Monday, December 7, 2009

"The Time Has Come," The Walrus Said...

..."To talk of many things: Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages and kings...

And also of Thanksgiving, and Nantucket Grey walls, and preparing for Christmas, and of course, the Big Book Sale.

Katharine spent Thanksgiving with Uncle Rudy and his family. She folded the napkins and sent me this photo. I counted my blessings...not the least of which were hearing the happiness in her voice and seeing photographs of her smiling again.

Now, on to the Big Book Sale!

Lydia Bastianich, Jamie Oliver and Joan Nathan to add to the cookbook collection. It's hard to see the spine on the Nathan book, but it's titled The Jewish Holiday Kitchen. Kitchen Confidential is there because my son purloined my other copy when I was 3/4 of the way finished. Only difference, I paid $15.00 for my first copy and .50 for this one!

Villas At Table is more a treatise on the joy of eating than a cookbook, although it does have some recipes. Grandmother and the Priests by Taylor Caldwell was published under a different name (which escapes me) in the U.K. and The Poisonwood Bible I've already explained.

The Wizard of Oz was the first chapter book I ever read. I was thrilled to find this volume of The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum at the sale (despite the rather grotesque and creepy cover illustration).

The DuMaurier was published in the sixties and is, I believe, set in Cornwall. This is a book club edition and it will fit in nicely with The Glass Blowers and The Flight of the Falcon, which I got as a teenager when they came out as book club selections. Du Maurier was my favorite author in high school, along with Dickens, and Arthur Conan Doyle. And The Hudson River In Literature speaks for itself.

A Louise Mae Alcott book I'd never heard of - about obsession and stalking. A Long Fatal Love Chase was published about 100 years after her death, was it not? Very un-LouisaMaeAlcott-ish I should think. Whatever was Louisa thinking under those lilacs? Still waters...

Please don't laugh. As soon as I saw it I absolutely HAD to have this book from 1955. Apparently, I need not have worried about someone arm wrestling me for it. I would hate to think of its fate had I not saved it from the dump pile. It still has the little card pocket glued into the back cover and sign out card. Poor little thing had only been checked out about 8 times since it first came out. ("That MUCH?" said one of my daughter's friends. Always a smarty pants.) But Mr. Himsworth, an Englishman, is totally enamoured with his subject. He addresses it with such gusto! Oh, it gets even better (or worse depending on your perspective). This book began as a series of lectures. So...people actually got dressed and went to a hall somewhere to hear Mr. Himsworth wax poetic about cutlery and, hopefully, stayed awake. Mr. Himsworth's lectures were a - destination. And if that were not remarkable enough, some editor somewhere actually suggested he work the lectures into a book, and then a publisher published it!! How cool is that? You can't imagine how much there is to know about the story of cutlery until you start to think about it - which apparently few people ever do. Please note, it is not a history of cutlery - but rather the story of cutlery. A subtle yet important distinction. Cutlery has a story to tell, and Mr. Himsworth was the one to tell it. Perhaps not a book you take to bed on a cold winter night, nevertheless it has a quirky charm I could not pass up. As an aside, the back cover shows a lovely depiction of a pair of shears.

The complete stash.

Running in Heels is in there simply because it looked like fun, and The Mitford Bedside Companion for reasons I cannot now remember, especially since I've never read any of the books in the Mitford series.

Now, the Nantucket Gray walls:

This is the sunroom (my flash wasn't working very well, but you can get the general idea of the stencils - oh - hello, Grad. I can see your reflection).

Magnolia Blossom and a better picture of the magnolia blossoms (soon to be history) The walls will be (what else?) and the trim work will be a glossy bright white, rather than the dull creamy white it is currently. The photo is crooked, but I assure you the door, in reality, is not. I'll unveil my "after" pictures, well...after.

The sunroom will soon become the same Nantucket Gray, shown here in my kitchen. The feeling it evokes is calm and restful - not gray and depressing as the name might imply. I've never been to Nantucket, but I would like to see where my Nantucket Gray would fit in. By the way, the illustrations come from the 1926 Radiograph yearbook, from The Girl Graduate fame. I didn't take Evie and Viola's yearbook apart, though. I wouldn't have had the heart. However, the 1926 Radiograph was from Duffy's senior year. The drawings represent Humor, Organizations, and Athletics, and are delightfully art deco. There is one additional plate entitled "Seniors" which will also go up on the wall - as soon as I find the identical frame.

Tonight I'll go home and put up the Christmas tree. I might begin taping off the woodwork in the sunroom. On Friday I'll open my nice new gallon of paint, purchased at the hardware store on Saturday (together with a wonderful squeegee that extends up to 7 feet for cleaning those tall windows.) And who knows, I might just crawl into bed with The Story of Cutlery and a glass of wine after all.


