200 Years of Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice was published January 28, 1813, two hundred years ago today. Austen is my favorite author, first because her dialog is brilliant; second because her characters are brilliant; third because her description is, well, brilliant. She does not squander time or words on description, yet I can picture every scene in my mind’s eye although I did not live in that time period nor have I visited Britain.

Austen’s characters, even minor ones, are well-developed and easy to identify with because each is, in one way or another, flawed. For example, Mrs. Bennet is shallow and silly, but Mr. Bennet responds with cynicism and more or less leaves his daughters to fend for themselves. At the same time, even unlikable characters have redeeming qualities. Mr. Collins, the consummate buffoon, has his heart in the right place wanting to marry into the family he will displace when he inherits Mr. Bennet’s estate. It truly is a “small world” in Pride and Prejudice, with varied and tangled relationships among the characters.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Map (Wikipedia).

In P&P – indeed, in all of Austen’s novels – conflicts arise due to love, money, and societal expectations. Elizabeth Bennet, the female protagonist, is the personification of “prejudice,” often forming opinions without considering all sides of the story. And let’s face it: Mr. Darcy, the “pride” and male protagonist, is quite simply a jerk during the first part of the story.

Consider his marriage proposal to Elizabeth (as depicted in A&E’s 1995 miniseries):

Ouch. Fortunately Darcy and Lizzy are open-minded enough to allow for some major character development. Observe the smoldering gazes exchanged during a later encounter at Pemberley:

Ahhh, this is my favorite scene from the 1995 adaptation.

Each of Jane Austen’s novels ends with an engagement or wedding. Pride and Prejudice is no exception, and everybody – at least the deserving ones – lives happily every after.

Liebster?

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Aww, thanks to Jane Heitman Healy, my friend, fellow writer and blogger (Read, Learn and Be Happy), for tagging me with my very first weblog award. The Liebster Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Like me! In German, Liebster means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, sweetheart, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Also like me!

Having never heard of the Liebster before, I was curious and ran a Google search. There is no parent site and it is not listed in Wikipedia. Every hit I found was an entry in a blog that had received the award. I don’t think it’s possible to trace back to its origin, but interestingly, the rules vary from site to site. Some simply require a thanks to the nominator and identifying three other weblogs, while others ask for thanks plus five random facts, questions answered and asked, and other weblogs. Some three of each. The invitation I received asked for eleven.

I don’t generally participate in or pass along quizzes, but I like the idea of promoting obscure weblogs, so here goes.

(Fore the record, when I wrote this, the list items were numbered. I have no idea why letters show up instead.)

Rules:

1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5. No tag backs, but please leave a comment on the nominator’s post so that s/he can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

I: Random Facts

  1. I have been struck by lightning.
  2. Al Green sang a lullaby to my baby bump just ten days before I delivered my firstborn.
  3. I have had brain surgery.
  4. My first car was a Ford Pinto and one day I drove 12 members of my church youth group home in it.
  5. I have never broken a bone, but have had a ruptured eardrum.
  6. I am 101 days older than my husband.
  7. I like prime numbers. Such as 101.
  8. I do not like asparagus or Brussels sprouts, although I understand this is genetic. I don’t like lima beans either, but have nothing to blame it on other than their texture.
  9. One of my books is available as an iPad app.
  10. I was described as “indefatigable” in a reference letter from someone who is now a Missouri supreme court justice.
  11. I have long fingers, but short toes.

II: Jane’s Questions:

