Archive for 2011

Trip the Light Fantastic

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

New York City, 1931

My car arrived in the darkness before dawn: a darkness that is never really quite convincing in this city that tolerates the night more than accommodating itself to it. I looked out my window on the quiet Manhattan street below. It seemed pent up with an unnatural energy, biding none-too-patiently for the first magic rays of gold that would break the spell and waken it to bustling, incorrigible, indefatigable life again. There is no press of humanity  like the crowded sidewalks of New York City, tourists and natives alike all going and being and doing with such a frenzied intention—and never for a moment forgetting the wild wonder of where on earth they are.

My sister came with me to the curb to see me off and we hugged fiercely one last time in the murky gloom of the streetlights. Four days of laughing till we cried and breakfast at noon and comfortable silence and endless things to say. The long leisure of serious talk and the equal luxury of levity. Old inside jokes and new beautiful memories all heaped with such wealth I staggered under the glad burden.

“Who would have thought that four days in The City That Never Sleeps could leave me so rested?” I wrote her later.

And yet, it was true. Admittedly tired in body, a little sleep deprived and slightly over-caffeinated, yet I was restored and refreshed in so many ways by my time with my sister in her city. She loves it so much; it is evident in every gesture and every look, in the way she strides down the thronging sidewalks with a sense of modest possessiveness and threads the indecipherable maze of the subway. You can hear it in the way she speaks of “The Village” and “The Res” and “The El” without the least hint of affectation. Spurning what she calls the “transplant mentality”, she embraces New York frankly for what it is and with the candid eye of affection accepts its enigmas and frailties along with its towering, titanic superlatives.

“It’s not perfect,” she said, as we walked past a row of tree-shaded brownstones on the Upper West Side. “And it’s not better than home, or any other place people happen to come from. It’s just different—it is what it is.”

It’s New York—the most incomprehensible city on earth. I feel that the essence of all that is best and worst about American culture can be found here in undiluted intensity. Times Square, where I was cat-called, “Hey, Blondie!” and had something unidentifiable spilled in my shoe, is the most garish monument imaginable to a consumer society. Last time we were there I was so over-stimulated I was looking for the exit. Knowing how I feel about it, Liz took me through as a little joke, en route from Port Authority to the subway.

“I thought you needed a sensory overload,” she laughed.

One of the fairy tale bridges in Central Park

And yet, the real overload for me is always Central Park. I can never believe that it’s really that lovely, or that the original 1850’s designers would really have had the remarkable foresight to set aside 700 acres in the midst of what would become a city of eight million people.

“What would New York be without it?” I asked my sister as we sauntered along the Reservoir in the shimmering haze of a summer afternoon.

The rushes were gold-tipped along the fringe of the water and the buildings of Central Park West across the way glistened with silver like a celestial city. There was some exquisite fragrance abroad, and the old trees beneath which we passed were heavy with crabapples, heralding autumn. As at any other time I’ve ever set foot in Central Park, I felt I needed to be looking in all directions at once; there was too much beauty to rest my eyes long in any one place. Everything New York does, it seems, even a cultivated wilderness in the heart of a concrete jungle, is on the grandest scale imaginable.

The Reservoir

Liz had told me we’d need a month to do all the things she had in mind, but despite a rather languid pace, we managed to knock a good chunk off of the list she had composed for my visit. We hit her favorite coffee shop in Union Square and had a sidewalk brunch at the French Roast I love on Broadway. We had tapas in Hell’s Kitchen and ice cream overlooking the Hudson. An aperitif and appetizers in the rooftop garden of her building and a shared falafel under an awning in the rain.

At the Neue Galerie on 5th Avenue, we had the most exquisite Viennese encounter with pastries and kaffee crème (she had the linzertorte and I put away a schwarzwälder kirschtorte) at the famed Café Sabarsky inside the museum. I thoroughly enjoyed the Klimts and the early twentieth century decorative art of the exhibit, but I have to wonder if the art of the humanity around us in the café was not even more interesting. It truly felt like a glimpse of Old World Europe, with a gentleman perusing a German newspaper on one hand and a party consuming a hundred dollar bottle of champagne on the other.

