Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

In my boyhood, ours was not a party-hearty household. My parents, religious and conventional, didn't drink--much: some sherry now and again. Dad would occasionally buy bock beer and tell my (disapproving) mom it wasn't "beer"; it was "bock." There's a difference!

I remember, by the way, being shocked to discover that they drank at all. They had preached abstinence, and when I discovered some hooch (in a cabinet above the fridge), I was full (for a while) of that disappointment and disgust and indignation that teens feel when they discover that their parents don't always walk the walk they've talked.

(Obviously the public consumption of sherry and the bock came after my Sad Discovery.)

Anyway, I don't think I ever stayed up to welcome the New Year until high school when our CYF (Christian Youth Fellowship) held a series of placid parties, which generally disbanded at 12:00:01 a.m. on January 1.

Later--now a wild and loose college student (and beyond)--I partied somewhat hearty. Stayed up late; fired down beers (I never really liked "hard" liquor); got sleepy; stumbled through the following morning.

Joyce and I (I recall) spent our first New Year's Eve together as a married couple on December 31, 1969, just eleven days after our marriage. For excitement, we went to her parents' house and played bridge with them and with her uncle Paul and aunt Ruth (wonderful people all). Uncle Paul reminded me of my dad when he said he didn't drink beer--but offered me something called Hop'n Gator, a mixture of Gatorade and beer. (Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. Link to some info about it.)

We spent a subsequent New Year's Eve or two with them, as well.

Then we started going to a succession of parties. The Aurora Education Association (I was teaching middle school in Aurora, Ohio) sort of sponsored a number of "progressive" dinners for a few years, and we enjoyed those--though, as I think about it, requiring people to get out and drive to different venues on NYE was probably not the wisest way to organize a party--especially when many of those people had had a few, you know?

So ... for some decades we spent NYE with colleagues--Aurora, Lake Forest College, Western Reserve Academy, Aurora again (I returned after a four-year hiatus).

But then, in training to hike the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska (and Canada) in the summer of 1993, I stopped drinking cold-turkey. And when I got back, I thought, Why bother starting again? And so I didn't. Haven't had a sip of anything alcoholic since. This was not a "moral" decision; I was not an addict (I just stopped one day--have never regretted it). But I was getting older and figured enough brain cells were dying on their own without the help of Hop'n Gator, et al., so why encourage the loss of even more?

And nowadays, Joyce and I are almost never awake for the Fall of the Ball. We usually go out to dinner somewhere (6-ish); lately, it's been the Cafe Tandoor in Aurora. Maybe go to a movie. Then hurry home before many revelers are on the road, go to bed, fall asleep ... awake to a New Year.

I think the last time I stayed up was when Y2K was worrying everyone (the night it turned the year 2000, for those of you who are chronologically challenged). Will all the world's computers crash? (They didn't.)

Tonight will be equally tranquil, I hope. Dinner. Maybe a movie. Plop into bed. Hope the firecrackers don't awaken me (a neighbor always sets some off at midnight.) Get up, go read in a coffee shop.

I know ... b-o-r-i-n-g.  And I love it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 192

All right. Time to return to Mary Shelley’s story—to her efforts to become a playwright. Pamela Clemit, who has edited the scholarly edition of the two plays, notes that Mary and Bysshe more or less worked together on these two short projects in 1820 in Pisa. (He wrote the lyrics for songs that appear in both plays.) Clemit believes, as well, that the plays were designed for a young audience. She adds that Mary could have been influenced by “Mrs. Mason” (whom Mary's mother had tutored) because it was for that daughter of that friend—as I wrote above—that Mary wrote Maurice, the children’s story not published until 1998, not long after its discovery.[1]
Proserpine is a retelling of the story of Persephone (Mary used the Roman rather than the Greek spelling), and the play begins as Proserpine is begging her mother, Ceres, not to leave her, but her mother, recognizing her duty to serve the gods, says, My lovely child, it is high Jove’s command.[2]
Of course, it’s hard to read this little exchange without thinking of Mary’s yearning for the mother she’d never known, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who had died not long after delivering little Mary.
Anyway, Ceres tells Proserpine not to separate herself from the two nymphs who attend her, Ino and Eunoe, but, of course, she does. Ceres returns later in the day, finds her daughter missing.  And she vows (ending Act I) I will away, and on the highest top / Of snowy Etna, kindle two clear flames. / Night shall not hide her from my anxious search, / No moment will I rest, or sleep, or pause / Till she returns, until I clasp again / My only loved one, my lost Proserpine.[3]
And once again I think: By the time she had written these words, Mary had already buried a premature daughter, her daughter Clara, her son William. And so these lines, for me, shudder with the grief of a bereft mother, a grief that Mary did not need to imagine but only to remember.

[1] “Mathilda, Dramas, Reviews & Essays, Prefaces & Notes.” The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley. Vol. 2. (London: William Pickering, 1996), 69–70.
[2] Koszul, 6. All subsequent page references will be to this 1922 edition, which is the one I read well before I acquired Clemit’s scholarly edition.
[3] Ibid., 25.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Cards

One of the many templates you can
download online. Its problem?
You have to write something on it.
I'm still getting them--now only about one a day or so, however, and there are some obvious reasons why I get so few these fading days:

  • I don't "prime the pump"--i.e., I rarely fire the first shot. There are a few people--almost all family--to whom I write cards each year, a change from my youthful days when I wrote lots of them. But now? I tend to write them only after I've received one. Tacky, I know, but efficient.
  • I'm old(er). I think lots of people are waiting to send my wife a sympathy card rather than wasting time on a Christmas card to me--who knows if the old guy's even sentient anymore? And, of course, because I'm older, some of my earlier friends and acquaintances are ... elsewhere ... and no longer using the USPS or Facebook or anything other than a harp (or fan).
  • The Internet. Because it's so easy to stay in touch these days, a lot of people just don't bother with specific holiday greetings anymore. We're sort of "in touch" with one another via Facebook, etc., so why waste your time (and $$) on cards and stamps and handwriting? I get it. And there are online services (I actually use one of them) that keep track of the birthdays and anniversaries in your circle and allow you to send a digital animated greeting that always arrives on time. (And you don't have to include a check or cash!)
I've noticed a trend in recent years (and I'm in no way suggesting that I'm the first to notice it): Quite a few of the cards I now receive have no personal greeting in them whatsoever. No human handwriting. Instead, they show family pictures--everyone smiling, looking sharp and successful--with a conventional (printed) greeting of some sort. Salutations from Our Family to Yours!

