Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Promotion of the Idyllic

Promotion of the Idyllic
First the Big News
A baby girl, 7 lb. 9 oz., was born to Yolanda and Daniel. They named her Liliana. We are smitten with her and her button nose.

Two Children’s Books
In my Preface to Lessons at Blackberry Inn I admit to something. I admit to joining the ranks of the idealistic. I say

I believe an author of children’s fiction has a duty to describe the world as it ought to be, as it can be. 

A blog friend gave me this book mark after she visited Prince Edward Island this summer.
One of my aims in writing was to demonstrate that the “idyllic principle” is also applicable to stories for grown-ups.

It was the “idyllic principle” that enabled me to warm up to the story, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum. I love this story.

As I continue in my Preface of Blackberry Inn, “All fiction is useful chiefly to animate truth, to inspire some noble aim or sweet spirit.”

Good fiction increases our understanding and our sympathies. Do such books encase us in a bubble? They don’t have to. While upholding virtue, they might introduce us to unpleasant and even life-threatening conflict. In The Winged Watchman, the main characters are a Catholic family living in Nazi occupied rural Holland. Dad runs a windmill, one of the few non-electric water-pumps in service. Hunger and secrecy are part of what this family lives with every day. We learn their secrets one chapter at a time. Meanwhile, as we read, created for us are scenes of faith, hope, patience, industry, trust, generosity, hospitality, parental love - - - and lots and lots of courage.

Love requires courage.
Love is courage in action.

If I could go back and homeschool all over again I would make this a family read-aloud.

A 10-year-old boy, Joris, is central to the plot. I like Joris. And I like his mother very much. She holds the family together. I mentioned some years ago, how rare mothers seem to be in fiction. Motherless characters seem to fill the pages of fiction (including Shakespeare and Dickens.) Here, however, Mother cannot escape notice. And in the last chapter, the beautiful sentiments of admiration for her, voiced by Father, left me with a face wet with tears when I closed the book.

War-torn Holland in WWII would have been unlivable without faithful mothers and fathers. The unity of a strong family is also capable of supporting (and rescuing) members of the community. In The Winged Watchman, this family’s strength has a spiraling effect. (Hilda van Stockum drew the illustrations for her own story.)

Another little quilt made as a table topper with mini charm squares.
Just before I read The Winged Watchmen, I just happened to have watched the fast-paced 1940 Alfred Hitchock film “Foreign Correspondent” with Joel McCrea (a favorite actor of mine) with Dean, so I got a good look inside of one such old Dutch windmill. The film takes place at the onset of WWII.

I picked up another story by Hilda van Stockum: The Borrowed House. This family is not idyllic. I found the tone to be different, too. And the religious motivation dim. It was written 30 years after The Winged Watchman.

The story is for children somewhat older. The main character is a 12-year-old girl, Janna. In Germany she is indoctrinated in Hitler’s Youth Camps. Yet, what she observes and experiences after moving to Holland, gets her thinking. Janna's ideas privately turn around without anyone debating her early impressions. My first thought was that such easy wanderings off her foundations is far-fetched. But perhaps in the stressful times of war, life and ideas are intensified and it might be believable. Therefore, perhaps we have the idyllic principle here after all.

I should tell you something that felt uncomfortable during my reading. Janna’s mother receives friendly attentions from the handsome baron, although she is happily married. This worries Janna. It worried me, too. It is the baron who, by some connection, is letting the family “borrow” the house with its servants – a house that belongs to a well-to-do Jewish family (who were forced to leave.) The fine possessions of the Jewish family fill all its rooms.

We noticed the idyllic principle applied by this painter on Saturday.
The value of The Borrowed House is its presentation of ideas, however lightly touched upon these conflicting political views are. In the last chapter it is a relief to Janna to learn that her beautiful mother remains faithful to Janna’s father. And although I am giving this away for obvious reasons, I am not giving away sub-plots involving some likable courageous characters of the Resistance. 

