|By: dakine01 Sunday March 9, 2014 6:30 pm|
|By: dakine01 Saturday March 8, 2014 7:30 pm|
|By: dakine01 Saturday March 8, 2014 9:37 am|
In honor of International Women’s Day I am re-publishing a diary I wrote May 7, 2010.
I always have loved Strong Women. Growing up, they were all around me, so it was the normal way of life. There was my mother, who returned to college when I was seven to complete her degree and become an English teacher. She continued on and received her librarian certifications. She died 23 years ago this past Wednesday and I still miss her.
A couple of years after Mom had returned to school, her sister also returned to college to finish her degree and became a first grade teacher as she raised her son and two daughters after a divorce.
It goes back to my grandmother who was the most gracious woman I’ve ever known. She was divorced when my Mom was two and Aunt Pat was new born and raised her daughters as a single mother. She was helped by her older sister who got a job and helped support the family through the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. Edie was often not the easiest person to know but we all knew her strength.
As gracious as my grandmother was, she was also my most fierce defender. When some of her friends complained about my growing a mustache when I was 17, they soon learned that she was not their ally. (I’m named for her father and we do look somewhat alike although his mustache was a Walrus rather than a Handlebar.
There’s my beautiful sister, Cissy, who realized very early that she wanted to be a reporter and writer and has been able to make this her career. She has been the one who does the camping and canoeing and the outdoor life while being quite capable when she has to play Martha Stewart. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and was facing chemo, she threw a party so her friends could give her caps and scarves since she knew she was going to lose her hair. She was facing what life brought her and refusing to give up.
There’s my lovely sister-in-law, Rita, who has had the strength to put up with my brother all these years, which is a feat in itself (he’s more stubborn than I am and that says a lot.) It’s probably not enough for sainthood but the Karmic positive is huge!
My cousin Mary, Aunt Pat’s oldest daughter, is a Navy veteran who met her future husband when they served together. After they married, she brought him back to our hometown where she raised two beautiful daughters of her own, both of whom are now mothers with daughters as well. Anna, Mary’s oldest daughter is – surprise! a teacher. And there’s Mary’s younger sister Jane who has the strength of innocence to guide us all.
From my Dad’s side of the family, I was too young to really know my Grandmother Taylor but I know she was a strong woman. She helped my grandfather run his farm and they ran a roadside restaurant together while raising seven children, five sons and two daughters. And as a further indicator, I have the knowledge of Dad’s oldest sister who ran the farm while her husband was the local county clerk. Dad’s other sister, my Aunt Sara, received a mathematics degree in 1929 and taught for years while raising five daughters, all of them Strong Women.
The trigger for me to write this diary was a picture one of my cousins posted to her Facebook account that was taken just last Saturday of my first cousin Peggy, Aunt Sara’s second daughter, and her seven granddaughters. Peggy has two daughters and a son and is a retired teacher. I really wish I had a copy of that picture for you to see these seven young women and “The Matriarch.” There’s Whitney, a PhD in Industrial Engineering sitting there as well as Katie, a Master’s candidate in Architecture (already LEED certified. Megan is a second year pharmacy student, and Katelyn is a Family Services major. I’m not positive but I think Lindsey is a nurse (like her mother). I don’t know what Lauren and Jessica are majoring in but I know they are a couple of good hunters and Jessica is a champion cutting horse rider.
Strong Women all.
Now I’ve mentioned roughly a third of my female cousins here and mean no disrespect to the ones I’ve not mentioned. Peggy’s sisters have another four daughters plus granddaughters. My father’s older brothers managed to not have any daughters but still married Strong Women and at least my oldest first cousin had four daughters to go with three sons. I look at the generations of women from the Taylor/Vanderen and Osborne families and see the strength of the Mothers and Grandmothers reflected and carried on for the future.
All of them Strong Women.
Teachers, nurses, journalists, administrators and management, executives, housewives, mothers, geeks and nerds, sorority women, athletes, bodybuilders, and legal assistants. These are just some of the careers and interests of the Strong Women in my family.
I’m sure it was the examples of all the Strong Women in my family that brought me to Firedoglake in the first place where the writing of Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith, and Marcy Wheeler told me I’d found some more Strong Women to admire and love. The many other writers and commenters just helped make the place feel like home.
Strong Women all.
You want to know what I think makes a Strong Woman? They are women who refuse to be limited and force the rest of us to accept them in their humanity. They refuse to be limited by stereotypes and they lift us all with their strength.
As you look around on Sunday and toast your mother, have a second toast for all the Strong Woman that you know.
They really are all around us.
Ain’t it grand?
And because I can:
|By: dakine01 Saturday March 8, 2014 5:05 am|
I became aware of Robert E. Howard through Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian series which led me to a number of book compilations of Howard’s writing. As is often the case, I was not aware of just how prolific Howard was across so many genres until I started this diary. From his wiki:
Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre.
Howard was born and raised in the state of Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in nearby Brownwood. A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was 23. Thereafter, until his death at the age of 30 by suicide, Howard’s writings were published in a wide selection of magazines, journals, and newspapers, and he had become successful in several genres. Although a Conan novel was nearly published into a book in 1934, his stories never appeared in book form during his lifetime. The main outlet for his stories was in the pulp magazine Weird Tales.
Thanks to Marvel, I was aware of a number of Howard characters – Conan, Kull the Conqueror, Red Sonja, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn. In addition to these characters, Howard created at least two sports related (boxing) characters, Sailor Steve Costigan and Kid Allison. Wiki has a page of a complete Howard bibliography listing his stories from all the genres he wrote in (including westerns, horror, detective, historical, comedy, etc.)
After I became aware of Howard, I found a number of compilation books that I read. There were a number of books where sci-fi/fantasy writer L. Sprague de Camp published/edited/added to/or wrote based upon Howard’s original stories, especially within Conan’s “universe.” Goodreads.com shows 24 pages of Howard books (including those from de Camp and other fantasy writers.) I know I read Conan the Conqueror, Conan of Cimmeria, Conan the Freebooter, Conan the Adventurer, Queen of the Black Coast, and Bran Mak Morn.
Howard’s IMDB page shows nineteen writer credits. Of course, most people are probably familiar with the two Conan movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer. Schwarzenegger also appeared in the movie Red Sonja with Brigitte Nielsen in the title role. Kull the Conqueror starred Kevin Sorbo and Tia Carrere. There has been an update to Conan the Barbarian from 2011 that does not appear to have gotten very good reviews. There is also an announced The Legend of Conan once again starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. There was a movie based on Solomon Kane in 2009 that seems to have gotten decent reviews.
Howard and H.P. Lovecraft were frequent correspondents and Howard was considered a member of the Lovecraft Circle of writers. While first “invented’ by Lovecraft, Howard contributed to the “Cthulhu Mythos.”
I had to laugh a bit when I saw this on the wiki page for “John Galt“:
Rand is not the only famous author to invent a character with this name. Pulp fiction author Robert E. Howard, creator of heroes such as Conan the Barbarian, used a villain named John Galt – also a man of mystery missing for a long time and possessed of great wealth, trying to manipulate his world from the background – in the tale “Black Talons” in 1933, more than twenty years before Atlas Shrugged was published.
My bold. Methinks Howard had a far better read on the personality of “John Galt” than Ayn Rand ever did.
|By: dakine01 Sunday March 2, 2014 7:30 pm|
|By: dakine01 Saturday March 1, 2014 7:30 pm|
|By: dakine01 Saturday March 1, 2014 5:05 am|
I first discovered Sharon Kay Penman in a box of books in the cellar of my sister’s condo:
Sharon Kay Penman (born August 13, 1945) is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen’s Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best First Mystery Edgar Award. Her novels and mysteries are set in England, France, and Wales, and are about English and Welsh royalty during the Middle Ages. The Sunne in Splendour, her first book, is a stand-alone novel about King Richard III of England and the Wars of the Roses. When the manuscript was stolen she started again and rewrote the book.
Her work is generally well received, with the more recent novels reaching the New York Times Bestseller List. Critics have praised her meticulous research of settings and events presented in her fiction, as well as the characterizations.
I have read all four of the referenced medieval mysteries and am about halfway through the fourth (Lionheart) of her now five Plantagenets series. I have also read the first (Here Be Dragons) of her Welsh Princes series.
The first of Penman’s books I read was the first of the Justin de Quincy medieval mysteries, The Queen’s Man, which as I said, I found in a box of books in my sister’s condo. I like mysteries. I like books set in historical and especially medieval times, so this was a no-brainer for me to pick up and read. The Goodreads.com synopsis for The Queen’s Man:
Epiphany, 1193. Eleanor of Aquitaine sits upon England’s throne. Her beloved son Richard Lionheart is missing, presumed dead – and the court whispers that her younger son, John, is plotting to seize the crown. Meanwhile, on the snowy highroad from Winchester, a destitute young man falls heir to a blood stained letter, pressed into his hand by a dying man. The missive becomes Justin de Quincy’s passport into the queen’s confidence – and into the heart of danger, as he pursues a cunning murderer and jousts with secret traitors in Eleanor’s court of intrigue and mystery
The book goes on to tell how Justin de Quincy solves this mystery and becomes an agent for Queen Eleanor. The other books continue the tales of his adventures and further mysteries he must solve while navigating a life where he must sometimes thwart the schemes of Prince John but do so in a way that will allow him to live should/when John ascend to the throne.
Again from her wiki:
Penman’s approach to her novels is to present meticulously researched  medieval life and history as everyday life, and to present the nobility as fallible. Set against a backdrop of political tension, power struggles, war, and hardship, the main characters confront personal drama such as conflict in love, conflict between family members, conflict with God, and conflict in friendship, as well as conflicted loyalties between family, self, king and country. A Library Journal review praises Penman’s attention to detail in which she “combines an in-depth knowledge of medieval Europe with vivid storytelling, re-creating the complex events and emotional drama of the 12th – 15th centuries.”
Although set in the 12th and 13th centuries, Penman sets the characters and narrative in her novels in medieval sites that still exist and can be visited, including castles, churches and archeological areas. Areas such as Aber Falls and Dolwyddelan Castle have important scenes in Penman’s novels. In Devil’s Brood, Penman sets the characters in scenes in a variety of medieval royal residences, castles and abbeys, in England and present day France, many of which still exist such as the Château de Chinon, Fontevrault Abbey, and Chateau de Loches.
It is partly the attention to details and the research that makes me enjoy her writing so much but it is also her ability to tell a tale. At some point in her books, either as a foreword or an author’s note, she tries to document where she deviates from known history and facts as well as areas where what she presents is based on supposition based on the few known facts available. The good authors who do this level of research can make learning history quite a bit of fun.
It is nice to know there are so many well-written historical novels available for my reading pleasure in times to come.
|By: dakine01 Sunday February 23, 2014 7:30 pm|