Friday, February 15, 2013

A Little Time Off!

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments on this February Faces series! I enjoyed them and learned from them too. I hope you all had a nice Valentine's Day!

I'm taking a couple of weeks off from blogging to catch up on some things in my life. I'm sure you all know how that is!

Best wishes all and see you soon!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February Faces: Apple of Our Eye

I could write a thousand words about each of our children and grandchildren, and R.H. could take a thousand pictures (and probably has). But I find I cannot write just a few words about them here, and which pictures to show? So here they are, in their childhood, which is how we still love to think of them, our simply amazing children and grandchildren! Each one of them is the apple of our eye.

Gurn and Christy

Zack and Defee

And our grands:

Luke, Caleb, Alex, Drake


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February Faces: A Good Dog

There have been so many good dogs in our life. I'm sure many of you feel that way too. Today I'm writing about a dog we once belonged to, a miracle dog, a Welsh corgi named Tex. There were three puppies left in his litter in 1989 and by golly, he was the big boy of the litter and the cutest. He made it clear from the beginning that we four were his new family.

He was the result of our love of the corgis in Tasha Tudor's illustrations. It was only later that we learned that Queen Elizabeth loved them too. We were after a corgi from The Corgiville Fair. And we got him. Tex loved each member of our family but he was my personal shadow.

A few years later a little corgi sister joined him. Her name was Dallas and she adored her big brother.

Tex was not thrilled but he was very much a Gentleman Welsh corgi and accepted that she was his responsibility, as was a yellow cat named Jake.

On February 13, 1993 R.H. and I left Tex, Dallas and Jake at home while we drove to Chattanooga, Tennessee for Zack's basketball tournament. Defee went too, of course, and we asked our oldest son to come over to let the corgis go potty. We arrived home that night, went in the house. Only Dallas and Jake were waiting for us. We searched the house and I frantically phoned Gurn to learn that when he went out to bring the corgis back inside that Tex was gone. He drove up and down the road but could not find him. We searched the whole valley with flashlights and then R.H. and I drove to all the neighbors up and down the street. Some had seen him in their yards but didn't know who he belonged to. We did not have an identification tag on him.

After a sleepless night of crying and praying, we were up early on St. Valentine's Day digging through photographs so that R.H. could go get copies made while I made up posters for a lost corgi. We plastered the area with them and stopped along the way to leave pictures and our business card. The next day I called every veterinarian in the county, leaving our number and description of Tex. I called in ads for the newspapers. The dog pound and shelters were closed due to President's Day.

It snowed and I thought constantly of my Tex who, although he loved snow, always slept in our bed and had never been left out at night. Now, was he outside somewhere in the cold snow, all alone? Was he even alive? On Tuesday Gurn and I expanded the area, leaving more posters. We went miles away to grocery stores and gas stations and schools that Tex's short little legs could never have walked to. Gurn, devastated that I was brokenhearted, drove me for hours until I said, "Let's go home." We were all numb the whole week as we mailed out pictures to veterinarian clinics, visited the dog pound daily, drove up and down streets following the few leads that were phoned in to us. Through the whole week, R.H. had unshakable faith that God would bring Tex home to our family.

Late Friday afternoon I got a phone call from a woman who said, "I have your dog!" I was almost speechless. She said she saw our poster at the Piggly-Wiggly and they had him. The Saturday before, they had been at the gas station 3 1/2 miles from us and he was in the parking lot and almost got run over. They opened the door and called him and he jumped in the car. Tex was always ready to go for a ride and the route he walked to this gas station, at a busy intersection, was the route we took every weekday to drive our sons to school, Tex along for the ride most of the time.

We arranged to meet her at that same gas station. They pulled up in a Chevy Lumina, three children in the back seat. The woman got out of the car and I ran to the open door and saw a white stripe running between the eyes of the corgi in the front floorboard. I fell to my knees on the pavement, leaning across the driver's seat. Tex jumped into my arms. R.H. picked him up to carry him to the car. I hugged the lady, gave her a small reward, and thanked her over and over. I explained how Tex got out. She said they had taken good care of him, calling him Joe, going outside with him to go potty where he wouldn't get lost again.

