Here's a wonderful work of short fiction from 1890 which will appear in the "Paying Calls" section of my upcoming book, True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen— available now on pre-order from Barnes & Noble and Amazon!
At Other People's Convenience
"A Whole Week Put Out of Joint For A Twenty Minutes' Call"
"By the way, Judith," said Julius, one Monday evening at the tea-table, "I met Mr. Dominie in the post-office this afternoon, and he said that he and Mrs. Dominie had intended to come out to see us this forenoon, but they found, at the last minute, that the Deacon was intending to use his horse himself."
"Bless that dear old deacon," said I, fervently. "I owe him one."
"Yes, it was luck!" said Julius.
"I should think so! How any couple, in their senses, could ever think of making a surprise visit on Monday morning, I don't see! What did you tell him?"
"Well, you see, I didn't like to remind him it was washing day - they have kept house, and know all about it, and they know we are doing our own work, for he asked how it agreed with you in this weather, and when we expected 'Mandy back - so I just told him that they must not be discouraged, but must try again."
"And what did he say to that?"
"Why, he said they meant to try it again to-morrow."
"To-morrow! and all the ironing to do, and nothing fresh baked!"
"Yes, I knew it wouldn't suit, but what could I do?"
"Nothing, of course. We will have to make the best of it. I will put off the ironing, and do some baking instead - bright and early before they get here."
So the next morning I got up betimes, set the whole house in spotless order, baked rolls and cake, got a chicken pie under way and made a salad. Then I dressed myself in a white muslin, with ruffled apron, and gathered fresh flowers for all of the vases. Then I sat down and hulled a bowlful of ripe, dewy strawberries, which Julius had gathered for me. Mr. and Mrs. Dominie boarded in the village, and would, I knew, appreciate our delicious country fare. He was preaching for us for six months "on trial." They were an elderly couple, whose children were all scattered, and were fond of visiting. We did not feel very well acquainted with them, and wished to do them honor. At 11 o'clock Julius came in from the garden, to make himself presentable. He found me putting the last touches to the dinner-table, so that only the hot food would have to be added at "dishing up" time.
"Haven't come yet!" he exclaimed.
"No," I said; "they seem inclined to be very fashionable. One would think the cool of the morning much pleasanter for driving this time of year.
"Yes indeed; but they may be along any minute now."
A quarter past - half past - three-quarters - 12. Still no minister, nor minister's wife. Julius paced between the front veranda and the gate, while I busied myself trying to keep the dinner hot, without drying it to chips. One o'clock struck; then Julius came in, saying: "We might as well give them up and have dinner. Something must have happened to detain them, and perhaps they will come this afternoon."
So we ate hurriedly, and Julius helped me to set all to rights; then, tired out, I sat down, with a new magazine and a basket of mending. At four o'clock, there still being no sign of our visitors, Julius came in and said: "It's time to go to the post-office; the mail must surely be in. Perhaps I'll meet Mr. Dominie, or some one from the Deacon's, and find out what the trouble is."
When he returned, he said, in answer to my eager inquiries: "Yes; I met Mr. Dominie himself, the first one, and he said they did think of coming this morning, but Mrs. Dominie thought it looked like rain."
"Like rain! Why, I never heard of such nonsense. It has been a lovely day!"
"So I thought; but of course I couldn't contradict him. Then he said, if it was pleasant, they would come to-morrow."
I groaned: "Then I must put off the ironing again."
So the next morning I again busied myself preparing good things for dinner and making the house as attractive as possible. When Julius and I a second time sat down to our belated dinner alone, I was fairly boiling with indignation.
"Do you know what I think of Mr. Dominie?" I exclaimed. "I think he is a first-class fraud!"
"I wouldn't say that," said Julius. "He may have had some good reason this time. Perhaps someone was taken sick and sent for him."
"Then she ought to have sent us word. It is shameful for them to be so rude!"
"So it is; and it has made you so much extra work, too."
"Yes, I have worked twice as hard as usual; and here, the week is half gone, and not a piece ironed."
When Julius came home that evening he said: "I saw Mr. Dominie, and he said he was sorry they didn't get out this morning, but Mrs. Dominue thought she felt one of her attacks of headache coming on, so he thought they'd better postpone it; but they will surely be out to-morrow."
"Indeed!" said I, then added, viciously, "I hope it will rain pitchforks!"
