Friday, December 28, 2007


Virtues, vices, and one resolution

Almost the end of 2007, and it's stock-taking time for us saints and sinners. I didn't read as much this year as I usually do, largely because I barely read at all for three months while we house-hunted and moved. Hence I never made a list of my favorite books of the year (woefully short such a list would be), but if I had, the Louise Andrews Kent books would be high on it. Mrs Appleyard says of herself and her faults, in the January chapter of Mrs. Appleyard's Year (Houghton Mifflin 1941):

"She could, of course, go on counting over the rosary of her faults, but she has decided it is too depressing; so she has taken a little time to dwell upon her virtues, too. If she doesn't, who will? Compared to the achievements of Joan of Arc they may seem slight, but then Mrs. Appleyard is only a housewife. She knows she is because she read it in the Overbrook Town Report.

As such she has certain virtues.

She has never piped whipped cream around the edge of a grapefruit.
She uses the brakes on her car instead of the horn.
She speaks little of her servant problem.
She enjoys praise, but she knows that most praise implies surprise, so if she gets any she is grateful but calm.
She realizes that at about her age women generally begin to think about either their souls or their figures and that it is too late to do much about them.
She chuckles over the remarks that her friends make about each other and forgets them.

Really, as she thinks it over, she feels almost unbearably virtuous. Perhaps her own best contribution to a pleasant New Year for everyone would be for her to indulge in her vices a little more. So that is her Resolution."

And a fine resolution it is. I'm having a lovely holiday week - a very busy weekend and half of Christmas Eve here at the shop, a day off after visiting with my family for Christmas - a day at home to do, wonderfully, nothing - and now a few days back at the shop to visit with the booklovers on vacation who need somewhere to go and something to do. I've sold some good books yesterday and today to these very people. After all, the holidays are nearly over. We can return to buying books for ourselves. (A vice? The vice?)

Next up, another snowstorm is due here tomorrow and again after the weekend, so it looks like I'll enjoy a stretch of days at home before coming back to work after New Year's Day. All month around here it's been snowstorm, two clear days, snowstorm, two clear days, snowstorm, etc. So I think in the midst of all that I'll have a quiet New Year's Eve inside. Though I do have word from my friends at the Tides Institute in Eastport that they'll be dropping an eight-foot sardine off the top of their building at midnight. With a brass band accompaniment. Now that would be worth going out in the cold to see.

Happy New Year, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your vacations, if you have 'em. See you in 2008.

Belated birthday wishes, Sarah, from snowy northern Michigan to snowy Maine. I have only recently made the acquaintance of Mrs. Appleyard so was intrigued to find her on your site. Thank God we are booksellers!
Hey thanks, p.j. - good to meet you! How happy I am to hear that someone else has met Mrs. Appleyard. Kent wrote umpteen children's books, a few novels and cookbooks, and yet there's no Wikipedia article about her, how can this be?

Yes, thank God indeed. Just think of the alternatives. No, don't. Too scary.
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