We Made a Table!

Here is the new table we built this weekend! We had a few issues with lousy directions, but in the end it all came together, and we are pleased with the result.

We made a table!

After my mom gave me a couple of nice patio chairs she had in her yard but never used, I decided it was time to get a patio table, too. I didn’t have a strong feeling about what it should be made of, but I knew I wanted a rectangular one that could fit up to six people. And it needed a hole for an umbrella.

Unfortunately, the eccentricities of the retail industry mean that by mid-July, it’s hard to find merchandise that’s actually meant to be used in the summer. Instead, the stores are filled with fall items. And my husband was adamant about not wanting to spend enough to get something really high-quality, which might have been easier to find than a more reasonably priced one.

After trying various stores and websites, I ended up at Home Depot, where there was a table I liked very much. Unfortunately, though it was right there on display, the store did not have any and could not order one. The only other rectangular table was in a box; there was no display item. It didn’t seem quite large enough, and it had a glass tabletop, which we were afraid would be prone to breaking if a tree branch should fall on it.

So I went on the Home Depot website, and I did see one that was the same model I had considered on a another site. It was made of wood, and was expandable, with a hidden leaf inside that would increase it from a table for four to a table for six. We ordered the table, and it arrived in just a few days.

Like so many other items, it had to be assembled. Bob and I spent several hours on Saturday putting it together, but had to stop when it began to rain when the table was a few steps shy of complete. It wasn’t exactly easy. There were a few pieces that were supposed to have holes predrilled in a particular spot but didn’t. And several places where the diagrams in the directions were nearly useless. But we muddled through, and pulled out a drill when needed. We finished it up the table today, and then sealed the wood with a couple coats of teak oil.

And now we have a table! I’m looking forward to trying it out on Thursday when my writer’s group meets here.

July 25 Writer Birthdays

1517 – Jacques Peletier du Mans – French Renaissance poet, translator, mathematician, and humanist who tried to reform French spelling to correct its inconsistencies.

1626 – Geeraerdt Brandt, Dutch poet, playwright, preacher, biographer, church historian, and naval historian who was a well-known writer in his time.

1761 – Charlotte Von Kalb (Baroness Marshal of Ostheim), German writer and Friedrich Schiller biographer whose books were published only after her death; she associated with poets Friedrich Schiller, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Jean Paul. Her contemporaries said Von Kalb was judged unfavorably by women, but fascinated nearly every man she knew.

1840 – Flora Adams Darling, American author and short-story writer who is now known primarily for her part in founding the Daughters of the American Revolution.

1886 – Bror von Blixen-Finecke, Swedish baron who was a writer, autobiographer, and big-game hunter but is best known for his marriage to Danish writer Karen Blixen (née Dinesen) and figures prominently in her memoir Out of Africa, written under her pseudonym, Isak Dinesen; in the movie based on the book, he was played by Klaus Maria Brandauer.

1887 – Kumaratunga Munidasa, pioneering Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) linguist, grammarian, commentator, writer, poet, and journalist; he founded the Hela Havula movement, which sought to remove Sanskrit influences in the Sinhala language and promote its correct usage.

1892 – Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyaya, Indian Bengali author who was best known for his biography of poet and playwright Rabindranath Tagore.

1896 – Elizabeth Mackintosh, influential Scottish author who wrote mystery novels under the pen name Josephine Tey and history-themed plays under the pen name Gordon Daviot.

1900 – Enrique Amorim, Uruguayan novelist and writer best known for his story “Las quitanderas,” whose plot centres on rural prostitution; he was also known for his left-wing politics.

1901 – Ruth Krauss, American author of children’s books and theatrical poems for adults; she is best known for her classic children’s book, The Carrot Seed.

1902 – Eric Hoffer, American author and social philosopher.

1905 – Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize-winning Bulgarian-born Swiss, British, and Austrian modernist writer of novels, plays, memoirs, and nonfiction.

1905 – Denys Watkins-Pitchford, British naturalist, children’s writer, and illustrator who wrote under the pseudonym BB.

1906 – Irène Hamoir, Belgian novelist and poet, who was one of the leading members of the Belgian surrealist movement; her works have been described as “highly fantastical.”

1906 – Nhất Linh, Vietnamese writer, journalist, editor, politician, and publisher; he published many of the influential realism-influenced novels of the 1930s.

1912 – Myint Swe, award-winning Burmese physician and writer who is especially known for his bestselling memoir, The Japanese Era Rangoon General Hospital, which chronicles the events at the only hospital in Yangon (Rangoon) open to non-Japanese during the Japanese occupation of Burma.

1914 – Prem Nath Dar, Indian Urdu-language short-story writer whose work was influenced by socio-political movements.

1918 – José María Sánchez Borbón, Panamanian writer, poet, and politician.

1919 – Carl Keilhau, Norwegian journalist and poet who was widely known by his pen name, “Pirat.”

1920 – Rosalind Elsie Franklin, English chemist, X-ray crystallographer, and writer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite.; her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely unrecognized during her lifetime, for which she has been referred to as the “wronged heroine,” “the dark lady of DNA,” “the forgotten heroine,” a “feminist icon,” and “the Sylvia Plath of molecular biology.” After her death, a male team member received the Nobel Prize for work she began.

1922 – Antonio Alatorre, Mexican writer, novelist, philosopher, and translator; he was best known for his influential academic essays about Spanish literature, and for his book Los 1001 años de la lengua española (The 1001 Years of the Spanish Language).

1923 – Maria Gripe (born Maja Stina Walter), Swedish author of fantasy and folklore-based books for children and young adults; she was also a screenwriter, adapting many of her own books for television, radio, and film.

