Sunday, August 9, 2020

Joseph Paxton- Crystal Palace, Orchids, Bananas ("A Thing Disguised" by Kate Colquhoun)

The following has been a draft for some time...let me tell you that I sent a package to my father-in-law for Father's Day.  I sent him a book -"A Thing Disguised" by Kate Colquhoun, which is a biography of Joseph Paxton.  I was thrilled to discover this book for him because during our chats I had asked him what was his earliest memory. He told me that in 1936 when he was 5 years old, he saw the burning of the Crystal Palace from his grandfather's upstairs window. He saw the actual flames!  If you read this book you can understand why this would have made such an impression.  The smoke could be seen for miles, across seven counties.  Peter would have only been 3 or 4 miles away in Spurgeon's Bridge, Croydon.) This book is so well written and goes into such incredible detail. I can't begin to tell you how pleased I was to find a book that my father-in-law enjoyed so very much.  I think he liked it almost as much as the ginger biscuits from Scotland that also came as a gift! My idea, send a book along with something to have with a cuppa tea.  Okay, now I will let you read what I had written about this subject...please forgive me if my writing is a bit scattered.  The state of Georgia is one of those that is very high in the rates of the virus and let's just say that high anxiety is not good for writing, not for me anyway.  Take care, all of here is my story on Joseph Paxton. Hope you enjoy learning about him as much as I did. You know I had to get myself the same exact book, "A Thing Disguised-The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton" by Kate Colquhoun.

Hello, my friends! Look at these lovely flowers! I have shown you these is a picture of the beautiful "carpet gardens" along the seafront in Eastbourne in England, which is where my father-in-law lives.  Now, here is the thing...these gardens have been carefully planted and tended and it has been this way since Victorian times! (Except during the times of the world wars, I imagine. I think I read that they planted vegetables there during WW2.)  Did any of you see the marvelous TV series "Victoria"? If so, I hope you remember the episode about the Crystal Palace.  What, you didn't see it? And when you hear Crystal Palace, you only think of a football (soccer) team from England? Well, read on...

The Crystal Palace was a marvel of architecture by Joseph Paxton. You might think he was from a wealthy family and was highly educated. There, you would be wrong! Born to a poor family in 1803 on a farm 50 miles from London, most of his knowledge came from his time at Chiswick Gardens where he lied about his age in order to attend a study program there. When the truth of his age came out, they must not have minded since they hired him as a gardener, when he was still a teenager. Chiswick Gardens were close to the gardens of William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, who one day  happened upon Joseph Paxton working in the gardens. He must have been quite impressed by the young man, he offered him the position of head gardener at his estate at Chatsworth. Joseph Paxton would have been only 20 years of age.  (Now, I have to tell you, I have never seen Chatsworth but do you have any idea of how much I LONG to see the gardens there? I sincerely do! Look, I have a link to them...Chatsworth!)

Joseph Paxton was only 23 years old when he went to work for William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. Would you like to read the letter that Joseph Paxton wrote about his first day on the job? After reading it, see why Charles Dickens (no slouch himself) called him "the busiest man in England."

"I left London by the Comet Coach for Chesterfield, and arrived at Chatsworth at half past four o'clock in the morning of the ninth of May 1826. As no person was to be seen at that early hour, I got over the greenhouse gate by the old covered way, explored the pleasure grounds, and looked round the outside of the house. I then went down to the kitchen gardens, scaled the outside wall and saw the whole place, set the men to work there at six o'clock; then returned to Chatsworth and got Thomas Weldon to play me the waterworks, and afterwards went to breakfast with poor dear Mrs. Gregory and her niece. The latter fell in love with me and I with her, and thus completed my first morning's work at Chatsworth before nine o'clock."

There...isn't that an incredible letter? And reader, of course he married the young woman mentioned! Sarah Bown became Mrs. Joseph Paxton on 20 February, 1827.  As you learn of everything that he accomplished in his life, it is good to remember that his wife worked very much "behind the scenes" and therefore enabled him to do as much as he did. I am not negating anything about the man, mind you, just wanted to point out that little fact.

