Thursday, February 28, 2013

You'll put your eye out!

Public service announcement!

I find myself liking these guys more and more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oh, this will end well!

It's good to see them having fun.

"En garde" tells the fighters to take their stance.
"Allez" is the signal to begin.

"Coming out" is the coming-of-age ritual for girls at this time. Technically I think it means being presented at court, but most novels gloss over that in favor of describing the huge, over-the-top ball. A girl could not be courted or appear at social events until she had come out.

Imention this because I was trying to figure out if there was an equivalent for boys. I am not sure there was. They were breeched between 4 and 8, but I don't think that made them men. Perhaps the nearest equivalent for a young gentleman was attending university, which they might do starting as young as 15. As for when they could engage in business, or attend social events, I don't know. Blackadder and Horrible Histories both spoof William Pitt the Younger, but I see he was 24 before he became Prime Minister, even though he was portrayed as a schoolboy.

You know, I thought I wrote down which university Stephen will be attending, and which one Allen attended, but I can't find it now, and I can't remember.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shillelagh time

Technically he should have said "Don't worry, Mahon!" but that would probably confuse a lot of readers. Who's Mahon? Actually it's a place. It's some island that Vicount Mahon, formerly Stephen Stanhope, recently became Viscount of.

Let me explain:
The Old Earl passed away a couple weeks ago.
His eldest son was Hugh Stanhope, but no one called him that. As the heir, he held the courtesy title of Viscount Mahon. He is now Earl Stanhope. His son Stephen Stanhope is now Viscount Mahon. His brother Allan Stanhope.... is still plain Allan Stanhope.

Christian names were given but rarely used. Family that grew up together might be on a first-name basis, while even married couples might call each other Mr&Mrs Lastname. It depended on the people, of course, but these two must be close friends....


Friday, February 22, 2013

My trip in an ambulance

Yesterday, I blacked out at work. Someone sat me down in a chair and I blacked out again. They thought I was having a seizure and sent me to the hospital in an ambulance. I was there most of the day. Finally all the tests were back, and they concluded I did not have a seizure and have no underlying medical issues.

While it's good to know I'm healthy, I have no medical insurance, and this is going to hurt.

Here's your update.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Teatime talk

"Lunch" isn't a period-correct meal, but 'supper'  'dinner' and 'picnic' don't have the same ring.

Tea as a meal did not exist in 1761. One might drink tea, but not "take tea". It was an expensive beverage. The leaves were locked up and used twice, then given to servants for their own use. Often these used leaves were sold, adulterants added, and resold as fresh tea.

The only sweetening was honey or sugar cane, grown by slave labor in the tropics and imported. Sugar beets were developed later, during the Napoleonic Wars. Sugar cubes, "one lump or two?" were not invented and patented until 1843. (writers of Regency romance take note!) Before that sugar was molded into tall conical loaves weighing several pounds each, and had to be cut with special sugar nips.

Tea was a lifesaver for the English for an unexpected reason- the act of boiling water for tea killed bacteria. People held to the medieval theory that illness was brought on by "miasma" or bad air, and so paid no attention to the cleanliness of their food, water, or persons. The link between water and illness was not dreamed of until the 1854 cholera epidemic, and even then, many were skeptical.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

They hadn't invented psychology yet.

Have you ever been near a tree when it's struck by lightning? It lights up like a million watt bulb. Then it explodes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

He didn't get the memo

I've been having trouble updating the page siloen.html for the last week. I update the picture and links in Dreamweaver and upload, but I'm still seeing the old version of the page, even after hitting reload. I was able to get around it before by logging onto the webhost and deleting the page entirely, then uploading from Dreamweaver, but that isn't working today. Still seeing page 4 when I KNOW 5 ought to be showing.

I took siloen.html down for 20 minutes, and when I loaded it after that it was correct. I also cleared my cache. I don't think that's the problem, but it was worth a try.

This isn't happening with any other page on the website.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Does he land buttered side up?

How do people address each other in the 18th century? Well, it has everything to do with who has the higher social status...titles...gender... in other words, it's complicated and I don't entirely understand it. Only people who grew up together or close female friends might call each other by their Christian names.  Men usually addressed each other by last name, unless one had a military rank or title... and a man might have several titles and collect more through their life.

Let me draw some examples from Pride & Prejudice:

No one ever addresses Mr. Darcy by his given name, Fitzwilliam (his mother's maiden name). They talk ABOUT Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, but no one calls him by his name. I imagine Elizabeth will still address her husband as "Darcy" after they are married, much as Mrs Bennet addresses her husband as "Mr. Bennet."

Elizabeth addresses her aunt as "My dear aunt" or "Mrs Gardiner"; her aunt addresses her as "Elizabeth" or "Lizzy". Lady Catherine addresses Colonel Fitzwilliam imperiously as "Fitzwilliam," but I'm not sure if she is his aunt by blood or by marriage. On reflection, probably marriage.

