Her Twenty-Fourth Letter to Kate


Previous

Back to the Beginning

My dear cousin,

Raised as we both were by fathers who disapproved of every ha-penny spent on a cut of meat too fine, every extra log thrown on the fire when the barethermeter was already at 1.014-and-nineteen – in short, every luxury that a great many people of middling comfort would deem in fact a necessity of life – surely you must know that feeling of great exultation in the vicinity of one’s wallet when one has, serendipitously, avoided a significant expense.

No longer at The Haverly, it is my own responsibility to launder my things now, and I chose to do so on Sundays, when I am not at all at the Office. And lucky I was to happen to go home for lunch on Saturday, and to see Mrs. O’Shaughnessey, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, catapult herself out of the big farmhouse towards her laundry line, a veritable Fury, and begin stuffing everything back into her basket. Taking a good look around, I thought I saw a similar commotion through the hedgerow, at the Price’s farmhouse just south.

There was something a little too embarrassing about stopping to ask my new landlady about such odd behaviour, particularly with her husband and children’s underwear in hand. So on my way back to the Office I popped in to the General Store to buy a peppermint, and to ask, just as I happened to be there, whether Mr. Lorelli knew anything about it.

As it happens, the afternoon sun in New Britain has an especial enmity for clothing, and is liable to bleach or discolour a good neckcloth in a matter of hours (bed linens and tablecloths, apparently, go unscathed). I had been living in blissful ignorance of this, but ever since I have been alive to the 1pm rush of housewives on sunny days.

So on Sunday morning I washed and hung my things out behind the cabin, where they are somewhat out of sight, and once I heard the whistle up at the main house, and Mrs. O’Shaughnessey’s swearing (for she is rather short for her laundry line), I also ran out to get my clothes. Thus were my garments preserved from a menace I should never have imagined, and I shall take similarly good care of my new dresses – what a horror, should one of those be ruined! It would amount to burning pound notes.

The whistle up at Mrs. O’Shaughenesseys’, by the way, is a little device every Kingstownian housewife seems to have hanging in a kitchen or parlour window. I cannot recall the name of the chemical, but a jar filled with this substance, once hit by the sun, will let off an excess of gas; when the sun is strong enough, this gas trickles through esoterically curved little pipes and screams out. This –

***

I had left off, Kate, thinking to finish this letter later, but I have quite forgot whatever I meant to write about the sun or the laundry or the whistling jar.

Sunday evening was a big dinner up at the Thurstons’. The Coopers were there, and no sooner had I sat down to the table then Mr. Cooper – who was on my left – told me he was up to Taybridge on Tuesday, and should be very happy to take me.

Now I had already a number of things planned for the week, including another ride out to the Marlin Plateau, besides not being at all prepared for a meeting of the County Authority. To be frank, I have not even established what I should need to bring before the Councillors. I smoothed out my napkin on my knees and thanked Mr. Cooper but said I should not be ready, and there were other matters I ought to study first before making the journey.

My napkin was nice and smooth and perhaps I imagined this but it seemed quiet in the dining room. I looked up, and had the eerie sense that people were turning back to their conversation partners just a moment before I set eyes on them again, whilst Miss Thurston, across from me, was unmistakably frowning.

Mr. Cooper pressed me on the matter of Taybridge, Kate, there is no other way to describe it. He expounded upon the great importance of the wells, and the comfort of his carriage, and told me I should be doing the town a deal of good. What else, he asked, should I need to study about the matter?

I declare I hardly tasted the soup, I was so uncomfortable. I offered up some nonsense about wishing to be well prepared to make my case, and then, for good measure, that I wished to present additional matters for their consideration when I did make the journey, such as the development of Kingstowne’s mineral assets.

“Mineral assets?”

The tone conveyed something between dismissal and disappointment, and many eyes were unmistakably on me at that point. Miss Thurston, frown gone, swooped in with a call for anecdotes from the latest dance, and the conversation turned; but with the icy silence of Mr. Cooper to one side, the simple pleasantries of Mr. Harlowe to my right were no panacea against my pleading a headache before dessert, and retiring.

