Kay: How a Romance Author Helped Save the Jews

Ida and Louise Cook on their way

Sometimes people ask themselves—or tell others—why they write. Sometimes people decide that their writing will take a different path than they’d expected. (See Elizabeth’s post from yesterday.)

Ida Cook wrote to save Jews from the Nazis just before World War II.

I don’t think that was Ida’s plan, though. Many years later, she said: “The funny thing is, we weren’t the James Bond type. We were just respectable Civil Service typists.”

Born in the early 1900s, neither she nor her sister, Louise, ever married, as was common with many women of their generation after the deaths so many young men during World War I. Instead, they lived at home with their parents in south London. Continue reading

Kay: Wild Hair (That’s Entertainment!)

My friend Eileen

Shetland pony

How long have we been social distancing now? It feels like forever, right? Most of us haven’t been out to a hairdresser—or really, anywhere else—in all that time. And let’s face it: we aren’t really looking our best these days.

A friend emailed me that it’s been so long since she last had a haircut, she looks like a Shetland pony. I thought that was ridiculous, but then she sent me pictures of herself and a Shetland pony. And holy cow, she was right. She looks just like a Shetland pony!

Me

Weird chicken

This made me wonder what I look like. It turns out, I look like a weird chicken.

I asked the other Ladies what they were doing about their hair in these stay-at-home times, and what they were looking like these days. As you might expect, some of the Ladies are cutting their own hair, or are letting it grow long. Some are dying it for the first time, or missing a coloring treatment.

Elizabeth

Highland cow

Elizabeth has fairly long hair, so missing a trim, if she were so inclined, might not be so noticeable. In answer to the question of how long the stay-at-home has been going on, she says, “two hair cuts’ worth.” And she’s taking the current state of affairs as an indication that it’s time to let nature take its course, hair-wise.

She says it would appear that “Scottish Highland cow” best describes her “out-for-a-walk, shelter-in-place” hair. Looking good, Ladies!

Jeanne

Dandelion

Some of the Ladies think that their hair most closely resembles plant life. Jeanne thinks she’s looking most like a dandelion.

 

 

 

Jilly

Haystack

Jilly reports that she’s been cutting (and thinning) her own hair, too—at least two hair cuts’ worth. She says that the term most often used to describe it at her house is “haystack.”

(For the curious, the photo of that beautiful haystack was taken in County Clare, Ireland.)

 

Goldendoodle

Michaeline lets go

Michaeline’s hair is long enough that she can adapt two styles to her hair. When she lets it go, she looks like a mini Goldendoodle. (photo: picuki.com/tag/banglecats)

 

 

 

Michaeline sleek

Araripe Manakin

When Michaeline’s hair is pulled back, though, then it’s a bird of a different feather! (This photo of the rare Brazilian bird Araripe Manakin was shot by Rick Elis Simpson via Wikimedia Commons.)

 
 
 

Justine

Lion

Finally, Justine thought she’d try something new, coloring her hair a beautiful purplish-red just in the front. And then she brushed it out, and her husband said “Oh my God” when he saw it. (She says she NEVER brushes out her hair, and she has to thin it to keep it manageable. I wish!)

What does she look like? A lion, of course.

Younger son

Golden Lion Tamarin

Her younger son wanted to get in on the act, so we’re adding him in. He, too, went for a little color in front and a little shorter in the back. I thought that beautiful color most resembled a golden lion tamarin.

And that’s what we’re looking like these days, over at Eight Ladies Writing! How are you all holding up out there in the hair department?

Kay: Today’s News, Yesterday

“Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix (1830)

I struggled to find a topic to write about this week, and I decided to go with an old chestnut idea: find out more about an unknown literary figure who was born on today’s date. Initially, the only person I could find was Anna Robeson Brown Burr, whom I located on some wacky web site. She was a wealthy socialite, married a wealthy socialite, wrote books, volunteered at the library, and died at age 68 of pneumonia.

Not that interesting.

However, her obit ran on the front page (!) of the Chester (Pennsylvania) Times of Sept 11, 1941, which was fascinating, although (full disclosure) I read and catalogued 18th-century newspapers for my research grant when I was in grad school, so I admit I might have a stronger-than-usual interest in old newspapers.

In any event, Sept. 11, 1941 was before the United States entered World War II, of course, and the front page was full of war news. But there was a lot of news about polio, too. Continue reading

Kay: Still Entertainment!

