Saturday, May 21, 2022

They brought the party to me!

 It was so much fun reading your thoughts about giving a party in my previous post. I could relate, at different times of my life, with each of you. 

And look who brought a party to me after I published the post! A tea party!


 My granddaughters and their mom did!

It all began when I received this beautiful invitation in the mail, drawn by my daughter-in-law and elder granddaughter and painted by her little sister.


 They invited me to a tea party to be held on my front porch when they came to spend the weekend with us.

It ended up being too cool for a porch party so they improvised and moved the party to our living room.

My hostesses brought everything with them because they are practiced tea party givers and tea party guests, experienced with tea party ritual. 

 There was no rushing to grab treats, explaining that one takes goodies from the lower plate first.



This one instructed me in how to properly hold my pinky finger when drinking our lemonade (or tea, as it were).


 I'm sure they learned this etiquette from their beautiful mom and she probably learned it from hers.


 And my daughter-in-law has to be given credit for setting up our tea party and concocting the delicacies even though she claims it was easy with Trader Joe's help. 

It was a delightful Mother's Day celebration I'll always remember and the lively conversation.


I declined being in the pictures (too scary for you) and we didn't get any of the photographer himself as no men were allowed at the tea table--he and RH banished to the kitchen to snack on extras--but since the photographer also put up all the beautiful balloons I think a picture of our son is in order. Here's one borrowed from a recent text he sent me.



 The fragrant peonies were from their garden.


It was a most lovely tea party and even goes to show that some of my children do read my blog posts!


 And they did take heed that, as much as I love giving parties, nowadays it's best if they bring the party to me.

Wouldn't Mrs. Dalloway be proud of them?  


My latest portrait with my granddaughters:



Sunday, May 1, 2022

Women and their need to have a party, as does Mrs Dalloway



Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway is known for her parties, known for being the consummate hostess. 

When her husband questions her about her newest party plan, she answers him:

Richard, it's all that I can do, give people one night in which everything seems enchanted, when all the women seem beautiful and all the men seem handsome and everyone is made to seem they're amusing.

 Putting all other themes of Mrs Dalloway aside, clearly Clarissa Dalloway is the quintessential hostess and I love that her wish is to make her guests shine, not herself.

In tidying all my bookshelves this winter I pulled out my old copy of my favorite Virginia Woolf novel expecting to love it the way I did when I was much younger. Within ten pages the stream of consciousness writing defeated me and I turned instead to finding Mrs Dalloway available to watch on Tubi where Vanessa Redgrave enchanted me as the older version of Clarissa Dalloway.



Ignoring the complex themes behind Clarissa needing to give a party, I fixated that cold winter night simply on the party itself with people arriving all dressed up and standing close to each other talking and eating special food and drinking festive drinks. You know, those things that pretty much disappeared during the two years of pandemic. 

And I began to miss it so very much!

Not that RH and I were ever accomplished hosts. We were always more of the "scruffy hospitality" philosophy made popular by an East Tennessee couple. 

But oh, the large cookouts we had at Valley View! Times when our big Adult Sunday School Class (and our daughter's Young Married Class) came in autumns and in springs to sit around the campfire and roast hotdogs over an open fire after exploring our 24 acres, with S'Mores for dessert and musical entertainment by guests in the Christian music industry.

We had birthday parties where teenagers hiked back to our waterfall and swung out over it on a rope. That experience halted for anyone except family after one teen girl fell and got the breath knocked out of her. 

Which makes me think of the G.I. Joe birthday party I had for Zack with a dozen little boys playing themed games. Was it my fault that one of them peeled his finger instead of the potato he was holding during the KP Duty game? His mother seemed to think so.

I even gave a fancy women's luncheon one time that took a month of preparation with three tables decorated with different Spode patterns from my collection. That party was anything but scruffy and I often pat myself on the back for having pulled it off, with help from my daughter and two daughters-in-law and the men in my family.

And over 26 years at Valley View there were large family parties galore. There still are large parties at Valley View but now they're hosted by our son and daughter-in-law, the new owners.

I'm truthfully past being able to pull off a large party now, even a scruffy one. But the desire to have them lives on and makes me wonder, is this an intrinsic need in most women?

I've noticed that even though I can no longer physically host big parties, I adore books and stories that include women (and men) preparing for special dinners--or brunches. I love it when bloggers write about their holiday parties or even birthday parties for a child.

And I keep on jotting down ideas for parties that will never happen. I can't help thinking that I must not be alone in this. Is it wired into our DNA to love having a party?

Or, as one of my favorite authors Phyllis McGinley wrote once, "I love to have given a party!" 

We did have a large family Christmas party last Christmas here at Home Hill. Anything but fancy. I served spaghetti, salad, and french bread. But oh, it was so much fun!


 And I miss it so! Even though any future ones might have to be catered.

Do you know what I mean?

Do you love having a party or having given a party?

Did you miss it during the shutdown? 

