Monday, June 25, 2012

Lunch at "J's" and an Afternoon with Ginette Spanier

The Waysider must be closed.  Of course, it's Monday.  Whatever, I had to find a quick place for lunch so that I could fortify myself to go to the Waterworks  Board and the ATT store to discuss my bills.  (I'm not going to talk about that.)

So, I opted for "J's" a cafe downtown that serves ladies' lunches:  salads, quiches, desserts, etc.  With big windows and interesting objects from the antique store next door.

I had shrimp salad and iced tea.  Not bad, but not filling.  (I had to come home after my two encounters and munch all afternoon.),

But I had something to comfort me at home.  My purchase from Amazon finally arrived:  IT ISN'T ALL MINK by Ginnette Spanier, a "like new" copy from one of Amazon's affiliates.  What a joy it was to hold it in my hand.  It's a small book, maybe 5" by 7" and only 200 odd pages, with an introduction by Noel Coward -- the icing on the cake.
To hold it in my hands is pure pleasure.  The hard cover is burnished gold.  And there are pictures scattered through it of the author in various stages of her life.

Ginnette Spanier and her husband Paul-Emile Seidmann were Jews who had to flee Paris during World War II.  That account is what prompted the book.  But I'm enjoying the description of Ginnette's "cotton-wool childhood" although she says, "L'ennui is a desperate part of the existence of almost every child."  And I can hardly wait to get to the part where she becomes the directrice of the House of Balmain, "one of the haute couture establishments in Paris."

Already in the first seven pages and the preface, she has presented herself as a kindred spirit with some of her observations:

"Obviously I have not changed.  Nobody ever does."

"I believe in miracles and quite often they happen to me."

"I hated skin on milk more than anything in the world."

So, I leave you to enter another world, Paris just before and just after World War II.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Waiting for my Joie de Vivre to Return

And it always does, if I will just take the responsibility to meet my basic needs.  My "minimal" daily needs, that is.  All my big needs are met.  I have health, wealth (enough), love, and a means of personal expression.  And I am most fortunate to have a connection to my Higher Self which is sustaining.

I still get in trouble though when I give out more than I take in.  In other words, when I don't see that my "minimal" daily needs are met.  Then I get cranky.

So, you might ask, what are your minimal daily needs?

1.  A good night's sleep.
2.  Good food.
3.  Plenty of down time.
4.  A warm bath.
5.  Creams and oils.
6.  Spending some time with the important people in my life.
7.  Having a little something to look forward to every day.
8.  Reading something that reminds me of what's real.

9. (this is where the picture of the blue Steve Madden shoes come in) dressing in a way that expresses some hint of who I am.

Today, I had to change tops and bottoms three times before I got it right.  After that, I went to the Waysider and ate ravenously.  I don't know if the food was that much better, but what I do know is that I felt the "joie de vivre" come back into me this morning after a couple of days of being cranky.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day - June 2012

Father's Day - June 2012

The McLellands invited me to join them for brunch at "5's" today to celebrate Father's Day:  Lane and Jon, Bert and Will.  Of course, I did that with pleasure.

Lane and Jon are always wonderful to go out with; they know how to enjoy good food, good drink and good conversation.  We all dressed up, even Bert, who looked very handsome in his black linen trousers and his royal blue shirt and Will, who still had on his wrist band name tag from Space Camp.

I wore my straw had from Venice and my Steve Madden royal blue slippers (about which more later in a separate post).

We ate waffles and wings with Bloody Mary's and coffee and cookies for dessert.  Jon and I made pictures endlessly with our iPhones.  Lane sat by Will and ran her fingers through his hair, supposedly to comb it, but I know she was thinking, "He won't be sitting here by me many more years for me to do this."

And we talked about Uncle in Kabul.  Will always likes to hear "Uncle Stories."  So I told about the time when Lee was just three years old and rode his tricycle to the strip mall next to our apartment complex, while I was typing Harry Pritchett's thesis for seminary and watching Lane in the playpen.

Jon is, for my money, the quintessential Father.  It comes, in his priorities, a close second to his devotion to Lane, and he enjoys being the father he never had enough of because of the war and his own father's early death.

He and the boys horsed around like three boys at the table.  Lane just shook her head, lovingly.

And then, they went home so Jon could see the soccer match on TV and to a movie later.  His choice, because it's his day.

The Light in My Backyard

The light in my backyard changes, of course, and I like to watch it from the chair where I sit every morning, afternoon, and evening, drinking tea, playing on the computer or talking on the telephone.

This is one of my favorite views (though I notice it came out too blurry here.  On my cell phone, it's much better.)

Anyway, I shot it one day after a hard rain.  The sun came out and filtered throught the moisture still left in the air.  Then I ran it through the filters on "Instagram" and wrote on it with "Snap."

Just one of the ways I amuse myself these days while I'm waiting for something else to come along and grab my attention, fill my time, etc.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Need a Break

I needed a break this morning, so I took a short trip to Venice to do a little shopping.  You can see the results on this image I created from Polyvore.

I think I'm on to something here.  It occurred to me the other day that maybe actual traveling was getting to be too uncomfortable and too expensive. Maybe I should just travel virtually.

I already do this in my nightlife and it works wonders.  Why not try it a bit in my daytime life???

I can do this lots of ways:  by watching the images as they float across my MAC as I'm talking on the phone, by closing my eyes and remembering the places and experiences I have had, and by getting on Pinterest and Polyvore and creating an entirely new scenario, complete with background and attire.

Nothing has lifted my spirits as much with as little effort -- and no money -- as this trip to Venice did this morning.

In fact, as I get ready to go to Barbara's and eat spaghetti and pineapple upsidedown cake, I will dress carefully, using some of the ideas I explored on Polyvore.

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Playing Like

This morning, I was awakened by the sound of a buzz saw -- in my back yard.  Terry, the maintenance man, is taking down the fence between my house and the one behind me and replacing it.

What to do?  I couldn't possibly sit in my living room chair and have my tea and talk on the phone or write on the computer with someone looking in!!!

So, I set myself up in the bedroom where I can close the heavy drapes, turn on the little lights, and pretend to be -- somewhere else.  Paris, maybe.  In one of those small hotels where the heavy drapes keep out the sun all day if you want.  A hotel like Le Petit Prince in Nice where I stayed when I met Jane and Tom after my year in Zurich, before returning to the U.S.A.

Anyway, all that sent me thinking about how important it is to "practice pretending" in your latter years, just as it is in your younger years.  As a child, pretending is important because there are so many things you can't do yet.  Can't have your own money; can't drive a car; can't be in control of your outer life in all those ways.

I find myself in a similar position these days.  Not that I can't, but that I'm not inclined to.  It's so easy being in your own space, but easy isn't always stimulating.  So, I pretend.  I pretend to be somewhere else, doing something challenging or stimulating.  Then, when I've had enough, I can return to my own physical space and have both -- comfort and stimulation.

A hub and an image by one of my favorites, Nell Rose, today exactly portrays this ability to pretend.  I will post it on facebook if you'd like to have a look.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stormy Sky

I'm still playing with writing on my photographs.  This view of a stormy sky taken from the Prinsendam recently seemed like an ideal one to write on.

And I do like the aesthetics of it. though maybe blue would have been a better choice of colors to use.

The stormy sky, however, reminds me of our trip to Huntsville yesterday.  Lane and I drove Will to Huntsville to the Space Camp, while Jon and Jane took Bert to Dolphin Island for a week.

Jon sent Lane a text as he was driving home:  "I don't know who was is worse shape when we left, me or Bert."

And it's true, those first homesick days away from home, often at a summer camp, are excrutiating for both parents and children.  I don't really know how children deal with the neurotic pain of homesickness.  It touches such a fundamental complex:   abandonment.  I, myself, remember it in vivid detail, even when I would go to visit Auntie and Uncle, where I was cuddled and pampered in one of the most secure cocoons in my memory.  Still, I missed "home."

The way I coped was by getting in Auntie's big feather bed at night -- night's are the worst -- under layers of heavy quilts and snuggling up to her warm fleshy body from which emanated the fragrancce of Lily of the Valley, her favorite.  Though it was most certainly from toilet water or talcum powder.  Couldn't have been perfume as I never saw any on her dresser.

But, back to the storm.  It rained so hard on us between Birmingham and Huntsville that I thought Lane was going to have to pull off the interstate.  Then, just as we came to an exit, it let up and the sun came out.  Homesickness is like that, so intense it seems unbearable -- and then -- poof!!, gone when our attention gets hooked by something else.

Good luck, Will and Bert.  And Lane and Jon.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breakfast at the Waysider

I'm experimenting with writing on my photos.  This does not quite look like Garance's yet, but I'm getting there.

This afternoon, just after noon, I went to the Waysider to get a breakfast-lunch before going to see "The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel," at 1:30pm.

As I walked up to the door, I saw that closing time on Saturday's is noon.  But I stuck my head in and Linda said, "Come on in; we're still cooking."  So I had my breakfast:  ham, eggs, grits, biscuits, and one pancake with a glass of milk.

On my way out, the sun was shining on the impatients and the fern, hanging on the porch, so I shot a picture.  This picture, however, has been enhanced by Instagram and then written on by Snap.

I think it might look better without the purple background for the writing.  Anyway, I'm just experimenting.

After, I went to the movie.  I was expecting a visual feast, but not the heartwarming humanity of the story.    I could see myself in each one of the female parts:  the persnickity woman in the wheel chair, played by Maggie Smith; the innocent, naive widow so open to life, played by Judy Dench;  even the embittered, negative wife, played by I-don't-know-her-name-but-she's-on-Downton-Abbey.

The lighting was exquisite.  I couldn't take my eyes off an old bench lit by the Indian sun.  And the scene where the gay guy dies and all you see is the egret flying off and disappearing into the sky was breathtaking.

And then, Henry came by to get the lens I bought with my Canon several years ago.  (The one with the short F stop.)  Maybe he can make good use of it at the Phoot Photography Workshop he's going to in New York next week, as he carries into another generation the "image maker's" ability to capture life in  "frames."

Altogether, a very satisfying day.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Letter from the Dutch Sisters

Now that I've settled myself back into my "at home life," my memories of the cruise are like the image to the right:  blurry, confused, shadowy with bright spots.

I'm beginning to make sense of that trip and store it in my memory as friends ask me:  "How was your trip?"  I say, "It was very successful."  "I worked very hard."  "I enjoyed the food and the movement of the ship."

But then, in the mail yesterday, there arrives a letter from the two sisters from Holland, two of my most faithful students and serious social bridge players, who jumped into the conundrum of duplicate bridge the last day at sea -- and came in third.

We shared several meals together on the Lido and became more than "Hello" friends.  I enjoyed watching their  food choices, mostly salads and lentils.  They were both tall and thin and moved easily about the ship, unlike many of the passengers.

The letter was left at the front desk of the Prinsendam the day we disembarked and was mailed to me by Holland America.  "Thanks again for your patience and kindness....Please come and visit me whenever you will be able to come to Holland."

She doesn't know that in the early 1960's, Shonshe, Gloria, and I spent three nights in the home of a kind Danish gentleman while he moved in with his intended.  The invitation had been issued innocently enough to Harriet on top of a mountain in Switzerland several years before.  Lee was doing an internship at a bank in Helsinki, and I planned the trip from Amsterdam, through Scandinavia and across to Helsinki  on an overnight ship.  I remembered the invitation, wrote the gentleman asking about hotels in Copenhagen -- and Poooofff!! there we were enjoying the amenities of his home and his services as tour guide for our stay in his beautiful city.

Life is full of such wonders, so don't be surprised if someday...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

At the Jane Austin Luncheon

Saturday was the annual Jane Austin Luncheon at Celeste's house to which Lane and I are always graciously invited, even though we do not technically belong to the society.  

It is an opportunity for us -- me and Lane -- to play dress-up and go out as "ladies" together.  The food is always delicious and, of course, the house and gardens are a special delight.

This particular picture of us amazes me.  I know Lane is an inch or so taller than I am, and here she is wearing heels and I am in flat sandals, so even though my hat is sticking up,  she is still towering over me. Hmmmm!

All of which leads me to reflect on how, if we have done a good job as parents and sometimes if we haven't, our children will "tower over us," symbolically.  Lane certainly does this and is going to do it even more as her life goes on.

But, back to the luncheon:  chicken salad with grapes, tomato aspic with artichokes, lima beans, and yeast rolls.  For dessert:  peach cobbler with whipped cream and coffee.  A truly Southern ladies' luncheon, served by a truly Southern lady who continues to uphold tradition while at the same time staying abreast of the world intellectually and politically.  

The program was on the architecture of Jane Austin's time, and I loved hearing words I never hear in any other of my activities, like "balustrade" and "dilettante."  A truly lovely summer afternoon.  Thank you, Celeste.