Here is an update I was not expecting to post any time soon. Back in the beginning of March, Beaux, my beloved Cocker Spaniel had two seizures in a 10 hour span. We thought it was a fluke, but obviously rushed him to Vet to verify. Due to his breed, age, and over all health, the doctor tested for Valley Fever which is potentially disease that is very prevalent in desert climates. My speckled son tested negative. That was a relief. So our other options were brain tumor and/or epilepsy. However, at the beginning of this month, Beaux suffered three seizures in a twelve hour time span, the last being his worst. On the bright side, he seized at the Vet’s office so he could be tended to right away. He received an emergency shot and another round of tests, of which he tested negative for them as well. The doctor decided to start treating my pup for epilepsy. While, not an ideal diagnosis, it is not a death sentence. Thus, I choose to view his pills like I would take his vitamins, be a little more cautious of his activities, and read up on everything I can find concerning the issue.
Back in ancient times, epilepsy in humans was seen as a spiritual concern. Some say it was a curse by the Gods and Goddesses of the Moon, others cite demon possession, or proof of a tainted, immoral soul. There are records back to ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica in relation to the Falling Sickness. In the 5th B.C., famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, theorized the seizures are due to a disruption/problem in the brain. For two millennia, the general population of the world said that was hogwash. It was not until the 17th century it became more accepted epilepsy was formed in the brain and further, that is was hereditary. Many European municipality supposedly made it illegal (and community/villages forbid) people with epilepsy to marry, to prevent the transfer of the disease. Naturally, many people ended up lying about their condition in order to marry.
In the mid 1800s, bromide was discovered to assist with treating epilepsy; this was one of the medications recommended for Beaux, granted it is very slow moving, but is cost effective. By 1912, phenobarbital came on to the scene. This is what Beaux is currently taking; long term use causes liver and kidney damage, so Beaux will be phased off of it as soon as possible.
It has been years since I touched on April as National Poetry Month. Truly, years. As someone who actually enjoys poetry and as a librarian, whose duty it is too champion all things literature . . . well, goodness it is high time to nod to the poetic form once again.
I have many poems that I cherish, but this is one of my most beloved. It is written by none other than Rudyard Kipling, the 19th century author of Kim and The Jungle Book. It speaks in the masculine theme, but serves it purposes to all parents, mentors, coaches, and teachers. It is also a great motivating pep-talk and a reminder that brave men and women are not born but become that way through actions.
If–by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowances for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk to wise;
If you can dream–and not make dreams your master;
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And to hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run–
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!
For most of the world, April showers. Rain, everywhere! Especially in England where the great Victorian era stems. England gets an annual rainfall of about 34 inches (885 cm). Heck, London is still known for its rain! In homage (or to commiserate) with those sloshing their way through the day, I bring you a unique shopping post of eight rain related items to handle the weather in 19th century weather. All pictures are linked unless otherwise noted. Some items may no longer be for sale at the time of viewing. Starting with the painting to the left here. Prints are available for purchase at various art sites, but Allposters.com remains my favorite resource of all time for the art used on 19th Century Modern. I am including a painting in the line up, because some people do not like the literally experience of rain, but appreciate its romanticism and evocative mystery. Or in my case, some folks simply do not live in a location where it rains very often, this would be the closest I could get to it about 10 months a year.
Let us start from the top, shall we. When one thinks of rain (or England, for that matter) many citizens picture an umbrella somewhere in the mix. This company, Francesco Maglia, has been making umbrellas since 1854 and was even the provider of the umbrella used in Colin Firth’s movie, The Kingsmen (fabulous movie, with this fantanstic quote: “The clothes make the man.”–The Prince Consort, Albert of Sax-Coberg-Gotha, would surely approve!)
Such simple inventions often spawn, similarly simple accommodating innovations. Hence, the umbrella holder. While, of course, one could use a simple bucket or lean it against the wall of a mudroom–it is no fun. The Victorians, naturally, made ornate creations for such a singular purpose. Below is an example of a highly crafted wrought iron umbrella stand.
Sometimes an umbrella is not enough and a mackintosh or rain coat is in order. Below is a Civilian Great Coat/Over Coat style during the American Civil War. Included on this list for its jaunty sewn in cape feature.
