The Lure of windows

While listening to my current book (Under the Dome by Stephen King, as it happens), I glanced out my living room window, and it struck me what an important role windows have always played for me.  I’m not sure when I became conscious of the lure of looking out of windows, but I remember doing so when I was in 5th grade, and supposed to be asleep.  I couldn’t see anything but a dark lawn and the line of darker trees beyond where I knew the road was, and even with the window open, I could only hear crickets and the sound of an occasional car, but the view from that window held me like a magnet holding an iron filing.

 

In many ways, I associate the view from  favorite windows with each house or apartment in which I’ve lived.  Sometimes it is those views, interesting or not, that I remember, more than the place itself, or the way I furnished it.  In one house, for example, there was a tree across the street that, in Autumn would turn into a spectacular display of golden leaves.  It stood alone in the yard, and because of that, it drew the eye to it, immediately.

 

I wonder what it is that I find so appealing.  Is it the fantasy that, from behind the safety of window glass, and protected by my walls, I can quietly spy on the world?  Never mind the fact that if I can look out, anyone could look up and see me.

 

Is it the fact that, like a painting in an art museum, I am looking at a framed “landscape”, even if it’s a suburban street or (as now) a little piece of a city scape?  Perhaps it’s just that, by looking outside, seeing what’s before me, and seeing the sky (and sometimes the rain or snow), I am connecting, even if indirectly and briefly, with the world outside myself and my immediate surroundings. What I see reminds me that, though I may be solitary, I am not entirely alone.

 

I’ve never had the kind of “VIEW” people pay huge amounts of money to get, but each window, each time of day or night, and especially each view of skyscapes, especially when there are towering or racing clouds, delights me, and I know that I will always pause whenever I pass my windows, look out for a moment, and regard my bit of the world with appreciation and fondness.

 

 

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I came by it honestly

Informal comments and thoughts about the books I enjoy

My Grandmother opened the universe of books for me when I was a baby, and it is she I must thank for instilling the love of books and reading into my intellectual and emotional DNA. She read to me as a small child, and taught me to treasure, among other wonders “A Child’s Garden of verses”. It worked so well that, to this day, I give that book as a cradle gift to any dear friends who have babies. But she also used to tell me tales from great literature; at first they would be very simplified, but, as I grew older, she would add details, and then, one day, she would call the librarian at our school and tell her that I was ready to read the book, and the librarian would present me with the first volume. They became close conspirators, though neither of them ever inhibited my own explorations. I inherited another reading preference from my Grandmother, the extreme enjoyment of mysteries. She loved them so much that our family used to tease her about her “gory books”, but I owe her for introducing me to such great authors as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh, and much later, it was my pleasure to return the favor by introducing her to authors she hadn’t found, yet. I did find Sherlock Holmes on my own, and promptly, at the age of 9 or so, fell deeply and helplessly in love! I wasn’t deterred either by time or the fact that Mr. Holmes didn’t exist, save in his stories. A girl does what she has to do, so I read as much of the Canon as I could, and then reread them, several times. I still enjoy them, and yes, he still owns a tiny piece of my heart. I love to read, and I love to talk about what I read, often with delight and excitement, and that’s what I intend to do here. I won’t be writing “reviews” because I’m not a professional reviewer. Instead, I’ll just write about what I’ve read, talk about why I liked it (or didn’t), and often offer some random thoughts suggested by the book. I often find myself following meandering mental trails while reading and I’ll share those, too. What I’d really like to see, though, is chat about books, the thoughts engendered by them, and, always, suggestions for my continental sized TBR list!

 

THE RIVERS OF MY LIFE

In my inspiration prowl this morning, I came across a lovely blog post that described the river walk in Norwich, England.  I apologize for not referencing the blog, but I’m still near the bottom of the learning curve, and haven’t quite figured out how to do that easily and accessibly.  Anyway, after I just enjoyed reading it, I started considering all the rivers of my life, and realized that there are a lot of them, and that I love them all, for different reasons.

 

The house in which I spent my childhood had a small river (well, it still does, I assume) over the back hill.  You could walk through the back woods and watch it, or go down, cross the railway tracks, and walk along the bank.  It wasn’t a famous or even spectacular river, but it was *my* river.  That’s where I learned to fish, though I learned to swim in Chesapeake Bay (another whole post!).  I spent many happy hours on its bank, disregarding my parents’ concerns about snakes, oncoming trains (which passed safely behind me on the tracks) and the possibility of encountering unsavory characters. 

