Sunday, December 21, 2008

Technicaly Challenged

It has been a while since I posted I know. I used to try and put a lot of pictures up but my last post was extremely difficult for me, and I got a little fed up. Something has changed in how the photos go up, I know this because I used to be able to figure it out and now I can't. I don't think I've gotten any dumber over the last three months, but I could be wrong. I am not writing to complain, only because I think there are others who feel the same way I do. I am a fairly intelligent person but most interactions with technology reduce my into an agitated incompetent ball of fury. While trying to work the X-box controller my husband said I needed a "jitterbug' controller- referencing the simple cell phones available for the elderly. Finally I am able to post the picture. Ody (short for Honda Odyssey) has been good this year. His name is on the stocking, and a sweet Mrs Santa Barbie sits on the dash.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home (Almost) Alone

I come from a large family and for years they have dreamed of going on a cruise together. We’ve imagined how fun it would be, how the kids would all get to play with their cousins, etc.
Well this year one of my sister’s families bought a cruise and invited everyone to get on board with the scheme. Many people signed up but a few of us weren’t able to. For us, we needed all our money to pay for our daughter’s starting college and didn’t want to go into debt for something like that. Actually about half the family signed up. I was very sad several months ago but over time it was not an issue.
Well, now it’s cruise week, and the cruising branch of the family are all on the way to sunny Mexico, eating and laughing, and making inside jokes that we will hear about for years to come. A couple of my fellow non cruising sisters are pretty down, if you can judge by their depressed blogs, multiple posts, and sorry little facebook status lines. Now I have to heave a sigh, feel sad, and then try not to think about it. But nobody likes feeling left out. I’m just telling myself I already cried about this eight months ago, so what’s the point now. I’m not breaking out a Jane Austen novel to fuel my pity party either. One sis at home watched Becoming Jane for the first time and was so sad afterward. I told her “Whatever you do, Don’t watch Miss Austen Regrets this week”.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Swirly Skirts

After my recent "Six Randon Facts About Me" post I decided I needed a picture of me with all my skirts. I pulled them all out of my closet and started arranging them. The I realized I needed to enlist the help of my 16 year old daughter. As you might suspect, getting your teenager to go along with some weird scheme like this is the most difficult part. But she got into the photo shoot and pretty soon was posing me and our dog with all the skirts. Here is one of the pics, me with 15 cotton skirts.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Artist Date

I went on my first Artist Date today. As described in Julia Cameron's book, "The Artists Way", I had to go by myself and do something creative that would feed my "little artist" soul for an hour or two. I went to the nearby Bellevue Botanical Garden. It was lovely. I've been there twice before, the first time just checking it out after Aerobics one day, and once with my family. It was fun to go at my own pace, (meandering) and sit down every now and then when the view was just too good to walk away from. Every time I would sit, I would think "I could sit here for an hour" but soon I would be too anxious to see the rest of the garden, so up I'd jump, and wander off only to sit down a moment later. My five favorite spots in the garden:Sitting on the rocks of the Alpine Garden looking across at the weeping willow.The benches at the japanese viewing pavillion.Just past the pavillion in between the waterfalls. The sound is wonderful.The whole Yao Japanese garden enclosure.The fab 50's house in the middle of it all, that houses the gift shop, restrooms and offices. Complete with fully surrounded courtyard and sliding shoji screens. (Don't ever change a thing!!)
Our weather was unseasonably warm today. I left my jacket in the car. I took my camera too post a pic or two, but the battery was dead when I got it out, so I returned it to the car so I could walk around unencumbered.There was construction work there, and it was loud. I tried not to let that distact me. The whole walk was restful to the eyes, if not the ears.I will definitely go back soon, probably once the fall colors start to come out a bit more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sentimental Autumn

It seems that while I was away from my dollhouse for a few years it had a series of adventures. One is 'caught on tape' as they say. After reading my blog my sister #4 posted the short (30 sec. video) on her awesome blog. See it here. features sis #6 and sis #2( I think that was you) who also has a wonderful blog at

I have several sisters and a sister in law who blog and they are all such lovely and talented people. I know we each need to seek our own way and find our own style of creating, and journaling, but sometimes I read and I think, I wish I were more like so and so. I have to catch myself and just enjoy who I am and who my talented family is, and get inspired by the way these fabulous ladies handle every day life in an artful and spiritual way.

Here are the other blogs from my family. If you have time for meandering, take a look. We have everything from a room designer/ real estate agent who is more of a businesswoman that I can ever comprehend, to our young strong Lady Cop little sister, to moms and more moms. I love them all.
Yesterday my daughter rented August Rush. I've been wanting to see it and combining that with my overall yearning for more creativity in my life it was quite a day. Despite occasional sappy 'after school special' type of dialog at moments, the show was overall very enjoyable. I teared up a little bit now and then, not hard for me. The show is appropriate for children, and handles the unwed Mother aspect of the story very carefully and tenderly. I acknowledge the reality that not every couple gets back together, and not every creative person is a genius prodigy...but the universal feeling the show left us with was the desire to DO something creative. To feel the music, and dive in and DO things. And just to punctuate that, I started "The Artists Way" this afternoon. Found a notebook to start my 'morning pages' , an unscripted sort of brain-drain writing exercise where you fill up three pages every single morning about anything, without editing or self censoring. If we don't have anything to write we can write "I don't have anything to write" for three pages. It's supposed to be theraputic, mind clearing and silence your inner critic. So Here goes. Hopefully you will benefit and my writing will get better.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chasing the Creative Spark

