Thursday, June 25, 2009

Little of This, Little of That

Saturday, we had my parents and Kimberly over for our annual "Midsommar" lunch and some games. It was lots of fun, and I couldn't believe how quickly the afternoon passed!

Here's a photo of one of the things we served-- Donald's Amercian-style (because the store didn't have ground pork that day) Swedish meatballs:

For dessert, Donald made our traditional midsommar "Swedish-style" cake (with fillings, whipped cream, and fruit):

He did a great job! :o)

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After a long couple of weeks of dry, unseasonably hot weather, we're ready for some relief! The temperature is supposed to be slowly working its way down to the low 90s-- still not cool, but much better than 100 or higher.

Yesterday, we got some rain, which helped for a while-- until the sun came back out and turned the world into a sauna.

Well, unfortunately, stifling summertime heat and humidity is part of the price we pay for our mild winters. But no-one said we have to be happy about it. ;o)

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I'm continuing along through The Hidden Hand (even if it is nowhere near the level of Jane Eyre in quality). I'm not continuing especially quickly, because I've never been a speed-reader, but I'm still making process.

Here are my observations since last time:
  • The mother/son relationship (between Marah and Traverse) has (mercifully) left the creepiness behind.
  • Cap is such a brat in the scene where she insists upon going to the fair. I think we're supposed to like and root for her even during that scene, but I just don't.
  • The description of Black Donald's long, "jet black" hair reminded me of Disney's version of Captain Hook. (g) (And yes, there is a character called "Black Donald", and if Donald were dark-haired, I might swipe that nickname for my own use. ;o) As things are, however, it just wouldn't make much sense. Sandy Donald or Strawberry Blond Donald doesn't have the same ring...)
  • The bit about Clara using her own hair to embroider Traverse's names into his clothes? Gross. I know the Victorians (and maybe people from earlier periods, too) had a penchant for collecting the hair of loved ones (particularly those deceased) and working the locks into jewelry (brooches and rings, especially) and other elaborate displays, but this seems even creepier than that. . . Grossness aside, would human hair be strong and durable enough to use as embroidery floss? I guess it lasts a pretty long time on our heads, but it seems too fragile to sew with. . . (shudder)
  • Direct quotation from one character: "No girl can marry before she is twenty without serious risk of life, and almost certain loss of health and beauty; that so many do so is one reason why there are such numbers of sickly and faded young wives." I guess there's some sense in it, applying it to the days when marriage usually meant immediate and oft-repeated child-bearing-- and if a girl wasn't prepared for the stresses of being a wife and mother, then yes, it might age her before her time-- but it seems a little too much of a generalization, and it felt awkwardly out of place. (And what of Marah Rocke? She was 17 or so when she had Traverse, and yet we've been told multiple times that-- though she's reached advanced years-- her mid-thirties *choke*-- she's still quite pretty and girlish.) I get the feeling that this was one of E.D.E.N. Southworth's pet notions, and this was her way of "putting it out there".
  • The amazing coincidental connections continue to crop up, and the author is presently in the process of "killing off" a character purely for the advancement of plot. (Isn't that mean of her? But authors are ruthless in these matters.)
  • The people in the vicinity of Hurricane Hall and TipTop must be particularly stupid that they can't see through Black Donald's ridiculous disguises. I guess this is when I'm supposed to pull out my rather worn Willing Suspension of Disbelief. I'm trying, but I've had to use it so much lately that it's getting threadbare.
  • Possibly the most irritating thing about this book-- the most "Oh, this is so not Jane Eyre-quality material!" aspect of it-- is the way that Southworth sometimes goes into too much detail about things that turn out not to really matter. It's not as bad as it could be, but it's bad enough to be occasionally irksome. I do have sympathy, though. I think I tend to leave too much in, myself, when I'm telling stories-- and maybe she was being paid by the word, since this was originally serialized. So, yes, I have sympathy, but it's an irritated sympathy. (g)
Overall impression (so far):
The book is very silly in spots, and I have trouble telling how much of that silliness is intentional, but I guess it's at least entertaining enough that I'm continuing to read it. (I still can't figure out what the teacher was thinking when she based her recommendation on Jane Eyre, though! Well, apart from one unusual plot element that they share...)

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Happy Birthday to Carrie (and Trixie, too)! :o)