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Monday, October 20, 2014


I turned away from the United desk and began the journey up the escalator to the security checkpoint whilst carrying the incredibly heavy black bag, with the incredibly heavy purse now slung like a cross-body around my torso. My little toes screamed with every step and I silently screamed back.

"Just a bit longer," I told myself, "and you'll be in England for nearly a month. A month. You can do this!" Of course, there were many more passengers waiting to go through security than there were security check points to deal with them efficiently. The line crawled along and I inched my way towards the scanners one painful step at a time. Who knew that my most comfortable sandals would turn into devices of torture simply because I'd been forced to carry an extra forty pounds or so?

Finally, I made it through security and retrieved my belongings from the conveyor belt before I scanned the signs overhead to see where my gate was. The sign read "Gates 1 to 2,034 to the Right."
I wanted to cry. My gate was literally the last one. The absolute furthest from where I now stood.

I longed to remove my shoes, but thought better of that - no telling what was embedded in the floors after millions of passengers had trod on them. I thought about having a drink, but didn't see any bars. Finally, I thought about the men who had comprised Wellington's armies and how far they'd been asked to walk on a daily basis. Surely 19th century boots had to have been more uncomfortable than my sandals after walking miles in them whilst carrying heavy packs on their backs, along with weapons and ammunition. And canteens. All whilst wearing red woolen coats. In the heat of the Peninsula. Or in India. At least at the end of my journey I'd be at the plane that would be flying me to England. A much better destination than a battle at Waterloo, surely.

"Just a bit longer," I told myself, "and you'll be in England for nearly a month. A month. You can do this!"

The longer I walked, the more painful each step became. Before long, I was limping along like an old lady. A really old lady. And I still hadn't passed a single bar. Finally, I spotted a maintenance worker by a trash can and asked him, "Where's the nearest place I can get a drink?"


"A drink. Liquor. A cocktail. You know, a bar?"

"Oh, right. Well, there's an Irish pub down that way, right across the way from Gate 2,034."

Thinking that there may just be a God after all, I slowly completed the last painful mile that separated me from the nearest bottle of Bacardi.

Arriving at last at Mecca, I sat down at the bar and ordered a double rum and coke and a tall glass of water, which I finished half of in a few gulps as soon as it arrived. The water, not the rum and coke. Then I called Hubby to let him know I'd arrived in Newark and allowed him a couple of I told you so's in regards to my present problem regarding overweight luggage. When we'd hung up, I spotted a redhead climbing onto the stool beside mine. The bartender came over and she ordered herself a white wine. We both sat sipping at our drinks for a few minutes before she asked me if I were going to Dusseldorf.

"No. London," I said curtly, not being in the mood for casual chit chat. I picked up my glass of water and finished it off in another few gulps.

"You shouldn't drink water, you know. It'll poison you. Our kidneys can't process all the poisons in water. My kidneys haven't worked for fourteen years."

Oh, great. A health nut.

"I only drink wine. White wine. The red stuff has too many chemicals in it. It'll kill you."


"I always drink wine, whether I'm at home or traveling. I'm going to Dusseldorf for the weekend,"

Against my better judgement, I said, "You're flying all the way to Dusseldorf just for the weekend?"

"Yeah. I fly to Europe for the weekend once or twice a month. I've been everywhere. I've been doing it for years."

"How do you manage that, I mean with the dialysis and that."

"What dialysis?"

"You said that your kidneys hadn't worked in fourteen years,"

"Oh, that. No, I'm not dialysis. I still have my kidneys, they just don't work. They haven't worked since I fell into a canal in Venice."

I finished off my rum and coke and ordered another.

"See, the water in the canals is filthy, just filthy. And when I fell in, I was attacked by this type of parasite that lives in the water there. The parasites invaded my body and attacked my organs and my kidneys and they shut down and haven't worked right since. Water will kill you, believe me."

Oh, great. Not a health nut. Just your average, garden variety nutter. No way was I going to ask her how she'd managed to fall into a canal in the first place.