Demo on the dollhouse began today. I peeled off carpets and cloth used as wallpaper, pried out staples from a staple gun….some of those were really in there! And I peeled off the shingles and woodwork my sis had added when she brought the house home for her daughter. She had done a good job and a lot of the work was really tough to remove. Especially the shingles, and I would have left them but I envision something on a smaller, less rustic scale.
When I peeled off the cloth from the bottom right room, I found vestiges of my old house. The walls had a damask pattern on them left over from my old red velvet cloth ‘wallpaper’. That room was the height of style to me as a kid. My dad had salvaged some parquet flooring from somewhere, and that was once the floor of my dolls living room. When I saw that fancy red pattern on the walls I had to run my fingers over it and smile. While pulling and tugging at my sisters well installed handiwork, the bottom wall dislodged a little. I can see the whole house will need some structural tweaking, but suddenly I had the idea of taking out that lower dividing wall to open up the lower level into a ballroom, and maybe just reinstalling part of it as a column or something.
The column area in the front is weak too. I thought about removing or remodeling those, but they are too much a symbol of my childhood dollhouse, so they will stay. I was looking at England country houses for ideas about how to style my house, but it’s tricky. My pitched roof clearly indicates a simple country house, a la Chawton Cottage. But only the grand houses or fancy lodgings have the columns. So I have to compromise a little.
On another note, last week I bought the book “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron. I’ve heard great things about it and love it so far. Next week I’m going to start the exercises. It is set up as a twelve week program to help unlock your creativity. I think of myself as a pretty creative person, but like most of us there is a lot holding me back. I constantly feel too busy, but then I look at time I waste that could be channeled better. I really need something to spur me on, or if anything just to give me time to have fun mentally, like a grown up recess.

Pictured above, the dollhouses as we got them, Christmas, I think it's '73.

Here, the interior and exterior of the dollhouse before renovation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Six Random Facts About Me

Six Random Facts About Me

One of my Sisters recently ‘tagged’ me one her blog, (OK I know it was like a month ago but to me that’s recently) and now I am supposed to write six random facts about me. After that humongously long post last time I feel a little like Miss Bates, in Emma, sure to say six ‘things very dull indeed’, but the problem will be in limiting it to six.

Random Fact number one:
I love skirts. Especially swishy crisp cotton skirts that look like they could be from the early 60’s. I can’t pass them up. In high school in the 80’s I had two patterned skirts that had belonged to my mom when she was in school. I loved how they looked and felt. I wonder how many of these skirts I have??? Be right back…Fifteen. I have fifteen.

Random Fact number two:
I have dark hair so if it’s been too long since my last haircolor you can see the gray roots that grow in a little patch on the right side of my bangs. Don’t tell anyone, but in a pinch I touch it up before a date with a little mascara.

Random Fact number three:
When I was a kid I prayed to be magic. Seriously, for about a year.
When I got a little older I thought this was probably a sin and got really ashamed.
When I got older still I realized that God probably thought it was kind of funny, and he loved me anyway.

Random Fact number four:
I love my siblings. I am second oldest out of twelve kids. I babysat them, worked with them, helped potty train them, patted their backs till they fell asleep, fought with them…When I got married and moved away I missed them so much I cried almost every day for over a year.

Random Fact number five.
Proud to be Swedish. I’m a quarter Swedish. I don’t know much about my Swedish heritage other than some of the specialties we eat on Christmas, but I still believe I have a special bond with Ikea, more than other people.
And the voice on the ad reminds me of Grandpa Brink’s.

Random Fact number six.
On a serious note, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish thus far, especially of my family. I know I owe it all to God… “Hither by thy grace I’ve come…”
I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Lately the central focus of my life has been taking my oldest daughter off to college. We drove across several states, stayed in my parents house, and were inundated with activities for parents of Freshmen, though it was nothing compared to her freshman orientation activities. We spent a record six hours shopping in three different Wal-Marts, and still had to hit a Target after that, for food and dorm supplies, averaging almost a hundred dollars an hour. But what is money compared to the feelings… the feeling of leaving her that first night, to stay in her dorm, and hugging her briefly in the morning 5 days later as we left for the road trip back home without her.
Every time we drove away from campus scenes from her early childhood flashed across my mind. I see snippets of pictures and home movies and hazy images of pale wispy hair swirling in sunbeams. Oh, that’s when it’s really tough.
There were also many great moments of having that “You know, she’s going to do all right!” feeling. And special moments that would confirm to me that she was on the right course. Who can argue with something like that?
When I was in college, a ‘couple’ of years ago, I phoned my parents less than once a month. It cost a fortune. I had to wait in line for the pay phone, and then, because it was cheaper for them to place the call, I would call the operator, place a person to person call for someone who wouldn’t be at the house, and my folks would deny the call. This was our code, then I would wait for them to call me back. Our main communication was letters. Saying this now makes it seem like it was 50 or a hundred years ago. But really, so much has changed.
After the first few days I told my daughter she didn’t have to call me every day. We have e-mailed each other and made comments on each other’s facebook, But yesterday I was dying to hear he voice and she called last night. She told my husband “Well, Mom said not to call every day.” So I told her she could call as much as she wanted. I didn’t want to burden her or make her feel she had to “check in”, but it’s hard to find that comfortable routine still.
As for the rest of my life……
My main problem now is that I want to be more structured, and I want to be more creative. Let me explain and we’ll see if the two can’t go hand in hand.
Our home routines have all but disappeared over the summer, and I start to feel like my house, and my brain, is falling apart. I have learned that I can’t be creative when I’m stressed out, and that my spirit craves a certain level of organization. So since school has been in I make an effort to get through my daily routines, checking things off as I do them. I’m contemplating projects, but I actually bought on of those books that is supposed to help you flex your creativity, and maybe I’ll go in to that more next time. I have plenty of ideas, but need some fresh ways of thinking.
I have a new project in mind. I’m going to flip a house. Well, actually I didn’t buy a house, and I’m not going to sell it when I’m done. The house in mind is a two-story six room circa 1975 dollhouse that my father made for me. It was white with a slanty roof and columned porch. Very simple, basic design. On ‘Special Days’ I spent with my mom we would glue in flooring or use wrapping paper as wallpaper. I would save my money for miniature furniture that fit the six inch ‘dawn dolls’ that we played with. My sister had an identical house, and later a younger sister got her own dollhouse with a similar design. Often we would slide them all together to make one giant house. Many happy hours of my childhood were spent cross legged in front of that house. I played and decorated often, even long after I would have felt comfortable letting my friends know I still played with dolls.
When I got married my hubby convinced me to leave it home, and I really didn’t want to drag it all around the world with me. So I told my mom to just let my younger siblings have it. At some point I came home to see that a sister had taken it and redecorated the rooms and added shingles and shutters. I think it spent some time at her house before being brought back to Mom and Dad’s.
Last spring my mom asked if I wanted it again. This time I most certainly did, but I couldn’t take it back with me on the plane, and it would be a fortune to ship it. So I put a note on it where it was stored. “My dollhouse, do not remove. I will get it soon.”
After unloading the van of my college daughter’s belongings, I had room to take the dollhouse back home with us. My hubby still didn’t want it around, but after 20 years of marriage…. The house was coming home with us. I mentioned to my mom that I had room for it, and she casually said “I haven’t seen it around, I think the guys might have tossed it.”
I acted calm, but the moment I had a break in the conversation I casually turned down the stairs, then ran to where the dollhouse was, still sitting with the note the way I had left it. Whew!
So now the house is here and I’m planning to fix it up with a bit of Regency- Jane Austen Flair. The outside is to be based on Longbourne from the BBC A&E P&P. The two top rooms will be Fanny’s little white attic and the East room from Mansfield Park (greatly simplified of course). The downstairs will have some sort of parlor and dining room set up. (Small summer breakfast room maybe?) The other two will be bedrooms but I haven’t yet decided what to theme them after. The bedroom with the imposing chest from Northanger Abbey? Or maybe Jane’s own room from Chawton Cottage. One thing you can be sure of is that at my pace I have plenty of time to decide.
My last topic has to do with journaling. And blogging. And keeping a food journal, a workout log, sketchbooks, and scrapbooks. Every time I feel like I’m doing poorly at one it is because I have been focusing on another. I’ve got to ‘get it together’ as they say. My sisters and their Sister’s Running Club (SRC) inspired me when I was at home, to keep a workout log. I went and looked at running logs at the book store today, but I ended up not getting one. I already keep a food journal because of weight watchers, and I use the 12 week planner. But it occurred to me that each week there are a few note pages I don’t use, so I can make my own work out log on the computer and then just glue them in there when I get a new book. I’ve been sidelined with Plantar Fasciitis for a few weeks, and now I’m working out again and super excited. So I can combine the food and workout books. Then I decided that I would print out these blog entries and tape them into their appropriate spot in my written journal. My DH would be rolling his eyes right now. But I’m a bit of an old fashioned girl and worry about computer backups, even though he has an awesome back up system. I just feel like I want it together. Hey, I may even staple in pages from my sketchbook. I just feel like none of these reflections of me on their own reflect the whole me. Does that make any sense? That is why I’m ‘splintered’ and that is my solution.
I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Cavalcade of Characters

