31 March 2013


Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life. - S.D. Gordon

28 March 2013

Poutine Part Deux

So my favorite knitting Canadian is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee... a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot.  I don't often get to read her blog so when I do find the time I tend to read a whole bunch at once.  Not having read anything of hers from March, I sat down today and started reading backwards.  She had this to say in her blog last Friday.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's logo

March 22, 2013

When the Going gets Tough

I was going to post yesterday, I really was.  I was all over it, it and about eight million other things, and then right when the going got tough...

This gal got going out for poutine in the afternoon.  It was Jen's idea, and it's hard for me to refuse her anything, especially poutine on a snowy afternoon. I fight a daily battle not to go for poutine in the afternoon,  (In the interest of full disclosure, poutine was just our starter.  We had nachos for our main. We regret nothing.) By the time we were done lunch, knitting, and looking at the snow while going over some stuff.. that was it. The day was gone - and today I keep trying to feel bad about it, but I just can't. This time of year takes its toll, and I think you've got to cling to all the joie de vivre you can create.  

How cool is that?  Poutine on my mind last Friday. Poutine in her blog last Friday. Two knitter's minds with but a single thought. *
* NOTE: When I refer to myself as a fellow knitter with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, that's like saying my grandmother and Mario Andretti both liked to drive.

Carry on.

Spring? Really?

"Winter Landscape" Daniel Van Heil
Today's leaden sky is like a Dutch landscape, with bare charcoal tree branches limned against blue grey clouds.  A cold wind has swept down from the Maritimes, bringing with it the threat of rain. The ground gives a little under my step, but beneath the spongy top layer there is only the unyielding hardness of not-yet-wakeful earth.

We are three days shy of April, but were the calendar not proof of this, I would be inclined to think it was really mid-January.

27 March 2013

Spring musings

As I walked along this morning I winced at all the wounded, disfigured plantings... sad reminders of a maddening succession of icy snowfalls. None of these storms amounted to much in inches, but each was wet enough to cow even the strongest trees.

Some shrubs were split at their base and still lie prone on the ground, barely attached to their mother root, while larger trees were missing limbs that were torn away under the sheer weight of heavy sleet, leaving the shredded under-softness vulnerable. Many smaller plantings—roses, budleia, broom—were twisted in various distorted configurations, like charade-playing mimes trying to make each passerby guess the cause of their invisible burden.

My own roses are pressed to the ground in some places, despite my valiant efforts to stay one step ahead of the rain-soaked snowdrifts that blanketed them every few days.  I shall have to spend a good hour or so this weekend, reaching in with gauntlet covered arms and pulling their thorny limbs back into shape.  

Surely if gardening teaches anything, it is the lesson of resilience. And a willingness to be surprised.

The trenchant sound of a single bird in early spring can be startling for being so infrequent. In a few months time the air will be filled with myriad calls and whistles as robins, jays, grackles, mourning doves and house sparrows chatter and coo to one another.  But at this time of year there is a solitary quality to birdsong, like a lone herald marching ahead of the legions that will follow.

I heard a woodpecker yesterday, his rhythmic tapping bouncing sonar-like amongst the tree branches overhead. It took me awhile to spot him, but I did finally see his red cap bobbing against the trunk of a sprawling maple.

And then today I heard two gulls, squawking to one another impatiently. In summer, their supple elongated crying carries on the warm breeze as they swirl above my head in broad unhurried circles. But their calls in early Spring are truncated and brittle, like shards of ice, and their flight is more purposeful, getting them from one building top to another where they shudder side by side, scanning the ground for edible litter.

The witch hazel is in bloom, the crocus are up, and the small seed-pearl buds on the Andromeda are about to open.  And so despite the cold, the ravaged plantlife, and the solitary birdlings, all seems right with the world in a hopeful and "fingers cross't" sort of way.

Carry on.

26 March 2013

Ready for my closeup, Federico

The Bayswater Omnibus (Geo. Wm. Joy)
My route and mode of travel in the morning tend to vary with the weather. 

A truly lovely day has me walking the two miles, smiling to myself and checking every garden, tree bud, house color and brick path along the way. A so-so day finds me taking the bus half-way and then walking the rest of the journey. Terrible weather condemns me to a bus for the entire trip

When it comes to taking the bus, I have three options.

