Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Blue Castle

I feel like I’ve been talking a lot about comfort food these days. I mean, after wading through sidewalks full of slush, bundling up and bundling down as we go through our daily routines, and never quite feeling warm enough, a good pot of soup or stew and a piping cup of mulled wine is really what can make your heart go from a feeble skip and hop to a full-out sprint towards that contented state of being we all crave.

So now, I’m going to talk about a comfort book–‘The Blue Castle.’ This little gem of a novel was written by the beloved L.M. Montgomery, famous for authoring the Anne of Green Gables series. She’s Canadian, sentimental, and a romantic. A winning combination!

My Canadian blogosphere friend Circe also loves L.M. Montgomery, and has written a short biography over on her blog this morning so that you all can learn about Lucy a little more. So hop over and check it out!

‘The Blue Castle’ is definitely a book for girls. I just can’t imagine a boy getting that into it . . . but who knows. Maybe that’s just because I have a husband who reads nonfiction like it’s his job.

Oh wait, he’s a history PhD student. I guess it is his job. And strangely enough, he seems to . . . enjoy it. *scratching head* Oh well. Some things I just can’t hope to understand.

Anyway. This book is the story of a 29-year-old ‘spinster’ named Valancy finding true love. She starts off a pathetic and fearful person who can’t summon the guts stand up to her manipulative mother, and is even afraid to redecorate her own bedroom. However, a turn of events whisks her into the turbulence of destiny, and she casts away her old self in favor of a new, back-boney, much more likeable self. And then stuff happens. There’s a rugged ruffian of a hero. There’s an escape from home. Danger on a train track. A backwoods country dance from which our heroine needs rescuing. There are rambles through the woods with pages and pages about the beauties of nature. There are juicy family characters like Uncle Wallace or Aunt Mildred, shocked at this ‘new’ Valancy who speaks exactly what’s on her mind.

In fact, let’s just go ahead and set the scene:

“If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different. She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington’s engagment picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal. But it did rain and you shall hear what happened to her because of it.

Valancy wakened early, in the lifeless, hopeless hours just preceding dawn. She had not slept very well. One does not sleep well, sometimes, when one is twenty-nine on the morrow, and unmarried, in a community and connection where the unmarried are simply those who have failed to get a man. Deerwood and the Stirlings had long since relegated Valancy to hopeless old maidenhood. But Valancy herself had never quite relinquished a certain pitiful, shamed, little hope that Romance would come her way yet . . .”

If you like Anne of Green Gables, chances are you will love this little book. I admit that it’s overly verbose (especially in the descriptions of nature), and quite sappy at times–but it’s also hopeful and whimsical, and I love it to my very core.

I’ve probably read it a dozen times in the past 18 years of my life. You can tell because the pages are starting to detach themselves from the spine.

Let me describe to you the perfect evening:

Me + The Blue Castle + a hot beverage + couch =


The End.

January purging part 4: 111 things in 1/11

Here it is folks: the final installment of the January purging (111 things in 1/11 initiated by Jenny over at Words on Wendhurst). You can hop on over to parts 1, 2, and 3 if you missed my thrilling tales of trashing socks, underwear, and a Lazy Susan who just hadn’t been pulling her weight in our household.

After getting rid of 30 things for the past 3 weeks, technically I only had 21 things to go. However, I’m OCD, which means I also had to get rid of 30 things this week. I’m sure you understand. At least some of you–the ‘weird ones.’

I’ve always loved the weird ones. They are my friends because I am one of them.

So this week I finally faced the fact that we have about 50 cassette tapes hiding behind a row of novels on the bookcase. And we haven’t listened to them since we were teenagers, so it was time to purge that area.

While I only got rid of 13 tapes, the rest of the mixed music tapes will be listened to one by one over the next couple weeks, probably while I cook. If I hear a song I love and must have, I’ll jot it down and purchase it on itunes. Then, the tapes will go the the tape cemetery to make room for the digital age.

Some expired and dried-out make-up products went next:

I think I’ve had that CoverGirl powder for . . . nine years.

Also due to go were a couple books, one of them a very disturbing and depressing French novel from my college days. I have no idea why I’ve kept it around for so many years.

It was also time to let go of some jewelry, in particular this silver horse that I treasured dearly when I was younger.

Yes, I was a typical horse-obsessed human girl. Posters, figurines, Breyer plastic horses, jewelry–I collected anything to do with these majestic quadrupeds. I’ve shared this picture before, but my dreams all came true on this day:

Horse. Check. Flowing gown. Check. White gloves. Check. Long hair. Check.

An oversized, unflattering black sweater and a black scarf went as well. They kind of look like an amorphous cloud of darkness in the picture, so you’ll just have to trust me. The most mangled of my mangled old bras is hiding underneath, and don’t worry–that went straight to the trash.

And that belt. It just wasn’t working.

And now, I feel compelled to examine my head and heart and see if I’ve learned anything from the experience.

-I’m too attached to stuff, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like I exercise my body in yoga, I can exercise my will and let go of things. Each purge is like stretching that emotional muscle that will allow me to hold the things of earth loosely.

-Purging is a great way to free myself not just physically but also emotionally from my possessions.

-A life lived in subservience to the stuff you own is no life at all. It can be emotionally crippling to think you ‘need’ stuff.

-Freedom, freedom, freedom, ooo-oooh freeeeeedoooooom! *in Aretha’s voice*

Aloha! Adieu! Auf Wiedersehn! I’ll catch you guys on the other side of this weekend.