I remember reading the House
of the Seven Gables in high school and I also remember not really
understanding it too well. So I decided to re-visit some of this author’s work
to try and get a better picture of what he is all about. To finish this
particular quest of mine, I suppose I will have to read Seven Gables again,
from an adult point of view and see if it makes any more sense to me now. But,
I started off my study this time with some of his stories that I found on
Gutenberg, to broaden my horizons a bit.
Hawthorne was born on July 4th,
in Salem, Mass.
His writings centered on the New England portion of the U.S. Being in Salem, in and of itself,
would be good fodder to stoke the imagination but he also approached writing
from a Puritan point of view and wrote about moral allegory. His works can be
classified as dark romanticism and generally have a complex moral undertone or
When he was 16 yrs old, Hawthorne started a handwritten newspaper
called “The Spectator”. He was a
contemporary of Emerson, Longfellow, Poe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Thoreau.
He knew Franklin Pierce and Melville dedicated Moby Dick to Hawthorne. That’s quite a powerful list of
important acquaintances and friends!
The Scarlet Letter
is supposed to be one of the most important works by Hawthorne. Other works include Twice-Told Tales, Young Goodman Brown, many others not listed, and the stories I
recently read Chippings with a Chisel and
Buds and Bird Voices.
Here are some vocabulary words I learned while reading these
stripped off the body, cast off skins or coverings of various organisms.
scanty, yielding little.
mournful or gloomy, dismal, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree.
ornament or dress in a showy or gaudy manner.
numbed, lethargic or apathetic.
greenery, the lush greenness of flourishing vegetation.
Seine- a fish net
that hangs vertically in the water (also the name of a river in France).
I feel so educated now my eyebrows are going way up!!!!! Ha!
In Chippings with a
Chisel the author muses over conversations he’s having with a skilled
workman who uses a chisel to fashion decorations and titles on headstones. The
subject matter discussed is likened to life and ponderings about the meanings
of sometimes everyday things, joys and sorrows and short stories about peoples
loved ones who have passed on as they come to the skilled chisel-man to pick
out gravestones. I loved the author’s descriptive language and enjoyed the
A few quotes to illustrate the descriptive language: In spite of his gray head and wrinkled brow,
he was quite like a child in all matters…
Soul clings to soul;
the living dust has a sympathy with the dust of the grave…
A comely woman, with a
pretty rosebud of a daughter, came to select a
gravestone for a twin-daughter…
"They are not
under the sod," I rejoined; "then
why should I mark the
spot where there is no treasure hidden!
In Buds and Bird
Voices the author is describing his native New England
and the gardens and citizens of nature that he is observing. He muses again
about what meanings these things he is observing have to everyday life and uses
personification to give human characteristics and emotions to non-human things.
I enjoyed this story and would like to read more by Hawthorne in the future.
But who can estimate
the power of gentle influences, whether amid material desolation or the moral winter
of man's heart?
The moss-grown willow-
tree which for forty years past has overshadowed these western windows will be
among the first to put on its green attire.
In the garden are the dried
bean-vines, the brown stalks of the asparagus-bed, and
melancholy old cabbages…
Along the hither shore
a row of trees stood up to their knees in water;
The blackbirds, three
species of which consort together, are the noisiest of all our feathered citizens.
Great companies of them--more than the famous "four-and-twenty" whom
Mother Goose has immortalized--congregate in contiguous treetops and
vociferate with all the clamor and confusion of a turbulent political meeting.
“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always
just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight
Itching is my enemy! It will bring me down into the depths
of itch h-e-double toothpicks. I’ll get all upset. I’ll cry, and then because
the itching feels so good and I am super frustrated, I will itch until it
bleeds. Then I will suffer for a few more weeks while it heals and hope that I
do not get a secondary staph infection from so much itching. Then the vicious
cycle will repeat itself over and over again. Discomfort and hopelessness, itch
until it hurts, regret it and be extra uncomfortable, hope and hopelessness.
It’s the story of the last 8 years or so of my life. If the Middle
East terrorists had my vasculitis, we’d have no trouble putting
them in their place!! This misery is something I would have a hard time wishing
on my worst enemy because it truly has been a torture test.
How not to itch?? Well, having a bit of hope goes a long way
towards giving you the motivation to even desire not to itch. When you are in
survival mode and lose hope you think of all kinds of unconventional ways to
relieve yourself of the itching burden and just scratch like there is no
tomorrow. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with God about this whole thing. If
I am not supposed to have to bear more than I am able, why does this keep
happening to me? I am slowly being driven crazy and losing my faith…but that is
more reason to grow more faith and endure to the end. It is a rotten dilemma
sometimes. Now I can say the hate has subsided and I have more hope but don’t
ask me about it on an especially itchy day!!
How not to itch……how not to get a secondary infection from
your itching…take a bath with vinegar in the water, take a bath with ½ cup of
bleach in the water and soak until you are wrinkly. Yes I bleach myself a few
times a week! Get some Vanicream, some sort of eczema crème, non irritating
crème for sensitive skin, and slather it on morning and evening. If your crème
is in a tub use plastic spoons to get some of it out. DO NOT stick your staph
laden fingers in the tub or you will have a recipe for torture next time you
use it as the staph will quickly multiply and grace your skin with their
irritating presence once again. Use some clean socks as mitts and cover your
hands when you go to bed so you can’t itch while you are laying there in bed.
Cut down all your fingernails so they are less dangerous to your skin if you do
happen to absent mindedly do a bit of itching. Beautify your freshly cut nails
with a manicure and polish so you are motivated not to ruin it if you itch!!
Remember your nails are not weapons of mass destruction, they are an asset to
your beauty, lol!!!!
Change your bath towel every time you use it, and never,
never, use it after you have dried your staph ridden footsies! No matter how
much you lather them up and clean them, they are still filled with nasty staph
buggers waiting to wreak havoc on your itch damaged skin. Normally you would be
able to fight the staph off, but when the docs are suppressing your immune
system because of vasculitis it’s a different story and you are vulnerable. Why
do feet stink so? Well, that is the smell of staph, I worked in a microbiology
lab for 12 years and I know the smell of a petrie dish full of staph better
than your average person!
Lastly, don’t let your Chihuahua, loving as she might be, lick you
up and down where you have been itching!!!!! You might think it is cute that
she is so affectionate and is grooming you but…she really has a taste for your