The best choice is the small bus that stops very near my cottage and drops me within a four block stroll of my destination. (We'll call this the Lazy Bus.) Or I can take the bus that leaves from the top of the hill (a two block asthma-inducing trek in winter), which has been terribly inconsistent lately making it an unreliable choice. (Let's call it the Hilltop Bus.)  And then there is the bus at the bottom of the hill. (I'm calling this one the Last Chance Bus.)  The downside of this particular bus is that I need to change to a trolley once I arrive downtown. The upside is being able to disembark mid-journey, if I choose, and walk a mile down one of the prettiest streets in the entire city.

Each bus has a distinct clientele.

The Lazy Bus is a wonderful melting pot of ethnicity, transporting the same 7 or 8 people each morning: students, day workers, and parents with children. I enjoy riding this bus and even though I tend to be somewhat antisocial in public (i.e., I'm an apprentice recluse by nature) I feel very at home with the people who regularly ride.  (The driver routinely makes young men let the women board first... be still my heart.) The Hilltop bus is made up of men and women who teach in universities or work in Very Important Offices (VIOs) in Very Tall Buildings (VTBs) in the city.  And then there are the inmates on the Last Chance bus.

The general population on the Last Chance bus is like a cast of extras from a Fellini movie. We have had fights break out, people nearly falling out of their seats in alcohol- or drug-induced stupors, riders talking loudly to themselves (and answering themselves in the bargain), and conversations that seem to focus on parole hearings, off-track betting, or the latest fights they've been in.  (And which hospital has the best emergency room.) Cell phone conversations are always at the highest decibel possible, there is frequently a lone wolf in the rear of the bus with a radio on (earbuds? forget it), and there always seems to be at least one person who must be leaving the country judging by the number of bags, cases, and knapsacks he or she is carrying.

People always talk to you, whether you want them to or not. Yesterday morning I was seated next to a cheerful man who collects scrap metal (he transports it in two large sacks) and he regaled me with his colorful history, including the number of times he’s found money in the street. (Last month it was a twenty, this morning, alas, only a single.) Last week a woman asked to see the bookmark in a book I was holding and then spent the rest of the ride extolling the joy of reading and showing me her book... which prompted the woman across the aisle to call out where she might find more books by the same author.  (Riders on the Last Chance Bus join in conversations that have nothing to do with them without compunction, and the on- and offstage dialogues can border on the operatic.)

One snowy morning a woman schooled the entire bus on the artisanal quality of snowflakes. How each one is unique, and imagine if it were snowing across the entire world, how many different snowflakes there would be, and surely only God can make something this remarkable happen in the world.  (Amen, sister, I thought to myself, Amen.)

The drivers on the Last Chance Bus are an incredibly taciturn bunch, no doubt just trying to keep body and soul together as we rumble along. Although when passengers get too rowdy, they are quick to respond.  There was a drunken couple—who must have started imbibing around midnight to be that loaded by 7 in the morning—who kept swearing at one another for much of the ride. Using his microphone, the driver yelled back at them to stop and his repeated exhortations and their slurred replies were like a strange antiphonal Psalm-from-Hell as we rode along.  And then there was the woman who kept sighing dramatically and muttering impatient barbs because of the time it took to load an elderly man onto the bus in his wheelchair. (I was tempted to break my non-violence rule long enough to give the woman a good slap but thought better of it. This was, after all, the Last Chance Bus.) In this instance, the driver’s response was a simple and wise one: to see that the gentleman was safe and secure and to ignore the woman who was waxing peevish.

But for every bad egg there is a person who reaches out and offers to hold a baby for the young mother who gets on with a stroller, a diaper bag, three children and worn look on her face. And despite all the drama unfolding every morning, the Last Chance Bus holds the distinction of being the only bus on which boys, men, and young girls have offered me their seat when it's crowded.

Once in awhile, a passenger who missed the Hilltop Bus will walk down the hill and catch a ride on the Last Chance.  When these hapless folks board, their expressions are priceless as they hold their bags to their chests in a death grip, trying not to stare slack-jawed at the mayhem that surrounds them.  (I try to relax my antisocial guise long enough to give them a smile of reassurance but it does little to allay their unease and they can't de-bus fast enough at the end of the line.)

The Lazy Bus is comforting, like riding with my family.  The Hilltop Bus is also comforting, in its own fussy way, because at least I can assume no one will draw a knife on us.  But for my money, give me the Last Chance Bus every time. It's a glimpse into what it means to be pummeled by life's inequities and face life head on despite lost chances. Its riders are no different than I am, after all, only a bit worse for wear. They remind me to be grateful, to eschew passing judgment on people I don't really know, and to see the human face behind whatever Felliniesque façade might greet me. I envy them their unapologetic sincerity and brio, and I would rather ride with and talk to them than anyone else in this city. 

