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two things-- or maybe three

1. I have realized that my life is by any measure probably half over. And I am simply never going to want to wear turtleneck sweaters! There is no point in me buying them and thinking that 'this time it will be different.' Or 'I can get used to them.' It is just not going to happen.

2. There is an article in Slate magazine about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, and the epidemic that killed most of the people on the New England coast just as the Pilgrims arrived. I knew of course the story of Squanto-- (Tisquantum)  a local Patuxet who stepped out of the woods and said 'Hi' when the Pilgrims showed up. His story, and how he came to speak English is a very sad one, but he was apparently a very kindly guy. I have never heard that he blamed anyone for anything.

I had always heard that the illness that caused the dying was measles, or some virulent flu. But this article posits leptospirosis Interesting.


3. I am not going anywhere for Thanksgiving. Husband is going to his moms. Kids are undeclared at the moment. I suspect that they will end up going-- just for the day. I am looking forward to doing my Thanks with the internet, a book, nap, quiet house. If the kids stay here I will make lamb.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
I love turtleneck sweaters, but I've had a few that were too small/poorly made/shrunk in the wash and are annoying!! That's when I give them away!!

That was an interesting(if gross and scary!!) article on leptospirosis.

We're doing the cooking for tomorrow (boiled onions are done, pie in the oven, turkey still defrosting, stuffing to be made before bedtime) and then taking it all to my daughter's apartment. She has two special needs boys and this will be the first time we've tried to celebrate together! Hubby will do the turkey and a special "weight watchers mashed potato" dish (potato plus cauliflower and low cal cheese) that is delicious!! The youngest boy is making acorn squash for us!
Nov. 21st, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
I love anything with cauliflower. I could eat it all day. Maybe someday you can give me the recipe. Have a good Thanksgiving!
Nov. 21st, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
1. I wear them all the time. Usually black, usually under dresses, because it's usually bloody cold here!

2. Nasty disease.

3. Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, however you spend it :)
Nov. 21st, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
I would rather freeze than be gripped around the throat. But if they are light and stretchy-- like for under a dress, i guess they would be marginally better. Some turtlenecks are just so aggressive!

I guess my preoccupation with epidemics has something to do with my preoccupation with the past. I think they must have had a helpless feeling regarding disease, that we can't really understand now. We figure, if we get sick, we will mostly get better. Kyd and Marlowe, and even Archie and Horatio had no such assurance. They really had no idea why people got sick to begin with. 'Tiny critters that live up your nose' sounds pretty weird. I think I am just trying to imagine their world. Hope it does not offend.

I am going to have a fine Thanksgiving, alone, or with the kids. I wish Mike did not feel he had to go to his moms-- but it would not be right to complain and make him stay here, or feel bad.
Nov. 21st, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
We are chalk and cheese! I always feel the cold on my neck, so if I'm not wearing a turtle neck I am invariably wearing a scarf :) However I agree on the light and stretchy business. I can not abide scratchy clothes and I can never wear wool next to my skin, it makes me itch like crazy!

You are absolutely right about disease of course. In the past, most folk who got ill would not have expected to get better. I am kicking myself because I came across a resource at work earlier in the week that I thought you might like. It was an interactive map about the spread of disease in the Caribbean in the 19th century. I was going to mail it to you but I ended up being really busy and at the end of the day I shut my browser and forgot to book mark it. I might be able to retrieve it from my browser cache when I'm back in the office tomorrow.

'Tiny critters that live up your nose' sounds pretty weird.
That makes me think of the charlatans who used sleight of hand to produce "worms" from rotten teeth!

I think you are quite right to have Thanksgiving on your own terms, there can be such a weight of exceptions piled up on events like this.
Nov. 21st, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
My mom was like you-- and she did that thing where whenever she was cold she made me put on a sweater!

i would love to read that thing you found, but only if it is easy to find again. If it is lost, don't worry about it. I have the poem book now-- Chrichton Smith-- It has a very naked young lady on the cover!

The poems are really good, but need a lot of thinking, I think. I am very aware that I am coming to them as a foreigner.

The Vineyard has had a lot of writers who moved in, or vacationed and came to love it-- but not any homegrown poets of such merit.
Nov. 22nd, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC)
she did that thing where whenever she was cold she made me put on a sweater!
Oh dear, I'm afraid I've done that too :} I've stopped now, daughter seems to be immune to the cold!

i would love to read that thing you found, but only if it is easy to find again.
Found it in my browser cache - 19th Century Caribbean Cholera Timemap.

The poems are really good, but need a lot of thinking, I think. I am very aware that I am coming to them as a foreigner.
I can appreciate that, he is very much a Highland poet. I suspect there are many readers even from central Scotland who would feel the same. I hope there's enough there to enjoy. He uses a lot of Gaelic themes and imagery even in his English writing. Have you noticed how often daffodils appear in his poems? I do love the idea of you reading one of our Lewis poets way over on the other side of the Atlantic. That makes me smile :)

Edited at 2012-11-22 09:13 pm (UTC)
Nov. 22nd, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
I did notice the daffodils. And they are flowers that I love. They don't mind the wind and rain-- they are just going to do their thing anyway, despite obstacles. And they smell so good!

He seems to write a lot about old women too. Good subjects, I think. There is plenty for me to enjoy-- but I find that unlike prose, I cannot read poetry well when the world is busy around me. (Not unless it is a poem I already know well.) I have to have a clean and ready brain, and really pay attention. I had a brief wallow in the book, but I really need time alone with it.
I am looking forward to that.

