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small simple sweet

A merry heart goes all the day, warding off evils of everyday existential life. The Bard said, “Frame your mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.” Which also strikes the biblical chord of “Refrain from anger. Turn from wrath. Do not fret; it leads only to evil.” It all fits Sally’s way of fulfilling demands placed on her daily tasks in life and enjoying small pleasures in the simple and sweet novelty of it all.

Author’s note: with my new iPhone, nothing is impossible 🙂 I hope to make a short film, using a series of stop motions, in future.

untitled episode

img_0162All lawyers are educated, expensive mercenaries of fortune with a high chance of variable expediency in allegiance to whoever employs their burst of legal pep, or “intelligent drudgery,” so to speak. Lawyers know no fear but lots of hubris that can move heaven and earth because of their Napoleonic credo of “There’s no word for impossibility in my dictionary.” To Sally, it’s a real case of Sartre’s existentialism which dictates that “Experience precedes essence.” And yet, the images of gentlemanly lawyers in the characters of Atticus in To kill a mockingbird played by Gregory Peck and Kavanagh QC portrayed by John Thaw are hard to be disembarrassed from Sally’s abstract ideas of fine lawyers.

img_0164Sally’s position of legal assistant wears many hats: secretary, paralegal, accountant, receptionist, calendar person, and whipping girl paid to do a one-man show at a high price. You may yoke the concept of the position into that of a pricey maid, sort of an upgraded modern version of educated head maid you may see in TV period dramas, such as Upstairs and Downstairs, Berkeley Squares, and The Duchess of Duke Street. Accordingly, like a dutiful head maid in a manor house, docile Sally exerts all her efforts to fulfill incredibly hectic demands imposed upon her daily tasks with graceful patience and her very pretty smile.

img_0163“It’s all a mind game, a sort of mental Tetris in which I have to find out a way to accomplish my tasks without being jammed with constantly generating tile blocks to be upgraded to the next level. And I want to win in this game.” Surely, as consciousness is the foundation of the universe, marshaling self-discipline and courage to perform her tasks to the fullest extent possible is the sine qua non of her happy metier. After all, the nature of lawyering turns its practitioner into a professional inquisitor of wickedness of mankind as observed by Arthur Schopenhauer.


The perfect Victorian wedding


Marriage is an official commitment of love. A man and a woman tie the knot of conjugal relationship in which both of them promise to remain true blue till death do them apart. Call it anachronistic or incongruent or even antediluvian, but even in this era of the social media and reality entertainment, this traditional sense of marriage is still valid, complacently being moored to societal conventions and traditions. Well, anyway, it really doesn’t matter to Lady Seraphina, who remained maiden, still remains maiden, and will remain maiden, unless Aphrodite concocts the same kind of love-play on her as the one she did on Dido thousands years ago. But readers can rest assured because it is hardly ever so that Lady Seraphina will likely relinquish her maiden license which permits her to regale herself with romantic solitude as her sanctuary. She is above her class, she is above her sex, she is above her race. Seraphina belongs to her own class that resembles none other than itself. That’s probably why she stays unsullied by leering eyes of the undesirable.

Notwithstanding the aforesaid account of Seraphina’s maiden ladyship, she does not eschew the subject of wedding if it involves historical anecdotes and interesting vignettes, such as the following facts about the Victorian wedding she came upon from her reading. Always a student of history, especially about everyday life of ordinary folks and eccentricities of aristocrats (the persons of Sandwich and Portland conjured up suddenly), Seraphina read about it with a kind of cheeky relish conflated with a social superiority that reminded her of her uniqueness on par with Pythia, Artemis, and Vestal Virgins. Anyway, the facts about the Victorian wedding were quite interesting to compare the bygone customs and norms with those of modern day (come to think of it, the “modern day” will be a bygone day in any time soon.) The following were what Seraphina learned from the read:

