Why I Love Research

Writers love research.

It’s one of the perks of the job.  For anyone who loves books, history, and learning, it’s pretty neat to lose yourself in fascinating research tomes and call it work.  Much of my pleasure reading is nonfiction.

Research books on topics that fascinate me.

I love to learn.

And sometimes I’ll happen upon the most intriguing gems.  All knowledge is a treasure.  But some things stand out.  That happened recently when I was reading a book on the history of cottages.

I was deep into the chapter on thatched roofs, enjoying all the tidbits such as thatch being an excellent non-conductor, keeping out heat in summer and cold in winter.  Or that early thatched roofs were sometimes whitewashed to help avert the threat of fire.

But the gem I found was this…

Apparently no matter how old and gray the top layer of thatch, the inside layers will be as golden as the day the thatch was laid.

Of course, I cannot say with 100% accuracy if this is true.

I mean to ask a Highland friend who can surely confirm or correct me.

In the book, the statement comes from a thatcher, aged sixty, whose father, grandfather, and the father before him, were all thatchers.  So it’s not a stretch to think the man knew his thatch.

Assuming it’s true, there’s a marvelous wisdom in bright gold thatch being hidden away beneath years of gray, weather-worn surface thatching.

For instance…

With the holidays upon us, many of us will have older family members at our tables.  How often are these quiet souls left to sit in a chair by the fire, a blanket over their knees, largely ignored?  Yet they possess a wealth of knowledge and richness of life lessons that would do us all such good if only we’d take the time to sit with them and encourage them to tell us their tales.

Or what about the tiny, inobtrusive restaurant tucked away in a strip shopping center?  A place that might serve up the most amazing French cuisine?  I know such a place and it’s fabulous.  Much better than the super-hyped French restaurant close to where I live.

The place near me charges astronomical prices and the food is not near as good as the hole-in-the-wall place.  The service is also much better in the tiny, out of the way restaurant.

Yet many people don’t even know it’s there.

Those who do visit the restaurant become loyal regulars.

They saw the gold beneath the gray.

Old friends are another example.  We might know them forever, feeling as if they’re as comfortable as an old shoe.  And that’s the beauty of this kind of ‘gold.’  It’s their very familiarity and acceptance of us, warts and all, that makes such friends so valuable.

I could go on, but as I said earlier this week, I’m just as busy as everyone else right now.  And I’m really racing against deadlines.  But isn’t that some deep thinking, all inspired by a single bit of info in a research book?

Finding such gems is just one reason I love research so much.

You never know where such a wee grain of info will lead you.  And isn’t that beautiful?

Do you enjoy research?  Find any neat little gems of your own lately?

31 Comments

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31 responses to “Why I Love Research

  1. That is beautiful. One day while visiting with my dogs at a local nursing home, a resident with Alzheimers who didn’t normally talk very much happened to hear me mention to another resident that my boss was in Alaska. It ended up that resident with Alzheimers had grown up in Alaska and remembered a lot!, He actually shared that salmon have a good eye and a bad eye and that the good eye is considered a delicacy by native Alaskans. Well… I shared this tidbit of info later that same day with my boss via phone… he was up there salmon fishing… He thought I was crazy. Anyway, he ended up making inquiries and found out it was true… The eye he’d been throwing away was very good (the other is not and it’s quite obvious which is good…) After that, he always enjoyed the good eye on the salmon he caught and even shared some when he shared some of his catch when he got back (sometimes he would send care packages…) IF you don’t look at the eye, you’ll find it’s truly delicious! AND you’ll enjoy them just like the native Eskimos! Anyway, we would never have known that tidbit without that elderly person with Alzheimers sharing his tidbit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today, Sue-Ellen.

    • Wow, Linda, that’s an incredible story. Exactly what I meant, too. Who knew salmon have a good eye and a bad eye? I didn’t. And I’d venture that most people don’t. That’s fascinating. Beautiful tale. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  2. Mary Preston

    My best friend & I email interesting little snippets we find to each other all the time. It’s a fascinating world: past, present & future.

  3. Loved this blog! It is at this time of year that I miss my grandparents the most, because with their passing our family traditions went with them. No longer are we close, nor do we spend the holidays together. As the grandchildren grew and got married and started families of their own we seem to have gone their seperate ways. No more is there my grandmother’s warm pork pies being pulled from her oven, or my grandfather sitting in his chair smiling at all the antics of his grandchildren. No more do we indulge our oldest cousin, as he insisted on dressing as Santa every year, and we had to sit on his lap if we wanted presents. The only place I can relive these precious memories are through scrapbooks and in my mind. My most precious Christmas ornament, besides my children’s 1st one is the one that use to be placed on my grandparent’s tree every year. I place it where I can gaze at it lovingly and remember the Christmases of the past.

    My grandparents were a wealth of knowledge. The grew up during the Great Depression, from which their daily habits and spending spoke volumes about their past struggles.

    We referred to my grandfather as walking history book when he was alive. He served over in France during World War II, he even managed to take one of Hilter’s books as they were being burned in the streets. He was an amazing person, as was my grandmother both whom I miss terribly.

    • Gosh, Angela, you made me all misty-eyed. Your comment is a beautiful tribute to your grandparents. That’s exactly what I meant. Your grandfather -was- a walking history book. And thank goodness you appreciated him. He surely knew that and does still. I bet he smiles each time he sees you place his ornament on the tree. I’m so glad you still have it. Such a treasure is worth more than all the world’s gold.