However, Miss Thurston found me in the hall on my way out. And there she plainly told me that it should be unkind of me not to go up to Taybridge with Mr. Cooper, when he had taken such pains to arrange things for me; that everyone thought it a very good idea; that they had all considered me a friend, since my coming her; and that surely I must be interested in the livelihoods of one’s friends.

I do not know what I answered, Kate. I left feeling that I was not Georgia to any of them, but a mouth to the ear of the County Authority, and the government across the sea.

I wonder that I was calling any of these young ladies my friends.

Missing you greatly,

Georgia

Next

Her Twenty-Third Letter to Kate


Previous

Back to the Beginning

My dearest Kate,

If you say I am being silly calling myself an old maid then I must believe you, and thank you, and send you my love as best I am able with this sorry excuse for a pen. I declare I have to sharpen it every letter.

Some boundary troubles emerged between two farmers last week, but I am happy to say that I could leave the matter to Mr. Ridgetop, so that I could continue with my map of what I have decided to call the Marlin Plateau. Therein lies the limestone, and I am drawing it most delightfully if I do say so myself, and there will be an accompanying report. It shall take a great deal of time I think, and I shall have to ride out innumerable times more. Which is all for the good, because I do believe Lorenzo enjoys the exercise, however little he wishes to let on.

Mr. Ridgetop has not asked what I am working on, and I have not nerved myself to mention the redoubled irregularity of his office hours. It is quiet as a library in this dusty Office.

I was summoned to the Haverly at lunchtime today to recover two items I had forgotten – my hairbrush, and trade paperback romance that I do wish had not come to Mrs. Brougham’s notice. I was also subject to a barrage of inquiries, and told a great many lies about how I am settled in the cabin.

“That so? Good enough, then. And I imagine now you’re due for tea with the Thurstons or the Dells (I was not – I was going back to work!). Fine folk.”

And she looked at me with a piercing eye, as if to say that I did not look the part. But in fact, at the young ladies’ behest I have ordered three dresses, Kate, a near-intolerable expense, and I laid up the entire night afterwards unable to sleep. I am hoping I will feel less awful about it once the dresses are actually made.

So I am still going out in my usual attire. And there has been another dance, too, only I did not write to you about it, for somehow nothing really occurred there. I seem to be smiling more and more without knowing quite why everyone else is smiling.

Anyway, a day or two after Mrs. Brougham’s remark I was in fact taking tea with the Thurstons and the Coopers, parents and daughters all, and one unruly six-year old son who had Mrs. Cooper most distracted. There was a very languid, pleasant sort of conversation going on about the summer heat, and the cows that sometimes get sunstruck. And Mr. Cooper mentioned that “it should all be much easier, if only the well weren’t so far.”

There I perked up, Kate, for I felt as though I actually had a chance to speak about something real. I asked Mr. Cooper if he were constrained by the restrictions on well-digging, and when he naturally said that was the case, I told the assembled party that I might try the County Authority when I had the chance, and see if I could change the rule.

“Change it, Miss Walker?” Mrs. Thurston asked. “You don’t say.”

She sounded doubtful, and I very nearly took off, a whole speech unrolling my head about the iniquities of the present system, its basis in outdated science, etc. etc. But I didn’t get further than four syllables before Mr. Thurston clapped his knee.

“Right-o, jolly good! Always said we ought to be able to have more wells drilled so we can water our cattle, eh, Cooper?”

“Why, that sounds fine, Miss Walker. When can I give you a lift up to Taybridge? Only say the word.”

“Oh dear,” Miss Cooper turned to me, “only it is such a long road, and I am afraid our carriage is hardly sprung like it used to me. You must wait for mama and I to badger papa into buying the new one.”

“The new one?” Mr. Cooper guffawed. “You talk as if it were already a done thing, pet!”

