Lucky Peer-VIII

Lucky Peer-VIIILucky Peer-VIII

Peer continued to live with Herr Gabriel and it soon came to be two years. He missed his family terribly. He wondered how long he would live. He wondered what he should be. Some told him to be an actor and others told him to be a tutor. Some said a teacher. He did not know what to be. He missed his mother and grandmother.

Peer was in the garden and saw something. There was an elven maiden, she looked a bit like the apothecary’s daughter. Soon there were other elven maidens. They danced around, Peer was amongst them. They were hollow in the back as elven maidens are. One of the maidens told him that an hour of their time was a hundred years in his. They told him all his family was dead.

Peer cried out to God asking why he had been forsaken, but soon Peer’s grandmother appeared and told him that he had not been forsaken. She sang with him. They sang hymns. Peer’s voice had come back.

Peer woke up in a bed. He had a terrible fever. He had been found in the garden. All feared for his death. His family was notified. Grandmother and Mother could not leave at the same time, so Grandmother braved her fears and got on a train for the first time in her life. She traveled for Peer and now tended to him.


I have no idea why in the world elf maidens are said to be hollow on the back. I’ve come across it in other stories and it’s just strange. Why would they be hollow? They’re not like chocolate Easter bunnies. They’re supposed to actually be humanoid.


Peer goes into delirium and experiences one of his worst fears. That fear is losing his family. He hasn’t seen his mother and grandmother for some time and he misses them terribly. There are things he wants in life, but he values his family above many things. If he were to lose his family, what would become of him?

Dreams and fevers can bring out some terrible, terrible things from within us. People confess secret feelings. Fears are preyed upon by our own minds. As if it wasn’t enough to be dreaming or to have a fever, or brain also has to play some terrible prank on us. Of course, we’re relieved when we wake up, but we’re still a bit terrified for a while. Sometimes we dream about small fears, but sometimes we dream about big fears. Those dreams of big fears are the ones who leave us incredibly thankful that we’ve woken up. Those are the dreams that we think about for time to come. If you have a dream like that, the subject is really something you are absolutely terrified of.

Recently, I had my own dream like this, but I didn’t dream about monsters or spiders or my teeth falling out–I dreamt about my ex and it was honestly one of the most terrifying dreams I have ever had in my life. Dreams like this are terrifying, but when you wake up, you can be exponentially grateful that the dream isn’t true.


I’m glad Peer is ok and that he gets to see his grandmother.

Weigh In

What purpose do you think these terrifying dreams serve?

In these particularly terrifying dreams, is the fear something you expect it to be, or are you surprised?

Lucky Peer-VII

Lucky Peer-VIILucky Peer-VII

Peer continued to live at Herr Gabriel’s house. He was soon there two years. He did not know his voice had come back. He thought of the theater and people still talked of the theater. One day he spoke with a woman who had went to the theater. She spoke of how the madame went down and the madame went up. Peer wasn’t sure what play she had seen, but he finally understood. The woman was speaking of the curtain. On the curtain was painted a muse. The curtain would rise and fall between the scenes and so at the close of each scene, the madame came down.

Peer learned very much from Herr Gabriel and drank up the knowledge of the city. As the new year passed on, all gathered to drink punch, and they all said, “Down comes Madame.”


When is this kid going to grow up? Peer should be thirty by now.

The woman in the story kept saying, “Ahbe dahbe,” which means nothing, unless she was saying Abu Dhabi, or it’s dialect and that was how she was saying, “Up, down.” The Danish words for up and down are “op” and “ned” respectively. So if you go to Denmark and your name is Ned, and you tell people your name is Ned, they’re going to constantly think you’re depressed because you’re going around saying, “I’m down.”


Peer passes another year, but learns to roll with it. Years go by and it’s not that big of a deal. Just as the curtain fell down upon the stage, the curtain falls down upon the year. The passing of time becomes more real for Peer, even though he may not want it to.


I kind of like the idea of a stage curtain falling upon the end of the year.

Weigh In

How will Peer’s next year go?

Will he ever get to do what he wants?

Lucky Peer-VI

Lucky Peer-VILucky Peer-VI

Peer continued his studies, more seriously. Herr Gabriel told him of learned men while Madame Gabriel worried about her own children. This one would do that. The other this. The girls would fall in love. Peer was longing for something himself.

