Silent Sunday


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Travel Theme: Feet

Don't these look like Western American cowboy boots?

Urumqi, China

This week Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack invites bloggers to post on feet, a crucial part of travel for most of us. Here’s a potpourri of shoes and feet from all over.

Field Museum, Chicago

Field Museum, Chicago

Jinan, China

Jinan, China

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kaifeng, China

Kaifeng, China

Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday Header

This week’s Sepia Saturday inspires bloggers to search through archives and find photos on travel, overcrowding, blankets or I’d say carriages. Though kids are back at school, September’s a good month for traveling. My aunt and uncle are soon off to Russia and other friends are off to Wyoming. I’ll leave for China on Thursday so travel came to mind.

Source: Tyne & Wear Museums

Source: Tyne & Wear Museums (n.d.)

How romantic the life of circus performers on the road must have been back then.

Source: National Library of Ireland, circa 1890

Source: National Library of Ireland, circa 1890

Above is a ferry, so the journey’s not long. It carries dock workers.

Source: LOC, circa 1912

Source: LOC, circa 1912

The last photo was taken at a train station, I’m not sure where, but somewhere in the US.

Click here to see more Sepia Saturday posts.

Poem of the Week


Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

Port of Shadows

quai_10 (Large)

Starring Jean Gabin (The Grand Illusion and many more) and Michel Simon (The Two of Us, Boudu Saved from Drowning) Port of Shadows shows people who life has roughed up trying to find love and knowing it’s as illusive as the fog.

Gabin has ditched his duties as a soldier in Indochina and is on the run. He’s sou-less, friendless, and jaded when he hops a ride from a truck driver who suggests he go to a hole in the wall bar on the harbor shore. It’s a drab place run by a bartender who hasn’t totally given up on life the way most of the characters have.

Here Gabin meets a beautiful girl, who’s trying to escape her gangster boyfriend. Both Gabin and her somewhat creepy guardian Simon try to protect her from the mobsters who’re looking for Maurice, her old love. Port of Shadows is about broken, bruised people who hope things will get somewhat better, but strongly doubt it.

The plot has a few twists and the characters emit a film noir, quasi-Bogart vibe with an understated French flair, but the film is mainly about mood, a melancholy mood.


A week ago Friday we learned that there was a hold up with getting our tickets back to China. The Chinese consulate rejected our applications because some “unspecified” paperwork was missing. I figured things would work out since the Chinese government approved this program and the students need teachers.

We had a week of waiting and sometimes I thought well, maybe, the government doesn’t care that students need and paid extra for international teachers. However, Monday our employer got our visas and by today we’ve got our passports in hand and airline reservations made. We’ll arrive in China on the 4th and start teaching on the 7th.

I’m looking forward to this semester and the warmer weather I’ll find in Jinan.

Word of the Week

I first saw skiamachy years ago when I was just randomly browsing the dictionary. I was struck how this work exemplifies how English has all these incredibly specific words. I know other languages do too. Just take German’s Schadenfreude and others.

skiamachy, n.
‘ A sham fight or argument; conflict or argument with an imaginary or insubstantial opponent; shadow-boxing.’
Pronunciation: Brit. /skʌɪˈaməki/, U.S. /skaɪˈæməki/
Forms: 16 sciamachie, 16 19– sciamachy Brit. /sʌɪˈaməki/, U.S. /saɪˈæməki/, 16–18 sciomachy, 17–18 skiomachy, 18– skiamachy.
Etymology: < (i) post-classical Latin sciamachia (1502 or earlier; also sciomachia (1514 or earlier); earlier as a Greek word in the classical Latin author Cicero),

and its etymon (ii) Hellenistic Greek σκιαμαχία (also σκιομαχία) action of fighting against a shadow, mock fight < ancient Greek σκιά shadow (see scio- comb. form) + -μαχία -machy comb. form.
A sham fight or argument; conflict or argument with an imaginary or insubstantial opponent; shadow-boxing.
1623 H. Cockeram Eng. Dict., Sciamachie, counterfeit fighting.

