29 August 2015


Recently, I was reading my friend RJ's blog ART AT HOME, and she mentioned a new (to me) product which she had ordered from an art supplier.  I had never heard of water soluble art crayons, and I was intrigued, so I ordered a small starter set.  I like them so much, I am thinking to get a few more so that I can expand the color range.  The colors are also sold separately. 

I am still getting the hang of using them.  I like to draw, and I also enjoy splashing around paint on canvas.  I wasn't sure exactly how they were meant to be used, but I had recently made a few drawings with a pencil, and decided to color one of them in, just to see how it worked.  At first, I thought it would be something like using pastels, and as I had ordered a stump with the crayons, I first tried blending the colors with that.  I didn't have much luck there, so then I got my watercolor brushes and a cup of water.  That was magic!

A gangly teenage boy and his dog, reading on a lazy summer afternoon.
I forgot to take a photo of this when it was just a light pencil drawing.  

It took a while, but I got it all colored in, and blended, and then I thought it looked too much like a coloring book, so I started blending colors and lifting colors off wet with a wadded up paper towel.  I am not altogether displeased with the results.  What do you think?

Pencil drawing of a woman at the bath
I have always liked drawing nudes, so I did this little drawing of a woman about to get into the bath, with the idea of coloring this one in from the beginning.  I quickly discovered that it doesn't take much color, especially using black, to get what you want.  Again, I went back lifting color off and smudging more.  

I might try a still life, maybe fruits and vegetables, next.  Drawing in ink is on the agenda, too, before adding the color.  Since I did not have a wide color range of crayons, I got out my color drawing pencils as well, which also work with a brush and water to blend.  I do need some better flesh tones which Caran D'Ache offers.

Have you ever tried this product  or technique?  What do you think?  Do you enjoy painting and drawing as a hobby, too?

26 August 2015


Has everyone seen the cute little  "She Sheds" yet?  Go check out Finding Silver Pennies and The Apron blog at Home Depot.  Be sure to look these over if you have been trying to find a little space just for you, where you don't have to let in your husband or kids.  Maybe the dog, but that's it.  It is basically a garden shed transformed into your happy alone place.

The concept is wonderful.  However, I don't see any A/C,  lighting or even insulation. Here in Alabama, we would need A/C, a ceiling fan, more windows, insulated walls, and I would need  more square footage, too.  I want to use whatever I decide on as an art space, and I need various things in there like a big work table, my drawing table, my easel, my little yellow wicker desk and the green wicker cabinet for supplies.  I also want to put in a some chairs for chilling out around the table, or maybe that little turquoise wicker set.  Maybe I will move the wine fridge in there, too, while I am dreaming?

Our forest is coming along

Certainly this shed thing is a more affordable option than a sunroom or a stick-built addition to the back of the house.   While this one is certainly cute, (and they do come in larger sizes) I am still weighing all my options.  I don't really think this is it.  At least not for me.

The screen porch from the outside -- my happy place.

I need more square footage and light, but there is not much room back here:

Whatever it might be would have to go here where I am standing.  The stepping stone path could be moved over toward the roses alongside the other stones, and the  shrubbery  to the right which you can't really see would go away so that it could abut the back of the house.  So -- we will see what, if anything, shakes out. Keep your fingers crossed!

Screen shot from Born to Dance movie

On another track altogether, check this out about a movie my son co-produced in New Zealand.  It has made it into the Toronto Film Festival, and that is one of the top festivals in the world!  Exciting, yes?   Here is a link for the trailer, too, and also for the newest one on U-tube.  This is going to appeal to our more flexible hipper younger readers, obviously.  After a few sessions at the Y this past week, I have developed a new respect for a limber body as I creak my way through the classes!

23 August 2015


A little followup to yesterday's post:  the American heroes on that train in France were not Marines after all, but two are American soldiers.  And -- there were more than two.  There were three buddies since childhood from America just taking a vacation together, and the fourth was a Brit and quite a bit older than these young guys.  He waded into the fray anyway.  First reports are not always reliable.  I am still proud of them whether they are Marines or not, aren't you?