I don’t know how a writer like Jane Austen creates a novel. Does she come up with an idea for the plot first? Or is there a character nagging away at her creativity until she can breath life into it?
My reading would cause me to lean toward the character side. Her nieces and nephews remember her visits as being full of stories of ‘Fairyland’ where each fairy had their own distinct p
ersonality. She would pick up the stories where she left off, to the delight of her young relatives.
The main plot of every novel is the same. It is “that most interesting time in a young woman’s life” of courtship and marriage. But each engagement has its own set of circumstances, and I see Jane manipulating the attributes and settings to create a new work the way someone would adjust the tone or treble on an equalizer. What if there is lots of beauty and charm, but no money? What if there is plenty of money, but our heroine is, for lack of a better word, clueless? What if all the wit, charm, and vivacity is in the hands of the female competition? Is a rogue always a rouge, or can a good woman ‘be the making of him?”
As an example, Fanny Price is my favorite of all Austen’s characters. I admire her virtue and self command. And yet there are many readers who feel quite strongly about her in another sense, they can’t stand her. I don’t understand this. Perhaps we should look at her character as another medium at the artist’s disposal. After all, if every Austen heroine was gorgeous, witty, smart, and lucky, then Jane’s heroines would be no different then 90% of the fictitious women ever created, and less memorable.
Just for fun, let’s compare Fanny’s personality to a similar girl, Mary Bennet. Both have a high moral standard. Both are studious and attempt to apply what they’ve read to their actions. Both are humorless and plain. While Mary doesn’t display Fanny’s poor health and delicate nerves, she is far from possessing the active energy of her sisters Lizzy or Lydia
Here are the differences as I see them. Mary is very anxious to show what she knows. She is lost in a sea of superior sisters, and vying for her parent’s attention. Fanny has no such ambition. She recognizes her place on the bottom rung, and would never attempt to put herself forward in the presence of her aunts, uncles and cousins. Yet in knowing her lowly position, she is probably the most self aware of all Austen’s characters.
Here is another argument for my “character first” theory. In Austen’s early published works a personality contrast for the main character was provided within the novel. Eleanor had Marianne to offset her prudent good sense with a little impulsive, sensibility. In Pride and Prejudice and array of young woman characteristics are fanned out before us like a hand of cards. Jane, all sweetness and goodness, sees nothing but sweetness and goodness. There is witty, clever, smart Lizzy, her fathers favorite, beautiful and energetic. Poor Mary, wanting in almost every way, smart enough to know there’s a problem, but never able to fix the problem. Kitty is probably fighting for her mother’s affections the way May is fighting for her father’s. Both loosing battles, but Kitty seems to be a bit more good natured about it, constantly condemned to being a follower to a younger sister. Even Jane, in many ways second to Elizabeth, falls in love first and gets the first proposal out of the two. Then there is Lydia- flirtatious, careless, amoral, thoughtless, selfish and vain. Have I left anything out? Interestingly enough to my characters-as -an -art -medium -theory’, she is a polar opposite to her elder sister Jane.
The earlier novels were a cavalcade of young female personalities. I would surmise that by the time these were published it elevated Jane’s confidence that she would be able to write future novels to exhibit new characters. This relieved the need to put so many in close contrast in each novel. Now we can hold Fanny Price up to an Emma Woodhouse or an Anne Elliot to compare, contrast, and understand.
And just to be provoking I’ll tell you that the other Austen character I think is most like Fanny Price is none other than Mr. Darcy. I can almost see Jane sitting near the window dreaming…..What if there was someone as fastidious as Darcy, as circumspect, as beholden to complete decorum…. Yet someone with no money, low family connections, no prospect or position, no strength of constitution, and instead of a tall imposing man, a small, frail, woman? Hmmm, how would that play out? And the quill begins to scratch away. cavalcade

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Usual Accomplishments

“…….it is very foolish to ask questions about any young ladies – about any three sisters just grown up; for one knows, without being told, exactly what they are – all very accomplished and pleasing, and one very pretty. There is a beauty in every family. –It is a regular thing. Two play on the piano-forte, and one on the harp – and all sing – or would sing if they were taught – or sing all the better for not being taught – or something like it…..”
So went Mary Crawford’s assessment of a family of daughters. I know she was wrong at least in part, I myself have three very pretty daughters. And between the three of them we have a healthy mix of drawing, painting, piano playing, ballet, writing of prose and poetry, solo music and choral, short video production, painting screens, and I know not what.
As a teenager myself, I had a vision for the type of home I wanted to someday create. I wanted a home that was peaceful and orderly, and I wanted a home filled with artistic expression and creativity.
It could be that my two dreams were at odds with each other. I grew up in a large family with creative parents. My mother was artistic and from time to time the whole crazy household would get swept up in some project. Sewing, painting, decorating, or art classes would spill out into half the house, while the rest of the house would be in shambles. These were busy times, and often the artistic vision would include a deadline- having the project done in time for such-and-such event. I will admit there were times when I would walk up to my friends house, breath in the quiet air, and fall asleep on a cool sofa while she did her work, cleaning a house that already looked spotless to me. But on the other hand if I wanted to make doll clothes there were always scraps at hand. In the garage I could find drapery remnants to use for throw pillows, tote bags, covering a table that was really a pile of boxes. You could sit and sketch without attracting attention. One summer my room-mate sister and I would sit in silence on our beds, each writing a serial style teen novel, for hours, until we swapped notebooks to catch up on the other one’s story. We had no TV at the time.
So I dreamed of finger painting with my babies, making messes and creating. But I also dreamed of having laundry done on time, having dinner done of time, regular shopping trips, and just a regular train of living. As I do this, many mundane little events fill up my days, until it’s been a year and I haven’t painted a thing with my girls. Then I tell myself I’ll do it in summer, and then summer is over and it never happened.
This past week I decided I was going to make it happen. I had a few canvas boards in the garage. I didn’t want to wait around for the time block that oils would take so I bought a bag of acrylic craft paints to augment the half empty and dried out lot that I have, we broke out the easels, and started to paint. My two DD’s 16 &11 painted with me in our light filled breakfast nook, and I think I’ve secretly decided I’m going to leave my easel out all summer, just to make it easy. I worked on a picture of my sis and I at Malibu Beach as children. It’s not done yet. I was going for a simple, almost paint-by-number retro kind of feel. I can’t wait to finish. My youngest daughter did a fine portrait of our dog Missy. It actually made me want to try one. My DD 16 is painting a picture from the recent Northanger Abby, where Catherine Morland is reading outdoors on a blanket. Their work is great, and I had so much fun, I found myself in the usual refrain of “Why don’t we do this more often?”
But I’ve decided to be easy on myself and just be happy that we did it!
Sometimes breaking from the routine and doing something artistic with the kids is quite an ‘Unusual Accomplishment’ indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mansfield is Home

