Woman Inspired! | Stella Gibbons and Carson McCullers

One of my favorite bookish swap series to host is “Literary Wisdom” on swap-bot. Through the swaps, participants select a bookish postcard and write on the back a quote which inspires them. The quote must come from imaginative literature (poetry, prose, plays)–not sacred texts, self-help books, or non-fiction. For Women’s History Month, I decided to dedicate the swaps to women writers, since, unsurprisingly, male writers often dominate the swaps.

I created swaps for the Cup and Chaucer and Book Lovers Congregate groups. Lucky me! My randomly chosen partner for both swaps was Geraldine J (Nannydino). I always enjoy receiving postcards from Geraldine. Not only are the postcards well-selected with my varied interests and tastes in mind but the presentation of the written side of the postcard is always clean and inviting–very neat handwriting and unique placement of stickers, stamps, and postage. Somehow, Geraldine packs a lot of information on the 4×6 postcard backs, always including the date and weather.  Bonus–we have some of the same postcard collections so I get back the very postcards I love.

Now, for the literary inspiration:

Stella Gibbons (1902-1989). Photograph, Mark Gerson/National Portrait Gallery, London

Stella Gibbons was a British writer with poetry, short stories, and 25 novels to her credit. The inspired quote Geraldine chose to share comes from her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, which is a parody of the “loam and lovechild” rural genre.

Every year, in the fulness o’ summer, when the sukebind hangs heavy from the wains. . .’tes the same. And when the spring comes her hour is upon her again … ‘Tes the hand of Nature and we women cannot escape it.

What seems to be most inspiring here–besides the hilarious novel itself–is “sukebind,” a word Gibbons coined. According to the Oxford English Dictionary “sukebind” is an “imaginary plant associated with superstition, fertility, and intense rustic passion.”

Check out two of The Guardian‘s reviews of Cold Comfort Farm:

If you’re interested in reading the novel, you should have no problems borrowing it from many of the e-libraries.

Carson McCullers (1917-1967). Photograph, Bettman/Corbis

Carson McCullers, born Lula Carson Smith, also wrote in many genres–plays, essays, short stories, poetry, and (of course) novels. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, her debut [though not first] novel (at the age of 23), remains her most popular work.

The inspiration Geraldine shared actually comes from McCullers’ commentary on her characters. “She felt her characters powerfully, once stating:”

I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.

And one of the inspired quotes form The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:

My advice to you is this. Do not attempt to stand alone. …The most fatal thing a man can do is try to stand alone.”

For more about Carson and her works, see the links below:

The postcards come from the collection, Postcards from Penguin Modern Classics: One Hundred Writers in One Box. I actually have the collection and mentioned it [or its lack of diversity] in a post on Eileen Chang. Despite the shortcomings of the collection, the photographs are stunning, and I’m happy to have two of the women writers “return” to me

Before I go, I leave you with a little homework. On the back of the McCullers postcard was an equally stunning fierce and inspiring woman postage stamp–featuring Elsie MacGill. If you don’t know who she is, you must do a little “research” and come back and report [in the comments] three things you’ve learned about her.

Until next time…

My Favorite Day | Let’s Celebrate Pooh!

Please forgive my brief but unplanned blogging hiatus. I had a major project to complete which took nearly all my time and energy. Now, that it’s done, I can turn my attention to pretty things and lots of rest. For a little while, at least.

Since today is A.A. Milne’s birthday–also known as Winnie-the-Pooh Day–I’m dropping in to share the two Pooh postcards that hit my mailbox within the last few weeks.

As Shelby–who sent the postcard above for a “Literary Wisdom” swap--pointed out in her note, we can almost always find wisdom in children’s books. Of course, she imparted an additional bit of Pooh wisdom:

We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.

Isn’t this true? As kids, we are just in the moment, but years later, the memories warm us.

 

For a Winnie-the-Pooh postcard swap, Alyssa of Alberta, Canada sent a card featuring an “updated” Pooh in red shirt walking past the London Bridge.