22 March 2013

Favorite Thing No. 11p (for Poutine)

One of my favorite foods is Poutine.
It's a traditional Canadian dish
and the moment I tried it I was hooked.

French fries.  Cheese curds.  Brown gravy.  Enough said.

I went to my local diner and told them about it,
and the cook made a point of getting all the ingredients
(including cheese curds!)
so now I can have it whenever I like.  

Best. Snack. Ever.

Grab your fries and gravy and head over to Claudia's...

Whitewashing My Fences

Each year at this time, as winter struggles to keep its strangle hold on my soul and the Spring sun is forced to filter herself through yet another snow squall, I sit with my design books, longing to reimagine my entire exterior life. Whether it is the need for lightness, or the weariness that comes from simply enduring so many months of cold, I find myself wishing I could take my house in two hands and snap it in the fresh air like a newly laundered sheet.

The books that offer the most comfort during this annual rite of passage are the ones that champion the use of white.
Making a White Garden by Joan Clifton....  
At Home With White by the editors of Victoria....  
Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell....

I hungrily thumb through the pages, peering down at the images and devouring the chipped, ivory, painterly environment. And with each page turn I want to grab a pail of whitewash and cover the walls, woodwoork, furniture and baubles, banishing the oppressive darkness under a fresh coat of ivory newness.

And yet, and yet....

I love the warmth of gleaming walnut and mahogany. I delight in the jewel tones of china carpets. I take pleasure in sinking deeply into claret corduroy sofas or resting against dense floral cushions. I am soothed by the hunter greens, deep mustards and rich aubergines of paisley shawls and throws. And I enjoy having the brash summer light filtered through the half-closed slats of dark wooden shutters.


Spring has arrived (officially, at least) and the hunger for white has overtaken me. Again. And so I slowly retire my tartan walking skirts and heavy dark-hued sweaters to the "winter closet", wondering if it is finally time to add more light and gleam to the house.

I shall begin with the walls and woodwork, and see where that takes me.... 
a modern-day Tom Sawyer, with her pails of Cottage White at the ready.

21 March 2013


I was looking through my cookbooks the other day.  I have two bookcases filled with them, and despite my best efforts to winnow the collection, it seems there is something to love—and something to cook—in each one.

Some books border on 'vintage':   
The Working Girl Must Eat (Hazel Young - 1938)
The Boston Cooking School (Fannie Merritt Farmer - 1941)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Child, Bertholle, Beck - 1961)

A few are old standbys, which I turn to again and again:
The Joy of Cooking (Irma S. Rombauer)
The New York Times Cookbook  (Craig Claiborne)
The French Chef (Julia Child)

Many have only a few favorite recipes inside but I still can't part with them, such as my go-to Greek Lemon Soup (The Silver Palate Cookbook) or Steamed Christmas Pudding (Harrod's Book of Traditional English Cookery).

Quite a few are specialty cookbooks, concentrating on Bread-baking, Creole or Cajun foods, or my tattered French cookbook with the very best mousse au chocolat recipe. 

And then there are the countless British cookbooks that I turn to for Tea Scones, Welsh Rarebit, Scotch Eggs, Lemon Curd...  or advice from Mrs. Beeton. (e.g., how to hire an upstairs girl or get the right amount of starch into the butler's shirt collar)

Some of my cookbooks are so stained, you could probably boil them in a pot of water and produce a stock of some nature. Others are so worn, the bindings have long since fallen away and the stitched pages come apart in large clumps when I open them.

In amongst the cookbooks are vintage cookery pamphlets put out by gas companies, baking powder factories, insurance agents, or companies that made items like JELL-O, Campbells Soup, or Amana Refrigerators.

There are also cookbooks that speak to my literary bent (The Jane Austen Cookbook or The Booklovers Cookbook) and countless books that feature nothing but recipes for Afternoon or High Tea, most of them purchased in Scotland or England during my many journeys there.

And lest I forget, there are two old library catalogue drawers full of index cards with family recipes scribbled on them in my hand or the hand of my mother, aunts, and friends.  Apple Nobby Cake; Coconut Custard Pie; Granola; Rice Pudding; Strawberry Devonshire Tart; Rosewater Cookies; Lemon Pudding Cake; Hot Cross Buns. And the list goes on.