We also managed to do a considerable amount of damage in the shops of SoHo. I’m not a big fan of shopping in and of itself (my husband may respectfully disagree, citing the relative size and overflow of my closet to his), but shopping with my sister has always been a different matter altogether. With her it’s an adventure and an event; to the plebeian need of a brown cardigan or practical walking shoes has always been added the thrill of the hunt and the spice of triumph. Then, of course, there are always the things that you don’t need, and that’s when her gifts are really invaluable. There’s no one else on earth who will give me so devastatingly honest an opinion. But there’s also no one whose sense of style I trust more entirely. When I walk out of a dressing room and my sister greets me with an, “Ugh, no,” and a dismissing wave of her hand, I know there’s no use arguing. But when she tells me that a jersey frock with an impossibly ruched bodice and bishop sleeves looks like something Cyd Charisse would have worn, I know, amazingly enough, that it’s a go. Particularly when it’s ridiculously on sale.

“But you know you can’t wear it to a wedding,” she reminded me as we left the shop and reentered the throng of Broadway. “It’s white.”

You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.

I think Liz is always secretly amused by my gaping admiration of her city, but something about New York awakens a shameless wonder in me. I can’t ascend the steps of the Met without a thought of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and her two young friends that once lived there so ingeniously. I can’t cross Park Avenue without stopping in the median to admire it, or walk down 5th without remembering Judy Garland in her diaphanous bonnet, promenading on the arm of Fred Astaire. Bleecker Street always gives me a turn, and I still think that Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh made a hot dog lunch by the seal pond in Central Park seem like the most romantic date in the world.

“I know I’m a dork,” I said one night, coming back from a late dinner with Liz and her husband Marshall, “but I can’t see 42nd Street on a signpost without geeking out a little.”

“Miracles happen here every day,” Marshall quipped in feigned profundity.

“That’s 34th Street, silly,” my sister rejoined. “42nd Street is where the stars are born.”

“It’s even got its own song,” I added.

One never quite knows how such things happen, but the next instant we were all singing and dancing our way down the sidewalk to a 1930’s show tune. I can’t be sure, but I think Marshall even broke into a harmony.

Which only goes to show that, though my life and my sister’s are as different in externals as that of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, there are some things that will never change.

“You could never live here,” she laughed one afternoon after a full day of adventuring together.

No, I’ll admit that. And I could never make the success of it that she and Marshall have. Our callings call for settings as distinctive as our personalities. I need my wide green spaces and my friendly beasts and long stretches of unbroken silence. I need to hear Southern accents in my ears every day and, strange as it seems, I think I might even just need our humidity.

I couldn’t live in New York.

But it certainly is magical to visit.

I can’t wait to go back and retrieve the part of me that I left there with her. For that, of course, is the greatest charm in a city of enchantments.

My sister is there.

"No friend like a sister..."

You people are so beautiful.

Friday, August 12th, 2011

"Mrs. Miniver", 1942

I have read and re-read the entries for the giveaway of Mrs. Miniver, and I am just marveling at the sheer goodness of the dreams submitted here. The range of compassion and aspiration–from farming to homemaking to artistic initiatives to the mastery of musical instruments–is really astounding, and the particularities of your visions are nothing short of breathtaking. (If you want to be inspired, or to be reminded of the exquisite uniqueness of individuals, then have a look at the comments section.) Thank you all for your candor in sharing such treasures of your hearts. As I’ve perused them, I’ve felt like I was looking into a box of precious jewels.

And I am pleased to announce that the winner of the drawing is Erin Henry, whose dream is to adopt a child.

(Erin, if you will send me your address via my secure contact form or via email to laniersbooks AT gmail DOT com, I will package your book and drop it in the mail post-haste.)

Thank you, all, again, for joining the celebration with such generosity and joy. I am still so dumbstruck that you take the time to stop in and read here, much less leave such gracious words of your own. I wish that I were able to respond personally to each one of your comments, but I do want you to know how much I appreciate them.

God bless!

