Friday, July 31, 2015

We're Celebrating!

We're celebrating here at Dewena's Window!

Sweet Kris of Junk Chic Cottage is introducing us
in her Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger.

Today! Here!

That was enough for me to celebrate.

Arrange some pretty flowers…

Clean the vintage metal kitchen cabinet…

We've had it for over 30 years and still don't know
what it is, but I've always guessed that it might once
have been used in a diner or cafe.

I use it now to display pieces of the old Sesto Fior
fish pottery made in Colonnata, Italy, in the Apuan Alps.

Here's a more modern piece, 
pictured here with our wedding silver,
Wallace's La Reine.

It's rare that I can find a piece in my price range,
but this little pitcher stole my heart.
And a picture of my grandfather who was a butcher sits here.

Here's an old postcard I ordered, mislabeled Colonnata.
As you can see, it is not Colonnata at all but the Almifi Coast.

I promised blog friend Amy that I'd show this as she,
lucky girl, just came back from there,
the view from her balcony looking much like this.

Other treasures have found a home in this display,
such as a dear little mermaid from my sister Teresa.
The old green McCoy pitcher just pretends to be Italian.

This old kitchen cabinet holds all my baking sheets
and muffin tins inside it,
and a few Italian cookbooks.

Otis wants in the pictures too.

But what's a celebration without food?

I made Insalata Estiva, a recipe from Cucina Del Sole
by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

I wish I were a better food stylist,
but basically there are Yukon potatoes in this,
sliced and tossed with Sicilian olive oil and sea salt,
green beans cooked a few minutes and chilled in cold water,
chopped tomatoes, chopped olives in Sicilian herbs,
rinsed and drained salted capers,
a red onion half, sliced thinly,
and the best brand of Italian anchovies you can find.
If you don't like anchovies, buy a can of really good
Italian tuna.
Season with fresh chopped or dried oregano,
and turn all gently, adding the juice from
several lemons.
Adjust the seasoning to taste and arrange on a bed
of lettuce and surround with sliced 
hard-cooked eggs,
hopefully more artistically than I did!


It has to be a cake and this one is from the same book,

Torta al Lemone!

The recipe only called for Confectioners' sugar for the top,
but I thought that sugar needed lemon juice 
and melted butter for a glaze.

Be sure and help yourself to the salad
and cut yourself a piece of cake before leaving.

Welcome to any guests visiting from Kris 
at Junk Chic Cottage,
and again a reminder for my beloved readers
to visit Kris here…
She is such a gracious lady and her talents
abound in the transformation of her cottage.

Y'all come back anytime,
and thank you so much for helping us celebrate!

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Don't Just Do Something; Sit There"

[The Farmer's Wife, August 1938]

"For fast-acting relief from stress,
try slowing down."
Lily Tomlin

"The first step is to relax--put aside impatience, stop struggling and learn to accept uncertainty and inaction.

Wait for ideas to incubate below the radar, rather than striving to brainstorm them to the surface.

Let the mind be quiet and still."

Carl Honore
from In Praise of Slowness

Here's to a little slowing down this summer!

And please watch HGTV tonight,
July 27, at 7 p.m. Central,
8 p.m. Eastern,
for the premiere show--

Farmhouse Life

There will be 2 episodes, back to back.

Our son said to tell you he worked his butt off
for this show as Tech Director/Camera Assist!

He loved the whole experience and said I will love it.

We hope you will too!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Nelia Gardner White

I'm going to do my best to sell at least one of you dear readers on Nelia Gardner White's books. If I can't, that's okay, but if even one of you enjoys novels written in the 1950s and is intrigued enough to search them out, it will be worth it.

Nelia Gardner White was compared in her day to Katherine Mansfield. I have eight of her novels and would buy the others if they weren't so rare and expensive.

Let's get right down to it with excerpts from four of my favorite White books:

Woman at the Window (1951)

It was peaceful there in the bright room. Everything shone there, the silver tea things, the knobs on the fenders, the old gold clock with cherubs on the mantel, the sapphire ring on Mrs. Suydam's hand, the arms of the deep leather chair where the doctor sat. But the light was brightest on Anna Suydam, sitting there in the wheel chair. She had on a jacket of blue brocade that Mrs. Suydam had made from an old party dress. The blue was grayed down to warmness and the silver thread that ran through it was a companion to the silver of the tea things. But in her face the light concentrated, in that thin triangular face with the golden-brown eyes looking around at them all with such love, such an effect of saying, These are my very best people. this is what I like, sitting here talking with my own people.

