Monday, September 30, 2013

End of Summer :Sage Book Whisperer Book Review

At 61 degrees this morning_ I'm thinkin' Texas Summer 2013 is Done & Done...get outta here!

So_ thought I'd catch you up on some of my Summer 2013 Reads! I kinda got sidetracked ...didn't stick to my List totally...
Nevertheless,had some very good reads. BUT..."First things First"_ came across these two books I purchased in 2001 at.. Marlborough, NH! It is a Book Lover's Dream come true, lots of books,quaint and beautiful hard to find books. I still have the receipt_ paid a total of $5 bucks for....

                               "In The Quarters" by Robert W.Chambers_copyright 1894
                                 "The Master's Violin" by Myrtle Reed (1904)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first one was considered rare and bidding at EBay auction was at $300 & the second was at $100! At $5 for both_ I'd say that's a pretty darn good profit_(if I were to sell).They are both in pristine condition. Heck! I'm scare to read them now.

Overview of my Favorites

As the back flap says_ "this is a charming and engrossing tale that will captivate readers from the first page, and leave them yearning to visit the Irish countryside of days gone by." I loved it...funny, serious, very Irish & charming. The Author has a Series of books_ of all things Irish.

Everything you always wanted to know about a "SOUTHERN
WOMEN AGING GRACEFULLY"! This is one FUNNY book!You will see a little bit of yourself in all the chapters_btw_they are short chapters some of which are titled: Aging Gracefully,
Sleeping with a Snoring Man, Your Mama was Right When She Said, Southern Women and Cemeteries, Did You Have Enough to Eat, The Pity Party Box, Southern Women and Theme Parties(I'm guilty),etc...I'm planning on reading some of her other books.

Another Laugh Out Loud book....which inspired me to write a Blog post of my memories on the front porch swing in East TX. 
The Author mostly writes Children's books_ but this one caught my fancy. The stories reminded me so much of the ones I grew up hearing. Here's a list of other books,etc. 

I love..."WhoDunit" books! But of course,I'm an Agatha Christie Fan.Searching the category, I came across this book which was "Winner of The Crime Writers' Association's Debut Dagger Award".That got my curiosity going.Gave it a read..Boy it was a page turner.Although,I must say the eleven-year-old sleuth begged for me to come into the pages  and give her an old fashion spanking because she was always getting into her own doings!Precocious little rascal.  

I liked the  way Alan Bradley wrote this book....with some historical twist and turns.As a result,I learned about the Penny Black.The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year

If you don't know...I'm somewhat of a History Buff. So, a good page turner(like this book)_coupled with historical trivia thrown in for safe measure...I'm good to go! I adore Bradley's
take on this impressive little sleuth. There's more in this Series
on Flavia de Luce_

I rounded out my Summer 2013 with_
"Memories of My Melancholy Whores &The Vulgar Tongue".
Read Blog on those two here:

Fell in Love with the Beekman Boys 1802 after reading Josh-Kilmer Purcell books:"Bucolic Plague,Candy Everybody Wants & I Am Not Myself These Days".Check out my Blog on them here:

"Holiday On Ice"by David Sedaris_mmm ,interesting book.Can't say I liked it_but_can't say I didn't??? It was a take on various Holidays and the issues that come with them...for example_Diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey").

I have a couple of books I'm finishing up, started a movie/reading Marathon on all things "Peyton Place" so you'll hear about that...I'd say I need to kick my reading speed up to complete my List. But, I guess there's always room for a stray book or so...because_

I'll be updating my Reading List for Winter 2013! Any suggestions?

"Until next time, Read Something"!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

~The Painting of "Our Stonehenge Garden Room"~

Stonehenge...a prehistoric, mysterious circle of upright stones in southern England of which construction began some 5,000 years ago, built in phases_it is such a magnificent monument that it would impress no matter where it is.The astonishing scale and beauty of the stones, the great care and labor in construction, and the mystery that surrounds its original purpose are just some of the reasons Stonehenge is a "World Heritage Site".Under stormy skies,a fresh snowfall, a rainbow, a full moon,or the rising sun on the Autumnal Solstice(TODAY!), it is mystical and magical. The picture above is the original design. 

