Sunday, July 19, 2009

Just Hanging Around the Cottage...

(I finally manged a focused non-flash version of this,
but I had to put it on the front door!)

Perhaps some you have wondered where I have been...well, I have been right here at home. As many teachers do, I keep a running list of projects I will get to during the summer. Without going into all the boring details, one of the biggest projects was emptying two closets which needed painting. These two caverns had many hidden treasures and yes...much trash. One was in our bedroom upstairs, so we moved to the downstairs guestroom. I must say it has been pleasantly like staying somewhere else! If not for the long, tedious tasks of sorting through "stuff"-- I might have been on a vacation. One of my lighter chores has been to carefully clean all glass and frames of pictures, dusting and vacuuming all books and shelves, and keeping my small flower pot garden going. I cannot really say it has been all work. I enjoy the leisure of taking care of my dogs or enjoying my doll collection (rearranging, changing, and sewing new clothes for them). Blame that on my parents. They bought me a set of encyclopedias when I was five. Looking over the old set, I noticed that I have nearly worn out Volume D: dogs, dolls, Dickens, Dickinson, etc. I loved my World Books. Since I have been just hanging around in the house, here are a few images for you to see where I retreat indoors from the heat and humidity of July.

This is one of twelve folk images - blurred- for the year by Nancy Thomas.
The entire set is displayed on the dining room hutch, but I put the current month on the guestroom door.

Here is my favorite old volume. I was the youngest of four children, often left behind each year when school began. I lived in a rural area. I was outdoors a great deal, but loved to curl up with books whenever the weather kept me indoors.

I have always loved dolls --- baby dolls or dolls that look like children. This beauty is an Italian felt Lenci from the 1930's which I had to pass up on eBay! My sister Sue once led us right up to Santa at Loveman's department store in Birmingham and announced, " I want a cowboy outfit, guns and holster, and NO doll. Get my baby sister a cowgirl outfit and a baby doll. "

I wore my cowgirl outfit. Sue wore her guns, and I carried the baby doll when we got on the pony!

I used this page to identify our beloved dog, Ruzzy. He looked most like a Great Pyrenees with thick white fur with pale rusty splashes. He was a stray who wandered into our yard. I wanted to name him Fuzzy, but Sue wanted to name him Rusty. We compromised. He was not as GREAT in size as a Pyrenees, but he was GREAT in heart and spirit. I used to tell my dad that one day I was going to have a Bobtail---Old English Sheepdog. He told me about seeing them when he was in England. When my husband returned from Vietnam, he got us one for a first anniversary gift: Beau is featured in the side bar pictures.

I have to say, we like posters as art. This is one I found in the Bodleian Library in Oxford during the summer of 1989. Sadly, the exhibit of children's literature had been in 1987, but there was enough in brochures to help me understand the significance of the Opie Collection and its role in preserving and promoting children's books. I was able to explore and read in the library. As a member of a seminar, I was issued a library card, but I had to take an oath first! (More on that in an upcoming post!)

Speaking of children, here is one of my German girls, Gerda. She is made by Zwergnase and designed by Nicole Marschollek -Menzer. You really must click on the photo to enlarge this one to see her darling freckles!

Here is a Madame Alexander Margaret (face sculpt designed after Margaret O"Brien and used as Princess Margaret as well). I bought her on eBay from someone in England. She did not have her original Princess Margaret dress, so I found a pattern on eBay....and well -- she looks ready for school!

Here's our getaway from Upstairs....Downstairs. Another little German girl named Ada keeps the pillow fluffed. The large poster is an original 1930's travel poster for London & North Eastern Railway of England & Scotland featuring Lincoln Cathedral. The artist is Schabelsky (?) I need to check this. The name is in script and hard to read.

Joan of Arc keeps watch over us in the dining room. This is a WWI American campaign poster encouraging the women of America to save their country just a Saint Joan saved France. It only required buying War Savings Stamps from the United States Treasury! The artist is Haskell Coffin.

One small project: Find the RIGHT frame for the portrait of an acorn by Country Girl. This is the most charming photograph. It came as one of the "get one free" extras when she had a sale last spring. Some of you may remember when Sesame Street had a parody of This is Your Life. It featured a Big Oak Tree. Of course, his baby picture was a little acorn in a baby bonnet. I loved watching that show with my children!

Ironically, the flowers which are thriving in the heat are named Diamond Frost (euphorbia). Click to enlarge so you can see the delicate blooms. Feed the plants!

Feed the birds. Pick up the dog toys. Feed the dogs.
Ahhh, the dogs, denizens of our kitchen!

Hanging in the kitchen.....Wind the clock. Clean its glass. Dust the clock. Set the clock. Start the clock. It is midmorning...when all good dogs should be napping.

This is a small reproduction of a 1930's travel poster by Paul Henry which hangs in the kitchen near the back door...where all good dogs exit for their morning walk....

More Windex, to clean a poster for Alice in Wonderland at the Auburn University Little Theatre performed sometime in the sixties before I came. This is just one of my mementos from my years and many hours in the costume shop at AU and as costume mistress for several plays.

Here is Lucy, dreaming of chasing a chipmunk. She is the Princess of the Pups and holds court from her chair

She turns to recognize her audience.

Litter mate/sister Paddy suggests she come down
and allow someone else a look out the window.

Gracie could care less, as long as she is close to Mom.

These two are philosophical about the whole "Lucy in the Chair with Diamonds" attitude. Let her have the chair! Give me a Milk Bone, Mom!

Back to napping!

It's summer time and the living is .....
easy. Turn up the AC.

I am back and have lots of ideas I have been saving up for all of you!

Kindest regards to all!

Friday, July 3, 2009

When in the course of human events...

John Adams
by Gilbert Stuart

by John Trumbull
(That's John Adams in the center of the painting,
which is exactly where he should be!
Click on image to enlarge)

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Thus concludes our Declaration, and begins our American story. Want to know the details of how it was written? Revised? If you missed the HBO series JOHN ADAMS last year, find it and get ready for American history to come to life before you. If videos are not your cup of tea, then read the book on which it is based, David McCullough's JOHN ADAMS. McCullough makes clear the fact that when our founding fathers made that final pledge, it was not just a manner of speaking: "What was the source of their courage? Who were those people? I don't think think we can ever know enough about them." One of his primary sources for this book were the letters exchanged between Abigail and John Adams. What a life these two shared! And, what a life they helped shape for generations to follow.

"The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people."

John Adams

Have a glorious 4th of July!

Pray for peace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Four hundred years from now...

Photo used by permission of Virginia Jones of

National Public Radio is conducting a survey in honor of the 4ooth anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's sonnets. What lines from a love poem ...or song...or lines from fiction ...or even a film... do you believe will endure for the next four hundred years? They call this their "Summer of Love Survey." You can go to to offer your choice.
I once read that James Joyce's wife said to him, "Why don't you write something that people can read?" I guess she was not too fond of his distinctive stream of consciousness style in Finnegan's Wake and Ulysses
I hope she did get around to reading the short stories in The Dubliners.
"The Dead" is a bittersweet reflection on first love juxtaposed with the current disillusionment of a marriage which leads to a great epihany for the main character, Gabriel. These last two pragraphs of the story represent one of the most beautiful examples of modern prose written in English.

from THE DUBLINERS by James Joyce

Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a gray, impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Let me know if what passage or poem or song, etc you might submit for the ages.

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat