Walk Two Moons, a road trip and three-layered story.

In "Walk Two Moons" tells about Sal's cross=cointry road trip with  Gram and Gramps, allowing Sal to follow where her mother had traveled before.
Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech

Gram and Gramps take Sal on a road trip from Kentucky to Idaho, Sal passes the time by telling them how she and Phoebe attempt to identify a lunatic and a murderer, and behind both tales is the third layer, Sal’s facing and accepting her own loss.

Sal’s other grandparents appear only in one description:

Once I asked my mother why Grandmother and Grandfather Pickford never laughed. My mother said, “They’re just so busy being respectable. It takes a lot of concentration to be that respectable.”

Walk Two Moons, p.15

No wonder Gram and Gramps,–unconventional, impulsively responsive, and in love for a lifetime–so effectively bind the layers of the book. The “respectable” characters are important only in their unimportance.

Sharon Creech mixes tears and laughter in a road trip through sadness, guilt, acceptance, and caring. I’ll get this book of hers back to the library and check out another.

Aphorisms and Thesauri

What’s the difference between an aphorism and a proverb?

When I used what I assumed was an aphorism in the last post, I wasn’t sure, so I investigated.


Definition of aphorism 

1: a concise statement of a principle
2: terse formulation of a truth or sentiment ADAGEthe high-minded aphorism, “Let us value the quality of life, not the quantity”

Merriam Webster

Okay so far. Definition #3 gets technical:


3: an ingeniously terse style of expression aphoristic language. “These are dazzling chapters, packed with perfectly chosen anecdotes and pithy with aphorism.”

Merriam Webster

I wish some reviewer would review my books with that description, but I can’t honestly claim that style of writing.

Are two words synonyms? A simple old-fashioned way to check is with a thesaurus. I use Roget’s “New Edition” of 1873, which I inherited from Cousin Mabel, whose parents must have purchased the book because she was born in 1873 . It threatens to fall apart, the headings are obtuse, and I can’t read the index without a magnifying glass, but it’s a familiar friend.

You don’t have to inherit a copy of Roget–numerous editions have been published in this century, plus electronic editions.

Synonyms for “aphorism,” per Roget of 1873, are: “maxim, apothogm, dictum, saying, adage, saw, proverb, sentence, precept, rule, formula, code, motto, word, byword, moral, sentiment, phylactery, conclusion, reflection, thought, golden rule, protasis, axiom, theorem, scholium, truism. ” If you don’t know how to use some of those in a sentence, ignore them, because your readers won’t recognize them–neither do I.

Note that a synonym is not the the same as a substitute. There are nuances of meaning. Thesauruses (thesauri is also a correct plural–I had to check that out) are not always as exhaustive–or maybe exhausting–as my antique one, but I find the long, micro-print list fun.

Explore the 21-st century editions and variations of thesaurus on Amazon:

No reviews from me for those; explore them (and more) on line or in a bookstore.

One more description–I can’t call it a definition–of aphorism, if you can wrap your mind around it.

Mary’s First Christmas

If Mary told five-year-old Jesus the story of his birth, it might have been like this:

“It’s a true story…It’s the story of how you were born…And the reason why I want to tell it to you is love…

As Mary cleanses a wound on her child’s forehead, from rocks some older boys had thrown, she begins by recounting the visit of the angel who foretold her pregnancy, and her visit to her cousin Elizabeth . The author’s translation of Mary’s song, the Magnificat, is well suited for reading, or chanting, to children:

I sing the greatness of my God

Who chose to raise his lowly maid

While putting down the rich and proud:

Oh, holy is his name!

The Lord remembers Israel;

His mercy and his love remain;

As with our fathers it was well,

With us be it the same.

As the book ends, “Joseph, the carpenter, strong and true” is teaching his son to use hammer and nails.

Mary watches…but Mary isn’t the only one.

The angels are watching.

And God the Father in heaven is leaning low to see.

And all the world is waiting; the shepherds and you and me.

Mary’s First Christmas

My Christmas book wish list includes this author and illustrator, and some others. (Are my children following me?) How I’d love to share these books with all of our grandchildren, one by one!

Dr. Ida–for the Women of India

The Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, started as a single-bed clinic, by Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder who served as a missionary for 50 years. Today, it is one of the top-ranked educational, healthcare and research institutes in the country.

The first class of 14 women—taught by Dr. Ida and a few of her associates, with only one microscope, one skeleton, and few textbooks—faced regional end-of-first-year examinations along with men from established government-run medical schools.  Dr. Ida tried to encourage the girls:

     “All anybody can expect of you is to do your best.”
     The girls were not deceived.  “Best” to Dr. Ida meant nothing short of 90 percent.  They huddled on the long, hard seats staring at each other in terrified silence…Examinations according to the British system were matters of educational life or death.
     Ida, herself one of the examiners, met Colonel Bryson in the hall…
     “Ah, Dr. Scudder! So you’ve brought up your first class for examination?”

