Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Countown to 2009

It's now about two hours until midnight and 2009.  Looking through last year's journal, I see that I only read 65 books.  For many years now, I've been keeping a list of books read each year.  One year it was over 100.  Usually it's around 80 or so.  I think this year's decline is due to two things: 1.  I began this blog and spend less time reading books and more time on my own blog and reading others; and 2. I've been reading thicker books and more  non-fiction.  

Here are a few photos of some of my books.  These are just a few places I keep books.  My collection of 600+ fiction is out in my art studio.  I ran out of room in the main house for them all.

The next two hours will be spent reading last year's journal, drinking hot chocolate, taking a long, hot bath while finishing Miss Buncle's Book, and watching the ball drop in  Times Square.

And Laurel, I'm NOT a flake.  I'm exactly where I want to be doing exactly what I want to be doing.  So there!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Beginning the List...

Last night I started my "What I Want To Do in 2009" list.  So far, it only has ten things on it.  I'm sure it'll grow as the week progresses.  I believe in dreaming big.  Even if I don't do ALL the things on the list, I'll do most of them just because they're written down.  So here it is:
1.  Finish the writing course
2.  Have my KJV Bible rebound
3.  Go on a retreat by myself
4.  Take a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School
5.  Get my photography in another gallery
6.  Open an Etsy Shop?  I'm not sure if I want to do this or not.
7.  Go to DisneyWorld
8.  Get my writing published locally and regionally
9.  Lost sixteen pounds by the end of June
10.  Make daily times for creativity

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Reading

Becca and Bella had a post recently about D.E. Stevenson's book Miss Buncle's Book.  I had read that book many years ago while reading most of Stevenson's books.  

I like to find an author I really like then read everything they've written.  In her case, that's about 40-50 books!  I haven't read them all but a lot.  

So after reading the post referred to above, I went to my fiction collection to see if I could find Miss Buncle's Book.  Unfortunately, I didn't find it.  I do own several of Mrs. Stevenson's books; just not that one.  I called our local library to see if they were open today, and they were.  

So Darcie and I took off to the library and spend a happy forty-five minutes cruising the stacks.  I found Miss Buncle plus the stack in the photo.  I shouldn't have gotten more.  I have so many stacks already at home.  But there's just something that I can't resist about checking out books.  Call it an addiction.  It's better than drinking or smoking!

Another good book I just finished is Stealing Athena by Karen Essex.  It's about the lives of two women; one living in ancient Greece while the Parthenon is being built and the other living during the late 1700's when her husband, Lord Elgin from Scotland, removed many Greek statues from Athens and shipped them to England.  

These are called The Elgin Marbles and are on display at the British Museum in London.  I saw them while there a few years ago but didn't realize what I was seeing.  There are so many similar objects on display.  After an hour or so, they all start running together in your mind and your eyes cross.  Next time I'm in London, I'll make a point to view them.  Greece has just built a museum in Athens to house them.  I guess they plan on winning the battle over who gets them.  So I'd better hurry before they're shipping back to Greece!  I think that's where they belong though.

The other book about Lady Elgin is one I've had in my stacks for a few months.  I plan on reading it next while the other one is still fresh in my mind.  She was quite a character!

I went to the Elgin Cathedral ruins in Scotland.  I was probably very close to Lord Elgin's ancestral home.  If only I had known then....Oh well, I'll just have to go back!

I just love historical fiction.  I've learned so much history that way.  And it's so much more interesting than reading history books.  The research that authors put into their books is just amazing.  I wouldn't have the patience!  So I'll let them do all the work and I'll enjoy the fruits of their labors by reading the books.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Good Deed Done

Today I scavenged through my pantry and freezer and came up with three bags of food for our local food bank.

Laurel sent out an e-mail yesterday about how there was a shortage of food to give away and encouraged all the woman in our church to take food by.  

I took her nudge to heart and took Darcie and her BFF to help.  Not that I needed it.  I just thought it would be good for them to serve others during this holiday season.  