I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.

Pooh’s wisdom comes off as simple and matter-of-fact, but there is incredible insight about the human experience in his [Milne’s] words. We get nowhere unless we’re willing to walk away from the things and places that hold us back.

I wonder if Pooh is interested in being my life coach?

If you need a little more Hundred Acre Wood sweetness, check out my “Happy Winnie-the-Pooh Day” post from two years ago.

Enjoy your favorite day!

A Dear Deer in the Snow

Watercolor Deer by Eileen V. “Frohes fest und die besten wünsche für das neue jahr.”

I promise I will not do another “12 Days of Christmas Postcards,” but I will share a few (?) of the super cute and original ones that come in–like the one above. The watercolor of an adorable deer relishing the snow was created by my Love Notes friend, Eileen V.

Don’t you love how she captures the deer’s delight? It seems humans aren’t the only ones who can’t resist looking up and losing themselves in the wonder of snow.

Interestingly, the card Eileen sent last year also featured a [rein]deer in the snow. Coincidence? Maybe, Eileen has a thing for deer. 🙂

“Sun, Flower of My Heart”

One of the items I’m patiently waiting to check off my “bucket list” is a visit to one of those huge sunflower fields that goes on for acres and acres and acres. My guys and I happened upon a small one here in Northern Alabama a couple of summers ago, but I’m looking forward to “losing my mind” in a “goes on forever” field of sunshine. The fields of Tuscany are the dream, but that will take $$$ and careful planning. I learned recently that there’s a sunflower field in Autaugaville, Alabama, just a few hours away, so it is on the summer-to-go list.

Until then, I visit sunflower fields through YouTube videos, photographs, and postcards. I received one such postcard from my Love Notes pal, Trang K, a few months ago. The gorgeous field of sunflowers of Door County, Wisconsin brightened my mailbox and my heart.

A field of sunflowers bloom on a traditional small family farm in northern Door County. The landscape is rich in stunning beauty with orchard lined roads, quaint villages, and miles of picturesque shoreline. Artwork: Derivative work based on an original photograph by Christopher Arndt.

As you can see, Trang “planted” a twinkling tulip in the field and wrote a sweet note with a nod to the memory of  my sister Lori, who loved tulips:

Amidst the sunflower fields of your heart, there are always tulips to be found.

Let your spirit glow and dance. Let your soul swoon and soar. Be one with the Sun, flower of your heart.

Isn’t that a beautiful message? It still warms my heart.


Note: Yesterday’s blog post strangely went “missing” for a few hours, so maybe you missed it. If so, click the previous post and check out Lori-Anne C’s stunning sunflower work. Even though the scan isn’t great, you will not regret it. 🙂

The Brave Rabbit and the Hungry Wolf

“The Gray Wolf,” Endangered Species. Photo by Tom Brakefield for Impact Photographics. Dedicated to the preservation of nature.

I received the “gray wolf” postcard above for Love Notes 29.1. At first, I was so focused on the message that I did not see the rabbit the wolf is pursuing!

I know this is how things work in the animal kingdom, but this is a poor, defenseless bunny! 😩

The first prompt was, “Don’t be afraid to…,” so Kasey, my partner, shared three bits of advice:

Don’t be afraid to:

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Oh, the possibilities abound! How will you ever know if you don’t try?
  • Stop and smell the roses. Life is too short to not make the most out of it.
  • Take the road less traveled. Who knows? It could be the best one you’ve taken yet!

I’m not sure why Kasey chose this card for the prompt, but I’ve come up with an explanation that satisfies my need to have the bunny survive the ordeal.

Maybe, the little rabbit went out into the world to conquer his fears. He “stepped out of his comfort zone” and took “the road less traveled.” He knew there would be dangers and tests along the path, but he “stopped to smell the roses” anyway. That’s what creatures do when they live outside of fear.

You see? This isn’t the end of the rabbit’s story; this is just one part of the journey. The struggle heightens his awareness and pushes him to develop strategies and tools to avoid such pitfalls in the future.

