Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tagged: Joys and Fears in My Life

I've been racking my brain for a few days for some worthy writing material. And nothing has come to mind. I think these are the days that I'm supposed to write anyway and really, truly pay for my craft with some serious, intensive, bone-crushing work.

I'm not much of a bone crusher.

So, thanks to Christine I've been tagged and I'm ready to play along simply to get out of my current writing slump. Hold on to your hats because it looks like another day of self-revelation. (With me lurching wildly from the oh-so-serious to the oh-so-NOT-serious.)

How to play this game.
Post these rules on your blog: List 3 joys, 3 fears, 3 goals, 3 current obsessions/collections, 3 random surprising facts about yourself. Tag 5-6 people at the end of your post by leaving their names.

3 joys
  • Family, friends, gospel: I'm going to combine these all in one because my life as I know it would not be the same without any of these people or this belief system. These are my center, my core, my happiness and my truest joys.

  • Nature: sunrise peeeking through my windows in the early-morning hours, watching the sunset over the lake nearby, hiking up a mountain trail, swimming in a cold, clear creek on a hot July day, watching the storm clouds move in, the first snowfall of the season. Nature inspires and refreshes me continually.

  • Really using my gifts, my talents, my strengths to make the world a little brighter and a little happier; no joy seems to match the joy of using the best parts of myself in a way that is needed or wanted

3 fears

  • That I may never wear a bikini (on a private beach, people, for just one viewer) and look smokin' hot.

  • That some day I will actually wet my pants in public when I'm laughing too hard. (Oh, you think that is funny? Try having poor bladder control, terrible skill at remembering to empty said bladder and wickedly funny people surrounding you and see how long it takes before this same fear overwhelms you.)

  • That people will not believe me when I say "STOP tickling me." I watched a cousin get tackled, pinned down, and tickled mercilessly once by her fiance and I swore in that moment that if I ever got engaged and my fiance ever did that to me, I would break the engagement immediately. (Not that engagements have been wildly numerous in my life). This fear relates directly to fear #2. Because if some one does have me pinned down and is tickling me then I can guarantee you the outcome will NOT be pretty. And I will have realized two fears at once.

3 goals

  • To some day overcome my lose-my-breath-and want-to-die reaction to being tickled (I have a friend who claims it is all in mind control. All I can say is you come live in my body for one day and we will talk about mind control. pfffffftt!) Note to anyone who comes near me: This does not mean that I welcome any attempts to assist me in overcoming this reaction.

  • To one day be prepared for any event--a trip, a party, a visit from a friend, a class I'm teaching--before ten seconds to the zero hour. Yes, I'd like to throw off the procrastination/avoiding technique that I've become quite adept at. Maybe I can start working on it tomorrow.

  • To really turn in the rebate for my iPod Touch so it is free, free, free.

3 obsessions/collections

  • I have a thing for bags, I guess. I'm still not sure I believe it, but it has been pointed out to me a lot recently. I've never had an obsession with shoes or clothes, but I certainly like to find a good bag and hold on to it. I'm lately enamored with Butler bags. This woman is a kindred spirit. She has figured out a way for a customer to store a lot of things in one bag and be able to find all of those items. This is my one great search for any bag: compartments. I detest searching and searching through a bag for the one item I need: my pen, my bank card, some change or whatever. And I end up doing it all the time. I think it is because I have yet to find the perfect bag. I love the idea of a compartment for everything. My perfect bag would be small and carry all of my cards, money, receipts, pens, notebook, cell phone, iPod, make-up, food, and a book to read. And that would just be everyday bag. Then there is my work bag, my church bag, my play bag, my traveling bag. etc. etc. ad nauseum. Okay, so I like bags.

  • Papers. I wrote about my love of papers a while back and that love endures. Papers are a passion for me because they are the genesis of books, ideas and thoughts. I keep articles I read and like for future fodder for my own writing on that topic. I keep cards and letters sent to me that have special meaning. I keep my writings and journal entries. I keep talks that inspire and educate me. All of this paper has to be organized and accessible if it is going to be really useful. And it has to be organized or I would drown in paper.

