Monday, May 31, 2010

H.V. Morton--A Real "Find" For Readers

A friend of mine was recently going through the belongings of a deceased relative when she made the kind of discovery that brings joy to the hearts of readers. This discovery consisted of a couple of books by a writer she had never heard of, one H.V. Morton. These were far from ordinary books; they were the kind you wanted to commune with on long wintry nights (forget the television!) or on summer evenings in the long orange twilight.
My friend decided she had to take the measure of this--to her--unknown writer; so she sat down with one of his best-known works, "In Search Of Scotland". Within pages, she was captivated by his ability to paint landscapes with words and his deep commitment to the things and people he was writing about. He was a poet who happened to express himself in prose.
All these are excellent qualities for a travel writer, which is what Henry Canova Vollam Morton was. A Lancashireman, he was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, England, in 1892. He died far away, in South Africa, in 1979, where he and his family moved following World War II.
Morton, like all travel writers, drew pictures of what was for him the here-and-now, and is now history. He did it with deep feeling, with learning, and with high intelligence. I was so busy that, when my friend urged me to read his work, I was reluctant to take the time.
I certainly am glad I did! Now I am a member of the world-wide (and free-to-join) H.V. Morton Society, determined to read all of his 50-some books and to spread word about him as far as I can.
My suggestion to you? Find and try a Morton book. Then, let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Free Rice Revisited

Some time ago I recommended visiting the site Free Rice. For two reasons: First of all, your (free) participation in the games there will will help deliver food to the hungry around the world--in a time when hunger is an ever-more-threatening reality. Second, despite its serious purpose, it's both fun and educational, and will cost you nothing except a little time. (It is nice to give money to good causes; and I recommend it if you have the money. But if you don't have it right now, you won't need it to do good on Advertisers reward your efforts by contributing to the food programs of the United Nations.)
If I am unable to report a diminution in world hunger, the good news is that there are now more games, by far, than there were when National Public Radio alerted me to this site and I started to play the English vocabulary games there. At the time, as I recall, there was English vocabulary, some arithmetic and simple math, and not much more. Now there are games in art history, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and maybe a few additional subjects as well.
So go on--go on over there and help reduce the amount of suffering in the world. Do some good, and at the same time brush up on your Bachelor of Arts and remind yourself how bright you are. It's for a great cause.
If I seem flippant about this, I'm not, really. This is not, maybe, the ideal way to do good--we, the players of games, get some personal gratification out of it; and the donors get a little good publicity. But imperfect good is better than no good at all. And sometimes it's a good idea to cut ourselves a little slack.