Sunday, August 25, 2013

If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

Or to paraphrase the old proverb, if wishes were dining rooms, I would like this one, please.


It may not be as grand as those wished for by Beverley Nichols in Merry Hall.....

"Visions of candlelit parties


bare shoulders reflected in gesso mirrors

[source: Vogue January 1933]

Sheraton sideboards,


Tio Pepe in Georgian decanters,


spinach souffles,

[ here]

Nectarines from the walled garden,

[ here]

Chateau Yquem with walnuts."

Yes, Mr. Nichols, a dining room would be loverly. With a table that could be set ahead without rush. Where guests could enter at night after candles were lit, like walking onto a stage set. They would be surrounded by beautiful ornaments or paintings to talk about if conversation lagged. But, of course, it would not. The ambience would be such that conversation would sparkle. The meal would be savored, no dirty pots and pans stacked in the sink in plain view. Naturally, the table setting would be blog-worthy. How could it help but be?

I yearn for a separate dining room. Here is what I call our "small dining room," as though there were a large dining room somewhere, through a door I have yet to open.

It is at one end of a long narrow room that originally was the back porch of this old farmhouse. Here is the opposite end of it, which for 14 years contained my kitchen in a closet-sized space. My stove stood where the red door is now. It opens to the laundry room we added when we added the new kitchen. The stacked picnic baskets serve an important purpose. They hold all my cloth napkins. And if you zoom in on the ceiling here you can see the unusual pattern of half-moon trowel work that was done back when the porch was made into a kitchen and the original kitchen became a bedroom. The original owners' grandsons stopped by not long after we moved in and told us that was done in the late 1930s, when they were about ten years old. While visiting their grandmother, they slept in a room built on top of the root cellar.

The small dining room is where our grandsons' table was when they were young, and where their girlfriends were seated with them eventually. Now no one wants to sit in the children's dining room, now that they are grown up, except for little Nora, so it is merely a cozy space without much function. At one end is the old wood ice box that R.H. spent hours restoring decades ago. It holds lightbulbs mainly, and cereal boxes.

There is a narrow table holding family photographs, and over it hangs an original charcoal drawing of an old local railroad depot, Amqui Station, drawn back in the 1970s by local artist Burnard Wiley. It was my Christmas gift to R.H. one year. Afraid the depot would be demolished, Johnny Cash bought the building and moved it ten minutes away to The House of Cash. After Cash's death it was again moved and is now The Amqui Station and Visitors Center, dedicated to railroading. The Amqui Music & Arts Festival will be there on September 28, 2013.

On the opposite wall are old built-in cupboards that give me extra dish storage. The feed sack curtains hide Christmas decorations for the rear of the house. 

The first cupboard holds dishes in bright colors and punch cups hanging from hooks.

The third cupboard holds mostly odds and ends of china.

But it is the middle cupboard that is my "happy" cupboard. It contains Christmas dishes, and I open it up all year round for a little Christmas cheer.

See the old red and white enamel dinette table that the previous owners left in the smokehouse when we bought this place.....

It could serve as extra dining space for a few people but no one wants to be separated from the others eating at the big kitchen table. Behind this old table, the windows look out to the smokehouse. Why have we never shown the smokehouse interior to you? Because it is not a space you would want to pin on Pinterest.

With a ton of work it would make a beautiful garden shed, but it is also home to our big Brown Eyes. He has a big doghouse inside to sleep in when it's cold in the winter and a cool cement floor for when it's hot outside. The generator is inside here as are bins of birdseed, tools, and the empty milk jugs filled with water that R.H. thinks we'll need if there's ever a water shortage. Here is the back of the smokehouse.

And the side that faces the "small dining room."

Now, this is the point of this whole long post on dining rooms. Wouldn't it make perfect sense to knock out the wall in the "small dining room" for a long table and chairs, windows all along the side, with a garden door stepping out to a tiny enclosed terrace between the new dining room and the smokehouse? With a slanted roofline for a cozy feel? A shelf under the windows for serving dishes? Makes perfect sense to me.

Mind you, we will not be doing this. R.H. and our sons could do the work. It would just be a matter of pulling them off other jobs, jobs that actually pay instead of costing. See what I mean?

Ah, but I can dream, and in my mind I have furnished it, set the table, lit the candles, and carried in the food. I need only to call my guests. It could possibly look like this. Yes, this would about do it, I think.

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

Tell me, fellow beggars, what is your horse, if you had a wish?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Remembering Mr. Bradbury

Today would have been Ray Bradbury's birthday. When I saw the news of his death on
June 6, 2012, I   thought, "There goes an original." I knew he had been in poor health but still I felt sad that there would be no more new Ray Bradbury books.

