Her official arrival isn't for a couple of weeks yet, but Mother Nature's frigid sister has been teasing us with her icy embraces. Just now it is snowing. Large, fluffy flakes wafting down and exerting effort to defy gravity while seeking out the ideal resting place. It's a Currier and Ives kind of snow. The type that almost makes you want to get out the boxes of decorating paraphernalia and yield to wild abandon. Almost.
I am acquainted with people who, as soon as the dinner dishes are cleared on Thanksgiving Day, hoist the evergreen into place and have at it. I am not one of them. I've already had to listen to tidings of good cheer for weeks in every store I enter. Aisles of sundries shoved sideways for Santa. The rabid retail redecorating of businesses is perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves.
Please don't misunderstand--I love this season! I love the lights, the glitter, and the colours. I love the crisp, brisk air and the snowy serenity. What I don't like is the avaricious pursuit of material gain. Everything is now 40 to 60 percent off. I believe that includes dignity as well. I have already informed those who are on my gift list that they will be receiving hand-crafted practical gifts. I will not be seeking indulgences from department stores or sacrificing myself on the altars of to-die-for whatevers at bargain prices.
The tree will go up at some point. It will be dazzling and bejewelled with family heirlooms and my latest creative efforts. The lights will dance off of garlands of faceted beads and snowflakes. My mother's hand-crocheted angels will dance among the boughs dripping with tinsel. The cats will vie for space on the tree skirt beneath the celestial confection above. Cats and ribbons are not a good combination so the gifts will be stowed in one of the guest rooms until distribution time. No surface will go unadorned. The creche here, old world Father Yules there, all bathed in warm lighting.
There may or may not be background music. Depends on the mood. I know that silence is scary for some people but, personally, I like the quietness when I'm taking all the Christmas wonder in. I don't need anyone to tell me how or what to feel. In fact, I think it's distracting to the other senses. I think Christmas should be a season of sponteneity not habit. Traditions are wonderful but should never be absolute as if they were written in stone. I don't want to be limited by the past or restricted by the present. Christmas should evolve just as we evolve as each year passes.
Time is the rarest and most priceless gift we either give or receive. If we spent as much time reaching out to one another as we do decorating and selecting the perfect gift, Christmas would get its' meaning back and the world would be the better for it.
Today would have been my father's 91st birthday. He passed on in 1992. When he was 10 years old, the Stock Market crashed and he came of age during the Great Depression. When I was 11 years old Woodstock happened and I came of age during the Watergate fallout. Two very different worlds often collided under a single roof.
I wrote the poem below for my dad in November 1980. This is for you, Dad, as much today as it was then. Happy Birthday.
I called my dad tonight; We started with the weather And ended with 'I love you'. I remember I stopped kissing him good-night When I was fifteen. I wish I were back home tonight, ....And fourteen again.
'Tis the season to wear flannels- Fa lalalala la la la la Hibernate and surf the channels- Fa lalalala la la la la Ice and snow and freezing rain- Fa lala lalala la la la Wanna hop a south-bound train- Fa lalalala la la la la
Turkey day has come upon us- Fa lalalala la la la la Basting in their oven saunas- Fa lalalala la la la la Praise the Lord and pass the dressing- Fa lala lalala la la la Thanks for friends who are a blessing- Fa lalalala la la la la
It only seems appropriate that, like The Great Pumpkin, Lord Wellbourne should rise up from the pumpkin patch on Halloween and greet all the good children of the blogosphere with warm wishes for a good harvest.
I have been somewhat remiss with posts of late. In my defense I can only say that sitting in my studio and typing away on the beauties of a Maine Autumn is no where near as pleasant as being out in it. But, as fate would have it, today's early morning snowfall accompanied by 30 mph arctic winds has made the studio a preferable place to be. I will not begrudge the Snow Queen her right to visit us a tad early since it has been a spectacular foliage season and is still in play. Many of you, on the other hand, have been very busy and I look forward to catching up on my reading of you.
I do rather wonder about the obsession some people have with raking. There is this manic urge to gather up and discard the leaves almost as quickly as they fall. Even more baffling is the rapid introduction--post leaf removal--of fertilizer to the nearly dormant grass. Perhaps the study of botany has changed since the dark ages when I was in high school, but I was given the understanding that the fallen leaves were the trees' and surrounding underpinning's fertilizer. Trees grow leaves, leaves fall to ground, leaves decay thus enriching the soil with nutrients so the trees can grow more leaves. Repeat. I do not rake. I like walking through them. My cats enjoy hunting everything from field mice to water buffalo in the leaf dunes. I like the sound they make beneath my feet and the way they rustle in the wind. The root systems and the grass enjoy their winter fodder. It's all good. I don't live on a golf course; I prefer Nature to have her way the old fashioned way. I may appear lazy to the passer-by but I never have to reseed or fertilize my lawns. Green is good. No chemicals filtering down into the brook and the grass is like a lush carpet throughout the summer.
I've also become the mad 'bulber'. I have planted hundreds of bulbs haphazardly and at random. I did them correctly but purposely mixed them together so I won't know what I've done until late Spring and early Summer. Kinda like Van Gogh painting while wearing a blindfold. Fernbrook Court should be be a riot of colour even if only half of the bulbs produce.
In the meantime I am preparing and packaging my winter care packages for my feathered friends; seeds and suet al fresco. This is going to be the happening place for the avian elite. I have created a den out of all the tree branches that have fallen for my newly ensconced red fox who took up residency about a month ago. I have taken to calling him Todders (thanks, June) and he had been sleeping on or under the canopied glider swing on the side lawn. Since that will soon be coming indoors I didn't want him to think he wasn't welcome. It's a secure, snug little den replete with weatherproof cushions and wool blankets. My hope is that he'll bring a vixen home to meet me and they'll settle in and down together. I know, hopeless romantic.
So, my Dear Gentle Readers, Happy Halloween and a Bountiful Harvest of all Earth's blessings to you!
Fall at last, Fall at last, thank God almighty, it's Fall at last! Now that Persephone has departed for her Autumnal sojourn Down Under (where she is making a spectacular comeback), We have arrived at the most breathtaking time of year in Maine. The hills are already choosing their hues for the Fall Fashion extravaganza and the air is crisp with anticipation.
On a closer-to-home and more personal level, Fall is presenting me with a much longed-for opportunity for revenge. Now that the climate has reinvented itself those carnivorous raspberry and blackberry vines are a little less full of themselves. I sharpen my pruning shears in full view of them. I can sense their arrogance and fight have waned. All summer long as I mowed along their borders they consistently harassed and violated me despite every effort to avoid and not provoke them. The old saying says that revenge is better when served cold. Well, it's been a month or so chilling on the sill and about to be dished up. Bwa ha ha ha! They are insidious. They constantly ignore the fencing erected in a treaty agreement--'This is the line, you can have everything on that side and I get everything on this side'. They tunnel beneath to spring up in open lawn. They parachute over and attack all comers. Arrogance. Cocky, narcissistic arrogance. I had the same agreement with the sumac grove. They adhered politely. The same was true with the golden rod and rhubarb. But not the berries. Oh no, not them. From the start they attempted to usurp my authority and overthrow my government. Mother Nature had other priorities so there was no appeal. They entered into an axis of evil with the birds. The berries bribed them with food in exchange for smuggling their seeds to the far reaches of my realm whereupon they sprouted, thus dividing my attention and energies. The retribution I have in mind for them would be less severe had they been as generous with their fruit with my household as they were with the birds. Their all-consuming intent on the conquest of my lawn and resolve cost them their entire inventory. It will prove to be a hollow victory. As the temperature dips my vindictiveness rises. The day of reckoning approaches!
Today has been a most extraordinary day. A day vibrating with religious and spiritual moment. Apparently, and unbeknownst to me, it is 'recruitment day' in rural Maine. Between the hours of 1 pm and 3 pm my little porch was descended upon by representatives of the LDS church, the Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. They hit the neighbourhood at staggered times but converged en masse all at once--no more than 5 minutes apart--on my porch.
