celebrating colin’s birthday with 2 treats from The Secret Garden Cookbook (+ a giveaway)

โ™ฅ๏ธ Special thanks to Marian from the Netherlands for inspiring me to write this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€œYou can have as much earth as you want,โ€ he said. โ€œYou remind me of someone else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,โ€ with something like a smile, โ€œtake it, child, and make it come alive.โ€ย  ~ย  Archibald Craven (Frances Hodgson Burnett’s, The Secret Garden)

 

 

Guess who’s turning 60 on September 10?

Hint: he knows how to rock a waistcoat and cravat, is fluent in Italian, plays the guitar to relax, likes to tease fellow actor Gary Oldman about the size of his *ahem* manhood, almost voiced Paddington Bear in the movies, looks good WET (dry, and in-between), and even if you cook blue soup, he likes you just as you are.

Yes, it’s Colin, aka my secret husband (SO secret, even he doesn’t know about it). Fine specimen of a human being, don’t you think? Doesn’t look a day over 39. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Colin Firth as Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden (2020).

 

Unless you look at him playing Archibald Craven in the new Secret Garden movie. Have you seen it yet? They were all set for a big UK cinema premiere back in April, followed by the U.S. in August. But of course the pandemic changed everything, so instead, the movie went straight to video on demand beginning August 7, and will now open in UK cinemas October 23.

 

 

Colin, Colin, Colin, you’ve never looked so wretched, weary, or downtrodden. But Archibald is, of course, consumed with grief over the loss of his wife, making him inaccessible to his son and unable to properly care for his newly orphaned niece Mary Lennox, who comes to stay at Misselthwaite Manor.

 

Mrs Medlock (Julie Walters), Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), Colin Craven (Edan Hayhurst), Dickon (Amir Wilson) Archibald Craven (Colin Firth)

 

This new 2020 version (don’t worry, I promise not to be too spoilerish), is the fourth produced for the big screen, and Colin was attracted to the role because of the lavish garden scenes (which unlike previous films, were not confined to a single, walled-in area, but features an expansive, wide ranging terrain representing Mary’s unbounded imagination), as well as the “design concepts” of the castle, which really became a symbol for Archibald’s state of mind: dark, destructive, depressive. The creepiness of the house is highly atmospheric and underscores the tragic decline of what was once a joyful life.

Colin doesn’t get much screen time in the new movie; this makes sense since the story revolves primarily around the three young people: Mary, Colin Craven, and Dickon. The time period has been moved up to 1947, after WWII, instead of the early 1900’s as the book was originally set, and there is a new “character,” a stray dog named Jemima (later Hector, when his gender is confirmed), who helps lead Mary to the garden wall and gate key along with the robin.

 

Mary with Hector (this scraggly pup is a scene stealer!)

 

The spirit remains true to the original — the transformation of sickly, morose, isolated children into happy and healthier souls who blossom and thrive with newfound friendship, fresh air, good and nourishing food, and the magic of making things come alive.

Did you know this was the second time Colin appeared in a Secret Garden adaptation? Thirty-three years ago, when he was just 27, he played an adult Colin Craven in the 1987 Hallmark TV movie that’s told as a flashback from the POV of an adult Mary. Colin only appears at the very end, when he reunites with Mary after the war . . . and there’s romance!

 

Colin as Colin Craven in the 1987 Hallmark TV movie.

 

So it seems fated that Colin appear in these films, since there is a ‘Colin’ who has a major role in the novel, and he actually played this Colin years ago. Something else that’s cool about the 1987 version is that it was filmed at Highclere Castle. As a Downton Abbey fan, I enjoyed seeing familiar exteriors and interiors. ๐Ÿ™‚

In addition to studio sets, the new 2020 movie was filmed at various gardens around England and North Wales, on location in Yorkshire, and at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. Knebworth is a cool place all its own, known for hosting awesome rock concerts (Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton), and has been a choice setting for many other films, including “Nanny McPhee” and “The King’s Speech.” I imagine Colin feels quite at home there. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Poor Archibald. He needs some good food to restore his spirits!

