... OK. So I don't really label myself a Yankee, but I like the headline!

(Note: all sources will be identified at the end of this post)

One of the things that I like about visiting Connecticut is touring the homes of historic authors. I didn’t have a lot of hours to play, so I only visited places within a 45 minute drive of my Connecticut apartment. So, I visited the homes of Noah Webster, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

My first destination:

Before I write about Noah Webster, I want to tell you why “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” is on the sign. It is Connecticut’s State Motto and it can be translated as, "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains." (dr. delagar… correct me if I am wrong!!) I have read that the vines represent Connecticut Colony and that “He Who Transplanted” refers to God. The transplanted vines are the English people who came to the new land. So… He who transplanted them still watches over them.

You may recall, Noah Webster was the author of many books and spellers, but is most known for publishing the first American English dictionary. The 1828 edition had 70,000 defined words. In this dictionary, he updated (some would say Americanized) the spelling of many British English words, such as changing honour to honor. It was the fifth edition; the first edition had been published in 1806. He lived in New Haven during those years.

A page from the 1828 (first) edition is pictured below:

Note: When you look at the image, check out the word STURK, defined as a “young ox or heifer.” I have never seen that word. I wonder if it is still used, or if the word is obsolete. If you know that the word STURK is still used today, please write a comment. I am curious to know!

Below are some original spellers, authored by Noah Webster. People are most familiar with the McGuffy Readers, but Webster’s spellers came first! They fell out of favor when the McGuffy Readers gain popularity in the schools and among those schooled at home.

A speller was used to help to learn to read and spell. Noah Webster wrote the first three American-English spellers. The Blue Backed Speller was first published in 1783 as Part I of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language.

"…as a writer, he saw a national language as the way to unite the many states into a single culture.”

I presume that this was his writing desk (below.) I know that the trunk was the one he used to transport his belongings between the Colonies, England and France.

He is buried in the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, around the corner from where my husband was raised.

In the portrait of Noah Webster, below, I wonder about a few things:

Is that a real skull being used as a paperweight??

Check out the page of the book he is reading. Is that a black man in chains? What is he reading about?

Look out the window. There are slaves outside of his window doing some planting. Noah Webster wrote a book, Effects of Slavery on Morals and Industry, so I wonder what his position was on the issue of slavery. I guess that if I read his book, I might figure it out!

… I also wonder why would he keep books, papers and a musical instrument on the floor??

(Click on the image to make it larger)

I drove over to the Clemens and Beecher Stowe houses. Both houses share a common yard, but they are separate entities. The Clemens family (Samuel, his wife Olivia and their three young daughters, Suzy, Clara and Jean) and Harriet Beecher Stowe lived there at the same time. Samuel Clemens was middle aged and Harriet Beecher Stowe was elderly when they were neighbors. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived with her husband and adult twin daughters.

Their properties were part of an area known as “Nook Farm,” which was a community of artists, writers and activists.

Brothers-in-law John Hooker and Francis Gillette purchased 140 acres of pasture and woodland and founded the community. William Gillette, the actor who played Sherlock Holmes, grew up in the neighborhood. Many suffragettes lived in the “Nook Farm” neighborhood, which is mostly along Forest Street in Hartford. The Houghton-Hepburn family moved there around the time that the Clemens sold their home in 1903. Katharine Hepburn’s mother and father were very active in the women’s rights movement and in educating the public about the dangers of venereal disease. Her father was a urologist at Hartford Hospital and treated many of the prostitutes that lived in the local brothels.

As you drive down Forest Street, the houses are grand. Many of the homes were custom-built by nationally renowned architects. (If you decide to visit the area, keep in mind that the street is surrounded by a ghetto. It is no longer an exclusive neighborhood, although it is still beautiful!)

The Mark Twain house is an architectural masterpiece. The bricks are designed to look like stenciling.  This theme continues in the house. Louis Comfort Tiffany’s company designed and painted the elaborate stencils seen throughout the house, yet most prominent in the grand foyer. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures inside the house, but I will write to the curator and ask permission to use their official photos. With permission, I will add them to this post.

The roof is made of slate. Each individual slate was hand-carved and follows a diamond pattern, as seen below:

The detailed brickwork is awe-inspiring.