As a not-ready-for-prime-time-Christianity person, recovering Catholic with Buddhist/Celtic sympathies it was a remarkable meeting of dogma, theology, spin, and interpretation. One might expect it to have been an uncomfortable tension-fest. One would be mistaken. Everyone was amused at the coincidence, everyone partook of lemonade, decaffeinated green tea, and peanut butter fudge. And the best part--people addressed their biases and prejudices about each other's religious beliefs! Openly and genuinely sharing their stories and journeys. When everyone was gone I couldn't help but think that this was probably the best grass-roots ecumenical convocation ever! At one point my mother joined the group and was graciousness personified. She listened patiently and asked thoughtful questions. In the end she simply said: "I don't understand everything you believe or why you believe it, but, in the end, it's all about loving each other and respecting one another's humanity". I was so proud of her.
Tonight on the evening news I heard that the Pope is making a papal visit to the United Kingdom--the first ever. Beginning in Scotland (John Knox will spin in his grave) and then down into England. As titular head of the Anglican Church Queen Elizabeth II will meet and welcome him. I guess having two huge asteroids pass so close to the Earth kinda inspired some good-neighbour policy. I hope there'll be a whole lot of collared women of the Anglican and Episcopal church in attendance when His Holiness meets the Queen. You know, just to kinda nudge his consciousness in regard to the vital role of Women in the spiritual realm. I'd really be disappointed if all he saw were Religious in habits thus reinforcing that antediluvian belief of where a womans' place is.
I hope a higher power is showering all my Gentle Readers with openness and freedom of expression.
Ah, September! The promise of Autumn and all it's golden charms. My Gentle Readers may have noticed that I have been somewhat absent from the blogosphere of late. Fear not! I have not succumbed to illness or lethargy. It appears that I had forgotten a long-standing ritual that occurs annualy here in Maine and probably throughout most of the upper regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It's commonly called 'bundling season'. I was 18 when I left Maine for points south so I was never initiated into the practice. When I returned here last spring I was too preoccupied with chaos for several months that followed to take any notice of the tell-tale signs. I have had a pleasantly surprising introduction to the concept.
Bundling Season begins in mid-August and is primarily an exercise in compatibility. It's Maine's virtual version of eharmony. I have become a 'person of interest' to three candidates. I would like to say that I'm an object of desire but that wouldn't be accurate. Desire in most cases is devoid of practicality. Bundling is all about pragmatism. It isn't about passion; it's about snow shovelling and wood chopping. It's about companionship when you're snowed in and run the risk of cabin fever. It's about someone bringing you the chicken soup and Robitussin when you're down with the flu. It's endless games of Scrabble, chess, and gin rummy. Bundling is semi-hibernation with co-dependance. When the snow melts in April so does the bundling. You have survived the long, dark, cold days on the tundra and it's time to go out in search of berries and fresh air.
This is not to say that there isn't passion and desire involved. It just has a different priority status than it has in Summer. I am a triple threat and I am enjoying the attention. I am not dim-witted or hard on the eyes. I am a decent cook. AND, perhaps most importantly, I am fluent in both silence and conversation. This last is a major quality during Bundling Season. I know when to leave someone alone and when to engage them. I know how to pamper and how to leave-be.
I can't say how all this will turn out. I'm not particularly interested in a bundling partner. However, I'm not averse to the idea either. Could be fun or it could just be more of what I already have now. In the meantime I'm just enjoying the proverbial hunting expedition around the proverbial bush. The snowshoes are primed and waxed, the shovel is clean, and the axe is sharp. I'm good to go. The scented massage oil and Twister game are stowed where they can be easily retrieved. I'm prepared for any contingency. It's the Maine way.
It's been over a year now that I left the subtropics for the subarctic. I can't help, occasionally, to ponder on all the 'who's' and 'what's' I left behind in the Lone Star State. It was an easy decision to return to Maine where I was needed. It was a heart-breaking process to say good-bye to my home and 'family' of 26 years.
In the true American spirit concerning converting lemons into lemonade I want to share with y'all the priceless gifts Maine has laid at my feet. According to statistics, Maine is the most forested state in the U.S. so I am always surrounded by green--which happens to be my favourite colour. It is deafeningly quiet so hearing myself think is never a problem. The over-all population is just over a million people and they are concentrated to the south of where I live. (Remember, Maine is roughly the size of Arkansas.) There were more cars in Houston than there are people in Maine. I can, if I choose, go days without encountering another human being--or a car. Every night and early morning in the non-snowy months there is a Wagnerian chorus of bullfrogs and crickets to entertain me. The days are filled with bird-song sonatas. In Texas I was serenaded by sirens, trains, car horns, and landing jets. I sleep on bed linens that have wafted dry in the pine scented open air--with no complaints from the neighbours. Did I mention that my nearest neighbours are deer, raccoons, red squirrels, the occasional moose, and elusive bob cats? Black bears and coyotes come to call after the snow has fallen but they're fairly respectful of my space. There are the rolling jagged peaks of the upper Appalachians everywhere I turn instead of miles and acres of asphalt and concrete. Every clear night is an astronomer's dream. I had forgotten there was more up there besides the Moon, Venus, and airplanes. I used to take all this grandeur for granted. Shame on me! But I suspect that the residents of Eden took it for granted until they had something else to compare it to.
Life is a mysterious and comical journey. I moved to Texas (Galveston Island) with two suitcases and being acquainted with only a couple of people who fell by the wayside soon after arrival. By the time I left Houston two and a half decades later I had a jumbo moving van filled to capacity and a 'family' of friends that gave tangible poignancy to departure. All but a handful of my 'children' were from somewhere other than Texas. Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, Canada, India, Nebraska, Great Britain, and Michigan were their points of origin but they all converged seamlessly around my kitchen table. They were and are my crazy quilt of warmth and affection. How often I have gathered them up and wrapped them close about me when Maine hasn't been able to comfort me in the chilly darkness of my isolation. Come to think of it, all my ex-es live in Texas but none of them were from there. Texas gave me everything a person could want and need from life. Maine is teaching me to appreciate it. I am a happy camper.
So thank you, Jimmy Buffett, for those prophetic words that come back to me when I walk through the trees in search of the forest:
"It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes- nothing remains quite the same; With all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.
These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes- nothing remains quite the same; Through all of the islands and all of the highlands if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."
Here's hoping that all my Gentle Readers find a good, hearty laugh just around the corner!
Listen. my children, no need to mourn, Or be downcast or feel forlorn. The time has come to blow the horn! And meet the returning Lord Wellbourne!
My apologies to anyone who has ever, remotely, enjoyed poetry.
I would like to say that I've been circumnavigating the planet in search of adventure and cheap thrills. I'd like to say that but I can't. More's the pity.
Several weeks back, while my mother and I were enjoying the company of our neighbours around a delightful dancing fire in our outdoor fireplace, we received a phone call from my sister-in-law announcing their annual visit. Upon ending the conversation and putting down the phone my mother began listing all that would need to be accomplished before this blessed event came to pass. The Normandy Invasion had fewer objectives.
Until they arrived this past Saturday evening, I was giving serious thought to turning this house and grounds over to a research facility or at the very least to anyone in need of space with an immaculate, quasi-sterile environment. I have washed thirty-five windows--inside and out--which, as far as I'm concerned, means I washed 70 windows. As well as the standard vacuuming and dusting every conceivable nook and cranny, I steam-cleaned every carpet, rug, and square inch of upholstery. I stripped and waxed all tile and hardwood surfaces. About an acre. All mattresses were turned and disinfected, all linens were washed and hung outside to dry and air. Fresh flowers cut and arranged. All the grounds mowed, raked, weeded, edged, and manicured, lawn furniture scrubbed, trees pruned. The house exterior itself was power-washed to remove cobwebs, wasp nests, and any residue deemed 'unworthy'. All walls and ceilings were wiped down and all draperies changed out. The fur-children were not exempted from this orgy of grime-icide. Each had to be brushed three times a day rather than the usual twice-daily regimen. Baths, new flea collars, and pedicures. I utterly refused to sweep the driveway or dust the rafters in the garage. Somehow, the logic of eradicating pine needles in the drive or dust bunnies 20 feet up over the car's bedroom escaped me. I just couldn't wrap my mind around how this would enhance their vacation. I blame this temporary lapse in understanding and anarchy on the oven cleaner fumes. Or was it Lysol?