"Oh well, they'll come this time, and then it will be over, and we won't ask them again."
"They don't wait to be asked," I said, "but seem to think their visits are such treats to us that they may put us to any amount of trouble, and it's all right."
Well, the whole programme was again repeated, and still our visitors did not appear. It was fair all day until late afternoon, then a thunder-shower came up, preventing Julius from going after the mail, so we did not learn what trifle prevented their coming this time. At the tea-table I said, "Well, to-morrow is Friday, and, minister or no minister, I am going to iron."
So, the next morning, I went to work on my belated ironing, in fear and trembling, starting at every sound, until I became so nervous I felt like flying - for fear they would come and catch me unawares in the short-sleeved Mother Hubbard I always wore when ironing. The day waned, but they did not come. When Julius started to the village, I took a book and threw myself into the hammock, completely tired out. He had been gone some time, when I heard voices. Looking out, there were Mr. and Mrs. Dominie coming up the front path. I met them at the door and tried to be cordial, but felt that it was a hollow mockery. It was impossible to keep the reproach out of my voice when I spoke of having expected them to dinner each day since Monday.
"Yes, we were so disappointed," said Mrs. Dominie; "but every time we planned to come, something would happen to prevent."
I think they expected an invitation to tea, but I forgot (?) it, and said, moreover, nothing about future visits. I suppose it was not very polite, but "the worm will turn."
Julius laughed rather grimly, when he came home and heard about the visit. "A whole week put out of joint for a 20-minutes' call," he said.
"Yes," said I; "and if Mr. Dominie remains here after his six months are up, it won't be my fault. A man who has so little regard for his own word, and other people's convenience, is a public nuisance!"
"Amen," said Julius.
Here's an excerpt from the "Etiquette of Shopping" chapter of my upcoming book, True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen... (available now for pre-order from Skyhorse on Barnes & Noble and Amazon!) Enjoy!
Purchasers should, as far as possible, patronize the merchants of their own town. It is poor policy to send money abroad for articles which can be bought as cheaply at home.
Do not take hold of a piece of goods which another is examining. Wait until it is replaced upon the counter before you take it up.
Injuring goods when handling, pushing aside other persons, hanging upon the counter, whispering, loud talk and laugher, when in a store, are all evidence of ill-breeding.
Never attempt to "beat down" prices when shopping. If the price does not suit, go elsewhere. The just and upright merchant will have but one price for his goods, and he will strictly adhere to it.
It is an insult to a clerk or merchant to suggest to a customer about to purchase that may buy cheaper or better elsewhere. It is also rude to give your opinion, unasked, about the goods that another is purchasing.
Never expect a clerk to leave another customer to wait on you; and, when attending upon you, do not cause him to wait while you visit with another. When the purchases are made let them be sent to your home, and thus avoid loading yourself with bundles.
Treat clerks, when shopping, respectfully, and give them no more trouble than is necessary. Ask for what is wanted, explicitly, and if you wish to make examination with a view to future purchase, say so. Be perfectly frank. There is no necessity in practicing deceit.
The rule should be to pay for goods when you buy them. If, however, you are trusted by the merchant, you should be very particular to pay your indebtedness when you agree to. By doing as you promise, you acquire good habits of promptitude, and at the same time establish credit and make reputation among those with whom you deal.
It is rude in the extreme to find fault and to make sneering remarks about goods. To draw unfavorable comparisons between the goods and those found at other stores does no good, and shows want of deference and respect to those who are waiting on you. Politely state that the goods are not what you want, and, while you may buy, you prefer to look further.
We had been waiting for this day for a very long time. We'd been living in our 1888 house for four years and slowly returning it to its nineteenth-century state, and throughout that entire time we had been growing increasingly frustrated with the 1980s electric stove which was one of the last vestiges of the house's decades as a rental property before we bought it. We had decided even before we'd chosen this particular house that we wanted a home with a real Victorian stove, but it took careful saving and plotting to obtain one in working condition. After years of economy and scrimping, we were able to order a refurbished stove from a restorer on the East Coast whose motto is "Wood and coal stoves returned to day one condition." Today it would finally arrive: Our beautiful Charm Crawford Royal stove, a cast iron wood stove from the nineteenth century.
As usual I awoke before my husband, padded downstairs and started writing. When I heard him stirring, I went back up to the bedroom. "Happy stove day!" I trilled excitedly.
