Snoopy Saturday–a coup d’├ętat!

A dog sleeps in the doghouse! A frog has an agenda!

I read this quote from Muppets creator Jim Henson recently.

At some point in my life, I decided, rightly or wrongly, that there are many situations in this life that I can’t do much about: acts of terrorism, feelings of nationalistic prejudice, cold war, etc. So what I should do is concentrate on the situations that my energy can affect.

Feel free to give a shout-out in comments to a person or group who you personally see–and maybe even help!–direct energy toward making our world better, kinder, safer.

Button Sunday

My mind is far away today, in Florida, and it’s hard to focus on anything good. These are exactly the days we should, I guess.

I received the movie Maleficent I think for Christmas of 2014, but it was packed away until Tom and I began sorting through some bins that were never unpacked after our move. We found a lot of DVDs I’d been looking for or had forgotten about, including this movie. Some of us had a movie night at Houndstooth Hall Saturday, and I was finally able to see it. I loved this retelling and think Angelina Jolie was a superb Maleficent (my favorite Disney villain). The Moors have been a good place for my mind to escape to today–an enchanted forest whose inhabitants live peacefully together.

It also gives me a chance to revisit a couple of old posts, from 2007 and 2012, about my Maleficent Moleskine. Marika, it’s finally full after all these years, packed with more memories and mementos than you could imagine. This picture does its thickness no justice, really.

But thanks to your cards, it ends as it began: with this character who must, must be an Aries. Those horns. That attitude. That fiery rage regretted later. Total Ram.

It may seem strange to begin a post with a Disney movie and end it with William Faulkner, but the word that came to me as I watched the movie’s depiction of Maleficent was “prevail.” I sometimes reread Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel Price acceptance speech; today was one of the days I needed it. Here’s an excerpt.

I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Photo Friday, No. 475

Current Photo Friday theme: Glass

When I grieve, I tend to turn away from the books I usually enjoy reading and revisit the more literary works on my shelves. Or in this case, pick up a book I’ve had since college that I was supposed to have read (twice) and probably even answered test questions about, but I never actually read.

As I read, I slip back into student mode and search for essay topics. In the case of Redburn, I immediately began noting every reference to glass and developing how I’d explore glass as a metaphor throughout the book.

Then I remembered Dr. Beidler isn’t expecting a paper from me. So English graduate students, you’re welcome to steal my idea. Because the book’s been around since 1849, I can’t promise glass hasn’t been done.

I’ll repeat what surprised me most when I read Moby Dick: Melville makes me laugh. And my glass contains no alcohol.

She is gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

That poem written by David Harkins was read at the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002.
Our own queen, Margot, turned three that year. She was beginning to mature but had a lot of mischief in her yet.

She was patient with all the photographing. The occasional costuming.

She loved her sister Guinness above all else. She loved ear rubs and belly rubs. She loved cornbread.

Today she got the first piece cut from a fresh skillet of cornbread. Then later, she slipped from our lives with a queen’s grace and dignity, going to the Rainbow Bridge to find her old friends River, Sugar, Greta, Sparky, Maggie, Dauber, and Bailey, and to plan her next skirmish with her old nemesis Rex. May they all run free of pain and be forever young.

We love you, Margot. Thank you for sharing fifteen wonderful years with us.

Lights, camera, ACTION!

It’s very strange that a new season of “Project Runway” has begun and I’m not doing the challenges for Mattel’s Summer and Company at 1:6 scale. I miss my dolls, and the only thing I’ve sewn lately involved mending quilts with dog damage, but work is keeping me very busy. Somewhere in the midst of job and remodeling madness at Houndstooth Hall, I realized that Tim gave me a book for Christmas that I’d never read, and I posted this photo to Instagram.

Edward doesn’t approve my reading material maybe, but busting him out of his crypt made me wonder why there are no Lestat action figures. Actually, there are Lestat action figures, but I don’t think any were ever commercially manufactured, so if you find them online, they’re custom-made, and even if they’re for sale, they are some hideous amount of money that is way beyond anything I’m shelling out.

Then I wondered… Why not find an action figure I could alter to create my own Lestat? After looking at ebay for possible candidates, I ordered this pirate chick. With action figures, unlike with people, gender transitioning is simply a matter of fashion.