  • Teaching people how to park correctly. I don't know what it is but I seem to attract the parking-challenged wherever I go. My favorite thing is to approach my car and find someone parked so close to me that I have to enter my car from the passenger side and climb over everything just to get to the driver's seat. I keep sticky notes and a pen in my car just so I can write loving and thoughtful notes to these parking neophytes and instruct them on the appropriate way to park a 2-ton vehicle when it is next to my car. I'm not sure my campaign is really working. Or that my notes are as lovingly received as they are intended.

3 random surprising facts

  • I always forget to go to the bathroom. (Which is one of the reasons I so hate to be tickled. I can guarantee I'm almost never in a state of preparation for it.) I know this sounds insane but people who are around me a lot will start nodding their heads in affirmation. I will have this intense urge to go now! and then get so absorbed in whatever I'm doing that I don't realize I'm rocking back and forth chronically for the next three hours. It is just an awareness that takes a very long time for me to register and respond to on most days. And because I'm so forgetful, it drives me nuts when someone notices my nervous tic of insistent rocking back and forth before I do and gently asks, "What is wrong with you?" 

  • I had no idea I had naturally curly hair until I moved back East in my twenties. In junior high, I just thought it took an awfully long time for me to grow out a perm. (Yes, perms. Remember when it was ultra-cool to perm your hair?) I was always surprised that two years later my perm was still hanging around. Then when I moved back East to humidity central, my hair frizzed out daily and it slowly dawned on me that no, this was not my latest perm from six years ago coming back to haunt me and that yes, my hair was naturally curly (or more correctly, naturally wavy). I learned to love just putting some gel in my hair, scrunching it a bit, and letting it dry. Fast and easy hair was such a bonus to discover.

  • I'm easily startled. This has something to do with my ability to get quickly absorbed by whatever is in front of me. Please never, never walk up behind me (or beside me, or really, even in front of me) without sounding some kind of alarm or notice or warning. Fog horns work best. If you do walk up without warning me, be prepared to defend yourself. I've been known to utter a shriek so high-pitched your ear drums will split. Then I will begin to flail wildly in your direction and I take no prisoners. (Think Jackie Chan meets Baloo the Bear and you will have the right idea of what a terrifying spectacle you will behold). I nearly took my boss out a few months ago when he approached my desk suddenly and with a booming voice. The black eye was with him for about three weeks.

If you really want to be permanently removed from my "inner circle" list then just try one day to startle and tickle me in a public venue. It will be your funeral, my friend, your funeral. Did I mention PERMANENT removal from my inner circle?

Let's just never go there.

You are it
Now you know far too much about me and so to return the favor, if any of my lovely and loyal readers would like to respond with their own posts, then tag, you are it. Just let me know in the comments section so I can come and read right away.

Otherwise, here are a few people that might want a bit of nudge for a new post: Meg, Julie, Cissy (what a great way to get your blog going), Rus and Michelle (a post for each of you!).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bicycle Built for Two

Congratulations to Katy and Barrett. You've really started the ride of your lives.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dinner Party Menu

My very dear, good friend is getting married tomorrow. In her honor and as a last hurrah, we had a little dinner party at my house the other night. This is a friendship that has been built on food, discussions of food, theories about food, and experimentation with food. We are friends by great good luck and food is our favorite friendship currency. 

So, this was the menu put together by four cooks:

Wild salmon with lemon herb
Barbecue chicken
Spinach salad with roasted pistachios, dried cranberries and a mustard vinaigrette dressing
Wild rice
Lime-sweetened honeydew 
Fresh blueberries
Baby peas sauteed with pine nuts and pearl onions

Fresh-squeezed lemonade
Herbal iced tea

Vanilla coconut cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting

It was a night to remember. 