I talked to the man who runs the place.  He said that it's a volunteer organization open every day to the public (not sure about Sunday).  People needing food are sent to the food bank with vouchers from other organizations around town such as Red Cross, Children and Family Services, etc.  They have already determined that they are truly needy.  

It's good to have organizations like that to assist the poor and needy.  How much better it would be if the local churches were in charge instead of the government.  Our church certainly does it's part to show the love and compassion of Christ all year round.  I'm very thankful for our deacons who do such a good job.

Maybe Darcie and I will volunteer up there some this coming year.  I think it'd be great for the both of us to serve others more.  I know I'll be making regular drop-offs of food.  How hard will it be to buy a little more each time I grocery shop and then take it to the food bank?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008, a reflection

This past year was an uncomfortable one for me.  At times I felt like I didn't know myself anymore.  I have anger issues.  I'm grouchy and irritable.  Most of the time I felt like life was pressing in too hard, and I wanted to retreat.  Some days have been better than others.

This photo is blurry.  It adequately conveys my image of myself this past year.  Things are shifting in uncomfortable ways.  I'll share more about that after Christmas as I begin looking toward the new year and making plans.

I have high hopes for 2009.  I love fresh beginnings.  It's like opening a new journal for the first time and seeing all those crisp, white, blank pages.  The pen is poised...

A Gift

I'm making a romper for Bauer, my youngest grandson, for Christmas.  I haven't sewn anything for him since he's been born.  Laurel's three boys have worn all the clothes I made for my three boys.  They had daygowns, button-on suits, John John suits, and much more.  They were all smocked or French handsewn.  I saved them all and passed them along when my grandsons came along.  

Therefore, there was no need to sew for them.  But I wanted them all to have one special outfit made just for them by me.  So this is going to be Bauer's.  

The smocked toy soldier insert and collar used to be part of a plaid button-on shirt I made for my boys.  Over time, the buttons up the back were ripped out of their holes which made the shirt useless.  So I salvaged what I could and saved the pieces for such a time as this.  

The black and white gingham lining is made from a pair of curtains I saved from the trash heap at one of Laurel's former houses they were restoring.  I knew they would be useful someday!

I tried the unfinished romper on Bauer today to see how it would fit.  It fits perfectly, which isn't a good thing.  He'll outgrow it in a month!  So, I'll have to add some extensions to the crotch area.  I'll have to finish it tomorrow as well as begin cooking for the twenty-two people coming over on Christmas Day.  Oh, and Mallory's present (my future daughter-in-law) isn't finished yet either.  And Darcie's got a giggly eight year old BBF spending the night.  
Ain't life fun?

The Winter Solstice

Whenever the Winter or Summer Solstices come around, I feel like I should do something to mark the day; like run naked through the trees or howl at the moon.  Instead, I lit a bonfire and helped the grandchildren roast marshmallows.  

I guess it was a success, because they kept telling me how cool it was.  What higher praise could I get?  It wasn't as exciting as my former ideas but more appropriate, I guess.  Sigh.....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Coming Home

My soldier came home last night to spend two weeks for Christmas.  Isn't he warlike in this photo?  He's a nut and loves to cut up.  The last time Laurel and I went to the discount food store, he saw this hat left over from Halloween and had to try it on.  Good thing I had my camera with me.

Here's his little sister getting in on the action too.  Ah, not a dull moment with children around.  I wouldn't laugh nearly as often without them. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Early Resolution

These three baskets contain my ironing pile.  Ironing is one of the last household chores that I get around to.  I like to iron.  I just put everything else before it.  I guess because it's not as important as most other things, and I can iron as we need something to wear.

I know some people who never iron.  This will never be the case around our house, because just about everything we wear is made of natural fibers such as cotton or linen.

But this large pile spilling out of not one but THREE laundry baskets doesn't make me happy.  My goal in 2009 is to iron one day a week and let that take care of it; maybe Tuesday.  I do the biggest loads of laundry on Monday, so it makes sense that the next day will be ironing day.