And, of course, the "Christmas letter" (so easy now with computers and color printers), which informs us about members of the family who have won Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Awards, Pulitzers, etc. I confess that I do read these, which sometimes have (or don't have) any personal writing on them at all.

When I was a boy, I hated writing Christmas cards--but I had to do it (Family Decree #247), just as I had to write thank-you notes after my birthday, after Christmas. One thing I did learn from those experiences: Brevity is the soul of wit (I was thrilled to read these words coming from the mouth of Polonius the first time I read Hamlet--though P. was far from one who practiced what he preached).

But--oddly--I remain somewhat old-fashioned. When I get a card from someone, I always answer it (well, not the commercial ones--the ones that say We here at Huge International Corporation wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!). And I answer it using my penmanship, a skill that has declined, steadily, since I won an award in sixth grade (or was it fourth?) from the Zaner-Bloser Co.; for years I kept that certificate (one of the few academic awards I would win in public school). Who knows where it is now?

Who knows where my penmanship is now? Down some rabbit hole, stuck to the skirt of Alice?

My students in later years were very glad, I think, that I'd learned to use the "comment" feature on Word when I graded their papers electronically: That way they could actually read my comments before they ignored them.

Anyway, if you got a partly legible card from me this year, treasure it--not because it has intrinsic value (it really doesn't) but because it's rare. And endangered.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 191

But Love Is Blind (as we’ve all heard), and Mary was always more impressed with talent than with looks—with a glaring exception, Gilbert Imlay, of whom I’ve written extensively earlier in this endless draft. But even in Imlay’s case, it was his publication and travel experiences that attracted her as much as his good looks—well, reported good looks: No authentic image of him has ever surfaced, as I’ve mentioned.
So Mary Wollstonecraft, already embracing the sort of free-love/marriage-is-a-bogus-institution beliefs that would later draw her to William Godwin (a fellow believer), made a rather frank suggestion to Sophia Fuseli, the painter’s wife. Mary would join their household. They would … share … Henry. (Yes, in that way.) Sophia, startled, quickly rejected the proposal and told Mary she was no longer welcome in their home.
Here’s how Wollstonecraft biographer Janet Todd describes what ensued: She [Mary] was humiliated, bested by a woman with half her significance [in Mary’s view]. … Presumably Fuseli made no effort to contradict the banishment; Wollstonecraft left with neither hope nor dignity. There was nothing to do but retire.[1]
In her 2005 biography of Wollstonecraft, Lyndall Gordon is not so sure there was a sexual dimension to all of this. In her own terms, she writes, Mary’s proposal was innocent; the leer came from Fuseli. … Whatever the truth, this is a complex relationship, but there’s enough to question Fuseli’s insinuations.[2]
We’ll probably never know. The evidence is slight (letters are missing, journal entries), and it’s unlikely anything new will appear to confirm or dismiss either vision of these events. To me, however, it seems unlikely that Sophia would banish her for anything but a sexual reason.

All right. Time to return to Mary Shelley’s story—to her efforts to become a playwright.
Mary Wollstonecraft
by John Opie, ca. 1797,
the year of her daughter's birth and of her own death

[1] Ibid., 198.
[2] Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (New York: HarperCollins), 179.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Sundries, 81

1. AOTW--Well, I saw something this week at the health club that profoundly disgusted me. Let's just say that it involved a sink in the locker room and a pair of men's underwear? No more--I've said too much for a Sunday!

2. I finished the final (posthumous) novel of Oscar Hijuelos this week--Twain & Stanley, a novel that imagines the (actual) friendship of Mark Twain and explorer Henry Stanley ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"). Hijuelos (says his wife in the Afterword) spent at least twelve years on the book, researching, writing, and I believe it. I know a lot about Twain (I've read all/most (?) of his books), and I had a childhood fascination for Stanley, principally because of a 1939 movie I saw on TV years ago, Stanley and Livingstone, with Spencer Tracy as Henry Morton Stanley. (Link to a YouTube clip from the film.)

In my memoir (Turning Pages: A Memoir of Books and Libraries and Loss, Kindle Direct) I talk more about this interest in Stanley, and, later, I bought some of his books, which still stand on my shelf.

Anyway, Hijuelos imagines this friendship in great detail (he had little actual documentation), including letters, conversations, and journal entries (principally from Stanley's wife, Dorothy). Shifting points of view, he follows their relationship from 1859, when they met on a Mississippi river boat, which young Sam Clemens was piloting, and follows them to the end.

I liked how Hijeulos hinted at the affection between Twain and Lady Stanley (a lit fuse that never burned down to the explosive), and I liked, as well, how he handled the subsequent blows to Stanley's reputation when stories emerged about his abuse of people in the Congo.

You have to wait until just about the very end to learn the significance of the title, a significance I ain't tellin'!

I'd not read any Hijuelos before this, but I've ordered some of his earlier books.

3. Have you watched any of the "documentary" by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, An Idiot Abroad? We've streamed the 1st season on Netflix, and the stories about their collaborator Karl Pilkington (who plays a dull dude) whom Gervais and Merchant, for a gag, send around the world to visit some iconic sites--the pyramids, Inca and Aztec ruins, etc. They always make certain he has lousy accommodations and has to do things that are, well, uncomfortable.

And speaking of "uncomfortable," that's how we feel as we watch. We've rarely watched an entire episode straight through--it's just too painful to watch. (Link to some footage.)

4. On Christmas Day--after spending the morning cleaning up after our Christmas Eve dinner and gift-exchange with our son and his family--Joyce at I went to see Joy, the new film by David O. Russell, starring Jennifer Lawrence, with important supporting parts by Robert DeNiro (her father) and Bradley Cooper (with whom she has a business relationship). 

