The Woman In White

I like the color white.

I like to wear white and variations of white like ecru, off white and cream. I like to lay out my white lace tablecloth and watch my white battenburg lace curtains blow in the breeze. I appreciate a well pressed white button down shirt on a man. And I’ve always admired white Victorian tea gowns worn on stage and screen.

I guess that’s what drew me to read Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. I’m a sucker for a good title or cover art. When Ron’s Classic Challenge urged me to “get mysterious,” my immediate thought was Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie.  But I’ve read those recently. And when I think “mystery,” I envision something dark. Another reason why the suggestion to read a mystery with someone conjuring a woman in white intrigued me.

And I’m very happy to say it didn’t disappoint. It was a true page turner and I didn’t want to put it down!

I was drawn in at the first encounter with the mysterious title character. I wasn’t certain for a while if she was a ghost or real, so compelling was Collins’ description.

womand in whiteThen there’s the actual story “telling.” I’ve never read a book told by so many points of view that actually mastered such a craft. Collins’ employed several narrators to accurately tell his tale, probably due to the fact that the book was originally published as a serial tale in a magazine. A challenge Collins took at the urging of his friend Charles Dickens. Each narrator had his or her own tone of voice that was very distinctive. Such a clever tactic too!

The story is complex and one doesn’t want to give away too much when reviewing a mystery. But there is the requisit hero — a poor art teacher who falls in love with the woman under his tutelage. Her smart and very likable sister informs him she’s pledged to many another and great sadness ensues for all three characters. Then there is the fiance, presenting likability but showing his true colors as deceitful and callous, and his protagonist friend — and nasty wife — who are just truly wicked. Other characters fill in the novel with a little man introduced in the early pages — an almost castaway early character who becomes quite a hero toward the end of the novel himself.

Oh how the woman in white suffers. Oh what dastardly deeds take place. Oh what a challenge it is to untangle the webs. Oh what fun it was to read.

Despite its length of 550 pages, it read quickly. Collins achieved great success with this novel. But it is also very clear that he was immensely proud of it … Author of The Woman in White is engraved on his tombstone.

I like the color white.The Woman In White was a fascinating read. Collins is a masterful story-teller. The book engages the imagination 150 after its original publication. And her story and character kept me reading late into the night.

— Jenni

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About A Rug

I bought a new rug yesterday at Home Depot. The one near the back door of “my” sunroom was fraying and regularly stressing my vacuum.

I had been walking through Home Depot, pretty satisfied that I could remember where to find duct tape and zip ties (for Royal Oak in Bloom set up, seriously!) On the way out, I came across this small bin with stripped mats. One caught my eye … it had this Frozen Blue aka turquoise color along with tweed variations of grey. It struck me And it was on clearance. So I grabbed it.

A new mat had been on my Home Improving List for a while  I put off buying one because either the price wasn’t right or the mat didn’t “grab me.”

So excited, I cut off the tag in the car before I walked in the door and an unfurled it proudly to take its new place.

Problem: It was WAY too long. It wasn’t door size at all. Damn! I guess I didn’t look at sizing before I selected it.

So now what to do …

See, I liked it immediately when I saw it. You might say I was drawn to it. And the fact of the matter is … I like it still. So it doesn’t fit perfectly. So it’s technically the wrong size for the space. It looks great to me. My cat even likes it. She rolled all over it and sat on it as soon as I set it out. She stretches out and sleeps on it.

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So, I chose to make it work. To keep it exactly where it is. It may not technically be “right” for the space. But it’s the right rug for me.

Life is like that. There isn’t one cookie cutter answer that’s “correct” for all. Each one of us is an individual with unique needs, goals, desires, talents and personalities. We need different things to be all we are meant to be … We only restrict and limit ourselves by accepting or allowing a “one size fits all” perspective to dominate our ability to live honestly, authentically and joyfully.

