Hi Girlfriends! Yes! I had a wonderful birthday, thank you so much for all your well-wishes! I’m still having it! Friday is a Girl-Party Lunch on opening-day-for-the-season of a restaurant at the golf course and all the guys are coming too. The birthday that will not end! MUSICA → I heard this on my birthday in the car on the way to lunch and I haven’t been able to stop singing it since, thought I’d spread the wealth.
Spring has sprung, bo-yo-ying around here! It’s so wonderful to have an April birthday! Look at my flowers! Gorgeous! This is why I love birthdays. My mom called, my dad, my brothers and sisters, my friends. That’s my favorite thing, those calls. ♥ My cup runneth over.
These parrot tulips are from my friend Marjorie. We do have daffodils just about to pop in the garden, but it’s still very very early spring. Lovely sun and around 60* today, but no flowers except on my kitchen table.
Even a gerbera daisy for my little vase ~ still can’t believe Joe found this little blue bottle in the hole he dug out back for our dogwood tree. People ask me where I got it, I say it came with the house. I don’t know which I like better, the dogwood, or this little bottle! (OK, the tree, but only by a hair.)
We went for a walk on my birthday and it was gorgeous out there. This probably doesn’t look that great to you, winter worn and still no leaves, but it was heaven ~ cool breeze but nice warmish sun. When you’ve been indoors for a long time, there aren’t words for how fresh it all seems. Smell of ocean, thawing ground, blue sky, and the birds have lost their little pea-picking minds! Chasing each other through the trees ~ singing so loud, we have to stop the whole way out and look to see what they are up to.
My walk is my best “thinking place.” I try to remember to carry pencil and paper with me so if an idea pops into my head, I can write it down and not forget. When I get home I run to the studio to see how it fits into my writing.
This day we ended up laying flat on the cold sand (in coat and jacket, very cozy, it’s not summer yet!), letting the sun bore into us for about ten glorious minutes, listening to the sound of the waves, the wind and the peeps of the birds, watching the sky ~ of course I had a thought I wanted to write down ~ I dug around and found a pen, but neither of us had any paper! (Or phones either!)
That’s when a white seashell comes in very handy!
Progress on the book (because you’ve been so patient about the blogging part which I love you for, very, very much!♥) has been good! This is the longest story I’ve ever written ~ in order to get all the photos in, it has to be two books. I get so excited I can’t stop ~ when I’m in writing mode, I try to stay focused and not do anything else but write. But both books are done and at the copy editor as of April 12th! He’ll have them for a month, in the meantime, I’ll be doing the watercolors for them. I’m trying so hard to get them to you by Christmas, but I still have a ton of artwork to do. My birthday has jumped between me and my paintbrush this week, but soon I’ll be free to burrow down and focus again.
Once I got going, these books pretty much fell out of me. They’re not exactly memoirs because I changed a few things to protect the innocent (mostly me of course :-), but they are fact-based ~ on the diaries I’ve kept since I was in my twenties ~ I would say it’s an 87% true story, at least “semi” autobiographical and a novel rather than a memoir, two novels! I think you will love them. Remember Diana, my best friend in A Fine Romance? Remember how funny she was? Well, she and I laugh all the way through the new books. It’s so hard for me not to tell you the whole story. But I want it to be a surprise so tell me to shut up.
Thank you. I needed that. And this was waiting for me on my Birthday too. The color preview of the new 2016 wall-calendar ~ also, the mini, the purse calendar, the magnet and the desk blotter calendars came too. Everything bright and shiny and new. We should have them by the end of July if not sooner. And even more good news, Kellee called to tell me . . .
that REASONS TO GO ON LIVING prints have come in and are in the web store. I think she announced it on Facebook, but I promised I’d tell you when we got them.
And, you may be asking, what did I want for my birthday? You can see it was already a Red Letter Day ~ but my special birthday present was . . .
This. I wanted to go to Louisa May Alcott’s house and take you with me. So that’s exactly what we did yesterday. Joe and I packed the car for a day trip along the backroads to Concord, MA ~ a town famous for lots of reasons, probably number one, because it’s where the first conflict of the Revolutionary War took place. And, it’s also famous for Orchard House (c. 1690), the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women.
Speaking of memoirs that turn into novels; we learned so much on our visit . . . for one thing, Little Women is 87% true too ~ Louisa changed names, places, and times to make it more of a “story,” but it was truly based on her life, friends and family. It was so much fun learning about her real sisters and seeing how much they had in common with the characters, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth.
And here at the front door, you can see the perfect reflection of spring . . . tiny leaves about to burst.
In the orchard, one or two of these brave flower souls.
Louisa’s dad made this “desk” for her ~ this is where she wrote Little Women. It was considered quite something in 1865 for a woman to have a desk of her own. I am so glad she did!
“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.” ♥ Louisa May Alcott
But look at this desk, it’s even smaller, this is where Jane Austen wrote during the most prolific time of her life in early 1800’s. At this tiny desk. I don’t know how these girls did it. I always ask, “How did they do it, were there piles of paper all around them on the floor?” But no one knows.
This is where I write . . . I live in the Paperless Society, my trash is full and my floors are always covered with little bits and piles of book everywhere that we all have to step around. With all this space I have no excuses for not getting it done! One thing Louisa and I have in common, until I get it done, I will find no peace either.
My work in the paperless world leaks out of the studio to the back of the sofa and right now, the table in the living room is covered with photo albums! Jack is king of the room, everything he surveys is his. I don’t know how he gets up there!
This was my favorite thing at Orchard House, that owl over the fireplace in Louisa’s bedroom (where the desk is too). Her sister May (the artist, Amy, in Little Women) painted it. When she was young, the Alcott’s encouraged May to draw anywhere in the house she wanted to, many walls are adorned with her art. She also painted the flowers next to Louisa’s desk.
Louisa collected owls. Isn’t this just the most wonderful thing?!
Besides line drawings, there are also some amazingly beautiful framed pieces belonging to May. She was quite highly regarded. BTW, Those are needlepointed foot warmers on each side of the fireplace; the tops come off and you fill them with coals!
Almost everything in the house actually belonged to the family. You are seeing the real thing when you go to Orchard House.
A cupboard in the kitchen.
They made the house so homey. It opened to the public in 1911 ~ keeping all of the history and originality has been a work of love for over a hundred years, for generations.
This quilt was on Marmee’s Bed, she made it. And they did call their mother Marmee.
Louisa’s sewing box, with needles and thread.
And Beth’s piano. Not really. But when I came in this room, tears came in my eyes. The piano belongs to Louisa’s real sister, Elizabeth. Like Beth, Elizabeth died very young at only age 16.
That’s Elizabeth in the picture. It’s all seems to come alive.
I think I will stop there. Next time I want to show you some of the houses in Concord because they are GORGEOUS. This scene is actually a model made in 1930 . . . we saw it in the Concord Museum, so there’s lots more.
This is the birthday game my girlfriends and I play ~ we call it the “Ring Thing.” We drop our rings over the candles, light them and then everyone gets to make a wish. Let’s do that girls, let’s all make a wish. Think of a wonderful wish, I’ll count to ten. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 OK, now very slowly, close your eyes and make your dearest birthday wish . . . and send all of your lovely thoughts right to heaven along with mine. XOXO