Monday, November 1, 2021

Welcome November, my favorite month of the year!

 When it comes about November I get the queerest feeling, as if the real year is beginning.

                         Nelia Gardener White



Friday, October 1, 2021

Heavenly Autumn


I have never been a lover of the hot days and I hope John Donne was right when he said it will always be autumn in heaven.

                                             Elizabeth Goudge in 

                                The Joy of the Snow


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Tail End of September

 September has been lovely here at Home Hill, ending with comfortably warm days after delicious four days of chilly nights and days where the AC was off and windows open. 

I am ready for frost on the pumpkins, even though we haven't bought our pumpkins yet.

Yesterday there was a flash of orange in the garden, a monarch butterfly that tantalized me by flittering here and there but not landing long enough for a good photo snap.


If it were not for these late migrating beauties I would be more than ready for a good frost. The garden is dingy, no doubt about that. I'm ready to move on, ready to welcome October and praying it won't bring the record breaking heat we had in October of 2019. 

It would be nice to order up the weather we'd like, wouldn't it? Or maybe not. That's probably in better hands than mine. 


By the end of September one becomes surfeited with garden beauty...So come quickly, sharp early frost! Obliterate some of this beauty! Clear decks for the majesty of Autumn!

                                   Richardson Wright

                                   The Gardener's Bed-Book


Thursday, September 23, 2021

One, Two, Three, Four, Five

 How could one month have gone by since my apology to yellow post? Surely it was only the other day.

 The days slip by far too quickly, don't they? I only cut one bloom to dry from the oak leaf hydrangea before they were past their peak.

But isn't it perfect? 

Two large hydrangea bushes were loaded with these blooms. I could have picked a bushel but settled for three. They dried beautifully after absorbing two inches of water. 


Two green ducks said "Take us home!" at the Fourth of July sale at our local antique mall. So I did. Along with five English Blue Willow saucers to serve as coasters for wet glasses. 

One dear dachshund peeks at me over the red sofa.

Did you see her?

Friday, August 20, 2021

An Apology to Yellow

Dear Yellow,

I am ashamed to admit that I have tried to keep you out of my garden. What was I thinking? 

My heart has always belonged to purples, blues, and pinks. And white. 

And by late August those favorites lose their zing, enough so that I want to look at the garden with watercolor eyes.


And in doing so I realize that it is Yellow that saves the day.

I am grateful for the faithful purple and white perennials that reappear every year but this year the garden needed more and the resident gardeners had less to give of themselves so on Memorial Day RH went to the 50% off sale at the family nursery that is down the road from our previous dear Valley View and came back to Home Hill with pots of blooms, all but one of which had Yellow in them. And my, how Yellow livened up the garden!

You have been gorgeous in your petunia petals!


And in a calla lily fountain bursting up out of a bed of something or other.

Always we have lantana but always purple. A purple pot came home with RH and an orange but this year yellow came too.


And for my kitchen porch a large pot of velvety purple petunias and enough little pink flowers to perfume the night air. (Dianthus?)

And a plume of a grass that is nothing like the papyrus plant in the garden (?), with a pretty Yellow canna bulb in the middle.


You've been my own personal Yellow "orchid" to watch for as I work in the kitchen.


And last but not least, all summer long on the kitchen porch, Yellow roses given me by a daughter-in-law for my birthday.


So, I humbly apologize to you, Lovely Yellow! I'll never be a Yellow snob again. 

This final picture was taken by my son and sums up exactly what my purple garden needed. Yellow. Because it makes purples more purple!



Thursday, August 12, 2021

Too Hot to Cook


It was far too hot to cook yesterday, 95 F. but felt like 103. 

Time for a no-cook meal of buying Costco's shrimp salad and adding some chopped celery with leaves, a chopped jalapeño, chives, squirt of lemon juice, and a little Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. Chill and stuff some in a hot roll.

 I did saute the inside and outside of bakery rolls in butter, quick heat along with making tea for RH's iced tea but that was better than heating up the oven. And his almost nightly small dish of cooked frozen okra. Don't ask. Along with a pickled egg--I put boiled eggs in pickled beet jars when they're empty--it was a nice too hot to cook meal.

[First picture my supper, last one RH's; we each stuffed our own roll. It may be too hot to cook for me but never too hot to garnish or choose a sterling silver fork.]

 Today is supposed to reach between 98 and 100. Between that and a vet visit, I'm all for a repeat of last night's supper. But one of us doesn't like leftovers. Frozen dinner, RH?


Friday, August 6, 2021

Two Fictional Marriages


Marriage relationships are often the basis of Pearl S. Buck novels. These two books that I found recently at our local antique mall, 1941's Portrait of A Marriage (preceding by 35 years Nigel Nicholson's famous biography of the same name about his parents) and Buck's 1938 novel This Proud Heart, made me wonder about Buck's own marriage. To Wikipedia I went and found that her second marriage, her most successful marriage, was to her publisher with whom she shared many interests.

Both of these novels are about artists, the husband in one and the wife in the second. The spouses in both books were polar opposites from their artist spouses, examples of the old adage that opposites attract. Putting it simply, these two books could be thought of as cautionary tales about the importance of having something in common before committing to marriage, not that two young people are likely to consider that. But back to the books.

My copy of Portrait of A Marriage is beautiful. The dust jacket picture is of the type of Pennsylvania stone farmhouse that I so admire.

The house was made of fieldstone, brown and dull red and streaked with weathered gold...Over the porch a trumpet vine climbed in full leaf but not yet flowering.

 The artist in William drew him to anything beautiful and the house set in the valley was beautiful. 

The endpapers of the book reveal the second beautiful thing that the artist fell under the spell of, the farmer's beautiful daughter Ruth. (Endpapers of a book can sell a book to me, also deckled edges some old books have. A ribbon doesn't hurt either.)

William, educated and from a wealthy family, immediately wants to paint Ruth making bread in the kitchen that he finds much more charming than his own parents' that only the cook is ever in.

...a big stone-floored room, and in the middle of the outer end wall was a wide fireplace in which a cook stove had been put. Above were good oak beams, smoked to a dark brown...But the kitchen, he thought, as he entered it again, was beautiful.

Alas, despite the beauty of this book, I did not care for it. I did not even care for the beautiful Ruth. Actually, I didn't even care much for William. The marriage did last and I did too, finishing the book, something I normally no longer do if I'm not enjoying it. 

But it is a Pearl S. Buck novel and I am an eternal fan, besides hoping that Ruth would grow and become more than the stubborn closed mind woman she is. To the last page that never happens. 

 Then I turned to the second Buck novel, This Proud Heart published in 1938. It has no dust jacket, no pretty endpapers, no pretty pictures. But oh my goodness, how I loved this book!

 Susan marries Mark with one desire only, to make a perfect home for him. 

She stopped one day when the morning was half over and looked around her living room. Everything was finished in this house. There was nothing more to do. The house looked back at her brightly, the windows clear, the floor shining, everything in its place. There was no room for anything more she could make. The last cushion, the last curtain was done, and one more would be too much. Her small linen closet was full of linen she had embroidered and hemstitched. Outside, the garden was tended and blooming with midsummer. Mark was to make the garden, but she had run out on sunny days and weeded and planted. Yesterday she had even mowed the lawn. But he was angry at her for that.

I say that everyday, don't you? All my work done by  mid-morning and my house and garden perfect. Right.

While I enjoyed reading the book up to this point, loved all the domestic details, it was the rest of the book that was fascinating. What did this wife do when her homemaking duties failed to fulfill the artistic yearnings she had previously satisfied through amateur sculpting? She began to carve in marble and then to become one of the few sculptors who carves directly into stone with no drawing, no pattern, no small model made first.

With each marble block Susan lets the particular piece  reveal itself to her chisel.

I loved the thorough job that the author did fleshing out this artist's career as a sculptor, the detail she went into about the actual sculpting. 

I liked the wife in this book. I liked her dull husband even though they weren't suited at all. There wasn't a grand passion between them whereas the relationship between the painter and his country wife had a marriage that succeeded only because of the passion between them. 

I'm not knocking passion in a marriage, far from it. Marriage is complicated enough with it,in real life and in fiction. Pearl S. Buck does it so well in her novels about her time period. She was, after all, both a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winner during her career.

Would her books sell today? Probably only to old fogies like me. 

I shouldn't fail to mention that the author's own life, from beginning to end, was complicated as well as sometimes tragic.


Saturday, June 19, 2021

A rose is a rose...even when it's not a David Austin rose.

 I am so guilty of coveting the David Austin roses I see on Instagram. I look at them and think that if I were even ten years younger, that's where my money would go. 

But priorities went to putting in a garden to sit in when we moved here five years ago and roses got left out except for a red Knock Out rose that RH planted outside the fence to distract from the trash can sitting close.


A glimpse of this rose bush through the kitchen door makes me happy May through October. And I couldn't ask for a prettier picture than the one above that RH snapped one morning while taking out the trash. 