Bon Anniversaire!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

August 2, 2010

One year ago today my dream of an online bookshop went live. I remember the excitement of messaging computer to computer with my husband and a dear friend on the west coast who had been helping us as we tweaked the final details behind the scenes and prepared to fling open the virtual doors of Lanier’s Books. And, suddenly, after years of waiting and an all-nighter or two, it was real. With a click of the ‘publish’ button, I was a proprietress.

In the moments that followed, I wondered what I had done. Would anyone come—would anyone care? In a world of e-books and high-speed everything, was there even a place for such an old-fashioned establishment as I sought to create?

You settled my fears, once and for all, that first day. I was so overwhelmed with orders that my mother and my husband both had to help me pack books. And in all the days that followed you have blessed me with the priceless gifts of your friendship and your trust. I really wish that I could tell each of you personally what your goodness has meant to me—that you would even take the time to come by and read my words and have a look at my shelves is wonder enough. But your kindness, in word and deed, has nearly undone me at times. I can’t tell you how often I have said to Philip, “The nicest thing about having a bookshop is being reminded of how many truly lovely people there are in the world.”

Back in the spring, I wrote a piece for the Art House America blog about my motivations and experiences as an online bookseller, and I could not handle the subject without talking about you:

In the months since Lanier’s Books opened its virtual doors, I have been astounded by the beauty of the people who have wandered into my shop. Almost every encounter has carried the fragrance of Kingdom kindness, and the generosity of my customers has put as much hope into me as the reading of my beloved books. I have sent out orders and received gifts back in the mail: lovely handwritten letters and recordings of original music and even a watercolor painting freighted with gracious sentiment. One reader actually sent me a book she knew I’d love! It’s been the happiest of occupations, this quiet connectedness and sharing, and I am grateful beyond words for the grace-laden intersections my little shop has afforded me.

You can read the rest here, if you like.

I’m celebrating a crop of friendships today, along with my little shop, and in token, I’d like to host a giveaway of one of my favorite books, Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther. To enter, leave a comment telling about a dream of your own–one that’s either materialized or in the cloud castle stage. The comment form will be open until midnight EST on Wednesday the 10th of August and a winner will be selected by the old-fashioned method of name-drawing.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for being the reality behind this dream of mine. You have shown me that the community I dared hope for all those years ago is not only possible, but unspeakably precious.

Grace and Peace.

Proper Introductions: Summer Reading

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Frank Weston Benson,'The Reader'

There is something about the long, languid days of summer that begs for a particular flavor of reading, in my mind. I have said this before, but books have their own season for me as definitely as my clothes. I’d no more pull on my cabled wool ‘barn sweater’–so de rigueur for frosty winter mornings–in the middle of July, than I’d consider dipping into the pages of such familiar friends as Anna Karenina or Great Expectations when the temperature outside nudges above eighty degrees. And the hotter it gets, the lighter the fare that’s desired. In the dog days of summer, I eat salads and wear sundresses almost exclusively. And while I disdain ‘fluff’ in reading as in everything else, my summer book choices tend to lean decidedly on the frothier side.

Charlotte Mason warned wisely and famously against ‘twaddle’, and I consider it my duty, as writer and bookseller, never to misguide anyone along that line. But permit me to highlight a few volumes and authors which, if not particularly freighted with great moral themes and deathless prose, will at the least prove gentle companions for a slower, lazier time of year. Perfect for reading in a hammock, or tucked in a cool windowseat…

D.E. Stevenson

D.E. Stevenson is a gem. My book club calls her “Elizabeth-Goudge-Lite”, and she’s who we turn to at least once a year between weighty tomes like Eliot and Gaskell. She was a Scottish writer of the last century and a descendant of the great Robert Louis. And her books are simply charming. She writes of houses that remember their past and women who understand the art of being womanly. In D.E. Stevenson, you will find well-laid tea tables and rambles over the Scottish hillsides, not to mention engaging plots which are usually fashioned upon a frame of revered domesticity. And another joy of Stevenson is that once she takes the time to create a character, she doesn’t seem to want to put them to rest at the end of a book, or even a series. She wrote over forty novels, and the people you love in one book have a way of cropping up again in another character’s story, with a delightful sense of friendly recognition.

