- Audrey Eclectic - She writes about her artwork and her life.
- Rare Bird - Fellow Oregonian, her artwork is simply hauntingly beautiful, and her blogs are delightful.
- Two Nerdy History Girls - Need no further explanation. It's a tremendous blog.
- New England Living - An exercise lovely living with a gritty, beautiful honesty.
- Adventures in Dressmaking - I am acquainted with this young woman, and she is a feisty, talented seamstress full of wonderful ideas.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
“Miss Ter Bronnen,” Lady DuChamps-Harding called out, “please help us with this impossible puzzle, Mrs. Lilling and I are most confused…” Lady DuChamps-Harding was a sly, scheming creature. It was of no surprise to either Mrs. Lilling or Beth that she was creating a distraction so that her ward received as much of Mr. Lilling’s attentions as possible. Beth smiled graciously and made her way towards the two ladies. Mrs. Lilling arched her brow knowingly at Beth, and they shared a private smirk. Beth sank down at the table where the ladies were working on a printed puzzle with hand-painted colours brought by the English ladies. The wooden pieces were fairly rectangular with squiggly edges. It was a puzzle that one had to order the succession of English monarchs. A few were paired, and there were two rows completed, however the remaining rulers were scattered all about the table. Beth sighed and sipped her tea, placing her cup down and reaching for a piece holding George I. She tapped it against her lip absentmindedly as she searched for his successors amid the shuffle.
“Miss Hart, Mrs. Lilling and I are planning a short trip to the market in Mechelen next week. We thought we’d go and look at fabrics for gowns. Mrs. Lilling wants very much to host a dance soon, and how can we not make all new gowns for such an occasion?”
“How could you not?” Beth echoed, smiling gently. She wondered how long it would be before Mrs. Lilling would find a way to suggest that the party be hosted here at TerBronnen. She sighed and grasped another piece of the puzzle, placing it in its rightful spot on the puzzle.
“You should join us. I brought a pattern I am sure you will delight in… of a style that is of the latest trends in Paris. You should come and buy some delightful silk or muslin…”
“Let me think on it. I’ve visitors coming soon; I want to insure that the house is prepared for their arrival.”
“Oh?” Both Mrs. Lilling and Lady DuChamps-Harding blurted in unison. Beth quietly delighted in their curiosity. She reached out and snapped four kings together and then slid them into the notches on the third row of monarchs. She sipped her tea agonizingly slowly, and then carefully plinked her cup back into the saucer. The women waited. Miss Hart broke into yet another chorus of laughter, and the periodical shook and wrinkled some more.
“My cousins are coming, we see them very rarely. Kathreen received my news of our having such lovely new society this summer, and her curiosity got the better of her… she could not resist, so she has decided to accept my invitation and visit from Brugge. She determined to make your acquaintance and to be Miss Hart's newest friend. She is bringing her brother as well, so we shall be a merry group indeed. I received her correspondence just this morning.” Beth slid a few more pieces of the puzzle in place.
“Oooh, your seaside cousins, how delightful!” Mrs. Lilling declared, clasping her hands. “Miss Kathreen's singing voice is resplendent. And she's coming with George... how wonderful. An excellent sportsman and a resplendent dancer. Isn't that wonderful Jean-Marc? George is coming!” Mr. Lilling simply smiled wanly and nodded, and Miss Hart gazed over the table now with open curiosity. The Lillings were highly regarded by the VanDelst cousins, and Jean-Marc was a good friend to George. It was George that Beth had in mind when she'd scrawled out her hasty, rather manipulative letter a week before to his sister, after Miss Hart had gone back home for the night. Miss Hart had found a foothold into the TerBronnen household and was there more often than not now--and it would be rude not to invite her at all since the pair had glommed onto Mrs. Lilling. Jean-Marc was constantly subjected to Miss Hart’s most flagrant flirtation, and it was the first time in their long acquaintance that Beth wished him away. But she knew her cousin Kathreen was besotted by all things English, and the idea of taking company with a young Englishwoman of good society was all that Kathreen needed to desire an immediate departure. She would be with Miss Hart at all times. Beth had also been quite deliberate in describing Miss Hart's loveliness, and her strategy worked, for Kathreen's letter arrived shortly after announcing her plans to depart and declaring that George would be coming as well to see his old school-friend Jean-Marc. It was a triumph of orchestration to benefit the much-beleaguered Beth who feared losing her beloved to this English rose.
