Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Hundred Years Ago...

Born December 7, 1911

Today I am REPOSTING  this feature in honor of my father John Patterson.
The original title was December  Boy.  In the great scheme of days
 and hundred years suddenly seems  not  such a long time ago.
My father was an in inventor and played several instruments and
sculpted figurines from wood in his spare time. And like so mnay who offered
so much light in the world...gone...way   too soon.
This is my first offering for Alan's Sepia Saturday. Of all the old photos I have, this one is  very dear to me. It makes me think of the photo that Willow found on one of her treasure hunts a few months ago. As I study it here on the big PC screen, I am suddenly aware that it may have been this very photo that gave me a love of baby dolls and baby boys! Don't you just want to scoop him up in your arms? Can't you just see him toddling downstairs on a wintry morning rubbing his sleepy eyes? Isn't he simply adorable? For as long as I can remember, the photo has been creased and scratched. A few years ago, I did have it very carefully retouched and cleaned up very nicely, but this is the real deal version. Here are the facts as I know them:
This photo probably dates December 1913 or January 1914.
The child is close two years old.
He was a redhead.
He was born December 7, 1911 near Birmingham, AL.
He was the fifth of eight surviving siblings.
His name was John.
He died June 10, 1971.
This is the only known baby picture of my father...NOT grandfather.
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oh, Mr. Livsey!!!

Well HE is,  and here we are getting off the train near Willow Manor.
The train journey took more time than imagined, but it was so much fun traveling with the oh so ...and ever English gentleman Roger Livsey!  So on to the car....and I see our trunk has been strapped to the back and we will soon be there.....

Oh Heavens,,,,where is the chauffeur--- Nigel?  Nigel, please hurry we need to get to the Manor house!

Of course this is gorgeous....right  neighborhood, but not the right house....keep going...I know she is close to the river.......just over that rise.....keep going, Nigel!
Ooooh.....hhhhh  .....Lord what a view....and oh my the road ends.... we must take to the footpaths!! 

Here is the powerful and mysterious...just like Mr. Livsey.....

A short time to regroup...and encouraging words to one another....we decide to follow the river...
Maybe this is the right  house.....
Or maybe it is this one....

Oh...I know this he right place....this is the barn where Mr. Ed stayed last year!!!
Oh for sure we can change here....I know Willow won't mind....Do you have your velvet coat and dress kilt, Roger, darling? I'll just take my gown from the trunk. Hurry the ballroom is waiting!!
Take your rest Nigel and thanks for carry our things!!

Off to the ball....

It is that enchanted time of year, and after going through my mahogany wardrobe several times, I found this treasure. I picked it up in a London auction house back in June 2010.  I did pay a ROYAL price. Someone said  it was once owned by a certain princess. I think this portrait of my great grandmother must have inspired me...though I think my dress is .... well... it may be.....just a tad more interesting than hers.  I'll be slipping into this after I have had time to freshen up from the train ride from Auburn to Dublin!  I think we will be arriving in just a short time. There is a very special person in the compartment next to me. (And we know where we're going.) Be at the station if you want to get a peek at my oh so daaaaaarhling companion for this year's gala along the banks of the Scioto...under a full moon,,,,where the magic has a glow all its own. 
Miss Willow is weaving another tapestry of music and dance and romance....don't be late, now!
Next Stop: Willow Manor Ball 2011

 Great Grandmother Rebecca Cameron ......I must say she looks ready for any ball!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

For the Falling Man

"...falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling,
like the descent of their last end,
upon the living and the dead. "
Today, I was asked by my principal to review a poem that a young man at our school had composed  as a remembrance of 9/11 to be read over our public address system here at school on Friday morning.  I had never actually met this student until this afternoon.  He explained that he was in the first grade in September of 2001, and just felt he had to write a poem in honor of the day. He also told me that the story of Flight 93 had really left a deep impression on him when he saw it at age 13.  He is now a junior.  We talked about the bravery of so many people who were forced to make decisions on that day. I told him that I personally remember feeling that New York City was really very close when I knew in reality that it would take me over 18 hours to drive there. Each morning I came to school in those days after, I wanted to just go there--not really knowing what I could possibly do to help anyone--but the sense of wanting to let so many there know that I was trying in my own way to help with the leaden weight they must bear was quite overwhelming.  I confirmed  that even now, he just knew he must do this probably for the same reasons. It is because we know we are all "falling through the universe" like so many snowflakes in James Joyce's lines from his story "The Dead."  And because I knew he would appreciate another poet, I shared with the young man Annie Farnsworth's poignant tribute to a man who appeared on the front page of major newspapers* and who is buried in our collective consciousness as we mourn and revere that day in September.