In such a way nothing was said about the advancement of human knowledge, the unique features of the land beneath our feet, or the status of the aquifer. We passed into a thorough discussion of carriage upholstery, and I sat there, as agreeable as any other piece of furniture in the room, eating more than my share of the biscuits.

Yours always,

Georgia

Next

Her Nineteenth Letter to Kate – and Others


Previous

Back to the Beginning

Dear Mother,

I am indeed getting to know my neighbours. Only yesterday I took tea with one of the rancher families of Kingstowne, the Thurstons, who number among the town’s founders. They have the loveliest porch you ever saw. Young Miss Thurston had only just returned from Cartaeser, and was a most genial and polite hostess.

The matter of your joints aching is quite concerning, have you gone back to Doctor Watts? I own I suspect you of complaining without the intent to consult a medical professional! But you know these things never get better on their own.

Irene must be very busy, or in one of her moods, for I have not heard from her the last few letters I wrote. Perhaps I managed to offend her with one of my missives!

Get well,

Your Georgia

Dear Kate,

As the heavens and all their naked cherubs be my witness, I am not fit to deal with the intricacies of small town life. Being out here has brought home to me how much I appreciate big towns and cities, where one can easily disappear, whilst interactions necessary to daily life are greased by that veneer of universal, uninterested politeness that is the great achievement, in my opinion, of the modern age.

Would that your Everett might advise me. He sounds like quite the diplomat, suggested seating arrangements such that your mother and his shan’t have any reason to take offence at the wedding. Unfortunately, that is the very sort of thing I fail to consider.

I was having a lovely day – the very first, real, lovely day since I arrived in Kingstowne. The week prior a Mr. and Mrs. Thurston came to call on me at the Haverly, Saturday tea-time. They are, in fact, the well-to-do ranchers I mentioned in the context of the cow incident. Mrs. Brougham was at her most polished as she brought me down to sit with them in the front room and then whisked herself away. The Thurstons were most genteel; a light joke about the heat, but nothing about the cow; and they asked me to tea at their home, for their daughter was due back from a visit among friends in the city, and she would certainly be delighted to make my acquaintance.

So this afternoon I saddled Lorenzo (yes, he remains an unknown quantity) and went up to their ranch, for which Mrs. Brougham gave me most thorough directions, and advised me – with only a twinge of sarcasm – to wear a hat this time. I went to the trouble of acquiring a proper sort of split-skirt riding habit for the occasion, also on Mrs. Brougham’s advice, and was very glad when I arrived, for Miss Thurston was so prettily turned out that I should have felt immeasurably worse in my usual.

The Thurstons, however, were so pleasant so as to make me speedily forget any comparisons between myself and the daughter. And they seeming to be a busy sort of people, I was left for the bulk of the tea-time tete-a-tete with Miss Thurston, who was terribly engaging.

What a breeze, coming off the rolling grasses, and there in the shade of the porch, learning all sorts of gossip and drinking a cold tea, I felt I understood why some folk adore this place.

Only, when I took my leave and rode away down the cart-track, a passel of ranch hands made a great show of stepping out of my path, and ducking their heads. Not only was there was plenty of room to pass, but I own I was shocked to be treated like a lady as I was in England; ever since arriving in New Britain I have thought of myself – and have been received – as a District Official in a dusty coat. Now I should have forgotten all about the ranch hands, except that I had to stop by the general store for a hand salve on my way back to the Haverly, after having stabled the inscrutable Lorenzo. And at the store, when Mr. Lorelli asked after my day, and I said I had taken a very nice tea with Miss Thurston, there was a general oddness in the air. When I got back to my rooms, I realized that Mr. Lorelli’s usual volubility had converged to a more normal state – normal, that is, were it not he.

Now I am huddled at my desk in the Office, wondering whether I am paranoid but mostly sure that I am not; and mostly sure that Mr. Ridgetop’s muttered question about how I had liked Thurston’s ranch was both piercing and significant, in a way I cannot appreciate; and I am not in much state to consider the significance of winding valley formations right now, so I am writing to you instead.

