Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Dealing with your cat’s death / The final chapter of Queen Elizabeth II / Learning to appreciate spring beauty again / The imperial governors / Exploring Antarctica

This week: Dealing with your cat’s death / The final chapter of Queen Elizabeth II / Learning to appreciate spring beauty again / The imperial governors / Exploring Antarctica

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. The Excruciating Decision to End a Cat’s Life
By Martha Cooley | LitHub | April 2021
“I cannot tell my cat that I don’t want her days to be full of stress. Nor can I tell her how grateful I am for her quickness and humor, her curiosity, her regular gestures of what I receive as affection, her discretion.”

2. Queen enters ‘twilight’ of reign after farewell to Philip
By Danica Kirka | Associated Press | April 2021
“While most observers say the queen is unlikely to abdicate given her lifelong commitment to public service, she has already started to turn over more responsibilities to Prince Charles, 72, her eldest son. That process is likely to accelerate following Philip’s death.”

3. How to Help St. Vincent Amid Volcanic Disaster
By Claire Lampen | The Cut :: Vulture | April 2021
“Thankfully, residents were evacuated 24 hours ahead of time, so no one was injured or killed by the event itself. But now, an estimated 20,000 people have been displaced from their homes, and the island faces a growing humanitarian crisis.”

4. Pandemic puts tulips, bluebells, cherry blossoms in hiding
By Raf Casert | Associated Press | April 2021
“From Japan’s cherry blossom trees, to the endless Keukenhof tulip fields in the Netherlands, to the riot of purple bluebells in the Hallerbos south of Brussels, everything looks its best this spring when conditions are at its worst.”

5. Howard University’s removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe
By Cornel West and Jeremy Tate | The Washington Post | April 2021
“The Western canon is, more than anything, a conversation among great thinkers over generations that grows richer the more we add our own voices and the excellence of voices from Africa, Asia, Latin America and everywhere else in the world. We should never cancel voices in this conversation, whether that voice is Homer or students at Howard University. For this is no ordinary discussion.”

6. The end of the imperial governorship
By Nick Niedzwiadek | Politico Magazine | April 2021
“Lawmakers across the country want to curtail the sweeping powers of state executives after the pandemic led governors to flex their muscles in historic new ways.”

7. It is time to reassess our obsession with women’s fertility and the number 35
By Arwa Mahdawi | The Guardian | April 2021
“A study extending women’s reproductive years offers a chance to look again at how the age of 35 has been treated as a fertility cliff”

8. Violent Policing of the Texas Border
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2014-2020
Also see: Slavery and Abolition | Slave-Owning Women in the Antebellum U.S. | The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science | Albert Einstein – Separating Man from Myth

9. Meet the introverts who are dreading a return to normal
By Roxanne Roberts | The Washington Post | April 2021
“Social scientists correctly predicted that introverts were best suited to weather the stress of the past year. After months of lockdown, the question now is whether introverts can teach the rest of us something about moving forward.”

10. Nero
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2010-2019
Also see: Antarctica | Mathematics’ Unintended Consequences | Ibn Khaldun | The Samurai

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A fever of apprehension

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

May 20, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Still on the rack of uncertainty as regards our future. Flying rumors of the most exciting character keep us in a fever of apprehension. We do not know whether armed resistance is over or whether we are to fight on to the bitter end. If the news of the way in which the people of the Trans-Mississippi Department are ground to the earth is true, it would be better for us to resist as long as there is a man left to load a gun. Gloom and despondency cloud every face. … Better years of battle than a peace like this is the cry of all we see. Our latest news is that people in this department have an armistice of thirty days to resign themselves to the inevitable. I suppose it is a breathing space to collect our scattered energies and brace ourselves for the stern trials of the future.

And Nature smiles down on all this wretchedness. The loveliest of May mornings and the air is sweet with the perfume of the star jasmine. Our summer house in the yard is covered with it, and it is now white with blooms. The finest variety we ever saw. This soil suits it better than ours. That arbour is a favorite retreat, and we spend many gay, dolorous, and charming hours in its shade.

Sister is off to school, Sunday school, and we are all ready for church. It behooves us to ask aid from Our Maker when all else is failing us. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Its spring decoration

As a Texas spring blooms all around her, Stone frets about rumors of the death of a famous Confederate general.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

As a Texas spring blooms all around her, Stone frets about rumors of the death of a famous Confederate general.

March 30, 1865

Tyler, Texas

The little town is looking lovely now in its spring decoration of peach and apple blossoms and the circling fields of soft green wheat and rye. It seems to be peeping through a bouquet of pink and white blooms.