It came to pass that there was a party given by the local dean. Lots of people were to be there. Peer was having a wonderful time and even asked the apothecary’s daughter for the dinner dance. Someone else was there whom Peer had not seen in a while. It was Felix, the boy from his childhood. Felix and Peer were happy to meet, but Felix wanted something Peer had. Felix wanted the dinner dance with the apothecary’s daughter. Peer didn’t want to give it up, but Felix told him that he should be nice and kind and think of his mother and grandmother. They were always going on about how kind Peer was. So Peer gave up the dance. He felt sad about it.

Later on, Peer received some letters from home. They were from his mother and grandmother. They were happy he was still such a nice boy. Felix had gone back to report how nice he was. Peer’s grandmother had also knitted him some socks.


My Granny does not knit socks.

Can you imagine having to make a pair of socks before you could wear any? My feet are cold, well too bad, you don’t have any socks.


Peer was kind and gave up something for a friend. Sometimes that’s a nice thing to do. It can be very nice to sacrifice something for a friend, sometimes something very serious. Our friends are people we care about and, as such, we sometimes give up something for them. Sometimes our friends take advantage of us and guilt us into giving up something we really don’t want to give up or something we shouldn’t give up. Should Peer have given up his dance? Peer feels awfully terrible about it. Surely, it’s just a kind gesture? Or maybe it leads to a marriage between Felix and the apothecary’s daughter and Peer missed his chance. We can’t look into the future to know. Sometimes we give something up for someone else and they get the benefit from it and we get nothing. It happens and it’s life.


Who names their kid Felix?

Weigh In

Do you think this decision will come back to bite Peer in the butt?

What type of lines should be drawn when giving to friends?

A Child's Book of True Crime by Chloe HooperA Child’s Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper

Kate teaches elementary school children in Tasmania, in a town where her grandparents had lived. Kate is also having an illicit affair with one of her student’s fathers. Things are alright, except for the fact that Thomas’ wife, is a true-crime author. She moved to the area to research and write about the murder of a young girl. The young girl was murdered by the jealous wife of her lover. The wife then disappeared.

The book was the talk of the town. The small, quiet town, wanted to forget about the terrible tragedy that had occurred years before. They wanted to forget the affair, the murdered girl, and the missing woman. They were a bit angry that an outsider had dredged up this awful past and published it for the world to read, but the news soon died down.

Kate on the other hand, had her own interpretation of events. She supposed that maybe the jealous wife had lived. How had she found out? What had happened? As Kate thinks more and more about the murder of a young woman, seemingly in a very similar situation to her own, she begins to fear.

What if her lover’s wife intended to play the story out again? What if she was to be a victim, much like the previous girl? There are too many similarities and Kate’s mind gets bogged down with each of them. Is it real? Or is she imagining it?

Ultimately, something does happen, which is expected and unexpected at the same time.

What I liked

I thought this book was an interesting way to tell a story. Interspersed in the chapters are short stories involving animals investigating the crime. They each have their own names and duties in the investigation.

This is a really neat question. If a terrible crime occurs in a small town, how does the town proceed in the future? How do the people feel about this crime? Does this one terrible crime begat more crime? Just because one terrible, passion-induced, affair-murder happened in the town, does that mean it’s more likely to happen a second time, or a third time? If someone writes a book about your small town and this terrible crime, how do you feel about it?

These are all great questions to answer in a book.

I liked that so much of this book was psychological. Real life is something, but if you can tell a story where the reader isn’t really sure if you’re in real life or someone’s head, you’re doing a good job. That line is blurred, a bit, in this story.

What I didn’t like

For all the cleverness in how this story is told and what questions this story answers, it’s not an easy read. This book took me much longer to read than it should have. It’s not a very long book. It didn’t flow. There was a lot of local history in the book, and while I am glad for it, I also feel it slowed the book down.

Kate is sympathetic to a degree, but not overly likable. Look, if she wants to be a “good girl,” why in the heck does she think it’s ok to have an affair with a student’s father? She’s old enough not to be pulled in by words, or she should be. With all this said, there is no reason for the town to think her this terrible person for having sex with one person. If we were terrible people for having sex with one person, a lot of us would be terrible people. Yeah, it’s bad that someone has an affair, something I hope I never have to deal with, but there is accountability involved for both parties. Kate gets her name scrawled on bathroom walls for a good time, but Thomas gets…nothing, seems a bit one-sided.


It’s a clever book, but it’s not a page-turner.

Weigh In

What do you think Kate goes on to do with her life?