Celia’s House is the tale of a young woman who surprisingly inherits her family manor and endeavors to make it her own in the stern face of tradition and under the somber cloud of war.

Amberwell is about a manorial family in the Scottish Lowlands and how they and the community surrounding them both survive and overcome the devastations of WWII.

The English Air is a collectible volume that tells the WWII-era love story of a young German man and an English girl.

Music in the Hills is the sequel to the beloved Vittoria Cottage, but like her other sequels, stands on its own as the charming story of a young man who returns to Scotland and settles down to farming after his service in the army.

The Marriage of Katherine wraps up the story begun in Katherine Wentworth and tells of her new life as wife to a hard-nosed but tender-hearted solicitor and mother to three children.

The beloved English author, Miss Read, received a marked revival of popularity after Jan Karon confessed her a favorite and an inspiration. I love Miss Read’s books, not only because they are light and touching—and yet have a penetrating insight into human nature and manners that’s almost Austen-ish in it’s flavor—but because they were much-loved by my Anglophile grandmother. Most of her books are centered in the fictional Cotswold villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green, and tell the day-to-day stories of people who seem like real-life friends and acquaintances. Like Jan Karon, Miss Read wrote of the life she knew first-hand, and let the rest of the world see how charming it was without faltering into clichés or idealism. And as in D.E. Stevenson, the reader gets the chance to encounter beloved characters again and again.

In Village Affairs, Fairacre’s schoolmistress has to face the challenges of running her school under the terrible rumor that it is going to be closed.

Changes at Fairacre chronicles the encroaching effects of modern life on the village and its inhabitants, and celebrates the staunch fact that some things will never change.

The Battles at Thrush Green are over such matters of consequence as the management of the school and the plan for the neglected churchyard. Not to mention the return of an inhabitant that’s been gone for half a century…

Return to Thrush Green chronicles one family’s upheavals and another’s desire to settle down, all against the backdrop of a finely-rendered English spring.

No Holly for Miss Quinn is the story of a mysterious spinster and the interrupted Christmas that impacted the rest of her life.

In Village Centenary the one hundredth anniversary of the village school is celebrated with all due honors amid the usual turmoils and joys of Fairacre life.

Grace Livingston Hill

So, I’m curious—how many of you have heard of Grace Livingston Hill? She was another author that I first discovered on my grandmother’s shelves. I used to come home from her house on summer afternoons with my arms loaded, only to return them the next week for a fresh batch. They were my great-grandmother’s copies mostly, with the dates of her readings penciled carefully inside the front cover—many of them with second and third notations. From 1887 to 1948, Grace Livingston Hill was the author of over 100 books, most of which were written to keep the wolf from the door. Nevertheless, her stories are all different, even though each of them bears certain hallmarks that her readers came to trust and expect: every story highlights the constant, daily reality of good and evil, and every single of one them carries a message of grace. Her books are endearingly old-fashioned and romantic—chivalrously so!—and she delights with an immersion in period detail, from the cut of a dainty 1930’s frock to the setting of an elegant table on limited means. I still remember being enchanted with the account of a character whipping up a batch of fresh mayonnaise to garnish a salad for a special luncheon! And if Hill’s heroines are a bit idealized, they are absolutely lovely girls and a joy to keep company with throughout the duration of the book. Modern readers, accustomed to the requisite subtlety of our age, may smile over the overt Christian themes of Hill’s books. But I, for one, am an unabashed admirer, in great measure for the quiet delights I received at her hands as a girl and the sweetest dreams which they inspired. I really could (and perhaps will) write an entire post about Grace, but for now, I’ll reign myself in by saying that I may not have read every single one of her 100+ books, but I’ve definitely read enough to vouch for her. Grace Livingston Hill is light reading at its most decent and fine.

The 1916 story, A Voice in the Wilderness, has a young woman stranded in the Arizona desert with no one to help her but a stranger.

Bright Arrows is the sweet story of a girl fighting to preserve her inheritance from scheming relatives, only to find an inheritance that is even more valuable.