Now, here is the spine tingling part of this story. The woman's younger sister, speech and hearing impaired, came in that very day from out of town for a visit and went with her to the Piggly-Wiggly. As they walked in the door, in a hurry to buy groceries for the weekend, her sister grabbed her arm and pointed to the poster of Tex. They took down the poster and when they got home they called him Tex. His ears perked up and he ran to them.

R.H. drove us home, Tex going back and forth between Defee and me in the back seat, kissing us. When we let Dallas out of the house Tex began jumping around excitedly, so happy to see his sister.

We spent an hour loving on him and thanking God for bringing him home to us and calling Gurn and our daughter with the good news. Then we left to go pick up Zack at his basketball game, a coat over Tex to hide him. When Zack got in the car he saw the coat move and then saw Tex. In a quiet, stunned voice he said, "You've got Tex." What a happy reunion we all had! Once again Tex slept in bed with us and the next day R.H. bought an engraved identification tag with our phone number on it. God brought Tex back to us and he used a special young lady to bring it about.

Tex lived to be 12 years old. For six months after his hind legs failed him, we carried him outside in a little red wagon to take care of his business. The last few years of his life, after his little sister Dallas died unexpectedly, he shared his home with a little red dachshund named Penelope. A Gentleman Welsh corgi to the very last, he was good to her.

Tex was a good dog.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February Faces: An Eye to Catch

It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage

was not a home or children or a remedy against sin,

but simply there being always an eye to catch.

Mrs. Minerva in Jan Struther's 1940 book Mrs. Minerva

The Tennessean, May 28, 2000

These are the last of my personal collection of WW II soldiers and their sweethearts but not the end of my February Faces. The next three days on Across the Way will show more personal faces, but I have enjoyed so much, and learned so much, from your comments--wise, funny, poignant--on this series. 

My sisters and I loved to hear the story about how our parents met at a zoo in Asheville, North Carolina. Wasn't it at the elephant pen, sisters? We always teased Mama that Daddy "picked her up." It did lead to marriage a few months later, something we also teased her about. Of course she always said, "Things were different then. It was wartime and we were more mature." Meaning, of course, that they were more mature than we were at that age so we'd better not try it.

Our mother and father lived out their own WW II love story, much of which I've shared here in past posts. I'd love to hear if any of you have stories of your own parents' or grandparents' love story. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February Faces: What Would Happen?

"What would happen if a woman honestly believed all her life that she was beautiful?
Would this have a tendency to make her beautiful?"

Agnes Sligh Turnbull from her diary Dear Me  1939

I am a great believer in the philosophy embedded in the following quote from The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin.

"...the more Mr. Briggs thought Rose charming the more charming she became."

What do you think?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February Faces: The White Swan

"That's what it is--a body like this is a dragon, all scales and folds.
So the dragon ate the white swan. I haven't seen her for years.
I can't even remember what she looks like. I feel her, though.
She's safe inside, still alive, the essential swan hasn't changed a feather.
Do you know, there are some mornings in spring or fall, when I wake and think,
I'll run across the fields into the woods and pick wild strawberries!
Or I'll swim in the lake, or I'll dance all night tonight until dawn!
And then, in a rage, discover I'm in this old and ruined dragon."

Ray Bradbury's female character in Dandelion Wine

How could Ray Bradbury, a mere man, have known that a woman can feel like this as she ages?

The essential swan is somewhere safe inside her. She knows it is. Can no one else see it?

Even my mother, now living in a nursing home hundreds of miles away, many inches shorter than she once was, inside is still the beautiful young bride with the raven black Heddy Lamar hair, later working in her kitchen, steam in the air from canning all day, in her purple cotton dress and white ankle socks. Ready for church with veiled hat and white gloves, small daughters dressed in matching frocks that she made. At Myrtle Beach each summer with her bathing suit straps down to get an even tan, laughing with her sisters in the kitchen when they came to visit.

Please, when you see a dragon walking toward you on the street, try to see the white swan inside.

