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English literature memory work

          Trivia Quiz for “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Trivia Quiz for The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 9/25/22

With answers below

A. The Journey

1. Duration and Motivation. Multiple reasons lie behind the trip undertaken by Stevens. Which one of the following is not cited as a reason by Stevens in his narration?

a. employer’s offer to pay for gas                  

b. visit to interview potential employee                    

c. no one to serve at Darlington Hall     

d. potential romance              

e. only 5-6 days

2. Landscapes of the Mind. Stevens reveals much of his psychology in reflections on the English countryside. Which one of the following is not from Ishiguro’s novel?

a. “I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart.”

b.  There were “long stones that stood on end, balancing themselves in a queer, miraculous way.”

c. “What is pertinent is the calmness… its sense of restraint.”

d. “While speeding along between large open fields … or else steering carefully through marvelous little villages … I found myself yet again turning over certain recollections from the past.”

B. The Memories that Reveal the Self

3. Maxims. The Remains of the Day includes numerous judgments and lessons on life. Which one of the following is not spoken by Stevens?

a. “By the very nature of a witticism, one is given very little time to assess its various possible repercussions before one is called to give voice to it, and one gravely risks uttering all manner of unsuitable things if one has not first acquired the necessary skill and experience.”

b. “The sad fact is that long-continued, pleasant normality becomes a bore.”

c. “For our generation, professional prestige lay most significantly in the moral worth of one’s employer.”

d. “There is one situation and one situation only in which a butler … may feel free to unburden himself… when he is entirely alone.”

4. A lofty, yet limited vocabulary: a sign of moral rectitude or rote thinking? Certain key words recur in Stevens’s narration. Which one does not run through The Remains of the Day?

a. dignity        

b. professional                       

c. restraint                  

d. error           

e. banter

f. loyalty                    

g. love            

h. role             

i. distinguished          

j. triumph

C. The Enigma of Other People

5. What one crucial moment captures the dynamic between Stevens and Miss Kenton?

a. The day she interviewed Winston Churchill in the library, contrary to the wishes of Stevens.

b. The morning they shared cocoa together in the quiet kitchen, while plotting a joke on the cook.

c. The night her aunt died, when he stood listening outside her room in the hall, but did not knock to offer condolences.

d. Their final decision to run away together to start a new life in South America!

6. Lord Darlington’s infamous career. As Stevens mulls over his past, the reader gleans increasingly unpleasant details of Lord D’s fall from favor. Which one of the following does not apply to Lord Darlington?

a. he used his home to conduct secret events that aided Hitler’s rise

b. he was a womanizer with several children he refused to acknowledge or help

c. he was a Nazi sympathizer                        

d. he forced Stevens to fire Jewish employees

7. Stevens, Sr.: the Archetypal Suffering Father? Readers of Balzac may see similarities between this father and Père Goriot. Which one of the traits does not appear in Ishiguro’s story?

a. a series of embarrassing humiliations       

b. an anonymous burial in a pauper’s cemetery

c. a bare garret room              

d. an absent wife        

e. a deathbed scene with little emotion                     

f. a cerebral hemorrhage                                

g. stilted relations with family

8. Tragi-comic asides. Stevens is enlisted to undertake the sexual education of a young man, Mr. Cardinal, at one point. What one phrase does Lord D. not proffer, to request this service?

a. “You are familiar, I take it, with the facts of life.”

b. “Sir David has been attempting to tell his son the facts of life for the last five years.”

c. “Be sure to remind him about consent, and treating women with respect.”

d. “Sir David finds the task rather daunting.”

e. “I’m terribly busy.”

f. “Be an awful lot off my mind.”

g. “Just convey the basic facts and be done with it.”

9. A chance encounter with Harry Smith challenges Stevens’s view of dignity and citizenship. What one phrase does Harry Smith not say in support of his views?

a. “There’s no dignity to be had in being a slave.”

b. “We owe it to the lads.”

c.  “The likes of you and I will never be in a position to comprehend the great affairs of today’s world.”

10. When Stevens is asked by a smalltown doctor, “You aren’t a manservant of some sort, are you?” his reaction is (choose one):

a. embarrassment                  

b. relief                      

c. shame                     

d. indignation

ANSWERS

1. d.

2. b. (That quote is from Daphne Dumaurier, Jamaica Inn.)

3. b. (That quote is from Sōseki Natsume, I Am a Cat.)

4. g. (“Love” is rarely mentioned in this work).

5. c.

6. b.

7. b.

8. c.  (That quote does not appear in Ishiguro’s novel; it was invented for the quiz.)

9. c. (Stevens voices that opinion, not Harry Smith.)

10. b.

