Friday Book Whimsy: Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis

I have always found C.S. Lewis to be an amazingly interesting person. He was a lackadaisical Christian who became an apologist for Christian teachings and philosophy as an adult having been influenced by friends J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton. He was married to writer Joy Davidman, with whom he shared an enormous love.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan, is a mostly-based-on-reality story of how the two writers met and fell in love. Joy Davidman was married to another writer who was an abusive alcoholic with two children when she began a correspondence with the writer C.S. Lewis. Once an atheist and communist, Davidson was converted to the Christian belief following what she saw as a miracle involving her husband after fervent prayer.

Her relationship with her husband was failing, and she finally left to spend some time in England where she met with and began a friendship with C.S. Lewis that changed her life. Later, she divorced her husband and moved her children to England, where they spent their remaining formative years with their mother and C.S. Lewis, who finally married in 1956.

The book is based on truth. The story is so interesting that the fact that the story moves pretty slowly and there are far too many words (was there an editor?) didn’t deter from the interesting tale. The author’s story made me wish that I, too, could have been a friend of C.S. Lewis.

In real life, Davidman and Lewis only had four years together as husband and wife. She died of cancer, and he died a few years later. If you have read any of his books about his faith — particularly  A Grief Observed — you become very familiar with the love between the two of them, and the love and belief he had in Christianity.

I recommend the book if you don’t mind a bit of slow read.

Here is a link to the book.

 

 

Thursday Thoughts

It’s Hot
A while back I wrote about my first experience with hot pot cooking. That’s the Asian cooking style in which the diners choose their protein and their vegetables and their add-ins and cook it right at the table in a broth of their choice…..

It was so much fun, and I was eager to share the experience with Bec, who is making a quick stop here in Denver before leaving once again for her Chandler, AZ, home. I asked my daughter-in-law Alyx to join us, and she suggested we try another place about which she had been made familiar — Seoul Hot Pot and BBQ. It was nearer our house and turned out to be not only as good as Aki, but even better. After my first experience with hot pot, I took Addie for her birthday treat. She loved it, and I am eager to show her this new place.

Cracks and Booms
It’s been some time since we’ve had a thunderstorm here in Denver, and we are in need of rain. We managed to get our turkey legs cooked on the grill  last night before the boomers started. In fact, our phones were warning us about flood danger. The truth is, the storm really never amounted to much, at least not here in our neck of the woods. Perhaps other areas got a bit more of the storm. I was kind of in the mood for a good storm, and definitely in the mood for rain. Not to be, at least not yesterday.

Is This Fresh?
I simply love the fresh produce that is available at this time of the year in Colorado. The Rocky Ford melons — both cantaloupe and watermelons are available. Rocky Ford is located in the southeast corner of Colorado, and produces some of the best melons you can imagine. In addition, the Olathe sweet corn has started showing up in the markets. Olathe is located on the western slope, which is also the area that the sweetest and most delicious peaches are picked. It’s a good time to be in Colorado.

Updates
A few people have asked me how my sewing is going. Well, it isn’t. I still haven’t gotten the nerve to drag the circa 1930 cast iron sewing machine up from the basement. Also, Court’s surgery went very well, and he is back at work and feeling 100 percent! God is good.

Cutting Edge Gift
My friend Denice makes these intricately handcrafted showpieces made from old books. Using a pattern, she cuts each page to make a picture. I have long admired her handiwork, and this week she surprised me with a gift that recognizes my love for reading. You can’t tell it from the photo, but the book she chose is one of my all-time favorites: Jane Eyre. Isn’t it lovely?…..

Ciao!

 

Binged

As I was growing up, the only people who binged were those unfortunate souls who were anorexic and/or bulimic. They binged on food. While I have always, well, let’s say enjoyed my food, I can’t say that I’ve ever binged in that way.

These days, while food binging is still a thing, the term is generally used in reference to watching programs on streaming television, one right after another.

