Thursday, February 27, 2014


Sleep must be wooed, its elusiveness coaxed hither.

Bones and joints complain, skin prickles, a bladder urges.

Roadblocks loom up in the mind--

bright lights of fear,

quicksand of self-recrimination,

sinkholes of regret.

The Mountain of If Only rises before the eyes.

When sleep eludes and will not be enticed,

it is time to pray Faith Baldwin's "unfailing prayer"--

"I've done what I could, Father.

So now it is in your hands."

There are the good times when life is a buttery soft chamois
run gently over us.

Other times it is as rough as a loofah
or as agonizing as a metal grater.

It is still life, a gift denied to many.

Reason enough to go to bed each night and let our mind 
run over the joys inherent in each day,
much as a small child does at day's end,
his fingers rubbing the satin binding of his blanket.

Time to surrender and permit sleep to embrace us.

"God's in His heaven--

All's right with the world."

[from Pippa Passes by Robert Browning]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Love That's Lasted 29 Years

[Country Home magazine, January/February 1985]

Rarely does a decorating love last 29 years but this one has.

It was the January/February 1985 issue of Country Home Magazine. 

No, it was not this decorating style, which was in the same issue…

This seemed to be the most popular genre of decor in 

Country Home magazine in those early years.

I wonder if the owner stuck with this over the decades?

 I bet they gave it an updated look,

made it less museum like.

No, the following pictures show the rooms that I fell head over heels for in 1985,

and that I remain enchanted by now.

This farmhouse belonged to Gretchen Mann.
I later saw where she sold everything.
I would have loved to have been at that sale.
I still love that old green cabinet hung on the wall.
I love the white Staffordshire spaniels.
The old farm table.

I love the green damask slipcovered sofa
and the table in front of it.
I love the rug and the oil paintings on the walls.
I even love the green walls but would probably go a shade or two lighter.

And there, above, is the love seat that captured me forever--
covered in that amazing purple and white stripe satiny looking material!
How I would love to own that!
And the pillows on it.
And another green cabinet standing beside the sofa.
How could Gretchen have sold that love seat?

Now for her tiny but pretty kitchen. 
I do have the green Fenton tumblers
and this breakfast nook still charms me.

And if I ever have to move into a tiny kitchen someday
I want to remember her beautiful compact storage system here…

How darling is that! 
Even 29 years later I admire it.

How many people can say they still love the pages of a magazine after 29 years?

Gretchen Mann is now Gretchen Mann Design.
I have a Pinterest board under her name showing some of her current work.
I will add these pictures of her house in 1985.
 How could she have gotten rid of that purple and white love seat?

I can't end this post without also saying that I miss 
Country Home magazine.
I will keep the last Christmas issue they published.

Some loves last forever.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Other Side

This old 1932 book, Pen Pictures of the Presidents, ends with President Herbert Hoover, our 31st President. I bought the book years ago at a library book sale in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I couldn't resist the embossed cover and engravings inside.

As I have become somewhat apolitical in my advanced age, I wonder if I would have voted for these men who were elected to the highest office in our country, or for their opponent. President Washington was unopposed so there would have been no question about him--if we women had been allowed the vote then.

When Abraham Lincoln was running for President, I wonder if I would have belonged to his Republican Party, or to the Democratic Party whose candidate Steven A. Douglas is reported to have been a much more eloquent orator than President Lincoln. Since President Lincoln is known to be just a tad rememberable at speechifying himself, I might have been swayed either way when listening to them. But then there were several other men also running so I might have supported moderate John Bell of Tennessee. Who knows?

Why am I no longer a staunch Party person? Why do I not align myself with any Party with my Facebook Friends? Why do I steer clear of political arguments with my husband now? 

Simply because I am no longer an either/or believer, and I shy away from labels and from issues that divide us as Americans. I believe there are good things and bad things about all Presidents and always have been. 

I remember a news video that has stuck with me for decades. The Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neil, Democrat from Massachusetts, was being interviewed and was asked about his relationship with former President Richard Nixon. Even with the debacle of Watergate still fresh in our nations's memory, the Speaker seemed almost sad about his political foe and pointed out things he admired about the fallen Nixon. 

The interviewer seemed puzzled at this, and Speaker O'Neil laughed and talked about how surprised the American people would be if they realized how members of Congress from both sides of the aisle were often good friends after hours, having dinner together, wives socializing with each other, caring about their children and grandchildren. 

I never forgot this. I realized I could disagree with someone but I could still consider their point of view and most of the time find things we both agreed on. And I could still be friends.

If they were willing to.

