Friday, March 31, 2017

Julia Paints Pets!

Julia is now working on her third pet-painting commission. First she did the pair of kitty cats, remember?
 My mother liked them so much she asked a friend to lift the photo from my blog and make sets of cards for her to use. My mother loves to write cards and notes to friends and goes through lots of cards. She sent one to me too!!
Julia's also working on a German shepherd portrait for someone. She's not as happy about this one, so it's kind of in limbo. I told her to finish him! -- just because it doesn't look perfect to her artist's eye doesn't mean others won't think it's quite nice! Anyway, this fellow is still unfinished:
Last but not least, a pair of beagles:
They are still in the beginning stages. Below is the photo she's working from, 
for their owners, a girl in one of her college classes.
 When Julia paints, she likes to get big chunks done, and she paints for hours, usually in the middle of the night. (Mama Sigh inserted here.) I dislike her sleeplessness, but I sure love what she produces. This is the floor of the little room she usually paints in. (Cue another sigh.)
 Yes, she did. She used the back of a nice sketchbook for her palette. These things no longer bother me. Much.
 And don't forget the Painter's Fuel. Haha!
All that to say: I have suggested to Julia that there might be people out there who would pay for a nice acrylic portrait of their pets on canvas. If you are such a person, leave me a message, and I'll put you in touch with the artist herself, and you can work out the details. And I'll post those beagles when they're finished! It bothers me that they don't have eyes yet!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hello, Beauty. Hello, Beast.

I fell in love with Beauty and the Beast many years ago after seeing George C. Scott and his wife Trish Vandevere in the 1976 version. I was entranced. Although I saw it only once (we didn't have any-movie-I-want-on-demand-whenever back then!), it was my favorite movie for years. It defined Gothic romance for me.
Image result for beauty and the beast scott and vandevere
George C. Scott and Trish Vandevere
When Disney produced their animated version in 1991, I was beginning motherhood and would soon have 3 small children. Those Disney movies were favorites, both the old ones from my childhood and the new ones. For some reason this Beauty and the Beast was not a favorite that we watched over and over. So when Adam, Julia and I went to the theater this afternoon to see Disney's latest live-action version, and I asked Julia if she'd ever seen the movie before, she said no. She knew nothing of the story. She watched the fairy tale for the first time today with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. We enjoyed it.

I quickly wondered how true the plot was to the original story line. When was the tale first written? How much had it changed?

If you care to read it, here's a link to the text of the story. It's a French tale written by a novelist called Villeneuve, published in 1740. (Unless I'm mistaken, in the new Disney version, the name of the French town where Belle lives is called Villeneuve, perhaps in honor of the author.) Apparently it was written to instruct young girls in the value of marrying a person of virtue instead of a handsome man or one full of cleverness. In other words, trust your father to arrange a good marriage for you with a man he finds worthy, and forget your attractions to the fellows with good looks or a way with words!

The text I linked to is a slightly abridged version done a few years later. You'll notice several glaring differences from the story according to Disney:
1. There is no Gaston. There is no Le Fou ("the fool"). There are no townspeople.
2. There are no talking teapots or otherwise engaging household implements.
3. Belle is one of six children. Her sisters in the story are the only real villains we see.
4. Beast is never, ever threatening or violent. No one is put in a dungeon. Belle is compelled to come stay with him, but he treats her gently from the beginning.
5. He proposes to her every evening. She sees him only each evening.
6. There's no magic rose slowly losing pedals. There is a curse, but it's not made as much of as in the movie.