1924 – Síle Ní Chéileachair, Irish short-story writer and teacher who wrote in the Irish language; her work has been praised for its concise style and broad range of subject matter.

1928 – Joyce Mansour (nee Joyce Patricia Adès), English-born Egyptian-French author who became well known as an important surrealist poet; she was also a prose writer and playwright.

1932 – Esther Streit-Wurzel, Israeli writer, children’s author, and educator who wrote her first book at age 12, under the pen name Zvi Hadas.

1943 – Osvaldo Rodríguez (also called Gypsy Rodriguez), Argentine-born Chilean poet essayist, novelist, and short-story writer.

1947 – Clyde Watson, American author of children’s books, many of them illustrated by her sister Wendy Watson; they are two of many authors and illustrators in their family.

1948 – Milan Richter, Slovak writer, playwright, translator, publisher, and diplomat.

1954 – Anetta Kahane, German journalist, author, and activist against antisemitism, racism, and right-wing extremism.

1955 – Miguel Vicente Esteves Cardoso, Portuguese writer, translator, critic, and journalist.

1955 – Carole David, award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, and editor who writes in French; one critic said of her work, “Carole David’s poems exude the smell of life in the raw. She excavates the human landscape. She goes for the jugular. Softly.”

1961 – Darren Bennett Star, American screenwriter, producer, and director; best known as the creator of popular television series Sex & the City and Beverly Hills 90210.

1964 – Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning American journalist, columnist, and author who has written extensively about Communism and Central and Eastern Europe.

1966 – Rachel Vail, American author of books for children and teens.

1967 – Karen Lynch, bestselling Canadian author of young-adult urban-fantasy novels.

1967 – Annette Pehnt, award-winning German author, university teacher, and literary critic.

1968 – Shi Tao, award-winning Chinese journalist, writer and poet who in 2005 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for releasing a document of the Communist Party to an overseas Chinese democracy site.

1971 – Elizabeth Haynes, British writer of bestselling crime fiction.

1973 – Mur Lafferty, American podcaster and author of speculative fiction, known for her comic travel fantasies.

1980 – Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Swedish journalist, writer, columnist, and women’s rights activist who is the author of books about the financial crisis, women’s rights, and critiques of capitalism.

TV Entitlement

Some stranger on the internet insulted me yesterday when I said I won’t pay extra to watch television. We were discussing the fact that Amazon recently began charging extra for some programs that used to be included in the regular member fee. I said I would not pay any more to watch a television show. She said, “How entitled people are these days about wanting everything for free.”

What’s free? I already shell out the hefty yearly fee for Amazon Prime. If programs that used to be included in that fee now cost extra, then I won’t watch them. I’m not demanding anything; I’m annoyed that Amazon has, in effect, raised its fees without notifying customers. And I don’t feel I can afford to pay more than I am already paying for television. So I’m choosing not to watch those shows. Am I the one who’s being unreasonable?

I think it’s Amazon that’s feeling entitled to take advantage of its customers. And people like the woman who criticized me who feel entitled to judge others based on what we can or are willing to pay for entertainment.

July 24 Writer Birthdays

1802 – Alexandre Dumas, French adventure novelist whose famous works include The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo his son, also named Alexandre Dumas, was also a historical novelist and playwright.

1842 – Ambrose Bierce, American editorialist, journalist, short-story writer, fabulist, and satirist, best known for his short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”; he also wrote a satirical reference book called The Devil’s Dictionary.

1857 – Henrik Pontoppidan, Nobel Prize-winning Danish realist writer of novels and short stories that depicted social evils and the miserable situation of the peasant proletariat; German novelist Thomas Mann called him, “a full-blooded storyteller.”

1862 – James Percy FitzPatrick, South African author, politician, and mining financier who wrote the classic children’s book, Jock of the Bushveld.

1878 – Edward Plunkett (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany), Irish novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and playwright who sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Lord Dunsany; many of his works are fantasies, set in a land called Pegāna; he was also the chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland.

1886 – Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, popular Japanese novelist who was a major figure in modern Japanese literature; he was best known for his book, Makioka Sisters, an account of a traditional, pre-World War II Osaka family.

1895 – Robert Graves, English poet, novelist, mythographer, critic, historican, and classical translator, best known for his historical novel I, Claudius, which has been adapted to film, radio, and theater.

1897 – Amelia Earhart, American airplane pilot and aviation pioneer who was also an author, journalist, travel writer, memoirist, and feminist who set many flight records and was the first woman aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean; during a 1937 attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

1899 – Chief Dan George, chief of the Salish Band in Burrard Inlet, British Columbia, Canada, who was also an author, poet, spokesman for native rights, and Oscar-nominated actor; as a writer, he is best known for the book My Heart Soars.

1900 – Zelda Fitzgerald, best known as the wife of American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, she also published a novel of her own, Save Me the Waltz, and has been called the Muse of the Jazz Age.

1911 – Elisa Lispector (full Leah Pinkhasovna Lispector), Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist, short-story writer, and teacher; her sister Clarice Lispector was also a well-known writer.

1912 – Essie Summers (born Ethel Snelson Summers), bestselling New Zealand author of romance novels who was considered New Zealand’s “Queen of Romance.”

1916 – John D. McDonald, American crime and suspense novelist whose best known works include the Travis McGee series and The Executioners (which was adapted into the film Cape Fear); he also wrote under various pen names, including John Wade Farrel, Robert Henry, John Lane, Scott O’Hara, Peter Reed, and Henry Reiser.

