Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jolies Maries

Back in June, I blogged about my growing collection of religious figures. As we settle into the new place, with new people in our lives and a new concept of family, I find myself drawn more and more to the Holy Family. These three people: a carpenter, a young girl and their infant son, sum up so clearly (for me, anyway) the everyday struggle of humans everywhere to live in obedience to God, unified by a common thread of love for one another.

Early on in our search at estate sales and yard sales, I found this lovely Mary vase.

She stayed awhile on a shelf in my kitchen, holding the occasional gardenia and bringing a sense of peace and serenity to the area around my sink, which is often anything but peaceful and serene.

A couple of weeks ago, she found a new home, with someone who needed her more than I did. Best Friend of Dear Daughter is moving away with her family to the magical land of N orthc Aro Lina. Dear Daughter called me at work one day, sobbing in that soft, breathless way of a child whose heart has been utterly shattered, devastated by the realization that while she was in New Orleans on her annual summer adventure, Best Friend would be packing up and heading east. She was searching the house for something to give Best Friend as a memento. She'd come up with a few personal items, but wanted something really special. After a bit of thought, I suggested she give her Mary. She waffled for a while, not wanting to give away something of mine, but I assured her it was really okay. Finally, she made the decision and took the vase to Best Friend, who by all accounts, seems to love her.

I love the idea of this version of this Sweet Mother coming into our life for a brief while, and then going on to watch over and be loved by someone so dear to our own hearts. Besides, I know that even without the image, Mary never really leaves us. Her fingerprints really are everywhere.

Saturday, at another estate sale, I walked into a homey little Midtown bungalow near the cathedral. In a downstairs bedroom, waiting for me on a night table was this beautiful lady.
She now occupies the same spot in my kitchen as the previous figure. It's good to have her back.

This afternoon when I came home from work, there were two packages waiting. One was addressed to me, and contained the shattered results of a recent eBay purchase (more on this in another post), but the other was sent to my dear Norwegian. In it, was this delicate figure.

I love her Italianate features and her red hair. She's on a shelf in the Mom Cave up front. I love that the Norwegian thought to find her and bring her home. Of course, I also love the idea that it could be the other way around.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Due to lack of interest

Monday has been cancelled. Please feel free to go about your ordinary business. Today's weather: anticipated high of 100 degrees, with a heat index (due to high pressure and excessive humidity) of 105 or greater.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

From Ralph's "What Just Happened Here?" Line...

Words just can't explain this. You'll have to look at the photo. While shopping today for some nice khakis and a summer dress shirt for the Junior Norwegian, I found these pants. They pretty much defy description.

I just don't know any men, or any women, for that matter, who would be caught dead in a pair of bee-dazzled khaki summer crops. Absolutely bizarre. But they are on sale at Stein Mart, if you're so inclined.

More Food Porn

Some of my friends laugh at me for taking pictures of things I cook and eat. I'm sorry--I can't help it. In addition to being completely addicted to cooking and eating (kind of like I'm also addicted to sleeping and breathing), I am a very visual person. I love for food to look as good as it tastes. In the summertime, this is so easily accomplished with the bounty of local produce that is currently coming in.

Earlier this week, The Norwegian and I, newly divested of Dear Daughter (who is in New Orleans for three weeks doing her summer art camp thing), wanted a light, easy dinner we could enjoy at a civilized hour (8:30) with a nice glass of wine. As the temperature was still in the high 90s, there was but one clear choice: Caprese Salad.

I am growing four types of basil in the backyard. We have lush Genovese basil; tiny and delicate globe basil; opulent Purple Ruffles basil (also known as Opal) and spicy Thai basil. I pulled a few leaves of the Genovese and an equal number of the Purple Ruffles and set about building the perfect Caprese.
I layered beautiful fresh tomatoes from a local farm with the basil.

Next, I added slices of new buffalo mozzarella cheese. I haven't learned how to make this yet, but as soon as I find a reliable source for suitable milk that hasn't been shot full of hormones or pasteurized to death, I'll be adding that to my list of fun things to do.

I dressed the final product with some nice olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Norwegian poured us a glass of wine and we tucked in. Simple and delicious. Life is really good.

In the Still, Quiet of the Night...

Why yes, as a matter of fact, I am baking ciabatta at four a.m. Can't you just smell the rosemary...
And I can truthfully say, it's absolutely sinfully delicious.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You're Not From Around Here, Are You?

