Goals

My main goal for 2020 is to finish my book on faculty wives. I hope to complete chapter five, which I have been working on for over a year, shortly. I would then have five or six chapters left. At the very least, I need to pick up the pace.

When I was thinking about my progress, I realized that I would need more structure, focus and motivation to achieve this goal. Beginning the end of January, I will be participating in the year long non-fiction manuscript group that the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop offers. Most of the other members of the group will be memoirists but I think paying for the workshop and having regularly scheduled meeting once a month will provide a lot of structure and motivation.

The other writing commitment that I am undertaking is being part of Nerissa Nield’s Writing It Up in the Garden workshop for ten weeks. This is two hours once a week. Both of these writing groups require a commitment which I hope will benefit my rate of production for the book.

Besides writing the book, my other big commitment is to my ice skating. Having competed in October, my focus is now on being part of an adult group number, for the annual skating show of the Skating Club of Amherst. I hope I will be less nervous skating on home ice. My other skating goal is to complete at least one three turn this year. Here is link to a video, by a professional, of a three turn. After today I will have 357 days left to do it.

Because finishing my book is imperative, I am going to try to keep my schedule free from the other activities. This will not be easy; I have trouble saying no. The only thing I will consider getting involved in is efforts to defeat Donald Trump.

What are your goals for 2020? I would love to hear them.

Sisters

On Saturday, I went to see a Shakespeare and Company staged reading of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Kate Hamill wrote the play.  The actors played the story mostly for laughs, presenting the material more broadly than Austen’s version.

One serious moment which was deeply affecting was when Marianne is seriously ill, and Elinor pleads with her to live. “Don’t leave me Marianne”  says Elinor. I felt tears come to my eyes in response to this wonderful portrayal of the deep connection between the two sisters. I have a sister; our relationship is very complicated, but I don’t want to lose her. However, Elinor’s speech comes from the playwright not Jane Austen.

Thinking about this scene led me to reflect on other sisters in literature and movies.  The original Frozen is definitely about sisters. Elsa and Anna are the “heroes” of the movie; their sisterly bond enables them to triumph.

Another movie which is about sisters and is appropriate for the season is White Christmas.  There is even a song, “Sisters” in the movie. It stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen play the sisters. When I was little this was one of my favorite movies.

It is more difficult to come up with books that feature two sisters with as deep a bond as Marianne and Elinor. Little Women is all about sisters but there are four. Throughout the book, at various times, the sisters have different connections to each other. The relationships are not static.

I want to find good examples of sisters in a few novels for my Jane Austen book club. Starting in February we are reading Northanger Abbey. The rest of the year we will read gothic novels. Thinking ahead, the following year I might do Sense and Sensibility so I would need works that fit with the book’s themes, especially sisters.

New Host – SiteGround

I did it. I switched my hosting company from BlueHost to SiteGround. It took a few days for everything to get into place but now it is done. SiteGround was helpful during the process; BlueHost was less so. As in past experiences, the best way to contact BlueHost and get results was via chat.

My goal in making the switch was for it to be seamless and invisible so no one would even know I had changed hosts.  That worked so I was very happy. As far as logging in to work on posts, I do that through WordPress. The login is the same.

For the first year, I got a special Black Friday rate so it is cheaper than BlueHost would have been. If I stay with SiteGround, next year it will be more expensive. However, I am stopping SiteLock because SiteGround persuaded me that  my site would be secure without it. Because SiteLock  was so expensive, I will be saving a lot by discontinuing it.

My main concern in choosing a new host was security. BlueHost was useless when my website got hacked. Hopefully I won’t get hacked again. If I do, I am hoping SiteGround will be helpful in fixing whatever problems occur.

Stalemate

I was having trouble finding a topic for today’s post. The end of last week was very stressful if not traumatic and I am still getting my bearings. I feel like I have been on a roller coaster for the last twelve days.

