Tag Archives: The Mount

Want to know where I’ve been?

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I’m back, from a hiatus of sorts during which I went in for outpatient surgery for a benign ovarian cyst that turned into inpatient surgery for endometriosis (not serious, just invasive) and a partial Oophectomy. This means removal of one ovary but I just like to say it and write the official way because it sounds like something from Dr. Seuss. Oophectomy, toofectomy, roofectomy–see I can make up words just like him! Anyway, I’m recovering well but it took a lot out of me.

A few updates. The Mount, Edith Wharton’s house, has raised close to a million dollars but not without the controversy that is detailed in a recent New Yorker article. You can read an abstract of it here. They’ve also received another extension until May 31 and plan to open for the season in hopes of bringing in more money. I’ll keep you posted.

Time laid up means time to read, namely, Leonard S. Marcus’ magnum opus, Minders of Make Believe, the first ever history of children’s publishing in America from colonial times to the present. Absolutely fascinating stuff, IMHO. Children’s publishing has some entertaining personalities he lavishes attention on, especially in the twentieth century, such as the legendary Ursula Nordstrom, May Masee, Margaret K. McElderry, Maurice Sendak, Bennet Cerf, Dr. Seuss, Goldenbooks (a personality in themselves) and my personal fav, Louise Seaman Bechtel. It’s a monumental work and a fun dishy read at the same time. Bravo LSM, who is also coming to our university next spring as part of the Artist Residency Series. Can’t wait to meet him.
Other good laid up reads: Kaye Gibbons’ A Cure For Dreams, read in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down, and Aranzi Aronzo’s The Cute Book, a wonderful, easy craft about making felt mascots that even I could do.

Visited Heifer International in Perryville yesterday on a class field trip. Despite it being a bit too much physically (my incision, which frequently holds conversations with me, was virtually shouting yesterday afternoon, ) it was truly inspiring. We toured the global village and saw how the other 75% of the world’s population lives and learned all about their programs to feed, clothe and school the poor by providing them with livestock. We also learned the 7 M’s of livestock that help lift people out of poverty: Milk, Money, Muscle, Meat, Motivation, Manure, and Materials. I am thinking of starting a Read to Feed program with my own kids this summer wherein you can get a free starter packet to encourage your kids to read to raise money to send an animal to a family to help lift them out of poverty. Check it out:

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Learn more about Heifer International's Read to Feed Program.
Children Reading to Fight World Hunger

 

Classes are over and I have several writing projects, well, right now the novel and the book on creative writing in higher ed, that I need to devote serious attention to but it’s been a slow start.
I’ll keep you posted. The next post, in fact, will be another short one on writing in keeping with the thread I started a while back asking about people’s revision habits. Stay tuned.

Bye y’all,
Steph

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And where have YOU been?

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I had planned to write at least a couple of entries on this Ozarks getaway.  But life intervened.  First, I got sick.  In fact, the entire family got sick, to the extent that you would have thought that there was a competition to see which of us would cough up a lung first.  Mornings around here have been a veritable symphony of hacking that is only just finally winding down.

But it wasn’t the flu or anything serious.  Just a hard core cold making the rounds and a general malaise that made me feel like doing very little except lying around reading and looking forward to my next Sudafed.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to.  Do much, that is.

Next, our internet connection started getting weird, no doubt related to the fact that the condo’s connective wire was loosening.  You can only be tripped over by a seven-year-old a certain number of times before your connection starts to go.  So the knowledge that while I was writing a post, the internet connection might suddenly disappear, as it has been doing in the last few days, was a powerful disincentive to write.  Finally, I just decided to write a simple entry to get back in the game, and paste it in.  Ergo. . .

Reading.  I have done a lot of reading, which I was hoping for, and a lot of “not answering the phone,” because it doesn’t ring!  Whee!!!!

We have holed up in a nice condo with two story windows that look out on Table Rock lake.  We’ve read (more on that below), watched more tv than usual (Enchanted, the Parent Trap, Spiderman, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (sigh) and HGTV out the wazoo), and spent way too much time on the computer when the connection was good (me on Ebay and the kids on Yugioh Cardmaker).

I have gorged on shelter magazines and finished Love and Consequences and Finding Your Child’s Strengths.  Love and Consequences, a is gang “memoir” that managed to make it to the Faulkner County library in spite of the fact that Penguin pulled the hardcover from the shelves, a la James Frey, just days after it was published.  Turns out it is utterly fictional.  Not just a few “characters combined here and there, some names and places changed,” but entirely made up.  Check out the controversy here.

Conclusion:  It stinks in any genre, fiction or non.  I can’t believe it got published.  The writing is horrible.  Nuf said.

Finding Your Child’s Strengths.  Pretty good if you’re interested in the material.  Check out the strengths movement here.