The visit, which concluded today at 2 pm, was very successful and pleasant all things considered. It was, miraculously, free of drama and distemper. My mother gave me full credit and *gasp* praise for all my efforts (even though "I'd let her down with the rafters").
I was charming, gracious, witty, even generous. I was so mellow on the herbal infusions I made up of chamomile, Valerian, lime flower, primrose leaves, lavender, and a wee bit of basil from my paternal grandmother's ancient and ever-thriving medicinal/kitchen/spell garden. I'm going to bottle this stuff. I've been experimenting with the combination when I wasn't plotting She-Who-Should-Be-Euthanized's demise. There were heart-felt regrets at parting and all ended well and drifted off into gauzy memory.
So, Dear Hearts, I am at liberty once again to walk amongst the warrens of dust bunnies when they inevitably reappear. The kitties are tentatively emerging from their places of self-imposed exile and soon all will be as it was. I plan to keep the jug o'happy juice close at hand. And I earnestly promise not to go away for so long without so much as a "Save Me!" shout-out to you.
The heavy breathing of the July Dragon has abated somewhat but we are still experiencing those 'lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer' of lyrical lore. These balmy days cause Lord Wellbourne to meander down the path of metaphysical inquiry. The early mornings and early evenings are given over to grounds maintenance and just enough housework to prevent being designated a toxic waste site.
The rest of the day is spent wandering the highways and byways of Etherea. It's the land where imagination, dreams, and life's dilemma-solving exercises have made their home since I invented it in my childhood.
Here are but a few of the myriad musings that engage my mind daily; shortly after the sun clears the pine tops:
Why does Friend A blame Friend B for what was clearly Friend A's fault? Why does Friend A find it necessary to include Friends C thru Z and situations 1 thru Infinity as excuses for his just being a jerk? Wouldn't it be easier to acknowledge the screw-up and say 'I'm sorry'?
If the world is really going to hell in a hand basket as presented by the environmental, financial, and political communities, shouldn't we all be growing reeds and taking basket-weaving classes? I can't be the only one who hates going anywhere without the appropriate accessories.
If the cap on the oil leak in the Gulf actually stays in place and stops the projectile petroleum vomit--does that mean we can expect projectile petroleum diarrhea somewhere else? Physics says it's gotta come out somewhere. May I suggest Dallas?
Is being able to communicate anything to anyone, anywhere, anytime really a good thing? I think the world was a much happier place before radio, television, and the internet. Ignorance was bliss. The world was your back-yard. The universe was your home town. When was the last time you experienced real bliss?
I don't understand the hoopla over Haiti. I was in Port Au Prince in 1990. It was a dirty, corrupt, crime-ridden cesspool then. Although I am sure there were good folks there, everyone I encountered--from cabby's to merchants--were only interested in what they could get out of me with the least amount of effort. I was robbed three times in six days. Actually I was robbed in one way or another all six days but only three times not sanctioned by law. So, 20 years later it's a dirty, corrupt, crime-ridden cesspool where people are angry about not getting the help they need despite the billions in Federal and International aid--a lot of it from common, every-day good-hearted people. The US has been bolstering Haiti for decades as a counter-balance to Cuba. Is Cuba that big of a threat? What the hell is Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands for? And don't get me started on New Orleans. A city of that size built where the Mississippi meets the Gulf AND below sea-level. A city that spent its capital on everything but infrastructure. Nope, can't feel a lot of empathy there.
Who invented 'political correctness' and is he/she still alive? Why?
Lord Wellbourne does not do well when mercury rises in the absence of central air. He does not wish to offend any of his Gentle Readers' sensibilities. Lord Wellbourne just wishes that stupidity would go the way of small pox. Or at least not given the opportunity to reproduce. Does the world need more Brittney Spears'?
Lord Wellbourne, however, makes no apologies for his comment referring to Dallas. Couldn't happen to a more deserving place.
Lord Wellbourne is also trying to figure out why he keeps referring to himself in the third person. It may be time for a brisk stroll around the margarita pool.
Aerum Centralis is an invasive species. It is native to areas south of New Hampshire and west of Vermont. It most often makes its way this far north when people of Southern origin move here and build new homes. It is better known by its common name: Central Air. The next house that gets built around here with central air is going to have me as a live-in welcoming committee until September. Then it will be ME who's the 'invasive species'. And I warn you, I'm not that easy to eradicate.
Honestly, the demon-spawned twins--Heat and Humidity--have nearly driven me to distraction. In Texas I had central air. In Maine I have windows. Texas wins. I feel like a gardenia corsage three days after the prom. This time last year I was plotting out a rice paddy in the back yard. Today I'm contemplating a cactus and yucca hedgerow. This extraordinary heat keeps one in a continuous state of inelegance. The cats are strewn about various pieces of furniture on the porch like something Salvador Dali would have painted. I have so many fans going it feels like I'm in a Celine Dion music video. You know it's hot when deer are bold enough to come into your yard and drink from the bird bath--while you're weeding a flower bed ten feet away.
It's supposed to rain this weekend. Lordy, how we need it! On the other hand, She- Who-Must-Be-Endured is reveling in this Saharan nightmare. She is perpetually cold and now she is finally 'comfortable'. The rest of civilization is drowning in its own perspiration but she is rising like Venus on a clam-shell from the permafrost. I do believe that this is the first time in my existence that I have ever envied the frozen fish fillets in my freezer.
I know it's unseasonably hot in other places and I feel for my Gentle Readers living wherever they are. For my friends living in the Southern Hemisphere and who are experiencing Winter---please send a self-addressed, postage paid cargo container to Fernbrook Court ASAP. I'll reimburse you immediately upon arrival. And, please, no fish sticks for dinner. I'll settle for an Eskimo Pie.
Greetings to all the nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam on his 234th Birthday! Here at Fernbrook Court we did it up right--Maine style. There was pasta salad loaded with lobster. There were moose burgers and hot dogs (not made of moose; the regular red-skinned kind). There were deviled eggs which I added blue food colour to so the blue yolks in combination with the whites and the paprika looked very patriotic. Steamed clams and oysters, lobster rolls, wedges of good Maine cheddar. My mother contributed an amazing apple pie. That is to say, she dictated and oversaw the production from peeling apples to putting the slices on plates. But the best part was the homemade strawberry shortcake--home-grown strawberries, home-baked biscuits, served with hand-whipped cream. I never want to see another whisk again. The place was crawling with neighbours, friends, and relations. I was gratified to hear the oohs and aahs as folks wandered about the grounds at what I have accomplished in just a year. After several lively games of croquet, some highly embellished story swapping and heartfelt remembrances everyone went home.
As my mother was settling into her chair she playfully scolded me for not telling her I'd invited all these people. I told her I hadn't invited them and that I thought she had. When we were both convinced that neither of us had issued invitations we just looked at one another and laughed. People just showed up because they somehow knew we'd be glad to see them. God bless America.
And a very happy Independence Day to my fellow citizens and all who believe in and strive for freedom from bigotry, tyranny, oppression, and intolerance. This is America. We ain't perfect and sometimes we ain't pretty. But as a whole we are sincere and we mean well. I'd like to think that all of us, collectively, are the welcome mat beside the Golden Door. Not so that foreign powers can wipe their feet before walking over us but as a place to pause and feel the warmth of a generous people waiting to embrace them and make them feel at home.
Anticipation is a delicious dish and should always be served warm.
I was taken aback by part of a comment that June made after my last post. She has a friend who doesn't want to read the books that June recommends because she "doesn't like to learn new words". EGAD and OMG! Writing and reading are the greatest developments of the human species. It's what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. With the possible exception of domestic felines. Jezebel sits next to the laptop and corrects my spelling and grammar. This friend of June is a communications anarchist! She's engendering a mutiny upon the human race! She should be pilloried--immediately after that word is defined for her.