 

Since then, whenever possible, I’ve sought out the closest river, and walked along it if I could, or found somewhere to sit and just watch it, or found a boat (usually a dinner boat or one of those sightseeing boats) and cruised down it.  I’ve come to know the Potomac (rather well, since I lived in northern VA for a long time), a bit of the Hudson River in NY, (around NYC), a bit of the St. Lawrence, a bit of the Themes, the Rhine, and even the Mississippi.  Each encounter left me with fond memories, and sense of its ruling river spirit (yes, I do think they exist, even if only metaphorically).

 

I can’t stop without mentioning one other river, which was an intimate part of my growing up years.  Each summer I went to a camp in PA for blind children, and it happened to be on the banks of the Juniata River, another small, but very lovely little river.  There were benches above the river bank, and I spent much free time just watching the water, brown In midday, but it turned a glorious gold around sunset.  It was on one of those benches I experienced my first real kiss, and where I fell in love, (at least for 2 weeks). 

 

I’m not sure what the magic is for me in rivers; perhaps it’s the fact that they are moving water.  All I know is that, no matter how insignificant, or even how dirty, they draw me, and I can spend many happy hours around, in or on any of them.  Perhaps someday (in my next life?) I’ll get to know the many rivers I have yet to meet, and perhaps I’ll be able to sail down at least one of them, from near its source to where it joins another river, then down that one and so forth, until I reach an ocean.

 

I admit, the sea, in all its moods, is my first and dearest love, where water is concerned, but each river I have ever seen seems to woo me, luring me into proximity and a closer acquaintance.

 

Also, one day (in this life) when I have climbed further up the WP learning curve, I’ll come back to this post, and insert photos of some of my dear rivers.

 

 

 

BUTTERFLY KISSES

It has always been my goal, and my natural inclination to live as independently as possible.  I have spent a great part of my life learning and developing the skills to do so, hopefully with competence and even grace.  However, I also have come to learn that there are things that I simply cannot do entirely without help, and to accept that getting help when I need it doesn’t make me in the least less independent.  There have been many times when I must depend on the kindness of strangers, and, in almost every instance, I have received it. 

 

Shopping can be a daunting experience, especially in large food stores or in places like Wal-Mart or Target, where sales personnel are very thin on the ground.  I’ve found the most efficient and least stressful way to handle such excursions is to find the customer service desk and ask for someone to help do my shopping.  As a result I have met some very delightful people.  Invariably, as we prowl the aisles, ticking items off the printed list I’ve prepared, we fall into conversation, and I get to learn, for example, about one young lady’s 4 year old niece, with whom she lives, and one young man’s plans for his college studies.  Sometimes we might talk recipes, or ways to fix certain favorite foods, or even clothes and hair styles.  The point is that, for a few minutes, our lives brush one another, and we have very pleasant company in our flight.   I may or may not ever see these people again, but they leave the gift of the memory of their kindness and their companionship with me.  Such memories are living reminders that, no matter how difficult things can get, no matter how depressing the evening news can be, no matter how horrific human beings can be to one another, there is goodness yet, and sometimes, that goodness can touch my life, like a butterfly landing on my shoulder for a moment, or a flower petal  brought by a breeze to brush my cheek on its way to the ground. 

 

So, I honor all of the strangers who have been kind to me, or who have made my life a little easier, and much more pleasant.  I especially want to honor and thank my own cyber hero on WordPress, without whose very patient and thorough help, I would not be here.  He has helped me conquer both my learning curves; first, finding ways to make WordPress accessible, and then to learn how to use WordPress itself, and the fact that you are reading this is proof of his success.

 

Now off I go to learn about widgets and how to transfer another blog to WordPress!

 

 

HISTORICAL FASCINATIONS

One of the ways I have found to learn about history, a subject which has always fascinated me, is to read well researched and well written historical fiction.  I’ve read a fair amount of that, especially involving eras or events of special interest to me, or to introduce myself to cultures and time periods with which I wish to become more familiar.  I do have high standards, and expect impeccable research and historical accuracy, at least most of the time.

 

There are, however, certain historical characters about whom I will read almost anything, from historical tomes to doctoral dissertations, to historical novels far more fiction than historical.  Luckily for me, there aren’t many, but I am so bewitched by such well known figures as Julius Caesar, (thanks primarily to Colleen McCullough and her incredible Masters of Rome series), Elizabeth I, Mary Tudor and Mary Stewart, and of interest at the moment, Eleanore of Aquitaine, that I’ll read anything about them, and be happy if it is well written and even vaguely historically accurate.