She sipped her tea, and handed Mrs. Lilling a piece of the puzzle, which the charming woman fitted into place. With a sweet, unassuming smile, Beth glanced at Jean-Marc and found his eyes filled with quiet amusement. She should have known he was too sharp to let this little maneuver pass unnoticed. With a smirk, she let her eyes slide to Miss Hart. She on the other hand was no longer laughing... she was riveted. The prospect of another gentleman--an available gentleman, had very much caught her notice.
The wooden puzzle snapped again, and Mrs. Lilling exclaimed, "The puzzle is finished!" She sat back in her chair with a victorious air and beamed. "So, when are we going to Mechelen?"
This visit was part two of my girly-medical day. Part one included less pleasant things, but it did have some really positive outcomes. My new OB, Dr. Kahaner prescribed me SIX cycles of Clomid. It's a fertility pill to cause ovulation FYI. I'm trying not to get all crazy with high-hopes, but it's hard not to get a little excited. I've tried this drug before, but it didn't work out because my husband went on his travel job and was gone so much, it made no sense to take the meds which are cycle-based.
Tag is getting his summer coat and is dappling on his belly (it's cute). He's being bratty as usual and keeping me busy. It's what he does. I love him.
My husband carried this little fellow (kicking and silently screaming) all the way from Boston for me. I miss lobster something fierce (it's either too expensive, frozen or the wimpy imported kind that has no claws)--so I got special delivery. Mr. Pinchey here got steamed the moment I got home, and I whipped up a batch of my face-wrinkling lemon-butter, and spent a ridiculous amount of time winnowing every piece of lobster-meat from his little body that I could. Large lobsters like this one doesn't amount to all *that* much meat, but boy it hit the spot. Hubby is the most amazing creature ever!
The only thing left from my path of lobster devastation were the little weird fibrous gilly-things, his shell and his antennae. I also left that green goo some people like to eat, but I prefer not to. Other than that, not a nook, cranny, knuckle, knee, leg or claw was left undevoured. He was a pathetic pile of shell, the poor bug.
Steph II came over a while ago, and showed me how to make real pastry cream (I cheated before that when I made my infamous tarts...) This tart was duly devoured. It happens.
I received my 8 yards of cotton-linen blend + dye from Dharma today. That means my riding habit will be under construction soon (alongside some men's stuff I've been needing to make for a while). The ORS is having a Fox Hunt in September. I am excited to make a Regency riding habit. I've always wanted one. ;) I already have the makings for the hat since I already have toppers from my dressage days... Plus a bowler hat. I will likely blog that project here, or the ORS blogspot page, not sure yet... but keep an eye out for it. :)
I got 'Just Because' roses today. Man this day is good. Happy Friday all.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
This is my older brother and his mother. My father was married when he lived in Hungary. He divorced this wife when he moved to the US, and brought my brother over to America when he had the first opportunity. My brother lives in Pensacola, and has lived in the US since he was eight or something like that. He did not get along well with my mother, and he joined the army at first opportunity. He also attended medical school, and then decided to go for architecture. Today he's an architect and he's the only one in our family who has children. Oddly, he served the country in the army, and has been a model citizen, but he only became a real American citizen very recently. I get really tweaked on the immigration topic because of this. Between my father and my brother, they had to go through some major channels to become citizens of the US.
My sister sent these today. The left is my father's flight log from 1954. It's got lots of entries in it. It's striking how much my brother looks like the man in this picture. He was such a handsome devil... those blue eyes... The right is a rail pass from 1957; just before he flew to the US. He was living in Austria while he waited for his visa and such to go through. It's interesting to see that he signed the pass 'Stefan'.