Portsmouth is Portsmouth and Mansfield is home. That is what Fanny Price realizes after a month back in her Mother and Fathers house.This last month I've been so busy....graduation, recitals, children traveling here and there, and on top of that a 9 day cold/flu that was like something out of the middle ages....that I haven't had much inclination for posting. Life was too busy for me, to hectic for my naturally slow pace. So what did I do? Retreat into Mansfield Park. Mansfield Park is my home in a sense too. It's my home away from home, when the stress here seems too much. I collect those two or three families in a country village that I know so well. I adore Fanny Price. She is the sister of my heart. I follow her through her trials and injustices. I honor her for her self control and self awareness. I stash my novel and read a chapter whenever I get a spare moment, and before I know it, I'm feeling better, I've watched the progress of spring, and our calandar is all but cleared for the summer months.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All Five Out at Once

Here are some pictures from our Sister's Weekend.
Four of my sisters and I have a delightful soak and pedicure.
After the pedi we donned our flip flops and ran through the rain (this IS Seattle, after all) to an antique store. Here I am with two of my sisters playing dress up in hats at the antique store. I am on the left. It's hard to find a good bonnet these days!
Here you see five of us sisters and one sister in law Having lunch. We were quite refined until someone ordered the deep fried Mac and Cheese.


I’ve uploaded a few pictures of our ‘Sister’s day. There are still a few pix I want to get up here but frankly I find the whole photo entry system so confusing that I can only handle so much in one day. I definitely was meant for a less technological era! (Every time I want to post a picture I have to read the ‘help’ again to figure it out.)
I think my all my time with my sister brought on a burst of domesticity. We had discussed laundry a lot- what works and what doesn’t, so I had a chuckle when she called after her trip to say she had found a sign with the following notice…..
“The Laundry is DONE……..The ashes are in the fireplace.”
Did you know that in Jane Austen’s time much of the finer clothing, especially silks and men’s clothes, were rarely if ever washed, and were cut apart to be washed piece by piece and then reassembled! It kind of makes you thankful for the old Whirlpool!
Burst of domesticity #2- I normally plan menus for a week at a time before I go grocery shopping. I was feeling like everything was always so rushed and last minute that I had a brilliant idea- Plan dinners for the whole year! So I made twelve pages of grids and spread them out in front of my on the dining room table, then I was able to do five week sections, first filling in things we like and eat every month, then every other month, then say, once a quarter. After that I got out four or five cookbooks plus the dinner recipes I used to get from ‘Menu Mailer’ and filled in all the rest of the spaces with recipes I wanted to try or already like but rarely use. In the summer months I replaced regular dinners with things that are more hot weather friendly.
So, we’ll see how it goes. I’m one week into it and like it already. I’m still pretty flexible, no eat outs or special holiday dinners are planned, since I want it to be a perpetual calendar. Each month is made up of five weeks, starting with Sunday, so if the month starts on a Wednesday I just skip the first three blocks on the calendar. Because of this the first and last few squares are things we might not want to have as often.
The other day one of the kids commented on dinner, saying it was good. Then DH (Dear hubby) said “I hope you enjoyed it because we aren’t having it again until the third week in September” or something like that. He’s teased me about it but I bet deep down he thinks its cool!!!
While I am talking about him, I must say he felt like I was complaining about him in my last entry about the dollhouse. I don’t think it was bad, only the truth, he’s not sentimental about things like that. But that I understand that and have to say that he is a sweetie. Who else would take me to every new Jane Austen flick rather than just send me out with the girls or try to get me to wait till it went to the video store.
When we went on a date to see “Pride and Prejudice” when it was in the theater, it was opening night so a lot of hard core Janites were there. Well, the woman behind me was talking so much during the show, and in such an annoying way (a la Mrs. Elton) at some point I leaned to my hubby and said “I’m about to reach back there, pull her coat over her head and pummel her hockey style”.
He said “I’d give you 50 bucks. That would be so cool at a Jane Austen premier. He thought a fight breaking out at an Austen premier would be funny and make the papers. Good thing I'm such a peaceful person.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

