About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pretty, Venerable Things

Photo credit:
J. D. Morehouse

To the right you see my very beautiful and very old (circa 1800) crystal inkwell with the tortoiseshell lid, gilt detail and the monogram "PW" in beautiful, highly stylized script. Even in a photo reduced significantly to blog size, one can see the sun sparkling off of the facets in the cut glass. When one opens the lid of the inkwell, a tiny glass receptacle waits to be filled with dark liquid for writing. Next to it lies my contemporary, but no less venerable, larger (to distinquish it from my smaller) Waterman fountain pen with the 18 kt. gold nib. These things mean much to me.

My father has been married many times. Ex and I used to say, "You're not Elizabeth Taylor (similar to him in age, anyway). You don't have to marry everyone you fall in love with." But he does, he has, he did. Londa was the one who mattered, and that cuts my mother, his first wife, and all the others off at the knees. Londa came along when he was in his 50s, I in my 30s, she in her 40s. She'd been married once, and was related to a well-known celebrity, but that story shall come later. She never had a child. The fact that I became miraculously pregnant soon gave her a gift she treasured ~ Amber.

Londa was "different". Adorable and funny and bright and deep, but childlike. No "sense". She loved cats and dogs and Dad often said, "The best life one could hope for would be as one of Londa's pets." She grew up in Hollywood where her father managed the well-known Grauman's Chinese Theater. She spent her early life walking from school to the theater each day and seeing every movie that ever came along. That gave her a taste for acting and her degree was in Theater Arts. She never pursued any employment in a related field. I think she studied that in college for the pure love of the subject.

She loved pretty things and decorated their home beautifully. They lived in Big Bear, California, where her father was the mayor. My father ran an art and framing gallery where he displayed the works of several British water colorists he represented in the U.S. Londa owned a video rental store, of course - she could sit in her shop and watch movies all day. Big Bear is packed with artsy stores, local artisans show their wares at street fairs and craft shows . . . . Dad once blushed and said to me quietly that he figured she'd spent about $25,000 on "pretties" for the house in a very short amount of time.

It came to pass that I would have my first trip to Britain. Dad and Londa flew over a couple of days before Ex and I. I was so excited to be headed there for 6 weeks, I could have flown myself there by flapping my arms - who needs TWA? When we arrived, the rental car was ready, our US currency changed to pounds, maps and atlases galore - for this was a free-form 6 weeks. We agreed we'd go anywhere any one of us wanted to go.

It was a dreamlike trip. I made my pilgrimage to Abbey Road and Liverpool. Dad took me to the village in Wales where all the "Nows" in the tiny churchyard cemetary were actually my ancestors. Ex found the best pubs and nightspots. But Londa showed me some of the loveliest things I know about: Penhaligons - purveyors of fine scents to the Royal Family since the 1700s, Harrods - self-explanatory, the theater, and the lovely antique shops that abound throughout the U.K. Walking along the Thames, Ex and I made a corny vow to return to England every year of life during April and May.

Arriving home, tired and grouchy after a 12 hour trip . . not feeling very well, and having suffered a flight that originated in Berlin and was packed with Germans who were already pretty far gone when we boarded in London, we stuffed all our luggage in the living room and went to sleep for days. I'd been home a week when I opened the bag in which the inkwell had been sneaked. "For Limes, to remember your dream trip to a place you belong. Love, Londa," said the card.

The next April, I had a 3-month-old baby which is partly why I hadn't felt so well on the trip home from Britain. Oh, yes, I got to return many times. Just not exactly the way I'd hoped it would happen.

Londa got breast cancer which was aggressively treated. She had 5 really good years, filled with travel, the theater, a year lived in England, a few years lived in Maine, much interaction with her beloved Amber who still tears up at the mention of Grandma Londa's name. When the cancer returned with a vengeance, it attacked her breasts, bones and brain. We lost her at age 54. Amber was 7. I walk The Race for the Cure frequently and my banner always says "In loving memory of Londa Now." I'm no heroine. I just go do it and spend hours thinking of her as I hoof along in a world that's a little less pretty without her. And I think of her when I look at my beautiful inkwell and all the pretty things she gave me . . . .

In my ears right now: Another song with the same title as the one I cited a few days ago - "Wonderful World" but by Satchmo, Louis Armstrong. Londa loved it and often played the soundtrack from "Good Morning, Viet Nam" because it had that and other songs she enjoyed.

Something that charmed me: My friend has heard me go on and on about that inkwell and other venerable things. Finally came an e-mail that said, "Send me a picture of the inkwell?" Said friend has been camping and should land at a motel that has wireless internet tonight. At least that was the plan. So, my friend, the inkwell awaits you.


  1. Gorgeous inkwell. How could one not want to write with those beautiful accoutrements. :-)

  2. You can tell I'm pretty partial to that beautiful item, huh? Whenever I move into a new home, it's the first thing I put out. It's heavy enough that no misbehaving cat can bring it to harm. It gives me much pleasure.

  3. You made me tear up. I didn't know the story of that inkwell, not really.

  4. In truth, she wanted everyone she loved to have pretty, special things they enjoyed. But she was especially good to me and to Amber. She didn't want any hoopla, she just did things like tuck an offering away for one to find. And maybe tear up. Or sob out loud.

  5. Dear L,

    I am only now catching up with the rich posting you produced last week while I was encamped in the ponderosa pine forests at 8,000 ft. and suffering with tooth pain at the Lakeview Lodge in Lee Vining. I love the inkwell. How absolutely gorgeous and venerable. I believe the oldest crystal thing I have is a very old perfume stopper. The bottle is missing. Lately I am in awe of the lead glass crystal art by Swarovsky. I have many unique,multi- faceted lead crystals catching filtered late afternoon sun which throw the spectrum across the walls and cabinets of my little abode. What ink do you have in the ink bottle currently?


  6. I was a writing fool, all right. I am very pregnant with words, thoughts and memories right now. I need to give birth to them. I get very active near my birthday each year. I characterize it as "coming to life again".

    I love glass things, old or new. It doesn't have to be valuable. It just needs to refract light and I'm hooked. I have a pendant I sometimes wear. It is glass from the Roman era from Bath, in England. It isn't very clear and it shines blue-ish.

    There's no ink in it at the moment. I wanted it to be seen well in the photo for you, so I cleaned it.