"Happy stove day," he replied back with a sleepy smile.
It was December and the early morning was stormy, but it grew warm and clement by afternoon. An hour or so before lunchtime the rain stopped as though a faucet had been turned off and the slate-gray clouds whirled away with a speed usually only seen in time-lapse photography. Their disappearance revealed a flawless topaz-blue sky. The temperature soared up to the mid 60s and it felt more like late March than the middle of December. It was a truly bizarre patch of weather, but one for which we were profoundly grateful.
The stove was scheduled to arrive between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. As the clock's hands crept towards eleven we grew increasingly excited about the appliance's impending arrival.
When 2 p.m. came and there was still no sign of delivery, I told Gabriel the delivery company had better hurry. "They've only got two hours left!" I pointed out.
"I know!" Agreed my husband. "They better not have been delayed, because this weather would be utterly perfect for unpacking the stove."
He looked out at the spring-like day. It was warm, dry and beautiful—perfect weather to unpack and carry in a large object. The stove was being shipped in pieces in a large crate.
At three-thirty we repeated our comments about the shipping company hurrying. They only had half an hour!
3:57—Only three minutes!
The sun was already low in the sky at this point, at forty-eight degrees northern latitude and only a few weeks from the winter solstice. "It's gonna suck to unload the stove in the dark!" Gabriel groaned.
"I know," I grumbled. "And we had such perfect weather this afternoon, too."
"Utterly perfect!" Gabriel agreed.
At four-thirty he called the shipping company. They told him that the stove was on its way, but apparently the deliveryman was delayed: There had been an accident on the Hood Canal Bridge, and he'd had to wait for hours while the wreckage was sorted out and cleared.
We watched out the bayview window of our parlor, tapping our toes with impatience. It was well past dark when the truck carrying the stove finally arrived, but we turned on our Tesla-inspired porchlight and the moon and stars helped a little. The deliveryman brought the crate as close to our front gate as his motorized dolly could travel.
I thought about what a long wait the man must have had for the bridge to be cleared, then ran inside the kitchen and came back with a slice of home-made sourdough bread, still warm from the oven. He thanked me and held the slice up to his nose, inhaling its aroma. "It smells great!" He said hungrily.
I grinned. "Not as great as it'll taste when I can bake it in this!" I asserted, patting the crate containing the much-anticipated stove.
The deliveryman smiled, wished us luck and left us to our task.
The crate was made of heavy-duty wooden pressboard, and disentombing the stove proved to be a process of prying the crate to bits with a crowbar. Our first view of the stove was a glimpse of many small parts, each individually mummified in gray packing paper. Most weren't very heavy, and I started carrying them inside one by one while Gabriel was still dismantling the crate.
Besides the cushioning paper, the various stove bits were entwined with a great deal of plastic wrap resembling the silken funereal wrappings spiders twist about their prey, but writ large. I brought out a pair of kitchen scissors and cut at the plastic coccoon. As I disentangled more small pieces I continued to carry them into the house piecemeal. It was impossible to tell what most of them were, since the paper mummification gave the majority of them anonymity. The flat, perfectly round shape of the lids for the stove's eyes made them recognizable and the oven door was fairly obvious, but most of the other pieces were abstract mummies wound in dry paper. We carried them inside and set them all over the floor. When we ran out of room in the kitchen we moved out into the dining room, then the parlor, until the ground level of our house looked like all the treasures of a pyramid had been laid out there and were awaiting unwrapping. At last only two pieces remained, but these were the largest and heaviest by far. Together Gabriel and I managed to carry in the 34" x 24" x 14" cast-iron base of the stove, with its delicately arching legs, but the main stove body was too much for us. Besides the cast iron which formed the body of the stove, this section held the firebox with its heavy, built-in heat bricking. (Unlike some twentieth-century wood-burning stoves, the heat bricking in our 1890s model is not removable.) Gabriel and I budged it a few inches with him lifting the heavier end, then he insisted we get help.
I looked at him in slight bemusement. "Umm, who?" I had been asking my husband to find someone to help carry in the stove since we had ordered it. Zero-hour when the stove was unpacked and everyone was at dinner seemed like a bad time to be begging favors.
After a slightly pained discussion, the task of finding help devolved to me.