Friday, February 8, 2013

February Faces: Best Smelling Dream Man

It's not difficult to figure out that I am a FAN of Beverley Nichols. If you love to garden or just love to look at gardens then you will probably love his books too. Don't miss his Merry Hall. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

First Mr. Nichols thinks gardens, then he plans gardens, then he and whatever irascible help he has managed to hire actually garden. Then he bathes and dabs on the cologne that I am in love with. Mind you, I've never smelled it or am likely to unless Floris brings it back, but I know I would swoon if I sniffed it as Beverley Nichols or Carry Grant strolled past me.

That's right, Mr. Cary Grant! Doesn't that make you want to know the name of this cologne? It is Floris's New Mown Hay. Sadly, I cannot find it in existence anywhere but please let me know if Floris revives it. I would dab it on all my Beverley Nichols' books and then could feel as if I were actually having a conversation with him as we strolled along his garden paths. And I would be careful not to say things that women would say that drove him mad, such as "Oh, but you should have seen my _____________ when they were at their peak!"

The photo below, from a 1952 snapshot, is not Mr. Beverley Nichols. I have a picture of Nichols in my Books board on Pinterest, but am too unsure of violating a copyright infringement by posting it here. So this is not my Best Smelling Dream Man, but he must be a gardener--look at those carrots he is holding! No, he's simply a mystery man.

Let's just call him My Funny Valentine.

What men's cologne makes you swoon?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Faces: Life's Little Blunders

            Word to Wives

"A woman can forgive a man
'Most anything," my mother stated.
"If he just asks. She even can
Forget, sometimes. But if she's fated
For happiness, she'll have to learn
How to forgive the little blunders
Men make, unknowing, that sting and burn
A woman's heart until she wonders
If he's got sense at all. Forgiving
A man because he doesn't know
He needs forgiveness, takes good living
And loving. Women do it, though.
The wise don't mention it. Men look driven
At being told they've been forgiven."

Jane Merchant from halfway up the sky 1957

I hope my readers understand that if there's any preaching going on here, it is to myself! 

This poem is typical of Southern women of days gone by. I'm not saying that she's right or wrong, and certainly not in every case. I do know that I wish I'd read it before I got married. Why? Because men sometimes don't have good sense! I wish I had not been so sensitive to small hurts--"little blunders."

Maybe Jane Merchant's mother's advice could make for happier marriages...or longer ones. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February Faces: Who is Your Dream Man?

Is he a farmer?

"I think it takes more of a man, more brains, more character, 
more courage, more bodily vigor,
to be a truly successful farmer
than it requires in any other calling I know."
David Grayson

Is he a soldier? Poet? Businessman?

"He was a Spitfire pilot, poet, businessman, occasional organist
but not, it has to be said, wholly practical.
What he could do he did brilliantly 
and what he could not do he could never learn to do."
Ronald Blythe speaking of a friend Monty in Word from Wormingford

Is he a policeman?

"After fifty-four years of hard, joyful living, Detective Hoke Doop of the Durham police department knew where to put his faith.
He believed in the power of an old-fashioned preacher to scare the hell out of sinners, and the messy, majestic power of the law to punish sinners who wouldn't get scared. As a young man he'd
stuck a foot inside the barely open door to the city's all-white police force and become, against all odds, what he'd wanted to be since he was a kid watching cops-and-robbers movies from the colored 
section in the balcony of a Durham theater. He became an officer of the law.
He believed in the awesome love of his fat, sassy little wife, Louetta; the fine qualities of their four
grown children, and the innocence of their six grandkids. 
He believed that hot fried catfish and cold beer could soothe any man's troubles,
and that Elvis had been the only white man who could sing gospel music with true soul.
And he believed Elvis was really dead--no small feat in these parts.
Hoke was nobody's fool."
Deborah Smith in Silk and Stone

The farmer's picture in today's post is rather murky--as most dream men are. Did you have a Dream Man when you were young? Or several? I just know that you married women are going to play it safe and say it's your husband! My husband plainly says that his Dream Girl is Barbara Streisand. He prefers her beauty to Angelina Jolie's any day. When you've been married as long as we have you're not afraid to tease each other a little bit. So who is my Dream Man? It would have to be Jimmy Stewart in almost any role he ever played but especially roles where he wore old v-neck sweaters and slightly wrinkled khaki trousers. 