Life is not idyllic. When I heard my cousin started chemo-therapy and radiation I started knitting.
Other News 
My new book is about to be sent to the printer. Its quotes and footnotes are many. These all had to be checked and re-checked for accuracy. Nigel worked patiently with me on the fussy lay-out. On his computer he cleaned up more than 40 antique illustrations that were scanned from my collection of antique books. He fixed a cloudy eye, softened a sharp nose, removed a misplaced shadow, etc. With this big project finally ready for printing my eye has stopped twitching. My prayer is that it will minster to the biggest concerns of the busy home teacher.

Knitted Lace
I like this simple scalloped edge from Knitting on the Edge by Nicky Epstein, p.88. I used it for an inch before knitting k2,p2.

(multiples of 6) Place markers are helpful.
Row 1  (ws) Purl.
Row 2  K1,*yo, k1, sk2p, k1, yo, k1; rep from * to end.
Rep rows. Knitting in the round Row 1 is K from now on.

(sk2p is: skip 1, knit2tog, pass slip st over knit2tog.)

Cap for a cousin.
By Hilda van Stockum

The Winged Watchman

The Borrowed House

I'd like to read her story The Mitchells, next. It is published by Bethlehem Books.

Alas, the table topper is serving its purpose on the night stand. Dean reads Charlie Brown to unwind.

Dean likes photographing the swallowtails on our zinnias out front. Aren't they beautiful? 

Until next time,
Karen Andreola


  1. We loved The Winged Watchman. What an excellent book. Congrats on the new arrival.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. Dear Karen,
    Your newest grandbaby is a doll! Congratulations! I always look forward to your book recommendations, and ooh and ah over each little quilt. They are lovely and inspiring. Our family is gearing up for another year of homeschool, excited for the feast ahead. My best to your whole family, and your cousin, too.
    Apryl Craighead

  3. Karen, I HAD to giggle at the second-to-last photo. My youngest son (10) checked a Charlie Brown book out at the library just yesterday. He explained it was "because school started." :) We all need to unwind.

    Lilliana is just lovely. What a blessing.

    This summer I have read and watched a lot of Elizabeth Gaskell. My sons all enjoyed Cranford with me. I expected to watch it alone. Judi Dench was the perfect Miss Matty. I started reading 'My Lady Ludlow' this week, which is one of the books on which the Cranford miniseries is based.

    I started a small cross stitch project in anticipation of Christmas but it is slow-going. Maybe once we settle into a routine...

    I am so looking forward to your book. I'm glad your eye stopped twitching. :)

    Fall is in the air this morning after several hot, humid days. I hope you're well. Thank you for the beautiful words and pictures.


    1. Ha, ha "because school started" gives me a laugh. Thank you, Kristyn.
      I, too, started a project for Christmas.
      I so enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell. I'm not yet familiar with "My Lady Ludlow."

  4. Karen,
    I must comment on the newest grand baby...a button nose indeed ,and all those roses, she looked like one of the blooms herself!
    I read the Winged Watchman to my children years is an excellent read. I might need to go back and read it again. I can appreciate the idyllic daily, and for that I am truly thankful.

  5. Congrats Karen! I Love hearing from you. Your encouragements refreshes my soul and reminds me of why I do what I do. I walked away from your post singing to my children. God is good.

    Many blessings,

  6. Congratulations on your beautiful granddaughter. She IS just lovely. I'm so glad you shared about these books, we are entering the WWI and WWII eras together as a family and I've been looking for good ones. I am sooo very excited about your book and I own you a letter soon. I've been digging around your blog a lot lately and just finished my summer reread of Companion, Karen. I appreciate you continuing to share and support all of us mothers and educators. Love, Amy P.S. I'm idealist too.

  7. Lilliana is as beautiful as her name! I am SO excited to hear you have a new book coming. Thank you for the book recommendations. I look forward to reading The Winged Watchman to my children. Thank you also for the beautiful photos you sprinkle throughout your posts. Reading your posts are like a lovely little break in the day. :)

  8. Liliana is absolutely beautiful!! Many congratulations to you, your daughter and family!

    My mom read "The Winged Watchman" aloud to my sisters and I when we were youngsters. I remember we all really enjoyed it. My mom also read aloud the Mitchell series, that series was a real favorite, especially the first book "Five for Victory".

