WeWriWa—Closeness in distance


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when one of the rescuing Czech partisans, Jaroslav, asked Emánuel about the semi-fast day he mentioned. It’s the ending of this section of the chapter.

The illustrations are from illuminated scrolls of the Book of Esther.

“It’s called Ta’anit Esther, and commemorates how Queen Esther fasted before going to make her petition to King Xerxes for her people’s lives.  Tonight, the holiday of Purim began, celebrating our deliverance from evil.  God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther, but he was working behind the scenes the entire time.  Sometimes God is closest to us when he feels most distant, perhaps because he wants us to be proactive in fighting for our deliverance and not passively wait for Divine intervention.  Tonight you were God’s emissaries, after Adri and I made a run for it.”

“What about all the other guys still on the march?” Adrián asked. “God hasn’t delivered them yet, and most of them didn’t try to escape.”

“We each have our own destiny, existing alongside free will.  It’s not for us to try to understand Divine ways, though it’s nice to know the chapter of our lives as slaves has ended.”

Emánuel’s sentiment about how “God is closest to us when he feels most distant” is echoed a number of times by unplanned secondary character Tímea, a Bible Student (Jehovah’s Witness offshoot) who’s with the girls. She never wavers in her strong faith, though she often says she doesn’t know why any of this happened or why some people fared relatively better than others.

A primer on Danish names

Danish is said to be the trickiest of the main Scandinavian languages to learn. Like French, spelling doesn’t always match pronunciation. It’s mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Swedish, though Norwegians tend to understand the other languages much better than Danes or Swedes understand one another. Danes and Swedes also understand Norwegian better than one another’s languages.

My character Elżbieta (later Elizabeth) Robleńska is smuggled into the Jutland peninsula of Denmark in late 1943, at age thirteen, travelling on the passport of her unlikely rescuer’s dead daughter Ernestine. Her hero, Rudolf Schaller, saved her younger friend Malchen (Amalia) von Hinderburg at Majdanek because Malchen was with Elizabeth and her sister Jadwiga, and Elizabeth was a dead ringer for his daughter who’d recently died of scarlet fever.

In Denmark, her relationship with Hr. Schaller takes a very taboo turn, with extremely complicated consequences. After a few months, Hr. Schaller reports back to his superiors with a story about a mental breakdown, and Elizabeth goes to join her younger siblings in Sweden, again using the dead Ernestine’s passport.


Danish uses the Roman alphabet, with additional letters Å, Ø, and Æ æ. An accent aigu may be used to stress the importance of a word, or differentiate stresses in a pair of homographs (words with the same spelling but different meanings).


Like other Scandinavian surnames, Danish names are by and large patronymical in origin, with the suffix -sen. Examples include Antonsen, Frederiksen, Davidsen, Kjeldsen, Jørgensen, Nielsen, Ottosen, Robertsen, Sørensen, and Thorsen. Other surnames are derived from professions (e.g., Schmidt, Møller, Fisker) or nature (e.g., Holt [woods], Hjort [deer], Dahl [valley], Lund [grove of trees], Stenberg [stone mountain]).

Sampling of common names and their diminutives:


Abelone (Lone) (Apollonia)
Agnete, Agnethe (Agnes)
Anna (Anika, Ane)
Annelise (Annelie)
Antonia (Nina)
Astrid (Asta)

Benedikte, Bente
Birgitta, Birgitte, Birgit, Berit (Birte, Birthe, Brita, Britta, Britt, Gitte)
Bodil (Battle remedy)

Cecilie, Cecilia (Cille, Silje, Sille)
Charlotte (Lotte)
Dorothea, Dorete, Dorte, Dorthe (Ditte, Dorit, Tea, Thea)

Edith (Ditte)
Eleonora, Ellinor (Nora)
Elin (Eli, Ella)
Elisabet (Eli, Elise, Else, Ella, Lis, Lisa, Lise, Lissi, Lisbet)
Elva (Elf)
Embla (may mean “elm”)
Erna (Ernestine; also a separate name meaning “hale, vigourous, brisk”)

Frederikke (Rikke)

Gerda, Gerd (Enclosure)
Gry (Dawn)
Gudrun (God’s secret lore)
Gunhild, Gunnhild (Gunda, Gunna) (War battle)
Gunvor (Gunna) (Cautious in war)
Gyda (Beautiful goddess)