It's based on a true story of a woman (whose home life, to say the least, is a mess) who invents a new kind of mop--and charts her struggles to get someone to sell it (and to root out those who are trying to con/cheat/deceive her).

Everyone performs well, but Russell's view of the "American Dream" is a dark one, at least in my eyes. The pursuit of wealth. Get that mansion. Those accouterments. Happiness is then certain. Is Russell promoting this view? Or satirizing it? Watch it and see what you think. (Link to trailer.)

5. We'd sort of forgotten about the TV show Elementary, a modern Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller with Lucy Liu as Watson), so we were glad to see the shows are all on Hulu. We've been streaming Season 2 ... I see that some episodes are on YouTube, too ...  In 2011, Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch starred in a stage production of Frankenstein, alternating characters (Victor F., the creature). I haven't seen it yet but am going to have to remedy that quickly. (Link to some video.)

6. I'm on call for jury duty this week at the Summit County Courthouse. Sigh. I've been called several times over the years--but have not yet actually served on a jury.

7. Finally--the word-of-the-day from dictionary.com today seems fitting for the Holidays:

abdominous = having a large belly; pot-bellied

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Funny Thing ... (2)

I posted the other day about the literary allusions that seem "safe" in newspapers these days--and by "safe," I mean that cartoonists can be somewhat confident that many (most?) readers will know what the cartoonist is getting at.

I mentioned last time that I was surprised that very day when a cartoon in the Cleveland Plain Dealer alluded to Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn"--a rarity, at least in my experience.

Anyway, here are some of the most common ones I've noticed in recent years. There are surely others I've forgotten: Forgive my failing memory.

1. The Bible. I've seen many cartoons that feature the stories of Adam & Eve, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments, Jonah and the big fish, Noah's Ark. (There are certainly others.) These tales from the Old Testament are so much a part of America's common culture that it's hard to foresee a time when readers will not recognize them.

2. Greek Mythology and Literature. The Trojan Horse makes many appearances in cartoons, as do Odysseus and the Cyclops (though not nearly so often as the Trojan Horse).

3. Arthurian Legends. The sword-in-the-stone story is perhaps the most common--but the Round Table has its share of appearances, as well.

4. Tales by Washington Irving. Especially around Halloween, the Headless Horseman rides again (from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), and Rip (from "Rip Van Winkle") is fairly common, too, year-round.

5. Frankenstein. The creature from Mary Shelley's 1818 novel appears in all seasons (though, of course, most frequently around Halloween). Many people call the monster "Frankenstein," though Mary Shelley had made it very clear that it had no name. That was part of the horror. Victor Frankenstein didn't care enough to bother naming his creation.

6. Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge (from A Christmas Carol, 1843) is common this time of the year, of course, but he pops up now and then throughout the year, too. Other characters and moments from Dickens' work are far more rare, though I've see cartoons alluding to A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations.

7. Edgar Poe. Certainly, "The Raven" (1845) is the most frequent Poe creation that cartoonists employ, though Poe himself is a common subject, as well. Some of the stories occasionally appear, too--"The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-Tale Heart."

8. Moby-Dick (1851). This is among the most common, I think. I find a white-whale (or an Ahab) reference every few weeks or so. Everyone knows the fundamentals of the story: obsessive, peg-legged whaling captain (Ahab) pursues white whale that took Ahab's leg in a previous encounter. (BTW: I have a T-shirt that I wear sometimes when I'm working out at the health club; on the front it says "Call me Ishmael," and I've had many people recognize this opening sentence from Moby-Dick.) I would guess, though, that fewer and fewer people read that novel every year--even in schools and colleges (where, I would guess again, that it's not all that frequently assigned).

There are, of course, others, some of which I will recall the moment I've posted this. So it goes.

So what does all this mean? As the years go on, the circumference of our common literary culture shrinks--"iris out" was the old filmmaking technique (see photo below). And what remains? What cultural knowledge do most of us share these days? Enduring popular music celebrities, certainly (The Beatles), current pop-culture celebrities (actors, athletes, criminals, politicians). Films (Star Wars). In literature, Harry Potter, I suppose, will hang in there for a while--as Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and others have. (I've been stunned in recent years to discover that people I've talked with have never heard of Norman Mailer, John O'Hara, William Styron, and numerous others.)

But the "classics"--the books? the writers? How much longer for them? I fear it won't be much longer.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Funny Thing ...

A funny thing happened this morning.

I'd planned to write today about how newspaper cartoonists these days still allude to "classic" literature now and again. (I often share them on Facebook.) And I was going to make the point (which I still will!) that there's a very limited number of works and writers "safe" to mention in a cartoon. (It's risky to allude to something many/most people won't know.) Rarely have I seen allusions in the daily (and Sunday) cartoons to anything very ... arcane.

Then, these thoughts forming in my head, I read the Cleveland Plain Dealer online this morning and read the Get Fuzzy cartoon you see at the top of this page with an allusion to John Keats (1795-1821) and his wonderful 1820 "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (link to poem). It ends with the lines

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all  
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

Well, you can see for yourself the changes the cartoonist made--Keats' name, the poem's title. Anyhow, "Urn" was common in the secondary-school and undergraduate curriculum when I was going through school in the 1960s. But I wonder ... is it still? Will lots of people recognize what cartoonist Darbey Conley is doing?

(BTW: I'm not being "elitist" about this--heaven forbid!--just mentioning how the poem used to be common in school and guessing that it's probably not any longer.)

In other publications aimed at more specific audiences, of course, more subtle allusions are common. In the most recent New Yorker, for example, this cartoon appeared ...

Lots of people know the sentence "No man is an island," but it's far less common, I would guess, that readers in high school (even college) today would know that it was John Donne (1572-1631, eight years younger than Shakespeare) who wrote those words as the title of one of his best-known poems.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Hemingway fans, of course, recognize the final five words in the penultimate line.

