Sunday, May 24, 2015

Life: It Goes On - May 24

Part of the walk up from the
dock to the house last
Happy Memorial Day weekend! Everyone loving the idea of this not being the last day of your weekend? I know I am! Spent yesterday on all things graduation party - between going to parties and baking/frosting cupcakes for my niece's party, my day was full. Today we'll be heading off to the very tiny town where The Big Guy's parents are are buried to put flowers on graves then working in some stops along the way for visits with cousins and friends. As much fun as the weekend has been, I'll be happy to have another day to put my feet up for a bit to do some reading!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: Mostly podcasts - some RadioLab, Slate's Book Club and new-to-me Nerdettes (thanks, Heather of Capricious Reader!). Friday I finally got back to The Story of Beautiful Girl and finished a disc of that. I think I'm going to try to work in podcasts on a regular basis from now on
- so many great ones but I don't want to give up books, either!

Watching: Honestly, I can't really remember much of what we watched. The finale of The Voice (disappointed with that result) but I did not stay up to watch Letterman's final show. I never have been much of a fan.

Reading: I'm finishing up The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright today then I'm pondering Game of Thrones or something nonfiction. Or maybe something that is actually on my reading plan for the summer. Lucky it's a flexible plan because I'm not sure what my mood will be tomorrow!

Not sure why the gold
ones look so lumpy!
Making: Did I mention cupcakes? A double batch of red velvet cupcakes and then white cupcakes frosted in the three colors of my niece's sorority. I may have overdone it. Anyone want to come pick up a container cupcakes? I have a few left over.

Planning: Some fun with my girlfriends this weekend - our guys are going camping and they actually trust us to behave!

Grateful for: Two long weekends in a row. It's been a great way to recharge the battery. I'm going to have the hardest time when I have to work five days in a row again.

The birthday boy
Enjoying: Thinking about last weekend - we had so much fun being with my whole family at a house on the Lake of the Ozarks celebrating my dad's 80th birthday. Boat rides, tubing, time in the sun, hours of talking and laughter, too much fun and perhaps a bit too much alcohol. As close as my family is, the cousins haven't really had this much time together in a long time and really had the chance to forge deeper bonds which was fun to see.

Feeling: A bit exhausted.

Looking forward to: Sunshine? Surely we'll have a string of sunny days again sometime. I am so over wearing sweaters to the end of the school year! While carrying an umbrella. Seriously. Over it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hearts West - A Mini Review

Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enns
Published February 2005 by TwoDot
Source: this is my mom's copy

Publisher's Summary:
Complete with actual advertisements from both women seeking husbands and males seeking brides, New York Times bestselling book Hearts West includes twelve stories of courageous mail order brides and their exploits. Some were fortunate enough to marry good men and live happily ever after; still others found themselves in desperate situations that robbed them of their youth and sometimes their lives.

Desperate to strike it rich during the Gold Rush, men sacrificed many creature comforts. Only after they arrived did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship.

One way for men living on the frontier to meet women was through subscriptions to heart-and-hand clubs. The men received newspapers with information, and sometimes photographs, about women, with whom they corresponded. Eventually, a man might convince a woman to join him in the West, and in matrimony. Social status, political connections, money, companionship, or security were often considered more than love in these arrangements.

My Thoughts:
My mom read and reviewed this one for me in 2009. At the time I wrote "I know this one will be coming home with me..." Five years later, I finally got around to reading it as part of the Dewey's Readathon. It was a perfect choice for that - short to begin with and something I could read a chapter or two of then split off and read something different for a while.

I won't get into too much detail because it's already been reviewed on this blog but I wanted to point out a couple of things I found interesting about the stories in this book as they relate to present day relationships.

First there was this notice, warning men of the seductive powers of women and advising them that any marriage entered into based on misrepresentation by the woman would be null and void if the man so desired. Goodness, gracious! If men were warned off of any woman who has false hair (extensions, coloring), cosmetics paints, and artificial bosoms (padded bras, implants), were would most of the women of today be?!

About clubs and the newspapers in the summary - there were entire newspapers then (as there still are today) where men and women alike put notices hoping to find a mate. Think modern day eharmony or, heaven help us, Tinder. Isn't it interesting to think that 150 years later, people still have
trouble finding a mate? Although most of eharmony's clients probably aren't looking at making a 3000 mile journey around the cape of South America, so desperate are they to escape their current circumstances.

And they were desperate back in the late 19th-century. In the west there were almost no women and in the east women were eager for a chance to escape poverty or widowhood. There were plenty of stories in the book about couples who, after all of the travel, were so disappointed with the reality of their chosen partners that they didn't even get married or whose marriages didn't last. But, according to the book, the National Archive Department in Washington believes that mail-order brides produced a high percentage of permanent marriages. Enns says the reason cited is that "the advertisements were candid and direct in their explanations of exactly what was wanted and expected from a prospective spouse."
"I am fat, fair, and 48, 5 feet high. Am a No. 1 lady, well fixed with no encumbrance: am in business in city, but want a partner who lives in the West. Want an energetic man that has some means, not under 40 years of age and weight not less than 180. Of good habits. A Christian gentlemen preferred."
Well, there you go - can't get much more direct than that! Maybe those folks seeking a mate today should heed that advice!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Room With A View by E. M. Forster

A Room With A View by E. M. Forster
Published 1908
Source: Bought this one

Publisher's Summary:
A charming tale of the battle between bourgeois repression and radical romanticism, E. M. Forster’s third novel has long been the most popular of his early works. A young girl, Lucy Honeychurch, and her chaperon—products of proper Edwardian England—visit a tempestuous, passionate Italy. Their “room with a view” allows them to look into a world far different from their own, a world unconcerned with convention, unfettered by social rituals, and unafraid of emotion. Soon Lucy finds herself bound to an obviously “unsuitable” man, the melancholic George Emerson, whose improper advances she dare not publicize. Back home, her friend and mentor Charlotte Bartlett and her mother, try to manipulate her into marriage with the more “appropriate” but smotheringly dull Cecil Vyse, whose surname suggests the imprisoning effect he would have on Lucy’s spirit.

