Wardrobes the Way they Were

Time immemorial…. Has a lovely sound to it, doesn’t it? Like days of yore.

In fact, in British law, time immemorial is defined as everything before the sixth of July 1189. This was decided in 1275, presumably because by that point no one could remember anything before the sixth of July 1189 and it was therefore literally time immemorial – a time that no one living could remember.

Hunterian Psalter c. 1170 feasting
Don’t worry, no one remembers you taking the last piece of pizza in 1170.
It is interesting to consider what time immemorial would be these days. It’s so easy to forget how short a time, relatively speaking, things have been The Way Things Are. Mass transport, antibiotics, Queen Elizabeth II, the Internet… Fast fashion has only been around for a few decades, and yet how strange it now seems to have just a few carefully tended items of clothing, worn for years and infrequently replaced.

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Drawing the Dream into Life

If I lived in Middle Earth, I wouldn’t be an Elf (insufficiently ethereal) or an Ent (too hasty) or even a Dwarf (I don’t like beer). I’m not wise enough to be a wizard, or big enough to be an oliphaunt.

I’d like to think I’d be a bard in the hall of some minor HorseLord (or HorseLady) of Rohan, kept to work up the deeds of my employer into suitably heroic (and alliterative) verse to be chanted over a goblet of wine after dinner.

Inside Viking House in Rosala Viking Center in Finland

I’m thinking of practising my compositional skills on the saga of Boromir’s heroic resistance to swallowing a pill. (That’s Boromir my cat, not Boromir, son of Denethor. As far as I know, Boromir of Gondor could take his medicine with the best of ’em.) I could even try my skills at flyting.

But it seems more likely that I would have been a Hobbit: a short, round homebody.

The world of Middle-Earth is one of those fictional creations which exerts a fascination over its fans so strong that they want somehow to become part of it. Of course, the best way to become part of a story you love – or more accurately, to make it part of you – is less by buying the merchandise (how many One Rings can there be?) and more by incorporating the values and culture of the story into your own life. Living the story, in other words.

Map of the Middle Earth #2

I recently read a book by the intriguingly named Noble Smith, titled The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life. (NB: if your surname is Smith, it behoves you to give your child an interesting forename. Mr Smith’s parents have clearly done their duty by him.) He draws out the threads of hobbitness from the tapestry of the novels which include them, and suggests how we might weave these threads into our own lives. “The Shire can become as real as we make it in our own lives and communities and countries.”

He speaks of the value of a good night’s sleep, suggesting that going to bed is a more sensible (and hobbity) thing to do than posting “I’m tired” on Facebook. He suggests eating locally grown food – what could be more hobbity than fresh garden produce? – and even provides a plan for growing a hobbity vegetable patch of your own. He promotes the hobbit pastime of walking, the importance of sustainability, and the value of quality craftsmanship (there’s no plastic dreck in a hobbit hole).

Bag End, Frodo and Bilbao Baggin's Home, Hobbiton

Parties are heartily encouraged, along with singing and the company of good friends – those with whom you can spend time “just hobbitting about.” Loyalty to friends is praised, as is the mending of quarrels, and the everyday devotion of what he calls “heroic monogamy.”

Reality, he notes, is superior to virtual reality. Anyone who has ever received a virtual gift knows this. Consider giving out mathom at your next party – your clutter can be another person’s gift. Greed is not good – don’t be a Sackville-Baggins.

When it comes to dealings with the Big Folk, Smith stresses the need to be true to yourself, not changing – or pretending to change – to suit the company in which you find yourself. Hobbits are never anything but themselves (even if they have been known to travel under an assumed name.)

Stamp Carousel / Stempelkarussell

Noble Smith writes strongly against the erosion of people’s rights (such as privacy) by the powers that be, adamant that such a state of things can only continue as long as people allow it – which would be a most un-hobbity submission. Bureaucracy is to be tolerated only so long as it serves the people – not vice versa. “Baffling rules made by flawed men sometimes need to be torn down and replaced with the standards of common sense.” There are few beings more commonsensical than a hobbit with his feet on the ground.

