Release the Festive Fellow... A List for November

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Release the Festive Fellow
A List for November
This is the week it happens.  As strange and unlikely as it may seem, the holidays start in just a few days and I am just about to release the festive fellow in the painting up above.  He who has been waiting and waiting for eleven long months - twiddling his fingers, tapping his toes - will fly out of his hiding place, laughing, and immediately set about filling all of my rooms with a holiday light.  That most reflective of occasions, Thanksgiving, is arriving on Thursday (yes, Thursday!) and it signals the start of the holiday season here at the house of Edward.  Wreaths will be up on the windows by Friday and a permanent grin stitched on my face for the foreseeable future. 
 For the start of this week, and to catch November before he packs his bags, 
here’s a celebratory list to enjoy!  
Isn’t this a wonderful time of the year?  

1.  Back To Scotland
I’m planning a trip back to Scotland.
And I can’t get this place out of my head. 
Is it just me, or doesn’t that room look like absolute heaven? 
Has anyone stayed HERE?

2.  The Further Adventures of Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter is a heroine to me.  Not merely for her graciously beautiful stories of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle, Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit himself, nor for her amazing artwork, but for her quietly remarkable efforts in land conservation in the Lake District of England.  Most of the gorgeous land around me in the photograph above owes its preservation to Miss Potter, or Mrs. Heelis, as she became upon marrying solicitor William Heelis in 1913.  In the second half of her lovely life, Beatrix became a respected farmer of Herdwick sheep, winning bouquets of ribbons at country shows. She used the profits from her beloved books to buy Lakeland property and at the time of her death bequeathed over 4000 acres and 14 farms to the National Trust.  What a glorious gift to her country.   
 As an unabashed fan of Miss Potter’s, and as someone leery of sequels in any form, I was seriously conflicted when I heard of the Further Adventures of Peter Rabbit by none other than Emma Thompson.  But then, over a cup of tea a few afternoons ago, I chanced to hear Miss Thompson give a radio interview about the writing of this new book.  She read a few excerpts and I found myself, despite myself, utterly charmed. 
 This new edition happily includes a CD of Emma reading the story aloud which, 
I’m not ashamed to admit, I cannot wait to hear.  
Hear the NPR interview with Emma Thompson HERE.
See the book HERE.


3.  Gorgeous Scarves
Love Scarves.
Love Liberty.
Love the UK.
Love Animals.
Love These!
There are so many fabulous scarves to be found at Liberty of London.
It boggles the mind.
These celebrate the wildlife of Scotland (pictured above) Ireland and Wales. 
Find them HERE.

4.  From the House of Edward Book
To employ one of my favourite words, the response to my book has left me gobsmacked!
Copies have been wending their way all over the world which is equally thrilling and humbling.  As a special treat for the holidays, we are offering to gorgeously wrap copies for Christmas or Hanukkah gifts.  You can even have copies mailed directly to friends and family if you wish.  Just put in the Paypal instruction box if you’d like this done.
   It tickles me beyond belief to know these books are destined 
for a cozy place in a stocking somewhere!
Get your copy HERE.
And a very special thank you to the beautiful Brooke Giannetti of Velvet and Linen
for her incredible post about our book.
Read it HERE


5.  Manners, Kindness and Courtesy
The several unsavoury, anonymous, and totally off-topic, comments left on my recent post, Butterflies, (most of which I erased, a few of which I left), caught me off guard and caused me to view last week’s passing of Letitia Baldrige with more poignancy that I perhaps otherwise would have done.  In a New York Times article commemorating her life, writer William Norwich called Ms. Baldrige an “oracle of manners, kindness and courtesy”, and she displayed all three attributes in full measure during her years serving in the Kennedy White House as classmate Jackie Kennedy’s social secretary.  Her philosophy can be be eloquently summed up by the title of her last book, “Taste: Acquiring What Money Can’t Buy”, and though some might view her views as a trifle out of date, (she did, after all, once advise “infrequent shampooing when staying on a yacht, to be considerate about conserving water”) her elegant, stalwart defense of good manners and kindness in a fractious world should never be considered passe. 
 She shall be missed.
You can read Mr. Norwich’s tribute HERE.
Or read Miss Baldrige's book about her time in the Kennedy White House.


6.  A Beautiful Garden Wall
In November, we rake lots and lots of leaves. 
The magnolia blooms have disappeared.  The hydrangea bushes stand leafless and stark.  
 We put out mulches and blankets of pine straw to shelter the tulip bulbs just beginning their long naps till Spring.  It’s now that the garden reveals its architecture, the frames that encircle the paintings of summer and spring.  We see with new eyes the hedges, the benches, the moss-covered pots.  Garden walls are in their element now and when I saw this one, I was completely enchanted.  
It’s wonderful.  Don’t you agree?
See more HERE.

7.  Value

One night when I was much younger, I happened upon a PBS production of a play entitled, Best of Friends.  It was an exploration of the friendship between three remarkable people:  Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, director of Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Sydney Cockerell, and Dame Laurentia McLachlan, a Benedictine nun at the Stanbrook Abbey in Worchester.   Taken mostly from their own writings, the dialogue was witty and smart - the ideas considered, expansive and illuminating.  I was utterly enthralled and thought about this play for weeks afterwards.  Without the benefit of public broadcasting, I would never have known of this production as it contained neither the bombast nor the torpidity required to entice television advertisers.  So much of the most memorable, moving and thought-provoking offerings on American television are to be found on Public Broadcasting. Freely given, it is where we turn for  symphonies and ballets, enlightening documentaries and theatre.  I continue to be grateful for its existence in my everyday life.
Eons ago, books were luxuries filling only the houses of the rich.  Then came the wonderful invention of the public library, making the magic of the written word available to everyone, opening minds and fashioning ideas.  When television and radio came along, the idea of free public access to both became a reality in the states with National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System.  Throughout the ensuing years, NPR and PBS have become the places I turn to for the type of programming that makes me think and lifts up my heart. 
 It was disheartening to hear the losing candidate vow to end public financing for these institutions during the recent presidential campaign.  Public access to art is vital to our national health, and PBS is about so much more than Big Bird.  While federal funding only counts for a fraction of these budgets, to me, the issue is not about money.
It is about what we value as a country.  We ignore expressions of grace and beauty at our peril, for nations are remembered for their art. As President Kennedy once said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”
I was tickled to see that the play that meant so much to me years ago is now available for purchase. 
 You can find it HERE.

8. The Perfect Holiday Shoe
Exquisite black dress.
Hair worn down.
One extravagant ruby ring.
and these shoes!
Find them HERE.
Stay tuned!
I have so many things planned for the holidays!
Book lists, gift lists, recipes!
Like I said, isn't this a wonderful time of the year?!