Thanks again to all the voices who joined the chorus to help out with my silly Instagram conundrum.  I just deleted it off the computer where I never really looked at it.  It seems to work fine on the iPad, and that is OK to entertain myself with on a long ride somewhere.  I don't really need to post anything in the first place, and I could't ever figure out how to post anything except a photo made with the app itself.  The iPhone screen is so small that I can't see it very well anyway, so it is not terribly helpful.  Of all my little electronic toys, I like my iPad the best except when it comes to blogging.  However, I did figure out how to make that work in a pinch.

This was last week when we got caught in a downpour at lunch.

We are supposed to get lots of rain this week, and temps will be like early Fall -- pretty much unheard of in Alabama in August.  I could feel it today, and leaves have been dropping here and there for a couple of weeks.  The weather is so weird now, isn't it?    
Go check out Jenna's post at The Painted Apron where she has featured some fantastical luxury closets.  Somehow I got in there, too, with my little Boho bath.  I am scheming to get Sweet Husband to let me add a sunroom onto the back of the house to be used as a dedicated art space.  Keep the good thoughts for me, because I already have it all planned!  Now I just need to fall into that tub of butter...

21 August 2015


As I write, The Donald is speaking in my home state.  He has a big crowd, the biggest yet in this upcoming Presidential election.  One of our Alabama U.S. Senators has endorsed him (a man I am not enamored of).  Just goes to show you, in this country anything can happen.  Talk like an 8th grade boy, and everybody loves you!  He supposedly is incredibly smart. I guess we will see...  Can you believe all those people sat outside in the heat and humidity for this?  I am sitting in A/C, and I am still hot.  I guess I will remember this next Winter when it is freezing and I can hardly move.  But first, there is Hurricane Danny out there in the Atlantic which may become a force to be reckoned with and take the focus off The Donald.

In other news, thank you to each every one of you who tried to help me with Instagram.  I may just delete the stupid thing and forget about it. The only reason I was trying to make it work was to "keep up" -- and then I think, "keep up with what?"  Who cares?

Two of our brave Marines today prevented a massacre on a train from Amsterdam to Paris.  That makes me proud.  Semper Fi!

This past week we joined the YMCA.  So far, so good.  I have already  been sleeping better.  I am not sore, but Sweet Husband is.  Of course, he pushes himself to extremes.  I am much lazier.

Have a loverly weekend!

20 August 2015


I am just about this befuddled!

I have been trying for a while to use Instagram.  I think in the beginning, I managed to post about 3 photos.

Now it will not work on any of my devices except the iPad.  I have changed my password about forty-eleven times, and it will not ever recognize it or my login, even when I change it.  There are at least a dozen passwords saved on my computer for it, none of which will work.  I have read all the help pages and still "can't get no satisfaction."  I am running out of patience!

Obviously I need help!!!

If you are proficient with it, please let me know how to fix it, or share a reference for a fix.

Thanks so much!

16 August 2015


Just a girl from a small podunk town in Alabama whose life choices led me on a strange odyssey through some bizarre highs and lows, I have met or seen or rubbed shoulders with a fair number of celebrities during that journey before settling down to a nice quiet conventional life in Suburbia with Sweet Husband.  When I heard on CNN last Sunday that Frank Gifford had died, I thought about the time our paths crossed once very briefly many years ago when he was between wives, long before he ever met Kathie Lee.

Not a sports fan ever, I was largely unfamiliar with famous sports figures, although I was cognizant of some sports-related ephemera via osmosis since I was married at the time to The Abusive Sperm Donor who was obsessed with sports, just like a lot of other men including the nice husband I have now. I guess it is a man thing.  During those years I used to do a little modeling and TV work for a photographer whose own work involved photographing well-known sportsmen for various magazines.  