I wonder whether all small towns are so troublesome. Who went telling Mr. Ridgetop that I was up at Thurston’s, anyhow? And why should anyone care whether my tea was a weak mint with one of Mrs. Broughams biscuits, or an Earl Grey with milk and little cakes with Miss Thurston?

Your bumbling cousin,

Georgia

P.S. Perhaps Kingstownians are prejudiced against tea-cakes, Kate, and now that I have ingested some on New British soil I shall be persona-non-grata forever.

Next

Her Eighteenth Letter to Kate


Previous

Back to the Beginning

Dear father,

The country here must be, as you say, one that remains influenced by the native philosophies and a sense of being at the mercies of the natural world; although the townspeople do not expound upon such abstract concepts, one can discern it. The sun, the wind, and the rain are spoken of in the most absolute terms – and the means of man in terms so vague (“plodding on”, “getting on with it”, “chipping away”) as to put the two in clear juxtaposition once one sits back.

Meanwhile the native festivals are held here but dimly disguised, and the very fact that no one ever breathes a word of the Great Sky Dreaming Ark, or of the States of the Confederated Tribes just to the southeast, says a whole lot in and of itself.

If you do embark on your next book with New Britain as your subject, at whatever point in its history, I would very much enjoy being an early reader of your draft. Although this may not be practical, owing to the existence of that pesky thing called an ocean between here and there! Anyway, do take care of yourself.

Your daughter,

Georgia

Dear Kate,

The County of New Cambridge is remarkably level, bounded in the northwest by the Youx-shalni range, the southwest by the River Cartaeser, and the east by the Redhawk Hills and the forests of Labrette’s County. You are familiar already with the spiral rock formations I mentioned, which pockmark the plains and can give rise to toxic updraft of a dizzying array of chemicals (ever unpredictable in their exact mix, from site to site and time to time). The latter formations are composed largely of felsparic sandstone, but also in the region abound mica of a mediocre quality, syenite, quartzite, and at least some limestone.

I say “at least some” because the limestone is subject of some debate – and some very bad handwriting – in the Kingstowne records, on which I have not yet formed an opinion myself.

A strange feature of the region is the manner in which the rock beds nearest the upper crust, on which we walk, tend to undulate most gracefully but always culminating in an angle jutting up eastward toward the horizon. If one could strip away all the vegetation and annoying topsoil that stand in the way, one could see how the land here almost resembles a bed of scales, the bottoms of which all point up off to the east.

By way of explanation for this digression into the business of the world beneath us, I am now in possession of a horse, and consequently deep in the (overdue) throws of writing Kingstowne’s annual report to the Minister of the Districts of the Greater Commonwealth.

I was ill-equipped to go much of anywhere until I acquired Lorenzo, but now that I can, in fact, carry out one of the principal duties of my Office, I am in a mad hurry to survey as much as I am able in order to add new material to this year’s report. While the principal geological features of a region hardly change much from one year to a next, our decades being but sneezes next to an inch’s shifting of granite, there are still other topographical features on which I can report, albeit less interesting. And thankfully there are leftover questions such as the limestone.

Kingstowne’s last report principally consisted of the usual descriptive table, contents last updated in 1926 and reproduced each year by way of confirmation that yes, a human being bothered to copy them out, and yes, the foibles of new formatting demands from the current Minister of the DGC could be humoured. This table had, by way of foreward, a letter from Mr. Inglethorp to the Secretary to said Minister, which said very little about rocks and trees and water levels, but made up for that in spades with snooker and Scotch kilts. I was disappointed to see that Mr. Inglethorp’s handwriting was quite passable, so I cannot blame him for the illegible passages I come upon in the Office.

