Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tea in Aspen? What to wear? Oleana, of course!

Oleana Ensemble #1

Firelight's Choice
Oleana Ensemble #2 - I love the touch of lace and the headband with taffeta!

This number is mine! I will be wearing this to
Mr. Toast's First Annual Christmas Tea
(click on link in my siderbar)
on Tuesday December 1st!
The fact that I have lived in Alabama all of my life does not change that I absolutely love winter and winter clothes! Maybe it is because I was born on a frosty morn in January. So with this opportunity to visit Aspen, Colorado, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear!
I have always admired the gorgeous Oleana of Norway outfits which feature beautifully designed sweaters, wristlets, headbands, ruffled taffeta collars, and taffeta skirts.
If you are interested in learning more, click on the title of this post!
Ladies, for those of you who have not had time to shop, just tell me which of the following ensembles you would like, and I will put your name under the photo! Now which one are you wearing to tea? I don't mind if some of you choose the same one, or if someone wants to wear the one I have chosen! The more, the merrier ....and more glamorous! Trust me, I had a hard time deciding, but the tiny ruffle of lace around the neck of this sweater won me over. The skirts are long tea length. They look beautiful with suede or velvet slippers or even dressy boots.
Also, as you can see, they make the wearer look so very young and beautiful--just an added little bit of Norwegian Magic! I really would love to have a winter closet full of these clothes!

Oleana Ensemble #3

Oleana Ensemble #4

Oleana Ensemble #5

Oleana Ensemble #6

Thank you, Mr. Toast, for hosting this much anticipated flight of fancy! I am in much need of it and know it will become a fabulous tradition!
It is indeed, my cup of tea!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Simple Gifts

Golden Autumn watercolor


'Tis the gift to be simple
'tis the gift to be free
'tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight

I have long admired the softness and simplicity of the art
of P. Buckley Moss of Virginia (my header is her Colonial Church),
and this beautiful and inspiring hymn written by Quaker Elder Joseph in 1848.
May you enjoy the beauty and grace and love of your simple gifts on this day.
Peace be with you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"I once was lost..."

Matthew Ryan Bedford
November 6, 1975 - November 18, 2009

"Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come,
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home."

We each may have known that ominous ringing of a telephone--too early in the still darkness of a morning --the modern version of the knelling of a village's chapel bell--that stirs the heart with dread. Thursday morning, my niece so devastated she could barely talk, delivered the news of the death of her youngest brother, Matthew. Could it be any worse? Circumstances added extra agony to this story. After rehab and many weeks of being drug free, with the help and constant support of his devoted mother (my sister), his darling wife, and the joyous presence of their two year-old daughter, Matt faltered; it was a fatal lapse. After a frantic afternoon stretching into late night and a missing person's report, Matt was found slumped over in his car, dead from a drug overdose.

At his funeral yesterday, Father Wells led a Holy Conversation rather than delivering a sermon as part of the Burial of the Dead Rite I from the Book of Common Prayer. He stated that this sort of tragedy calls on each of us not to judge Matthew, but rather to understand that addiction is a terminal illness. It affects everyone, not just the user. It can be rigorously managed, but it is never cured. He reminded us too, that we must focus on the bright day represented by the banner (in the photo) which is draped over his coffin and know that he is now at peace, never to suffer the scourge of addiction again. He then invited anyone present to share a story or just thoughts on the life of Matthew. Many people spoke and told precious stories and made heartfelt comments. His wife stood, looked at the entire gathering and told us how he was a good, kind, and generous man who loved everyone present just as she knew we loved him. It was one the bravest acts I have witnessed in a long time.

After the service ended, Matthew's nephew, Zachary age 18, sang his very soulful and tender rendition of "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan. With that, we each made our first steps toward healing our many broken hearts.

'I borrow from Emily Dickinson when I say, it is the 'Hour of lead.'
However, it is this poem that best expresses the past few days spent with my family.

