Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunday Jazz at Seasons

My dear friend, Molly and her daughter, Angie invited me to spend Sunday evening with them at the Seasons Rotisserie and Grill where a friend of Angie's from high school was performing. 
Photo by Cal Haines

Lee Taylor and his quartet lit up the rain darkened evening with their performances.  Clearly enjoying the evening as much as the audience, the first set established their camaraderie and excellent technique. 


The quartet features friends that Lee has played with since the 1980's; Lewis Winn on guitar, “Milo” Robert L. Jaramillo on bass, and John Bartlit on drums.

During the second half of the evening we learned that several friends in the audience were performers as well and Lee invited them up to sing for us.   So disappointed that I did not hear the introduction of this very hot mama...
whose vocalizations rivaled the late Linda Cotton.

But I did hear Patty's name and have found lots of information on her career online.
Patty Stephens


Next time I go to any one of these artist's performances, I will be sure to take some flowers from my garden, but here are some virtual ones for all of them...
 Thyme, verbena, sunflowers from my garden, Alstroemeria lilies and pink something or other still pretty from a bouquet sent by my friend Pat, for my sisters Memorial service.  For more lovely flowers I am linking to a blog friend, Jane's "Flowers in the House Party."  Click on over to see what is blooming in gardens around the world.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Have Silver Will Travel

Did you love watching the Lone Ranger on television when you were young?  Are you a Johnny Depp fan?  If so, you will have a chuckle in the new rather farcical movie The Lone Ranger. 

Silver, the horse, has a major role.  I am reminded of the white horse who lived in the pasture at the end of our street in Tacoma, WA.  All the neighborhood kids called him Silver, having no idea of his real name, and we rode him bareback surreptitiously.  We never saw his owner. He/she must have come to feed him long after we had been called in by the dinner bells.  The Silver in the film, however, is a horse of another sort altogether.  But I won't spoil the fun by telling you any more.  Except that you might be a little disappointed in the performance of Armie Hammer who plays the ranger.  Everything else is campy and fun as you would expect from a film that features Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (my favorite villainess). 

But this post is about another sort of silver.  For years, my sister Rosalind and I have shared our silver.  For every wedding, shower, anniversary party, family reunion, birthday party, etc. happening in our circle of friends, we would polish our silver and pack into laundry baskets and haul it to the event. 

At some point, we realized we rarely used our silver except when we were  together, and thus hit on packing it into a common suitcase with wheels to make it more convenient.  Sometimes the suitcase was at her house, sometimes at mine.  To be honest, over the years, we got a little lazy and only polished the pieces we were using for a particular event.  And one large tray, it seems never got its bottom polished at all. 

1/4 of a jar of Wright's before I began to see the silver glimmering through the tarnish
As I opened the suitcase this morning to polish the trays for my sister's Memorial Service, (2:00 p.m. July 12, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 432 Richmond NE)  I was joined by all the ancestors who had polished these pieces with care or perhaps with annoyance.  I love that they have left something they cherished to remind me of their lives.  

My brittle, fragile great-aunt Ellen, who could not bring herself to touch a child but lifted the heavy ornate trays that were required to entertain her husband's oil business cronies with ease, watched me carefully to make sure I did not scratch them.  

My great-aunt Mary admired the ornate pitcher given to her as a retirement present, kindly pretending not to notice the dents in it.  This piece is double walled to keep the condensation down, so would be horrendously expensive to repair.

My Mother fusses, "Don't work so hard Heather, you can do some tomorrow, you know" as I was washing and drying her favorite tray.

Rubbing the the Wright's Silver cream over the tea service my Aunt Clara and Uncle Ben gave to me when they moved from Easton, MD to Albuquerque, my darling Uncle Ben is interested in knowing what we will serve at Rosalind's last tea party.  He is hoping for ice cream, something he was not supposed to eat after an early heart attack but had "just a small one" when treating us to Baskin Robbins.

Rosalind, herself, reminds me that she requested we not go to a lot of trouble, and why did I think it necessary to serve tea sandwiches?  Since I knew she wasn't really able to argue with me, I ignored her. But I did spend the rest of the morning thinking of all the lovely times we spent sitting in her kitchen or mine planning parties, laughing, teasing, and modeling gracious living to my three daughters, and their friends who came and went, and less frequently my
brother's daughters, visiting from Texas.

I will not have too many more years with the energy to keep the silver polished and it will be time to pass this legacy onto the next generation.  There are five young women (all Rosalind's nieces) who have been tutored into party planning but who are taking a liking to their own styles.  Some of them may sell their share of this lovely silver, some may pack it away to pass onto their own children, but I hope some will use it and remember Rosalind and the sister who loved her and the parties they shared. 

I am wondering if you use silver?  Or are do you favor wood and pottery?  Or maybe disposable goods are all you would consider using when entertaining more than just the family?  Please leave a comment below or email and let me know how you feel about polishing silver.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Miniature Landscape

Anastasia is sitting in the garden contemplating the devastation.  Ana lives in a miniature Williamsburg house created by Rosalind Womack, my sister.     I am landscaping the house and finishing a few tiny details in the house that Rosalind was unable to complete before she died.

Anastasia has no idea that her life is imaginary...

Everything has been cleared except the hedges and tomorrow, the town mason will arrive to lay the slate paving stones Ana has ordered from the Buckingham Slate quarryJames had tried to talk her into using bricks which were made right in Williamsburg.  The brick would have been purchased at a much smaller cost, but Ana was adamant.  Their friend, Thomas Jefferson had, surprisingly, been enthusiastic about her design ideas and with Thomas' support James had given into her wishes.

She had planted hedges in 1772 shortly after marrying James and arriving in Williamsburg. The hedges served to screen the privy and they had grown beyond all expectations.  Much to her dismay, they had been used by the militia, as a target for musket practice.  James had gathered and trained the militia when the war with England started.  The holes blown in the hedges by the men who could actually aim were beginning to fill in. 

At long last, the war is over, James is home safe, the United States is free of British rule, and Anastasia is ready to begin work on her formal garden.  For the past seven years, she has drawn and re-worked the plans. Several letters from General Lafayette have confirmed that her garden will be a modest version of the great gardens of France.  He has sent her copies of several designs from a book in his library written by Andre Le Notre. 

During the war, with many of the field hands joining the British army in order to obtain their freedom, Ana had been too shorthanded to find the time or to spare field hands to begin this project.  After the war, several of the men had returned to work for wages.  Not a patient woman, she has been irritated by the view in front of her house every time she walked out the door. 

 Now things are beginning to look a little more like the vision in her head.

The ground has been cleared and leveled and the structure of the garden is beginning to take shape when Ana realizes she would really like to have a reflecting pool to catch the color of the sky.  Never indecisive, she calls a halt to the construction to see if she can fit something into the design.  Sure enough, if she cuts the corners from the four flower beds and moves them slightly further apart, there would still be room to walk around a small pool and  fountain. The  herb garden planned for the center will move to another part of the garden.

Anastasia loves the way the paving stones look for the walkways, but doesn't care for the pink flowers and has them ripped out.
 Yes, that is better. 

The stone mason is balking at having to remove the picket fencing and replace it with stone, but Ana blithely adds 20 gold dollars to his fee and he decides he might be able to find the time after all. 
The slaves are hauling buckets of sand from the river to pack between the paving stones. 
 Ana decides the men deserve some of her famous lemon and orange punch and goes to find Lydia to see if she has time to pick the oranges.  Ana has been growing them in large urns so they might be brought into the house in the winter.

For more stories about Anastasia Stewart Ogden click on the tab at the top of this blog labeled "My Sister's Williamsburg Dollhouse."