I would imagine all of you have had a holiday disaster or two or perhaps just a close call. I know I have. There was the year the Hong Kong flu swept the nation. Mom and I were recuperating from it and as weak as kittens, but we were determined to get the Christmas tree up and decorated. Somehow, one of us lost our balance and bumped into the tree. It came crashing down, and shattered ornaments covered the floor-- some of them (like "Baby's First Christmas") irreplaceable to Mom. We sat on the floor and cried for a while.
But the one holiday episode that sticks in my mind most is the year I desperately wanted a guitar. Mom was raising me on a widow's pension and a variety of part-time jobs, but somehow she managed to save up the money for that guitar. She squirreled it away in one of her closets.
One day a week before Christmas, Mom asked me to go into her bedroom and get something from one of the closets. I had my hand on the closet doorknob when I heard her make a funny noise. When I brought the item out to the living room for her, I noticed that she was looking at me very closely. Very. Closely. But, being a teenager, I just blew it off and went on my merry way.
On Christmas Day, Mom told me that she realized that the item she'd asked me to bring her was stored in the same closet in which she'd hidden the guitar. "But I knew by looking at your face when you came back out that you hadn't seen it."
Oh well. You can't always be the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I still wonder how on earth I could get in that closet and miss a guitar. Guitars aren't exactly small, you know? Mom trusted me not to snoop, so she hadn't made any attempts to hide it behind anything... and I missed it! How embarrassing...
At least I didn't miss any links this week. Let's check 'em out!
►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
- Australia's first published dictionary was dedicated to "convict slang."
- New England Gothic and the uncanny making of a mystery.
- How the internet is changing language as we know it.
- Discovering the misogyny behind the famous plot of Lord of the Flies.
- How many wives are in book titles? @BookNet_Canada dives deep into the data to find out.
- Take a look at this reproduction of a Virginia Woolf stand-up desk and bookshelf.
- Who decides which books are "Great"?
- The art of blending crime and humor.
►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
- Lasers help scientists spot 900 new archaeological sites on Scotland's Isle of Arran.
- What a warrior's lost toolkit says about the oldest known battle in Europe.
- Scientists prove Leonardo da Vinci's 500-year-old bridge design actually works.
- Archaeologists find shot glass shards and an anti-witch carving at a centuries-old Scottish pub.
- A cigar puffed by Winston Churchill went to auction.
- An 1,800-year-old Roman chariot with horses has been found buried in Croatia.
- For Sale: Jane Austen's wince-inducing descriptions of 19th-century dentistry.
- Take a virtual tour of a 17th-century shipwreck.
►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
- A German-speaking raven calls visitors "my darling."
- Watch a curious fox bounce and pounce upon a trampoline.
- A thrifty squirrel stored over 200 nuts under a car hood. (Glad it wasn't my car...)
- The amazing agility of the world's smallest monkey.
- North Atlantic right whale mamas whisper to their babies to keep them safe.
- The spectacled flowerpecker is now known to science. (What a name for a bird!)
- A pelican politely waits in line at a fish and chips shop. (I wonder if his name is Nigel?)
- See a fox spook a marmot and more award-winning wildlife photographs.
- Lee Child grapples with mortality, sales, rivals, and successors.
- Restauranteur Ike Clanton.
- Charles Finch on one neat, trick to writing great mystery plots.
- Bessie Coleman, the black Cherokee female pilot who made aviation history.
- Murder in Paradise: The Tale of the Baroness and the Bohemians.
- Shuping Wang, the whistleblower and "Public Health Hero" who exposed China's massive HIV epidemic.
►The Happy Wanderer◄
- A massive citizen science effort seeks to survey the entire Great Barrier Reef.
►I ♥ Lists & Quizzes◄
- Match the Victorian slang term to its meaning.
- Twelve authors and their TED talks.
- Five great American social crime novels.
- Detecting during disasters-- Fires, hurricanes, plague-- crime fiction persists in moments of crisis.
- Merriam-Webster's Where in the World quiz.
- The most memorable requests librarians have ever received.
- Inspector Morse has been named the greatest British crime drama of all time. (And check out the list of the top twenty.)
- The top ten lighthouses in fiction.
That's it for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.
Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!