One book leads to another...

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

IWSG March 2022 - Before Flannel there was Aspirin


Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

We’re glad you’re here! It's the First Wednesday of the month; when we celebrate IWSG Day in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by author Alex Cavanaugh (Thank you, Captain!) and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. Check out the March newsletter here.  Perusing the many tips and resources offered here is definitely worthwhile and highly rewarding, so pull up a comfy chair, or better yet -  join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

This month’s optional question is:

Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?  No, but others have. So I waited for a “more appropriate time” to post or publish.

Is everyone ready to March into Literacy? Who needs an excuse, right?

I loved reading aloud to kids at the library for afternoon Storytime. One of the most requested stories was “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss (It’s his birthday month!) another was “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Does anyone remember “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame?

Trees seem to be a staple in literature, none more commonly mentioned than the Willow. And rightly so since they’re associated with magic and folklore as often as romance and medicine. The Willow is not only the smallest woody plant; it is also the fastest-growing plant in the world. It can grow as much as 10 feet in a single year and can easily reproduce (with enough water) from broken twigs and leaves. Native Americans across the Americas and animals alike knew of medicinal qualities in Willow tree bark long before associate chemists synthetically altered the substance (to make it more tolerable for human consumption) for their employer Bayer AG, who named it Aspirin in 1899.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I could easily go on and on about Emily Dickinson, Harper Lee, Emily Bronte, or Virginia Woolf. Instead, however, because the year is young, I’d like to give a nod of gratitude to the woman who radically changed the lives of many stereotypically squeezed women the aforementioned esteemed authors wrote about, a woman by the name of Susan Taylor Converse.

If not for her invention of the Flannel Emancipation Suit in 1875, women might still be passing out all over the place for no apparent reason.

Who is your favorite Woman in History? What are you reading these days?

Stay safe, have faith, and happy writing!



  1. Hi,
    I like the fact that you're reading to children in a library. It's a nice way to help them fall in love with reading.
    All the best.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Hi Pat!

      And a gift to watch them fall in love ;-)

  2. Hi Diedre - I suppose Elizabeth I or II ... both amazing ladies in different times inspiring many stories and history. Excellent to be reading to the children - fun to see their reactions. Cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary!

      Indeed, both fascinating ladies.

      Most rewarding is when the kids tell me how they want to write stories too - on their way out of the library. I tell them reading will show them how ;-)

  3. It must have been so fun to read to kids at the library. I'm really grateful for all the women in history who led the way for the rest of us and made our lives so much more fulfillng and helped us get our freedoms that we now just take for granted.

    1. Hi Natalie!

      Yes, reading with kids at library is the best kind of fun!

      One of my favorite quotes is "I figure if a girl wants to be a legend she should go ahead and be one" ~ Calamity Jane

  4. I did not know aspirin came from willow trees!

  5. "stereotypically squeezed women" is a great phrase. I loved it.

    1. Hi Lee!

      You might say I was at a grasp for descriptive words...but it seemed to work ;-)

  6. Reading to children at the library - that is truly God's errand. And I love those books!

    Willow trees are, indeed, magical! I did not know that aspirin was made from the bark. But I remember playing under one as a child, and being transported to another world hidden from the outside.

    1. Hi Lee!

      Those were favorites of mine as well. However, when the library occasionally suggested we highlight a new author and little bottom lips protruded, it was M&Ms to the rescue ;-)
      I loved Willows for the very same reason. Still do.

  7. Hi diedre, I bet the kids loved your reading to them! Interesting to learn about the origins of aspirin. Willow trees are fascinating and beautiful. Thank goodness for the flannel emancipation suit! Those poor women must have had myriad health problems from the tight corsets. Another fascinating and educational post! Thanks for the day-brightener. ☺

    1. Hi Debbie!

      I enjoyed the sessions as much as the kids, I'm sure. I hope at least half of them still visit libraries now and again.

      It seems Ms. Taylor-Converse solved the mystery of "fainting spells" back then ;-)

      Always good to see you, my friend. And I'm glad you enjoyed the post ;-)

  8. What a lovely post. I enjoyed the history of flannel as well as the background about willow trees. My daughter is just finishing her degree to teach elementary students, so your enthusiasm for literacy and reading highlights the importance of both! Happy March reading. (We just finished reading The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo for Black History Month).

    1. Thank you, Beth!

      Good to know there are still people like your daughter in the world. When children reward her with their eagerness to learn she'll know she made the right decision!

      The Poet X sounds like a book I'd enjoy - thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Diedre,

    I was never a "bookworm" but I came to enjoying reading in my late teens and early twenties but after motherhood I couldn't keep my mind focused on lengthy material. I absolutely loved reading to our kids when they were small, though. Every time I think of a willow, I remember the willow tree in my grandparents yard. I loved how it moved in the wind but I really hated to be around it because it attracted some sort of flying bug, maybe flies. I can't remember what kind except it was very annoying and I couldn't enjoy sitting beneath it's graceful branches that swayed in the wind. :)

    1. Hi Cathy!

      I grew up thinking that every home had books and was surprised to find that wasn't true. Motherhood did eclipse writing and reading time for me. Taking my daughter, as well as all the neighborhood kids I could fit in the car to the library was a way of filling any literary voids. and always so much fun ;-)

      Ahh, yes. The bugs. I'd almost forgotten about those tiny black aphids. Only thing worse than that was my hair always getting tangled in the leafy strings. Willows were such great hiding places - even my cats thought so ;-)

      Have a wonderful March!

