Skip to content

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Autos

7 February, 2018

In appreciation of the automobiles depicted in Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural plans (although, the Author imagines, they were most likely drawn by someone else in his studio).

Encountered at the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition ‘Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive’.



Ne’er Suck on Your Ivory Parasol Handle and other Etiquette Edicts

1 February, 2018

Florence Hartley, author of the 1870 book The Ladies Book and Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, had some rather harsh words for uncouth ladies in her chapter ‘Conduct on the Street’:

Angry advice


What is this business about the parasol? Was it a common sight to see a woman on the street sucking on her parasol handle? Ms. Hartley further warns against matching a scarlet shawl with a green dress (my heavens! A green dress ought to be paired with either a white or black shawl), and against wearing mock jewelry (‘utterly detestable’!), One rule with which the Author agrees most heartily is: “if you do stop in the street, draw near the walls, that you may not keep others from passing’. Many pedestrians in New York City ought to heed this advice.

Ms. Hartley does impart some advice that the Author would not endorse, such as applying muriatic acid to remove corns. Muriatic is more commonly known as hydrochloric acid and used for the pickling of steel.

Dear Reader, if you feel you could benefit from more of Ms. Hartley’s etiquette advice, you may read on here:

“Eliminate / The deflate / So grim”

19 December, 2017

A certain gripe the Author has with the Holiday Season is the depressing sight of formerly inflated Christmas decorations.  The Author’s grandmother shared that gripe but expressed it in a much more charming and clever way, as exhibited in this wonderfully witty poem published in the Lancaster New Era in 2008.  Gama's Poem (1)

Diligent Readers might recall seeing this poem six years ago, but the Author couldn’t resist sharing it again.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

8 December, 2017

Omama surrounded by mini Santas (perhaps?) circa 1925 (perhaps?) in Vienna (perhaps?).  Facts are thin on the ground.

Boo(k)ster Seat

24 November, 2017

The Author spent Thanksgiving with a charming four (nearly five!) year-old dining companion. This wee one was aided by three cushions stacked on top of her chair to bring her to adult eye level. The seating arrangement reminded the Author of this little fellow sitting atop a tome at the table. A rather high brow booster.

This detail comes from Jozef Israel’s, ‘Village Family at a Meal’ (ca. 1880), encountered at the Milwaukee Art Museum (which the Author recommends visiting, if not just for the Calatrava extension alone).

Jozef Israel’s, ‘Village Family at a Meal’

Speaking of Calatrava and the Milwaukee Art Museum, the building’s ‘flapping wings’ were a highlight. Please enjoy this time lapse the Author took on her visit last year:

For Charlotte Lancaster

21 November, 2017

Dearest Readers,

The Author regrets her absence the past few months. Please bear with her as she converts to first person narration and gets a tad personal.

I haven’t felt able to post anew without remarking on my Grandmother, who died in September. My Grandmother, known by the nom de plume ‘Charlotte Lancaster’ in her many replies to the Diligent Observer, was my most Diligent Reader. Her witty responses and astute observations these past (gosh!) eight years were always a delight and great encouragement to me.

She mostly replied directly to me via email, not in the comments section, so I would like to share a few that other Readers will not have seen and might enjoy:

I will miss receiving her comments.  Thank you for bearing with me, dear Reader.  I’ll carry on, now, sharing my musing and curiosities.


A Bad Travel Companion

3 August, 2017

Prussian Field Marshall Count Alfred von Schlieffen sounds like a rather dreary road companion.  When an aide pointed out the ‘beauty of the Pregel River sparking in the rising sun’, Count von Schlieffen gave the aide a hard look and replied:

‘an unimportant obstacle.’

In appreciation of unimportant obstacles, the Author would like to share some sparking rivers she’s admired through the years (none with the rising sun, she must admit).

Tobyhanna 2

The Tobyhanna in Pocono, Pennsylvania

Newtown Creek

Newtown Creek, between Brooklyn and Queens, New York


The Rhine at Königswinter, Germany


River Thames at Limehouse, London

*anecdote encountered in The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.