Wednesday, September 29, 2010

please pass the peas

I was amazed to see a "tablescape" at Grey Towers. Apparently the governor's wife,
 Mrs. Pinchot was quite the entertainer, and creative at that. She designed an outdoor dining room. 

Or better described as a "dining pool." Can you picture the kids in the family, 
in their jammies, supposedly in bed for the night ... 

... peeking down out their windows at a dinner party in this setting?

The places were set around the pool. The lady of the house changed the color of 
the water to whatever suited her fancy and the dinner menu.

I'm picturing the whole thing. The dinner conversation. The laughter.
And supposedly themed discussions sometimes announced ahead of time. 

"Please pass the peas?"  Yes, the beautiful food was placed on balsa
wood platters and floated like boats from guest to guest.

Go to Between Naps on the Porch if you'd like to see more lovely tablescapes!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

where exactly?

So, after admiring that beautiful gazebo we climbed the stairs and headed up the path toward the beautiful home called Grey Towers. If you had passed us you might have overheard me: "How can we have known each other 42 years and you've never brought me to this marvelous place before? Just a few miles from where you grew up?" The Gardener sheepishly concluded that maybe it was closed and off the radar for awhile ... and I guess it never came to his mind until recently. Well, it was the perfect day for a visit, I'll give him that. A cool, crisp, sunny morning before his nephew's nearby wedding.

I've always heard that the Gardener saw--in person--JFK give a speech about 50 days before his 
tragic assassination. But I didn't know this was where that took place. Apparently 
the President had been dedicating the property to be an institute for conservation studies.

The Gardener looked around, a little confused. After all, he was just a young teen and
 that was a long time ago. Where exactly had he stood and where had the President stood?

So we asked a docent––young, mind you, where JKF had stood in relation to the crowd. 
When she heard that "G" had been an eyewitness she exclaimed with such delight 
I just had to chuckle inside. "You really were here? Wow!" Ancient history to her.
 (Which might make us antiques.) She eagerly took us to the exact place.

Now, the Gardener is from a small town where few move away and everyone 
knows everyone's business; the entire town wouldn't miss such an event. Little did our 
docent realize that in a few hours we'd be in a wedding hall where everyone our age or 
older most likely had been at that historic occasion. 

More Grey Towers to follow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I realized recently (or again) that I'm drawn to things circular. Such as curves in a road ... I'm
always wanting to take a picture. And curved paths, stairways, buildings, and round windows ... 

It's really amazing. My camera just pops out of its case and clicks away.

Scenes from Grey Towers in Milford, Pennsylvania. More to follow.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

a box of letters

Just a few minutes ago--or a few blinks of an eye ago--on a spring evening, at a small college tucked along the Hudson River, the date being May 2, 1968, a lanky basketball player invited me on a date. On that day, two years later, our legs dangling over a cliff overlooking the same river, he asked me to marry him. And on that day this year, so many minutes later, we happened to be in his hometown. 

We were visiting the Gardener's young niece and nephew, who, after losing both parents in recent years, were beginning to clean out the family homestead. The house had been in the family, there along the Delaware River, for several generations. Their mother, the Gardener's sister, was birthed, and 64 years later died, in the same room in this house.

"We got something for ya," they announced as they produced a box crumbling with age. It was full of letters ... letters we forgot we wrote ... letters we hadn't thought of in years ... letters assumed gone to the trash decades ago. There they were. All of mine to the Gardener during our courtship, and some letters from his sister and college friends as well. He actually saved them! What fun the kids had watching my face as we opened letters and read excerpts aloud. Sometimes I wanted to crawl under the couch. A real treasure, good memories––a gift on this the anniversary of when it all began! 

We found a stronger box, packaged them up, overdid it on taping it up, and mailed the box home to ourselves. How should we tiptoe into this bit of history? A letter a day? A long evening of laughing together while reading a bundle aloud? Well ... to be read, or not to be read, or how to be read ... at our leisure. 

First published on May 2, 2008. We're still looking for time to read these letters.  Connecting to Chari's Sunday Favorites today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

few words

There's not much time to talk ... I miss reading your blogs but I'll catch up soon. 
After being away at a wedding for 5 days, 
I got home and my mom got sick the next day.  So I'm busy with her at the hospital.

But I loved the pink house across from the diner where I enjoyed the true northern bagel.

And as far as a wedding goes, there can be various times when tears come to our eyes. 
But for sure, it happens during that father/daughter dance, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"up north"

When we were up north for a family wedding this weekend, we enjoyed breakfast in a favorite diner. There's nothing quite like a diner. I took note of two things that we don't have down here in the south: "real" bagels (which means it takes awhile to eat one) and, coat racks! 

This one at the diner is a real mess but will be used soon, for the weather was changing
 and fall is already there!