Another goal is to get rid of extra baggage in my life so I won't mind spending a few hours leisurely ironing because there's nothing better I could be doing.  I hope this happens next year, but I'm not holding my breath.  I'll have to get much wiser in a hurry to be able to pare down my life that much.   Hey!  Stranger things have happened!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Going Home Again

I got to go home once more this fall the week before Thanksgiving.  I had to drop off Gayle at the Atlanta Airport Monday night to fly out to Oklahoma and help Garrett drive home from Fort Sill.   Since my parents' house is only two hours north, we spent the weekend with them.  It was very leisurely and restful.  

Sunday afternoon, Gayle, Daddy, and I went around to some of the cemeteries where my ancestors are buried.  They are all in North Carolina.  My Daddy's parents' house is on the Tennessee-North Carolina line. My Aunt Flossie lives in the house now.    Both of these photos of headstones are of the Walker family.  My Daddy's Mama was a  Walker before she married.  Laurel used that name for Landing, Walker Landing.  Someone once said that sounded like a subdivision; a nice one though!

We had such a good time listening to Daddy tell stories about our relatives  as we walked between the tombstones.  We found great-great, great, and grandparents,  aunts and uncles, cousins, and neighbors.

Daddy told me about my Great Aunt Vivian who was so reviled that at her funeral, her own son said awful things about her.  Another Great Aunt, Vivian's sister, died of diphtheria when she was only twelve.  Great Grandpa Collins (my Daddy's grandpa) died of complications from an appendectomy with he was in his thirties.  Great Grandma Collins had to raise four boys and two girls by herself.  I don't know how she did it.  Daddy said she sold eggs and other small things to make ends meet.

The other two photos are of my sweet Daddy.  Gosh, I love that man.  I love his humble, gentle spirit.  He was  and is the best daddy ever!  I savor every minute spent in his company.  The photo of him dipping into his "chew" shows a flat stone next to his feet.  My Uncle Hershel Barnes is buried  there.  I feel a special affinity to him even though he died before I was born.  I'm sad that I never got to know him.  I think we would have been kindred spirits.  He used to traipse through the mountains digging up roots and plants for medicine.   I've always been interested in making my own medicine too.  Must be genetic!

Uncle Hershel never married.  He would rotate between relatives staying with one for a few weeks and then going on to another.  My Daddy used to follow him around as a little boy.  He learned how to repair tin pots and rebottom chairs.  He learned how to use yellowroot and lady slipper to cure simple maladies. 

They would go hunting together in the mountains.  Daddy said that they were supposed to meet one day, so Daddy started out walking on the trail to meet him.  He found Uncle Hershel dead on the mountain.  He had died of a heart attack.  I know that was very hard for Daddy especially since he was a young boy. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

January's Pick

Our bookgroup's pick for January isn't Frenchman's Creek.  We decided that our husbands wouldn't much like it.  We had to pick a classic to read.  We're also going to have dinner and a movie with our husbands in attendance.  It's the only month where we invite them to our meeting.  January is always a favorite month because of this tradition.  We serve soups, bread, salad, sandwiches, and desserts.  We've never watched the movie of the book before though.

So, we had to make sure whichever book we picked had a good movie to go along with it.  It was a hard choice, but we picked A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  There's a 2001 Masterpiece Theater version and a 2007 version also.  I'll have to preview them first to see which one is best.  My money is on the Masterpiece Theater one.

I ordered the oldest book from Barnes & Noble that I could find; a 1902 edition.  It was less than $20 including shipping.  Not too bad.

We'll probably pick Frenchman's Creek for our fiction month.  I've probably read it about four times and seen the movie twice.  I LOVE Daphne du Maurier.  I own everything she's ever written.  So much of her writing takes place in Cornwall, England.  That's the next place I want to visit.  You might remember her most famous book, Rebecca.  It's been made into a movie at least twice.  The oldest one stars Sir Lawrence Olivier; eye candy to the max.  Not as good as Clark Gable, of course, but good nonetheless.

Bringing Home the Tree

You'll have to start at the bottom and go up to view these photos in order.  

We went to a tree farm a few miles away and cut a Leyland Cypress tree down.  We got the next to cheapest one for $30.  It still galls me to have to buy a Christmas tree.  