Happiness Hill sheds a gentle light on how one can be selfish without even realizing it. This is one of those “what do you really want” stories.

Spice Box is a doctor’s search for the identity of a young patient he saves in a snowstorm.

In Silver Wings 1930’s sophistication meets tragedy when a young pilot goes missing.

The Search is a WWI love story that crosses the class divide.

illustration from "The Trumpeter Swan", by Temple Bailey

In the 1920’s, Temple Bailey was one of the highest-paid writers in America. Yet another discovery among my great-grandmother’s books, I actually didn’t read any of Bailey’s books until fairly recently. But I do love her style. She has a voice that is completely unique, almost fable-like at times, and she manages to write on some very sentimental themes without sounding corny or hackneyed. Reading a Temple Bailey book is like watching a magic lantern show of the twenties and thirties—there is a certain gorgeousness that is never too much. She writes with a lighter hand than many popular novelists of her day, and manages to pull off some worthy morals without ever lapsing into preaching.

From the dust jacket of the 1928 Silver Slippers: “a dance in the moonlight, days of delight and disillusionment, and a day when Joan threw her silver slippers into the sea…”

In Little Girl Lost, a girl of 19 takes a year to make up her mind just which man she wants to marry…

The Gay Cockade is the 1921 collection of 14 of Temple Bailey’s enchanting short stories.

Well, there’s a start, at least, and a peek at four writers with whom one can while a gentle hour or two. (Or more!)

So, what are you reading this summer? I’d love to know.

Proper Introductions is a series dedicated to highlighting some of the titles that can be found on the shelves at Lanier’s Books.

Endless Summer

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

"Summer magic, the soft summer magic, drifts across the meadow. Summer magic, it weaves through the willow, right into your heart."~R. Sherman

I was properly horrified to glance at my feed reader and realize that my last post was three weeks ago! Where has the time gone? It feels like it should be May, and here it is the first day of summer. Philip and I have pledged between ourselves to be as intentional and aware as we possibly can in this sweet, fleeting season. I tend to idealize the summers of my childhood when there was nothing more pressing than a fresh stack of library books and the prospect of the neighbors’ swimming pool in a long series of afternoons that stretched blissfully out into forever. I have to make time for summer’s pleasures now—they aren’t just doled out like popsicles as they were when I was a little girl. But there’s something about a pleasure that’s deliberately created that has a magic of its own.

And the magic of summer is like no other.

Hearts grow dearer and heaven seems nearer, Winter dreams come true. Oh that magic, what wonderful magic summertime can do." ~R. Sherman

We’ve been taking as many meals as possible on the front porch these days. There have been a lot of quiet dinners, just we two, where we’ve talked long and low about the things that matter most to us over fresh summer vegetables and grilled delectables, watching the lightning bugs come out and the moon silver the front pasture and the trees around the house. And there have been a few joyous evenings with friends, mouth-watering seafood and ice-cold champagne and homemade ice cream. We’ve always been astonished at such times to hear the grandfather clock inside chiming midnight, the time has flown so happily. These are the hours that make summer what it is for me. Good company, good conversation, good food.

actually, a springtime breakfast on the porch. but the same general idea.

Last weekend we hosted some of our dearest friends for one of our ‘work-swaps’, and while we accomplished much during the day, it was tempting to stay up all night talking and catching up in the rocking chairs on the porch. We ladies managed to chat ninety-to-nothing over life philosophies and God’s latest work in our hearts while weeding the garden–and even during a bee inspection. But when the four of us starting talking books and Masterpiece Theatre and theology around the table, all bets were off. I’m ashamed to recall how many times I interrupted someone else in my zeal to introduce writers as diverse as P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers into the conversation.

