MY MANY JOURNEYS: RECONFIGURING, RELOCATING, AND PONDERING — NOV. 6

 

Welcome to my “interior world,” where I enjoy reading, sipping coffee in the morning—in this newly configured morning space—and then watching a little TV between more reading.

On the weekend, I decided to revamp my dining area…again.  And now the Baker’s Rack holds pride of place, front and center (so to speak).

It was a lot of work, since I had to remove all the items from the rack, as well as the green cupboard (now on the left side of the space); I felt a little virtuous, since everything got thoroughly dusted in the process.

The Baker’s Rack sat in its former place ever since I bought it.

This version shows it in the space I reconfigured awhile ago when I moved the red cupboard into the corner.

I have always had a yen for Baker’s Racks.  I noticed them on TV shows or movies, and drooled a bit.  But I could never find just the one.  They were always too fragile looking; or had too many mirrors or surfaces that needed polishing.  I wanted one with shelves I could fill with books and trinkets, but I also wanted drawers.  And space below for more stuff.

Finally, while wandering around in the furniture stores near my neighborhood, I found this one!  And it was discounted, because the store was going out of business.  Mixed feelings all around…I hate when stores go out of business.  But I love discounts.

And they delivered it the next day, at minimal cost.

I had made room for it near the patio door…and thought it would stay there forever.

But my restless spirit kept seeing it elsewhere, while my dread of big chores like this would be kept me from acting.  Until Sunday.

What is it about Sunday that brings out this part of me?  Does it feel like a day for recreating things?  Often my urges for upheaval are satisfied on a Sunday….And then again, it could have been because I was watching the DVD collection of Lipstick Jungle.…where my love of Baker’s Racks was refueled years ago.  The character Nico has a lovely one in her dining area.  Of course, hers is not filled with all the stuff mine has…

But I do love looking at it now, in the newly reconfigured space.  You can see it as you come in the front door.  And it seems like an icon standing there in such a prominent place…

Hmm…Should I move that “Chez Raine” sign, so it reads like a caption? (You can barely see the sign in the second photo).

 

Here it is!  This sign (see above) was one I had made for me when I was living in the foothills.  There it welcomed guests, as it “lived” on the front door.

You can scarcely glimpse it in this photo above.

The sign, like me, has been on many journeys.  But should I move it again?  That would mean rearranging the other pictures and spackling the nail holes again…lol.  What do you think?

THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR — HUMP DAY — SEPT. 28

Let's Chat with Coffee!

 

Last night was one of those restless ones…I kept thinking about what I wanted to do today.  Planning, making lists…it’s hard to sleep when that’s going on.

So now it’s Hump Day, and we’re nearing the end of September.  It’s officially Fall, which is my favorite season—and not just because my birthday is coming up in October.

I love the new TV shows unfurling themselves for us to enjoy.  A new season of Castle; another season of Parenthood, which I feared would not return, since the shows I love are often cancelled; and a really exciting new show called Ringer, on the CW.

And one of my all-time favorites that didn’t return this season is enjoying a new life of reruns on Soap Net (Brothers and Sisters).

These are just a few favorites, and I’m very happy to have a DVR, since I’m often too wiped out to watch them all at night.

This week is Banned Books Week, and we’re reflecting on those books that have been banned/challenged over the years, and telling those folks (whoever and wherever they are!) that we’re not going to stop reading them!

I’m rereading The Handmaid’s Tale, which is on the list…and I just finished Cat’s Eye (review), another book by this author.  Fabulous!

Today I’m reading something entirely different (and not banned) about the New York real estate market (Hot Property).

Later on, I should go to the gym, since I missed yesterday…sigh.  But I’m feeling lazy.  Maybe I should just put in a round on my exercise bike while watching Castle and Parenthood.  What do you think?

What are you planning for the day?  I’d love to have you stop by and chat…bring some coffee (or a Mimosa!).

 

THE HEART SEES THE TRUTH — A REVIEW

As I read this wonderfully colorful story, I couldn’t help thinking of the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” We learn Ella’s story, as well as those of her family, friends, and the people she paints…as she paints them. In each sitting, Ella, the portrait artist, elicits the stories of her subjects. And as she gradually portrays them, we learn bits and pieces of her story as she interacts with them and reflects on her life.