Although speaking of busting out… Unfortunately, once she was here, I realized she wasn’t created to the same scale as Edward. I might be able to disguise her endowments, but I couldn’t make her taller or bigger, and no way could Lestat be significantly shorter than Edward (Tom Cruise’s version notwithstanding).

Back to the drawing board; both Marika and Tom had the same suggestion. Order another Twilight action figure, who would be the same scale as Edward, and alter that one. After scrutinizing photos of every character available, I decided Victoria was the best candidate. Here’s how she looked when she arrived.

I wanted her coat to stay as it was and painted her other clothes to change their period to something more appropriate to the Brat Prince. With a haircut and some paint, Lestat began to emerge.

Then I made a discovery. When painting an action figure’s face, one needs a steady hand, a tiny brush, and the ability to magnify the crap out of one’s work. Because what I thought looked good, when photographed and embiggened, was a hot someone-left-the-cake-out-in-the-rain mess. I read a few online tutorials that led me to purchasing one of these (and now I don’t know how I’ve done anything crafty without it–I can see!).

And some of these, sharpened to a super fine point.

And though I still wouldn’t let any of you see my action figure’s face magnified, it’s better than it was. Finally, with paint, lace, and patience, WOOHOO! I present Prince Lestat (using the Elizabeth Taylor filter).

With or without a filter, not everyone is impressed.

Button Sunday

First, the button. The other day I was almost at my doctor’s office when I realized I had failed to bring something to read. There’s a Barnes & Noble one block away from the medical campus, so I detoured in with a very certain book in mind I wanted to buy. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the hardcover edition of that book, so I picked up the book that has everyone analyzing Southerners and the South again. (Note: How I would appreciate it if people stopped trying to explain us to ourselves. We know who we are, we accept our limitations, we laugh at our contradictions, and we are not all the same except in one thing: Whether or not we possess self-awareness and humor, we get tired of being told that our flaws can’t be found in the rest of you. They can. Welcome to the human race.)

So I bought Go Set A Watchman because as anyone who’s read this blog knows, I list To Kill a Mockingbird as probably my favorite of all books written. I also bought a couple of other items, one of which I had to return because I’d forgotten I already have it. When I went back to the store the following day, the person who helped me–I don’t know if she was a manager or a sales associate–was wearing this button. “I must have a button like that,” I said, and then we commenced to discussing the novel because she could see on my receipt that I’d purchased it. Then, as I was about to leave, she removed the button and said, “Here, you can have mine.” I hope I never stop being touched by such gestures. Thank you to her for proof that booksellers are among the best people, both in conversation and generosity.

Now: the novel, which I have read in its entirety. I do not think any of us can know the full truth about how this novel came to be found and published or if someone or multiple someones are abusing Harper Lee’s trust. But I do know a few things about writing and editing. I hope there are still literary writers who have editors like the one who helped Miss Lee develop To Kill a Mockingbird out of this alleged first draft. Legend has it that at one point she was so frustrated with her editor that she hurled the manuscript through a window. But if that is the novel that she drew from this one, her editor did her a wonderful turn, because she crafted a hauntingly beautiful story that still resonates with truths and gives us reason to believe that no matter how small and mean the world around us can be, and no matter how flawed we are, we can always rise up to the best in ourselves.

And this book–whether a sequel or a first draft–is a wonderful gift, as well, because it gives me a chance to ponder one of my favorite things–the reliability and complexity of narrator–and makes me remember that those things that make us uncomfortable in art tell us much more about ourselves than about the artist. For anyone creative, the joy should rightly be in creation. Whether that creation comforts the rest of us, challenges us, disturbs us, incites us, changes us, or leaves us indifferent–over these things, the artist lacks control.

I would need to read the novel again–probably multiple times–to explore its many layers examining classism, sexism, racism. It will be up to time to judge its literary merit, but I know that the woman who is reading this novel now is quite different from the girl who read To Kill a Mockingbird, and in that way, I must consider my own perspective as a reader just as I consider Scout at six, Scout at twenty-six, and Scout as the older woman who’s telling both their stories.