1918 – Vi Hilbert (née Anderson; Lushootseed name: taqʷšəblu), Native American tribal elder, writer, and cultural and linguistic preservationist of the Upper Skagit, a tribe of the greater Puget Salish in Washington State; she was the last fully fluent heritage speaker of the Lushootseed language and wrote Lushootseed grammars, dictionaries, and books of stories, teachings, and place names. She was named a Washington State Living Treasure, and received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts from President Bill Clinton.

1921 – Trần Văn Khê, Vietnamese writer, educator, musician, musicologist, and ethnomusicologist; his book La musique viêtnamienne traditionnelle was for many years a standard text of Vietnamese musicology.

1924 – Thích Thanh Từ, influential Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who has written many books about Buddhism and is credited with increasing traditional Vietnamese Buddhism practices in Vietnam.

1928 – Griselda Gambaro, Argentine novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and young-adult novelist whose work often concerns political violence in Argentina.

1928 – Rosemarie Schuder (also known as Rosemarie Hirsch), award-winning German journalist, writer, and historical novelist whose books deal with German history or with the lives of prominent people.

1931 – Oscar Ichazo, Bolivian-born human behavioral scientist, writer, and educator who created the Enneagram of Personality theories.

1932 – Madhukar Toradmal, Indian Marathi actor, writer, translator, and professor who was best known as an actor and as a translator of plays.

1933 – Jerzy Harasymowicz-Broniuszyc, Polish poet and prose writer of Ukrainian and Polish-German roots who founded the poetic groups Muszyna and Barbarus and belonged to the “Wspólczesnosc” (Present Day) literary movement. He often explored the Lemkos and Slav-Christian cultures in his works, and also wrote poems about sports and in praise of socialism.

1935 – Aaron Elkins, American author of mysteries featuring forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver; he is married to romance novelist Charlotte Elkins, who writes under the pen name Emily Spenser.

1935 – Patrick Bruce (Pat) Oliphant, Pulitzer Prize-winning Australian editorial cartoonist.

1936 – Albert Marrin, National Book Award-winning American historian and prolific author of children’s nonfiction books.

1937 – Saleha binti Abdul Rashid (better known by her pen name Salmi Manja), a Singaporean-born Malaysian novelist, poet, and journalist who was among the first Malaysian professional women writers and who has frequently written about Islam and women; she is best known for her novel Hari Mana Bulan Mana (What Day What Month).

1939 – Tamar Adar, award-winning Israeli writer, poet, children’s book author, playwright, and screenwriter.

1939 – Christian Peter Georg Kampmann, Danish writer and journalist whose novels are mainly about middle- and upper-classes people trying to find their place in the world, and frequently deal with the subject of homosexuality.

1939 – Claude Kayat, Tunisian-born French and Swedish novelist, writer, dramatist, teacher, and painter.

1939 – Barry N. Malzberg, American science-fiction author who published in other genres under various pseudonyms, including Nathan Herbert and K.M. O’Donnell.

1943 – Eduardo Parra, Chilean poet and musician who is a member of the Chilean rock fusion band Los Jaivas.

1946 – Rivka Keren, Israeli writer, children’s author, and painter.

1946 – Rosemary Dorothy Moravec (born Rosemary Dorothy Hill), Austrian-British musicologist, author, and composer.

1947 – Marie-Noëlle Drouet (known as Minou Drouet, French writer, poet, musician, and actress.

1950 – Arliss Ryan, American historical novelist, short-story writer, satirist, and essayist. In 2017, she and her husband, naval architect Eric Sponberg, left the U.S. to sail around the world in their 35-foot sailboat; her website blog, “The Old Woman and the Sea,” chronicles their ongoing voyage.

1951 – Carlos Baca, Mexican writer, cartoonist, visual artist, ecologist, yogi, and rock music critic who is a key figure of the counterculture movement known as La Onda and has gained fame as the creator of the comic strip character Avandarito.

1951 – Robert Maxwell Hood, Australian writer and editor recognized as one of Australia’s leading writers of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and crime; he also writes short stories, young-adult novels, short stories, poetry, plays, and academic articles and has co-edited anthologies of horror and crime fiction.

1952 – Moniro Ravanipor, Iranian novelist and short-story writer whose stories and books are praised for their innovation and described as “reminiscent in their fantastic blend of realism, myth, and superstition”; she frequently sets her fiction in the small, remote village in southern Iran where she was born. Ravanipour was among 17 activists to face trial in Iran for their participation in the 2000 Berlin Conference, accused of taking part in anti-Iran propaganda, leading to her work being stripped from bookstore shelves in a countrywide police action.

1953 – A.N. Prahlada Rao, Indian author, editor, journalist, and Kannada-language crossword puzzle creator.

1957 – Chrysa Dimoulidou, Greek novelist, poet, reporter, children’s writer, and collage artist.

1955 – Brad Watson, American novelist and short-story writer who was a finalist for the National Book Award.

1959 – Zdravka Evtimova, Bulgarian novelist, short-story writer, and translator.

1959 – Kjetil Try, Norwegian crime fiction writer, advertising executive, and ice hockey player.

1964 – Vishnu Wagh, Indian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and politician.

1964 – Banana Yoshimoto (pen name of Mahoko Yoshimoto), bestselling Japanese novelist and essayist whose fiction is known for unusual characters and for themes of love, friendship, the power of home and family, and the effect of loss on the human spirit.

1965 – Merete Morken Andersen, award-winning Norwegian novelist, children’s writer, journalist, literary critic, and magazine editor.

