Tuesday, December 12, 2017


From The Conversation:
It is – among many other things – the most moving love story she ever told. Anne Elliot is the second daughter of the absurdly vain baronet Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall. Frederick Wentworth is an officer in the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Eight years before the novel begins, Wentworth proposes to Anne and she accepts him after a brief and intense courtship, only to be persuaded by her father and her older friend Lady Russell to break off the engagement. Wentworth, angry and badly hurt, goes back to sea, where he conducts a successful series of raiding expeditions on enemy ships, and amasses a fortune in prize money.

When Napoleon abdicates for the first time in April 1814, Wentworth returns to England and soon pays a visit to his sister, who now lives near Anne. Throughout his absence, meanwhile, Anne has found no one who compares to him, and has pined away to the point where now, at 27 years old, her bloom is gone and she has begun the descent into spinsterhood. Many critics have argued that, as a result of suffering and regret, Anne is already “mature” when the novel opens, while the rich and carefree Wentworth has a good deal of growing up to do before he recognizes – or, rather, re-recognizes – her worth.

On the contrary, for all that divides them when he returns, Anne has as much to learn about love as Wentworth does, and her journey toward their reconciliation contains as much confusion as his. Indeed, part of the enormous appeal of Persuasion is Austen’s ability to convey the ways in which Wentworth and Anne are moving steadily toward one another even as their various missteps, flirtations and assumptions seem to be driving them still further apart. Their reunion is the finest scene in all of Austen, and in it they do not even speak face to face, for Austen understood that mediated and misdirected messages frequently carry a far greater charge than explicit declarations.

Anne and Wentworth are both in a room at the White Hart Inn in Bath. He is sitting at a desk writing a letter. She is nearby speaking to a mutual friend, Captain Harville, about men, women and constancy. Harville believes that men feel more deeply than women. Anne takes the opposite view, and while she does not mention Wentworth or her own circumstances, everything she says is clearly with him in mind.

She has spoken to no one about her grief over Wentworth, and it is not long before eight years of pent-up anguish flood out of her. “We certainly do not forget you, so soon as you forget us,” she tells Harville. “It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us.” Wentworth, still writing his letter, overhears Anne’s comments and knows immediately that she is speaking about their relationship, and about all that has been lost. Seizing another sheet of paper, he begins a second letter in which he records his feelings toward her as she utters hers toward him, and which he leaves behind on the desk for her to read. (Read more.)

Young Adults and Mental Health

From The Telegraph:
Almost half of adults between 16 and 24 said they had experienced stress or anxiety, compared to just over a third of all UK adults. Young adults were also more likely to be uncomfortable talking about a mental health problem, with one in three saying this compared to 27 per cent of all adults. 13 per cent also said they were experiencing a problem but had not sought help, compared to seven per cent of all adults. (Read more.)

Our Lady and Stress

From The Catholic Herald:
People with a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe have fewer health issues related to stress, a study by the University of Alabama has said. “This drives home how important faith is. In the study results, I found that people who are exposed to stress – their well-being goes down over time. Those who were Guadalupan devotees broke that pattern,” explained Rebecca Read-Wahidi, the study’s author.

She grew up in Forest, where the state’s largest concentration of Latinos works in poultry plants. They worship at St. Michael or at its mission San Martin. A community of religious sisters, Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, ministers to the mix of Mexicans, Guatemalans and other Latin Americans. The sisters teach English, host consulates and even offer workshops in what to do if people are stopped by police or immigration agents. Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just a mother figure to her people, she is their mother. Read-Wahidi said most of the devotees she interviewed have conversations with her throughout the day. (Read more.)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Homes

From Southern Lady:
For more than 30 years, this homeowner has organized the annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, a fundraiser for the Edenton Historical Commission that welcomes visitors into a dozen splendid residences and beloved historical spaces. In her own home, the storied Skinner-Paxton House, natural elements add to the spirit of this glorious season. (Read more.)

