Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wick's Dog

Sissy is attached to me.  She is a one-person dog.  She is also very shy, having been a puppy mill rescue.

We got Cassie as a companion for Sissy, since she seems more comfortable with dogs than with people.  She is Sissy's opposite, outgoing, friendly, loving almost everyone who comes through our door.

But at heart she is Wick's dog.

If he is working at the computer, she sits at his feet gazing longingly, waiting for his attention.  If he is sitting in his recliner, she begs to be picked up, so she can love on him.  She prods him with her little black nose, snuggles into his neck, shines and cries for him to play with her, and sits on his shoulder like a furry little parrot.

If he goes outside to work in his garden, she stands at the window, crying her little heart out, begging to go outside and join him.

I am the one who takes both of them for walks, but they can hardly tend to their business, for wanting to get back into the house.  He is the dispenser of treats, and they can't wait for their reward for going out.

Both dogs follow me to the bedroom when I take a nap, and want to sleep in the curve of my back, or the crook of my knee, or on my pillow, snuggled into my shoulder.  But after about an hour, they begin to poke my face with their noses, eager to get back into the living room, where Wick is, and where the treat jar is.

Cassie loves to sit in Wick's lap, or cuddle next to his leg, or insist that he pet and play with her.  she may jump into my lap to nuzzle Sissy briefly, but at the slightest move or sound from him, she is in his lap in a flash.

When I sit on the back porch, reading, drinking a cup of coffee, gazing out at the lake, both dogs beg to come out with me.  But if Wick stands up, makes the slightest movement or noise, Cassie is at the window, pressing her nose against the glass, begging to go back into the house.

She even likes to ride with him in the pickup, to take the trash to the dumpster.

She and Sissy entertain us, playing tug of war, growling softly, stalking each other, face near the floor, tail in the air, wrestling and struggling in endless mock battles.

We are so easily entertained.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vegetable Salad Recipe--Yummy for Summer

Tina at Antique Mommy gave this recipe to daughter Jeana.  She served it the last time we were at her house, and we both loved it. 

I'm not generally much of a veggie eater, so finding a recipe that makes vegetables palatable is a find, indeed.

In the summer, we cook on the grill a lot, and eat outside whenever the weather is nice, and this kind of salad is the perfect side dish.

Pea Salad

Drain well:  1 can of English peas, 1 can of shoe peg corn, 1 can of green beans, 1 can of pimento
Chop:  1C of celery, 1 green bell pepper, 1 purple onion (I sometimes skip the pimento and add a chopped fresh red pepper for color)

Dressing:  1C sugar, ½ C vinegar, ½ C of salad oil, 1 ½ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of pepper

Dissolve dressing on low heat and let cool.  Pour  over drained vegetables and refrigerate for 48 hours or more. Keeps up to two weeks in fridge.

You can be creative add other veggies and spices.

Jan's note: I have substituted other veggies, added others, and used extra crunchy stuff, and it always turns out good.  The dressing is the key.  Since Wick and I try to avoid sugar, we substitute Splenda, and we can't tell the difference. 
We have used black eyed peas,sliced carrots, hominy, pretty much any canned or frozen vegetable you can think of.  I like sugar snap peas in it too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bleak House--A Character Analysis

Recently I found some papers I wrote some time ago, and thought I would share here.  

Dickens Novels--Bleak House
The Amoral Childhood of Harold Skimpole

Harold Skimpole is one of the eccentric strays of John Jarndyce's establishment in Bleak House. Like Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle, he is a beneficiary of Jarndyce's charity; even more, Jarndyce seems to have great personal affection for him. He not only accepts, but seems to admire) Skimpole's self-proclaimed innocence;

He is grown up--he is at least as old as I am--but in simplicity, and freshness, and enthusiasm, and a fine guileless inaptitude for all worldly affairs; he is a perfect child. (Riverside 51)

Esther Summerhill, however, like the reader, comes to suspect that Skimpole's naiveté is merely a screen for his amoral nature. When Skimpole first appears, Jarndyce introduces him as "a mere child," and at first he seems as charming and attractive as a well-mannered, well-educated child can be. He plays the piano, sings, makes fancy-sketches, even composes a little music. He values good food, good wine, and good conversation. His first encounter with "Coavinses" is humorous, as he endeavors to demonstrate that he ought not to be held accountable if his means don't allow him to carry out his good intentions: "Not having the means to pay his bills, he substituted the will for the deed" (156).

When he describes his inability to hold down a job as personal physician to a German Prince, one can't help smiling at the word-picture Skimpole paints.

...when he was wanted to bleed the prince, or physic any of his people, he was generally found lying on his back, in bed reading the newspapers, or making fancy-sketches ...and couldn't come. (53)

He speaks with brilliance and humor of his adventures, but with a certain detachment, as if he were speaking of someone else. He makes clear to us and to Esther that he is completely free of the "duties and accountabilities of life" which circumscribe Esther's existence, but he never makes clear how this state of affairs has come to be.

Skimpole goes through life depending on the generosity of others to solve his problems. He doesn't hesitate for a moment to take advantage of Esther's generous nature, allowing her to give up her hard-earned and pitifully small life savings to prevent his arrest. He doesn't even has the grace to be thankful, but attempts to demonstrate that it is he who has conferred the favor:

I don't feel any vulgar gratitude to you. I almost feel as if you ought to be grateful to me for giving you the opportunity of enjoying the luxury of generosity. (54)

He repeats this idea when visiting Neckitt's orphaned children, rejoicing that he has enabled Neckitt to "bring up these charming children in this agreeable way, developing these social virtues!" (165). Indeed, it is the idea that Skimpole has not brought up his own children properly, that they have had to tumble up on their own somehow, that prompts Jarndyce to indicate some slight uneasiness about the effects of Skimpole's behavior on others. And when this man-child is juxtaposed with real children, our patience begins to wear quite thin.

When poor Jo is discovered, too weak and sick to travel, Skimpole's cool indifference to his plight is truly objectionable:

You had better turn him out....He's not safe, you know.... Give him sixpence, or five shillings, or five pound ten--and get rid of him!(330)

It is one thing to fail to respond to a wealthy German prince, who has other avenues to pursue for assistance, and may be treated humorously. But the cool, callous manner in which he refuses to assist the helpless Jo is revolting. Esther comments, "The amiable face with which he said it, I think I shall never forget" (331). Esther seems quite prepared, later, to believe without hesitation that Skimpole not only accepts money from Richard, who has nearly exhausted his funds, but has accepted a bribe to introduce Richard to the human bloodsucker Vhole.

The curious thing is Jarndyce's reluctance to see Skimpole for what he is. Even when kind-hearted Esther has given up any attempt to justify or overlook Skimpole's lack of morality, Jarndyce continues to speak of him with kindness and admiration. Ada finally asks the question that has been in the reader's mind for so long: "What made him such a child?"

...he is all sentiment, and --and sensibility---and ---and imagination. And these qualities are not regulated in him, somehow. (405)

Despite our clear understanding of Skimpole's character, Jarndyce clings to his belief that "there is nothing mercenary...with him. He has no idea of the value of money." (406)

In the end, Skimpole stands revealed by his own words: ""I have no common sense...I am not at all respectable, and I don't want to be" (403). He is a butterfly, bright and gay, flitting from flower to flower, enjoying the beauty and color, taking what he needs, but contributing nothing. For John Jarndyce, apparently, Skimpole's good qualities are sufficient, but Esther, and the reader, can't help remembering his lack of sympathy, genuine good will and generosity. For them, the wind remains in the east.