'Ello 'Enry

My good friend has a daughter who is on a semester abroad in England right now. LUCKY! Sorry for the interjection. Anyway, I’ve heard about her trip to the british library and Bath, and now I was shown tons of lovely photos from the gardens used in the recent ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Picture columned temples rising up out of the misty green garden. I think the pictures looked even more lovely than the scene in the movie, where it was overshadowed by the rain and the ‘Speed racer’ of a proposal scene. (I know, I know, we all don’t have five hours to spend).
They were lovely pictures.
On another topic, I had never seen the movie ‘Face Off’ and we had PVR’d it the other day so on Wednesday night we finally got a chance to watch it. It was a good, (and to me a little creepy) show, but I was puzzled by the role of Castor Troy’s weird brother. There was something oddly sweet and familiar about him…. Do you ever watch a show and your mind is racing saying ‘who IS that???’ About 45 minutes in I realized it was Henry Crawford!!! (aka Alessandro Nivola, the actor who played Henry Crawford in the Miramax version of Mansfield Park.) After that it’s all I see throughout the show.
If someone is in a Jane Austen show then they are like old family friends to me, and their identity is fixed. Well, the one exception would be Colonel Brandon, who despite playing in Austen, and being Snape, among many other roles, will somehow always be Hans Gruber to me.
Cue: Ode to Joy!
Happy Easter all, and enjoy the onset of spring!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Staring at the Pond

Today I am taking my daughter to the mall to go purse shopping for her 16th Birthday. Unless she’d rather go with her sister. I’m making a cake for a little celebration and she’ll have a bigger party later in the month. I’ve been too busy to sketch but I did add a little more art to the board. (Huh, a board for the bored…) If you saw that sweet new picture of Helen Keller as a girl, with Anne Sullivan, then you can imagine why I had to print that out and add it.
Saturday we went out with another couple for appetizers and desserts. I was surprised when the desserts came and the waiter slid over a dish of hot fudge with a straw in it….Hahahah, my hubby ordered it while I was away from the table because we had decided to split a piece of cheesecake but he knows I love the hot fudge. AAAhhhhh, I was positively giddy. Forget ‘chocoholics’…. I am a full fledged theobromine addict.
I do have a little Jane related story for you- I had a fun conversation with a new friend I thought I’d tell you about.
She was in England with a small group that was touring the lovely country home that we all know as Pemberly from the A&E BBC production. At one point she strolled over to the large window where she could look out across the landscape and at the pond below. Two other ladies joined her and they all stood quietly gazing out the window. Finally one of the gentlemen came over and said “Ladies, no matter how long you stare at that water HE’s not going to be coming up out of it.”

Friday, March 7, 2008

Taking a Likeness

I have just been dying to do some creative things lately and seeing that the real creativity is going to be in finding time. Right away oil painting is out. I can't really scrapbook unless I can leave the table covered for the next week or so. So I started one project, a sort of artsy, altered scrapbook looking bulletin board that I decorated a little and have plenty of room to add to when I get the creative bug and have a little time on my hands. I bought a small stack of old pictures from the antique store down the street, and came home and arranged them with black thumbtacks. ...The only thumbtacks I could find were magenta so I colored them with a sharpie.WELL>>>>> as it turns out, there was a really cute proud young soldier pic I put on, and my hubby being a bit of a military buff I said, "so where is this guy from?" And he just started laughing. It seems the crowning photo on the board was a Nazi. I had no idea. He said, "couldn't you see that swastika?" no, I just thought it was a bolt of lightning or something. Ugh. Now I suppose I have to take him off the board. I paid extra for that guy too. The antique store lady must think I love Nazis. Now my husband is teasing me all the time, and to make it worse the kids tacked on a picture of Anne Frank and a star of David from an add that had come in the junk mail. I'm taking him down. Then I had another brilliant idea for art in a small amount of time, the old standard, which should have occurred to me earlier, and that is sketching. So I dug out sketchbooks and decided I would commit myself to art by sketching a little right away. "Taking a likeness" as Jane Austen would say. I love the view of the pine trees and mountains outside my bedroom window, so that would be my first sketch. Good or bad, I did not care, I just wanted to be doing it in an artistic way. Then I decided I would really capture artistic passion by climbing out of my window onto the roof of the kitchen below, of course, for art's sake. Yes, sweetie, if you are reading this, I really did it. I took out the screen and climbed out and sat on the sloping roof with my book and pencil and started drawing. For about 90 seconds and then big fat raindrops started coming down out of nowhere, we were actually enjoying a reasonable sun break at the moment. For a moment I thought the watermarks on the paper would help express my passion and desire to make art. Then I decided to just sit up in the window sill where I would be covered.But I still feel joy not only at making art, but doing something different, something I don't HAVE to do.Yeah Me.