The focus is much more on the family rather than on Belle's relationship with Beast.
Now I'll go over to Youtube and watch my favorite still -- Scott and Vandevere. It's slow, dark, and devoid of action, as you would expect from 1976. That's how I like it. Here's a sneak peak to entice you:

This is part 2 of 9. If you type the title into the Youtube search bar with the other numbers like this, you can watch them all.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Afternoon Drive to Goose Creek Island

We live in a watery part of the world, but our farm is not the wettest part of the county, thankfully. Parts of Pamlico County are just plain swampy. Today I felt like an afternoon car ride -- you know, just 'put the pedal to the metal" and take off down the road. We drove about 30 minutes to Goose Creek Island, i.e., the tip end of our county that is by far the wettest, floodiest, quietest, most-likely-to-have-a-derelict-trailer-park kinda place. I've wanted to go and had never been.
 If you want to know where this island is, click here. It's a Google Map, but I couldn't figure out how to do a screen shot and put it here. Goose Creek Island is the big island with Hobucken and Lowland on it. Hwy. 304 is the road our farm is on. If you look closely where 304 turns into 33, you will see a little bridge leading to Goose Creek Island. Do not be deceived! That is no small bridge; it's a mammoth, scary thing. Every time I drive UP and over it, I feel like I'm gonna fall off, far, far off and down into the ICW, the Intercoastal Waterway. Also known in these parts as "The Ditch."
 Above is the view from atop the bridge out to the Sound. Below is the view on the other side.
 On the far side of the bridge is this house, which I could not resist. I love falling-down houses.
 I rolled down the window to take that photo and heard the metallic rattling of the loose roof panels. That house does not have long for this world! Here's the other side:
 The many windows with their rippling, shredded curtains, and the angry flapping of the roof over the skeletal remains of the ceiling timbers. Doesn't it need a story?
Alright, I just discovered that Julia and Peter have been IN that house. Apparently they inherited my falling-down-houses gene. Julia says in that upstairs back bedroom someone painted on the wall, "Frankenstein was created here in 18--." Date unsure.
Nearby is the Hobucken Marina, a store that's been advertising for a full-time cashier for the longest time.
 It may not look like much, but it's about the only gig in town. Plus is has new gas tanks at its marina for boaters. Here's the marina:
 The docks are falling apart. The trailers are tired and run-down. Basically, it's a throw-back to a quiet riverside camp from years gone by. I think it's kinda beautiful.
 One sandy, silent lane.
 We spotted a pull-out place for big boats, not a lift, but tracks! Old railroad tracks, thoroughly rusted.
 Beau investigated.
 In Hobucken, the paved road suddenly transitions into gravel. At that point, we found the Goose Creek Country Club. I'm not kidding!
 This part of the county is gorgeous, unusual, open and wild.
 Somebody tied this old boat up by a little bridge.
 It came down this drainage canal to its dead end.
 Many of these canals and wide ditches snake around the low land on the edge of the county. All the roads have deep, full ditches on each side. The water table is quite high.
I almost took a picture of the one cemetery we saw along the road, but it was too disturbing to see that the graves, six feet under, would obviously be well below the water level in the ditch along the road.
A shot across miles of grassland to the Pamlico Sound:
 A blue heron stood in the ditch. I snatched two photos as he lifted off --
 -- and flew away.
One more dilapidated house. Don't you like the anchor above the porch? I saw so many photo-worthy objects on our drive, but I was behind the wheel, and I'm hesitant to stop in the middle of the road to take photos. In Lowland, however, there's hardly enough traffic to worry about it.
Probably only a handful of you like places like this, but I do find them fascinating.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tell Your Love Story

Here's an idea for the Blog World. How about we all tell our love stories -- let's tell how we met the men we love. It might be a nice change from posts about our opinions, our housekeeping, our anxieties, even our gardens.

I met Adam in a literature class at Mississippi College in spring of 1988. I was working on my master's degree; he was finishing his undergraduate degree that May. I was a full-time church secretary taking a few classes here and there. Independent. Living a fun apartment life. Dating a lot. Shopping at McRae's. Driving my little Toyota Corolla. Life was grand, but there was a big ugly question mark in the middle of it: would I marry? Who would I marry? When would I marry? I was 24 years old.