It was the early 70s.  I attended a party after a long day at a major golf tournament with this photographer and his wife.  Many people who lived in the oh so Southern little city where this fancy golfing event was held every year threw lavish parties for the celebrities who regularly attended the tournament, and not all of them were sports figures, some being in the entertainment or music business.  The hosts' local friends were invited, too, and they got to rub shoulders with their golden heroes.  This particular party was hosted by some close friends of this photographer and his wife, and I was invited along, too, since I was their houseguest for a couple of days.

The big names dropped in and out in groups, since there were lots of parties every evening, and I suppose they were hitting them all, a short time here and a short time there, just making the rounds.  Late in the evening, someone took me by the arm, and said, "I've got just the guy for you!  Meet Frank Gifford -- he's on TV, and he's handsome and available!"  I had no idea who he was or why he was on TV, mind you, but he certainly was handsome, I'll tell you that.  He was grinning sheepishly at me, looking faintly embarrassed.  I replied (probably regretfully if the truth be told), "Unfortunately, I am not..." and held up my left hand, still shackled with The Abusive Sperm Donor's gold wedding ring.  Frank Gifford actually blushed when he said "Hi!"  His group soon turned to go, and that was that.  

I met quite a few sports notables  at that party, too, and my photo was snapped with many of them.  I had no idea who most of them were, or why they were famous.  They were just people, like everyone else.  Some were very nice and friendly, others were not.  I have never seen any of these photos, so I don't know what happened to them.  

When I got back home to my little life as a somewhat nervous wife and mommy in North Carolina, and I was telling my friends about my trip, and they were all agog.  They all immediately enlightened me as to who exactly Frank Gifford was.  I had no inkling that these women willingly watched Monday Night Football.  "I can't believe you met him!"  Next thing you know, there was a get together, along with the husbands, everybody pressing me for every single solitary detail I could dredge up.  Such was life in a small town, where someone they knew who met some famous people suddenly became a star herself.

Here is an article about the man himself, who would have been 85 today.


13 August 2015


Today was another ride on an  emotional roller coaster.  We attended the funeral of my 96-year-old cousin, my last first cousin on my father's side.  This has been the end of an era on that  side of my family, just like when my last uncle on my mother's side died less than two weeks ago.  As I have explained before in my book about my mother Geneva, I had a lot of first cousins on my father's side who were as old or older than my late mother.  The reason for that was because my father's two brothers were both 18 and 20 years respectively older than he was.  They both started their families young, as a lot of people did way back then, and my father started his own family late, having had to be the man of the family at the age of eight when his own father died at the age of 45, leaving him with the responsibility for his mother and baby sister.  Not that his father ever took responsibility for anything when he was alive, mind you.  Christened "the fiddler and the diddler" by another of our cousins, he was a story unto himself.  Another time maybe I'll tell you that one.

Girda and me
last Christmas,
because I promised her
I would never show anyone
the photos of us on her last birthday
 at the end of June.

When someone dies, even if you were not even particularly close to them, it is a phenomenon how the memories of your shared interaction or even just your thoughts about the person wash over you in waves for a little while, like surf breaking on the shore, each wave triggering another memory until the tide goes out and then there is calm.  That is when you go hunting for the beach treasures or the shells, or in the case of the death of a person, sifting through your memories because that is all that is left.  

Today, we arrived 30 minutes early for the visitation as we had been invited to do, because the casket would be open for a little while before being closed for good at 11 when the public visitation would begin.  Since I had only heard about her death on Sunday just yesterday, I am still in the wave-crashing mode, and as people came and went, I heard more stories, many I had not heard before.  I was heartened by the number of attendees, since she had reached the age of 96 and all her contemporaries were gone.

She never had children of her own, yet she had many as a third grade teacher for many years.  Her husband was the head of the math department of a college in a small town for quite a long time, and was famous for tutoring young brains who were having a hard time with the subject.