But perhaps you do not yearn for the rustic simplicity of a hobbit life. What world do you dream of – and how will you draw it into your waking life?

Quote: Feelings (and an Award)

“it’s a feeling not a reality, and it’s temporary; when you’re in it, it feels like you always have been and always will be, but that’s an illusion.”
Chaos Girl

Chaos Girl is one of the bloggers I follow, and she has very kindly nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

She is, like me, an eccentric (yay!) and her posts are full of wit, wisdom, and best of all, honesty: we are none of us as perfect as we generally pretend to be, and that’s ok. Highly recommended for a refreshing read of reality.

There are two difficulties inherent in accepting this award: the technicalities of putting the award plaque in the right places on the blog (Chaos Girl has mercifully provided detailed instructions!) and selecting fifteen bloggers to pass the award on to!

That being the case, those I nominate don’t have to accept and do likewise; it is an obligation-free compliment 🙂

The Rules:
1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.

2) The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

The Bloggers (in no particular order):

Ideophilus: he challenges my assumptions, he helps me see things from entirely new perspectives, and he always claims it’s his fault if I don’t understand 🙂 Inspiring in print and in person (and I should know, he’s my husband).

Esther Van Kuyk is (among many other things) a talented illustrator who engages with serious issues without forgetting the simple joys of life – and a great friend. Her work is available on cards and t-shirts: my favourite is the hedgehog – so cute (a correct use of the word!)

Andrea Eames of A Cat of Impossible Colour is a fellow interculturalite*, as well as an elegant, talented author.

Kristen Lamb provides the perfect blend of challenge, encouragement, and laugh-out-loud humour. Must-read for budding writers; highly recommended for anyone else looking for a good read.

K.B. Owen, Mystery Writer writes mysteries, yes, but she blogs about weird and wacky history, holidays, food, and all kinds of fun stuff. Have a look!

The Tiny Farm is a lovely little blog about moving toward a sustainable lifestyle without four acres and a cow. Very much a ‘join me on the journey’ blog rather than a ‘behold my awesomeness you eco-terrorist’ kind of blog – very encouraging!

The Dreamstress is all about historical clothing – studying it, recreating it, wearing it, and most of all having fun with it. Fascinating, accessible, and very easy on the eyes.

Dr Beth of Throwim Way Leg recounts the ups and downs of being a doctor in the back of beyond, PNG. Not suitable for those with delicate stomachs!

Cation Designs shows how enjoyably creative geekiness can be, sewing a mix of stylish everyday items and hugely fun costume pieces, among other creative endeavours. Also sometimes pictures of her gorgeous cat Walnut.

Sara Litchfield of Right Ink on the Wall is a talented writer and editor who also thinks about the big questions in life: what do we leave behind us when we go? Keep an eye out for her novella The Night Butterflies, coming out next month!

Gwyneth Hyndman of Sweet Home California is a much-travelled writer, journalist and general free-lancer who is the epitome of the life-long learner – always going someplace or trying something new! We were classmates back in our Wellington days…

Malcolm Guite is proof that form does not limit creativity, but rather provides scope for it, with his beautifully balanced sonnets circling the canonical calendar (among others). His Stations of the Cross sonnets are my particular favourites: I reread them every year.

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles is the place to go for “fairytales, folklore, fantasy, myths, legends, and children’s literature” in Katherine Langrish’s own words. Always a fascinating read.

Worthwhile Books is an unashamed book snob, so if you’re looking for reading recommendations that have screened out the mindless pap, stop by!

The eponymous Editor of the Editor’s Journal takes pop culture’s latest and asks questions which invite discussion and actually make you think before you comment. Refreshing and deservedly popular.

So there you have it: fifteen blogs I find inspiring, in one way or another. Or rather sixteen, because of Chaos Girl, who I’m not allowed to nominate 🙂

*a neologism, as far as I know. As with everything else on this blog, it’s under a Creative Commons licence, so help yourself!