And such things are common in publications aimed at all sorts of readers. The cartoons in the Phi Delta Kappan (a teachers' magazine) always refer to a teacher's life, sometimes in ways that laypersons would not necessarily relate to.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 190

A digression (I just can’t help it!).
Last Friday (December 18, 2015) I was in the local coffee shop (as I am just about every morning), when I saw a recent former student who had just graduated from college and is now in the process of applying to graduate schools. Oddly, before I went over to say hello, I saw a Facebook post from her that featured a painting that resembled “The Nightmare” (1781) by Henri Fuseli (1741–1825); others have been inspired by that painting (or have sort of stolen the idea), so it could have been one of the others. I wasn’t sure. Her post indicated the nightmarish qualities of the application process.

Anyway, I was amused because—as writers know (writers who are obsessed with a subject)—everything seems to relate to the subject you’re working on. With my own Mary Shelley research I’ve done since 1997, for instance, I see connections from Mary (and her circle) to just about everything else I’m doing. And so it is with Fuseli (pronounced FYOO-zuh-lee), who while in his twenties moved to England but had been born in Switzerland, where his name was Johann Heinrich Füssli.
Known today for his innovative paintings and works of art, he’s had an enormous influence on other artists—then and now—including the younger William Blake, who, if you recall, did some illustrations for the second edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s children’s book Original Stories from Real Life (1791). By the way, you’ve got to love the entire title for this book—and think about how it illustrates the differences between childhood then and childhood now: Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations, Calculated to Regulate the Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness. Not exactly Horton Hears a Who.
And here the story gets juicy. After Mary had become a sort of controversial (minor) celebrity because of her publications (principally, A Vindication of the Rights of Men, 1790, and her still-popular A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792), she became acquainted through her publisher, Joseph Johnson, with Henry Fuseli and his wife. And she felt a powerful attraction to this brilliant, talented man. She began to think they might be able to work out an … arrangement.
Which is interesting. Wollstonecraft biographer Janet Todd points out his various qualities—physical and otherwise—that made him less than an attractive figure to the romantically inclined. Todd says he was irascible and his short, slight stature, white hair and trembling hand … belied his vehemence. He was known for his malevolent wit [and] must have been a dominating presence at the dinner table.[1]

[1] Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000), 153.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday baking ...

... can get to feel like a chore. Let me explain.

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, I baked five fruitcakes, following a recipe used by my grandmother Osborn, then my mother. (I cannot remember a Christmas without them.) It's a light fruitcake--no dark and dank for the Dyers!--and I'll say that even people who profess to hate fruitcake confess to liking this one.

So far, we've given one to a neighbor (with whom we regularly exchange holiday breads), one to our daughter-in-law's grandmother (who especially loves it toasted), one to my mother (via USPS). We will slice one on Christmas Eve, when our son and his family are with us. One will remain for any future needs--and not necessarily the current holiday. Last year, I froze our final one and took it out to Massachusetts in early September when we drove there to celebrate my mom's 96th birthday.

I used to make ten of them every year--sometimes more--but my older brother started baking them a few years ago, too, so there was no need to make one for him and for my younger brother, who also lives in the Boston area. We also "entertain" very, very rarely now--almost always it's family, too. So, no need for superfluous fruitcakes.

Next--the sourdough "Christmas tree bread" (see my recent post about my history with this holiday treat)--a bit of a heavy-duty labor that takes a lot of energy for This Old Guy. But how can it be Christmas--really Christmas--without it? I made three of them this year. The largest one I sent to my younger brother, who will share it with family Back East; a smaller one we will have here on Christmas Eve with our son and family; the third (also smaller) will stay in the freezer. Perhaps our son will want it? Perhaps we'll have it ourselves on Christmas morning (when Joyce and I will exchange our gifts?). We'll see ...

Next--some cornbread, made directly from the old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook--one of the cookbooks my mother used. When we're having turkey, we use some for the stuffing; but no poultry this year, so I'll slice it and serve it, warmed, with dinner.

Next, some sourdough multi-grain bread for dinner (about 15 different sorts of flour in the mix + flax seeds). I made these loaves this past Sunday, and we will eat the long one, save the round loaf for later.

Next--this is not really baking, but it does use some sourdough bread crumbs--steamed pudding (my grandmother Osborn's recipe), our dessert every year. We have a double-boiler we use pretty much only once a year ... for this pudding that's so sweet, I recently told my mom, that you need to go to the dentist immediately after eating any of it.

Finally--a few years ago, our older grandson (Logan) was in a school production about the Gingerbread Man. And ever since then, we've baked gingerbread men cookies for Christmas--using a recipe I got online. They're great, though I don't seem to be able to locate any pictures of them. I'll have to remedy that this year (I'll be baking them tomorrow.)

As I said, all of this can feel like a chore. But not for long. Not for very long at all. For when I see these products cooling on a rack, I feel, again, that I've done something I'm supposed to do. Something that honors my grandmother, my mother, and a Dyer great-grandfather (who went on the Klondike Gold Rush and ate sourdough; as some readers know, I acquired my own starter nearly thirty years ago in Skagway, Alaska, while re-tracing parts of that ancestor's journey).

And it all makes me feel that in a tiny (somewhat tasty!) way I've contributed to the illusion of earthly immortality. I cannot see those breads, taste those breads, without thinking of my family, those still with us, those sadly gone.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Seidman Cancer Center ... continued ...

Seidman Cancer Center
Beachwood, OH
For about two and a half years, Lupron has held my prostate cancer down. I was first diagnosed almost exactly eleven years ago today (late 2004), had a prostatectomy (removal of the gland) in June 2005. But the cancer returned (some cancer cells had escaped the prostate before surgery), so I underwent thirty radiation treatments (M-F) for six weeks in January 2009. But, again, not long afterwards, it began to return, slowly at first, then not so slowly. In July 2013 I received my first quarterly injection of Lupron, a drug that essentially killed my testosterone (the food of prostate cancer).

The results were quick and (in terms of the cancer) effective. Other aspects of my life disappeared. My energy. My libido. My emotional stability (I weep easily about the most mundane things). I'm also visited by frequent periods of high body heat and perspiration ("hot flashes" is an inadequate term).  But this is the price of holding cancer at bay.