Hanna, Hanne
Helena (Lene, Lena)
Helga, Hella, Helle, Laila (Hege)
Hildegard (Battle enclosure)
Hjørdis (Sword goddess)
Hulda (Secrecy, hiding)

Inga, Inge
Ingebjørg, Ingeborg (Inga, Inge)
Ingegerd, Inger
Ingrid, Inger

Jacobine (Bine)
Johanne (Hanne, Janne, Jannicke, Jannike, Jonna)
Julie, Julia

Kamilla (Milla)
Karoline (Line)
Katarina, Kathrine, Katrine (Kaja, Karen, Karina, Trine)
Kirsten, Kirstine, Kristin, Kristina, Kristine (Stine, Stina, Tine)

Lærke (Lark)
Liselotte (Lotte)
Lovise (Louisa)
Lykke (Happiness, good fortune)

Magdalena (Magda, Malene)
Maren (Marna) (Marina)
Margarethe, Margareta, Margrethe, Margit, Merete (Grete, Grethe, Meta, Mette, Rita)
Maria (Maiken, Majken, Maja, Mia)
Mathilde (Tilde)
Mikaela, Mikkeline
Monika (Mona)

Nanna (Daring, brave)
Paula, Pauline
Petronilla (Pernille)

Ragnhild (Ragna) (Battle advice)
Rakel (Rachel)
Randi (Beautiful advice)
Runa (Secret lore)

Signe, Signy (New victory)
Sigrid (Siri) (Beautiful victory)
Sigrun (Secret victory)
Silvie, Silvia
Siv, Sif (Bride)
Solvej (Sun strength)
Susanne (Sanne, Susann)

Terese, Teresa
Thora, Tora
Thyra, Tyra (Holy Thor or Strong Thor)
Torborg (Thor’s protection)
Tordis (Thor’s goddess)
Turid (Tove) (Beautiful Thor)

Ulrikke (Ulla)
Viktoria (Vivi)
Vita (Vivi)


Aksel (Axel)
Alexander (Sander)
Alf (Elf)
Anders (Andrew)
Ansgar, Asger (God’s spear)
Arvid (Eagle tree)
Asbjørn, Esben, Espen (Bear god)

Bendt, Bent (Benedict)
Bernhard, Bernt
Bertil (Bertolt)
Birger (Rescue, save, help)
Bjørn (Bjarke, Bjarne) (Bear)

Casper, Jesper, Kasper
Christian, Karsten, Carsten, Kresten, Kristen, Kristian (Christer)
Christoffer, Kristoffer
Clemens, Klemens

Dag (Day)
Daniel (Dan)

Eilert (Brave edge of a sword)
Einar (One warrior or Warrior alone)
Ejvind (Victor’s island or Victor’s good fortune)
Eluf (Always a descendant)
Erik, Jerrik
Erland, Erlend (Foreigner)
Erling (Descendant of the chieftain)

Filip, Philip
Frans (Francis)
Frej (Lord)
Fridtjof, Fritjof (Thief of peace)
Frode (Wise, learnèd)

Gudbrand, Gulbrand (God’s sword)
Gudmund (God’s protection)
Gunnar (War warrior)

Hagen (Haakon) (High descendant)
Henrik (Henning)
Hjalmar (Helmeted warrior)
Holger (Spear island)

Ingolf (Inge)
Ingvar (Inge)
Ivar (Warrior’s bow)

Jakob (Ib, Jeppe)
Jarl (Chieftain)
Joakim, Jokum (Kim)
Johannes, Jan, Jens, Johan, Jon (Hans, Hanne, Jannick, Jannik)
Jørgen (Jørg, Jørn)

Kåre (Curly, curved)
Karl, Carl
Keld, Kjeld (Kettle, cauldron)
Knud (Knot)

Lars, Lasse, Lauritz, Lorens (Lawrence)
Leif (Heir, descendant)
Lennart (Leonard)
Loke (Loki)
Ludvig (Louis)

Markus, Mark
Mathias, Matthias (Mads)
Maximilian (Max)
Mikael, Mikkel
Mogens, Magnus
Morten, Martin

Nels, Niels, Nils, Klaus, Claus (Nicholas)
Njord (Vigourous, strong)
Olaf, Olav, Olf, Oluf (Ancestor’s descendant)
Osvald (God’s power)