Monday, September 20, 2010

great battles

We had a patient recently that was very difficult to care for. When eventually we learned all 
she is dealing with in her life, it became totally understandable. She is a good reminder that it's 
so easy (and so wrong) to judge someone else on what we see, when we don't have a clue 
what's really going on inside his or her life.

I read this quote recently in a newsletter: "Be compassionate, for everyone you meet is fighting a 
great battle." So said Philo of Alexandria.  No more needs to be said.

my uncle's photo, circa 1950. I like to think that I am the little one in the pink hat, but the 
jury's still out on that. That's not my dad, though, he has the big hat on in the foreground.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


We had uninvited dinner guests last night. This huge impatiens plant has been my pride and joy. You can see how large it was from the lower flowers. The rest of the lawn and garden has succumbed to drought, fungus and other late summer maladies. But this lady marched through all that maintaining her  great beauty. This morning we realized it had become a large animal's dessert. We have more and more deer in our city neighborhood. It's sad; I know they are wandering in search of the home they once had. But this middle-of-the-night-dessert-eating was up close and personal --- like two feet from our porch door.

And the not-quite-so-vibrant impatiens near where I cut the Gardener's hair last week? Intact. Anyone else need a haircut?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

road trip

Earlier this summer, on a hot, sultry day, the Gardener and I took a couple of hours for a "mini-vacation" and explored the northern part of our city, up to what I call the "Lake District." We found a little dive where we ate lunch and enjoyed the best little fries I've ever eaten. Delicate, round, and delicious.

Then we drove around the top of the lake on a country road that came to a little crossroads town.

Are you seeing what we saw? We said, "What's all the red about?"
 Must have been a special on red roofing.

Everywhere we looked we saw red. Roofs that is. 

And one red door. And you see just why this was the best red of all. 

Amazing how refreshing just a few hours away can be. 
With, of course, some ice cream.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

shop in a shop

Inside a beautiful little antique shop in my sister's town is a vintage bridal shop. What a sight for the eyes! I love how they designed it to look sort of like being in a tent--notice the fabric ceiling and walls. So much rich texture,  dotted by little lamps and sweet chandeliers. The fun thing is that brides actually buy and wear these wedding gowns ... for a fraction of the price of a today bridal gown. Enjoy a look:

See Mary's Little Red House for other Mosaics.

Friday, September 10, 2010

wedding finery

         We're going to a family wedding soon. The question always comes up, at least for me: "What will I wear?"
         So I went to a store and looked. I never have enjoyed clothes shopping, and find it harder and harder to find wearable things at stores anymore. Who are these women who can wear such things? But I did see a skirt that "looked like me" and even was on sale. Its colors are black, gray, some sort of grayish-off-white, and a rather pretty crimson/pinkish purple/bordering-on-burgandy. Are you getting the picture with that last color? The coordinating top hanging on the adjoining rack was not me at all. I figured I'd have no problem finding something (preferably other than black) to wear with it. Wrong.
        The pretty crimson/pinkish purple/bordering-on-burgandy should tell you just how hard that was. I cruised one store after another. The colors related to that shade became confusing to my eyes. I would spot the color, go over, and pull the skirt out of my purse where it was crumpled in a bag. If I did find a decent match,  it would undoubtedly be a top with so much spandex that it showed every curve I'd rather hide.
         Or I'd find something wearable but the shade just wasn't right. I looked for a light gray too--but there aren't many semi-dressy tops in gray these days.
         It suddenly occurred to me that I was getting sick of the skirt. I'd looked at it so many times––trying it in on with various tops in dressing rooms all across the city. And besides that, everything seemed to be turning pink to my eyes, like in a bad dream.
        One last store––and I found it. A bit shimmery, but about as good a match as I'd come across. By this time I was lecturing myself about the time I'd wasted looking for something. Feeling yucky about it. I brought it home, tried the whole outfit on, and showed it to the Gardener. There was something in his eyes that made me hesitate, though he said it looked nice (the gracious man knew how hard I'd been trying.)  It was night time and we were both tired, and the lighting wasn't so good. (Note to self: if you worry about getting the lighting right when matching colors, forget what you're trying to match.)
         The next morning, after "sleeping on it" I realized I'd had my fill of the skirt. Sick of the colors, the time wasted, tired of the whole deal. I questioned if I'd wear it enough and didn't want another "wrong choice" hanging in my closet. I've always struggled with clothes ... never knowing if I'm dressed right ... yearning for simpler times ...
       I'm returning it all tomorrow. And going back to the closet. Surely I'll find something there. I'll be the only one noticing or remembering anyway. I really need to stop fussing about such things and make the best of what I have. We'll be bride watching anyway.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

five views from one

I had one photo on my computer of this tea party from a few years ago, so I decided
to do a little cropping and see how many views I could come up with.

