“Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night. I would be willing to go around the world if I could be back in time to light the candles and set the table for dinner.” ♥ Gladys Taber.
What a week! We had a wonderful time in Connecticut, but it is so nice to be home! Here we are on board the ferry heading back to Martha’s Vineyard the slow way. We’ll be home in time to light the candles and set the table for dinner.
There’s the lighthouse and some of the little cottages along the shore . . . Good clues for knowing we’re almost home.
There are a few wooden schooners like this that live permanently in the Vineyard Haven harbor. So beautiful, love catching glimpses of them under sail. Wind, sea, seagulls crying, more lovely hints that we are drawing nearer.
When we see the church spires, we know we’re there . . .
And now, here I am bright sunny Monday morning . . . Waking up to the quiet, to the going-nowhere-today, to birds singing and morning sun slanting through the maple trees . . .to a cup of tea and . . .
To the kitties, here’s Jack posing, Girl took off the moment I pulled out the camera. I checked to see what Vanna was doing, and found her bed empty. She’s not even home. The nerve of some peoples’ children. There was a note “Be back soon.” OK.
Then I thought, “Good. I have it all to myself.” First thing I did was walk out to see what grew while we were gone. We had a good drenching rain storm, so the mock orange (left) and the pink Beauty Bush are cascading over each other and smelling like exotic perfume.
Pink perfection “Linda Porter” (named for Cole Porter’s wife, he wrote the song you’re listening to) is blooming.
I picked strawberries for breakfast . . .
And washed one
Y U M !
I got the laundry going and started hanging it on the line. I really wanted to come in and update the Blog, and pick the winners, but would you look at this day! So, you may have noticed, I’m late.
I suppose one of these days we will have to cut the beauty bush back, we can barely get through it to get to the back garden, but probably we won’t be doing it today.
Hello to the Goldfinches . . .
So here’s what we’ve been up to since we last talked . . . We’ve been away ~ I was asked to speak and sign A FINE ROMANCE at the annual meeting of the Friends of Gladys Taber, in Danbury Connecticut. If you don’t know who Gladys Taber is, you can read more about her HERE. But she is an author that I have loved since I discovered her many years ago. So I was honored and thrilled when they invited me to tell the story of how I found one of my heroes ~ it’s just another odd and wonderful way to find out how connected we all are, even when it is least expected!
The day before I was to give the talk, Joe and I were invited to see Stillmeadow Farm, and the 1690 farmhouse in Southbury, CT that Gladys Taber called home ~ many of her books are centered on this house. Here I am arriving at Stillmeadow for the first time in my life. I am verklempt.
Because what does anyone do when they see a fabled place for the first time? They cry, tears pop out horizontally. I thought I was strong, but the moment I got out of the car, I was mincemeat. Gladys’ granddaughter Anne had come out that door to greet me and what did she find? Mincemeat. The moment I saw the house, my imagination jumped to the picture of Gladys and her best friend Eleanor seeing this adorable little place for the first time, and saying, “I’ll take it!”
The house is not a museum, it’s still family owned, and I don’t think anything has been changed or moved since Gladys lived here. For about two hours, Joe and I had the privilege of wandering around Stillmeadow taking pictures, visiting with Anne, hearing her stories, drinking her tea, eating her cake. In addition to writing books, Gladys raised thoroughbred cocker spaniels and this iron bootscraper on the windowsill is one of the little reminders you notice here and there around the house.
Gladys was born in 1899, she lived through two world wars and the great depression, and died on Cape Cod in 1980, but despite the turmoil in the world, she managed to carve out a “safe space” for herself, where peace and contentment reigned supreme ~ she stayed happy and grateful her whole life. She wrote fifty-nine books (all out of print now, but still available in used bookstores and flea markets if you are lucky ~ collecting them is part of the fun), about one a year for her whole writing career beginning around 1925. She also wrote homemaking columns such as her “Butternut Wisdom” for women’s magazines. She was a hard worker and very prolific, very wise and very funny.
Here I am standing in front of the famous fireplace where Gladys would simmer baked beans and other wonderful things during the wild snowstorms she described in her books. I was wishing it would start snowing. Snow us right in so we would have to spend the night! “Oh darn,” I would say!
See Gladys granddaughter, Anne, in the mirror? She is telling Joe how she’s working to upgrade and protect Stillmeadow and the surrounding countryside, and these days that’s not as easy as it sounds.
Speaking of sounds . . . Mas MUSICA? Something for Gladys.
There is a wonderful movie called “Christmas in Connecticut.” Have you seen it? Because if you haven’t, you have something to look forward to! Write it down and save it for this Christmas. You will love it! One of the most adorable movies ever, starring Barbara Stanwyck and lots of other wonderful actors. Supposedly this movie was loosely based on the Gladys Taber Ladies Home Journal Column called “The Diary of Domesticity,” started in 1945. As you can see from my photos, Gladys’ living room didn’t quite look like the one in the movie version ~ she lived the life she wrote about; simple, humble, and very real.
Here we are in her tiny kitchen where “the cheese melts, the butter sizzles and the cream sauce bubbles.”
You can see, as my sister would say, this is a one-butt kitchen.
Not like the kitchen in the movie . . .
There’s an old spinning wheel and the house is filled with old books. Stillmeadow is not open to the public. There is no support money arriving from anywhere. It is just as Gladys left it, not really so long ago.
We readers of Gladys Taber all know how much she loved milk glass, and here it is, in the corner cupboard, just as she described it.
Here are the stairs to the second floor, straight up, almost like a ladder, with a rope to hold onto.
Here are the stairs in the movie. I like them both.
Upstairs, three tiny bedrooms, still in use.
With quiet views of a quiet place. The same view people saw here three hundred years ago, when Stillmeadow was new.
I love all these old headboards and footboards, look how beautiful the wood is. Anne spent part of her childhood here.
This is Gladys’ bedroom . . . The daybed (on the right) is where her desk and typewriter were.
“I suppose I am a sparrow, a stay-at-home-bird.” ♥ Gladys Taber
Her desk was in front of the window on the left. The books are just as she left them.
I told Anne that the house reminded me of Beatrix Potter’s house, it was like an English house, and she said, “Well, it was an English house!” Yes, oh my, she’s right, because in 1690, when this house was born, this was Southbury, England!
Then Joe and I went outside to wander around ~ Anne and her husband David are doing lots of work on the house, working to put it into better shape, the way it was when her grandmother lived here.
These old houses are so “natural” they could be compost within a very short time!
This is a famous spot in Gladys’ books called the “Quiet Garden.” Over the years, the trees grew thick over it and growing things were shaded out, most of the garden has disappeared, but do you see the new posts? Anne and David did those just recently. They are bringing it back. The reason it’s called “Quiet” is because it was fenced in with a gate; it was one of the few places on the forty acres that the dogs were not allowed.
This is Gladys in her glory, and we can judge her heart to be the best.
Thyme used to grow between the stones, roses tumbled over the picket fence, and will do again someday; they are planning to thin the trees that grow around the Quiet Garden. Once the sun shines on it again, it will be fun to see just what comes back on its own!
Here’s the old well. This was the topic of conversation for Joe and I (our Morning Science episode) for our walk through the woods today. How was it, we asked ourselves, on a drizzly, icy, snowy afternoon, to pull up a bucket of chilled water from the well (because you had no running water in your house so this is what you had to do), fill a pail, carry it inside, then go out (brrrrr!) and get another, and another until you had enough, and then heat it over a fire, and start filling a tub for your bath. Then go bake the bread for dinner. And make a quilt. We are baby food compared to our ancestors. But they had something over us. They had quiet. Pure, clean, sparkling like stars (and lots of them), deep-breath quiet. Maybe a jingle of reins, maybe a clip-clop of the horses. Church bells. But that was it. No dishwasher noise, no TV, no radio, no cars, no beeping things or phone answering machines, no snow blowers or leaf blowers or lawn mowers or hair dryers, and no, “you’ve got mail.”
Deep breath . . . Mountain laurel runs rampant around Stillmeadow and the Connecticut countryside in general.
This is the new fence that David and Anne have been building.
This is the unpaved street in front of Stillmeadow. Much effort to conserve this area has been inspired by Gladys and taken up by many others who live nearby. In your heart, you look at it and you say, please never change.
Because it’s lovely to take a walk up this quiet road, see the beautiful old houses and red barns and smell the green things growing.
And listen to the water fall . . .
So now it’s time to go. There are almost 200 people coming for the Reunion . . . and thanks to Anne, they will all have a chance to tour Stillmeadow. A rare occurrence, so there’s lots of excitement in the air.
We get ourselves together, put our cameras away, and off we go . . . I have to practice my speech! Two Hundred People, Yikes! I was not born to get up in front of two hundred people. I will do it, for the cause, but I am wicked scared.
