Friday, December 31, 2010

Live, Love, Laugh...

No one does it better than Nancy, my niece--as well as the little sister & daughter
I never had-- and dear friend!
Here she is in Asheville, NC on Christmas Day!
May your New Year be filled with health, happiness,
wisdom, and wonder!

Monday, December 20, 2010

All I Want for Christmas...

.

..is a good old fashioned department store and the Santa Claus to go with it. There is nothing like Christmas to send us back in time. More and more, I long for the excitement of the annual drive to downtown Birmingham, Alabama. My mother would make sure that my two older sisters and I were warmly dressed for the great ooohhhh and aaaah stroll outside Loveman's and Pizitz's enchanted windows. What we beheld were the most detailed interiors with busy kitchens, Christmas trees, dining tables all populated with moving figures dressed in intiricately designed Victorian costumes. Then there were exteriors of villages with horses and carriages or early automobiles and trains. Some years there were ballet dancers and nutcrackers. I wish I could find a book about these displays. Hum....Google start your engines!My last trip there was probably in the mid seventies when my older son was about four years old. The malls were on the prowl all over the surrounding suburbs, gobbling up one great tradition after another. The mall versions were never like the downtown namesakes. They never had the charm and personality, never had the Christmas windows, toy departments, or Santa Clauses. Once those flagships sank, a very special Christmas magic disappeared from the Magic City. Fortunately, my mother was one to embrace the experience which has been so endearingly celebrated in the classic film A CHRISTMAS STORY, and I have these pictures to spark some wondrous winter memories.Sisters Sue (left) & Anita (top)
and Marnie on Santa's lap.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Heisman Touch

Behold, the 1899 Auburn University football squad. This portrait was taken on the steps of Samford Hall when the school was known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API). Zoom in on the football and you can see the date inscribed there. (Click once and then again on the photo to enlarge.) Study the face, third row in the top left corner. He has the mustache:
You are looking at Coach John W. Heisman, and I must say we are feeling his legacy here in Auburn. I just wanted to say, " Good luck, Cameron Newton in the quest to become
Auburn's FOURTH Heisman! "
Coach John Heisman 1895-99
Pat Sullivan 1971
Bo Jackson 1985
UPDATE: December 12, 21010
Cameron Newton 2010
YES we Cam!!!
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Click here for more Sepia Saturday Posts! These are always fascinating!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finally, a Club I Can Believe In!

This club was featured this morning on CBS Sunday Morning (click on title to view).
I thought I was the only person who had constant corduroy cravings! I guess you could say it is the Southerner's cashmere! Yes, we have and wear wools, but heavy cottons have always been favored. Among the many corduroy garments in my closet are skirts, dresses, jumpers, pants, shirts, but my current favorite is a red L. L. Bean barn coat. The corduroy is embellished with tiny embroidered pheasants: Very much in keeping with the fall weather. For the holidays, I have a few fancy and richly colored dresses made of beautiful paisley printed corduroy. The fabric is getting harder and harder to find. The last dress-worthy bolt I came across was a Liberty of London print on black. That was nearly two years ago.
Who else out there loves corduroy?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pumpkin!


Cuyler
Kindergarten

Cuyler
Pre-school

Cuyler
2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just Ask Jeeves...

Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster & Stephen Fry as Jeeves

Post Card with Detail of Samford Hall at Auburn University


...if you want to know a little bit about the Auburn Spirit. This is an excerpt from the film documentary Stephen Fry in America. Of course, this event was a couple of years ago before Cameron Newton came to the Loveliest Village of the Plains.
"I say, Jeeves, do you know anything about a Number One ranking? "




Sunday, October 17, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

1914 Poster

My Postcard from Oxford
(click on image to enlarge)

