Friday, November 30, 2012

I Need You

I Need You

     Helen is wearing her new shawl. I had to put on a thinking-cap (a knitted one of course) while it took me some days to formulate a pattern with size 0 needles. Knitting for Helen is the most frivolous thing I’ve done in a long time. 

     As this china doll was a housewarming gift from my sister-in-law I telephoned her with news of my frivolity. I thought she’d be pleased with the attention I was giving Helen.

antique china doll with knitted shawl

     At first she didn’t like the sound of it. “Don’t dress and redress her,” was my sister-in-law’s authoritative remark. “She’s wearing her original muslin gown, remember? It’s fragile and more than 100 years old.” This came from a serious antique doll collector who knows her stuff, so I took heed.

     “Yes, I’ll be careful,” I said contritely. I won’t handle her too much.” 

     She laughed when her stern warning was over, glad after-all that I was enjoying the company of a fanciful member of the family – even if Helen, regrettably, must be admired mostly from behind glass.  

tiny wool shawl with lace edge

Seal Morning
     The craving to knit the shawl came after watching a favorite film (again.)  (My men folk found other things to do that evening.) In an early scene of “Seal Morning” Aunt Miriam is wearing a delicate swallow tale edged lace shawl.

Molly's Lace
I chose "Molly's Lace" from Nicky Epstein's book "Knitting on the Edge." 

     Seal Morning” takes place in the 1930s on a seacoast of England. Rowena is orphaned when her parents die in a car accident. She is sent to live with Aunt Miriam. They meet for the first time – awkwardly. The cottage is tiny. Aunt Miriam’s income is slight. She works at painting china at her kitchen table, while at the same table Rowena works through her lifeless schoolbooks. The cottage is some distance from the nearest town by pony cart, but Miriam is comfortable living independent of friendship and welcomes the isolation. She prefers the company of animals to people.

     The seal pup Rowena rescues brings a bright spot into the dull days of Miriam and Rowena. Although we enjoy seeing the beautiful round-eyed seal I think the story really is about Miriam. She is a plain woman that has some pretty feminine ways about her in spite of how carefully she guards her emotions. Not naturally affectionate she softens up a little and grows in her love for Rowena, eventually confiding in Rowena a piece of her past. A fiancé broke the engagement. Miriam plans never to be so deeply hurt again.

     While walking along the sandy beach and through the lonely marshes, Rowena meets a biologist who is there to study a species of geese. She invites him back to the cottage. The biologist, Bernard, has gentlemanly manners. He and Miriam find that they share common interests. Their love of nature brings their souls together into a quiet (but very guarded) communion.

The family room where we watch films

      I couldn’t help but notice Miriam’s domesticity. With meager means she keeps her primitive cottage neat and tidy. Her hands are busy serving with punctuality and care. Linen conceals the rough table at mealtimes. For tea, little cakes are baked. While balancing a pie on one hand she trims the crust effortlessly with the other. Either the actress had practiced insanely much off-camera to make it appear natural, or pies are second nature to her. 

patchwork pillow cover for Christmas
Christmastime Pillow Cover - I like to make triangles. 

     Will Miriam decide that it is okay to need people? Some women resist giving into the soft side of their feminine natures – especially women today. Although they have remarkable gifts, talents and strengths, rather than lean on a man, they stubbornly rely on their own resources and resist giving into their soft side. None of us, however, is meant to live autonomously.  

The pillow cover is enveloped and tied on the back.

A Little Boy Lost
     Another favorite film of mine is “A Little Boy Lost” with Bing Crosby. If you like hearing his velvet voice singing “White Christmas” this time of year as much as I do, you will also enjoy the few songs in this film. But more so you will be absorbed in the story – that is - once you get passed the flashbacks that take up a good portion of the first scenes. They provide important foreshadowing.

     This is another story about relationships, lingering hurt, and about admitting to oneself, “I need you.” When I feel like a good cry I watch this touching film. It is an instant play on line.

British Evacuees
     Mr. Wainwright is an American radio journalist living in France who meets a French woman, Lisa. They marry. Soon WWII breaks out and Mr. Wainwright becomes a war correspondent. Just after Lisa gives birth Mr. Wainwright is sent on assignment to Dunkirk. Enemy invasion keeps the couple apart. While he works in England Mr. Wainwright learns that Lisa is killed. The baby – now a little boy - is lost in the shuffle - like so many children during wartime.

     Carrying the dull-ache of his sorrow around with him for years, he fools himself that he doesn’t need anyone – not even his true friend, whom he resents for acting as his conscience. Will Mr. Wainwright love, and trust again? Will he find his son when he travels to an orphanage in France or will he give up the search when he meets with discouragement?  

The Story of Holly & Ivy
     The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden is a tale that melts my heart at Christmastime. It is a beautiful book and a beautiful story. You may already know I am fond of Barbara Cooney’s nostalgic, folk-art illustrations. Although this children’s story is a bit fanciful to be realistic fiction this is precisely what makes it so endearing for those of us who believe in miracles.

     Ivy is a little orphan girl with a keen imagination and a longing for a doll of her own for Christmas. She also wishes to live in a quaint town in a family of her own. Holly is the doll in the red dress displayed in the shop window wishing for a little girl to play with her (not to be admired behind glass like my Helen). Childless Mrs. Jones, the policeman’s wife, wishes her Christmas gift could be a little girl. Reading how all these wishes come true may bring a tear to your eye. 

“However motherhood [or fatherhood] comes to you, it’s a miracle.” Valerie Harper – adoptive parent

Part of the Family
     Although the book, Part of the Family is meant to be an encouragement to foster and adopted children the book quite unexpectedly brought healing to my heart.