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and his wife Olivia believed in bringing nature indoors. A conservatory was built off of the main sitting room, where the family would gather to play games and present plays. As you can see from the outside, the conservatory is full of lush greenery and some exotic plants and trees. The floor is made of multi-colored slate tiles. If you look closely at the image, you can see a statue through the windows. The garden is beautifully designed and the windows let light into an otherwise dark house:

The open porches face what used to be a beautiful ravine and a little river that lined the property (Park River.) Unfortunately, urban sprawl has devoured the once park-like view. The river has been re-routed and now it flows through a concrete pipe under the ground. The woods are gone; apartment buildings have taken their place. There are still enough woods to imagine how beautiful it must have once looked.

Sources:

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Noah Webster House Museum

Mark Twain House and Museum

Earlier this year, I drove to Lenox, Massachusets to visit Edith Wharton's estate. Driving through the Berkshires is always a pleasure. I had never been to The Mount before and it was magnificent. It is just off of Route 7, on a little side street.

From the entrance, one can only see the stable and a small house.

Mount Stable

It is not until you walk down a wooded pathway for about a half mile that you see the Mount gradually appear.

Path leading up to The Mount

The path is very serene, but I wouldn't suggest taking a leisurely stroll at sunset. The mosquitos are carnivorous and you will be their prey! As I walked further up the path, I saw the Mount! I had envisioned something quite diferent from what I initially saw.

Back of the Mount

This is the actual front of the Mount, although most people think the garden side of the house is the front. As I walked through the whitewashed stone wall, I could see a garden in the distance. Inside the stone wall is a courtyard, which would have been where carraiges parked.  The house is a brick structure, painted white. Although the house was built on a grand scale, the front door is quite plain with straight lines.

Plain door

When I entered the house, I was fascinated with the spaces in which Edith Wharton lived and wrote. Her first book, The Decoration of Houses, which was co-written with Odgen Codman Jr., was about architectural design. The Mount was built 5 years after the book was published. One can imagine, quite correctly, that the Mount is a masterpiece of design.

Edith Wharton collected the finest tapestries from around the world, to adorn the walls. One example is in the parlor:

Mount parlor

One of my favorite rooms at the Mount is the parlor, where the tapestry above is located. Edith Wharton did some of her writing in this room, and I imagine she entertained guests here, also.

Mount Parlor 2

The rooms are adjoined by a hallway (on each floor) called a "gallery" which feature sculptures on pedestals. Artwork also adorns the walls. Here is a photo of one of the sculptures on a pedestal in the first floor gallery.

Gallery Foyer at the Mount

This house is grand and opulent, so it surprised me to see that Edith's bathroom is quite small and plain. I'm sure that at some point there was a vanity in between the sconces. The view out the window overlooks the landscaped gardens.

Edith's bathroom

The above picture was taken at night.

Below is a picture taken the next day. You can see the landscape outside the window.

Edith's bathroom2

The gardens outside of the Mount are reminiscent of the ornamental gardens of 18th century England. Here are some photos of the landscape architecture and gardens at the Mount:

the_mount_garden

Wharton gardens

These photos are beautiful, but they can't capture the scents and sounds. I felt very peaceful when walking the grounds. Whatever may have been troubling me in the "real" world escaped my mind. While I was at the Mount, I felt removed from the world and all its problems. That is why I describe the grounds and the pathway leading up to the house as serene.

As the sun was setting, I took a walk down to the Wharton's pet cemetery. Yes, they cherished their dogs and buried them in graves, with gravestones.

Toto's grave at the Mount

Miza's grave at the Mount

Source: savethemount.org
Source: savethemount.org

Miza is in the center of the photo. Miza's grave is the one above this picture.

Modele's grave at the Mount

Edith Wharton's husband was also a dog lover. His favorite dog is said to have been "Jules." Below is a photo of Teddy and Jule on a horse.

Source: www.helpsavethemount.org
Source: www.helpsavethemount.org

... and here is a picture of Jules's grave

Jules grave at the Mount

I will end this post by showing a photo of the Mount, taken at night. It has quite a different feel at night. Quite spooky, actually!

Mount in the dark

The time that I spent at the Mount was very enjoyable. I learned a lot about Edith Wharton and her relationships with husband Teddy Wharton and their good friend, Henry James. I will add a separate post about her life and works.

