Friday, November 30, 2018

November Goodbye

The end of the month has come and time to show another soon to be turned page from my kitchen calendar with illustrations by Kevin Dodds.

October is long gone but in a way November seems a continuation of it with the colors that steal my heart every year.

It's strange but I could swear that late October was the time of the most brilliantly colored autumn leaves when I was a teenager, where now they happen in the first two weeks of November instead.

But even when they're gone I still have autumn leaves inside my kitchen, as well as piles of leaves on the ground.

Some things I just want to hold on to and November is one of them, my favorite month of the year.

Everything in November leads up to one day, Thanksgiving Day.

But just like the seasons, Thanksgiving Day eventually changes too. No more for me is the making of multiple pies.

No more three casseroles and a 19 lb. turkey.

No more setting a big table, with a smaller one at the end.

Instead this Thanksgiving Day ended up being one of the ox in the ditch kind of days (Luke 14:5) and instead of even a small turkey, I sliced up some sirloin steak and stir-fried it with peppers, mushrooms and scallions and served it over rice for RH and me after he came home.

There was fresh cranberry sauce and a pecan pie and it was good.

I've had to give up my Gladys Taber ideas of Thanksgiving Days--
Her dream of Thanksgiving was a cross between a Currier and Ives print and a Grandma Moses painting. She saw people skimming up in sleighs, children gamboling in the yard. Fires burning on every hearth, corn popping, apples toasting, turkey crackling outside, moist and tender within.
Gladys Taber in
Mrs. Daffodil 

Times change as the years go by, our family is far flung now. I really do accept the reality of that and that I'm no longer able to produce a big Thanksgiving meal and neither are my small kitchen and fridge. 

Besides, I have Christmas to look forward to where for the first time in years it looks as if every single family member will be here together for an afternoon before Christmas, depending on whether a new great-granddaughter makes her appearance early or late. 

I am looking forward to that so very much!

Still, I think back to when my own mother had to turn over the reins of big family dinners to her daughters. I remember how she still wanted to cook things to contribute to the meal and how we all really wished she wouldn't--both for her own sake and because we all loved to cook. We were, after all, her daughters.

Here she was at 85, if I remember correctly, at my sister Deb's house. It may have been her birthday celebration. She didn't have to lift a finger, just relax and enjoy it all.

She even has her glass of wine by her chair!

She'd earned her right to relax but I wonder, did she miss all the Gladys Taber Thanksgivings that she and my father hosted? 

I bet she did.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hello Again!

It's already been a week since there's been a post here so I'm leaving a quick one now and will be back for my usual end of the month post. 

Christmas has begun to appear in our home but I do resist showing it at Across the Way until December. But more and more I want to deck the halls early to allow for that goal I have each December, that of taking time to follow the Star.

This old star, above, reminds me daily during December to make time for that. It's over 60 years old and was a part of my Christmas as a child. My mother presented me and my sisters with a few precious objects of our childhood Christmases many years ago and this star became mine.

It's darkened with age and the 1958 silver golf trophy beside it darkens with tarnish constantly. I polished some other pieces of silver the other day and then tackled this big piece and ended up with a painful shoulder ever since then, even with calling upon RH to finish polishing the base.

It simply had to be polished to hold the amaryllis bulb I ordered from White Flower Farm. I've since discarded the ugly Spanish moss that was draped over the bulb, realizing that half of the beauty is seeing the beautiful large green bulb. RH said he will dig up a few patches of green moss to put on the dirt instead. 

An amaryllis bulb from White Flower Farm was always an early Christmas gift from RH each year at Valley View. And I faithfully followed instructions for bringing it back to bloom the following year. At one time I had six amaryllis re-blooming at one time, before Valentine's Day. It's been three years since we've treated ourselves to one from our favorite garden catalogue so I hope this one thrives.

The large south-facing window over our kitchen sink is perfect for plants and I hope it will be sufficient for the large rosemary plant that Zack and Courtney gave me this week. I've wanted one for ages so was excited to get this.

I've never tried to overwinter rosemary so I googled it and think I know how to take care of it, although there were warnings that rosemary grown for the Christmas houseplant market sometimes doesn't do well.

Time to put on some Christmas music, sing along  and get busy. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....🎵

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The yearning never goes away...

The yearning never really goes away.

That yearning for a Thanksgiving Day like when the children were young, and at home.

