Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Does this look like Cameron Mathison?

I don't think so.

But this is how I picture Father Tim from Jan Karon's first book in her Mitford series, At Home In Mitford.

Hallmark channel thinks differently and has cast Cameron Mathison as the portly priest. 

Aarrgghh!!!!!!!! [great angst here]

I love you, Cameron, but get thee back to Murder, She Baked!

I must save my breath to cool my porridge and just get over it. I and the other Mitford fan base have been arguing this out for a month now.

We agree that not one single person has been cast accurately for this movie, especially Father Tim and his wife Cynthia who will be played by Andie MacDowell. 

We're very afraid that Cynthia is going to take center stage in this movie, that properly should belong to Father Tim, our beloved Episcopalian priest.

 We're disappointed that Barnabas is going to be a large brown dog with a black head instead of a solid black dog. We can't imagine them not having Dooley being a eleven year old red head, but we're not holding our breath on that one either.

Some of us say we refuse to watch it. Others of us are complete Jan Karon fans and if she sold it to Hallmark, then that's good enough for us. I, by the way, am of that persuasion. 

So Sunday night August 20, 2017 at 9 p.m. central time, please don't phone me. I will be glued to the Hallmark channel to watch this perhaps very loosely adapted movie. 

I owe it to Jan Karon who has given me so many hours of pleasure and inspiration while reading her books about the portly priest of Mitford, North Carolina. And he no longer is portly after landing in two diabetic comas from eating such things as Mitford's world famous Orange Marmalade Cake.

But he still doesn't look anything at all like Cameron.

And that's just fine with Mitford fans.

Here's a link to our esteemed author, with news of her latest book to be released in September,

And my model for Father Tim, top of page, is actually Carl A. Peterson of Boston in an ad for Macmillan Oil in Life magazine, August 1948. A plump Michael Kitchen would have been my choice for Father Tim's role but Hallmark forgot to check with me when casting the role.

Any Mitford fans among my readers? What do you think about my Father Tim?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

AUGUST...the beginning of the end of Summer

"Yes, it's a wonderful day,
an August day,
the beginning of the end of summer."
Ann Batchelder
in Ladies' Home Journal
August 1950

August First is always a special day for me and my sisters.

This year it is even more special because it is our parents'

75th wedding anniversary.

Although our father is in his heavenly home now,

our mother is 92 years young.

And we all know that he is very real to her,

often has just stepped out of the room

or is working in his garden.

Happy Anniversary, dear Mama and Daddy!

We love you!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Who Lives Here?

You're wandering along the street in an historic neighborhood in Nashville at sunset time.

Wouldn't this house make you wonder if a storybook family lived here, not real people at all?

The answer to that question is Yes!
Yes to both possible answers!

Oh, they are real enough.
I should know because the owners of this storybook house are the son and daughter-in-law of my sister. 

They are cat and dog lovers, 

go to work at responsible jobs--Sean at a non-profit that helps veterans find jobs, Christy at one of those mobile app places that gives me brain fever just trying to understand it. They come home and design their special gardens and interiors, entertain at the drop of a hat...

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. 
This couple is as real as can be.

But they also are two of the most fun people you'd ever hope to know.

I should know. I follow them on Facebook!

Wouldn't you love to see more of this cottage?

Maybe Sean and Christy will invite us back  at Christmas?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, M. F. K. Fisher and review of The Gastronomical Me

Remember when you have discovered a new to you author and her writing takes your breath away and you cannot stop until you devour every book she's written? 

I felt that way about M. F. K. Fisher decades ago when I discovered her. Last year I ordered her The Gastronomical Me published in 1943, fortunate to find a wartime copy instead of a reprint. 

Since today is her birthday, I would like to share this book with you in case it is new to you. With this autobiographical book you get travel, food and love.

As an armchair traveler I love books that let me see a country not as a tourist, and through Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher's pen you do, whether it is Switzerland, France, Mexico or California that she writes of.

"I heard Juanito singing almost as soon as I came to earth in Mexico.
I did not know it at first. I was like a sea-plant, with a thousand ears out on little stalks, but only to hear what I was listening for."

Food, naturally, is all through the book, and Fisher continues to be frustrated with America's meat and potatoes mentality at that time, and with the many heavy course meals of affluent America. Instead, she always chose a simple meal of something like salad, a casserole of cauliflower, bread, fruit, and wine.

"I was beginning to believe, timidly I admit, that no matter how much I respected my friends' gastronomic prejudices, I had at least
an equal right to indulge my own in my own kitchen.

My meals shake them from their routines,
not only of meat-potatoes-gravy, but of thought, of behavior...
perhaps next time they come I will blast their safe tidy
little lives with a big tureen of hot borscht and some garlic toast and salad,
instead of the 'fruit cocktail,' fish, meat, vegetable,
salad, dessert and coffee they tuck daintily away
seven times a week and expect me to provide for them."

America had vast areas of the country with mediocre taste when Fisher was writing. But how many of us today dare invite company to dinner and serve them borscht, toast and salad?

And where does love come into The Gastronomical Me? To borrow today's catchphrase: It's complicated. Fisher writes about her marriages but the following sums up her philosophy:

"It seems to me that our three basic needs,
for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot 
straightly think of one without the others.
So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing 
about love and the hunger for it,
and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it...
and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied...
and it is all one."

Those needs sometimes haunt all of us, don't they? 

I remember another thing that Fisher wrote in another book, something to the effect of her encouraging her reader to study their own hungers. Good advice, don't you think?

What are my hungers? Beyond fried potatoes and onions, that Is?

That's an ongoing thought process for me, but it is beginning to become clear to me that the answer lies somewhere in the realm of simplicity.

When Mary Frances moved into her Last House, she purposely chose simple food and a simpler life. In later years travel became rare. Instead of going abroad to see the world, the world came to her.

Where she usually had a bowl of soup for them, hot crusty bread, and a glass of wine, with a fruit dessert.

That sounds about right to me, how about you? Especially if the cook was...

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher

Friday, June 23, 2017

Garden Art and Blogging

It was July of 2003 and two of our sons were home from college and working on a red metal roof job with their dad and older brother out in the country.

The boys were fascinated by all the garden art at this beautiful farmhouse.

I loved hearing about it all and wished they had taken more photos, but you can see the reflection of the red roof in the round mirror. I hope the beads kept birds from flying into it.

Zack liked this farmer taking a rest from his chores.

Maybe Defee thought he was Rodin's The Thinker?

I remembered these photos this week when I was reading one of my vintage magazines, a June 1965 House & Garden. The theme of this issue was "The Delights of Summer At Home," and it made this Autumn, Winter and Spring aficionado fall head over heels in love with Summer for the first time since I was a schoolgirl set free from lessons and homework.

Two pages celebrated garden art and one photo took me back to the fun our older two children had playing in their sandbox. I don't think our younger two had one--do kids play in sandboxes anymore?

I would love to have this one for my granddaughters, a canopy of roses above their heads and a large stone turtle nanny to sit upon.

House & Garden said that "one playful conceit can make a summer" and that this gingerbread dog below was perhaps awaiting a calico cat.

I think they had him mixed up with the gingham dog and the calico cat, side by side at the table sat, but I've always loved pictures where a grand house has two stone or iron dogs in the garden. Tara Dillard believes the dogs should always face each other, not out. Wouldn't that be much more companionable?

At Valley View we had various pieces of garden art scattered around, mostly farm relics, all left there when we sold the place because they belonged there and were left in caring hands.

The only garden art at our new home was a green rabbit that I brought inside to save for Easter tables and a little blue bird that I yanked up and threw aside one cold winter day after we moved in. It was only when a little granddaughter visited, spotted it and wanted it put back that I began to look at it as worthy of keeping.

Now I wouldn't dream of throwing it away. It keeps visiting songbirds company at the bird feeder that sits on top of an old well. The birds and squirrels and this little piece of garden art entertain me through my kitchen window.

Recently a piece of garden art came to live with us that has great sentimental value, a pineapple, symbol of hospitality.

This pineapple is at least 35 years old and was an unsold item from our family garden center, first owned by my father and then sold to RH and his brother Bill.

The pineapple sits below our front porch in front of a large rosemary bush.

We hoped that other herbs would surprise us in this bed but instead there are many succulents and odd little plants blooming successively.

There are also patches of this plant in the bed but there are many bare spots in the sea of old bark. We hope to fill the bed in with perennial herbs and more succulents, a few plants at a time.

Everything is a work in progress here.

For now my herbs are in pots on the kitchen porch, seen below through the storm door, handy for me to use.

Bill knew we had left all our garden pots behind when we moved and said we were welcome to the old garden center pots that were still at his house.

So these 35 year old Italian pots hold my herbs for now under some lathe to protect them from the sun that shines here almost all day long. That porch will get a pergola roof eventually, knock on wood, and hopefully the large smoker out by the fence will be moved someday. It detracts from the view to the neighbor's pond. 

Perhaps I should just pretend that it's a piece of garden art? I do love garden art. What about you? Anyone have an interesting piece of art in your garden?

I know Doreen does at that beautiful log cabin of theirs that is now up for sale.

Anyone else?

I started to say that plywood cutouts of dogs peeing in the garden don't count, but hey, a lady whose garden art is a concrete pineapple, however beloved, shouldn't set any rules, should she? 

That's the Garden Art part of this post, the Blogging part of it has not been as easy to write.

Rodin's Thinker has not been the only one a-thinking. The past few weeks while I've been missing from blogging have been a time of reflection for me.

And it's been a time of waiting. Are you a good wait-er? Isn't waiting the pits?

Is there anyone who likes to wait for a doctor's report, for lab work to come back?

Before you start thinking the worst, let me tell you right now that all is well.

But I've waited for lab work reports since an annual skin cancer exam recently turned up suspicious spots. And after I learned that once again I had squamous cell carcinomas to deal with, I waited to hear when I could see the surgeon, and then waited for the surgery and then waited for that lab report. 