And now, of course, I'm hungry.

Carry on.

Backward Spring

The trees are afraid to put forth buds,
And there is timidity in the grass;
The plots lie gray where gouged by spuds,
And whether next week will pass
Free of sly sour winds is the fret of each bush

Of barberry waiting to bloom.
Yet the snowdrop's face betrays no gloom,
And the primrose pants in its heedless push,
Though the myrtle asks if it's worth the fight
This year with frost and rime
To venture one more time
On delicate leaves and buttons of white
From the selfsame bough as at last year's prime,
And never to ruminate on or remember

What happened to it in mid-December.
 Thos. Hardy (April 1917)
Waiting and longing for this to happen...

20 March 2013

Acquisition No. 2b

The latest addition to my home.... 
currently in the kitchen, but destined for the garden.*

* if it ever stops snowing

15 March 2013

Capturing the past

I love poring through old family photographs. Seeing parents when they were people and not just mommy and daddy.  Looking back at various family homesteads and noticing how they might have changed since then.  Devouring photographs of homes, amusement parks and schools that are no longer standing and wishing I'd been able to see them in person.  Studying how people dressed, or how their hair was arranged.  Noticing the things they were doing in the photographs.   

Feeding chickens.  
Playing with the family dog.  
Sitting happily on the seat of a giant triycycle. 
Leaning proudly against the family car.  (Posing with new cars was a big one in my family.)  
Gripping a tennis racket with both hands and holding threateningly over a sibling's head... all in good fun, of course.
Standing by an enormous tree uprooted by a hurricane

For some reason in many of the photographs of my maternal grandmother she's always sitting on a wall. Not the same wall, but various walls. And in the wedding photograph of my paternal grandmother she is holding a bouquet of roses that would take several small boys to carry down a church aisle.  In my parents' wedding photograph they are grinning madly at the camera on the day they eloped.  Their honeymoon photographs are equally charming, especially the one of my mother astride an enormous elephant at the Ringling Brothers Circus, her mouth open in what I imagine was a girlish scream. How my father talked her into doing such a thing is clearly a testament to her love.  (That, and agreeing to elope in the first place.)

There is a wonderful glass negative of my great uncle, who was a self-proclaimed Balladist in his youth, an image that would have been used to advertise his talents in pamphlets or newspapers.  In later years he rose to the position of head waiter at the famous Bel Air Hotel in Beverly Hills.  (And not just the head waiter but a singing waiter.) Oh, the tales he could tell of celebrities and their antics.

I treasure the photograph of my bachelor father, wearing his Coast Guard uniform and standing on the streets of Boston surrounded by at least 30 young women on the day the war ended. The newspaper caption under his picture said "Sailor, beware!" but I'm sure he wasn't worried in the least.  After all, he'd just come through Operation Torch off the coast of North Africa. (Here's looking at you, kid.)

At about that same time, my single mother was visiting Nantucket with a high school friend. She smiles out from one of their photographs, balanced precariously on the back of a tandem bicycle. Throughout that day's escapades her friend steered and kept them upright, my mother never having learned to ride. (A secret she was unsuccessful at keeping.

But perhaps one of my favorite photographs is of my maternal great-grandmother. She is wearing an ankle-length striped skirt, a wide sash, and a blouse with leg-o'-mutton sleeves.  One hand is pressed modestly at her midriff and her hair is piled in a soft upsweep on her head, which is tilted slightly as she looks into the camera. There is writing on the back that simply says: "Liked to hug people."

14 March 2013

A hopeful sound

 I heard them before I saw them.
Flying northward from their southerly winter roosts.
Barely enough to make a decent V-formation.
Honking happily against the grey sky.  

12 March 2013

My new favorite sign

I saw this posted in one of my favorite sea-side gift shops recently:

11 March 2013

Books, Food and Gardens

Whenever I read novels, I always pay special attention to two things: the gardens and landscapes that are featured in the narrative (such as the rose-laden hedgerows of Howards End) and the meals the characters have laid before them (like the enticing teas from Dickens or Austen).

Knowing well my love for gardening, reading and cooking, my mother gave me two books that incorporate all three.

The Book Lover's Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature, and the Passages That Feature Them
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen [Ballantine Books 2005]

Chapter headings ... 
Main and Side Dishes 
Soups - Salads 
Appetizers, Breads
and Other Finger Foods 

With recipes from the likes of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Charlotte's Web, Little Women, The Great Gatsby and Gone with the Wind.