Anne Hathaway

As a kid, (before discovering Jane Austen) I always wanted to be Agent 99. Now I see 'Get Smart' is coming out. Anne Hathaway gets to be Agent 99 AND Jane Austen?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Open Air Dancing

I have a few more thoughts to add about the ITT/ Masterpiece adaptation of Mansfield Park. After watching this show again, and already over my initial disappointment, I wanted to add a few things about the outdoor dancing.
Why was Fanny Price’s ‘coming out ball’ replaced with a picnic? It is our of character because I don’t think she would have stood up to Sir Thomas to object to his suggestion. But Fanny’s character is changed in this movie, so I guess she could have had a ball, picnic, or gone skydiving and it wouldn’t matter that much as far as being out of character. My guess is that budgetary restrictions were the guiding factor. The costs of using a real room in a great house, and the work involved in fitting it up and then restoring it back for the owner was probably prohibitive, though as far as I’m concerned they could have saved money by hiring a lesser known actress who may have actually read the novel.
And then why through in the second dance after the wedding? It was out of place and Fanny would never have been the one to introduce the waltz to the local society.
In my opinion Fanny is one of the best creatures ever written up and a credit to Jane Austen that no one can touch her. No one has come close to the sweetness and the sadness and the complexity. I still hope to see the real Fanny on screen someday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Miss Austen Regrets, Part Two

The other day my husband and one of my daughters watched ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ with me. I managed to get through it the second time without the tears…..But oh, how my hubby disliked that show! He said it was so awful, so mean…. He’d rather watch a concentration camp documentary… How could I like that show. In effect I think it surpassed ‘Old Yeller’ as the saddest show he’s watched in his life.
I think they definitely pushed the limits of the meanness, but it was very well done all in all.
My youngest daughter ordered an interesting book off of a book order from school. The book is ‘Enthusiasm’ by Polly Shulman (Incidentally that is also the name Fanny knight wanted to give the novel she was writing. Her Aunt Jane suggested ‘Which is the Heroine?’ a name that wouldn’t fly for a kids book these days). It is about a High school sophomore girl who loves Jane Austen novels, and what happens when her flighty, enthusiastic friend ‘discovers’ Jane Austen too, and wants to wear only long dresses to school, and find them a pair of handsome single gentlemen. One of the boys they meet is Charles Grandison Parr, named after the hero Charles Grandison of one of Jane Austen’s favorite novels.
Well, I LOVED the book, it was really fun, but there was so much kissing that I told my fifteen year old daughter she could read it, but I will try and distract my eleven year old who ordered it, by telling her it’s a little boring. The only thing I really didn’t like was the author’s way of trying to write teen dialog. You get the feeling she is trying to write ‘down’ without really knowing how teens talk. But I do appreciate her efforts to make a bunch of boys sound like boys without being too vulgar and foul mouthed. That’s one good thing about juvenile books.
On the other hand, after reading it I had a weird dream that I was a teen girl ( I think I was Gabriella from High School Musical) and I was sitting in a diner booth with a really cute blue eyed boy…. Was it Charles Grandison Parr, the boy from ‘Enthusiasm’? I think so, but I can’t be sure because it turned into a baby and then a dog and I carried ‘it’ home.
Last but not least, I am trying to have a little fun and plan a Jane Austen activity or two to do with my sisters and nieces for spring break, or midwinter break if I can get it together that fast.
My ideas were: A group reading, probably adapted from juvenilia, a tea (cocoa and punch) party, View one of the movies together, and maybe even learn a dance. We’ll see how it goes!

Miss Austen Regrets

I just finished watching “Miss Austen Regrets”, staring Olivia Williams as Jane Austen. This touching portrayal was well written and wonderfully acted. My instinct is that this was so much like her. I don’t know if someone can read enough biographies to give them the right to say that, but so many times I found myself nodding and thinking, that is so right…….
Fanny knight was wonderful and sweet, and yet I believe you could see the seeds there of a woman who may grow to look back on her aunt with such a critical and conceited eye, making disparaging remarks about her clothes and her manners.

I am glad I watched it alone today. I cried through the last half hour, and if my girls want to watch it I will have to leave the room until I’ve become more accustom to watching the show.
How might I think Jane Austen was different than the portrayal in the show? I think the humor, with the bitter edge, was probably there, though family remembrances seem to indicate more of an effort on Jane’s part to give comfort to those around her, and not be quite so open. Is there such a thing as good natured bitterness?
Anything I say at this point though might lead to the idea that I didn’t like the portrayal in the show. I loved it. I found it sweet and heartbreaking, and probably very close to reality.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hat's Off to Bonnets

The other day I was searching the internet for costume regency bonnets. I was surprised at the lack of simple straw bonnets and then I finally found some in straw and felt, but they were pretty pricey. Then I looked at a few sites where people had altered regular straw craft bonnets, or made bonnets, so I was thinking along those lines by the time I watched Northanger Abbey on Sunday. Once Catharine was in Bath I couldn’t stop noticing all the lovely bonnets.
Well, I did manage to refocus my attention on the show, but at night I dreamed I was going store to store looking for the perfect bonnet. After a long and fruitless search I decided to find a hat that I could alter. I ended up in some weird kind of Goodwill store (or, maybe that was just the regular Goodwill store). I found straw hats and began to examine them and think of the possibilities, when suddenly I spied a fabulous bonnet! But someone was wearing it. Before I knew it I was caught up in some sort of second hand fashion parade in the store, but I could not make my way through the crowds over to that lovely bonnet. (But what does it signify, for I shall have no place to wear it!)
The night before last I was with my husband and I stumbled over my words when I was saying something about ‘tomorrow’. He gave me a strange look and said “Did you just say ‘on the morrow’?
Umm, yeah. Maybe the Jane Austen season is getting to my head.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Persuasion was on last night and it was great. That show makes me tear up. And watching it on our new large flat screen was way better than seeing 5 minute segments in the 3” youtube box all those months ago.
There’s one funny trick my mind played on me. The characters all seemed so perfect that when I read Persuasion again this past fall my brain inserted those actors into the story. So much so that toward the end I’m thinking, “wait- where’s that scene where Captain Wentworth is writing at the table, did they cut it?” I could literally see Rupert Penry-Jones walking back into the room and sliding the letter across the desk while making eye contact with Anne….
My daughter is going to want to watch it when she gets home from school. My hubby watched with me, which was fun. He was frustrated with how everyone treated Anne. But after a while he said she was just too wishy-washy, and that’s why everyone treated her like a doormat. I may have said something to defend Anne at this point, but then I thought, that’s exactly a Captain Wentworth line of thinking, and if I had to liken my husband to any of the main Austen heroes it would probably be Captain Wentworth. So once again I was marveling at how brilliant and insightful Jane Austen was.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jane Eyre