"Our Stonehenge Garden"...Rewind to 1997.We lived in the DFW metroplex. After looking at many designs of Gardens, a decision was made to create "Garden Rooms" in our small backyard.Thus "Tranquility Gardens" became our christening name for this effort. Around that time, my husband was deep into researching his family roots in Ireland, had served as President of The Ft. Worth Irish Association and participated in Historical Reenactments dressed in Irish Zouave uniform. Did I mention that he had been painting_(no formal training)_ for many years? In one week he'd painted...surrounded by our beloved Boston Terrier (Pettie) & Doberman (Heidi)....his rendition of a "Druid Ceremony at Stonehenge"!

Because of our love for Meditation, Zen, Peacefulness, Beauty,
Nature, etc...over the course of another two week_ this painting morphed into "Our Stonehenge Garden Room". John gathered
seven 8 foot plywood sheets, henged (as in hinged,no pun intended) them together, gathered his paints and was "Assisted" by our Manx cat named "Kitty Cat" & went to work....

 ...Finishing touches, we had purchased the stones for "The CIRCLE"**,he'd painted the cinder blocks with a wrap-around Rose as a Love Note to me, the Gazing Ball was in place & candles of course, Spider plants, Elephant Ears plants, etc...large pots of Bamboo Trees lead you down the path to the entrance of which stood a very large Pagoda, and a Chiminea was placed in the circle! The painter takes a breather here next to the Chiminea Fireplace...

And so "Our Stonehenge Garden Room" was finished. Here's a look at what my husband created...Indeed, a "talented man"!

"Stonehenge-esque Shadows in Our Garden"
(John used "Glowing in the Dark "paint for the Stars & Moon...beautiful day and night)

We spent many days and nights sitting in this most special  "Garden Room".Friends, family and sometimes just the two of us late into the night (3-4am) enjoying a really magical time amongst the painted monoliths of Stonehenge! When we moved to New Hampshire...we donated it to a Celtic organization_ they were overjoyed!

**About the significance of the Circles:
Circles have many meaning_ a reference on Earth to the Heavens, the Sun is circular except when eclipsed,full moon is a disc either waxing or waning, oldest form of Dance is in a circle(Priests 4,000 years ago danced in a circle while chanting prayers for the "Circle of Protection"), labyrinths, turf mazes all circular,it is a symbol of Eternity for Christians, Weddings or Engagement Rings symbolize an unbroken & faithful circle, as with Life an expression of Renewal & Rebirths is a circle, etc... Have you discovered your Circles?

*The Bluestones (igneous rock) were the first stones to arrive at Stonehenge. They do not appear Blue but blotchy grey-brown
in color.

*According to British Historian, Geoffrey Monmouth_ the medicinal powers of Stonehenge stones were stimulated by pouring water over them for the sick to bathe in.
*Stonehenge was either a Burial Ground,Healing/Ritual Site or an Astrological time clock.....or?

*Evidence that people made healing pilgrimages to Stonehenge also comes from human remains found in the area, most spectacularly from the richest Neolithic grave ever found in the British Isles belonged to the “Amesbury Archer”—a man between 35 and 45 years old who was buried about five miles from Stonehenge between 2400 and 2200 B.C. with nearly 100 possessions, including an impressive collection of flint arrowheads, copper knives and gold earrings.

*Druids_ In the popular mind, it is the Druids (the Priests of the Celtic religion of the Iron Age) that is often associated with Stonehenge.Throughout the 20th century, Stonehenge began to be revived as a place of religious significance, this time by adherents of Neopagan and New Age beliefs, particularly the Neo-druids.

*Regarding Pagan_The three biggest holidays celebrated in the United States and that are paganistic in origin are Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. To the average person the first reaction to that statement is that the writer has made a bit mistake; Halloween maybe, but not the others. Yet all these holidays do indeed have their origins in the pagan world.