My really good friends are scattered across several time zones and the only way for them to help would have been by telekinesis, which was obviously not a viable option. I wracked my brain for people within walking distance who would be willing to help carry several hundred pounds of iron—and capable of doing so. I doubted any of my lady friends could lift any more weight than I could, so I started asking myself who had capable-looking boyfriends or husbands.
I recalled that a couple around our age lived a few blocks away in an apartment above a garage. Heidi was a tea-maven at my favorite tea shop downtown and had come over to our house once to see our collection of antique clothes. I'd only met Landon briefly, but (with my memory sharpened by the weighty stove), I recalled that he had looked strong. I had never actually visited them before, but I had passed by their home a few times when they were unloading groceries from their car and I thought I could find it again. I hoped I could—and moreover that they would be home.
In a state of slight embarrassment, I set out to find their vaguely-remembered residence in the dark. My spirits weren't too low though: The stove had arrived and it was an uncannily warm night, beautiful and filled with stars. It was absolutely perfect for a stroll. As for this little snafu, I judged that everything happens for a reason and Gabriel and I were mighty lucky it wasn't raining. The idea of a beautifully refurbished cast-iron stove sitting out in a downpour would have given the situation an urgency I was very happy to do without. As I wandered Uptown Port Townsend looking for Heidi's home I gazed up at the constellations and offered thanks to my lucky stars.
Even before I found Heidi's place I knew that locating it was only part of the problem. I had only passed by it before, and I had no idea where the access portal was. For all I knew, the only door to the apartment above the garage might be through the car dock itself; if this was the case presumably they would keep it slightly open when they were expecting guests, but I was far from expected.
When I arrived at what I thought was Heidi's home (although I wasn't entirely certain) I was encouraged to see lights on in the apartment. "Good, she's home," I thought. "—Assuming this is the right place and I'm not going to befuddle some stranger I've never seen before."
I found a door on the north side of the garage and knocked, tentatively at first then with more force. There was no response—which didn't surprise me, since the garage was a particularly tall one and I really couldn't imagine there as any chance of Heidi and Landon hearing me. I looked up at the brightly-lit window above me. "They're here!" I told myself, frustrated. "There must be a way..."
I walked back around to the west side of the garage. Peering up at the window which faced the street, I discovered another reason to be grateful for the bizarrely unseasonable weather. It was December, but the night was so beautiful and warm that Heidi had her window open.
"Heidi?" I called up questioningly, still not entirely sure this was the right place. I honestly hadn't been paying all that much attention to the location when I'd happened upon her several months previously.
On the world's stages, Romeo calling up to Juliet's window is one of theaters most romantic scenes. This real-life parody of the situation was more of a farce. "Heidi?" I cupped my hands around my mouth and called louder.
An ivory face framed by wavy dark hair appeared through the delicate curtains. Relief rushed through me: This was Heidi's home! I waved frantically.
A frown creased her pretty brow as her blue eyes peered into the darkness.
"Heidi!" I called again. "It's Sarah!"
Her expression relaxed as she saw me. "Oh, Sarah!" She clasped a relieved hand over her heart. "You scared me!" She smiled. "Come up, come up!" She pointed towards the southern end of the garage, to steps and a door I hadn't seen before on the side of the building opposite my initial approach.
I followed her directions and found Heidi and Landon engaged in cooking dinner, with their young son napping on the couch. (I was relieved to see that Landon was even taller and more muscular than I remembered. He looked like a man to whom carrying a stove wouldn't be much of an issue. Yay!) I apologized for bothering them and explained the situation. Landon smiled and said he would be happy to help.
"This has to simmer," Heidi told me, pointing at a delicious-smelling saucepan of something bubbling happily on the stove. "—But we'll be right over."
"I'd offer to give you a ride," Landon said with a grin. "But I know how you feel about that."
I laughed. I've never had a driver's license and I rarely accept rides. It's not really a moral issue; I just honestly prefer to walk or ride my bike. Besides, it was a lovely evening.
I thanked Landon and Heidi profusely then left them to their simmering dinner, thinking how lucky it was that their window had been open. I walked home through the starlight and the little family arrived a few minutes after I did. Their little boy Warren gave me a sleepy smile from his perch on the crook of his mother's arm and Landon introduced himself to Gabriel.
Carrying the stove inside only took the men a few minutes, and while the task was undertaken I showed Heidi the various stove pieces scattered around the ground floor. She was enthralled and kept exclaiming how beautiful it was.
When Landon and Gabriel had set the main body of the stove on its cast iron legs, Warren's eyes grew wide. "Hot!" The little boy said softly, holding out a hand towards the stove. "Hot!"
Heidi smiled at her son. "Yes, that's going to be hot!" She agreed.
"Hot." The child repeated in the same soft voice. "Hot."
I thought this was incredibly adorable, not to mention insightful. The Charm Crawford looked so very different from a modern stove, I wondered how the child had intuited its purpose. Later I asked Heidi if he had seen a stove like it before and she shook her head. "He's never seen a cast iron one," she told me. I was left to wonder: Had he seen one in a cartoon or picture book? Or was the power of the stove such that even a child could tell its purpose? It's tempting to believe the last theory, but I suppose we'll never really know.
I had bought some candy canes earlier in the day as Christmas ornaments, and I asked Heidi if it was okay to give her son one.
"I don't think he's ever seen a candy cane before!" She smiled.
I plucked the sweet off our Christmas tree and gave it to the child. He examined it with intrigued curiosity.
With our many thanks, Heidi's family hurried back to their abandoned dinner while Gabriel and I set about assembling the three-dimensional puzzle that was the stove. Cast iron is strong in some ways but it is brittle, so we handled all the pieces with great care.
"Now, as I understand it," Gabriel said, twisting a bolt through two corresponding holes. "These fastenings are supposed to be hand-tight because the metal will expand when it heats, so if they're wrench-tight the tension can make the metal crack."
"That makes sense," I said, unwrapping a round cast iron disk—one of six lids for the stoves' eyes. (Eyes are the holes on top of a wood stove.) "Cracking is bad."
"Cracking is bad," Gabriel agreed. "Cracking is very bad. Because this—" he stood back, admiring the large piece of functional art that was the stove. "—Is beautiful."
I agreed and unwrapped one of the smallest pieces. "This looks like a cast iron dog biscuit," I commented, holding it up.
"I think that's the foot pedal." Gabriel took it from me and used its lynchpin to attach it to the bottom of the oven door. He stood and gently tapped the pedal with the toe of his boot. The oven door swung open.
"Whoah!" I exclaimed, entranced. "Now that's undeniably cool!"
"It's so that you can put something in the oven with both hands and not have to put anything down," Gabriel explained, shutting the door.
"It's brilliant!" I declared, toe-tapping the oven door open, shutting it, opening it again. "Why don't modern ovens do this?"
Gabriel shrugged. "Maybe some do and we just don't know about it."
I spent the next ten minutes opening and shutting my oven door.
The next morning I told Gabriel to stay in bed while I went down to light the gas heater in the parlor.
"Do you know what's downstairs?" I asked with a grin when I came back to the bedroom.
"That's right!" he smiled, wiping sleep from his eyes. "The stove!"
"The hearth is home."—Richard Jefferies. After London. 1885, chapter 4.
The kitchen was the heart of a Victorian home, the bastion of its queen. Here a woman ruled supreme, determining the "weal or woe" (as Mrs. Beeton would have described the joys or sorrows) of the people under her charge. So strongly was the kitchen under woman's dominion that occassionally men would write into ladies' magazines pleading that they might be of some small service there, if only they were allowed to help.
Even today kitchens retain their role as "command centers" — an apt descriptive term used by a group of UCLA archaeologists who meticulously documented the home activities of Los Angeles families in the early twenty-first century. The researchers found that the kitchen was "the single-most intensively used space" in their study: The families who participated in the 2001-2005 research project spent 48% of an intensely documented period of time in their kitchens. (They were in family rooms 20% of the time—most of this was spent watching television or using computers—and in upstairs bedrooms 18% of the hours studied.) These were modern families, with cupboards and refrigerators overflowing with supposedly time-saving microwaveable minute meals. The kitchen's dominance over the social life of the household was even more pronounced in the nineteenth century when the mistress of a household was usually its baker-in-chief.
At the center of this nucleus of the home was the heart of the heart, the appliance around which the entire home revolved: the stove. The stove held the household's most constantly-burning fire and made the kitchen the warmest room in a home. Man-made and woman-tended, a stove was a precision machine, but it was more than that. It was an entity which demanded regular sacrifices in the form of fuel (wood, coal or gas) and in return it enabled the creation of sustenance for all within its domain. In pagan terms, and in terms which nineteenth century Britons would have appreciated, the stove was a household god. Caring for its needs and receiving its bounty, a lady could rightfully see herself as a link in a powerful chain of women stretching back to the priestesses of Hestia's temples in Ancient Greece and beyond.