"For anyone who has wanted to taste the food that plays a role in their favorite books, this charming volume provides the recipes. Sprinkled throughout with marvelous anecdotes about writers and writing, the book is a culinary and literary delight, a browser's cornucopia of reading pleasure, and a true inspiration in the kitchen."

The Literary Garden: Recreating Literatures Most Beautiful Gardens
Duncan Brine [Berkeley Trade 2002]

Some authors featured ...

"When a writer imagines a garden, he asks his reader to make a leap with him. He invites the reader to see the rose or smell the scent of magnolia.  The reader is more than willing to go along. What if we tried to turn a garden of words into an actual living garden?"


How lovely to plant seeds for flowers or herbs featured in a favorite novel.... lovage, petunias, or lavender blue hyacinth. Or to treat myself to Gone with the Wind  Buckwheat pancakes for breakfast;  or Buttermilk Scones at teatime from James Herriot's All Thing Bright and Beautiful; or a lunch or supper of Chicken and Dumplings from Fried Green Tomatoes.

So often the foods and landscapes are integral to setting the mood of certain works of literature; and these two lovely books are a way to recreate for myself the sensations that come over me when these evocative passages are enjoyed.

06 March 2013

I Brake For Yard Sales

Last Saturday and Sunday were perfect days for catching up on reading. It drizzled incessantly for hours and hours, occasionally turning into large floppy snowflakes before turning back into rain.  Couple the dreary weather with the fact that every year at this time I'm gripped by the urge to change, reorganize, and/or rearrange my cottage, it seemed the perfect time to read "I BRAKE FOR YARD SALES" by Lara Spencer.

For those who watched the Red Carpet arrivals on ABC on Oscar night, Lara was the lovely blonde in the silver gown who got to schmooze with all the stars as they ambled past.  CNN junkie that I am, before reading her book I didn't realize she was the lifestyle contributor on ABC's morning show, nor did I recall that she used to be on Antiques Roadshow with the Keno Brothers or had produced shows on HGTV. But now that I've read Ms. Spencer's book I am a HUGE fan. In addition to her gig on ABC, she frequently helps friends with their design challenges in their homes.

Ms. Spencer begins her book by reminding us that even the most expensive highboy in a blueblood Nantucket cottage is "used" furniture. Admittedly, used furniture with a pedigree, but used nonetheless.  With this as a jumping off point, she tells us about spending her childhood accompanying her mother each weekend for what they called Sale-ing, i.e., foraging for loot at local yard sales. After watching her mother repaint, reupholster, and repurpose hundreds of items over the years, and in doing so turning their home into a true showcase, Lara was inspired to become a devoted "sale-er" in her own right as an adult, haunting the Rose Bowl flea market, auctions, or even dumpster diving now and then to find 'used' items she could repurpose for her own use or the use of her client friends.

The chapters are divided into sections, roughly having to do with the various places you can find used treasures: Yard Sales, Thrift Shops, Estate Sales, Auctions, Antique Marts, Flea Markets, etc. The emphasis is on being thrifty and seeing the potential in items we might normally walk past in a dusty shop. (A girl after my own heart!)

There are excellent tips on every page, not only having to do with when to paint something yourself and when to hire a profesional, but also the proper etiquette for the different venues. (e.g., where you should NOT ask them to lower the price, and where it's okay to do so)  There are hundreds of photographs, including wonderful befores and afters of the pieces as well as thoes that show how the makeovers were incorporated into the rooms of her own home and the homes of several friends.  (She puts small price tags over items in her photos to show how little the rooms cost to put together.)

Thanks to her job, Spencer is a bi-coastal dweller, with homes in Connecticut and Los Angeles. The two abodes could not look more different, and in each she's incorporated hundreds of items she's found in her "sale-ing" travels.  At the end of the book she provides a filofax of her own favorite haunts on both coasts.

As a person who can look around any room in her cottage and point to multiple flea market, yard sale, thrift shop, dumpster, and trash day finds, I truly appreciate someone who can see the swan in the ugly duckling and who knows that being frugal doesn't mean you can't be stylish.

I Brake for Yard Sales [Abrams Books Spring 2012] is a fun read for anyone who enjoys recycling cast off treasures and wants to be inspired.

05 March 2013

Reading aloud

"The day has been entirely mine..."
Throughout my childhood I was profoundly lucky to be surrounded by people of strong character and unfailing kindness who showered me with unconditional love and healthy doses of silliness.  (Any man who brings his wife to a circus on their honeymoon and insists she ride an elephant, or who routinely won arguments by lifting her up and putting her in the kitchen sink, is destined to be a good father.)

