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? 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Celebration of Spring (Edward Mitchell Bannister)

Summer will begin on June 20th. (The first full day will be on Sunday, June 21st)  Before it gets here, I just wanted to tell you that this year in Georgia, our spring has been positively gorgeous. Really it has, unseasonably cool and actually pleasant to be outside. We have had rain but even then, that has been nice and mostly the showers have been short lived and just enough to make things lovely and green. And the flowers! Oh my stars, how beautiful they have been...

That last was in bright sunlight but these are coreopsis flowers and they are blooming at the side of the road! We also have them in our garden and they are one of our favorites! This year, we think they really liked the rain and cooler temps, they have bloomed beautifully!

Now, I do hope that you clicked on the video that I gave you at the very beginning of my post.  It shows a painting by Edward Mitchell Bannister.  I think it is lovely. And what a fascinating artist! He was an African American born in Canada in  1828 but later moved to Boston, Massachusetts before settling in Rhode Island.  From what I have read about him, he was very well liked and respected.  Here is a quote from him, "All that I would do, I cannot-that is, all that I could say in art-simply from lack of training, but with God's help, I hope to deliver the message he entrusted to me".  Of course, you know that Edward M. Bannister would have had to overcome great obstacles to become a well known artist!

I only just learned of this artist from watching an episode of  Antique Road Show where a lady had inherited one of his paintings and she had no idea of its worth. She said that she came very close to throwing it out! (Why do people want to throw away art? I just can't understand it.) Still, I am thankful that she didn't throw it away and she brought it to the Antique Road Show and I was able to learn of Edward Mitchell Bannister.  I would give you a link to read more about him but I can't figure out this new blogger thing, so you guys are on your own! 

Once again, I can just SEE a film about this artist!  If they ever do make one, I will let you know!

A Celebration of Spring!  (Better late than never!) Wishing you guys a lovely summer!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

How Deep Is Your Love?

                                                Woodland sunflowers, wildflowers blooming in our backyard!

In the long ago days of February of this year (before we had the lock down and everything changed!) Richard and I visited our son.  He surprised us with playing on the guitar and singing to us. We were delighted. He told us that the song was a bit tricky to play with complex chords, so I think he was glad to finally perfect it.  (Christopher is very polite and he wouldn't say it was perfect but you know it certainly was, right?)

The song, as you can see from my post title, was "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees.  It was one of the huge hits from 1977 from the Bee Gees! Barry Gibb, the last remaining Bee Gee has stated that it is his favorite Bee Gees song. 

Sir Barry Alan Crompton Gibb is his proper name. "Crompton" is after a very interesting ancestor. Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule in 1779.  He actually earned money from playing the violin at the Bolton Theatre in Bolton, Lancashire. (And when I say money, it was just for pennies a show!)
 All of his earnings were put towards his invention. The spinning mule was called that since it was a hybird of a spinning jenny and a water board,which pulled the thread through the spindle much faster.  I can't say I quite understand all the science behind the production of the muslin from this time but I can tell you that by 1812,  4 MILLION of Crompton's spinning mules were in use ! 

In 1779, the spinning mules were humming along.  In 1977, we were humming the tunes from the Bee Gees!  (Yes, I said it!)

Good news! I have read that the same producer who did the film "Bohemian Rhapsody" is planning on a film on The Bee Gees! I hope that comes about really soon!
The Bee Gees wrote their own songs, were wonderful singers and musicians!

Oh! Just one more thing I want to tell you...when Barry Gibb moved to South Florida, there were several bridges one had to cross to get to his home.  One of them, had concrete strips  and as the car would drive over it made a sound like..."clackety clack...clackety clack....clackety clack.  There, can you hear that in your mind? Now, when Barry Gibb heard that...he turned that into "Jive Talking"! (And by the way, if you ever need to do CPR, do so by the beat of "Stayin' Alive"!)  Songwriting! I never tire of learning of how songs come about.

 I am thrilled that my son is just as interested in stories behind songs. AND that he has good taste in music, like his parents!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dike or Dam, Don't Spring A Leak

View from the new dam at Alexander Lake, Panola Mountain State Park.