Perhaps her lexicophobia is due in part to the confusion of word meanings. So many words in the English language have multiple meanings that can derail the rational thinker's train of thought. For example--just the other day I heard it announced that Prince Albert of Monaco was engaged to be married. To a commoner. It's a rather dismissive description for someone who isn't Royalty. Despite being an accomplished human being, this beautiful young lady is a commoner. She's about to marry Royalty. I hope she doesn't believe marriage is going to 'up her ante'. I mean, after all, getting paid a lot of money to do little or nothing except cut a few ribbons and pose for photos isn't exactly contributing to the greater good is it? I guess since their faces are on the currency they assume it belongs to them.
The word 'common' is an interesting word and shows up frequently in our daily language. Let's take a look at some other examples, shall we?
Common Ground: A mythical land where people of contradictory opinion seemingly create a level playing field from which each opponent can plot to seize the moral high ground.
Common Market: A place where everyone from everywhere is invited to make money fulfilling supply and demand. Except for those who have more demand than supply and vice versa. The only one making a profit is the landlord.
Boston Common: (This also applies to any city's 'common'). A pastoral area set aside in an urban setting where people of all classes, creeds, and colours can ignore one another equally.
Common Courtesy: Thoughtful consideration of others. Practiced by thoughtful, considerate people and is becoming rarer as these people are on the verge of extinction.
Common Sense: The application of practicality. Something everyone has access to but rarely utilizes. Invoked by people in judgement of others. Politicians use it as a campaign vote-getter but widely ignore its existence until they can figure out how to regulate and tax it.
Common Soldier: An oxymoron. There is nothing common about soldiers. They are extraordinary individuals.
I hope this little exercise helps those who fear words and the power they have. They are healing balms in the right mouths and hands and weapons of acute destruction in the wrong ones. Choose your words carefully--you may have to eat them someday. It's a common fact of life. Please pass the salt.
I have spent the past few days being perplexed by my friend and neighbour who I'll call 'John'. I call him 'John' primarily because that's his name. The state of perplexity is not altogether unfamiliar territory to me. I have a time-share there. When I go it's usually because of something that, at least initially, short-circuits the 'common sense' mechanism of my mental gear shifter.
It happened as benignly as possible with a friendly chat with John's wife Saturday morning. We discussed lawn care, neighbourhood 'news', and the upcoming 4th of July holiday. I ventured the observation that the past few times I'd been to their home, John seemed more subdued than usual. At this juncture I should probably point out a few things about John. He is a middle-aged man a few years my junior. He is a good-looking, well put together hard-working blue-collar guy. Good sense of humour and very clever. Good hearted and good natured for the most part except for an occasional bout of manic-depression. They have been my mother's very considerate neighbours for over twenty years and on my sporadic, brief visits home I would exchange pleasantries in passing. Since I have taken up residency we have all become much better acquainted. In response to my observation, Mrs John--without any hesitation or malice--shared that John was intimidated by my brain. I was dumbfounded--which I have to tell you is a wonder to behold since it occurs so rarely. "He's what!?" I stammered. She proceeded to remind me of a night more than a month past when they had come to our house for dinner. The TV was on in the living room while I was finishing up and setting the table. Jeopardy was on and apparently while I was folding the napkins and laying the silver etc... I correctly answered a wide variety of seemingly obscure questions without once looking at the screen or giving the subjects any great thought. Apparently this confirmed his sense of social inadequacy as well as intellectual deficiency. Lord Wellbourne went to universities. Lord Wellbourne had been a professor. Lord Wellbourne KNOWS stuff. It seems that John feels the need to police himself with what he says and the opinions he expresses. Therefore he doesn't voice anything he isn't positive I know very little about. Like the Red Sox, engines and electronics, and the logic behind wearing a heavy coat and shorts in December.
I'm not sure how to address the subject with him. Despite his bluster he's very sensitive. My Gentle Readers who know me personally can attest that I am not a snob where education is concerned. I don't think I'm a snob where much of anything else is concerned either. Well, except where stupidity is concerned. I don't like stupid. It dresses funny and smells bad. I'm rather hoping that the issue will just go away on its own. It makes me self-conscious. The man's not a moron by any stretch but I find myself paring down my conversation so as not to rub salt in a wound that he's self-inflicted.
Perhaps I should just embroider him a pillow that says: Diploma's Get You Through Doors But Cleverness Gets You Through Life. That's how I got here. College was great--no one ever told me to put a book down and clean my room. It's what I learned outside of the classroom that mattered. Earth is the largest campus and has the most amazing prospectus. The best part is that it also offers very affordable refresher courses. I signed up when I came back to Maine. I was happy to discover I hadn't forgotten more than I remembered. That's always a good thing.
I know, the title sounds hokey but I've been out of the loop for so long you must forgive my clumsiness. I'll be my own erudite and clever self after a few more posts. (He says with fingers crossed. It's hard to type like that, by the way).
I am pleased to announce the arrival of my new Dell Inspiron laptop. It's a beauty. Glossy black and very sexuous. I've named it Sherlock since figuring out all its' bells and whistles is like unravelling a mystery. It is much smarter than I am so I kinda feel like Dr. Watson when we're working together. Sherlock's arrival came with all the usual drama that accompanies something being ordered, processed, and shipped. But he's here now and we are in that sweet, shy stage of our honeymoon. "Am I pressing your keys too hard?" "My, but don't you have a sensitive touch pad?" "You're actually bigger than I thought you'd be." You know, the usual kind of dialogue one has with a new cyber paramour.
I was up all last night until 4 am this morning catching up on all the blogs I follow. I left few comments because I wanted to get to bed before the sun came up. Y'all have been prolific! To my dear June (Ageing Gratefully) I just want to say that your bust is secondary to what resides within your bosom. Thank you, Lady Hawthorne (Canterbury Cottage), for reminding us that the greatest blessings in life are often the very things we take for granted. To the ever-vibrant Von (The Good Life) I send warm appreciation for the vitality you express in the midst of your winter 'Down Under'. And Red, (Caught Him With A Corndog) who was my inspiration to begin blogging in the first place, you're a class act through and through. You go, girls!
But none of my gentle readers must think for a second that I remained idle while I was in cybernation. Au contraire mes amis! I have been very invested in landscaping and grounds keeping, yes indeedy. I didn't have a yard in Texas so I'm making up for all those years of asphalt and cement. I spent a vast amount of time diligently attending to the de-weeding process. I have nurtured marigolds, irises (blue, purple, white, yellow), peonies the size of softballs, lilacs, tulips, roses brought by ancestors from Ireland, lupins, thistle (smuggled from Scotland), and the tiger lilies are on the verge of explosion. I have widened the panoramic vista of my gnome garden and given the black raspberries plenty of breathing room. I've planted several spruce trees in appropriate places and evicted other trees which didn't play well with others. The only thing I didn't do--much to the chagrin of neighbours, friends, and other bipedal pests--was mow the grass. For six weeks I utterly refused to succumb to neighbourly peer pressure and commit wholesale slaughter on the wildflowers that deemed me worthy enough to make their home on my lawn. Dandelions, buttercups, Indian paintbrush, johnny-jump-ups, daisies, wild strawberry blossoms, and pink and white clover. Walking across the lawn was like being in an Herbal Essence shampoo commercial. Bees buzzing happily, birds flittering and joyously singing. "Nope, ain't gonna mow til there ain't no mo'" was my motto to anyone who asked, hinted, or whined. Once they'd had their glorious lawn party and folded up their foliage I got the mower out. That was two weeks ago and it needs a trim again. Whoever said that a job well done needs never be done again didn't do much of anything except come up with pithy sayings. I've decided that he or she was referring to fine art--do we really need another Mona Lisa, Sistine ceiling, or a David? If that adage was true we'd all be unemployed and bored out of our minds.
