Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The House of the Seven Gables

Today, I picked up my book with a resolute determination to make some headway.
(pretty book, isn't it?) After trifling with the introductory chapters, and feeling as though the story was trying to escape me, I decided to just buckle down and dig in. If the story wasn't going to show itself, I was going to find it.

Buckle down I did. Previously I had read more than I assumed I had - turns out, I was already halfway through. So, today I finished it. 11 or so chapters.

The plot revolves around the House of the Seven Gables and the ancestral curse said to plague all offspring of the builder thereof. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Despite the mysterious secrets lying undiscovered in the souls of certain characters, the house itself, dark and decaying, so like its cursed inhabitants, and the two young people, come to stay at the House, so unlike, yet "held united by the stiffened grasp of Death", I was not intrigued.

A good book pulls you in, draws you into the life of the characters, tugs at you to keep reading until the end. Sadly, I felt as though I were plowing through this book. "Keep going, there's only 5 chapters left. I can do this!" Usually when I read, I get so absorbed in the story that I lose all track of chapter breaks. Not so this time. I kept waiting to be intrigued, and it just never happened.

However, I pulled a few quotes I really like from the depressing depths of this dark drama:

"...it should be woman's office to move in the midst of practical affairs and to gild them all, the very homeliest - were it even the scouring of pots and kettles - with an atmosphere of loveliness and joy." (written in contemplation of young Phoebe Pyncheon)
How idyllic! I should wish to do just such. Too bad I'm not a character in a book. We real life people don't usually pull that off so well.

"It was the Eden of a thundersmitten Adam, who had fled for refuge thither out of the same dreary and perilous wilderness into which the original Adam was expelled." (description of the gardens in which aged, troubled Clifford found solace)

I should mention that Clifford, upon gazing into Maule's Well, beheld a colorful "phantasmagoria" -shifting faces, mostly beautiful ones. Any joy in these visions was fleeting, though, for a horrible, gruesome face would always appear and ruin the splendor he found in the rippling water. (Hm. I think that was supposed to be a picture of his life. This book had lots of metaphory type stuff.)

I just had to throw that in there because I'd never heard the word phantasmagoria before and thought it was awesome.

"She knocked a third time, three regular strokes, gentle, but perfectly distinct, and with meaning in them; for, modulate it with what cautious art we will, the hand cannot help playing some tune of what we feel upon the senseless wood."
(Hepzibah Pyncheon, aflutter in alarm, knocking upon the door of her brother's chamber)

So, it is finished. I have conquered the House of the Seven Gables.
No longer shall its shadow fall over the stack of other books I've planned to read this summer. ;-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Summertime!

Hello, friends!
I waited almost a week to post again. Bad me!
Part of the reason would be that I've cut WAY back on the amount of time I spend at the computer. I'm now limiting myself to between 40 and 90 minutes per day. Limited time plus limited interestingness equals limited posting.

However, while my life may not be an exciting and brilliant adventure, it has certainly been fun lately. I warn you now, I have no pictures for this post. Actually, I do have this one picture of Laura sitting on Pepa's boat, dropping popcorn down to Alyssa, who is swimming in the lake, mouth wide open, trying to catch the popcorn... Lucky for them, it's on the other computer. ;-)

We've been extremely grateful for Mema and Pepa's house on the lake so far this summer. And, of course, our Season Passes to Six Flags - made happier by the fact that many of our friends also have passes. How cool is that? Various outdoor activities aside, cutting back on computer time has made way for the books I've been neglecting.

The House of The Seven Gables is my current project. You may recall I started reading it before, but never really got into the story. I ended up returning it to the library and never checking it out again. However, thanks to PaperBackSwap.com I now own a gorgeous hardcover book containing 5 novels by Nathaniel Hawthorne, of which The House of the Seven Gables is one. The beginning was eternally slow, but I think I'm starting to scratch the surface of the actual story.

It's taken me a while, though, because I keep getting distracted by other books. I took the time last night and this morning to reread a favorite: The Two Princesses of Bamarre. (Thanks again to PBS, I also happen to own a gorgeous hardcover copy of this one.) When I finished it this afternoon I wanted to start reading it again. It's just that good. Yay for brave princesses and handsome young sorcerers, deceptive spectres and beautiful, cunning dragons with bell-like laughter!

Hm. Now that I've updated you on my reading, what else shall I say?
I think I need to regularly write movie and book reviews. It would exercise my brain, and add a little benefit to all the time I'm spending on such trivialities. ;-) Ask me how that's going sometime. I need to be held to it.

My mother has put the idea into my head that I should go to cosmetology school. And I have to say, I quite agree. The more I think on it, the more I fall in love with the idea. I like to learn. Sounds like fun. And structure. And not exactly feasible at this moment in life, due to the busyness of several other family members, but I'm praying about it.

And now, I shall be off. Hope you're having a fun summer too!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unrelated Accomplishments

Remember when I made that lovely green vest thing?
I posted a poll on my blog that said: What should I do with the green vest?
(because, if you'll recall, it was a little too small for me, and I didn't want to sacrifice my favorite buttons for something I couldn't keep.)