Paul, Poul (Palle)
Peder, Per, Peer, Peter
Preben (First battle)
Ragnar (Army advice)
Ragnvald (Ruler’s advice)
Rasmus (Erasmus) (Belovèd)
Rune (Secret lore)

Sigmund (Victory protector)
Sigurd (Victory guardian)
Søren (Severin)
Stefan, Steffen
Sten, Steen (Stone)
Stig (Path)
Svend (Boy)

Tarben, Thorben, Torben, Torbjørn (Thor’s bear)
Theodor, Teodor
Thor, Tor, Thore, Tore (Thunder)
Thorsten, Torsten (Thor’s stone)
Thorvald, Torvald (Thor’s ruler)
Troels (Thor’s shaft)
Trygve (Trustworthy)
Tyge (Tycho) (Hitting the mark)

Ulf, Uffe (Wolf)

Valdemar (“Famous rule” or a Scandinavian form of Vladimir)
Valter (Walter)
Verner (Werner)
Vidar (Wide warrior)
Vilmar (Famous desire)

More vintage ads from bygone eras

I’ve virtually collected a lot of vintage ads, postcards, greeting cards, and pictures over the last few years, and have many different folders for each category. Here are some more ads from my collections. Keep in mind that certain of the attitudes expressed therein were such an established, matter-of-fact part of the culture, they weren’t really questioned. Something that looks shockingly racist or sexist to us wasn’t necessarily seen that way 50+ years ago.

I don’t think I’ll ever find anything to top this one in unintentional hilariousness! It sends such a different message in the modern era!

Just what everyone dreams of finding under the tree, a toilet seat!

Many doctors used to not only permit their patients to smoke all the way into the delivery room, but also recommended smoking during pregnancy to curtail weight gain.

I suppose cigarettes are a better Christmas present than a toilet seat. Some of the empty boxes and extras they contained have become collectors’ items.

The creators’ hearts seem to have been in the right place for this WWI ad, though it’d come off better in the modern era if they’d worded it like, “I’m an Indian, but my heart is Canadian.”

I also have another Cellophane ad featuring a baby wrapped in it.

As a lower plus size myself, I’d never patronize any company who referred to their customer base as “chubbies”! I’m glad Lane Bryant no longer advertises like this.

Ageism in the workplace is hardly new, though nowadays it’s not as out in the open as it once was.

Look at those employment qualifications listed! Legs, makeup, figure, weight, hair, complexion, nails, all things you can no longer get away with selecting based upon, at least not openly.

Dad beats his son with a hairbrush because he refuses to take a laxative.

God forbid a woman get a sniffly nose from a cold or allergy!

No comment!

Quite a few of my vintage soap ads have the premise of turning dark skin white.

Every so often, I find a vintage ad playing on men’s insecurities, instead of making it seem like only women need to take care with meticulous cleanliness or risk offending people. Both sexes need to wash themselves and use soap!

This ad would never be approved today!

These Lysol ads really played on women’s insecurities, and made it seem like they’d either lose their husbands, or wouldn’t find husbands, if they didn’t douche. I’ve heard some of the so-called doctors quoted in these ads weren’t even real doctors.

Who in the real world expects anyone, man or woman, to be a perfect spouse all the time? Maybe these fictional women’s husbands needed to attend to their own personal hygiene! I’m surprised douches are still made and advertised, knowing what we do now about how unnecessary they are.

A to Z Reflections 2017

This was my sixth year participating in the A to Z Challenge, and my fourth year doing it with two blogs. I wrote all of my main blog posts last August and September, except for X and Z, which I wrote this January. My secondary blog posts were written in March.

The final letters I decided on topics for were L, R, X, and Z. Topics I considered but discarded included Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Hospital, Újszász, Xylotymbou, Rue des Pyrénées, Rue de Rivoli, and the Louvre.

Issues encountered:

I wonder if some people bother reading the posts on the anchor blog, since they do things frequently advised against. Case in point: Comment moderation! I’m not talking about bloggers who moderate initial comments, or moderate all comments on hot-button issue blogs. I’m talking about bloggers who moderate every single comment for no reason!

I spent time writing a comment on the T day, respectfully and calmly explaining why The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is an ahistorical slap in the face, and not highly regarded by the Jewish community or historical fiction community. As of now, it’s still lost in moderation, and a lot of this blogger’s posts don’t have any other comments either.

