Monday, September 29, 2014


I've simplified my home filing system at last.  The floral letter basket on my desk only holds a few folders now:  Ideas for Blogging, Ideas for Content Writing, Money Articles, Spirituality, Literary Notes, and my favorite, Pursuits.  In here, I've collected quite a lot of paper, just as it should be.  Sifting through it I discovered there was not one item I could toss - each is the stuff of daydreams. 

It all began several years ago with a piece from Selvedge Magazine about the sewing life of Fanny Brawne as depicted in Jane Campion's "Bright Star", a haunting film about Fanny and the poet John Keats' doomed love affair.  I was delighted to find this article highlighting the remarkable ingenuity of an early 19th century home-grown seamstress and fashionista.  I knew that I would want to revisit Fanny over and over when searching for creative inspiration in the 21st century.

Later I attended a dear exhibit of little girls' samplers from 1728 to 1835.  These small works of art with distinct regional styles cast a spell on me - more so upon learning that the young creators often led arduous lives.  But some of the needlework motifs depict true joyfulness through Biblical verses and poetry.  The small keepsake pamphlet reminds me how much I want to learn more about this touching art form.

Also included in Pursuits is an article about the beautiful and tragic Empress Sisi who lived a monarch's life filled with transcendent fashion.  Although her ending was never going to be ordinary, I find her sadly compelling like a dazzling butterfly destined to die too soon.  I'm certain there are lessons from her life and one day I hope to pursue her further to see if she earned her prominent spot in my file afterall.

Two articles came to me synchronistically in a rare book dealer's catalog.  One, on collecting vintage fashion plates for the very latest in haute home décor and then two, on the delicate art of fashion illustration.  Since I dream of owning a lovely piece of feminine art for above my bed and knowing I could never afford the real deal, the articles have spawned a quest to find a pretty but affordable fashion sketch in just the right colors.  According to the authors however, I'd better hurry - both genres are fast becoming the collectibles-du-jour.  No matter, the articles have captured my imagination for color and style and have found me spending many happy hours at the local junk shops.

I sure wish I was able to visit Winterthur, Henry Francis du Pont's estate in Delaware for "Uncommon Threads" the travelling costume exhibit of Downton Abbey's most beautiful dresses.  I see it also included other noteworthy garments such as Carson's tailcoat. But for my money, the focus would have been on Lady Mary's tiered garnet gown which she wore on the winter evening Matthew proposed on bended knee outdoors in the snow.  I will smile wistfully whenever my hand lights upon this enchanting flyer.

Pursuits are vital because they give us something to think about beyond ourselves.  They keep us engaged in the world and give us hope.  They teach us there are other ways to live...they inspire us.  Pursuits are our future.

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. ~ Albert Einstein


  1. All the bits you've collected sound well worth keeping! I can't help wishing I could peek at some of them. :)

    I'm currently reading a book you might enjoy: The Needle's Eye by Maria Miller. It's about needlework and style and interclass interactions amongst the women of 18th century New England, and so far it's both thought provoking and fascinating. Miller even peeks into their closets and explains the fashions of the time. I can't imagine how much research Miller had to do, the sifting of primary sources to get glimpses of these women, but I feel so privileged to learn about her discoveries.

  2. Eva, I checked on the book and it does seem fascinating. I will order it. I watched the BBC mini-series Wives and Daughters recently and was impressed by how much sewing the women did and they were gentry! Thank you so much for the recommendation, for reading my blog, and for commenting!

  3. Amen with bells on, dear Donna! I feel like my house is my filing system for my pursuits. What a lovely, heartfelt post. I adore it. Well done, honey!

  4. You're welcome: I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did! Miller's written two other books since, including a biography of Betsy Ross.

    Wives & Daughters was such a good miniseries. :)