I wish Darcy & Colonel Fitzwilliam had addressed each other by name in the course of conversation. Last names, first names, nicknames? It would help me know how my characters should address each other, because that's tripped me up for a while. I made some decisions- don't know if they're correct but I'll stick with them for now:

Highlight for a discussion of nomenclature that includes spoilers:
Hugh and Allan are the old Earl's sons. They're 15 years apart in age. (They have a married sister, Mary, and several deceased siblings; such was the 18th century- but I digress.) As the heir, Hugh had the courtesy title of Viscount. Anyone not in the immediate family would address him as Viscount Mahon. Mahon is a place; it's what he's Viscount OF. As children, Hugh and Allen may have addressed each other by their first names? I'm guessing? Or perhaps Allen is just full of sass. Because Hugh has just become Earl, he wants everyone to address him as befits his station, including his disreputable much younger brother. Hugh's eldest son Stephen, when he was the grandson of an Earl, was addressed as Mr. Stephen Stanhope. As the current Earl's heir, he is now given the courtesy title of Viscount and is addressed as Viscount Mahon.

How Stephen and Allen called each other (as children) is less obvious. They are 6 years apart in age. Was courtesy due to Allen for being the uncle, or to Stephen for having a higher social standing? Did Stephen address him as Allen, Uncle Allen, Uncle Stanhope, or Mr. Stanhope? Given that Stephen was also Mr. Stanhope, that seems odd. It is a fair bet that Allen called Stephen by his first name, since an Earl's grandson doesn't have a courtesy title, and say, a 12-year-old Mr. Stanhope calling a 6-year-old Mr. Stanhope just sounds odd.

So, say, cousins seem to address each other by surname. If you had a half-dozen brothers who all married and had a half-dozen sons each, would all 36 cousins address each other as Mr. Lastname, when their Lastnames are the same? Actually, given that there were only about a dozen first names in common use, a third of them would probably have the same first names. In that case, family would probably call them by a nickname.

This is all most confusing.

Stanhope is pronounced "Stannup," by the way.

When drawing examples from Pride & Prejudice, it is important to remember it was written about women, by a woman. The kinds of things men would only say or do in the company of other men do not appear in the book. Don't think I'm criticising it- I'm saying it is an incomplete view of life at that time. Read Bosworth's Journal for contrast. Bosworth was a decadent young man living in London, and most of his journal concerns prostitutes, STDs, and maneuvering to get a military rank without buying it with money.

On technical aspects: I've been having some difficulty since making this the main page. I save and upload in Dreamweaver, but it still shows the non-updated version. I figured out that I can log onto the server and delete the page, then upload from Dreamweaver, but I find that tedious. The archive page loads just fine, so I don't know what the trouble is.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The groundskeeper finally did his job.

And when you gaze long into the ha-ha,
the ha-ha also gazes into you.

It's buggy and damp and full of weeds,
and do you really want to go there?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dragons and Earthquakes

 Clicking on the picture will take you to Chapter 2, page 2. This link will take to to the latest update, even if it's a year from now.

When I'm troubled or anxious, I tend to watch a lot of disaster videos. It keeps me amused, but really doesn't do much for my anxiety or help me sleep better at night. Sometimes it's tornados, floods or volcanoes. This week it's been earthquakes. I had no idea England had frequent earthquakes! They're too mild to cause much damage, which is why they don't make international news. But it may shed light on a legend associated with Arthurian mythology, of Vortigern and a boy with a number of names. You probably know him as Merlin. Here is the legend as Wikipedia tells it. The rest of the article is available here:

[According to legend, when Vortigern fled into Wales to escape the Anglo-Saxon invaders, he chose a lofty hillfort as the site for his royal retreat. Every day his men would work hard erecting the first of several proposed towers; but the next morning they would return to find the masonry collapsed in a heap. This continued for many weeks until Vortigern was advised to seek the help of a young boy born of a virgin mother. The King sent his soldiers out across the land to find such a lad. The boy they found was called Myrddin Emrys (Merlin Ambrosius). Vortigern, following the advice of his councillors, was planning to kill the boy in order to appease supernatural powers that prevented him from building a fortress here. Merlin scorned this advice, and instead explained that the hill fort could not stand due to a hidden pool containing two vermes (dragons). He explained how the White Dragon of the Saxons though winning the battle at present, would soon be defeated by the British Red Dragon. After Vortigern's downfall, the fort was given to alias Emrys Wledig (Ambrosius Aurelianus), hence its name.]
Dragons fighting under the earth as an explanation for earthquakes? Its as good a theory as any, and makes for great poetry as well.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Are you a witch, or are you a fairy?

Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?

Here's a gruesome real-life fairy story for you: Bridget Cleary, killed by her husband in 1895 in the belief that she was a fairy changeling. The Irish take their Fair Folk very seriously.

My, what fine yet rustic architecture....

Did a little rearranging. As of today, this link:

will always take you to the newest page.

Remember the cast iron gates in Chapter 1?
That taught me why I shouldn't try to render straight hard lines with a paintbrush. It took a lot of work with Photoshop to clean up the errors. I tried out calligraphy pens briefly, but the scritch scritch was driving me crazy.
For this page, I acquired a set of used Rapidograph pens. I wasn't real impressed at first, then I realized it was the ink that was subpar. The pens are ok, but I rarely use them after this. Brush painting feels like poetry; technical pens are business. That's how I feel about it, anyway. Your milage may vary.