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Monday, February 29, 2016

Can Cheating Be Learning? Sporcle and the World

Sporcle is a quiz site. Free, free free. The children and I have been playing geography quizzes. 

Okay, I'll admit it. I am astounded at how little geography I really know. I thought I knew a lot, because I'm always talking to people--like the janitor at the zoo who told me a lot about the political situation back home in northern Nigeria, from which he fled--and where he was high up in banking before he tried to fight corruption. (I believed him--he seemed a decent and honest man.) I have talked a lot to the painter from Mauritania, which I know is one of the poorest countries in Africa. And I have talked with our cashier at the local market about how much he looks forward to going home to Madagascar. I thought that I knew where Madagascar was--on the Atlantic side of Africa, right? 


I'm not as lost as Amelia Earheart, but it's close. . .

I knew Djibouti was on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, and I knew that Djibouti was a far less traumatized country than Somalia, (Or Ethiopia or Eritrea--and I even know a few words of those languages) but I thought Djibouti was an island. I knew that Sudan had recently divided into Sudan and South Sudan, but I didn't know that there was a Republic of Congo and a Democratic Republic of Congo. I still don't know the difference. While I knew about Lesotho and Swaziland, I didn't know that they were essentially Islands in South Africa.  

I had no idea that there was a country--a whole country--called Sao Tome and Principe. (Hint--look off the Atlantic coast of Africa, mid-level.) 

See? I know now. 

And I know where Andorra is, and San Marino and Montenegro and Moldova. When Cyprus, Malta and Bosnia Herzegovina show up as locations where I've had readers, I know where they are. Because, I'll be perfectly honest, I cheated. And I took the test repeatedly. And I cheated repeatedly. Yes, the whole Croatia/Serbia/Bosnia and Slovakia/Slovenia/Czech Republic is still a jumble to me, (and I'm still shaky about that Benin/Togo/Burkina Faso part of Africa) but that means I will have to read about it, just as I will have to read about how Congo divided and why Gambia is called The Gambia and why there is a Guinea, Republic of Guinea and Equatorial Guinea. 
See you guys on Sporcle. I'll be the genius in Geography. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Authoritarianism and Voting--A Consideration

Supporters of Donald Trump seemed to carry no statistical fingerprints--they aren't less educated, more educated, richer or poorer, southern or northern. This puzzled pollster, Matthew MacWilliams, until he added in a set of questions about authoritarianism. 

What he added to the mix were four standard questions political scientists have used since 1992 to measure "inclination toward authoritarianism." And how do you measure that inclination? You ask about child-rearing. "Is it more important to you to have a child who is 
• respectful or independent
• obedient or self-reliant
• well-behaved or considerate
• well-mannered or curious. 

Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

In 1980, a German psychoanalyst wrote For Your Own Good," an analysis of how strict Protestant German child-rearing practices--believing that it was necessary to break the child's will using physical and emotional punishment in order to successfully raise them--contributed to the rise of Nazi Germany, the willingness of people to "do what they were told," even if that meant doing horrendous things to other people, and the rise of German terrorists in the 1970's. 

Leap from Alice Miller to Debi and Michael Pearl, present-day Christian outliers who teach a form or child-rearing that begins with infant "blanket" and "sleep training, that involves putting an infant to bed or, if preparing them to be quiet in church, set them on a blanket and "switch them back to bed," if they get up, or "switch them," if any limb moves off the blanket. 

You know what a switch is, right? 

The Pearls and others like them have quite a large following in this country. 

So, maybe Trump's followers wouldn't have followed Hitler, except maybe his Neo-Nazi supporters. 

Or maybe they would. 

Read more:

Internet Mess!

Well, there goes my commitment to daily posts. I was going to write about people with authoritarian bents and how they vote in elections.

Hopefully tomorrow.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

After/Before Hamilton--1776, the Musical

So, if you're busy teaching yourself or your children about the Revolutionary War, and you want to expand beyond Hamilton, get yourself  a copy of the 1969 Musical, 1776, book by Peter Stone, lyrics and score by Sherman Edwards and (The film was done in 1972.) 
The cast of the film, 1776, getting into it with words--and swords.  
The cast of Hamilton, getting into it with rap. (The guns come later.) 
So, you'll notice right away that the cast of 1776 is white, older and mostly male. (There are two women in the cast--we'll talk about them later.) But--this is a huge but--like Hamilton, 1776 is a musical about ideas and ideals--our ideas, our American ideals--freedom, equality, taxation only with representation, the value and the profound responsibility that comes with liberty. 

