Blue tooth

For a fantasy story I am writing, I've been reading up on the gemstone Lapis lazuli and came across a story in ChemistryWorld— Blue teeth reveal medieval nun's artistic talent. Yippee! The archeological discovery of a particle of ultramarine pigment in the nun's dental tartar offered material proof that nuns worked as illuminators by at least the late Middle Ages. The finding is also covered in Harvard Magazine's Manuscripts Illuminated…by Women. It's of no use to me for my story, but, oh, what about in future?!?

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Labor Day, 2022

Blog post alert: A National Park Service post on Women in the Labor Movement can boost our spirits at a time when Amazon and Starbucks are fighting as hard as big business can against unionized workers' rights, librarians are under attack, and teachers are leaving their jobs in droves. This moment in history may be discouraging, but let's not lose faith that there is strength in numbers if we only pull together. Happy Labor Day!

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Game of Authors

Blog post alert: Sienna McCulley, a 2021 intern at the American Antiquarian Society, recently posted Quicken the Thought — The Game of Authors. The card game was first published in 1861 and has gone through countless iterations, as can be seen in a published compendium.

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Cézanne Coda

Picture this! Renoir once noted "that it was not uncommon to discover watercolors from his [Cézanne's] hand discarded in the  fields around Aix-en-Provence, sprouting here and there like the forgotten verses of an absent-minded poet" (Matthew Simms, Cézanne's Watercolors, p. 146). Image via MOMA. Read More 

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Cézanne, front and back

In Cézanne's Watercolors: Between Drawing and Painting by Matthew Simms, I was astonished to read that a single sheet has this gorgeous, limpid still life on one side and the beckoning woodland on the other. Can you imagine owning something like that?

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Webb Jupiter!

Blog post alert: The brilliant composite photographs of Jupiter captured by NASA's James Webb telescope make you understand the appeal of optimistic science fiction!

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Alexander the Great hatchling

A friend of mine is something of an expert on Alexander the Great in history and legend, so references to him always catch my eye. Then there are dragons, one of my special interests—along with illustration, of course. Medieval comic strip, anyone? In the story depicted here, Olympias, the wife of Philip of Macedon, is seduced by a sorcerer named Nectanebo, who comes to her in the shape of a dragon. Result? According to this illuminator anyway, a little hatchling Alexander! For the story in full, click here.

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Half Life of Valery K

My favorite book dedication is Rudyard Kiplings for Plain Tales from the Hills: "To the wittiest woman in India." Now it has a close runner-up, Natasha Pulley's in The Half Life of Valery K: "For Claire, Larry, and Jacob, who put up with me telling them pointless facts about nuclear physics for the whole of lockdown." The rest of the novel is terrific, too—I only wish it weren't frighteningly apt at a time when jitters about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine are all too real.

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Up popped a scene

Wow! David Hockney! thought I, when I saw this photograph by Ian Capper at Geograph. Explore the many paintings at 2005 The David Hockney Foundation and you'll see why. I'm not sure how a writer should use the moment—to imagine a rural place? to catch that sense of aha! when a character makes a mental connection? In any case, it gave my day a lift and I'm still smiling.

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