This Isn’t Treasure Island

A Child's Garden of Verses

Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems were constant friends in childhood, poems my grandmother and I would memorize and recite. I knew all about having a little shadow, and going up in a swing.

One poem that I never appreciated until this weekend, which has been spent largely in bed, was “The Land of Counterpane,” in which a sick child turned the hills and valleys of his comfortable bed into all manner of landscapes for his imagination.

I don’t imagine my quilt squares as separate countries, but I do still let imagination run wild.

Even days spent propped on pillows have magic.

Originally written 30 August 2009 in another blog.

Nostalgia with a Side of Butter

When I was in college, I worked in the snack store, a fro-yo and candy store that also had one of those big commercial popcorn machines like the kind you see in movie theaters.

One of my favorite things to do on rainy weekends was to make a batch of popcorn, and sit there with a good book, letting the scent of buttery salty goodness entice passers-by. In that way, not only did I sell a lot of stuff, but I also got to meet a healthy cross-section of my campus-mates.

Last weekend, and again on Monday and Tuesday, I disconnected from the web, popped some popcorn (alas, the microwave kind) and curled up with the last two books in the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy. The only passers-by were my husband and the dogs, but the combination of a great read (two actually), and a crunchy snack were all I needed to spend some blissful time away from the glare of the LCD screen.

Of course, now I have to review those novels for ATG, and prep the interview questions for Ms. Carey, and so I have to pull my head out of my virtual life in Terre d’Ange and back into that of a working writer.

I might need more popcorn for this.

Apartment Hunting

There’s a line that I remember reading in one of the Anita Blake books, “Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.” I’ve been moved via self and via mover, but the line keeps running through my head in search of a connection, and today that connection is fictional dwellings.

Five of my favorites?

  1. Nero Wolfe’s brownstone: I could live without the orchid room, I guess, but I like brownstones, and always dreamed of living in one.
  2. V.I. Warshawki’s apartment: It’s not the largest on earth, of course, but there’s room for a piano AND she has a real tub. As in cast-iron and claw feet.
  3. Plumfield. We’re first introduced to it as the stately home of crabby old Aunt March in Little Women, but we get a better tour during it’s second incarnation, as a home and school for stray boys in Little Men. It always seemed like a place I’d love to visit.
  4. The Harper Hall from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. I’m not so fond of her work now as I was when I was thirteen and fourteen years old, and unaware of some of her social attitudes, but I’d have loved to study music at Harper Hall. In retrospect, the trilogy set at the Hall was very much a Pern-ish version of a classic boarding school story.
  5. The Murray House. I love the image of an old farmhouse where Mom is admonished for boiling stew in one beaker and conducting an experiment in another. Madeline L’Engle’s own home, Crosswicks, is very much in evidence in the Murray manse. I’d love to stay in either.

So, what are your favorite literary residences, from childhood, or from more recent reading?

Red Chairs and Work Shoes

We caught the end of Ever After on television tonight, while eating dinner. Or drinking dinner, really, since my dinner was a smoothie from Jamba Juice. I always enjoy that movie, and not just because Dougray Scott looks great in tight pants (though that’s definitely a plus).

Tonight however, while watching the last snippet of this re-telling of “Cinderella,” I found myself drawn to a childhood memory, of sitting on my grandfather’s lap, my bare feet resting on top of his sturdy leather work shoes, his back resting against the back of the red leather wing chair that currently occupies a corner of my writing studio.

Together, we would read from one of the big red collections of fairy tales. I suspect they were Reader’s Digest offerings, but it doesn’t really matter. Those books were magic and I wish I’d stolen them away before he died and they disappeared.

In any case, I’d read a page, and then hold the magnifier so he could see better. Those page-sized magnifiers were used once in a while, but often a more traditional glass was the lens of choice.

I wish I still had one of those, too.

Feisty Old Ladies

Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

The other day when I was at Borders, ostensibly shopping for the books I need for my Algonkian homework, but coming home $149 less solvent, the various Mother’s Day displays reminded me of Mrs. Pollifax.

If you don’t know who Mrs. P. is, she’s the fictional creation of Dorothy Gilman, and America’s version of Miss Marple, only with much more modern sensibilities. She wasn’t so fussy that she had to have the latest top wrinkle cream, but she did like hats and scarves, and while she preferred a notepad, she grew to understand computers.

I haven’t visited with Mrs. P since I was 18 or 19 years old and my mother and I spend a summer passing her novels back and forth, but I confess there’s a bit of guilt in my nostalgia, because while the books are lovely cozy mysteries, I always wished my own grandmother, who was feisty in her own way, was as fiercely independent as Mrs. P.

I’m going to have to revisit the series soon. Perhaps later this summer.