Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Katherine - Anya Seton

I decided to post up my favorite books to the left here, because books are so incredibly important to me. I'd shrivel up and die without them.

One of my favorite books of all time is "Katherine" by Anya Seton. It is a fictionalized version of the true story of Katherine Swynford, one of the most remarkable women of medieval history.

Katherine was the third wife of John of Gaunt, a member of the Plantagenet royal family of England during the 1300's. Although John, Duke of Lancaster, was one of the most influential men of England, he was never king. Through Katherine, however, the entire royal family of England now traces its heritage.

Katherine is one of the most incredible love stories of all time. She was the daughter of a knight from Hainault (present day Belgium) who traveled to England with John's mother when she married his father. Katherine was s lady in waiting to John's first wife Blanche, who died very tragically and quite young. After her death, Katherine and John fell in love, but he remarried Constanza of Castile (Spain) for political reasons.

John and Katherine had four children together. They eventually stopped seeing each other due to a deep sense of guilt over their affair. After Constanza died, John shocked all of England by marrying Katherine for love, a love that spanned 25 years, and making her his Duchess.

Katherine is still in print, many years after its first publication, but you can also easily find it in the library. You will be enthralled with Katherine and John's story, more meaningful because it is true.

The God Hunt

All of us have access to God, but each has different access. Our great chance lies precisely in our unlikeness. God's all-inclusiveness manifests itself in the infinite multiplicity of the ways that lead to Him, each of which is open to one person.

Martin Buber

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review - The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I just finished a book that was so fabulous, that I had to get up after 1 a.m. and write about it right away.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is the best book I've read all year. I tend to follow book reviewes pretty carefully, but I've seen no advertising about this book at all. I picked it up at Walmart, of all places, for $17.34 instead of the list rice of 24.95. I'm sure it is on sale (gently used) on Amazon for even less.

The Help is a story about African-American domestic staff, the dawning of the Civil Rights movement and the white families who employ the maids. It is written from the perspective of three different women, two of them are the housekeepers and one is the progressive adult daughter of a traditional Southern family. The story is riveting and the dialog is superb, with an often ruthless look of the pettiness, as well as the deep cruelty, of racial prejudices. With such a serious topic discussed, The Help still managss to be very funny and entertaining. I literally could not put this book down, which is why I am up so late.

Part of the porgnancy of this book for me was remembering our housekeeper, Rose Brown, whom we hired in Virginia just at the same time period of the the book. Rose was a very tall woman, who had the most beautiful, long-fingered hands I'd ever seen. She wore a distinctive gold ring that formed a knot with a little ruby, her birth stone, on it.

Rose frequently spoke of herself in the third person, such as "Don't you kids be back-sassing Rose." She had very distinctive angular hand-writing. A few years back, I found a grocery list stuck inside my mother's New York Times Cookook,in Rose's handwriting which washed me over in nostalgia. Apparently the tunafish, baking soda, and celery never made it home.

She used to make really incredible peanut brittle that she smashed into pieces with a hammer. She had a big, plywood board that she'd covered with an old sheet so that we could do 1,000 piece puzzles with her while she watched her "stories" (Like sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives...") She'd slide the plywood under a bed until the next time we worked on the puzzle. Rose moved with us from Virginia to Connecticut, but finally moved back home when my mother remarried and we moved to New York.

Pick up the book, you'll love it. Even if you didn't have the blessing of a Rose in yoru life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eliminate and Concentrate

In my favorite book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, written by my mentor, Anne Ortlund, she makes an important statement about time management by suggesting that we "eliminate and concentrate" in order to get the most important things done.

Eliminating and concentrating can also work well for me in decorating around my home. My kitchen shelf, which is up very high, had become a catch-all for anything I thought was cute. My ktichen is black, white, and red...but there were all sorts of tins and other items that really didn't fit in with the color scheme.

So, I eliminated and concentrated. I removed about half of what was up there. I limited myself to items I really loved. I love the new look.