While Joseph Paxton was working at Chatsworth, he began having an interest in greenhouses.( Now, let me inject myself into this narrative and tell you that I was astonished to learn that the modern way of heating homes in Britain actually came from the design of greenhouses where hot water was first circulated through pipes! As an American, I think this is a genius way to heat a home...and it means you have hot pipes on which to place your towels...and to finish drying your socks! Okay, back to the story of the great man...)
You can see from my title post that I mentioned orchids and bananas...orchids were cultivated in the greenhouses at Chatsworth and so were bananas! In fact, the bananas we eat today are called the Cavendish variety! Joseph Paxton named it after his employer. 

Now, back to the Crystal Palace. If you saw the Victoria TV series, you might remember Prince Albert working on the idea behind the "Great Exhibition of the Industries of All Nations".  Joseph Paxton's design was chosen for the building to house this great exhibition. His idea, a building made of glass and iron and the internal supports inspired by the giant water lily from Brazil, the Victoriana amazonica.  (He actually had his young daughter stand upon one of these lily pads. If you look it up, you can see a photo of this. Quite astounding, I think.)
The Crystal Palace was 1851 feet long (built in 1851, don't you know), 408 feet wide and was 108 feet high at the entrance. 60,000 people could be inside at one time and it held 104,000 exhibits. So, all iron supports and glass. Can you imagine it? You don't have to, you can look up photos of it!
Just over five months after opening, it had welcomed more than 6 million people! Here is a great thing about it, it was entirely funded by fundraising and admission fees. Not one penny from the government went toward the building of the Crystal Palace. (This was at Prince Albert's insistence.)  It must have been a wonderful sight to see! It amused me to see that many flocked to see a very large diamond on display there but something else was equally astonishing to the crowds...a flushing toilet! (I can just hear the people..."Did you see that diamond?" With the reply, "Forget that diamond, give me that FLUSHING TOILET!")

After the exhibition, the Crystal Palace was relocated to Sydenham Hill in South London. The surrounding area was renamed Crystal Palace which is where the modern day Crystal Palace Football Club gets it name. The Crystal Palace stood from June 1854 until the destruction by fire on November 1936.  As the abdication of King Edward VIII was to occur in early December of 1936, it must have seemed that bad news was never ending...and you must remember that the British still had World War II on the horizon.

Let me just finish by saying that the 7th Duke of Devonshire (son of the 6th, of course who was also named William Cavendish) is the man behind the development of Eastbourne, where the hotels were built ACROSS the street from the beach so as not to block the lovely sea views! Remember Eastbourne is where Peter, my dear father-in-law lives, if you can think back to the beginning of this post!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Will The Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away

It is with a strong sense of deja vu that I share this video with you but if you have heard these voices before, you can always hear them again!  Johnny Cash, his deep voice along with the strong voice of Roebuck "Pops" Staples - wonderful singing! And please listen to the one point, Pops Staples says to the crowd, "Clap your hands, you'll feel better!" The song they sing here, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" starts out with June Carter Cash singing and that is just right since this song is most well known from the Carter Family.  The song was first written as a hymn in 1907 with lyrics by an Englishwoman named Ada Ruth Habershon and the music by an American, Charles H. Gabriel. (He also wrote the music for "His Eye Is On The Sparrow", along with many others...I have read that he wrote the tunes for as many as 8000 songs!) Ada Ruth Habershon was asked to write some gospel songs and within the year wrote over 200!  Now, how does the Carter Family come into the story about this song?  A.P. Carter, the founding member of The Carter Family, re-worked the lyrics of the hymn "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" to "Can The Circle Be Unbroken" and changed the lyrics to be about the death of his mother, still keeping a good many of the original lyrics. (Although, I notice that most folks sing it as "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" but with the lyrics of A.P. Carter.)

Songwriters! You all know how fascinated I am by them! Also, June Carter Cash wrote "Ring of Fire" (along with a co-writer Merle Kilgore.) AND she was a fantastic actress! I will never forget her in the TV movie,  "Murder In Coweta County"! Anybody remember that? The film was based on a true story.  Johnny Cash played the sheriff of Coweta County and Andy Griffith played the bad guy! June Carter Cash had the role of Mayhayley Lancaster, the "Oracle of the Ages". (Look her up!)  Her portrayal deserved an Oscar!  I really do wish they could somehow show this movie again, it was truly an amazing film...
Anyway, where was I before I got sidetracked about that great film? Oh yes, this video...please tell me you love it! And I forgot to tell you, this was from a TV show from England called "Later With Jools Holland". I hope you all know who Jools Holland is! What? You don't know him?  Look out for another post soon! I suppose I could squeeze out one more post about songwriters! Hee hee.