With the garden, my main goal has been to keep everything alive and watered in the uncharacteristically brutal heat we’ve had this June. The tomatoes are still green but promising great things. And I’ve planted my strawberries in wicker baskets hanging from shepherd’s hooks for a change, on the recommendation of a master gardener I met in England. We’ll see how the slugs and chipmunks like that! 😉 The brambles are all coming in nicely and they are succulent and delicious—provided I can beat the peacocks to them! Adhiraj and Panav have developed quite the taste for raspberries. It’s the first time I have scolded them for anything, and that is saying quite a lot. (Speaking of the peacocks, they have settled into their home here with a familiarity that continues to enchant us. One afternoon I was playing the piano in the front parlor when I had the uncanny sensation that I was being watched. I turned warily to look over my shoulder, and met the inquisitive stare of two peacocks, craning their bright blue necks as if to figure out what the heck I was doing in there making all that racket!)

Adhiraj and Panav*

Hermione and Perdita, the Nubian doelings, are the delight of my heart. We could watch them at their antics forever—though Perdita attempted such a fancy caper yesterday she actually sprained her ‘ankle’ and consequently was prescribed a day of ‘stall rest’. Needless to say she was not too happy about it, but the little hoof was much better today and she’s sporting a fancy pink wrap just in case. It has been so much fun to see those little goats assimilate with the rest of the animals. The sheep were not so sure at first and tried to bully the newcomers. But Puck, their enormous big brother has been gentleness itself. He follows them around, as if to assure himself that they really are goats. And when they are confined in their pen from time to time, I’ll catch him reposing right against the fence on the other side, as close as he can get. My Great Pyrenees, Diana, has been a darling, as well. I watched her in the pasture the other day, napping in the shade near where the goatlings were grazing and then heaving herself up to move closer again every time they edged farther away.

Hermione and Perdita love their new quarters in the barn. Hermione thinks that the manger makes the nicest bed, while Perdita prefers the platform of the yet-to-be completed haydrop.

Let’s see…we’ve had our first honey harvest this summer. We were literally giddy over the taste of two years’ work, although, when it came right down to it I felt rather bad about stealing from the bees. They have really done all the work and I am so proud of my girls. But there was just nothing to compare to that first sample of liquid gold: it was the soul of all our spring flowers infused into one toothsome bouquet.

Ophelia, pre-shearing*

And where have all the other days flown away to? Hoof trimmings and vaccinations and shearing (the sheep didn’t recognize each other for days, silly babes). A jaunt to my beloved Jekyll Island in May. Books read and book club meetings. Mucking and painting and renovating and cleaning and the thousand and one daily things that make up the making of a home.

La mer a berce mon coeur pour la vie...

And writing! Oh, my goodness, I’m writing like crazy this summer! Hoping to finish the rough draft by the end of August, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to frighten the muse away by demanding too much of her.

And thus concludes the most random post I’ve ever written here. All this to say I’m still around, and that I hope you all have the dearest, most magical, summery-est summer of your lives. God bless!


"Summer's lease hath all too short a date..." ~Shakespeare

*photo credit, Griffin Gibson

to be nobody-but-yourself

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

in a world which is doing its best,
night and day
to make you everybody else

means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight;

and never stop fighting

e. e. cummings

Taking courage

Monday, May 9th, 2011

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in world’s storm-troubled sphere.
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And faith shines equal,
arming me from fear.

~Emily Bronte

I wish I could say that I always share dear Emily’s indomitable confidence, but the truth is, fear is a foe I have to take arms against every single day, and never more so than when I sit down at my desk to write.  Last week, for the first time since the end of February, I put new words on my book. Life has been full–richly and intensely–but it wasn’t the busyness that was keeping me from picking up the threads of Story once more so much as the awful resistance of my own apprehensions. It’s always such a miracle to find the grace of words waiting patiently on the other side of that mountain.

I’m writing over at The Rabbit Room today, on art and fear and how faith works on this cowardly soul of mine:

Fear. The giant Apollyon that halts me in my tracks and sneers down all my hopes and aspirations. The paralyzing dread of failure; the horror of being misunderstood that stifles my voice and freezes my fingers above the keyboard. Fear of man’s opinion. Fear that when I open my heart’s treasures to the world, the world will be unkind and trample them underfoot. That morning I felt ill at the thought—I often do. But that’s exactly what it is: a feeling. My desire to write, to communicate and create, is not a feeling but a God-given passion; a relentless yearning that, quite frankly, at some times I rather wish would lie still, but in sublimer moments overspreads my life with the gilt and purple of love’s ambition.