Adam was still 21, quite young. I walked into that Milton class and sat next to him. I noticed his very handsome legs. (He'd had a cross-country scholarship.) He was quiet, intelligent. At least one other boy in the class was more flirtatious and chatty, and asked me on a very boring date. Adam, on the other hand, walked me to my car once after a class lecture late that spring. He noticed the bike rack on the back, and we talked about that mutual hobby. And that was it. He didn't ask me out. He graduated that May. I continued working and planned two mission trips that summer -- one to Mexico and one to Poland. And I forgot about the cute boy with the nice legs who sat beside me in one class.

I should admit an interesting twist, and that's the fact that I'd seen Adam at least three times before we ever met in Milton class.  A year or two before, I'd seen him one day in the public library in our small college town. I noticed his dark curly hair, his angular face, his serious mien. Later that day, I saw him again, walking on the sidewalk toward the college. Twice -- and he stuck in my mind. Sometime later, I saw him again in the basement of the college library where I worked in the bookstacks. Clearly, he was a bookish fellow, and I liked that. So when I walked into the Milton class and saw him there, although I'd never met him I felt I knew something of him.

I returned from the mission trip to Poland on Sunday, August 7, 1988. The local newspaper ran a story with a photograph of our team. Adam saw the photo, recognized me, and remembered I worked at the church. So on Monday afternoon, 8/8/'88, he came to my office and said hello. It was quite bold of him! I toured him around the church and we talked the afternoon away. He said, "I came here to ask you on a date." I replied, "Okay, go ahead and ask." Such a smart aleck I was! I'd been dating steadily for several years, was in my mid-20s, attractive, in excellent shape, well-courted by my male friends at church, and frankly did not take this young whipper-snapper seriously. He said he worked each evening waiting tables and only had one night off, that very night (unless I wanted to wait until the following Monday). I told him I'd just returned from three weeks overseas, was exhausted and had piles of laundry to do ... but, if he was willing to accompany me to my parents' home where I did my laundry, he could make me dinner. He agreed. That was our first date. My parents were, as usual, out of town.

My mother had a washing machine that rocked and rolled its way across the laundry room, so I sat on it to keep it under control. Most of our date, after Adam made grilled chicken sandwiches, was spent in the laundry room, trying to talk over the noise of the machine. Not as romantic as many well-planned dates I'd had with other guys, but I preferred the down-to-earth honesty of Adam's manner. He was no-frilled. I felt no pressure.

I never went on another date with another man.

Our second date was a picnic to a local park in Belhaven, the residential area of Jackson where we lived few blocks from each other. That fall and winter we saw each other several times each week. I would walk one block from the church for my lunch break at his apartment. He cooked for me. We went to movies, for long country drives in his VW convertible in rural Mississippi with the top down and the leaves swirling behind us. We rode bikes and took long walks in the country. I met his parents and he met mine. We were an odd mix: his dad was retired military; mine worked at a seminary. Adam went to public schools; I went to private. We were both Christians, but we argued endlessly (and quite aggressively) over theology. We listened to lots of music we loved. I was a musician. He was a photographer. I think that was the most romantic year of my life.
photo taken in a tunnel in the Vicksburg Military Park
When we'd been dating a few weeks, Adam wanted to kiss me. We were at my apartment; I was seated on the couch. He sat on the floor in front of me. "I want to kiss you," he said longingly. I smiled. "Okay. Go ahead," I replied. Clearly I was to a point in my dating life when I was unintimidated by boys and their attempted romances, and I was willing to make him work for it. But he did kiss me. As a young man, Adam enjoyed challenges, and I was one. Later in the fall, I remember a balmy evening at his apartment, which had a lovely Juliet balcony overlooking Gillespie Street. Adam played Tchaikovsky on the stereo -- the big kind with stacks of electronic boxes on the floor and waist-high speakers on either side -- and we sat on the balcony and talked.  From that same apartment the next spring I would drive away in a fury after we'd had The Biggest Fight Yet about religion. Adam was still rather liberal in his views, coming to his faith alone in a Juvenile Detention cell with the help of a Gideon Bible and little else. I, however, had enjoyed all the religious influence that a Southern Christian, Bible-believing, church-attending-three-times-a-week family can give. We were both crying that night. I was sobbing and angry. I got in my car and drove away, and I knew -- I knew -- that if I left then I would not return. I would lose him. I could not lose him. If I did not marry him, I knew I would wonder all my life where he was. I would pine for him. So I did a u-turn in the middle of Gillespie Street, went back, and held him tight.

