Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Great Projects Afoot"

"People with great projects afoot habitually look further and more clearly into
the future than people who are mired in day-to-day concerns.
They do not easily grow sad or old:
they are seldom intimidated by the alarms and confusions of the present
because they have something greater of their own,
some sense of their large and coherent motion in time,
to compare the present with."
Robert Grudin

A commonsense opinion, don't you think? If we let ourselves become "mired in day-to-day concerns" we soon lose our vitality. I do.

These daily concerns are inevitable for most of us. We must make a living, cook meals and wash dishes, fold laundry and mop floors. Our have-to's swallow up our want-to's, but who's to say that our want-to's aren't as important as our have-to's? Maybe they're actually our need-to's, one or two of them, anyway.

If we don't make and take time for the great project of our life, we can easily grow sad. We can become so "intimidated by the alarms and confusions" of our life, of this world, that we lose that feeling of joy upon awakening, that "Oh, boy, another day!"

We're not prone to feel sad or even our numerical age when there is a great project afoot to look forward to every morning when we get out of bed, when we have at least a small chunk of time to do something that keeps us from becoming grouchy old men and women. Something to keep our minds alert and our fingers nimble.

Was there ever a time when you found yourself lost in a project and rose from working on it almost giddy with happiness? So much so that even the evening news couldn't dampen your spirit, when bills to pay or health concerns were but minor nuisances? 

Or have you become fatigued at times in your life and there was no time to figure out why? Was the fatigue physical, emotional, or spiritual--or a combination of all?

I have over the past few weeks, and I can't seem to figure out why it doesn't go away because it is so foreign to me at this stage of my life. I am a woman for whom hope springs eternal. I see the glass not only as half full but full of sparkling fizz and pink bubbles. 

I knew that this post would only have one picture----

I thought about writing that my metaphorical fishing trip might last a week or two or more. But then, what would I do if Across the Way's magnetic force drew my fingers back to my laptop in a day or two? How much egg would I have to wipe off my face then?

No, I'm going to keep my options open. I am going to study Grudin's words some more because in the past I simply loved having great projects afoot.

Do you?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Our One Ewe Lamb's Birthday!

R.H. and I have one daughter. Even though she hoped for a little sister, it was not to be. 
Truthfully, we think she's come to like that she only has brothers.


How could one little girl have been so much a tomboy, and yet have so much 
"enjoyed being a girl"?


How could a kindergartner who insisted on wearing a purple flowered shirt to school,
 with green stripe pants, have grown up to have so much style?


She continued to amaze us, even going on to earn her degree while raising two sons.
 I often stood in awe of the great job she did with both.


Through a sad year of divorce, one constant was the love between 
our grandsons and their mother--
and between our grandsons and their father.


There were some years there where she once again needed her mother and father,
 especially her strong father.


Eventually there came a day when this Tennessee daughter of ours
 met a wonderful man from Massachusetts--in Florida!


Over time, two families realized that they would be very happy to become one.


And so they did.

 Happy birthday, dearest daughter!

 You were beautiful in your wedding gown, 
but then you've always been beautiful to us,
 even in a purple flowered shirt and green stripe pants.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

We miss you so much, Daddy. 

Thank you for the love you and Mama had.

Thank you for the love you had for your Papa and Mama
and for your big brothers and sisters. 

Thank you for your lifelong love of gardening.

Thank you for always loving your four daughters.

Thank you for quoting the words of Winston Churchill at your and Mama's 50th wedding anniversary after battling cancer bravely: "Nevah, nevah give up."

 And for speaking to all of us about heaven. You planned on going there and you wanted us to join you there someday. The last words of your 50th wedding anniversary speech, spoken in a voice made difficult to understand because of the scar tissue in your throat from radiation were:

"Be there!"

We'll see you there someday, Daddy.

Love from,
Your Daughters

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"The Valley Is Silent, the Air is Sweet"

"In June one feels the security that summer has just begun,

There is time enough for dreaming,

trying to take into ourselves the loveliness of June.

Inside the house now in daytime

the light is green and shadowy, for the maple shade overhangs the roof.

It is a little like living under water.

Honey and I always walk around the house.
trying to take into ourselves the loveliness of June.

The Valley is silent,

the air is sweet."

Words above by Gladys Taber, the wise Connecticut countrywoman

in Stillmeadow Seasons and Stillmeadow Road.