Who is your Dream Man, ladies?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Faces: The Best of All

Now? he asked himself. Why, now, at the end of his life, a new dimension existed:
the communication of love itself in service; 
wordless, nameless, and all-pervading;
transfiguring his daily life.
And this experience--it astonished him--was the best of all.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her novel Dearly Beloved

These are the words of of a husband caring for his ill wife in their old age. No doubt that being a caregiver can be the hardest job of all--and that this is a book of fiction--but isn't his a sweet attitude?

Monday, February 4, 2013

February Faces: Longing to be Precious

"Rose clasped her hands tight round her knees. How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again--not important on platforms, not important as an asset in an organization, but privately important, just to one other person, quite privately, nobody else to know or notice. It didn't seem much to ask in a world so crowded with people, just to have one of them, only one out of all the millions, to oneself. Somebody who needed one, who thought of one, who was eager to come to 
one--oh how dreadfully one wanted to be precious!"
Elizabeth von Armin in The Enchanted April

I'll admit it. I cried when I read this in The Enchanted April. I had already seen the lovely, lovely movie but the book helped me to understand Rose better. Isn't there this part of Rose in almost everyone? There is in me. Is there in you?

Maureen at Random Distractions has invited us to be part of her drawing for a year's subscription, delivered worldwide, to the Slightly Foxed Quarterly. Just visit her blog and leave a comment to enter.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February Faces: Smart Man

"It is no wonder that every Southern man of family is careful to say he outmarried himself. He can pretend it is a matter of courtesy, but it has become a convention and a convention with teeth in it."

Andrew Nelson Lytle in A Wake for the Living

I wonder if there are any Southern men who still say this? That they married up? Do women need to hear this anymore? Does it even matter anymore? There are certain older men I knew and a few I still know who act as if they are the luckiest men in creation to have married their wives. And I believe they're sincere. Maybe this is true of all parts of the country, the world even, but there really is a vanishing breed of Southern men from my father's and uncles' generation who were so courtly that you left their presence believing that they held women in such high esteem. 

[This young married couple were photographed in June of 1944 at Valdosta, Georgia.]

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February Faces: Woman's Work?

From Phyllis Nicholson's Country Bouquet 1947

"It is woman's work to keep love warm. But the cold blast of her busy indifference causes the flame to flicker down in father's heart. Absorbed by the Children, Lost Causes, Golf or Bridge, Madame has increasingly less time for her husband. This makes quiet men wistful and lively men wild. No husband should come in from work almost unnoticed. Give him a hero's homecoming every day and keep romance alive."

Nicholson was writing from post-World War II England and she's pretty rough on wives here. What do you think about what she says? Before you get too defensive, I must tell you that on the next page she advises women never to marry a man who comes home for lunch. In fact, she claims that the best husbands are soldiers and sailors who are gone a good bit of the time!

Is she right? Is she wrong?

[The photograph above was taken September 24, 1944 in Victoria, Texas. These are not family photographs but are from my personal collection of Soldiers & Their Sweethearts.]

Friday, February 1, 2013

February Faces

In the days ahead I have some February faces to share with you here at Across the Way. Faces and short snippets, as we all seem to be looking forward to St. Valentine's Day in our homes and relationships.

Let's not forget that these days leading to St. Valentine's Day may be sad or even bitter ones for some folks as they watch love in the air in Blog Universe this month. This may be the most important time of year for some to pour out their love instead on their house or their pets or family and friends. Don't forget also to pour out some love on yourself, please.

To some of my women friends who have had their hearts broken in the past, I leave you with this one comforting sentence made famous by Jane Ace whose malaprops entertained audiences on radio in the 1930s:
"Time wounds all heels."

And if you're compelled, by whatever reason, to live with one of life's frustrating men and feel as if you're sometimes alone on the relationship road, you can always try doing like Diane Keaton's character did in Something's Gotta Give when forced into taking care of Jack Nicholson's character at her beach house when he leaves the hospital.

She throws up her hands and reminds herself:

"Play music, cook, write, focus!"

My apologies to any men who might be reading this and are in the same situation. I'm not sure what the feminine equivalent of a heel is but feel free to contribute. 

I'd put a big yellow smiley face here if I knew how to.