My nephew Carter recently binge-watched Death in Paradise, which left Netflix on July 31. He was determined to see all of the programs before they went away, and he was successful. My sister Bec — his nana — commented on his having successfully watched all of the programs. His response was that the idea of watching one program on, say Monday night, and then having to wait until the next Monday to watch it again like she had to do when she was a kid seemed weird. She didn’t have the nerve to tell him that in those days, she had to get up from the couch and walk over to the television to change the channel. She didn’t think his heart could take it.

When I first retired, I rarely watched daytime television. And then, one day, I started watching a television program — it might have been The Closer — and I discovered binge-watching. I believe there are seven seasons of that program, and I sat there and watched one program after another. I didn’t finish all the seasons in one day, but over the course of a week or two, I watched them all. And then I binge-watched Endeavor. And Downton Abbey. And Broadchurch. And Grace and Frankie. And The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I was off to the races.

Bill doesn’t understand binge-watching television. Frankly, for the most part, he can’t imagine sitting in a chair for several hours and watching television when he could be out cutting up the hot tub or installing wood floors. Go figure. He will walk by my chair on his way to the garage, and shake his head. My back is to him, but I know he’s doing it.

Right now I’m binge-watching Midsommer Murders. That’s glorious fun, because there are 19 full seasons on Netflix. NINETEEN. I watch one or two programs a day. I adore British PBS mysteries. I love that the police never have guns. They crash into an apartment in which they know there is a bad guy, and there is nary a gun to be seen. They simply pummel the bad guy who just lays there and takes it. While the murderers occasionally use a gun to do their dastardly deed, for the most part, they prefer bashing in the victims’ heads with Things Very British like cricket bats or crochet mallets. They also love a good poison.

Having said all of the above, I will admit — to Carter’s chagrin if he knew — that there is one program that I watch live every Friday night, commercials notwithstanding. I love to watch Blue Bloods on Friday night right when it’s happening. My sister Jen and I will text during the show, seeing if we can be the first one to hear Frank Reagan sigh.

Busy Having Fun

It seems there was very little time yesterday to sit down and write a creative blog post. I was too busy breakfasting with my sister Bec who is visiting from AZ. I fit in a few chores around the house before I got a call from my granddaughter, who was the only one of the kids that was home, as the others started school yesterday, and she didn’t have to go until today. Want to hang outshe asked me, and who would say no to that? We went and got a pedicure — mine much-needed and hers much-wanted. We finished the day enjoying happy hour and dinner (fried chicken, and delicious fried chicken at that) with friends……

You have seen the t-shirt that reads My mom and dad went to Mexico and all I got is this crappy t-shirt? Well, I had a couple of days packed with fun and all you got was a dull and boring blog post.

We ate dinner at RARE Italian Restaurant in Fort Collins on Sunday night. The draw? Half-priced bottles of wine. We asked for — and received — seating by the kitchen because we all love to watch chefs do their thing.

And this was one of their things.

Last night I had a wonderful rest. Expect better things tomorrow.

The Times, They Were A-Changin’

I had lunch the other day with a friend who is about my age. That means that she, like I, was in her late ‘teens and 20s during the tumultuous 70s. She told me a story about herself that I hadn’t heard before (or at least don’t remember hearing; if I was in my 20s in the 70s, I’m in my mid-60s today and there are a lot of things I don’t remember!).

She grew up in a small town in Maine, and went to a tiny now-nonexistent Catholic college in Burlington, VT, for her undergraduate degree. She must have done well, because she got a scholarship to Columbia University. You know, the Columbia University in New York City. It was 1974. School started in September. By November, she had called her family and asked them to come get her. She was ready to come home. She didn’t find the coursework beyond her abilities. She found living in NYC beyond — way beyond — her comfort zone.

Now, I find it necessary to explain that my friend is not a meek and fearful person. She is a strong woman who eventually got her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Denver, and held important library-related jobs before she retired recently.

