The Incredible Enough-ness of Being (bumped)

(I wrote this the year I turned 50 in 2008 – it still seems timely – I have lost a beloved mother and three pets, but life is still Short and Sweet and Full of tickle grasses… so I am sharing it again.)
More than half my life is over. This year I turn fifty and I can no longer console myself with thoughts of “Oh, I still have over half my life to live…” I suppose this was true when I was 45, because even then it was very unlikely I had another half to go. Having a pacemaker, I might have been pushing it to wish for ninety, but now that 50 approaches I have to think realistically and face the reality 100 is a faint flicker, gradually sputtering toward being permanently extinguished.

So why am I happier now than I have ever been in my entire life? It isn’t that life has necessarily gotten any easier or less stressful. In many ways – I have more worries now of a more complex nature than at any other time in my life. Maybe it is simply the fact OF life that makes me feel content. I am here, now, and this is life. So, I make the best of it.

At one time in my life, I wanted to be an actress. Now that I am approaching fifty, I can relax and let that little fantasy fade to black, as they say. It is an absolute certainty I will never appear in a major motion picture or, my personal secret goal, a full blown Merchant Ivory costume, big screen feature film depiction of some obliquely pertinent English novel: something by Henry James or another long suffering closeted gay late 19th century, early 20th century writer. Knowing that ingénue roles will never again be a possibility for me is really quite liberating. And the fact that I wasn’t able to fulfill my completely irrational fantasy to portray tightly corseted ingénues rules me out of the completely left field fantasy to play free spirited, gray locks flowing down the middle of my back, blowing in the wind, spinster character roles as well. The bottom line is this: it’s over – I will not be an actress. So that’s that.

Somewhere in my late twenties I began to develop a passion for interior decorating. Not the kind you see in furniture showrooms; my own individual quirky kind. I determined I loved all white interiors. I crafted all white slip covers and painted everything I could get my hands on with Martha Stewart ironstone white paint (before Sears had the paint.) I was an interior decorating version of Emily Dickinson, only my house was my preferred medium. I suppose you could say I was fashioning my own private sanatorium!

I carefully studied my favorite magazines, Victoria, Country Home, Country Living even English Country Living! I once actually paid $89.00 for an entire year to receive Country Living, English Version. I gardened (gardening is a whole other blog post, so I will save THAT topic for later.) I was consumed with decoration and little lovely things. I CREATED little lovely things. By the time I was thirty five, I even sold some of my little lovely things. Victoria Magazine was my absolute favorite and my actress dreams became “Clever Me Featured in a Magazine Article” dreams. I hired a photographer (a student at the photography school) I had professional pictures made of my little lovely things, I designed a unique and gorgeous letter to Victoria, I sent it. They actually replied and said they were very interested and would get back to me in a year or two, since everything was planned that far out. And then, Victoria folded, the magazine shut down just as the two years was about to be up and my “Clever Me Featured in a Magazine Article”dream faded away as well. I sat on my white couch in my white living room and pondered Martha’s ironstone white walls and thought, well, that’s that.

I still have all my pretty slip covers and things, but I consider my house to be fully decorated and keeping up with the times doesn’t hold the appeal it once did for me. My house will gradually descend into outmoded. Soon, it will be like a typical grandmother’s house. Neat and tidy with things that people decorated with over twenty years ago. My twig wreaths will be the 21st century equivalent of crochetted tissue box holders. I have to face it. It is over. It was not my destiny to be featured as a clever doer of lovely little things in a magazine. And you know what? It is ok.

With the exception of acting, I still do many of the things I used to do. I make pretty little things. But I find that I can’t part with them. They made me happy while I created them and the memory they provide makes me happy when I pull them out and look at them. Maybe that is why I am happier now than I have ever been. Somewhere along the way, I discovered the joy of being satisfied. It has filled me up and it has made me whole.

Now, I look forward to what lies ahead for my daughter. Only, I try not to impose any expectations. I only want her to discover this same happiness I have found. I hope she finds it sooner than I did. I want her to know this joy of enoughness, the pleasant realization of this is it-ness, the contentment of here and now-ness.

