Thursday, June 24, 2010
Show and Tell
I decided to take this Show and Tell opportunity to share some new things I've acquired in the last few days.
If you have followed my blog through any Christmas seasons, you know that I've recently begun collecting nativity sets. I can hardly wait to add this to the display next Christmas. But I love it so much I may just put it on display right now.
Here is the story behind this new acquisition: My second of three brothers lives in England, and has for his entire adult life. He received his Ph.D. in Intertestamental Studies from Manchester University over 30 years ago. He is a brilliant scholar and does a lot of traveling and teaching with his expertise. He often gets to present papers in Israel. I remember the day I realized just how highly revered he is in the field of study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A few years ago he brought my parents one of these beautiful olive wood carved pieces of the Holy Family. When he was home recently and we were having lunch at my folks' house, I asked him if, the next time he went to Israel, he'd get me one and I'd send him the money for it.
He was in Israel for several weeks recently and, even though I knew it and read all of his Facebook posts about his time there, I never thought of my request to him for some reason. Then - my SIL came for her annual visit a couple of weeks ago - just before she left, we went to lunch and she presented my sister and me each with one of these beautiful pieces - as gifts. I was so thrilled. It was carved by an elderly man in Bethlehem. What a treasure!
In an entirely different direction -- recently I shared with my regular readers that I'd be showing gifts that I ordered for myself.
Let me start with a little background. DC and I have been married almost 38 years. We have had our share of "stuff" in our years together, but that has not included marital discord, thankfully. About the only thing we've disagreed about in any significant way is some of the ways our money has been spent - as if that were something unusual, eh??
My sweet husband has quite a few hobbies and toys - and all of them are what I consider costly. He is not reckless in the least, but sometimes over the years I've complained a bit about his spending on these pasttimes. His response to me was always, "Well, get yourself something you want!" My hobbies, on the other hand, didn't cost much - yarn, fabric, embroidery floss, even patterns (in those days) didn't add up to much. I hate to shop, so he's never had to worry about me getting carried away in that way.
But again, if you know me at all, you know that books are my passion. If you look on my sidebar, you'll see that books have had a part in 12 of my posts over the years. So - all that to say this. I spent a considerable amount of money on books these last few days. And here's why --
I can't remember exactly when I discovered Anne of Green Gables, but I remember reading probably 3 of the series when I was in junior high, most likely. It wasn't until I was a mom that I decided I needed to read them again - and that was when I discovered that the series went far beyond her antics as a girl; that they went into her adulthood and motherhood. I was so thrilled to find that she finally did marry Gilbert and was a delightful and creative mother.
Recently one of my Facebook friends, who is a missionary in Nairobi, Kenya, was given the entire series by her mom and was enjoying them immensely, and commenting about them every day. That gave me an itch I had to scratch! I went to Amazon.com and found the set - and ordered it. It is sitting here, waiting to be devoured. (Side note - we might get to spend a day in Prince Edward Island when we go to Maine for Kev's graduation next month!)
During that same era, I went through a rather lonely time in junior high. Dad had left the pastorate for a leave, due to health reasons. We lived out in an area of the Twin Cities that wasn't very populated. We rode the bus to a large school and didn't make a lot of friends. The library became my best friend - I would stop by there on my way to the bus almost every afternoon and grab a book off the shelf, check it out, and read it on the way home. That's when I became friends with Sue Barton. I enjoyed her life as a student nurse all the way through being in charge of a nursing program. It was good clean romance, with a bit of career education along the way. This began my love affair with series - when you finished a book, there was always another one about the new "friend" you'd made.
Recently I discovered a publishing house in California (Image Cascade Publishing) that has as its mission the republication of out of print books that we loved growing up. So now, on top of Anne with an "e" and her 8 books, I have 7 Sue Barton books to read.
As if that weren't enough! I think I was in 7th grade in Minnesota when I found Beany and the Beckoning Road on the library shelf one day - for some reason it struck my fancy, so I took it home. Then I realized it was the 4th in a series, so I began back at the beginning. There are 14 books in this series, and I believe I've read them all 4 times - I remember sitting on my front steps while Kristen took naps and enjoyed them again in the 70s. By this time, I realized that Lenora Mattingly Weber, the author, set these books 50 miles down the road from me in Denver - I had read them before in Minnesota and Nebraska and that piece didn't register with me when I moved to Colorado, until I re-read them.
I got so excited - I wanted to find out if she was still in Denver and if I could possibly meet her somehow. My research (not as easy as it is not with the internet) led me to the fact that she had died only a year or two earlier in 1971 at the age of 76. I was sad to think I'd been in Colorado when that happened, and wished I had started my quest sooner.
Beany Malone was a young girl whose mom had died. She was the youngest of a rambunctious family of 4 kids with a dad who was gone a lot for his newspaper job. She became the "mother" of the house, as she loved to cook and take care of her family. They were written beginning in 1943, with the last one finished in 1969. In the meantime, Lenora was writing another series about two young girls in a large Irish family, who actually babysat for Beany when she had children of her own - they were written from 1964 to the last one published in 1972, after Lenora's death. These books, though written so long ago, have timeless themes. They are so clean and wholesome. I hope I can get my grandgirls to read them and love them as I do.
I never could find anyone else who had ever heard of Beany - and I asked everyone I knew who loved to read as a girl. One day I found The Beany Malone Cookbook at the library - I was so excited, because the book contained recipes for all the things that Beany and her siblings cooked in the books. It had not been checked out for years before I found it, so I asked the library if I could possibly buy it from them. No dice. My SIL, Becky, who used to blog, knew of my passion for all things Beany, and had heard the recipe book story. She drew my name that Christmas and got me probably the most amazing gift I've ever received - she found the book somewhere in a used book store on the East Coast - I can't remember how she did that pre-Google! But she did and it is a treasured possession.
Imagine my excitement when, one day I was reading the Denver Post and found a little piece on the editorial page with Beany Malone's name in the headline. Oh, my word! The woman who was "Beany" to her grandma all those years ago was trying to find copies of the cookbook, which was out of print. I called the newspaper who got me in touch with "Beany" - I told her I wasn't interested in giving up my book, but I sure was interested in talking to her about her grandmother and the books.
That all led to a Beany week-end in Denver - there are fans all over the country who actually were keeping in touch by computer, discussing the books. I joined for awhile, but decided they took it way over the top seriously, trying to get themes out of the books that were way too intense instead of just enjoying them.
But I was excited to join them for the get-together. We met at Kathy's ("Beany") house for a meal - she still lived in the duplex where her grandmother wrote her books in the other half. One of the events was a trivia quiz - I had re-read every book, but the minute details they asked on this quiz were outrageous! I couldn't believe it.
We did a bus tour around Denver to all the places that were part of the books. What a fun time we had. I never kept in touch with them after that, but it was enough for me to know I wasn't the only person in the world who loved Beany Malone.
And now - I have the books for myself - and now I have to figure out where to put them! I hope someday to get the Katie Rose and Stacey series - they were the babysitters. It'll be awhile, though!
For other Show and Tell stories, please head over to Cindy's place at My Romantic Home.