It's very funny, with lyrics like the oft-repeated, "You're obnoxious and disliked, that cannot be denied," in reference to John Adams, with domestic (and accurate) arguments between Adams and his wife, Abigail, over sewing pins and saltpeter (a prime component of gunpowder that required much housewifery.) 

Virginia Vestoff and  William Daniels-in both film and original cast. 
There is also much jockeying over who is going to get stuck writing the Declaration of Independence--T. Jefferson draws the short straw, but will only do so after his lovely wife arrives, "to waltz through cupid's grove" with him. 
Blythe Danner in the film/Betty Buckley on Broadway. And
isn't she full of the glow of pregnancy? That's Gwyneth in there.
The delegates to the convention, and their servants and messengers are men, yes, and  white yes, but human. Passionate. Stubborn. Angry. Many are fighting to defend their much vaunted way of life --mostly the wealthy and southern planters. Many are fighting injustice. Sure, it makes a buffoon of Richard Henry Lee "The Lees of Virginia," but it also presents a huge battle over including wording in the declaration of independence, wording to state that slavery is an injustice. 

1776 also lays plain, in music, no less, the terrible financial equation that linked northern merchants to southern slavery (Molasses to Rum to Slaves) and one song, Cool, Cool, Considerate Men, speaks so convincingly about the joys and values of conservatism-of political decisions only being made by men of property--that Richard Nixon successfully asked the film's producer (his buddy, Jack Warner) to remove that song from the film after his private screening of it. 

Don't worry. Though Warner demanded the song be destroyed, the film's editor saved it, and it is currently in versions that are available for sale.
The Brilliant Paul Hecht is the first full figure on the right. 

In this song, the men sing: 

"Come ye cool cool conservative men
The likes of which may never be seen again.
We have land, cash in hand
Self-command, future planned.
Fortune flies, society survives
In neatly ordered lives with well-endowered wives.

We sing hosanna, hosanna
To our breeding and our banner
We are cool." 

And while they sing, they dance their staid minuet (a dance of an earlier time) only to the right. And okay, that term is an anachronism--nobody called conservatives the Right in those days--but it is also philosophically dead-on.

In fact, it is during that section that John Dickinson states in both play and film, John Hancock tells John Dickinson, leader of the conservative opponents to signing the Constitution, "Fortunately, there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy." 

Dickinson replies, in the most telling words of any musical I have ever heard, "But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.") Keep that in mind during this Presidential election cycle. 
William Daniels, Howard Da Silva and Ken Howard
as Adams, Franklin and Jefferson, waiting for the eagle of liberty to hatch. 
William Daniels is still alive, and better known for TV roles-- St. Elsewhere, Girl Meets World, etc. Howard Da Silva was a wonderful character actor, who played the original Jud Fry in the original Oklahoma, was called before the House Committee on Unamerican Activities and refused to testify, which resulted in his being black-listed for many years. 

I am a passionate believer that education doesn't have to be a slog. Watch 1776 with your children, and listen to Hamilton--or go see it, should you be so blessed. You might find yourself learning something, too. And I guarantee you that what you learn will stick. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) Beg You To Vote, Please Vote This Coming Tuesday.

Cast of Hamilton As Painted by Gilbert Stuart

Much of the country has watched, astounded, as three hate-mongers duke it out, spitting, biting and kicking each other over who can spew the most vitriol. 

Don't leave this election to the obsessive partygoers. Remember, if you don't vote, you get the government you deserve.
Our people--our children--our neighbors and our future all deserve better than hate-mongers. Hold your nose if you must, but vote, and vote for the person--whoever it is--that you think will be most likely to win out in a nationwide referendum against bigotry. 

Hamilton for Homeschoolers--How the Musical Teaches Monetary Policy in the Federalist Years

I love the fact that, with Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton kids can learn history from rap battles. (And grownups, too, of course.)

In Hamilton, hot, hungry, arrogant and brilliant young folks dis one another over monetary policy. And, like many of Shakespeare's heroes and heroines, they think so much more swiftly than the rest of us that their words have to elide into one another. (Check out the elision in our William's The Winter's Tale if you want to know what I mean.) 

Tommie Jefferson comes home from France, hands something off to "Sallie," and leaps into "what did I miss?" 

