Bibliotheque Nationale de Texas?

I’m at home today and turned Radio 4 on just in time to hear a 30 minute programme about the purchase of  writer’s archives.

It seems that Texas, the only state in the USA that at any time has  governed itself as an independent country (the Republic of Texas 1836-1845) has been amassing what is in effect the Bibliotheque Nationale de Texas. [CORRECTION from K-eM: Texas is not the only state which was an independent country before becoming a state. Hawaii was a sovereign nation with an internationally recognized monarchy until the U.S. government generated some political unrest that allowed them to take over in 1898. You can visit the I’olani Palace in Honolulu (right across from the state capital building) if you ever visit. Hawaii was a U.S. Territory until 1959 when they were finally given statehood.] You can watch  a short video in which the director explains the importance of collecting such archives.

It sounds marvellous. The Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas has been striding around Europe throwing money at writers, widows and anyone who has a suitable archive. Yet I can’t help siding with our retiring Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, who has been advocating that Britain gives tax breaks to living authors who commit to keeping their archives available for the nation in which they were created. It must be a difficult decision for an author to make. Once a writer can make a living outof writing, they become in effect self-employed and don’t have access to a company pension etc. The HRC sees the selling of an archive as a way of ensuring that living writers will not starve in a garret in their old age.

The latest archive to leave our shores is that of Jim Crace. He expressed his surprise that HRC was not only interested in early drafts of works. They have also acquired a considerable amount of juvenilia, including letters from his parents. I immediately phoned my sister, Anne Holloway, who has almost got her foot on the first rung of the literary world.  “Don’t throw any of your rubbish out”, I  implored her. “They will want it when you are famous. She assured me that all her teenage angst had been reduced to cinders years ago so that it could not embarass our parents.  So what ephemera will she be creating these days? With computers, operating systems and applications that become obsolete almost as soon as they are installed, will anthing remain?  I have heard that the Brtish Library is archiving selected blogs but that isn’t the same as being able to get your hands on the contents of someone’s desk or bedside drawer. Digital media doesn’t turn yellow, curl up at the edges or smell or come in strange shapes and sizes. As long as the modern world doesn’t turn into a post-industrial dystopia where we no longer have access to our interwebby wonderland we will, of course, be able to view these delights online. If one or two institutions become the gathering point for literary lives then more of us will be able to appreciate the whole creation process but in an ideal world I do feel that the closer an artefact stays to its place of creation the more resonance it will possess.

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St. Benedict’s herb, warding off evil spirits

Thank you to Sue of  Mousenotebook who has identified my mystery plant/weed as Wood Avens.

Wikipedia states: Geum urbanum, also known as Wood Avens, Herb Bennet, Colewort and St. Benedict’s herb,is a perennial plant in the Rose family (Rosaceae)which grows in shady places (such as woodland edges and near hedgerows) in Europe and the Middle East.

Usually reaching a height between 20 and 60 cm, wood avens blooms between May and August and its flowers are 1 – 2 cm in diameter, having five bright yellow petals. The hermaphrodite flowers are scented and pollinated by bees. The fruits have burrs, which are used for dispersal by getting caught in the fur of rabbits and other animals. The root is used as a spice in soups and also for flavouring ale.

In folklore

In folklore Wood Avens is credited with the power to drive away evil spirits, and to protect against rabid dogs and venomous snakes. It was associated with Christianity because its leaves grew in threes and its petals in fives (reminiscent of, respectively, the Holy Trinity and the Five Wounds). Astrologically, it was said to be ruled by Jupiter.

In herbal medicine

Wood Avens was stated to be a treatment for poison and dog bites. Paracelsus suggested its use against liver disease, catarrh and stomach upsets.

Modern herbalists use it to treat diarrhoea, heart disease, halitosis and mouth ulcers, and to prevent colic. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific evidence.

Sue warns me that if her identification is correct then I am in for trouble. So it is likely to be a head-to-head with the pernnial geranium (cranesbill). Watch this space, it is likely to disappear under a mound of green leaves.

Going Round in Circles

dorset-circlesI really should have been getting ready for work but instead I was off reading blogs as I usually do while I eat my breakfast each morning. It sets me up for the day. I pop in to see all my old friends and then often get sidetracked and find someone new and decide they are worthy of being added to my bookmark bar at the top of my web browser.

This morning a wandering path led me to LAVENDERHOUSE and her posting called CIRCLES OF COLOUR which reminded me of something I started to play around with after a visit to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in 2007. Yes I did type 2007 intentionally. I went to one of those 15 minute classes. The pieceof red silk is from the class as are those three spiderweb circles stitched to the red silk. Everyone else there seemed to be an expert at embroidery so I was the obligatory slow one in the corner. Luckily now that I am allegedly grownup I don’t care what anyone else thinks and I just get on with enjoying  the moment and taking away from I can. in this case that something was the inspiration of DORSET BUTTONS and so I played around (see bottom left of pic) with something that owes its technique to dorset buttons, crochet, tatting and probably other crafts as well.

The results have remained pinned to the red silk on the wall in J’s old bedroom, where I keep my sewing machine, forgotten until I read Ms LavenderHouse’s blog this morning. Those circles were made with short craps of yarn lying in or around the bin so very much in keeping with what Ms LavenderHouse was told by Madeline Millingtonnot …”not to bother with expensive yarn as cheap yarn in rainbow colours gives a really good result.”

Is this a weed? What is it called?

yellow-weed1yellow-weed2

Do you think it is this:        Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans)

cinquefoilcinquefoil2

Another perennial creeping plant, looking very similar, both in leaf and flower, to a buttercup, but belonging to a different family, Rosaceae, and therefore also similar to a strawberry. Differs from a buttercup in having separate toothed leaflets rather than a divided leaf, and the flowers are not shiny. Creeps by stolons, rooting at the nodes, as strawberry runners.

My new friend

robinmay2009I’ve been doing hard labour in the garden for over a week now. My constant companion has been Mr Robin.

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