Some people just have perfect timing. This is the postcard I received on Friday, my first day of a four day, long weekend/ fall break. I have been immersed in school, not on Blogger (with the exception of one magical evening at THE Ball) and certainly not writing to the people who should be hearing from me. Quite naturally, of course, this card was from my dear friend Anne of Cumnor Hill, Oxford! I had just the day before swore I would call or write to her. My how the time flies while re-reading elegies, Beowulf, ballads, and Chaucer! Then--there is the teaching and grading papers and posting grades! Whew! Next it will be time for my favorite: Good old gory Macbeth and his even more blood thirsty Lady! (My son was showing me some Shakespeare Flair on Facebook, and one badge featured a new product line: Lady Macbeth Hand Soap! Gotta have it!) The card above is 5x7 and quite detailed! I have scanned it in and will be using it as a desk top at school! ~~~~Believe it or not, I used to teach a version of the play to my seventh graders when I worked at a junior high school! I had developed what you might call an enrichment unit to introduce Shakespeare at an early age. I used a story form of the plays artfully composed by Leon Garfield. I actually had his book Shakespeare Stories featuring about eight or so of the Bard's best told in unique narrative form and embroidered with just the right quotes from the plays, but I had not used MACBETH. These stories were just perfect for the young adolescent audience I taught. I had just returned to my classroom from a spring break trip to Scotland with three of my favorite seventh grade girls, (no wonder I refer to it as my Miss Jeane Brodie tour), to find our favorite read of the time--a set of the latest classroom literary magazines--waiting on my desk.

Now dear readers, get this: The four of us had--just days before --toured Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. We were doing our very best to be attentive and listen to the thick Scottish accent of our tour guide in the ballroom lined with portraits when our eyes fixed on a most sinister portrait. A close examination of the descriptive plaque under the painting revealed to us MACBETH! Suddenly he was very real. His gaze was piercing. Until that moment, I was not even certain he had been an actual person, nor had I ever taught the play. (My first 22 years of teaching were all at the junior high level with mostly seventh graders.) I must have thought he was one of Shakespeare's inventions. I consulted my Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare in which he gives detailed historical background on each of the plays. I learned that King Macbeth (reign 1040-1057) was indeed a very real feudal king, and that Shakepeare had written the play after Queen Elizabeth's death to appeal to his new patron, King James of Scotland who was very interested in witchcraft! So imagine my great surprise when the feature article of our Scope Magazine was Leon Garfield's MACBETH!! (Play the spooky music!)

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So that is how it began for me, and even with my high school seniors, after we read and discuss and study the play, I always like to share and/or revisit
Ray Bradbury's story Something Wicked This Way Comes. The novel is admittedly deeper and darker than the film which was released in 1983, but the the Disney studios made a masterful interpretation of Bradbury's tale of an aging father (Jason Robards) and his young son coming to terms with their fears, all stirred up in a bubbling cualdron of emotions by Mr. Dark. (Jonathan Pryce). The story is told from the point of view of the son, and focuses on the autumn of his twelfth year when a most unusual carnival comes to town. And, I must say, this is not your typical Disney tale, but it is a classic at our house. (I believe Bradbury wrote the screenplay.) If you have never seen it, you are in for a real Halloween treat!


"By the pricking of my thumbs...
Something wicked this way comes..."
from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1

Thursday, September 30, 2010

HOT Couture! Thank You, House of Elliot!

The House of Elliot: Beatrice & Evie
Hotter than an Alabama Summer!


If anyone really wants to know what happened in Episode 4 (some devoted fans swear there is one) of The House of Elliot, here's the scoop: The two Elliot sisters, Evie and Beatrice made their way to to the Southeast and set up an exclusive but small design shop in East Alabama....and we Steel Magnolias are keeping them busy.

After watching all three seasons last summer, I knew these two could create the finest interpretation of Madame X's gown, and here it is!
I posed for a local photographer right there in their offices. With my hair up, my super cyber diet and hours at the spa and the vigorous laps in the swimming pool, I have managed to achieve a most glamorous look, if I do say so myself. The Colonel asked me if I would be wearing this to have some fried catfish at his favorite diner, Jim Bob's....and well... I had to tell him that Coop was waiting outside in his Duesenberg! He smiled and said, "Go have fun....college games on TV tonight. See you when you get back....but I want to take the Duesenberg to Jim Bob's Friday night. OK?"
You got it, Lover!

Here is a layout so you can compare their work--my gorgeous gown
for tonight--to the Singer portrait.


And thank you Gaston Studios for your suggestion that I could leave off the pearl choker!
I don't want anything to inhibit me on the dance floor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ball Gown in Black, Please!

Don't ask me why, but I for some reason I had decided that I really should wear black this year. I suppose it could have something to do with the visual effect of taking away the pounds. I like a sleeve most of the time, but the ones on this gown were just so plain......

so.......I finally decided on no sleeves at all! I have taken this image of John Singer Sargent's Madame X (Portrait of Madame Gautreau, 1884 oil on canvas, Tate Gallery, London) to my dress maker ! She is a marvel at forgery when it comes to needle and thread and taffeta! I have been in for several fittings, and I am collecting the dress this evening!
Now, where is my pearl choker???