From November 8 to November 10, I attended a writing retreat in Northampton, MA. Nerissa Nields runs writing groups and retreats under the rubric, “Writing it up in the Garden.” This retreat was women only; the Kali Retreat. The group was 11 women, including Nerissa.

The retreat was a great experience both for my writing and my psyche. Thinking about a retreat was most enticing; the idea that I would be able to focus on my writing and nothing else was incredibly appealing.

My feelings about the writing part were more mixed. I write non-fiction from an academic background and I thought most of the people would be creative writers. I feared that my work would not resonate with the group.

The retreat exceeded my expectations in both areas. The two and half days were a wonderful escape from real life stress and the group couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive about my work. I was incredibly productive; writing almost ten pages during the retreat. Another great benefit of the retreat was that the motivation it engendered lasted into the following week.

On Thursday I had to go to New York City to attend a legal hearing, concerning a civil matter on Friday. I spent the late afternoon on Thursday prepping with my lawyer for several exhausting hours. Thursday night my husband and I had a lovely dinner with our son, his fiancée and her parents.

Friday was the hearing, which was definitely not a pleasant experience; it did not go my way. Because of privacy concerns I cannot say much more about the proceeding. However, my friends and family know the judge’s decision was wrong. I appreciate their love and support.

 

 

 

The American Wife


As I continue to work on my manuscript about faculty wives, I am always interested in books that appear to be about wives or more broadly women. After reading The New York Times obituary of Elaine Ford, I read her collection of stories, The American Wife.

In the story, “Changeling”, the main character, Sandy, thinks the following: “It’s as if getting married when you’re an undergraduate and then having a baby before your husband’s career is well established, together amount to sheer irresponsibility, which cannot be allowed to go unpunished.”

The story is about a young woman living in Athens with an infant while her husband is off on an archaeological dig. Sandy experiences extreme psychological distress to the extent that she believes the baby is not hers.

The story has autobiographical elements; in 1958, Ford, an undergraduate at Radcliffe married a Harvard student, Gerald Bunker. Together with their infant they pursued lengthy travels while he completed his Ph.D.  By 1964, she had three children but did completed her bachelor’s degree.

The couple continued traveling and having more children. By 1976  they five children and were living in Northern Ireland while Bunker was in medical school. Ford divorced Bunker, returned to the United States and began pursuing a writing career. She published her first novel, The Playhouse, at the age of 41 in 1980.

Ford, writing  about “Changeling”, said it “reflects my experience of living in Athens with a baby while my husband was far away on an archaeological dig. Though I’ve imagined the central plot of the story, the protagonist’s sense of isolation and disorientation certainly expresses my state of mind at the time.”

 

Skating Competition, Part 2

I competed for the first time, Saturday, at the 33rd Halloween Classic, Winterland Skating School, Rockland, Massachusetts. Here is a picture of me before I went on the ice.

Despite all my preparation, I was extremely nervous and did not skate the way I had planned.  My legs felt like jelly but I did go on the ice and skate, which I feel was a big accomplishment. I was the only skater in my event, so I skated against “the book”. I am not sure what the criteria for judging was, but I got second place and received a medal.

I also earned four points for the Silver Lining Club. The club came in second for the competition so I contributed to that result.

I can’t say I enjoyed myself but it was a learning experience. If I compete again, I will try to find an event where Kiara, my coach from the Skating Club of Amherst, can be the one takes me. She knows me really well and I have complete confidence in her.

I would also practice skating my program from different places on the ice so I would be comfortable no matter where the judges were and where I had to start.  Connecting certain moves to specific points in the music would also help.

It turned out that competing in a spotlight event meant that the rink got dark, very dark. The only light was a spotlight the followed the skater. I didn’t realize what spotlight meant until I got to the rink. Next time, I would know, be more prepared, and not get so freaked out.

The nicest part of the experience was the support I got from the audience, other skaters, Kiara, Andrea and Aaron. I appreciated that so much and I am very grateful.