Gazing at the Charm Crawford, I longed to join those illustrious ranks.
 The Antique Stove Hospital. <http://stovehospital.com>
 For examples of this, see "The Kitchen Apron. When It Did Good Service On A Man." Good Housekeeping. January 19, 1889. p. 136. (page 155 of the digitized pdf version of this magazine available from Google Books Advanced Search) and "A Man In The Kitchen: The Difference Between A "Betty" And The Other Kind." Good Housekeeping. February 16, 1889. p. 178. (page 197 of the digitized pdf version of this magazine available from Google Books Advanced Search)
 Arnold, Jeanne E. et al. Life At Home In The Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors. UCLA: The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2012. pp. 3, 81, 92.
An article from 1905 about the Charm Crawford:
"... [T]he Charm Crawford of the Royal line, now being made by the Walker & Pratt Mfg. Company, Boston, Mass... represents the company's largest and most costly style, having a full size square oven, it being of the same dimensions at the top as at the bottom. The oven top is sectional and will not crack, while the oven bottom is nonwarping and fitted with removable panels, thus giving easy access to the lower flues. The fire box is extra large, the ash pan is of good capacity, the means for removing soot are convenient, and the broiler door is of ample size. A noticeable feature... is the position of the handles of the doors; instead of being placed midway of their hight [sic] they are near the upper edge, where they are within more convenient reach of the cook, as the doors can be opened when standing more nearly in an upright position. All Royal ranges have the company's patented single damper, which can be easily removed from the range. In connection with the ovens it may be stated that the oven rack is adjustable ... in the Charm Crawford at two hights [sic] above the oven bottom. This is a convenience which cannot fail to be appreciated on a busy baking day.
Another feature... which is worthy of more than passing mention is the manner in which the detachable guard rails are placed, they being separated from the stove by a little space and kept cool by a constant circulation of air behind them. All the nickeled guard rails and other parts are plated and finished at the Crawford factory. Nearly all Crawford ranges are now sold with mantels, the new style double mantles having two shelves, thus affording increased space as compared with the old style. All mantels are fitted with removable nickeled rails and match the range in design. The upper flue of the ranges is made with a special form of cup joint division to prevent the leakage of heat and to insure quick baking. A simmering cover is furnished with each range and may be used in any location on the top of the stove.
The Charm Crawford of the Royal line is one of the company's most popular grades, and while a trifle smaller than the Home style, includes all the features of the other patterns, such as the single damper, heat indicator, dock ash grate, &c. The triple oven back consisting of two thicknesses of metal with asbestos between makes the oven heat quickly, improves the baking and saves coal. The oven top is plastered, as well as the bottom of the flue beneath the oven. The Crawford ranges are made in all sizes and with all attachments..."
 [No author.] The Metal Worker, Plumber and Steam Fitter. September 30, 1905. p. 73.
I keep a running list of my favorite quotes and poetry, which I write in a little book that lives in the top drawer of my desk. Recently someone wrote to me who needed encouragement (we all do from time to time!); I picked out the most inspiring quotes and typed them up for her. These are wonderfully self-affirming lines, marvelous for inspiration at bad times or good. On rainy days these are the sort of lines that pick out the rainbow, when the sun shines they highlight determination and light up goals. Enjoy!
"She envied my courage. This, I said, like all other qualifications of the mind, might be gained at last by practice." — Anne Lister, September 13, 1818. (Written in her diary, which was published in 2010 by Virago Press. This quote appears on pages 73-74 of the published version.)
""[I]t takes so much courage to stand up for one's principles, one's ideas."
"But why do it? Why not accept what everybody says is so, and go along comfortably?"
"Why not? I often ask myself. But — well, I can't."" — Graham Phillips David. A Woman Ventures. 1902, pp. 216-217.
"It is true that there are liberties and liberties. Yonder torrent, crystal-clear, and arrow-swift, with its spray leaping into the air like white troops of fawns, is free enough. Lost, presently, amidst bankless, boundless marsh — soaking in slow shallowness, as it will, hither and thither, listless among the poisonous reeds and unresisting slime it is free also. We may choose which liberty we like — the restrain of voiceful rock, or the dumb and edgeless shore of darkened sand." — John Ruskin. The Queen of the Air. 1869. p. 151-152.