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's A Duesey



Some women may want to know what they are going to wear to
a fancy ball before they think about how they will get there. I have long been enamoured with elegant automobiles, and today came across these newspaper clippings. Now -- yes, I have been talking to my dressmaker about a certain evening gown I have always admired, but first I had to know how I was going to get to Willow Manor. I called up an old flame --you know 1-800-AFTALIF 0r 1-800-GR8BYON --and asked if he still had his Duesey--said I needed a ride to the most fabulous social event this side of the Mississippi. Actually, I was just going to borrow his car and go alone. He seemed very curious. I added a little extra intrigue and said that I had heard George Sanders was going to be the guest of honor. I whined about how I had to drive my own car last year, because my date was just a sweet little ole country lawyer from Maycomb. He gasped, and asked was this same ball where the likes of Al Pacino, Rudolph Nureyev, and Miss Piggy had been seen on the dance floor and meeting behind the palms ? He began to gush:


" You have an invitation to the Willow Manor Ball? Really? I heard Gregory Peck and some others just raving about that last October. Well, I am pretty sure I can get to your house by mid week if I start out in the morning. I may have to retrieve the Duesenberg from a museum, but I will be by to pick you up, and then we will head north to the ball! It's pretty quiet up Here on the great movie set in the sky. I am ready for something a little more Down to Earth, if you know what I mean!"


So, ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the ball? Click above on Willow Manor Ball or the link in my sidebar. As for me, looks as if I have a great ride, my gown is in the making, and my escort is not too bad either...just lucky I guess!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sepia Saturday: From a Favorite Book

Back in June when I was on the coast enjoying the beach, I found this book at Sun Dog Books in Seaside, FL. I did not purchase it that day, and when I went back for it, I could not find the one copy. In July when I was in Monroeville, AL and browsing the cozy little shelves of Beehive Coffee & Books and chatting with Mary Badham (aka Scout), I found a single volume again! This time, I made it mine! I had remembered it only as a picture book, but in her introduction Victoria Randall shares a brief history of photography. Beginning with the daguerreotype, named for Frenchman Louis Daguerre, to tintype, to ambrotype, calotype, cyanotype, (all TYPES new to me), and collodian, up to George Eastman's introduction of the first film camera. With this, came the traveling portrait photographer, and most specifically featured in this book: The Pony Man. Throughout America were photographers going from town to town with an outfitted pony and a suitcase full of riding costumes. In her modest (120 pages)
treasury of nearly a hundred charming photos spanning from the 1880's to the 1960's, Randall includes many personal details and inscriptions for each image. Here are just a few captured by my camera. If you love sepia photographs and children and ponies,
you should give yourself this book.

CIRCA 1939
Doesn't she remind you of Bonnie Butler in GONE WITH THE WIND?


CIRCA 1918


CIRCA 1918
(click on pictures of the book to enlarge)

CIRCA 1971 Near Fort Rucker, AL

Our first born, Cameron, is seen riding his made in England Mobo walking pony.
I think this is the last one of these sold from Pizitz's in downtown Birmingham.
My Tennessee cousins had owned one, and I had longed for a Mobo to show up under my Christmas tree when I was a pre-schooler. Years later, I was astonished to find him in the toy department and sent word immediately to Santa. He reserved the toy before Cameron was born. Happily for his first Christmas, it became his first and only pony. Alas, there were no traveling pony photographers by this time. This is an old Polaroid I took, with a newly added sepia effect.

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When it's midnight in the meadow and cats are in the shed,
And the river tells a story at the window by my bed,
If you listen very closely, be as quiet as you can,
In the yard you'll hear him,
It is the pony man.



Opening lines of the "The Pony Man" by Gordon Lightfoot
For other Sepia Saturday Posts, click HERE!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Summer Vacation? Maybe next year...

