This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,7xx) on Friday, May 31, 2019.
For the past six or seven weeks, we have left our beehives alone. This is the main honey-making season, and we did not want to do anything to disturb them. That changed this week when I opened them to make a brief inspection and to see if there was a possibility that we could harvest some honey.
I’m happy to say that the signs at this point are good. This has been a good spring bloom-wise, and there was honey in the hives. There are still a few weeks to go in the blooming season, but the hives have plenty of bees, and other signs within the hives indicate the colonies are healthy. I’m including here a picture of a frame that is full of capped honey — which is exactly what we want.
Honey harvesting will take place in about four weeks, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, I hope that you have had a great week and are beginning a wonderful weekend.
Under the newsletter’s hood: Last week’s newsletter was sent to 2,800 subscribers and had a 30.8 percent open rate; 7 people unsubscribed. A chart showing the percentage of newsletter recipients who opened the newsletter each week during 2019 is below the signature of this email.
Important: Remember to open the images or click on one of the links so that my email service will record your engagement, and you will stay active on the list. Thanks.
Overcoming debt and grief, Sir Walter Scott wrote – and wrote some more
Despite fame and great fortune, Walter Scott found himself in 1826 at a low point in his life.
The year before, a banking crisis had plunged the nation into a depression, and Scott went from being a man rich with assets to a man with 130,000 pounds of debt (the equivalent of 10 million pounds today). His publishing business has gone bankrupt, and he had many creditors. He could no longer afford to maintain two houses, one in Edinburgh and one in the country — a large house he named Abbotsford.
In 1826, Charlotte, his wife of nearly 30 years, died, and grief added to his burdens.
Scott gave up his Edinburgh house and put Abbotsford into a trust for his creditors.
To dig himself out of his grief and his debts, Scott did what he had always done. He wrote. He wrote prodigiously.
In the next six years, he produced six novels, two plays, two short stories, 11 works and nonfiction, and many other unfinished works. In addition, he kept a journal that would be published many years after his death. His nonfiction works included a life of Napoleon Bonaparte, a history of Scotland, and a book of essays on ballad poetry — something that had made him famous to begin with.
Scott’s health began to fail in 1832, and he died in September of that year, but the profits from his writing eventually retired his debts soon after his was gone.
Today Walter Scott (1771-1832) stands in the center of the pantheon of Scotland’s greatest writers — between Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson. Scott’s day job was as an attorney and public official, but he seems to have spent every waking moment writing. He is given credit for developing the modern historical novel, and many of his novels and poems are still ready and studied today.
The painting video features Scott’s poem Lochinvar that accompanies a watercolor of an ancient castle in the West Highlands: http://bit.ly/scott-lochinvar.
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed.” Or maybe not.
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”
This quotation is currently surging around the web, especially on Facebook, and it is being attributed to the writer George Orwell.
The quotation has various iterations — such as “News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising.” — and its origination has been attributed to people like William Randolph Hearst and Lord Northcliff (a.k.a. Alfred Harmsworth, the British publishing magnate of the early 20th century).
A discussion of the quote’s possible sources can be found here: Talk: George Orwell – Wikiquote
Beyond the source, how useful is the sentiment expressed in this bromide? Does it do a good job in defining what is and isn’t journalism?
I don’t think it does.
Yes, there are certainly things that people — particularly those in power — want covered up, and those things should be exposed. That is part of the journalist’s job, and in that sense, the quotation appeals to the anti-authoritarian in all of us.
But I am hesitant to say that this is what journalism is all about. To me, journalism is telling ourselves about ourselves — and doing it with accuracy, clarity, and efficiency. Sometimes that will include items that some people want covered up, but it doesn’t have to in order to qualify as journalism.
The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries.https://theprolificreader.com/mystery”
What good are libraries? How should they be run? A reader (and librarian) responds
Last week, after my rant about the possibility of our county government shirking its responsibilities in not adequately funding our excellent local library, I included some provocative questions about libraries from newsletter reader Frank C. You can read those questions in this separate post.
I invited you to respond, and many of you did. Below is the response from Jennifer S., a faithful reader and good friend. I will include more responses next week.
I’m writing in response to Frank C.‘s provocative questions in this week’s newsletter. Full disclosure: I am a librarian at the Blount County Public Library, the one whose struggles inspire your remarks last week, so I’m hardly a disinterested party. In this, as in so many things, there are probably not very many parties who are truly disinterested, however!
Poems and Paintings — the videos
This is the final week that I will ask for suggestions for a “brand name” for the poetry/painting videos that I have been producing for a couple of months. I got a few more suggestions this week, in addition to a few emails expressing a preference for a particular name on the list. Below is the complete list of suggestions. Let me know if one strikes your fancy.
Visions & Verses
Cadence & Canvas
Music and Rhymes
Painting with Poetry
Of plume and brush
Poems for the Palette
Poetry in Paintings
Cadence & Canvas
Pens & Paints
Rhyme & Vision
Pens & Brushes
Verse & Vision
Keep sending me your suggestions, and let me know if any on this list appeal to you. This is the last week to do so. The top three suggestions will receive a small gift from me — a hand-turned wooden pen like the ones pictured here.
I have added another video this week: Sir Walter Scott’s Lochinvar. Listen to the poem and watch the painting here: http://bit.ly/scott-lochinvar
Here’s the complete list of videos I have made since the beginning of April:
Lochinvar by Sir Walter Scott: http://bit.ly/scott-lochinvar
Ole Bert: In His Own Words by Bert Garner: http://bit.ly/ole-bert
In the Highlands and Consolation by Robert Louis Stevenson: http://bit.ly/RLStevenson-2poems
To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell: http://bit.ly/Marvell-CoyMistress
Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer: http://bit.ly/Thayer-CaseyattheBat
The Old Clock on the Stairs by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: http://bit.ly/HWL-TheOldClock
Evening Star and Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe: http://bit.ly/NPM-Poe-AnnabelLee
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray: http://bit.ly/gray-elegy
My Heart and I by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: http://bit.ly/EBB-myheartandi
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe: http://bit.ly/poe-theraven
Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare: http://bit.ly/shakespeare-sonnet18
And more are on the way.
Briefly noted: Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday
Friday, May 31, 2019 (today) is the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birthday. Whitman, to my mind, is one of the three great 19th-century American poets — the others being Edgar Allan Poe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I’ll have more to say about Whitman in the coming weeks.
Finally . . .
Best quote of the week:
War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. John F. Kennedy, 35th US president (1917-1963)
Helping those in need
Fires in California, hurricanes on the Atlantic Coast — disasters occur everywhere. They have spread untold misery and disruption. The people affected by them need our help.
It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here).
When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to this one or to yours.
Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.
You can connect with Jim on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and BookBub.
His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.
Last week’s newsletter: What good are libraries, The Winds of War, and getting away with murder in the U.S.: newsletter, May 24, 2019
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