#ClassicPoetry – #HenryWadsworthLongfellow – #The Village Blacksmith

This was one of my favorite poems when I was in middle school, and I realized I still love it today, especially the message it shares. After all, some things are eternal.

The Village Blacksmith
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 1807-1882

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
     ⁠The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
     With large and sinewy hands,
And the muscles of his brawny arms
     Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long;
     His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
     He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
     For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
     You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
     With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
     When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
     Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
     And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
     Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
     And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
     He hears his daughter’s voice
Singing in the village choir,
     And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice
     Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
     How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
     A tear out of his eyes.

     Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
     Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
     Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
     For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
     Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
     Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator. His original works include Paul Revere’s Ride, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was the first American to completely translate Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and was one of the Fireside Poets from New England.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, which was then still part of Massachusetts. He graduated from Bowdoin College and became a professor there and, later, at Harvard College after studying in Europe. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). He retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, and he lived the remainder of his life in the Revolutionary War headquarters of George Washington in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Longfellow died in 1882.

Longfellow wrote many lyric poems known for their musicality and often presenting stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and had success overseas.

Hope you guys enjoyed this one
as much as I did!

#ForgottenWords – #AnswerOfTheDay – “Crinolines”

Okay, so far, I’m loving this idea of Forgotten Words, and it looks like some of you are having fun with it, too. Being a firm believer in the benefits of FUN, I plan to do a few more of these now and then, for sure. But now … it’s time for an answer to today’s forgotten word: Crinoline.

Let’s start with a quick glance at one of the most popular styles of the 1950s and early 1960s: Dresses with extremely full skirts that needed a bit of help to stay full and twirly, like these. 

Enter the crinoline, defined thusly:

“A crinoline (pronounced CRIN-o-lin) is a “stiff or structured petticoat designed to hold out a woman’s skirt, popular at various times since the mid-19th century. Originally, crinoline described a stiff fabric made of horsehair and cotton or linen which was used to make underskirts or a sewn-in dress lining.”

Not surprisingly, it’s hard to find a good picture
of a really full-skirted crinoline today, but here is one example. 

In earlier times, crinolines were usually floor length
to support much longer gowns and dresses.

However, more often, these longer gowns
were supported by hoop skirts, such as this one.

Hoop skirts also made an appearance in the 50s too, but they were very “swingy” and tended to flip up in the air. This made them awkward to wear with shorter dresses, and most chose one … or two … or even three crinolines, one on top of the other, to result in the fullest skirts possible.

When I was in junior high and high school, full skirts with multiple crinolines under them were the rage. You either used as many as it took layered over each other to make your skirt stand out about five feet wide (and thus making sitting at a classroom desk a real challenge), or you wore what we called “straight” skirts, instead. (Sometimes called “pencil skirts.”)

Here’s another example of a shorter crinoline designed for the full skirts of the 1950s, though mine were starched to stand out much farther all the way around.

As  you might imagine, washday was a real treat. (NOT!) My mother would launder my crinolines and then dip them in a tub of heavy starch and spread them out flat over two or three clotheslines outside. They would dry in a huge, flat disc that would only bend when a full skirt was draped over it.  What a production! And blinkin’ uncomfortable to spend the day in, too. (Not to mention that no one could get closer to you than 4 feet or so, even when the crinolines began to droop.)

Here is a more recent interpretation of a short skirt (much shorter than we wore them in the 50s) with attached crinolines trimmed in red. While my dresses and skirts were  at least a foot longer than these, well below my knees, this one is about the right width for what we wore. (See why sitting at a desk was tricky?)

And now those of you too young to remember have seen what a crinoline is, and what stylish young ladies of the 1950s wore more often than just about anything else. Jeans or slacks were against dress code at most schools, so skirts it was, and usually, the fuller, the better, thanks to those starched crinolines we wore beneath! 

Hope you had fun with this “forgotten word,” and I’ll be back with more over time. Thanks for playing along!

#NewSeries – #ForgottenWords – #DoYouRemember?

Lately, while reading this or that, I’ve found myself brought up short by the use of one  word or another seldom heard these days. I’ve begun to take note of some that I’ve merely read here or there, and some that I definitely remember from days gone by. It occurred to me that they might make a quick and easy fun series  of posts to share now and then on a slow week, so … here goes the first one!

How many of you remember the word “crinoline?” Is it something you stumbled upon while reading and decided to look up, or is it something you are personally familiar with? Inquiring minds wanna know! (No cheating by looking it up NOW, though. It’ll be more fun to wing it.)

Familiar or not, I’m betting it isn’t something that’s currently a part of your life.

Okay, your turn now!
If you don’t know, feel free to make a guess. 


#HappyNewYear – #TenThings – #GuestDayTuesday

Happy New Year, Everyone!
Here’s Hoping 2023 Is a Great One for Each of Us!

To get The Write Stuff off to a great start this year, I’m putting out an official call for guest posters:

If you haven’t yet taken part in #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe, I hope you soon will. It’s been one of the most popular series I’ve had on the blog, and we’d love to learn more about our friends and fellow writers. Email me to save you a date. (It runs every other Wednesday.)

Also, #GuestDayTuesday runs every other … yes! … TUESDAY. For those who have upcoming promos, new releases, cover reveals, or anything else they’d like to share, writing related or not, please email me, and I’ll get you set up for a visit. 