Categories
American literature art children creativity French literature humor music nature quilts

Only a real idiot can have this much fun! (homage to Julio Cortázar)

Reading Julio Cortázar’s essay, “Only a Real Idiot” yesterday, I felt such a joyfully liberating surge of life energy, for he captured how I feel, on seeing a hummingbird scratch his neck with his tiny foot like a dog, or a cornflower in glorious blue abandon alongside gritty Rainier Avenue, or José González in concert. Or my classmates doing Aikido at sunset, a Chinese busker twanging strange melodies at Hing Hay Park, or Toots and the Maytalls when they were here, so long ago in the pre-pandemic past…

“I am entertained, deeply moved; the dialogues or the dancers’ motions seem like supernatural visions to me. I applaud wildly, and sometimes the tears well up in my eyes or I laugh until I have to pee; in any event, I am glad to be alive and to have had this opportunity to go to the theater or to the movies or to an exhibition, anywhere extraordinary people make or show things never before imagined, where they invent a place of revelation or communication, something that washes away the moments when nothing is happening, nothing but what always happens.” (“Only a Real Idiot” in Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, p. 62)

It’s all about enthusiasm.

My latest creation–to be unveiled next week at West Seattle’s Summerfest!–is the Luxury Troll Boudoir. (If ever there were a folly, this is it!)

Luxury Troll Boudoirs in progress, HGBG workshop, West Seattle (7/5/22)

— Set in a picturesque cigar box, each features a troll doll with its own quilt, snuggled into a little bed made of vintage satin
— Comes with a booklet, Beautiful Thoughts for the Boudoir, with quotes and portraits by five inspiring French and American women writers
— Suitable for children or nostalgia lovers of any age

Coming soon to the HGBG shop on etsy!

Author portrait courtesy of https://aldianews.com/en/culture/books-and-authors/cortazar-movies

Categories
English literature friendship memory

words, and a quilt, to wrap your mind around…

Making the All Star Seattle Quilts which are now keeping me busy brings to mind my hometown and all that I treasure about it. Is it any wonder that T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Little Gidding,” jumps into my thoughts? It too is about going home, time passing, things gone. Much about Seattle has changed too, since I grew up and first left town. Yet the symbols, imagery, and places in these quilts have all been chosen for their historical relevance and personal acquaintance–and there’s still enough to love. Sailboats, forests, mountains and bookstores, restaurants, record shops, and schools–all part of what makes living in Seattle so sweet, sometimes so heart-breaking.

Below some images from “All Star Seattle Quilt no. 2,” and some lines from Eliot’s beloved poem. Enjoy!


What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make and end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.

And every phrase

And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,

Taking its place to support the others,

The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,

An easy commerce of the old and the new,

The common word exact without vulgarity,

The formal word precise but not pedantic,

The complete consort dancing together)

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,

Every poem an epitaph.

And any action

Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat

Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.

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art creativity design happiness

omg! so happy!

If you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll realize that until 2018 I was a college professor, lost in the whirlwind of conflicting thoughts… I was a complete novice at business, though I took a great course and do know how to sew and design pretty things. But still… even the MBA in a Box (which still sits on my shelf) was intimidating, and I felt like a failure–or completely INSANE to be doing what I do–quite often. And if you’ve ever tried to create anything or start a small business, you’ll also empathize and feel a surge of joy right now, on hearing that I JUST MADE MY FIRST BIG SALE today! The All Star Seattle Quilt (above) sold after just one day on Etsy!

So now, I’m riding on the wind, as I look forward to a wonderful session of T’ai chi, after the exhilarating Water Taxi ride to the waterfront… and it’s not even raining (right now).

All Star Seattle Quilts nos. 2 and 3 are underway and will feature the T-shirts of more local favorites! No. 2 will feature Pegasus Books, Easy Street Records, and Beanfish Tayaki; No. 3 will feature Elliott Bay Books, Easy Street Records, and Communion Restaurant. preorders available now! (6-8 weeks)

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art cats creativity design dogs friendship happiness quilts trees wisdom

small mercies

It’s been pretty damp out here lately. It’s easy to let your spirits fall flat and feel dreary. Even the computer sends out small, slightly ominous messages of warning, in the right-hand corner of the screen.

Yet I take heart in Emerson’s words this morning: “I am thankful for small mercies.” The beauty of green lush scenery and the ever-changing skies, the humorous way my computer seems to be speaking, commiserating about the weather… it’s all so endearing, so regular, so northwestern. It’s life happening right before our eyes. The passage which follows in Emerson rings strangely familiar too, to readers of Michael Singer and other contemporary writers on consciousness:

“The new molecular philosophy shows astronomical interspaces betwixt atom and atom, shows that the world is all outside; it has no inside.”

Emerson also reminds us, like Singer in Living Untethered (just got my copy and loving it!) that:

“Life’s chief good is for well-mixed people who can enjoy what they find, without question. .. To fill the hour–that is happiness; to fill the hour and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval. We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”

“Life is a tempest of fancies, and the only ballast I know is a respect to the present hour. … we should not postpone and refer and wish, but do broad justice where we are.”

