Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Goodbye

I almost forgot about a January Goodbye post and will hurry to slip this one in before midnight.

Tomorrow I'll turn the first page of the 2019 Kevin Dodds calendar. It seems like only yesterday that I closed the 2018 calendar. 

As usual the beginning of a new month meant a few changes on my kitchen shelves, always something I enjoy doing, and the very last bloom of amaryllis 'Caprice' lasted a long time in a juice glass away from the sun in the big window.

All the Christmas decorations were packed away earlier than I had anticipated I would, the few in my bedroom being the last as they were cheerful at night before bed. Mainly only an old Waterford wreath and a German book of the Nativity.

One book that I've enjoyed every night before bed is this day book by one of my very favorite authors, Richardson Wright, editor of House & Garden from 1914 to 1950. 

I try to buy his old books as I can and I dearly love day books so this one has been such a pleasant surprise. As many of his books that I have that were written while he was with the magazine, it was only in this one, published after he retired, that I learned he was an Episcopalian lay preacher. There's been a little gem on almost every page.

RH has been busy working this month but managed to do a day of yard work last weekend on a mild day, transplanting a few small trees to better locations and digging up one of the two butterfly bushes in the back garden and moving it to a front bed for more room for both of them to spread.

He also hung the new coat rack above, a sweet bargain from our trip to Goodwill for under $5. When I spotted the Smith & Hawkin label on the back I knew it had to be quality. It gives him space for gloves and knitted hats in the cubbyholes.

He also found two half-price things at Costco in the January clearance and brought them home hoping I'd like them.

Would I like this green ceramic olive oil jar? Be still my heart!

This porcelain cookie jar not only had the best chocolate cookies in it, it's now a great jar for homemade treats!

I'm still using cranberries from my freezer, making three loaf cakes of Orange Cranberry bread from an old recipe in Romantic Homes magazine that was amazing, pictures forgotten, but twice making this simple apple-cranberry crumble with oat topping that was so very good! 

Our precious James Mason is doing better, we hope and pray. Time will tell. This last week has been devoted to him.

His little sister has gotten her share of attention too. This has been dachshund week, just can't keep our hands off them! 

I am afraid the sofa is now off limits to them, their stool taken away and the sofa forbidden even for BreeBree. Dachshunds backs are just not made for jumping, even though they like to fly like the birds.

I'm publishing this with no proof reading because they are both letting me know that it is time to go night night, so forgive any errors, please.

Goodnight to all, goodnight to January!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

James Mason's Woes

It's okay, James Mason.

It's only for two weeks, I hope.

And it's doctor's orders.

We have to let the meds and being crated do their work because neither of us wants surgery, do we?

And no more jumping on and off the sofa for you, my dear boy. It's just too risky for dachshunds.

A dog figures you can really do no wrong, though you may be misguided now and then.
Gladys Taber in Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Run BreeBree, Run. And other snow adventures.

RH and I were gone all day yesterday to various doctor appointments and errands and didn't get to post the pictures of Nashville's one and only snow so far. 

But Sunday's snow was so beautiful, if skimpy by comparison to other parts of the country. Dachshunds all seem to love snow but BreeBree dashed in and out in the bitterly cold temperatures. 

I didn't venture out in the slippery stuff but was never far away from a window all day long, enjoying it from inside.

Isn't it nice how the white stuff outside makes you notice everything so much more? The red bracts from this old houseplant that we really need to transplant into a larger pot stood out as red as a beautiful Chanel red lipstick.

I admit that I also did a little nosey peeking at our neighbors across the street as it is only in winter that we can see them, the snow showing them up even clearer. I can't help wondering about them over there in that big house, the neighbors we never see but sometimes hear talking when they sit outside in the summer.

You're never guilty of being nosey, are you?

I was so glad there were two Christmas decorations that I've yet to get rid of as they looked pretty in the snow. I had finally moved the wreath from the front porch to just prop up on the kitchen porch, still too fresh to dump.

And I was so happy that the birds' red Christmas bow still graced their dining room!

It looks like the cardinals are finding every single seed but the many finches are there even if they don't show up well.

And a few other kinds visit.

I missed a fantastic opportunity for a picture yesterday when RH was driving home from Nashville. 

I screamed out to him, "Look!" And pointed to the sky, probably not the best thing to do when someone is driving fast.

It looked like a helicopter was sitting on top of power lines strung high in the sky. And it was! I thought it was stuck there and trying to get lose but RH told me there was a linesman on it fixing something on the lines.

Have you ever seen that? I had never heard of such a thing. My heart was pounding. Why didn't I grab my phone for a picture? My kids would have.

But here's the cute picture I did snap when we were welcomed home by BreeBree and James Mason.

For you to fully realize the cuteness of this, I have to explain that all his toys are piled in a corner of the room and this is what he did while we were gone--drug them out and played with them one at a time and then put them in a row on the rug. BreeBree doesn't play with toys. I think she was too busy having babies the first five years of her life before they came to us last year to ever learn to play. I can't bear to think about it.

