Monday, July 25, 2016

What Do You Know?

Taking a break from the intense crime thrillers of P.D. James, I recently picked up a copy of Philip Gulley’s Front Porch Tales at the library.  Gulley is a Quaker pastor and writer who hails from Danville, Indiana.  Once newsletter snippets written for his congregation, Front Porch Tales are personal reflections of compelling characters, real folks, from his growing up years.  Gulley is a delightful yarn spinner, I think, and reading his stuff is a breath of fresh air in a toxic world--along the lines of Jan Karon and my beloved Mitford.

His childhood “career” as a newspaper boy provided much fodder for his writings.  He speaks of interesting people along his route.  His clientele was small in number; thus, he learned their “peculiarities” and preferences.  There was Mr. Willard who wanted his paper placed under a brick on the front porch chair, so it wouldn’t blow away.  Miss Towells wanted Philip to ring her doorbell and hand her the paper, proper-like.  And, yes, there was that elderly (and unnamed) gentleman who answered the door wearing women’s dresses. Gulley says, “Small towns aren’t always the bastions of conformity we think they are.”

He tells of the Blake family, one of the poorest families on his route; yet, they were exceedingly generous with a tip for their paper boy.  Apparently, Philip came to learn that Mr. and Mrs. Blake earned their wages in tip-bearing vocations.  Thus, their sensitivity to the worker.  And his increased appreciation for the working class.  

Gulley could have secured more customers; thus, fattening his bank account and perfecting his paper-tossing techniques as he would have had no time to learn the particularities of his clients--or to execute their newspaper norms.  But, he preferred to climb off his bike, ring the bell, and know the people on his route.  

The closing words of his Paper Route reflection sunk deeply into my heart:

“...knowing people beats knowing about them.”

How about that?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tale As Old As Time

Belle.  She is my favorite Disney Princess.  She far outranks Cinderella, Ariel, Mulan, or Rapunzel.  And, yes, whenever I indulge in one of those online quizzes that ask me about my Disney Princess alter ego, I get Belle.  Shocking.  She loves to read.  She’s a bit quirky--but in an endearing way.  And, she looks adorable in her starched white apron.  She also shows herself to be stubborn, persistent, but yet adaptable.  Let’s not taint things with a psychological analysis of the Kidnapper Syndrome--let me just enjoy my talking candlesticks and dancing plates, okay? Oui.

So, Mini-Hooper recently informed me that a live action remake of Beauty and the Beast will open in March 2017.  And, frankly, the teaser brings a tear to my eye and chill-bumps to my arms.  Those opening notes bring back wonderful memories of my favorite Disney classic, bar none.  I don’t know what it was about Belle, Gaston, Eric, and Mrs. Potts; but, they are burned on my brain.  And imprinted on my heart.

When asked to envision my “dream home”, I can’t help but picture the exquisite library that is bequeathed to Belle by the Beast.  On my mental bucket list is the opportunity to glide across multi-story, antiqued wooden shelves on a flying ladder, of sorts.  Yes, some people want to ride Verruckt, I just want to zoom across wooden scaffolds of leather-bound books.   Twirly cobalt blue dress not included but preferred.

The “Be Our Guest” sequence is an animated masterpiece, full of showmanship (or is it show-fork-ship) and whimsy.  Lumiere is the Maurice Chevalier of emcees and Cogsworth, the best of high-brow butlers.  And, then there’s Mrs. Potts and Chip.  Happy place. Sigh. "Do I have still have to sleep in the cupboard?".

Perhaps, it’s because Belle looks beyond the brusque exterior and sees something more.  She sees a tenderness, long suppressed by a world that judges what is on the inside by what they see on the outside.  Indeed, Eric (Beast) is cursed for such a judgment, as we learn in the opening narration.

Belle isn’t perfect.  She is sometimes obstinate, impulsive, and frankly goes nosing around where she doesn’t belong.  I may have been one of the few who felt that Beast’s outrage at her invasion of his private space, “the forbidden fruit” one might say, was justified.  But, her heart is true and she loves deeply.  

And, in case you were wondering, unlike Gaston, I don't use antlers in all of my decorating.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Evenin' Hymn Sing: O God, Our Help in Ages Past

O God, Our Help In Ages Past

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home:

Under the shadow of thy throne,
thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly, forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guide while troubles last,
and our eternal home! 

~Isaac Watts (1719)

Bold Print:  Mine