1966 – Hilarion Alfeyev (born Grigoriy Valerievich Alfeyev), Russian bishop, theologian, writer, church historian, composer, and university teacher who has published books on dogmatic theology, patristics, and church history, as well as numerous compositions for choir and orchestra.

1967 – Fuat Deniz, Turkish-born Swedish sociologist and writer of Assyrian descent who was internationally known for his research on the Assyrian Genocide; he was murdered in 2007.

1968 – Alaa Mashzoub, Iraqi journalist, novelist, writer, and historian whose work focused on the history of Iraq, the city of Karbala, and the history of the Jews in Iraq.

1975 – Shane McCarthy, Australian comic-book writer who has written in the Batman, Transformers, and X-Men series; when he isn’t writing, he runs a swing-dancing school.

1975 – Alejandro Zambra, Chilean poet, novelist, short-story writer, and literary critic.

1978 – Madeline Miller, award-winning American novelist, essayist, and Classical scholar whose books, The Song of Achilles and Circe, are based on themes from mythology.

1980 – Hanna Hellquist, Swedish author, journalist, and television presenter.

1986 – Suffian Hakim bin Supoano, Singaporean author and screenwriter who is known for his novels, the parody Harris bin Potter and The Stoned Philosopher and his book, The Minorities, which takes on such issues as ethnicity, immigration, and assimilation; his humorous, satirical writing is characterized by popular-culture references, word play, offbeat characters, and absurd situations.

Photo Friday: Cock of the Walk

As we walked back from the beach on Tangier Island last week, I spotted this magnificent rooster. He sat on the front porch railing of a small white house, watching the road as if he owned it. Suddenly, he fluffed out his feathers in a rather disturbing way. After another minute, he crowed, letting us know he was in charge.

July 23 Writer Birthdays

1823 – Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore, English poet and critic who was the son of novelist and editor Peter George Patmore.

1863 – Zabel Asadour (better known by her literary pseudonym Sibil, Armenian poet, short-story writer, playwright, publisher, educator, and philanthropist.

1867 – Koda Shigeyuki (pen name Koda Rohan), award-winning Japanese writer, novelist, and literary critic.

1879 – Simeon Strunsky, American essayist, encyclopedia editor, editorial writer, and columnist who was born in Vitebsk, Russia (present-day Belarus).

1888 – Raymond Chandler, American author of detective fiction who helped develop the genre of the hard-boiled detective; he created the character Philip Marlowe, who was played on screen by such actors as Humphrey Bogart, James Garner, Elliott Gould, and Robert Mitchum.

1890 – Joan Amades i Gelats, Spanish Catalan writer, ethnologist, folklorist, and Esperantist.

1896 – Katharine Burdekin (born Katharine Penelope Cade), British science-fiction and feminist utopian/dystopian novelist whose fiction often concerned social and spiritual matters; she wrote under the names Kay Burdekin and Murray Constantine. She was the sister of Rowena Cade, creator of the Minack Theatre in Cornwall.

1897 – Edward Fairly Stuart Graham Cloete, South African novelist, essayist, biographer, autobiographer, and short-story writer.

1900 – Inger Margrethe Boberg, award-winning Danish folklore researcher, writer, editor, and archivist who was the first Danish woman to earn a PhD in folklore.

1907 – Elspeth Huxley, English writer, memoirist, journalist, broadcaster, magistrate, environmentalist, farmer, and government advisor; she wrote 30 books but is best known for The Flame Trees of Thika, a memoir about her experiences growing up on a coffee farm in Colonial Kenya; her husband, Gervas Huxley, was a grandson of biologist Thomas Huxley and a cousin of writer Aldous Huxley.

1912 – M.H. Abrams, American literary critic and author; editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, the standard text for undergraduate literature courses.

1921 – Malachi Brendan Martin (pseudonym Michael Serafian), Irish Catholic priest, Professor of Palaeography, and religious author who wrote on subjects concerning the Catholic Church; among his most significant works were The Scribal Character of The Dead Sea Scrolls and Hostage To The Devil, which dealt with Satanism, demonic possession, and exorcism.

1923 – Thea Beckman, award-winning Dutch author, children’s writer, and science-fiction writer, best known for her children’s time-travel novel, Crusade in Jeans.

1925 – Magdalen Goffin, English writer, biographer, book reviewer, and editor.

1926 – Sidilla Editha “Cedella” Booker (née Malcolm and previously Marley, Jamaican singer, writer, and biographer who was the mother of reggae musician Bob Marley; she was the organizer of the 9 Mile Music Festival, an annual music event to help keep alive Marley’s message of peace, love and unity.

1928 – Vera Rubin (Vera Florence Cooper Rubin), American astronomer, author, and professor who pioneered work on galaxy rotation rates; The New York Times described her work as “ushering in a Copernican-scale change” in cosmological theory. An observatory, a satellite, an asteroid, and an area on Mars have been named after her, as is a fictitious Verubin Nebula in Season Three of the television show Star Trek: Discovery.1928 – Hubert Selby Jr., controversial American novelist, best known for his books Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream; the latter was the subject of obscenity charges in Britain; a highly publicized court trial resulted in a guilty verdict, which was overturned on appeal, paving the way for the end of censorship in Britain.

1929 – Robert Quackenbush, American author and illustrator of children’s books.

1930 – Vivienne Rae-Ellis, Australian writer and biographer who also wrote under the pseudonym Antonia Bell.

1932 – Gibson Mthuthuzeli Kente, South African playwright, composer, director, television writer, and producer who was known as the Father of Black Theatre in South Africa; he was one of the first writers to deal with life in South Africa’s black townships.

1933 – Myfanwy Horne (born Myfanwy Gollan), Australian journalist, writer, essayist, reviewer, book editor, and social commentator; she was the organizer of a historical exhibition in Sydney, “Struggle for Democracy in Australia 1788-1977,” which focused on the human-rights struggles of Aboriginal people, women’s rights, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.

1936 – Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Indian poet, writer, and playwright of the Punjabi language; he was best known for his romantic poetry, noted for its heightened passion, pathos, separation, and lover’s agony.

1939 – Fanny Puyesky Mitnik, Uruguayan lawyer, writer, journalist, columnist, and dramatist who is known as “the first feminist” of Uruguay.

1940 – Danielle Collobert, French author, poet and journalist whose work explored travel, the ambiguity of gender, and an obsession with death as the destination of humankind.

1941 – Kim Jong-hae, award-winning Korean author, lyric poet, sailor, and publisher.

1942 – Dimitris Liantinis, Greek author, philosopher, writer, poet, translator, and professor who wrote on philosophical issues including education, morality, and death, and emphasized the need to incorporate Ancient Greek ideas and morals into the modern Greek education system; he has achieved notoriety in Greece because of his strange and unexplained final disappearance in 1998, leaving behind a letter to his family: “I go away by my own will. I disappear standing, strong, and proud.”

1944 – Alexander Buzo, prolific Australian playwright, travel writer, children’s author, sports writer, and reviewer who was known for his witty and insightful books.

1947 – Gardner Dozois, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction author and editor.

1952 – Laxman Maruti Gaikwad, Indian Marathi novelist best known for his award-winning autobiographical novel, Uchalaya, and its translation, The Branded; Considered a masterpiece in Marathi literature, it brings to the world of literature for the first time the trials and tribulations of his tribe, Uchalya, literally “the pilferers,” a term coined by the British.

1954 – Kelley Aitken, Canadian short-story writer, visual artist, editor, and art instructor.

1960 – Mario Bellatin, Peruvian-Mexican novelist, science-fiction writer, and educator who is considered a leading voice in Spanish fiction for his experimental and fragmented writing, which artfully intertwines reality and creation.

1961 – Vikram Chandra, award-winning Indian-born novelist and short-story writer.

1961 – Alojz Ihan, award-winning Slovenian poet, writer, editor, essayist, doctor, microbiologist, and immunologist.

1961 – Florence Noiville, French author, journalist, children’s writer, and biographer who is a long time staff writer for Le Monde and editor of foreign fiction for its literary supplement.

1962 – Stanislav Tsalyk, prolific Ukrainian writer, essayist, television writer, historian, essayist, nonfiction writer, and journalist.

1970 – Sindri Freysson, award-winning Icelandic novelist, poet, and children’s writer.

1971 – Rabelani Dagada, South African author and politician.

1971 – Mohsin Hamid, award-winning, bestselling Pakistani-born novelist, essayist, journalist, and short-story writer.

1973 – Nandini Sahu, award-winning Indian poet, writer, literary critic, editor, and professor who has written about Indian-English literature, American literature, English Language Teaching (ELT), folklore and culture studies, and children’s literature.

.1978 – Lauren Groff, American novelist and short-story writer.

1978 – Milisav Popović, Montenegrin essayist, fantasy novelist, and politician; he was elected director of the National Library of Montenegro.

Get Out the Vote

I just mailed 75 postcards to New Hampshire. That leaves me with 125 left to write and mail. I’m writing and sending Get Out the Vote cards to a list of New Hampshire residents who voted in 2020 and are likely Democratic voters.

I don’t mind writing the cards — though often, I find the wording I’m supposed to follow to be quite badly written, and this time is no exception, though it’s not as egregious as some. But I just came from buying stamps at the Post Office, and realized, once again, that I should not agree to do these too often. I just paid $72 for stamps to mail two hundred cards. And I’ll need more stamps when I receive the next batch of cards I put in for; those will go to voters here in Virginia. I can’t afford to keep offering to write stacks of 200 cards, since I am also on the hook for paying to mail them — especially with stamp prices increasing again next month. That will be the second increase this year for postcard stamps! So I will have to slow down after the next batch.

On the other hand, I do like doing my part to get more people to the polls.

And, by the way, wherever you live, please be sure to vote in every election!

July 22 Writer Birthdays

1733 – Mikhailo Mikhailovich Shcherbatov, Russian prince who was a statesman, historian, writer, and philosopher.

1807 – Karolina Pavlova, Russian poet, novelist, and translator known for her unusual use of rhyme and imagery; she was a friend of Tolstoy and translated his works into German.

1818 – Betty (Katarina Elisabeth) Ehrenborg, Swedish writer, psalm writer, and pedagogue who is regarded as the founder of the Swedish Sunday school.

1849 – Emma Lazarus, American poet, novelist, and playwright, best known for her sonnet “The New Colossus,” which appears on the base of the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”)

1859 – Lok Okhna Suttantaprija Ind, Cambodian monk, writer, and poet; the title, Okhna (Lord in English), was bestowed upon him by the King of Cambodia due to his writings, his poetic skills, and his extensive work in helping to preserve Khmer literature.

1859 – Maria Janitschek (née Tölk), German author and poet of Austrian origin; she wrote under the pseudonym Marius Stein.

1881 – Margery Williams Bianco, Newbery Medal-winning English/American author of children books who began writing professionally when she was still in her teens and is best known for the classic book The Velveteen Rabbit.

1884 – Odell Shepard, Pulitzer Prize-winning American professor, poet, and biographer who was also Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut.

1886 – Hella Wuolijoki, Estonian-born Finnish novelist and playwright, often known by her pen name Juhani Tervapää; she was imprisoned for allegedly being a Soviet spy but released after a year. Later she became a member of the Finnish Parliament.

1893 – Torvald Tu, Norwegian poet, playwright, novelist, and writer of humoresques; he wrote in the Nynorsk language, with strong hints of his own Jæren dialect.

1898 – Stephen Vincent Benét, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, novelist, and short-story writer, best known for John Brown’s Body, a book-length poem about the Civil War.

1900 – Edward Dahlberg, American novelist, biographer, and essayist who was nominated for a National Book Award.

1900 – Zdeněk Kalista, Czech poet, historian, translator, editor, and literary critic.

1902 – Daniel Mainwaring, American mystery novelist and screenwriter who sometimes used the pen name Geoffrey Homes; before he became a writer, he worked as a journalist and a private detective.

1903 – Betty Roland, Australian writer, journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, children’s author, and comics writer.

1907 – Baruch Kurzweil, Israeli writer, rabbi, and literary theorist who was a pioneer of Israeli literary criticism.

1908 – Amy Vanderbilt, bestselling American author, journalist, and television host who was best known as an authority on etiquette.

1910 – Pauline Gower (full name Pauline Mary de Peauly Gower Fahie), award-winning British pilot and writer who established the women’s branch of the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War.

1910 – Alan McCrae Moorehead, Australian journalist, war correspondent, and author of popular histories, most notably two books on the nineteenth-century exploration of the Nile.

1915 – Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, Indian-born Pakistani author, translator, and politician who was ambassador to Morocco and the first female representative in the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan; she wrote a biography of her uncle, Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and other works dealing with Pakistani history, women in Islam, and literary criticism.

1924 – Patience Abbe, French author and editor who wrote her first bestselling book when she was 12 but stopped writing in her teens.

1925 – Jack Matthews, American professor who was also a novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and playwright.

1926 – Bryan Forbes, popular English film director, screenwriter, film producer, actor, and novelist; his books include such well-known novels as International Velvet and The Soldier’s Story.

1929 – Solomon Alexander Amu Djoleto, Ghanaian writer, poet, novelist, children’s author, nonfiction author, and educator.

1930 – John Jeremy Lloyd, English writer, screenwriter, author, poet, and actor who was best known as writer of several successful British television sitcoms, including Are You Being Served? and ‘Allo ‘Allo!.

1931 – Patricia Calvert, American author of fiction and nonfiction books for children.

1931 – Riane Eisler, Austrian-born author, historian, sociologist, human-rights activist, anthropologist, and peace researcher; her work has impacted such diverse fields as history, literature, philosophy, art, economics, psychology, sociology, education, human rights, organizational development, political science, and healthcare. She is best known for her books The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future, and Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body.

1936 – Tom Robbins, American author, essayist, art reviewer, and journalist whose poetic, irreverent novels have been a counterculture favorite; Writer’s Digest named him one of the 100 Best Writers of the 20th Century. His novel-writing process has been described like this: “First he writes a sentence. Then he rewrites it again and again, examining each word, making sure of its perfection, finely honing each phrase until it reverberates with the subtle texture of the infinite. Sometimes it takes hours. Sometimes an entire day is devoted to one sentence, which gets marked on and expanded upon in every possible direction until he is satisfied. Then, and only then, does he add a period.”

1939 – Gila Almagor, Israeli writer, screenwriter, children’s author, actress, and film producer who has been called “queen of the Israeli cinema and theatre.”

1940 – Maria Tore Barbina, Italian poet, writer, translator, and university teacher.

1941 – David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author.

1942 – Mazhar Kaleem, Pakistani novelist chiefly known for his Urdu spy fiction; he also wrote short stories for children and was a radio talk show host.

1943 – Masaru Emoto, Japanese author and pseudoscientist who said that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water; in particular, his early work revolved around the hypotheses that water could react to positive thoughts and words and that polluted water could be cleaned through prayer and positive visualization.

1946 – Ryoki Inoue (born José Carlos Ryoki de Alpoim Inoue), Brazilian writer and science-fiction author of both Japanese and Portuguese descent; the Guinness World Records calls him the world’s most prolific writer, with 1075 books published under his own name or 39 pseudonyms.

1947 – Albert Brooks, American comedian, novelist, screenwriter, actor, and director.

1948 – Neil Hardwick, award-winning British-born Finnish screenwriter, essayist, and director for theater and television; he is acclaimed for depictions of the pathetically humorous daily life of ordinary people.

1948 – S.E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton, American author and screenwriter whose work includes novels for children, adults, and teenagers; she is best known for her young-adult novel The Outsiders, written when she was still in her teens.

1948 – Cecilia Vicuña, Chilean writer, poet, artist, and filmmaker who is considered one of the most authentic and multifaceted voices in contemporary poetry; her work is noted for themes of language, memory, dissolution, extinction, ecological destruction, cultural homogenization, and exile.

1952 – Zakaria Ariffin, Malaysian playwright, theater director, author, theater critic, and educator.

1957 – David Abbasi (also known as Siyavash Awesta), Persian-French writer, journalist, and Islamologist.

1957 – Mairéad Byrne, Irish poet and professor who currently lives in the United States.

1957 – Pavel Shumil, Russian writer and science-fiction author; he is best known for his The Word About a Dragon series.

1961 – Lisa Robertson, Canadian poet, essayist, and translator who is based in France.

1965 – Anita Daher, Canadian author, children’s writer, screenwriter, and actress.

1966 – Gustavo Bolívar, Colombian novelist, screenwriter, politician, journalist, and film director.

1971 – Akhil Sharma, Indian-born American professor, novelist, and short-story writer.

1972 – Enrique Laso, Spanish novelist and nonfiction writer.

1973 – Ece Temelkuran, Turkish poet, journalist, columnist, author, lawyer, and television presenter; she was twice named Turkey’s “most read political columnist” but has also been fired for writing articles critical of the government.

1985 – Kateryna Babkina, Ukrainian writer, translator, journalist, short-story writer, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and children’s author.

Who Turned Out the Lights?

I was sitting at my laptop when something began rumbling outside. At first I thought it was an airplane. But it continued too long for that. Then it stopped. And started again. It took me a minute to realize that I was hearing some particularly epic thunder, though it didn’t look like rain outside.

Within a few minutes, it did. In fact, I checked my weather app and saw that we are under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch all day. The same weather app said it would not rain here for at least an hour. The clouds darkened. The clouds apparently do not check the weather app; I was pretty sure they planned to rain within moments.

It’s trash day, so I hurried outside into the rising wind to wheel the trash and recycling bins from the side of the road up to the garage. That’s when I noticed a large package had arrived and was sitting in the driveway: the patio table I ordered. But the box was cardboard and I was sure the rain would start any minute. Why don’t the people who deliver packages put them by the front door, where they’re supposed to? If I hadn’t gone outside to move the trash bins, I would not have seen the package at all. I tried to move it, but it was too heavy for me. The first raindrops were falling, so I ran inside, rousted my teenager out of bed (it was about noon) and told him I needed him to help me bring a large package in immediately, before it got soaked.

He threw on pants and shoes and helped me lug the box up the front steps and into the living room, as the wind lashed at the trees and the thunder kept rumbling. As soon as we hauled it inside, the clouds let loose, and the rain poured down.

A few minutes later, the lights went out. This happens now and then. The power flickers, and then it snaps back on in a few seconds. This time, it did not snap back on. I had no internet on my computer, so I used my phone to access the power company’s site to report the outage. More than 3,000 households in my city were without power, with no word yet on what had caused it.

The rain, having done its job, abruptly stopped.

My teenager seemed confused. His phone was not charged. The lack of electricity had turned his desktop computer into a paperweight. He could theoretically use his laptop, at least for as long as it could last on the little bit of charge that was left in the batteries. But it’s a Chromebook, so almost nothing is actually on the computer; it’s designed to work with online material, and with the router dead, he could not get online. He couldn’t watch television. He had no idea what to do with himself.

I suggested practicing piano — he’s a music major, and has barely practiced at all since he’s been home for the summer. To my surprise, he sat at the grand piano (no use trying the digital one) and actually played for a while.

I can always find something to do. In fact, I longed just to sit back and read a book. But I am behind on my writing goal for the month. My manuscript is kept in the cloud, but I have Dropbox set to also copy the files to my computer. While I couldn’t research, I could certainly write. So I wrote. I wrote until I’d surpassed my daily word-count goal and was at a good stopping point. (I’m still behind for the month, so I will write more later today.)

After a few hours, the power came back on, and my son, relieved, plugged in his phone to charge, and returned to his usual spot in front of the computer.

And now, the sky is darkening again, and the wind is rising.

July 21 Writer Birthdays

1522 – Lucrezia Gonzaga di Gazzuolo, Italian author and scholar; at the age of 14 she married Paolo Manfrone, and she is sometimes known as Lucrezia Gonzaga Manfrona.

1751 – Luigi Romanelli, Italian author, poet, professor, and opera librettist.

1811 – Dimitrios Dimitriou (sometimes spelled Dimitrija Demeter or Dimitrije Demeter), Greek Croatian poet, dramatist, short-story writer, literary critic, pamphlet writer, and political activist who played a key role in the nationalist movement for the awakening of the Croatian nation (then under Austro-Hungarian rule).

1822 – Mary Elizabeth Herbert (Baroness Herbert of Lea; née Ashe à Court-Repington, but known simply as Elizabeth Herbert and nicknamed “Lady Lightning” for her quickness in bringing about change), influential English Roman Catholic author, biographer, travel writer, short-story writer, translator, philanthropist, and ally of Florence Nightingale.

1841 – Minna Kleeberg, German-born poet and writer who was first published at the age of 14 and emigrated to the United States as a young woman; her work shows an interest in public and patriotic questions (the Franco-Prussian War, the Fifteenth Amendment, women’s rights, and democracy) as well as inspiration from her Jewish background and from everyday domestic life.

1841 – Salvador de Menezes Drummond Furtado de Mendonça (known as Salvador de Mendonça), Brazilian writer, journalist, lawyer, and diplomat who was one of the founders of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and consul general of the Brazilian Empire in the United States.

1847 – Blanche Willis Howard (aka Blanche Willis Howard von Teuffel), bestselling American-born novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist, editor, and travel writer who spent much of her career Germany; she was also an accomplished pianist whose playing was praised by Franz Liszt.

1853 – Anna Adams Gordon, American author, biographer, lecturer, songwriter, children’s author, and social reformer who was a strong and effective force in the American temperance movement.

1856 – Emilio Prud’Homme, Dominican Republic writer, composer, lyricist, lawyer, and politician, best known for writing the lyrics to the Dominican national anthem.

1862 – Camerina Pavón y Oviedo (born Camerina Luisa Pavón y Oviedo), Mexican poet.