My Dad really loved music. I have a wonderful memory of going with him to hear a gospel group perform at a local church. Just as the band began to play, I started to tap my foot and it amused me to notice that my Daddy started tapping  his foot at the same exact moment! One of his favorites was "I'll Fly Away". I found a video for you!  You knew I would! 

"Clap ya hands, you'll feel better!"

(And I have a link below to tell you a bit more about Mayhayley Lancaster. Fascinating woman!)

Our early morning walks can sometimes be heavenly!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Good News

Good news!

Oh, are you not just starving for good news these days?
Remember me telling you about the elderly gentleman in England who walked up and down his garden to raise money for the NHS?
He was knighted by the Queen in her first public appearance since the Covid 19 lockdown. ( I knew she would do that! Please, don't ask me how I have the insight on what the Queen will do, I can't tell you ALL my secrets!)  Captain Tom Moore wanted to raise 1000 pounds by walking 100 laps around his garden. I think the final total raised was over 23 million pounds.  (Be sure to look at the BBC and see the videos of Captain Tom speaking about this! Excuse me, SIR Captain Tom!)
Then this week, a man in Wisconsin, USA won the lottery. He won MILLIONS! He chose the cash option which gave him $16.7 million. Here is the good news about that...he chose to share it with a friend of his! They had told each other that if one of them won the lottery, they would split it. They sealed the deal with a handshake back in 1992. Hey, a deal's a deal.

A young boy in Minnesota, USA protected his sister when a dog attached her. He shielded her but he had to receive 90 stitches in his face.  Chris Evans, the actor who portrayed Captain America, heard of this and sent him a message that an official Captain America shield was on its way to the lad! 
On the home front, butterflies are suddenly appearing on our bright orange Mexican sunflowers and this morning, a bright yellow (male) goldfinch landed on one! (This photo of the goldfinch was from last year because I couldn't get to the camera quickly enough but the one this morning was just as gorgeous!) And do you see the twig where the bird has landed? That is the remains from the Mexican sunflower from LAST YEAR! It was in a pot, you see, so we move it there where we can see it, the birds have a place to land and we can see them!
Have you heard that people have really taken a great deal of interest in the birds this year due to the lockdown and folks noticing nature for the first time? That is good news to me since my husband and I have enjoyed the birds for years! They bring so much beauty to us.
Also, the butterflies have been a bit scarce this year but with our Mexican sunflowers blooming more, we have gratefully seen more of them! 

More good news!  FINAL: The Atlanta Braves beat the Mets 5-3 at Citi Field today! Down to their LAST strike in the 9th inning, Ozuna tied it and then, the Atlanta offense scored 3 in the top of the 10th inning to win the game!  Oh goodness me, how my Dad would have loved that game. "It's not over til  it's over", he always said, "there's always hope". (Loved watching the baseball games with him as we talked on the phone together!)
Have I told you all before that I pronounce my husband's name the English way? In America, Richard sounds like "Rich-URD" instead of Rich-ARD".  If you can't understand what I mean, you might remember "Keeping Up Appearances" and Hyacinth giving her poor husband such a hard time. Not that I would ever do the same! "Oh, Rich-ARD". 
Well, not much anyway! (Be sure to look at the web version if you look at this on your phone so you can listen to the video I have for you!)

Take care everyone! Wear masks and keep your distance! Looking forward to the day when saying this is just a memory.
Share your good news and stay positive. Keep encouraging each other.  Have I told you lately how much I appreciate all my blogging buddies? Y'all are just the best.   

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Joys of Gardening! (Hornworms On Tomatoes?)

Hello all my lovely friends out there in Blogland! How are you all doing? It is my hope that you are doing all you can to stay healthy during these trying times.