Dinner Party To-do List

What must be done to get ready for dinner party
  1. paint bathroom
  2. install new faucet
  3. install new light
  4. hang 2 new towel rods
  5. buy new bed spread
  6. 2 new rugs
  7. 2 new chairs
  8. move out old desk
  9. clean oven
  10. hang curtain rods and curtains
  11. rearrange most of furniture
  12. install new outdoor light
  13. sweep patio
  14. buy new pads for outdoor furniture
  15. purchase new dishes
  16. set table
  17. cook fabulous meal
  18. look fabulous too
  19. schedule nervous breakdown for after dinner party
  20. only cry once an hour during day of dinner party
  21. camouflage new paint smell in house with 1 bucket of Febreeze
  22. have allergic reaction to mixture of Febreeze with new paint smell
  23. open all windows to air out house from killer allergic mixture
  24. lose all of cold air to outdoors
  25. sweat to death in new outfit while finishing meal as windows are opened and house airs out
  26. pull cupcakes out of oven at last minute while sweat is pooling at my feet, cupcakes now taste like Febreeze/new paint mixture
  27. move party out of doors so we can all sweat rivers together and not be overcome by new paint smell
  28. die a little inside as party goes down in stunning flames
  29. light some candles, focus on guests, eat remaining edible food while swatting at moths the size of dump trucks
  30. enjoy conversation at dinner table and remember that the most important part of this whole event is sitting right there in front of you
  31. feed cupcakes to moths 
  32. plan next dinner party 
Some of this really happened. Some is from my nightmare. I will let you decide which is which. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Here's the Dish

I bought some new white dishes last week on sale. (check out the photo above). I've been in the market for everyday dishes for two years now. I've been hobbling along with a smattering of dishes that I bought my freshman year of college and some of my grandmother's everyday china. I only have four plates of each and a couple of bowls and one set is blue and the other pink and green. It hasn't been really conducive to entertaining. So, this new purchase is my answer to that little problem. 

I've only wanted white dishes. No color for me. I want these dishes to last a very long time and go with everything. Hopefully that will be so. 

But these dishes also feel like a big commitment. A big commitment to being a real grown-up. Like this is my house, this is my car, this is my husband and these are my dishes. You only have dishes when you have a decent place to house them and a table to set them on and great food to serve on them at your latest dinner party. 

Dishes make you responsible for all sorts of things. 

They seem to proclaim to the world: I'm here, I'm settled and this is my life. 

Maybe that is why I've been avoiding, delaying, and running from the implications. I've been really unsure for a long time where I am, if I'm settled and what my life looks like. I've been in a giant holding pattern waiting for the next big thing to come along: my fabulous life as a writer in New York, my adventurous life as deep sea diver in Alaska, my neo-spiritual life as hiking guide in the mountains of New Mexico. Something or anything different than the job I work, the body I have, and the indecision that continues to mount in my life. 

And really, I think I just kept waiting for the wedding. 

You know, that nebulous, fairy-tale thing that is supposed to happen to you in your twenties when you've finally found the one and decide to make a life and babies with him. That wedding. 

Yeah, that wedding didn't come. Neither did the shopping together and the setting up of our first house and the choosing of dishes that would signify the life we were living together where we shared a table and food and a daily ritual that could stretch on into forever. 

It's taken me a while to pack up that little fairy tale. It was a pretty one to hold in my treasure box, but it isn't the only dream there. And in some of my pining and moaning for another reality, I've forgotten all those other dreams. All those other places I want to go and people I want to see and life I want to live. I've let those other dreams get a dusty and cobwebby and hidden. 

And it's killing me. 

So, the lid's been taken off the treasure box and some dreams have been dusted off and others discarded. Really, the only dream that truly matters is that I'm using my gifts to serve and love others in this world. That I'm living the best life I know how in the moments that I have right now and not waiting for the future to meet me or the past to catch up with me. I'm just using what I've been given right now, right here, in this very moment. 

So, I bought dishes. Pretty white dishes that make me feel I can welcome the world at my door and serve them meals on understated, elegant dinnerware. And so I can really get this party started called my life right now

I'm here, I'm settled, and this is my life. And these are my dishes. 

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bamboo Rugs and Rearranging

I live in a rather small apartment that's about 500 square feet. I actually really enjoy it and think of it as my faux New York apartment--you know, tiny, utilitarian, but oh-so-fabulous.

The apartment though has several design challenges. The main room is long and narrow, the floor is orange tile (not my favorite color) and each room is pretty small.

On the plus side, it has a bedroom, study, and storage room, as well as big windows and a great patio. The challenge is to make it warm, inviting and comfortable. 

Well, I think I'm starting to get there. At least I'm laying a good foundation. The details and finishing touches will come later. In the meantime, here is some of the foundation work. 

I bought a bamboo rug to help define my seating area. I put two of them side by side to cover the space underneath my table, chairs, and couch. I've been craving bamboo floors in my little place so this bamboo rug is a great find. 