 

The Secret Garden is one of my top three all-time favorite children’s novels, so it’s really icing on the cake to see Colin, however briefly, in two of the movies. Revisiting this classic, whether between the covers or up on a screen, tends to make me hungry because hearty farm-fresh Yorkshire fare helped restore Mary and Colin to optimum health. Okay, time to eat.

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down the rabbit hole

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” ~ Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

Down

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Down

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Down —

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Oh, hello! Didn’t mean to be rude, but I only just noticed you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy September!

We’re finally back at ye ole’ blog, and I’ve missed you. Hope you’re safe and well. Before we have a little chin wag, see if this poem doesn’t describe how things have felt for you lately.

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Anthony Browne (Alice in Wonderland, 1988)

 

ON THE OTHER SIDE
by Lynn Ungar

Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger — or smaller —
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.

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It’s now been about six months since life as we knew it was suddenly upended. Crazy, scary, unbelievable times.

Up is down, down is up.

Do you feel like you’ve been in freefall too — spinning, confused, worried, frustrated, unable to focus?

Each day there’s a new challenge, yet another outrage, another reason to adjust and readjust as we try to navigate this neverending nightmare. Choppy waters, impossible mountains to climb, crawling through broken glass, drowning in a pool of tears, you name it.

 

Anthony Browne

 

As Ungar’s poem suggests, we now find ourselves stuck in the middle of a strange story we never chose to be a part of, one we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams. Talk about dystopia.

Because all bets are off, we’ve been forced to make things up as we go. We shop, eat, clean, communicate and connect differently. Companies have changed how they do business. Educators have had to ramp up their superpowers to refine remote learning. Families have set new parameters for work, play, and privacy as they strive for peaceful coexistence. Frontline workers of every stripe, from healthcare employees to delivery people to grocery store clerks, now routinely risk their lives.

We’re all mad here.

 

Charles Robinson (1907)

 

We don’t take much for granted anymore either, not healthcare, safety, financial security, mobility, dependable mail delivery, truth in reporting, or that anchor of steadiness, predictability.

I find anti-maskers sadly foreign with their defiant denial, business-as-usual selfish behavior, and sheer lack of respect or caring for other human beings. A simple act can help save lives. Shouldn’t that be a no brainer?ย  I keep wondering what happens when they get sick. Do they see a real doctor or call up the My Pillow guy?

Off with their heads!

New buzz words: Zoom, social distancing, quarantine, rapid results testing, contactless delivery, curbside pickup.

Pipe dreams: shaking hands, hugging, airline travel and vacations, anxiety-free restaurant dining, concerts and sporting events, a classroom full of happy, chattering, maskless kids.

Curiouser and curiouser.

 

Anthony Browne

 

More and more, we realize we have to be the heroes in our own stories. After all, it’s a time when finding yeast or toilet paper at the store is a small victory, when getting your hair cut is an act of bravery.

So how are you finding balance and staying sane? There is simply no right or wrong way to cope. We all do the best we can, armed with a personal cache of magical weapons.

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Hello — is it Fauci you’re looking for? (+ a summer blog break)

 

I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your smile
He’s all you’ve ever wanted
And your arms are open wide . . .

 

via Andy Andersen/Instagram

 

Thought we needed a little Dr. Anthony Fauci fix today since we haven’t been seeing as much of him lately.

When it comes to the pandemic, he’s the voice of calm, reason, and truth. He’s the one we trust, the one who makes us feel better even when the news is bleak.