It was Thanksgiving Day of 1986 and we went around the table to say what we were thankful for.

RH went first...

Then our firstborn and his girlfriend who later on became our daughter-in-law...

Our beautiful daughter went next...

Then her shy little brother spoke, reluctantly...

And last it was our little one's time...

I know what his mama was thankful for.

She still is.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Vinegar Faces

No, his is not the vinegar face I'm speaking of here. This portrait of Richardson Wright, editor in chief of House & Garden from 1914 well into the years of World War II, had to have been the result of photographer Doris Ulmann's coaxing him to look editor-in-chief-ish. 

I love reading anything he has written, from two of his Bed-Books that I own, one original and one reprint, to articles he wrote in my vintage House & Garden magazines. I just ordered another old book of his and will be totally useless for hours when it arrives in the mail.

In her introduction to the reprint of his The Gardener's Bed-Book, Dominique Browning, who claims to have cornered the market on his books, says that "Wright was a gentleman of breeding and discernment. He was worldly, and at the same time he was devoted to the domestic arts. He believed in living well, and thinking large. They don't make too many like him."

Here's what Richardson Wright wrote on his 28th of November entry about Vinegar Faces.

In my Winter tramps hereabout, I have been encountering the dour faces of the natives, the grim look of men and women on isolated farms far back in the hinterlands. And I'm wondering why people must be so grave and sour and vinegary. Certainly our coming into this world is painful enough, and the manner of our leaving it is, in most instances, nothing to boast about. Between these two momentous events, Life spreads no bed of Roses for us. To some it's a springless couch. To most it's a bumpy one. A rare few find it pleasantly circumstanced, like an old bed with curtains to keep out draughts. The best of us seem to lie unprotected, in all the night winds of the world. Since so unfairly does Life deal the cards, let those of us who can, laugh: let girls giggle and boys shout and old men chuckle in their stomachs and old ladies titter behind their fans.

So today I'm sharing this with anyone who needs it--and no one needs it more than I do, especially by around 5:30 p.m. each day.

For those of us who have not lost our homes to voracious wildfires, for those of us who have not lost a beloved person or pet, for those of us not greatly suffering from one of Life's unfairly dealt cards...

Come, would you, and sit by me?

Join me while I titter behind my fan.

5:30 p.m. would be a perfect time.

[I know, I purloined this image with its watermark, but is it not too perfect to pass up? And I love my green dress!]

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

November Melancholy

I love November.

It's my very favorite month of the whole year, one notch above December, strange as that seems, October falling third.

Part of the reason I love it so much is that it suits the part of me that is a tiny bit melancholic in November, and lest you think that melancholy is a bad thing, not to me it isn't.

Don't feel sorry for me. It takes this month touched with melancholy to prepare me for everything that December promises, when December is all that I hope it will be.

How could I experience the joys of December without feeling a little bit sober-minded in November? Could my mind bear the beauty of Christmas without first seeing the beauty of autumn fall from the trees and carpet the ground, leaving myriad shades of brown in the landscape? 

Perhaps November is a little like Lent before Easter to me, broken by Thanksgiving Day. 

I must admit I had never thought about telling anyone about this November melancholy of mine. Maybe I'm doing it now because I had so little sleep last night after our phones shrilly insisted we Take Shelter

All was well here and today is a glorious sunny chilly November day and I'm walking around my cozy house feeling deliciously melancholic. 

Loss of sleep may not be all that contributes to this touch of sadness today, a sadness I'm comfortable with. I'm also missing this family, our youngest son and his family who visited us this past weekend.

But Christmas is a'coming and so will they be, and our daughter from Florida, God willing, days when RH and I hope to see all four of our children and their families together at one glorious time. 

Maybe we'll even get a family picture to mark the occasion.

But before that I will not wallow but exalt in this season of somberness. I will celebrate each day until then in my own slightly melancholic November way.

Some melancholy in my nature had always attuned me to fall. The yellow of the birches and beeches, the blaze of maples, the somber red and brown of the few oaks, the brilliance of the sassafras along the road--these moved me like poetry. And when the leaves fell, thick and brown, with sometimes a bit of color still touching the grass, when the bonfires were built at the edge of the road and watched so carefully, when the flowerbeds were layered with leaves that became soggy in the autumn rain, when the last leaves were gone and the trees stood wet against a gray sky--then I felt curiously at home, one with nature and all her sadness.
Nelia Gardner White
from The Pink House