King George gets into the fun, in his high, heavy crown and his high, heavy cape and his high heavy heels. Sure, Geordie Three is slower than our young colonists--much slower, in speech, rhymes and ideas. But then, his tune is so catchy. And he sings it on and on and on. (As monarchs--and tyrants-- tend to do.) 

Duels fought in the 1780's or the early 1800's, duels fought amid a macho culture of defending your "honor", turn out to be as foolish, wasteful and deadly as they are now. 

And, of course, the women when focused on, are sharper, smarter, rap faster, fight more wisely--and last longer than the men. Although we have never heard about most of them before this musical.

All in all, put Hamilton in the hands of a teenager, and you have probably hooked them on history for life. And maybe, one would hope, on politics, or at least political activism. 

the cast of Hamilton as painted by Gilbert Stuart. 

Writing Yourself Into Someone--"The Color of Safety" and Activism

This woman, I think, does not worry if people like her.
When I began writing The Color of Safety--the novel that I am currently submitting to agents--I was, in some unfortunate ways, a nice girl. This is culturally more prevalent among white women than African-American women, I think. We white girls are more socialized to be, well, nice, to worry more about people liking us and less about doing the right thing. 

The Color of Safety is about 100 years in a house in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the 1950's and 60's, across America, cities tried to wipe out African-American communities by  running freeways through them. In every community, this meant tragedy, but in West Adams, also known as Sugar Hill, I think it was doubly so, because this was one of the wealthiest and most successful African-American neighborhoods in the country, and yet, even the lawyers, doctors, newspaper owners, insurance company owners, movie stars, even those living in a gated mansion community could not change the freeway's route.   

Bill Gates
Since The Color of Safety is partially about the politics of education, I was researching the history of those politics as they have affected Los Angeles. I'm talking about the efforts of some of our billionaires to fix our nation's schools.  

Eli Broad

Then, the school district in my current city started to suffer from some of those same political struggles. Our new superintendent, a graduate of Eli Broad's Superintendent's Academy, was systematically destroying our school district.  Through the course of The Color of Safety, a lead character, Molly, stops wishing she were more kick-ass and starts joining with her neighbors to do the right thing, even if it puts her at risk--I'm talking risk of death, of having your home blown up with you and your baby in it. (Pay attention here--this part of the novel was based on things that really happened in Los Angeles.) 

And, as I was writing it, I, too, began to join with neighbors and teachers and parents and aides and staff who were horrified by what we saw going on in our schools--in the name of both right and left leaning policies. 

I was one of the many people who talked to school board members, city council people, mayors, the state board of education and when nothing changed, we found folks willing to pay attention and elected them to our school board. 

It's going to be a long haul to fix what's been broken. And I will be out there helping to figure out the problems and how to fix them. I have already made enemies. Too bad. I no longer worry so much about what people will think. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

As The Good Wife Winds Down--"Target." Nope, That Was Not Sexy

So, we know that The Good Wife is about to end. And although I was furious with Robert and Michelle King for the sloppy, lazy way they killed off a main character, I hung with the show--one of the few I have watched over time--because, damn, it has such incredibly good writing and acting. 

But this episode, for me, had a major squick factor in the way that Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Jason Crouse, her investigator, finally have sex. (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) 

See, the Alicia finally tells someone that she is worried she has a drinking problem. The person she chooses to tell is the wolfish, manly-man, perpetually smiling Jason, who, in an earlier episode, we were warned might be a sociopath, but who we have only seen displaying self-control and a pretty good grasp of ethics.

He is also a friend of hot-shot young lawyer come up from the bond court, Lucca Quinn (in a smart, funny performance by Cush Jumbo--fabulous name!) 

And he responds to Alicia's expressed concern about her drinking in a heartening way, by setting Alicia's bottle aside and helping her to meditate. 

Or so we think. Instead, it seems, he is just trying to relax her enough so he can seduce her. Eeuw. Squick, squick, squick. Let's agree with the French--never trust someone who smiles all the time.  The French think that someone who is smiling all the time when there is nothing to smile about is a hypocrite. 


I could write about the delight of seeing the brilliant Carrie Preston again; though her role sadly becomes more and more a caricature, still, Preston manages to imbue it with humanity, humor and, God help us, a bizarre sexuality. 

Although bizarre sexuality seems to be the order of the day around The Good Wife these days. (That supposedly erotic seduction scene really gave me the creeps.) 

Whatever happened to Diane's husband? (Speaking of healthier sexuality.) 

And where is Alicia's daughter when Mom is at the office screwing her investigator after 11 pm? 