She was the epitome of the Gracious Southern Lady, always beautifully dressed, wearing very high heels well into her eighties.  Always behind the wheel of a new Cadillac, usually wearing a fur coat and lots of nice jewelry to boot, she entertained like a Queen, ever the consummate hostess, always, always finding an occasion for a party.  

She tried very hard to influence me when I was growing up, telling me things (almost surreptitiously) about how to be a good wife and an asset to my future husband, how to make a active social life for us as a couple, how to manage introductions, and all the finer points of etiquette.  She knew my own mother didn't know much about these things because Geneva worked far too hard and was way too busy to play bridge and go to ladies' hats-and-glove club meetings.  It must be pointed out that she did not learn these things at her own mother's knee, either.

I suppose I failed her in the end, because I have always considered a bridge game a colossal waste of time, and I would rather read than go to parties.  She was a fabulous cook, so probably I didn't really let her down in that regard.  She was the first person I knew who had a whole wall of cookbooks in her kitchen, and I consciously, or not, emulated that.  Her own mother was the consummate biscuit maker using buttermilk, soda and lard puffed to perfection in her wood stove, although I never knew my cousin to make a biscuit.

She did not marry the love of her life till her early thirties because she would not walk down the aisle till she had completed her college degree.  Long ago in Alabama, a person could teach with two years of college, and only then after passing a teacher's certification exam.  My own father had done this early in his life.  When she met her future husband, he was quite a lot older than she with all the requisite degrees plus a war hero besides, and he was possessed of a brilliant mind.  She wanted to measure up.  She did not want him to be ashamed of her because she was lacking, so she put him off till she could say that she had, too, earned her bachelor's degree like the other wives in his circle of academics.  

They were a devoted couple the rest of their lives together, and then she lived another 20 years after he died.  I have never seen another couple who so openly adored one another the way they did.  I heard many intimate details about their life, none of which I will share here, but trust me on this one, they had their challenges. No one's life is a fairy tale.  If you think so, you have heard a lie.

One's truth always lies in the eye of the beholder, but it is actually somewhere in the middle between what you think you know and in the perception of others. It was a revelation to hear some of the stories I heard today.  

I had no idea.  


11 August 2015


Do you live another life in your head, lost in your daydreams, like Walter Mitty?  I confess that I do.  Most of the time, it looks much like the one described in today's post on The Style Saloniste.  This is a fabulous blog in case you don't know, written by Dian Dorran Saeks who publishes many articles on travel and design, as well as having published many distinguished and comprehensive books on design.  

If you have Bohemian leanings, or just wish you could, you will love this post about Theadora Van Runkle, a well-known Hollywood costume designer and artist who died almost four years ago. (Aside:  I have done a little costume design myself, but I didn't get famous.)

This fabulous artist's Laurel Canyon cottage is now for sale, and here is the link to the real estate listing on the blog page of the realtors' site. I believe this piece was also written by Ms. Saeks.  

I don't want to risk any copyright infringement, so I am not going to show you the fabulous pictures from either of those sites.  Trust me, though, when it is time for your break today, go to these links and prepare to be transported to a world that included the likes of Warren Beatty, Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Steve McQueen, etc. in the 1960s.

Theadora Van Runkle was nominated for an Oscar many times, and she dressed the actors for many, many of your favorite movies, including her breakout piece, Bonnie and Clyde.  Didn't we all want to look like Faye Dunnaway then?  Here is a link to a piece in the Hollywood Reporter upon her death.  Her very life began in a Bohemian way, and she basically invented herself, according to what I read.  At this link, the writer J B Taylor points out that Theadora showed us all that it is possible to be glamorously Bohemian into your eighth decade (and beyond?)  Even young men were still totally smitten with her.  (Unfortunately this blog doesn't seem to be kept up anymore -- too bad, it is quite interesting.)

screen shot from J B Taylor blog

Just a little gift from me to you today!


06 August 2015

DECEMBER 10, 1936

King Edward as he abdicated his throne for the woman he loved.
It was raining that day in Atlanta. 