Sometimes My hubby and I have conversations via our extended family website. This is what he wrote on the thread about the Jane Eyre program………

The thing I thought was funny about Rochester was that he talked as if he was horribly disfigured and I had to strain to see that - ah yes, there was a little scaring on his left side. Sort of like how the Phantom of the Opera was supposed to be hideous, but was way better looking than me on my best day ever. It seemed a good match though. The girl was still ugly but now he was blind and they were both rich. And he was rid of the crazy first wife who tried to kill everyone.I suppose if the girl were rich enough to get plastic surgery and then she went back and found he was blind it would be an O Henry rather than a Bronte. So a happy ending all around. (I only saw part of the second half too. And it is entirely possible I am taking too superficial a view of the story.)
This was my reply…….

That is so mean. Can't there be a story about a plain looking person? Rude. That's it. I take it back about the hot dogs. We're totally having fish sticks now!

Friday, January 4, 2008

All Six Every Year

Anytime is a great time to read Jane Austen, however last year I thought I'd make a little schedule for myself, planning out the best time of the year to read Jane Austen. Each novel gets two months, and it doesn't take that long to read them so there's plenty of time remaining for Juvenilia, your JASNA newsletter, and the latest copy of 'Persuasions' that brightens the mailbox each July. Most of the novels incorporate a whole year at least, so this is highly subjective, but I will tell you what I think is the best time to read each book, and why.

Dec –Jan; Emma. The Christmas Party at the Weston’s comes to mind, along with Mr. John Knightly’s wry complaints, Mr. Woodlouse’s worries, and Mr. Elton’s desperate proposal. Emma is the perfect backdrop for holiday plans, planning a ball, and sending a charitable gift to the Mrs. Bates in your life.

Feb –Mar; Northanger Abbey. I’ve heard that winter is the season for Bath. I hope that’s right. I don’t know if Catherine Morland is the youngest of our heroines, but she definitely seems the most innocent and naïve, perfect for the start of a new year.

April –May; Mansfield Park. My first plan was to put Mansfield Park in July, as a birthday present to Fanny. Her personality seems so much like mine in many ways; I fancy that her sign must be Cancer, even though I don’t really believe in that type of thing. Then Sir Thomas mentioned in mid July that she had passed her birthday recently. Therefore I have given Fanny Price the honorary birthday of July 11th, (same as mine) and I will happily share it with such a sweet selfless woman.
However, Fanny was so disappointed to miss the progress of spring while exiled in Portsmouth, that I decided springtime would be the best time and place for my favorite of Jane Austen’s ladies.

June –July; Pride and Prejudice. Summer is the time for the big ticket novels. Perfect for a travel read, or poolside/beachside. Or pretending you are poolside/beachside. A little sea bathing would set me up nicely!

August-Sept; Sense and Sensibility. With this book you can enjoy the suns rays one moment, and be caught in an unexpected September shower the next. Then just when you think the warmth is gone for good, a little Indian summer comes along and all is beautiful again.

October-November; Persuasion. Once again I’m tempted by a birthday -we actually know Anne Elliot’s, it is August 9th-but I must put Persuasion in the fall. Anne and her story exemplify fall and the passage of time, the fading beauty, trading coolness for warmth. But like the fiery red leaves bursting into prominence, Anne experiences a ‘second bloom’, and another chance at what she had once lost.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy JANE-uary

Thanks to fealeitha I have the schedule for the shows starting in January.

Schedule:January 13, 2008 - Persuasion
January 20, 2008 - Northanger Abbey
January 27, 2008 - Mansfield ParkFebruary 3, 2008 - Miss Austen Regrets
February 10-24, 2008 - Pride and Prejudice (3 2-hour episodes)
Pledge drive,
March 2-16; no films aired
March 23, 2008 - Emma
March 30-April 6, 2008 - Sense and Sensibility (2 90-minute episodes)
I was telling a friend a little story about how I got my P&P DVD set and I haven't mentioned it her so I thought I'd add it:
I do have the DVD set. That year my hubby had been wanting a DVD player and I kept saying maybe we should wait. One day he came home with the DVD player
and as I looked at him he handed me the P&P box and said, "I figured you'd need it for these..." Smart man.