Gosh, it’s galoshes! Or Wellingtons/willies, depending on where you were raised. Rain boots were originally designed like spats; made to go over the shoe. While these are not originally 19th century rain boots, they are inspired by the 19th century riding boot silhouette. And gosh, they sure are pretty!
However, if one really wants to remain dry for the duration of an outing, the best way to go about it is a closed carriage. This handsome one is an American version and has sold, but the website is worth checking out, if anyone is interested in purchasing an authentic 19th carriage from Australia.
While not an accoutrement; gutters/spouts also deal with precipitation. While most folks have very utilitarian spouts on their homes, there is no need to be so plain. Take a cue from these 19th century beauties, which I believe are in Denmark. These spouts are not for sale, but it might be something to pin to your Pintrest board on Home Renovation!
If you are looking for something more cozy, that projects the feeling of rain sans wetness, there are always those beautiful misty photographs from the very early 1900s, that can take you away. This image is not linked; thus not available for purchase, but many similar ones exist.–Now, stay dry, Dear Readers.
It might not be known, but hopefully, assumed that I am what one would consider an “indoor girl.” I so loathe the sun. It is highly ironic I reside in the hottest, sunniest state in the nation. Do not mistake me, I do not hate the outdoors, just that gleaming fireball in the sky. My work-around is to only venture outside in the cool dark of the night.
My Charming Brother, whom I room with, is quite the opposite. He loves the sun! It is during his high noon meanderings when he first moved in, he concluded the layout of my home and yards did not please him. For weeks he started conversations such as “This wall needs to be knocked down, this one extended, the counter should go here . . .” and so on and so forth. After a month of this, he started drawing plans! Mainly for the backyard, as Arizona is predominantly a “Home Owners Association” state, so changes made to the exterior of the home and the front yard need to be approved by the Development’s Association. In short, Charming Brother basically wants to turn my yard into something of a showpiece. While in theory, I am all for a landscape design that merits the cover of a magazine; in practice . . . well, to be honest I did not really stepped foot in my backyard for the first three years I lived here. Besides, my finances are focused on paying off my mortgage and on accommodating Beaux. I was not willing to sink a lot of money into re-landscaping the yard. To top off my concern, we are not gardeners. The longest a potted plant survived in my care was ten months. Both of us, do not really know what we are doing. If we are to attempt it ourselves; which is precisely what he wants to do, we are in for an adventure. Oy vey!
I assessed his plans with a practical and critical eye. I ceded we could at least try building a raised vegetable and herb garden with a picket fence gate. My Charming Brother is a Renaissance Man and has various and varied sources of income; one of which is an organic chef. I figured the garden will not only assist with his business, but also cut down the cost of produce to feed my face; if we can, in fact, successfully cultivate the flora. So we are tearing up my yard! It is glorious, painful, and therapeutic, while dually horrifying to my parents who are dismayed I am allowing him to drag me into one of his fanciful schemes. As my brother and I work (me in the hours before the sun rises and he, during mid-day), my brother constantly revamps his plan. The one shown is 2.0, because he has not actually sketched 3.0 yet. . . Oh dear. *crosses self* Let us hope we can accomplish this.
His plans look nothing like the 19th century landscape I envisioned through research. It was not idealized; no lakes, sweeps of gently rolling lawns set against groves of trees and recreations of classical temples, gothic ruins, bridges and other architecture for the idyllic pastoral setting. Grottoes, temples, tea houses, pavilions, follies, bridges and statues were meticulously planed and executed on the grounds to look effortless. Often piers were built into the ponds and lakes for romantic rowboat rides. Terraces overlooking park grounds became the norm. Natural shrubbery, graveled walks, tree plantations and for the first time in history sweeping skirts of planted flower beds. –Truly. As ridiculous as this sounds, country estates did not employ riots of planned flowerbeds until the Victorian era. Flower gardens were associated with small plots of land, such as a cottager’s yard. In the 1800s, landscape design moved from the ridged geometrical control of the French court to a more idealized version of ‘country.’ Winding paths, gently turning streams, and clusters of natural views and tableaus were the norm; ironically created and forced by Man to mimic the beauties of nature. The pervading thought of the day was “Nature as a restorative measure.” In fact, it was not until the 19th century, that the concept of the public park was created for mental health benefits of those living in urban areas.