Whenever I go to Connecticut, there are two places that I always visit. I have written about them in a previous post, but they are precious enough to mention again... and again! Both places are in Madison ... my all-time favorite town in Connecticut.

1) The independent bookstore, R.J. Julia Booksellers.

When you walk in the front door (pictured above), this is what is on the right. It is a nook where classic literature is shelved and where I was compelled to buy Jude the Obscure during one of my visits, a few years ago. YIKES!

I love the hard wood floors and all of the wooden book cases. This store really feels like home to me. It is cozy, with just enough light.

When you browse the shelves... not sure what to read... no fear! The staff has suggestions and they write little reviews on index cards to help you. See the example below:

The bookstore has a second floor! I get excited when bookstores have a second floor. The stairway is beautiful, too. This store is more to me than a place to buy books. It has architectural features that take my breath away.

The creaky stairs add to the ambiance! Maybe it's just me...

...and just when you've had your fill of browsing and you finally pick out that special book... R.J. Julia Café is the perfect place to read while you have lunch!

I took this picture in the middle of winter, but this is the outside patio. I like to sit out here in the summer. The bookstore sets up iron chairs and tables (pretty black ones) in the courtyard.

It is a nice place to relax while eating one of their many salad, soups, and sandwiches. When I go there, I always have the salad with cranberries, candied walnuts, mandarin oranges, goat cheese, and chicken. Yum!! I like to order the French Sparkling Lemonade. On a cold day, I order a bowl of Butternut Squash soup or Tomato Bisque.

I almost forgot to mention the book signings!!

Thanks to the R.J. Julia Booksellers book-signing events, I have met Peter Jennings,  Giada De Laurentiis and Jacques Pépin (a Madison, CT resident.) Last Valentine's Day, I gave my husband a signed copy of Jacques Pépin's "More Fast Food My Way. It meant a lot to him... and Giada is as nice in person as she is on her Food Network programs.

After going to R.J Julia's, I drove south on Route One to my other favorite destination in Madison...  Hammonassett Beach, on Long Island Sound. I arrived in time to capture the sunset. It was about 28 degrees outside, but I was bundled up, so I was able to walk up and down the beach without getting cold.

The seagulls were amazing. They were floating on the water, way off of the shore. They didn't seem to be diving for fish. They were just hanging out in the frigid water.

In the image below, I like the juxtaposition of snow on the sandy beach.

I like how the sunlight rests on the rocks in the image below:

...and the sun sets...

In the image below, notice how the clouds reflect on the water directly below the clouds. The left half of the water is colorful and the right half of the water is not. Cool, huh?

Love those seagull silhouettes!

... and finally, it was so dark that I could hardly photograph anything. This was the last picture that I took:

Hope you enjoyed our little online field trip to my favorite places in Madison, CT.

I love all of New England. I would happily spend the rest of my life in Connecticut. I wish we could live in Madison!

OK... now for the good stuff:

After not seeing my husband for 4 months, I had a surprise for him. I told him to get in the Jeep and that I would drive us to an undisclosed location... 5 hours north. His only responsibility was to keep good music on the radio. We arrived at the mystery place at around 3 PM:

We had to be somewhere at 4:30 PM. All he knew was that we would be driving up a steep mountain on snowy roads. YIKES! But... our Jeep handled in well. Where... you may wonder... were we destined to be at 4: 30 PM??

Surprise!!! We went to Trapp Family Lodge. Do you recall the vonTrapp family of "The Sound of Music" fame? They left Austria and settled in Stowe, Vermont because the mountains resembled their beloved Edelweiss. Well, that was our mystery destination.

What would two people (who do not ski) be doing at Trapp Family Lodge... one of the top 5 ski resorts in the world... at the height of ski season??

Going for a horse drawn sleigh ride.... of course!!

Even though it was 14 degrees... with a wind chill making it feel like it was 5 below... we went for a ride in an open sleigh! We were dressed in layers, with scarves wrapped around our faces and two down blankets covering our legs. Not exactly toasty, but it took the frostbite potential down a couple notches.

My husband was very happy about my surprise and was impressed with how I managed to keep him in suspense until we walked up to the sign in the first picture. He thought I wanted us to cross-country ski. Maybe next time...

After the sleigh ride, we went into the Lodge and had mulled cider. I loved how each mug of cider came with a cinnamon stick and slice of orange. My husband was a bit worn out from the frigid half hour ride, but he survived!