I found this picture too, here I am looking like a deer in headlights in my little brownie outfit. I didn't stay in the brownies and girl scouts too long. I liked the brownie outfits, but the girl scouts had to wear kelley green with orange... It wasn't my fav. There were girl scout troupes at the DOD school, and mom volunteered to be a den mother or whatever they call that... so I had to participate regardless. But I got out of it eventually. Anyway... There's my papa sitting beside me. Goodness only knows what was going on... I have no memory of it.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Green Monster
No more Mary Chungs... No more Legals, no more shopping trips to Kittery or romantic stays in Portland, Maine in the old port. No more sunday drives up north before the leaf-lookers show up, no more medium regular (that means with milk and sugar in the Northeast) coffee from the Dunkin' on 38 past the mall... no more Horseman's Tack visits to see what's gotten dustier on the shelves... no more ice cream from that place in Salem by the Pier One and B&N... no more trips to Canobie Lake just before it closes for the season, no more driving up to Derry and Chester, no more trips to Portsmouth... No more fancy dinners at the Andover Inn.
- The old buildings and those magnificent colonial-style New England sprawlers.
- The smell of summer after the afternoon T-storm.
- The Indian summers.
- Legal Seafoods (namely the bluefish paté)
- Mary Chung Restaurant (OMG... someone please Fedex me some Suan La Chow Show and steamed buns!).
- The City of Boston
- The State of Maine (yes, the whole freakin' state!)
- Northern New Hampshire.
- McDonald's Lobster rolls... why can't they be everywhere?
- Tripoli bakery in Lawrence, MA
- Portland, Maine's Old Port
- English riders everywhere. I miss that. I feel like an outcast out here with my postage stamp saddle, surrounded by people riding on half-a-cow saddles looking at me with trepidation.
- Beautiful farms with white wooden fencing.
- State Line Tack (the store in Plaistow). It's hard to find English Tack here that isn't out of this world expensive.
- Small towns with white churches and little town commons.
- Fourth of July parades through said towns with white churches and town commons.
- Pumpkin festivals.
- Lake Winnepesaukee
I can go on forever. It's time to stop. I'm actually misting up. :( I hope the Sox win tonight... it will be a great memory for hubby. My last game at Fenway was vs the Yankees, who mopped the floor with the Sox. It was still fun as hell though. ;)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Anyway... to Alicia, and your future munchkinette. May your days be bathed in cuteness.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
My mother is crazy. That’s about the summary of this whole missive about my parents. She acts like my father never existed, and has been getting increasingly bitter and angry; and on top of that, she decided *not* to take the medication prescribed by the doctor for her heart… and because of her subsequent heart-failure, her legs swelled up into twin Michelin-man sausages. It was gross. I told her to call the doctor to tell him about this symptom, which naturally she did not.
My husband took her in for an appointment for her gastric issues on Thursday, and when they listened to her heart, it sounded like a jackhammer, and they naturally freaked out. They sent her to emergency, where she was kept.
You see, two years ago, my mother’s cardiologist did an ultrasound when they discovered her accelerated heart-rate. He told her that such a fast heart rate could damage the heart, and so he prescribed a medication to regulate it. As expected, my mother thought she was above such trivial things, and did not take her medication, and now her heart is so damaged, that the doctor told me Saturday that her heart is now 50% less efficient that it was in 2008. What a shocker…
Meanwhile, while my mother was being run through tests, etc, my developmentally disabled brother was alone locked in the house. “Uh, honey… they want to keep her overnight, she could stroke any minute if they don’t bring down her heart rate…”
What does one do? I can’t leave him alone overnight, or any time, for that matter.
State of Oregon, Multnomah County to the rescue! (Extensive phone calls, whining, tears and panic notwithstanding) I managed to find a way to change my brother’s status enough so that he would be accepted under the crisis program, rather than just being in limbo in the intake process. He was accepted despite his lack of paperwork at this point (still waiting to get birth-certificate, certificates of guardianship, school records etc… since Mom didn’t bother to bring them from New Hampshire).
