Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween Weekend

My door is decorated with Mr. Pumpkin, an engaging fellow from Simply Gianna. You may recall I was going to add him to my decor--and I did for this special season. He'll hang around through Thanksgiving.

All of us adore seeing the little ones who come to the door and delight in all the princesses, pirates, witches, and goblins with grinning faces. Moms and dads are usually hanging back with careful eyes on their young ones. It's a nice holiday when it's all in good fun.

Halloween is also definitely a season changer. After the masks are hung up, we adults start planning for Thanksgiving. I am a holiday kind of person. I love all the tradition, the good will and good spirits, and try to keep the stress level down. I'm always thinking about how to make our home prettier and more welcoming. And there are so many things to help us on the market these days. But aren't the best decorations the ones you and your kids make.? 'Tis the season to be creative and have a jolly good time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Promises to Keep

And I shall about the two biographies of Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery. However, the two books add up to almost a thousand pages and may take a little time to devour. The Alcott book was written by a screenwriter, while the Montgomery was written by a scholar who has been involved with her life for decades. The later reminds me of the book my friend Judith Thurman wrote about Colette's life. Judith spent years in research and her book is a testament to her skill as a researcher, writer, and literary critic. A subject can take over one's life.

This morning, I spoke on the phone with a research librarian at Washington Irving's home, Sunnyside, in Irvington, New York. I could tell by her voice what enthusiasm she has for her work. Catalina Hannan will be exciting to work with. She, too, is working on a book about life in the 19th century, having discovered a cache of letters in Irving's family. "It is the everyday life that fascinates me," she said in our long conversation. "And I always know that the avenue I am taking will lead to so many more things to discover." I am beginning to think there is a "fine madness" about rediscovering the past, and those of us engaged in it keep turning pages and in every one there is the possibility of revelation.

And so, we will not be rushed. I have to give Mary Henley Rubio her due on her Montgomery biography. It will take some time to truly appreciate it. But what I can say, is that such an endeavor is in itself admirable. I have questioned before whether biographers chose their subjects, or if it the other way around. I'm inclined to think the latter. This is the book that Rubio was meant to write and to which she had pledged the very best she has to give. What is also important is to tell the story so that the reader comes along with the same passion as the writer. That is what I will be looking for in this book.

I am delighted by the comments I have been receiving from those of you on this blog. Anne, of Green Gables fame, was the one who gave us our kindred spirits reference. (I even adore being called to task for loving Daniel Green slippers. And I admit that this season's shoe with puppy faces give me pause...) What I love about our recent book discussions is that these are
works that have given us a common language with which to communicate; We can talk shorthand when we deal with things that have become so much a part of our lexicon.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning has been in mine since I memorized her poetry when I tried out for the drama club in high school. I didn't get in, but How Do I Love Thee? has never left me. And how much I liked doing the story in Victoria magazine that brought her world to life. I am touched that it was so meaningful to some of you.

And so, in the words of Robert Frost, I have promises to keep, and hopefully will fulfill them as we blog on.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Little Women

Women we never met helped to raise many of us. It was their words--the stories they told us and the characters they created--that tended us. A chapter a night, perhaps, we are indebted to them forever. Two among them were Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery. While I have known of both of their lives, I know Montgomery better because I have read her journals many times. It is one of my most treasured books. In Anne of Green Gables she gave her readers the essentials of her own life, but it was a thread rather than entire fabric.

The discussion of Louisa May Alcott and Orchard House, her home in Concord, Massachusetts, brings to my mind an important fact: Behind the children's classics that we have come to love and call our own own, each in our own way, were flesh and blood women--and women of their times. Their fiction gives us hints, but it is not the whole story of their lives.

Two new books on these icons of our childhoods, The Woman Behind Little Women and Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, are biographies you may want to read. From what I know of them, they will have disturbing notes. But I've ordered them, and when they arrive, I'll talk more about each. But what I will remember most is the little girl in the Newfield Public Library devouring the books that seemed written just for her. What a gift for a writer to touch hearts and souls, perhaps even when her own life had hurt and sorrow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On a Perfect Autumn Day

The poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, wrote one of my favorite poems. I quote it so often, I see my family and friends take a deep breath when I start. It is called, God's World, and begins,

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!

Well, today was a day with bright sunshine and glorious color--and what beckoned me was a trip to Stone Barns.

For years, I've walked the Rockefeller property in Westchester County, always looking with great admiration at the French style stone barns in the distance. Several years ago, an organic farm and ecological center was developed on this property and now Stone Barns is open to the public. (You pay a small parking fee which is refunded if you spend $15 for lunch or in the gift shop). How can I be so fortunate, I say to myself, to live so near such a unique place?

Their kitchen garden alone is a delight to visit. You must drive carefully on the winding roads as you might encounter a chicken sauntering across the path. But who would speed at Stone Barns? So many things to see. Sheep, Black Angus grazing on the hillside, snow white turkeys, and so many other pastoral vistas. Stone Barns does have a renown restaurant, Blue Hill, but there is also a small cafe with an ideal lunch for a warm, fall day when you can sit outside at long tables. Everything is made from produce on the farm. A two-inch high frittata and a salad could not have tasted better. And the tiny chocolate chip cookies which came home in my bag probably won't make it past teatime.

The gift shop at Stone Barns has a well-edited selection of books including many cookbooks which emphasize it's mission. I always find stocking-stuffers for children--unique things like a woolly ram finger puppet. I once bought bright orange sweatshirts in wee sizes for newborn twins. They worn them on their first pumpkin picking outing. The shirts are decorated with a carrot, which is the emblem of Stone Barns. Today, I indulged in a mandarin and lavender scented candle made by Paddywax. The container, itself, a little work of art from recycled materials. Yes, I will save it and find a way to use it. Have no fear, it will be recycled yet again.

On the way home, along roads lined with rustling leaves, I am reminded of another of Edna's poems: Afternoon on a Hill. Forgive me if I have overused it in my writing:

I will be the gladdest thing Under the sun!

What is there about a perfect autumn day that so inspires--can it be it is simply pure perfection? Have you a time to share?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Something to Slip Into

A fuddy duddy virtue--comfy footwear. I see women in the city trying to reach the heights in high, high heels. It's called fashion, darlings, and as my grandmother used to say, "It hurts to be beautiful." Maybe their feet don't hurt, but there has to be a treacherous pothole or sidewalk crack that takes revenge on a too thin heel.

Today, I read that runway models are slipping into $350 leather flats from NewbarK Slippers. I have nothing against the savvy women who came up with the idea that one could carry comfy flat footwear for getting from place to place. In fact, I am highly in favor of it. However, for those of us in more down-to-earth spheres and with pocketbooks that scream at such an expenditure, I have a fuddy duddy suggestion--Daniel Green.

Not too long ago a friend of mine complained about having to go to a formal event where she'd have to stand for a long time and her feet always hurt under such circumstances. I directed her to Zappos and Daniel Green slippers as a solution. "Daniel Green?" she questioned in astonishment. "My dad used to send me to Lord and Taylor every Christmas to buy my mother a new pair. How could I possibly wear them to this event?" She did take my suggestion and found a nice pair of velvet flats at a price of about $40.

Daniel Green are no longer your mother's Christmas slippers. (Although if you are looking for such a pair, you'll find them at this old reliable company.) They have, however, anticipated the need for nice-looking and sometimes, rather "hip," footwear.

Recently, they've been offering an indoor/outdoor option. I love driving in mine and then popping into the supermarket. I wouldn't suggest a long hike on a rough road. Confession: I am almost an addict and maybe went overboard in the number I have. I'm often asked, "Where did you get your shoes?" I have to admit--they are my slippers--but my prince charming ones because when they "kiss" my toes, I feel like Cinderella.

I have absolutely no financial motive for passing along my "favorite things" slippers. I just want all my friends to know that its very chic to do so on those days when high heels might slow you down. By the way, what happened to the women who were wearing or carrying running shoes with them? Is that over? Fuddy Duddy better get busy on this now non-trend. At least the girls in heels don't knock you down on the way to the train--they have to go slowly. Those running-shoe types can be dangerous with the speed they travel.

And, oh, I have nothing against high heels. They are beautiful, and I love that. Some of them are almost like sculptures. Fortunately, statues aren't on the move on busy streets. Now, you've been blessed to slip into something comfortable when you're on the run. NewbarK or Daniel Green or your own discovery. Pass it on!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Found Treasure

To begin, I just read something about the English--that they have a high tolerance for "messiness" in their homes. I feel the drizzle of English blood I have, on my father's side, rise to the occasion. I have been trying to order the books that have been pouring in on my new project. Sometimes, I have to yank myself out of the 19th century to answer the door or pay a bill. And I have not been the great housekeeper I would like to be and never have been. Piles of books and notes seem to be an ever-increasing menace to navigate around here. But I am trying; and this morning, I picked up a book in a place that hasn't been touched for a while, opened it, and found treasure.

The book, Our Famous Women, An Authorized Record of the Lives and Deeds of Distinguished American Women of Our Times, is the 1886 edition. (Low and behold, the book is now in paperback on Amazon!) It was a gift given to me many years ago from good friends, Joe and Marlene Wetherall. Marlene worked freelance for Victoria and Joe is a favorite friend for his enthusiastic support of my son's music. Whenever he plays Where or When I think of Joe requesting that beautiful song--and asking Paul not only to play it, but sing it! Heaven!

Well, my dears, this book got shelved at a time when a busy life didn't give me too much time for 700-page books. And it's lovely binding with gold placed it in the decorative rather than the reading column. I'm sure a dust cloth has come in contact hundreds of times over the years, but this morning I opened it. The amazing thing is not just the women written about--but the women who did the writing. I just never thought of Julia Ward Howe fulfilling a publisher's request to write about Maria Mitchell, the American astronomer. Thanks to Trish Foley, we had a wonderful story about her in Victoria, or I might not have known who she was.

Of course, I don't recognize the names of all the writers. I was pretty good on the subject of the profiles. Susan B. Anthony's story is told by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and since she was a shoulder-to-shoulder suffragist, she was well-versed in her life, times, and accomplishments. Harriet Beecher Stowe is the author of the chapter on Catherine E. Beecher, the poet and teacher who wrote to help women manage their homes and families. She was Harriet's older sister.

What a wonderful idea they had at A. D. Worthington & Co., Hartford, CT. And yes--it is, as they claim, "superbly illustrated," although some of our foremothers seem a bit stern, with the exception of Mary Clemmer. She opted for a profile to show off her elaborate hairstyle and rested her chin on her hand. Mary was a journalist who reported on the surrender of Maryland Heights in September 1862 from her own personal experience. According to her biographer, Lilian Whiting, "Mary Clemmer has ennobled journalism by her profound conviction of its moral significance." We could use some of that today, me thinks.

The moral of this story is to keep your treasure and delve into it once in a while. You never know what you might find that makes your day as this did mine.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Scooping The New York Times!

My journal seems to have had the story on Rachel Ashwell's new shop and book before The New York Times. Scoops are something that persons with journalistic blood respond to. The Times, however, with a few more resources than my journal and a lot more reach, have a comprehensive review of Rachel's career in the Home section of the paper today. The article deals mainly with trends and business decisions.

For those of us who just like Rachel's style and pluck, it was a lot to take in. I am sorry that some bad business decisions led to the closing of many of her stores. There has been a time in our national life when success has meant more instead of best and better. And not in just our country: When I was in Vancouver, Canada a few years ago, there were four corners with as many Starbucks (at least it seemed that way to me). I guess if you were desperate for a latte, you should not be asked to cross the street. I'm not in the business of marketing coffee, but it is a puzzlement to those of us who would walk a mile--or cross an ocean--for a cup of properly brewed tea with milk (never cream!) and a scone.

I have a chaise that has more than a few pillows. One of them is a Shabby Chic that Rachel presented me with at one point in my Victoria life. Actually, she sent a box full--and several of us now tuck one behind our back when a good book turns into a long reading session. (I am supposed to be keeping my nose to the grindstone in research and reading for my new book, but I have sinned recently with Provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. The subtitle tells the compelling mystery: "How a con man and a forger rewrote the history of modern art." It's a page turner. And the cover was so seductive, it lured me into buying it.) I like the soft, aged look of the fabric and it is soft and comfy.

I'm happy that Rachel is getting one of those "second acts" that Americans are not supposed to have. I think we need to edit that old saw, don't you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Girl in the Attic

When I started this blog, I had the same trepidation I had when I began work on Victoria. Would I find enough material to engage readers and followers? The first day that the doors of our new offices opened at Victoria and we were joined for the first time with the advertising staff (an unusual situation in the magazine world back then), I absolutely panicked. I called my husband and related that here were all these people whose livelihoods were depending on whether or not I would be able to produce enough engaging material. The wise man, I love so, remarked: "Nancy, you could make a good story out of a piece of ribbon." Well, I don't know about his unbounded confidence, but we did manage to produce issues of the magazine for a good many years--a good many stories. And some of them about pieces of ribbon.

I have just finished reading a review of Francine Prose's new book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, entitled The Girl in the Attic. It's evidence that when you keep your pores open, good material comes your way. Francine wrote for us several times as Victoria, and I'm sure that she would have been a writer in residence if I had stayed on at the magazine. She's not only a gifted writer, but a woman committed to her subject matter. She had a core that I've always admired. (On a personal note, one of our staffers lived near Francine's mother in Ulster County, and we all felt a personal connection to her through this lovely lady.)

By the way, I stay fiercely proud of our writers program. We brought good writing and good writers to our audience. Some were familiar, like Madeleine L'Engle; some were new voices, like Susan Minot. Kitty Ross, our literary editor, did a fabulous job of managing our literary side. The book she edited, called The Quiet Center (it has since been retitled) was a celebration for our 10th anniversary. What better heritage could Victoria have than to encourage talented and perceptive women in the last decade of the 20th Century to write of their lives and times?

So it seems that material comes naturally to me for this blog. In many cases, blending my past editing with my present inclinations. Read the review in The New York Times Book Review, and you'll realize what an inquiring mind Francine Prose has. When you combine that with good writing and good instincts, you have a work in the tradition of books to pay attention to.

And now to Anne Frank's diary: One of the things I took comfort from in the review is that many publishers in America turned the book down. All kinds of reasons, for saying "no thanks," and among them was the quality of the literary content. This book that has been read by millions the world around and its relevance was missed by the people who were supposed to know what people want to read. I suppose that as a person who has been told "I don't think so," more than once, I have to toast the brave souls who said "Yes!" and took a chance on something they believed in. There should be a special hall of fame for them somewhere; some prize that goes to the publishing house or film studio that went with their better instincts instead of the prevailing winds. I don't know if houses have an office for the "no's" to be reviewed, but it wouldn't be a bad idea. They might discover a book like The Diary of Anne Frank or a film like Casablanca.

If you're being told you're crazy about your pursuing your aspirations, always listen. After all, there are lots of wonderful and successful books published by people who know a thing or two. But also give the judgment a healthy degree of skepticism. If something is burning a hole in your heart, pay attention. It might take time and courage, and even if it doesn't work, at least you tried. If I sound like a Pollyanna, blame my grandmother. She taught me to tilt at windmills when I really thought I had a good reason to. Success stories, please.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mary Morris, I miss you...

Once in a while this computer of mine gets a mind of its own. At least, that's how I explain a stray comma or a missing word. At Victoria, there was an incredible person who presided over our copy like a general in the field. Mary Morris was our "word" person and one of the best line editors in the business. I think her proudest day may have been when a group of English teachers wrote to compliment us on our use of the language.

As an editor-in-chief, one is the face of the magazine. But everyone knows that many talents have to toil to put out a good product month after month. Mary was an unseen hand, and what I liked about her most was she never made compromises. And she often kept me on track. Her rewrites were impeccable. No copy was considered unimportant. A caption in Favorite Things always included extra information that the reader wouldn't have missed if it weren't there. And Mary had writers she relied on who were great researchers. One writer once told me that Mary made her a better writer by simply reminding her that she didn't have to tell the reader what one could plainly see; she was to dig deeper than that. Caption writing is an art and Mary is a master. The next time you read a magazine caption, see if it passes the Mary Morris rule.