For the Falling Man

I see you again and again

tumbling out of the sky,

in your slate-grey suit and pressed white shirt.

At first I thought you were debris

from the explosion, maybe gray plaster wall

or fuselage but then I realized

that people were leaping.

I know who you are, I know

there's more to you than just this image

on the news, this ragdoll plummeting—

I know you were someone's lover, husband,

daddy. Last night you read stories

to your children, tucked them in, then curled into sleep

next to your wife. Perhaps there was small

sleepy talk of the future. Then,

before your morning coffee had cooled

you'd come to this; a choice between fire

or falling.

How feeble these words, billowing

in this aftermath, how ineffectual

this utterance of sorrow. We can see plainly

it's hopeless, even as the words trail from our mouths

—but we can't help ourselves—how I wish

we could trade them for something

that could really have caught you.

*Click on the title of this post to read a recent article on the photograph of The Falling Man.
My photos (click to enlarge) were taken by the Colonel in the churchyard of
 Holy Trinity at Stratford-Upon-Avon, June 2006.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It’s the Good Old Summer Time!


 It's the Good Old Summer Time!
What have you been doing to keep cool? I have been remembering the days before air conditioning and ice makers. Sue ( on the left) and I filled up the ice trays, enjoyed long slices of watermelon, and when all else failed, we went to the creek. Please come and enjoy a salad supper, iced tea, some good old fashioned summer memories, and the best gossip in town! Oh, yes, if you bring your swimsuit, I'll turn on the sprinkler!
July 29, 2011
6:30 PM Central Lightning Bug Time
Graystone Cottage

 This is my latest invitation for my Women's Night Out group.  I have used an old photo taken by my brother.  This creek is near my childhood home. It was quite a trek to creep down the walls of the deep ravine to Lost Creek, but the cool air and sounds of the running water and the chorus of bird song  are a permanent and glorious page in my book of memories. 

        (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boleslawiec Tea Party

(Click on photos to enlarge or to "embiggen" as Country Girl says!)

After being hauled around in the Colonel's carry on luggage through several airport layovers, these little Polish beauties are safely on my table. I have admired Willow's Boleslawiec mug often featured in her sidebar. And more than once, I have passed up one of the mugs at T. J. Max. I do struggle with my I-Need-New-China habit. I recently visited a unique gallery, The Cat's Meow, in Pine Mountain, Georgia which offers very handsome prints, framing, and a huge collection of Boleslawiec pottery! I oohed and aahed for a long time, but I was strong, and left empty handed. Shopping for a gift in Ramstein, Germany, my dear  husband came upon a similar stunning display and confessed it was hard to make a decision. The Colonel knows me well. "Hmmm, blue and white, teapot: dishes!" Trifecta! Yes, this lovely set is a big hit at Graystone Cottage this morning! Cuppa tea?

(Click on blog title to visit the official website for the pottery.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Father

John Patterson

He did not go gentle...

My father has been dead for forty years as of this month. For the last ten years of his life, he suffered from cancer, likely caused from radiation poisoning that he experienced while doing post WWII research at the Pentagon in 1951. I was eleven when he had his first surgery and ironically, radiation treatments. All during my early teens and, as I was becoming an adult, he was dying -- and quietly raging. He never complained or said anything about his suffering to me. He stayed busy, kept his sense of humor, and took in as much of life as he could. He was a wonderful dad. I was twenty when the "dying of the light" claimed him. Click on the the image above to hear Dylan Thomas read his famous villanelle. I never teach or read  the  poem without thinking of my father.

NOTE: The link was taken down from YouTube. Sorry if you missed it. 10/18/13 MPL

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Who hath desired the sea? -- the sight of salt water unbounded..." Kipling

We had been at our favorite Gulf Coast haunt since Monday, and I had yet to pick up the camera. Just before 7:00 on Friday evening, I stepped out of my second story bedroom at Greenpeace cottage to snap a few pictures. I wanted a closeup of the oleander.