2/3 of the Year Gone

I wrote the following last week but then I completely forgot to actually publish. This debacle accurately proves that it has become very hard for me to maintain a once a week schedule for posting. The result is that you get two posts this week. Here is this one today and there will be another one tomorrow, as scheduled.

It is September so I thought this would be a good time to look back and see, if, so far, I have been meeting my goals for the year. As I have said many times, this year it has been hard for me to post every day. When I came back from my twenty-three day break, (I know you all missed me) I came up with ideas for the first six weeks back. That has been a big help. The strategy of pre-planning so you don’t have to spend time thinking of what topic to write about, is a good one that I will try to use more in the future.

Tweeting, as always, has been easier. Politics gives me most of my material as well as tweeting picture of my travels. Of course, I still can’t tweet my URL. I have given up trying to get it fixed. Recently Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account was hacked. At least he felt some pain also.

My actual writing is going the least well. I haven’t really worked on my book since June. I got stuck in what is probably a diversion from the main project and then life intervened. I am hoping that I will get back to my writing next week. I will keep you up-to-date on my progress.

Mergers

Yesterday, Mammoth Brewing Company announces that it will acquire Great Basin Brewing Company. The sale will be final  some time this summer.  Great Basin is the oldest and largest craft brewery in Nevada while Mammoth is the oldest in Eastern Sierra. Both are fairly small breweries; the sale will enable the new company to brew 40,000 barrels. Previously each produced about 15,000. You can read more about this merger here.

In the 1950’s and 60’s small and medium size breweries sought mergers and combinations to better compete against  Anheuser-Busch and the other large brewers. Here is a an excerpt from Brewing Battles about the various mergers.

From 1950 to 1980 there was much movement among the top ten producers of beer as the industry continued its trend towards greater concentration.

Liebmann Bros owned and brewed Rheingold Beer, which was sixth in 1950. After Repeal, the company expanded through acquisitions, but Pepsi Cola United Bottlers purchased it in 1964. At that time, only the Brooklyn and New Jersey plants remained in operation. Chock Full O’Nuts, the coffee company, bought Rheingold in 1974 and closed the Brooklyn brewery in 1976. In 1977 C. Schmidt and Company, tenth in 1980, bought the brand.[1]

In the 1990s, and again in 2003, the owners of Rheingold Brewing Company attempted to revive both the company and its famous Miss Rheingold contest. In 2005, Drinks America bought the brand; the company also distributes Willie Nelson’s Old Whiskey River Bourbon and Trump Super Premium Vodka.[2]

Although in 1953 Schlitz lost its number one ranking due to a Milwaukee strike, the brewery continued to expand, purchasing four breweries that all went out of business between 1949 and 1964. The biggest acquisition was, in 1961, Burgemeister, located in San Francisco and the third largest brewer in California. In 1964 Schlitz also purchased a thirty-four per cent share of Labatt of Canada which controlled General Brewing Company, San Francisco. Burgemeister and General were responsible for twenty-seven per cent of the California beer market.

Following Schlitz’s purchases in the early sixties, the federal government filed an anti-trust suit against the brewery. At the same time the government was also suing Pabst for its acquisition of Blatz in 1958, Falstaff for purchasing Narragansett, and Rheingold for buying Jacob Ruppert.[3] In the 1950s the government had pursued anti-trust action against Anheuser–Busch for its purchase of the Miami Regal Brewery.[4] In 1965, Norman Klug, president of both the USBA and Miller Brewing testified at the Schlitz trial that the company’s acquisition of Burgemeister had adversely affected Miller’s sales. In 1966 United States District Judge Stanley A. Weigel ruled that Schlitz had to divest itself of Burgemeister and could not acquire any new United States plants for ten years.[5]