  1. What is your favorite book? The Complete Works of Jane Austen.
  2. Who is your favorite author? Jane Austen, followed closely by James Herriott and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  3. What was your favorite vacation? Christmas 2011 in Vietnam visiting our daughter Hanna.
  4. What is your favorite song/singer/band/musical type? My favorite is jazz – Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan. But I also like 60s pop – the Beatles, Monkees, and Herman’s Hermits.
  5. What’s the most unusual food you have eaten? Probably spicy roasted beetles that a missionary brought to our church.
  6. What day of the week is your favorite? Whatever day it is.
  7. What is your favorite movie or TV show? Movie: The Princess Bride. TV Show: Revenge.
  8. Do you prefer dogs, cats, or other (if other, specify)? I have a cat and a dog and love them both. But my ideal pet is a cat, specifically a cuddly lap cat, because they are lower maintenance.
  9. What is something amazing about you? I got a perfect score on the logic section of the GRE.
  10. Do you prefer reading hard copy or online? At home, hard copy. On the road, it’s much easier to pack my iPad, especially since I can check out e-books from our library and download free books through the Kindle and Nook apps.
  11. How often do you use your public library? I pick up my son at the library Monday – Friday after school. I go inside once or twice a week.

III: Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If I had my own comic book, I would be Indefatigable Girl (see Random Fact 10/J above). What would your superhero name and trait be?
  2. Mac or PC?
  3. How long have you been keeping a weblog?
  4. What is  your earliest childhood memory?
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  6. What is your favorite holiday?
  7. What color are the walls in your kitchen?
  8. What is the last movie that made you laugh out loud?
  9. Are you right- or left-handed?
  10. Do you own more scarves or pairs of shoes?
  11. What type of vehicle, if any, do you generally drive?

IV: My nominees:

Sorry, I am not going to be able to identify eleven more weblogs. First, I am not sure how to tell whether some blogs have fewer than 200 followers. Second, I won’t nominate a site unless I actually know the author. Third, Jane beat me to some, and I don’t want to hit them again. Finally, I have an inkling that some of my really serious blogger friends would not like being tagged.

These sites are all written by folks that I know from the Faith and Writing Workshop at Concordia Seminary last summer:

V: Completed. Hi Jane!

The Domino Effect

When I was a kid, from time to time I would gather up all the dominoes I could find, carefully set up them up in a pattern and gently topple the first one. If all went well, it would start a chain reaction, something like this:

I must admit that my constructions were never that elaborate. First, because we did not own anywhere near that many dominoes; second, because I never thought about augmenting with playing cards (which is brilliant, by the way), but primarily because I am not blessed with that kind of time and patience.

Life is full of examples of the “domino effect,” where one simple event leads to another and another and yet another. Like a little cover-up fib that requires a more and more elaborate background story to hold up. Or a fabulous clearance-rack sweater that doesn’t match anything else in your closet but happens to look great with that pair of jeans and those shoes and *oooh!* the earrings over there (too bad they’re not on sale, too).

Homeowners are especially well-acquainted with this phenomenon; the older the home the more pronounced the effect. Our house was built in 1952, with steel windows that were installed between concrete blocks and brick during construction. They were top-of-the-line back then, but sixty years later Phil and I were ready to replace them with more energy efficient and easier to clean vinyl windows. Problem was, the solid construction made the window frames nearly impossible to remove. The only way to avoid astronomical labor fees would be to remove most of the old window, then slide the replacement into the old steel frame, leaving a small steel lip around the new window. We ordered our windows last November, and they were installed right after New Year’s.

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New vinyl window to the right of picture window, as compared to old steel window on adjacent wall.

I knew going in that there would be some trim painting involved, both inside and outside. What I did not realize was that the new windows would be a much brighter white than the color we already used on trim all over the house. All righty then, some of the window sills need to be repainted anyway. But the window trim also matches the baseboard and doors. Well, to be honest, the baseboards and doors have also needed attention for the past couple of years, or maybe five.

As I washed the new windows and began the prep work for painting, I removed some ugly trim that was put up in the front room to attach window treatments that we no longer use. Under these same windows there were some less-than-attractive shelves built into either side of the fireplace. I have never liked them so Phil and I decided to rip them out, leaving a few chinks in the plaster. The plaster needs to be repaired, and we’re going to need to repaint so why not pick a new color while we are at it? We’ve put off refinishing the hardwood floors for a while, and just look at the difference where the shelves were . . . you can probably guess where this is heading, and we haven’t even made it out of the living room yet.

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Christmas 2002. Note the shelves on either side of the fireplace behind us, as well as the wooden frames supporting the window treatments.
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January 2013. Shelves, curtains and window frames are gone.

