Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Goodbye

Once again it is the last day of the month and tomorrow time to flip the page on my calendar. Each month the illustrations by Kevin Dodds just get better and better. 

I'm going to miss seeing this one in my kitchen but I can't really say that I'll miss October of 2018 because it has sure kicked my butt, to put it crudely, something I almost never do.

Things are looking much better than they did at the beginning of the month so onward and giddyap, Dewena.

While almost no fall decorating got done this year, my sweet old squirrel came out of hiding for autumn and winter, with his barbed wire necklace. I propped a couple of old family photographs around for a touch of spooky Halloween decor.

This one is of an aunt's grandfather who worked with Nashville's streetcar system. He's playing with his work band, the Nashville Railway Electric Company band. 

I can't remember which one Aunt Teenie told me was her grandfather.

An old family reunion photograph went in my kitchen tucked into a wire container that holds special vintage cookbooks.

I'm guessing that the family might have gathered for Decoration Day since many family reunions took place then.

Beside it is a cute Halloween card from our daughter who sent us a box of goodies, a friendly bat tucked into the package too.

He's flying high over my All-Clad pans and I love his company in my kitchen. 

After a month of being stuck inside wrapped in sweaters and coughing my brains out, I finally got out this week for a few hours. A trip to Goodwill perked me up, especially when I found a perfect pair of Pottery Barn long velvet curtains for under $10. I say they're red velvet but it's more like a red wine color and I have a special plan for them.

And I'm spending some time outside now with BreeBree and James Mason, enjoying the gradual turning of the leaves.

This is the view from my bathroom window to our side yard and I had to take the camera out to capture this autumn beauty. 

The gigantic maple in the front yard hasn't turned yet and that's just the way I like it, autumn being stretched out as long as it can be.

I'm loving it. Happy Halloween to you!

When the leaves began to turn, and the apples were ripe, and there was a frosty zest in the morning air, I began, after a long forenoon in the garden or orchard, or tramping in country roads, to be conscious that there was something in life quite worth living for.
David Grayson in Adventures in Solitude
after a long illness. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More Fantasy Wardrobe

What's a wardrobe without something for Halloween as I welcome Trick-or-Treaters at my door?

My own two little goblins are making the rounds of the neighborhood with their daddy and I've been wearing this pumpkin corduroy jumper on a busy day of going to the market after story hour at the library. 

I wore my brown jersey blouse today but last Saturday night I wore it without a blouse and with my topaz necklace when my guy took me out for dinner, children at home with my mother.

Because I'm a young mother on a budget in this fantasy, I'm proud to say my pretty jumper was only $13.

Here's my new fall church dress that of course will be worn all winter long. I think my saddle leather bag, also $13 is a good choice for my budget.

My wool cashmere coat with a brown velvet collar was a splurge on our budget at $50 but think how many years it will last. 

I've been busy from sunup to sundown, chasing toddlers and keeping house and I still feel energetic enough to greet hours of Trick-or-Treaters ahead with a big smile and compliments for their costumes, in between times putting a meal on the table for my husband and tucking the little ones in bed with a gentle Halloween story.

Now that's a real fantasy!

Today's wardrobe courtesy of Woman's Home Companion, August 1955.

Monday, October 29, 2018

In Happened in America

On February 9, 2018 I did a post called A Silver Golf Trophy and Prejudice. In it I wrote about an old movie starring Gregory Peck called Gentleman's Agreement that won picture of the year and the book by the same name written by Laura Z. Hobson about anti-semitism in America in the late 1940s.

I went back to this post [here] this weekend after seeing the shocking news of a gunman opening fire on innocent people in a Pittsburg synagogue. 

In my post I thought that surely these old prejudices no longer existed, not in America. 

I was wrong and I am sickened by how wrong I was. 

Eleven people killed and more injured, as they worshipped. 

In America.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The 1950s

I'll admit that I love love love the 1950s.
     And the 1940s and 1930s and earlier.

           And the early years of the 1960s.

That doesn't mean that I'm oblivious to things that were wrong in the good old days.

The ads in my treasured collection of vintage magazines remind me that Madison Avenue sold us a bill of goods then. 

Surprise, surprise! 

It's not that I don't know that earlier times weren't always great, not always and not for all people.

It's just that I choose to focus on the beautiful things of an earlier time, things worth remembering, things that had value and beauty and importance and gentleness.

But the ad above for Old Gold cigarettes reminds me that....

All that glitters is not gold.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Thinking of Pat Conroy

                                                 [October 26, 1945 to March 4, 2016]

I really liked this man and I'm not alone. I miss him, miss watching for another book he wrote. I came late to them, first meeting him in his cookbook The Pat Conroy Cookbook: The Recipes of My Life and then going on to his novels. 