Do you think men like Thomas ever get what’s coming to them?

Lucky Peer-V

Lukcy Peer- VLucky Peer-V

Peer had been living with Herr Gabriel a bit when he met the apothecary. As it so happened, the apothecary was itching to put on a production of Romeo and Juliet, in which, the apothecary’s daughter would make a perfect Juliet. It was noticed that Peer would make a lovely Romeo. The apothecary had to convince Madame Gabriel. He told her she would make a lovely Nurse.

It was Madame Gabriel’s job to convince, or “pump,” Herr Gabriel for permission to be in the play, which she secured. The play went on and all deemed it a success.

Meanwhile, the love inside of the story of Romeo and Juliet awakened a desire for love on Peer’s part. He thought of Miss Frandsen.


I am so tired of Romeo and Juliet. Yes, it’s a classic; we get it. It’s a love story; we get it. It’s a tragedy; we get it.

If you didn’t know, there are other stories like Romeo and Juliet in our world, some of them older than Shakespeare’s version. Generally, we refer to stories of this type as “star-crossed” lovers, because their love can never be, perhaps because their stars did not foretell it.

The story has been terribly overdone, everybody and their brother thinks it’s a requirement to do Romeo and Juliet, if they’re involved in theater. Can we get a new theater thing? How about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which is actually funny or Once upon a Mattress, which is both a musical and funny, there’s also a love story in it as well.

There are only so many times you can watch or read a story about two teenage dorks who thought they were in love and ended up dying for it.

God: How did you die, my son.

Romeo: Well, I thought I was in love and I ended up killing myself.

God: You realize you were like fourteen, right?


This is the part of the story where Peer realizes there is such a thing as romantic love between two people. The story of Romeo and Juliet starts a stirring within Peer and I predict some other part of the story will deal with Peer trying to find love.

Meanwhile, Peer still lives in a crazy house. Madame still gives peer “punch” in the evenings. She’s a crass woman compared to other women of her status. Peer is learning both culture and crassness at his temporary home. It’s good to learn both, but if at all possible, we like to shield our children from it, at least a little bit.


What’s Peer going to pursue next?

Weigh In

Do you suppose Peer will find love in the future?

What did Herr Gabriel see in Madame Gabriel?

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie  TiffanyEveryman’s Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany

A train snakes its way across Australia. On board the train are experts in various fields. One person will show you how to care for your baby. Another will show you how to sex chickens. Another will speak of cows, even providing an example of a cow that is more trouble than it’s worth. One will teach you to sew and another will teach you all about the composition of soil. The train is an initiative to teach people life skills.

The teachers on the train develop friendships and even romances. One such romance develops between Jean and Robert. Jean is on the train as a sewing expert and Robert is on the train as a soil expert. They meet here and there, develop a friendship, and then a relationship. A train is an awful close proximity for people to be in for months on end without developing some sort of attachments. The relationship progresses and they decide, as scientific minded individuals, to start their own experiment. They’ll get married. They’ll get a farm. They’ll grow wheat of this variety and that variety, in soil with this added or that added, then Jean will bake up the results and see how the bread turns out.

The marriage is not very eventful and Jean leaves the train with a present of a cow that isn’t good for much. At first, life on the farm seems eventful. Robert does his experiments and Jean does hers. They find time for each other, but it’s not as romantic as it might seem.

Australia is a tough land, which Jean and Robert soon learn. They may be able to add things to the soil to make it richer, but they can’t ignore plagues of mice, pestilences of wheat rust, and inevitable droughts. Experiments begin to offer less and less that is good. Jean tries to make a life for she and Robert, but Robert sees a failed experiment, and then, the war comes.

What I liked

At first, I didn’t know this book was about Australia. Upon beginning to read it, I thought it was about the US, and then about Canada, but eventually realized it was about Australia. This is a good thing. I haven’t read that many books set in Australia and I always enjoy a chance to read a book about a place I haven’t read much about before. It’s horizon broadening.

Australia went through a depression in the 1930s, just like the rest of the world, and this book is a bit of a picture of that. Farmers expected great things in the beginning, but then, reality set in. Nobody had any money and the land was bad. This seemed to be a problem both in the US and Australia.

This book mentions the plagues of mice. It’s a real thing and it’s only happened in Australia and Asia. When people say a plague, they mean, a plague. There will be millions, upon millions, upon millions of mice. They storm the land. They eat all the crops. They try to eat animals. They die everywhere and collectively stink up Australia as their corpses decompose. Look it up, if you don’t believe me.