My Thoughts:
I have been meaning to read this book for almost 30 years, since I saw, and loved, the 1986 movie adaptation (more on that later). I'm almost certain that I would not enjoyed this book in the same way if I had read it when I was 25 years old so in that regard, it may be a good thing I waited so long to read it. It is a marvelous satire; my copy is loaded with stick notes where Forster has made a particularly biting comment that I adored.
" the end there was presented to the girl the complete picture of a cheerless, loveless world in which the young rush to destruction until they learn better - a shamefaced world of precautions and barriers which may avert evil, but which do not seem to bring good, if we may judge form those who have used them most."
Forster goes right at the bourgeoisie - that class of people who are neither rich, nor working class, who look down their noses at both the working class and the intellectuals, who have little ambition and little tolerance for those who do.
"I have no profession," said Cecil. "It is another example of my decadence. My attitude - quite an indefensible one - is that so long as I am no trouble to any one I have a right to do as I like. I know I ought to be getting money out of people, or devoting myself to things I can't care a straw about, but somehow, I've not been able to begin."
Young Lucy is just beginning to strain at the confines when she and Charlotte travel to Italy. Had Charlotte been any better at her job she might well have been able to steer Lucy down the right and proper path. But Charlotte is so painfully obvious in her efforts, her snobbery, and her woe-is-me attitude that Lucy finds herself more and more questioning what is right. Once back in England, though, Lucy becomes convinced that her behavior in Italy was wrong and at long last accepts the proposal of the pompous Cecil. Seriously, if you don't want to punch this guy in the nose, I don't know what's wrong with you.
"Of course, he despised the world as a whole; every thoughtful man should; it is almost a test of refinement."
One can't help but cheer when the very people who threw Lucy into a state of confusion show up back in her life. I was glad that I couldn't remember how the movie ended so I could enjoy seeing what would become of Lucy, torn in two directions.
"George will work in your thoughts till you die. It isn't possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal."
If this had not been my nightstand book, I'm certain I would not have been able to put it down. As it was, I'm happy to have been able to absorb it in little bites. It's really quite delightful, filled not just with those bits of sarcasm but also with really lovely thoughts.

Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham-Carter in "A Room With A View"
Now, about that movie - if I say "Merchant and Ivory" those of you who are of a certain age and have enjoyed movies of a certain type, will immediately know what to expect of this movie. Wonderful scenery, spot on costumes and sets, a fantastic cast. The 1986 adaptation starred Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy (pre-crazy lady roles, back when she was an ingenue), Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Denholm Elliot, Rupert Graves, Julian Sands and an almost unrecognizable Daniel Day-Lewis when he was still just a supporting actor. If you are a fan of period pieces and have not see this one, I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Inspiration on Mondays - Gallery Walls

An inspiration wall
Once again, Trish of Love, Laughter, and A Touch of Insanity has come up with a way to bring bloggers together, this time with a chance to show what we are being inspired by or creating.

One thing I'm always playing with around here are gallery walls that incorporate more than just one type of wall hanging. Between Pinterest and the home decor blogs I follow, there are no end to inspirational ideas. I love the mix of shapes and textures and the odd pieces that shouldn't blend in but do somehow.

My dining room gallery wall
In my dining room, I used to have a print hanging in the middle of one wall that seemed lost. Soon some plates made their way to the sides of it. But I had this wonderful piece of wood work that needed to be showcased and this wall seemed like just the place. Still, I love my china pieces so this evolving gallery began. It's a mix of family pieces, pieces I've picked up in antique stores, some I've picked up at garage sales. Strangely, it looks more full in real life than it does in the picture. If I ever remember to pick up more plates hangers, there are a few more pieces to be added.

My bedroom gallery wall*
In my bedroom is a gallery wall that started four antique dress prints I inherited from my great-uncle and great-aunt. They have found themselves in many configurations in my room (along with a sister print to the large gold framed print). When my mom gave me the necklace that had been my grandmother's, I wanted to put it somewhere I could look at it and this gallery wall was born. The small purse was a gift and the smaller prints came from my parents. This wall is a work in progress, with another purse that will be added when I find the right pieces to add with it.

My powder room gallery 
The home decorating bloggers will tell you to start your gallery wall with a plan, to map out the wall and gather all of your materials before you start. These are the same people, though, that tell you that their own homes are always a work in progress. So it is with my powder room. After I painted it just before Miss H's graduation, I struggled to find just the thing to hang on the walls. Somehow what had been there didn't work. The framed watercolor print went up but it seemed lonely. My mom gave me the print on the wall above the towel rack and then the smaller framed print and suddenly, I had another gallery wall in the works. This one will wrap around the corner when it's done but it's slower going.

I love having these constantly evolving spaces in my home! Do you have gallery walls in your home?

*My mom has given me two more pieces since I originally wrote this post and took the picture. Once I get everything hung, this wall will be officially done. I think.