  • Selection of the perfect partner (so to speak): The right status and temperament were the elemental basis of a desirable husband. Love? Enough of it was believed to follow upon marriage, as St. John Rivers proposed to Jane Eyre whom he regarded as a suitable wife of a missionary in India, a female apostle. In fact, the creator of Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte urged a friend to consider a proposal of marriage even if she felt disgusted for the man, so long as he had common sense, a good disposition, and a manageable temperament. However, crossing over the boundaries of classes was a rarity. It’s probably why a romance between Mr. Edward Rochester and Jane Eyre, a governess under his employment, was quite sensational to readers of the time. The average ages for marriage were 26 for men and 24 for women. However, girls at 12 and boys at 14 could also marry under the consents of their parents.
  • Where to tie the knot: All marriages were to be performed according to the rites of the Church of England with the exception of Jews and Quakers (Note that Catholics were still disfranchised in the realm of societal privileges due to England’s being staunchly anti-papist.) However, thanks to the Marriage Act 1836, couples were able to marry in a register office and according to their own religious rites, as long as they did so in a registered place of worship with a civil register in attendance. In fact, many an eloped couple and bigamist preferred a civil ceremony that gave them more privacy than a religious ceremony. Think of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester who married in front of a magistrate as the narrative hinted at the end of the story.
  • Selection of wedding dates: Spring and summer wedding days were in-vogue among the city bourgeoisie and country aristocrats, whereas among farmers October was the most popular following the harvest season. In the wake of Industrial Revolution, Sunday became the most favorable wedding day for city workers in urban areas. Until 1886, weddings had to take place between 8:00 AM and noon with an extra half-day off given to urban laborers. Thereafter, the hours were changed to 3:00 PM to reflect both the working hours of the lower classes and change of social habits of the upper class.
  • Post-Wedding activities: The bigger and more extravagant wedding banquet was, the wealthier the host thereof – usually at the home of the bride – was regarded as. It was usually breakfast served at the banquet. After the procession of the guests and ceremonial functions, the newly-married were hurriedly off to a love nest where they could be left alone to get to know each other in the most intimate and loving way. Which attests to what George Elliot, who was in fact never officially married, said of the nature of honeymoon as aiming “to isolate two people on the ground that they are all the world to each other.” This honeymoon ritual became an important part of the process of getting married and was called “a wedding holiday,” so to speak. But alas, for some couples it was a time when the flaws and faults of a partner were laid bare, revealing cardinal irreconcilability in naked truth.

IMG_3985So the Victorian wedding was more of a social function that displayed one’s status and wealth. And with respect to the honeymoon occasion, it was something to be reckoned with in this modern time when the idea of marriage has become nothing more than official proclamation of legal co-habitation that is subject to be a void under the convenient pretext of irreconcilable differences between the partners. Besides, marriage now is more of a serial monogamy due to a fashionable trend of divorce. Seraphina thinks that although time changes and people change, marriage should be a sacred rite of starting a new family, the basic unit of society, a cradle of civilization that should not be dealt with a whimsical or capricious spark of passion soon to be extinguished time after time. Hasty marriage seldom proves well. Seraphina may be an old-fashioned lady with traditional values and pristine ideas about love and romance, but she believes that marriage as a time-honored institution throughout our civilization that has been preserved for thousands of years should be respected and kept alive as William Shakespeare concurred: “Marriage is a matter of more worth than to be dealt in by attorneyship.” And mind you that the real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in a grand hotel or church. It’s a capital choice you make that is reflected in the way you treat your partner. Which also links to what Oscar Wilde advised to would-be lovers: “Never fall in love with one who treats you like you are ordinary.” How rightly so!


Pleasure Garden, Emerald Thoughts


        Mary’s Proud Pleasant Garden

What an immaculately beautiful sunny Saturday it is! The sun claims its indomitable superiority alone in the azure sky without the scatterings of clouds with occasional pleasant breezes sent from the nearby Pacific Ocean, or “the Lethe of the Pacific,” according to Henry David Thoreau, who saw the West as Land of Rebirth or Rejuvenation where you could exorcise all your past easterly mishaps and misfortunes by the baptism of water in the Pacific. In the poetic eyes of Thoreau, a Lethean stream flew through the West, and it was imperative we drink it to forget the Old World and its Institutions in order that we could start anew in the West. With this poetic justice rendered by Thoreau in mind, Mary Lamb, a benign spinster and loving aunt of Sally Lamb, couldn’t think of doing anything more pleasant and uplifting than tending to her lovely garden this afternoon.


   Everything grows with love.

Mary is an expert gardener trained in her old family home in New Jersey when she was little. It was her father Ted who inculcated in  her the wonder of nature and the beauty of simplicity. On point of digressive notes, people think that it was Leonardo da Vinci who legitimatized the aphorism of “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” But come to think of it, who would not have arrived at such stratagem of aesthetics throughout our human civilizations? It’s all about the merits of whoever said it. That is, your status weighs against the validity of sayings.  For what’s worth, Mary’s gardening skills and her love of gardening prevails on any such abstruse philosophical musings of influential talking heads just for the sake of its pleasantness.