    Your quilt table topper is lovely. The fabrics you used are so pretty, and I am impressed by all of the tiny detail work.

  9. What a beautiful baby! Congratulations to Yolanda and Daniel!

    The Winged Watchman is a favorite around here.

    It's so nice to see your latest creative endeavors. And thanks for the lace edging reference!

    Looking forward to your next book.


  10. I will look for those books, thank you.

    Is that Anne and Diana on the bookmark? Lovely!

    1. Yes, Debby. Visiting Prince Edward Island was a dream come true for my southern friend who has loved "Anne of Green Gables" since girlhood. She picked up this bookmark while there. She and her family swung by here to have lunch with us on their way home. It was a highlight of my summer.

  11. Thank you, Ladies, for your well wishes, compliments, and keeping in touch.

  12. Karen, The Cranford miniseries was based on 3 books, "Cranford," "Mr. Harrison's Confessions," (which is about the doctor and Sophy and his misadventures), and the one I'm reading, which includes Harry and Miss Galindo. I thought the miniseries writers did such a good job of combining the stories. I actually found the books in one volume on, called "The Cranford Chronicles." My favorite Gaskell novel is "North and South," and I it is my favorite of the film adaptations. I think the relationship between John Thornton and Nicholas Higgins, growing from animosity to respect, is so well written. Well, that's enough of my book and movie reviews for one day.

    1. I learned something new today here, Krystyn, by your review, while warming myself in your lovely enthusiasm. I heard that the film Cranford combined three stories but never looked into what the other two stories were. Thank you. (I have the 3 Gaskell films on DVD.) I enjoyed reading Cranford and North and South. I like John Thornton and Margaret Hale very much. The reading of North and South, for me, was a little weighty but well worth the hike, indeed. I would read it again. If we are talking favorites, mine is Wives and Daughters. Molly is "one in a million."

  13. I am so very happy to hear of Yolanda's good news. How beautiful. Congratulations all around. We loved The Winged Watchman as a read aloud a number of years ago. I look forward to one more reading of it with my youngest next year. I am so very excited for your next book. Any hints about it that you can share?

    1. Hi, Thank you for your kind words.
      And for your anticipation of my new book. It addresses the kinds of topics I've already presented here on this blog; a sort of "best of" Mother Culture and how these topics blend with Miss Mason's principles for a happy homeschool. It is a collection of 40 concise chapters on those things that concern the hard-working mother most. I tried to inspire, challenge and encourage, to minister like an older woman in the Lord. I hope it will be a book that older women will share with young mothers, that friends will share with friends.

    2. Karen, your book sounds amazing! I got all caught up in the nuts and bolts (the letter of the law, if you will) of Charlotte a few years ago, and reading the Companion and Blackberry Inn was exactly what I needed. Such a breath of fresh air reminding me to follow the Spirit of the law, and not get lost in the weeds :) Can't wait for this new one!!!

  14. Karen, Congratulations on your new grandbaby! She is beautiful! I am really looking forward to your new book. I can't wait! I love the knitted cap, too. Did you make up the pattern, or is it available somewhere?

  15. Congratulations on the new grandbaby! I am delighted for you!
    Your pictures are always so inspiring and pretty. Your story recommendations are also wonderful.
    I enjoy reading Charlie Brown books too.
    God bless you!

  16. Congratulations on the birth of Liliana. She is beautiful. Thank You for the books you mentioned. God Bless you and yours.

  17. Karen it is so nice hearing from you. Your posts are always an inspiration. Your granddaughter Liliana is beautiful. The table quilt is lovely.
    God Bless

  18. Congratulations on your newest granddarling! Her button nose is indeed precious. šŸ’•

    I smile every time I see a picture of your chair as I have a chair in that exact fabric. When choosing the fabric for our chair, yours was my inspiration.