Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Monday, May 16, 2011

Elswyth Thane

OK, first of all, thank you all so much for not thinking I was weird for really liking my birds.  I so enjoy them.  Secondly, I can't put off talking a little more about Elswyth Thane.

As I may have mentioned before, my childhood was a little rough.  I would not call myself abused, but others might.  I always envied my girlfriends who had terrific dads.  I even had one girlfriend (who I'm still friends with - yay!) whose parents were divorced and she lived with her father.  That really was unique back then.  My relationship with my father was - well, lets just say it was tense.  I never really understood why I did the things I did as a kid - be involved in after school activities, work my butt off at babysitting, go to the library on an almost daily basis, sit in my room drawing and painting for hours . . .  until one day in my mid-thirties my sister said to me that I was obviously trying to stay out of the way.  It was like she hit me over the head with a hammer!  Wow, that really was what I was doing.  And fortunately, I turned out rather well because of all the things I did.  I mean mentally.

So as I said, one of the things I did was go to the library; about every other day.  I'd read a book and something would be mentioned and I'd be curious about that something, so the next time I went I'd research it and learn more and bring home about three books on that subject.  Meanwhile, I'd bring home about ten other books as well.  I would typically come out of the library with as many books as I could carry from my hands up to my chin.  It was a lot of reading.  And one of the authors I discovered was Elswyth Thane.  The first book I read of hers was Tryst.  What a wonderful book; heartwrenching.  Although I read and understood it when I was 12 or 13, I wouldn't recommend it to a girl that age now because it deals with the suicide of a young girl.  That seems to be way too popular these days.

I enjoyed that book so well, I wanted to read more from the same author.  That was when I read Yankee Stranger.  The link takes you to an overview of the Thane Williamsburg Novels.  Funny story about this book -  now, remember, I was about 13 years old.  I'm reading it and the hero is visiting the young lady for the first time and it says ". . . he nervously adjusted his cravat."  I slammed the book shut and threw it away from me feeling like I'd just read something unholy.  His cravat!  Good God, how could she have written that he was even thinking about touching that!  If my parents found out that I was reading porn something like that , I was going to be in so much trouble!  I couldn't get back to the library right away to return the book, so it sat for about a week at the bottom of the pile of books.  Every time I walked into my room I felt guilty because it was still there.  And all the while that word - cravat - hung guiltily over my head.  Finally I thought, well, I'd better look it up in the dictionary.  All that week of guilty misery dissolved as I read . . .

cra-vat (kre vat') n. from the French Cravate - from the Croatian kroat - a Croatian soldier's scarf - 1 a scarf; 2 a necktie.

A tie.  A tie?  All that angst over a tie?!  And then I thought it was hillarious.  I still do.  I laugh every time I remember my anguish over a necktie.  From then on, if I ran up on a word in my reading that I wasn't familiar with, I looked it up.  And that was what got me started reading the dictionary for fun.  Yes, it can be very interesting.

Thanks to the internet I see that I haven't read all the Elswyth Thane books ever written; just all the ones in the Fairfax County Library system.  So, looks like I have some interesting reading to do.  I don't know if too many modern libraries have the books, but if you see them in a used book store or yard sale, I highly recommend them as good reads.

Finally, Mrs. Baltimore Oriole was back this morning.  I've put out more floss tails and thread waste from the sewing room; I cannot wait to see the nest she makes out of this stuff!

Isn't she pretty?  Hope you enjoyed!


  1. Oh my goodness that cravat story made me giggle!
    To answer your email, I've never seen a parakeet in the wild but apparently there are a few in places that have escaped from captivity and bred. There are frequent stories around here of big cats(panthers) similarly wild on the moors, but I'm not sure I believe it

  2. Goodness, Katherine, you really made me laugh with your semi dirty story. In fact, I enjoy all your posts, your stitching and your pictures! It's been lovely visiting.

  3. The cravat story was too funny. I still love finding new words in books and having to look up their meanings.

  4. That is such a funny story!! And I love that you love books and birds! The pictures you post of the birds are so beautiful! I did not realize that the female oriole was this color...she is beautiful, love her tail feathers the way they kind of fan out!

  5. Oh my goodness, I have laughed myself silly over your story. How sweet! I think I have mentioned before that we are alike in so many ways... I have always been a voracious reader and the reading just makes me need to read and learn more about the things that make me wonder. And there is always something to make you wonder, isn't there?

  6. ROFLOL at your cravat story!!! That is hysterical. I try to look up words that I don't understand in the dictionary, too. I love my dictionary app because it has a feature that will say the word. I find that with reading, I've learned a lot of words but don't necessarily know how they are pronounced. I still flush with mortification whenever somebody says paradigm, because I said it as 'para-dig-em'. MORTIFICATION. The app, btw, is also handy for when DH gives us an unnecessary summary of the TV show we've been watching. I like to turn the sound up on my phone and make the voice say "DUH" very loudly.

    I love birds! I know I've said this a bunch of times but I miss the birds in the US SO much. I asked DH to bring home one of my FIL's birding books so I can learn more about the birds here--which aren't half as pretty as the American birds. I put out a big hunk of orts for the birds after I saw a crow pulling the stuffing out of my deck chair. The hunk is still there and yet my pillow continues to decrease in size...


Can't wait to hear what you've got to say! Unless you're the spammer who keeps commenting anonymously - then thanks, but no thanks, I'm not interested - and your comments just get deleted anyway.