Anyway, I have enclosed a sketch of Lorenzo, whose temperament is still an unknown, and whose apparent dislike of apples is too obvious to be trusted. I acquired him from Mrs. Brougham’s son-in-law’s cousin, whose ranch runs alongside the O’Shaughnessys’ and who will board Lorenzo until I move house. If I sound ambivalent where I ought to be excited, let us put this down to the fact that at present Lorenzo does not always go where I wish him to, and has therefore exposed me to the laughter of Mr. Ridgetop as well as a few stray ranch hands.

Perhaps I should not complain seeing as Mr. Ridgetop almost looked astonished when, on my first ride out on survey, as he watched from the Office doorway I got into the saddle without mishap. In fact, I am thoroughly competent at getting on and off of a horse, and have only to feel sour at this apparently being such a surprise.

With Love,

Your Georgia

Next

Her Seventeenth Letter to Kate


Previous

Back to the Beginning

100+ Best Cow Town images | cow, cow art, cow painting

Dearest Kate,

As I was working away in the office yesterday, the unfortunate door was flung open most abruptly, and Mr. Ridgetop – very tardy indeed, in coming back from his lunch break – threw down his hat on his desk and ran out again.

“Rogue cow!”

The poor door (I do think it is on its last legs) swung madly on its hinges in his wake. I righted it before I went after him, both because it seemed like the kind thing to do, and because I was deeply apprehensive about what I should find outside.

As I learned after the event, the infamous dreyflies of New Britain are not normally found out on the plains near Kingstowne. They like to lay their eggs in the stills of otherwise free-flowing water, and although very little else is known about them, it is known that if they do appear on the plains it will most likely be in late summer – despite the counter-intuitive dearth of moisture here in said season. The one other thing I learned about them is that their bite, while it releases a substance which could be termed a poison, has fascinated entomologists for many decades because of its extraordinary hallucinogenic effects.

Out on Main Street, in the blinding sun, I peered about and was both relieved and disappointed not to see a scene of chaos as I had imagined. There was indeed a cow within view; it was of the butchering variety, brown and hefty. There was also a general congregating of people, drawn like magnets, and all looking rather grimmer than seemed necessary.

I saw our good Mr. Lorelli, and ducked my head to him; the local smith, whose name was Gibbons, according to my landlady; a middle-aged rancher, who had introduced himself to me one morning on my walk to the Office, and whose name I had forgotten, but who gave off a relative air of well-to-do-ness; there was also the latter’s wife, clutching his arm, and fanning herself into an excited swoon. Meanwhile, the cow plodded along towards us, her lead trailing and her head swaying gently. For a brief interval she picked up her feet to skip (lumber, more like) along, and then she stopped, and looked here and there, and kept plodding.

There were at least a dozen or so other people about, some whose faces I recognized but without names to put to them, and others I did not know at all. As I grew less interested in the cow I became aware that a great many of my fellow human beings present were glancing at me. Almost as if there were something on my face, or as if they expected me, at any moment, to do something.

Another minute or two and I surely would have retreated into the Office, but then with a muffled commotion a man with a great burlap sack in his fist bounded into sight, followed by Ridgetop, with a great lot of rope.

Now the cow took exception – now that she was approached, she became more worthy of that epithet, “rogue”. The poor, dear thing, Kate, had looked so very pleased with itself – floating along as if in a fairy land, seeing who knows what. But upon noticing the two men her feet stomped and I do believe that if she could have growled she would have. Can she be blamed? This is my own reaction when being disturbed from a most enchanting dream.

The well-to-do rancher’s wife gave a little shriek. The cow snorted. Ridgetop threw his lasso and the other fellow ran forward headlong, sack thrust out before him as if he were armed with a crucifix against a devil, a rope of garlic against a vampire. For a moment it was very thrilling.

Then the lasso fell home and the bag was simultaneously thrust over her nose; all fight went out of the cow, and, with a surprised look, she began contentedly chewing at whatever was in that bag.