The next day, we drove to Hardwick, Vermont to visit one of my favorite independent bookstores: The Galaxy Bookshop. I have written about it in a previous post.

I discovered this bookstore in 1993 when I was riding along the back roads in the Northeast Kingdom section of Vermont. As I mentioned in a previous post, the bookstore is in a former bank, so it has an interesting interior.

The Children's section is inside the vault! I brought my twin boys here when they were small. They would sit in there and look at books for 30-45 minutes at a time, while I browsed. When I took this picture, I could remember so clearly how they would hang out in there. Now they are 16...

I love the window design and the granite floors.

The next day, I took my husband to Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, VT. Next door to the cider mill is a winery that sells supplies. My husband makes his own hard cider, so he was thrilled to get some white wine yeast. It is hard to find that stuff!

His favorite section seemed to be wherever coffee was brewing. I don't drink coffee, but he need regular doses throughout the day in order to function! Case in point:

On the way back to the highway for the ride back to Connecticut, we stopped by Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream headquarters.

Neither of us are ice cream eaters, but how could we resist?

The most interesting things I learned while there was that Ben and Jerry decided to take a $5.00 correspondence course to learn how to make ice cream. Then, they bought a $25.00 ice cream machine and opened up their business in Burlington, VT in a tiny retail space. To drum up business, they bought a bus (pictured above) and would drive around giving out free samples. Their little business grew. Now, that is impressive!! They've since moved on...

My husband dubbed our overnight excursion our "second honeymoon." I agree.

You have reached the end of part one...

I prefer to own books, although I download audio books from my library's website when there is a book I really want to "hear." When I buy a book, there is nothing like going to an independent bookstore. When I lived in Connecticut, I frequented my favorite bookstore,  R.J. Julia Booksellers. It is so much more than a place to buy books. The tall wooden bookshelves are lined with handwritten reviews on cardstock, tucked underneath many of the books.

There are two front entrances to the bookstore. One leads into the main part of the store, with a Café straight ahead. To the left of the entrance is a wooden staircase, which is lined with books. The other entrance brings one into the magazine, cookbook, animal-related and blank journal section, with an assortment of gifts displayed. This description does nothing to describe how cozy and beautiful the bookstore is inside.

This is an exterior shot of R.J. Julia Booksellers:

rj-julia-booksellers

The bookstore is in Madison, Connecticut which is on the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. Madison is my favorite Connecticut town! Often, when I go to Madison, I will drive past R.J Julia's. Not too far from the bookstore is Hammonassett Beach State Park. I spend time there, laptop computer in tow, where I sit on huge rocks and write while watching the waves crashing against the rocks.

Here is a picture that I took while sitting on one of those large rocks. After a while, I could taste salt on my lips!

Hammonnasset rocks

After spending time there, I drive to R.J. Julia Booksellers. When I am there, I choose the book I want to read, buy it, then head into the Café.

I always order the same thing: Cranberry-Walnut salad, which includes organic spring greens topped with goat cheese, cranberries, mandarin oranges and candied walnuts. With that, I drink a carbonated lemonade. I bring my meal onto the back patio, which is made of uneven bricks, surrounded by wrought iron tables and chairs. There is plenty of shade from large trees that envelop the patio. It is a beautiful setting. When I lived in Connecticut, I treated myself to this experience once a week, on Fridays. Yea, the ritual became expensive... so sometimes I bought a magazine, instead of a book.

Although R.J. Julia happens to be my FAVORITE bookstore in the United States, there is a close second. It is in the town of Hardwick, which is nestled within Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom."

The Galaxy Bookshop, an independent bookstore, is in an old bank building. The children's section of the bookstore is in the bank vault!

Galaxy Bookshop vault

The bookstore, like R.J. Julia's, is very cozy inside. The woodwork inside the store is unpainted and the windows remind me of those found in a Craftsman home. The hardwood floors throughout the store also contribute towards the cozy "at home" ambiance.

To find an independent bookstore near you, click here.

As mentioned in my "About Me" page, I am a college student, majoring in English with a Writing minor. Today, I registered for the Spring 2010 semester. I am nearing the end of a long journey. The Spring semester will be the last full time semester I will need to graduate. I will need to take one more Spanish class in the summer and then I will be done!! It's taken a long time, with many major life changes along the way. I began the degree in August 2004.

