Monday, December 6, 2010

The Edge of Winter - Discussion Thread

After being rescued by Crispin, he tosses a couple of sweaters and blankets at her and orders Araminta to change herself and the little girl out of their wet things. Rather than take off her trousers, she opts for damp slacks and her dignity. I'm with her here...she's on a yacht with a strange man, now is not the time to drop trou.

I adore Araminta's handiness around the house...when she returns from the 'Cornish fleshpots' she recovers the sitting room cushions and then starts painting her flat. Crispin drops by while she's got her painting groove on - he even offers to paint her bookshelves. She foolishly turns him down...I don't mind painting walls, I don't even mind doing the edging along the floors, ceiling and windows...bookshelves are a whole nother kettle of fish. Araminta should have taken his offer. Especially since she ends up falling off her box a couple of times (which just makes me cringe, as I have fallen while painting (Betty Keira's kitchen!) - ending up with a broken toe, a swollen knee, and a miracle that I didn't snap my neck when my chin hit the counter on the way down).

Tossed in the story with no particular importance is Male Nurse Pratt. You will find a smattering of male nurses in Neeldom...which is not surprising considering Betty's husband was a nurse.

Crispin doses both Araminta AND the 8-year-old with brandy when rescuing them from the coast. The idea, I guess, is to put the little girl to sleep so that she won't be in pain during the voyage back to dry land. Having had to deal with broken limbs on several occasions (four out of six kids, plus myself...) I happen to know that it's much better to arrive at the hospital without anything in your stomach. I've had to bring at least one kid back the next day so that his arm could be set while he under general anaesthesia...they wouldn't put him under because it was too soon after lunch...or perhaps it was dinner. Maybe this wasn't as big a deal back then? Or maybe alcohol doesn't count?

Araminta is high and dry in a foreign country without any money. Where's a credit card when you need it? This got me thinking, what would I do in a similar situation? Araminta is shy of going to the police...but depending on the country, that's exactly what I would do. I wonder why she didn't try to call her father? Sure, he's in England...but surely he could wire her some money?? When I was in high school, my dad insisted that we girls carry the cost of a pay phone with us when we went out (back then it was a dime). What would your course of action be in a similar case?

'Don't you swear your beastly Dutch oaths at me!' (said when he finds her sleeping in a shelter at the side of the road, penniless) is arguably one of the very best lines in a Betty Neels...

Betty Keira left me a note: If I haven't covered all your feelings about how nasty the end is (where she is made to reassure the old woman who broke up her engagement and sent her into the streets and whom she will have to live with and listen to ('with her high, sweet voice') forever and ever) then elaborate. I personally wouldn't last a week with the Tante Maybella. After a couple of days I would be using every excuse I could think of to get out of the house so as not to explode...or implode. I am speaking from experience. I don't have anything against older relations living with younger relations, but I can't abide high sweet voices like hers. I think Araminta has a few options available for ridding herself of this human parasite(keep in mind that I would never advocate anything illegal or harmful to another living, breathing human being...but since this is fiction, I think a little creative license might be allowed).

1. Invite Louisa from Winter Wedding to visit for a week or two and leave an unsecured bottle of Seconal laying about.
2. Rescue every filthy animal in sight and give each and every one to Tante. After two or three unhousebroken pets, she might prefer her own place. This route is pretty chancy, especially for the poor animals.
3. Take Tante on daily walks in the teeth of mighty gales (it is 'the edge of winter' after all). Perhaps a little over-exposure to some sub-zero temperatures might bring on a case of pneumonia?
4. Go Christmas shopping with Tante Dearest in Amsterdam...chose a busy street that borders a canal and....oops!
5. Invite little Paul from Three for a Wedding and give him the keys to an abandoned warehouse...
6. Go yachting with Lilith from Tabitha in Moonlight, and send Tante back for the sunglasses...
7. Foggy moors...numerous possibilities....
8. Accidentally leave her behind the Iron Curtain with an arthritic nanny.
9. Get lost in a Scottish snowstorm - see Heaven is Gentle for pointers.
10. Tunnel accident in Norway...this is a little problematical, especially since it's unlikely that Tante Maybella drives.
11. Book her on back to back world cruises, but don't tell her about it until you've got her settled in her stateroom.
12. Crispin has three other siblings...let them have their share of Tante Maybella. On the surface this looks like the best option...but you just know that at least one (or more) or the siblings won't pull their weight.


  1. Betty Barbara here--
    As I mentioned before, I think you are being a bit harsh with Tante Maybella--but, if that's the way you really feel, then your "solutions" are great!
    And, ideally, if she was physically capable of living in her own home (with just the loyal family retainers, doncha know), then you settle her there and set up a 'visiting' schedule with the sibs, etc. I suspect that once the kids come along, Tante will decide to move out. I can't see Araminta banishing her children to the nursery just to keep things quiet for Auntie.

