August 26, 2013

Sometimes, friends, life gets hard.  While I really try  to be a glass half-full kind of woman,  life's disappointments can occasionally knock the perky right out of you.  I'm going to take a short hiatus until I can muster up a cup of perkiness and will hopefully be back soon. In the meantime, God bless you all. 

August 23, 2013

Making the cut...

Thank you for all the lovely comments I received yesterday on my new garden sign.  Everyone offered a book or two that they would have used had it been their sign, so I thought you might like a list of some of the books that didn't make my cut.  Let me tell you, the selection process is brutal, when you love all of them!  In no particular order here were places I considered and then decided for various reasons not to use:

Chawton Cottage (Jane Austen's home)

 221B Baker Street
Orchard House 
(home of Louisa May Alcott and where she wrote Little Women)

Balaclava College 
(Peter Shandy mysteries by Charlotte MacLeod)

Miss Minchin's Seminary for Girls
where poor Sara Crewe was enrolled

Who can forget the first sentence in Rebecca?

215 Fergussen Hall
Dormitory assignment of Jerusha Abbott (the college name was never mentioned)
Daddy Long Legs, by Jean Webster
St. Mary Mead
Miss Marple's Village

Home of the Stark Family
Eddard and Catlyn Stark, Game of Thrones

And believe me, there were many more books than just the ones shown here!  But in the end, you just follow your heart and you can't go wrong.  And isn't it nice to have so many wonderful books to choose from?  

by Beverly McLoughland

The biggest
On the library shelf
is when you suddenly
Find yourself
Inside a book-
(the HIDDEN you)
You wonder how
The author knew.

August 22, 2013

Where are you headed?

How did you fare with yesterday's match the book to the quote game?  Hopefully you recognized most of them, although I did throw in one or two books that might not be as well known to all of you.  I have to admit that choosing only NINE books for my garden sign project was tough.  Really tough.  It's like admitting that you love one child more than another. (And in case any of my children are reading this, I love you ALL EQUALLY!)  But in the end, most of the books I chose are the ones that I turn to late at night for comfort. The other books have given me wonderful memories of reading one of them to my siblings on a long, hot car ride out West (we made it through the entire Narnia series between South Dakota and Washington state), another one to my children when they were young (The House at Pooh Corner, which my youngest son would request night after night after night...), and a third my whole family read--we had to buy multiple copies as we were all fans of Harry Potter and his Hogwarts classmates!  I could probably do another sign for my front yard with the books I had to pare from my favorites list, but I suppose there can be too much of a good thing sometimes.  Perhaps.  When it comes to books, I'm not sure!

So here it is, finally standing tall in my garden!  I bought a 8 ft. pole, and three feet of it is buried in a hole that had (according to my son) boulders the size of bowling balls.  Wouldn't you love to follow the signs to a place where you can escape the world and throw off your cares for awhile?  Would you choose to make your way to Prince Edward Island and visit the charming village of Avonlea, and perhaps drink Marilla's cherry cordial with Anne and Diana?  (Anne of Green Gables)

Or perhaps you would prefer to peek in on Elnora, as she practices her violin and hunts for the rare moths that can fund her education in the Limberlost Swamp? (The Girl of the Limberlost)

I wouldn't mind stepping inside a certain magic closet and seeing if I could make my way to a lamp post in the woods, and maybe even meet Aslan along the path!  (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)

I was introduced to the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon a few years ago, and have voraciously made my way through her seven (so far) very thick (but oh so good!) books about Claire, a WWII nurse who travels back to Jacobite Scotland through the mystical standing stones of Craigh na Dun.  The fact that she falls for a handsome, lusty, redheaded Scot in a kilt makes the reading, um, enjoyable.  (nuff said!)

It's no surprise to any of you that I'm a romantic, as I certainly admit it freely and often on my blog.  So of course Jane Eyre is going to make an appearance, as well as Pride and Prejudice.  And because it is my blog and I can do what I want with it, let's enjoy one more picture of Mr. Darcy, shall we?  Because when it comes to Colin Firth, there really can never be too much of a good thing!

And my final book choice comes from a college class way back when.  Forced to take an English class titled "The Warrior in Literature" because it was the only English class that would fit in my schedule, I begrudgingly resigned myself to a boring semester of testosterone-laced action novels.  I simply could not have been more wrong, as my professor led us through mythic battles and legends that stirred my imagination and made me a believer in the dream world of Camelot, King Arthur and Sir Gawain, had me on the edge of my seat praying for Roland during the Battle of Roncesvalles in France, and squirming in horror at the blood feuds that  friends Njall and Gunnarr faced in Iceland.  And at the end of the semester, as a reward for making it through a lot of heavy stories, our professor gave us a rare gift.  The story of a gentle man who never set out to be a warrior, but became the stuff of legends.  Bilbo Baggins earned the right to have his beloved Shire as my final destination point.  For there is something strangely loveable and unforgettable about the little folk known as hobbits.

So please feel free to stop by and curl up on my newly stained garden bench (decked out with new pillows that I sewed), choose your destination and enjoy the world that opens before you!

August 21, 2013

Game time!

