Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Small hurrah on Shrove Tuesday

Yesterday I finished the draft of a novel. For me, it is quite long--358 pages of text, plus the usual front matter and divisions. And it has a glossary. I'm not sure whether I'll include the glossary. It glosses dialect words and clears up some common misconceptions. Maybe I'll just post it.... I'll take a break from the manuscript, and then start to revise it and also do some  persnickety research to make sure there are no stray historical errors.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Rollipoke News, no. 1

Courtesy of Jenny W. of Honolulu, sxc.hu

For those of you who are waiting with the bated kind of breath: the first issue of The Rollipoke (a.k.a. The Rollipoke NewsThe Rollicking Rollipoke, etc.) will be launched into the interspace tomorrow. And I hope you enjoy the peculiar little newsletter that promises to give you the news about my books and doings before anybody else has it--news that either has not been posted online yet or, in some cases, will never be posted there.

Thank you, rollipokers!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nuggets

Don't be a nozzle!
Tiny Equus africanus asinus
Creative Commons Wikipedia
Note: It seems to me that Roderick Robinson's comments are more interesting than the post. So maybe you should read them!

I've been researching such interesting topics as  total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and so on, hanging with Calvin and the reformed tradition, hanging with Puritans and Separatists. All for the sake of my current novel.

Though in the past I've done lots of reading in seventeenth-century writings, this time I need to understand the theological underpinnings a bit better so I can understand worldview of characters. I'm finding my head a bit hard when it comes to Calvin, Bucer, Bullinger, etc. vs. modern-day "Calvinism."

And I've also found lots of curious nuggets along the way. Some of my favorites are words.

How about nazzle?
A "ludicrous diminutive of ass."

Or niffle-naffle?
To trifle and play with one's work.

I like the old word for marzipan. March-pane or marchpane. A still-popular confection of sugar or honey and almond meal. “To make Marchpane to Ice and Gild, and garnish it according to Art. Take Almonds, and blanch them out of seething water, and beat them till they come to a fine paste in a stone Mortar, then take fine searsed sugar, and so beat it altogether till it come to a prefect paste, putting in now and then a spoonful of Rose-water, to keep it from oyling; then cover your Marchpane with a sheet of paper as big as a Charger, then cut it round by that Charger, and set an edge about it as about a Tart, then bottom it with Wafers, then bake it in an Oven, or in a Baking-pan, and when it is hard and dry, take it out of the Oven, and ice it with Rose-water and Sugar, and the white of an Egg, being as thick as butter, and spread it over thin with two or three feathers; and then put it into the Oven again, and when you see it rise high and white, take it out again and garnish it with some pretty conceit, and stick some long Comfits upright in it, so gild it, then strow Biskets and Carrawayes on it. If your Marchpane be Oyly in beating, then put to it as much Rose-water as will make it almost as thin as to ice.”  (A Queens Delight also has a recipe to make marchpane “look like Collops of Bacon.”) From A QUEENS Delight; OR, The Art of Preserving, Conserving and Candying. As also A right Knowledge of making Perfumes, and Distilling the most Excellent Waters. Never before Published. London, Printed by E. Tyler, and R. Holt, for Nath. Brooke, at the Angel in Corn-Hill, near the Royal Exchange. 1671.

Or how about lollop? To lounge about, to saunter (but heavily!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Elecampane and pippin-pap

Public domain, Wikipedia.
Doman Hering: Judgement of Paris, c. 1529,
Solnhofen limestone, 22 x 19.7 cm;
Paris (the knight) is a portrait of Otto Henry, Elector Palatine,
Hera a portrait of his wife Susanna. Bode-Museum Berlin.

Well, it's not the admirable and most famous Snail Water, but it might come in handy on these cold winter nights...
An approved Conserve for a Cough or Consumption of the Lungs.

Take a pound of Elecampane Roots, draw out the pith, and boil them in
two waters till they be soft, when it is cold put to it the like
quantity of the pap of roasted Pippins, and three times their weight of
brown sugar-candy beaten to powder, stamp these in a Mortar to a
Conserve, whereof take every morning fasting as much as a Walnut for a
week or fortnight together, and afterwards but three times a week.
I wonder if that is the size of a walnut meat, an unopened walnut in its shell, or a great big green unhulled walnut. Whatever it is, the receipt comes from the marvelous A Queens Delight: The Art of Preserving, Conserving and Candying. As also, A right Knowledge of making Perfumes, and Distilling the most Excellent Waters. 
London: Printed by E. Tyler and R. Holt, for Nath.
Brooke, at the Angel in Corn-Hill, near the
Royal Exchange. 1671.
Elecampane? Inula helenium. A.k.a. elfdock and helenio. Horse-heal. It's in the same family as sunflowers, Asteraceae. Helenium refers to that most famous Helen, Helen of Troy. I've seen a number of accounts of her relation to elecampane. Her tears turned to Elecampane, according to one version. Not surprising, I suppose, as desirable young men and women themselves seem to have had a fatal tendency to turn into flowers or trees in the ancient world. But elecampane is enormous. She must have been surrounded by a whole jungle of the stuff; surely she could have wept, lost herself in eight-foot stems, and slipped away, saving a world of trouble. I have also read that she simply carried elecampane with her when she was abducted from Sparta by Paris. Why? Because we women, when abducted, like to carry gigantic flowers? I find such a bouquet rather unlikely, though in the legends of the ancient world, women appear to be vulnerable to abduction when picking flowers. It is a wonder any young women were ever tempted into a field, however pleasantly diapered with flowers.