People are often surprised to learn that I'm actually a native of the south. Though I was born and raised (in sight of water) in Memphis, I avoided cultivating a southern accent, and thanks to my parents' mixed marriage (she being Alabamian and he being Yankee, but not damyankee), I was raised with the best of both worlds. I grew up eating grits, white beans and turnip greens and I do make the best cornbread in the tri-state area, with the possible exception of Miss Baby, who is catching up to me quickly. I also learned that there was so much more to life than the Maid of Cotton pageant, duck-season, walking horses and SEC football.

Both cultures struggled mightily to instill in me the three Ds--dignity, decorum and decency. To some degree, they got through to me, although I do have my moments. By and large, I can with complete humility say that on a daily basis I at least strive not to behave like an absolute jackass. And most of those days, the sun sets on a fairly successful endeavor.

The cardinal rule of growing up in Memphis in the late 1960s and 1970s was "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Blessed (somewhat dubiously) with a sharp tongue and a ready mind, this is a real obstacle for me at times, but I really do try hard not to let some of the awful stuff roiling around in my brain actually spill past my lips.

Or in the case of blogging, drip and ooze out my fingertips. I've spent the worst part of today trying to figure out how to address a blogpost that was brought to my attention today. It not only name-checked me and someone very dear to me, but it lumped us in the same space and time with someone whose behaviour and attitudes are frequently questionable and most certainly do not reflect our values and beliefs. I write, as vaguely as possible, in hopes that those who know me and who might have read this person's blog will recognize the great gap between that writer's perspective and my own.

Blogging is a wonderful medium, allowing a great deal of freedom of expression and creativity, but as in any form of communication, there are rules and standards, often more implied than actually spelled out. Generally, it's a good rule of thumb that if it's something you wouldn't say out loud to someone, perhaps you shouldn't be writing it and launching it out into the ether. Or maybe that's just my upbringing. Another good rule is that unless you have specific permission or a reasonable context, it's unprofessional and just plain bad form to blog about coworkers and events that happen in the workplace or in an environment directly connected with the workplace.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I was not at all pleased to see my blogname linked to this person's immature and racist titter at some local politicians whom I not only hold in rather high esteem, but whose campaigns I have very publicly supported. The attitudes of the writer only support my belief that it truly is best to say nothing if one cannot think of anything original, civil or mature to say. I would also dearly hope that this blogger would study the definitions of "humor" and "racist." In a place like Memphis, where the cultural baggage definitely won't ever fit in the overhead compartment, it is essential to be aware and sensitive to the differences in races and cultures. Suggesting that we simply "lighten up" and be tolerant of remarks that smack of stereotypes and consider developing "a funny bone" serves only to reflect upon the juvenile and narrow-minded attitudes of the speaker.

As a child, I was sometimes farmed out to the churches of various family friends for a few days of Vacation Bible School in the summer. Despite being reared in a High Church Anglican parish, I really enjoyed those informal, hot days of glue sticks, hand clapping, grape juice, sugar cookies and singing songs that were ever so much livelier than the formal hymns we sang in our home church. One that has stuck with me through all the years was the one whose lyrics went "Oh be careful little hands what you do." In the nature of songs for children, the litany went on to include "be careful little eyes what you see" and "be careful little ears what you hear." The last verse reminded us to be mindful of what we say, lest little hop-toads and imps escape our lips and be scattered out into the void. There are those out there who blog who would do well to heed this advice.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Modus Operandi

One of my sweet little friends just sent me this piece of flair on Facebook-- "Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor, the Devil says "Aw crap, she's up."

Hee hee hee.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Two Elizabeths

For some reason I can't add these links in the sidebar, but I want to hip my readers to two of my old friends (well, not as old as I am, but I've known them both long enough to refer to them as "old") and their respective blogs. Both are named Elizabeth--one is a piranha-owning CPA (can you just smell the irony?) who works at the music studio I used to manage; and the other chucked a regular nine-to-five last year to launch a career in the beauty products industry and is apparently screaming her way up the career ladder as she carves out her own unique niche in one of the coolest neighborhoods in town. One is a blonde, one a redhead, both are fabulously funny and interesting people.

CPA Elizabeth is currently wrapped up in planning a DIY wedding with input from friends, family and the giant wedding industrycomplex. If you've never been to a wedding in the south, you've got a lot to learn. You can read her adventures at this link.