Umm ... some are a bit blurry, but ...

One thing I like to do at a tea party is to use all different tea cups from those 
I've collected over the years. You know that "variety is the spice of life."

My mom gave me the teacup below when I got engaged. And I love using the crystal 
glasses she got for  a wedding present from her mom's sunday school class!

I often put something to read at each place setting. See the little pieces of paper? They are quotes about tea. They are sort of "conversation starters." I also notice a check on the plate to the left. I guess I owed money to whoever would be sitting at that place, and was being organized. ( I also like to use place cards. It saves the confusion of figuring out where to sit and is so "Jane Austen-ish" if you know what I mean.)

Connecting my Spring teaparty to Between Naps on the Porch.
 I'm thinking you'll see a few Fall table settings, for we're all in the mood for a change in seasons, aren't we?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Slivery moon

I had to work all three days of the holiday weekend. Because the moon is a sliver, I knew we would not have many babies born. Indeed it was fairly quiet, and a reasonable, manageable workload. I was able to eat lunch, do my extra work for management, and leave on time, which hasn't happened in a long time. The weather outside the hospital was ... a "hint of fall" was in the air with low humidity and cool mornings, but the beauty came inside the hospital walls too. Throughout the weekend I took note of what I consider smiles from God:

1. After caring for a baby for three days, I heard he was named for his dad ... looked at the newly assigned name, looked over at daddy who had looked vaguely familiar to me all weekend ... and realized he was a high school buddy of Eldest Son. Of course he was no longer a gangly teenager, so that's my excuse for not noticing earlier.  He also had thought I was familiar but couldn't figure it out. ... I guess I'm older too.  :-)

2. This same baby had the dental residents come and clip his frenulum (a.k.a. tongue tied). The dental resident graduated from the same dental school where Youngest is a resident, knew who he was, and told me all the dental students tried to get into his clinics as he was a favorite. "You can be very proud of him" she told me.

3. The sweet young woman who did my ultrasound last week told me she'd be having a baby at our hospital. Of all things her maternity unit tour was this weekend and so there I was to greet her. I hope I can care for her baby and give her back some of the sweetness she gave me.

4. And on Labor Day my two favorite docs happened to be rounding--a pediatrician and an OB.  And one brought us donuts. "Eat in good health," he smiled a bit sarcastically. And I didn't.

I've done posts before about these small events that I view as "smiles" from God, and certainly undeserved. But I do notice them. Another way to look at them are "glimpses of grace."

Monday, September 06, 2010

Advice from C. Robin

Christopher Robin once said to Winnie the Pooh: "You are braver than you believe, 
stronger than you seem and smarter than you think."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

touching up

A somber mother watches as her son hops on a canal boat headed down to the bustling capital of Amsterdam. Once he reaches America, will she ever see him again? Tears spill down her cheeks as she goes back into the tavern and picks up her dish towel and continues to shine the glasses she has washed.

Over in the new world, a young man weary from his carpentry work, picks up his worn lunch pail and heads for home across a bridge over the Penny Pack Canal. When he opens the door of his modest home, he is bombarded with the rich aroma of a casserole coming out of the oven. The house is very small, but his wife keeps it spotlessly clean. A bit of lace and some fresh garden flowers in a juice glass adorn the worn table where the dinnerware lies ready for their meal.

Today I took a plastic cup with a small bit of paint and went up the ladder to do some touch up painting. Every time I dipped the brush into the paint I thought of my dad. I realized how many times I'd seen him do some dab painting with a similar small cup.

Then I began to marvel at how much of what I do everyday is similar to how someone else did it in my past. The blood of the generations before me courses through my veins, and with it genes that play a part in who I am. And its not just the blood connection--a lot of it stems from living with someone. So much of what I do is because of how my parents did things ... and they like their parents ... and eventually we get back to the little house on the creek in Pennsylvania (my grandfather), and the tavern in the small Holland town (my great grandfather).

It's fascinating when you think about it. I guess sometimes we just can't help but be who we are. How fun it would be to really get a glimpse into my ancestors' lives. But I guess I have to look no further than at myself.

Posted originally three years ago this month. Connecting with Chari's Sunday Favorites

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


A gift for me ... to read to Little One. Sort of like grandma tools. Check out the name of this book!
 Only this Gardener is a small girl, not a very tall man.

 I was captivated reading this book and that's probably why it's a classic. 
Big people enjoy the story too.

 One of my favorite parts: the baby sister decides she also should be part of the wedding procession, and everyone knows not to mess with her or it would disrupt the whole deal.

                        This scene needs no explanation.
                      Can you hear the squeals of delight?
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