But it is climbing David Austin roses that I am far too greedy for even though I can't think of a place for them to climb without the deer getting to them. 

This year a climbing rose magically appeared in the trees in our turn-around!


It wasn't there last year. The only wild roses here were down in the thick road hedge, pretty but too far away to enjoy.

And yet this one sprang full grown and drooped gracefully to the ground. 

Close enough to walk to every morning when feeding the birds. 

Close enough for me to bury my face in and inhale its scent, close enough to study it's old fashioned petals.

Even if it's not a David Austin rose.



Friday, June 18, 2021

In honor of Richardson Wright's birthday and a good roast beef recipe.

 Dipping my toes back in blogging water once more. 

This dear man, Richardson Wright, motivated me to attempt it while I was reading his The Gardener's Bed-Book yesterday. It's something I do most days and I noticed that the next day, today June 18, is his birthday. 

I have seven posts in this blog under his label and nine at poor neglected Dewena's Window so why not add one more in honor of the day of birth of House & Gardens' longest serving editor in chief, from 1914 to the early 1950s. (In my opinion, the magazine went downhill fast after he left.)

I remembered that in February of 2020 I made one of the recipes from my 1943 first edition of his The Bed-Book of Eating and Drinking, found the pictures I made but never used and turned to the recipe that he included in the book on April 30. 

My shopping trip to Whole Foods that winter day of 2020, before the unheard of possibility of shutdown ever existed, produced a beautiful cut of roast that I can't remember the name of but it was a better cut than Richardson's suggestion of top sirloin of beef. 

Now I'll let Mr. Wright's directions accompany my pictures:

A lone and unprotected male can never know beforehand what will happen to him when he ventures into the farther reaches of Long Island. My purpose in going there was to deliver a lecture--with dinner before...On this occasion the strange people turned out charming, and the hostess, a Naval wife fresh from Pearl Harbor, covered herself with honor by serving Hawaiian spiced beef. She graciously gave me the recipe.
For a night and a day, 24 hours, to be exact, soak a 5-pound piece of top sirloin of beef in the following mixture: 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups brown sugar, 3 onions coarsely sliced, 2 bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cloves and 1 of nutmeg.

When it has marinated in this conglomeration of spices the appointed 24 hours, put the whole mixture into a kettle without adding water, and boil for 3 or more additional hours.

I remember this roast smelling so good while it was cooking. And it was delicious eating, a little something like the beloved Spiced Round, a Tennessee 1950s Christmas dish that I used to make, except that spiced round marinates for almost a week. 

 And the sauce is delicious over rice or mashed potatoes.

The sauce is thickened with a little flour and water to which salt is added. Wild rice and string beans are companionable with this magnificent dish.

I forgot to take a picture after I poured this sauce through my old gravy separator to remove the oil on top but it was a very good meal. Not as good as my favorite two roast beef recipes that I alternate between but good for special occasions.

Father's Day is coming up and RH always requests a roast beef that day but I know better than to give him anything but a chuck roast with onions, carrots, and potatoes. Substitutions have been tolerated but not the absence of a pie of some sort.  

There will be a day of rest for him, maybe. You just never know. He's a little bit like Richardson Wright in that way, the garden is always calling. 

Happy Father's Day to RH and to two of my sons who sometimes read their mother's blogs--if Feedburner has not stopped sending out email notifications by the time they look. I'm told that July 1 is the big day that we will no longer get email notifications of blog posts through them. 

And Happy Birthday in heaven to Richardson Wright, the former editor in chief who spent much of his retirement time serving as a lay Episcopalian. When he wasn't in the garden.







Saturday, May 1, 2021

May of 2021...It Came!


May is here! 

"The day threatens splendour."

Ronald Blythe



It was blissful to turn my calendars to May this morning. 
31 days of May ahead, God willing!

What shall we make of them, James Mason? 


Monday, April 26, 2021

A Trip to Whole Foods


I was thrilled to see this building! It was my first trip to Whole Foods in over a year and it was an artful experience!

 Are you like me at Whole Foods, the whole experience filled with eye candy where you're in an alternative world floating along the aisles, trying to take everything in as if you're in a fine arts museum, the produce department as breathtaking as a Cézanne still life?