A cheer rose all around, and being a little too excited to go straight back to my desk, I made my way over to Mr. Lorelli. Here I had his explanation of the dreyflies, one of which had evidently bitten this cow, and throughout his voluminous discourse I was discomfited by the sidelong, almost sly looks that other Kingstownians were throwing me as they dispersed, and by Mr. Lorelli’s own alternating sympathetic looks and stifled chuckles.

I finally had to interrupt him, and ask if I had any ink on my chin.

“Oh, no, Ms. Walker. Right as rain! You must be thinking it strange, this whole dreyfly business. It doesn’t happen too often. But when we do get them roague cows, it was always Mr. Inglethorp rushing out, to go about catching them. Master wrangler, he was. Well, you have a good afternoon, Ms. Walker.”

And isn’t that one of the most unhelpful pieces of information you have ever heard? Better to let me think they were all looking at a pimple of mine, rather than expecting me to leap forth like my cowboy predecessor! I can hardly change the truth, that I have never before wrangled a cow.

At least I was left to my own devices that afternoon, for of course Ridgetop went off with the inebriated cow. In the Office I was able to daydream about secretly practising knots, and throwing, or whatever else is necessary for trussing up unsuspecting animals by their feet or necks, and thereby astonishing all the townsfolk. Only I determined by the end of the afternoon that it all seemed like more bother than it was worth, and I wandered home regretting not having actually done my work.

The latter sentiment, I think, must embody the very essence of being “adult”. What a great number of children we could terrorize, Kate, if we went about disseminating this truth!

Yours,

Georgia

Next

Her Sixteenth Letter to Kate


Previous

Back to the Beginning

Dear Kate,

Mr. Lorelli has put me on to what may be a perfect solution for my accommodations. There is a contingent of O’Shaughnessys here in Kingstowne, who own a sizeable ranch not a twenty minutes’ walk from the District Office, and who a few years ago built a sort of secondary little cottage on their land to house the young Mr. and Mrs. James O’Shaughnessy, lately married. It seems that Mr. James has decided to go work on the railroads, and once the young family decamps two weeks hence, the little cottage will be empty.

So I have a visit to the O’Shaughnessys in my agenda, and out of prudence I will stay well wide of the subject of fruit punch. I must ingratiate myself if I hope to board a horse with them as well.

Mrs. Brougham, if initially taken aback by my mentioning this idea, has since taken it over as being of her own origination, and has told me that although the cottage is “by no means so nice” as her own rooms, I will “do well enough” there. She has warned me not to buy any furnishings without seeing what is to be had at her church jumble, and not to buy a horse without speaking to her son-in-law.

I have perhaps been remiss in describing the running of the Haverly; there is Mrs. Brougham, and a maid of all work, and a man who comes in from time to time (called Thomas, as I know from how this is wrathfully shouted when he does not complete his tasks to standard), and that is all. I had no notion of my landlady having any family, and was afraid to ask, in fact, lest there have been some sort of terrible tragedy involving fires or floods or bee stings. Instead it turns out that Mr. Brougham died several years ago of a very ordinary pneumonia – apparently he always had weak lungs, or so Mrs. Brougham told me, her manner quite disapproving – and Mrs. Brougham’s daughter and son-in-law live four houses over.

I shall have to speak to this son-in-law soon, for a proposal has come in to open a fresh quarry (the present one being apparently nearly exhausted) and I don’t see how I’ll get up in those hills without a horse. Am I not busy socially, now?

Never mind that attempt at a jest and tell me more about the parties you have been attending. I am starved for the silliness of society.

With love,

Your Georgia

Next

Her Eighth Letter to Kate


Previous – Her Seventh Letter to Kate

Back to the Beginning

ArtStation - Steampunk Western Town, Christy Tortland
From ArtStation

Dear Kate,

It is my second day on the train and so much has happened. I hope that you continue blissfully well, that Everett is equally well (but not any more so than you), and that my uncle’s birthday has passed happily. Please give him my best wishes. On that note, have you spoken with my father at all? I am sad to have left England without hearing from him, and I am impatient to arrive in Kingstowne and to have any letters forwarded to me.