I knew from the outset of those injections, however, that Lupron was only a stop-gap measure--not a cure. There is no cure. And so it has been. Until late September of this year, my quarterly measurements of my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) came back "undetectable."

Then--on September 23, 2015--it was again detectable--at the lowest measurable level (0.01). (Want to know more about this test and the numbers? Check out this link.)

My oncologist at Seidman Cancer Center (University Hospitals) told me in September that he was not too worried--the number was very low--but he would test me in six (rather than 12) weeks, just to see.

Six weeks later the number had risen to 0.18. Six weeks after that (last week) it had moved to 0.25. I will be meeting with him at 10 in the morning today--and I'll will finish and post this blog after I return.


At Seidman--a bit of a snafu: They'd neglected to enter my appointment in their database, but they worked it out, and we didn't wait any longer than usual  The doctor is happy with my weight loss--nearly 20 lbs since the summer--and he tried to assure me that the PSA number is not too worrisome, though it does mean, of course, that some cancer cells are alive and duplicating.

He scheduled me for a bone scan in February (prostate cancer loves to move into the bones), and he'll be watching my PSA number every six weeks from now on--instead of every three months. Which was bad enough, mind you. It's not the measurement (a simple blood draw) that's troublesome; it's the waiting for the result.

After he left the room, we waited a little while for the nurse to show up with the Lupron injection (derrière, left cheek!) and with apologies for messing up my appointment. I told her my mother had taught me to worry about evil, not about mistakes, which all of us make. For some reason, I did not feel a thing when the needle punctured me--not usually the case, believe me.

Then we sat for a while with the scheduler to work out times for the upcoming PSA tests, the bone scan, the next visit to Seidman (early March) to consult with the oncologist.

And then we were out of there.

We stopped in Twinsburg at the Starbucks drive-thru, then home for a quick lunch before heading to Stow and the OMBV, where I had to renew my driver's license (I'd forgotten it expired in November; sigh). Passed the little tests. Got it.

(Have I commented lately about the wonders and glories of aging?)

All of this was far more tolerable today for any number of reasons--I'm not feeling sick (well, other than the things I already noted); I am very fond of my oncologist. And Joyce was beside me, every single second. And tonight--we go out to dinner to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary (which was yesterday).

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Sundries, 80

1. AOTW--No one emerged to earn this coveted award this week. Must be the season?

2. I finished a few books this week--not because I read them quickly but because I read them slowly, picking away, a chapter or so a night, and it just happened that I finished three in a single week.
  • X, by Sue Grafton, one of her remarkable Kinsey Millhone mysteries. I started reading them with G Is for Gumshoe and have enjoyed most all of them, though I found myself with this one a little slow to get engaged. One of the things I like about her sequence of novels: They take place in "real" time. The first of them A Is for Alibi, is set near its publication year (1982) (by the way, just checked on ABE: a 1st edition of that book is listing for $7500!), and the other novels continue as if they were occurring in real time. I like this. Robert B. Parker got in a bit of a bind with his Spenser novels, for we learn in the early novels that Spenser had fought in the Korean War. This made him impossibly old later on, so Parker dropped references to Korea. (Michael Connelly has had a similar issue: his LA detective, Harry Bosch, was in the Vietnam War ... making him a bit old for his doings now.)
    • Anyway, Grafton also (in X) has a subplot about a fierce water shortage in California ... sound familiar?
    • Glad I read it--but not my favorite. 
  • Twenty Years After by Alexander Dumas (1845), a sequel to The Three Musketeers. I first read this story in its Classics Illustrated comic-book version when I was a boy, so I finally got around to reading it (on Kindle). The four heroes reunite and get involved in trying (failing) to rescue England's Charles I from his beheading. And some other messes. Not as much swordplay, but still fun to read--and I recently ordered the Classics Illustrated comic from eBay; I'll let you know ...
  • This History and Adventures of an Atom, by Tobias Smollett (1769), my least favorite of all the Smollett novels (I've now read them all). It is a dense (but mercifully brief) tale told by a single atom about a complicated political and military struggle between Japan and China--but it's really a satire about English politics in the 18th century. My poor eyeballs filed a grievance after I made them read it. BUT: I did just acquire a copy of Smollett's snarky travel book (Travels Through France & Italy, 1766); I started it last night and am enjoying his curmudgeonly comments--and will share some later.

3. This week we watched a documentary (streaming Netflix)--The Best of Enemies (2015), about the 1968 debates between William F. Buckley, Jr., and Gore Vidal during the political conventions that year, the campaign that saw Nixon defeat Humphrey.George Wallace was also in the race. (Link to trailer.) It was fun to see the two younger Lions--Buckley on the Right, Vidal on the Left--sparring about the candidates and about the situation in America (at the Dem convention, riots occurred in Chicago, which hosted the convention that year). Naturally, there's some focus on that astonishing moment when Buckley erupted, called Vidal a "queer," and said he was going to punch him in the face.

Some of the documentary's commentators talked about how this was the time when American news organization began to realize that pitting polarized pundits (like that triple p?) against each other was a winner, and we are living with the consequences. ABC, which hosted the events, was well behind CBS and NBC--but these encounters greatly boosted their ratings.

4. This week, Joyce asked me about the expression knock on wood: Did I know its origin? Nah. But I do now--well, insofar as anyone really knows. In the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (1977) there are several paragraphs about the saying, beginning with "There are several theories ...." The first--from the children's game of tag (touching a tree makes you safe); the second--"the Biblical theory" ("the wood symbolizes the cross"); the third--back to ancient times "when druids and other spirits were thought to live in trees"; rap the trunk of a tree & get some help; the fourth--an Irish legend about knocking on a tree to thank the leprechauns; the fifth--the "Jewish version" that dates back to the Inquisition in the 1490s: knocking on the wood of the synagogue door helped fleeing Jews find sanctuary. The entry ends with this: "Take your choice of these five theories--but be sure to knock on wood so you will pick the right one" (330-31).

