Monday, March 30, 2015
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
When my family lived in Maine, Spring weather arrived several weeks later than the rest of the country. As evidenced by this year’s snow fall on the ‘technical’ first day of Spring, the state of Maine, most northerly of the lower 48, has a long winter. Once in a while, that long winter can be from first snow in October to first thaw in April.
|My home town under snow, a typical Maine winter.|
At that time of year, there was no real danger of any child ending up under the wheels of a passing car on Lincoln Street, but the thrill of shooting through the igloo and onto the icy road kept us outdoors and sledding for weeks. Since I was never keen on snow, this was a boon to my mother who preferred all play to be restricted to the outside, no matter what the weather.
This particular winter, the back parlor had been used earlier for our Christmas celebrations. The wood-burning kitchen stove was used to heat the upstairs bedrooms through ducts into open grills in the floor. Ducts were closed to the back parlor to keep other rooms warmer.
Spring cleaning meant that all the windows in the house could be opened as soon as the patches of grass were at least eight inches wide and more numerous than the piles of snow. Several doors to rooms on the ground floor had not been open since the first signs of winter and others had been closed since Christmas.
My mother began her cleaning and airing out from the attic. The kitchen was the center of family life and had already been cleaned but it was mid-April before she reached the back parlor. Our Christmas tree stood in the corner, all ornaments and lights intact, four months to the day after it had been decorated. Under the tree, instead of presents, was a thick pile of reddish brown needles.
My mother had better things to do with her time than cleaning house.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Sue was married on a Thursday, not a convenient day for my parents (who both taught school) or for me (still in school). We had to take half a day off to drive the four hours to where she lived (where we used to live) and where she was being married. As soon as the festivities were at an end, we drove the four hours home to attend classes the next day. Suffice to say, my parents were not pleased.
The fun came when, just before we were to leave, two of the groom's men (each individually) invited me to stay and go with them to a post-celebration celebration. I woulda if I coulda, but the horses under the hood were already champing. I offered my apologies and left, showing up bleary-eyed at classes the next day.
Because Sue lived within blocks of both my grandmothers, we visited near her often. Whenever I planned to be there, I alerted her and she alerted the two young men (again, each individually.) For a time I dated both, though only a few times a year. I liked them both, but one ... oh my.
This isn't the place to detail how the relationship developed or how I lost him to another woman. I will only say that whenever I hear the old Association song, "Along Comes Mary," my associations are different from theirs. The point is, I fell in love. It was young and it was exciting and beautiful and intense--and real. Despite the fact I was little more than a kid, I've now been married long enough to know that I know what love is. I knew it then, too.
The newest man in my life is handsome Oliver Wright, born Thursday morning. He's a romantic hero in the making, and I confess I am smitten.
Winning at love is electrifying, ecstatic, elevating. Losing is the pits. Learning from both is what eventually led me to my lovely, lasting marriage and a beautiful family of my own. Although Sue's husband was military and mine a journalist, causing us both to live in varied places around the world, she and I are still friends, our homes hundreds of miles from where we grew up together and only eight miles apart.
Every March twenty-first, I think of her wedding and all that came after. The beginning of her marriage marked the start of my romantic life and taught me valuable lessons in what it means to love.
Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 published novels and has part in three boxed sets, all 16 titles available now. Mother to seven, she is "gramma" to 24. She lives in northern California with her husband of 44 years and the two spoiled cats they serve and she loves hearing from readers @SusanAylworth, at www.susanaylworth.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
As I believe I've mentioned, I'm in the business of helping characters live happily ever after.
But I've got to admit, some of my favorite stories – even my favorite love stories – don't always meet that criteria. Sometimes a tragic or poignant ending is just what's needed.
Below, you'll find some of my favorite stories – some on film, some in books -- that don't end with that traditional happily-ever-after. And although I won't go into great detail, since I'm going to be discussing endings, let me preface the rest of this blog entry with: SPOILER ALERT!!
Casablanca: There's a reason this is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. Take two star-crossed lovers, give them an unresolvable conflict – then manage to have them part and leave the audience feeling good about it. Every scene in this movie is fabulous, but that ending … Here's looking at you, kid.