If you’re going to do moderation, at least read and approve comments within a day! I’m highly unlikely to return to a blog where comments don’t show up until days or weeks have passed, if ever.

Lack of hyperlinking. A LOT of people just left their URLs in the daily link-up posts. While it doesn’t take hours to copy and paste it into a new tab or window, it’s still not as instantaneous as HTML coding it into a hyperlink.

The lack of a master list was a bit cumbersome. While there were certainly issues with the list, I liked how it contained all the blogs in one place. It took more time to trawl through the comments section of each daily post. The extra space taken up by each comment could’ve been used for several additional links under the old system.

I’m a big fan of time and motion study, pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. It conserves the amount of time and work motions used to perform tasks. Sure, it didn’t take that much longer to scroll through 26 different comment sections, open each link or C&P each URL into a new tab, and link up myself, but the time spent doing that could’ve been used towards visiting a few more blogs each day. Over 26 days, those additional minutes really add up.

I also liked having the master list so I could start going through it right after sign-ups started. I began by visiting those closest to me, and got to know a lot of new blogs in advance. Throughout April, I became familiar with who was where in the list, and knew which links I’d visited or hadn’t explored yet by their hyperlink color. It was also a helpful reference for catching up in the months after the Challenge.

If there won’t be a master list from now on, a happy medium solution would be a service like Inlinkz. Some of the weekly bloghops I’ve participated in use that or a similar linking service. All you have to do is refresh it to see newer additions.

I do feel like the lack of a master list hurt those of us who weren’t early birds. We don’t all have the same sleep, work, or school schedule, or might not be able to get on a computer until late in the day, after almost everyone has already passed through. With a master list, we could peruse it at our leisure, and other bloggers would’ve found us more easily.

Post recap:

Andrássy Út (25 views)
Basilica di Santa Croce (16 views)
Castle District, Budapest (29 views)
Dohány Utca Synagogue (18 views)
Erzsébetváros (14 views)
Flemish Giant (17 views)
Gellért Hill (12 views)
L’Hôtel de la Duchesse-Anne and Hashomer Hatzair (11 views)
Ivy Hill Park, Newark (10 views)
Jewish Newark (17 views)
Košice, Slovakia (21 views)
Lower Galilee (13 views)
Machal and Le Meurice (13 views)
Normafa and Neology (14 views)
Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova (15 views)
Pasarét and Ponte Vecchio (14 views)
Quilting (12 views)
Rue de la Rosière-d’Artois and Rue Crébillon (12 views)
Szent János Hospital, La Samaritaine, and Sant’Ambrogio Market (13 views)
Twentieth Arrondissement and Tempio Maggiore Israelitico di Firenze (20 views)
University of Montpellier (15 views)
Vailsburg, Newark (14 views)
Wesselényi Utca and the White Paper (12 views)
Xaver Suppe and Xoriatiki Salata (19 views)
Yizkor (9 views)
Zionism and “Zog Nit Keyn Mol” (27 views)

WeWriWa—Dinner is served


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when 18-year-old Emánuel begged Dr. Svoboda to remove the number on his arm. Dr. Svoboda said he’d be glad to do it later, but that Emánuel had more pressing heath concerns, and might come to see it as a mark of pride someday.

Seventeen-year-old Adrián has just asked for food, and mentioned it was a semi-fast day, with the caveat that it wasn’t much different from any other day. They haven’t had much food since they started out from Mauthausen a few weeks ago.

Copyright mick; Source http://www.flickr.com/photos/panasonic-kei/6132672345

Jaroslav pulled a potato out of the stove, cut it in half, and put each piece on a plate.  Adrián leapt on his like a famished wolf, while Emánuel had to wait until Dr. Svoboda was done taking his vitals.  After they’d eaten and Dr. Svoboda had taken Adrián’s vitals, Ondřej brought them each a large mug of ginger peach tea.

“Ginger soothes the stomach, and peaches symbolize long life in Chinese folklore,” Ondřej said. “We’ll bring you chicken broth next.  We’ve got some in our icebox, and it won’t take long to reheat.”

“Děkuji mnohokrát,” Emánuel said, using one of the Czech phrases he’d picked up from fellow prisoners. “God should bless all of you for your righteousness and altruism.”

“It’s nothing doing, just what any good partisan and human being would do,” Jaroslav said. “May I ask what the semi-fast day was for?”