And in the course of my research, I discovered a 1954 film by that name (with Danny Kaye). It's the story of a ventriloquist whose dummy seems to wish to destroy any amorous relationship the ventriloquist experiences--but of course, it's the ventriloquist himself who has love "issues." Then some spies get involved (the mid-1950s and the Commie Craze)--and a lovely psychiatrist who takes on Kaye. Sounds like something you really (don't?) want to miss? You can watch the whole thing (1:44) on Amazon Video--maybe I will? It's "free" via Amazon Prime (and YouTube). Here's a link to a scene from it on YouTube.

Joyce and I did watch it (some on Friday night, some on Saturday), and I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought, Danny Kaye was fun; the spies were ludicrous ... all so very Fifties.  There's a musical number "Knock on Wood" which is sort of touching. But, of course, I'm very susceptible to being "touched" these days ...

5. It's our 46th wedding anniversary. No luckier man ever lived. Married in Akron, Ohio (in Concordia Lutheran, which Joyce's ancestors, stonemasons, helped build), we honeymooned in New Orleans, where we took a riverboat up into Bayou country (Joyce was already at work on Kate Chopin), then headed home the long way--via Hannibal, Missouri, to see some Twain things and Des Moines, Iowa, to surprise my parents with a visit. Then home to Kent, Ohio, 323 College Court, only a block or so from campus, where we continued our graduate work and from where I drove every day to my job teaching 7th grade English at Aurora Middle School.

The journey ever after, for me, has been magical ...

Saturday, December 19, 2015


I think twit is one of those words whose definition we somehow instinctively know. When someone says, for example, "He's a real twit" (or, more likely: "Stop being such a twit!"), we sort of know, don't we, that the person who's a twit is sort of, well, a twit.

I was thinking of this word today not because (as you could suspect) someone applied that word to such an un-twit as I, but because I came across it in my morning's reading, Oscar Hijuelos' posthumous novel Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise (2015; Hijuelos died in 2013), a novel I could not resist because I've read all of Twain (and visited many sites significant to him, including, of course, his grave in Elmira, NY, where he lies in the same cemetery with former Heisman winner and Browns' draftee Ernie Davis, who'd played for Syracuse right after Jim Brown, and it looked as if they would be together to form perhaps the greatest backfield of all time, but before he ever played a game, Davis was diagnosed with the leukemia that killed him; I remember, as a recent high school grad in 1962, watching him jog around the Hiram College track while the other Browns were scrimmaging, etc.; he wore a Browns' sweatsuit and a watch cap and was not moving very fast; he died less than a year later).

I'd also had a boyhood fascination with Henry Stanley (he of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" fame; by the way--the doctor's less-famous reply was "Yes"), a fascination I recount in my memoir Turning Pages: A Memoir of Books and Libraries and Loss, available on Kindle Direct (Amazon). (I know: shameless hucksterism.)

So--given these interests, how could I not read this new novel?

Anyway, Hijuelos' novel is a fine and moving one (as I write this, I have about fifty pages left), and I will blog about it in more detail after I finish.

Near the end of their lives, Twain (1835-1910)  and Stanley (1841-1904), who were indeed friends, are talking about what Twain sees as the rise of American imperialism (Cuba, the Philippines); Stanley's not so sure. Anyway, in the course of the conversation, Stanley says, "Or, to put it differently, Samuel, no matter how noble the cause, once the d--d twits take over, greed presides and morality goes out the window" (380).


So ... when I read that sentence this morning, I started thinking about twit and promptly looked it up on my (usually) trusty smartphone, and I saw that it went back to the 16th century. At home, I hopped on (notice how we "hop" online!--as we "hop" on a freeway) the OED, where I learned that its principal use (as a noun) is a taunt or censure of someone (a meaning I don't believe I've ever come across); it is definition 2a that Stanley was using (and that I've long known): a fool; a stupid or ineffectual person, a usage, says the OED, that goes back only to 1934 (oops, an anachronism, Mr. Hijuelos!). It's the verb (to blame or find fault or condemn) that dates to the late 1500s. And, again, this is a use of the word I don't recall encountering--though (see below) I most certainly have.

Shakespeare used it in several times in his trilogy of plays about Henry VI. In Part Two, Suffolk says, speaking of the Queen:

Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here
With ignominious words ... (3.1).

I don't think the use of twit as a verb is going to come back into general usage--and even its noun use is rare now, I think--though, as I said, we sort of instinctively know it ain't good when someone calls us a twit. It sort of sounds like what it means. But other words remain ...

... for example, Twitter. So here's a question to end with: Do only twits tweet on Twitter?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 189

Like many other writers before and after (including her own father), Mary Shelley took a shot at being a playwright. This does not usually work out well for people who are not especially talented at dramatization—to wit (always wanted to use that expression), Henry James or John O’Hara or Norman Mailer or numerous others who wrote fine novels or stories but failed on the stage. (James had the misfortune of mounting a play in London at the time Oscar Wilde was emerging—a man who could write powerfully in more than a genre or two.)
In the course of my research, by the way, I did read the plays written by her father, William Godwin. And—to be punny—they were God-lose. He was a fine novelist (at times), but his plays—St. Dunstan (1790—unpublished), Antonio: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1800), Abbas: King of Persia (1801—unpublished), and Faulkener: A Tragedy (1807) … tragedies in every sense. (I did not read the two unpublished ones, which, until 2010, existed only in manuscript. In 2010, they were all published, but the cost, for me, is prohibitive: $200.)
In the spring of 1820, living with Bysshe in Pisa and, while she was slowly researching and writing Valperga, she wrote two “unpublished mythological dramas,” as they were called when they first appeared in print more than a century later, 1922.[1] This 102-year-delay gives some clue about their success. Mary did attempt to get them published, and in November 1831 she got a revised version of Proserpine published in an annual periodical (The Winter’s Wreath), but neither brief play ever appeared onstage during her lifetime.
I say “brief.” I see in my notes that I read them both on July 21, 1997—six months after I’d retired from my public school teaching career. My journal—which at the time was very perfunctory (to say the least)—does not say much. We were in the midst of trying to sell our wonderful house in Aurora, Ohio, for we had found a smaller place in nearby Hudson that we loved and where (as I type this on December 18, 2015) we are still living. In the morning, I read all of Proserpine at Saywell’s Drug Store (and soda fountain and coffee shop, R.I.P.), our favorite hangout at the time, and commented with only this in my journal: some moving lines and moments. That’s helpful.
Later in the day I read all of Midas but said only that I finished it and typed notes on the two plays even later on. Each two-act play got a single page, single-spaced, 11-pt. font. Appropriate, I fear.