The wicker chairs are new as well. They anchor my most recent infatuation--my dining room table. I got this table on New Year's Eve from a neighbor that was going to haul it away. She had purchased it for $10 at a garage sale years before and now she was moving and didn't want it any more. When I saw the table I nearly passed out. It was exactly what I wanted. I don't know that I could have purchased anything brand new that is more perfect for me. I LOVE this table. It is banged up, scratched, dented and beautiful. I feel lucky that it came my way (kudos to my brother-in-law, Spencer, for thinking of me when he was asked to haul it away for our neighbor). 

And don't worry too much about the doors behind the chairs. The one to the right goes to a storage room that is the landlady's and I have no access to it. I'm thinking of hanging a curtain in front of it to camouflage it. The other door goes to my little storage room or utility room that houses my boxes, vacuums, tools, dish storage and pantry.  I can still get in and out of it with ease. 

This shot shows better the long, narrow aspect of the room. And you can see the rearranging that we did on Saturday. The couch used to be against the far wall where the yellow chair is now and the yellow chair was where the table is now. We swapped everything and I am much, much happier with the results because I now have a decent seating area where I can visit with people and not yell across the room at them, as was the case with my last arrangement. 

It's not finished but I'm headed in the right direction. And like I said the next step is details--art work, photos, throw pillows, etc. Any thoughts on what those details should be? I'd love to hear your input. Maybe with your help, I can actually get it finished. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's Clean

Need I say more? Laundry, dishes, bathroom, vacuum, dust, fresh sheets, mopped floors. I've gone through storage boxes and moved furniture around in the main room (thanks, Mom). Some of my brothers are coming to help me move out a table. (These would be the hale and hearty brothers who know how to work hard. Bless your incredible hearts, where would I be without you?) Then I've got to fold clothes and put some boxes back in the storage room. And finish reorganizing the study. But it's CLEAN. 

I'm feeling like I can do life again. 

Friday, July 18, 2008

What a Chore

I should be cleaning my house. 

I was talking to a friend the other day and she and her husband are looking to buy a house with enough property for a big garden or an orchard, so their kids can learn how to "work." She mentioned how her husband was raised having to care for a big orchard and his dad was raised working on a farm and they are hard workers. It is very important to this friend that her kids learn how to work hard like that. 

And I was agreeing with her and making derisive comments about today's youth and how the only body part that gets worked out on them is their fingers--you know, from all the text messaging, video games, Internet surfing and channel flipping that the do. 

Yeah, today's youth. They are sooooooo lazy. 

I lived on a farm until I was almost twelve years old. I fed chickens, I took care of rabbits, I hauled scraps to the pigs, I weeded ditches (Yes, ditches. You know, those things that carry water to the farm? With their fertile, soft soil they sprout weeds like a five o'clock shadow. So, yes, they need to be weeded EVERY DAY.) and I even burned trash. 'Cause that's what you do when you live in the country. 

Now, hold your horses, before one of my brothers gets on here and starts moaning about everything I didn't do: like wake up pre-dawn to feed calves or lambs, or milk a cow, or help irrigate, or build a fence, or even hoe beets. Yes, that's right I didn't do those things. At least not much. Or not like your long-suffering, hearty and hale young selves did. But I did other things that never even crossed your chore list: like baked eight loaves of bread weekly when I was nine years old, or folded every scrap of clean laundry that nine people can produce, or ironed Sunday clothes for seven kids, or took care of the baby EVERY time Mom and Dad left the house so you could play knock-'em-dead-couch-pillow football. (You may be older, but I have a wicked, wicked memory.)

So, yeah, I wasn't raised like today's kids who sit on their duffs all day long and don't know how to put together a hard day's work. Not at all. 

In my current life, I work at a job where I sit in a chair on my well-endowed posterior for NINE hours a day. Then I come home and heat up some Lean Cuisine (all of 3 minutes and 45 seconds, thank you very much) and then I read a book, visit with friends, fulfill my social obligations, and surf the 'net until I drop off to sleep and start the same day all over again tomorrow. 

Like I said I know how to "work hard." 

Which is why I should be cleaning my house. But I'm not. My fingers have sure had a workout though. 