The first thing I noticed when I set foot on this new continent was that even the way buildings and streets were laid out gave an impression of an abundance of space, and that the attire of its folk gave an impression of boundless fashions. When I saw a woman in pants I realized – I can wear anything that I want here, and people will hardly look twice.

Neither did they look twice at the murmuring cats who crossed my path, or the funny cloud that was hanging low over a house of questionable reputation. It was pink as cotton candy. So you see my first anomalies have been benign, even if one cat did send me a withering look, and the only noticeable change in the physics is how easily a hop can become a jump. I was emboldened by the surrounding strangeness when I slipped into my first New British shop; however, I do not for one moment regret my purchases.

For I will be engaged in many rough and tumble things. I was remiss in explaining exactly how I will be employed, my vagueness partly out of habit from concealing gruesome details from Irene and my mother. I will ride about on survey, watching for landslides and fissures, approving (or disapproving) any new buildings or industry as per the Kingstowne Charter and basic prudence, planning for the future stability of the area, and helping to bring any remarkable students to the government’s notice. Thankfully I shall have a staff to help me in doing all of this, though I don’t know of how many and of what quality. The District Official is supposed to be someone “of irreproachable education and manners”, but I have no notion of the exigencies for an Official’s employees.

Anyway, after the talking cats and some reflection, I didn’t think skirts were right for the job. Besides, we wore much what your brothers did when caught toads and played dolls all in the same afternoons.

Yes, I bought pants. Pants! Don’t tell anyone, for fear of it getting back to Irene, as she will be sure to tell my mother, and I couldn’t bear all the discombobulation that would follow at my posterior being outlined for the public’s view. To be honest, I am rather proud of my posterior. Up top, Alexandra has always made me feel very small – maybe that is why Edward danced with her.

No, nothing about him. To go on, I also bought some plain but sweet linen shirts (I plan to embroider the cuffs), ones heavy enough to conceal my underthings, and the most magnificent leather trench to ward off the dust. The man in the shop got all strained and funny-looking when I said I wanted it. It makes me look like a pirate, Kate! I actually have to try not to swagger when I wear it.

I’m going to dinner now, and shall write more after.

Hah, I fancy a few people did look askance when I came into the dining car but I don’t care, I tell you! I am a stranger here. The Conductor had described another District Official to me, and I found the man (who is from Denver) by his cow boy hat and his large boots. He also wore a gleaming, ticking device upon his wrist. I wonder that the Conductor did not distinguish him by the device rather than all else together. Mayhap she didn’t know what to call it. He sat alone so I went up very boldly, and inclined my head, and said I hoped he would pardon me but I was on my way to be a new Official, and I should like to eat with him if it wouldn’t be a disturbance.

“A new one, eh? And a young lady at that, by jove. Good choice of coat. Sit down, sit down.” He had a very craggy face, and it got more jumbled as he smiled.

I was so pleased when he said that about the coat. And seeing how he was dressed, with weathered pants, a heavy vest, and great leather gloves set down by his plate, I was reassured in my own selections.

We talked about all manner of things. I told him that I was an MA in Geography, but that I had dabbled in many other subjects along the way, and when I said I was from the University of Bloomsbury he seemed rather impressed. He himself went to the University of New York for a BSc in Biology, specializing in mountain vegetation. He told me that he has been one of two Officials in Denver (it is a big place), for over twenty years. From him I heard all sorts of interesting and daunting stories about the work. He also saw my curiosity at his wrist device, and he explained it in detail; it is both a time-keeper and a compass, a marvel of gears and glass and little swivelling arrows. I covet it.

Kingstowne will be different from Denver in a thousand ways, but still I feel that I have a better idea of what I can look forward to. I shall only be on the train for one more day so I will try to talk to this District Official, Mr. Faulken, as much as I can before this leg of the journey is done.