Rock star Elizabeth appeared on the Montel Williams show today, and appears here on a semi-regular basis. Have fun, and tell 'em I sent you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Measuring Up/Day of Reckoning

Dear Daughter, my 12 year old, has been going through a growth spurt. I've always known that she would be tall, based on the size of every branch on her family tree (but me). The day she was born she clocked in at a respectable 24 inches long and 10 pounds, 11 ounces. Yes, you read that right. I gave birth to a two foot tall infant weighing the same as a sack of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Anyway, I was still not prepared for today when we stood side-by-side and looked in a full-length mirror and I realized she now has a half-inch of headspace above mine.


I'm going to bed to drown my sorrows in some Geritol.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Domestic Tranquility

Continuing with the theme of being happy at home, here are some more recent photos. They are in no particular order, and represent nothing except a few of the reasons why "East, West, home best."

I call this painting "Mommy and Me." Dear Daughter painted it two years ago at school during a workshop by a visiting artist. She and the artist really clicked, and DD still raves about what she learned in a 45 minute session with this woman. I love this painting--it's simple, happy and sweet. It will always have a special place in our home.

Sleepy space. The paint was chosen by the previous owner, and we simply love it. There are plantation shutters along one wall. I open the top shutters to let the morning light in. It's beautiful. Oh, and Mrs. G, please note the Laura Ashley comforter and bed set chosen by the Norwegian (who is about as gay as Mr. G!). Not bad! The furniture is a matched set dating from the 1940s found at an estate sale. The pieces still have the tags on the back from the factory. The bed is in an upstairs bedroom awaiting the arrival of the Norwegian's son, but we love the dresser, chest and twin nightstands. It's all very Ozzie and Harriet, kind of like us.

This is our downstairs family room. Yes, we also have an upstairs family room. It's not conspicuous consumption; it's delight in finding an antique house with tons of room for both adults and teenagers. This room is 19 x 28, and features "vintage" flooring (that's pronounced "funky old linoleum"), a giant window overlooking our sweet, green backyard and gardens, and a long stone hearth with a gas fireplace. I have trouble picking a favorite part of this room--there's so much to love in here. It could very well be the stunning view. It could be the built-in cabinets on three sides of the room. It could be the lovely old tongue-and-groove panelling. It is very likely the half-timbers in the ceiling that were milled from a tree that once grew in the backyard several decades ago. This is the Norwegian's Man Cave, and is gradually filling up with memorabilia from his thirty year career in the United States Navy.

This is the Mom-cave. It's really the living room, but upon seeing the wooden radiator covers and the gorgeous paint, I staked this out as my own little piece of paradise. There is a wood-burning fireplace and a set of French doors leading to the side porch (where the Norwegian and I will be married in 88 days or so). There are two built-in cabinet/bookcases on the wall leading to the dining room. This room has a set of antique mahogany and brocade furniture we found at an estate sale for a ridiculously cheap price. It is perfect for this room.

My piano will go in this room eventually. This is such a peaceful and sweet room.

Cinnamon/brown sugar raisin bread, cooling on the kitchen counter this morning. Can you understand why I hate to leave this place to go to work?

Most of us. The Norwegian, Dear Daughter, Baby Britta and me. Not pictured are Alix Bunny, Roselle Rabbit, Eulalie the Lovebird, and the Norwegian's son, who will join us in September. Do stop by and see us sometime!

St. Joseph lives in the Mom Cave, watching over our family. I found him in front of a small shop in Franklin, TN weekend before last. He has been our family patron for many years now. If you really need something, ask for his intercession. Here he basks in the early morning sunlight. We visit often. Unfortunately, Britta thinks he's after her Secret Squirrel and unleashes her Dachshund sailor language on him. You can click here (I hope) to see more objects in the Mom Cave.

Peaches from a local orchard fill my giant pottery mixing bowl. Can you smell the sweet scent of summertime?

This silver ewer held holy water for our house blessing last Saturday. I love how it looks against the blue slate of our back door foyer in the late afternoon sunlight. After everyone left and we were cleaning up, the Norwegian and I added the water to our backyard waterfall. We have birds and squirrels that make daily visits. Nestled in the shady southwestern corner of our backyard, it is a haven of beauty and serenity.

The built-in butler's pantry in the kitchen. I've posted a photo before of this, but it had some stuff placed there by the decorator hired by the realtor. That's my antique tole platter with a giant shrimp painted on it. The rabbit tray often holds bread for our family meals. Behind the glass is my modest collection of Blue Willow ware. I pick up occasional pieces when I find good, old ones. I don't want an entire set, but the tiny bowls and dessert plates are graceful and delicate. I love the old colors and the sound the china makes when it clacks against another piece.