The Well in My Backyard
©A. G. Moore
Many years ago, when I was so young that I didn’t have a sense of who I was, an art teacher gave me a failing grade: she didn’t believe I could create such awful work with honest effort. That teacher stole something from me, because I believed her. Art wasn’t for me. I thought it was a language I couldn’t speak or understand.
In the last few years, I’ve thrown off the chains with which judgment can bind. I reconsidered art. So what if mine is bad? I could found joy in it. And so I dabbled. And gained new sight. Clouds had depth, trees subtle tones. Shadows lay under tables and across a distant horizon. Color came alive for me. Art now is mine as much as it is anyone’s. Perhaps no one else will enjoy my art, but it is good for me.
And so this blog will feature art and artists. It will feature writers, painters, photographers and any form of expression that can remotely be considered art. Below this introduction is my first 2017 book review for Rumors. Many, many more will follow.
I hope you enjoy this review and that you keep checking back to see additions to the site.
An Update to a 2014 post: The Uyghurs of Xinjiang
Susan, By Stella Budrikis
In 2013, Genealogy and History News (dedicated to the interests of genealogy hobbyists) estimated that 11,217,000 people from English-speaking nations were earnestly researching family history. Hobbyists from the United States dominated the field. Australians, 583,000 of them, ranked fourth in family background searches. The author of Susan, Stella Budrikis, is surely one of the most dedicated of these genealogy enthusiasts. Ms. Budrikis not only maintains a website dedicated to family history, but has also written a book about one of her forebears. Her book is a clear-eyed narrative. It is a delightful read, even for those who are not part of her extended family.
The title of the book refers to Susan Mason, Ms. Budrikis’ great-great grandmother. In tracing the eponymous Susan’s life, Ms. Budrikis takes readers on a journey through the hardscrabble existence of Australia’s early European immigrants. Many of these immigrants were involuntary transplants from the British Isles, or transplants who agreed under duress to leave their homelands. Ms. Budrikis does not shrink from the less attractive aspects of her ancestor’s biography. This straightforward approach renders her story credible and fascinating.
The people she writes about were real. They struggled to survive in the harshest of circumstances. Only the fortunate, and hardy, managed to reach maturity and raise families. Susan Mason was one of these determined survivors. She eventually married, left Australia and had children. Some of her children thrived and some did not. The author’s great-grandmother, Eliza Whybrew, was one who made it to adulthood. Her life, it seems, took a turn toward stability when she married into a family that was involved with the Salvation Army.
Ms. Budrikis wonders in her Afterword if she did right by Susan Mason in telling this story so honestly. The author writes, “I hope that by telling her story I have given her, and other women like her, a recognition that they were denied in their lifetime”. Indeed she has. I’m left with the impression of a survivor, of a young woman who used her native abilities to navigate an inhospitable universe. I think Ms. Budrikis honors Susan Mason’s life with this book.
I very much enjoyed reading about Susan Mason. But this book is not simply about her life. It’s about the grim circumstances of transportation, the social dynamic of early Australia, epidemics and high childhood mortality. It is about grit and survival. I highly recommend this book.
By A. G. Moore September 2017