The lense fogged over, but I liked the effect.

Here are the same blossoms against our neighboring cottage once the lense was cleared.
...and its second story porch.

More cottages across the road...

Then I set off for the beach: out the front door, turn right, pass one cottage, step across Highway 30-A, a two-lane where all traffic stops for the beach bound pedestrians.
And as the sign says, just a few feet away...

The West Ruskin Pavilion where I stood to take the photo on the header.

Beauty to the left of me...

..and once on the to the right of me...
slightly marred with a yellow caution flag ...

and the last of the day's beach combers paddle around under a crescent of clouds...

...turn around, stroll back to our cottage...

...and to the peacefully suspended --slowed motion of Seaside.

(Click on any photo to enlarge; then click again for an even larger image)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Bustle in the House...

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon Earth—

The Sweeping up the Heart

And putting Love away

We shall not want to use again

Until Eternity.

Emily Dickinson

The face that said, "Will I ever feel better?"
The Colonel made these photos late Wednesday afternoon. He took numerous frames, and in the header above is his masterpiece. For a moment, the sunlight and cool air and time with dad, masked all the weakness and pain.

Underneath that beautiful coat were frail bones and shortness of breath as the ALL
(acute lymphoblastic leukemia) rapidly took its toll.
It was only last week, May 12th, that she was diagnosed.

Wednesday evening, we took Gracie to her vet, and had her put to sleep. Thursday morning, the Colonel and I went downstairs only to fall into the deep hole left behind where she had filled our hearts with her morning greetings in the kitchen. We survived that first morning only to return from work in the evening to the lead reality that she would never again be there with face smiling, tail wagging, and big paw patting us on the leg. It has been sad in this house. It is the price one pays for loving a pet so very much. However, in comparison to all that she gave to us in love, laughter, and joy, the grief is a small price indeed.

As the school year marched on, I had promised myself that I would get in at least one post per month. When I posted about Gracie's tenth birthday last month, I had no idea she was the least bit ill. Every day we can claim health, love, and life is a gift.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who Rescued Whom?

Gracie at age 2 (click on photos to enlarge)

Our big dog Gracie just turned ten years old on Monday. According to (click link to learn all about the breed), the average life expectancy for a Bernese Mountain Dog is 6 to 7 years. Cancer is a big problem for the breed, and this one has had a close call. As of today she is well. She is now in the age range I once read about when researching the breed back in the early 90's: Life expectancy was then 10 to 12 years! The Swiss say, "Three years a young dog, three years a good dog, and three years an old dog." I have to say Gracie seems to be right in the middle of being a GOOD dog. She likes to give a literal good morning hug, but no longer does whirling leaps in the air and barks as her morning greeting. That was in her wilder days. She loves to have her ears rubbed, and to have her coat either vacuumed with the Kirby or fluffed with the leaf blower.....that is really funny to see! She prefers to drink from running water--from a pitcher being poured into her bowl or from an outdoor faucet or garden hose.

We found Gracie in December of 2002. Our male Berner, Fritz, had died earlier that year in June at age 9. The house was just not the same without him, and Christmas was coming. I saw an ad in the Atlanta Journal for an 18 month old female in Tiger, Georgia. She needed a home because her owner had sustained a serious back injury. When I first mentioned it, no one at home was interested, but you know what they say about the magic of Christmas. On Saturday morning, December 14th, the Colonel said to me over breakfast, "If you really want to go see this dog, I will go with you." Honestly, that statement was all I wanted for Christmas. We made our way to the Northeast Georgia mountains, found the farm, and there she was in the miniature stables with miniature horses! It was too charming for anyone to resist! Giving her up was as sad for the owner as it was joyous for us! We were all weeping when is was time to load her up and head back home. Her father was a major show dog, but Gracie has lived a quiet, happy life , along with her spaniel sisters and the one and only Deusey the Cat. I know she would say her life is good in

"Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.