“Yes.”  Ida smiled at him brightly.
            His face clouded with sympathetic concern.  “My dear doctor, please don’t be discouraged if none of your students makes the grade this first time.”
            “None of them?” echoed Ida bleakly.
            “”It wouldn’t be surprising…only a small percentage of men pass it.  Naturally we couldn’t expect too much of such a young project, especially all women.  But they can always try again.  Promise me you won’t give up, whatever happens.”
            “I promise,” said Ida.  She went on, head held high but heart sinking to the region of her shoes.
            The grim days passed. Huddled in a tight, silent group in the mission bungalow in Madras where they were housed, the girls waited to hear the results.  Lists from various men’s college were posted and read with dismay.  Only about 20 percent—one in five—was passing!
            “And we’re only women!” wailed one of the fourteen in anguish.
            In a note from the considerate Colonel Bryson, Ida learned the results before they were posted. The distance from college to mission bungalow seemed interminable.  She wished it were a tennis court or a racetrack so she could run at top speed and still be considered proper.  But she reached it finally, stood in the doorway of the room where they were waiting. They read the answer in her radiant face.
            “Lambs!”  She held out her arms to them.  “You did it!  Passed. Every single one of you.  And four of you in the first class.  And—can you believe it?  This places our school at the head of all the medical schools in the presidency!” …
            The next time she met Colonel Bryson, he shook his head.  “I’m afraid, Doctor,” he said sheepishly, “that your girls are setting too high a standard for our men to live up to.”
            Ida only smiled.

From  Dr. Ida, The inspiring story of Dr. Ida Scudder, fifty years a medical missionary in India bu Dorothy Clarke Wilson.

I’ve read a couple of Wilson’s other books–I’d like to own every one of them.

River Crossing by Elephant

Eric Dinerstein traveled by elephant for the final fifty miles to the Royal Karnali-Bardia Wildlife Reserve in Nepal, where he was to study tigers.  “…and this was a slow elephant.”  In the seasonal rain, the path turned into a mud swamp.

After the rains stopped…we reached the banks of the Babai, and, to my dismay, the river was a deep brown torrent.  Across the surging water beckoned the rosewood and acacia forests of Bardia.  The drivers were determined to cross without delay. The mahout, sitting behind the elephant’s head, urged her down the riverbank.  She stalled at the water’s edge, perhaps guaging the the speed of the current or the stupidity of the humans sitting on her back.  The mahout would have none of it.  Whacking her with his stick across her broad forehead and muttering curses, he drove her forward.  Within seconds, the elephant was up to her knees and elbows, then shoulders, and before I could tell the driver that we might want to consider our plan of attack, we were swept away.

For a brief moment, only the tip of the elephant’s trunk and my head were above water.  Elephants are surprisingly bouyant, however, and powerful swimmers, and the drivers, who held onto the saddle ropes, soon had us back on the riverbank.

I had learned a priceless lesson that all of us must discover in our own way:

When life knocks you off your horse, or your elephant, get back on and cross the river.

Fireworks of 1870s, by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott described a fireworks display in Eight Cousins, a book published in 1875.

Uncle Mac takes 13-year-old Rose Campbell into Boston Bay to watch fireworks from his boat:

“…they are going up all over the city, and how pretty they are,” said Rose, folding her mantle about her and surveying the scene with pensive interest.

“Hope my fellows have not got into trouble up there,” muttered Uncle Mac, adding with a satisfied chuckle, as a spark shone out, “No; there it goes!  Look, Rosy, and see how you like this one; it was ordered especially in honor of your coming.”

Rose looked with all her eyes, and saw a spark grow into the likeness of a golden vase, then green leaves came out, and then a crimson flower flowing on the darkness with a splendid lustre.

“Is it a rose, Uncle?” she asked, clasping her hands with delight as she recognized the handsome flower.

“Of course it is!  Look again and guess what those are,” answered Uncle  Mac, chuckling and enjoying it all like a boy.

A wreath of what looked at first like purple brooms appeared below the vase, but Rose guessed what they were meant for and stood straight up, holding by his shoulder and crying excitedly,__

 

“Thistles, Uncle, Scotch thistles! There are seven of them, one for each boy [her cousins]!  Oh, what a joke!”  and she laughed so hard that she plumped into the bottom of the boat and stayed there until the spectacle was quite gone.

 

I think I’ve read elsewhere about fireworks in a stars-and-stripes pattern–or did I see or imagine that?

Do we have such spectacles today, nearly a century and a half after?  Has anyone seen a fireworks display with identifiable flowers or patriotic symbols?