Anybody remember the story of the little Dutch boy who saved his town by sticking his finger in a hole in the dike?  Are children even told stories anymore? I looked this was written by an American author, Mary Mapes Dodge and was published in 1865. The book was (and still is) "Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates: A Story of Life In Holland".  Now from what I have read of Mary Mapes Dodge, she wrote this book without ever having visited the Netherlands but she was intrigued with the country and tried to learn all she could about it. I found Mary Mapes Dodge to be a very interesting woman. Fascinating really! You may read more about her here! She read some stories about animals from Rudyard Kipling and liked them and suggested that he turn it into a book. The result was "The Jungle Book"! (Wait, you are thinking but Rudyard Kipling was from England! Yes, that is true but he married an American and for a brief time, he and his family lived in America.  I have visited Rudyard Kipling's house in England, Bateman's in Burwash. It is well worth visiting!)

Is it possible that someone could save a town if a leak is spotted in a dam? Not very likely with a finger but how about a boat? This really happened in the 1950's in the Netherlands.  You can read about it here.    1796 people lost their lives due to flooding on Feb. 1, 1953.  That number would have been much higher if not for the Skipper who positioned his boat in the dike. And yes, if you know of any work of fiction you should always look and see if there is a true story that you can connect with it. You know I always do!

There, I really had another post in mind for you...but that will have to wait for another time!  (When I do that post you will see why I thought of the little Dutch boy.)

Hope you are all doing well, my friends. As for myself, I just don't know why I am so busy all the time.  Does time change as you get older and you just don't have enough of it? Why doesn't anyone tell you these things? 

Here is a photo of three people (or are they boxes?) walking across the dam at Alexander Lakes. You can see how wide the dam is now! This took two years for this to be completed! Guess you can see why, they cut most of the trees down near it and it is huge! Oh well, it should hold anyway!

Oh no, I just tried to insert a video and nothing comes up! Y'all know how many times I put songs on YouTube on my posts. I will go into mourning if I am not able to share songs! Anybody have this problem? Let me know what to do! Thanks!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Now The Green Blade Riseth

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green,

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Secret Agent Man (At 77!)

"Secret Agent Man"!  The song was a big hit for Johnny Rivers. It was the theme song from the TV show "Secret Agent Man".  Did you know it was "Danger Man" in the UK? I didn't, I just it read it on Wikipedia! (I am addicted to Wikipedia, shh....don't tell anyone!)  The TV show ran from 1964 to 1966. To be honest, I don't even remember the show very much, but I love the song! I told my son about this video and he agrees that it is a great song with a simple but very effective guitar riff.

Now as for this video I have here for is Johnny Rivers performing the song from 2018!  At the age of 77!  And he is still ROCKING it! Listen to the video and see if you don't agree! Enjoy!
I was able to see the Fire Pinks at Panola Mountain State Park recently. How much I look forward to this flower! It is such a vivid red color! Rock & Roll!

Hope you are all doing okay! Take care, everyone. Remember, music and flowers!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

White Garden (Can't Get It Out of My Head)

Welcome to my all white garden! There is just something about white. This also makes me think of men playing cricket in England dressed in their all whites. (Forgive me if I only say England but that is the only place I have ever seen it being played!)
Yucca cactus flower-  Arabia Mountain

Hydrangea - Monastery in Rockdale County

                                           Southern Magnolia -  also from the Monastery
                                       Fringe Tree - Arabia Mountain (They are also at the Monastery!)

                                     Amaryllis -  In our garden! (Not in bloom now but 
                                        it was a beauty!)
      Ox eye our yard.  These are really weeds but we like them and let them grow. Once again these have just "gone over" as my English father-in-law calls it but we enjoyed them so much, I wanted to share them with you. 

Many of these flowers I have here for you are no longer in bloom but you guessed it... I can't get them out of my head!

"Can't Get It Out of My Head" by ELO.  I am sure you must know this song but please listen to this video. It is Jeff Lynne on guitar and Richard Tandy on piano with Jeff Lynne doing the vocals, of course. So, just a man singing and playing his guitar with a piano accompaniment.  JUST! It is amazingly good! See, if you don't agree.

There, isn't that something? I have read that he wrote the song after his Dad mentioned to him that his songs lacked the melodic quality of classical music. This was his answer to that!

And you have to love a song that has this in the lyric:
"Robin Hood and William Tell and Ivanhoe and Lancelot, they don't envy me".