But the 1970s in NYC frightened this poor inexperienced girl from a tiny town in Maine. And she never regretted her decision to leave the Big Apple.

After she told me this story, we began talking about what it was like to be a young adult in the 1970s. Though in 1974 the Vietnam War was mostly over, the cries of LBJ, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today? still rang in our heads. Women were burning their bras in support of equal rights for women. Young adults were running around barefoot wearing flowers in their hair. African Americans were fighting for civil rights. There was a lot of energy in the air nearly everywhere you went. And often — despite the chants to make love, not war — there was a lot of anger and angst……

But the marches and protests were mostly in big cities. So imagine living in NYC where they told her that if she missed the subway stop for Columbia University, she should ride to the end of the line and head back instead of getting off at the next stop which was Harlem.

The 60s and 70s were a time that’s difficult to explain to our children. The 50s had been a time where conformity ruled. Still stinging from the effects of WWII, people wanted nothing more to live in a little house in a quiet neighborhood where men put on a suit and tie every day and went off to their job while women stayed home to care for the children. Everyone was happy.

Or were they? In the late 60s, the Vietnam War got everyone giving second thoughts about nearly everything. Later Baby Boomers perhaps didn’t find the protests and open sexuality as disconcerting as those of us born earlier — closer to the end of WWII. I remember being caught between wanting to put flowers in my hair and wanting to polish up my saddle shoes.

The 60s and 70s changed the world forever, and I don’t think I would change the course of history if I had the chance. I might make different personal choices, but lots of good things came out of those crazy times.

But it was quite a world for those of us who grew up in Rumford, Maine. Or Columbus, Nebraska.

 

Saturday Smile: Back to School

My grands go back to school a few at a time. This week it was the Zierks who started school. Kaiya had her first day at middle school, and happily reported after the first day that she had already found a buddy. Mylee — who is in fourth grade — was very happy because her BFF is in her class, something that hasn’t happened since first grade. And Cole had his first day in all-day kindergarten. He reported after the first day that “School is so long.” They made me smile…..

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Sold on a Monday

Some time back, I read (and reviewed) a novel written by author Lisa Wingate entitled Before We Were Yours. Her novel took place in the late 1930s, and was the story of children who were kidnapped by an orphanage and then sold. The story was based on fact. It was one of the best books I read that year.

Because of my connection to that book, Sold on a Monday, by Kristina McMorris, caught my attention. It too, took place in the 30s, this time during the Great Depression. The story was based on a real photo taken during the Depression that the author came across while doing some research. The photo was of two small children sitting in front of a rundown farmhouse next to a sign that read 2 Children For Sale. Off she went with an idea for a historical novel.

Reporter Ellis Reed is lucky to have a job during the hard times of the early 30s. He is the society writer for a newspaper, a job he loathes. He yearns to be an important journalist. In the course of work, he comes across a sign advertising the sale of two children. He shoots a photo, but is unable to interview anyone.

When he returns to his office, he convinces his boss that the story is important, and the editor agrees to print it along with the photo. Unfortunately, the photo — and the negative — are destroyed. What are the chances? So he does that thing that reporters are not ever supposed to do. He sets up a fake photo and writes a fake story. Bad things ensue.

In the meantime, Lily is stuck in the dead-end job of being the newspaper’s secretary, while she really wants to be a writer. Since she is a single mother of a little girl, she knows she can’t be choosy. When Ellis’ dirty deed leads come to her attention, the two of them work together to try to make things right again.

Perhaps this book would have worked better, had the author based the story on these two children in the same manner that Wingate’s story was of the kidnapped children. Instead, the children become almost an afterthought with the attention focused on the two protagonists. Unfortunately, the author’s character development and ability to move a story along made this a book I slogged through. I finished the novel, but was left feeling that the story could have been so much more.

In her Afterword, we learn that surprisingly little is known about the real photograph. There apparently is some evidence, however, that the mother who was selling the children wasn’t doing it because she was poor, but instead, just because she wanted to be childless.

Here is a link to the book.