  10. Howdy, dIEDRE ~

    Well, I'm here but fashionably late, as usual.
    (Truth be told, I'm never trying to be "fashionably late". It's just that the IWSG posting tradition being "the first Wednesday of the month" always puts it in close proximity to the first of the month posting of BOTB. So, it's usually not until I've been able to get caught up on BOTB comments that I make it over here to read the latest poetry you've posted.)

    >>... Does anyone remember “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame?

    It was my Ma who turned me onto that book when I was a youngin, and to this day it is still my second favorite children's book of all time. '...Willows' is eclipsed only by 'The House At Pooh Corner', the end of which ALWAYS makes me shed [Link> a tear (or more).

    That was extremely interesting new-to-me information about the Willow tree.

    One of the best, most striking music album covers ever conceived (IMO) prominently included the image of a Willow tree:

    [Link> 'Willow In The Wind' (Kathy Mattea)

    >>... Who is your favorite Woman in History?

    That would be my Ma. (Well, she WAS here, so she's a part of history, amiright?)

    >>... What are you reading these days?

    'Vas You Ever In Zinzinnati' by Dick Perry, and 'The Ultimate Health Foods: 9 Foods That Jesus Ate Or Recommended' by Ray Comfort.

    I hope you have a wonderful Month O' March, dIEDRE!

    ~ D-FensDogG

    1. Howdy, Stephen!

      Your timing is certainly understandable. I don't mind the trickle-ins as they extend the conversation ;-)
      This has to be one of the most engaging comments I've ever received! Almost teared up myself at your Pooh link. And you're right, that is a cool album cover.
      Your Ma? How sweet!
      I may never look at a banana the same way again, but the phrase "Living Waters" has an enchanting ring to it ;-)
      See, this captivating comment is exactly why bloggers should always check out reader's comments - Thanks!

    2. Howdy, dIEDRE ~

      Wow! I was genuinely touched by what you said about my comment. Thank you so much, my friend, for such an extraordinary compliment!

      >>... I may never look at a banana the same way again

      Ha!-Ha! I see you know dern well who Ray Comfort is. I haven't finished his book yet but I take issue with the fact that he deliberately didn't include a chapter about wine. He should have, and then he could have titled the book 'TEN Foods That Jesus Ate Or Recommended', instead of just the single digit nine.

      As far as I'm concerned, when a Man miraculously changes water at a wedding into approximately 757 bottles of wine, that counts as a recommendation! A pretty significant recommendation, at that. Plus, Jesus Himself drank wine and said so. But Ray Comfort ignored that because... he's a good, little, "mainstream", propagandized Christian who buys into the "man-made" doctrine that they teach in seminaries.

      Onto a less controversial topic now:
      Have you ever seen the 78-minute, 1983 Mark Hall stop-motion version of 'The Wind In The Willows'? My Ma bought it for her grandkids but I completely fell in love with it myself and then purchased my own copy on DVD.

      Here's a URL to it at YT, if you're not familiar with it and interested in checking it out:

      I actually like that version of 'Wind In The Willows' better'n the Disney animated one (although I love that version, also).

      Thanks again for the beautiful compliment; I'm sure it made me blush.

      ~ D-FensDogG

    3. Ha! The pleasure is mine, Stephen ;-) I haven't seen the stop-motion video, but I plan to. Thanks for the link!

  11. I forgot all about the Dr Seuss inspired reading month until I heard a mention the other day. When I was working in the costume business we used to ship out all sorts of Cat-in-the-Hat merchandise to teachers and others and that kept me aware of the reading challenge. These days I barely notice such things.

    Love trees! I'm so annoyed when people in my neighborhood campaign to cut down trees. Fortunately my side of the argument has won over those tree haters.

    Favorite women in history? Joan of Arc was pretty cool. Of writers, two of my favorite who were women are Rebecca Ruter Springer and Flannery O'Connor. Not historically significant perhaps, but I do like their works.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Arlee!

      Whenever I’m in a writing stump I remind myself that it took Dr. Seuss over a year to write “The Cat in the Hat”, containing only 236 different words! It’s a safe bet this was one of the stories inspired by at least one of the many hats he owned.

      Cutting down trees? More paving of paradise for parking lots, I suppose. How sad. Glad folks like you are still winning that debate.

      Have you read “Good Things out of Nazareth”? It’s a collection of “uncollected letters of O’Connor and friends”. In one letter she expresses amusement at the thought of Ronald Reagan being considered for the part of a memorable villain in her story “The Life you save May be Your Own”. I can only imagine her thoughts had she known that Reagan later became a US president.

      You know, I’m of a mind that anyone who makes history, as far as being long-remembered for whatever reason, is therefore significant ;-)


Any thoughts? Join the conversation, comments welcome here!