So, my dear Gentle Readers, I have returned and I have fathoms of fodder for future folios. Run with it, June, as only you can do. I have missed you all beyond what words can express. By the by, Maine Homestead and the Grant Farm was my imaginary oasis during the cyber dry-spell. I couldn't wait to find out what was cooking in their kitchen and what was sprouting in their garden. I was thrilled to hear about Carlo's arrival. Makes me wonder about adding some livestock to my Eden in the Pines.......other than turkeys that is.............
I am humbled by your responses to my last post!! Humbled and gratified. No need to be concerned with it giving me a big head.....I've been banging it up against the wall for the past eight weeks. There's no more expansion possible what with the swelling.
At some point between the 18th and 24th of this month I will, at long last, be in possession of my very own brand spankin' new laptop. It will be my first non-previously-owned instrument of Satan. I ordered it this past Tuesday directly from Dell. As one of my acquaintances put it: "Now you've gone off the deep end beyond the point of no return." I have to say that people tend to under-value and over-estimate the 'deep end'. While touring the deep end these past two months I encountered many characters and characteristics both disturbing and delightful. (Many of them being me and mine.) It's been a learning experience; an exercise in derring-do horticulture, spiritual gymnastics, and gravity-defying patience with a heapin' helpin' of ambivalence. I find that ambivalence can be as addictive as any narcotic. It's a warm fuzzy security blanket while in the cold embrace of ignorance.
I am grateful to have a cousin who A) I like, B) owns a computer, and C) mixes a mean Tom Collins. I could have availed myself of her hospitality sooner but I was rather enjoying my self-inflicted Spartan martyrdom. I missed y'all terribly and I appreciate each of you even more now that I realize how fragile our connection is.
So, my Dears, enjoy the virtue of patience for a few more weeks and I will return ready to regale with tales of my sojourn in the Land of Cyberlessness. Just east of the Deep End.
Greetings to all my blog-mates!! I have not: A) Died, B) been abducted by aliens, or C) entered a cloistered monastery. My computer died to become the ultimate April Fool's Day joke and the laugh (such as it was) was on me.
I assure you I will be back very soon. I have countless anecdotes to share about my cyber exile and how I filled the long, lonely hours. No one will ever find the bodies......
It is one whole week of post-hairpocalypse. An itinerant stylist, Joy, came to the house two days after the 'episode' and set things to rights. I wish I'd had a camera to capture the look on her face when she took in the scope of what I'd done to my mother. Oh, the colours her face turned and the contortions it went through trying to suppress her inner jocular upheaval. Joy, it turns out, is related to us by a couple of removes. She is very personable and does good work. She caters exclusively to 'ladies of a certain age' and whose situations prevent them from going to salons. My mother was more than agreeable to becoming a regular client. Especially after she found out that many of her acquaintances are also clients and Joy has no difficulty with sharing 'items of interest'. I was so relieved they hit it off I sprung for a manicure and pedicure to expiate my stylistic faux-pas.
However, I'm beginning to feel that the 5th Commandment has long-term ramifications that reveal themselves in the oddest ways and in the strangest places. I do not have a copy of the Torah so I can't look up any disclaimers, S.O.P.'s, addenda or amendments to "Thou shalt honour thy mother and father". You know, like, "If a son causes his mother's head to resemble an unshorn sheep (or Angela Davis), it is an abomination and he will be made to suffer".
It's gotta be in there because I have had the strangest week revolving around me being me. Those of you who know me up-close and personally will recall that I cannot wear a wristwatch--either quartz or the wind-up kind. There is something about my person that turns their innards into mush. That is why I carry a pocket watch. I have been told by people given to New Age leaning that I have an amazing aura. I have been told by still other weird-science folk that I am a walking electro-magnetic field. That makes me a transient Bermuda Triangle. Oh, joy, Oh rapture. Well, whatever the hell it is, I'm just about over it.
I set off metal detectors from three feet away. If someone in a crowd comes within 6 inches of me during dry weather you can literally see the static electricity arc from my body to theirs. No one will shake hands or attempt to hug me these days. The cats are avoiding me like I was a Veterinarian. It reached a climax yesterday.
There is a terrific new store in the strip center where I do the grocery shopping. It's a cross between a flea market and an antiques shop. Tons of treasures and loads of junque. I've been there many times and the staff and I are on a first-name basis. As I walked about the very extensive floorspace the manager noticed that wherever I walked the fluorescent lighting dimmed and in several instances the ballasts completely failed and areas went dark. He came up to me and asked if I'd noticed this happening. Was I doing it on purpose. Does this happen often. I gave him a briefer explanation than the one above and he said he was very sorry but he was going to have to ask me to leave. I went to the checkout and paid for my selections--under the speculative eyes of staff and customers who'd also apparently witnessed the phenomena. On my way out of the store I popped my head into the manager's office to apologize for something I couldn't help but felt bad about. No sooner had I stuck my head in the door his computer crashed! He couldn't reboot. He just looked at me and very evenly said "Please....go.....away. I did. All the way home the 'check engine' light kept going on and off. I hadn't been on line for several days because I kept getting error screens saying newly added hardware wasn't installed properly. There's been nothing added to this computer in two years.
Enough already! I unwittingly turned my mothers coiffure into lambswool. I'm sorry, okay? I haven't experienced any woo-hoo stuff today. The computer's behaving itself better than it has for a while now. Perhaps I've finally escaped the cloak of anathema that has enveloped me since I removed the last roller a week ago. I think perhaps this has more to do with the pleasure I got out of the mishap. A distinct sense of satisfaction at obtaining retribution for the difficulties I endure at the hands of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. My mom is a very dear woman who, on many occasions, turns into Momzilla for various and sundry reasons. Most of which are known only to her and cannot therefore be intimated to the uninitiated. Suffice it to say that happy cohabitation is often a challenge.
In any event, I will have to wait a while before returning to that particular 'fleatique' store. In the meantime I am going to enjoy the pristine matching pair of Meissen porcelain candleholders I purchased for $10.00. I collect porcelain and finding these flawless beauties was like the balm of Gilead on my fried nerves. The week wasn't a total loss--unless I somehow manage to cause spontaneous combustion.
....is paved with good intentions, indeed. A person should never allow himself to be coerced, cajoled, or convinced to do something against his better judgment. There comes a point when each person should take his or her stand as an immovable object against an irresistible force just for the sake of self preservation and dignity. In this instance I am a miserable failure.
The day began well enough. Up before daybreak putting a succulent, savory pot roast with accompanying veggies in the crock pot to enjoy an all day spa treatment for the evening meal. At 7 am out in the garage to gather all the necessary accoutrements for working in and about the yard. Hour after hour, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of twigs, branches, and piles of raked up debris that had been fermenting beneath the snow. The brush pile is taking on Alpine proportions. Sloshing and slogging about the glacier-enriched lawn turning soil for imminent plantings. Restacking the stone wall after months of sub-arctic upheaval. By 2 pm I had accomplished all I'd set out to achieve (and all my body could absorb) and sat down triumphant to allow the first day of Spring's efforts to wash over me. It was a beautiful day--warm, sunny, clear. I took in the results of all I'd done and said to myself, 'it is good'.
Being a warm day and having expended more physical energy than I had been accustomed to I determined that I was in need of a rejuvenating ablution. That accomplished and freshly attired, I ventured into my mother's realm of influence and litanized what I'd accomplished out of doors. She was very praising and encouraging--which I should have recognized as the opening salvo across my bow. However I was too full of my own heightened self-satisfaction to do so. I ended my history with the fatal question: "What shall I do next?"
That's when it happened. The abyss yawned before me and I walked right into it.
"Well, I have an idea." said my sweet, encouraging mother. "How about giving me a perm?"
My mother had, in Paris between 1939 and 1944, been employed by Chanel as one of those ladies who come out wearing couture for prospective buyers. That's where she met my father, a strapping young lieutenant, after the liberation, chauffeuring officers' wives around to the fashion houses. Anyway, she has always been very particular about her appearance and most especially about her hair. She is unable to go to a salon comfortably and everyone who's come here to work with her hair has declined to do a perm. Mother wants a perm. I don't 'do' hair. Therein lies the dilemma.