            Lament for a Wavering Viewpoint

           by Phyllis McGinley

I want to be a Tory
                         And with the Tories stand,
         Elect and bound for glory
                              With a proud, congenial band.
        Or in the Leftist hallways
              I gladly would abide,
           But from my youth I always
                  Could see the Other Side.

            How comfortable to rest with
                    The safe and armored folk
      Congenitally blessed with
           Opinions stout as oak.
        Assured that every question
              One single answer hath,
       They keep a good digestion
               And whistle in their bath.

        But all my views are plastic,
                    With neither form nor pride.
         They stretch like new elastic
            Around the Other Side;
         And I grow lean and haggard
                   With searching out the taint
    Of hero in the Blackguard
         Of villain in the Saint.

            Ah, snug lie those that slumber
               Beneath Conviction's roof.
           Their floors are sturdy lumber,
                 Their windows weatherproof.
        But I could sleep cold forever
            And cold sleep all my kind, 
Born nakedly to shiver  
                    In the draft from an open mind. 

Happy Presidents' Day!

[I don't know why the last two lines of McGinley's poem appear larger in published print here. I tried to fix it but could not.]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

For Valentine's Day

"A long marriage is two people
trying to dance a duet
and two solos at the same time."
(Anne Taylor Flemming)

"I got gaps;
you got gaps;
we fill each other's gaps."
(Rocky Balboa)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Table for One

As convivial a soul as James Beard was, even he once said:

"Somehow I never minded dining alone.
Instead, I find it is a rare opportunity
for relaxing and collecting my senses,
and I had always made each occasion something of a ceremony.
A nicely set table and time--
these are as important as the food.

I've had that "rare opportunity" of a table for one this week,

a time I had looked forward to--

to call the days my own,

the t.v. remote my own,

and to "collect my senses," you might say.

Wasn't solitude high on my page-long list of "Bliss"?

Didn't one of my author heroes of the past, Agnes Sligh Turnbull,

a domestic goddess of the 1940s and 50s 

exalt in the rare solitude in her life?

In addition to crafting bestselling novels,

baking gingerbread, putting up grape jelly,

and turning her old peach negligee into an evening jacket for her daughter,

she believed that the "inner core of aloneness is not something to hide from

but a blessing to treasure."

I also remember reading Louis Bromfield's 1942 novel Mrs. Parkington 

when I still had children at home, thinking that, like her,

when I was older I would carve out chunks of time for solitude.

"Solitude was the most precious thing in the world 
if you knew how to employ it.
It built up your endurance,
and permitted you to see yourself coldly,
with all your faults and virtues;
it allowed you to get some perspective on things."

(from Mrs. Parkington by Louis Bromfield)

So why has my Table for One lost its allure so quickly this week?

Where is that endurance that was supposed to be built up?

Enough of seeing myself coldly, faults and virtues!

Some things are blissful only when they're rare--

like Spring flowers--and a table for one.

A table for two is beginning to sound…blissful!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bury Me With a Book

Please family, bury me with a book in my hands when the time comes, unless you want to see me fidget in my casket. 

Fellow bookworms will understand. They know that fidgety feeling when they're stuck anywhere waiting without a book to read. Doctor's office, school parking lot, mortgage closing, whatever, waiting all goes better with a good book to read.

A few years married, our first major purchase was a brand new red MG Midget for me.

Talk about fun, this little MG was it! Top down if the sun was shining at all, weekends and holidays we were off, my husband behind the wheel.

The workweek was another story. The MG was mine then, and I felt like a career woman straight from the Mad Men era. No martini lunches for me though as I worked as a stenographer for a religious publishing company. 

I was hip enough, though, to buy one of the first pair of pantyhose sold in Nashville. I still remember climbing out of the MG in the parking lot at work and within a few steps feeling the pantyhose begin to slip down my hips. I wish I had old home movie footage of my mincing walk inside.  The nurse in the clinic laughed and helped me use safety pins to pin the waistband of the hose to my slip. A full length slip, remember? One of those obsolete items of clothing women wore in the old days?

An avid reader ever since I had checked out my first library book as a child, I had just passed the test at work to be promoted to proofreader when I became pregnant with our first child and left work to enjoy the whole experience. We decided to sell the MG as another love was going to take its place.

What does my MG have to do with being buried with a book in my hand? Only that this bookworm had the bad habit of keeping an open book in her lap and reading it at every stoplight. I swear I didn't read while I was driving though, at least no more than many people do today texting while behind the wheel.

I don't advise either practice. Bury me with a book in my hands, please, but not too soon.