 

Sometimes I wonder why these people have become so important to me, while others, whose contributions were equally great, have not. Perhaps it is because they lived at a certain time and in a certain culture.  I’ve always been intrigued with the history of England from the Conquest to the Stuart Dynasty, and Ancient Rome, particularly the Republic, has deeply interested me for a very long time.  The people I mentioned were icons of their age, though they were not alone in that.

 

Perhaps I like to read about strong women, and each of the women I mentioned were, though Mary Stewart was as foolish as strong willed, but then there were, and are, others who do not catch my fancy as much.  Certainly Victoria Regina ruled most of the world, and while I’ve read some about her, she hasn’t taken up space in my mind and heart.  I think there is some quality in each of the people I mentioned earlier that touches a cord in my own nature, and it is to that I respond. 

 

I’m thinking especially about this personal conundrum because I just finished a book by Nora Lofts about Eleanore of Aquitaine, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  True, the author (typically a Romance writer, I believe) has taken lots and lots of poetic license, though the main historical events seem to be pretty accurate.  It is *definitely* fiction …but it’s well written and well plotted fiction, and, Heaven help me … I can’t resist it!  It’s about Eleanore, after all!

So who is this Felinitye?

Whenever I’m asked to talk about myself, I immediately find it impossible to think of anything.  My usual answer is a shrug, and if I say anything, it’s along the lines of “I’m just me.”  I haven’t ever done anything noteworthy.  I haven’t travelled extensively, nor made a great contribution to anything.  My jobs have been mediocre at best, though I’ve always tried to do them well, and my interests are fairly pedestrian, though I have a lot of them.  I write occasionally, sometimes poetry, but mostly blog posts and emails.  I’ve tried my hand at writing the kind of fiction I love to read …both fantasy and mystery, with fairly dismal results.  But I read omnivorously.  That has always been true, ever since I can remember.  I used to get into terrible trouble in school, because when we were practicing reading aloud in class, I had another book in my lap, and would read, or read ahead in the same book, and then not be able to find my place when called on.  I’d sneak books (usually library books) out of the student’s desk I was sitting at if I found the teacher boring, and read.  I got put in the front row, not because I was teacher’s pet, but so the teacher could keep an eye on what my hands were doing!

 

I love music.  I don’t play any instruments, though I wish I could, and because my vocal cords were slightly bruised when I spent a month in the ICU on a ventilator, I won’t let anyone hear me sing.  I was never especially good at it, but I did love to sing.  Now, I listen, avidly, and my tastes range from Ancient Roman music to some metal (I hear you laughing Tink, stop that! J).  I love Baroque music, well, and Celtic music, modern and traditional, and Medieval music, secular and sacred, and big band music, and any sort of music involving harps or pipes, and Gypsy music …you get the idea.

 

I love yarn and all its works, and I crochet pretty well, knit a bit, loom knit, have used a variety of looms (not enough room here for a good loom), and would love to learn to spin, though I’m not sure my hands will permit that at this point.

 

I take more than a passing interest in current and world affairs, though, while I’m sometimes willing to read debates on these subjects I never participate in them.

 

I enjoy gardens, walking in Spring sunshine, getting up at dawn to listen to the sweet cacophony of the morning bird course, adore all felines of any size, relish good food and drink (especially white wine, Irish coffee hard cider, and Guinness anything, and my most cherished treasures are the friends I have acquired along the way.  Oh, and even though I’m an old woman, I’m vain enough to enjoy clothes and jewelry, though it need not be precious stones or metals.  It does need to be unique and fit my particular definition of tasteful, which is probably more conservative than not.

 

So …that’s me.  I blog because I truly do like people, and like communicating with others in any way I can … and I do like to write.  I’ve found writing blog posts helps me to organize my thoughts on some things, allows me to indulge my penchant for hopefully witty stories, lets me reach out to others in more detail than I can in emails or Facebook posts, and allows for interesting and enjoyable interactions.  I consider writing an interactive activity, a kind of ongoing conversation between writer and reader. And I like that idea, too.

I Shoulda took the hint!