Pictures by R.H. Callis

Avian subjects, residents of Valley View.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leslie Lynnton Benedict's House

Are you acquainted with Mrs. Benedict? Mrs. Jordan Benedict? Of the Reata Ranch in Texas? Heroine of Edna Ferber's novel Giant?

[movieposters.ha.com on Pinterest]

Yes, they made a movie of Giant in 1956 and it is a magnificent film starring Elizabeth Taylor as Leslie Lynnton Benedict, and Rock Hudson as Jordan (Bick) Benedict.

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Some critics claim the movie is better than the book. Pooh! Some critics just don't like Ferber's writing. Who cares what critics say? Pulitzer Prize-winner Edna Ferber cried all the way to the bank.

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The film is one of my favorites and another actor, James Dean who played Jett Rink, gave the performance of his much too short life in it. But Ferber's book is the masterpiece. Much of both the movie and the book takes place in Texas at the cattle ranch called Reata, in an imposing but charmless ranch house run by the sister-in-law from hell, Luz Benedict. Thank heaven she goes on to her reward pretty quickly and leaves her brother Bick Benedict and his bride Leslie alone, or alone with the hordes of fellow Texans that seem to consider Reata their home away from home.

Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Benedict are a stunning couple, aren't they? The Hollywood version anyway?


But let's not talk about Reata. Instead, let's talk about the charming home Leslie left behind in Virginia when she married Jordan. I know, the movie says it's in Maryland but Edna Ferber placed it in Virginia and that's good enough for me.

Bick Benedick went to Dr. Horace Lynnton's house to buy a horse by the name of My Mistake. He left not too long afterwards with the horse and with the filly named Leslie, one of Dr. Lynnton's three daughters. Don't believe it when the movie says there were two daughters or that Leslie and Jordan had three children, or that the horse's name was War Winds. But if Hollywood can make believe they had three children, then I can make believe that the house below is the house Ms. Ferber had the Lynntons reside in.

 I'll let Ferber's own words describe the house.

[ashandbelle.com on Pinterest]

"Though there was only a physician's income behind it,
profusion was characteristic of the Lynnton menage.

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"Horses in the weathered stables;

[kelleystewart.com on Pinterest]

"the most delicate and savory of American cooking in the kitchen...
Sweet-scented flowers in the rambling garden...

[westover-plantation.com on Pinterest]
"The two men entered the house...

[Emyl Jenkins' Southern Hospitality,
photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr.]
"They peered into the big living room.
Here was a feminine world, all crystal and flowers and faded yellow satin curtains.
Bits of jade. The ruby glow of Bohemian glass.

[bing.com on Pinterest]
"Stuck, he [Bick] thought as he entered his room, but then instantly
there came over him a sensation very strange--
a mingling of peace and exhilaration.
A large square high-ceilinged room, cool, quiet, Chintz curtains,
flowers in a vase, a fire in the fireplace,
a bathroom to himself,
shaving things and sweet-smelling stuff in bottles in the bathroom,
and big thick soft towels.

[amazon.com on Pinterest]
"Breakfast at the Lynntons' was a pleasant thing...
A noble old room, high-ceilinged, many-windowed...

[Emyl Jenkins' Southern Hospitality,
photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr.]

"A brilliant bay at the south end led to a terrace and the haphazard garden.
Inside shone mahogany and silver and crystal.

[Emyl Jenkins' Southern Hospitality,
photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr.]
"Bick Benedict, entering the room rather diffidently,
noted that the napkins were neatly darned,
the flower-patterned carpet threadbare.
It's the luxuries that matter, Leslie had said.
Who cares about the necessities."

[from Edna Ferber's Giant]

And where was Leslie Lynnton when Jordan came down to breakfast? She had been upstairs in her own bedroom...


Awake half the night reading every book in her father's library that she could find about Texas. She came down to breakfast to join Jordan Benedict and argue with him until he was so exasperated that...

Well, before Jordan could catch a deep breath they were aboard a train, on their way to Reata and Texas where Leslie Lynnton Benedict had a giant job ahead of her adapting to Texas, and Texas to her. I assume that before they left Virginia they stopped here first...

[churchesofvirginia.org on Pinterest]

Have you read the book? Seen the movie? Which did you prefer?

While the book gets my vote, I've got to have them both. The movie makes me wish I were a Texan while the book persuades me that Leslie Lynnton Benedict stayed in Texas because she was deeply in love with Jordan. And if there's anything I love better than houses, even a charming Virginia house, it's a good love story.