Growing up in Tennessee, every year we would go out into the woods and cut our tree down.  In the first years 
                  of our marriage we did the same thing.  

Then we moved to South Georgia where white pines or cedar trees don't grow like weeds on the side of the road.  Our land is either open fields, pecan trees, or thick woods.  

So we have to go to a store and BUY a tree.  Going to a tree farm is a better choice to me.  At least we get to be involved in the cutting down process, and it's as fresh as it can possibly be.

And here's the real question of the day....does this jacket make me look fat?  Yes it does, so don't answer that question!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Day in the Life

Here's Darcie this morning doing a little encyclopedia research all decked out in her nightgown, unbrushed hair, and my plaid wellies.  Actually this isn't typical of her. She's usually dressed by now.

But since her room has been confiscated by her oldest brother, Garrett, just home from Army training, she has to wait until he's up and about before using her room. 

School must go on though!  I'm glad homeschool gives us the freedom and flexibility to let a weary soldier sleep in when needed.  Actually, he was probably playing video games too late last night and was making up for lost time this morning. Or perhaps he was dreaming of his ladylove, Mallory? 

He's gone to spend some time with her this weekend.  I hope they set the date, and the sooner the better!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bookgroup Friday

Our bookgroup meets in two days.  We have to pick a classic to read for January.  I think I'm going to pick this one; Vanity Fair.  It's a pretty thick book, but with the holidays coming (and no homeschooling) I'll have more time to read.

It's the group's tradition for the January meeting to be a soup and sandwich supper with our husbands.  They're supposed to read the book too.  About half of the husbands read it though.  We still have a good time together visiting.

This year we're gettin' crazy!  We're going to eat together AND watch the movie based on the book.  

Think of how many classic books have been made into movies; most, if not all, of Dickens, Hardy, Forster, Eliot, Bronte, Austen, Dumas, Stevenson, and many more. 

 Some other contenders of mine were: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Middlemarch by George Eliot, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.  I still may change my mind.  What would you pick if you were in our bookgroup?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We're Engaged!

My oldest son, fresh from gunnery school at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, proposed to his beautiful girlfriend, Mallory, over the weekend, and she said yes! 

At first, he was only going to get her ring from her grandpa and maybe propose next weekend.  But once he had the ring in his pocket, he couldn't stand it.  Within the hour he had proposed.

He put the ring in a box of bullets and asked her to hand him one for his gun.  When she opened the box she saw the ring and he popped the question.  Pretty fitting for a hardcore Army guy.

Her ring belonged to her great-grandmother and is quite stunning.  But on Mallory's delicate hand, the ring is just right.  I'd be afraid of losing it myself.  That's why when we got married, I opted for plain gold bands.  Not just any band though.  It's the widest one available.  I wanted people to know we were married!    

So, I'm going to be getting a new daughter!  I'm very excited about our growing family, and she's all I could have asked for...and more.  Way to go Garrett!  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Making Do Instead of Buying New

I'm doing the Make Do & Mend Challenge, so when I decided to get new kitchen curtains, I looked to what I already had.

The last pair I had were red gingham check; very cute.  I moved them to my studio out in the little house where they still look cute though a little faded. 

During the summer, I like to have the kitchen windows bare, but come winter I like to cozy up the house and put up curtains.  This cut up pair in the floor was what I had when we first built the house.  I absolute love this fabric.  It's so 30's-40's looking; the period I was trying to make my kitchen look like. 

I guess I got tired of the curtains, so I cut them up for chair cushions.  They aren't finished yet.  I laid one on the white chair in the photo, but I think it's too small for the chair.  I'll have to add a ruffle or something all around the edges to make it larger.  Oh boy, another project! I'll do those after I finish painting all the chairs white and red; one down and five to go.

I was this......close to looking in Penney's or Country Curtains for new curtains when I remembered that I wanted to take the Make Do & Mend Challenge.  As soon as I can figure out how, I'm going to put a badge on my blog about it.