The Government is Not a Charity

From Matt Walsh:
As I see it, there are two very serious problems with the idea that we fulfill our Biblical duties by paying high taxes in order to fund a vast and wasteful Welfare State:

1) The people most likely to make this kind of argument in favor of high taxes are also the most likely to reject this kind of argument in favor of any other law. But if we are required to shape our tax policy according to Our Lord's divine edicts (sounds good to me), then it follows that we must shape other public policies by the same standard.

So, goodbye abortion. For the Ten Commandments clearly forbid the taking of innocent life. Jeremiah 1:5 explicitly affirms the humanity of the unborn, as God declares, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." And the Incarnation makes the issue as plain as can be. Our Lord became a "fetus" Himself. He was conceived in His mother's womb and He developed through every stage just as every other child in history. Liberal Christians claim that Jesus never said anything about the unborn. Nonsense. He didn't need to say anything about them. He became them. He elevated and sanctified human life at every stage by taking its form. End of discussion. (Read more.)

What Writers Can Learn From Opera

From Jane Freidman:
There’s a taxonomy of opera voices called the Fach system, if you’re into the finer points. But it’s enough to know seven broadly defined voices evoke the personas ruling the opera program: soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto among the women; and counter tenor, tenor, baritone, and bass among the men.

Sopranos, the highest voice among the women, take a lead role, the heroine. Or her opposite. A little more nuanced is the “lyric soprano,” whose role depicts a tender, plaintive character. Mimi, for instance, who anchors Puccini’s La Bohème. Staged as a tale of 19th-century struggling “creatives,” the libretto requires a lyric soprano to embody a woman falling in love and later tragically losing her life to the ills of Bohemian poverty. Who might play Mimi in a novel? A young idealist, a librarian and a bookish intellectual desperately in love and doomed, much like the character of Liz Gold, a pawn sacrifice and involuntary heroine in John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

On a recent Sunday in The New York Times an item appeared that said, “Over the last 35 years at the Metropolitan Opera, Franco Zeffirelli’s staging of Puccini’s La Bohème,” Mimi’s destiny opera, “has played nearly 500 performances and sold 650,000 tickets.” Let’s try some quick writer-math. Translated into the universe of indie novels (and assuming I do the math correctly), the equivalent number of books per year is 18,142. That’s a good number. Sold at $3.99 as an ebook, La Bohème would gross $72,390 each year for 35 years. At Pronoun’s 70% royalty, it represents a $50,673 a year in income. A sustaining wage for a family, or a bucket-list of primo vacations for writers with trust funds. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Before and After

An amazing transformation by Virginia at Chartreuse and Company! To quote:
None-the-less, I whined at her, “Can’t you convince them to at least paint those walls?  And the light fixtures?  PLEASE let me replace them with my own.”

Margaret felt my pain, but the clients were firm:  they would remove their things, but they would not do any work or change any fixtures.  So there we were. We visited the house, with tape measure and graph paper in hand, walked through every room, got a sense of the house and what it could be.  And it’s a GREAT house!  The homeowner designed it himself in the late 70s, with an open floor plan, huge fire places, tons of closets, and had it set in a perfectly private and secluded, 12-acre lot.  While I would paint the exterior brick and trim, extend the front porch, and replace the metal posts with wooden ones, the house is well built, and enjoys wooded views from every window. (Read more.)


Christmas is about Jesus

Not that anyone should be shocked by that statement but it seems that some people are. From Conservative Tribune:
President Donald Trump reminded everyone in the nation during the White House tree lighting that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season. As recorded on The White House website, the lighting ceremony took place on Nov. 30. President Trump carried on White House tradition and spoke at the ceremony. Without hesitation or embarrassment, he took the stage and immediately began to recall the Christmas story. “The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all—the gift of God’s love for all of humanity,” he began. “Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history,” he continued. (Read more.)