I want to say Happy New Year to all who read this. May you be filled to the brim with self contentment and the life affirming spirit of liking yourself-ness…

The Secret Fairy Society Annual Christmas Newsletter

Some instruction for those of you new to the newsletter:

This is the actual size - but I have enlarged it for you humans

Fairies tell time in “SOONTIME”. Everything will be soon, sooner, soonest, sooner rather than later, pretty soon, soon enough, kind of soon, real soon, as soon as possible, and as soon as necessary. The days of the week are Soonday, Moonday, Toosoonday, Wooday (this is the day most Fairies become engaged,)  Fromday, Humday (Fairies love to sing) and Someday. This will aid you in figuring out when things happen in Fairyland.

Well, here it is! Merry Christmas!!

A Bright and Merry Christmas

A Bright and Merry Christmas!

I am named for my maternal grandmother and it was a perfect choice for me. We shared many characteristics and one of the most important is a reverence for the past. She managed to preserve many old family Christmas cards. Few, if any have a salutation written directly on the card, so I do not know who gave what to whom, but they are lovely examples of the art inherent in early Christmas cards.  I want to share a few here. Merry Christmas!

I believe this cards may be made by Prang & Company - you can read about him here

Home Sweet Home

I especially love these bucolic country scenes … this is my ideal of what Christmas looks like…

Lanterns Across The Snow

By Susan Hill, Illustrated by Kathleen Lindsley

“Last night, the snow fell, and then I began to remember.There is no one else left now, no one who remember it at all. Mother and Father are long dead. And, brother Will, gone for a soldier…”

In 1987 I came across this delightful, poignant Christmas book. Lanterns Across the Snow was written by Susan Hill, a wonderful British author who writes lovely, spooky ghost stories as well in a style reminiscent of Daphne DuMaurier and Rumer Godden.

This story moved me deeply when I first read it. I am sure it moved me to tears. There is nothing like an old childhood memory to dredge up the tears.  It is a reminiscence. An old woman begins to remember the last Christmas she spent living in a rural country village at the age of nine. Her Father, the local Vicar, ministered to the poor and sickly and as well as the Manor house. The young Fanny recalls, “I remember the carol singers coming with their lanterns across the snow, and their voices, and the sound of the flute and the fiddle..

I believe this book might be hard to find. I think there may be used copies on Amazon. If you collect Christmas books, this book would be a nice addition.

Shhhhh!! Here is a preview of the Secret Fairy Society Newsletter

Preview of the Christmas soonthousand and nine edition

Here is a preview of the annual Christmas edition of The Secret Fairy Society Newsletter. This year’s guest editor is Miss Ell Toe.

Ooops! That is kind of small (well, it is a Fairy Newsletter!) I will put my magnifying glass over it so you can see it better…

There – is that better? Still too tiny?

Here it is!  But remember, the REAL newsletter is very small…

Be sure to check back on Christmas Day to read Breaking News, Coming Events as well as Fairy songs and recipes!

Old Christmas

But is old, old, good old Christmas gone? Nothing but the hair of his good, grey, old head and beard left? Well, I will have that, seeing that I cannot have more of him

I love Christmas. I love books. Naturally, when you combine the two you end up with the following conclusion: I love Christmas books. I have been picking up books devoted to Christmas since I was in college. It all started with a facsimile of the original Christmas Carol. I bought one for myself and one for my Grandpa in 1979. A few years later, I found another facsimile, this time the book was Washington Irving’s Old Christmas, first published in 1819-1820 and then republished in 1875 by Macmillan and Co. with illustrations by Randolph Caldecott. This book, a facsimile of that 1875 reprint, is especially charming and deserves to be more widely read. The reproduction book jacket (which I have kept in pristine condition) says this about Irving’s delightful collection of Christmas stories: “In these five timeless tales, Irving writes of mistletoe and evergreen wreaths, Christmas candles and the blazing yule log, singing and dancing, carolers at the door and the preacher at the church, wine and wassail, and, of course, the festive Christmas dinner.”

My facsimile copy of 'A Christmas Carol'

Reading Irving’s observances of “old Christmas,” the ancient traditions of a true English Christmas, (coming as he did from the “new world”) makes me realize how every century celebrates and repackages perceived ancient traditions which stretch back in time and memory. While we now consider the Christmas traditions we celebrate to be venerable observances, (our Christmas icons if you will) the tree, Rudolph, Frosty and especially Santa in all his red and white glory  weren’t even a twinkle in the eye of the “good old Christmas” celebrated in Irving’s day.

Here is a picture of my own copy of this delightful book… As the twelve days of Christmas pass, I hope to share more of my favorite Christmas books as well as my collection of old Christmas cards…

“Even the poorest cottage welcomed the festive season with green decorations of bay and holly - “

After all, ‘tis the season…