Once upon a time, when Michael (Where is he?) was maybe NOT Shouting at Street Lights , he was kind enough to tell me about a magical sounding place for horse lovers. It may have been when I posted a photo of a real sweetheart, Chloe, a mare I had visited at the AU vet school, or perhaps when I had done one of my many
"Boy-do-I-love-horses-and-wish-I-had-one-now-and-forever!" kind of posts.
Anyway, he sent me a link to a place in Northern England that I frequently visit online. After I have read all about the different "rides" that Cumbria Heavy Horses has to offer, then I invariably float off into a Walter Mitty styled daydream of not just going there for a summer vacation...but actually going there to live part of the year. For a little while, I ask myself...."Dang, Miss Marnie, have you lost your mind?" Realizing that over the years, I have listened to fans of Fantasy Football, Fantasy Baseball, Quarter Horse Trail Riders, Harley Riders, and Appalachian Trail Hikers, go on an on about their passions, I must say this place does not seem so far fetched.

Okay, call me romantic, but there are two things high on my Bucket List: Ride a horse on a an English beach in the winter and go on a sleigh ride.....yes.....in a one horse, opened sleigh.
I am sure these winter fantasies can be attributed to far too many viewings of
THE LION IN WINTER and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO! I too am of the Woolly Socks school of thought made so totally endearing and fashionable by Willow of Willow Manor fame!

So pop over to my Fantasy Horse Farm where I borrowed these images to lure you there!

Let me know if you want to join in .....when I win the lottery and buy this place!


And yes, I will have to have plenty of sheep too!

PS Don't forget to explore all of the warm and welcoming places you can stay
at the end of long day of riding on the fells !
Oh Lord!! Someone stop me before I create another link!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On a Mission from God...

No, it's not one of the Blues Brothers, but Father Wells Warren, just back from South Africa. He went there to do a wedding. He was away for two weeks, returned Friday, and had another wedding yesterday. I believe he is going for a record! An Episcopal priest who can recite Shakespeare's sonnets with such perfect timing and grace that they seem to be part of the Prayer Book's wedding sacrament is bound to be in high demand!
While I should have been at St. Dunstan's this evening at six, I was learning how to use all of the online resources, webinars, and interactive programs for students that is just one more task in getting acquainted with my school's newly adopted literature books. Of course, I had to register: create yet another USER NAME and password for each of my two books! There are some positive aspects, yet it is just one more way to make sure we teachers are never idle!! Just when I was ready to throw the laptop off the table, thinking all I had wanted to do today was make a new post on my blog, and end the day with some inspiration and solace at my church, I thought...at least check Facebook--check on your nieces and far away friends....and Father Wells.
And so I found that it is true for other professions: We are all living our lives with the internet ...and tonight... I have to say for the better. Let's hear it for Father Wells who has begun posting his sermons online. This one is well worth your time...and I am especially grateful that I had a chance to read it. Now I can go to school tomorrow - clean and bright in spirit - polished by these words (click to read tonight's sermon).

What is your mission this week?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

SOUTHERN LIVING....eat your heart out!

After visiting nearly every flooring showroom in Lee County, hauling home sample after sample, being in love with the travertine castle floor look, wide plank antique hickory, or just the same oak floor as the rest of my home, I finally made a choice. And yes, I am happy to report I DID get one "Our Old House" project underway and completed this summer. I finally settled on a very practical product and Home Fashion Center of Opelika (the town where Hoke missed the turn in Driving Miss Daisy) took care of the rest of the work! Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce our new kitchen floor!
Here's the view from the dining room.

The new one is in the same color family as the older floor we had for over twenty three years, but it is several shades lighter and seems to really draw in the mid-afternoon sun beautifully. The whole room seems to take on that Faulkner "Light in August" quality...a soft and sunny brilliance. Of course, much credit and many thanks go to my good friend, neighbor, and interior painter extraordinaire: Bob of Bob's Bread fame. Not only does he paint trim work and plaster walls to perfection, but the man can bake the most wonderous sour dough bread you have ever tasted. We can't wait until our Christmas loaf arrives!

Here's a certain slant of light.

Gracie wanders in for a major stretch! She loves to lie on the cool floor
and sometimes even the air vent, but she would not be still for a picture!

This is the view from the garage entrance!
Yes, this is going make a nice welcome home for the Graystone gang!
Cup of tea, anyone?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Arabian Tails & Breakfast Cereal

A few posts back, I shared some photos of my trip to Tennessee. We were there to attend a wedding. Adding to the delight of this event, we stayed in a restored cabin, and visited with several beloved cousins, one of whom raises and pampers Arabians in her spare time.

My trip to Pulaski would not be complete without a stop along Sorgham Hollow Road to say hello to my cousin Melody and her horses. This is the landscape of my childhood summers now made even more beautiful by the antics of this frolicking family swishing their tails, prancing, and playing to the camera!

