The Old Wives’ Tale

a3fba127a3076a6465b57e6895a575ef“. . . humanity walks ever on a thin crust over terrific abysses.”

I’d never heard of Arnold Bennett or his novel The Old Wives’ Tale till my friend chose it for us to read and discuss. The Old Wives’ Tale focuses on two sisters in Northern England in the fictional “Five Towns” area. The oldest Constance is a practical, predictable yet strong woman, while Sophia is a vivacious beauty who pushes all the boundaries.

Their mother is much like Constance and faithful to conventions. Their father is bedridden, which means the family’s welfare depends on the mother running the business, a drapery store.

The story starts with the girls in their teens. Despite their different personalities, they get along for the most part. Sophia yearns for romance and excitement, while Constance is satisfied with working in the family store and living a standard middle class life. When their father dies and Sophia runs off with a dapper traveling salesman, the story takes off.

A keen observer, Bennett fills the novel with insights that make readers think, “Yes, people are like that, even today.” Although there are many stories of bourgeois life or of the prodigal who runs off, Bennett’s characters experience surprises till the bitter end. His characters, even minor ones, are alive and worthy of respect and sympathy. I’m happy to say I’ve found another author I’ll read more of.

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Steve Wozniak

If you ever get a chance to hear Steve Wozniak speak, go!

Tuesday while I was visiting Florida, I got to hear Wozniak speak at University of Northern Florida. I loved how energetic and approachable he was. I knew he was one of the geniuses who created Apple Computer. But I learned a lot more:

  • He is incredibly down to earth, which freed him to make life changes like dedicating himself to teaching 5th grade after making a fortune.
  • He is the real deal when it comes to passion and following your bliss.
  • He was able to deal with difficult personalities because he never argues. He doesn’t believe in it because most likely the other person just isn’t going to give up their stand. So he concentrates on doing his thing and not focusing on conflict.
  • He’s quite forgetful when he’s caught up with an idea. At least three times he’d start talking and get excited and then ask “What was your question?”
  • His only career goal was to be a software engineer. He likes making new things. He has no interest in management, power or finance. So you can be humble and succeed.
  • Hewlett Packard (HP) rejected the idea of the Apple computer five times when Wozniak was working for them. Finally, he got the lawyers to release the idea, which they thought was crazy because consumers would never want a computer in their homes.
  • They didn’t work out of a garage very much. They mainly worked in Steve’s home and did some shipping from the garage. They hired an ad agency and the agency decided to create a myth to launch the company.

Some of the same information is contained in the interview above, but not all.

The Aviary

My sister-in-law’s brother has an aviary in his suburban home. He has dozens of birds, many tropical like his eclectus parrots. Eclectus parrots have vivid coloring. The males are green, the females red. They live in different parts of the jungle and look so different that scientists only recently figured out that they were the same species.

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He’s upgraded his aviary since our last visit. He’s added a seating area so people can sit and view the birds while sipping a drink or chatting.

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His wife isn’t keen on birds, but has grown to tolerate them. Kudos to her as not everyone would.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy, the Sequel

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On Christmas we went to my sister-in-law’s brother’s house where he has an aviary in his basement. He’s a bird-lover who’s passion brings joy to many. He’s got birds, hairless guinea pigs and turtles in the aviary.

Here’s how it works:

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Wishing you peace and joy all through 2014!

Other joyful photos: