In modern times, when a respected supervisor leaves a job, a gift can be presented as a token of the admiration. In past centuries, a sword might have been the chosen thank you gift.
In 1780, Major Marriot Arbuthnot was presented with a sword because residents of the Channel Islands were pleased that he'd defended them from an invading army.
Several craftsmen might have jointed together to create an item such as this. For some commemorative gifts, a hilt and scabbard could have been purchased from a goldsmith and then later assembled to the blade by someone else.
As each item was individual, the men who made swords could change the item to fit a recipient. One historical blade, which probably wasn't a gift, is a knife with a calendar etched onto the blade. The dates on the calendar are from 1678 to 1700.
Expressions of creativity and the wish to thank people who go above and beyond have probably been a part of our culture throughout history.
Photo Info: The top photo was listed as a medieval dagger on Fotolia and isn't the Arbuthnot sword as I was unable to locate a source for a picture.
Cannons onboard ships of the nineteenth century were a weighty business. It could take six crewmembers to load them. This was much different than on Christopher Columbus' ships in the late 1400's when cannons were used more for signaling than for protection or attack.
But more importantly, what did sailors name these weapons stored so close to their hammocks?
What about Bulldog?
While it may seem trivial to name a cannon, it would have simplified instructions to sailors when assigning them to an area.
Note: The top two pictures were used in an earlier blog about Christopher Columbus' ships. Bulldog and Beelzebub are located at the Maritime Museum in San Diego, California.
A farm life means that any area large enough to create pasture is usually baled into hay. Mowing it every year means that a lot of wildflowers are never given a chance to grow and re-seed. After all, feeding the animals is more important than letting a few weeds grow.
And in the areas too small for hay, it's usually not comfortable to walk through them. After all, snakes, spiders and other kinds of biting creatures find the areas a perfect habitat.
But because we had no cows to feed, and our tractor needed repaired, mowing the meadows wasn't important. Then, by the time the tractor was running, quail had moved in and were using the meadows to raise their babies. To mow the grass would have meant the nests would likely have been destroyed.
So after the quail had a chance to raise their young, the next year paths were mowed, leaving us meadow-like areas and walking paths
After all, the meadows were fascinating. And to be able to walk near them without too much worry of a snake gave a country peacefulness to them.
The biggest surprise has been how much they vary from year to year, perhaps due to the mowing schedule or perhaps the amount of rain.
One year the thistle grew taller than my head and took over most of the space.
And the meadows do have to be mowed occasionally or trees will overtake the area.
But being able to walk comfortably among the weeds without too much worry of something inside them biting or stinging me, has made them quite enjoyable.
Nature isn't for everyone. It takes time to watch the seasons change. But I the colors brighten my world.
(All the photos but the thistle were taken near the same time this year. The thistle hasn't bloomed yet, and the photo is from the last year.)
Edward Jenner gets credit for smallpox vaccinations, and his research improved many lives. Not only did the disease often disfigure people, it had a high mortality rate.
But even before Jenner's proof of the success of vaccinations, people had realized a few things about smallpox.
If someone had had the disease once, they could safely care for others in an outbreak. Some had also discovered that it was possible to prevent the disease by taking a tissue sample an infected person and transmitting it to a healthy person. But this had the added risk of sharing any blood transmitted illnesses.
The vaccine won over the disease though, giving it a death knell.
Right before routine vaccination for smallpox stopped in the USA, I had the preventative. The dime-sized, round, seal of approval-type scar, which appeared on the top of my foot is a reminder that my body can resist smallpox. Also, I've not contracted typhoid or cholera.
So other than an over-the-counter purchase in past centuries, where does arsenic come from? Besides water? And volcanos emitting it into the air? Could Ross Poldark have realized that if he found copper then he'd also have an opportunity to sell the arsenic made from smelting?
When substances like copper are melted so they can be extracted from the rocks they're embedded in, it's possible to produce a dust residue. This residue has been referred to as the poudre de succession, a rather relaxed term for arsenic.
Tired of waiting for that inheritance? Reportedly some people sped up the process by adding a bit of almost tasteless white powder to the victims victuals. So, arsenic has been called the inheritance powder, and it's hard to separate fact from fiction because a confession would have led to a death sentence.
But because arsenic has preservative properties and also was used to control household pests with more than two legs, it was a source of revenue for miners.
The Botallack Mine near Cornwall, and a mine used in filming the original Poldark and some scenes of the latest version, did produce tin, copper and arsenic.
This could have added a whole new twist to the novel by Winston Graham, assuming it's not in the book.
So the next time I'm watching the latest episode of Poldark, and Aidan Turner gives that smoldering look, I might be wondering if he's thinking about his enemies and has a second reason for wanting to discover copper in the mine.
Photo credit: Fotolia image of Botallack Mine
Whitetail deer are common in my area. I thought this one may have been trying to distract me by running in the opposite direction from where she had a fawn hid.
About six years ago, a friend told me that if I went to New York with her, she could get me a meeting with an editor. I had a manuscript I wanted published, but I really didn't want to go that far on a chance. A gamble.
The evening I arrived in NY and looked out the hotel window, I was not enthusiastic.
The next morning, I went for a walk and they were taping a television show. Alicia Keys was on a stage singing about dreams coming true in NY. I felt pretty confident at that moment that it was possible to have a book published.
The editor passed on that book but told me my strengths.
I tried harder, and took what I'd learned from the comments, and wrote another manuscript, which was purchased by the same publishing house I'd contacted earlier in NY.
They weren't taping this video that day, but this is the song Alicia Keys sang. And if you recognize the Broadway area, that's where I was standing when I heard her.
The photo above is from my return visit, and when I looked out the window during that visit, I was enthusiastic.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky reportedly liked to gamble, and he liked to write. At one point, when he was in need of money, he received an advance for a book. If he didn't complete that book on time, he was going to lose the rights to many of his other works.
That's a lot of pressure.
Dostoyevsky must have realized he was in a bit of a bind, but he didn't let that stop him. He hired someone to write down his words, and he finished the book on time.
Because his books were written in a language I can't read, it's hard to know if they lose something in the translation. But the fact that he seriously wanted to meet his deadline was something I can understand completely.
Then, the fact that he married the woman who wrote down his words, added a love story ending. It makes me want to write a book about a gambler who had a deadline and...
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