Yesterday was my birthday, and for once, I decided to celebrate it, rather than dismiss it as a token of increasing age and its attendant annoyances, as I usually do.  So, I laid my plans.  I ordered a pretty dress from my go to on line clothing shop, and invited the gentleman who takes me (for a fee) shopping and on other errands, to lunch at a restaurant I like that has outside seating, which I love.  Our apartment complex has also started a crochet class/group, and, since I’ve been crocheting since I was around 21 years old, I decided to go and have a nice gossip and share my love of all things yarn.  Then …then.

 

I got a call from my friend, asking for a rain check, since his day “had not started well”.  I didn’t ask, because there are probably things I should not inquire into very much.  I just said sure, and began to consider alternatives.  As we were talking, I glanced outside.  It was raining, gray and generally uninviting, and right then, I should have changed into comfy informal clothes and spent the day doing just about anything else.  I should have taken the hint!

 

Instead, I went downstairs to my crochet group, had a grand time with 2 charming ladies, and considered.  By the time I came back to my apartment and stashed my project stuff, I had it.  I’d go to the Waffle House nearby.  Now, Waffle House isn’t a place I frequent, but every once in a while, I have to admit I do love its down home, greasy, fat, carb and chemical infused unhealthiness.  So ..grabbed my Kindle, packed my purse, called a cab, and off I went.  Had a perfectly self indulgent meal, too, with all the things I love, including smothered, cluttered (messed up) potatoes, a bacon and cheese omelet, and a waffle dripping in fake butter and enough fake maple syrup to drown myself in.  It was nutritionally disgusting, and absolutely satisfying.

 

But I should have known.  I was given a hint.  When lunch was over, I went to call a cab.  My cell phone had a full battery.  I have unlimited minutes, and there they were, in all their glory.  What I *didn’t* have were service bars …which meant …I couldn’t call a cab.  My server, (the hero of this tragicomedy, explained that we were at the bottom of a concrete building, and that Waffle House had decided not to retain their hot spot.  OK, so out I went, figuring I could step away from the building and make my call.  No joy.  I walked up and down the street in the now pouring rain.  No dice.  I turned the phone off, then turned it on again.  “Call failed.”  I turned off the Bluetooth device and tried again.  At least the phone didn’t laugh at me, although the gods probably were, and singing “happy Birthday to you”, too.

 

Then out came my young man, bless him, who *had* phone service, and we called the cab.  He kept an eye out, and saw the cab a little while later, skulking up the street a bit, and probably trying to call me.  However.

 

Because of a very serious accident, I have extremely limited use of my left arm and hand, and I’m short.  Short as in less than 5 feet tall.  This means I physically cannot get into most vans without a ladder, or at least a step stool.  I can’t put one foot on the step and pull myself with my arms, as I used to do, so I have (supposedly) a note in the cab company’s file to always send a car.  Not this time.  They sent a huge van, and there was no way I was going to be able to climb, crawl, or sprawl my way in.  The driver promised to get me a car, but my hero (who will be starting University soon to study psychology) and I decided that to be certain I’d get my car, he would call Checker cab and explain.  By then, I was as bedraggled as a wet cat, so I waited inside.  The cab came, my champion escorted me to it, I thanked him profusely, and off I went home.  Ah, but the gods weren’t done!

 

This Waffle House is a 5 minute (and that is if the lights are against you) ride away.  I could physically walk the distance, but there are lots of extremely busy streets to cross, less than perfect pedestrian safety features, and construction to deal with, so I don’t.  Well, we got into my apartment complex in less than 5 minutes …to find the very first traffic jam I’ve ever seen here in over 2 years of residence.  This isn’t an exactly well travelled street, just a little residential street, but either there was a huge party (my surprise party, maybe?), a very fat Greek wedding, or a State funeral, because no one was going anywhere. 

 

I offered to get out and walk, but by then it was really pouring, and I let myself get talked out of it. I waited.  Waited …waited … listened to some financial guy on talk radio (who was actually funny) waited … only to learn that the driver could have taken another  street and side stepped it all.  Finally, the gods got interested in creating a new star system or pestering someone else, and I got home.  I even got upstairs, and into dry clothes.

 

While thinking about all this, I was just a little self pitying, and decided I’d gone through all that for nothing but an uncomfortably full tummy, probably 7 pounds I certainly don’t need, and the old woman had still just officially gotten older.  Then I started to laugh.

 

I should have taken the hint!  But I didn’t, and got myself the present of a blog post inspiration.  You know what?  It was worth it!