Also--apropos of nothing--has anybody else noticed that Alicia always, every single time, is on top when she has sex? Doesn't she ever want some variety? 

A Girl of the Limberlost--Children's Classics Author, Ecologist, and Virulent Racist

Girl's classics again: One of my favorite childhood books is A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter. It's a lovely story, about a young girl being raised in the swamp--wetlands--known as The Limberlost, in Western Indiana. 
Elnora Comstolk is neglected by a grief-crazed mother--her life nearly ruined by her husband's drowning in the Limberlost long ago. But Elnora is determined to go to high school, despite not having the money to pay for it, the clothes to wear to it, or even the lunch to bring to it. 
The Limberlost Swamp
Elnora is guided in her journey by The Bird Woman (based on Stratton-Porter herself.) This is someone who studies the Limberlost and teaches children about the beauty of the swamp. The Bird Woman suggests that Elnora can pay for her books by collecting and preserving moth specimens from the swampland, which Elnora does. Like Emily of New Moon, Elnora is not, then, your typical girl's classic creature who does turns from vivid child to narrowly defined wife and mother. Elnora--and the Bird Woman--both follow non-traditional paths for women of that time, and in fact, Stratton-Porter did the same. When she was unhappy with Hollywood's versions of her books, she formed her own production company and made her own. In the 19-teens.

As a teenager, I joyously read my way through Stratton-Porter's cannon, and then, I came up, shocked, at Her Father's Daughter, written in 1921. Stratton-Porter moved to California in the teens. This novel's plot--it's plot, mind you--is that those "dirty Japs" have a secret plan to infiltrate high schools across America with graduate students, so that these evil yellow men can steal the position of Valedictorian from some fine, young, all-American Anglo-Saxon boy. In Father's Daughter's case, this evil guy--named Oka Sayye--goes so far as to try to kill the hero, Donald Whiting, to maintain that primary position. 

Our heroine, Linda Strong, helps Donald build up his ego enough that he is able to beat Oka in academics. 

I felt like I would throw up. 

And no, reading that book, I can't say, "well, she was a product of her times." Her Father's Daughter is not casually racist, it doesn't mock a houseboy's pigeon English or dismiss an "Oriental" as inscrutable. Her Father's Daughter is, instead, propaganda, dripping with viciousness. 

I still love A Girl of the Limberlost, and Freckles, another of her children's classics. But it's harder to read them innocently now. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Context Is Everything: Was Richard Lionheart Gay or Politically Astute?

Why context is everything. In this case, historical context: i.e, was Richard Lionheart (pictured here) a gay hero or merely the medieval precursor to L.B.J.'s political wheeling and dealing while sitting, pants down on his "throne." 

Phillip, Right and Richard, accepting the keys to Acre while on Crusade.
The reason Lionheart joined the ranks of known gay English Kings (Edward II, James I, and maybe William II) was because of an 1187 chronicle by one Roger de Hoveden, that claimed that Richard and Phillip II, King of France, shared the same bed. Or rather, said Hoveden: "Richard, duke of Aquitaine, the son of the king of England, remained with Phillip, the king of France, who so horned him for so long that they ate every day at the same table and from the same dish, and at night, their beds did not separate them. And the king of France loved him as his own soul and they loved each other so much that the king of England was absolutely astonished at the passionate love between them and marveled at it." 

Look at how in his space LBJ is! 
But put that into historical context, says BBC historian and King's biographer, Professor John Gillingham. Many people shared beds in those days. Kings before and since held court in their bedchamber. A Lord of the Privy Chamber was literally that--those who were allowed to accompany the King at his toilette, which include, well, using the chaise percée. (Shades of LBJ wheeling and dealing on the john) The King also showed his approval by allowing someone to sleep across the foot of his bed.

Speaking of beds, the first bedding of a king and queen were in some cases done in public, so that all might witness the ritual. And royalty officially gave one another the "kiss of peace." 

Those who look at Richard and Phillip's relationship in context will most likely decide that, no, they weren't gay, even though Richard spent very little time with his wife, Berengeria. 
But then, again, Berengeria does look a little, um, stony. . .

Can't fix the print on this, no matter what I try. Bear with me, guys. . .

Monday, February 22, 2016

In "Hamilton", Lin Manuel Miranda's Generous Spirit Reclaims Aaron Burr from Calumny

 I don't have the funds to leap on a plane and get a black market ticket to the musical Hamilton, about the rough, raucous early days of our country told through the lens of the life of hard-charging young immigrant, Alexander Hamilton. This means I have had to make do with listening to the recording and watching all the excerpts I can find on Youtube. (Sigh.) 