The little girl on the right facing the camera is the present-day Queen Elizabeth

As an incurable romantic all my life, the story of the king who gave it all up for the woman he loved has always been a source of never-ending fascination.  In later years, the more I read and the more I heard, it seemed that their idyllic lifestyle of gallivanting around Europe and being the style-setters for the rich and famous of their day may not have been quite as lovely as the public was so eager to believe.  A new book or movie pops up from time to time, and as the event is now eighty years ago in history, the re-telling becomes either more fanciful or more gritty, take your pick.

The Duke of York, father of Elizabeth as the new king

Today we popped into an estate sale preview in between the monsoons, mainly because I had seen on the gallery some incredible silver and china, and "I just wanted to look."  I have nowhere to put any more, no need for any more, but I always find these sales so intriguing. It seems that this dear little lady might have been a children's librarian or teacher.  There were a couple of rooms dedicated to books, walls and walls of books.  Boxes and boxes of books.  Hallways of shelves of books.  There were a few earnest young women, presumably newly minted teachers themselves, sitting on the floor stacking many of these little gems into smaller more totable boxes, after carefully checking them over.  There were several sets of children's encyclopedias, too, and the rooms were infused with that lovely musty smell that only comes from old books.

A glamour shot of Mrs. Simpson.
She was a serious clotheshorse. 

My eyes fell upon a very yellowed old newspaper, which had been scattered carelessly about over yet another folding table of little books.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing!  

These photos of the coronation were a few months later, in April, from another paper.
Elizabeth is fourth from the right.
The public loved her even as a child.
Notice in the upper right "Pictures Flown by Merrill across Atlantic"
Now we just click and they are there.
Ah, nostalgia.

It was an amalgam of several Atlanta newspapers proclaiming the news of the abdication of the King of England on December 10, 1936, because he found the crown too heavy to wear without the woman he loved by his side to support him. He had begged Parliament to circumvent the rules, making her his consort not his queen, but because she was American, twice-divorced and had a racy reputation, his pleas were thwarted.  He threw in the towel because he hadn't wanted to be king in the first place, gladly letting his brother have the crown with the stroke of his pen, and which he signed with "R.I." (Rex Imperatus) for the last time.

QEII's mother, the woman we all knew as the "Queen Mum"

Since we got home today, I have read through these almost-eighty year old papers with great delight.  I have even read the ads, too, incredulous at the low, low prices for food, goods and services.  Keep in mind that this was during The Great Depression, so many people probably couldn't buy the things being offered even at these almost giveaway prices.  The paper is large, yellowed and torn, and it made me so hungry for that feel of a real newspaper in my hands again.  The longing for a morning paper is palpable at times when I smell coffee because as an adult, I always read two or three newspapers every morning before beginning my day.  They have mostly gone the way of the dodo bird now.  In fact, we refer to our local pitiful rag as "the birdcage liner" and don't bother any more. I read the news online, now, just like everybody else.

Next time, I will share some of those ads.  I think you will enjoy those, too.

The little piece at the lower left says that Wallis Warfield Simpson was so overcome at his big announcement that she took to her bed, but then she rallied and partied on.  Click on the link and at the bottom of that page, you will find a list of the many books and films about this pair who still fascinate us after all these years.  

05 August 2015


Have you ever noticed that some of the bloggers you like best don't post very often?  As in many months go by, sometimes, not just mere weeks?  It seems that some of those are the wittiest, cleverest and most savvy of all the bloggers.  They don't post a lot because they are busy with real life.  I really miss some of these.

Obviously they are not concerned with traffic or being popular or upping their stats or whatever it is that the "professional" bloggers do to ensure that they get lots of hits, lots of bucks and lots of free stuff.  

I like "fly by the seat of your pants" blogs like Pat's over at Back Porch Musings.  She says she is not thrilled with planning out posts way in advance.  Me, either.  (We all understand that there are some who have to make their living this way, and I am not talking about them.) I stopped trying to plan posts a long time ago. 