— from Emerson, “Experience” in Selected Writings, pp. 350-352.

And then there’s “All Star Seattle Quilt” No. 1, finished yesterday! It was fun to stitch in some of my favorite natural scenes and landmarks from this city I love so much… and to blend them with fabrics from the many cultures which make this such a quirky, lively place to be: African block prints, Vietnamese tigers, Japanese cranes in flight, Mexican flowers in bloom–we have so much to be grateful for, in this outpost on the far western side of the country.

Hint: those T-shirts and the tiny pin represent local landmarks which will be featured in “All Star Seattle Quilts” Nos. 2 and 3, coming for summer!

And now, about that weather…

Categories
American literature art creativity design happiness health quilts wisdom

Emerson on the human condition

Feeling blah and still aching from the shoulder where I crashed down, quite incorrectly, during a speedy Aikido roll on Monday, I was surprised and encouraged by these lines discovered during my morning reading, and so I share them for you.

“Every man beholds his human condition with a degree of melancholy. As a ship aground is battered by the waves, so man, imprisoned in mortal life, lies open to the mercy of coming events.”

“God enters by a private door into every individual.”

“Our spontaneous action is always the best.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Intellect” in The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Modern Library edition, p. 293-94.

Hang in there. You are not alone.

And some pretty pictures to remind us of what lovely things we can hold and create and appreciate, with our hands and simply by walking outside in nature, despite being shipwrecked in morality!

Featured is Alice in Wonderland Quilt No. 4, photographed yesterday at Green Lake in Seattle, WA.

Categories
American literature

Trivia quiz on Willa Cather, “The Song of the Lark” & “My Ántonia”

Trivia Quiz for Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark (1915) and My Ántonia (1918)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 3/27/22

1. Women’s work. Cather’s novels provide a glimpse of the paths available for girls growing up in the rural heartland of the USA in the early 1900s. Which one of the following careers is not portrayed as a possibility for women, in the two works we read?

a. Opera singer                       

b. Wife and mother                

c. Teacher

d. Attorney                             

e. Seamstress                         

f. Real estate investor

g. Maid                                   

h. Church pianist                   

i. Boarding house owner

j. Laundress                            

k. Cook/Housekeeper

2. Overcoming adversity. The two heroines—Thea Kronberg and Ántonia Shimerda (later Cuzak)—undergo many hardships before finding success. Which one of the following obstacles does not adversely affect them, over the long run?

a. unplanned pregnancy         

b. poverty                   

c. familial hostility    

d. foreign languages

e. lassitude / lack of will power                     

f. growing up in rural isolation

3. Social satire. Although her tone is kinder than some writers we’ve read, Willa Cather does ridicule social convention. Of the following passages, which one is written by Cather?

a. “No matter in what straits the Pennsylvanian or Virginian found himself, he would not let his daughters go out in service. Unless his girls could teach a country school, they sat at home in poverty.”

b. “Left-wing people are always sad because they mind dreadfully about their causes, and the causes are always going so badly.”

c. “To a feather-brained school girl, nothing is sacred.”

d. “There were two classes of charitable people; one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

4. On Love with or without Marriage (and vice versa). It may surprise modern readers to discover multiple critiques of marriage in Cather’s work, given its early time period. Which one of the following is not by Cather?

a. “’I don’t see why anybody wants to marry an artist anyhow. … You might have kept me in misery for a while, perhaps. … I have to think well of myself, to work. You could have made it hard.”

b. “Loverless and inexpectant of love, I was as safe from spies in my heart-poverty, as the beggar from thieves.”

c. “She is handsome, energetic, executive, but to me she seems … temperamentally incapable of enthusiasm. … She has her own fortune and lives her own life. For some reason, she wishes to remain Mrs. X.”

d. “Men are all right for friends, but as soon as you marry them they turn into cranky old fathers, even the wild ones. They begin to tell you what’s sensible and what’s foolish, and want you to stick at home all the time.”

5. Maxims. Life lessons run through both books. Which one of the following is not by Cather?

a. “Living’s too much trouble unless one can get something big out of it.”

b. “The children you don’t especially need, you have always with you, like the poor. But the bright ones get away from you.”

c. “Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.”

d. “Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”

6. Humorous Asides. Cather’s portraits of unlikable characters provide some comic relief. Which one of the following lines is not by Cather?

a. “Her face had a kind of heavy, thoughtless beauty, like a pink peony just at the point of beginning to fade. … She gave the impression of wearing a cargo of splendid merchandise.”

b. “X was an intensely dreary girl … who had failed so far to marry, and seemed to have no biological reason for existing.”

c. “X [had a] very fat wife, who had a farm of her own, and who bossed her husband, I was delighted to hear.”

d. “It was excruciating to sit there day after day and hear her; there was something shameless and indecent about not singing true.”

