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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stillmeadow

I have been a fan of Gladys Taber for many years. I think I first read some of her books when they were re-released in the 1980s. I have been on the look out for her books to add to my personal library and finally I was able to obtain one via Paperback Swap. It is from the 1980s and when I sent a very fervent thank you to the PBS member who sent it to me, she says she found one of the older copies of Stillmeadow Daybook so she decided to share this one on the Swap.  I am trying to savor it but find myself reading and reading!

Gladys Taber was born in 1899 to a family who was on the move. Her father was a mining engineer so the family lived all around the country. She went to college at Wellesley and taught creative writing at Columbia University. In addition to her teaching she wrote columns for Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle.  While living in New York City, she and her husband were friends with the Mayers. The two young families decided to purchase a country home together in order to give their children the opportunity to enjoy a world outside the city.  Stillmeadow was that farm and through the years, Gladys wrote of their days in this beautiful place.

Thanks to Susan Branch for this pretty picture of Stillmeadow. Susan did a blog about her opportunity to visit Stillmeadow when she was there to give a lecture to the Friends of Gladys Taber. The home is still owned by the Taber family but it is not open to the public. It is located in Southbury Connecticut.

I love this picture of Gladys. I think she would be a fun friend. In addition to her cats, she raised Cocker Spaniels and Irish Setters.  While some see Stillmeadow as idyllic, Gladys did not hesitate to relate the good and the bad points of living in the country.

I am still on the look out for Ms Taber's other works...it is like a treasure hunt but I keep on the prowl for them!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Sign of Fall at Nanaland

I visited the local mall for the first time in months to purchase my Fall soaps at Bath and Body Works. Sweet Pumpkin Spice, A Walk in the Woods and Crisp Morning Air were my choices.   One of the ways I like to change up the house for the seasons is with seasonal soaps.

I am looking forward to getting out all my fall decorations but I am making myself wait until after labor day. Of course it will be some time before the temps here in No Ala will feel like fall. I have to admit that fall is my favorite season...the colors, the activities and the fun holidays make it a special time of the year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Mockingbird Next Door

Harper Lee is one of Alabama's famous authors. She wrote the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, back in the early 60's and since then people have been striving to know the REAL Harper Lee. I think that Marja Mills has allowed the general reading public to come to know the reclusive Monroeville citizen in her book, The Mockingbird Next Door.  Harper Lee released a statement that she did not endorse this book but her sister and lawyer, Alice Finch Lee, says that both sisters knew that Miss Mills was writing a book about their lives in Monroeville. I am going to believe Alice this time. Of the two sisters, Alice is my favorite!


The book opens in the early 2000s when Marja Mills is doing an article about To Kill a Mockingbird for The Chicago Tribune.  While visiting Monroeville, Marja timidly knocks on the door of the Lee home. Knowing that Harper Lee is a recluse, she does not expect anyone to answer the door and is ready to walk away, when a petite little lady using a walker, answers the door. It is Alice Finch Lee, older sister of Harper Lee.  And as Marja becomes friends with Alice, she soon begins to cultivate a friendship with Harper Lee or as Alice calls her, Nelle Harper. Marja, struggling with lupus, takes some time off and moves to Monroeville where she rents a house next door to the Lee sisters. She becomes their friend. Many mornings, Marja's phone would ring and it was Nelle Harper, "Are you pouring?" she would inquire. Coffee talks with Nelle were always interesting.

I think that Mockingbird Next Door is the best book I have read thus far in 2014.  I found out that the Lee sisters are like many old southern ladies of their era. They enjoy rides in the country, visiting friends, going to church and they love relating stories of days gone by.  As I read their story, I was reminded of old southern ladies I have known and loved.  But I have to say that Alice Finch Lee is a bit different from most girls brought up in her day(she was born in 1911). Alice went to law school and came home to Monroeville where she worked in her father's law office until she retired at age 100.

Alice is 15 years older than Nelle but they are devoted sisters and often travelled to see their other sister, Louise, in Eufaula, Alabama. Their only brother died of a brain aneurysm while serving in the army during WW2. An interesting family tidbit regarding Nelle's name...it is her grandmother's name (Ellen) spelled backwards.