I also have some ideas for a few new ways guests can avail themselves of some extra exposure here, but will get back to you on those later. For now, we’ll focus on the two above, and I’m hoping I’ll get lots of folks who’d like to visit. Can’t wait to get things up and running around here again!

Hoping to hear from some of you soon!

#ChristmasBreak – #FamilyInTown

(The Santa Maria)

Now that Christmas has sailed on by and New Year’s is still in the distance, I’m taking an honest-to-goodness blog break for the rest of the week. And even if I decided I wanted to cheat, I probably wouldn’t have time because my family from Denver is arriving tonight! WooHoo!! And then my son and his family will be joining us in a few days. I’m sure the whole bunch here at once will keep me plenty busy, in the best of ways. 😁

It was touch and go there as to whether they could come. First my grandson got the flu, then my granddaughter got it, too. Now, they both are allowed to travel and are on the plane even as I type. Hopefully, there will be no more delays, and we can let the fun begin!

See you January 2, ready for a brand new year!
In the meantime, please stay SAFE and WELL!

#MerryChristmas from The House of 1,000 Santas!

(One of My Own Handpainted Santas from 1995)

I promised you guys a longer post to share some pictures of my somewhat vast Santa collection. Do keep in mind that I’ve been collecting them for over 60 years, hence the wide variety of styles and ages. Hope you’ll enjoy seeing some of these. (I sure enjoy seeing them when I bring them down from the attic every year.) Here goes!

I mentioned recently that I have Santas ranging in height from less than 1 inch to 6 feet. We’ll start with the little guys.

This is the bottom tier of a wooden table top tree I use to display some of my smallest Santas. Note the three little Santas, bottom shelf, center. The one on the left by the green hut is just 1/2″ tall, and is my smallest one. The one on the right is a Coca-Cola Santa with a TINY bottle of Coke in his hand. He’s a 1″ tall charm. And the slightly larger one in the middle, is my oldest Santa at very close to 100 years old. The two Santa faces on each side of the picture are vintage salt & pepper shakers from the 50s.

This is the other side of the wooden tree, looking back through the passthrough window. The bookshelf beneath it is where I display what I call my Holly Jolly Santas, or those with a modern look to them. This is an older picture, but this year’s display has 37 Santas, including some really neat ones from the 50s.

One of the items on the shelf is this little Santa dish, which was my grandmother’s & dates from about 1952, so roughly 70 years old.

I display most of my Old World Santa collection on the mantle, and it has 42 Santas on it this year, down from an all-time high of 50. (I’ve started letting the grandkids pick one to take home with them each year, so a few have gone to their houses now.)

Here’s a closeup of one of my faves from the mantel collection,
a hand-carved and painted cypress knee made by a fellow crafter.
The two blue “pencil” Santas on the right are ones I painted long ago.

Here’s one I painted years ago, with a bit
of a pun for a message.

And here’s another unique Santa I really enjoy. Found him at a craft show years ago. He’s hand carved with movable arms and legs, and his beard  & hair is made of natural Spanish moss, which I thought would all crumble away over time,
but I’ve had him for at least 15 years, and it’s still looking good.
(Maybe because I don’t put him in the hot attic
with most of the other decorations.)

I painted this plaque back in the 80s,  when I did arts & crafts for a living.
I decided I didn’t want to sell him, though, so these days
he hangs in our entryway to greet visitors.

And speaking of our entryway, it always gets a mixture of Santas, including some advertising posters I’ve had for 50+ years. (Since my son was a baby.)

One more from the entryway. This poster has gone on the inside of our
front door since my son was a baby, too. It’s been taped back together
more times than I can count, but I refuse to get rid of it!

Every room has at least a few Santas, even the kitchen.

I’ll even paint empty jars and put them to use
in the kitchen, too!

And here’s  a close up of our library tree. There are somewhere between
85 and 100 Santas on this one, along with lots of other ornaments, including some more I painted, and quite a few  very old vintage ones.

Even my computer desk has some Santas to
keep me company while I work.

Bob the Skull from the Dresden Files resides in my library
all year long, and snarky or not, he demands to get in
on the action at Christmas, too!

The living room is a whole ‘nuther world, though, all done in blue, white,
and silver. I like it to look very frosty and wintry in there, just to
remind me of what Christmas is like in much of the country.

Here’s a close up of some of the ornaments.

The living room tabletop Santa is all in white & blue, too.
While there are no Santas in the dining room, I still stick
to the blue & silver color scheme, just because I like it so much,
and happily, our china matches it!

Since I started this long post off with my smallest Santas, I’m going to
end it with a picture of my tallest one. This was a display at our
local Publix store about 20 years ago, and  I told my daughter how much
I loved it. Unbeknownst to me, she went back to the store and
sweet-talked the manager into giving it to her as a gift for
her mom.  He’s been part of our Christmas ever since.
(The Santa. Not the manager! 😁)

And there you have a glimpse of some of the Santas and other things I put up every year to make Christmas as festive at our house as I possibly can. I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek and are now definitely
in the mood for Christmas fun!

Blessings to each of you for the Merriest Christmas possible,
and the Happiest New Year ever!