A rumor that Gen. [P.G.T.] Beauregard has been killed in a great fight in Carolina. …

We have been renovating our last summer’s clothes. We have not a single new thing to make up. If Mr. Smith does not soon send that cotton which must go on to San Antonio, I do not know what we will all do for clothes. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The easy conquest of Texas

As the beauty of Texas spring blossoms all around Stone’s home, so too does her optimism for eventual victory.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

As the beauty of Texas spring blossoms all around Stone’s home, so too does her optimism for eventual victory.

May 5, 1864

Tyler, Texas

What glorious news we have tonight and have been having for a month! First, [Union Gen. Nathaniel P.] Banks with his insolent boasts and vainglorious columns, waving banners and beating drums to the easy conquest of Texas, is met at glorious Mansfield and Pleasant Hill [La.] by our brave soldiers and meets only defeat and disgrace.

[Banks] has been flying ever since with our victorious troops, who in hot pursuit press on, striking blow after blow on his disorganized forces and capturing men, wagons, and stores left behind in the hasty retreat. He is in Alexandria now, in the shadow of his gunboats for a little breathing space. Many of his invincible fleet have been destroyed. Then in Arkansas we have had a succession of victories, and now Gen. [Frederick] Steele is trying to cut his way through the fiery circle of rebels who surround him. And what quantities of stores of all kinds we have captured! Banks and Steele are our commissary and quartermaster now. All ours can go to fighting. The battle of Mansfield was fought on the day appointed for National fasting and prayer.

What a cry of gratitude has gone up to God for our victories. This whole country is in a state of delighted surprise, and as telegram after telegram comes announcing some new success, we can hardly believe our good fortune. Every face is bright with the good tidings. How splendidly our men have fought and how many gallant spirits have fallen. Four generals have fallen in the last month and hosts of lesser officers, greater in proportion than the loss of privates. God bless them all. They are an army of heroes. And from the other side of the river, victory answers to victory. Gen. Forrest is doing noble work in Tennessee and Kentucky. We hear tonight he has recaptured Memphis. … Everywhere Victory is perching on our banners and Peace, an honorable Peace, must be near. …

I have taken up the trade of glovemaking from buckskins. Have made a pair for Jimmy and have several others on hand. I make them with large gauntlets and embroidered backs for my favorites. …

The wild flowers are in profusion on every hillside and lovely blue wild violets in the hollows.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The mournful whistle

Some domestic drama disturbs the March boredom at the Stone home when an old family friend decides to move.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Some domestic drama disturbs the March boredom at the Stone home when an old family friend decides to move.

March 8, 1864

Tyler, Texas

I am quite alone tonight, not even a book for company. Mamma is in Shreveport trying to get a transfer for My Brother. The boys are in their room studying, and Sister, after suffering agony for the last twenty-four hours, has at last fallen asleep. The Negroes have left the yard. Even the dogs have forgotten to bark and are dozing on the gallery. The only sounds to break the stillness are the constant chirps of the crickets, the croaking of the rain crows heard afar off, and the mournful whistle of some Texas night-bird borne up from the thickety banks of the little stream … at the foot of the hill.

The wild March wind has subsided to a gentle zephyr, rustling the dry leaves still clinging to the stunted oaks till now when the new shoots are budding out to push them off.

But to descend to dry facts. Our greatest event has been the breaking up of the pleasant household of the last four months. We were all getting on quite pleasantly and all seemed satisfied and happier than ever before in Texas. None of us thought of change, when suddenly one frosty morning came the announcement from Mrs. Carson that she knew of a house to be rented and she would move to it. She thought the households would be better apart. Of course there was nothing to be said, and Mamma at once assented, only offering to take the other house and let Mrs. Carson remain here. But she preferred the new domicile, and so, presto-change, before we hardly realized it they were packed up and away a mile across the hill.

There had not been the shadow of disagreement, and we thought Mrs. Carson perfectly satisfied. We never have known why she left in such a hurry. All the children but Jimmy Stone were disgusted at the change. They were so enjoying themselves together. Mrs. Carson has kept most closely at home rarely calling on either Mamma or Mrs. Savage and she will seldom allow the boys or Katie to come. Such a change from her former habit of going out once or twice every day and doing nothing but talk between times. It seems very odd. She says she is entirely taken up with her housekeeping and sewing, two things she was never known to do in the past. … I think Mamma is rather relieved. Mrs. Carson often bored Mamma by insisting on talking to her hours at the time. I could not have stood it as Mamma did.

We have refugee visitors but the natives … still hold aloof. Capt. King with his dark, sleepy eyes and grand air is a frequent visitor. … The other afternoon we were enjoying our ease, Mamma lolling back in one chair, her feet on another, Sister romping over the bed, and I reclining on several pillows, when we heard a knock at the door. Thinking it one of the servants, we called out, ” Come in.” Who should stalk in with his most dignified air, flashing in crimson and gold, but Capt. King, calling to say good-bye, having been ordered off.

Fortunately for us, he is too near-sighted to notice much, and so the disorder of the room escaped him. …