Let's play a game!  I have discovered that most of my readers love the same books that I do, so I'm going to list first sentences and favorite lines from some of my all-time favorite books.  Can you match them up with the photos below?  (Hint:  there are nine books total, two pictures and two quotes per book, and the pictures are not shown next to its proper quote.  Good luck!)

"Not all who wander are lost."

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

“Girls aren't very good at keeping maps in their brains", said Edmund, "That's because we've got something in them", replied Lucy.”  

"It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities."

 "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

"Wherein Elnora goes to high school, and learns many lessons not found in her books..."

 “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.” 

"Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy." 

 "It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance." 

"All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.”

“There never was a moment in my life, when I felt so in the Presence, as I do now. I feel as if the Almighty were so real, and so near, that I could reach out and touch Him, as I could this wonderful work of His, if I dared. I feel like saying to Him: 'To the extent of my brain power I realize Your presence, and all it is in me to comprehend of Your power. Help me to learn, even this late, the lessons of Your wonderful creations. Help me to unshackle and expand my soul to the fullest realization of Your wonders. Almighty God, make me bigger, make me broader!”

“Oh, aye, Sassenach. I am your master . . . and you're mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own.”

"One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought he would do something, so he went round to Piglet's house to see what Piglet was doing."

"And people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven't you?" 

"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." 

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."

"Mrs Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladie's eardrops, and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs Rachel Lynde was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed any-thing odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof. "

I'll be back with the answers tomorrow (although I bet you won't need them!) and that long promised peek at my garden sign!

August 20, 2013

Do you know the way to

San Jose?  No, not really, but I bet I could Google Map it and find out!  But long before Google Maps, direction apps and GPS trackers (why do our rental car GPS systems always say only one word--"recalculating. recalculating"??) there were directional signs to help us find our way.  The ancients found a way to steer travelers in the right direction:

 and perhaps even aliens navigated with a little signage help?

Sailors relied on compasses to chart their path:
or set their course by the night sky:
And when my husband and I were first married we thought we were cool and hip, setting out on a road trip with our handy-dandy AAA triptiks:
All of this is my roundabout way of introducing my latest craft project:  a garden directional sign.  I saw a couple of signs on Pinterest and with the usual enthusiastic and overly optimistic naiveté I bring to projects and crafts, I jumped at the idea of making a sign for my garden.  Fortunately, I wasn't thinking quite this large scale, but my son (who helped me with this project and dug the hole) and my husband (who wrestled the pole into the ground and secured it) assure me that next time they'll help me keep my enthusiasm in bounds.
For this project I wanted boards that looked old and weathered, and fortunately I had just the right thing.  In 1998, while I was still living in South Dakota, a devastating tornado virtually wiped the town of Spencer, SD, off the map.  One craftsman took scattered boards from the various barns and outbuildings and used them to make small garden fences.  I bought one at a craft fair simply because I liked the fact that an old barn still existed, even if altered in form and function. Over time the fence grew wobbly and was finally relegated to the garage.  The first step was to disassemble the fence:
and cut down the length a little (this is NOT my most flattering picture, but of course I chose to do this on a really hot day!):
And finally I laid them in order and decided on paint colors.  For this step I used outdoor paint to make sure the project is waterproof. 

Then came the fun part--deciding where I wanted to go!  Because what is the point of a directional sign if it doesn't list a destination?  I'll save that part for tomorrow, but I'll give you a little won't find these places on a real map! 

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”
---J.R.R Tolkien

August 19, 2013

“It's not what the world holds for you. It's what you bring to it.”
--L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to gain, and a time to lose.

And this weekend, it was a time to pack and watch our youngest son head back to college.  He's come home for the summer before and we've watched him load the car and drive off, waving as he went, but this time was different.  This, as far as we know, was the last time he plans to live at home for more than a few vacation days here and there.  He graduates in December, and his plan is to stay in his college town while his girlfriend completes her degree.  And after that--who knows?  The world is his oyster, and I agree with Dr. Seuss...oh the places you'll go!! 

But as much as I am excited for him and happy to see him start to make his own way in the world, my heart broke just a little watching him pull away from the house, heading to Chicago with his girlfriend for a Broadway musical (he posted this great picture on facebook last night--aren't they cute?!)
and then this morning he is back at school.  The up side to this, of course, is that his room is now nice and tidy and should stay that way until, say, Thanksgiving.  I'm not sure absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it certainly helps keeps rooms neat!
My husband and I spent Friday evening reminiscing with our son, laughing at some of the strange but true stories that accompany a degree in theater.  He's made us so proud and we've enjoyed watching some wonderful moments on stage, like in The Importance of Being Earnest, where he regaled us with how he had to eat stale cucumber rind sandwiches night after night.
And made us weep for weeks afterwards in his heartbreaking role in The One Thousand Pound Marriage:
So there isn't much more we can say at this point except we love you, do good work, keep your nose to the grindstone (your grandfather's motto), and remember that all of us at home have your back, each and every day.  From the moment you were born and you looked into your father's eyes we have held you in our arms and treasured you in our hearts, and now, it's time to open our arms out wide and let you go.

Parents' weekend, freshman year of college

And lest you find yourself forgetting the way, don't forget the special painting your dad gave you right before you left this weekend.  For no matter where you go in life, all hearts lead home...
Heading Home, by Terry Redlin