Archive for August, 2010

Heaven on Earth…

I was so delighted to get to spend a few days in the Canadian Rockies back in June. Some of my earliest memories revolve around those mountains, for my Dad has a true passion for them, and we lived in and around them until moving to the East coast of Canada in 1981. I don’t get to see them much these days, and it had been four years since I’d even caught a glimpse of Jasper or Banff…Truth is, I can’t spend much time thinking about the mountains when I’m not there, because I crave them so badly that I can barely stand it. Four days in the mountains with my family was about as close as it gets to heaven on earth for me.

Admittedly, TJMaxx is also one of my favorite places, and although shopping is satisfying on many levels, it doesn’t even compare to quality time in the mountains. After four days of sightseeing, hiking, and devouring the landscape, my eyes felt so full…Have you ever felt like that? The only time I ever really got a similar feeling was each time I went to the Louvre Atlanta exhibits at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Only hundreds of  magnificent works of art on display have been anywhere near as visually satisfying  as the mountains. This is no eye candy. This goes beyond candy to a satisfaction on such a deep level that you can’t even really express it. Pictures are okay. But mountains (and art) are three-dimensional. You feel them as well as view them. They have scale and depth, height, texture, color, and mood.

In June, I was able to visit some places that had some real memories for me…and get acquainted with new places. The mountains are different in every season, and what I remembered from winter visits was new again in spring.

So, I leave you with one photo. I had never been here before. We had planned to see Lake Louise, but the parking lots were full and there was nowhere to park, so we continued about 10 miles further up the mountain to Lake Moraine. I consider this to have been the best thing that happened in four days! When it was time to go, I had to tear myself away….

Counting the days until I can go back…


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….by its cover. Yes, yes, we’ve all heard that before. But have you really thought about it? I know it’s saying that sometimes a non-descript, plain, or ugly exterior may hide a beautiful or worthy interior.  However, there are some books that I KNOW I have NO interest in reading simply by looking at the cover. Haven’t you found it the same? Either I’m not at all interested in the subject matter, or it’s in a different language than I can understand,  or I can easily tell that it would pollute my mind in a way that I try to avoid. So, just being Libran and balanced here, I have to say that sometimes, you CAN judge a book by its cover….

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A Favorite…

Gene Stratton-Porter

Anybody ever read anything by Gene Stratton-Porter? I’ve been re-reading her books over and over again lately.  I’ve read many of them over a dozen times – almost compulsively.  I have all her novels – several copies of some of them, in fact,  as I’m afraid something will happen and they’ll be lost forever…besides, I’d like to have some to give to Kate some day, but won’t want to sacrifice my own copies!

Written at the turn of the century, Stratton-Porter’s books are different from anything else that I read – even though I read a LOT of books written in that era. They’re set mostly in Indiana, and they’re not even consistent – you might have a hard time believing that The Harvester and The White Flag were written by the same author. The White Flag  is more of an aberration in her literature, though. Don’t read it until you’ve read everything else.

I can’t even really explain what I love about them. I love the character that some of her characters manifest. She can really spin a good tale, with beautiful pictures of nature thrown in. If you have a choice, read The Harvester first, then Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost, followed by Laddie, A Keeper of the Bees, Her Father’s Daughter (you will find the racial tones in this novel interesting at least – I had no inkling of the Americanism movement that was occurring at this time. Still a GREAT story, though!),  Michael O’Halloran,  The Magic Garden, and A Daughter of the Land.

Her characters really live for me. They go through some heart-wrenching moments. They make some really stupid decisions. But, like the people I most admire, their experiences result in the formation of real character. Maybe that’s why I like the books…it’s how I want my own life to turn out…

As to where you can find her books….well, some of them have been reprinted.  Amazon has quite a few. But check places that sell old books. No doubt you’ll find them in dusty corners, forgotten. Take them home. Read them. Love them. They deserve to be loved even now….

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   ‘It is amazing to me,” said Bingley, ‘how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.’

            ‘All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?’

            ‘Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens and net purses. I scarcely know anyone who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady being spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.’

            ‘Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,’ said Darcy, ‘has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by knitting a screen. But I am very far from agreeing  with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.’

            ‘Nor I, I am sure,’ said Miss Bingley.

            ‘Then,’ observed Elizabeth, ‘you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman.’

            ‘Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it.’

            ‘Oh! certainly,’ cried his faithful assistant, ‘no one can really be esteemed accomplished, who does not have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’

            ‘All this she must possess,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’

            ‘ I am no longer surprised at you knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.’

            ‘Are you so severe upon your own sex, as to doubt the possibility of all this?’

            ‘I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe, united.’

                                                                                                  Jane Austen

So, this is accomplishment as Mr.Darcy and Caroline Bingley saw it, in the year 1813. Things have changed remarkably! Few women could boast a thorough knowledge of music, singing, dancing, and the modern languages, let alone the abilities to cover skreens and net purses. I really wish I had a crowd of women here to ask about what they consider an accomplished woman to be, in this day and age. I have to confess that I personally tend more towards the Mr.Darcy viewpoint – that very few women are what I would truly consider accomplished.  Our educational system has grown to focus more on academics, and less on traditional accomplishments. But accomplishment is subjective, is it not? So, just because I can’t think of dozens of accomplished women doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. However, I can think of quite a few women who have substantial material abilities in the areas of music, sewing, gardening, parenting, decorating, and dressing, as well as the continuous improvement of their minds through learning and ‘extensive reading.’ The days of the decorative gentlewoman are pretty much over with the eclipse by the middle class, and the skills that would have been regarded as important in 1813 are ridiculously redundant today. However, translated into the 2010 version, a woman that has multiple skills relevant to her life, poise, and intelligence will always be admired and considered to be accomplished.

Tell me what you think! Do you feel like women are more or less accomplished than they should/could be? Why do you think this is the case? What do you think an accomplished woman is?

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