Here are all the lyrics if you would like to sing along:

Midnight, on the water
I saw the ocean's daughter
Walking on a wave's chicane
Staring as she called my name
And I can't get it out of my head
No, I can't get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
'Cause I can't get it out of my head
Breakdown on the shoreline
Can't move, it's an ebbtide
Morning, don't get here tonight
Searching for her silver light
And I can't get it out of my head
No, I can't get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
'Cause I can't get it out of my head, no how?
Bank job in the city
Robin Hood and William Tell
And Ivanhoe and Lancelot
They don't envy me
Sitting 'til the sun goes down
In dreams the world keeps going 'round and 'round
And I can't get it out of my head
No, I can't get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
'Cause I can't get it out of my head
And I can't get it out of my head
No, I can't get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
'Cause I can't get it out of my head, no how, no now

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Flowers and Music (for Mental Health!)

Whether we are around wildflowers or blooming trees at Arabia Mountain or Panola Mountain...

Or if they are carefully tended flowers in our own garden...

   all of these flowers are good for our mental health. So, flowers and music, I believe are good for all of us.

The month of May is Mental Awareness Month.  During these stressful times, it is important to remember those who are having trouble coping.  There was an REM song that received quite a bit of airplay at the beginning of the pandemic, but the one that I wish would have been given attention was another one..."Everybody Hurts".    

May I tell you something? You might not believe this but it is true.
In February (which seems like a lifetime ago now), Richard and I met Michael Stipe. (The lead singer AND songwriter of REM.)  I recognized him and asked if I could shake his hand. (Oh the days when one could shake a person's hand and not think a thing about it!)  He was most gracious and I am grateful that I am able to recall a moment like that from this year.

So remember, "hold on"!  (This song is from their album, "Automatic for the People".  Don't you just love that? He got that phrase from a small restaurant in Athens. That would be Athens, Georgia, not Athens, Greece!)

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Flowers! We Will Rock You!

Wandering iris (or Apostle plant) with poinsettia in the background...who still has poinsettia in May? You would if you had an English gardener like me! (By that I mean my husband, if anyone new is reading this.)

I LOVE flowers! Don't you? They raise our spirits, I believe. Very much needed at this time.
Gardening is actually quite hard work. I am quite happy to let Richard do most of it. (But he is so very good at it, my friends, just as he is good at cooking and shopping and doing the laundry...oh dear, better not tell you all my secrets!)

Did you read recently in the news that Brian May (the guitarist from Queen) was hospitalized because he had an injury from gardening? Yes, that is correct.  Apparently, he injured his gluteus maximus (in England, they say "bum", we were always taught to say "rear end".) Anyway, I can see how that could do a lot of bending over and pulling at weeds and digging the earth, so...I will try to remember that when I am helping Richard with the gardening!  My specialty is planting seeds and re-potting. Oh! And directing where things go and also what pots should be used....I am very good at that!


What song shall I give you? Of course!  "We Will Rock You" by Queen!  I hope you know that Brian May wrote it! I recently watched the film "Bohemian Rhapsody". I have seen it before but it is very good and well worth watching again. I love the part where Brian May presents the song "We Will Rock You" to the group and in particular to Freddie Mercury. (The actors were just so very good in their roles, the casting was excellent!)
If you watch the film, make sure to watch all the way to the end, even through the credits. You will be rewarded by real videos and photos of Freddie Mercury, the REAL Freddie Mercury, an  incredible songwriter AND singer. (And not putting the actor down at all who portrayed him, Rami Malek...his performance was AMAZING.) He deserves every acting award for this role!

Hope you are all doing well, my friends.  Take care and don't forget to appreciate the beauty of flowers. They will rock you! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The REAL Lord of the Flies! (The Last Hobnob)

The Last Hobnob.

   Is it just me or does my half eaten Hobnob look like the moon? Yes, this is the kind of thing that entertains me, my friends!
Listen, the real reason I took a photo of this was to tell you that this is my very last Hobnob.  I brought this back with me when I visited England in October 2019. The sell by date for these biscuits was May 11, 2020! That means if you plan on sailing around the world, take some Hobnobs! 

Now, I am not sailing around the world anytime soon but that does remind me of a story that I want to tell you about...

I am sure that you have read the book "Lord of the Flies". If you haven't read it, then you must have heard about it. Seems like we had to read it in school. It is a book of fiction written by William Golding in 1954, about British boys stranded on a desert island and's not very pretty, shall we say.  Now, what if I told you about a true story of boys on a desert island?   It is fascinating!

