Sunday, December 24, 2017

O Holy Night

From Claudia and David by Rose Franken, 1939:

"It never failed--people who believed in birthdays invariably believed in Christmas. Not that Claudia didn't believe in Christmas, as far as Christ was concerned.

"But she didn't think that He had anything to do with crowded stores, and suddenly polite elevator boys, and nervous wrecks. She didn't even think He would have liked the excitement and the to-do.

"She did think, however, that He'd have adored last Christmas on the farm. Snow had fallen during the night, and at dawn, Louella's second calf had been born.

"She and David and her mother and Fritz and Bertha, had all gathered in the barn, and as they had started to walk back to the house across the lawn, Bertha had suddenly begun to sing O Holy Night, and Fritz had taken it up in his rich thick voice.

"Before they knew it they were all singing. And it was less singing than some deep expression from within, like prayer.

"Claudia had felt the tears on her cheeks, but nobody asked, "Why are you crying?" Because it wasn't crying, anymore than it was singing. It was as if that same quality of prayer lay upon all of them, and it made Christmas the  Holy Day that it really was.

"They hadn't even remembered the presents until hours later."

May each of us experience that one moment during Christmas when the presents don't even matter.

Merry Christmas to all,
Dewena and RH

The following photograph is in memory of my Grandpa Mickle,
on the left with his brother on the right,
at the Nativity Scene of the city of Belle Isle, Florida
on December 18, 1955.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Shortest Day, Blankets and Books

I love the shortest day of the year, do you?

"The shortest day and thus,
by implication,
the darkest week."
Ronald Blythe

Do you know Ronald Blythe? I think of him as a British Father Tim, resembling Jan Karon's dear parish priest, but not a character of fiction--then again, not many Karon fans think of Tim as fictional, do we?

Word from Wormingford is my favorite Blythe book, and it has stayed on my bed table since November of 1998.

Blythe uses illustrations by the World War II artist John Nash. Blythe was a close friend of Nash's and his wife Christine. I especially love the above illustration, as I am very fond of art with window views.

Here's more of Blythe's words written on the shortest day of the year, and I think you'll understand why I love them:

"Now I have to read.
Reading has always been my way to the Way,
always my way of knowing anything."
Ronald Blythe

That just hits the nail on the head for me. If there's one thing I know for sure it is that the Word led me to Christ, and the Word is the only way I find my way along life's path.

In my time away from blogging after we lost our darling dachshunds Otis and Milo, I turned to the Psalms for comfort. But I also turned to my collection of Christmas books, devouring them for comfort and escape, letting simple stories ease my heart.

Here are two that I took to bed with me this month of long dark nights, actual dark nights that fell early and dark nights of the spirit when I longed to pet the silky ears of Otis and Milo, missing from my bedroom.

Anything from Miss Read comforts my spirit and No Holly for Miss Quinn is a book I save for December each year. It's good, it's easy, and it's not stuffed with sentiment that would reduce me to mush this month.

"She recognized her own limitations.
She liked her own company.
She liked the tranquility of her natural surroundings.
She had more than enough people
around her during office hours,
and Holly Lodge she hoped 
would be her refuge from them.

She spent most of the evening by the fire,
relishing her solitude...
her posting was done.
A box containing Christmas presents,
to be given by hand to Joan
and other local friends,
was on a shelf in the kitchen cupboard.
The milkman was going to deliver
a small chicken in two days' time,
ready for her modest Christmas dinner."
Miss Read

Miss Read's books are illustrated by the famed and beloved artist J S Goodall.

I have one of his wordless books, An Edwardian Christmas, that I use each Christmas for my personal Advent Calendar.

Phyllis McGinley's poems were a part of my newlywed years and I needed their acerbic wit, spot on as much today as they were in the 1960s and 70s. McGinley was known as "the best writer of light verse" in the US in those days. I loved her because she was both a city mouse and country mouse, extolling the virtues and flaws of both with tongue in cheek.

City Christmas
Now is the time when the great urban heart
More warmly beats, exiling melancholy.
Turkey comes table d'hote or a la carte.

Our elevator wears a wreath of holly...

There is a promise--or a threat--of snow

Noised by the press. We pull our collars tighter.

And twenty thousand doormen hourly grow 

Politer and politer and politer. 
 Phyllis McGinley
 I remember being one of the capable wives and mothers of those years when I read McGinley. We put on our panty girdles, took a bus to the city and marched to the office, then went home and donned a frilly apron. We were feminists and homemakers.

