Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Down South in the Land of Cotton

Having grown up in Kentucky, I knew nothing about cotton fields until I moved to south central Tennessee. Now, I am in cotton country, and on my long drive to Sewanee every day, I pass by many fields of cotton. And soybean. And corn. But mostly cotton. When I first moved here, I was fascinated with the cotton pods and begged my husband to stop on the side of the road so that I could reach through a fence and pick a branch off one of the cotton plants. It was such strange, foreign stuff to me, and I wanted to see it up close, touch it, smell it, take it apart and see exactly what it looked like (this has carried over from my childhood...inquiring minds want to know, you know).
The first year I lived here, I visited a farm so that I could watch the big machines vacuum up the cotton. I even went to a cotton gin so that I could see exactly what happens to the cotton once it leaves the field. This was one of the highlights of moving here for me. The machinery that processes cotton absolutely fascinates me.

Something I am less thrilled with, however, is the mess that is left behind once the fields are picked. Cotton is not a pretty plant once the fluffy white cotton pods are gone. The stalky, leggy, brownish gray sticks protrude from the ground looking rather pitiful (and dangerous), if you ask me. Beginning in October, the sides of the highways are littered with cotton once the machines begin their work, and for many more months, stalks are left in the fields to wither and become even more brittle. An emptied cotton field looks so forlorn to me. When I pass by them in November, they always reminds me of the frosty fields of snow I would see back home in Kentucky...except the frost is cotton that never made it into the giant vacuum cleaner. It makes my drive to work seem much colder than it actually is! I have to remind myself that I am not seeing a dusting of snow in the distance!

I can see much beauty in the baren winter landscape, but I admit that it is very difficult for me to find anything lovely about a graying cotton field. And here I am - it's not even December yet, and I am already looking forward to spring plowing time! At least where the cotton fields are concerned.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Yesterday, I received the sweetest surprise in my mailbox! Carla at 365 Letters sent me a true, real letter...handwritten even! It had been such a long time since I had received a note or letter in the mail, and I was thrilled. I have often commented on the downward trend of letter writing, and it truly has become a lost art. In a world of twitters, blogs, emails, and facebook entries, letter writing has fallen by the wayside. There is something so special about someone sitting down, taking pen in hand, and writing a letter just to you. And being on the receiving end of such a treasure is a true gift.

Carla has a wonderful blog focusing on her goal of writing a letter every day of the year. I think this is a wonderful concept. As I drove to work yesterday, I was thinking about how I should write more...quit depending on technology to keep in touch and put more of a personal touch on my correspondence. I have tons of beautiful stationery and note cards that I never use because I simply do not take the time to sit down and write anymore. Carla has it right: make letter writing a priority. It truly is a dying art form, and I find that ridiculously sad.

Carla, you have inspired me! Oh, I can't give up facebook or the quick convenience of email, but I truly intend to write more letters. Three a week. That is my solemn promise. And now I am off to write the first one. What a pleasure it will certainly be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Art of Paul Sawyier

"We're made so that we love. First, when we see things painted, things we have passed perhaps a hundred times, nor cared to see....they are better painted -- better to us...God uses us to help each other so, lending our minds out." ~Paul Sawyier

"Summer Moon"

I have long loved the beautiful artwork of Kentucky artist Paul Sawyier, known as the River Artist due to his amazing images of the Kentucky River. Sawyier (1865-1917) was an American impressionist artist choosing to work mostly in watercolor. He is best known for his paintings of the Frankfort, Kentucky area and New York City.

Having grown up in Kentucky, I have been fortunate to have seen Sawyier's work all my life, and a few years ago even more fortunate with the purchase of two limited prints that now hang in our master bedroom. Sawyier's is the the kind of work in which one can get lost, forget that you are not actually a part of the painting, forget that you are on the outside looking in rather than being a part of it.

