Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

     Oh.  My. Goodness.  What a story! I mean really!  It took a couple of pages to get into Lillian’s head, to realize she is one feisty woman who has standards, who lived her life her way, and once I did get into her head I couldn’t and wouldn’t have fought my way out. 
     Lillian Boxfish came to New York City in 1926 ready to begin her life.  She finds a job with R.H. Macy’s Department store writing advertising copy.  She is witty, she is smart, she knows how to hook  the interest of the customer with her poetry and humor in ways not used today, and eventually in the 1930’s she is the highest paid advertising woman in the country.  She is also the published author of four volumes of poetry.  But that comes later.
     Tonight is New Year’s Eve 1984 and Lillian ate so many Oreo cookies ( that she didn’t even want nor can recall buying and wonders why they are even in the house ) she is afraid she won’t be able to eat the dinner she planned to eat at her favorite restaurant around the corner.  So she takes a walk.  Lillian walks. She’s always walked and in her walking she stayed sane, tuned in to her world and her thoughts. She said walking saved her life. 
     But, again, back to tonight, New Year’s Eve.  Lillian begins her walk and each part of her walk brings her into contact with people she interacts with. People who find a lone 84 (or maybe it’s 85) year old woman in a mink coat, funky hat and tights hard to not talk to.  A limousine driver, a pregnant woman, a bodega clerk, children, a security guard, muggers, she shows interest in all of them and a respect that unsettles them and then continues on her walk.  She leaves all of them a bit befuddled as she walks away, that five minute conversation enriching us.
     It’s New Year’s Eve and she ends up walking 10 miles around New York City and as she walks she thinks and as she thinks she tells us her story as she passes the landmarks of her life.  Lillian has always looked to be an independent woman who insisted on being allowed to be independent. Spending this night her way is just expected.  After awhile we are right there with her but boy, my feet would be tired long before hers were!
     The biographical points are based on real life Margaret Fishback, who held the same position at R. H. Macy’s, wrote four volumes of poetry, married the head carpet buyer for R. H. Macy’s and had one son. But that’s just the biographical part.  The author imagined Lillian’s life and it’s a treasure.  Under no circumstances let this one get away from you!  Wow.  Run, don't walk to the bookstore.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ice Day

   We were woken by the telephone ringing at 8 a.m. this morning asking if we wanted company for the day.  We were apparently in the throes of another ice day and schools were closed.  Of course we wanted company.  What else would we do all day?  Nap? 
 The first thing they asked was if they could bake.  Remember, they are mad scientists in the kitchen and there is no measuring.  I had to talk them into butter today.  Elizabeth thought of cookies and Adelaide wanted to do cupcakes.
 That dough is finger lickin' good.  They wouldn't care if nothing went into the oven.

 Elizabeth's dough was more cupcake than cookie and she was good with the change of plan.  It really didn't matter because they eat most of the dough anyway.
 Adelaide ground up half of 6 golden Oreos and put that into her dough.  She planned on using the frosting half as a topper for her cupcakes.  When the cupcakes came out of the oven she topped them with the half cookie, frosting side down so it would melt.  She does know what she wants.
 They frosted them and then ate a goodly amount of the frosting.  

 With a sugar high heading straight for us I thought we needed something a little more sedate to do so we cut out heart shapes from an old discount store quilt that I had broken apart years ago.
 We chose floss from the huge collection of embroidery floss that was my mom's.  There are hundreds and hundreds of colors and when she couldn't do her embroidery anymore she gave them all to me. Elizabeth would have and could have taken all of them into her hoard but I saw the look in her eyes and said that we had to pick SOME colors. 
 I showed them the running stitch but it was easier for them to stab stitch around the edges.
 There was concentration for about 30 minutes tops.

 And then I lost control of the day.  And the camera.  It was the sugar. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson

Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock

    Persy knows he is going to die in two days. Outside his cell he can hear his scaffold being built. In his remaining two days he wants to tell his story, his side of it, he doesn’t know if anyone will read it but in the telling, he needs to know that by reliving it he can justify his existence.
  Persy begins his story in 1860 on the auction block where he meets his soon to be master and Chloe.  Both Persy and Chloe are purchase and taken to Master Wilson’s sugar cane plantation where Persy is set to the fields to cut cane from “can see to can’t see” and Chloe is made a companion to Master Wilson’s sickly wife.  Because of circumstances when they were purchased, Persy dedicates his life to looking out for Chloe.  Life cutting cane isn’t tortuous but the idea that sometimes he actually gets to meet up with Chloe keeps him alive.
Just before the Union Army takes New Orleans Wilson quickly abandons his plantation and the slaves that haven’t escaped in the confusion, and heads for Texas.  In a jealous fit, Wilson shoots Persy, leaving him for dead, and takes Chloe for his.  She is light skinned and can pass for white so he introduces her in Texas as his wife.
Persy survives the attempt on his life and sets out to find Chloe, putting in motion his years wandering the Texas wilderness, making new friendships, learning new skills.  He is captured by the Comanche, where he discovers he will be judged solely on his bravery, skills and loyalty and he comes to embrace life as a Comanche where he comes to be respected and accepted as a person, not as a black man who would never be able to live as a free man.  But always, he looks for Chloe.
Reading this I wondered just how much more a person could take but Persy’s enduring drive to do what was needed to rescue his love and keep a promise is a testament to loyalty.