"The Doctor's Wife" novela from The Merry Month of May (1952)

Soon they were in the dining room eating supper. The doctor's wife sat where she could look at the tall, homely old Dutch cupboard. It always pleased her senses, though she didn't quite know why. It was not elegant, but there was something about it and the treasured dishes that was warm and satisfying. Micah and Nell Peel were going after supper. They were not even staying the night. The doctor's wife felt she must hold herself together for this last hour. There was just this meal to get through.

The Thorn Tree (1955)

In the chill of the late November afternoon Marcy and David Doorn stood beside their sister's house. They had come in frantic haste, in their hearts identical sensations of fear, incredulity, horror. They had walked up and down, up and down, in some village, waiting for a car repair, unable to talk, desperately anxious to have the repairs done, to be on their way again. Now they were here, but for a moment they stood, thrust out by some curious silence that surrounded the house, took in the whole landscape. Across the road rose a slope where once sheep had grazed. There were no sheep now, no leaves, no sign of life anywhere. All that the hill pasture held was thorn trees, with their innumerable gray and ghostly branches.

If I had a favorite Nelia Gardner White book, this next one would be it:

The Spare Room (1954)

      It was early November when the young man came. It was a somber morning with the trees stripped bare and the leaves dead brown in all the ditches. In the curving garden border behind the old Pilchard house on Sassafras Road, five miles from the village, even the chrysanthemums had blackened stalks and there was not one last red leaf in the woodbine on the stone walls beyond the garden.
     Miss Ann Pilchard, town nurse for old Wickham, moved about the kitchen getting her hearty breakfast. She was not depressed by the autumnal grays and blacks of the morning. She liked autumn. On the kitchen table was a brown pitcher filled with milkweed. Miss Pilchard had a secret life wherein she wrote a weekly column called "Nature Notes from Stub Hill" for the Penfield County Register, and this week she planned to write on the milkweed.
     Compact, round as a bird, tight-pressed into the blue gingham which was her uniform till the snows came, Miss Pilchard pushed forward the oatmeal on the black stove, filled the two-cup coffee pot. And as she bustled about she sang a morning hymn to the milkweed. It was a habit of hers, to hymn her way through breakfast. She had a big voice which she liked to let out to the full when she was alone.

And here is a review I wrote at my former blog, Across the Way, of The Pink House (1950) for any reader I haven't already lost in my attempt to spread the word about this forgotten author, Nelia Gardner White.

[McCall's August 1937]

Thank you for letting me have a chance to introduce a beloved author from the past. 

Is there a particular author that you wish more people knew about? One that you would like for more people to discover? 

Happy reading to you!

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Old Cape Cod

July is speeding by so quickly, isn't it?

How are you filling your July days?

Are you sunning by the seaside?

[McCall's July 1937]

It was always Myrtle Beach SC that our family went to except when I graduated
from high school. That summer we went to Miami Beach.
I wish I could remember the name of the hotel but it was a big one
with two olympic size swimming pools.
Almost no one was actually on the beach as it was not that pretty.
It was my first experience with a maid turning down our beds at night,
and leaving a chocolate on each pillow.

The beach I always wanted to visit was Cape Cod.
Because I loved Patti Page's "You're Sure to Fall in Love with Old Cape Cod"
that had been released a few years earlier.

It swept me away to an imaginary summer romance.

His parents would ask us to join them and his little brother for a picnic lunch
on their boat, but I wouldn't even know the mast from the keel.

[Woman's Home Companion July 1956]

We would pack our own lunch to share on the sand.

I would be a cute redhead, of course,
not sure if he was a blonde or brunette.
That's a little hazy.

[Woman's Home Companion August 1939]

Later I would shower and change into pink pedal pushers, and a white sleeveless
 cotton shirt over my sunburnt arms.

We would stand holding hands to watch a fiery sunset over a marshy beach,
sit side by side in a cafe booth eating lobster stew.
That night we would walk together on a silvery beach in the moonlight.

At the end of the week we would say goodbye,
for it was only a summer romance.

I can see, hear, and feel the ocean spray every time I hear that song.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Luminous Gifts

A huge thank you to everyone who left such encouraging comments on my last post! 

As a way to ease back into posting while I try to catch up on seeing what's new in your life, I thought I'd share these thoughts from John O'Donohue in his book Beauty. Perhaps it will help one or two of you as much as it has me.

"Many of the most luminous gifts of our lives
arrive as complete surprises…

It comes ashore in our hearts carefully formed to fit
exactly the shape of a hunger we might
not even know we had…

Sometimes it is difficult to know
when you are getting a gift…

The beauty of the gift is the secret way
it awakens us to growth…
much of the change in our lives happens
through struggle and pain.

We are confronted with an unattractive
direction that we have to take.

For weeks or months we have to travel through limbo;
the comfort and security of our familiar 
belonging lies far behind us.
Where we will belong next has not yet become clear.

The days become a struggle of endurance.
Yet when the light and the ease return,
we recognize the change that has been achieved.

The gift bequeaths change in a
completely different way.

Quietly it undoes the knots of false netting
that had us entangled and before
we have time to realize what has happened,
we find ourselves released into a new fluency.

Like a parent to the soul,
the gift carries us carefully over torn ground
until our feet stand free in a serene place
where we can recognize that we have been blessed."

from John O'Donohue's Beauty

May each difficult path you and I encounter this week bring us unexpected luminous gifts.

My love to each of you,


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Today I Am A Clod"

"So now, accept the dull interludes.

Know that the spirit also must rest.

If one burned constantly,

nothing would remain but gray ash.

Where goes the creative spark?

Yesterday I was master of my world:

I rode the wind;

I touched the stars;

almost I caught the blinding glory of God;

But today I am a clod. I am a clod."

by David Grayson
The Countryman's Year

Dearest friends,

When I take pictures through the dusty window of my office, only taking time to blow a few dust bunnies off the ledge, not getting out the polish or window cleaner, I know I am a clod.

When the paperwork for our business is piled up again on the desk, laundry is not getting caught up, leftovers need throwing away, new menus need to be made out--those healthy menus we talked about recently--and a trip to the grocery store made, and maybe the chiropractor, dogs need  brushing as well as a bath, well…….you know the list, then I am a clod.

When I'm feeling anxious that I haven't visited all my blog friends, caught up with email, when I have stacks of files for blog post ideas but all seem dull, well then I am a clod.

When my Quiet Time with God has shrunk and I feel that I'm floundering, then I am a clod.

So until I get caught up some, feel calm of spirit, and wake up ready to create again, I am taking a short blog break.

When David Grayson, a pseudonym for Ray Stannard Baker, wrote "Today I am a clod," he ended by saying:

"I court weariness of body and patience of spirit."

Maybe that's a good prescription for me.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Farewell, 4th of July 2015

The wonderful 4th of July is over until next year.

Everyone has gone home,
time to share some pictures.

Aren't you glad I finally learned how to make a collage
so you won't have to scroll through so many pictures?


Umbrellas stood by the front and back door
and were used plenty
but didn't stop our fun.

Thursday the schnauzers arrived--
oh yes, Christy and Bryan did too!
We all had Center Point barbecue for lunch.

And we celebrated a belated birthday for Christy
that night with Chicken Divan and lots of good talk.

From here on the photos aren't in chronological order,
but Gurn came to spend the 4th with his little sister--Christy,
and my sister Teresa and brother-in-law Fred joined us.

We had so much good food, most of which we forgot to take pictures of,
but Christy and R.H. grilled out chicken and steaks and ribs.

Teresa brought her delicious potato salad and Christy fixed asparagus,
and I fixed salmon in the oven and changed my cobbler from blackberry
to blueberry at the request of my New Englander son-in-law.

Bryan, thank you! Who knew that blueberry cobbler was so good!

Here's one picture I did get of a dish--
Christy's heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil salad
with a vinaigrette from aged balsamic.

It was amazing and a work of art!

Here's one last picture of the 4th of July 2015
at Valley View.

I hope yours was wonderful too!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth of July

Welcome to Valley View!

Drive past the old workshop covered with vines.

We're back in here,
that small red speck hidden in the trees.

Open the gate and come up the walk.

The bunting has been hung.

The deck has been power washed.

The table is ready in the picnic shelter,
if it's sunny.

And the table is ready inside,
if it rains.

Either way, there'll be steaks and salmon,
and blackberry cobbler.

The flag is flying.

Here at Valley View,

we're so thankful to live in America,

this wonderful country of ours.

We're so thankful to live in the beautiful South,

and in this Tennessee valley,

and among the gracious people of Nashville.

As our beloved Minnie Pearl always said,


I'm jes' so proud to be here."

A Happy Fourth of July to all of you

from all of us at Valley View.