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A Commonplace Book

20 April 1972
A family man in his early 40s. An philosopher-deist married to a Lutheran minister, with two boys. Addicted to reading. Seeks wisdom, hunts antiques, doesn't tolerate fools, unthinking political partisans of either main American party gladly. Easily amused, slow to anger, but implacable once roused. Is not usually given to referring to himself in the third person.

"Handworn" is shorthand for part of what I value. Any bit of folklife that evokes the common aspects of people regardless of era, which show past the faces they present to the world, will find a home in my mind and my house. Any battered little bit of the past, unloved by interior decorators but telling a great story, to me is as welcome and soul-satisfying as the smell of woodsmoke.

My new quote to live by (from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who I hold right up there with Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin as one of the greatest American geniuses):

If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not 'studying a profession,' for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.
18th century, 18th century england, 18th century literature, 18th century london, 19th century, 19th century literature, 2blowhards, aaron sorkin, abandoned buildings, abraham lincoln, acoustic music, age of sail, alchemy, american history, ancient languages, anthropology, antiquarian books, antique books, antiques, antiquities, archaeology, archeology, architectural details, arms and armor, barbara hambly, baseball, beer, ben franklin, book making, bookbinding, bookmaking, books, calligraphy, candle making, catacombs, celtic art, celtic music, celtic mythology, celts, cemeteries, central new york, chess, christopher moore, colonial, colonial america, cooking, delia sherman, diane duane, early maps, edgar allen poe, eighteenth century, elizabeth i, ellen kushner, england, fantasy, fantasy fiction, fishtown, folk lore, folk magic, folk medicine, folk music, folk singing, folklore, food history, g.k. chesterton, georgian, goldsmithing, handmade books, herbs, hieronymous bosch, historical cookery, historical fiction, historical recreation, history, horatio hornblower, humphrey bogart, investing, ireland in general, j. r. r. tolkien, james keelaghan, linguistics, manuscript illumination, mark twain, martha wells, medieval battles, medieval cooking, medieval history, medieval reenactment, metallurgy, microbrews, museums, mysteries, national public radio, old books, old houses, old maps, old movies, other cultures, philadelphia, philosophy, philososhy, pieces of eight, pissing off religious right, pocket watches, punnery, reading, reenactment, regency, renaissance, richard burton, richard feynman, richard francis burton, richard russo, riverside, romano-celtic britain, sci-fi, science fiction, science fiction and fantasy, scotland, seventeenth century, sf/fantasy, shakespeare, silversmithing, single-malt scotch, softball, stoppard, swordspoint, the 18th century, the 19th century, tom stoppard, transgender, trivial pursuit, tying wide-ranging facts together, ultimate frisbee, unitarian universalism, upstate new york, urban fantasy, urban ruins, ursula le guin, ursula leguin, used book store people, used book stores, used books, victorian costume, victoriana, w.b. yeats, weaving, west wing, william shakespeare, writing


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