In June of 1965, six teenage boys "borrowed" a boat and sailed away. They were in a Catholic boarding school in Naku'alofa, which is the capital of Tonga, in the South Pacific.  Caught in a storm, they drifted for eight days with no food and no water.( They managed to catch rainwater in some coconut shells and shared it amongst themselves.) On the eighth day, they reached an island (not the kind with gorgeous sand and palm trees but an island that was mostly rock and is today considered uninhabitable named 'Ata.) They set to work with a great determination to survive. These six teenage boys lived for 15 months on coconuts, fish and tame birds. These kids worked together! They worked out a two man roster for garden, kitchen and guard duty. Whenever there were arguments, this was settled by "time outs". Each day began and ended with a song and a prayer. (They had made a guitar from a piece of driftwood, half a coconut shell and six steel wires from the boat.) 

I read about this in a British newspaper and you may read the same piece just here!  Please take the time to read it, you will also see photos!  (Rutger Bregman is the author of "Humankind" and is the Dutch author who unearthed this story. He discovered this story because it was...oh be still my heart...mentioned on a blog! 

The boys were rescued on Sept. 11, 1966 and the doctors were astonished at the boy's good health. They had survived because they had worked together and had learned to lean on each other. Their true story is the one that should be read in schools! Captain Peter Warner who rescued them, wrote his own account of this and said, "Life has taught me a great deal, including the lesson that you should always look for what is good and positive in people."

Can you imagine the JOY of the families when they were reunited with those boys? (They had been assumed dead and they had had funerals for them.) AND I do wonder what it would have been like for them, what foods did they want to eat first? I hope they didn't give them a SEAFOOD buffet they like did for Tom Hanks in Castaway! (Sorry, I know I am veering over into fiction here...but I did enjoy that film but why would you have shrimp for someone just rescued off an island?) See the things I think about?

Can't seem to get that video on here but if you click on the above, you should be able to see it.  It is so worth watching!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A Royal Night Out

Hello, everyone!  I might have mentioned this film to you before but I will tell you again!  It is "A Royal Night Out".  It is based on the true story of Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret being allowed to "mingle" with the crowds as the great celebrations were taking place in London in May 1945 after the end of WWII in Europe. (And when I say Elizabeth and Margaret, I mean Queen Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret before Elizabeth was queen of England, of course!) 
The film veers over into great fiction, as many films do, but I hope that will not stop you from enjoying this movie!
Don't look up and see any of the reviews about it, just trust's great fun! 
Let me know if you are able to see it.  You're welcome!

In the past, whenever we would visit Eastbourne,  one of the neighbors of Richard's parents would put some Union Jack flags in a milk bottle along with the American flag on the front door.  Betty passed away and now, when we visit, we really miss that colorful greeting.  (Oh, and she also had the English flag on there, that is the white one with the red cross.)   Betty spent some time in California and so, she had a special fondness for America, which was perfectly fine with me!

Take care, everyone. Please stay safe.  I still think a mask is a very good idea, along with the 6 foot distance (2 meters in Europe) and hand washing, hand washing, hand washing...

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

I Went To A May Garden Party (In The Past!)

May is here! (Yes, I know we are well into it now but I am always a bit late these days.)
For the past few years, we have been invited to a wonderful garden party during the month of May. A beautiful garden to enjoy with fabulous food and drink and lots of laughter and scintillating conversation.  Of course, this year I am sure that there will be no party at this lovely garden. So...why not just share some photos from the past two years? Yes, I think that will be nice....
One year the theme was "Alice In Wonderland" and a woman and her daughter made these cookies that were just stunning!
Now, you might think that they might look good but how did they taste? My friends, they were the BEST that I have ever had in my life. And yes, I have had a few cookies in my time! Look at the decoration! Every bit of all of that was edible.  The best thing, I was able to take one of them...I chose the blue dress one with the white apron...and took it to my Dad. (This was in 2018, remember he passed away in Feb. of 2019.) Now, my Dad took one bite of that cookie and looked at me...and said, "Wow."  So much emotion in that single word!  So happy I could share this with him!

Oh, of course I took a photo of the one that I took to him! (I managed to crack the cookie on the journey but you know my Dad didn't care!)

Tweedledee and Tweedledum were on the invitations! So good!
I was thrilled with this display that someone had made! I must have shown you this before but it was two years ago, so you might not remember! All of it was tied in with Alice In Wonderland as I have told you and you can recognize this if you look at all the objects very carefully.
Okay, that was I will show you 2019!

There were all kinds of hidden bits around the garden which made it so interesting...

"Recall a happy memory as often as you like, you can never wear it out."