The Great Gatsby: Oh, I loved this book. At first I didn't think I'd be able to relate to any of the characters, but when I discovered the lengths Gatsby went to for love, I was blown away. He created a complete, artificial persona, yet he was so much more real than the people around him. At the end, he's destroyed by his own idealistic vision of Daisy, but I'm still consoled by Nick's final words to his friend: “You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
Roman Holiday: When you start with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, it would be hard to go wrong. And the writers don't go wrong. They even have the guts to resist working out an unlikely Hollywood ending that would make it possible for the couple to be together. It's lump-in-the-throat time, but it's so rewarding.
Tucker: He loses the battle, but it's a triumph of the spirit when he invites the jurors out for a ride in those beautiful, non-existent cars.
Gone With the Wind: Readers and moviegoers may disagree on whether Scarlett could ever get Rhett back, but there's no denying this is one of the most unforgettable endings of all time!
How about you? Which tragic/tear-jerker endings stand out in your mind?
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Every spring, I wind up explaining that, since my husband's family is Greek Orthodox, we celebrate Greek Easter. What are the differences?
Saturday, March 14, 2015
By the time this is posted, my sixth grandchild should be born. My daughter is due March 4 and has had two previous C-sections. The doctors are trying to accommodate her wish for a VBAC, but they won’t let her go much beyond her due date since the chances of complications increase dramatically as the baby gets larger.
At the time I’m writing this in late February, the child is still in utero, though we know that he is a boy, the third boy they will have. His two older brothers will be a hard act to follow. His three-and-a-half-year-old oldest brother has already taught himself to read, write, and do simple arithmetic. His other older brother is a physical whirlwind who loves music and climbing on everything possible.
But like his brothers, he starts off life with many advantages. The boys are blessed with highly intelligent, spiritual, and academically-oriented parents who’ve read to them almost from the day they came home, who provide a variety of enriching toys and spend a great deal of time interacting with them and guiding them.
This has made me think about how many children are born into this world without the advantages those children enjoy. For too many around the world, their parents can’t even meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and clean water. Enrichment of any sort is far beyond their grasp. Survival is the only battle they can fight.
And even where basic survival isn’t necessarily a battle, many families are still too marginal either economically or culturally to be able to do any more than meet basic needs. Their own lack of education and cultural development hinders many more from even knowing what they could be doing to improve their children’s chances of success in life.
It’s a huge, massive problem and one I can’t solve, though I try to do what I can to support literacy programs and basic outreaches to the poor and hungry. Plus I do what I can to support my own children in their efforts to raise theirs. That’s why when you’re reading this I’ll be in Indiana where I hope to be cuddling a brand-new grandson, plus reading to and playing with his older brothers.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Watched over by the famous Library Lions, the main branch of the NYC library system has been one of my favorite spots for years. I've been there more times than I can count. As a college student, back in the days of card catalogues, I spent hours in the general research room.
Every trip back to NY brings me to the library. The surroundings, the tourists, and the lions are familiar, but each experience is different. I never go in with any specific exhibit in mind, but there is always something that piques my interest.
A family edition of Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language from 1841, which includes annotations by Webster including the definition for the adverb "wordily;”
A 1906 menu from the Thirteen Club, which represented the English spelling reform movement.
Dr. Seuss’s Spelling Bees: The Oldest and Newest Rage, published during his time as a commercial illustrator;
The Freedman's Spelling Book, which was modeled after antebellum primers, contains material specifically for former slaves;
An 1821 textbook that promises to lead children “gradually from spelling to reading in a very short time;”
The Spelling Match Song: I Couldn’t Spell That Word Because I Love You!, a vaudeville song sheet from the turn of the 19th Century;
A set of ivory spelling disks, similar to those used by the son of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley;
A Is For Apple Pie, a Victorian picture book about the alphabet features amusing and animated depictions of Victorian children at play—all of them in quest of the titular “apple pie.”
You'll never guess who I met outside the library. Flat Stanley was having his picture taken. It was a little too windy for Stanley so I offered to help. Stanley and I took a picture by the Library Lions. The lady taking the photo will send it to her 7 year old niece in California.
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY, 10018