Saturday, January 24, 2015


Here at the Window lately we've been talking about passion,
living your life with passion.

The lucky ones among us
have a vocation that is a passion.

I thought you might enjoy learning what R.H.'s vocation is.

He and two of our sons have a roofing and 
siding business,
and we specialize in historic homes.

Such as this beautiful old farmhouse that has been
in the same family for four generations now.

We completely reconstructed the roof and
then installed Classic Rib 24 ga. steel roofing
in Burnished Slate baked-on enamel.

We also replaced the roofs on 5 outbuildings
in Patriot Red.

There was the Cabin House,
the Chicken House,
and the Carriage House...

The 4th outbuilding was the Springhouse;
our client said that the spring has never gone dry.

R.H. truly enjoys his vocation but never more
than when it means helping preserve
historic homes.

I don't want to forget the 5th outbuilding--
it's the Outhouse!

And what does my husband do when he's not working?

He's dreaming up a new project at home, of course.

Such as turning our old chicken shed…

into a picnic shelter and giving us a view to the valley...

And adding a carport for his truck because the

barn, garage, and another carport are full.

Over the years we've added rooms onto
our own 1920 farmhouse,
often higgledy-piggledy,
as we've needed them,
just as the original owners did
when it was a hog farm.

but it looked right pretty here this morning…

This poem by W. H. Auden reminds me
of my husband:

You need not see what someone is doing
to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes;
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,
forgetting themselves in a function.

W. H. Auden

They're the lucky ones, aren't they?

Oh, and did I mention that this hardworking
man of mine is in his 70s?

        Linda at the Sew What Blog. I just read her post and it brought back so many
        memories of young motherhood all the way to and through the empty nest time.]

Monday 26th: Here is a link to today's post from Jemma of At Home With Jemma, who is the host of our project. Jemma explains this whole project again and why it is important to us, and we hope to some of you. It is a path that we hope will continue to lead us to that last part of the project, the Productivity that we all hope to accomplish.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Only Natural!

Why am I showing you this paper bag?

Let's see what the other side says.

"It's only natural to want more passion in your life."

Those of you who read my last two posts

know that I've been taking part in 

The Passion, Purpose and Productivity Project.

So when I happened to look at the bag that my liquid soap products

came in that I use in my kitchen,

and realized what it said,

well, I just had to share pictures of it!

"It's only natural to want more passion in your life."

And it is, isn't it?

Would any of you like to comment on how you try to live your life with passion?

And be sure to watch for more posts from the guests in this project.

Linda from Sew What blog will be posting on Monday.

Nancy from Created For A Journey will post on February 2nd.
[I'll put a link to her as soon as I get it.]

Honora of Pondside recently wrote beautifully on her blog.

And it all began with this post of our sweet project hostess,

It has been such a pleasure being a part of these ladies and this project

that we all hope will be ongoing in our lives.

And what came in this bag from Fruits & Passion?

These wonderful Cucina products--

liquid handsoap and dishwashing liquid.

My hands cannot do without them!

And this is the liquid hand soap I have used for years in the bathroom:

Any Savon de Marseilles soap is so gentle on hands.

I buy the pretty glass bottles once and then order the refills.

And no, neither of these companies asked me to pedal their products!

I'm just trying to pass along products I've loved for years.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Phila Hach

 Here she is, one of my most admired women,

Phila Hach!

In my last post I promised to tell you about this amazing woman who has lived her life with passion. 

A "stewardess" for American Airlines in the 1940s.
Degrees from Ward-Belmont College
and Vanderbilt University.
Host of Nashville's first televised cooking show.
Pastry chef at Princess Diana's wedding.
At 83 spoke in Las Vegas to 4,000 caterers.
Has written 17 cookbooks. 
Has owned and operated a corporate retreat
with her son for almost three decades.

I've been an ardent fan of Phila Hach's since the early 1970s and my mother was one long before me, watching her Kooking Kollege on WSM-TV in the 1950s.

In the 1970s The Tennessean newspaper used to have weekly columns featuring local cooks. I still have notebooks full of my favorite clippings. In this one beautiful Phila and her handsome husband Adolf showed what was a true Southern ladies' luncheon of the time with this menu:

Original Chicken a la King
(nothing like the dish comedians make fun of)
Sally Lunn Muffins
Frozen Fruit Salad
Pickled Vegetable Marinade
Bavarian Cream
Butter Cake
French Water Mints

These old newspaper photos were from the February 13, 1975 Tennessean. 

When this next picture and article came out, I was determined to visit the Hach's restaurant in Clarksville, Tennessee.

One night R.H. and I, my mother and father and if I remember correctly at least one of my sisters, went to Hachland Hill for one of the best country ham dinners of my life.

Dining there was by appointment only and you chose your dinner when you called to make the appointment. We had the country ham and all its Southern side dishes and dined in the Garden Room of the Spanish Colonial home.

There was also the Ballroom, the Terrace Room, the 1790 log house, which we toured with Mrs. Hach after dinner, her telling us the story of some of the antiques furnishing it. It was a glittering evening and I still remember the sweet smiling faces of Mr. and Mrs. Hach and the welcome they showed us. 

They looked exactly like they do in this old newspaper photo, only much more beautiful.


Fast forward almost 40 years, and who do you suppose I saw as I sat in our car outside our small neighborhood grocery store a few months ago when R.H. was inside shopping?

It was Phila Hach herself, leaving the store with a few bags of groceries in her cart, driving herself. I instantly recognized her and wanted so much to run over and say hello. But I didn't, just felt as if I'd seen an old friend, one I rejoiced was still active in the corporate retreat and bed and breakfast her family operates near us.

