Monday, 29 November 2010

Pauline Baynes

With the movie for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, coming out on December 10th I thought I might say a word or two about it. I wont write something on C.S. Lewis, even though I think him a most worthy subject, because I feel everyone has just about already said everything that is to be said, on his life. I will instead tell you a bit about the first illustrator of the Narnia books; Pauline Baynes.

Pauline Diana Baynes was born September 9, 1922 in Hove, Sussex. Pauline spent the earliest years of her life in India where her father was a commissioner in the Indian Civil Service. When she was five Pauline and her sister Angela where sent back to England to school. Pauline studied art at Farnham School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art before returning to the school of her childhood to teach. In 1940 she and her sister joined the Camouflage Department and Training Centre at Farnham Castle as model makers. She was eventually placed in the map-making department which would help her in drawing of the maps of Narnia for C.S. Lewis and Middle Earth for J.R.R. Tolkien. After the war Baynes kept house for her widowed father. Pauline was quite exacting and she had very high standards for herself and her pupils at Beaufront. Her first book as both author and illustrator was Victoria and the Golden Bird (1948), she also illustrated for magazines, greeting cards and advertisements. The book most remembered and perhaps most loved that Baynes illustrated was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, published in 1950. In the six years that followed Pauline illustrated the following six Narnia books ending with The Last Battle (1956).

Miss Baynes loved animals and especially dogs, it was through this love she met Fritz Gasch, who had a job selling pet food. Pauline and Fritz were married in 1961 and remained contentedly married until his death in 1988.  Pauline continued writing and illustrating until just before death, her last book was The Elephant's Ball published in 2007. Pauline Diana Baynes died on August 1, 2008 at the age of 85.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Merry Christmas Time is Here!

With Thanksgiving over it is time to start getting ready for Christmas! My family  has always started their Christmas traditions the day after Thanksgiving. The first is to take down our fall decorations and  put out our Christmas and winter ones. The wax candle villages, the nativity sets, stockings, and Christmas dishes.  Another tradition to get into the holiday spirit is to make Happy Holidays cookies. My family has close to two dozen Christmas cookie recipes and this is the first recipe to be made each year.

Happy Holidays Cookies

1c sugar
3/4c butter (softened)
1 egg
2t vanilla

Beat with mixer one to two minutes at medium speed, then add
2 1/4c flour
1t baking powder
1/4t salt             Mix

Divide into two or three bowls for red, green and white or chocolate (melt 1 oz. chips and stir into batter). Roll into balls to form shapes. We do all kinds of different shapes like snow men, Christmas trees, wreathes, candy canes, poinsettias and anything else you like. This is a great recipe for small children!

Happy tradition starting!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Eight Amendment Essay

On this election day I thought that I might post an essay on the eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and here it is:

           The eighth amendment of the Constitution promises to protect us from: excessive bails and fines and cruel or unusual punishments. Is this right still employed today? First what does the eighth amendment mean and what is it supposed to do. Second how, through bails and fines, court cases have become sources of profit for the state and finally what are the consequences of cruel and unusual punishment?
            The eighth amendment to the Constitution states: Excessive bails shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. But really we must ask, who determines, what is excessive and unusual? According to Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary excessive means "Beyond the bounds of justice, fitness or propriety," unusual is defined as "not common; rare." That leaves much room for interpretation.
            The courts have become a big business generating profits through revenue. Because bail is so excessive, and we have seen in cases in the average bail amounts, most arrested persons cannot post bail and are forced to use the service of a bondsman as well as an attorney. This creates more for the state to collect. It would appear, no longer are people innocent until proven guilty, which leads to an unnecessary trial and excessive fines, for the presumed guilty party in many cases. In these instances all that is required is an accusation without evidence and an expensive hearing is the result. This obviously burdens the accused person and taxpayers if a public defender is used.
            Cruel and unusual punishments hurt many more people than just the person being charged. Criminals are often inflicted with excessive punishments that may even require another trial. This provides job security for the judge, which would appear to be a conflict of interest. In cases where the criminal is sentenced to an unusually long time in prison it does nothing to reform the convicted person, but it also burdens the taxpayers by increasing their taxes and the profit made by the state. The clearest example of this case in Minnesota is the case involving Jason McLaughlin, a boy, age 15, who was sentenced to two back to back life sentences in an adult prison without opportunity for reform and no chance for parole. Most would agree that this was excessive punishment, however, the decision remains in the judges hands.
            Now that we know what the eighth amendment is, how bails and fines are for the states profit, and what the consequences are for cruel and unusual punishments, we can question if the eighth amendment is still in operation. If the American Constitution isn't protected we may become the next victim.