I managed to get him placed!!!!!! OMG. And the BEST part is, he’s placed in a really amazing adult foster care situation. He lives with only three other DD adults, and the home-owner/care giver is AMAZING. A man named Ephrem. When we went to get John, it was nearly 5 PM and he was sleeping. I shook his shoulder and he slapped my hand away… so I reached for the blanket and yanked the whole thing off. I rummaged the house to find some reasonably clean clothes (a challenge to say the least—I will spare you details), and made him change into them.
His fingernails were a half an inch long, his beard like the Brawny Lumberjack guy… he smelled OMG, the poor kid. I told him in sign that he was going with me to the car, and we drove him to the foster home, where he was immediately welcome. Saturday, I went to Deseret and got $120 worth of clothes for him (trust me, at Deseret, $120 will buy a whole wardrobe). I bought him shoes, socks, underwear, shirts, pants, shorts, polos… I figured he had nothing to his name, and he deserved to have some dignity.
We unpacked his new clothes and hung them in his little closet and put them in his dresser. His hair was trimmed, his face clean-shaven... his fingernails clean and short. He was in fresh clothes, and looked relaxed. Just seeing that brought me to tears. At least he’s okay now, and in good hands.
I also inherited my mother’s evil-infection-on-paws, Jack. Her dog is from the original stock of Jack Russell Terriers she used to breed, which means he’s an aggressive jerk. He also is losing teeth out of a rotten mouth, is infected in nine different places, only 11 pounds from malnutrition, and meaner than a black mamba. Of course, that meanness has melted away a smidge now that he’s not around Cruella. He is pretty vulnerable next to my healthy (somewhat… Flower still has some symptoms lingering from her very long illness) dogs, and he’s quiet around them. He tried to bully Simon once, and learned that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea seeing that my little fuzzy roastlet outweighs him by seven pounds and his as fit as a fiddle. Jack is trying to socialize himself to our ‘pack’ and lies wedged up against me in a bony, ugly pile but growls out of fear if I pet him. I guess we’re getting another medical liability with a tail… urgh. At least my Mom is footing these vet bills. Wait ‘til she sees the $700-$900 estimate for his dental procedure. ::smirk::
Oh, more from New Hampshire… My husband is on his way there to go and assist in what has become a cleanup of the century. My mother left pretty much everything behind, and she left it in the worst condition you can imagine. The house looks like something from those really bleak cases on Hoarders, the TV show. What happened to our brass-rubbing plaques… the tapestries, the antiques; it’s almost painful to think of it all. My mother used to be so obsessed with appearances… a hirer and firer of maids… but that’s faded over the years, and she slowly slipped into an increasingly uncaring mode. Looking at the pictures from real-estate lady, my mother was living like the Beales of Grey Gardens. It’s hideous. All that’s missing are the raccoons (maybe not… we’ll see what the clean-up-team digs up... you never know!).
I apologized to my husband profusely for what he is about to experience. My mother lies languishing at the Adventist hospital in Portland, being verbally abusive and combative to the nurses, refusing medication and being an all-around pain in the ass while we, sisters, husbands, scurry to clean up the trail of devastation and destruction she’s left behind. The dog, my brother, are like prisoners, freed from her misery; enjoying more care and dignity and attention than they’ve received in forever… And mom… mom, mom, mom… killing herself with neglect… what to do? What to do?
This is my favourite picture of him, when we first moved into our house
and he was finally free to get his own dog. That is baby Flower there,
his very first puppy. ;) I love this picture because it shows what
a sweet soul he has.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Beth’s day gown had always been the one she loved best, and now she felt conscious of the worn, oversized print on the fabric; which she’d taken from one of her mother’s old gowns. Her mother’s gowns had always been a source of material for Beth’s quick-stitching hands; both for the practicality of reuse, but also for the sake of sentimentality. It felt comforting to wear fabrics her mother wore, no matter how heavy, gaudy and bold some of these fabrics seemed next to today’s simpler, smaller printed fashions. It seemed the right thing to do and it made her somehow feel closer and connected to her long-deceased mother. She’d liked her old day gown it until now. She patted the material onto her knees, and folder her hands against her tummy.
“Beth is fine,” she muttered, looking at Miss Hart balefully.