*Druids practiced "The Pythagorean Doctrines"_one of which was  Vegetarianism...thus "The Pythagorean Diet". 

Other References:
We had the pleasure of visiting this site in New Hampshire_ 

Lesser known "Henges"_

No one really knows the reasons why Stonehenge or any of the other marvels of the World were built. There will always be theories of it's use, the people, etc.... thing for sure that I know_ "Our Stonehenge Garden Room" was built for personal reflection, Fellowship, imagination,
beauty,an extension of our hospitality and the 
"Painter Instinct"of My Husband's mind !!!!

                 "STONEHENGE ROCKS"!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

~CELEBRATE! Good Times!

Celebrating my second year as a Blogger! Thanks for coming by my little spot and reading about what's on my mind. On 9-16-11...never thought this would be so much fun! Y'all come back now! Check out my first two Blog Post, I've come along way from just a few sentences!  &

                  "Celebration Part Deux"
It's my 18th Anniversary with my Best Friend!

So, the traditional gift for the 10th is Tin. The next gift picks up at the 25th which is we're kinda in between!Eighteen years of marriage is an accomplishment worth acknowledging and celebrating.We are seven years shy of the milestone 25th Wedding  Anniversary.Eighteen years celebrates & honors almost two decades of love and commitment.This says it best...

 My "Lovey" & I exchanged a band we truly believe in the "Claddagh Ring" on this day eighteen years ago. It is a precious band....

The Claddagh's distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). Claddagh rings, with (more commonly than not) or without the crown, are relatively popular among the Irish and those of Irish heritage, such as Irish Americans as culture symbols and/or as symbols of engagement, marriage, or love.
Claddagh rings are often used as friendship rings but are most commonly used as engagement/wedding rings. In Ireland, the United States, and other places, the Claddagh is handed down mother-to-daughter or grandmother-to-granddaughter. According to Irish author Colin Murphy, the way in which a Claddagh ring was worn with the intention of conveying the wearer's relationship status:
  1. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love. (This is most commonly the case when a young woman has first received the ring from a relative, unless she is already engaged.)
  2. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship. (This suggests that the wearer's heart has been "captured".)
  3. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
  4. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.

"Hands - symbolizes Friendship,Heart for Love,Crown  signifies Loyalty"

Yes, there's a Village called Claddagh...

The Irish word cladach means stony shore and this is how the area known as Claddagh got its name. Claddagh was once a fishing village on the western edge of Galway City, just across the river.Check out the "Galway Album" on this link:  

There are many Celtic Symbols and meanings.Many are rooted in "The Book of Kells"...(BTW,that is one of the gifts my husband has for me...he thinks I don't know about it but I saw it on arrival from I have to act SURPRISED! Love it. One of his gifts is the "Gift of Language"..he's planning a month's vacation in the future to Russia_so my gift includes a DVD/CD so that he may learn the Russian language. He is a Historical Re-enactor & has been participating in WWII  Field exercises_as a Russian.

Here's a GREAT link to learn about the Celtic Symbols and meanings! 

There's always a Book in my Life.....

My Sister-in-Law to be gave me this book 18 years ago at my Bridal Shower! I so love it....just found out it is a Collector's item first published by Cecily Joyce in Ireland in 1990.The myths,the history,the symbols are explained,Galway Silver,the Village,etc...all in this tiny book! Thank-you Debra.

So, on this "our" 18th Wedding Anniversary_ this Blessing holds

...And our  wedding bands hold true_

And to my Loyal Readers...."Let's Celebrate"

Much Love & Peace..The Sage Book Whisperer!