The big day has arrived. Here I am with Susan Turnley, the hard-working editor of the wonderful Gladys Taber Newsletter. (Saving the memory and legacy of Gladys Taber is not a money-making enterprise, no one is paid, everyone does what they do with the fervent wish that Gladys Taber books and wisdom will be around to help in any small way to guide the future. If you’d like to help, you can sign up HERE and receive your very own copies of the best Newsletter I’ve ever seen. Thank you Linda, Carol, Nancy, Vernon, Louella, Paul, and Teresa!) Susan is introducing me, and giving me a gift, which turns out to be this adorable little children’s book about lambs!
The perfect thing for me, because I am crazy about lambs!
Published in 1931 ~ Just my cup of tea.
“It’s not that I belong to the past, but the past belongs to me.” ♥ Mary Antin
So now it was time to face the MUSICA . . . these people made it easy . . .
I thought about putting some of my talk here, but the way I discovered Gladys Taber will be in my new book ~ my talk wasn’t short ~ I’ve already kept you waaaaay too long, and I’m not even done yet! We still have our drawing! I woke Vanna, she is stirring!
The best part about being here was this lovely group of kindred spirits. Can you see the little girl ↑ at the first table, she’s looking at her camera (I think) wearing a light pink top and has dark hair?
Here she is, you might remember this photo of her, her name is Kate ~ her grandmother sent this to show her reading A FINE ROMANCE. She was there, so you can see, I was among friends!
And then, too soon (Susan and I planned to do this a year ago, it’s been in the future for so long), it was over, and we were on our own again, doing what we do best, traveling the backroads in our rolling billboard toward home, stopping at antique stores and bookstores,
Doing our best to help support the country people by stopping at their darling nurseries and buying flowers for the front porch.
OK, Here we go, Girlfriends . . . the big moment has come!
OH VANNA? We are so ready honey, come on down! (Still groggy, feet clomping in pink satin slippers, sweeping down kitchen stairs now, she had a big day yesterday, I should start another blog called Life of Vanna.) She’s wearing one of those black satin eye-shaped masks that keep out the light, the ones with the eyes embroidered in pink thread ~ pushed up on her head. But she’s pulling out the names with her normal verve and style, she can do this in her sleep, despite the kajillion names on tiny pieces of paper, like confetti . . . between these last two posts, we had over 4,000 comments. Yes, dearest girlfriends, this is definitely a record around here!
OK, here we are, Winner #1, for the unbound proofs of my 2015 wall and mini calendars . . . the winner is . . .
Gwyn Whelband! A Girlfriend in Australia! Congratulations Gwyn!
And now . . . fingers crossed that YOU are the winner . . . behind door number Two, the signed HEARTS and FLOWER quilt made from my Martha’s Vineyard Fabrics goes to . . .
Roxanne (the Roxanne with a pie stand in her kitchen)
And, here we go, door number THREE, my Tea Party fabric collection, including a bolt of yellow bees, the Little Fat Quarters, and the baby fabric . . . (I hate to even announce this last winner, I would so like it to be all of you! But it must be done . . . and we do have small consolation prizes for everyone) HERE WE GO, the winner is . . . yikes, I’m even nervous saying it . . .
Linda from Idaho!!!
Congratulations Linda! And to all of you lucky winners!!! Look for an email in your boxes from me! Send me your addresses so we can get everything off to you! Thank you to everyone who put their name in . . . I’m determined to keep giving things away until everyone’s got something! It’s getting harder, but I’ll keep trying, so watch for the next Giveaway!
Now, the consolation prizes, and then you are free to go live your life, in the spirit of Gladys Taber: listening to the birds, enjoying the little things in life. Little things like this:
Don’t let summer go by without trying this amazing Lemonade, it’s like no other! It will cheer you right up!
And for you all, because your creative heart shone through in your wonderful comments (that I will never get over actually), a special BOOKMARK just for my Girlfriends ~ you can print it out on card stock . . . from me to you with love and gratitude.♥
And now, on to my next “project.” Four of my best high school girlfriends are coming from California on Friday for four days! . . .
Cathy, Marilyn, Lynn, and Karen ↑ (that’s Karen on left, me on right ~ yes, Karen’s the one I met the Beatles with!) I need to get out my old photo albums! Planning menu, island tour, fluffing bedrooms (throwing rubber bands for Jack, hugging Girl Kitty, my work is cut out for me). This is their first time on Martha’s Vineyard! Who’s more excited, me or them? Has to be me!
Bye for now Girls, Keep in touch! I hope you have a wonderful day! One more bit of brilliance to cheer your day . . . look at this! Fred and Eleanor and more Cole Porter. The end is positively spectacular!