Thank you for the cholera map. I come to it thinking that these were things that our Navyboys (and Navyoldermen) had to think about. If you stopped to get water somewhere would you get sick too? If you did not would you run out of water?

And how sad and outrageous to think that cholera is still a worry in Haiti now! Poor Haiti always gets slammed. They are like the cartoon person with the perpetual raincloud over their head.
Nov. 23rd, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
They don't mind the wind and rain-- they are just going to do their thing anyway, despite obstacles.
Yes, exactly! And they are an extraordinary sight of life at the end of the Atlantic winter.

He seems to write a lot about old women too. Good subjects, I think.
Yes, those are some of his most famous poems, particularly the one that begins "And she being old..." Most Highland school kids learn that one at some stage.

I know exactly what you mean about reading poetry. I can read prose almost anywhere, but not poetry. And I definitely can't read poetry with music playing, The rhythms get all messed up!

If you stopped to get water somewhere would you get sick too? If you did not would you run out of water?
Yes, I guess that was the risk they had to run. And you're so right about Haiti, it never seems to get any better. It's a tragic that the international community seems incapable of helping.
Nov. 21st, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
I read primarily mysteries and followed a series set in 13th. century Cambridge, England. The main protagonist was a physician and several of the books had him dealing with the plague. Everyone laughed at his idea that it had something to do with the flow of offal and more running down the streets and into the river (also the source of their drinking water).

I am very thankful that we live in a time with doctors, hospitals and medicines.
Nov. 22nd, 2012 12:05 am (UTC)
Even Florence Nightingale had it wrong. She believed that pure water and clean conditions limited the spread of disease. And they did, in Turnkey under her management. But she went to her deathbed, not believing in germs.

One of my big heroes is a doctor called Semmelweiss. He was the first to discover a link between clean hands and safe births. He failed to publish a study on it, he just went around telling everyone to wash hands. Nobody listened. Doctors were 'gentlemen' and did not want to be told to wash hands. (Not even when they went straight from an autopsy to a birth!)

Semmelweiss was derided and despised in his own time-- but he was right. In the grand scheme, he probably did more to save lives than anyone since. Cool guy.

Edit here---Turkey, not turnkey!

Edited at 2012-11-22 12:29 am (UTC)
Nov. 22nd, 2012 09:31 am (UTC)
*nods* I have a feeling (could be wrong) Nelson didn't believe in the link between scurvy and not eating fresh fruit/veg.

Fascinating article. And amazing that Plymouth gets talked about all the time when the Mayflower first landed at provincetown!
Nov. 22nd, 2012 09:59 am (UTC)
I think you are right about Nelson. I read a nice book about scurvy once-- and that is my memory too. But they learned a lot by observation. And they were highly motivated to get the answers right. They tried.

I always felt sorry for the Pilgrims. The Cape must have seemed inhospitable to them.

Have you ever been to Plimoth Plantation? It is pretty accurate as far as a reconstruction of what it looked like. The actors are all in costume, and quite serious about it. (There is one man playing a Wampanoag who zooms around in his Indian costume and an electric wheel-chair, but other than that...)

I am always horrified by how small and dark their little houses were, the things they built that first winter were miserable little shacks. I think that they just sat there and cried for some time. Winter on the Cape is pretty grim, even with TV, and lights etc. (And even without half the people you know dying!)

Nov. 22nd, 2012 11:42 am (UTC)
I haven't been there, although have done many similar things over here. Grim, cold, frightened (that long journey on tiny ships). They must have had a strong faith to sustain them. I hope they had happy times, too.
Sep. 28th, 2016 09:34 am (UTC)
Yes! The older Wampanoag in his electric wheelchair, that is the one who traded geneology stories with my dad and decided we were distant cousins. I think his name was Bob. But he wasn't playing a Wampanoag, he is one. All the natives were descended from local tribes and were speaking as their own modern selves, although in traditional dress. (The bare-chested ones put on polo shirts when they came into the air-conditioned cafeteria for lunch. We were sitting with Bob.) The actors portraying Pilgrims were actors and stayed in character all day.

I loved that place.

Edited at 2016-09-28 09:35 am (UTC)
Nov. 22nd, 2012 10:07 am (UTC)
I couldn't live without my high neck sweaters in the winter (and a scarf around my neck when the cold wind blows).

When you see how small the Mayflower was you wonder how they managed to survive the crossing! The Cape must have been a shock to those who arrived from the relatively warm climate of the west of England (Plymouth!) but those who had come from Boston, Lincolnshire, were probably used to the driving cold winds and rain that sear the Fens (they say the wind comes direct from Siberia without stopping on the way over the north pole)
Nov. 23rd, 2012 04:59 am (UTC)
They spent some years in Holland before setting out for the 'New World.' They were living in Leydon. They lived there long enough to settle in, and in some cases marry and have kids, (with each other, not with the local Dutch.)

They had religious tolerance from the Dutch govt. as long as they were not causing any trouble. They liked that, though of course they wanted freedom for themselves only, no notion at all of everyone having it! But it was easier than living in England where they got locked up quite a lot.

I have mixed feelings about the Pilgrims. On the one hand, they were incredibly brave. They took care of each other when they got sick, they formed a sort of self government, they had great perseverance. On the other hand, they did not have modern values. Not fair to expect that of them. I suspect they would not be fun people to spend the day with either!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )