Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, July 23, 2012

Crossing To Safety

Things have been quite in The Library, and for that I'd like to sincerely apologise. A little over a month ago, I was in New York, frantically shooting a book. Three weeks ago we were packing up 50 tea chests and just as many pieces of furniture in preparation for our move back to the city, and our new home. Then, two weeks ago, my older brother hit one of life's brick walls.

In between unpacking, writing books and 'decorating' (aka slapping some paint on the walls!) I drove to my parents' house, where he was staying while they were away, to help him through it. As I am not the world's greatest cook, I bought him soups and chocolate-chip cookies, refilled the toilet paper and laundry powder containers, did the washing, cleaned the house and gathered up the remnants of a broken heart. Sadly, he and my other brother have cut ties (my other brother is siding with my sister-in-law), but I decided not to be a 'sider'. I decided to simply be a sister who cares. Because I believe that sometimes you have to show a little compassion.

In Wallace Stegner's book Crossing To Safety (did you catch it on Jennifer Byrne's First Tuesday Book Club?), Terry Tempest Williams wrote in his Introduction that we need to "make accommodations" for people, meaning we need to show humanity, compassion, even generosity. We need to make space for people in our lives, he said. Accommodations. "In reading Crossing to Safety" I began reading my own relationships, wondering what accommodations I have made, (and) need to make" he wrote. The road to maturity, he said, flows through these accommodations.

{Via Country Style magazine and Brabourne Farm}

I liked that. Perhaps more than I liked the actual book. I liked the idea that we need to live a dignified life; and in order to do that we need to treat others with a little dignity too. I also like the concept that life is like a house, and the more we open our 'house' up to people, the more our house becomes a home.

{By Sheila Creighton}

Watching my older brother go through his traumatic life crisis broke my heart, but it also reminded me why humanity is so important. Just as important as family. I have invited him to live with us for a little while, just so I can keep an eye on him.

Soon, my mother-in-law may also be shifting in, only she's in a wheelchair so it's going to be a challenge tackling the stairs. Nevertheless, we will love having her here too, curmudgeonly comments and all.

Welcome to life in The Modern Family. Wallace Stegner would have surely approved.

Our bedrooms are now all booked up. Our 'accommodations' are well and truly full.

It's just as well I snaffled the study early on, so I have a small space to hide.


  1. You are being so kind and generous - I sincerely wish that I had had a friend like that when I needed one, and also hope that I will act so kindly when friends and family are in a bad place.

  2. What turmoil. Hope all works out.

  3. I'm back, havent seen the Byrne book show for a while. I find it concentrates so much on American literature. However one of the memorable episodes was Jennifer discussing Frank Troy from 'Far from tyhe Madding Crowd'. Chris Taylor was a guest. I like him alot

  4. Oh families, a source of comfort and a source of anguish. I hope your brother weathers this crisis, as does the rest of the family.

  5. Oh my goodness - what a month. I hope you're finding time to do some things for yourself in between all the crazy house and family stuff. xx

  6. Oh Sweetheart. I'm working backwards on your backlog of posts in my Reader to find this. Families! Thank goodness he has you there by his side, in all your dignity and with your compassion. You have a huge heart, Janelle. Sending you a Hobart ♥ tonight J x


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