July 4th: What’s the State of our Nation?

Statue of Liberty

I spent some time last night wandering the wild lands of the internet, searching for inspiration, answers, clues, guides, insight into this nation of the United States of America. It is July 4th, our Independence Day. This year, it feels perhaps more poignant than ever to stop and consider what indeed makes up the character and fabric of our country. What do we stand for? What do we live for? What do we hope for?

In my fall down the Google rabbit hole, I found these quotes; some from the USA’s Founding Fathers, others from the wise and enduring women who accompanied them, or arrived later in our nation’s history.

  • “Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine
  • “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson
  • “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.” — Abigail Adams
  • “I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” — George Washington
  • “If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?” — Abigail Adams

We have largely mythologized the men and women who laid the foundation for the United States, and it’s easy to grab your favorite quote, post it to your preferred social media account, and uphold it as gospel when considering what it means to be an American citizen. But in the course of my research last night, I found too many instances to note here when the Founding Fathers warned that liberty, freedom, and a healthy republic were not alone guaranteed by the founding documents and principles upon which a nation is built. Rather, it requires the resilience and fortitude and ceaseless education of that nation’s people, to work every day toward its continued survival.

I love this country and I am proud to be called a citizen of this country. But, as ever, we the people reflect the state of our nation. So, on this 241st anniversary of the United States’ founding, I believe it is important to rededicate ourselves — each and every one of us — to the mission of carrying on. Let us not succumb to fatigue or weariness of spirit. There is beauty and strength and so much goodness to find in these united states, but we must all bear witness to that beauty, and hone in on that strength, and contribute as much goodness as we can, to maintain the essential character of our beloved nation.

Happy Fourth of July.

 

SIGNED, anya elise

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The Not-At-All Definitive Guide to Jane Austen Films

jane austen books and movies

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that when your husband leaves town for 8 days, you should ferret out every Jane Austen movie adaptation possible and rank them according to style, casting, overall feel, and that special, indescribable little pop that makes a film worth returning to year after year.

And so I did.

I should begin with a disclaimer that these rankings are 100 percent subjective, 110 percent silly, and 125 percent based on nothing more than my own zany mood, which was left to its own devices for 8 days straight, so you know, be warned, fair visitors. I should also say that even with that disclaimer, I took this pretty seriously, in the best and most fun way possible. There was a fair share of note taking that accompanied my happy viewing, and just a wee bit of research into certain actors, writers, directors, and even Ms. Austen herself.

The movies I watched were mostly chosen for convenience, i.e. the adaptations that I could either readily check out from my local library, or that I already owned, or that I was able to find on one online streaming service or another. I’ve indicated below where I found each copy so that you too can enjoy the experience if you feel thusly compelled. (Be careful though, engaging in this activity may result in you using words such as “thusly” and publishing them on the internet.) As the week progressed, I found myself wanting to compare different imaginings of the same story, so you will find two “Pride and Prejudice” movies represented, and two “Emma” adaptations. (Please note, the movies below are listed in the order in which I watched them.)

OK! Pull up a couch, grab some coffee, wine, ice cream, popcorn or all of the above, and let’s get to it.

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pocket postcards vol. 2

Dear Bonnie Brae Ice Cream,

Thank you for making all your ice cream and cones on the premises. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t have been positively drawn to your doorstep by the heavenly smell of cooking waffle cones wafting to greet me a block and a half away. You gave me no choice and I simply had to stop in after my walk to the library last week to get a scoop of ice cream. You’re a delight and a treasure.

To the governor, mayor, dog catcher, neighborhood watch rep, or appropriate local authority: How do we go about naming Bonnie Brae an official state treasure? I assume there’s a plaque involved. Or a medal. Get into it, wouldn’t you?

To waffle cones: You smell so delicious, you should be a perfume.

To mint chocolate chip ice cream: You are equal parts refreshing and comforting, how do you do it?

To the two teenagers who were scooping ice cream for me and the fleet of five- and six-year-olds that overtook the shop on that hot afternoon: You’re the true heroes.

To the notion that we should only indulge in such simple pleasures on “special occasions”: To you I say, what could be more special than a sweet afternoon walk through your beloved neighborhood on a warm summer day? Embrace the beauty in the ordinary and every day. There are many more special occasions to be found in our lives than we typically give ourselves license to enjoy.

With love,

A 30-year-old Waffle Cone Enthusiast

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Climbing Roses

I am a sucker for flowers. Any time I enter a grocery store, I have to stop and quite literally smell the roses. I usually restrain myself from stocking my entire basket with florals — one has to watch the budget after all — but it is certainly a struggle. So it’s always a delight when surprise flowers show up on my doorstep, as happened last week when my very kind landlady left us a small vase of climbing roses she pruned from her garden.

It seems to me my landlady was a professional florist in another life, because her garden-harvested floral arrangements are always perfection. She’s sweet and thoughtful, and shares these treasures with us freely throughout the season.  Her most recent creation begged to be photographed — the colors! the textures! — so I pulled out some gear and was quite content to get lost in the task.

Here’s wishing you all a good week ahead. Seek out beauty in all its many forms; that remains one of the best antidotes to the particular ennui and lethargy that can plague us these days.

 

SIGNED, anya elise

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Devil’s Thumb Ranch

I had to go back into the archives for this one, my friends. Way back. One and one-half years back to be precise. I thought perhaps I had shared this before on my former photo blog, but it turns out I didn’t. Compelling narrative, no? I should probably write a memoir.

The weather is getting warmer and I swear that summer will be arriving soon. Despite the fact that snow has been falling all day long (no….stop….leave us alone…), I am certain we are within reach of those long summer days full of sandals, mountains, outdoor grilling and more. With all this summer longing positively driving my every waking thought, I decided to finally share this little adventure from September 2015, at the one and only Devil’s Thumb Ranch


We arrived at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in the dead of night. The stars were bright in the exceptional darkness of nighttime in the mountains, and we rounded the last curvy road to pull up at the lodge, thankful to have arrived at long last following our late departure from Denver in Friday traffic.

We were there to celebrate Dan’s birthday, having won an overnight stay through a charity auction months prior. My dad frequently enjoys nordic skiing on the property, and I daresay I also have cross-country skied there myself once upon a time. But for all intents and purposes, this was my first visit to Devil’s Thumb Ranch. And Dan and I were ready to go all in.

This is what makes a place like DTR so great. If you simply start walking, straight from the back porch after breakfast, you have at your fingertips any number of trails and activities just waiting for you. Over the course of our brief visit there, we hiked (and got lost), rode horses through the mountains (and didn’t get lost), ate several amazing meals, and briefly considered crashing a wedding party. Oh, and I met a merry goat who I am certain most desired to start his own rock band.

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