I have learned so many things while taking the courses required for the degree. Since a Baccalaureate degree is interdisciplinary, I have taken courses that I otherwise would not have chosen to take. One of the most unusual things that I learned in my Sociology class is that when you are at a restaurant, do not complain about your food and ask for it to be taken back to the kitchen to be fixed. There is a high probability that the food will be tampered with (read: spit on...) or worse!

When I heard that, I doubted whether it was true. But, studies (what studies... where can I read them) have been done to show that restaurant workers are often very unhappy in their job and will resent customer complaints. In their frustration, the food may be spit on if you send it back to the kitchen. I am still not convinced of this, as it seems to be a stereotype.... and I don't like to categorize groups of people based on an assumption. But, who knows? In any case, my husband and I make fresh meals and never go out to eat. OK... not entirely true... there is a Thai restaurant in our hometown that we go to once in a while. Their Fresh Spring Rolls (not fried) are delicious and filling.

Taking English literature and Writing classes has opened up a world of discovery for me. I have read Chaucer in Middle English and by the end of that semester, I was able to get through the  Canterbury Tales without too much difficulty. I became familiar with the vocabulary and actually enjoy the vocabulary quizzes. It was a fun challenge!

Through the years, I have discovered that I love nineteenth-century British literature. Jane Austen's fiction and Virginia Woolf's non-fiction essays are favorites. George Eliot's  Middlemarch was also one of my favorite stories, but I haven't read any of her other works. The plight of women prior to 1920 was brought to my attention based on the themes of the stories and essays that I have read. In particular, the Married Woman's Property Act of 1870 and how it affected women. I also became familiar with the Victorian servant class (and the classes within the servant class.)

I am merely skimming the surface in this blog post. My awareness and life perspective has changed immensely since beginning my English degree plan. In the writing classes that I have taken, I read the essays of E.B. White,  William Zinsser and Virginia Woolf. I admire their writing styles and hope to become as concise a writer as they were.

We have all heard of "Charlotte's Web" and those who haven't read the book have, most likely, seen the animated movie. The book was published on October 15, 1952. In honor of Wilbur, I refrained from eating bacon for breakfast 17 days ago! OK, so it's true that I didn't eat bacon on October 15th, but it had nothing to do with Wilbur. E.B. White also wrote the children's stories, "Trumpet of the Swan" and "Stuart Little." Although the three stories were originally created for his nieces and nephews, he was encouraged to have them published.

White was an essayist and long-time columnist at New Yorker magazine and Harper's between 1927 - 1943. He also revised his former professor William Strunk's book, "The Elements of Grammar." This little handbook is a staple in every writer's personal library. White emphasized clarity of expression as the key to good writing, saying that a few words used with purpose are better than many words that ramble on without a point.

As I began working toward my Bachelore degree in English, I took a Rhetoric/Writing class called "Editing, Usage, Style and Clarity." In this class, my professor introduced me to E.B. White's essays. Since then, I have been hooked! When I write essays, I try to use the concise styles of E.B. White and William Zinsser.

Here are some online essays written by E.B. White:

Once More to the Lake

Death of a Pig

Here is a short essay in which E.B. White defined "The Meaning of Democracy."

"We received a letter from the Writer's War Board the other day asking for a statement on "The Meaning of Democracy." It presumably is our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure. Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don't in don't shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea that hasn't been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It is the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of the morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is."


 

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804, as Nathaniel Hathorne. In 1825 or '26, he changed the spelling of his last name, by adding a "W", which his sister also began to use.

Nathaniel Hawthorne as young man

Why would he want to change the spelling of his family name? Well, he had some relatives from generations past from which he wanted to distance himself. One and a half centuries distance was not enough for Nathaniel! He changed his last name's spelling because his distance paternal grandfather, John Hathorne, was the magistrate of the court during the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690's.

John Hathorne

John caused a lot of innocent people to hang for the "crime" of witchcraft. Of course, these women (and a few men) were not witches or in a covenant with the Devil. They were victims of their environment. Superstition was a deeply held belief and the Puritanism was a covenant religion. Either you were for God, or against Him. Either you acted "Holy" and "Pure", or you were evil.