Richard and I have been quite busy with our garden. (Well, Richard mostly, I just help, a bit!)  One weekend, we WRESTLED with something called a tomato hornworm. I had no idea what it was, I had to do a search on the internet for it. (In fact, it is called a TOBACCO hornworm, it has white, horizontal markings on the side. If it has red v-shaped markings, it is a tomato hornworm. The way to remember it, the white can remind you of cigarettes and the red can remind you of vine ripened tomatoes! Hey, I didn't make this up, just telling you what I learned!)  Okay, it doesn't really matter which one it is, both of them will eat your tomatoes and leaves SLAP UP!  So, you must get rid of them! My information said to get a bucket of soapy water and drop them into it. Yep, it does the trick!  Now, it is called a hornworm  but it is actually a caterpillar for the Sphinx moth.  It is called that because when the caterpillar is at rest, apparently, it reminds one of the Sphinx. (Don't ask me, whenever I saw it, it was head first into one of our tomatoes!)  No worries, after that one weekend, we were able to pick them off the plants and are now enjoying our tomatoes, besides our crisp cucumbers!  And sometimes a cucumber will "hide" from you and will grow too big and will be too bitter to eat. I think I told you in a post before that when I was a little girl, we would wrap up the overgrown cuke in a wash cloth and pretend it was a baby.  Did anybody else do that? So funny to think of these childhood memories...

                                     (Note the small pickling cucumber the correct size and the overgrown one that was hiding! I pickled a few but honestly, we just like to eat them!)

Since I spent so much time on research, I will share my newfound knowledge about the destructive caterpillars which are usually called hornworms.
 Manduca quinquemaculata---that is the one with the v shapes on the side, it has a black horn.  Commonly called the tomato hornworm.
Manduca sexta-  "robust & bright green with white diagonal striped markings on the side, 
and a small horn on the last abdominal segment (head is on the other end.")  P.S. I knew where the head was, it was right down inside one of our tomatoes!  This one is called the tobacco hornworm, said both interlap but the Manduca sexta is more common in the southeast USA, which is where we are! 
If you are ever growing tomatoes and you notice some tiny black dots underneath your plant, then look out for these hornworms! And look carefully, they are masters at camouflage. Not sure if these are everywhere in the world but they sure are here in Georgia.

Nature and needlework,,, that is what has helped my sanity! (And by needlework, I mean my crochet, I find it very relaxing.)  What has been helpful to you?

And of course there is always MUSIC!
We must have a song!  "A Kiss To Build A Dream On"...I have been humming that for a while now!   (Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, someone I truly admire and sung by the one and only, Louis Armstrong.)  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Monastery

The Monastery here in Rockdale County, Georgia is a place of serenity and peace.
The stained glass windows at the Monastery are blue, purple and pink. The whole of the church is bathed in a blue light when the sun is out but the altar is in yellow, the windows there are yellow and orange. It is very effective.  The monks built everything here, the concrete building and the stained glass windows. At first, they meant to just have the windows as plain glass. However, the Georgia heat made for a change of mind! It made it much cooler with the blue....

  The church at the Monastery has been closed since mid March so I have not been able to step inside the sanctuary of the church since then.  I miss it. Of course, the monks are quite elderly now and it makes perfect sense for them to close down but it is still something that I miss terribly. Still, I know that the monks are there and working and praying every day.  (That is what they do, after all, "ora et labora"...the Latin for pray and labor.)
If you are reading this from the USA, you can always go to their website and order gifts for mailing.    I do think they ship anywhere in the country.
The fruitcake and biscotti are both very good. 



Sunday, July 5, 2020

Do You Want To Know A Secret (I'm Happy Just To Dance With You.)

Do you enjoy a play on words? I do! My title post might seem to imply that I secretly love to dance. (Which does happen to be true, I am no good at it but does that stop me? NEVER!)  No, no...what I am really trying to tell you is that George Harrison sang the lead on those two Lennon/McCartney songs.  Those two and those two only! (Wait, you are thinking...what about "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" and "If I Needed Someone" and I am sure you can name others, but those were written by George Harrison, you see.)
So...if you are ever in a situation and are asked what are the two Lennon/McCartney songs where George Harrison sang the lead...the answer is : "Do You Want To Know A Secret" and "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You.".  

