Monday, July 14, 2008

Introduction to Victoria Forums

I found out that my favorite magazine, Victoria, has recently developed online forums. I know that another forum is the LAST thing I need as I can't keep up with the forums I frequent (or used to, anyway), but Victoria holds a special place in my heart as my "sanity break" through the baby years of our children's lives. On days when I didn't have time to shower, much less lead a life of grace and beauty, opening an issue of Victoria treated me to a short break and I was swept away to Cape Cod or the English countryside for a few minutes out of my day. So imagine my joy when Victoria returned this spring from their publishing hiatus. You may see my post here on the Return of Victoria.

So here is the "Introduction" I posted this morning on the Victoria forums. Enjoy!
I am Susanne, 42 years old, a native San Diegan. I've been married for 23 years to a wonderful husband and have four children: a 16-year old girl and boys ages 13, 11, and 8. I taught at a local liberal arts university for several years before stopping to educate our children at home -- a lifestyle choice we have been following for eleven years.

A dear friend gave me a subcription to Victoria very early on, and the magazine was my one connection to living a beautiful life while I was changing diapers and toilet-training our little people. Once in a while, the mayhem of a house with four small children would calm momentarily, and I would snatch up the newest copy of Victoria and find myself transported to English garden parties or the deliciousness of lemon tarts or the creative calling cards of creative women all around the world. Victoria truly helped me keep my sanity during those years of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers where my only physical outing each week was to the park or library, yet through the pages of a very special magazine, I could find myself on the beaches of Cape Cod or in a rose garden in Vermont or in an antique shop in San Francisco. I saved every copy and often pulled out a particular issue for decorating ideas as we restored a 1914 Craftsman near downtown San Diego -- a ten-year project we accomplished with little ones under our feet, even down to refinishing 50-year-old oak floors. During those years, I hied myself to the tiny garden as often as possible, teaching toddlers how to use a hand cultivator and to help with a watering can. Lavender, roses, calla lilies, bachelor's buttons, pin cushion flowers -- all thrived as I slowly returned the flower beds into areas of beauty after years of neglect.

Seven years ago, the Craftsman home finished and our family growing, we stepped out of city life and moved to the mountains east of San Diego, to a small town of 1200 people and a 1920's mountain cabin. I have room for gardening now with a large lot compared to a cramped city area: hollyhocks spilling up the back fence, roses running rampant, wildflowers popping up everywhere. Our children have space now to run and play -- and we all especially enjoy the original cabin living room with its large stone fireplace, Tudor-style beams running across the ceiling, and lovely pine-covered walls. The large picture window looks across a wide meadow, filled with snow in the winter, wildflowers in spring, and golden color in summer and fall. Living in a small mountain town is a perfect place to raise our children and a perfect place to inspire my writing.

So I was thrilled when Victoria returned -- an old friend whom I had missed dreadfully. Now I savor every page just as I did when the children were little. Although I now have two teens and two later elementary children to educate at home, I still need to slip into the world of Victoria - a miniature vacation from teaching math and grammar and from settling quarrels. Victoria encourages me in my writing as well - the quality of prose and the delightful quotations sprinkled throughout each issue inspire me to pick up my pen. I always savor the last page -- the prose of the resident writers over the years inspires me to keep on with my own work. I write best with a wooden pen made by my husband, tipped with an extra-fine steel nib, dipped into a glass bottle of sepia ink. The words seem to flow just ahead of the ink, issuing phrases and sentences that require the leisurely pace of penmanship. Composing on a computer doesn't give me the time to consider my writing, word by word and paragraph by paragraph as writing with a beautiful rosewood pen.

So welcome back, Victoria! I hope to spend some time here on the forums as encouragement for leading a Victoria lifestyle -- one of beauty and grace, with the sheen of antiques, the fragrance of old books, the scent of lavender, and the scratch of a metal nib filled with sepia ink across a parchment page.

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