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." — Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris. 1916.
By Robert Service
When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.
"You're sick of the game!" Well, now that’s a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know — but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit.
It’s the keeping-your chin-up that’s hard.
It’s easy to cry that you're beaten — and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —
Why that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and battered and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.
By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
"You cannot ask me to be bound by your conclusions or wishes when they do not agree with my own." — Graham Phillips David. A Woman Ventures. 1902.
"One does not become free by license, by cringing before the stupidest, the most foolish impulses that are in him. I think he becomes free by refusing to degrade himself and violate the laws of his own nature." — Graham Phillips David. A Woman Ventures. 1902, pp. 234-235.
"Theresa was irritated that Emily's "queer ideas" were a force in her life, not a mere mask for disappointment." — Graham Phillips David. A Woman Ventures. 1902, p. 181.
"Maybe all steps into the future drew strength from a searching gaze into the deep past." A.S. Byatt, The Children's Book, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, p. 132.
"It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it." — Mark Twain, Puddin'Head Wilson, 1894.
"My daintiness does not hurt you." — Richard Jefferies, After London. 1885. Part II, Chapter 4.
By William Morris
From out the throng and stress of lies
From out the painful noise of sighs,
One voice of comfort seems to rise:
"It is the meaner part that dies."
"He who labors with the mind governs others; he who labors with the body is governed by others." — Thomas Hill, Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, 1891. p. 139.
"Fix, then, this in your mind as the guiding principle of all right practical labor, and source of all healthful life energy — that your art is to be the praise of something that you love. It may only be the praise of a shell or a stone; it may be the praise of a hero; it may be the praise of God; your rank as a living creature is determined by the height and breadth of your love; but, be you small or great what healthy art is possible to you must be the expression of your true delight in a real thing, better than the art." — John Ruskin. Pearls for Young Ladies. 1878.
"Those who have finished by making others think with them, have usually been those who began by daring to think with themselves." — Thomas Hill, Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, 1891. p. 139.
"Hers was not a nature to be crushed by any trouble; on the contrary, the deeper the water the better she floated." — Darley Dale. "The Village Blacksmith." 1889.
From Good Housekeeping, December 24, 1888:
A DINING-ROOM MYSTERY
A gentleman who was invited out to dine at a Delaware avenue residence lately observed that the chandelier over the dining-room table was of peculiar construction, so that there was a light over the head of each guest. The globes were of various colors, some amber, some red and some blue. "What is the object of having the globes of different colors?" the guest asked of his hostess.
"Why, you see," said she, "when one gives a dinner or tea, one must invite some people whom one perfectly hates. Now last Tuesday I gave a supper and I had to invite two women whom I despise. But I had to invite them or some of the young men I wanted wouldn't come. I had my revenge on my fair enemies, however. I placed each of these two women under one of those pale blue lights at the table. They're usually considered beautiful women, but under that light they had the most ghastly look you ever saw. They were perfect scarecrows. They seemed to have aged twenty years the minute that they sat down. The men noticed it of course, but they did not divine what caused it. They were quite taken aback and awfully glum at first. But finally one of them turned with a sigh and began talking to a real homely little thing that was sitting under a ruby-colored light. Why, she was perfectly charming under it. So, you see that when I want people to look perfectly hideous I put them under the blue lights. It kills everything." The gentleman looked up. He was under a blue light.
The other day a friend asked me about the history of sodas, which reminded me of a section from the book I just finished writing. Here's another sneak peek into This Victorian Life, coming November 2015 from Skyhorse Publishing. Happy reading!
...I knew root beer had been a favorite beverage in nineteenth-century America and that Charles Hires had jump-started his company by selling carbonated root beer at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876, [but] I had long assumed that adding ice cream to the treat was an Edwardian innovation. However, when I investigated the matter I learned to my delight that root beer floats are, in fact, highly Victorian.
The invention of the root beer float is often credited to Frank J. Wisner of Cripple Creek Colorado and dated to August 1893. However, an oft-repeated story about him having the idea for his "black cow" drink after seeing a full moon rise over a snowy mountain is probably apocryphal. Even if it isn't, nineteenth-century magazines de-bunk the idea that Wisner's idea was a novel one.