"Oh, don't worry", she says. "It's easy and I'll be right here guiding you all the way."
I protested. I voiced my doubts, inadequacies, and concerns. To no avail. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed wanted a perm and there was no appeal or commuting of sentence.
So, I set about doing my very best Vidal Sassoon/Paul Mitchell impersonation. All the right tools, warmed towels etc... My mother did, indeed, walk me through the entire process. I felt empowered.
When all was said and done and the rollers were off and the final rinsing was in progress I began to have a very bad, no, serious foreboding, of what was about to happen. All my mother had said was to take a combful of hair, envelop it in the paper, roll it snugly, and secure it in place. She didn't say what direction it was to be rolled. The phrase is 'roll up' isn't it? No one ever says 'roll down' do they? Needless to say the results were less than satisfactory in her considered opinion. She now resembles the Bride of Frankenstein or perhaps Madame Pompadour on acid. It's the curliest bee-hive you've ever seen. She says it can be fixed. She says it isn't my fault. Her face is set in granite as she repeats the words. Over and over and over. All it needs to be 'complete' are a few Christmas ornaments or a stuffed bird or two.
I am mortified. At the same time I am experiencing inner hysterics. Outwardly I am apologizing profusely, reiterating my earlier disclaimers. "Mia culpa, mia culpa, mia maxima culpa". Inwardly the men in white coats are ineffectively trying to subdue me.
This first day of Spring is one for the history books. This is the day I successfully tamed nature AND defied gravity. Sorry, Mom. Poodle On!
Rather than insult or offend my Gentle Readers with my opinion of Paddig aka Patricolus aka St. Patrick who, in the 5th century, was captured by pagan Irish pirates on the southwestern coast of Roman Britain (now Cornwall) and conscripted to servitude in Ireland and who, in due course, escaped to Gaul, got religion, and returned to exact revenge on the pagan Irish by inflicting Roman Catholic Christianity on them thus ruining a perfectly good civilization, I've decided to share a wonderful poem that describes the lyrical, open-hearted Irish race.
We are the music-makers And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers And sitting by desolate streams, World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world forever, it seems.
--A.W.E. O'Shaughnessy from "Ode"
I hope you all have a wonderful 'Celtic Appreciation Day'. May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light. May good fortune pursue you by day and night.
Well, it's been a week since I first encountered the cyber voodoo that has plagued my computer. The cavalry never showed up and no embassy from the realm of Techno-Geekdom has come charging up on white steeds. So, until this contraption breathes its last, I am going to forge ahead and blog my heart out.
Oh, hell, now I can't think of anything to blog about. While I've waited for reinforcements I filled my time with needle and thread. The Renaissance gown and underskirt were completed and will soon be on their way to Texas. *sniff* I'm back in the domestic housewares saddle again. Of course, while I'm sitting there, hour after hour working the needle, I do think about the strangest things. My mind is a rabbits' warren of ideas and conjectures.
By now I assume that my regular Gentle Readers are aware of my healthy respect for language and words. I love words. I hate to see them abused. My particular battered choice this week is the word 'awesome'. It's supposed to mean something that inspires awe. Something that causes one to feel a sense of wonder and amazement. The Northern Lights, for example. Or perhaps an erupting volcano. A prime example would be birth. In any species of the animal kingdom. Watching new life emerge into the world inspires awe, amazement, and a sense of wonder. The particular tasty flavour of a cookie or cleaning properties of a laundry detergent do not, at least for me, create that sensation.
I've also given some thought to religion. Christian scripture to be more precise. Matthew 18:20 "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst." OK, so, does that mean that the solitary person endeavoring to communicate with the Divine is just spinning his wheels? Does he have to go find an accomplice to get heavenly attention? It's always been my contention (and experience) that whenever two or three are gathered in His name you have met the basic requirements for inevitable conflict. By the way, the answer to the above questions is 'no'. Matthew 6:7. Read it for yourselves, kids, it's an awesome piece of advice. As many of you have come to know, I am not given to organized religion. Neither am I an atheist. Nor am I agnostic--I read and get a lot out of sacred texts from the worlds religions. I just don't confine myself to any one particular 'ism'. I am an avid (and sometimes rabid) vigilante where the cult of 'hypocrisism' is concerned. If your 'talk' don't 'walk' then shut up. Walk the talk and I'll follow you anywhere. Confucius, The Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi all had plenty of miles on their footwear and thus I respect them immeasurably. These were awesome individuals.
Since the computer hasn't gone up in a ball of flame and taken me with it--yet--I am going to leave y'all here and get back to the needle and thread. I have missed you. Hope it's been mutual. Anyone need fancy-shmancy pot holders?
Please do not misconstrue my silence as apathy. It is, in fact, anarchy. The plebeians living within my computer are wreaking havoc and I am powerless--not to mention--clueless as to how to bring them under martial law.
I have asked for reinforcements from the Realm of Techno-Geekdom and hopefully they will come to my aid before cyber termites eat my brain. In the meantime--keep writing and I will catch up once the uprising is quashed.
Lord Wellbourne has announced that beginning today and continuing through to Monday morning, he will be enjoying a mental holiday from the Blogosphere. For those prone to withdrawal symptoms, he recommends perusing the archives of The Maine Thing for literary gems that they may not as yet have had an opportunity to enjoy. He further recommends visiting Aging Gratefully and The Good Life for similar insightful reading pleasures.
Greetings once again, all you faithful fans of the phenomenal Lord Wellbourne! We experienced some technical difficulty with our broadcast transmission yesterday as some of you may have noticed. But with the astute application of duct tape, super glue, chewing gum, and an odd bobby pin or two, I believe the tweaking of the ISP has been successful.
SVR--You neglected to mention the Play-Dough.
FAQ--Indeed. Thank you for remembering.
SVR--Your welcome. My pleasure.
FAQ--Lord Wellbourne, I had a few follow-up questions I hoped you would be good enough to answer.
SVR--Certainly. Go for it.
FAQ--Thank you. Going back to your acting career, was it an easy or difficult pursuit for you?
SVR--Easy insofar as it was something I loved doing. Difficult because I really had to put more effort into it than many of my fellow actors.
SVR--I was not blessed genetically with either height or classic good looks. If you are tall and handsome you don't have to go to too much trouble to be noticed on stage. If, like me, you are under 6 feet tall and are never confused for Brad Pitt, you have to emote and project in a way that gets you noticed and heard. But not too much or else you're accused of up-staging. It's a delicate balance and it takes a great deal of concentration to maintain.
FAQ--After our last interview several of your Gentle Readers asked after your health.
SVR--That is very kind of them.
FAQ--In particular they referred to your comment about the congenital heart defect. What is the status of that condition now?
SVR--Non-existent. It worked itself out while I was in my twenties. Other than a few trifling inconveniences my health is quite good. Especially since I've returned to the fresh, clean air of Maine.
FAQ--You stay very trim despite a rather sedentary lifestyle. What's your secret?
SVR--I eat whole foods and maintain a balanced diet. Keeping house to my mother's satisfaction is a work-out regimen that even Body By Jake never dreamed of.
FAQ--Lord Wellbourne, this being February, the month for lovers, do you have any advice for the romantically inclined?
SVR--Pray that January never ends.
FAQ--No, but seriously.
SVR--I hardly think I could be considered having any authority on THAT subject.
FAQ--Any thoughts at all?
SVR--Well, I did hear someone say once that relationships are a fifty/fifty proposition. I contend that that is either bad arithmetic or the recipe for a doomed romance.
FAQ--Really? Sounds right and proper to me.
SVR--Are you currently in a happy, successful relationship then?
FAQ--Um....no, actually, I'm not.
SVR--I rest my case.
FAQ--What would your 'closing argument' be in that 'case'?