[1] Proserpine & Midas: Two Unpublished Mythological Dramas, ed. A. Koszul (London: Humphrey Milford, 1922).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Odd Old Thoughts

I have to say that I'm getting weirder as I get older, a thought that conforms, of course, to the general conception that many (younger) folks have of the older. I remember thinking my great-grandmother Osborn was weird--and my grandmother Dyer (and they were!). When I was a kid, Grandma Dyer, who was in a nursing home out in Oregon at the time, told me a strange story about a guy who'd been hit in the head by lightning. And lived. And was kind of ... bizarre ... afterwards. (Really?) I thought it was so funny I had to go outside to laugh some more. Now, I find myself wanting to tell stories like that, too--though I've not yet encountered someone zapped in the head by Thor.

Another certain sign: I think about the damnedest things in the shower. Today, emerging, I looked at the towel on the rack and wondered: Should the fold be on the left or the right? I think I remember some movie or TV show where a rich woman--a character we were supposed to dislike--yelled at her maid because the fold was on the "wrong" side.

And that memory made me think of Emily Post. And that made me think of her book Etiquette, which was on our parents' bookshelf for as long as I can remember. It's now on mine. Why? Surely they didn't give it to me because I needed ...?

The edition I have (see pic at the bottom of this post) is the seventh printing of the 1937 edition (pub. in 1939), so my memory is correct: It was in our house throughout my boyhood (I was born in 1944). My mother has written her name on the recto of the front endpapers--on the top. Mom always printed (sort of) her signature and printed pretty much everything else, too. I should ask her about that ... about why ...

Anyway, Emily Post and Etiquette were touchstones in my boyhood home. Mother would consult the book to settle disputes about where tableware should lie. And numerous other things. (I always found EP annoying.)

So this morning--after I dressed--I found Etiquette on my shelf (where it has stood, unconsulted, for decades--I actually blew dust from it) and decided to settle the fold-in-the-towel question. The word towel does not appear in the index, so I tried bath towel; nope, but I did find a listing for Bath robes in country houses--not something I've ever had to worry about.

I went to the chapter "The Well-Appointed House" and read about how many servants I need ("The Butler in a Smaller House" is a subhead); in fact, Post has a little section about all kinds of servants (valet, lady's maid, tutor, etc.). There's even a "Working Schedule for a One-Maid House." At ten a.m., the maid should Go upstairs, make beds, clean bathrooms, sweep, dust, empty waste-baskets (217). That would be nice.

But I couldn't find anything about towels. So I checked Google and found a YouTube video that explains how to do it (link to video). Watching it (yes, I watched it!), I discovered you can fold them so that both sides have the fold. Oh, what have we been doing in our bathroom-towel-hanging for decades?!?!?! Shame!

I was stunned to see how many sites Google had found for me, by the way--all sorts of advice about towel-hanging. (Ms. Post should be ashamed.)

I couldn't leave Etiquette without going to Chapter 42: "Table Manners" and to its subheading "Talking at Table." Here's the opening sentence: When older people are present at the table and a child wants to say something, he must be taught to stop eating momentarily and look at his mother, who at the first pause in the conversation will say, "What is it, dear?" And the child then has his say. If he wants merely to launch forth on a long subject of his own conversation, his mother says, "Not now, darling!" or "Don't you see that mother is talking to Aunt Mary?" (748).

Yeah, that works.

And in a section called "Embarrassing Difficulties," here's this: If you choke on a fishbone, leave the table quickly. To spit anything whatever into the corner of your napkin is too nauseating to comment on (749).

And let's end today with this: When children behave like hoodlums and eat like little pigs, it is solely and entirely the fault of their elders (753).

I could go on--and I think I will in some subsequent "posts." (It's always polite to warn readers in advance.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 188

In 1820 the Shelleys were living in Pisa, where Mary began writing Valperga around March 6. She was doing lots of research, including Machiavelli’s La vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca, where she learned more about Castruccio. But she also read Robinson Crusoe and Boswell’s Life of Johnson and some novels by Sir Walter Scott, including Ivanhoe, and her father’s fine novel Caleb Williams.
(Ivanhoe, a novel my mother taught in the 1950s to her students at Emerson Junior High School; Enid, Oklahoma; Ivanhoe, a 1952 movie I loved with Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor; Ivanhoe, a story I read repeatedly as a lad in Classics Illustrated comic book form; Ivanhoe, a novel I finally got around to reading myself in 2014, my seventieth year to heaven.)

Oh, and Mary was also reading Cicero (in Latin) and studying Greek.
Sometimes, reading about Mary Shelley, reading her letters and journals (not all of which survive—some very interesting pages are missing, no doubt destroyed by her, perhaps by her son, later, to protect her already fragile (if not fractured) reputation), reading her novels and other work, I feel … lazy. By comparison.
I am not reading Roman authors in Latin. Nor am I studying Greek. I’m not researching and writing a thick novel about a medieval Italian. Last night, in fact (December 15, 2015), I read some of a Longmire mystery, watched an episode of Broadchurch, and had the light off before 9:30 (my custom, by the way).
But Mary Shelley was serious about an intellectual life (I am, too, I like to think—but her routines and accomplishments are a tad intimidating)—and later, after her husband had drowned, she wrote about how it was study that kept her sane. She would lose herself in books, in her writing. And … for a while … she would (kind of) forget.
She had taken to heart that line Macbeth sort of casually tosses off to Macduff, who’s just arrived at the castle—where there’s been some … bloodshed: Macbeth has just slain the sleeping king—but must pretend nothing is amiss.
The labour we delight in physics [medicates] pain. Doing work you love can alleviate your suffering. This was what Mary had learned from her numerous personal tragedies. It was a strategy she would employ for the rest of her life—following the advice of a murderer!

