Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Jane endures

I saw the latest movie version of Jane Eyre on the weekend. It was okay but I prefer the version with George C. Scott, because I think he's a good Rochester. The new Rochester is a little too pretty. On the other hand, nobody would ever call Susannah York unattractive, and she was a bit long in the tooth to play Jane opposite Scott.

It's been noted that Jane Eyre's been filmed and remade many times, because it's a true classic. Why? Here's my take on what elevates Jane Eyre above a simple gothic romance - and also where too many versions miss the boat.

In the scene where Jane tells Rochester she needs to find a new job because he's getting married, Rochester realizes she's upset because she's fallen in love with him. Nevertheless, he lets her twist in the wind for what seems a cruelly long time before, basically, telling her he's going to marry her. At this point, as happy as Jane may be, Rochester is very much in the power position.

But the story doesn't end there. Jane flees, inherits money and returns to find that Rochester's home is in ruins and he's disabled. She doesn't care about his state; she's still passionately in love with him, and it's immediately clear he's still distraught over losing her. Yet notice that not only does Jane not pity him, she lets him twist in the wind for a while, just as he did her. In one way, this is showing him that she doesn't pity him; to her, he's the same as he ever was. But in another way, this shows that Jane's much more his equal now. This is, to me, the reason Jane Eyre is a classic. It's about a heroine who finds love and becomes an equal to the hero.

There's one other character who's key to Jane Eyre, though, and it's one that most film versions get wrong. St. John Rivers is supposed to be very handsome - movie idol handsome, in a way Rochester is not. And he's a minister - quite the catch for a Victorian woman without home or family. However, he's also got a huge martyr complex and sense of self-righteousness that stands in contrast to Jane's steadfast, but quiet, determination to do what is right. Think about what St. John Rivers would have said to Rochester if he'd been at the ruined wedding, and you see the difference between Jane and the future missionary. She's quietly firm, but forgiving. St. John? Oh, baby! I can just imagine him denouncing Rochester as Satan's minion and calling for the wrath of God to descend upon him.

Note, also, the difference in the men's reactions to Jane's strength of purpose when she rejects them. Rochester is distraught and does his best to change her mind through persuasion. St. John reacts as if she's stupid for not agreeing to marry him - poving exactly why she shouldn't. One man is a hero, the other is not.

Charlotte Bronte apparently didn't think much of Jane Austen's work - she wondered where the passion was. Fair enough - Austen tends to pull back from the major emotional moments between the hero and heroine. On the other hand, Austen would probably say Jane Eyre was "over the top" and too melodramatic. But I think Austen did create a character that was, in some ways, very much like Jane Eyre - the much-maligned Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. Fanny stands quietly firm in her decision not to marry a man everyone agrees would be a brilliant match for her, much like St. John could be seen to be a brilliant match for Jane Eyre. Fanny may be physically weak, as Jane is "little", but she, too, has an inner strength that doesn't yield. That's why Fanny, like Jane, is a heroine.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Keeping The Dog Dry

Son o' Mine has moved to Seattle where, as you may know, they get a lot of rain. Unfortunately, Son's pooch is not enamored of the rain, so I've made Bud a raincoat. Well, two, actually, because the fabric was wide and on sale. Hope blue's his color!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Frugal Bathroom Redo - Before, Part Two

In my previous blog post, I talked about what wasn't going to change as I redecorate the bathroom. Today I'm going to talk about what is changing.

We aren't changing the sink, but I do want to get a more vintage look for the handles. Here's what we have:

I want "cross handles" like this and I discovered that I can order a set of just the handles at Lowe's. Everywhere else I went, I was going to have to order the faucet, too, which makes switching a much more costly proposition.

To the left of the sink is the toilet, and above the toilet are a towel rack and shelf. The sides of the towel rack have yellowed, so I've purchased a new chrome towel rack. I bought the least expensive, reasoning that it will be covered by towels most of the time and I liked the sides of it as much as the more expensive ones.

This shelf was originally in my daughter's room, and this is the way it came from Ikea. When she moved out, I moved it to the bathroom. I found some leftover white furniture paint, so was planning to paint it and put it back. However, when I removed it, I was struck by how much roomier that part of the bathroom seemed, so now I'm thinking it may be destined for the cottage instead.

Currently, the linen closet door is a plain bi-fold. We bought a French door at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore, picked up the hardware at the local hardware store and the painters are going to hang it for us (and paint it). I have some leftover vinyl covering you put on like wallpaper that will make the glass look frosted. The porcelain door knob was $3 at the Restore.

Which brings me to the new shower curtain. I planned to make a fabric one, as I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted - white background, with a not-too-bold black and red pattern. After a trip to the fabric store didn't yield anything suitable, I remembered some fabric I've had in the cupboard for years. Yes, it would work, but there was one problem. I wanted the curtain to reach to the floor because I think it looks better and also because the front panel of the Jacuzzi tub has yellowed a bit on the end that gets the most sun. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fabric. But lo! I had purchased a remnant of plain white fabric of the same type and weight that would add the necessary length. I also needed something for the top edge that would give the fabric the necessary stiffness. I had some leftover heading tape for making pleated curtains that worked perfectly. So total cost of new materials for the shower curtain? Zero.

(But thus I may have given hoarders evidence that "I can use that someday" may indeed be a valid excuse to keep unused/extra materials for years.)

The painters are coming at the start of April. I'll update the progress of the Frugal Bathroom Redo sometime after that.