James Mason didn't play the first six months here but then he gradually got interested. But to line them up like that? Now isn't that a brilliant little man?

And just now he's talking to me, in that voice that says it's 4:30 p.m., Mama. Time for his and BreeBree's dinner.

Pronto. Right now.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gladys's Nervous Day

In my own life, I find that if I have what I call a "nervous day" and dash frantically from a hasty breakfast to a quick supper, I haven't, in the end, accomplished a single thing worth while. Not a single thing. All I have done is get keyed up and tired out.
Gladys Taber
The Stillmeadow Road

Oh, my dear Gladys, you always seem to know just what I am going through myself!

Sometimes at the end of a nervous day I feel as if I haven't accomplished a thing even though I have cooked and eaten breakfast, showered and made the beds, started laundry, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, picked up around the house, dusted, folded laundry, cooked supper and cleaned up the kitchen again. 

Between times I've also fielded phone calls and wished people would learn to text--yes, I've gone over to the dark side--and fed and brushed the dogs and let them outside and back in a dozen times, fed the birds, paid the bills, checked email, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest......

You know the story, it's called a day at home. 

Gladys was a busy woman, between writing novels and Stillmeadow books and articles for women's magazines, but even she had to actually take care of Stillmeadow  and concoct three meals a day. No wonder she sometimes had nervous days.

And she didn't have social media to deal with! I'm glad the poor dear didn't because she even rebelled when her phone service went from asking the village operator to connect her to someone, to having to use a rotary dial telephone.

She let her friends and children know that they would have to call her from then on. And she never did quite figure out how to operate the vacuum cleaner or washing machine.

I had one of Gladys's nervous days a few days into 2019. I desperately wanted to take down all the Christmas decor, waking up one morning and realizing I was over it. I needed to pack it all away more efficiently, eliminating more of it.

After that was done I looked at my Christmas-naked rooms and wondered if I really wanted them put back the way they had been before Christmas went up. The thought of it made me jittery. That led to some subtle changes. 

Then I went into my disheveled office/writing room where all the Christmas bins are stored in one corner. There were piles everywhere: personal and financial paperwork, months of blog post ideas, files of paperwork from books I'm writing, stacks of books I've read with little post-it notes sticking out with quotes that I wanted to type, stacks of books I'm waiting to read, piles of things that I've forgotten what I meant to do with them.

And I felt like tearing my hair out or crawling into bed or sitting down and binging on House of Cards all over again. Anything other than cleaning that office.

So I closed the door and went in the kitchen because meals must be cooked whether you are nervous or not.

Cooking always calms me down. I think it did Gladys too.

Each day this week I have gone to my office and sorted papers and books. I have organized the heck out of papers and books but they are still in piles. I keep thinking that once it is all organized that then it will look organized. But it doesn't yet and that makes me very nervous. 

So I go back to my kitchen and wash dishes or cook.

Our Amaryllis 'Caprice' keeps me company as she has since early December. She has given me of her beauty in generous doses that have sometimes almost been more than I could handle as I studied her colors and delicate petals.

"All of this for me?" I ask her, as she has given me bloom after bloom unstintingly, the second stalk even gifting me with five huge blooms.

And as I spritzed the moss around her base and saw it return daily to jade green, I noticed that even the grass has put on tiny flowers. Who knew it would do that?

I've smiled at the miracle of that, foolish Gladys Taber mentee that I am.

I realized this week that my husband really knows and understands me. He understands the pleasure I have gotten from this large window over my kitchen sink ever since we moved in two years ago.

He notices that things change seasonally and that it is really not the place for him to plop a sponge pad down to dry. He knows that his coffee thermos is not going to be there long when he empties it out at night and puts hot water in it to soak. Because when I see it sitting in my window I move it.

I think he realizes now that this window is not only my view to the garden that he made for me last spring and summer but it is also my canvas.

I'm guessing that he has learned that there always needs to be something pink blooming there, or about to bloom. The other day he brought home a $3.99 hyacinth bulb from the grocery store.

He couldn't, wouldn't, have pleased me more if it had been diamonds. Naturally, it is pink.

And I savor that.

What I haven't done is savor the delight of the day, for every day has delight if we take time to look for it. And when I think it over, I feel I have wasted a day, and no way will ever come again.
Gladys Taber

I love it when my heroes are not perfect all the time, when they've walked the same road I have and learned from it and then taught me about it. 

Like Gladys, I have to do the best I can, failing sometimes and picking myself up and starting all over again the next day. 

It's still going to be winter for a long time, like it or not. I happen to enjoy it and am in no hurry for the months when we'll once again use our outdoor dining room. 

There's still time for winter cooking, not holiday food but nothing stringently painful either.

There's still time to finish organizing my office/writing room. At least the old primitive green drop-leaf table that I use for my desk has been cleaned off.

I knew I would be forced to start with that if I piled everything that had been dumped on it lately into my recliner.

 And gradually I'll work my way around the rest of the room, because after all, when my youngest granddaughter left to go home on Christmas Eve, she gave me a little something.....

 She left some of her Super Hero Girls power with me!