[1] 2.3.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Tree Bread, 2015

This past Sunday I baked--once again--the Christmas tree bread that I've baked every year for, oh, too long. (I did a post about this a few years ago with some details--link to 12/12/2012.)

I almost didn't do them this year. It's a lot of physical effort, and I've become something of a wuss in the last couple of years (i.e., my accelerating dotage). Also, I'm not really sure than anyone else in the family (save Joyce) is as crazy about them as I am. (Each year I send the large one--pictured above--to my brothers in Massachusetts, who generally have Christmas together with their loved ones, including my mom.) I don't know how much of it actually gets consumed there.

It was Mom, as I wrote about in 2012, who made the first ones I remember from boyhood. She probably got the recipe from one of those homemaking magazines--but I'm not sure. I am sure that she would not remember now if I asked her: She's 96--holding on, but her traitor memory is being his treacherous self.

I can't remember when I first started baking them. I started baking bread early in our marriage (Dec. 20, 1969), entirely for pecuniary reasons in those days: We were struggling graduate students living on Joyce's $2500 teaching assistantship at Kent State and my paltry public school teaching salary, which was $7506.00 in 1969-70.

Anyway, we got so fond of homemade bread that we've very rarely had "store-bought" bread of any kind in our house since the early 1970s. I cannot remember the last time. (I make loaves, rolls, pizza dough, muffins, scones, etc.)

In the summer of 1986, on a trip to Alaska and the Yukon with our son (who had just turned 14) (I was in the early stages of my Jack London-mania), I bought some sourdough starter in Skagway, Alaska, and I've been using it ever since. It will turn 30 this August. I have baked with it just about every week since then.

I can't remember if I made the tree bread with yeast before I began my sourdough era. I think I did. But I know I've been making it for at least a quarter-century with the sourdough.

The recipe is one I sort of improvised, then tinkered with over the years: sourdough, oat and wheat and white flour, honey, salt, milk, candied fruit, slivered almonds, sliced apricots (my favorite!). Later--after the baking (on the day of consumption)--I heat it a little, spread an icing (looking like snow, of course) over it, sprinkle more candied fruit (tree decorations!) with a maraschino cherry atop. It is a sweet-ish bread but not like a donut or something--definitely not like a fruitcake. It's more a bread--somewhat sweet and fruity and nutty--but not offensively so (to me). Does that make sense?

2011, slightly fuzzy!
You can slice it--or rip away chunks (my favored technique). It re-heats wonderfully well.

This year--as is my wont--I posted pictures (see top and bottom pix) on Facebook--and got some questions from Friends, queries which I hope this post has answered.

I do know this: There are several things we eat here on Christmas that help make it Christmas: one is the tree bread, another is the white fruitcake (from a recipe my grandmother Osborn used--I've posted about it here), another is that same grandmother's steamed pudding, a concoction so sweet that, as I told my mom on the phone the other day, you need to go to the dentist immediately afterwards, for your teeth begin to rot the moment you take your first bite. (Mom was kind enough to laugh.)

Hey, Christmas is for calories, right?

PS--The recipe I now use makes two large trees or four smaller ones or (my custom) one large and two small. As I said, I send the larger one to Massachusetts; we eat one of the smaller ones; we freeze the final one, sometimes taking it to social events in the summer. Just for fun.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 187


So … Mathilda and Maurice were two of her writing projects during her sad sojourn in Italy, 1818–1823. But these were smaller in scope and required nothing like the effort she expended to research and write a novel published in February 1823 (several months before she left to return to England) as Valperga: Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca.

In the scholarly edition of the novel, editor Nora Cook notes that Mary had originally thought of the idea before they’d left for Italy, but the idea took shape at Naples in early 1819; but there, reports Crook, the research materials were not sufficient, so it was in Pisa and the nearby Bagni de Pisa (Baths of Pisa—about 3.5 miles northeast) that Mary did the bulk of her work.[1]
It is a long novel—more than 325 pages in Crook’s edition (which features a smallish font!)—and deals with some historical events and figures in medieval Italy. I’ll confess that I didn’t know very much (okay, nothing at all) about these events—and had never heard of Castruccio—before I read her book between March 20–31, 1997, very early in my “Mary Shelley period.” I had retired from public school teaching only about two months earlier and had really just begun working full-time on Mary and her work. So I have to say that I was a bit … ignorant … when I read the novel.
I compensated, though, as I just discovered when I checked my file on Valperga: fifteen single-spaced pages of notes. That’s what one (I) does (do) when one (I) doesn’t (don’t) know very much: Write down everything.
But do not despair. I am not going to summarize the story in detail (something that, I know, is a very powerful narcotic). But I’ll give you a swift, sort of Wikipedian notion of what her novel is about—a novel, I confess, that I read because I knew I should rather than because I was mesmerized.
It deals with the war between the Guelphs and Ghibellines (contending forces in northern Italy … want to know more? Look it up yourself!) and the rise of Castruccio, who would lead the winners (the Ghibellines, defending Florence) and would have relationships with two key women—Euthanasia (scary name—so close) and Beatrice. (Dante, by the way, was living at the time, though he appears only allusively in the novel).
Euthanasia doesn’t fare well. Near the end of the novel (spoiler alert!), sent away by Castruccio, she boards a ship, which encounters a storm with huge, dark columns, descending from heaven and a bunch of other bad stuff. The ship is lost—with all on board. Among the ruins that wash up? A broken mast, round which, tangled with some of its cordage, was a white silk handkerchief, such a one as had bound the tresses of Euthanasia the night before she had embarked, and in its knot were a few golden hairs. … She slept in the oozy cavern of the ocean; the sea-week was tangled with her shining hair ….[2]
Again, let’s be careful about reading too much autobiography into an author's novel. But … only seven months before publication, Percy Bysshe Shelley had drowned during a storm at sea.
And, while we’re at it, a lock of Mary Shelley’s hair survives and was on display at the New York Public Library in 2011 (link to story).[3]

[1] The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley, Vol. 3 (London: William Pickering, 1996), xi.
[2] Ibid., 322.
[3] Huffington Post, 11 May 20111.