Sunday, February 27, 2011
Louisa May Alcott has been one of my favorite authors since I read Little Women in third grade. Alcott was actually a very interesting person who lived in a very interesting time and place. She had a crazy upbringing filled with deprivation and hardship among the Transcendentalists, yet she grew up to be a prolific and successful writer. She wrote "blood and thunder tales" -- pulp fiction -- in addition to more "proper" stories for children and adults alike.
In Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, Harriet Reisen shows us the people and events that shaped Alcott as a person and as a writer. Reisen shows how Alcott's writings were based on her life, and we learn about the real people and experiences behind the tales.
I'm really enjoying it, but then, I love all things Alcott. Which is saying a lot, considering the fact that after 40 years I'm still pissed because she married Laurie off to that drip Amy.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I'm sure it was a shock to poor Mary to leave my grandmother's house -- where dust was afraid to fall, and if it did, it was attacked and eradicated immediately -- and come to my house, where she is a little dusty more often than not. But I figure after everything the stories say she's been through, she's probably tough enough to handle it.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I'm pretty sure I get this directly from my mother, who can happily spend days on end at home, sewing, knitting, crocheting, and cooking. I am the same way, although my skill level in the needle arts is sorely lacking.
I made this necklace from things I had on hand: ribbon, silver findings, and pieces of clear plastic tubing from Home Depot. I like how it looks light and dainty, even though it has hardware on it.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
What my aunt didn't know is that I collect images of the Blessed Mother. The collection began with an image that belonged to my father's mother, so of course I am delighted to have the statue that belonged to my other grandmother. Interestingly, both grandmothers had images that are of a mother with a baby -- not Mary with a halo or Mary and a grown Jesus wearing halos. Just a mom with her child. I particularly like that this is a very young woman whose hip is cocked a little to accommodate the weight of her baby boy. She looks like every young mother, everywhere, throughout time.
When my brother and I went to the Mexican marketplace in LA, I looked for just the right image of Mary to add to my collection. I was a little disappointed not to find the right thing, but now I understand that it was because the right one was already on its way to me. There's a life lesson in there somewhere.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We got a really early start on our last day. It was a race to get me to a train headed to Rhode Island. It was also a race against a possible snowstorm. We did see a little snow in New Jersey, but I made it stop using my psychic powers. It's just another service I provide.
We were only in West Virginia for a short time before we got to Pennsylvania -- as you can see, the sun was just coming up.
The state of New Jersey has their welcome sign in the middle of the highway, which is just wrong. But it was a beautiful day in North Plainfield, which is the birthplace and childhood home of Monica of 5 Cats Shy. There wasn't a statue or even a plaque commemorating her birth at the hospital there, which is also just wrong.
Monday, February 07, 2011
We crossed into Virginia (cue the happy dance) and entertained the patrons at a Waffle House off I-81 by walking the cats in the parking lot after we had lunch.
The drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenendoah Valley was so pretty. The roads had signs stating that speeders would be caught by aircraft enforcement. I viewed this as a challenge and I kept telling Monica I wanted to see a Bear In the Air in action. She thought I was kidding, and then wondered how we made such good time.
When we arrived in Woodstock, VA, Monica got in touch with the Collegiate Membership Coordinator at the Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority National Headquarters, who very kindly offered to give us a tour. The house was built in the late 1800s. It's beautiful, and full of the rich history associated with the sorority, which was founded in 1898. Monica loved it because she is a Sigma and she was at the mothership; I loved it because I enjoyed the old house filled with antique furniture, china, jewelry, and history.
Finally, we made it into Georgia and headed for Atlanta. It felt like a really long day. I'm not sure why this one in particular felt long -- since they have all been long -- but it did. We staggered into the house Monica shares with her friend Karen, went out for a quick bite to eat, then went to bed.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
We called for roadside assistance and then waited. We were first approached by an old man who lectured us before trying to help. Then two guys turned up and as they were discussing what to do, another truck came by. He had chains, so the two guys hitched us to their truck and pulled us out. I wanted to hug them. Who knew that when angels appeared, one would be a redhead smoking a cigarette and the other would have a mullet?
Later in the day, we crossed into Louisiana. We took pictures at the border and did a litle dance by the side of the road. Texas was awesome, and I want to go back someday. But seriously, it is a big state. Getting across it felt like it took forever.
We rolled into Monroe, LA at around 6 p.m. and then went to dinner at the Cracker Barrel across the street from the motel. Sometimes you just need meatloaf.
We followed a snowstorm into east Texas, and were hoping to arrive after it was cleaned up. We saw a lot of cars and trucks that had gone off the highway in the storm, but the highway was clear. Local roads, not so much.
We arrived in Abilene in the middle of the afternoon. We got lunch at a local greasy spoon and then went to K-Mart for snacks so that we could skip dinner and not be on icy roads after dark. Our tasks accomplished, we went back to the motel. I decided to take a nap. When you're sick and driving across the country, you take any sleep opportunities that arise.
Friday, February 04, 2011
After a quick trip to the Wizard of Bras In LA for a photo op, my brother and I headed to San Diego to spend the afternoon with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. I got to meet my cousin's girlfriend (she's totally cool) and we had a wonderful lunch at a Mexican restaurant.
We also discovered that there was a huge winter storm barrelling down on most of the country. We knew we would have to forego Route 66, but didn't know which other route would be safer. At any rate, we were really too sick to care.
The sun was shining, mountains and desert rolled by, we were listening to Anna Nalick. Things were definitely looking up.
We were excited to cross into Arizona. It felt like the road trip was starting in earnest. Catwoman was so happy she jumped into this shot.
We drove through Tucson and on to Benson, where we found a Motel 6 and settled in for the night.
We pushed on and had lunch in the west Texas town of El Paso. We drove another hundred miles or so and, with the help of Monica's awesome sister Michelle (who was at home answering our calls and searching the internet on our behalf), we found a motel in Van Horn. When we arrived, we discovered that we got there at just the right time. The motel was filling up with locals who had no heat or hot water due to frozen pipes. I'm beginning to feel like we owe the entire country an apology.
We woke up in Van Horn, TX feeling sick. After checking the Weather Channel and realizing we really couldn't make much progress through Texas anyway due to storms in the Dallas area, we decided to stay in Van Horn and begin life anew. We figured that a teeming metropolis must have lots of opportunities for a couple of women with skills and moxie.
But first, we went back to sleep for four hours.
After breakfast, we surveyed our new home. I thought this might be a good place to get a job, assuming they were only closed temporarily due to frozen pipes. At the shed in the back of the lot there was a sign proclaiming that they also sell books and do upholstery by appointment. I just want to work at a place where I can answer the phone "Fancy Junk, how may I help you?"
A short drive around Van Horn revealed that the town did not have certain things that we felt all towns should have. So we decided that if the weather kept us there forever (and it looked like it might) we would open Bark-n-Bowl Pizza & Hot Oven Grinders -- a combination bowling alley, pet store, and pizza place. Monica pointed out that nobody in Texas would have any idea what a grinder is; I felt that the curiosity factor would be a key to our success.
We had dinner at the Hotel El Capitan, which is beautiful, and was also interesting to me because I once knew Henry Trost, the grandson (or maybe great-grandson) of the Henry Trost who was one of the great architects of the west.
At this point, it didn't even strike me as an odd coincidence.