  1. You certainly are industrious, Grad, but it all sounds like fun--particularly your book haul!

    The LMA book was published that late because it was one of the long-lost thrillers that started being found by scholars 20 to 25 years ago. Remember the potboilers Jo wrote in "Little Women"? Her creator wrote them, too. They're curiosities to me, although they have provoked a fair amount of scholarship........

    Have fun painting, decorating, and reading........

  2. I'm interested to hear more about The Story of Cutlery. Makes me think of Sheffield and the Industrial Revolution. Love the Nantucket Gray and well done on your book haul! Those Magnolia Blossoms are very cool too. Reminds me I need to get working on my house.

  3. Those books from the sale are wonderful to behold! The new paint is going to look beautiful. I love the windows in your sunroom!

  4. Okay, that Thanksgiving table makes me happy just looking at it. Uncle Rudy's looks like a very welcoming place, and I'm really glad Katharine had such a lovely time.

    Graddikins, I think my favourite title of your entire haul is The Story of Cutlery - I would have picked it up too, especially with that endearingly dated jacket. Please post choice excerpts here.

    I love the Nantucket Gray plus white trim, as I knew I would! And those framed illustrations from Duffy's senior year? INSPIRED, Grad, simply inspired.

  5. Those books look great! The story of cutlery sounds really interesting -- there are so many things we are surrounded by that have a story, and it's too seldom that we learn something about it.

  6. Tinky, I didn't know Alcott wrote pot-boilers. I really can't wait to start it. One of my favorite books as a kid was Under The Lilacs. Speaking of pot boilers (of a different kind) everyone really needs to visit your wonderful blog - cooking, eating, song, and an unbeatable spirit all reside at In Our GrandMothers' Kitchens (see blog roll over yonder to the left).

    Pete, guess what! Himsworth does a whole bit about Sheffield and the Industrial Revolution. You weren't sitting in on one of his lectures perchance? Alas, the magnolia blossoms will be Gone With The Paint soon.

    Stefanie, and they only cost a total of $12.50! Can you even buy one book for that? Hardbound? Honestly, if every library on the planet isn't doing these sales, there should be protests. Many of the books were obviously donated since they weren't marked as library books. Oh, the windows are great, but they are going to be very expensive to replace, which I fear is coming soon.

    Di, don't you just LOVE Himsworth? Don't you just love his NAME, for crying out loud. I can just hear the moderator of his little lectures (given in London) speaking to the (small) crowd, in her proper English accent, "Professor Himsworth will now take inquiries from the audience." "Professor Himsworth, is it true that medieval Europeans shunned the spoon, preferring to eat soup or stew straight from the bowl?" Gripping stuff.

    Dorothy W., ain't that the truth? I mean, Stefanie wrote those wonderful posts about the history of "the book." These things we use every day, and take for granted, all began in someone's imagination! Fascinating!

  7. Di, I agree. Uncle Rudy's was apparently the place to be this Thanksgiving. And he made a deep fried Turkey - which I hear was awesome.

  8. I am overjoyed to think you have a book about the story of cutlery, and that it began life as a series of lectures. Oh, only the British. And you are quite right - Nantucket grey is not grey at all but a beautiful and serene shade of green, the kind you might see in the still shallows of gently flowing rivers. Lovely! Good luck with the decorating - may your squeegee remain ever fresh and spongy. :)

  9. Litlove, I think I could have fallen in love with J. B. Himsworth had time and distance not robbed us of our acquaintance. He and I could discuss the merits of my garden shears versus my limb lopers (my term for something that looks like a giant pair of pliers used to pull out elephant teeth, but only sharp). And I am certain he'd have a ball with my Acu-Sharp knife and scissor sharpeners (unless, of course, he considered such metallic torture cruel and unusual punishment.) And Nantucket Gray is the wrong name for it, isn't it? I shall henceforth refer to it as"Shallow Gently Flowing River Moss."

  10. I agree with all your other commenters that "The Story of Cutlery" is the book find of the year. There is nothing so endearing as an enthusiast.

    Incidentally this is David, not an anonymous person, but the comment platform kept saying my url had illegal characters, and I feared being chased down by the law.

  11. David (aka Anonymous) when I was growing up on the southside of Chicago there were a lot of illegal characters hanging around. You either ignored them or moved. And, YES, The Story of Cutlery is Golden!

  12. I think I enjoy reading about your books almost as much as I enjoy reading books themselves. It makes me positively itchy to go enjoy a good book sale. And the Nantucket Grey is beautiful!

  13. Graddikins, I think you need to start saying 'Professor Himsworth' with an English accent that has just a hint of a speech impediment, like you can't open your mouth fully or are nursing a big round plum. One of my rather posh English friends has the most hilarious address, it's all Whitehead, Westerley, Mildenhall and Marlborough (not kidding), and the good professor would fit right in.