A Women’s History Sampler


This sampler is dedicated to Senator Elizabeth Warren

With thanks to Senator Mitch McConnell for inadvertently summarizing the
History of Women in just eleven words

Created without traditional needle and thread in Photoshop Elements

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On My Bookshelf – The Domesday Book


Quite why my eyes should rest on The Domesday Book out of all my history books this morning I can’t quite say. But perhaps it had something to do with the fact that yesterday I inadvertently ended up watching the Press Conference/Reality Show of our Dear Leader. Perhaps it was his casual reference to nuclear holocaust and joking threat to “shoot that (Russian) ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.” Perhaps it was the fact that The Domesday Book records a civilization at the moment of its demise. In the years after 1066 the Anglo-Saxons mounted a heroic resistance to their Norman conquerors but in Continue reading

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Trump Hall


Literary and historical analogies to the new administration in Washington have been flying as fast and indiscriminately as the hastily scribbled Executive Orders fly from the Oval Office desk. 1984, Brave New World, The Plot Against America, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany (you know, the ones who perpetrated a Holocaust against everybody), a banana republic, a tin-pot dictatorship, the Fall of Rome. Pick your favorite dystopia. All have had their moment as the metaphor du jour. But since the shocking events of this past week and the rise of Stephen Bannon as the power behind the Throne I can’t help thinking of the Tudors. Henry VIII and his henchman Thomas Cromwell, the protagonists of Hilary Mantel’s brilliant novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Continue reading

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My Happy New Year greetings have been somewhat muted this year. It’s hard to envisage future happiness when the entire fabric of the space/time continuum is about to unravel. And that’s just the winter weather forecast. What is happening in the nation’s capital today is on quite another level of awfulness. Like a driver passing a traffic accident I don’t know whether to stare at the carnage or avert my eyes.

So I do what I always seem to do in moments of crisis. Retreat into history. I find Continue reading

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What is Boxing Day?


As an immigrant to the U.S. from England, one of the most perplexing questions I’ve had to answer is “What is Boxing Day?” Growing up in England I never questioned why the day after Christmas, December 26th, is another holiday. It just is, in the way we take for granted the traditions we grow up with. I had some vague notion that it had to do with putting the empty boxes from Christmas gifts away in the attic, though we never actually did this ourselves. Probably because we didn’t have an attic. I also associated it with Continue reading

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A Very Amerrygun Christmas


To celebrate Christmas Eve in a suitably American manner I reprise my rewrite of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” first published by The Dabbler last year. I made a few changes in acknowledgement of our dire present circumstances.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land
Fear and loathing were stalking, the War on Christmas was banned
By a three a.m. tweet from the President-Elect
Yes Donald Trump won, what did you expect?

Assault weapons were stowed by the chimney with care
Stockings stuffed with ammunition to spare,
The children were cowering alert in their beds
While visions of terrorists danced in their heads.

Mama in her bulletproof vest and I in a fright
Kept watch for the enemy all through the night,
Mexicans, Muslims, the ACLU
The enemy is everywhere, coming for you!

Tonight we expected to greet good St. Nick
And look out for evildoers who might try to trick
By planting a pipe bomb inside Santa’s sack
Or hitching a ride on dear Rudolph’s back.

So when the sounds came of a sleigh in the air
I picked up my gun and took aim with great care.
It might be St. Nick, but how could I know
Till I saw his fat belly and heard his Ho Ho?

As the reindeer drew up on the new-fallen snow
I knew jolly St. Nick by his ruddy cheeks’ glow,
But from up in the bedroom there arose such a clatter
And then on the snow I saw reindeer blood spatter.

Alas, we had trained our children too well,
They thought our St. Nick was a Liberal from Hell
So they took up their weapons and blasted away
Yelling “Our Merry Christmas Trumps your Holiday!”

Twas a sad Christmas morning when on the TV
Came news of another mass shooting spree,
Santa and reindeer were all blown away
No toys in kids’ stockings thanks to you NRA.

Then from up in Trump Tower Trump tweeted the news
That he and pal Putin had come up with a ruse
To seize guns and ammo all over the land
Replace them with Nukes, Armageddon is planned!


With sincere apologies to Clement Moore.


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How St. Nicholas Became Santa


Russian Orthodox Icon

When I was a small child growing up in England we didn’t have Santa Claus and we didn’t hang up stockings or set out cookies on Christmas Eve. Instead, following the tradition of my mother’s Flemish homeland, my sister and I put a pair of wooden clogs by the fireside with carrots in them for St. Nicholas’s donkey. In later years as my mother absorbed English culture we abandoned St. Nicholas in favor of the very English Father Christmas. Our celebrations were complete with Continue reading

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