I don't get to see Mary as often as I'd like. We manage a lunch with a former colleague now and then--and there is the momentous birthday party that brings us all together. I miss our everyday encounters with words, and I sure miss her taking a sharp point to my writing. (I've been hitting the keys pretty hard these days with one book in proof stage and a new one piling up pages of raw copy.) But I guess this is one of those situations where one has to be thankful for what we had for as long as we had it. I learned a lot from Mary Morris, and so did the millions of readers of Victoria. Tip your hat: She deserves it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shabby Chic Interiors

Rachel Ashwell is the high priestess of the found object. She's been preaching her creed of pretty, casual, and love of orphans from stray pieces of lace to vintage wallpapers. But that doesn't mean she's old news. Rachel has a new shop on Mercer Street in New York and a new book--Shabby Chic Interiors. She was featured both in Victoria magazine and in a Victoria book, Designers in Residence. It was one of my favorite of all the Victoria books because talented designers shared their homes along with great ways for readers to enrich their own.

Since, Rachel has gone on to producing product in line with her design concepts and her philosophy: "...wherever I am, I make my nest, even in a rented home or hotel. With flowers, music, candles, and beautiful comfortable things, a home will be a much lovelier place for our hearts to be." Sounds great to me. I also like Rachel's practice of enjoying some of her finds for awhile and then passing them on. I've done some of this myself. I think, in a way, it gives us permission to go on collecting--knowing others will enjoy the treasure we couldn't resist. Although Rachel admits, as do I, that there are some "forever" favorite things.

What I like about Rachel's approach is that almost everything is accessible. And she encourages her readers to be a bit brave in their decorating choices. Some of the things in the book are simply fun to look at. Even I, who believes in the ever-changing landscape of home, probably wouldn't ever have a tablecloth made of layers of ruffles and lace. But it sure is fun to see--and maybe a ruffle or two might be added to make a short cloth longer for a new table. I also enjoy Shabby Chic's soft palette. The pretty pale pinks and friendly shades of worn linen are comforting. And of course there is the emphasis on casual. It's hard for some of us to accept a look that isn't perfect. On that score, I have become very accepting of the "delicate" touch my cat, Kitty Foyle, has added to my "forever" sofa. And I was pleased when I bought a new needlepoint footstool that she enjoyed trying out her claws on. It now has the look of one I might have owned for years. Fortunately, Kitty is very selective in her conquests and not very persistent.

I have a ritual of display inspiring spreads from books I like. I have a stand that Wisteria sells (I actually have several) at a very reasonable price and designed for cookbooks. Mine can be found just about anywhere from a window sill to the dining room table--which often looks more like a library table. Shabby Chic Interiors has several good candidates including a wonderful photograph of hydrangeas drying in a very old soda bottle. I think on a snowy day, I'll remember to display this.

It's been nice to visit an old friend and find she is still keeping faith with her personal style. One of these days, I'll venture downtown to Mercer Street and see the pages come to life. In the meantime, I'll enjoy anew some of "my favorite things."

I hope you will do the same with yours.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sharing A Day

This past Saturday, thousands of people stood in the rain to enter a church and synagogue to honor the wonderful man who was the minister of our church for our 30 years. The doors of the synagogue were graciously opened to the overflow crowd. I think that would have pleased the man who we all came to know in special ways and to whom we were saying a final goodbye.

Actually, it is my son's church and The Reverend Frank Forrester Church was his minister. But my husband and I, although not members, have always supported the work of All Souls Unitarian in New York. I know many of you will understand the kinship that a man of God can have with a congregation. This particular man held out arms long and wide. One of the stories shared on the church web site was of a little girl coming to church for the first time and being asked what she remembered. She replied it was "wizard" in the flowing red robe. And so he was to many, but not to himself. Forrest, as we all called him, just did his work the best way he knew how. But indeed he was a gifted teacher, counselor, and friend.

This coming Christmas I will miss the story that Forrest always worked into his sermon. It was amazing to me over the years how he found new and refreshing ways to tell it. One of his ancestors was the Frank Church who, as a newspaper editor, wrote the now famous letter, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. It seems that belief is something that Forrest inherited.