In 1892—a year earlier than Wisner supposedly imagined his black cow drink— The Western Druggist was already assuring its readers that, "The now quite general custom of serving ice cream with soda water is not of so recent origin as is commonly assumed." The publication goes on to explain that Eugene Rouselle had originated the idea in Philadelphia "some thirty-five years ago"—or around 1857. Rouselle, "who kept an elegant establishment on Chestnut street... Philadelphia, and who first introduced bottled soda in the United States" mixed chilled, flavored syrup with ice-cold cream and then added "a liberal quantity" of shaved ice. (He kept a carpenter's plane at his soda fountain to shave the ice.) He then dispensed carbonated water onto the creamy, sweetened mass of ice and served his customers "a most delicious and cooling drink." These were so popular that other purveyors of soda counters attempted to copy Rouselle's model, but his would-be rivals felt that his process was too troublesome: It used too much ice, and the cream would often sour. (The article doesn't specify whether the cream was souring because Rouselle's rivals weren't as conscientious about keeping it on ice as he was or because they were mixing it with more acidic syrups than Rouselle's. It seems likely that both problems were encountered at different times and by different businesses.) In order to make the process easier and more cost effective, many drug stores started replacing the combination of shaved ice and plain cream with a spoonful of ice cream, and the ice cream soda was born!
In August of 1891 the Hires root beer company was selling an average of 15,000 bottles of root beer extract per day and estimated that 1,500,000 glasses of their product were being consumed on a daily basis. Root beer syrup wasn't the only option for flavoring in ice cream sodas, but given the drink's beloved status the purveyor of a soda counter would have been extremely foolish not to stock it.
By 1897 ice cream sodas had taken over the soda trade so thoroughly that druggists were actively discouraging people from buying them in an effort to push their customers towards more profitable drinks. Soda dispenser D.W. Saxe wrote, "In hot weather room is valuable and time is money at the soda counter, therefore the foreseeing and level-headed dispenser will work every scheme possible to serve as many people possible in as short a space of time as he can... You can wait on ten customers for still drinks as quickly as one for Ice Cream Soda, and the per cent of profit is more than double... Now, then, is it not worth your while to push almost anything but Ice Cream Soda?" Saxe told his readers not to advertise ice cream soda "for at present Ice Cream Soda needs no advertising." Instead, he advised druggists to concentrate on advertising their still drinks and stated, "It is much easier now to make this change in your soda trade since nearly everybody, young and old, have taken to riding a wheel. Wheelmen of any experience whatever all know that Ice Cream Soda is not the proper drink when riding, and they want something to quench thirst and relieve that dryness of the throat and tongue. There is nothing better for this purpose than... Raspberry Cordials or Blood Orange Phosphates, and besides when you once get your customer educated to this style of drink he will want three or four of them in an evening while riding; whereas one glass of Ice Cream Soda and two glasses of ice water is the old rule."
Finding Saxe's commentary was particularly fortuitous. Gabriel actually doesn't like ice cream sodas, but he is definitely an avid Wheelman. (By this point in 2013 he had an antique 1887 high wheel bicycle—but more on that later.) I went out hunting for a blood orange phosphate, and found them in bottles in a cooler at our local bakery. Thus we were able to celebrate our holiday in thoroughly delicious style.
 P.B. The Western Druggist: A Journal of Pharmacy, Chemistry, and Allied Sciences. Volume XIV, 1892. p. 185.
 "Pepys Jr. in Philadelphia." The Illustrated American. Volume 7, No. 78. August 15, 1891. p. 628.
 Saxe, D.W. Saxe's New Guide or Hints to Soda Water Dispensers. Milwaukee: The Saxe Guide Publishing Co., 1897. pp. 10-14.
My Christmas present came yesterday!!! It's a restored 1890s Charm Crawford antique wood-burning kitchen stove. We've been dreaming about this for years!
It's going to be a long time until I get to try it out, since the previous owners of our house chopped off the old chimney at the roofline then filled the whole thing with sand (yes, sand—all the way up. Some people...) Gabriel's going to have to install a new chimney when the weather clears (probably in the spring.) When it is hooked up there will, of course, be a steep learning curve—but I can't wait!
Here's a link to an advertisement for this very stove:
In order that we can go on longer bike tours without risking damage to Gabriel's antique Singer, he recently ordered a Victory, a replica of the 19th-century Victor cycles. It arrived at his bike shop yesterday; here are some short little snippets of him mounting and dismounting in the parking lot. Enjoy!