SVR--Only this: if each person in the relationship is contributing 50% then each is only investing half of their time and effort into it. Pardon the phrase but it's a half-assed approach to attaining a much desired goal in which you hope to reap maximum returns. At that rate you can only expect to be happy 50% of the time and something completely different the other half of the time. Personally, I'd prefer a better percentage. I recommend that each party consider investing at least 70% of themselves to the objective. Certainly no more than 80%. Everyone should hold back just a little in order to have reserves to call upon in time of greater need. Besides, a little mystery is healthy in any relationship.
FAQ--Is there an easy way to know if a person is right for you?
SVR--That depends on what you want out of the relationship. There is a seemingly harmless way to get an insightful clue. Play a game of Monopoly with your hearts' desire. In the course of the game you will observe how they handle money--haphazardly or prudently. You will see how generous or greedy they are when you land on one of their hotels and you're financially embarrassed. Ultimately you will learn by the game's conclusion if they're a good sport or a bad loser/winner. Do they rub your nose in their victory? Do they pout or do they laugh off their defeat? It's a very enlightening experience.
FAQ--That's an amazing idea!
SVR--Well, don't act so surprised, for heaven's sake. Life, the board game, is too predictable. Monopoly isn't. The financial aspect opens windows into traits that are otherwise kept behind closed doors.
FAQ--Lord Wellbourne, what's next for you? Where do you go from here?
SVR--Specifically--to dinner, to my studio, and then to bed. Generally--I haven't a notion. I'll send you a postcard when I get there.
FAQ--Lord Wellbourne, it has been an immense honour for me to bring your story to the world!
SVR--And it's been great fun for me as well. I hope the world will feel the same.
That, Gentle Readers, concludes this awe-inspiring historical encounter with the incomparable, devastatingly debonair, Lord Wellbourne. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we've enjoyed bringing it to you. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with such personalities as Pope Benedict XVI, George Clooney, and Madonna. We can only hope that those interviews will be as fascinating as this was. Until then, this is Iam Nosy signing off.
Greetings again, Gentle Readers of The Maine Thing! We have reached the third and final installment of an exhilarating three-part interview with the legendary Lord Wellbourne. This interview is being conducted within the princely environs of his magnificent studio.
FAQ--Good evening, Lord Wellbourne!
FAQ--Before we begin, I must say you're very interestingly dressed.
SVR--Oh? Do you think so?
FAQ--Yes, indeed. What is all that?
SVR--A quilted and embroidered jewel-tone Tibetan jacket over a hand-woven Mongolian tunic.
FAQ--And the trousers?
SVR--Black-on-black embroidered silk harem pants.
FAQ--And your topper?
SVR--A heavily embroidered and beaded silk velvet fez--without tassel.
FAQ--Why not a tassel?
FAQ--Do you often dress like this?
FAQ--Only at home? Or--
SVR--At home, out to the mailbox, grocery shopping etc...Causes quite a sensation at WalMart I've noticed.
SVR--Now, if you've done with my accoutrements, I believe you have some questions for me?
FAQ--Oh, yes, to be sure.
SVR--Excellent. Carry on.
FAQ--When we concluded yesterday I had asked how you came to hand-crafting as a career choice.
SVR--Ah, yes, I remember. I thought it an odd question.
SVR--My dear fellow, almost everything we do as individuals is an exercise in hand-crafting. Preparing a meal, composing a letter, playing an instrument, building a house, gardening etc... We use tools to be sure but our hands, in partnership with our ideas, do the crafting.
FAQ--Where did it start with you, personally?
SVR--I imagine very shortly after I was cognizant of having 'hands'.
SVR--Oh! I see what you were asking! Right. Well, I had just turned five when I came down with measles. A week later I came down with chicken pox. Very nasty combination. At one point I began experiencing chest pain. I was taken to the military hospital and X-rays revealed I had a congenital heart defect. A slightly twisted aorta. Scared the bejesus out of my parents.
FAQ--To be sure!
SVR--Well, after I was stabilized and back at home, a long and arduous regimen of medication and bed-rest began. It was sheer misery--for everyone. I had it the easiest. All I had to do was lay there. Boredom was my nemesis. My mother is a superior needle woman. Knitting, crochet, embroidery, needle point etc...She was in her petit point phase at that time and she would come into my room every afternoon with her frame and canvas and spend hours sitting on the foot of my bed to keep me company. The rhythmic movement of her needle was very soothing to me. The developing picture intrigued me. And the fact she could do such precision work while engaging in the give and take of conversation inspired me. At one point I asked if I might try to do what she was doing. She brought me a piece of canvas and a frame and she drew out some lines for me to work on. She sat there beside me and talked me through it so patiently and gently. By the time my convalescence was over, I was nearly as proficient as she was.
FAQ--And how long was that?
SVR--A little over seven months.
FAQ--Good heavens! You did petit point in bed for seven months?
SVR--I did all kinds of needle work. My mother also utilized the time to teach me how to read and write. She brought me water colours and art paper. My days were filled with needle work, literature, and art. It was a difficult time for everyone but it was also a happy constructive time. I was an excellent patient.
FAQ--So what could have been a catastrophe was actually a blessing of sorts.
SVR--Exactly, well put. Today, as I work with my needle, I have the same soothing calmness wash over me. Whenever I stop to look at the embeadered design developing I think of my petit point days and relive the wonder.
FAQ--Yes. That's what I call what I do. I embroider with beads. Embeader. I like the colour and light play as well as the texture the beads give the fabric.
FAQ--I see. Your work is amazing, beautiful.
SVR--Thank you. I admit after I've completed a somewhat involved piece I am in awe. Not of my handiwork but that I actually pulled it off. I tend to underestimate my abilities.
FAQ--And you do this on....
SVR--Table and bed linens, clothing and accessories. Lately though I've been going back to straight hand-sewing.
SVR--Returning to Maine triggered my 'back-to-basics' gene. I decided to do more practical applications. So, I've been making domestic items--hot pads, pot-holders, coasters, etc... out of salvaged brocade and tapestry remnants.
FAQ--All sewn by hand?
SVR--Yes. I don't particularly care for machines. I am not technologically inclined. I prefer the tactile experience of holding the needle and controlling the tension of the thread myself.
FAQ--Admirable. You are still 'embeadering' though.
SVR--Oh yes--I am nearing completion on a commission for a devotee of the Texas Renaissance Festival. A Tudor Court dress. Very heavy--especially now that I'm adding hundreds of pearls, glass beads, and vintage rhinestones. Twelve yards of fabric and a very complex pattern keeps me quite busy. The straight sewing is my 'unwind' therapy. Keeps me from burning out.
FAQ--Who are your inspirations?
SVR--I'm so glad you asked me that! Well, besides every embellisher in history, there is, of course, my mother to be sure. I must also mention one or two outstanding individuals. Firstly, my good friend, Lady Hawthorne of Canterbury Cottage. Phenomenal crafts woman. An impresario in all manner of needlework and very adept in many other mediums. Then of course there is my dear Red--a graphic designer and conceptual artist of stellar talent. She also makes an incomparable gumbo. And I rather think that Von at The Good Life is an inspiration--what with her painting ability, textile savvy, and gusto for all things Green.
SVR--I would be unforgivably remiss if I didn't include June at Aging Gratefully. I have become inexplicably attached to her. Her ability to paint vibrantly moving canvases with words enthralls me. She has a semantic savoir-faire and textual finesse that is sadly lacking today.
FAQ--Are you still involved with your other artistic interests?
SVR--Oh, yes, quite. I still write, paint, and create jewelry as you can see by looking about you.
FAQ--These are magical rooms.
SVR--Life and art are magical pursuits. They each require a sacred space.
FAQ--Lord Wellbourne, it has been an enormous privilege to speak with you! I still have a number of things I'd like to ask. Would you consider allowing me another day to wrap this up with an epilogue? I'm sure your fans would greatly appreciate it!
SVR--Well, I hate to disappoint people. Very well. Come again tomorrow. But not too early!!
FAQ--You are too kind, sir. Thank you!
There you are, Gentle Readers, Lord Wellbourne has graciously given of himself yet again so as not to disappoint his loyal following. His generosity and selflessness continue to astound all who come into his presence. Until tomorrow, this is a very humbled Iam Nosy signing off.