You answered:
Get over the button issue and sell it on Etsy
1 (5%)
Put on new buttons and sell it on Etsy
19 (95%)
Give it away - family or friend maybe.
0 (0%)
Heck with too small! keep it!
0 (0%)

Oddly enough, I decided against the majority.
The vest was just so pretty, it deserved my bestest buttons.

So, here you have it.
Finally properly modeled, photographed, and listed on Etsy. YAY!

So, moving on to the unrelated accomplishment.

I just so happened to write a poem that was very pretty.
It's dark and sad and beautiful.

Momentary silence.
Unnecessary fears.
Return to pain and violence
Immersed in private tears.

Time is neverending
Elusive glimpse of peace
Darkness and pretending
Aching for release.

I'm very proud of my sad little brainchild.
And I'm amused by the fact that I wrote it while in a very silly, happy mood.
It can be difficult to focus on dark imagery when you're feeling chipper. But I did it!
After I told Katey and Alicia to stop making me laugh and let me focus for just a second.
I always write strange things at their house...

Anyways, that's just a random update to share the things I'm very proud of.
Maybe I'll remember to update again soon instead of abandoning my blog for over a week as I seem to have gotten into the habit of doing.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I've been having lots of memories from when I was a small child coming back to me lately. It all started when I remembered this one time I had a nightmare.

The Little Mermaid came out the year I was born, and it was my favorite movie until The Lion King came around. One night when I was very small, I woke up to Ursula standing beside my bed. The larger than life sea-witch gave me an evil stare, and I jumped out of bed and ran across the hall to my parents' room. What's funny is I remember vividly the placement of the bed in their room, and where I was standing. I also remember telling them it was real, even though I knew they wouldn't believe me. Of course, it was just a bad dream, and that's what they told me, but I was convinced the giant purple squid was still standing there beside my bed.

After that came to mind during a discussion about dreams one day, all sorts of other memories keep coming back. I'm trying to remember to write them in my journal so I'll still have them and won't forget.

(see? Little Mermaid shirt.)

Little things, like how I used to be fascinated by the woven wicker-type backs of Mema's dining room chairs, and the nifty wooden shutters in the breakfast nook. They were just shutters, but they captivated me with their pivoting slats. I remember eating many a lunch and dinner at the round table in front of those shutters, looking out the sliding glass door to the back patio and the swimming pool. I would purposely drop a few crumbs for the puppies as I wondered what exactly would happen if I got in the pool before the half an hour was up.

(We don't seem to have many pictures taken in the kitchen.
Aunt Cindy, Laura, Nicholas, Mama, and me. Obviously, we were dying Easter eggs.
See the shutters?)

The kitchen was magical. There was something wonderful about sitting on top of the washer or dryer as they were spinning, begging to eat some of the cheez-its that were supposed to be for the top of the chicken casserole. Another cool thing about the kitchen was how it was open on either side, and you could run from the kitchen, through the dining room, through the living room, back into the other side of the kitchen. That is so fun when you're a small person. Fortunately for everyone but me, there were usually gates up for the dogs, so I didn't do much running.

The place to do the running was outside around the pool. Nevermind that you're not supposed to run on concrete, or get that close to the edge. Who's scared of scraping their knees and falling in the pool anyways? Laura and I used to make "soup" out of the prickly evergreens and pool water. Nothing like the smell of warm, wet concrete, sunscreen, and a fresh towel. When you're having a birthday party, it's pretty much perfect to have grandparents with an awesome pool. Sometimes at night, we would sit at the edge of the pool with Mema, feet dangling in the water. Pool water is always so warm at night. We'd listen to Delilah playing love songs for people on the radio while Mema had a smoke, keeping an eye on that serpentine polaris as it made its rounds. I never liked the polaris. I swear the thing chased me.

(I have no idea who all these people are, but it was my birthday. ;-) 3rd, maybe?)

(Combined party years later. Me-8, Laura-7, Joey-2)

(see the bushes we made soup of? The diving board was so fun.)

(Go Laura Go!)

(Aunt Cindy, I posted this one for you.)

Mema taught us to sing in the fan. She always had a stand-fan turned on in her room. We would go stand with our faces almost against the wire cover, and warble "singin' in the fan! we're singin' in the fan! what a glorious feeling, I'm happy again!",
laughing at the sound of our voices chopped up by the blades.

There was an air of mystery about the front door since we never used it. We always came in through the den. Up the concrete stairs, with the big four'o'clock bushes beside them. In the door, past the sofa, past the piano, and through the little breezeway we called "the puppy room" (mema used to breed poodles), and into the dining room, with the living room at your left.

(This is the den, and the door we always used.)