The University of Kentucky's art museum has two of Sawyier's paintings and often sells prints of some of his work. If you are ever fortunate enough to be able to visit an exhibit of Sawyier's work, you will, no doubt, become enamored with it as I have. Anyone with a love for impressionism will find the work of Paul Sawyier among some of the most beautiful ever created.
"Yesterday's Summer"

"Jamaica Bay"

"Singing Bridge"

"Springtime on Elkhorn"



"Perfect Water"

"Lover's Rain"

"After the Snow"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Please Thank a Veteran

My Uncle, Roy E. Moore, was an American soldier. There are so many stories that have been circulated about him for years within our family...how he gave food to hungry children in Germany during WWII after he, a tank commander, and his fellow soldiers rolled through and liberated a village, how he cried over fallen fellow soldiers, how brave he was starring into the face of death. Even after he had served in WWII, he was asked to participate in the Korean War as an older man, and he did so without thinking twice.

My Uncle, Albert Lay, Jr., was a member of the United States Navy. He served courageously during WWII. He does not talk very much about all that he witnessed and did during the war, but we do know that he was what was, at that time, called a "Frog Man"...underwater demolition...the predecessors to the Navy Seals. He is STILL brave and tough as nails to this day.

My Uncle, Edmond L. Lesko, was a member of the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. He spent hours and hours on a submarine deciphering codes and listening for intelligence that the Armed Forces might have been able to use to their advantage. He was so fortunate to not have seen combat, but his sacrifice and the work that he did was no less important than if he had.

These are the men in my family who have most closely defined for me the sacrifice, commitment and dedication of what it means to be an American Veteran. For their sacrifices, and those of every American soldier, I am truly grateful.

Please tell a United States Veteran how appreciative you are today. It is the very least we can do.

Many blessings,

Monday, November 9, 2009

Change is in the air

I didn't realize that switching a few rooms around at our house would cause as much chaos as the day I moved into our home upon my marriage to Dear Husband. This past weekend, after an hour into our bedroom move from the ground floor of the house to the second floor and the den from the second floor to the ground floor, I knew I had underestimated the would-be mess and the time it would take me to get things back into order! I am a firm believer that a move on this scale is a good thing every four or five years, as I have learned that this may be the only way that I will agree to purge items that have outstayed their welcome. I accomplished a dramatic reduction in the number of clothes that I have...some that I had not worn in over three years! Why am I so reluctant to get rid of things?! I can be such a pack rat, and Dear Husband and I have agreed that we need to switch things up a little bit every few years just to force us to reduce our "inventory." What a concept!

For now, I will spend the next several weeks recovering from this move, but I find the prospect of a new routine in a new space a little exciting (I know, it doesn't take much to excite me these days). We will be building a new walk-in closet within the next couple of months, and I am enjoying planning the layout and flow of it and the adjoining art studio/work room. The changes taking place are exciting and give us something to look forward to...if we can only survive the decluttering stage!

Photo borrowed from http://www.alamo.edu/

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn Moments

We love Autumn at our house! We love the brisker temperatures and football games. We love getting out our Halloween decorations and the color of the changing leaves. I even love the way the trees look, silhouetted against a "winter's coming" sky, after the leaves have fallen. When fall arrives, I can't wait for the weekends to come so that I can load my camera and my favorite photography companion, Max, in the car for long drives in the country. This past weekend, we had the opportunity to do just that. We visited Riverbend Farm on an overcast Autumn day and were not disappointed in all the beauty we found.

I am always amazed at how different the weather can be only a few miles away from our house. We may see torrential rain at home, but three miles away, it may never rain a drop! I'm equally amazed at how the colors at Riverbend Farm are still mostly green, but at our house, a short distance away, is awash in Autumn colors. These photos of our house were taken the same day we took the photos at Riverbend:

Our Molly loves to chase sticks. Can you BELIEVE the size of this one that she brought for me to throw for her? She is quite ambitious!
"Rummmm....yummmmm....yummmmm....good stick!"
Max is thinking..."Throw a stick for me, too, Mommy!"

Aren't these trees in our back yard a beautiful color?!? They're so gorgeous, I don't want to rake them, yet. I love the colors on the ground!

A view of the corner of our back porch and the trees beyond.
Max and Molly love spending time outside playing in the leaves. Here, Max is wearing his Halloween costume that reads, "Handsome Devil." How cute is that?!?!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcome, November

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

~Robert Frost