“You hair is true black. It’s beautiful.” Beth thought hers beautiful too; golden, shining skeins of wheat fresh from harvest; layered over two bandeaux of coral-coloured silk. Two very tidy pieces of hair hung free in front of her ears, carefully curled into perfect spirals. The back of her hair sported many more such spirals on top of the pastry-like twists on the back of her head. Beth merely glanced down at her lacework, which was a tragedy; her aunt would be horrified to see her messy work.
The girl reminded Beth of the fine-limbed Arab mare that her father had bought her. The elegant animal was named Aleydis, and she had a pretty dipped face and widely set, large soulful eyes. Her body that moved like a willow in the breeze, she floated when she trotted and cantered. She was a pleasure to ride, and it was one of the few moments Beth ever felt elegant, when she was perched on her worn sidesaddle in full habit on Aleydis. Every gesture the horse made was graceful. Miss Hart was like Aleydis. Even when she reached up to discreetly scratch her nose, her arm moved like a dancer’s.
“That’s very kind, Miss Hart,” she replied at length, “however your hair is far prettier than mine.”
“Nonsense… and please, if I can call you Beth then you should call me Emily.” That name was also very pretty. Beth felt deflated. She pushed her lace-stand away and stood, moving to the wall to summon Katreen. When the girl bustled in, Beth asked her to bring some cocoa to drink; one of her favourites of her father’s imports.
"So, you are promised… you have an agreement with Mr. Lilling?” Emily asked. Beth nodded with a shy smile. “He seems very nice.”
“He is of the best sort of people…” Beth blushed, picturing him as she loved to see him, sitting with his ankle crossed over his knee by the fire in the family’s private parlour, his boots scuffed from riding. He spent much time in Brussels, and his hair in the evening, was often standing up askew from the rapid removal of his wide-brimmed riding hat when coming in the door from the rain. He was often quite inappropriate in this display when feeling at home here; his frock coat slung over the back of the tall wingback, comfortable in his shirtsleeves and waistcoat, reading a periodical while father rambled on about ships and cargos and the French occupation.
Jean-Marc’s arrival in their life had given her father something invaluable. A father-son like relationship that Beth knew he longed for. They were as thick as thieves, and traveled and performed business very often together. Jean-Marc’s own father had passed away as her mother had, when he was young, and he lived with his widowed mother about two miles from their home—however both he and his mother spent most of their time at Ter Bronnen with Beth and her father. Mrs. Lilling was a large, merry woman who loved Beth, and visited her simply to enjoy her company and to have someone who wasn’t Jean-Marc to talk to. They all behaved very much like a single family in many ways, and nobody thought anything of all the time they spent together; or if they did, they didn’t say anything. Society was more relaxed here than it appeared to be in London, where news of scandals and gossip leaked out all the way to these regions on occasion. All the time she spent with Jean-Marc was innocent and sweet, and she valued every second of it. He was indeed of the best sort of people, and she loved him.
She tried not to look at Emily when she spoke of Jean-Marc. She didn’t want to see the girl’s face, or read a competitive interest in her eyes. But since most of the single gentlemen were off in town for business, or spending their days sporting across the countryside, Emily was simply desperate for some attentions that did not include her chaperone, Lady DuChamps-Harding, clucking ladies and gossiping aunts. She wanted to dance, and to flirt. Beth enjoyed the company of one of the only present, well-to-do and seemingly available gentlemen—so he was a natural target. Beth didn’t want to think of Miss Hart shamelessly hunting after him with all her good looks and perfection. Despite Jean-Marc’s professed amusement at Miss Hart’s English ways; Beth could not dismiss any possibility of her somehow catching his attention over hers. With a furrow of her brow, and a flash of a frown, she became resolved… she would not be upstaged by this English rose… not if it meant she would lose the attentions of the man who had for the past nine years been a pivotal part of her life. No, no, no!
Miss Hart sipped her steaming, bitter cocoa with a sweet delight, and chattered on in her polished words about gardens and London, theatre and some books of questionable content that made her giggle and giggle. Beth sat down at her little work-table, and chose to stitch while she half-listened and nodded; while with the other half of her mind, she quietly strategized to insure Miss Emily Hart did not as passively as a blooming rose, ruin Beth’s contentment.