If you care to read on, you can find the rest of the article here:

God’s Own Fool

And thank you, a thousand times over, for reading and caring and praying. Thank you for letting me throw my cap over the fence and thank you for making me brave by your gracious words–I’ve cherished them all. Heaven bless you for it.

In the shop…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind. ~James Russell Lowell

When I was in England visiting friends last month, I picked up some gems for the bookshop (and maybe one or two for myself ;)). It’s taken me a while to get them listed here, but I so enjoyed scouting in some of the most fertile book-county in the world for titles I knew my customers would love. And I am very excited to share them here in the shop.

I am always on the lookout, at home and abroad, for small, slender ‘pocket’ editions of the classics. There is just something so charming about a great book on a diminutive scale. I managed to turn up some lovely little editions, including Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in one volume, a very pretty Nicholas Nickleby, a hard-to-find Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (you just don’t find many older copies of her books on this side of the ocean) and Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days.  There is also a copy of the 1924 classic Precious Bane by Mary Webb, and an edition of Cranford that includes two shorter works, The Cage at Cranford and Moorland Cottage, not to mention titles by Charles Lamb and Thomas a’ Kempis.

Not all of the books are dainty, however. I have a nice cache of Goudges, including a readable copy of the extremely rare A City of Bells. I had a lovely conversation with a kindred-hearted shopkeeper in the Cotswolds over the merits of our dear Elizabeth, and she was delighted to hear that Goudge still has an ardent following in the States and around the world. Indeed, few authors speak to the condition of our age like she does, n’est-ce pas? (And if you are ever in Stow-on-the-Wold, do look in at Evergreen Livres, tucked in an alley off the market square. You will thank me. :))

I also found some nice ‘Folio’ editions of Jane Austen, some Bronte and a couple of George MacDonald…but I’ll let you have a look and welcome. Just remember to sort by ‘Date Added’ to see the new offerings on the shelves!

And then there were two…

Monday, April 18th, 2011


We’re delighted to announce that Hermione has a sister.

Hermione, aka Her Majesty

Hermione is delighted, too.

And she was only too happy to teach Perdita how to kick up her heels.

Perdita is exactly one week younger than her sister, (one week old today!) and she hadn’t had as much experience with the joy of life as Hermione already had at her age. But if anything’s catching in this world, it’s goat joy. Hermione doesn’t walk–she bounces or bounds or springs or capers. And after watching her curiously for a few days, and a couple of tumbles on the slippery wooden floors, Perdita has finally found her legs and is cutting a caper with the best of them.

Hermione in flight

I was talking to a dairyman the other day and he was expounding on the various virtues of the caprine milkers. He told me about the hardiness of the Saanens and praised the quality of the LaManchas.

“But the Nubians–they’re different than all of them,” he told me. “They’re the only ones that’ll love you back.”

I believe it.

"Let all things their Creator bless..."

We are so glad and grateful that these little girls have come to live with us.

O God, who created all beasts and cattle in a wonderful order and gave them into our care: Bless these animals, that they may be a joy to humankind and sharers in the feeding and nurture of the world. Make us good shepherds of all your creatures, we pray, in the Name of our merciful and Good Shepherd, your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

sweetest distraction

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011


Meet the newest member of our family, our beautiful Nubian doeling, Hermione.

Afraid I’m going to be a little occupied around here, what with bottle brigade and romps in the yard and stroking those gorgeous Nubian ears. And I may or may not have had her in my lap at the breakfast table this morning…

She’s a week old and already a diva. Now we’re just looking for a playmate for her, as it’s really best to raise them in pairs.

But she’s rapidly charming the socks off all the rest of the family:

Philip just missed the full-blown kiss

And Puck? He nearly jumped out of his black knee-boots in surprise. I wish you could have seen the distinctly goat-ish double take–he all but rubbed his eyes with his hooves.

She’s nothing short of a gift to us all. And we love her to utter distraction.