Yeah, that's right, you little 2008 punks. You ain't got nothing on me

"Lazy" is a science. And I'm getting my very own PhD.   

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can I Live There?

I'm sure like me you've seen certain movies and thought "I wish I could live in that house." The first movie I ever remember thinking that with was The Father of the Bride. I especially loved the dining room and entry way in this house. I saw that movie again just a few months ago and I still thought that. I think it whenever I happen across Father of the Bride II as well. I also thought it with the English cottage in The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. And I really, really thought it with the movie Something's Gotta Give starring Diane Keaton.

Can I please have the desk above? Pretty, pretty, pleeeeeeaaaaazzzzzzze?

That's what I say to the universe whenever I see this movie. Then if I get the desk, can I have the house just built all around it?? And the furnishings, the clothes, the beach . . . Wait, I think you get the picture.

So, I saw an article in the Washington Post last winter about the obsession that the house in Something's Gotta Give has inspired and I realized, I am not alone. Other people, really, really liked this house too (better than the movie) and they actually have the money to do something about it.


That house has generated all kinds of business for interior decorators, rug manufacuturers, clock makers, and textile designers. That is quite a house.

So, what is it about this house that has inpsired so much longing? I'm not entirely sure. For me it seems to be a relaxed, elegant, comfortable kind of house to live in. And we Americans certainly take our relaxation and comfort very, very seriously. For a designer to be able to capture that love of all things casual with a decided twist of elegance, well, that seems to take a certain degree of panache, don't you think?

All of that is just to say that wiser heads than mine have broken down the specifics of this house and its allure with details galore. And I just ran across a great website and a great post that gives full attention to the myriad aspects of the design that make this particular house so appealing. Cote de Texas is a blog by Joni, a designer who specializes in French interiors in Texas. She has a special affinity for the Something's Gotta Give house and she pays close attention to every rug, pillow and painting.

So, take a stroll over there and peruse a bit. And let me know if it inspires the same kind of desperate, unshakeable longing inside of you too. Then we can both start asking the universe, pretty, pretty, pleeeeeeaaaazzzzzzze?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Le 14 Juillet

Le 14 juillet, otherwise known Bastille Day in the English-speaking world, is celebrated today. Clotilde over at Chocolate and Zucchini reminded me of this important day. I think we can safely liken it to our 4th of July in America--at least the celebration, fireworks and color scheme all seem similar. And most importantly the celebration of freedom.

I did say in my header that I like many things French and I've been a bit lax about exploring that side of my loves and interests lately. Pardonnez-moi?

So in order to get a flavor of what Bastille Day is all about read Clotilde's post about it from a couple of years ago. She talks about some of the traditions of this day and also its lack of food traditions.

Clotilde was my very, very first blog read. As I remember it, when I first heard about blogs they were mentioned in the same paragraph as Clotilde's site, Chocolate and Zucchini. She was a French woman living in America at the time she started her food blog and she has since relocated back to Paris but she still writes in English on her site. I knew I would like this woman right away just by the name she gave her blog. She combined two images in just a few words that mirrored some of my own interests--decadence and health.

So, enjoy a little taste of France today. I swear some day I'm going to live in that country.

For now though, I've just got to visit it more often. And really, really, really improve my miniscule grasp of the oh-so-lovely language.

J'aime la langue francaise mais je ne parle pas bien.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Luckiest Aunt in the World

From November 2006 to July 2007, five new nieces and nephews were born into the family. Four little boys and one baby girl. They are each and every one full of personality, spirit and joy. Each one has added a sweetness and dimension to our family that we needed and wanted. As is my prerogative as an auntie, I think they are all supremely adorable and entirely scrumptious.

We call them the Fab Five.

And in their honor, their parents purchased little soccer outfits while we were in Denmark. Each outfit bears the number "5." And a couple of weekends ago, these incredible moms got all of their little munchkins together when they all were simultaneously awake, fed, and fresh-diapered and dressed them in their outfits and took pictures. Meg was the lucky photographer.

They just make me smile.

E, B and Ay were the first to get seated.

Then M joins the camp and B and Ay swap places.

Now watch Miss E throughout the series of photos. She's the smiler in the middle and the most animated at the moment. That trait will bear out throughout the rest of the photo shoot.