In A Lowcountry Heart, Reflections On a Writing Life, Pat made me chuckle writing about this cookbook that I love.

We all know what we should eat, what's healthy; I wrote that cookbook for people who were trying to speed up the dying process. If there was a just and merciful God, a dry martini would have one calorie and a bean sprout would have three thousand.

Tell me about it!

I won't go on and on about this beloved author but will close with another quote from the same book because it shows why it's so easy to love this author who didn't seem to have a pretentious bone in his body. He writes about visiting Paris, a city he loved so much.

When Parisians spoke to each other in restaurants and cafés, it sounded to me as though they were passing orchids and roses through their lips. I spoke French like a donkey, and no amount of mimicry or fakery could make any of the French think differently. There was not a French word I could not make potted meat of as it fell to the floor from the meat grinder of my tongue. 

You have to love that.

Every time I make Pat's Roasted Chicken I think of him, or his Swordfish and Pasta Salad, or his Spaghetti Carbonara. 

Or his chicken stock, some of which is in my freezer now. 

I'm thinking of you today, Mr. Conroy.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My Fantasy Wardrobe

As someone who rarely shops anymore but is tired of her wardrobe, I think I will indulge in a fantasy wardrobe, bought with fantasy money and fitted to a fantasy figure. 

Why not? What is the internet for if not for fantasy?

I'll begin with this piece today because with Autumn here every woman needs a good basic suit and in my fantasy I look good in brown.

I'm meeting girlfriends for lunch, sitting outside with golden leaves falling from the trees. I'm thinking Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession about to meet Rock Hudson--but minus the accident that leaves her blind.

This is a good basic piece to start my wardrobe, a Handmacher suit made of oxford-brown flannel with cut-steel buttons. 

I see this suit adapting to many social occasions, adding blouses of olive green or silver gray, a black cashmere sweater instead of the jacket for casual or a taffeta blouse for dressier. I can easily unbutton the jacket and add a brown velveteen vest for warmth (LHJ's advice). I can add scarves and belts and change its looks season after season. 

I might even wear this suit all through my 30s.

It's my fantasy and I'll be however old I want to be.

I'm very pleased with this start to my new wardrobe.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Am I in a rut?

I sleep in to make up for time lost coughing all night, wake up, open my eyes and see this....

I had taken the lace curtains down to wash and now wonder if I'll even bother to hang them again, so struck am I by the beauty of sunlight and shadows.

Must bedrooms have curtains?

I think to myself that I must be getting well to even notice this pretty artwork in my windows, when I've noticed so little for over three weeks now, including dust on every surface.

I go into the kitchen for my glass of water and lemon oil and see that the pink geranium is almost as full of white blooms as pink.

Planted perchance by the wind two summers ago when both the geranium and a shamrock plant sat near each other on the front porch table?

I think what a quaint combination they are and consider bringing in the large pot of pink geraniums from the garden before frost and next spring scattering shamrock seeds in it.

Can it possibly be that I am at last interested again in something other than watching Netflix?

I open the kitchen door to let BreeBree and James Mason out and see that our jalapeño and serrano pepper plants are loaded down with peppers. Who even thinks about jalapeños when they're sick?

But frost is coming soon and these cannot go to waste so I get the clippers and step out into the chilly morning to cut all of them. And I do all this without shivering, a good sign.

What shall I do with them? Make cheese stuffed poppers? Am I really ready to cook again, something other than nursery food? Maybe.

I walk over to check the calendar, hoping I haven't missed another family birthday as I recently did our son-in-law's. And there beside the calendar is the photograph of our beautiful daughter-in-law that I stuck up there in early September because she is picking apples and that's what they do in September.

I think about all the Facebook pictures she and our son put up last week when our granddaughters were on fall break. Each day crammed with fun things for the girls to do around their own hometown because this year they didn't go to the beach for fall break.

I shake my head in amazement at how much fun these two young parents create for their children constantly and I regret again that RH and I were such sticks-in-the-mud by the time that our last two kids came along.

I guess we're all that and even more so now. Sticks-in-the-mud. Old people in a rut.

I get mad and think about changing, someday, when I get well.

I could make a start by quitting postponing my day out with my sister....has it really been almost a year since we had a Sisters Day, seeing fabulous historic houses on a Christmas tour of homes?

For months we've talked about visiting the house we lived in as small children, or shopping in some of the cute shops and antique stores in my own little town outside Nashville.

I wonder how soon I'll be able to do that because it seems really important to me that we not put it off.

Maybe when the autumn colors finally arrive we will, which surely will happen in another week or two?

I load the dishwasher, start it and pat it in thankfulness for the flu germs it kills, start a load of laundry next and make my bed--no, I'm lying about that. I mean to but never summon the energy.

Instead I look at all the dust on furniture in every room, make a start on that until a coughing spell interferes with the chore. I decide to finish sorting my drawers of jumbled table linens.

I feel weak, shaky, tired but so happy handling all the pretty cloth napkins I've collected over the years.

Just a common variety hausfrau stuck in a rut and more happy to be in one than I should be.

Maybe I'll start small in climbing out of my rut, make those jalapeño poppers for supper. What else can I put with it that might pass as a meal to RH?

My fried onion rings! He likes them.

Suddenly a wave of fatigue washes over me and I remember the mess that onion rings make. I decide that it'll just be leftover soup with the poppers....or possibly only leftover soup. 

Maybe next week I'll climb out of my rut.

Besides, what's so bad about a rut?

Why this passion for shaking people out of ruts? I am devoted to ruts. Moreover, most of the people who are in ruts are much nicer, and much happier, than the people who are not. To speak of ruts as though they were undesirable is the sign of a coarse and callow mind. Ruts are the wise old wrinkles that civilization has traced on the earth's ancient face.
Beverley Nichols
Laughter On the Stairs 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Do Si Do

Sixteen days without posting here at Across the Way? 

On the blog that is supposed to get my attention every few days, unlike at the Window where infrequent posts are a given?

There's nothing like a bad case of flu followed by nasty bronchitis to throw up a blogging roadblock. Other than wishing I'd bought stock in Kleenex and watching episode after episode of Midsomer Murders, about the only other thing I managed was to flip listlessly through pages in my vintage magazine collection.

Finding this cover from The Progressive Farmer magazine of February 1951 of a square dance in progress brought back memories of the square dance I went to as a child with my parents and two younger sisters. 

This square dance was the genuine thing. Given by a Nashville farmer that my father bought produce from for the Middle Tennessee Kroger stores, it was held in a huge open-air shed. Big troughs along one side held watermelons in icy water and brown bottles of beer, something I wonder about now as Nashville was surely a dry county at the time. Maybe beer was okay? 

The band was large, I remember, not just a few fiddles and banjos, and that big shed was packed with dancers. The dance was a birthday party for our host, Pap Sante, a man I remember chiefly for the large roll of money he carried in his pocket.

I remember that the band made a point of playing a special song several times in honor of the birthday man. It was Too Old to Cut the Mustard, a song I haven't thought about in decades, but when I checked on Youtube, the Ernest Tubb/Red Foley version sounds like what I heard that night.

I was in charge of keeping an eye on my little sisters when Mama and Daddy were dancing and we danced along with other children on the sidelines. 

Some guests were dressed much as those in the picture above but the majority of the men were dressed in overalls, or overhauls as they were jokingly called. But I remember my own parents looking more like the following picture, a Kodak ad in The Saturday Evening Post from October 27, 1051.

Daddy had grown up in a farming family and liked farmers and was at ease with them, but I think that his training as an Air Force officer had given him a more sophisticated air than when he had enlisted, just as it did his older brothers who also served during WW II.

Mama was a small town girl who had also seen a whole different world as she followed Daddy from base to base, with me in tow, and who always had a touch of glamour about her.

So they were both a little more uptown at this square dance than many of the others. It may have been the beginning, though, of my parents' music interest expanding from big band songs to include the music of the Grand Ole Opry.

After all, in our neighborhood we were surrounded by Grand Ole Opry stars, Roy Acuff living one street over on the Cumberland River and Little Jimmy Dickens a street over in the other direction, Jim Reeves next to our church.

These two magazine pictures reminded me also that we had square dance lessons at elementary school during physical education time outdoors, first beginning with folk songs for the beginning grades--put your little foot, put your little foot, put your little foot right in...

As I thought back to the square dance I wondered if I could find a photograph of my family at that time and was lucky to find this one from 1951 that had to be that same year. 

I'm the tall awkward child on the left, my little sisters, cute as buttons, next to me.

I look at my father and mother, our neighbors' house behind them, ours much like it and both built post war, and it's like it was yesterday. Our '48 Chevy shows barely and the slightly newer Ford must have belonged to someone in my mother's fun loving family who were there visiting.

Sometimes those days are sharper in my memory than what I did yesterday. I welcome the memories of my wonderful young parents and my grandparents, and many aunts and uncles. 

Most all of them have promenaded on before me, leaving my three younger sisters--another one added about five years after this photograph was taken--very precious to me.

Two of them my square dance partners from the past.