If you ever win any money or prizes with this, you can just thank me. You don't have to name any of your children after me, but my name is KAY!  (And if you have a boy, GEORGE would be nice.)

And Richard and I watched the film "Hard Day's Night" recently. Did we enjoy it? YEAH YEAH YEAH!
Whew, how are you all doing?  Everybody getting along okay? Trying not to get too stressed out? Good luck with that! Remember I told you that I thought we should all be wearing masks?( I watch too many films, I know but I feel just like that character from "Independence Day" know the one who everyone thought was nuts but he KEPT saying that there were aliens!) Upsetting to me to see the news and see everyone acting as if the virus is over and not wearing masks and just PACKING themselves onto beaches and bars.  Another film comes to mind, "Did IQ's just drop sharply while I was away?".

We need some more music, I think...Take care everyone, we will get through these rough times. We just need to try our best and be sensible.  Respect all but be a good example!
You must know and I might have told you in a post before but John Lennon got the words for the song "Do You Want To Know A Secret" from the Disney film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".  Just before she sang the song "I'm Wishing", she giggled and said, "Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?"  Songwriters get their ideas from everywhere! 

Look, I can't go to England just now so I am going back to October 2019 and you can see me in Russell Square in Bloomsbury, London in my grey jacket.  Hope to be able to walk there again soon.  I'm wishing!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Henry van Dyke (1852-1933) - Hymn of Joy

Henry van Dyke, Jr was a minister, short story writer, poet, essayist and a college professor. He went to school with Woodrow Wilson, was a good friend of Helen Keller and gave the eulogy at Mark Twain's funeral.  He wrote the words to the "Hymn of Joy" (often called "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee", which is the first line). It is set to a magnificent melody from Beethoven. (Symphony # 9). If you don't know it...

There, aren't they beautiful lyrics?  (And it is helpful to have a good tune, thank you, Ludwig!)
It is said that Henry van Dyke wrote this poem in 1907 while staying with a friend in the Berkshire mountains. (He read from the Book of Psalms every day of his life. It is thought that the lyrics are adapted from Psalm 71.)  Inspired by nature, his very first sermon was "The Voice of God" in which he preached on hearing God in the outdoors.  

Now my friends, I have a dear little calendar at my work that has inspirational quotes and sayings... it is a perpetual calendar. Shall I tell you how long I have used it? I just looked at it recently, it has been at my desk since 2004! Yes, I do take care of things! (And the words never grow old to me.) Several of the quotes are from the esteemed Henry Van Dyke...I should like to share some of them with you now.

"Spend as much time as possible with body and with spirit in God's out -of doors."   

"There is no personal charm so great as the charm of a cheerful temperament" 

"Use what talents you possess."

"Be glad of life. It gives you the chance to love, to work, to play and to look up at the stars."

"There is a loftier ambition than to stand high in the world. It is to step down and lift mankind a little higher."

There! I hope you like his words as much as I do. Seems to me that we are in need of inspiration these days.  

"Genius is talent set on fire by courage." 
That is another quote I forgot to give you that I really like!

How is everyone getting on with the new Blogger? Uh, me ...not so good. I somehow got this thing to underline stuff (which I fixed) and now it is bold and the only photo I have here is of a lizard that I had on here already because this is a draft that I began writing some time ago and never had time to least I can get videos on here!

Hope you like the lizard photo! It is called an Eastern fence lizard and might not believe me but it's was doing push ups! (And guess what else, I just saw this on a British TV show, they call them "press ups" in the UK! It so amuses me how the least little thing will be worded differently between the USA and the UK!)

Oh good, there...I got it off the BOLD print. I should go back and fix all that I just wrote but hey, I really did that, so I will just leave it. Hey folks, you got me, mistakes and ALL! 

Hope you are getting out into God's out- of- doors! It is good for body and soul, I believe that also.

Joy! I kept working at it and here is a photo of some of the cucumbers that we have grown from seed! (They are pickling cucumbers and are meant to be short and stubby. They are delicious!)

"Look around for a place to sow a few seeds".  (Sorry, just one more of his quotes!)

How about you, any joy?