It has become increasingly annoying, these blogs where ads pop up in front of my face all the time when I am trying to read their latest nuggets about what color they painted some piece of junk they found in a local thrift shop, and Glory Be, it is for sale!  Kudos to them that they can (a) sell said piece of junk via their blogs, and (b) write a couple of inane lines to clutter up my email box and then get a few bucks out of the deal because I was dumb enough to click over to their post to read the rest. 

Blogs with this type of ads also deposit cookies and malware on your computer!  I found out hard way never to click on any of these ads no matter how intriguing they look.

I am also done with sites which exist solely to try to sell me something.  If I want to shop for something, I will just go out shopping or google it.

I am hereby serving notice that I am  (a) cleaning out my sidebar of such sites, and (b) I will also unsubscribe to these blogs.  These sites load up my email every morning, and, sad to say, I must have seen something on these blogs at one time or other that interested me or I would not have subscribed in the first place.  I have noticed that these bloggers do not read mine any more, anyway, so they will not even be aware of this post.

I have found such a nice little group of friends on the blogs that I don't really want to quit blogging altogether, although I have toyed with that idea for quite some time.  I really look forward to exchanging a few quips with you a lot of days.  It can be a real pick-me-up.  Some of you I have met in person, and I value those friendships, too.  I am talking here about the ones to whom I am just another "stat", or another couple bucks, not a person.

So look for a leaner meaner cleaner sidebar here on this blog in the very near future.  (That means when I get time to do it.)  

Fair is fair.

04 August 2015


Since we were talking hot sauce and hot peppers only yesterday, it seems fitting that I tell you about my lunch today.
Cool stools! 

Sweet Husband and I had a few errands to do today, and we decided that we could do them all over here in our neighborhood village without having to venture any farther afoot.  

Good thing, too -- it was about 100 degrees on our car thermometer the whole time we were out.  I pulled out another straw hat.  I have all these dumb hats, so I might as well protect the alabaster skin right?

We got up late-ish, and decided to only have coffee so that we could hit a place that recently opened at the far end of our village.  It is called Big Bad Breakfast.  Now I am not one who will normally go out for breakfast because I like to be (a) lazy and drink coffee and read on my computer for a couple of hours, and (b) I like to be able to get ready for my day in a leisurely fashion.  Who the heck likes to rush about getting presentable at 7:30 in the morning to run to eat breakfast and not have access to your toothbrush, etc.?  Not me!  That's why we call it "RETIRED".  

So we arrived at BBB about 11:30 and the joint was hoppin'.  Their hours are 7:30 till 2:30 according to Sweet Husband who read it on the menu.  They do offer various cocktails, etc., but we passed, opting for iced coffee which was fabulous!  It really hit the spot on this hot day.  I will probably be awake till in the morning, but it was probably worth it.

The "Elvis" with a side of grits

Sweet Husband ordered the "Elvis", a fried sandwich with peanut butter, mayo and banana piled high with bacon.  Yes ma'am, you read that right. Thank God he takes Lipitor.

I ordered the Big Bad BLT.  I took a bite, and yes, it was delicious, and yes, it was hot as fire, but I don't mean with fire.  Turns out the mayo and the bacon both are infused with Tabasco!!!

Good thing I like really hot stuff.  The potato salad was very unusual, but OK.  It had a flavored vinegar type of dressing.

Their menu is quite varied with everything you can imagine for breakfast and lunch.  People were lined up waiting by the time we left, so I would say that we arrived at a good time. 

This is the meat case full of bacon and sausage and various other goodies with the kitchen toward the back.  I think this is where you pick up To Go orders, too.   Sorry for the blurry iPhone photo.  This really is a cool little diner type of place, and there is a large patio with umbrella tables where you can sit when it is not so blooming hot.  We will definitely be going back.

Big Bad Breakfast!

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