"I believe you. That's why I only drink rum," I said instead as I slid my credit card across the bar towards the bartender. While I was waiting for my receipt, I fished around in my purse for my sleeping pills, shook a couple out into my hand and downed them with a swallow of rum and coke. I had an hour until my flight boarded and, with any luck, I'd be nice and drowsy by the time we lifted off.

Limping my way across to my departure gate I told myself, "Just a bit longer and you'll be in England for nearly a month. A month. You can do this!"

Friday, October 17, 2014


Victoria here, just back from the excellent Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The days were packed with all sorts of events -- many presentations on Mansfield Park's characters, events, and background, plus workshops, dancing lessons, teas and banquets, tours, performances, and of course, shopping.

Elaine Bander, chair of the 2014 Steering Committee, opens the AGM
2014 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen's first novel begun and completed after she came to live at Chawton Cottage.  Also published in 2014 was Frances Burney's fourth novel, The Wanderer.
Juliet McMaster
Before the AGM began, Juliet McMaster addressed a joint tea for members of the Frances Burney Society and JASNA on "Female Difficulties: Austen's Fanny (of Mansfield Park) and Burney's Juliet (of The Wanderer)." (I apologize for the slightly blurry pics sometimes). I will report further on the meeting of the Burney Society in a future post.

Montreal's Autumn Tints
Montreal was sunny and ranged from chilly to warm most days.  Since it was my first visit, I tried to see as much as I could, but found myself in almost every JASNA session I could manage.
The plenary speakers were all excellent, and I attended many outstanding Break-Out Sessions.
Chicago's Russell Clark on "Plays Passed Over in MP"
Sarah Parry of Chawton House Library spoke on the houses in MP
and what they tell us about their inhabitants.
Goucher College is planning to digitize a rare copy of the first American edition of Jane Austen's Emma printed in Philadephia in 1816.
Looking for contributions to the Emma Campaign
Tim Bullamore (r), publisher of Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine
Jane Austen Books doing a brisk business
Sarah Parry at the Chawton House Library table
Among the other speakers I enjoyed were Robert Clark on "Jane Austen and the Moral British Empire," Kathryn Davis on "Charles Pasley's Essays" (known to be favorites of Austen), Janine Barchas on "Reading Mansfield Park with Nabokov," and Jocelyn Harris on "Fanny Burney and Fanny Price."  No pictures, even blurry ones, turned out. And of course there were dozens of talks I could not attend but which I long to hear in the future -- or read in Persuasions in print or on-line. I also failed to get pictures of the clever version of Lover's Vows, written and produced by Diana Birchall and Syrie James, entitled "A Dangerous Intimacy: Behind the Scenes at Mansfield Park."
Ladies at the Ball
Ken and Elaine Weeks of Seattle
More ball participants
Jerry Vetowich and Nili Olay
Kim Wilson and Sue Forgue
During the Ball, Kim and I provided the comic relief with our talk on "Gilpin, the Picturesque, and Dr. Syntax."  I'll report more on our talk at a later date.
Kim Wilson, whose latest book is Jane Austen At Home, and Victoria Hinshaw
Authors and pals: Kim, Vicky and Carrie Bebris, who writes the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series
Sunday morning, the AGM closed with a wonderful brunch and a terrific speaker, Patrick Stokes,  chair of the Jane Austen Society (UK) from 2004-2009.  His topic, "Rears and Vices: The Georgian Royal Navy in Mansfield Park," was full of enlightening information and many laughs. He wore the uniform of a rear admiral in 1814.
Patrick Stokes, gggrandson of Admiral Charles Austen (1779-1852),
Jane Austen's youngest brother
Patrick Stokes and Victoria Hinshaw
After the brunch conclude Mr. Stokes was kind enough to pose for many pictures with audience members, as he exhibited the replica he made of Jane Austen's writing desk.
Replica of Jane Austen's writing desk
Presidents of JASNA: Joan Ray, Marsha Huff,
 Iris Lutz, and incoming president Claire Bellanti
Joan Ray, Iris Lutz, Lorraine Hanaway, and Clair Bellanti
Thanks to Elaine Bander, the Steering Committee, and all the volunteers for a wonderful AGM.
  Next year, JASNA will meet in Louisville, KY, October 9-11, 2015,  
"Living in Jane Austen's  World."