What? You think only young women today are true feminists? Honey, we were demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the 1960s too...not that we always got it, but then women today don't always either. It will come if we insist and teach our daughters to insist and our sons that it's the right thing to do.

I don't often get on my soapbox so I'm a little tuckered out 
and it's 8:33 p.m. right now as I'm writing this on the shortest day of the year so I'm heading to bed.

Which brings me to one other thing I love....blankets.

100% wool blankets, to be precise, those comforting covers that get put on my bed November through March.

They have to have satin covered hems.

Satin to hold in my hands the same way I did when I was a child to soothe myself to sleep. Just the same, only I don't suck my thumb now. 

This red one is my favorite. I've had it for decades and it's shrunk through washings and dryings. I look forward to the day each fall that this beauty goes on my bed.

I've only had this lighter weight green blanket a few years, bought on eBay, made by the same company that made my red one. 

And the Fairbault Woolen Mills still make them but you might need to look at eBay for the beautiful ones like mine.

The one in the gorgeous illustration at the top is a St. Mary's blanket. Isn't it beautiful? Can you imagine pulling that one up to your chin on a frosty winter night? I'm looking for one like that too. 

Tonight may be the longest night this year but there are still quite a few ahead before Spring arrives. So grab a good book and a blanket and go to bed early. 

I am. I'm already 46 minutes past the time of my being offline rule so goodnight and sweet dreams, enjoy the rest of December.

Love to you,

Friday, November 17, 2017


Now RH and I have lost our darling Otis as well as his brother Milo.

They were the most adorable and loving little dachshunds ever and our lives seem so empty without their presence.

The story of my sweet Otis as at my other blog:

Sunday, November 5, 2017


It is with so much sadness that I tell here of our loss of our little Milo.

Especially as one may read it who first spotted Milo and his twin brother Otis on the pages of and thought of me. 

Milo and Otis were daily joy to our hearts and RH and I miss him so very much.

Otis has been lost without his brother.

This is more difficult than I thought it would be as I just got through telling the whole story on my other blog.

For those who might want to know more, please visit me at

Hug someone now for me, please, hopefully a fur baby.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hello Neighbor

Are you able to read Gladys Taber's words above?

She was writing to her friend Barbara Webster in their book

Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge

back in 1953, Gladys living in Connecticut and Barbara in 


Blogging has brought me neighbors who some

would say I've never met. 


Why, they're right down the road.

"It has nothing to do with proximity, it's a state of mind."

 Today I wear the cozy colorful blanket of friendship 

wrapped around my shoulders.

Until we talk again, dear neighbors,

and Gladys.......

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This one's for you, Tammy!

In my recent attempt to purge old emails, I accidentally deleted one from my dear blog friend Tammy. When you told Poppy and me about loving an old 1962 movie called "Rome Adventure" I remembered that I had once written a rough draft for a blog post on the very same movie, just another example over the years of the many books and movies we both love. 

Some of what we both love can be classified as great literature or classic movies. Rome Adventure isn't one of them, is it Tam? But we both have to watch it every time it runs on TCM. So here's my old notes on it, that never made it into a blog post. Please add yours to it, Tam, the things you wrote about in the email I accidentally deleted. 

Because, who says a blog post can't be an email, right? I'm becoming more of a blogger who chooses to make her own rules about her own blog. On with it...

"Rome Adventure," starring Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette. Sorry, Suzanne, you were mostly forgettable in your role as Prudence. If Natalie Wood had not dropped out at the last minute, maybe Prudence would have stood out better in my memories of this movie. This movie for me is all about Troy. Well, Troy and Italy.

What girl didn't have a crush on Troy in 1962? Even being a newlywed I still retained my crush. When he appears on the Rome scene in light colored slacks, a red v-neck sweater and white dress shirt, collar open...let's just say there was no way I was turning this movie off. I mean, how Troy Donahue was that outfit!

By the way, do you remember him and Sandra Dee in "A Summer Place"? Where he and Sandra are holidaying on an island with their families and meet, fall in love and she gets--(whisper) pregnant? One of my favorite chic flicks of the early 60s!