Upstairs always seemed a little creepy. Aunt Cindy's room was to the left once you topped the stairs. She was away at college, so her room was always perfectly neat and vacant. I guess the quiet perfection of it was a little strange. However, she had some neat stuffed animals and sometimes Mema would let us play with them. :) There was a door directly at the top of the stairs, and I don't remember if I ever knew what it was for. Funny how innocuous things like doors can be frightening when you're a small person. Mama's bedroom was to the right. You could see the garage and the driveway and the magnolia tree from the window. The window had a little rainbow sticker in one corner.We kept all of our toys in that room. Big blue and red rubber bins with rope handles were our toyboxes. Somewhere amongst those toys was a little egg that, when "cracked" open, had a little chick who would pop out and say "cheep!" When the buckets were emptied of toys, they were just the right size for little girls. Laura and I would take turns rolling each other around inside them.

When we were done playing upstairs, we would sit on our bottoms at the top of the steps and "slide" down. Last time I tried sliding down a flight of stairs it hurt tremendously. I think we even used to go on our bellies sometimes. I don't think Mema liked us doing it, though.

Past Mema and Pepa's house, up the hill, was another little house. Mema's daddy, PawPaw, lived there. There was a corncob squirrel feeder on a tree outside his house. Mema would fill a Tupperware plate with dinner, and she let me take it to him sometimes. It was dark and smoky in his house, but I loved taking him his dinner and getting a hug in return.

(me and PawPaw on my birthday)

(Aunt Cindy, me, and Laura, dressed as bunnies for Halloween. That's PawPaw's little house in the background.)

Around Christmastime, there would be a fire in the fireplace. I loved to sit by the fire til I got so warm I had to move back. The best thing was when Mema would let us "help". We would wad up a piece of newspaper and throw it in. Then she would use the poker, push it under the grate, and we would watch as it lit, glowed, shriveled up and disappeared. It was so exciting for Aunt Cindy to come home from college - she brought us candy. lol And there were always sausage balls on the coffee table to snack on Christmas morning while we opened presents.

(notice the sausage balls in a bowl, and the biscuits beside them)

I remember sitting in the kitchen and Pepa teaching me to count money. Pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters. Quarters made sense, they're the biggest amount, and biggest coin. I remember thinking it wasn't fair that nickels were bigger than dimes, since dimes are 10 cents and nickels only half that much. Perhaps that explains my random love for dimes. I have a little glass piggy just for collecting dimes.

Sometimes Laura and I would sit out on the swing with Mema, each with a handful of saltine crackers and a piece of "slice cheese." We'd sit there, happily munching and swinging, getting covered in crumbs and mosquito bites.

(This picture was taken at the apartment where we lived, but it's the swing that used to be at Mema's)

When we spent the night, we liked to sleep in the guest room downstairs. Across from the bed was a window from which you could see the pool. Against the wall was Mema's vanity. We loved to sit in there and watch Mema get ready to go somewhere. Watching a grown woman fix her hair and makeup was pretty much enthralling to me as a little girl.

It's so fun to remember all these little things. Most of my memories of being a small child are centered around Mema and Pepa's old house. Sometimes Laura and I will hear a country song on the radio that was popular back when we spent entire weekends out by the pool. We look at each other and say "that makes me think of Mema's old house." I usually hate the smell of cigarette smoke, and Mema and Pepa have long since both quit smoking (yay for them!), but sometimes when I'm outdoors on a hot day, the warm breeze, smell of pavement, and just a whiff of smoke takes me back.

I thank God we were able to be that close, and spend so much time making memories with them when we were little.

See you later, Alligator!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming..."

So, it's long past time for another blog post. I shall now proceed with random comments:

I am disappointed in myself. Lately I've been quite the slacker - with the exception of cooking dinner, which I'm getting pretty good at. Not only have I neglected things I ought to be doing, but I have neglected my relationship with God, which in turn makes the rest of stuff crummier than it would otherwise be. And I keep kicking myself saying "straighten up, Caitlin!" and then not doing it! But you didn't want to hear about that. :)

On a different note, there is a lady in town who is willing to take my crocheted stuff on consignment. The problems now would be
1) I don't know if it's going to be worth it (then again, I'm telling myself small profit is better than none)
2) If I decide to do it, I have to make some more stuff. The only stuff I have now is the stuff in my Etsy.
3) I'd have to buy more yarn to make more stuff, and I don't have any money with which to do so.

So where does this leave me? I don't really know, actually.

Hm. Is it me or do I sound pessimistic tonight? I honestly didn't mean to do a depressing post! It was supposed to be random, not ranting.

In other news, I spent the weekend with Katey and Alicia, and a dash of Terry thrown in here and there, which was awesome. Then Laura and I went to Calvary for the graduation, which was awesome. Youth choir sang in the service tonight, and we were awesome. Julie came for the church graduation reception this evening, which was also awesome. So, in spite of being penniless and somewhat pessimistic due to copious amounts of caffeine, stupidity, and little sleep, it has been an awesome weekend.

Stay tuned, because I plan to do a neat little post pertaining to my childhood soon. ;-)

P.S. I'm going to Six Flags again Thursday - yay!