Jean and Robert have a very difficult life on their farm and I feel it’s a fairly accurate picture of what life would have been like for such a couple during the Depression in Australia.

What I didn’t like

The relationship between Jean and Robert is a sad one and I feel sorry for both of them. They each love each other in their own way, Jean perhaps a little more than Robert, but they also went into their marriage expecting it to be more cut and dry than it actually is. They went into their marriage thinking science, black and white, and numbers, but ignored the love side of it, for the most part.

Look, a marriage built on black and white, science, money, figures, etc., will work for a while, but eventually at least one of the people involved is going to want to be actually loved, and appreciated, and cared for as if their spouse actually does madly love them. We’re not talking rose petals on the bed every night, we’re talking quiet expressions of love–hand holding, holding the door open, small notes, and so forth. Someone who thinks their marriage should be more science, or more money, or more whatever, is not going to change and start writing notes and giving the other party those small expressions of love. They didn’t go into it for love and they don’t expect the other person to either.

Robert sees his marriage as a big science experiment. While it is amazingly refreshing that he treats Jean as his intellectual equal, the fact that he looks upon her as almost nothing but an experiment partner is terribly sad. A woman might give up being treated as an intellectual equal just to be loved instead of being seen as a business partner/experiment partner/maid/whatever. A woman shouldn’t have to do that. A woman should be able to expect being treated as an intellectual equal capable of experiments, finances, and so forth, but also be loved. Robert obviously thinks the whole love side of things is not scientific. It’s not part of his life. If science can’t explain it, he doesn’t want any part of it. In the end, Robert treats his marriage like he would treat any experiment.

I will say that the entire book seems to be written as a big science experiment. It’s as if I’m reading some dry scientific journal. It’s not exciting, but I won’t say that it’s entirely unintentional. I think it very well could have been intentional just to echo how the relationship was between Jean and Robert.


Marry someone who loves you and will also think of you as their equal.

Weigh In

Do you think as intellectually minded as Jean is that she would have found love anywhere else considering the time period?

Will Robert ever be happy with a woman?

Lucky Peer-IV

Lucky Peer-IVLucky Peer-IV

Peer came to the house where he was to study to be a scholar. The man’s name there was Herr Gabriel. At the house was Madame Gabriel, but that wasn’t all. There were several children and even a couple of other lodgers. Peer was to have his own room, but it was nailed up tight from Madame Gabriel and her children, for safety’s sake.

Madame Gabriel told Peer not to tell, but she gave the children punch in the evenings. She would give Peer punch too if he would put his glass under a hold in the wall so she could pour the punch in.

Herr Gabriel was a strange man who shouted, “Fudge,” after having discovered a sandwich being used as a bookmark.

Peer got punch at bedtime and things went on.





Look, this punch obviously isn’t punch and Herr Gabriel does not take punch himself, as mentioned in the story. So his wife sneaks everyone in the house “punch,” except for Herr Gabriel himself, to get them to go to bed. This sounds like a really bad foster home.

“Oh, just give ’em some brandy, they’ll shut up.”

I didn’t think people said “fudge” as a curse alternative in the 1800s. I thought this was a relatively recent development, but I must be wrong.


Herr Gabriel is more straight-laced that Madame Gabriel, but they all sound weird overall. Peer has definitely found himself in a different situation than he is used to. In some ways, these people are of a higher class than Peer because we’re talking about a scholar’s family, but in others, they’re as base as the roughest dock-hands. I mean who gives their kids alcohol to get them to go to bed? People who yell out 1970s single-wide trailer screen-doors, smoke menthols since age twelve, and drop out of high school and get pregnant at fourteen, that’s who. We’re not talking about high-class behaviors or even middle-class behaviors. We’re talking about the Beverly Hillbillies compared to all the rich people in California. I think, as the story continues, that we will find that this family was not always in the position they are in today. I could be wrong, but it’s a guess.

This is the first time in Peer’s life that he has probably encountered such juxtaposition of outward and inward behaviors from the people that he knows. The people he knew before always seemed to act in public as they did in private, but with the Gabriels, it’s just not so. Peer is definitely getting an education.


I bet that Madame Gabriel gave her kids moonshine to help with their teething.

Weigh In

Would you report the Gabriels to child services?

Do you think Peer has gathered that the Gabriels aren’t exactly the same as their status says, or is he oblivious naive?


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