N decides to make his presence felt as well. From left to right they are now positioned in birth order. M is the youngest, then E, Ay (these two were born 1 day apart), N, and B who is the de facto leader by virtue that he is the oldest of the crew by a whole three months.

Now E is signaling to M to give her some love. Come on, just a little high five. M doesn't seem quite sure of what she wants.

E can't believe she's been shunned by M. She starts to take him to task. N hears the commotion at the other end of the line and leans in for a better look. B too is a bit perturbed at all the ruckus incited by these rabble rousers.

Okay, okay, all is forgiven. E gives M a bit of a head rub just to let him know that she realizes he still is a bit young yet and may not have grasped her "give me five" sign. Ay, well, he's the little peacemaker and is just happy that any wild fights have now been averted. N has simply lost interest in what "the little kids" are doing, but B is giving them props for working it all out.

E decides to engage the rest of the crew. "What do you think, guys? Let's put on our best smiles here and really get this photo shoot going," she seems to be saying. Ay is only too happy to oblige.

So, M, E, and Ay are in on the game but they haven't yet recruited the big boys, N and B, to the wisdom of their plan.

Still no love from the big boys. I think they are holding out for . . . better binkies? more time with Mom? additional cool outfits like the red soccer uniforms?

Ay feels all this smiling has gone on long enough. He makes a break for it, hoping against hope that the magical shot has been captured.

But no! Ay is returned to his spot in the group and now M looks for his chance to make an escape. E is just thrilled to be in the limelight and wants the boys to get their acts together. B just looks confused at all the hubbub.

So, they take a break from the frontal view. And there's a few shots of them all lined up with their #5 jerseys. You can see how valiantly the moms are trying to keep these little ones happy and enthused through this whole experience.

And finally, a shot where some are smiling and they are at least all paying attention to the task at hand.

The thing I think when I look at this picture is "I get to kiss every one of those yummy chubby cheeks!"

It's the best auntie job in the world.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

VIEWING: Sense and Sensibility (BBC, 2008)

My love of Jane Austen's works didn't begin until a certain day in 1995 when I blithely entered a movie theater to see Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson. I don't have any recollection of what I expected on that fateful day but it certainly wasn't to fall in love. But fall in love I did. With the works of plucky Miss Jane Austen.

I returned to the theater several times to watch that film again and again. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet seemed to me to be the worlds' best actresses and I wanted to see everything they'd ever been in after viewing this movie. And Jane Austen was a revelation.

I went out and bought the soundtrack to that movie. I played the soundtrack endlessly ("My Father's Favourite" is haunting to me still). The DVD of this movie was the first DVD I ever owned.

And I bought the book and read it. Suddenly, this phenomenon that is Jane Austen was awakened in me.

Emma Thompson as Elinor was my absolute favorite part of this movie. She is so refined, so circumspect, so restrained. All qualities that I desire and all qualities that elude me. That absolutely incredible last scene where Edward comes to the cottage to see Elinor after Lucy has left him and he is finally, finally, finally free. And Elinor's quiet restraint departs her completely. Has there ever been a better scene? More said with so few words? I still watch it at least twice a year just because I can laugh and cry at the exact same moment.

Let's not forget her sister either. Kate Winslet as Marianne is sublime. I got this character on a deeply cellular level: emotional, heedless, soaked in romance and, yes, even fantasy. And (here comes my own wild, fantastical claim) I could have done that part with my eyes closed at that age. Kate Winslet and I were one body and one mind as far as her Marianne goes. I've felt a strange sort of kinship with Ms. Winslet ever since.

All of that is just to say that I finally saw the three-hour BBC version of Sense and Sensibility that was released this year. And (prepare for a shocker here) I LOVE IT. It is quiet and funny and serene and tempestuous all at the same time. The screenplay is a lovely, faithful adaptation to the book and there are several scenes dramatized in this movie that are only reported on in the book, such as the duel between Willoughby and Colonel Brandon and the seduction of little Miss Eliza.

Also, I was particularly thrilled to see the inclusion of several minor characters that were missed in the 1995 version, including Anne Steele, Lucy's obnoxious older sister, as well as Lady Middleton the very shy and easygoing wife of Sir John Middleton, and Colonel Brandon's ward, Eliza. All of them add depth and texture to the film.

