Friday, August 18, 2017

Betty on the Brain

I once heard a story about a man who worked as a janitor on a night-shift for a large office building and the tedium was difficult so he invented a game for himself. In his away-from-work life he enjoyed fly fishing and spotting a trout in a stream so he migrated this skill to the office and, as he cleaned, he'd be on the lookout for unrecycled cans of pop (In Huis VanVoorhees, the Professor grew up saying soda and I grew up saying pop and every time I slip and say soda it feels like I'm surrendering my sacred I write pop.) that he could 'fish' out of the trash and redeem.

I find myself doing that with Betty Neels.

Yesterday, we returned home but stopped at the High Desert Museum (which was really wonderful). As I was wandering around the exhibits, Betty Neels was in the back of my mind as I went. I found all sorts of little links to The Canon.

There was an exhibit about Interior Western States contributions to the WWII effort. For instance, I found out that the Hanford Nuclear Site was integral to the development of nuclear weapons and that the need for secrecy was so great that the nearby town was entirely made up of employees and their families and that the police had a key to every single house in town. Shudder. Anyway, the exhibit included a replica of a war-era kitchen and Pledge Five went to town with all the play food. It reminded me of cottage kitchens in The Canon. The range above looks like a low-rent version of an Aga and I imagine that Florina is keeping Sir William's daughter happy at the table, rolling out her piece of dough with grubby hands.

Susannah Lightfoot, red-headed docent from The Chain of Destiny, was on my mind as this red-headed lady took us around the Oregon Trail displays. Here, she is standing in front of the Hudson's Bay Company exhibit, speaking excitedly about beaver pelts and top hats. I hope that someone swoops down from his vast height to kiss her from time to time.

Cowboy art and pictures made up the displays in one hall and I saw a quote that I liked quite well:

"I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief...For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free" --Wendell Berry

Often, our heroes and heroines are off tramping into the teeth of a fine gale to clear their minds. The Great Betty seems very approving of long walks.

This is a bead bag from the Indian Peoples of the Columbia Plateau exhibit and it was so exquisite that it reminded me of the 'bits and pieces' that Arabella of Dearest Love is able to save from the foreclosure of her family home. (A tea chest, old damask curtains, chenille tablecloth, Coalport china, a Worcester teapot, a silver pepperpot and salt cellar, and the Waterford crystal jug.) Of course, the work is so fine that it also reminded me of heroines in The Canon who take up needlework to pass the time and vent their frustrations about being married but not MARRIED-married.

Does anyone else go along making these Betty connections...on the fly, as it were? We should have a name for this game. Suggest yours in the comments!


  1. Spotting Betty
    Or do I mean Betty Spotting?

  2. What about Betty Déjà Vu
    (i.e. "Already Seen This" or "This ___ makes me think of something similar" in one of Betty's books).

    It's kinda hard to spell though... I had to look it up.

    -- Anonymous Betty Lea in KY

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one with one finger on the spell check. I kind of like Betty Vu. As in, "I have a case of Betty Vu." And THAT, I can spell.

    2. "I have a case of Betty Vu." Ha, ha, ha! I 💙 it!

  3. My niece interned at the High Desert Museum, wonderful place - not Betty related but have to share. I went there to see her and she was with a group of children, looked up, beamed and said "My aunt Pat will love it, just see" and handed me a snake. I managed to hold myself together as it curled around my wrist, it was after all a very pretty snake, smiled and showed it to the children and got rid of it as soon as possible. She just smiled and said "I knew you wouldn't mind". Nieces, gotta love 'em.

    1. "My aunt Pat will love it, just see." 🐍 Ha ha ha! 😀

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  5. I had a Betty moment today. I was watching the latter part of a Diana movie (a dubbed version). I had switched channels and didn’t know it was the Diana film I hadn’t meant to watch. The actress looked kind o‘ plain to me, more Araminta-ish. Anyway, Diana‘s friend was a surgeon and, without his knowledge, Diana arranged for him to get a highly paid job in New York, a job he didn’t know about and had no wish to apply for – except he already had it, on paper! During the row they had, when she came to him to rejoice, he said to her something like:

    If you don’t understand what my work means to me how can we be together?

    Reminded me of the Veronicas who wanted the RDD/RBD to give up working at all those hospitals and do private patients only.

    Helena's increasing demands that he should give up a large part of his practice and concentrate on private patients, so that he could play a larger part in her social life:

    Fenno, you will have to give up your appointments at all those hospitals—there's no need. You've private patients enough, and think of the private hospitals there are—you could pick and choose and enjoy a social life.

    ‘I know how irksome it is for you,’ he explained sympathetically, ‘but you must have realised when we became engaged that I have little time for the social life you lead.’
    ‘When we marry you will have to change that.’ Saphira spoke sharply. ‘I refuse to go out without you to escort me. The very idea! Let someone else do your work…’
    ‘You don’t mean that?’ He looked at her curiously.
    ‘Of course I do. You’re successful and wealthy. You could still be a consultant and take private patients. That would leave you with some leisure to enjoy life.’
    ‘I enjoy life now. It is true that when we marry I should like more time to spend at home with you and the children.’
    ‘I don’t intend to be bothered with children for the first five or six years. However good a nanny is, they’re still a bother.’