According to (possibly innumerable and sometimes witchy) herbal web sites, all copying one another, elecampane is beloved of the fey. Then I expect elecampane stalks are fairy skyscrapers. Perhaps the fey linkage is why it's claimed that Celtic peoples saw elecampane as a sacred flower? If you are a lovelorn, superstitious sort and have some spare vervain and mistletoe lying about and some time to waste, evidently you may grind them up and mix them with elecampane flowers for a love potion. And if you have a bad scrying habit, well, elecampane flowers are said to be useful by the sort of people who dabble in witchery--that is, by witches, who suggest that you throw a few on the grill to increase your mystic powers. All this business with love and bewitchment and foretelling the future takes us straight back to Paris and Helen, and to Aphrodite promising Paris that she will make sure he steals away with Helen, wife of Menelaus, if only he declares her the most beautiful. Never mind that she fails to mention the little fleabite of the Trojan War.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Rollipoke!


Sign up for The Rollipoke News. 
An occasional newsletter--
"news of upcoming books (fiction and poetry by Marly Youmans, both new and reprints), 
public events, strange happenings, lost words, etc."
And the occasional interesting freebie. 

Rollipoke: a coarse hempen cloth once considered 
"fit to be used as bags or wrappers for rolls or bales of finer goods"
(Robert Forby, The Vocabulary of East Anglia, 1830.)

Now I want you to pretend that the sign-up form is
on another page entirely because that's what savvy people do,
the ones who know what they are doing.
They hide the form, and for some strange psychological reason,
people prefer it to be hidden on a second page.
Therefore I bid you to pretend the form
is hidden beneath a rollipoke!




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p. s.
Here's a new "Women in Horror Month" post at Weird Fiction Review
"Drunk Bay" popping up again...
Nice to be in company with Leena Krohn, Kelly Link,
Edith Wharton, and more.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Stylish, heartfelt Stevenson

Stevenson's tomb on Mount Vaea, Western Samoa
Clip from a gorgeous letter by Robert Louis Stevenson: Lastly we come to those vocations which are at once decisive and precise; to the men who are born with the love of pigments, the passion of drawing, the gift of music, or the impulse to create with words, just as other and perhaps the same men are born with the love of hunting, or the sea, or horses, or the turning-lathe. These are predestined; if a man love the labour of any trade, apart from any question of success or fame, the gods have called him. He may have the general vocation too: he may have a taste for all the arts, and I think he often has; but the mark of his calling is this laborious partiality for one, this inextinguishable zest in its technical successes, and (perhaps above all) a certain candour of mind to take his very trifling enterprise with a gravity that would befit the cares of empire, and to think the smallest improvement worth accomplishing at any expense of time and industry. The book, the statue, the sonata, must be gone upon with the unreasoning good faith and the unflagging spirit of children at their play. IS IT WORTH DOING?—when it shall have occurred to any artist to ask himself that question, it is implicitly answered in the negative. It does not occur to the child as he plays at being a pirate on the dining-room sofa, nor to the hunter as he pursues his quarry; and the candour of the one and the ardour of the other should be united in the bosom of the artist. Read the rest HERE.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Light and language

Candlemas
Candlemas Eve: no doubt this year we are all looking for more candles in the dark. For me, more light goes with clearer language and less jargon and less political correctness (a kind of jargon of thinking  and language together that obscures sight.)

I have been rereading colonial materials that I haven't read since graduate school, and marveling again how literate and bright the godly (as they sometimes called themselves) were. The level of literacy among Puritans was astonishing, and since the great migration of 40,000 souls to the Massachusetts Bay Colony (and more elsewhere) tended to leave out the very poor and the very rich, they possessed a greater harmony and order and agreement than one might have expected of so large a gathering in and spreading out through a wilderness. Like us, they held some convictions that have lasted but also some that were mistaken and put a kind of darkness in their eyes and brought many to grief. And this led to their own decline in power and to change. It's a lesson.

I'm still considering what I want to accomplish in words this year. I want to finish the novel that I'm working on, despite lots of travels away from family that will break up my time. And I will write "13 Way of Looking at Form," which I have promised for the Buechner workshops. I have some poetry manuscripts that will be looking for home, and I ought to finish up or tidy up some prose manuscripts that have been lying about, waiting for me. I have taken the path less traveled in recent years, weary of a literary world ruled by marketing, and in some ways that has been good for me and in some ways bad for the visibility of my books. I need to bend my mind to what I can do there. And I must eventually get to the matter of right reversions for prior books and reprints; I hold rights to a number of books and have been asked about reprinting them. But I want to do this myself, so that I can do exactly what I like with them. So far, I have not found the time, and I know that a mother of three young adults may frequently not have time. But I'm hoping to do something about the reprints before the next winter begins.

And there I am. Still wishing for more time and more light....