 

hubba hubba

 

More than a brilliant public health expert, Dr. Fauci is now a pop culture icon, a sex symbol, and a personal hero to many. Brad Pitt played him on SNL, and Julia Roberts was totally starstruck when she interviewed him on her Twitter account. There’s even been talk of a Nobel Prize and Time Magazine Person of the Year. Oh, and did you notice he has blue eyes? All the best doctors do. ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Dr. Fauci Starry Painting” by haris0250

 

THE NIGHT OF CORONA
by Ann Barber

‘Twas the night of Corona when all through the world
Not a creature was stirring as the nightmare unfurled
The face masks were missing, the gloves and the gowns
The nurses and doctors were all falling down
The children and old folks were scratching their heads
To wonder what mayhem this virus could spread
Pa gathered his strength, Ma stuffed down her worries
Pulled courage together to start their new journey
When throughout the world there arose such a clatter
Of singing, and loving, though hearts were in tatters
We stood at our balconies, doorways, and windows
To let out the love Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus
The moon lit the green of the fresh budding Spring
Giving Hope for Rebirth we yearned it would bring
We opened our hearts and expanded our characters
Knowing our children would be the inheritors
When who to our wondering eyes did appear
But the good Dr. Fauci dispelling our fear
A lively old doctor so truthful and wise
We knew in a moment he’d tell us no lies
More rapid than eagles his interviews came
Knew we needed to hear him so he could explain
The virus, the distance, how not to transmit it
The challenge we’re up for, no doubt we can do it
The world just got smaller but we’re growing bigger
Our hearts and our souls demonstrate we’re no quitters
Our Heroes are Healers, not killers of Life
And many strong Women in the thick of the strife
May All who draw breath see God in Each Other
Embracing Our weakness As Sisters and Brothers
Stronger Together

~ Adapted on April 10, 2020 from “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore, via Daily Hampshire Gazette (4-27-20).

 

“Faster Than a Speeding Fauci” by Andee Axe

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the reading blues

“Portrait of Artist’s Wife,” by Pronaszko Zbigniew (1935)

 

I’ve got the reading blues!

I love figurative paintings of readers, and have noted through the years that there are oodles of them. Most of the subjects are women, and many appear to be well-to-do, with the leisure to lounge on plush sofas or perch on uncomfortable chairs near a window, lost in the printed word.

Of course I always wonder what they’re reading and what their daily lives are like. Since I also love books, I feel a decided kinship with them, even though thousands of miles and more than a century may separate us.

Recently, readers dressed in blue have been calling out to me. Perhaps I’m drawn to blue’s peace, calm, and serenity. Spiritually, the color blue symbolizes the healing power of God — much needed in these terribly troubling times. And the readers themselves seem content and contemplative, making me feel better.

In any case, I hope you enjoy gazing at these blue readers, joining them, for just a few minutes, in their fascinating worlds (I also managed to dig up a few men). ๐Ÿ™‚

 

“In the Library,” by Auguste Toulmouche (1872)

 

“The Reader Wreathed with Flowers,” by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1845)

 

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strawberries: a taste of something wild and sweet

“Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron

 

Hello, good-looking friends. How are you holding up?

Hard to believe it’s already June. It’s certainly been a trying three months! Time to anticipate summer with a little strawberry love. ๐Ÿ™‚

As we hunker down in our private spaces, our strength, resilience, faith and patience are being tested as never before. Each day brings a new concern as we reassess our priorities and consider an uncertain future.

Rather than perpetually bemoan forced confinement, we can mindfully pause to carefully consider, with humility and gratitude, the time we are actually being given and the challenge to use it wisely.

I’m here to tell you there is good news: Today, it’s your turn. Wherever you are standing right now, I give this to you:

 

“Strawberries” by Alexis Kreyder

 

WHAT IS GIVEN
by Ralph Murre

The likelihood of finding strawberries
tiny and wild and sweet
around your ankles
on any given day
in any given place
is not great
but sometimes
people find strawberries
right where they are standing
just because it is their turn
to be given a taste
of something wild and sweet

 

“Strawberries on Spode Plate” by Jeanne Illenye

 

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