((I did not work very hard on this Office Special... it was a very quick sketch and draw, and truth be told, I didn't do it at the office; I did most of it at home on print paper in front of the TV last night and finished it up tonight... sorry... This was just a lark because two of you asked for a bit more...))
Monday, June 7, 2010
Gobbling up the peace that Sunday brings.
Squashing all of our Saturday fun,
Bringing us work that must be done.
Monday, Monday, we dislike you so,
With the four long days that follow, so slow.
The weekend seems but a distant shore
And we are rowing with just one tiny oar.
Monday, Monday, just disappear,
Nobody really wants you here.
You reek of rote and responsibility,
When sleeping in, we’d rather be.
Monday, Monday, you really suck.
We tolerate you, to earn a buck.
If you were ever to draw human breath,
Everyone would demand your death.
The only acceptable murder.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Mrs. DeVrees told her as frankly as she could, so did Mrs. DuChamp, but she was subtler about it. Aunt Helen mentioned it in deliberate passing while her pale hands lifted, turned and twisted the cluster of spindles hanging from her lacework pillow; her gaze pointedly fixed on her from the corner of her eye. But to Beth, it was the last thing on her mind. Why everyone thought gowns and hair were so important was beyond her; for years, she’s been able to get away with being comfortable, and her father never once had criticized her for her plain appearance. Never once.
But ever since Miss Hart appeared from England to stay with her cousins at Beaulieu, everyone was all atwitter about fashionable gowns and parties and dancing. Beth could only sigh and roll her eyes discreetly behind the loose wisps of hair that had fallen into her face. Everyone came to her father’s home to expound upon this visitor’s attributes, and how perhaps Beth, who was Miss Hart’s peer, ought to set an example for the community. Beth just stared into the tall stone fireplace, black from centuries of use, the stone of the mantle worn smooth from the many ancestors of her family that had leaned upon it while they contemplated the world. She took in the pile of three large hounds that lay upon the warmed apron, and the comforting snap of the flames—her eyes wandered to the figure of her father, who hunched snoring in a banyan and robe in his chair, the travel from France for business still pressing upon him; she hardly listened.
For her whole life, it was she and him. She wandered the garden of rhododendrons her father had imported from the far Himalayas, she visited with the DeVrees family and taught their young girls how to draw horses; she sat and learned to write with a hand so refined, she could only marvel at the windswept words that curled across the page, and she spent hours upon hours strolling along the endless fields and canals, gazing at the lines of poplars bending in the breeze, and watching the tails of her dogs flag over the golden swaying heads of wheat as they explored the narrow spaces between the rows.
She had nobody to impress. Jean-Marc and Beth had been playmates as children, and were now comfortable friends. Their understanding was a given; and some day, she would become his wife. Neither she, nor he could imagine choosing anyone else. He found Miss Hart’s displays laughable and silly, and his barely contained smirk as he watched her go through her elegant motions was all Beth needed to know. Jean-Marc, like her father, was a man of business and of consequence, so she would not be uncomfortable. He lived nearby, so she would never be far from the home she loved. Ideas of England did not appeal to her. Gowns of the finest muslin, making shows of playing the spinet, or idle conversation and flirtation did not compare to the simplicity and wonder of the life she’s always lived.
She clutched her shawl closed, and twisted the parasol against the gust of wind that pushed her home; the great ladies in her life could mutter and mumble to their heart’s delight, and they were welcome to fawn and simper over the elegant creature that was Miss Hart… Beth was Beth, and Beth liked her printed day-gowns with the permanently stained hems, and her spencer made from the skirts of her mother’s old-style winter gown. She did not need to spend unnecessary money to prove her consequence to anyone; all she needed was the sound of the wind hissing through the endless fields, the silhouette of horses against the pastures of green, and the affectionate glances of her father and Jean Marc, the two people whose opinions really mattered to her.
Honour ran ahead as usual, and Maximus stuck by her side, the wind making his ears flap forward into his eyes. Leaves and buffeted birds gusted past her. With a smile, she followed where the winds carried her.