Execution of Anne HibbinsSource: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/salem/generic.html

If you went for a walk in the woods, you were suspect. Afterall, everyone knows that the woods are the Devil's playground. If you happened to have a skin-tag (as many older people do), you were sure to be hung as a witch, for having a "witches teat"... the mark of a witch. You wouldn't stand a chance.

Rebecca Nurse's graveSource: http://s3.amazonaws.com/findagrave/photos/2001/222/nurserebecca6.jpg

Oh... to live in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600's. So, one can understand why Nathaniel added a "W" to his last name. He seemed to feel remorse for what his ancestor had done. So, Hawthorne wrote some short stories and a novel about life in Salem during the 17th century. The theme of those works centers around flawed humanity and sinful nature. Since Puritans believed that we are all born with Original Sin, a person was doomed from the start. Even the most honest person was full of sin.

This was the premise of "The Minister's Black Veil," "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Scarlet Letter." All three stories take place in Salem during the 17th century. In "TMBV", the minister wears a black veil and refuses to take it off. He is a sinner and he chooses to display his sinful nature for all to see. In "YGB," he has a crisis of faith (and a crisis in his marriage to his wife, Faith.) YGB takes a walk in the woods, which, if you remember, is the devil's playground... He is surprised to see fellow neighbors in the woods doing things that are less than holy and pure. I don't want to spoil it for you, but in the end, YGB's life is ruined because he has lost faith in humanity. He can trust no-one. Who is evil? Who is good? Is there any good to be found in human nature, or are we all just hopeless sinners?

In "The Scarlet Letter," Hester refuses to believe that the relationship (and child) she has had with Reverend Dimmesdale is something for which to be ashamed. She loves him and will not be made to feel like a heathen or an adulturer. Her loyalty to him prevents her from speaking his name to the court who demands that she reveal the name of the father of her "out-of-wedlock" child. She refuses, but one is left to wonder why Reverend Dimmesdale stood by and let her be tormented and thrown in prison for refusing to reveal his name. Was his cowardliness stronger than his love for Hester? Hawhtorne leaves the reader to guess.

Salem, MA is so well known for it's witch trial history, so its other attributes get less attention. Salem is a coastal town with a rich mariner history. Salem and Essex were  important trading ports and there is a magnificent museum devoted to the spice trading that took place there centuries ago. It is called the Essex-Peabody Museum.

If you are in New England, I encourage you to take a drive north of Boston to visit Salem. It's a walkable town with so many places to see. The houses there date back 300 years.

Source: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/snarl/files/2006/10/Salem%20MA%20October%202006%20087.jpgSource: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/snarl/files/2006/10/Salem%20MA%20October%202006%20087.jpg

It's worth a trip!

I made the ambitious goal of studying for 4 hours in preparation for a Spanish midterm exam. Goal reached!  I studied in 45 minute increments, with blog surfing in between.

I did not take the Spanish midterm today. I will take it on Wednesday since I am currently suffering with a case of (non-smoker) pleurisy that has been doing a number on me for the past eight days. To get my mind off of my shortness of breath and related lung pain, I started this blog.

Today, I began to add wonderful sites to my Blogroll. Reading such fine literary blogs has inspired me to develop a reading list for the remaining months of 2009.

I have always read regularly, but during the school semesters, most of my reading is assigned. Most of what I have to read is enjoyable and I am usually glad when I finish a book that I would not have otherwise read. For example, I just finished reading Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. I enjoyed the witty relationship between Benedick and Beatrice. If Shakespeare were a 21rst century screenwriter, I imagine he might have written something similar to Frasier! I am referring to the use of language and its comedic nuances.

I am about to begin reading Macbeth, often called "The Scottish Play" for superstitious reasons. William Shakespeare was the originator of many words and phrases still in use today. Here is one such phrase:

"What's done is done." (spoken by Lady Macbeth in Act III, scene ii.)

...and so I bid you goodnight.

As the title suggests, my blog posts will cover a variety of literary adventures. I will write about my literary travels, write book reviews and will share some of my literary analysis essays. In addition, I may include posts about life in general.

What I am reading for non-school-related pleasure: Julie and Julia.

What I am reading for my English degree: Shakespeare’s “Henry V”; Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and works by Flannery O'Connor.

My goal for yesterday: to study Spanish for 2 hours. Goal reached!

Goal for today: to study Spanish for 4 hours, broken up into small increments of time.

Goal for Monday, October 19, 2009: to do well on my Spanish Midterm exam.