Now I’m heavy into the Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography which is living up to expectations—well done, Ms. Lee! (she’s British).  It is definitely the best bio yet.   But here’s the issue.  It’s 750 pages of dense stuff.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem if I hadn’t already read a bio of Wharton, during what could be called my “Edith Wharton period,” some years ago.  I must confess I am someone who is spurred ahead by suspense and new information.  Which is rather subtle when you’ve already got a pretty good idea of the author’s life.  But on page 50, I’m not giving up yet!

I’ll end with an update on the crusade to save Ms. Wharton’s historic house, The Mount.  They got a $30,000 grant which has meant a reprieve until April 24.  They have raised $550,000 ish on their way to 3 million dollars.  Spread the word, people.  This property desperately needs saving.

Till we’re back in Conway tomorrow,

Bye y’all,

SV

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More about the Mount. . .

And don’t forget the giveaway for comments between now and March 31.

Thrill of thrills, my “memory piece” about Edith Wharton’s the Mount made it to the
help save the mount blog, here. They edited it beautifully and even added an interior photo. The best treat are the pieces from other writers that follow.

I’m in Kalamazoo, Michigan today for a Rural Sites network meeting for the Natioinal Writing Project–not sure how much I’m going to be able to post if at all, but we’ll see.

Bye y’all,
SV

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And it’s off. . .and more about Edith Wharton’s Home

Finally finished my essay, “Once More to the Workshop: A Myth Caught in Time,” and emailed it to Dianne Donnelly, who’s editing a collection on the current state of the workshop for Multilingual Matters.  I had fun with it, weaving in relevant quotes from E.B. White’s oft-anthologized “Once More the Lake” (read it here) in order to make the point that the “traditional” workshop has been mythologized to the point that it is a frozen icon–much like White’s lake, and his essay.  In it, I also got to give my two cents about Dan Barden’s essay (he call’s it a rant, and rightly so) in the most recent issue of Poet’s and Writers, in which he demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of recent research and writing on creative writing pedagogy (recent meaning of the last say, ten years).   Honestly folks, how many essays do we have to have re-inventing the wheel (the traditional workshop is problematic?  really?  what a concept!) before we move on!

In other news, apparently, the fight of save Edith Wharton’s The Mount has garnered quite a bit of attention and now, an official blog at helpsavethemount.blogspotcom. All the important donation  info is there, new photos, and, soon, stories from readers about the influence the Mount or Edith Wharton has had on them.  I duly contributed.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this historic site has had quite an influence on me.

Also baked bread this weekend, in order to make sure my husband and kids have a good stock while I am in Kalamazoo later this week for the Writing Project, and spent a delightful half day with my favorite almost-three-year old sprite, Lillian.  We blew bubbles, built with duplo blocks, drew with crayons and cut with scissors–or rather, I assisted with the latter and was formally dubbed a “good helper!”

At some point I’ll post a recipe for the bread; very simple, my husband’s family recipe, but there’s nothing like it.

That’s all for now.  Don’t forget about the giveaway.

Bye y’all,

SV

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A Special Message: Save Edith Wharton’s Home!

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SOS! Edith Wharton’s Berkshires home, The
Mount,  which has been a museum for many years, is pending foreclosure! They
have put out an all-points-bulletin to save her house. They need
about 3 million dollars before the end of March.
I urge all of you who love her and her work to consider donating to
this cause–her home has recently gotten back her considerable
library and it would be a crime to see this national treasure fall
back into disrepair or worse.

If they get the 3 million, they have a pledge to match it, which should put them in the black again.  Every little bit counts.  They’ve done some wonderful things to the home in the past several years, turning it into a truly historic museum and monument all things literary and artistic.  It would be terrible to lose it.

You can donate and find out more information at

www.edithwharton.org

A few important points:  if you go to that link and make an online pledge, they are very clear that they won’t actually call in your pledge until they reach their goal.  So it will not be money wasted.  Also at that link are some before and after photos that show the amount of work they have put into the house in the past ten years.

If you’re an Edith Wharton fan , or even a fan of gardens and design, you can imagine why this mansion is special.  I’ve been fortunate to tour it twice, once at the very beginning of its rennaissance in 1993 and just this past summer.  Even before its current revival, touring the gardens and the majestic rooms and seeing Wharton’s design ideas put into practice, the symmetry everywhere and the Gatsby-esque wedding cake ceilings fifteen years ago, as a newlywed, was what got me interested in design in the first place.  And in Wharton’s work.  Before then, I’d just read Ethan Frome.  Soon after I devoured Age of Innocence and House of Mirth as well as her biographies. I just got the new one by Hermione Lee, for my birthday but haven’t had a chance to read it.  Reviewers say it’s the best yet.

Recently, they re-purchased her entire book collection from a collector in London and have reconstituted it in her library.  Imagine being able to visit a beloved writer’s home and see the very books that they read, that interested them.  I stood as close to them as they would let me and it took my breath away.  Readers, we have to make sure others can have this experience too. 

I am going to post some photos below that I took there this summer.  But to truly appreciate it, you should see the professional photo on the website.

Donate, donate, y’all.  Save Edith Wharton’s home! Save The Mount!

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