1637 G. Ironside Seven Questions Sabbath To Rdr. sig. Biijv, Least thou shouldst perhaps think I affected a Sciomachy or Umbratilous skirmish.

1657 W. Morice Coena quasi Κοινὴ xv. 187 Their arguing against it is but a Sciamachy.

1747 H. Fielding Answer Scurrilous Libel 18 But enough of this Skiomachy.

1833 Philol. Museum 2 170 A great part of Cotta’s argumentation becomes a mere sciomachy.

1862 Christian Remembrancer Apr. 446 As we have no taste for skiomachy, we leave the fuller exposure of this portentous mare’s nest to other hands.

1917 R. Rooper in V. Gollancz Making of Women iii. 91 Weary of such profitless skiamachy, suffragists have..fallen upon the physical force argument.

1952 Crisis Aug. 424/1 Most observers of the South Carolina and Virginia cases regarded them as sciamachies preparatory to the inevitable argument before the Supreme Court.

2005 J. Henderson in K. Freudenburg Cambr. Compan. Rom. Satire 313 inside their skin, in their skull, in their losing skiamachy between their selves.

Poldark, Book Review


After enjoying the Masterpiece 2015 version of Winston Graham’s Poldark, I read the book. Set in the late 18th century, Poldark is the first novel in the series about the Poldark family. It’s a family with some interesting facets. The side headed by Charles Poldark is quite refined and wealthy. The side headed by Joshua Poldark, Charles brother was less fortunate. Joshua had two sons and one died as a child. His wife died young. His son Ross, who’s the central character in this novel, got into gambling trouble and was urged to fight in the American colonies to let matters at home cool. Joshua didn’t have great success with his mining or farming interests and dies before he can see his son Ross return from the war.

Ross’ death becomes a rumor that takes hold in Cornwall. His true love believes it and winds up engaged to his cousin. His family’s drunk and disorderly servants believe it and they let the property fall to almost ruin. This book covers about half the events that you see in season one of the 2015 television series.

I read historical fiction for the details and surprises. Winston Graham’s clearly done his homework on life in Cornwall in 1873 and following. The dialect sounds accurate and every event and encounter, whether it’s a day at the market or a fishing trip rings true. It’s an era where people had a lot of spirit and vitality. (I’m starting to think the human race lost a lot by not riding horses. I think horseback riding made people stronger, physically and emotionally.)

Ross intrigues as he’s a bridge between classes. He understands his periwigged relatives as well as the villagers who scrape by and have no standing in a court of law where the scales are tilted in favor of the gentry. Even though Ross has little money, his rank puts him far above the villagers, yet as Demelza, the urchin girl he saves from her drunken abusive father, points out Ross can fit in either social circle.

In the book, readers get more of Graham’s well drawn characters, like Demelza who becomes the spirit of Ross’ home, Prudie and Jud, who curse and complain at every turn, Elizabeth, Ross’ former love and Francis, his cousin. At the start of the book Demelza’s 14 and then the story jumps ahead to when she’s 17, which I’d have liked to see.

This gap between the rich and the really rich intrigues and I’m trying to figure out how these families trained their servants so that in a few generations they no longer spit, cursed and drank way too much.

The story moves along quickly and includes some events I wish the 2015 series had. I’m ready to start on the second novel Demelza once I finish my other books.

*In the 1970s the BBC produced the first Poldark series.

Sounds Good to Me

You Belong in the UK

You are witty, cerebral, and charming. You fit in well with the Brits, even if you aren’t British by birth.
You are social and open the to world, but you are naturally reserved. You don’t open up easily to others.

You are big on living a balanced life. You couldn’t imagine being a workaholic… you need to unwind at the end of the day.
You like to live in a multicultural, egalitarian society. You enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and being part of a huge melting pot.

Silent Sunday


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