To check out clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with some of the cast, see this page on Masterpiece Theater's website.

You can also purchase the DVD on Amazon. Also, I would watch this clip on the Amazon page. The producers are talking about why they did this particular adaption of the novel and then it shows the library scene where Edward speaks to Elinor before he leaves Norland. It is all politeness and formality with a fabulous tension running underneath the surface because these two people have fallen in love and yet they can't profess that love. It is one of my favorite scenes from this movie.

Edward is particularly gorgeous in this film (i.e. the wood chopping scene in the rain) and Willoughby is even naughtier than in any other adaptation I've seen. And I like Colonel Brandon so much better than poor Alan Rickman's version. Marianne is played beautifully by a young actress who barely seems 17 herself, and the little sister, Margaret, is played by the same girl who was young Beatrix in Miss Potter.

But once again, my favorite character is Elinor--subdued, restrained, pragmatic and secretly heartbroken Elinor. She is simply lovely. I think because of the three-hour length of the film there are several more scenes where you see the particular torture that Elinor had to endure at the hands of Lucy Steele as she pressed continuously her hidden engagement to Edward. And you see even more clearly what it costs Elinor to keep this secret with all of its attendant ramifications to her very own happiness.

So, to any of you Austen fans out there (and some of their husbands), I'd love to hear your reactions to this latest installment to the Austen media library. For me, it is a keeper.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where Have You Been?

I posted five--that's right, FIVE--posts today. They are all retain the original date that I wrote them, so it looks like I wrote a bunch of blog entries and then randomly backdated them.

Not so.

I had not posted anything in nearly three weeks but that doesn't mean I wasn't writing. I just wasn't finishing what I was writing.

So, today, I just coasted through each of those entries and did a bit of spit and polish and ta-da! Now it looks like I've been a much more consistent blogger than I have been. Let's just say I want to maintain appearances.

So, read them and weep, people. Read them and weep. (Just wanted to give you a sense of the high drama they contain. You know, because fuzzy tennis balls, bad architecture, and my reading list all have the makings of great art within them.)

LISTENING: Feels Like Home

This is an older song but a good one. I've heard it before but it seemed to really hit me yesterday. The artist is Chantal Kreviazuk a Canadian singer/songwriter with an impressive list of songwriting credits to her name.

This is the anthem for the day. Just listen.

I've also posted some songs in a playlist on the side that have a real hook in me right now. I am not some great music aficionado. In this--as in most models in my life--I follow the feast-or-famine model. In other words, I will listen to the same music for weeks and weeks and weeks which turns into months and months and months. And finally years.

Then one day I do a big BLECH all over my music. I can't stand to listen to those songs one more time or I may pull out all the hair in my head. You know, one tiny root at a time.

Then I spend 16 consecutive hours looking for new music that doesn't make me want to do this very damaging thing to my fine, frizzy head of hair.

So, thank your lucky stars. Because I won't be bald in the near future.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If You Haven't Noticed

Just a small (okay, very long) hold on the postings about our Denmark trip. I got to Day 4 and could only narrow the photos down to 84. Do you know how long it takes to put together 84 photos and comment about them all? And who wants to see that many for one day? So, I'm forcing myself to cut that number in half at the very least. I just haven't been able to do it yet. Every time I try, I think, "Oh, I can't leave this one out" or "This one was an integral part of the day" or some such fluff and then I peruse and pine and vacillate between which should go and which should stay. I'm a rather clingy little mother hen when it comes to my posts.

And I'm lazy perfectionist.

You didn't know there was such a thing? There is, there is, there is. And I'm a card-carrying member of this very exclusive club. What it amounts to is any time you take on a project and it becomes overwhelming because you wrap yourself into knots about EXACTLY how every "t" should be crossed and ever "i" should be dotted, you just put it all on a big fat back burner until you can get over yourself enough to let go of the anxiety and just DO THE JOB without an emotional crisis.

So, yes, the photos are coming (I know you are waiting with baited breath) and the posts will be finished before Christmas (this is where the lazy part really takes off) and it will be amazing and you will love it and I will be glad its done and the world can continue moving forward on its axis.

And Day 4 will not be 84 photos long.

(Psssst! But it might be 83).


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