Let’s take a break and think of lovely things

I want to talk about Kate Middleton.  She is, in my humble opinion, an exceptionally lovely young woman.  Her father-in-law may have chosen his wife badly, but her husband did a fine job.  To begin with, she and Prince William genuinely seem to like each other, which is a rarity in royal relationships.  She’s also take to her professional responsibilities like a duck takes to water, showing a lot more class than many of those born to the purple.  And, as I said, she’s lovely:

To add to her undoubted physical beauty, Kate has a lovely air about her. She looks wholesome and, whenever she’s fulfilling her royal duties, she seems honored to have the opportunity to see the things she sees and meet the people she meets.  There’s always a look of wonderment about her, which is very attractive.

So, contrary to my usual feeling when celebrities get caught with their pants down or, in Kate’s case, with their shirts off, I am not experience any schadenfreude at her humiliation (something that she’s also handling with grace).  With most celebrities, one feels that, since they spend their entire lives courting the camera, they can scarcely complain when it doesn’t always work out. Also, one often gets the feeling that the celebrity pictures are like the pictures of Dorian Gray, with the real image hiding away in the closet. When the real image shows up, one isn’t surprised.

With Kate having been spied upon at a private retreat in France, though, I do feel as if something lovely is being unfairly sullied. I’m showing my solidarity with her by boycotting the images (which I assume are on the internet somewhere). Kate is gorgeous when she’s clothed, and I have no desire to invade her privacy and increase her humiliation by checking her out unclothed.

While I’m talking about lovely things (which serve as a much-needed antidote to the news these days), someone sent me a link to a site called the Folio Society. I am, as the name of my blog suggests, a bibliophile. Lately, because it’s convenient, I’ve been doing most of my reading on a Kindle — it’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s compact. Truly, though, there is nothing like a beautiful book.

When I was in college, I worked at the Bancroft Library, at UC Berkeley, which houses a collection of rare books and incunabula.  When work was slow, my friends and I used to go down into the vault and look at the illuminated medieval manuscripts.  And when I say “look at,” I really mean it.  We’d grab some tissues to protect the vellum from the oils on our fingers, and carefully flip through the pages, pouring over the brilliant images.  The books were amazing.  The colors (often including gold leaf) looked as if they had been applied minutes before.  This is one of the reasons that, when I read about the Middle Ages, I am always able to imagine that time in vivid, living color.

The Folio Society does not offer illuminated manuscripts, which is just as well, because they’re very hard to take care of.  Instead, the create special editions of famous books, including copies of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.  My fingers actually tingled when I saw the pictures.  The books are beautifully bound, with exquisite illustrations, either by the original artists or by well-known illustrators.  The Alice in Wonderland books, for example, look as if they were just taken off the shelves of a Victorian bookstore.  As with those medieval manuscripts at the Bancroft, there’s a wonderful sense of immediacy with these books.  The Beatrix Potter collection is also exquisite.

The books are very expensive, but I suspect that, for some, the rewards are great.  My introduction to Victorian literature came about because my father had found at an estate sale a special edition of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  It was a large book (probably 8″ x 11″) and had these gorgeous, gloomy, full-page engravings.  I was mesmerized by the engravings as a little girl, and kept taking the book down to look at them.  Eventually, of course, I had to read the book, which started my love affair with all things Victorian.  A Kindle book can never offer this kind of enticement to an inquisitive child.

Do you have something lovely to offer as a sop to today’s news?  Pictures, videos, anecdotes, etc., would all be welcome.

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  • PaulScott

    In the mid-70s, I moved to Eugene, OR. I was a part time student at the UofO and heard of the arrival of Buckminster Fuller, the philosopher/designer/engineer. I had recently found a first edition of his popular (in some circles) “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”. I had devoured the book and was looking forward to meeting the man who wrote it. 

    I was in the packed audience (Eugene has a very good architect school, and Bucky was talking about his architectural designs) when I noticed this older man struggling to set up his slide projector. I walked over to lend assistance, surprised no one else had already done so, but happy to have the opportunity. After we got everything set up, I pulled out the book and nervously asked him for a signature. To this day it’s my prized biblio possession.  

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    A lovely story of kindness rewarded.  Thank you!

  • NancyB

    Kate Middleton does indeed appear to be a sweet, warm-hearted lady – not too many ladies in this world (or at least famous ones).  This will only increase her popularity because she is handling the situation calmly and graciously.
    Our first lady should take lessons from the Duchess of Cambridge (maybe she thinks she’s on the same level because her husband went to college in Cambridge – or did he?) 

  • shirleyelizabeth

    It’s male, and not literature, but lovely all the same. The almost two-week old new member of my family. (if those links work) Really such a great time of life.

    • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

      Shirleyelizabeth: What a darling! Is the fuzz on his head as soft as it looks? I miss baby hair.

  • JKB

    I got a bit of humor from the mixture of your post and your keyword highlighter thingy.  It picked up “pants down” and “on the Internet” for the first two highlights.  It was the last that made me notice as I wondered why you would provide a link to the phrase “on the Internet”.  

    There may be a hidden artform here:

    “pants down”, “on the Internet”,
    “the news”,
    “manuscripts”, “minutes”, “estate”,
    “a Kindle book”


  • Oldflyer

    I am saddened by the invasion of the Duchess of Cambridge’s privacy.  We can only judge from afar by what we observe, but she appears to be a young woman of real class.
    She seems to be handling the situation with as much charm and grace as possible under these circumstances; and as remarked, it may endear her more.  But, it makes a statement about the culture, or rather the lack of it.  Among large segments, there is no respect for anyone or any principle.  Shame, shame.
    I may have mentioned before that I was “introduced” to Princess Diana, and that fellow Prince Charles once upon a time in Brazil.  I call him, that fellow, because that was the sort of disdain with which he was treated by the media.  On the other hand, they were literally drooling over her.  One photographer reported that he had got a picture of her in her bathing suit, pool side at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, and was packing up to head home.  Mission accomplished.  His employer dispatched him from London to Rio, and had taken an apartment overlooking the pool just for that purpose.

  • Beth

    Oh my goodness, shirleyelizabeth!  Nothing more beautiful than a brand new baby! 

  • SurlyTexan

    Thank you so much for writing about Kate Middleton! I agree with everything you said about her. I genuinely feel sympathetic toward her due to the fishbowl she now lives in. What the media did to Princess Diana is despicable and horrendous. Now, it seems as if they want to repeat it with Kate. 


    JKB  – Interesting observaton.  A Rorschach-Algorithm?


  • MorowbieJukes

    @SurlyTeam:  What the media has done to this country is also “despicable and horrendous.”



    The media mirrors the State Department.

    In March 1937, the State Department apologized on behalf of the United States to Adolf Hitler for comments made about him by the Mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia.
    “In this country the right of freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution to every citizen and is cherished as a part of the national heritage,” James C. Dunn of the State Department said. “This however does not lessen the regret of the government when utterances either by private citizens or by public officials speaking in an individual capacity give offense to a government with which we have official relations. I very earnestly deprecate the utterances which have thus given offense to the German government. They do not represent the attitude of this government toward the German government.”


  • MorowbieJukes

    @Sadie:  thanks for the very informative footnote on FDR’s State Department.  All Progressives are fascists at heart and I would expect an FDR administration to be very sympathetic.  Of course progressives are fascists, since that’s the name they projectively scream at any and all political opposition.  Couple progressive with sociopathy and you have Stalin or Pol Pot.  That fatal combination is currently occupying the White House.

  • PaulScott

    Let’s take a break and think of lovely things

    Sadie and MorobieJukes, you two just can’t help yourselves, can you? 


    MorowbieJukes  – it only got worse.  S.S. St. Louis 1939. An engine search will provide the details.

  • MorowbieJukes

    @PaulScott: I apologize for pursuing digressions and tangents.  Perhaps I’ll post something later on lovely things. 

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    The medieval era as a world of brilliant colors.


  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    My blogpal Jeff Sypeck has written a whole series of poems about gargoyles.

    I’m especially fond of this one: why is that gargoyle smiling?


  • http://caedmon-innkeeper.blogspot.co.uk/ Caedmon

    What I find charming about the Duchess of Cambridge is that in evening wear she looks like every little girl’s ideal of how a Princess should look. 

  • Old Buckeye

    Book, thanks for the interlude. I think many of us are at a point where we need a break.
    I’m also a big fan of the Duchess of York, because of what seems to be her acceptance of the responsibilities that come with her title, maintaining decorum and  representing her country in a positive, respectful way. In contrast….I won’t go on, as this is meant to be a pleasant post.

  • Caped Crusader
  • Libby

    The Duchess is lovely. She & William are a breath of fresh air after what feels like decades of scandal and tawdry behavior by the royals. I prefer to see her in her classic, modest attire.
    Here’s a lovely distraction: the 20 most beautiful book stores in the world http://tinyurl.com/9odrffu
    My son is currently obsessed with geography, so we’ve been combing through the National Geographic archives (122 yrs of the magazine on CD!). Here’s a time-lapse video of a trip around the world (in 5 min)

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    You all have outdone yourselves in bringing a little bit of loveliness into a dark world.

  • Libby

    If you’ve never visited this site then you’re in for a treat: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/
    Much more fun than reading the latest political or embassy riot story.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    I don’t know that it could be called “lovely,” exactly, but it’s pretty cool: a project to restore a WWII Black Widow night fighter to flying condition.


  • SurlyTexan


    A cooking web site! Cool!!!! When I saw the secret ingredient for the spaghetti sauce, i almost spayed my monitor with coffee. That’s my secret ingredient as well. I just use Paul Newman’s sauce.

    Thanks for the link! 


    Ragu – 7 Herb is my secret ingredient.

  • https://picasaweb.google.com/102427392960537405774 Kevin_B

    Nice interlude, Bookworm.
    I think the whole case with the nude pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge is a disgrace. The photographer who made these shots is a disgrace – these shots shouldn’t have been made. I hadn’t heard the Duke and the Duchess were at a private resort. I really thought it was more or less a public place or at least in public view. I do actually wonder somewhat whether the Duchess thought things true before she took off her top. She shouldn’t do so outside of a totally private, secluded area. If the place where the shots were made was such, it’s an even bigger disgrace.
    I too like the Duchess. She’s a good looking woman, often classy, modest without being anywhere nearly frumpy or dowdy, stylish. As far as clothing is concerned, usually, she could serve as an example for girls and women, at least in my opinion. Yes, she’s lovely.
    I like reading too, but I actually greatly enjoy scientific reading (life sciences and environment). Something which has a sort of scientific allure to it, but which is also highly enjoyable and also has an artistic flare, are the magazines, documentaries and so on by National Geographic. Highly enjoyable if this is your area of interest.
    @ Shirley Elizabeth: congratulations on the new family member. He does look good and adorable!
    @ Libby: that seems like a pretty good cooking site. We made the chicken parmigiana from that website at my house last week, and it was absolutely delicious. 
    @ David: restoring old things is something lovely too, I think. My brother (21!) has two old-timer cars which he has (partially) restores and maintains. I’m not directly involved with this, but I enjoy keeping an eye from afar.

    As for something else I find lovely… well, I really enjoy going to the zoo and seeing all kinds of animals. I also like photographing them. Baby animals and rare species are pretty much the max for me. Anyway, the link in my name contains a link to a site with several thousands of my pictures.

  • NancyB


    “In March 1937, the State Department apologized on behalf of the United States to Adolf Hitler for comments made about him by the Mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia.”

    I did not know this – wow – history continues to repeat itself – wusses continue to rule……….. 

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Re the State Department apology for the LaGuardia comments….OTOH, in 1934 some Jewish organizations planned to hold a mock trial of Hitler in Madison Square Garden. The German government indignantly demanded the the FDR administration block it. Cordell Hull’s response:
    “It appears, therefore, that the points of view of the two Governments, with respect to the issues of free speech and assembly, are irreconcilable, and that any discussion of this difference could not improve relations which the United States Government desires to preserve on as friendly a basis as the common interest of the two peoples demands.”
    (more here)

    The FDR administration was a long way from perfect, but it was nowhere near as bad as the Obama crew.


  • Mike Devx

    David Foster, I’d like to give a rare thumbs up to the FDR Admin for that one.  I’d shorten it a bit, and add a different conclusion.  Can you imagine if the Obama Administration had said this concerning the video and its purported existence as the meaning for the assaults?

    “It appears, therefore, that the points of view of the two Governments, with respect to the issues of free speech and assembly, are irreconcilable, and that any discussion of this difference could not improve relations.  Nothing further need be said.”

    If that had been the sum of the Obama statement, and then if the spokesman simply folded his paper at the podium, turned, and walked away… I’d give them a rare thumbs up too.

  • Mike Devx

    This is a beautiful thing from Ace Of Spades.  It’s called “Meet Carly Rose Sonenclar”.  It covers her performance on X-Factor.

    She may be something special!  Check it out.