So I went through my fabric and came across these leftovers and think I have enough to make curtains.  I still have the three original valances to use.  I also have about ten 100% cotton antique sheets I bought at a garage sale for $1 each.  I'll probably cut one up to make panels or tiers for the long window over there on the other side of the highchair and trim it in some of the rose fabric.  I'll let you know how they turn out.  And don't hyperventilate about the antique sheet.  I'll cut up one that already has holes in it.  That probably means the "new" curtains won't last too long, but that's okay.  By that time I will have turned them into pillowcases or something else!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Hour, This Day

I'm sitting at the dining room table making a yarn ball out of some yellow tangled yarn.  I'm the only one at home this morning.  I have no music playing, but there are plenty of sights and sounds around me.  I can hear the quiet dull thud of the jars of grape juice in their hot water bath, I see the lovely patterns made by the sun as it shines through the front door and parlour windows, I hear the crackle of the fire burning in the wood stove, and I can see my wellies waiting to be slipped on before hanging out the laundry; even though it's only forty-something degrees outside.

Who needs music when I can hear the many soothing sounds of home?  Not me!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Stove

Susan, this post is for you.  You were wondering about my stove.  Well, like everything else in our house, it has a story.  

I knew I wanted an old style stove for my new, old house when we built eighteen years ago.  I thought about a wood burning type stove, but the reproductions were so expensive.

I found a new stove that cost $1500 just like the old one I eventually bought, and it was a piece of junk.  The bottom drawer wouldn't even pull out right.  It was very light weight too.

I found this one in a used appliance store for $150.  It was owned by a little old lady who only cooked oatmeal on Sundays.  Not really. I love it and have had to have very little work done on it.  The door on the left is a deep drawer.  I had wanted two ovens but figured I'd better go ahead and snatch it up.  Who knows when I'd find another one at that or any price.

See the towel handing on the door handle?  That and another one was sent to me by my good friend Katy.  She hand-embroidered both of them.  I love them, Katy!  Thanks so much.

See the tiny checkerboard area next to the floor where your foot hits?  That area is called something.  I just can't remember what it is.  Anyway, I stenciled that checkerboard around the base of my cabinets.  I could only do about three feet at a time before all the blood rushed to my head!  The only way I could paint it was upside down.

The little copper teapot on the stovetop was bought for me by my husband for our third wedding anniversary in San Francisco.  It has a blue delft handle and lid knob.  The grease container was one my Mama had when she first started keeping house in the fifties.  It didn't have a knob on top, so she cut off a small section of corncob, stuck a screw through it, and bolted it to the top of the thing.  It's now been on there for several years and is holding up fine.

So there you have it; the story of my second hand stove.  Someday I hope to write a book about building this house.  There are so many stories to tell. 

 One of my favorites is when the children used my clawfoot tub for a pirate ship.  It, along with many other bathroom fixtures, was sitting in the backyard at our other house waiting to be put into the new one.  They filled it up with water, climbed into large plastic buckets, and sailed away for parts unknown.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Garden Addition?

The photo on the left is my herb garden where I hope to do the wine bottle project.  Details below.                                                                                                                                                           

This is a garden at the manor house where we stayed in Williamsburg; Powhatan Plantation.  The gardener had outlined this herb garden in upside-down wine bottles.  

I thought that was such a clever idea, and one I could do in my herb garden.  So I'll start saving my bottles and should have enough by Christmas.  Kidding!  I'll put the word out and have all my kith and kin collecting too.  Except that most of my family are teetotalers, so I'll have to ask my kith!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Lure of the Garden

My garden all is overblown with roses,
My spirit all is overblown with rhyme,
As like a drunken honeybee I waver
From house to garden and again to house
And, undetermined which delight to favour
On verse and rose alternately carouse.
                         Vita Sackville-West-a sonnet

I really understand her feeling about wanting to be outside, and as soon as she is, she wants to be back inside.  There's so much to do and delight in, it's hard to pick sometimes!

Here's another poem fragment from The Land by Sackville-West:  
'She walks among the loveliness she made,
Between the apple blossom and the water-
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son and every tree her daughter.'