      I miss my grandparents, too. They were of the same generation as yours and lived with us when I was little. A blessing for me.

      • Sue Ellen,
        My grandparents lived with us too. After I married, we bought my parents’ house and my grandparents were included in the proposal! My grandmother passed away in 1989, but grandfather stayed with us. I laugh now, because his friends would tell him what a wonderful granddaughter I was, and he’d set them straight quick. He say “What are you talking about, I take care them!”

        • I love this, Angela. You were so fortunate to hold onto a home with so many memories. I can see a twinkle in your grandfather’s eye when he ‘set people straight.’ Thank you so much for sharing your memories today. I loved them.

  4. Mary M

    Good Morning… :)

    I LOVE research, Sue-Ellen! Fascinating about the thatched roof. I had no idea.

    I often marvel if I don’t have a special muse helping me when I come across information that links into what I’m writing. This happened about six months ago when I was researching an abbey. Now mind you…I decided to read about this abbey, because it had an interesting name. Then to find out it’s history and how it would meld perfectly into my story, oh yes!

    I often wondered if I should have studied to become a history professor, or archeologist. There is something unique about about the stories of history, blending not only fact, but fiction, too. I love learning new things.

    Oh, and my grandmother never sat alone off in a corner…..nope, she had a special chair in the kitchen and she would be the taste tester. She usually would want anything chocolate first. We shall miss her this Christmas, but we know she will be right there with us when the treats are passed around. :)

    • I knew you’d love research, Mary. ;)

      You’re right… isn’t is amazing how we can stumble upon just the right bit of info we needed (or can use) in out stories? That alone is fascinating. A gift each time, and so wonderful when it happens.

      Ha ha… I often think/wish I’d become a historian or archaeologist, specializing in Scottish and Nordic histories. Big sigh.

      Your grandmother most certainly will be in the kitchen at Christmas. Mine, too. She did all the cooking and baking when I was little. She was like Aunt Bee in Mayberry RFD. I miss her so much.

  5. Okay, Tarts… the writing cave is calling my name. I can see deadline dragon smoke curling round the edges of the cave entrance. So away I go, dragon taming time.

    Have a good time in here. I’m loving your comments so far. Here’s to all the ones that went before us. Thank goodness for them, and didn’t they enrich our lives?

    See you later!

  6. wow house in the old day were built to last and i do research alot on place were i i live and found t he old grave yard and they are great story in them

  7. AURORA MATA

    I’ve always enjoyed research. It’s one of the perks of being a teacher. I need to research a topic before I can teach it. I’m way under the weather, just like last Christmas; sick as a dog I am….Been in bed most of the day when a friend called… I happened to mention how much I’d love some home-made chicken soup, so she’s making me some and will bring it by later today. Now THAT is a friend! And she has to defrost the chicken!
    BTW, one of my wishes… is to live in a small cottage in the wilds of Scotland… Isn’t that a hoot? Am I crazy? Hopefully, it would have Internet access and running water. I can always heat up the water. Oh, and an indoor toilet. Too cold to traipse to an outhouse or privy. Not very demanding. Of course, someone would have to teach me how to use an AGA….One can dream, can one?

    • Oh, dear, Aurora, I’m so sorry you’re feeling bad. Ha ha.. I am usually sick at Christmas, too. Hasn’t hit so far, knock on wood. I hope you’re feeling better very soon. Your friend’s home-made chicken soup sounds like just the thing. What a dear friend.. you’re blessed.

      I know you’d love a Scottish cottage. Me, too!

  8. Leah Weller

    Medieval history is something I can never read enough of. I soak it up like a sponge.
    http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/269213/20111219/unusual-treasure-laden-viking-era-cemetery-discovered.htm
    I read this article earlier today if anyone is interested. It’s about an archeology dig in Poland of a Viking burial area. Like a few of you above, I would be an archeologist if I could do things over. There is a deep pull inside me for things past (medieval past) and I’ve just accepted that it will be there until the day I die. Hopefully my soul will find that place it yearns for.

  9. Trudy Miner

    My undergrad degree is in history. Does that tell you something? I love anything old, will go off in search of stories and historical romances are my favorites. I’m the oldest of four daughters and both parents are gone; you’d think my sisters would be calling me all the time with questions but that isn’t the case. I have two grown sons. They live in another state about five miles from their father and I haven’t seen them in four years. I despair of the heritage from my family being lost because neither my siblings nor my sons seem to be interested in finding anything out. True, we’re not famous but, there still is family traditions, stories and the like to be passed on. And everyone knows that I know; they all just roll their eyes because they know I’m a history nut!

    • That’s really tragic, Trudy. Sadly, you’re not alone. I think this same thing plays out the world over. So many people only care about the here and now, instant gratification. They view the past and its histories as boring and unimportant. How ignorant, I say. Their loss. Like you, I can’t begin to wrap my mind around such a mindset. I hope a grandchild or niece/nephew will inherit the history nut gene and appreciate the tales you can share.

  10. AutumnFire

    Every year for my friend’s bday gift, I get her a subscription to Archaeology magazine. The wonderful thing is when she’s done reading an issue, she’ll loan it to me! Obviously I adore research–otherwise I would never have gotten my Master’s in Library Science!

  11. Pingback: Final confessions of a research junkie | The Vagrant Mood

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