After the service ended and the hymns were sung and tributes given, an elderly woman in a wheel chair was among the first to come up the center aisle. Bethine Church, Forrest's mother, blew kisses to the crowd with a lovely smile on her face. A beaming smile was also something Forrest had inherited. She had lost a son at 61, but she had gained the love and devotion of all those to whom he meant so much.

From this day, I share with you the simple but profound philosophy Forrest so often expounded: "Do what you can; want what you have; and be yourself." The rain was over when we left the church. My coat on the back of my chair had dried, but not the tears on my cheeks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

There is Nothing Like an "Old" Dame

All over the news: the coming out party of Ardi. I'm talking about the bones that scientists think belong to the oldest skeleton found so far. (No disrespect intended.) She's 4.4 million years old. And why is it that the last two great discoveries have been female? I suspect that these girls were left behind to do the dishes, take in the laundry, and pack the car. (I discount the Kenyan boy somebody tried to get into the act as being pretty old, too.)

Ardi has elbowed Lucy out of the way. She was the oldest before, and pretty good on her toes, I understand. A bit of All About Eve, perhaps. Now THAT's an age-old story, unfortunately.

I guess I'd like to know if either of these girls had discovered tea. Somewhere in that dig there has to be a couple of cups and a copy of Pride and Prejudice, don't you think? Stay tuned--there's still a lot of dirt to get through. We'd never suggest that gossip was born of a primal day, but who really knows? Let's hope they were only concerned with whose palm leaf hat was better or whose kid got to the stream the fastest. Generations may come and go, but we girls know what really matters--the small talk of everyday life. And of course the humor we can't live without--no matter how many years old we are.

Like this piece of levity on a Friday morning when I should be vacuuming.

Have a great weekend picking apples, finding just the right pumpkin, and sipping cider. Autumn rituals that never seem to change, thank goodness. And oh, welcome to the clan, Ardi.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A First Best Friend Story

Yesterday I met Trish Foley, a great friend and former colleague at Victoria, for lunch and an afternoon of theater. We had lunch at Orso, a place known for individual pizzas, and it reminded us both of our photo shoots when pizza was the cuisine of the day--and night. Chinese food got its licks in, too. This pizza is sliver thin and has lovely fresh basil atop.

The play was based on Ilene Beckerman's Love, Loss, and What I Wore. I think I spotted a couple of husbands in tow, but it was a girl's afternoon out, for sure. Mostly, it is funny and familiar--like all the stuff we carry around in our handbags. There were a few poignant moments based on stories contributed by women who were not in the book. Tyne Daly, a Tony award-winning actress, presented the little drawings of outfits from the book and told the author's story. Trish and I laughed along with everyone else at the related moments of costume disaster. Some of you may remember when we covered Ilene's unique art in Victoria. Maybe a few in the audience discovered her in our pages.

Before meeting Trish, I stopped to have a pair of glass frames adjusted. I may be a dainty lass about some things, but when it comes to eyeglasses--I might as well be King Kong. In my handbag, along with all the lipsticks, pens, and other things I was to hear about in a few hours, I had a proof of the cover of My First Best Friend. Trish's picture with her best friend, Celeste, is on the back cover--two young girls on a beach walk on Long Island. And I wanted to share it with her. The young woman who helped me is my favorite of the opticians who are there to either fit you with new glasses or keep the ones you have operational. She knows me well! I decided to show her what my specs have been focused on lately. And she mentioned that she had a first best friend story, too. Since I'm hoping to continue the dialogue on this marvelous subject with a web site, I was anxious to hear her story. It was one that stopped me in my tracks and ended up with us hugging each other.

My optician is from another country, coming here as a young child. Her parents were divorced when she and her sister were very, very young. The children were divided. Coming to America with her father, M., I shall call her, entered school. And on that first day, she met her first best friend--the sister she had lost when the parents separated. "When I heard my last name, I responded," she said, "and so did another girl in the class." Providence untied two sisters who have been inseparable since. They are both young moms and enjoy each others families so very much.

You can imagine how fast my heart was beating. While I wish I had found this story while I was still collecting memories of first best friends, I was reminded, yet again, of the power of love and connection. Like Victoria, My First Best Friend, was a labor of love for me, in more ways than one. If you have a story, wait until the web site or blog for the book goes up. I'd adore hearing about the special power of friendship in your lives.