Amidst these blessings was having the sublime good fortune of having been read to as a child. Were this the only right and good thing my parents did—rather than one of many right and good things—I would still have considered myself immeasurably fortunate. Reading aloud to a child helps her develop a vivid imagination, a passionate love for the written word, a deep commitment to preserving paper and leather bound books, and, with luck and encouragement, a devotion to writing.

"Picture books in winter..."
As my ears embraced the cadence of A Child's Garden of Verses, my tiny imagination turned the words into verdent landscapes I could tread on my own when alone, visiting them at will as one retreats to a favorite hiding place. While sailing into the sky on Stevenson's swing (up in the air so blue!), I easily imagined the house, the gardens, the wall, and surrounding countryside. While being jostled on his train as it sped along (faster than fairies, faster than witches), I would conjure each rock, rill and field we passed as well as their peculiar occupants.

My mother would supplement Stevenson's rhymes with an anthology of poetry I can still recite from memory. (Zoon, Zoon, cuddle and croon, over the crinkling sea, the moon man flings him a silvered net fashioned of moonbeams three...)  She would also read from 101 Bedtime Stories—barely a page long but enough to send me off to the land of Nod with something to dream about.

Soon I was reading to myself from The Happy Hollisters, The Bobsey Twins and Nancy Drew.  But these were set aside the moment I received my first "grownup" books:  hardbound copies of Little Women, Old-Fashioned Girl, Kidnapped, and Treasure Island.  (The juxtaposition of girl and boy books was my parents' joint acknowledgment of my penchant for climbing trees ... with a doll in my hand.)

"With thoughtful eyes...
As a teenager I enjoyed reciting poetry to myself in the confines of my room, often bringing myself to tears over verses from Mallory's Morte d'Arthur, made the more poignant for having been read by candlelight. Little Women had been replaced by Wuthering Heights and Anna Karenina, and there was a wonderful pleasure, and little embarrassment, in reading the words softly under my breath, capturing the accents of characters who wrung my heart.

Years later, I learned that my Aunt and Uncle would read aloud from the newspaper each morning, and on winter nights they would read to one another by the fire—usually something by Dickens.  On hearing this I was utterly enchanted!  How marvelous to be indulged this way in adulthood, carried away once more by the human voice onto a fictional landscape as we had when we were young. And why shouldn't we be? Why must the pleasure of "being read to" be deemed solely for children?

The written word is precious in its own right, but in the mouths of those we love it becomes balm, paintbrush, and canvas, bringing an entire world to life by wrapping our minds in a sweet fusion of sound and imagination. Reading aloud together engenders an intimacy—and vulnerability—that is unique in our varied communications. Whether it be a poem, an article from the newspaper, or a chapter in the Dickens novel we've been sharing, we are blessed with a treasure trove of discovery, generosity and closeness when we read it to one another.

04 March 2013

Pluck and petticoats

This wonderful book arrived on my doorstep this weekend,
through the generosity of a dear friend.

Nellie Bly
Nellie Bly on her travels
 As a journalist for The New York World, Nellie Bly set out to recreate the "round the world" journey that Phileas Fogg undertook in Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 DaysBorn Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Pennsylvania, Bly made the trip in 72 days in 1890, beating Fogg's record by eight days. "She brought with her the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, several changes of underwear and a small travel bag carrying her toiletry essentials. She carried most of her money in a bag tied round her neck." 

Elizabeth Bisland
Elizabeth Bisland on her travels
 Not to be outdone, the New York Cosmopolitan decided to send its own reporter, Louisiana native Elizabeth Bisland. (Bisland reportedly left within 6 hours of being asked!?)  Pitting Bisland against Bly apparently kept people reading their newspapers for months, wagering which of the two women might win and whether either could beat the fictitious Fogg's time. Although Bly won the race, Bisland put forth a respectable effort, besting Mr. Fogg by three and one half days.

Mr. Phileas Fogg

01 March 2013

Good night, sweet prince

Moscow Conservatory 1958 (1st International Tchaikowsky Competition) - Age 23

Moscow 2004 (Concert for victims of Beslan School massacre) - Age 69

Van Cliburn 1934-2013
"When he shall die,
take him and cut him out in little stars,
and he will make the face of heaven so fine
that all the world will be in love with night..."
—Wm. Shakespeare