At thirty-five, Ella Graham has a big hole in her heart…and in her life. Her father, about whom she has some happy memories, disappeared just before she turned five. Drawing him over and over as a child was her way of somehow capturing him.

Her mother’s secrecy and complete dismissal of his presence or importance in her life back then create an agony that cannot be fully healed.

So in painting the lives of others and seeing their loves, hearing about their losses, Ella feels a connection that, while it doesn’t replace what she’s lost, gives her something on which to focus.

Then one day, something unexpected happens, and Ella’s life changes course. Gradually she uncovers the secrets of her past…and at the same time, discovers something right in front of her that had eluded her. Unexpected love.

Visually vibrant settings, along with fully-drawn characters, brought The Very Picture of You: A Novel completely alive for me. I enjoyed this memorable story that in some ways fully realizes the idea that we all see something different when we look at the world, and that our individual perceptions can sometimes distort events. Secrets, betrayals, and even love can be fully seen when we acknowledge them. Four stars.

LIVES CAPTURED THROUGH A LENS — A REVIEW

Like capturing the world through the lens of a camera, the author shows us bits and pieces of the characters. We catch a glimpse here, with some shadowing; then we see something illuminated; and finally, when we see the whole, it is transformed. But then again, we see the focus shifting.

In this extraordinary and mesmerizing tale, we first meet the women whose lives intersect tragically on a foggy night on the Cape, three hours from their homes. Coincidentally, the two women have been living in the same town, but like ships passing in the night, haven’t connected. Then, out of nowhere, the driver of one car (Isabelle) comes upon another car stopped in the middle of the road, and the impact is unavoidable.

April, the other driver, dies, but her son Sam lives. But the mystery that brought each of these women to that place continues throughout the story, and how Isabelle’s “survivor guilt” motivates some of her behavior in the upcoming weeks is the thread that continues to connect these characters.

What happens when Isabelle finally meets Sam and Charlie (April’s husband)? Why does Sam feel the need to maintain the connection with Isabelle? How does Isabelle’s photography cement the bonds between her and Sam? What effect do these connections have on the three of them? Will the events of one fateful night tie them together forever, or will the circumstances that follow sever those ties inexplicably? And will Charlie finally learn where April was going on that foggy night?

In the final pages, surprising twists saved this story from any kind of predictability, and just when I thought I knew how it would end, I discovered how wrong I was. Throughout Pictures of You, I could almost feel a paranormal influence in some of the events. A nice segue that turned this tale into something unique and almost spiritual. Five stars.

IS MARRIAGE STILL A VIABLE OPTION? — A REVIEW

Marriage, and whether or not to marry, is the topic of Anne Roiphe’s memoir. In it, she explores the traditional marriages in history; the sexual revolution and its impact on marriage; the additional issues that children bring to the marriage; and how divorce and remarriage impact the individuals, the family, and the future.

In Married: A Fine Predicament, she explores each of these topics by describing examples from history, from books, and from her own experiences.

Talking about marriage, by necessity, also involves analyzing the different kinds of marriages and the expectations in each. For example, some marriages allow for infidelities, while others cling to monogamy. The author describes how the need for monogamy might seem contrary to some of her own experiences, like being a “revolutionary, a lover of freedom, a rebel against conventional bonds.” Yet in marrying her second (and last) husband, she realized, after getting to know him and his values (he felt disloyal if he dated more than one woman at a time), that she could not violate such a man’s trust.

After a thorough and detailed description of the various contemporary kinds of couples, from the living together to the married, and all the formats in between, she states:

“Marriage is not the only way to be respectable these days and social power is possessed by those who mock the rules (rock and rap stars, movie stars, wealthy men) and social disapproval carries no real sting in urban America and less than it used to across the land.” She goes on to say that “marriage can answer one human problem better than any other solution yet divined. It can assuage our loneliness.”

Obviously, this author is in favor of marriage, despite is many flaws and failings. She is not anti-divorce, as she writes that sometimes the ending of a marriage is the best solution for all.

Personally, I have experienced marriage and various forms of companionship in between, and while I have, finally, at this time, decided that my individual journey works best for me, I can see the appeal that others find in the institution. Sometimes the children of divorce suffer permanent trauma, but at the same time, the children in unhappy marriages may sustain life-long damage as well.

