The Writer’s Path

Willow

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. …

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It’s the streaming reason for living.

To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing,

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to cherish the oddities,

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to let nothing go down the drain,

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to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

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Tasha Tudor Field Trip

ImageTasha Tudor August 28, 1915-June 18, 2008

For those of you who like quiet risk-takers and women who don’t follow the herd, here’s your lady! Tasha Tudor is my favorite inspiration because while her artwork and stories are adorably innocent and whimsical, she took her public (mostly children) and her professional life very seriously. While she obviously loved her subjects (people and animals populating a 1830’s world) she boldly stated that there was nothing sentimental about the need to make money at it.

ImageTasha’s mother taught her to paint.

The New York Times in 1941 said her pictures “have the same fragile beauty of early spring evenings.” And while some of us backward leaning people might envy the real-life fantasy world she seemed to live in, I get the sense she worked damned hard to get there. Tasha once said that in life you could have anything if you had the patience. Image

Tasha had two failed marriages and children who didn’t always appreciate dressing in homespun clothes, but in her sweetly feminine way she held to her principles and dressed like the 1830’s sea captain’s wife she liked to imagine she was. She wrote and illustrated nearly 100 witty and beautiful books that have a timeless elegance and rare appreciation for animals and children without the preachy condescension of much modern children’s literature, but the real inspiration comes from the unwavering devotion she had to living out an unusual and hard life on her terms.

While raising 4 children, spinning her own fabric from materials grown on her  land and raising farm animals, she wrote and illustrated books at her kitchen table–did I mention she made her own bread? Even her name was a creation of her own. Some of us wish we could magically go back in time. She did it (obviously with a few bows to the present) and she did it with  an individualistic streak of brilliance.

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The home she had meticulously built to 19th century specifications–even down to the nails. She gardened, too.

 

Tasha once opined that women lost something essential when they started wearing trousers (I hear some women grumbling) but she never played the frail old-fashioned girl. She was a woman of substance and power and one of my heroes.

BEAUTIFUL VIDEO OF HER GARDEN in Japanese

Bok Is Back

Americans have no taste, but I'll change that!

Americans have no taste, but I’ll change that!

“When he looked at the houses in which his subscribers lived, their drab hideousness made him sick. When he went inside and contemplated the lambrequins, the gilded cattails, the Rogers groups, the wax fruit under glass domes, the emblazoned seashells from Asbury Park, the family Bible on the marble-topped center-table, the crayon enlargements of Uncle Richard and Aunt Sue, the square pianos, the Brussels carpets, the grained woodwork—when his eyes alighted upon such things, his soul revolted, and at once his moral enthusiasm incited him to attempt a reform. The result was a long series of Ladies’ Home Journal crusades against the hideousness of the national scene – in domestic architecture, in house furnishing, in dress, in town buildings, in advertising. Bok flung himself headlong into his campaigns, and practically every one of them succeeded. … If there were gratitude in the land, there would be a monument to him in every town in the Republic. He has been, aesthetically, probably the most useful citizen that ever breathed its muggy air.”  H.L. Mencken said of Ladies’ Home Journal editor Edward Bok. Wikipedia

Sure he was contemptuous of American style, housing and in the end, most women, but he had a heart. The kind of heart that believes that with one more philanthropic endeavor and a little tweaking of the common man’s tendency towards mediocrity, the world will be a better place. If only grand gardens and church bells brought moral uplift! If only Americans read better books! If only a few finely written human words could bring world peace! But it was not to be. The 20th century, even with the bungalow, was a disaster.

Edward Bok may not have saved America from itself–though he did convince people that the bungalow design in housing originally from India was the height of solid taste and he did leave us with what looks to be a heavenly spot in Florida! Check it out.

http://boktowergardens.org/tower-gardens/our-history/edward-bok/