Homegrown organic vegetables!

Laura Collie, a good neighbor of Mary and trusty confidante, calls on Mary’s to look at her lovely garden in the afternoon. Laura wants to decorate her backyard with flowers and hedges around it, but the whole task of doing it seems daunting because she has so many other businesses to attend to: a wife, a mother, a shopkeeper, and a member of church’s guild for women. Laura thinks that Mary’s spinsterhood imparts freedom from marital obligations to her, which sometimes Laura secretly covets. But then unlike Mary, Laura is always surrounded by her laconic but loyal and understanding husband Paul and their perky and smart daughter Julie at home. Surely, looking at Mary’s gardening makes anyone think about the life itself. It’s a visual exhibition of life with its vicissitudes, with its impositions, and with its obligations, all beautifully embroidered with flowers, plants, and trees.


      The laborer is worthy of the reward.

When Mary finishes her gardening, she invites Laura to have refreshments with her in her proud garden to bask herself in the beauty of the sun and nature in general. It’s also very gratifying to have a glass of cold orange juice or Fanta after laboring on the nature’s work, which Mary regards as a religious experience of being a guardian of nature with the power of appointment by the Creator. Mary, who is also an admirer of Thoreau’s work, understands why Thoreau did not go to church despite being a Christian; it’s because of this feeling of sacred guardianship of nature conferred by the Creator, which can’t be felt by mechanical recitation of prayers without understanding the meanings. Although Mary’s unorthodox views on faith and the church worry religious Laura to a certain degree in a way that makes her unmarried friend look perched precariously on the brink of heathenism like a solitary village cunning woman in Elizabethan England accused of being a witch, Laura admires her spiritual friend’s tenderness toward nature and aesthetic expression of herself through gardening that is all the more resplendent with her erudition from reading many a good book, mostly classics pertaining to previous centuries. While enjoying the carpe diem of the afternoon, both Mary and Laura think in harmony that God is in his heaven, and all’s well with this world.





Walking on Sunshine


After four consecutive days of rains and clouds, the sun is finally resplendent with its divine fiery halo in the high blue sky. What a pretty Saturday morning it is! Naturally, Bonnie could not help but perambulate the avenues and streets of Avonlea with her two twin brother and sister called Amy and Eddie in a perambulator. Bonnie and the twins became orphans when their parents died at sea from the sinking of Zeus five years ago. Since then, the children have lived with The Collies because Laura Collie is their distant maternal aunt. Laura and her husband consider them as one of their own, provisioning them with all the necessities of comfortable life. And yet, Bonnie feels that there’s a certain feeling of sadness, loneliness, and yearning all integrated into a crystal ball  of melancholy placed in a jewel box of her heart. It’s like having a dainty music box where you keep your sentimental treasure, such as jewels from your grandmother and your locket from your childhood, and put them on when you reminisce about the memories and are intoxicated with the fragrance of nostalgia that belongs only to you.


“Good morning, Bonnie! Are these twins your brother and sister? They are so cuddly! What are their names?” Betty Beaver is so enthusiastic to see the babies that she is almost panting with excitement. Betty has her baby brother named tommy, aged 3, and loves him dearly. But seeing this pair of twins makes her heart leap with ebullient joy. “They are Amy and Eddie. Amy was born three minutes earlier than Eddie, who was actually holding her plump ankle while coming out into the world.” Bonnie regrets providing extraneous information on the moment of the twins’ birth because she doesn’t like to be overly talkative, revealing too much about herself. But then it’s such a pretty Saturday afternoon promenade with her brother and sister that she could be lackadaisical about it and all other existential dealings that lay ahead of her.


After the nice brisk sauntering, Bonnie and Helen are having nice lunch together at Sylvanian Restaurant down on Petticoat Lane, where food is honest-to-goodness made on the premise 6 days a week. (The  proprietor is a very devout Catholic lady, so she attends every Sunday Mass.) Helen feels liberated from her domestic obligations for being a wife and a mother while she’s alone with her neighbor Bonnie. And Bonnie? Well, it’s not exactly freedom secretly entertaining because she never felt burdened with her duty to take care of her twins. But she could at least forget about worries and chronic anxieties about what tomorrow would bring  and dispel her occasional bouts of melancholy by wallowing herself in delicious food and confabulating with Helen. That’s a simple joy of life that Bonnie wants to keep with small pleasures that make her feel loved and content. Simple soul with streaks of melancholy as she may be, Bonnie ‘s philosophy of life is livable and lovable with all its artlessness and genuineness.