The little rabbit will have a fuller, deeper life because he faced his fears!

As for the wolf…he found something else to snack on. 😉


From postcard back: The Gray Wolf (canis lupis) mates for life and lives in packs of family members and relatives. The strongest male is the leader of the pack and all the members help to care for the young. The pack will work together on a hunt by chasing down its victim or driving it to circle back to the waiting pack. They can gallop and bound over short distances at speeds of more than 30 mph, and if they cannot capture their prey, they will abandon the attempt.

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards | Gumnut and Wattle Babies

I hope you’re prepared for some super cuteness this evening. The postcards below were sent for Children’s Book Illustration swaps 49 and 50 on swap-bot. I had never heard of “Gumnut” or “Wattle” Babies, and then suddenly I was introduced to them when not one or two, but three postcards featuring May Gibbs’ Australian Bush Babies made it to my mailbox within days of each other.

CBI 50: Original watercolor for The Gum Blossom Ballet from Snuggle Pot and Cuddlepie, 1918. Illustration by May Gibbs (1877-1969)

This first card came from Yvonne and Jeana, who sent the Bunyip and Magic Pudding Maxicards I shared earlier this year. The card features the “Gum Blossom Ballet,” from the book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are:

two adventurous little gumnut foster brothers who long to see a Human. Snugglepot, the leader, and the gentle Cuddlepie are good friends with Mr Lizard and Little Ragged Blossom and together go on many heroic adventures.

And what are gumnuts?

[Gumnuts are] the first of the bush babies, the inquisitive Nuts are full of fun and mischief. They love all the Bush Folk, but are a little afraid of lizards and snakes. Mrs Kookaburra is most fond of them as they make her laugh. In the hot sun they hang their heavy heads over the swaying leaves and sleep.  –from May Gibbs website

I “met” Jess, another Australian swapper, earlier this year. Like Yvonne and Jeana, she also adds unique postcards to my CBI collection. She sent two Wattle Babies postcards.

BLC CBI 49: Original watercolor for frontispiece of Wattle Babies, 1918. Illustration by May Gibbs

The cheerful Wattle Babies are the most good-natured of all the Bush Babies. Their bright yellow clothes brighten the bush on a Winter’s day. In Spring they love to go boating and swimming with their frog friends and have fun playing hide and seek with the baby birds. —-from May Gibbs website

BLC CBI 50: “Wattle Babies.” Illustration by May Gibbs

These are some pretty impressive watercolors!

Gibbs (1877-1969) was an English-Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist. She was best known for her “bush babies” or flower fairies. Her works have entertained the children of Australia for more than a century.

Gibbs willed her works to the Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance. As a result she has helped thousands of children and their families. You can learn more about May Gibbs, her work, and charities here: May Gibbs.

See you tomorrow…

Children’s Book Illustration Postcard | La vie des mini-héros

CBI 57: La vie des mini-héros. Illustration by Oliver Tallec.

From time to time the mini hero must stop being a mini hero.

Isn’t this an adorable postcard?

The postcard, featuring a mini hero, came from Valériane  (LuneDePapier on swap-bot) of Brittany, France. She rightly assumed I would love the postcard because of the humor.

La vie des mini-héros [Life as a Mini Hero] was authored by French illustrator Olivier Tallec. The books are designed for preschoolers:

Clad in bright suits that bespeak their daring deeds, these mini heroes live their daily lives assailed by all sorts of difficulty and disaster. Whether jumping rope on the playground, eating towers of ice-cream, or hanging upside-down from the ceiling, they are never short of plans and prospects! Sometimes, it’s true, they have to pause, which may be the greatest challenge of all.  –Google Books.

Tallec has illustrated more than 50 books, including the gorgeously illustrated This is a Poem That Heals a Fish. [The link leads to a Brain Pickings article filled with images from the book].

You can find out more about Tallec’s work through this brief interview: Interview with Olivier Tallec.

Until tomorrow…