Is there just something in women where having a party is a necessity of life? 

Even when the world is not in a party mood?

Watch Mrs Dalloway if you get the chance. Or read the book, or both.

And give parties when you're young and able, for goodness' sake! Especially scruffy ones.



Sunday, April 10, 2022

Secret Daffodils

 I'm daffy over daffodils so this picture our son took of our little granddaughter, not so little anymore, had to go on a kitchen shelf where I could see it during daffodil season.

Two of my pie birds sing sweet spring music to her. I'm sure she sings with them because she loves to make up her own songs.

When we first moved to Home Hill, built in 1935, I thought there would be spring bulbs sprouting up all over the 2 1/2 acres. I guess the farmer who lived here was too busy to fool with such fripperies, as were later owners.

Two Octobers ago RH did plant hundreds of spring bulbs but except for a clump of daffodils that sprang up around an old stump near the driveway, our first spring here there wasn't a single one.


Or so we thought.

Our second spring we spotted daffodil blooms hidden away behind the old barn in a long jungle of trees and shrubs that divide our property from our only close neighbor.

It's always been a bit of a secret place but this spring when Daniel and his family were spending the weekend with us, he and our granddaughters explored the jungle.


The small barn, open to the weather for decades, is scheduled to be torn down since RH finished building his workshop and carport. It's too far gone to save even though my first dream was to make it into a picnic shelter like we did with the chicken shed at Valley View.


It does make for a wonderful photo background for our beautiful granddaughters.


I can hardly believe they're growing up so quickly, one granddaughter almost as tall as her mom. Here's the whole family on our front porch that had not yet been cleaned up for spring--maybe it will happen by summer.

They were getting ready to see Nashville Children's Theater presentation of Peter Pan: Wendy's Adventure to Neverland.


My thanks to Daniel for sharing all the barn daffodil pictures with me for the Window!

Here's a picture of Daniel with the crew of HGTV's 100 Day Dream Home. They were celebrating finishing up their third season of the show that is hosted by husband-and-wife team Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt. On days that 100 Day Dream Home runs back-to-back on HGTV, RH and I binge on it for hours!

Daniel, Technical Director for the show, is on the far left with Brian and Mika the third and fourth from left. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Breakfast, New Orleans Style

 When you want to blog at least once in February but haven't got a clue what to post, you turn to food because even an inactive blogger still takes pictures of her meals.

Breakfast is my favorite meal so here goes...

I bought Cook with Marie Louise in 1968 for $3.50 and you can still find it fairly cheap on Amazon. Those chewed edges were done by my firstborn's pet chinchilla back in the early 1970s. I've written about him here before, the male chinchilla who knew he was a male and proud of it. Don't ask.

Marie Louise Snellings was quite a character, the first woman to win a law degree at Tulane University. If you're fond of New Orleans food you might like her cookbook, especially if, like her, you love horses and dogs. The drawings of Myster, her favorite horse, and her hounds are touching and entertaining.

[The magnifying glass is not a prop. I must get a chain for my neck to attach my reading glasses to.]

Marie Louise's extraordinary Pain Perdu (Lost Bread) is my favorite recipe for french toast, even better than the one I use for croissants in Silver Palate. And it's all about the method. 

When you gather your ingredients, set out a large shallow plate because you're not going to drown your bread in milk.

"Put about 2 tablespoons of milk (cold) on a plate and sprinkle about two-thirds teaspoon of sugar in it..." [stir the sugar around in the milk] "and turn each piece of bread over in it once." 

"Meanwhile, take 2 eggs and beat the whites stiff...

...add the yolks in and beat it up...

 ...and dip the pieces of bread into this having added to the eggs a little bit of grated nutmeg."

 "Then have the same old black iron skillet with an inch of grease very hot in it [unsalted butter for me] and drop the pieces of bread into it."

RH had maple syrup on his and I had powdered sugar and honey. Bacon, of course. I managed to cook RH's perfectly golden but didn't get a picture of his. Tried to multitask while mine were cooking, unloading the dishwasher, and got mine too dark. They were still wonderful, or I was just very hungry.

 Some strawberries and whipped cream would have been wonderful with it but this was a Sunday January 8th breakfast when our local grocery store had been cleaned out as snow was predicted and that's what people do in middle Tennessee. For once the weather prediction was right and we ate looking out at this...

If you've never tried separating the eggs for making french toast I hope you will as it gives a scrumptious flavor.

These pictures are also a way of showing off some new dishes I was given by my brother-in-law. For two or three weeks RH helped his brother get his house ready for an estate sale and he kept urging me to pick out anything I wanted before the sale, that he wanted them to go to family before strangers.

 [I must have forgotten to crop off this picture at the edge of the table and who knows what it's showing up!] I love these winter scene dishes! They're made in England and are by the North Carolina artist Bob Timberlake. The pattern is called Riverwood and those of you who know how special the Canada geese who visit us are to RH and me will understand why I love using these dishes after my Christmas china is packed away. Can you see them flying across the top of the bowl?