7. On Nature. Which of the following lines is not from Cather’s works?

a. “This earth seemed to her young and fresh and kindly, a place where refugees from old, sad countries were given another chance. … a naïve, generous country.”

b. [About apple trees in an orchard]: “’I love them as if they were people,’ she said, rubbing her hand over the bark. ‘There wasn’t a tree here when we first came. We planted every one.’”

c. X was “drinking her coffee and forcing open the petals of the roses with an ardent and rather rude hand.”

d. “Through the screaming wind they heard things crashing and things hurtling and dashing with unbelievable velocity. A baby rabbit, terror ridden, squirmed through a hole in the floor.”

8-10. Finding beauty in an imperfect world. Match the quote to the character. Characters include: a. Thea Kronberg; b. Ántonia Cuzak; c. Lena Lingard

8. “She laughed her mellow, easy laugh, that was either very artless or very comprehending, one never knew quite which. … I caught a faint odor of violet sachet.”

9. “She could lie there hour after hour in the sun and listen to the strident whir of the big locusts, and to the light, ironical laughter of the quaking asps. … her power to think seemed converted into a power of sustained sensation.”

10. “A stalwart, brown woman, flat-chested, her curly, brown hair a little grizzled … She was there, in the full vigor of her personality, battered but not diminished.”

11. An origin tale. Although it details the lives of many immigrants, My Ántonia claims to be narrated by a person who was born in the USA. What state is their birthplace?

a. Oklahoma  

b. Indiana       

c. Iowa           

d. Nebraska                 .

ANSWERS

1. d.

2. e.

3. a.

4. b. (That quote is from Villette by Charlotte Brontë.)

5. c. (That quote is from The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.)

6. b. (That quote is from The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford.)

7. d. (That quote is from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.)

8. c.

9. a.

10. b

11. d.

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Uncategorized

Keep a green bough in your heart…

… and a singing bird will come.*

The sunny weather makes this a perfect day for a Quilt Show on my back porch! Today I’m unveiling the brand-new “Seattle Quilt” no. 4, which sports a green Seahawks T-shirt in its center, alongside “Seattle Quilt” no. 3 (with a navy blue Seahawk jersey) and “Seattle Quilt” no. 2, an homage to West Seattle. All three are available now!

*Proverb recounted in Neurodharma, by Rick Hanson.

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Seattle Quilts are here!

Right in time to ring out the bad old year and usher in a brighter future, is my new line of Seattle Quilts! They feature calm images–whales, sailboats, (and a sailboat gliding over a whale), seagulls, rolling waves, the cityscape at dawn– alongside bright fabrics celebrating some of Seattle’s many cultures–Mexican florals, Vietnamese tigers, African wax prints, Japanese cranes in flight–plus a UW symbol and adorable kittens–what more could you want? With vintage linens and denims, materials new, old, and hand-made, it projects an inclusive, energetic, upbeat feeling.

Add a back made of black cotton with dayglo dogs in all shades of the rainbow and you’ve got BOLD!

Boldly we go, into the new… let’s hope an early spring will push through the snow!

Couldn’t help adding a few of my favorite things–Honey Girl’s footsteps in the snow, a laptop with stickers from the best radio station in Seattle (or the world, maybe), and other stickers from beloved local shops run by real people (a family in one case) and a feminist art studio in Spain; Salty Dog : a children’s book given to us by my dad the sailor. The Salty Dog books are by Gloria and Ted Rand: a Seattle author/illustrator pair whose work is charming and never fails to grab kiddos. P.S. See the hilarious laughing crows on our shed, by Stroble Art of Puyallup, WA. Then there’s Hello Kitty, just because.

Happy New Year!

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Uncategorized

goodness with an edge (hommage to Emerson)

In “Self Reliance,” Emerson warns against trusting in false allies and those of weak will, saying, “Your goodness must have some edge to it–else it is none.”

I translate this into a motto for my business, Honey Girl Books and Gifts LLC: We specialize in cozy, with an edge... Each of my quilts and books celebrates a work of literature or a group of people to be honored. They are canonical and non-mainstream, funny and scary and pretty, sometimes angry and always alive with feeling. Some are linked to fund-raisers for good causes; all use recycled materials from Goodwill and other thrift shops. All of them are different and they are not for everyone.

But when my people find them, how happy they will be!

(Above see Seattle Quilt no. 1, inspired by Sabrina B., winner of the Win YOUR Quilt drawing of December 4, 2021 at West Seattle Grounds coffee shop.)

How lovely to see a new design come to life. Coming in spring 2022: The Seattle Quilt with rainbow back!