Wednesday, October 24, 2007


101 excuses for not blogging

The dog ate my homework. No, a squirrel got into a transformer just down the block and shorted out the electricity downtown yesterday morning. That's the word on the street, anyway. Poor squirrel. My wi-fi internet connection bit the dust with the outage and remained unfindable (by me, that is) until this afternoon when my kind neighbor tinkered with the numerological details. Good to be back. Besides that, I've had a quiet week here. The usual attempts at clearing off my desk have been largely futile, piled as it is with half-finished projects and well-meaning intentions, but I did manage to stretch twelve canvases yesterday and today, they are now awaiting gesso. I also priced and shelved the latest batch of new arrivals, and even sold a few good books here and there. I finished my Mary Wesley reading marathon, and after spending much of the weekend in the garden I felt like something homey and old-fashioned, so I picked up Mrs. Appleyard's Year by Louise Andrews Kent (Houghton Mifflin 1941). I have a penchant for intelligent housewifely books of a certain era, old home-and-garden stuff, and this is turning out to be a prime example. I've always loved her children's books, particularly He Went with Marco Polo, (about a young Venetian gondolier who is befriended by the Polo family at the outset of their travels), but, though I own several, I had yet to read any of her books for grown-ups, if that's what we call ourselves. In Mrs. Appleyard's Year a bit of her language is dated, meaning a few word choices in regard to political correctness are not what is now considered appropriate, but hey, neither was Mark Twain, and other than that the book is genuinely delightful. A sample, about Mrs. Appleyard herself, a Bostonian turned Vermont housewife by marriage (pp.8-9):

"She has given some thought to what kind of old lady she will be. ... She did toy with the idea that it would be fun to be the style of personality whose mood is a dark cloud full of thunder and lightning hanging over the chimney and know that everyone in the house is treading lightly as if on meringues and spun sugar until the cloud either explodes or clears away. ... She would dress in expensive black and have a red wig and a diamond fence around her neck and carry an ebony stick. She would ride in a limousine with a square top and have a chauffeur who looked like a black beetle. She would collect something hideous - bronzes, perhaps, or old buttons - and threaten not to leave them to her relatives. She would cherish a cockatoo to whom she would cackle opinions of her friends and two long-furred monkeys. Calla lilies in alabaster urns would infest her drawing room. ... Mrs. Appleyard can think of a lot of other things, such as asparagus fern and jet earrings, that would account for her irascible disposition, but she has regretfully given up the whole idea as being too much trouble."

This semi-autobiographical novel is written almanac-style in informal and intelligent prose, my favorite kind. I have Mrs. Appleyard's Kitchen waiting on deck. Meanwhile, I'm so happy that my guy Schilling came through last weekend. I thought, well, if we lose on Sunday, at least it won't have been his fault. But we didn't lose, did we. World Series time, game one tonight, I'll be listening on the radio (no cable at the house), though I know I'll fall asleep before the end of the game. Midnight is too late for me this time of year, I'm going into hibernation soon. I used to stay up until all hours, carrying on. Long ago, that was. Have I mentioned I'm turning forty this winter? On my mind, a bit. What kind of of old lady will I be...?

Yeh, right Sarah--40 is soooo old!

(sorry, no sympathy here)

Stayed up last night with Alan
Bennett's 'Common Reader' I picture
you as growing into one of those
lit'ry ladies of a certain age very
similar to his lead character there

(Who just happens to moonlight as
HRH Queen Eliz0
I stayed up late last night (despite my advanced years) to finish Part of the Furniture by your Mary Wesley. Tonight I plan to stay up too late to read A Sensible Life. Thank you for this wonderful reading tip!

I just found a copy of Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers published in 1905. Do you know it?
Hey, I wasn't angling for sympathy, Marci... or saying that 40 is old - I mean old old, as in Mary Wesley old. Ninety when she died. Mrs. Appleyard speculates about herself as an irascible dowager I imagine to be in her seventies. I think I want to be a painter bookseller gardener cook writer (in no particular order). Tidy on the outside and wild on the inside. Like now, but times ten. Because I will have read so many more books by then, you see.

I haven't read Alan Bennett's book yet, but it's on my list. Very interesting premise. Sure, I'd consider being Queen. All those fine bindings in the library...

Heeey Vicky - I really loved "A Sensible Life" and I reeeeeally loved "Not That sort of Girl" and "Harnessing Peacocks." Haven't read "Part of the Furniture" YET.

I haven't ever seen "Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers" - do tell...
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