Then one day in November R.H. showed me a magazine that had just come in the mail, Tennessee Home & Farm. 

R.H. said, "Remember her?" 

I squealed, "Of course, it's Phila Hach! I saw her at the grocery store not long ago!"

Friends, at 87 this wonderful woman is still cooking! In many, many ways! No more pictures now, but please take time to read her quotes from the magazine article.

Talk about passion for life, see if you agree that Phila Hach has it!

"If people could just open the door to opportunity, it's there. You don't do it; it comes to you. If I had known there was a television show coming, I could've worked my behind off trying to get it, but you have to live your life so that what you do makes people stop and look."

"My message in life is to keep it simple, to keep it beautiful, to keep it honorable, to keep it real."

What a fine challenge that is: "Keep it simple, keep it beautiful, keep it honorable, keep it real."

If I see Phila Hach at the grocery store again I'm going to go over and say thank you.

[Here's a link to some of Phila's cookbooks on Amazon. 

And a link to her business, Hachland Hill, Countryside Retreat. ]

Monday January 19: Please visit today's guest writer of Jemma's Passion, Purpose, and Productivity Project, Honora of Pondside, for a post that will remind all of us of times in our own lives.

And here is a link to Jemma's eloquent post today as she introduces Honora, and writes herself of choices to let some things go so that there is more time for living a life with passion, purpose and productivity.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I'm Still Going to School

When another amaryllis lover, Jemma of At Home with Jemma, wrote and asked me to write a guest post as part of her Living with Passion series, telling how I live my life with passion and how it affects my life, I started to run scared.

What grand results do I have from living my life with passion?

Where are the published books that are living proof of my passion for writing? When am I going to wipe the dust off the manuscript I put aside for the holidays, two months ago? The book I've been writing about three families, following them from 1840 to the early 1950s. I'm only at 1911 now. Or the completed manuscript that lies in a chair, in my line of vision right now, that had been undergoing its seventh revision?

What interferes with this grand passion? 

Life does, my friends, everyday life. Because it does go on, a miracle I don't often enough get down on my knees and give thanks for, and not just because it hurts my arthritis too much.

Everyday Life. What would I set aside? My family, my dogs, Judging Amy while I eat lunch?

Laundry, cooking, bill paying, housework?

Not blogging, certainly. I tried that once and lost something I looked forward to.

I just finished rereading, for about the 10th time in as many years, my very favorite novel, bar none, of all time, Rumer Godden's China Court. If you love books in which the main protagonist is a house, a wonderful, quirky, house with a heartbeat, then this is the book for you.

In the book, an exasperated aunt says of her niece Tracey who has inherited China Court instead of her and insists on living in the old ark of a house, not selling it as her aunts wanted to:

"'The child is obsessed with living, daily living,
that's all you can call it,' said Bella,
more than ever incensed."

Tracey herself admits:
"'I like living,' she said.
'Cooking and doing the flowers
and having animals.'"

Maybe for me, now in my seventh decade of life, I've become more like Tracey and her grandmother, Mrs. Quinn. Absolutely, writing is my passion, but so are my family, my dogs, my house.

Cooking, decorating, blogging.

          Nature, Nutella, and Inspector Armand Gamache.

                    James Beard, Vincent Price, Downton Abbey.

I want it all!

Each of them, at different times of my day is my grand passion.

I wrote Jemma that I was going to post about a local celebrity, a woman in her late 80s, about how she inspires me to live my life with passion. And I am going to do that in a post soon.

But not today.

Sure, I want to get those characters in my manuscript past 1911, but I also want to become an inspired cook, tweak my rooms until I no longer have the health to do it, be as excited about a new season of Downton Abbey as a child waiting for Santa, learn how to appreciate art half as much as Vincent Price did.

That's exactly why I loved the post Jemma wrote called "Aging with Style." Please read her post  at

Jemma, I'm excited about learning what you and other guest writers have to say about Living with Passion and Purpose in this series. Because honey, I'm still going to school, still wanting to learn, more now than when I graduated from school all those years ago.

No words of wisdom here, Jemma, just another person wanting to be brave enough, wise enough, hardworking enough to live her life with passion.

And that octogenarian I started to post about, that I spent two days trying to make her fit this post? She says:

"To enjoy life, you have to have passion for it,
and then it isn't work."

Isn't she beautiful! Oh, yeah, I've got to tell you about her soon!

Meanwhile, I invite you to visit Jemma, again HERE, as I will be doing, to learn more about "The Passion, Purpose, Productivity Project." 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

All of Us Chickens Stayed Home

Too cold to go anywhere today, chickens,
so let's just stay home.

Let's put away more Christmas decor
but leave out some winter reminders.

Let's put all the Christmas dishes 
back in the cupboard,

and resolve to do something about
the mess on top--soon.

And let's put a pot of rich broth on the stove
(whispering now: chicken broth)

where we can make soup tomorrow.

And let's take the fabulous UK Christmas magazines
to bed tonight for one more flip through
before stashing them away for another year.

And that's just what we did.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


In my own reflective way,
I celebrated Epiphany today,
saying goodbye to Christmas
on this 12th Day of Christmas.

I undecorated 3 Christmas trees
and R.H. took the drying green tree outside.
Boxes still sit everywhere.
I'm not as organized as most of you are.
I don't have photos of beautiful January spaces
to post here at Dewena's Window.

But it's done.
Tomorrow will be better,
very cold but better.

"And so 'the Christmas' comes down,
the withered holly,
the tipsy cards.
The rooms look spartan and in need of flowers.
The fridge is filled with the crumbs of feasts
and packets which say
'Best until December 25th.'"

Ronald Blythe in Word from Wormingford