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Not of the race that knows Joseph

As I mentioned in a footnote to the last post Bruce Handy, author of “Wild Things” finds Anne Shirley “detestable”. He says he tried to read “Anne of Green Gables” but the deal breaker was when Anne named a geranium. As evidence for his inability to continue he quotes Anne in a paragraph that begins, “How do you know but that it hurts a geranium’s feelings just to be called geranium and nothing else?” Little does he know that this paragraph could be a litmus test for determining if a reader is of the “race that knows Joseph” – one of Anne’s kindred spirits. (1)

I have read and reread the five Anne books that belonged to my mother and was truly baffled at his dislike until my friend Susan explained that there are some books you have to read for the first time at a certain (young) age to appreciate them.

This made me remember my “Pride and Prejudice” experience. I have read so many books I’ve enjoyed that are inspired by, based on, or include characters who positively worship Jane Austen. Since I had never read her I thought I should and while I did finish “Pride and Prejudice” I really didn’t enjoy it and thought Mr. Darcy who others apparently find the ideal mate as detestable as Bruce Handy found Anne.

And in Bruce Handy’s defense I must add another thought. My mother also had a copy of “Rilla of Ingleside” which I had read once and decided to reread recently rather than rereading the Anne books. When I was perplexed by something in the book, I googled it and found to my surprise that “Rilla of Ingleside” is sometimes referred to as the eighth Anne book and that there are two more: “Anne of Ingleside” (the sixth) and “Rainbow Valley” (the seventh). So I found a used copy of one and downloaded the other onto my Kindle and I must admit I never would have been able to finish them if I wasn’t already a “member of the Anne cult”.

(1) As long as I’m writing about Bruce Handy, I’ll include another footnote. During my latest foray into Anne world I wondered about the derivation of the phrase “the race that knows Joseph”. Googling it only gives results related to the Anne books and no definitive answer to the source of the phrase.


In the great green room

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of

The cow jumping over the moon

According to Bruce Handy in a (mostly) excellent book “Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult” to Margaret Wise Brown, “the very act of cataloguing a room held private meaning” as she once told a friend that she would combat depression every morning by looking around her apartment and making a note of the various things that gave her pleasure.

As any reader of this blog subtitled “collecting, observing, and cataloguing my world” will note, I most certainly do the same thing and while I hadn’t consciously realized it was to “combat depression” that does make sense.

Bruce Handy doesn’t directly credit the source of this fact as that isn’t how he uses footnotes. (1) But since I’ve read the excellent biography “Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon” by Leonard S. Marcus and don’t remember it, I think it must have come from the newer biography, “In the Great Green Room: the Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown” by Amy Gary. I hadn’t heard of this newer biography but can’t wait to read it.

(1) Bruce Handy uses footnotes to add information as he does on page 206 to explain why he hasn’t included “Anne of Green Gables” in his chapter “Going on Seventeen (Or Not)” and calls Anne a “sunny, cheerful, detestable orphan”.

The Status of the Peacocks

The good news about the peacock collection is that since my dresser can fit in the bedroom here the peacock mirror hangs in its proper place.

On the right side of dresser is the glass vase from my younger daughter that kind of looks like a mermaid tail and a peacock tail at the same time (perfect!), a little pouch with a beaded peacock from friend Jen, and a decorative plate from my parents.

On the left side there are two peacock frames. One from my younger daughter with a picture of my father looking like he did during my childhood and one I just bought at Target with a picture of my mother from the same time period.

The frame my mother’s picture had been in had broken and I was on the lookout for a new one. When I first saw this one I really wasn’t sure about it I visited it at Target three or four times before I bought it but now I think it’s perfect.

Some other peacocks appear on the other side of the bedroom. Another peacock plate – this one from my older daughter sits on my husband’s bedside table.

One of the peacock screens hangs above mine.

The perfume bottle from Austin sits above the bed again.

Some of the other peacocks are in the work room/guest room along with irises and some of the mermaids.

Some actual peacock feathers fill in an awkward space as the cross stiched iris picture is hanging on a nail that was already there. To the right you can see the pipe cleaner peacock we bought at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and a peacock paperweight from my sister.

I made these two “batik” prints many years ago by drawing with crayons on hot tinfoil and then lifting the image with tissue paper.

These two framed pictures are sitting on top of the children’s books bookshelf for now. The papercut on the left is from friend Jean. Our older daughter traced the tattoo that is another allusion to the similarity of the mermaid and peacock tails.

The bad news about the peacock collection is that the peacock fans have not found a space. Sometimes I think I may hang them in and among the clothes in the walk in closet and sometimes I think that is ridiculous and that I should let them go.

It all brings me joy!

This morning I was sitting in bed reading and looking up every once in a while and thinking about how happy it makes me that my dresser fits in my new bedroom and that my peacock feather mirror is hanging above it here like it is supposed to. In our last bedroom the dresser didn’t fit and the only place the mirror could go was behind the door. I was thinking about the next post I was planning to write, “The Status of the Peacocks” but I was also thinking about a news item mentioning that Lisa Minnelli was “Mariekondoizing” and selling all her stuff. I wondered how this Marie Kondo could make someone want to get rid of all their stuff. So I went to Wikipedia and found out the process is actually called the KonMari method and consists of “gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that spark joy (in Japanese tokimeku) and choosing a place for everything from then on.”

Since almost all of my decorative categories’ belongings spark joy, I brought them all to Chicago and have been choosing and documenting the places I found for them. I think I am going to have to look at some other category (perhaps clothing) if I want to do any “mariekondoizing”.

From Flamingos to Whales

Last weekend was a busy party weekend. On Saturday morning we attended my oldest grandaughter’s Flamingle – a flamingo themed fifth birthday party.

We brought a flamingo toss game.

Check out that beautiful dress her Mama made.

Guests could make their own flamingos.

On Sunday I cohosted a baby shower for my Chicago niece. This party had a whale theme.

Festive and fun!

Spring Decorating

Finding a living Spring branch in the city seems even more daunting than finding a fallen Fall branch. Perhaps next year we will find something at or near our daughter’s house but for this year we are going without. I had been feeling sad that I wouldn’t get to use the maple syrup bucket, with no tree, but after I hung up the gardening ornaments I realized the maple syrup bucket would be a great addition.

And then I started wondering what other tree ornaments would work. And I saw the three bird houses.

And the beehive and the chicken in the basket.

And then when I thought I was finished I walked into the workroom and saw the small flat basket with tiny vegetables that had been my mother’s. I realized it would be perfect and so I glued down the vegetables and hung it up as well.

This picture doesn’t really do it justice but it is a great addition to the gardening theme!

With the shelf decorations in the living room it’s beginning to feel like Spring inside at least.

The Status of the Suns

The dining room suns along with the copper sun mold from my sister that was in the kitchen and the small yellow sun from my brother in law that was in the downstairs bathroom have been installed in the dining room! The arrangement is quite different incorporating not only the two new additions but the two that had been off to the side in Massachusetts.

The rest of the bathroom suns are still in boxes. We toyed with the idea of adding some of those colorful ones to this arrangement but decided against it. They may get hung in the entrance area but we are still mulling that over.

We acquired the suns (and everything else we have) over time and found places for things as they arrived. But everything arrived here all at once which is quite different. At first I wanted to hang everything right away but now I’ve realized the wisdom of going slowly and replicating the more natural process of acquiring things over time and have become more comfortable with the fact that some things are still in boxes. So I have moved the boxes out of the middle of the rooms and tucked them away so it doesn’t look like we are still moving in.

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