Saturday, August 15, 2015

I Capture the Castle

The title of this post is from the marvelous book by Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle.  The story is dreamy and funny and shimmers like a crystal bowl in a shaft of sun.  A timelessness clings to the pages but it reads as though it were written yesterday afternoon.  Cassandra Mortimer overcomes poverty and dramatic family secrets to come of age in a decrepit old castle that she does indeed, capture.

I especially love the character of Miss Blossom, the ever-present dress form that resides in Cassandra's ramshackle room and to whom she throws her voice when she and her sister, motherless, are in need of consolation and advice.  (I used to do a Miss Blossom bit for my niece Hillary and she still addresses her letters to me with "Dear Miss Blossom"). These days, Miss Blossom is speaking to me as I begin to fall in love with my house all over again...warts and all.  Her voice is soothing and comforting as she says over and over, "all will be well" and "in due time, my dear".  The feelings of being overwhelmed are slowly dissipating.

Of all things, a simple shower curtain has helped too.  I saw it in a window at a local curtain shop.  It has all the botanical beauty I can stand with trailing vines, wandering wisteria and roses - always roses.  I walked by it three times before ducking in to finger it and then order it.  Lucky me to find an old "Miss Blossom friend" working there, from my favorite once-was Laura Ashley shop.  When Judy told me I should have it, my mind pictured my bathroom and I asked if there was a valance for the window too?  And fabric to make a cafe curtain for my vanity?  Oh yes, yes, and yes, I was told.  And a sale price.  I thought of the dresses the Mortimer girls crafted for the dinner party they were invited to that promised to elevate their status with a marriage proposal.

I left the shop with a fabric swatch large enough to hang over the rod. But the funny thing is, this scrap of fabric had me taking my floral plates off the wall and cleaning them, rearranging my potions and lotions and generally tidying up while I wait for my new things.  When I was done there, I finally opened the door and took a gimlet eye to the bedroom my daughter recently vacated.  What will this space actually be?  With (floral) notebook and pen in hand, I set to work scribbling a list of furnishings and belongings I would move into the room:  style books, my desk, a sleeper love seat, television and cabinet, baskets for files.  The closet will hold off-season clothing and hats.  I had a plan after flailing about for a few weeks and nearly purchasing another place to begin all over with.

But this house has tender memories, creature comforts, and a certain charm I wasn't able to find in the other one.  I have a comfortable and beautiful terrace that abuts a wooded grove with hidden ferny grottoes.  The property lines are encircled by an ancient stone wall most like built by the Native Americans who lived in this spot centuries ago. The sea is over the tree tops from my second story windows.  Yes, there is work to be done including painting which I hate.  But little by little, twig by twig, I will tend to it all.  I am a one-woman show but I will ask for help, hire when necessary, and stick to my plan.  I WILL capture this place.  A wise woman once told me that intention becomes reality.  Now it wasn't Miss Blossom who said that - but it sure could have been.


"I can't dance or sing but I can turn a house into a living, breathing thing".
(Paraphrased quote that I cannot recall the source of, but I love it!)


  1. I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books and movies. I am enthralled with windows and views from them and Cassandra was too. I'm sure she would love your new botanical fabric and I know she would understand how you lost your heart to it.

  2. I've been privy to a lot of these meandering thoughts as you've come to the capture point and I'm thrilled for you. Figures it would be pretty fabric-with flowers-that turns the tide! Can't wait to hear about the progress! XO

  3. ICTC is absolutely my favorite book of all time. I first read it when I was 10, and it gets better with every reading (nuances, life experience, etc.) I too have a Miss Blossom in my bedroom. She happens to be just my size (though much older of course).