My conclusions are that each of us has to decide what works best in our own lives, and hopefully have the courage of our convictions.

This thoughtful, provocative, and meaningful exploration earned five stars from me.

A JOURNEY INTO THE DEPTHS — A CREATIVE EXPLORATION

Photograph by Craig Robinson, Berlin Photographer

THE BEAUTY IN RUINS

Sometimes when we embark on a creative exploration, we find unexpected things. Treasures, maybe; but the possibility always exists that we will stumble upon something dark and even frightening.

Interior journeys are like that, even when they’re not creative ones.  Reflecting on our thoughts; plumbing the depths of memory; and taking those reflections and thoughts to the story we are creating, or even the life we are living, can yield unique gifts for potential readers.

Sharing our true selves on the written page will shine through and strike a chord with someone out there.  If we remain on the superficial plane, without delving deep into the core of our being, that will show, too.

Like the image above (in the post) and on the header, sometimes our journeys will lead us to decadent places; however, there is also a beauty in the ruins. The past, even if it feels dark and forbidding, can tell us how to overcome our obstacles in the here and now.

What unexpected treasures have you discovered lately?

PAYING THE PIPER — A REVIEW

What will a self-sacrificing daughter do when her life of caring for her invalid father ends abruptly with his death? In the midst of her loss and pain, she must now make decisions that will determine her future. Will she go ahead and cut her ties to the life she led? Will she find an independence she lacked all these years?

These are the questions before Isabel Moore upon her father’s demise. She had loved him, looked up to him, and now she must create a new life without him.

Isabel’s friends Liz and Eleanor begin to step forward to aid in this metamorphosis. But it’s Liz’s husband John who offers Isabel an opportunity for a job she seems well-suited for. A job assessing the caretakers of the infirm, who are doing so with a government stipend.

First she must sell her family home, but she does so; she moves into a small apartment in the suburban town where she will work.

Another side-effect of Isabel’s new life includes the reawakening of her sexual being. Two men become a part of her new life, but in an oddly unexpected way, the men bring about a self-doubt that will ultimately result in Isabel’s turning away from her new life and returning to a life of self-sacrifice. But will she find what she seeks? Or will she ultimately decide that self-sacrifice is not the answer after all.

I enjoyed this passage which describes the conflicts Isabel faced in her new life as she was struggling to decide if she should go forward with her lover Hugh, whose wife had unleashed her fury upon Isabel in a very public way:

“There had been a gradual darkening in the background of my life with Hugh since he had first suggested leaving his wife. But after she had publically accused me of theft I began to accept the identity of a thief. I lived as though I had been forced into a hideout. It was February; the light was bad, as I imagined the light to have been bad in wartime London. I was afraid to go out of the house. It took a new kind of courage for me to go about the business of my daily life. I drove around the supermarket several times before I went in, trying to calculate the possibility of meeting anyone who had been at the party. In the years that I lived as the daughter of my father I had always been greeted with reverence and delight by shopkeepers, by people carrying groceries. I was the good daughter. I took care of my father. I had nothing to fear. Faces were open to me, for mine, they believed, was the face of a saint. Now faces would be closed to me, and I myself would learn to close my face…As the daughter of my father I was above reproach…..”

Exploring themes of good vs. bad; the pull of desire weighed against the unique place of self-sacrifice in one’s life; and the joys of the flesh contrasted with the possible rewards of giving to others, especially the undeserving–these provocative issues, and characters acting out these issues, populate this very compelling novel. Final Payments is all about what can happen when one makes choices, and it’s also about the consequences of those choices.

I could not help but award this wonderful book five stars. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Mary Gordon’s work, as well as those who enjoy the exploration of these issues.

MID-MORNING REFLECTIONS

MOODY REFLECTIONS

This morning I woke up very early, wrote for awhile on my project for NaNoWriMo, completed a movie review here on this site, and did some other blog posts.

I’ve also updated my Reflections from the Edge page, just to spotlight some of what I’m musing about today.

When I get up very early, I’m sometimes a little overly caffeinated by mid-morning, so that’s where I’m coming from right now.

What do you think about when you’re creating something, challenging yourself?  Do you feel anxious or energized?  What do you do to enhance your success?