Nelle Harper Lee was the youngest of the Lee children and as many know, Truman Capote, was Nelle's childhood friend. She helped him research his book, In Cold Blood. Many have speculated that Truman Capote helped Nelle write To Kill a Mockingbird but after reading this book, I am convinced it is Nelle's own book. Nelle and Alice parted ways with Capote when he spread a malicious rumor about their mother.  Nelle tells Marja Mills that Truman Capote was a psychopath...(tell us what you really think about him Miss Lee:)) Many fans want to know if Harper Lee is gay. Alice says that she and Nelle both dated "some".  Apparently no man could live up to the reputation of their father, Amasa Lee.  Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird was based on Harper's much loved father.  Again, Alice and Nelle are of the era when your business was yours alone and it was impolite to speak of your personal life or to inquire about the private lives of others. I am sure Alice and Nelle would be appalled at some of the  personal posts on Facebook.

Readers also want to know why Harper Lee never wrote another book. She says that she said all she had to say in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Being an intensely private person, all the interviews and book signings really bothered Nelle. She was a modest writer and a humble person.  When she met fans, she always worried that she had not lived up to their expectations of a 'famous writer".

From reading this book I found out that Harper Lee and I share a fondness for Harry Potter. Both Alice and Nelle were voracious readers and their modest home was filled with books.  Bookcases were filled with books on English history as well as copies of To Kill a Mockingbird in many languages.  Another book that Harper Lee enjoyed was, Being Dead is No Excuse by Grayden and Hays. It is a book that relates the "rules" of mourning and funeral rituals in the South. I have enjoyed this book so much that I have a copy on the bedside table in my guest room so that my visitors can read a chapter or so and chuckle before turning in for the night.

I was sad to turn the last page in this book and I know it is one that I will read again just to visit with the fabulous Lee sisters of Monroeville, Alabama.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A New MOPs Year!

Yesterday the Mothers of Preschoolers group at First Bible Church of Decatur had their kick off meeting for the year 2014-2015.  I am so glad to be back with "my girls". And I was happy to see some new faces while missing some old faces. That is the problem with MOPs, when your child is no longer a preschooler you have to move on.  This year our theme is Be You Bravely. Our table themes are Adrenaline Junkies, Military Heroes,  Community Heroes and Super Heroes.  My table is the Super Hero table and I got a little OCD while making my centerpiece.

I also added some Superman cups to hold pens that we need from time to time at out meetings.

Here it is at our table.( the opposite side view).

Community Heroes table....

Adrenaline Junkies table...It is hard to see but that is a Barbie figurine jumping with her parachute!!:)

Suzy got a little OCD with her centerpiece too....what a great military centerpiece.

Leslie made this beautiful cake!!

Brenda made these sheriff badges...they were yummy as well as cute.

My chocolate chewy bombs.

I loved all the labels that Ashley, our fearless leader, made for our food table. We tend to go all out for the first meeting but after that, our food is just plain old snacking food.

Getting set up for the first meeting.

We have gift baskets! Every month, the birthday girls get to choose a gift from our baskets.

Our MOPs group is very organized. One new MOP mom stated that she was so pleased with how organized the MOPs group was...she was expecting some chaos with all the Moms and Children that were at the meeting.

And last, goodie bags from a local business. Our MOPs group is so fortunate to have great sponsors. First Bible Church provides the nursery workers so that allows our group to be able to offer membership to anyone who wishes to attend.  This is such a great ministry. If you are a mother of older children or grandmother of preschoolers, see if there is a MOPs group in your area that could use you as a mentor. You will be blessed as you minister to young mothers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Terrific Thursday

This week has been one that I will always remember. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, a good friend of mine lost her 18 year old son on Saturday. This week I was able to minister to her family in a small way by organizing a brunch at our church for the family before the visitation started at eleven on Wednesday. So many people in our church have gathered around this precious family to love on them at this tragic time.  Yesterday I was just emotionally spent but some events of the day picked up my spirit.

First thing Thursday morning, I had breakfast with my friend, Susan. Being with my best friends is always a balm for my soul.

I went for groceries and guess what I found in the magazine aisle?

I love Southern Lady magazine and this Autumn in the South is also published by Hoffman Media so I know I will enjoy looking at it later. I am saving them for Saturday afternoon when I have time to look at them properly!

As many of you know, I sing the praises of Paperback Swap on my blog well I got this book in the mail yesterday.

I have been looking for copies of the Stillmeadow books by Gladys Taber for years. I look at our local library book store as well as having the series posted on my wish list on Paperback Swap. Well I have one now!! I was so excited!( It does not take much to get me excited, I am sure you have learned by now!)