In the meantime, I've discovered my April book, HIGHLAND HEIRESS is going to be out in India!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Frugal Bathroom Redo - Before, Part One

Yesterday I talked about the decision to redecorate the main bathroom, specifically why and a few of the generalities, such as not moving the fixed elements (tub, sink, toilet, window, linen closet), or tackling major changes like the flooring.

Having decided to "embrace the vintage," here are pictures of some of the vintage elements of the bathroom that are staying, with some minor changes or fixes. I apologize for some of the angles - it was difficult to get enough distance to take the pictures.

First up, the medicine cabinet, with mirrored door (and yes, that's my arm and hand holding the camera). You can also see the black and white tile, and the chrome cup holders built into the wall. Unfortunately, the bottoms of the cup holders aren't in the best of shape; however, they're a great place for small scented candles, so I'm fine with leaving them "as is."

Although it's not obvious from the picture, the mirror's looking its age, especially around the edges. I called Suburban Glass and Mirror and was told it would be cheaper for them to make me a new one, and they could copy the shape of the existing mirror. Ballpark cost without seeing it? About $30 - 35. If it comes it at that price or a little more, I call that a bargain.

Below is another fixed element that would be a headache to change. Originally the knobs on these drawers were plain white porcelain. I changed them to black and will keep these. Above is a counter space.

I might put a cupboard over this, but only if I can find the right piece at the right price. Otherwise, it will be art work, or perhaps another mirror.

Continuing around the room to the left, here's the window. We got it replaced when shortly after we bought the house about twenty-five years ago and I see no reason to change it, or the frame. It's frosted on the bottom because the back porch is on the other side.

Tomorrow, I'll be talking about the changes I plan to make and show some of the things I've already made or purchased.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Frugal Redecorating

We've been toying with the idea of moving. Well, I've been toying with the idea of moving. We've been in this house for 26 years. That's a lot of time to make memories and a lot of time for things to accumulate. However, we bought a cottage last year that's three and a half hours away. The kids are grown up and out of the nest, so I'm thinking it would be nice to move to a smaller community that's still fairly close to the city, but also closer to the cottage.

I'm aware that fancy, modern bathrooms sell houses. We have done some updating over the years: we put in a Jacuzzi tub, a commercial toilet (the kind restaurants use - uses less water yet never clogs), a new pedestal sink and a laundry chute in the floor of the linen closet. We added more white tile to match the original over the tub (the original tile went only part way up the wall, so paint peeled because of steam). The tile is white, with black trim.

The floor is black and white tile, in a basket weave pattern, set in concrete.

So the first decision was, do we tear out the bathroom and start over completely? I even have an old buffet I bought for a bargain price thinking it would make a nice vanity.

BUT tearing out tile, especially the floor, would probably play havoc with the walls and ceiling of the bathroom we added beneath the main bath, as well as be quite expensive. Given the location of our house - we back onto a school and have a lane to the school beside us - I don't want to price our house out of our most likely market: families with young children.

So I decided that instead of tearing out what we have, I'm going to embrace the vintage look of the black and white tile and floor.

I'm also trying to use what we already have, or what I can buy on sale or used/recycled.

I'll start getting into the specifics of what I've already done tomorrow. With pictures!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Any sightings yet?

My latest book, HIGHLAND HEIRESS should be on bookshelves any time now. For the past few days, any time I'm in the vicinity of books for sale, I'm wandering by, seeing if it's there yet. So far, no dice. Has anybody else seen it?

Because although it will be twenty years since I made my first sale as author on April 2, some things never change. I still get a thrill seeing one of my books on a store shelf.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prepping for Painters

I decided it was time to get some painting done. My daughter's room hasn't been redecorated since she was about eight. She's now in her twenties, so...yes, about time.

I took down the wallpaper (not difficult, just needed a lot of water), and discovered minute cracks where every seam of the wallpaper had been. The walls are plaster, not drywall, and the drying paper had pulled the previous layers of paint apart. That means the cracks aren't in the plaster itself, but still - that's too much repair work for me, so it wwas time to call a pro.

I've gotten my estimates and am going for the most expensive guy. Why? I've discovered over the years that more often than not, you do get what you pay for, and he seemed the one prepared to do the most thorough prep. As far as I'm concerned, a good paint job is about 85% in the preparation.

That also means, though, that I've been scrubbing walls (to remove the last of the paste) and since we decided to get the bathroom done, too, taking down more paper and scrubbing more walls. And here I bet you thought romance writing meant a life of excitement and glamor!

Not that there isn't excitement. I'm looking forward to seeing HIGHLAND HEIRESS in stores soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The clocks go ahead, the clocks go ahead...

ahead, ahead, ahead, a heaaaaaad!

What you're missing here is the tune, because yes, I sing this as a merry little ditty of joy. Moving the clocks ahead is one of my favorite times of the year. More daylight in the evenings, no major meal or cleaning or shopping to do to celebrate - yep, my kind of event!

And no, I don't mind losing an hour's sleep. It's worth it!

(About the picture: This clock was a wedding gift to my parents.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

First Review!

I'm back and happy with the first four-star review of my next book, HIGHLAND HEIRESS, from Romantic Times.

"Moore taps into the culture and mores of Scotland to create a colorful Highland love story. ...* (with) a cast of charming characters, Moore delights her fans."

Even better, they included a picture of the (beautiful) cover.

I'm getting back to the blog later than I anticipated because I got sick when I got home from the cottage. Nothing major, just enough to mean I had to play catch-up when I was feeling better.