That office is due for some major clean up! Because it really does make me have nervous spells the way it is now.

But first I might go to the kitchen and check on Caprice. She and I might even bake a cake first.

Cake, amaryllis 'Caprice' and Gladys. This winter is going to be too short for all the wonderful things we're going to do!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Views Change

Views across the way change.

They always change seasonally, and thank God for that.

By mid-summer my view to this kitchen porch is full of tall pepper plants, jalapeƱo and serrano peppers mostly, although we grow our basil here too for easy snipping.

During December my view while I was working in the kitchen was to a simply decorated Christmas tree, an excuse really for lights-- pink and purple lights.

We took the tree down yesterday but left white lights along the porch railing. And I finished packing away everything Christmas in the house except for books and magazines. But I reduced our Christmas bins to three clear ones, and when you consider that I took 13 Christmas bins to Florida in 2016, in addition to leaving tons at home to family, that's something I'm proud of.

Well there is that niche in the wall that my aunt's large ship painting covers where a former owner must have sat his large old fashioned television--that's stuffed with all of my Dept. 56 Christmas trees.

All of the bloggers who are now showing beautiful crisp January interiors? That's not happening here, not yet, who knows when if ever. This is not a crisp house. 

Right now this house and the two porches are just bare from Christmas touches. That's all I can say. 

I miss the lights at night, inside and out. The views at Home Hill, inside and out don't look winter comfort-y yet. We've had no snow to look out at and only one morning where our garden gave a tiny Tennessee approximation of the frosty gardens in my gorgeous December British magazines.

It's like Spring here this week, and I'm not ready for Spring. I'm an Autumn and Winter woman and Winter has just started, for gracious sakes! 

I've really got to work in the days ahead at bringing winter cozy to this house, sans Christmas decor. Our 60 degree days are supposed to end soon so I can break out the hot chocolate and tartan throws and wooly blankets for the beds--those things that we had in November. I want them back, in January and February at least. Then in March I'll start wishing for Spring to come when I'll be looking out at flowering trees and bulbs blooming--oh wait, we never did get around to planting any bulbs this fall because--wait for it--it felt like Winter then.

There is one perfect and cozy and beautiful view outside my kitchen door that I get to see a dozen times a day, this one:

"We pottied, Mama. We were good babies.
We want to come in now.
Open the door, please!
That's a view I never tire of.

Right up there with seeing two little granddaughters hop out of their parents' car for a good visit. 

So I remind myself there are good views across the way. Our neighbor's American flag blows out and whips in the wind. Mallards and Canada geese swim on the pond. Buzzards perch on a tree across the street, many of them, kind of creepy. 


 and sunsets...

have been particularly magnificent this week. 

And always, at the end of the day, there is the view of RH pulling in the driveway in his truck, stopping and walking over to the mailbox, BreeBree and James Mason going nuts inside barking when they spot him through the window, and then seeing him pull up to the gate and get out.

Another day ends and it was a good one because the very best view of all comes from things that have a heartbeat.

And thank God for that.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

An Epiphany on Epiphany Day

These are the three ceramic camels that come out of their box for the day of Epiphany, January 6th, in remembrance of the Three Wise Men visiting the Christ Child.

They once sat on a thrift store shelf as I moved up close to them where they looked me in the eye and said, take us home with you. 

I moved on but before we left I told RH I wanted to show him something. I took him over to them and said "I don't know why but I can't leave them here."

He said, "Do you really need three of them? Why don't you just buy the two large ones?"

"And leave the third one here alone? All by herself? I can't do that."

And so three camels that someone had probably made in ceramics class came home with me. And when Christmas came I decided to save them for Epiphany. On the day before, the day of Twelfth Night, I had packed away most of the Christmas decor, leaving up the fresh tree that was in the old green ice bucket that had sat in our picnic shelter for years.

How many years had I begged RH to use it as our Christmas tree stand, without realizing how complicated it would be?

One butchered tree and a trip back for a second tree and a trip or two to the hardware store and at last my Christmas tree wish came true, the beautiful old bucket was in our kitchen at Valley View holding our Christmas tree!

And so the Christmas tree still stood proudly on Epiphany of 2016, far past the date when most people take theirs down. Perhaps I somehow sensed that it would be our last Christmas tree at Valley View.

In our downsizing move to Florida, the green ice bucket went to this home...

And became a very pretty flower stand for the front porch.

And in this, our second Christmas back home in Tennessee, the Epiphany camels just couldn't seem to find a place and found its way to a new home too.

That's right, the Wise Men's camels went home to what was Valley View but is now Courtney and Zack's The Farmhouse!

Never fear, the third member of the camels is near these two, on a table of books about Tennessee, because this is the quiet, scholarly room known as the Tennessee Room.

And my epiphany on this Day of Epiphany, and our second year anniversary at Home Hill, is that letting go of things when it's time is a good thing. And that maybe 2019 will find me more ready to pass other things on to someone who will give them a good home.

Or to donate them to a thrift store where one day they will look someone in the eye and say take me home with you.