Archive | June 2012

Home, home on the grange

I’m not sure that Nature abhors a vacuum so much as I do, but I do admits to some blank spaces in my book of life which are begging for a good grangering.

In the 18th century, book margins were miniscule and blank pages were unheard of as paper was quite expensive. But in 1769, Rev James Granger, published his Illustrated Biographical History of England with a revolutionary feature: generous blank areas!

Granger thought “modern” readers might wish customize their book by adding all manner of personal thoughts, illustrations, autographs, press notices, whatever. (Try doing that on a Nook/Kindle/iPad!) Granger’s gambled that customizable space was something reader’s would willingly pay for was daring — and paid off handsomely.

Readers went mad for personalization. Indeed, Granger unleashed a tidal wave of creative — some would argue destructive — enthusiasm. Throughout the 19th century and into our own time, “filling up a Granger” was a popular pastime to which all books became subject. (For a modern Grangerite’s work, check out this post on Things To Make and Do, in which a book about Blackpool was grangerised with relevant material.)

Grangerisation was one of the main reasons publishers of books and even newspapers began to print illustrations with blank reverse pages. This way they could be removed  / defaced / “extra illustrated” without the book losing literary integrity or value. Although today, often an otherwise mundane, near worthless, old book found bearing grangerisation, becomes a rare treasure.

Some people thought of Grangerites as vandals, but I prefer to see them as artists, inventors, philosphers, individuals who are unafraid to leave their stamp on something (of their own).   This weed, as we celebrate the freedom of being an individual, I plan to find a little blank space in my book life, and grangerise the devil out of it!

Life Lessons from Opera

Carmen was right, Love truly is like a rebellious bird that you can never hope to tame. I realize that sitting here flipping through a Dec 2011 copy of Architectural Digest.

I’ve never become interested in anyone because of their looks. So it shouldn’t be that I’d wish to meet a man based on how his pied-à-terre is decorated. But so it is. As I turn the pages and gaze at the photos, a warm, peaceful, “I’m home.” feeling comes over me. It’s followed by the realization that someone else feels exactly the same.

Admittedly, the project benefited from his considerable assets and the meticulous execution of the design team, but none of this changes the fact it was his vision of home. I’ve stumbled across a kindred spirit. And yet . . . .

He’s built in Napoli. Hmm? No, I shouldn’t build a home in Naples. Not even a pied-à-terre. Sigh. We’re not suited after all. And Love is off, kiting on the winds of fate and chance, again.

The Figures in My Head

In essence, every head of state is a mere figurehead. It’s why I care so little about the actual politics of candidates. Politicians, like gamblers and courtesans, achieve maximum efficacy only through appearing to be honest.

Effective heads of state lie effortless, even beautifully. To the degree a presidential candidate lies well, I’m afraid, being the pragmatist I am, he has my vote.

A general stammer can be nerves and easily played off by an everyman. But by a head of state?  Oh no. The King’s Speech is a testament to that. Any serious politician understands flaws must be corrected and “tells” must be ruthlessly weeded out or those he represents will suffer.

Obama, young and inexperienced as he was, was careful to rid himself of his flaws and tells by the end of his first year in office. Romney still has not overcome the stutter that flags a forthcoming lie.

I really expected more of an older, experienced ex-governor. It’s possibly a sign of arrogance, or vanity, or an inadequately suppressed moral conscience — all of which are unfortunate in a head of state.

Mitt should really have paid more attention to Rafalca. A bridled tongue, nimble footwork, and good grooming can take one very far. And I should know.

Living the Extraordinary Life

Lately the chatter has been around “living the extraordinary life.”  Most of this chatter originates with men.  Men have been preoccupied with being extraordinary for a long, long time.

John O’Hurley recently mentioned in an interview on the Florence Henderson Show that his grandfather had told him as a young boy that he could “live an ordinary life or an extraordinary life.” And the choice was up to him. John was born in 1954. That would make his grandfather born circa 1900, if not earlier.

Dr Wayne Dyer reiterated this dialectical thought in his latest PBS lecture Wishes Fulfilled. Then he defined an ordinary life as being a faithful spouse, holding a job for many years, paying your bills on time, and being an honest and honorable person.   That’s not ordinary to me though; in fact, statistically, it’s a life very few people in the US lead.

I suppose every person has to define for him/herself what is an ordinary vs an extraordinary life.  And if having one or the other sort of life is worthwhile. Maybe being extraordinary at living the ordinary life is the greatest talent of all? Making the ordinary, extraordinary? Elevating the “mundane”?

I suppose my bias today stems from a new purchase, an ordinary teapot, and yet . . . it truly is extraordinary!

The Mea Queen

Reflecting on this week of celebration in honor of the Queen of England, I have to say I was reminded once again of the value of . . .  me. After all, in my own life, I am the queen. I decide and decree, no one else.

It’s rather a daunting thing really, to be queen of all one surveys (in the mirror). And when things go wrong, as they sometimes do, mea culpa. How does one best govern oneself and one’s world? It is, alas, a puzzlement. For you see, to order the world to my liking is, in the eyes of others, to leave the world to nature’s disorder.

I love the fragile fractal beauty of things as they are. The transit of Venus, moving along its orderly path, momentarily presents a random spot of beauty on the face of the sun. To allow all things to wander their ordered paths, intersecting through the centuries, creating exaltations of fancy, pleasures sublime, and wonderous revelations, oh that is my decree!


Your name is Indra?

Indra isn’t exactly a standard American name, I know.  However, when I was born, my parents saw a black swallowtail flit by the window. Papilo indra is its scientific name. Perhaps even as a newborn the folks noticed my flighty, restive nature?

Why, in 1866, the 22-year-old Philadelphia-born entomologist Tyron Reakirt decided on Papilo indra  for the species name is unknown. Philadelphia is a port city. Some ships docking there conducted business with India. Perhaps knowledge of Hinduism was common when Tyron was growing up?

At any rate, Indra is a sky god and king of the Hindu gods. Maybe Tyron felt this large new butterfly he’d discovered in the Wild West was king of the skies? Which kind of makes me royalty by extension. I knew my goddess-like sense of entitlement stemmed from somewhere!