Yours always,

Georgia

P.S. How is the weather in England? How are the flowers blooming in York? Does Everett bring you bouquets? At a word from you, I will hogtie him if he doesn’t (I am sure I will learn how to hogtie).

What I Learned From Wrestling with Confidential MicroData in a Pseudo-Bunker


https://i2.wp.com/i.imgur.com/AHHIY.gif

127 pages, dozens of hectic emails, millions of observations, 4 Censuses of Population and 1 National Household Survey (NHS) later, and still I could give you the findings of my paper in a few points. Consequently, I somewhat resent this culmination of my degree, which ran to more than twice its recommended length.

In 1986, 36.9% of Canadian women did not have a high school diploma.

By 2011 only 8.9% of Canadian women did not have a high school diploma.

At least there are some interesting insights into how some things in Canada have changed between 1986 and 2011. I examined the individual files of women from these censuses and the NHS, and on their files, the number of children in their census family.

  1. Among the total sample of women aged 25-50, higher education had a negative effect on the number of children present. This lessened over time.
  2. Among women aged 35-50, after 1986 higher education had a positive effect on the number of children.
  3. Lesser-educated women may have children earlier than well-educated women, but completed family sizes are turning out to be very similar.
  4. Women aged 35-50 show higher mean numbers of children, an indicator of how women are having children later in life. But this is not true of immigrants. Foreign-born women are probably having their children earlier.
  5. Women’s wages have a clear negative correlation with the number of children.
  6. If a woman is in a common law union, this has a large negative effect on the average number of children in the family.

From 1986 to 2011, the portion of women with college degrees rose from 27.5% to 38.7%.

I’m going to spend some time on voodoo rituals to gain the goodwill of my unknown grader, who will suddenly receive 127 pages (a good 77 more pages than he/she would have likely anticipated) of unfamiliar tosh which simply works toward articulating those 6 points. And although those points form my Conclusion, I found the little facts in italics to be more interesting than the meat and potatoes of my work. It’s the small things, right?

Between 1986 and 2011 the portion of women with degrees above the Bachelor’s level rose from 3.5% to 10.6%.

I hope this essay chokes on my dust as I fly to Japan.

Blue – Worlds and Wonders


As of our age, blue is the last colour to be invented by mankind. Blue is the colour of the future, blue comprises 70% of our planet’s surface, and according to Wikipedia, it is the most popular colour in US and European opinion polls. Blueshift is the shortening of wavelengths as celestial bodies hurtle towards us.

Blue is the colour we gave to the sky, yet it hardly ever appears in nature.

Continue reading “Blue – Worlds and Wonders”

China, Transylvania, and Rome


https://i1.wp.com/freec.dk/images/uploaded/blogsize/4cf7a0a87d3e802122010.jpg

It does not take much strength to lift a hair, it does not take sharp eyes to see the sun and moon, it does not take sharp ears to hear a thunderclap.

~ Sun Tzu

Two nights ago I read 9 of the 13 sections of The Art of War, and wrote 13 pages of notes. I need hardly explain why my dreams were medieval and confusing. I could explain why I am doing this during exams, with my undergraduate seminar paper hanging over my head, but only if I knew.

Perhaps some of you are also perverse in timing things. I read Sun Tzu’s carefully framed quotations and the commentary offered by those such as Li Quan, Mei Yaochen, and Zhang Yu, and simply didn’t find a stopping place. Reading their reflections on terrain called to mind the varied landscapes of China, and I found myself Googling images of mountain jungles and rice fields.

I did not read the remaining four sections because I thought I should do some math instead. It turns out this was an excuse to pick up another book.

Today I finished Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I discovered a “Reader” app on my super-high-tech-complicated Android phone, and lo and behold, there were classic book inside. Free.

How could I not read a free copy of Dracula, which I had never read before?

So I exchanged the “ground of life and death” for the wilds of Transylvania, and the Count’s great ruined castle on its promontory. Continue reading “China, Transylvania, and Rome”