So there it is. People are different. What they need and what works best for them is … well … up to them. And if they want to use a rug that’s a little too big but they like it, well I say live and let live. As Prince would say, we are “gathered together to get thru this thing called life” … how we do it, well, that’s a personal choice. It’s okay to Go Crazy and buy a rug just because you like the way it looks and find the way that works for you to keep it in your life.

As for Ellie and me, we like the rug. So it’s staying …

— Jenni

 

 

 

Salmon in a Trout Stream

Being a Salmon is frickin’ exhausting.

I mean, think about it … You’re this shiny silver fish with a mission and a calling. You’re destined to swim upstream, against the current, to find your truth. You don’t just troll about in a lake, happily oblivious unless some hook descends into your midst to disrupt life as you know it. No, when you are born you leave your birthplace and travel to the big salty sea. And then, in the prime of life when most fish are settling in and enjoying algae and plant cocktails, you intentionally take on the most difficult trip of all, swimming upstream through danger and against the tide.

It’s the most authentic journey of any creature alive. And salmon never question the danger or difficulty. They know what they have to do for themselves and the good of their species. And they just do it.

Salmon are fascinating creatures. They are born in fresh water. But their natural inclination guides them to migrate, leaving their birthplace to “grow up” in the ocean. They mature there for 2-4 years. Then, after living the good life, their instinct calls them home to the exact stream where they were born. And they remember how to get there!

They then undertake a challenging trip upstream to return to the rivers of their birth, dodging predators, leaping up waterfalls, and fighting the current every inch of the way. It’s an exhaustive trip and about 50% of salmon die within a few weeks after the trek.

Salmon are passionate creatures. They have the courage to swim upstream and their inner compass directs them and keeps them strong despite difficulties along the journey.

I imagine their trip, water constantly battering at them and trying to force them backwards … to give up … to stick to the status quo. And, I find myself relating to these crazy fish and their instinct to fight their way to where they want to be. They are brave, strong and focused and they refuse to give up when things get tough. They fight rushing waves to get the place their very essence tells them they need to be.  And they never question this calling.

The journey of a Salmon is a true and compelling reflection of the path of living an authentic life. They don’t give up when challenges arise. They just keep swimming until they reach the place they know in their heart they need to be.

Do you ever feel like a Salmon? Like you’re swimming upstream, fighting the rush of a raging stream and dodging predators? You willingly take this journey while doing all you can to avoid bald eagles with sharp beaks trying to separate you from your fellow salmon and sport fisherman seeking to snare you in their nets. Well … you get the idea. But … all the while, there are these Trout swimming along beside you… oblivious and content with the status quo, drinking the KoolAid, going with the flow and seeing no reason to change.

The way I see it, I’m a Salmon. My passionate nature takes me upstream sometimes, fighting bears and obstacles, and I get frustrated by those passive, complacent Trout. Passion has a price though. It separates you. Fighting to get where you feel you need to be isn’t easy. Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road looked pretty but it was filled with challenges along the way. Consider some of the most famous Salmon in history … Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela, Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank and Rosa Parks … and the list goes on.

I’ve come to terms with the knowledge that I’m a Salmon. my instinctual nature calls me make my world the best it can be and sometimes that means I have to swim upstream to be the authentic person I am … to be true to my calling.  I’m not easy going. And I don’t sit idly by, swimming with the Trout, when I see something that needs attention. I speak up. I fight for things, causes people (etc) I believe in, even when that means I’m truly swimming upstream.

It’s hard at times. It’s tiring to fight for your truth and what you believe to be best for yourself, those you care for and those you simply encounter in the Trout Stream. Not everyone wants to be a Salmon. Some are happy swimming along undercover. But I put myself out there and don’t tend to go quietly.

Oh, there are times I find myself floating along and hoping some bear or bald eagle doesn’t notice that I’m weak and slightly broken after that last waterfall I leapt or rock bed I fought. I wish — at times — I was better at merrily, merrily going with the flow.

But, it’s just against my nature …

— Jenni

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