Shopping on Black Friday is the last thing in the world I would be doing today. I know some people get a huge thrill from hunting down extreme bargains with the friends they made while standing in line in the freezing cold at 4 am but I am not among those people. It seems a show of consumerism that yields no holiday gift of any originality.
The gift you see above is not available during any early bird special today. They are one of a kind bookmarks that have been handcrafted by formerly homeless women reclaiming their lives through the Women's Craft Cooperative at Rosie's Place where they receive training in craft and business skills through art. These graceful, elongated silver-plated arcs are enhanced with seed beads and a mother of pearl disk. Each piece is unique and will arrive with a card signed by the artist. These lovelies are available through J. Jill throughout the holiday season for $12 each. With one mindful purchase, you can bestow something beautiful upon a book lover for Christmas, and touch the life of someone in need. Win-win scenario.
See the view from my seat above top left? Today I have the pleasure of sitting in one of the best independent book stores in the country, Politics and Prose, and assisting with the book fair for the school where I work. People come in and either buy books from the school's wish list or just make their regular purchases and present our coupon that awards the school 20% of that purchase. Sweet deal, great people that work here, and I get to sit and talk and browse amidst a building full of great books. Oh happy Friday!
The Style & Arts section of this morning's Washington Post features a gorgeous 2-page spread about attempts to save Edith Wharton's Lenox, Massachusetts home from foreclosure. The story also highlights Wharton's own aesthetics as reflected in the home where she wrote the bulk of her most recognized works. Now this has been an ongoing story this year as the banks were forced to threaten Edith Wharton Restoration, the organization that runs the house museum, with foreclosure beginning back in February. Fundraising efforts were launched on a grand scale, and a reprieve on the large sum of money owed has been granted until October 31. If you decide to donate, your check or your charge will only be processed if they reach the 3 million dollar goal. An anonymous source has offered to match that amount if they reach the goal.
Some people have expressed reservations about aiding yet another house museum on the American landscape, even a protected site that has received a Preserve America Presidential Award as The Mount has. However, this is not just another house museum. This is the home and work site of an American woman that was the first of her gender to be awarded a Pulitzer prize for fiction, an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Yale University, and a full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Born into a world of privilege, nothing was expected of her other than to make a successful marriage. Her marriage failed, she earned a living as a highly-esteemed professional writer, and she left her native country to craft a life of her own design, both figuratively and literally as her works on landscape and architecture were as well-regarded as her fiction.
Edith Wharton's significance to literature and to a definition of American identity goes far beyond gender. Today's Post article by Phillip Kennicott touches upon a wish that there was more of Wharton's own presence in the house aside from the restoration of her personal library to The Mount and the pet graveyard on the grounds for her beloved dogs. However, Wharton's voice was in part defined by her isolation both from the patriarchal, class-conscious New York society she was born and married into and from mainstream thought in general. Her battle with depression further exacerbated her solitary existence. Her subtle voice often satirized the Gilded Age through characters only tangentially tied to the upper classes portrayed. Wharton was personally elusive. One almost expects to find her aesthetics rather than her person in any space. And that should be enough. It seems to me more fitting to save that which she created rather than wish for something of a more personal nature that she never intended to divulge.