In 1958 Pabst bought Blatz Brewing, which was the country’s eighteenth largest at the time. The company had been ninth in 1950; Schenley Distilling owned it. Because both Pabst and Blatz were Milwaukee brewers, the federal government sued under anti-trust laws, seeing their combination as monopolistic. Pabst denied the government’s claim, stating in its defense that the company was “a failing firm at the time of the acquisition and that therefore, there was no adverse effect on competition.”[6]

Although the combination of Blatz and Pabst would have created a concentration of brewers in Milwaukee and the surrounding states, it would have also created a larger company to compete with Anheuser–Busch and enabled Pabst to stay more competitive on a national level. Over ten years later, Pabst sold Blatz to Heileman following completion of litigation. Pabst Brewing currently owns the brand; Miller brews the beer under contract. It is for sale in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Blatz was one of the big three of Milwaukee brewers in the nineteenth century and was the first to go national.[7]

Blatz Beer. Photo courtesy of Pabst Brewing Company.

[1] Downard, Dictionary, 159; Will Anderson, The Breweries of Brooklyn: An Informal History of a Great Industry in a Great City (New York: Anderson, 1976), 100-111.

[2] Patricia Winters Lauro, “Advertising,” New York Times, February 2, 2003, C8; “Rheingold Beer,” http://www.drinksamericas.com/brands/rhein.htm. (accessed January 24, 2007).

[3] Leonard Sloane, “Problems Are Brewing in Beer Industry,” New York Times, December 14, 1966, F1; Tremblay, Brewing Industry, 86.

[4] Anheuser-Busch Companies. Annual Report (St. Louis, Mo: Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc, 1958).

[5] “Sales Cut Cited,” New York Times August 18, 1965, 45;”Schlitz Ordered to Drop Holdings,” New York Times, March 25, 1966, 59.

[6] “Pabst Suit Revived By Court,” New York Times, June 14, 1966, 65.

[7]; “Advertising: Blatz Goes to Campbell-Mithun,” New York Times, August 18, 1969, 52; www.pabst.com  Pabst Brewing Company, (accessed January 1, 2007); Downard, Dictionary, 23.

Looking Forward.

My original plan for this blog post was to write about my goals for the New Year. However, I have been so busy that I haven’t had time, yet, to sit down and formulate specific goals

The things I will continue to work on include my book, my website, blogging and tweeting. On a more personal level, I plan to continue skating. If I could test, compete, or perform in 2019, that would be thrilling.

One new project I will be involved with in 2019 is the Jane Austen’s Regency World Book Club which I will be facilitating at the Jones Library, Amherst. The first book we will read is Pride and Prejudice. All are welcome.

A Look Back

This year I will have 49 posts, counting this one. Last year I had 51 but this year I was hacked which was one of many life events that cut into time for blogging. As I have said frequently this year, it was harder to post once a week.

I am on track to end the year with 3160 tweets. I will have tweeted 538 times this year which is well over once a day. The political situation makes it pretty easy to tweet frequently. I still can’t tweet my URL and I don’t think I will ever be able to again.

In my goals for 2018, I mentioned doing more on Instagram. That hasn’t really happened because many of my posts don’t have pictures. It is not really something I care that much about.

My main goal for the year that is ending was to make progress on my book. I finished the fourth chapter in October and I am about halfway through the fifth. I have almost 200 pages done. I wish I had been able to do more but it is what it is.

My other goals were around improving personal habits such as eating and sleeping. This was also a mixed bag. Last spring, my husband and I did the Slim Fast diet. I lost five pounds but  gained it all back. More recently I have tried to focus on healthy, anti-inflammatory eating and I have again lost some weight.

My sleeping has been hit or miss with at least one day of insomnia a week. I  haven’t figure out how to be a better sleeper yet but I will let you know when I do.

I now skate three days a week and I do feel I am improving. I have also started doing off ice training which is great.

This year was pretty much like other years . There was some really good stuff, like attending skating camp and some really bad stuff like my mother-in-law dying. That’s life.