Friday, September 6, 2013

~Customs of The Country~Porch Swings,Stories,Tall Tales & Haints~

                 My Mother's Mom_ Ms.Albertine_aka_"Big Mama"_My Grandmother

                         At her home on College Hill, next door to Mary Allen College(1871)

             My Dad's Mom_Ms.Lola_My Grandmother "Cherokee Tribe Descendant"
The History of your Family can be found in your Family Albums of yesteryear! Ever notice how many pictures were taken on the front porch swing? The front porch swing was always the meeting place of family and friends. Swings can be traced to prehistoric times_comes from Latin porticus and the Greek portico_which described a cathedral's vestibule,where worshippers gathered to socialize after church services.
Porch swings first appeared in Early America in the 18th century.It was another 100 years before they became really popular.The diverse cultures and traditions of early Americans  led to a blend of various architectural styles_which evolved into what became "The Front Porch", a game room of sorts. I remember songs, games,conversations,neighbors dropping by,morning coffee chats,etc. "The Swing" was the most popular furnishing _and it was "magical","romantic" and peaceful"!

Who doesn't love a Swing? It's a great way to relieve the pressures of today's lifestyle, carefree time_ NO TECHNOLOGY REQUIRED_a time to connect with the Universe or others! Speaking of which, join me for....

When I decide to write on this subject, I "interviewed" my Mother (she's in her 80s) and my oldest Brother & my Sister! I challenged them to remember_fond memories of growing up in deep East Texas in the late 40s,50s and 60s. What fun we had!
Here's a couple:
My Grandmother was enjoying her regular evening on the front porch swing_this would have been in the 30s during the Great Depression. A couple came driving down Hwy 19._which ran in front of her home & was the main route in & out of Crockett.They stopped & asked her where they could get some food.She told them she didn't know of any dining places but they were welcome to have some of her supper.They came in ate_gave her a $20 bill for her kindness and headed towards Palestine,Texas. About 30 minutes later,while again on the front porch swing, the Crockett Police stopped to ask if she'd seen a couple come through_described them to her_she said well I just fed a couple like that.He told my Grandmother that she had just fed...

Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow who'd robbed a bank in Franklin,Texas earlier that day.An APB was out for their arrest! My Big Mama was floored!

A little history about my hometown_

Alone those same lines_ the story was told how my Great,Great
Grandmother fed and made a sack lunch for "Scarface"when he passed through Crockett in the 20s_all while he waited on the steps of the front porch. Crockett was a stop off place for folks "riding the rails"during this time. The Houston & Great Northern Railroad was built throughout the county in 1872 bringing new settlers as well as notorious criminals passing through!

There were many "WWII stories" shared by my Dad. He served in the Navy as a Steward to the Admirals_in other words he cooked specifically for this rank.African-Americans were most always Cooks_his position was considered Prime as he didn't do Mess-Halls...go figure! Anyway,when Pearl Harbor was bombed he was Shipmates with Decorated Doris"Dorian Miller"_who was a Steward as well.My mother has several photos of them as they were pals!..he was from Waco & Dad from Crockett_so they were Texas Guys!

My Big Mama did what was called_"take -in-washing-and -ironing".On this particular day my mother said she & my uncle were playing in the back yard while Big Mama washed & hung out clothes on the line. A familiar man walked up...everybody knew him in town & that he was what you called a little off as in a mental patient.He told Big Mama that he had been asked to take the note he held to somebody's house_BUT he could not read or write.He'd walked about 2.5 miles from Downtown Crockett and everyone kept telling & pointing which house to carry the note to...and so on,& so on. Big Mama took the note,read it to herself _and told him he had the right house. He was overjoyed that he'd found the right house!After the man left,Big Mama said it was a shame to do a person of his state like that_as she read the note to them. It said:"READ THIS NOTE.KEEP THIS FOOL GOING". That is so wrong on many levels.

A true-story that I reminded my Brother of_ Jr was always looking for stuff to use as practice target with his BB-Gun.About three houses down from us lived a man named Willis Blackshear.He would be what's today described as a homeless man in attire_wearing many layers of clothing ,talking to himself,he had what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Army. He always had  many empty cans lined up on his front porch,along side the house,etc.Well,in my Brothers quest to find something to shoot at_he picked up one of those cans....which unknown to him was filled with urine.He ran home smelling really bad,had to take a bath,etc...from then on I teased him by calling him_"Willis Blackshear's Pee"!