It’s another stay-at-home Monday, and I’ve been feeling a little bit blah, I don’t know about you. I’m happy to say that people have been sending me stuff for amusement, so I have a few things to share that you might enjoy and help you get your week off to a good start.

First up is a heartwarming clip of a music teacher who wrote a song to express her feelings about the coronavirus epidemic. Her song is a fantastic expression of her talent. She’s on one of the morning talk shows, so you have to get past the intro.

The next one is an oldie but goodie: the late, great Johnny Carson, former host of The Late Show, had the (mis)fortune to have a “talking” parakeet on the show. Two of Carson’s greatest talents were his ability to ad lib and his poker face. See how he makes out with the bird.

Finally, for something a little less mainstream, we have the Drag Queens in Quarantine (DiQ) performing to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.” (Vera Lynn made this song a hit in 1939; today she’s 103!) In this clip, 26 drag queens in five countries are raising money for the charity Age UK, the UK’s largest charity for older people. The song is lovely as well as timely, and while you listen, check out the eye makeup. Truly amazing.

So until we meet again, I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, happy week. May the 4th be with you!

Kay: That’s Entertainment! (p. IV)

So, how is everyone holding up out there? I hope you’re all staying safe and feeling fine. If you’re bored and have time to spare, you might enjoy a little harmless fun on the internet.

I don’t know about you, but I love old Hollywood musicals. The singing! The dancing! (Fun fact: Fred Astaire’s audition notes read “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Can dance a little.”) So the first thing I have here is a mashup, which I’ve bookmarked because I love it. Check out these Golden Era Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk. Give it a whirl, just for fun, and see if you don’t feel better afterwards.

If puzzles are more your thing, as I know they are for many people, you might want to check out a special one for a special time. This puzzle is written by Kimberly Harrington and brought to you by McSweeney’s: The Working From Home During a Global Pandemic Bingo. You might have to figure out how you’re going to play Bingo on Zoom, but I’m sure it’s possible.

Finally—because who doesn’t like to watch some brilliant sketch comedians doing what they do best?— it’s bloopers from the Carol Burnett show. The entire clip is a little long, but I’d advise sticking with it until you see the sketch with Tim Conway playing the clumsy dentist (around 5:39).

And that’s all for this week, folks! Stay well, and stay amused, my friends.

Kay: Whatcha Watchin’?

Book 1 in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, soon to be a Netflix original!

These days we’re probably all reading a lot and watching a lot of TV. I know I am. In TV land, I’m doing a slow binge on the Miss Fisher mysteries, an all-too-brief series from Australia. The gentle—very gentle—crimes, plus the slow-burn romance between Phryne Fisher and Jack Robinson, the police detective, are perfect for my mood. Plus, the clothes! And the sets! You would not believe.

I’m about halfway through this series now, so I’ll soon be looking for something else. Television seems to lend itself to mysteries, probably because so many TV serials are based on crime novelists who never seem to run out of ways to kill off a character or two. I admire most of the productions in the UK/Australia/New Zealand/Canada pantheon, so I’m looking for suggestions. I’ve run through the Brokenwood Mysteries, Shetland, Vera, Endeavor, Midsommer Murders, and Foyles War. I like Bosch, too, and I loved Justified, but on the whole, American detective shows don’t do it for me. And I don’t like anything too grim these days. Let me know what to watch!

Continue reading

Kay: That’s Entertainment! (part 3, but who’s counting?)

We’re in what feels like Week 4,000 of the corona virus/Covid-19 quarantine, and I don’t know about you, but I crave good news, or at least a good laugh now and then. A friend sent me this link to how to sew a mask, and while you might think that this is a topic that’s been worked to death, I promise (promise) that this is like no make-a-mask video you’ve ever seen. Pay no attention to the fact that this woman’s first name is Kay. There’s no connection. At all.

Next up, Bob Bergan is a Looney Tunes voice actor, who’s been voicing Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, and other characters you’d recognize, for decades. In this video, he’s ad libbing new voices to 12 unfamiliar cartoon characters. It’s interesting to see how he works, and you’ll get to hear samples of his more familiar voices. (I wonder if he does audio books?)

Finally, you’ve probably seen this story, because it’s gotten a lot of coverage, but I couldn’t resist: Tom Moore, a 99-year-old British veteran, raised more than £20 million for the UK’s National Health Service by walking in his backyard—get this, after a hip replacement. He asked people to donate to his goal of walking 100 laps of the yard before his 100th birthday at the end of April. People gave generously.

That’s all for today! Take care, ya’ll.