    Yeah, my parents always drilled in the "change for a call", too. Now I keep X dollars tucked away, for those emergencies where a credit/debit card won't answer. And all this preparedness has paid off-I've never had to use the backup/phone money!
    I would probably head for the police if I found myself stranded. They would let you make a collect call home, no problem. Of course, I'd be able to tell them I'd been mugged, rather than our poor heroines, who can admit to no such thing!

    Oh, and thanks for the still from Father Goose (sigh). One of my favorite movies.

  2. Yes, my mother always insisted on the dime/quarter for a phone call, too. And clean underwear with no holes. Later my sisters instilled upon me the necessity of always having clean-shaved legs and armpits. And, all of that preparedness paid off for me...

    About 23 or 24 years ago, when I was not quite 30, I was knocked down and run over by our pickup truck when it went rolling backwards down a hill after hubby left it idling there while we both dealt with feeding the neighbors' cats one Thanksgiving weekend. The key jammed in the lock so he put the truck in neutral on the (seemingly) flat driveway and came to help me.

    I noticed the truck rolling backward and mentioned it, and he said, dealing with the key, "Go get it!"

    I've always been the meek, subservient type (HAH!) and so I immediately hopped to it, running across the yard to the truck and tried to get in to apply the brakes.

    The door had been left open and ask I tried to remember which was the brake and which the clutch, the door knocked me down and the driver's side front tire passed over my body from left thigh to right shoulder, leaving the tire track to prove it, if it hadn't been witnessed by hubby and another neighbor!

    After much confusion, I was loaded into a neighbor's back seat (of a 2 door car!) hardly daring to breathe for fear my surely broken ribs would puncture a lung...

    The neighbor jumped out of the car at the ER, and ran inside yelling, "We've got a lady out here who was run over by a truck!"

    Out comes the medical team with a gurney and an EKG machine and an IV team - all of which was applied in the parking lot! (Yes, they ripped open my blouse and tore off my bra, there in the parking lot...makes my face red to remember.)

    After hours of x-rays and scans and exams, they told me nothing was broken, but I might still have internal injuries, so must stay in the hospital for observation, and no, no pain relievers in case I end up in surgery, same with food.

    My sister, Kim came and sat with me, stroking the hair back from my forehead to relieve the blinding headache I got from being hungry and from trying to ignore the many bruises and contusions, and then she leaned forward and whispered, "Did you have clean underwear on?"

    "Yes," I replied. "And I shaved this morning, too."


    She also said, "Bet you prayed, huh?"

    "Nope. There wasn't time. I remember thinking, "Uh oh," and then it was all over. Guess that shows the truth of how important it is to Be Ready!"

    As it happens, I DID have a broken bone - the pointer finger on my right hand had part of the bone of the second knuckle chipped off. I was bruised for weeks. And I have a tremendous story to tell. AND our neighbors took us to the most expensive restaurant in town for dinner...

    Not all bad!


  3. Hey Betty Cindy--
    Great story! and I quite identify. I was also raised on the good, clean undies/shaved pits and legs--just in case! And now, as wife and mom, I make sure my guys (husband and son)are suitably clad--just in case. So far, none of us have been run over(!!)...
    Betty Barbara

  4. I can't stand Tante either! She would totally drive me nuts. And if I came back after what she did to me I would consider her my royal frenemy and be very wary of her!!!! So there! I can't stand her. And it's not because her voice was high pitched but because she used a high pitched voice to make herself sound innocent!!!!! ugh! No way can 2 women be HOH! One always has to be the boss, and the other one will always resent it! Women are like that!

  5. My dad gave leather belt buckles to all of his sons-in-law with a slit cut in the back and a $50 bill hidden inside--for emergencies.

    We unmarried dating daughters were reminded to carry a quarter with us.

  6. You ladies are hysterical! I love this blog! I've been so busy with the holidays (we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas at our house, no time for Sinterklaas here, I've been run ragged keeping up with gifts for 8 nights of Hanukkah as well as the 24 days of the Advent Box) -- not much time to post, but I am checking in to read your Christmas poetry and loving it. I am old enough to have been always given money by Mom & Dad to take a cab home if there were any "problems" on the date -- before iPhones and Blackberrys. The clean underwear is making me laugh -- of course I was well-instructed in the importance of it! Just a few days ago I was sitting on the couch folding my mountains of laundry when I said to my husband, "Do you think I should be concerned that for R (my 8 year old) I have folded six pairs of pants, six shirts, six pairs of socks, but only one pair of underwear?" We decided that morning reminders were in order!

  7. I'm assuming 'R' is an 8 year old boy? I sent my oldest son to camp for 6 days (about 20 years ago). He took six pairs of clean underwear to camp...and came home with six pairs of clean underwear.