Light the Candles and Set the Table

“Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night.  I shell candlewould 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.

           MUSICA

going home

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.

flowers

the island

There’s the lighthouse and some of the little cottages along the shore . . . Good clues for knowing we’re almost home.

Home

alabama

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. 

docking

When we see the church spires, we know we’re there . . .

kitchen

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 . . .

Jack

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.

garden

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

roses

Pink perfection “Linda Porter” (named for Cole Porter’s wife, he wrote the song you’re listening to) is blooming.

Old roses quote susan branch

rose

pink-flowers

strawberries

I picked strawberries for breakfast . . .

perfection

And washed one

gone!

Y U M !

small treats

hanging clothes

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.

Beauty Bush

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.

GoldfinchesHello 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!

Finally.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. 

heroes

Stillmeadow

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!”

ohhappyday

Stillmeadow

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' typewriter

celebrate

Some of Glady's books

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!

happy?

living room

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.

Christmas in Connecticut fireplace 4

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. 

kitchen window

Here we are in her tiny kitchen where “the cheese melts, the butter sizzles and the cream sauce bubbles.”

kitchen linoleum

kitchen

You can see, as my sister would say, this is a one-butt kitchen.

kitchen table

Not like the kitchen in the movie . . .

movies and life

house of books

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. 

everything old

Gladys loved milk glass

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.

narrow stairs

Here are the stairs to the second floor, straight up, almost like a ladder, with a rope to hold onto.

photo 8-staircase

Here are the stairs in the movie. I like them both.  

upstairs

Upstairs, three tiny bedrooms, still in use.

room with a view

With quiet views of a quiet place. The same view people saw here three hundred years ago, when Stillmeadow was new.

upstairs bedroom

I love all these old headboards and footboards, look how beautiful the wood is. Anne spent part of her childhood here.  

Gladys' bed

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

little birds

Gladys' Bedroom

Her desk was in front of the window on the left.  The books are just as she left them.

Me with Anne

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!

Stillmeadow

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.

good things

Stillmeadow

These old houses are so “natural” they could be compost within a very short time!

Quiet Garden

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.

Gladys

animals

This is Gladys in her glory, and we can judge her heart to be the best.

quiet garden

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!

The well

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 girl-in-bathwell (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.”  

Mountain Laurel

Deep breath . . . Mountain laurel runs rampant around Stillmeadow and the Connecticut countryside in general.

beyond the fence

This is the new fence that David and Anne have been building.

Sanford Road

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.

Joe

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.

Nature!

And listen to the water fall . . .

Stillmeadow

pink-flowers

saying goodbye

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.

Time to go

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.

heroes

Me with Susan

The big day has arrived.  Here I am with Susan Turnley, the hard-working editor of the wonderful Gladys Taber Newsletter. girl with hearts(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!

lambs!

The perfect thing for me, because I am crazy about lambs!

lambs-art

lamb book

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

Friends of Gladys Taber

So now it was time to face the MUSICA . . . these people made it easy . . .

Simply The Best

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!

FOGT

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? 

Kate, Eileen's granddaughter

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!

cute!

stopping on the way home

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, 

planting

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!

fence-with-flower

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!    

Vanna's shoe

OK, here we are, Winner #1, for the unbound proofs of my 2015 wall and mini calendars . . . the winner is . . .

pink border 

calendars

Gwyn Whelband! A Girlfriend in Australia!  Congratulations Gwyn!

tiny-oranage--heart

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 . . .

pink border

Hearts and Flowers

Roxanne (the Roxanne with a pie stand in her kitchen)

Congratulations Roxanne!!!

tiny-heart-pink

And, here we go, door number THREE, my Tea Party fabric tea ballcollection, 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 . . . 

pink border

Everything but Jack

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 letterso 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: 

YUM!

Don’t let summer go by without trying this amazing Lemonade, it’s like no other!  It will cheer you right up!

creativity

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!  . . .

Karen and me

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!

All the flowers . . .

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Blog Daddy!

Good Morning from rainy Danbury, Connecticut and hello everyone, especially Blog Daddy!  You know what?  I had planned to announce the winner of our Anniversary Drawing last Tuesday!  But every time I went to do it, there were rain rain go awayanother 200 comments! So I’ve been waiting. And “moderating” — which is what I have to do because there is too much spam mixed in with all your nice comments and I need to delete it.  Plus, I love to read what everyone says, so it takes me a while to get the comments all up ~ especially when we are traveling the countryside in our Fine Romance van!  BUT, I just did it.  Your comments, dear Girlfriends, are like manna from heaven.  Thank you so much, you know how much I love our give and take . . . it’s a two way street, the love boomerangs off me, and back on you, back to me, back to you ~ and that’s how it’s always been.  XOXO  And now, MUSICA for our Blog Daddy. 

me and Dad

flower border

I think I should wait til I get back home to announce the winners for the drawing.  #1, because I’d like to make sure everyone has this last chance to sign up, but #b. we’re away and I think Vanna had a party at the house last night with all her elegant and enchanting friends, because she won’t answer the phone this morning!  We can’t do it without Vanna!  So why am I here you may ask? Well, Father’s Day is Sunday!  And so, no matter where I Father's dayam, my dearest Blog Daddy needs to feel the love.  Here we are, my dad and I in Durango Colorado, listening (and dancing) to my brother Chuck and his band.  My brother wrote a song once that goes “I’m so lonesome in my saddle since my horse died” that is beyond hilarious.  I should write the words for you someday. I keep trying to get him to sing it on Youtube so I can put it up here.  He is the highlight of our family reunions. 

Dedicated with love to my Dad

fathers-day  That’s me and my dad up there, I have a pencil in my mouth . . . why, I do not know.  But this message is for all our dads, ice tea glassesbrothers, uncles, husbands, boyfriends, and all the good garden-building, grocery-shopping, animal-loving, memory-making,funny-song-singing, laundry-doing, blog-reading, bacon-bringing, hammer-wielding, non-tail-gating, mommy-hugging, baby-kissing, help-providing, Good Daddies of the World.  Here’s to you! ♥  We really do adore you!  (Dad, Harfaparfy farfatharfer’s darfay tarfu yarfu, tharfuh tarfee sharfirts afar arfin tharfuh marfail. :-)Secret message in family language to my dad from the last of the big time spenders . 

flower border

 And so, that’s all for now . . . Tomorrow is our big event here at Gladys Taber’s house (Stillmeadow) in Southbury.  It’s very exciting for me ~ I’ve got my camera and Joe has his and we’ll give you the full rundown very soon.  Until then, a couple more days to sign up for our drawing, and I will see you soon!!! Love you! Gotta go practice my speech!  XOXO

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