While out doing errands yesterday it was in the high 90s with a heat index of 105 so I stopped at our local, Kaleidoscoops Ice Cream Shop, to get a dip of Black Walnut ice cream on a sugar cone. This little shop used to be a Baskin Robbins when we first moved to Decatur 23 years ago and made the transformation to Kaleidoscoops many years ago. As I was paying for my cone, I noticed the sign reading that they will close on August 24th for remodeling. The older generation of the mom and pop operation are retiring ( at 74) and the younger generation is taking over. The young folks want to update the shop and that is great but they think it will take about six months to do all the updating. I guess I will have to rely on Dairy Queen for my occasional ice cream fix until then!

Last night's dinner was a fun get together  with some of my Titus Ladies group, Nettie Beth, Elaine and Helen at a local Italian restaurant, Francesco's. ( this was my day for eating out I guess!!) We had the best time, chatting and then we began talking about books and we just could not stop! We are all READERS and when you get a group of readers together, watch out! We could not believe how fast the time had sped by! And now I have some other books to look for when I finish up the ones I have on the floor next to my bed, not to mention the books on my Kindle. As for books on Kindle, I am reading  The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills and I am enjoying it SO. I read a couple of reviews on Good Reads and some were not too complimentary of the book. I realized that these readers thought there would be BIG revelations about Harper Lee. What I am finding out is that Harper Lee and her older sister, Alice, are a lot like most "old southern ladies" and I find that reading the book is like sitting out on the front porch, chatting with the older ladies in my own family. Tales of family members, genealogy, hard family times, church doings etc. I am eating it up!

So today, I am feeling refreshed and looking forward to spending some time with my MOPs friends as we kick off a new year!  God is so good...He is with us in the sad times and he brings refreshment at the moments we need it the most.  I am so thankful for my faith, my family and my friends.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chatsworth

Daughter, Amelia and her two littlies, Kendall and Landon, took a ride to my hometown on Saturday to visit the family.


Amelia with Landon and Kendall. Fort Mountain in the background.


With Great Aunt Kristi....while she does not have children of her own, Aunt Kristi is much loved by her nieces and nephews.

Kendall and Landon are blessed to have another great aunt, Aunt Leta. She is the mother of my niece, Laura, but she always has time for these two.

With my mother....When Kendall was a toddler, she was confused as to why her Great Grandma was Grandma while her grandmothers were Mimi and Nana. She began calling my mother, her REAL Grandma.  I am so glad my grands will grow up with memories of great grandparents. I had one set of great grandparents until I was 12 or so and I am so glad for those memories of Mama and Papa Swanson.

Off to have breakfast with Susan. Deborah is on Grandmother duty in Montgomery so we will miss her on this Friend Day.  After a busy few days, I am happy for some down time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Walk Around the Blogs

Instead of a walk around the Block, I thought I would take a walk around some of the blogs on my side bar and see what some of my favorite bloggers are up to this week. Unfortunately, a few of my favorite bloggers are taking a break.(Little Portion Cottage and Blackberry Lane) But I will feature them another time.


My blog friend, Martha Stewart, shared some pretty bee hives on her blog recently. No these are not to be found at Martha's farm but at one she visited recently. I think the painted hives are very pretty.

My blog friend, Amanda, at Dixie Delights revealed this beautiful closet, a just completed project.

My friend, Mrs T at Across My Kitchen Table shared the recipe for these yummy strawberries.



My friend, Michie, at Creations by Michie, shared this beautiful fall bishop dress.


A new blog friend at Welcome to Lavender Dreams, posted this photo of downtown, Hendersonville, North, Carolina. It makes me want to visit this quaint little town in the mountains.


Susan Branch always shares pictures of her spot of New England on her blog. This is a house she visited in Nantucket. Isn't it just gorgeous? Traveling to Nantucket is on my bucket list.

Katy over at Goodness Gathering shared some Young Living Essential Oils that can help Momma's make it through the day. Hey Nana's can use a little of these great oils too.

Kelly, at Talk of the House, always has something neat to share. She shows us houses from all over the place and her own home is just beautiful. Kelly is one creative wife, mom and teacher. I do not know how she gets it all done. And I just won a give away at Talk of the House! Yippee! I love give aways.

Rhoda at Southern Hospitality is one of favorite bloggers. I have been reading her blog for years. She shared this antique store with us yesterday! It makes me want to go junking.

And with fall just around the corner, my blog friend, Dawn, at By Sun and Candlelight shared that she is taking a break until September. Dawn is a busy mom of boys from baby, Little Bear, to her college son, Bookworm. I have been reading Dawn's blog for years as well. I love her commitment to home and family. She is also an organizational genius as well as being a lover of pretty paper and folders.

So, if you are a bit bored and looing to spend some time in Blogdom, please check out my Blog Roll. There are some really neat ladies who have a lot to share !