The dominoes, they are a-tumbling, but the first one toppled long before we bought replacement windows. Just after Christmas 2005, Phil came home and told me that one of his employees had offered to give us a five-month-old black lab puppy. At the time her littermates were being sold, she was being treated for a cut under her eye, so they ended up keeping her. Now they wanted to find her a new home before her mother delivered another litter. Phil and I went to see her, and of course brought her home. Laura named her Daisy.

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Daisy, happy to be living in her new home.

Daisy had lived outside for five months and her house training was a bit rough at first. We installed a baby gate to confine her to the family room, but despite diligent attention, she had a few accidents. Once she got the hang of letting us know when she needed outside, it was time for the old carpet to go. Instead of replacing it, we opted to install hardwood floors.

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Back room, pre-Daisy.

Then we had to paint, because the walls looked shabby next to the gleaming floors. And speaking of shabby, the aluminum windows were practically falling apart. Wouldn’t top-down bottom-up shades be wonderful with the new ones? The woodburning stove was too hot and too smoky; what about one with a door to see the fire? Wow, look at how much the ceiling tiles were sagging. The lighting was dismal. We wanted more seating. We needed more shelves for DVDs. We didn’t really need a bigger TV but we bought one anyway, and Phil built a media cabinet to measure.

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New floors, new paint.
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New windows, shades and sectional.
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New ceiling tiles, DVD shelves and track lighting.
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New woodstove, media center and massive television.

Before you knew it, our free dog was well into four figures. I suppose one could argue that we would have undertaken these projects sooner or later anyway, but I’d just as soon credit the dog. It’s not the worst thing she’s blamed for!

If I knew seven years ago what I know now, her name wouldn’t be Daisy – I’d have called her Domino.

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Yes, these are a few of my favorite things. You already know my tops in television and movies, but here are another dozen random faves.

Favorite guy: my husband, Phil Hartman. He personifies all twelve parts of the Boy Scout law, plus a few more exemplary characteristics. He likes to build furniture and make jelly and takes good care of his mother. He has an extremely responsible job and works hard so that I am able to stay home and raise our family. He is also the guy you would want by your side in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Other favorite people: my children – Hanna, Laura and Joseph, all three wonderful and unique blessings. Each of them thinks he or she is my favorite, so I must be doing something right.

Favorite authors: first place, Jane Austen for characters and dialog; second place, James Herriott for description; third place, Laura Ingalls Wilder for nostalgia. Honorable mention, Dr. Seuss for whimsy and rhyme.

Favorite color: pink. This is a bit ironic since I don’t like red. At all.

Favorite holiday: Easter – the death and resurrection of Jesus are the bedrock of Christianity. There is less extraneous hoopla than Christmas, and springtime is more pleasant than winter. Plus the music is great, made even more enjoyable following the dismal minor keys of Lent.

Favorite actor: I may have a tiny crush on Mark Harmon but my all-time favorite is Jimmy Stewart.

Favorite teacher: Mrs. White, high school math. She was a tiny woman, impeccably dressed and groomed, and wore Saran Wrap around her white cuffs to protect them from the wax pencils she used to write proofs on the overhead projector. She was extremely intelligent and a good teacher. She retired when my class graduated, so we were fortunate to have her all the way through.

Favorite food: strawberries. No sugar, cream, or shortcake necessary. Just a big bowl of strawberries, all by themselves.

Favorite wine: In general I prefer dry reds such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, but in warmer weather I’m partial to white zinfandel.

Favorite gadget: my iPad. Not nearly as bulky as my old iBook and much more versatile. I also really like my hot pink Otter box.

Favorite apps: iCal, Scrabble and of course, The Ten Plagues.

Favorite on-line game: If you don’t know about Cricklers, stop reading right now and go straight here. Best word game ever, and extremely addictive. I contributed to the geography and US president series until life started getting too hectic. Now I admire Michael and Barbara Crick even more for publishing puzzles every day without fail. Unlike web logs, news puzzles can’t be written ahead of time.