Sometime in January I got ill. My sore throat progressed to mononucleosis, and I was hospitalized with dehydration for four days. Adam was amazingly attentive. One anecdote here shows a facet of his personality: He told his boss at El Chico Mexican Restaurant that he needed to visit his girlfriend in the hospital. It was mid-February. The boss didn't believe him, and said he just wanted the day off to spend Valentine's with me. Adam said no -- I was really sick. The boss was willing to let him off, but Adam was so affronted at being accused of lying, that he quit his job (!!) Yes, he did. He was an idealist with high standards.

Sometime in March we were engaged. Unlike engagements today, the event was unfilmed, and we don't even remember the date. He attempted a proposal on a Sunday night. He was unusually quiet when we went back to my apartment. Normally we have no trouble with conversation. For almost 28 years now, we always have things to say. But that night, he was mum. Finally, the light dawned on me, and I said those fateful words a woman ought never to say: "I know what's wrong with you. You want to ask me to marry you, don't you?" (Oops!!) He nodded his head. Oh well, I made it easy for him! When we put the question to my daddy, however, we were not met fondly. I am his only daughter and the baby of the family; he was not willing to hand me over quite that easily! My mother had to win him over.

We married on July 29, 1989, less than a year after our first date.
We've been deeply in love ever since.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

North Topsail Again

Hi, all. For our third year, we market gals are at the beach together, having a wonderful time. Here are a few pics I've taken since we arrived yesterday morning.
 We cross over the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) just before reaching North Topsail Island.
 One of the first things Christine wanted to do was fly her kite. She bought a dragon kite and it sailed quite well.
 This year our dear friend Jan could not come -- she had work plus two doggies to care for. We miss her.
 This year it's sunny, gorgeous, and temperatures are in the 70s. I'm so glad! Two years ago freezing temps kept us wrapped in coats and gloves.
 The beach is fabulous -- not many interesting shells this year, however. I did write a little poem about shell-collecting here.
 Christine's dragon kite!
Here's where we stay: Pooh and Piglet's Place. It's for rent. Patti knows the owner, and we come "off-season." See the Pooh and Piglet banner?
 We've played a moderate amount of Mexican Train Dominoes. I won the first game!! :) But the phenomenal weather has kept us outside, either beachcombing or relaxing on the deck.
 Alright, I share these photos with permission! Christine brought along this crazy game called "Watch Ya Mouth!" Players insert bizarre mouth pieces that prevent them from pronouncing words with m's, p's, b's, and other sounds. Then they must say phrases that are impossible to say, and other players must guess what's being said.
 And this is how you look when you're playing.
 Christine is the breakfast chef, and Eggs Benedict is one of her signature dishes. Yummm.

 In a very uncharacteristic move, we decided to go get pedicures. Patti loves pedis and gets them regularly. I go once or twice a year. Christine hadn't had a pedi in five years. And Kip? Kip had never, ever, in nearly 60 years of life, had a pedicure. She'd never even had polish on her toes. I kid you not!

 The salon is in Sneads Ferry and is called B.A.P., and it's extremely good. We will return there next year for sure. And how did Kip take to her spa treatment? She snuggled into that massage chair like a pro and is quite proud of her pink toes :)
I chose a purply polish for the first time ever.

 Tomorrow is our last full day at the beach, and I plan to make the most of it.
Today, that included taking a one-hour nap and finishing watching Brideshead Revisited on youtube, a show I would highly recommend.
Cheerio from the beach, y'all!!!