1870 – Florence Jaffray “Daisy” Harriman (born Florence Jaffray Hurst), American author, memoirist, diplomat, social reformer, labor activist, suffragist, political organizer, voting rights activist, and salonnière who was often in the midst of historic events, including on the front lines of the Mexican Revolution and both world wars; as U.S. ambassador to Norway she organized the evacuation of Americans, members of the Norwegian royal family, and other refugees while hiding out in a forest from the Nazi invasion. President Kennedy honored her with the first Citation of Merit for Distinguished Service.

1879 – Carlos Pezoa Véliz, Chilean writer, poet, author, journalist, and educator whose literary work remained largely unpublished at the time of his death at the age of 28; he was posthumously recognized as a major figure in the history of Chilean poetry.

1885 – Frances Parkinson Keyes, American author who wrote novels set in New England, Louisiana, and Europe, as well as books about her life as the wife of a U.S. Senator; her later works frequently featured Roman Catholic themes and beliefs. Her last name rhymes with “skies,” not “keys.”

1899 – Hart Crane, influential American modernist poet who was known for his difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious work and is considered one of the key literary figures of his generation.

1899 – Ernest Hemingway, Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize-winning American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist whose work is known for his sparse prose and gripping narratives; many of his novels, including The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell To Arms, are considered literary classics.

1903 – Yrjö Jylhä, Finnish poet and translator whose poems reflected the horrors he witnessed as an officer on the front lines of the Winter War (1939-40). His work, Kiirastuli, is generally considered the best lyrical poetry from this period in Finnish history.

1906 – Olena Ivanivna Teliha, Moscow-born Ukrainian and Belarusian poet, writer, literary critic, and activist for Ukrainian nationalism, in defiance of Nazi authorities; she was arrested by the Gestapo and executed at age 35.

1907 – Alec Derwent Hope, Australian poet, essayist, critic, and teacher known for his satirical slant; he was once called, “the 20th century’s greatest 18th-century poet.”

1911 – Umashankar Jethalal Joshi, Indian poet, scholar, writer, and politician known for his contributions to Gujarati literature.

1911 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian founder of the study of media theory; he is especially ja,meremembered for his expressions “the global village” and “the media is the message.”

1913 – Mari Gwendoline Ellis (born Mary Gwendoline Headley), Welsh writer and women’s rights activist.

1914 – Suso Cecchi d’Amico, influential, award-winning Italian screenwriter and librettist.

1917 – Margarita Michelena, Mexican poet, literary critic, translator, and journalist.

1920 – Mohammed Dib, Algerian novelist and poet.

1921 – James Cooke Brown, American sociologist, science-fiction author, civil-rights activist, and board-game creator; he also invented the artificial language Loglan.

1921 – Erik Egeland, Norwegian writer, illustration, journalist, and art critic.

1921 – Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, South African Zulu sangoma (traditional healer) and author whose books draw upon African mythology, traditional Zulu folklore, stories of extraterrestrial encounters, and his personal experiences; his most recent work is a graphic novel called the Tree of Life Trilogy, based on his most famous book, Indaba My Children.

1924 – Alojz Rebula, Italian-born Slovenian writer, poet, playwright, translator, essayist, philologist, linguist, and biblical scholar.

1925 – Vida Brest (real name Majda Peterlin), award-winning Yugoslav Slovene-language poet, writer, journalist, children’s writer, teacher, and resistance fighter; she is best known for her juvenile fiction, which was often based on her experiences as a young Partisan during World War II.

1930 – Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere, prolific, award-winning Indian Marathi writer, poet, translator, and playwright who is best known for scholarly books on Marathi literature, culture, folklore, and religion.

1933 – John Gardner, American novelist, essayist, literary critic, and professor, known for his nurturing of beginning writers and for his book Grendel, a retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s point of view. (Not to be confused with the British John Gardner, author of spy and mystery stories.)

1943 – Tess Gallagher, American poet, essayist, and short-story writer.

1944 – Buchi Emecheta, pioneering Nigerian novelist, playwright, children’s author, and sociologist who divorced her husband after he read and burned her first novel; her work often drew on her own life to champion the rights of girls and women.

1945 – Wendy Cope, English poet and editor; her debut poetry collection, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, has sold over 180,000 copies.

1947 – Thierno Saïdou Diallo (better known as Tierno Monénembo), award-winning Guinean novelist and biochemist.

1955 – Véronique Tadjo, Ivory Coast poet, novelist, children’s author, and artist whose work reflects a pan-African outlook.

1956 – Michael Connelly, American author of detective novels and crime fiction.

1957 – Yū Asagiri, award-winning Japanese novelist, manga writer, and artist; her real name was Takano Yuriko.

1958 – Liliana Bodoc, Argentinian writer of fantasy and children’s books.

1959 – Kazumi Saeki, award-winning Japanese novelist, essayist, and travel writer who adopted the pen Kazumi (meaning one wheat), because of his fondness for Van Gogh’s paintings of wheat fields; he is best known in the U.S. for an op-ed piece in the New York Times recounting his experiences in the 2011 Great Tohoku Kanto earthquake.

1965 – Ahmad Zeidabadi , Iranian journalist, academic, writer, and political analyst who is one of the notable figures of the Iranian reform movement

1966 – Sarah Waters, Welsh novelist whose Victorian novels usually feature lesbian protagonists.

1966 – Tsering Woeser, Tibetan-Chinese writer, blogger, poet, essayist, and activist.

1975 – Ðorde Bajic, Serbian writer, literary and film critic; his novels are in the genres of horror, crime writing, and mysteries.

1975 – Christopher Barzak, American novelist and short-story writer whose novel The Love We Share Without Knowing was a 2009 Nebula nominee.

1976 – Isobel Veronica Marie Hadley-Kamptz, Swedish journalist, columnist, novelist, essayist, and television personality.