No? Then you must go there so often that it's just another food market to you. I go there rarely since we moved from Valley View, which was only twenty minutes away. Even before the world was shut down, it was RH who most of the time went every month to Whole Foods for me, just to pick up these three products:

 A shower gel that is kind to my sensitive skin and two supplements that I take. As these products are sold in a separate building from the food, RH would park, run in and buy these three products and leave. He's not as fond of Whole Foods as I am so when I had my first opportunity a few weeks ago to go there with him, I enjoyed the whole trip immensely.

We drive through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Nashville to get there and at this time of the year everything was in early Spring bloom.


I always forget to take pictures inside the store, too much in my own little world to think of blogging, but it was mostly produce that we bought this time and non-perishables as we were headed on to Kroger's and Costco afterwards.

But I was so taken with the Flamingo pears I picked out, never seeing them in our neighborhood stores, that I tried to be artsy with them.


Definitely lacking something and since PicMonkey got too complicated for me to navigate, I have turned to BeFunky for editing and just don't seem to be able to delicately make adjustments. I'm sure it's my whole lack of skills but everything I try seems to be not enough or too much.



What! I was hoping for something a little less than this but it will have to suffice. 

As will my pear, cheese, and cracker platter. I would spend time online trying to master this skill but feel sure it would be a waste of my time.

But I have four of these pretty little plates with a pear on them and wanted to use them.

And I had two jars of walnuts in honey that I had left to pickle for two months and wanted to try it.

Absolutely amazing! I saw this on a Japanese YouTuber's channel and the preparation seemed easy enough for me to handle: simply pack the walnuts in the jar and keep letting honey trickle in until the whole jar fills up. So good with crackers, cheese, and apples or pears. Or on ice cream or buttered muffins. 

We get our honey locally as all honey should be gotten, although I think my two favorite honeys so far have been the sourwood honey we always get in the North Carolina mountains and the Tupelo honey we once got in Apalachicola, Florida.

And who were the men with discriminating palates I served this snack to? 

RH and his brother and our grandson who had been working on outside projects all morning. With their luncheon meat sandwich on a paper plate. They were a sticky mess after eating the honey and walnuts but claimed it was very good, almost finishing the whole platter. They thought the platter of pears, cheese, and crackers was beautiful and said I could practice on them anytime.

Friday, April 23, 2021

A horse in the yard and The Tennessee Waltz


Some people have gnomes in their front yard, but in Nashville we have horses. Real horses and statues of them. 

This old stone house sits high on a bluff overlooking the Cumberland River and RH and I chuckled at their garden art as we drove on the river road that I traveled twice a day from first grade through sixth while attending elementary school and on family outings to Shelby Park. 

Even as young as I was, I coveted the houses on this street. These old houses were so different from the small post-World War II bungalow I grew up in.



So many of them were made of the stone that even as a small child I loved. I went to a birthday party in one like this, although I'm not sure if it was this particular one. I was hooked then, in stone love. 

But even ones on this street that were made of wood made me feel something I couldn't at that age name--house envy.


Ones like the one above for the simple reason that they meandered, their footprint jutting out here, there, everywhere. It was what many years later I fell in love with at Valley View, our home for twenty-six years. A smaller version of these houses overlooking the Cumberland River that were added onto over the years. A room built here, a new wing jutting out behind as finances improved and needs arose from a growing family.

The house above and below made me want to tour it as well as the stone houses. Because...who has a garage like this?

Here's a house I got a poor picture of through the windshield. It's imposing, even has some stone, but for some reason it doesn't call my name. Maybe because it's too much of a McMansion? 

 Now we come to the house I always devoured with my eyes as my school bus rolled by it.


A log cabin. 


But not just any old log cabin. This log cabin belonged to the King of Country Music. 

Roy Acuff lived here with his wife for many decades, unto her death. My family was surrounded by country music stars, both in this neighborhood and when we moved to a small town nearby when I was in the eight grade. In that new house our across the street neighbors were Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, bluegrass geniuses, with my best friend living in the house between them. Many people back in those days had country music stars for neighbors. 

But Roy Acuff,  well, as Hank Williams said, "For drawing power in the South, it was Roy Acuff, then God."

 Mr. Acuff may be remembered most for his recording of The Wabash Cannonball, but I love his recording of The Tennessee Waltz, perhaps even more than Patti Page's popular version.

When I was growing up, The Tennessee Waltz ended every dance, whether it was a formal or a hoedown. I'm going to try to embed Mr. Acuff's version of it from YouTube if I can. For those of you who don't care for country music in any form, just remember that these melodies came over with the British who settled in the Appalachian Mountains and brought their music with them.

I think there's a better way of attaching this but I've forgotten how. Hope this works because this is the song of my youth.