Did I need any more dishes or rugs or Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations, etc.? No, but I and our kids and grandkids are enjoying them and will treasure them.  This kind man is also the one who helped RH build kitchen shelves and two floor to ceiling bookshelves for me when we moved here AND helped RH to construct our large carport and workshop out back. 

So there you are, a post from a blogger who really has nothing much to report but wants to keep on blogging.

Happy breakfasts to all!

[next day: please forgive me for not replying to any comments for a few days. a trip in ambulance to er just as this post went live because i pitched head forward over open dishwasher and smacked top of head on cabinet. bloody but cat scan was clear. left wrist took weight of fall and swollen and painful plus sore arm from tetanus shot plus sore head and neck. but very grateful when i think of how bad it could have been, thanks for reading and being my friend!]




Sunday, December 26, 2021

Christmas Gifts and Rabbit Trails



It becomes increasingly embarrassing for me once again to blog when I've been MIA so long.

Nevertheless, when I have this photo of my darling granddaughter opening a Christmas present from Mimi and PawPaw how could I not?

How many 7 year olds want a purple hummingbird feeder for Christmas? I had to get her to pose again for this picture since I didn't get a shot of the big smile on her face when she first pulled it out of the Wild Birds Unlimited sack. That smile was there! I hope that the feeder and the other hummingbird accessories we gave her will bring her much joy next spring when once again the "living helicopters" return. 

Just as she and her big sister and parents bring us so much joy when they take that 3 hour drive and come visit us. 


 It's so tempting to try to catch you up on all the things that have occurred in my life since I last posted here but I won't. Maybe I will mention that RH and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary since I last posted here. There was a whole post planned about that but it never happened.

Rather than write about more happenings during my absence, I'll ask you if your holidays have been lovely, too? I hope so!

Here's a quote from a book I recently read that's led me to reading more of her novels:

The hummingbird is a living helicopter. It's also the most beautiful of animated beings. And with all that, the female is a dedicated homemaker. A perfectionist."

                        Margaret Culkin Banning 

                        I Took My Love to the Country

That makes me appreciate even more the tiny birds who will one day feed at my granddaughter's purple feeder, especially the females who don't get as much notice as their colorful male mates.  But I'm not going to go down that rabbit trail. Not now, anyway! 


Friday, October 1, 2021

A Faith Baldwin poem for her birthday

 Although Faith Baldwin, born October 1, 1893, was a prolific writer, I have never owned any of her novels. I guess they were considered chic lit of the 1930s. 

But I do read her four autobiographies year round and she inspires me--otherwise I wouldn't have kept the picture of her at her desk that serves as my blog header above all these years.

This past year I've been picking up her novels as I found them in thrift or antique stores, and on particularly stressful days I often choose one for relaxing bedtime reading, remembering each time that she was bosom friends with dear Gladys Taber.


 The red covers are pretty and give me a chance to show you a treasure RH found at Goodwill this summer, a 1950s type of sunburst clock, only with petals on the rays, that shines on our old dark v-groove plank walls.


To honor Faith Baldwin on her 128th birthday, if my math is right, here is a blessing/poem she wrote that I have always loved, never more so than now.

I have come back to quiet ways; to

     Things of silent wonder, instinct

          with delight;

To dusk, that closes in like darling wings--

     To primrose dawns and lamplit,

          hearth-warm night;

To mending bag, to laughter, and old books,

     To loud-voiced clock and table laid for tea

And that brown urchin of a dog who looks

     From sandwich plate to mistress,


Thus, Lord, my spirit keep--in humbleness,

     In still simplicity of gentle days,

This house, the love within, lean to bless

And hold our feet upon the homely ways. 



Sunday, September 26, 2021

I don't know what to title this.

 After six months blankness at Dewena's Window, here's my attempt to turn the light back on.

 I've rewritten this post six times over the past months. Each time I was ready to hit publish there would be another major heartbreaking news story on television, making my post too trivial to bear. 

Or a family worry would crop up, the latest being when our son and daughter-in-law contracted Covid, evidently brought home from school by one child whose cold must not have been a cold since she later tested positive for antibodies. (And she was one of the few in her class who wore a mask, so there you go.)



Thankfully, our son and his wife had been double vaccinated and are young and healthy so only felt really miserable for a few days, with all the usual symptoms. But the fatigue does linger.


Speaking of fatigue, how would you like to be reading a four typewritten pages post here and have to scroll through 26 pictures of my bedroom art gallery? Because that's what my rough draft grew to.



 I didn't think so and decided to tear up my umpteenth rough draft and just say this--

  •  Hi there! It's been rough, hasn't it?
  •  There have been blessings anyway, haven't there?
  •  Some things help, don't they? 



My home--my friend--has helped me, thus 6 pictures of my bedroom sanctuary, but not 26. 

Please share what's helped you if you care to.

How are you doing?