Where health and plenty cheer'd the labouring swain"

~~~~~Oliver Goldsmith "The Deserted Village"

Gracie at age 4

It was about this time that I began reading and hearing about more and more Berners serving as therapy dogs. This is a favorite photo taken by my niece Nancy. This is classic Gracie the Therapy Dog behavior: Her paw resting comfortingly on your knee and a look that says, "You just go ahead and pet me as much as you need to and tell me all your troubles.
I am listening."


Monday, April 11, 2011

A horse, a horse...a War Horse...

Once upon a time --for about nineteen years-- I taught seventh grade. One of my fondest memories was being witness to the eagerness my students exuded when given a chance to buy their very own Scholastic paperbacks. Scholastic always had great offerings. I would get a stack of small newsprint brochures, and the kids would place their orders. They ordered new stories and classics. In recent years, I have been teaching mostly seniors. These students do not order paperbacks. They read and write texts -- seemingly re-inventing Sanskrit! We just read the standards. And oh, the torture they endure! Yes, there are those who read outside of class, but I am sometimes afraid to ask just what they are reading. Oh for the days when my students wanted books and not cell phones!

I have been hearing from some of my colleagues who are still working with seventh graders about Michael Morpurgo's WAR HORSE, yes, published by Scholastic. Here is a story of a horse which may alter everything you ever thought you knew about horses. It was written for an adolescent audience, but it is galloping on its way to the classics shelf! You may have seen the feature broadcast yesterday on CBS's Sunday Morning all about the stage play based on Morpurgo's book. Click here to see how War Horse has been transformed for the stage. This play is my number one destination if I can get to London this summer.

While reading up on the production in London, I discovered more news. Not to be out done by the stage or the genius of the life size and truly realistic puppetry of the play, Steven Spielberg has the movie in the making, and we may see it as early as September 2011!

The Colonel and I have a small collection of original World War I posters. I first saw this one in a catalog we have. Though Fortunino Matania's (1881-1963) Good-bye Old Man is my all time favorite, I have only been able to find a reproduction of it. I know it was published first in the magazine Sphere, and also in several books of the artist's work. I have been looking for an original poster since 1979. I had better find a poster for the play and movie WAR HORSE.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Irish!

Don't ask me how this happened so fast! Today is the second anniversary of this blog. True, I am not the most active nor prolific blogger, but I do persevere! And I love it. To celebrate, I want to have my first give away. Now I know this may take a while because I have had a rather quiet winter here in the blogosphere, but I hope I can make the rounds and remind many of you that I am alive and well! But no matter, just be the first person to identify a famous photographer in this --my second movie, followed by an email (link is in my profile) in which you include your mailing address, and I will be sending you a gift prepared especially for you from

The Keeping Room at Graystone Cottage!

Enjoy the images and the song.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Making Movies

The sun was out today. It was almost warm here for a short while. I paid a little visit to my struggling violas and the medieval country dancers who have not let the weather get them down.
I have been absent too long. I thought I would try something...almost spectacular for me....and try to make a short "movie" from some of my favorite images collected as I was gathering up pictures for my blog. It took me all afternoon and into the evening.
Perhaps, I am more influenced by the movies than I want to admit. Who has not imagined some of the more dramatic moments of his or her life emblazoned on the big screen? I am pretty sure my first effort will only be a little treasure to me and maybe to my family. I offer it here just to show you that I learned something new today!

Many thanks to Country Girl for her inspirational New Year's Day post and to Buttons & Bows for their song, "Inisheer" (I have these backward in the credits!!!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Love Me Tender with a Birthday Bouquet, Lamb Chops, & a Happy, Happy Day!

This vibrant and redolent bouquet was delivered to my door this morning, signed:
We love you, Robin & Tim! I offer a sincere and warm thank you to
my sister-in-law and her husband in NC.
We had a grand Christmas with them and now THIS! It is beautiful!
News flash: I have had another birthday, and it was a big one!
No, the young cashier did not ask for my ID when I purchased some sherry and tawny port, but on the up side, my students from years past can still recognize me! Of every ten outings I make anywhere near home, I would say nine will surely put me face to face with a person I have had as a student. What a blessing that they always want to stop and visit for a moment!!

I have also had these adorable nesting sheep added to my existing herd of woolly Colin's Creatures. (Click here for his website.) I think this makes seven!
I shall need to round them up and do a head count.
Thank you, Cameron & Little Lisa Lou Who!

No Elvis sightings, but NPR played a lovely instrumental of "Love Me Tender" as one of their transition pieces this morning. And the young lady who gave me a facial (a birthday treat earlier this week) revealed to me that her father was indeed an Elvis Impersonator!
Weehhhhhhll, Thank You Vehhhry Much!

About Me

My photo
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