Don't you just wish we could just smash cancer into smithereens? 

Decades ago I waited for a surgical breast biopsy for cancer. It was benign.

Then I waited for a hysterectomy because they thought I had ovarian cancer. That was a difficult wait but it was endometriosis, not cancer.

In 2004 I had Mohs surgery for squamous cell cancer on my face and nose.

Last fall in Florida I was told that a growth removed from my nose was most likely malignant. Nine days later the lab report showed that it was benign.

I was lucky last week after the surgery on my shoulder. The lab report said they got it all, it had not metastasized. It has not been fun but cancer is fun for no one. And I am very grateful for all the prayers of family and friends.

But it has been a time of thinking, of deciding what is important. And the answer to that is that each day God gives me is what is important, a day.

A gift to be used wisely.

During this time when it has hurt to type much or hold a laptop, I turned back to pencil and paper. I worked on the books I've been writing on for years. I finished editing one for the dozenth time, worked on others, spending hours and hours each day instead of stolen minutes.

Some of you have been through this with me before, back at Across the Way. I gave up blogging then, missed it, began Dewena's Window. I don't want to stop blogging again, but I do want to cut back on the time I spend on it.

So I'll be trying to post only a few times a month at Dewena's Window.

Ha! That's about all I've done anyway this last year, isn't it? Only now it will be by plan, not by procrastinating. So you won't have to wonder where in the world Dewena has been. I'll still be here, I'll just give in to being a slowpoke.

It's summer, a time I usually want to pass quickly, to get on to the wonderful months of autumn, then to the holidays, and then to spring. Poor hot summer, how I've neglected you. Not anymore. Cancer has a way of making you appreciate each month.

What do I want now? I want what all of us want. 

I want art in my garden, I want art in my home. 

On my table, on my plate. On my mind.

I want artful work.

I want an artful life and I want to enjoy it. And I guess I'm admitting that at my age it all takes time. Especially for a slowpoke like me.

Thank you so much for listening! I hope your summer and mine is filled with days of joy, with days of contentment....I just plain old hope it is full of days--a gift from God.

Much love to you all,

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Vintage Western for My Texan

We moved to a 1935 cottage and cottage rules here...except in one room.

My husband's bedroom is Western, no doubt about it.

The old knotty pine paneling suits it and all of his vintage Western touches look at home here.

These 1950s cowgirl boots that RH's father had custom made for his wife (RH's stepmother), take center stage here. Our daughter used to wear them.

There are other Western reminders in RH's bedroom. 

Let's put some Texas swing music on and show you around.

My Texan is proud of his roots. His mother's father's father's father, a French Huguenot, settled in Texas in 1833. We used his first name for one of our sons but couldn't quite get up our nerve to name one after his middle name:


RH is also proud of his other heritage. His mother's mother was a Cherokee.

Here's a photograph of RH with his beautiful mother, older brother and little sister taken with Tex Ritter, one of the early "singing cowboys" in many movies. The photograph was taken about a year after Tex Ritter's "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling" won an Oscar for Best Song in the movie High Noon.

My husband remembers Mr. Ritter telling him "Don't touch the gun, son."

I gave RH this vintage steer horn mirror for Christmas many years ago, paying for it on layaway at an antique store.

For a while I tried to corner the market on these little china cowboy hats.

Our daughter surprised her daddy with this pretty painting one Christmas.

It hangs over his chair.

This picture of Sequoyah and his Cherokee alphabet was a gift from a son.

But the 1960 cancelled check that came with it drawn on the Texas State Bank makes us smile too--$45.50.

I never did get around to baking a cake in this heavy pan shaped like the state of Texas, but it makes a great catchall for little things in his room.

I cut a few herbs to go with some blooms for RH's bed table.

But the real thing I wanted to show you are the curtains we found for the bedroom at Goodwill when we moved here in January.

You might think these curtains don't belong in a Western room but when I spotted four panels I grabbed them. I thought they were just the right touch to give a little old world elegance to the room.

We liked them so much that I found another two panels on eBay after finding a label that they were Burlington, a rare pattern called Monaco Rose Hydrangea. 

Another trip to Goodwill produced a Longaberger tabbed curtain that was perfect to cover the wide closet that didn't have a door.

I need to start searching Goodwill again for frames for these 1958 lithographs of famous western artist Charles M. Russell.

I think they'd be perfect lined up vertically between Sequoyah and the Pottery Barn silver mirror the kids gave me for my birthday one year. I thought RH's room needed a little sparkle and swapped mine for his old oval wood framed mirror that seemed to disappear into the knotty pine.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing RH's Western bedroom.

Since I've shown you the listing photos in every other room in our new home, here's what this room looked like when it was for sale.

It seems like Western never goes out of style, it just keeps getting reinvented. Maybe it's because Western is intrinsically an honest-to-goodness American look. How could we do without it?

While we both love the old cowgirl boots in RH's room, and I have used them many times on a Western table as a vase for his birthday dinner, I think that someday I'm going to surprise my Texan with a pair from the King Ranch 

Or should a Texan pick out his own boots?