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.

Button Sunday

I recently read Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing by Jane Dunn, and though plenty of the details of the sisters’ lives were fascinating, what struck me was that almost every page mentioned a residence of some kind–townhome, cottage, mansion, castle, farmhouse, villa–and each of these had a name. These homes were scattered over England, Scotland, Canada, the northeastern U.S., France, and Italy and became, for me, characters in the du Mauriers’s lives as significant as their families, lovers, and friends. In fact, the brooding, decaying Menabilly, perhaps the greatest love of Daphne’s life, was the model for Manderly in her novel Rebecca.

Each night as I powered down the Nook after reading a while, I’d lie awake waiting for the name of our new home to come to me, considering and rejecting so many possibilities. The only thing I knew is that when Debby retires and moves here, her home on the property is to be the Fairy Cottage. And Tim’s temporary name for his apartment is The Storage Unit (he hasn’t unpacked because there are renovations in the near future, so he may as well wait and endure living out of boxes. Lots of boxes.).

I was in that dreamlike state just before sleep finally takes over one night when I heard the name in my head. I became wide awake for a while, trying to think of any reason I didn’t like it. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there. It’s one of my favorite tweed patterns. It references our love of dogs. It pays tribute to Coach Bear Bryant and the University of Alabama, alma mater of my father, Tom, me, and several of Tom’s siblings.

I introduce you to our new property, Houndstooth Hall. Tom and I live in Houndstooth House proper. I’ve already created the new guestbook (it’s a good thing we sold The Compound, as that guestbook was almost full!), though our first guests have to sign their guest cards still (I was an absent-minded hostess and forgot to print them while they were here).

My little hound helper in the photos is actually a pen that was in my birthday presents Geri sent me. Meanwhile, for those family members and friends who support Alabama’s arch rival and are shaking their heads about the houndstooth, I’ll share a photo of a new family member with you. Daniel’s mother Terri adopted him from a shelter and named him BoCam after two of Auburn University’s legendary football players. We love you BoCam, and you are welcome at Houndstooth any time!