So one kid and I were listening to the song Dear Theodosia, sung by Burr and Hamilton to their just born, firstborn children. "I guess Burr wasn't such an evil guy," my kid said, and I wondered. There is that duel, not to mention all that stuff, unproven, but floating around, about Burr wanting to take part of the Louisiana purchase as his own kingdom, and the treason trial, though Burr was acquitted. . ."I don't know enough about him to say," I said. "But I can tell you this: Lin Manuel Miranda has a generous soul, one wide enough to encompass the heart of both Alexander Hamilton and his arch-rival and ultimately killer, Aaron Burr." 

Both men sing to their newborn children, wrestling with the notion that these infants will grow up with their young country, and praying for the wisdom to parent them wisely. It's a song that moves me to tears, particularly knowing how it ends: Young Hamilton dies in a duel at age nineteen, and Theodosia Burr Alston was lost at sea at age 29, less than six months after the death of her young son, by fever. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Creativity and Depression: Anne of Green Gables--Grief, Loss and Suicide?

Here is Little Lucy Maud Montgomery, the creator of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of the Island. She always said she had a lot more in common with Emily than with Anne, and she certainly looks like Emily, the dark, haired, big-eyed elfin little girl with pointy ears.

When Lucy was not quite two, her mother--Clara Woolner Macneill--died of T.B.

Father, Hugh John Montgomery, torn by grief, left his toddler daughter  with her mother's parents, Alexander and Lucy MacNeill. They were, apparently, exactly how the look: strict, cruel, unbending and unloving. But Hugh was long gone, way out west. They were pretty much all little Lucy Maud had.
This is why Little Lucy grown up wrote many stories filled with unloved, abandoned children, often neglected either emotionally or physically, who do the best they can while being peripherally raised by neighbors.

One thing the grandparents did have, however, was a home on gorgeous Prince Edward Island, which--along with neighbors and good friends--may have saved imaginative little L.M.'s life. Here is a view of her grandparent's back garden, c. the 1890's. A child--even a lonely, unloved child-- must have been in heaven there. 
Lucy was raised in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, until her father, way out west in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, sent for her after he eventually remarried, a woman named Mary Ann McCrae. When Anne was a teenager, her father sent for her. Anne managed one year in Saskatchewan, but she hated it there--flatland, dull, land, prairie, nothing like her wooded Prince Edward Island. She disliked her step-mother and believed the marriage to be deeply unhappy, but that year, she did sell her first poem.

Then, back she came to her grandparents and Cavendish. She went to high school and to college--for two years, and then for a year studying literature. She had very little money and remembers mostly being cold and achingly hungry, and making good friends.

Then, she taught, and was courted, and turned people down or broke engagements. In her journals, she writes of the challenges of being unmarried in a culture where women's only value came from being married. In this culture, when she was thirty-one, she became secretly engaged to Ewan McDonald, who went away for further ministerial training where he had a mental breakdown. And she wrote and wrote and wrote.

 At age 37, despite his breakdown, she married Ewan.
L.M with her firstborn, Chester

The couple had three sons, with the second stillborn. Even today, in Western culture, we don't talk much or allow much time for the grief of a stillbirth. A stillbirth is a catastrophe, but people say, and said even more so in those times--get on, have another, you'll forget. I don't imagine they ever did forget.
The McDonald Family with a friend, c. 1918. 

And there were other problems. Lucy Maud struggled with loneliness and grief. she suffered from depression and had difficulty sleeping. She was not cut out to be a minister's wife, and she hated the part of Canada where they then lived.

Ewan McDonald seems to have been a kind man, but, get this--he never read his wife's books. And he was distant as a father. He went through long periods of deep depression, where he believed he was cast out from God and eternally damned. The specialists from Boston and Toronto called it Melancholia. Lucy Maud, herself, suffered from sharp mood swings and headaches, and what she called "neurasthenia."