Greetings, Gentle Readers of The Maine Thing! Iam Nosy here and today we continue with the second installment of our three-part interview with the enigmatic and devastatingly charming Lord Wellbourne.
FAQ--Good morning, Lord Wellbourne!
FAQ--When we left off yesterday, you were about to tell us about your illustrious career in the performing arts.
SVR--Was I indeed? Can't recall--but then I've slept since then.
FAQ--I trust you slept well.
SVR--Trust is a beautiful thing.
FAQ--You were a critically acclaimed stage actor for several years. Tell us about that.
SVR--I performed in over 70 plays. Shakespeare, G.B. Shaw, Wilde, Moliere, and Maxwell Anderson were my favourite playwrights. It was great fun.
FAQ--Why did you give it up?
SVR--I came to discover that 'real life' provided more than adequate drama and challenges with fewer lighting cues and costume changes.
FAQ--What do you miss the most about your acting career?
FAQ--What do you consider your greatest role?
FAQ--As well as being a consummate actor, you were also a cabaret performer. What did you do?
SVR--I sang standards of the 1930's and 40's as well as re-enacting classic vaudeville routines.
FAQ--Fascinating! But that career ended rather abruptly. What happened?
SVR--My accompanist, the immensely talented Clay Howell, was offered the opportunity to tour with Bette Midler. After 4.7 seconds of soul-searching deliberation, he dumped me.
FAQ--Were you bitter?
SVR--No, relieved. I was really sick of singing 'Melancholy Baby'.
FAQ--Lord Wellbourne, are you--
SVR--Yes, I am.
FAQ--I hadn't finished the question.
SVR--Hadn't you? Sorry. Carry on.
FAQ--It's not important.
SVR--I thought not.
FAQ--You are also an award-winning published author. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
SVR--Find something to write on and pick up a pen.
FAQ--Is that all?
SVR--What more do they need?
FAQ--What about imagination?
SVR--My dear Mr. Nosy, people who lack imagination or skill and think they want to 'write' can only aspire to criticism. My advice to THAT lot cannot be published.
FAQ--When people refer to you as a 'dilettante' how do you respond?
SVR--I refer them to this wall of sheep skins that says otherwise.
FAQ--You have now embarked on a totally new and unrelated career path. When and how did you become interested in hand-crafting?
SVR--Let's leave that for another time, shall we?
Well, there you have it, Gentle Readers! The second installment of a three-part interview with the matchless and captivating Lord Wellbourne. Please tune in tomorrow when we will discover the roots to his creative prowess and ask him to name names! Until then, this is Iam Nosy signing off.
NEWS FLASH!! Lord Wellbourne, International Man Of Mystery and Bon Vivant, has graciously consented to a three-part interview! After nine months of self-imposed exile behind the back woods of Maine, Lord Wellbourne has condescended to give SVR's (somewhat vague responses) to FAQ's (frequently asked questions). Don't miss a single riveting installment!
FAQ--Where does the name 'Lord Wellbourne' come from?
SVR--It refers to an ancestral title that was never granted. An earldom was promised to the members of the Douglas clan of Scotland by Prince Charles Edward better known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' in exchange for their support of his claim to the throne of England. Had His Highness been successful this interview would be taking place in Edinburgh.
FAQ--After many years of residing in--and traveling throughout--many parts of the world, how do you find living, so far removed from it all, in Maine?
SVR--At present, rather cold, pleasantly quiet, and refreshingly clean.
FAQ--What brought you back to where it all began?
SVR--Retractable umbilical cord.
FAQ--You spent your early years being brought up and educated in France and England. Do you think this has given you any special advantages?
SVR--Certainly. I am always everyone's first pick for teammate when a Trivial Pursuit game appears. I am also popular whenever a romance novel author incorporates French into her dialogue.
FAQ--When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
SVR--Yes, colourful. As a child all the people I found captivating were often referred to, somewhat disparagingly, as 'colourful'. I wanted to be one of them.
FAQ--According to popular opinion you've achieved that.
SVR--That's very gratifying to hear.
FAQ--Now, about your artistic and theatrical endeavours.............
SVR--Let's leave that for later, shall we? It's time for my nap...er...I mean, tea.
There you have it, Gentle Readers. The first installment of a historic three-part interview with the illusive Lord Wellbourne. In tomorrows' segment we will pursue that intriguing line of questioning. Until tomorrow, this is Iam Nosy signing off.
Below is the full portrait of George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron of whom it was said "He's mad, bad, and dangerous to know". One of my heroes and, now, my Blogging Icon. I bear no resemblance to him whatsoever, of course. No, the only similarity is an appreciation for history, literature, art, and beauty. Oh, yes, and an independence of spirit. Not a bad connection that.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me advise my Gentle Readers that there will be disclaimers somewhere towards the conclusion of this ramble. They may not quench the torches of the angry Blog Villagers gathering across the moat surrounding my ivory tower, but they'll cover my butt as far as I'm concerned.
I am enjoying the recession. Yes, I said 'enjoying the recession'. And, furthermore, I'm glad it's happened. It gives me warm fuzzies to hear parents half my age tell their kids to be careful and to take care of their bodies, clothing, and playthings because Mommy and Daddy cannot afford to fix or replace said item. I smile broader when driving anywhere and see less fast-food litter on the sides of roads because people are stretching their food budgets in the supermarkets rather than the drive-thru. I cheer when I see people shopping at thrift shops for everyday necessities rather than feed the corporate big-box-store beast. I'm tickled pink when someone tells me--not about the latest CGI blockbuster they've seen--but about a new board game their family has discovered--one that I've been playing for 40 plus years.
Money is tight. Cash flow is restricted. Everyday folks are re-evaluating what's important. What matters. What things are worth. For the first time in a long time people are aware of the cost AND the value of 'stuff' both tangible and intangible. I think it's a good thing and it's about time.
I am an enthusiastic proponent of the barter and trade system. If the butcher, baker, candle stick maker, as well as the mechanic and tailor all conducted business on that system the quality of products and services would improve significantly. Currency is an impersonal means of revenue. When you invest your time and ability into producing goods in exchange for goods the value of your time and talent skyrocket. You feel better about yourself and validated by what your effort has acquired.
Last summer I traded some of my hand-crafted jewelry and beaded/embroidered table linens for help in yard work--brush clearing, stump removal and the like. I exchanged mending-darning-tailoring abilities for a summer's worth of fresh vegetables and eggs. I traded a cornucopia of custom pillows for carpentry. At the last craft fair I participated in I bartered wares for real maple syrup and honey. In essence I exchanged my hours of labor for someone else's hours of labor. It didn't matter how much time or labor we individually put into the product or service. What mattered was obtaining what we needed/wanted. I'd like to think we each felt we'd gotten the better deal. This year I will plant my own veggie garden and trade the extra harvest for things I need or want, as well as donating some to the local food pantry. What comes around truly goes around.
I completely understand that this system won't work with grocery and department stores, physicians, utility companies, etc... What I'm saying is--people are too focused on the money and not on what it purchases. Just give this a thought in a free moment: if the world suddenly stopped using cash what would you do to get what you needed? What do you have of value and what can you offer in exchange for keeping your household afloat? Sad to realize that there are many people in that very quandary as I write this.
Disclaimer time. I am NOT happy nor do I take any pleasure in anyone's loss of employment, health care, or habitation. I do NOT delight in seeing the homeless and hungry. I do NOT hope the recession lasts for very much longer. It breaks my heart that college students are grappling with dropping out of school and senior citizens are choosing between medication and food. Animal shelters filled to capacity because people cannot afford to feed and care for pets. For many people this has been a very unpleasant wake-up call and I hope the awakening reaps long-term real-life lessons that will benefit us all for generations to come.
There's nothing embarrassing about being frugal and practical. For that matter, there's really nothing wrong with money, either. As long as you remember it's supposed to work for you and not the other way around. Money is an ambivalent, parsimonious, taskmaster.