     Some remarkable people in the Bible were separated from their biological families. God used their foster care and adoptive families for His purposes. In these short chapters children will read the story of Moses, Joseph, Samuel, Esther, Daniel, the Israelite maid in Naaman’s household, Jesus (who had a stepfather) and others, in a new light.

      Losses in our lives can make us feel gloomy, forgotten, unimportant, but God can use losses for blessing. Trusting in His sovereignty we can rise above the seeming injustice in this fallen world with trust and gratitude. It is clear to me that author Merle Burkholder (who has cared for foster children) has compassion for young people struggling with this sensitive topic.

A light snow fell the day I decorated the parlor windowsill.

      I believe Part of the Family will comfort adults, too, with lingering hurt, adults - though not fostered or adopted - were perhaps raised with an unaffectionate stepparent or absentee parent that they need to forgive - or were brought up in an unbelieving household. All Christians, young and old, can take joy that they’ve been adopted into God’s family.     

“’Well, now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne,’ said Mathew patting her hand. ‘Just mind you that – rather than a dozen boys.’”  From Anne of Green Gables
china doll with hand knit shawl

     A few Sundays back, in church service, I curiously found these words in the Prayer of Confession. “Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for living as orphans . . .”
(Romans 8:16)

     With courage and humility we can say, “I need you.” In loving God, serving, trusting, needing Him - and one another - there resides our source of joy.

     Blessings at Christmastime

     Comments are welcome,

     Karen Andreola


  1. I am guilty of lurking at your weblog, taking the goodness and not thanking you for it. Today there was very much goodness in this post, and I was about to switch off my Google Reader (where I read the post) and go on with my day when I saw your final sentence: "comments are welcome." And I remembered my manners :-)

    So thank you, very much indeed, for this post. And for all the posts. And also for your Charlotte Mason education book, which has been one of the treasures of my homeschooling motherhood. Many blessings to your family at this beautiful season.

  2. Great post--I really needed it this evening. Thank you.

    Your doll’s shawl is perfect.

    Looking forward to viewing some of the films.


  3. Hello, Karen.
    How delighted I am each time I find a new post from you. Your words and photographs always encourage us to be gentle women. Thank you.

    I knitted a throw for my dollhouse couch a while back. I too felt rather frivolous, but it surely was fun!

    Christmas prepartations are in full swing at my house. Some people like the bustle of last minute crowds and shopping. I am not one of those people. I prefer to be snuggly tucked into my home by around December 15th. So far, I'm on schedule. We shall see...

    Enjoy the season,

  4. Oh, I meant to tell you that Helen's shawl is lovely.


  5. Beautiful and wise words, Karen.

    Thank you for the movie recommendations and the book titles.

    We have friends who are adoptive parents and this last book sounds wonderful.

    Merry Christmas to you!


  6. Oh this is beautiful! What a pretty shawl! And she is a very sweet doll too! Thank you for commenting on my blog. My Mom was pleased to see you liked her doll sweater. That made her smile. It made me smile to see a real author comment on my blog. Blessings to you, Mrs. Andreola!

  7. A most lovely shawl...a most inspiring post. Thank you, Karen, for the movie and book recommendations. "Part of the Family" sounds like just the book for several people I know (and perhaps, myself). A blessed Advent season to you and yours,


  8. "Part of the Family" sounds very interesting to me, also. Thank you for the recommendation.
    The story of "A Little Boy lost" sounded so familiar to me. Suddenly I remembered a review of it in a little magazine the wonderful "Persephone Books" of London is sending out twice a year. It must be the novel by Marghanita Lanski, isn't it? It wasn't reprinted for over 50 years until the ladies at Persephone discovered it again. The reviewer tells that she used it for her teenage daughter's christmas stocking and the young lady loved the book. (Hope this doesn't sound like I get paid by this tiny publishing house - I don't! I just love those elegant editions of forgotten novels!)
    I will look out for the film also. There are evenings when I am too tired to read...
    Wishing you a very peaceful and blessed season, Martina

  9. <3 Very Touching and Inspiring

  10. I love that you attend to the small making a hat for your antique doll. And taking the time for the smallish touches that make a house a home. I always love the glimpses of your own home in your posts. Your family room is beautiful...the red buffalo checks and the pie safe (drool!) and the lovely piecework pillow that you crafted.

    Thank you for the recommendations for films. Wonder if netflix has either of those. And your mention of the book Holly and Ivy brings back a precious memory of reading this on a Sunday morning in June to my (then) eight-year-old daughter who was under the weather. We snuggled on the couch while the rest of the family was at church and immersed ourselves in the story, and I wondered why I had never heard of it before.

  11. It is a pleasure to hear from you. There is something so consolatory about being in touch with like-minded ladies.

    Yes, I see that it is Persephone Classics - now that you mention it - who publishes "Little Boy Lost" by Marghanita Laski. I'd like to read it and look into their other published line of "retro" books. "Seal Morning" is a book written by Rowena Farre. The setting is a small croft in Scotland. It is more "retro-reading" that interests me.

    I think it is fine to peruse a public post like people used to relax with the newspaper - without necessarily sending a letter to the editor. The 20th century term "lurk" which I am most familiar with, makes the new 21st century blog definition seem a bit harsh and ill-fitting to me.

    Never-the-less it is always nice to be introduced to those of you who, once in a while, resonate with something you've read here.

    Thanks for saying hello,
    Karen A.

  12. Helen is beautiful in her wonderful shawl and looks very happy and content. I believe she must be very proud :) Blessings dear friend

  13. I *finally* penned a letter to you today! I've missed visiting here! I just LOVE the looks of your family is SO warm and inviting!! Love the little shawl you've knit for your beautiful Helen doll! I really like the silhouette framed art in the last picture!! GORGEOUS!! :) I put the Seal movie on hold to watch with hubby or my oldest daughter.

    Blessings to you, Karen! Amy