These decided to keep busy searching for sweet grasses...

while this sweetheart came to say hello.

Then everyone wanted to be at the same place at once!

"This is my good side...take the picture, ok?"

As is often the case, today I set out to do a bit of reading on this ancient breed and stumbled onto a fascinating connection between the Arabian horse and Kellogg cereal! In the early 1920's W. K. Kellogg established a horse farm in Pamona, California as a retreat for himself and his family from Michigan and as a place to raise Arabian horses. He would go on to make it a gift to the state of California and to establish a library at Cal Poly in Pamona devoted to the Arabian horse. Click here to explore this story. I highly recommend the 1995 Founder's Day Highlights video and the 1932 audio featuring Will Rogers as master of ceremonies for the presentation of this historic property to the state!

If you just want to read up on the breed click here! For the WikiPedia scoop, click here!

To visit the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library click here!

And by the way, Melody told me she may be planning to sell some of these darlings!
Now that is just about as commercial as I will ever get in the blogosphere!
Speaking of commercial, which Kellogg cereal is/was your favorite?
I am a Kellogg Rice Krispies kind of kid! Snap, Crackle, Pop....
with strawberries & blueberries & cold, cold, milk in the summer time!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sepia Saturday: The Boomers

This photograph was taken in a small studio or booth at the Alabama State Fair in Birmingham, October 1951. That is my sister Carol Sue on the left with her pale strawberry blond hair, adorable freckles, and of course, her cowboy hat. Yep, you got it, I am the baby sister. This is the only baby picture I have ever seen of myself. We had an older brother and sister, born before WWII. I believe my mother must have had her hands full. At this time, my father was on active duty for the Korean War and was stationed at Mountain Home, Idaho. All five of us had just returned from the first train trip across the country and back to visit him. God bless her; my mom still had enough energy to take us all to the fair! Amazing!
For more Sepia Saturday participants, click HERE!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monroeville & Mockingbird Magic

This is just one of the many Mockingbird houses on the Mockingbird Historic Trail in Monroeville, Alabama. The house was designed by an engineer and painted by a local artist.
This one is just outside the door of the Monroe County Courthouse.

View from the balcony where Jem & Scout watched as Atticus defended Tom Robinson. (The movie set was designed to be identical to this room.)

Niece Nancy and actress Mary Badham - "Scout " -- get acquainted in the Heritage Museum gift shop. Mary was in town for the four day celebration along with hundreds of MOCKINGBIRD fans. We visited with her before we did our reading in the courtroom, in the evening at the 1930's Dinner, and the following morning at the Beehive Bookstore.
Many thanks to the star of the film who graciously signed our books.

This plaque, mounted on a large stone which rests on the courthouse lawn,
is well worth reading! (Click on photo to enlarge, then click again.)

In the documentary FEARFUL SYMMETRY: The Making of To Kill a Mockingbird, Gregory Peck talked of his meeting with Mr. Amasa Coleman Lee. Though none of the scenes in the movie were actually filmed in Monroeville, many of the people involved with the production visited the town in preparation for the Academy Award winning film. The actor explained how Lee would hold a pocket watch as he was talking or thinking: "I stole that from him," he confessed. Mr. Lee once defended a black man in a murder trial and lost the case, just as Atticus lost his case for Tom Robinson. As a result, Mr. Lee never practiced law again.
After her father's death, Harper Lee gave his watch to Gregory.

Life and art merge, and devoted readers remember in this small,
Alabama town named as the Literary Capital of the state.

The Hybart House was a gift to the town from the Hybart family and has become a cultural center. (This was where Truman Capote and Harper Lee dined with friends the night before they left for Kansas to do research for Capote's In Cold Blood.) And this is where we attended the 1930's Dinner. Some of the guests were the townspeople in their costumes who play the different roles in the annual production of the play held every May. There was music of the era played on a grand piano and foods prepared by Chef Clif Holt of Little Savannah restaurant in Birmingham. The menu included fried chicken, potato salad, spiced peaches, ham, cornbread, turnip greens, and lane cake -- all foods mentioned in the book. A special drink was served on the lawn: the Tequila Mockingbird.

One of the terms on the vocabulary list for teaching the novel is
"shinny" which is, of course, the local and affectionate term for moonshine!
I took the photo of the birdhouse, and all other photographs are courtesy of Stevie Wonderful, my nephew and lucky husband of Nancy!

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