A couple of others...On Sunday's after Church & Dinner_we'd have Dessert on the front porch. It never failed Pastors & other folks would seem to appear when it was Dessert Time.I remember_when we saw them coming_we'd say_"let's go hide the food"! If we didn't they'd eat us out of house & home,especially the Pastors!


There were soooooooooo many of these_NOT enough space or time.But here's an overview of some of my favorites.

The area now known as Houston County was a stronghold of the Alabama-Coushatta, Cherokee, and Tejas Indians. My Dad's mom was Native American(Cherokee). If you sat on the
front porch swing late evening,there was a "walking light" that circled the area directly across the pasture from Big Mama. There was NO person just the light. Stowe Lumber company had been built on this Native American Burial site...many said it was the "SPIRITS WALKING"!!! That lumber company
mysteriously burned to the ground one day.

My Dad showed us a very large tree that in the late evening from Big Mama's porch you could see smoke coming from the top.He said an African-American man had been HUNG from that tree_and it was his Spirit in the form of smoke!

Dad would always tell the story of how he took my second brother to Lufkin(30+miles or so) for school clothes one year.They had to buy him clothes for"husky boys",Crockett
stores did not carry that size. So,they went shopping,stopped for food on the way there,ate again while there & stopped at a food place on the way back. He said my Brother gained weight from  the time they purchased the clothes in Lufkin_back to Crockett_AND could NOT wear the clothes he'd just bought!!!!

For those of YOU_that are NOT familiar with this term_it is a variant of haunt "Chiefly Southern U.S..A ghost or other supernatural being."

Many of the photos from my childhood show Big Mama's porch painted a blue color. I have learned that it was painted Blue as in "Haint Blue " for a reason. This paint color originated in the deep South."The original Haint Blue creators were descendants of African slaves who worked on rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia.They kept alive the traditions, stories, and beliefs of their ancestors, including a fear of haints." Here's an interesting read on the subject:

But,Of Course....Martha Stewart is in on the trend to use this color....

Recently, it's been used to repel bugs.....oh and The Haints!

If my memory serves me right,NOT_only did my grandmother re-painted every Spring but neighbors did as well_Aunt Waymon,Mrs Garrett,Uncle Be-Bop,Uncle Mutt,etc..They also had a tradition of coming for an early morning visit with their coffee cup in hand_from across the street...I can still see that!

Now,that you know about haints & some history_here's a  story my mother told me_

Seems town talk was buzzing about the many sightings of
"The Headless Man"! Strange stories about people having car &"wagon accidents"(yes people drove wagons_I rode in one with my grandfather), people saw him looking in windows,etc. The stories got so strong that Big Mama would close her home up early evening,pack them an overnight bag/food,etc...then leave to spend the night with relatives! When the stories died down some they started sleeping at home.


We played Chinese Checkers_
Dominoes,Cards, jump rope in the front yard,my Grandmother & I had "heart-to-heart talks",always with a glass of iced tea with her mint that grew in a pot on the porch & Teacakes(YUM),the family conversations_ my sister remembers Big Mama people watching & knowing exactly what they would do_like the boy that walked to the grocery store most days for ice cream & would come back with a bag of ice cream dripping all over his shirt..she said just all nasty!!! And the music of Billy Holiday,Billy Eckstine or Classical music always playing on the "Victrola"! 

Those are some realllllllly great memories.This little project had us all smiling & laughing _like Big Mama who couldn't tell a funny story without laughing & crying at the same time(she was so tickled). That is why_one of the first things I did when we moved to Aaron's Hilltop Farm was to install _the institution of  "THE FRONT PORCH SWING" ...and the stories,tall tales, & haints live on! Come sit a spell....let's it's "the custom of the country"_ANY SEASON......

 "What are your favorite "Front Porch" stories?

Swingin'& Sippin',
The Sage Book Whisperer ~