The bustle in the house

The morning after death

Is the solemnest of industries

Enacted upon earth, -

The sweeping up the heart,

And putting love away

We shall not use again

Until eternity.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall Fading Fast

Every year I promise myself that I will go the courtyard outside my window where I keep up with nature all through the school year and take some proper photos of a glorious Japanese maple. The autumn comes and races past me with school work, football games, and getting ready for holidays. (It is my Secret Pal at school bringing cherished gifts as it changes with the seasons.) I had an "Aha!" moment when I remembered one evening at dusk that my phone might do the trick!
So here is a close up of the tree's autumn adornments which brighten my view each day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gentle Heroes

Armistice Day
The Eleventh Hour, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Month
Then ...the Captain March 1970
with his Miracle Tail Rotor Blades
which returned his crew and those they rescued
to safety .
To all Vietnam Veterans,
welcome home!
Thanks to my son...
Operation Enduring Freedom
& Iraqi Freedom
We are so blessed that you will be here this Christmas!

Thank you Colonel,
for your service and your heroism!
Yes, these and a few dollars these days will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks!
(That's all he ever said about them for years....but I know better.)
Hardest earned ...
43 Air Medals
Bronze Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
(click on photo to enlarge)
Happy Veterans Day
and a heartfelt thanks to all of our men & women
who have served and sacrificed



John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Canadian John McCrae was not satisfied with this poem, and tossed it aside. A fellow officer saved it, sent it to several publications. It became the most famous poem of World War I. Even so, it has that powerful quality to transcend its time and place. The message is always the same: a soldier survives and tells the story of those who did not. How can we possibly understand the depth of feeling -- the grief -- and yes the guilt many veterans continue to bear all because they survived? Yes, there is glory, but many veterans say it pales and is hollow when they remember the "gentle heroes" who never returned.

When my husband returned from Vietnam, among his personal treasures was a manila folder of several poems composed and typed by his co-pilot, Michael. I read them over and over...and so did many people over the years. Michael died on the very day my husband was returning to the Central Highlands from his R&R in Hawaii. Michael had gone out on a rescue mission, and his helicopter took enemy fire and exploded in flames. No bodies were recovered, and he remained on MIA status for many long years. One poem, written only two months before he died, poignantly echoes the call to remember...

If you are able,
Save for them
A place inside of you
For the places
They can no longer go...
Be not ashamed
To say you loved them
Though you may or
May not have always
Take what they have left
And what they have taught you
With their dying
And keep it with your own...
And in that time
When men decide and feel safe
To call the war insane,
Take one moment
To embrace those gentle heroes
You left behind.

by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
January 1, 1970

(Click on the Title Line of this post to visit the
In Flanders Fields Museum)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Horsing Around

"In riding a horse, we borrow freedom."
Helen Thomson

"Show me your horse and I will telll you what you are."
Old English saying

"The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears."
Arabian Proverb

Nothing like the crisp autumn air to start me dreaming of horses. My friend and fellow English teacher Phillip has spent a good deal of time working on a farm where the owners have Fresians.
He once told me I would probably love them as they are the cocker spaniels of the horse world. I took that to mean they had a rather high adorability factor. Judging from the photos (portrait above & header) I've scavenged from the net, I would have to agree with Phillip.

There is a dear little book that I discovered just a few years ago, a book I should have read a long time ago. SILVER SNAFFLES is the story of a little girl named Jenny who visits a farmer's pony because she does not have one of her own. One evening as she is feeding him, Tattles begins to speak. She must go to the dark corner he says...she does....and it's the gateway to a farm where all the ponies speak to their riders and teach them all the secrets of riding and caring for ponies! My pony Jiggs was just a big pet to me. (I was a teenager before I learned that horseback riding could be such a formal sport!) He was a sturdy Welsh pony. In the winter he had a heavy, wavy coat that I loved to curry. He had a Western saddle and bridle, but I hardly ever used them. I would just grab his mane and pull up. Needless to say he was a gentle soul and patient one too. He was clever though, and stubborn. He always took me straight back to his barn and his feed box. He was good at convincing me and other members of the family that "No, one has fed me this morning....or evening."
If you are interested in the book for yourself or a child who loves horses, look on eBay and ABE Books. Published in 1937 and reprinted into the 40's by Blackie & Son, Ltd., it is quite sought after. I just happened to find one online from a bookstore in Glasgow, Scotland. The author is Primrose Cumming and the charming charcoal pencil illustrations are by Stanley Lloyd. Click on the book cover in the sidebar for more information on Silver Snaffles!

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