Author of many books....

It was Fahrenheit 451 that first made me realize his respect for and love of books.

And it was Bradbury Speaks that left me no doubt that he was an original and did not hesitate to speak his mind.

""Plant me in a room with two hundred chaps at two hundred computers,
give me a number two Ticonderoga pencil
and a ten-cent Mohawk Red Indian pad,
and I will outthink and out create the whole damn bunch."

"So instead of treating chat-show hosts as Cinderellas,
tell them they are ugly sisters whose lips spew not diamonds and emeralds
but spiders, frogs, and toads."

"Shut off the set. Write your local TV newspeople.
Tell them to go to hell.
Take a shower.
Go sit on the lawn with friends."

Phew! Ever felt like that yourself after watching the local news? Or a talk show? But there was a softer side to Mr. Bradbury.

The night that I heard of his death, I took my favorite Bradbury book to bed with me. I'm talking about Dandelion Wine, the mostly autobiographical fictionalized account of his summers as a boy.

He remembered exactly what it was like to be a boy wearing a brand new pair of tennis shoes.

"Somehow the people who made tennis shoes knew what boys needed and wanted.
They put marshmallows and coiled springs in the soles
and they wove the rest out of grasses bleached and fired in the wilderness.
Somewhere deep in the soft loam of the shoes the thin hard sinews of the buck deer were hidden.
The people that made the shoes must have watched a lot of winds blow the trees
and a lot of rivers going down to the lakes.
Whatever it was, it was in the shoes, and it was summer."

Mr. Bradbury showed a distinctly softer side when he wrote about wives, and I believe in his sincerity on this subject as he was married to the same woman all his life until her death eight years before his.

"She sat down next to him on the swing,
in her nightgown,
not slim the way girls get when they are not loved at seventeen,
not fat the way women get when they are not loved at fifty,
but absolutely right, a roundness, a firmness,
the way women are at any age, he thought, when there is no question."

He wrote beautifully of his grandmother.

"She was a woman with a broom or a dustpan or a washrag or a mixing spoon in her hand.
You saw her cutting piecrust in the morning, humming to it."

"She had stuffed turkeys, chickens, squabs, gentlemen, and boys...
Grandma of the thousand arms, shook, basted, whipped, beat,
minced, diced, peeled, wrapped, salted..."

"...and stirred."

"She had pulled down shades, pinched out candles, turned switches, 
and--grown old."

Mr. Bradbury understood about women growing old. In what was the post I've been most proud of on this blog, I let Mr. Bradbury speak. I believe he would have been proud to have the old photograph I chose to accompany his quote on that post. If you would care to visit that post [here], I think you will understand why I miss Mr. Bradbury.

I'm remembering you today, Mr. Bradbury.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Mutual Admiration Society

"We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society
My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society"

"I think he's handsome and he's smart"

"I think that she's a work of art"

"And that's the way we pass the time of day
My baby and me."

You can see it in their eyes in these pictures, can't you? This mutual admiration society between R.H. and our granddaughter. If you were not around in 1956 to see the Broadway production of Happy Hunting where Ethel Merman and Virginia Gibson, as her daughter, sang this duet to each other, or to hear Teresa Brewer's recording of "Mutual Admiration Society" as I did, you may not be familiar with this catchy tune. I thought of it immediately when I saw these pictures of my husband with our little granddaughter.

As I have been absent from blogging for nearly two weeks, to the extent of never having even returned or answered the many sweet birthday wishes left for R.H. on my last post, I hoped that the mutual admiration society between me and my blog friends would not disappear. For nine days I did not look at my blog or anyone else's. My focus has been instead on my health. In 2007 I was diagnosed with diabetes and faithfully dealt with it for a year. Did you know that success can breed a lackadaisical attitude? With me it did and the slippery slope can fool you into thinking that nothing is wrong simply because it happens ever so slowly. 

Once I woke up and realized that I might not be around to enjoy this little granddaughter very long I had to examine all my habits and try to make an about-face. I knew that my present life was such that I had to address changing more than what I ate, although that was the most urgent. It was time to nourish my body, yes, but also my mind, soul, and spirit. I asked my husband to remember that for one month it would be as if I were going to a Health Farm or Spa. I asked all my family to pray for me. I put away all my dessert files--I had about 11 of them, one for each possible category. I went through my cookbooks and made lists of meals that contained no sugars, white flour, or white rice. Actually no rices or grains of any kind for this first phase. And no recipes including my favorite food--Hellman's Mayonnaise. Did you know that it has sugar in it?

Can you guess what kind of mood I've been in these last nine days? (I'm pausing here to thank God for my patient husband.)

I have examined another area of my life, blogging. Not only how much time it consumes if done properly but a possible addiction to it. Do I depend too much on feedback/comments? Have I sought approval too much--all my life? Is there any "me" there without validation or compliments from others?

How to break from that dependence? How do I trust my own sense of accomplishment in what I do, enjoy it for my own self? Was blogging at fault? I decided it was not as I have struggled with this all of my adult life, long before I began to blog last November. It is a separate mire that I must find my way out of.

Maybe we bloggers are a Mutual Admiration Society. Does it matter? Dangers can lurk here but I believe I have found something personally rewarding in blogging. Friendships can grow here just as easily as face to face. Interests expand, inspirations abound, empathy grows.

I did consider disabling comments. Have any of you ever had the nerve to do that?

"I say now you're the sweetest one"
"I say, no you're the sweetest one"

"She claims that I'm a natural wit"
"He says it's just the opposite"

Are we codependent? Or do we simply in friendship encourage each other, applaud each other's efforts, share in each other's joys and sorrows? Laugh with each other and sometimes cry for each other?

As I began once more Sunday night to visit a few blog friends it was difficult for me to comment. Mostly I just read for the sheer pleasure of reading or looking at beautiful pictures. There are times like this in all our lives. Each of us face distractions and mind-hogging challenges. Is it okay to just relax and take it as it comes, giving to blogging the time you have to give, not making every single day hold the urgency to blog, read blogs, or comment?

There I go again, needing to know how you feel. And yet you might not be up to it. You might be stretched thin. You might understand but not be able to put it into words.

That has to be enough, or it should be, anyway. Shouldn't it?

"My baby and me
We belong to a Mutual Admiration Society."

There is original Broadway footage from Ethel Merman and Virginia Gibson singing this on YouTube if you'd care to watch. I'm going to try to link to it [here].

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wasn't He A Doll?

Happy Birthday, R.H. 

Wasn't he a doll?

Of course, my friends told me he was a hood.

I always had a soft spot in my heart for hoods.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

On Second Thought...Caladiums

On second thought, just how many people are going to give a hoot about an old book called The Pink House? As an alternative to that post, here's something different to look at.

What happened to the post I wanted to do of our backyard when the hundred caladium bulbs finally reached their peak after our daughter Christy and R.H. planted them on Memorial Day weekend [here]? They've been at their peak for quite some time now but no post. I wanted pictures after the deck had at least been scrubbed, if not re-stained, when the deck chairs were spotless with vintage pillows on them, when frosty glasses of homemade lemonade was ready to serve, when twigs were picked up, when the ugly garden hose was out of sight, and the whole scene staged as if for some magazine cover.

That did not happen and September will be here in the blink of an eye. I know you bloggers, you're already planning your Autumn posts! Before I get left completely behind, here is our backyard sans staging. To the right, outside our kitchen, is the deep shade bed. The caladiums hide the garden hose and twigs in the path, but they're there.

Straight ahead are more caladiums in the old terra-cotta chimney flues R.H. collects.

See that brick on the deck by the pot? It's the launchpad for R.H.'s beloved toad who sleeps in the pot. R.H. leaves the light on for him so he (or she) can catch his dinner.

Walk to the left and you can sit in the deck chairs near the big elm that no longer has ivy choking it.

Reality--dirty deck and the bottle of Basic H we spray on our ankles to help keep ticks from latching on.

Now we walk down the path that leads to the picnic shelter. Here is a whole bed of caladiums and wild ferns planted in more chimney flues and a rock wall bed.

The other side of the bed shows one of the pieces of iron railing we lugged back from Mt. Dora, Florida one year. Also in the picture is the trunk of the sugar maple that shades the whole deck area.

Now that wasn't too hard. Oh, shoot! I might as well show you our potting bench too. That was going to be a great post when I ever got around to taking everything off it, cleaning it up--especially the cobwebs--and "staging" it better.

I had even hoped to finally submit something to Nita's ModVintage Mondays. But I probably would need to windex both sides of these old windows though, at the very least!

So much for that. At least now I can pin my own pictures to my Potting Bench board on Pinterest!

This last one's kind of cute, don't you think?

Thank you so much for your patience looking at these caladiums! I guess you can tell by now that we love caladiums. We ordered these special ones from Classic Caladiums [here].

And I haven't even showed you my pink caladium china and tablecloth. That's for the post I have planned when I major clean my kitchen and prepare a fabulous ladies luncheon. I see that smirk. And for the sweet souls who commented on The Pink House post, you are definitely excused from feeling like you have to comment here!

Do tell! What fabulous posts are you planning if only..........