Both Lucy and her husband were proscribed barbiturates and bromides for their illness. In those days, nobody knew how dangerous this. (Virginia Woolf was on a barbiturate at the time of her suicide, and Evelyn Wauch wrote a novel (the Ordeal of Gordon Pinfold) about his bromide psychosis. Bromide compounds were used until 1975 in over-the-counter headache medicine and sedatives, like Bromo-Seltzer. They were outlawed, though, because of their chronic toxicity. (One text speaks of side effects: "Besides the inconveniences mentioned in my lecture on hysteria, and which are the acne eruption, the disagreeable odor of the breath, the peculiar manifestations of a grave kind. . . A remarkable depression of the vital forces. The patience could not stand, could not make the least movement without difficulty. Intelligence was impaired, and there was aphasia and amnesia." Toxic indeed. 
Chester McDonald, graduation portrait

Meanwhile, Lucy and Ewan's oldest son, Chester, was going through struggles of his own. Or I suppose you could call them struggles, because he appears to have been a sociopath. a liar and a thief, and also--I'm not kidding--a public masturbator, with "many a house-maid quitting in disgust."

Chester got a girl pregnant and had to marry her. He physically  abused her. She left him and went home, though they reconciled long enough to have another child. (Lucy blamed her daughter-in-law for that.) Mary Henry Rubio, a biographer of L.M. refers to Lucy's youngest son, Dr. Stuart McDonald, as Lucy's "one good son." It's amazing, frankly, that either son survived, given the deep depressions to which their parents were subject.

By the time the family moved to the edge of Toronto, Ewan was either hearing voices, or walking around like a zombie. He went from doctor to doctor, stocking up on barbiturates and washing them down with his wife's homemade wine. In her journal, Montgomery wonders, "how I ever came to marry this stooped, shambling, blear-eyed man wandering around with a hot water bottle tied to his forehead. It seems quite impossible that he could ever have been the straight, merry-eyed, dimple-cheeked man he was thirty-years ago."

She was also working hard to hide all these problems from the world and writing, writing, writing, to pay off the mortgage and keep her sons in college. (Chester was skipping classes and pressuring her for money, and embezzling at his job, but she never learned about the last, as he only went to prison after her death.) She was also deeply depressed about the clouds gathering over Europe. Soon, she, too, took barbiturates in an effort to calm herself. 

Lucy died on April 24, 1942. A note was found beside her bed, reading, in part, "I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best." The family always believed that she killed herself, though it might have been death by accidental overdose. Their fears and her depressions and those of her husband were kept secret by the family until 2011, when a granddaughter spoke of them openly. 

Here is one entry from her journal:

Saturday, Oct. 30, 1937
“Journey’s End”
I have spent a very miserable day. Tortured by a dreadful restlessness. I took a sedative Lane advised but it did not help. I went to Loblaw’s in the afternoon to do my weekly shopping. Chester as usual drove me but never spoke and looked very furious. I think he hates me.
In the later afternoon I walked to Bloor because I could not remain in the house. It was a lovely day – warm and sunny; the drive was dotted with the ethereal purple of Michaelmas daisies in the gardens. But there was no healing for me. Why, oh why? I have many faults and have made many mistakes but I have tried to do right – to be a good wife and mother. Why must I endure this endless hopeless misery?
Tonight everyone is out. My loneliness is terrible. My head feels as if an iron band were round it and my arms ache and burn. I can’t even read. If only Lucky were here, my dear comforting old companion! The cats we have mean nothing to me.
I am so tortured I don’t know where to turn or what to do. I have a return of claustrophobia tonight but cannot go out because the wind is too cold. I am really in a dreadful state and am making a little relief in “writing it out”. I can’t believe Lane was right when he said that bleeding did not mean anything serious. I feel I am doomed to die a terrible death of torture – I would welcome an easy death but not such a one as that. I cannot believe anything good will ever again come to me or anyone I love. Everything presents itself to me in the darkest hours. This is the state to which the child I have loved has brought me. I wish I could stop loving him. He could not torture me then. But this is my curse. I cannot.
And yet, from all this, she created. Sought refuge in her writing. Came to value it for itself. Didn't care that the world no longer valued happy endings in adult literature. Through everything, until the very end, she wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Her last novel, "The Blythes Are Quoted,"  was packaged and waiting to be sent to her publisher at her death.

Her publishers refused to print it, most likely because of the book's dark tone and powerful anti-war message--the book speaks painfully about WWI. We should all read it, and her works, with a new eye. How painful her early years must have been. What courage she had. Have hard she fought against expectations for women. How hard she worked, all her life, and how her creativity benefited so many people.  How fortunate we are to live in a time when women are expected to do more than just marry and raise children--as L.M.'s Anne Shirley (1908) does, but Emily of New Moon, the final volume published in 1927, does not.

Hurrah for Lucy Maud and may she rest, free of pain. She made so much despite so much. I honor her.