Back to Rome: there's Angie Dickinson who tries to keep her twisted clutches on Troy during the whole movie. She is at her most beautiful, mysterious, cruel best in the movie. She reminds me of Mad Men's January Jones in her first season on the show. Didn't Angie have her gorgeous legs insured back then for $1 mil by Lloyd's of London?

Another memorable female character is Daisy, the American who owns a bookshop in Rome. There's a whole movie waiting to be written expanding her intriguing part, don't you think, Tam? And I loved seeing Constance Ford play her part because it helps me think of her sympathetically rather than as the frigid bitch mother of Sandra Dee in A Summer Place, which she did masterfully well. 

Rossano Brazzi, another heartthrob, is Roberto before he inspired Mitzi Gaynor to wash that man right out of her hair. His memorable quote from Rome Adventure:

"Woman's most important function in life is to anchor man."

Good grief, and double gag!

But the man is one handsome Italian sophisticate in this movie. I mean, Rossano Brazzi and Troy Donahue? With those two, it doesn't even matter that Al Hirt wasn't handsome. He is funny in his small cameo part and does he ever play that trumpet!

And then there's the song, right, Tam? I fell in love with "Al Di La" as sung by Emillo Pericoli and I know you did too, as per the accidentally deleted email.

Italy and the music were the actual stars of this film. 

And Troy Donahue. Sigh.........

Tammy, maybe we can take some Italian classes like our Greek Goddess and her daughter?

I wonder how old Troy Donahue is now?

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Wild thing, you make my heart sing"

Happy Anniversary to my wild man!

We were young marrieds when England's The Troggs
gave us this 1966 version of Wild Thing......

" make my heart sing.
You make everything groovy.
Wild thing,
I think I love you."

Even in high school I was attracted to this guy
who I thought was a hood.

All these years later I'm still in love with this man
who thankfully is not a bit prissy,
but is still a bit of a wild thing.

Where all our neighbors mow their lawn like it's a 
G.I. haircut, my man didn't think twice before 
agreeing to my request for a large patch left wild.

At first grasses just grew to seed there.

Soon other wild things grew.

You might call them weeds,
I call them wild things.

My man stood up to the power company who wanted
to cut down a long length of hedgerow
that gave us privacy from the road.

It is there that wild roses grow among cedars.
Blackberries thrive and seed pods form.

Deer already nest in our wild garden,
rabbits run safely out and in again.

A strange thing happened during our first summer
here at our new home.

At first RH brought home bright colorful annuals,
oranges, reds, yellows.

I picked out blues and purples and whites,
perennials whenever possible.

By August, after I'd a thousand times pointed out
how much more pleasing my colors looked
with this old 1935 cottage than his,
I think he began to come around,
without even realizing it--
and honestly, isn't that the best way where 
husbands are concerned?

He came home with 12 pots of these...

He had fallen in love with Northern Sea Oats.
I did too. 

You'd have to be there to appreciate them.
They whisper when the wind blows,
they move gracefully,
nodding and waving as we sit by them.

They're planted all through the new butterfly
garden RH built for me,
to see from my big kitchen window over the sink.

But one plant went in an old pot from the old house
that had lost its bottom.

He planted purple butterfly bushes and purple lantana
 and the butterflies came to flutter and feed.

I chose one white coneflower that he insisted
would die but it hasn't.
Next year I want more of these because
the butterflies and bees love it too.

There's still far too much mulched area
that I hope will gradually shrink as the plants spread.
My wild man has still not given up his mulch
obsession from his early garden center days.

Both of us are now obsessed with Autumn Joy,
only one plant went in the butterfly garden but it has
been so lovely as it's turned from white to pink
and now in October to red,
that we will transplant the three that went in the
front garden here next spring,
where the deer won't be able to get to them.

The previous owners had already planted four 
varieties of ornamental grasses around the property,
and they are tasseling pretty now.

So we have added to them with others.

Because I think I've convinced my wild man
that it is these kinds of subtle earthy plants that suit our
1935 cottage that is far from a dainty storybook one.

When all but two rooms and the bathroom are
paneled in 11 inch knotty pine boards,
ceilings too,
this is not a dainty cottage.

It is an earthy one,
home to a wild man and his wife.

Excuse me while I go wake him up and ask him
if he's forgotten that he promised me a path
and small terrace by the butterfly garden
out of that stack of Tennessee Crab Orchard Stone
that's been sitting there for a month now.

Otis, would you remind him of that?