Browsing Archives for March 2009

Gladys Taber

March 29th, 2009

Some Gladys Taber quotes…

For the wise…The real evidence of growing old, is that things level off in importance.

For the gardeners…

A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.

For the homebodies…

Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night. I would be willing to go around the world if I came back in time to light the candles and set the table for supper.”

And for me (and the crazy people like me)…

Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come when we are alone. It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing, to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen. If we attend to the music of the earth, we reach serenity. And then, in some unexplained way, we share it with others.

I discovered the books of Gladys Taber when the Country Doctor was in residency. Back then, I had three small boys tumbling over each other in ever changing degrees of stickiness and sweetness. My only excursions, other than grocery shopping, and trips to the park, were to bundle them all up and head to the library for a brief interval of fast paced book gathering.

After the boys stocked up on their own selections of books and movies, it was mommy’s turn. In those days there was really only one section of the library I was interested in and it was not the steamy romances, the best sellers, nor the parenting manuals (though I could have benefited from them). My special section was the six hundreds. More specifically, the six hundred to the six hundred fortys. This is the section of the library where I happily discovered all the ‘country life’ authors that subsequently filled my diaper changing days with dreams of hay meadows, goat herding, beekeeping, and the hope of someday owning my own little white clapboard house in the country… with a glorious garden out back, a tumbling orchard full of rosy fruit, a small lake upon which my yacht was moored…. that takes me to the four corners of the earth… from which I bring back gilded treasure and magic lamps and jewel encrusted arborvitae and… what? Oh! Sorry! My dreams got a little mixed up there. Back to Gladys and her simple country home…

Gladys Taber wrote over forty books from the little desk beside her bedroom window in her own white clapboard house in the country. I have a few to give away today. But first please… if I may… let me tell you a little about Mrs. Taber.

The first thing you should know about Gladys is that she was completely and totally unafraid to be sentimental. She could be extremely sentimental. She named her Abyssinian kitten ‘Especially Me’ for crying out loud! She was sentimental about everything from her milk glass collection to the neighbor boy who mowed her grass. I always wondered from where all her sentimentality (which tends to dance on the edge of melancholy) came. In my mind, I imagined that Gladys never really recovered from the death of her husband. But just today I discovered that Gladys was not a widow… she was a divorcee’! Gladys did not write much if at all about her marriage. In the majority of her books, she lives with a dear friend who is a widow, and from this I always assumed that Gladys herself, was also a widow.

There are many theories as to why Gladys got divorced. I am not sure which to believe and since Gladys never explained it, I guess I will never know. If you are an established Gladys fan, you can visit this site to read some of the theories as well as a good post on her work… you will want to read the comments as well.

By the time Gladys moved in 1943 to the Connecticut farmstead she would eventually name Stillmeadow, she was already a published author and a magazine columnist for both Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle. Stillmeadow and eventually, a second house called Still Cove would serve as the primary inspiration and the backdrop for almost all of her writing for the rest of her life. At Stillmeadow, she raised her daughter, bred cockerspaniels, collected antiques, explored the nearby countryside, grew a garden, learned how to decorate, tossed her Abyssinian kitten off the typewriter time and time again and wrote and wrote and wrote.

Gladys wrote cookbooks, interior decorating books, books of letters, and children’s books, but mostly she wrote of her love for her home, her friends, her family and her little farm. A Stillmeadow book leaves the reader warmed through and through as if you were sitting by the applewood fire’ beside her, stirring the ashes, reaching back into your own memories, making stories out of family dinners, the neighbors cattle, the way the maple leaves dance down the road… it is sentimental, yet moving, comforting, yet funny, touching yet poignant and very, very wise. Gladys saw the beauty in the ordinary and brought it’s abundance to everyone’s kitchen, it’s fragrance to everyone’s nose.

A stern warning to the uninitiated Taber reader. Once you walk through her front door, you may find it very difficult to leave.

My Top 25 Authors, A MeMe

March 6th, 2009

Oh Holy Geeaw!

Crap on a Stick!
Rattlesnakes!
Sassafras!
Dadgum!
Jehosophat!
(Insert favorite non-cuss word, cuss word here).
Gladys tagged me to do a meme. Usually I pretend I can’t see memes whenever I get tagged. I feign paralysis. I can’t hear you! My fingers go numb. I get a burning sensation in the back of my knees. Warts spring up all over my nether regions. My innards get hepped up. My mouth gapes open. A milky film grows over my eyeballs. My fingernails turn black. My teeth fall out. I have nothing to wear. Everything that can dilate… dilates. I start seeing Colin Firth in the clouds. A funny old lady shows up at my house with a basket full of dead mice. I place a checkered bonnet atop my head. A moth eaten quilt covers my dining room table. My children begin speaking in the tongues of angels. I tap dance to and from the mail box wearing only a bath towel and a necktie. My husband takes out all the old game and puzzle boxes and painstakingly repairs each one with tiny pieces of scotch tape.
Wait.
He really does do that with the game and puzzle boxes.
I am not making that up.
But the rest of it…
EVEN MORE TRUE!
So I don’t usually do memes. And why are they called memes? Is it because it is about me and also me? Because if that is the case, then blogs should be called memes. And memes should be called mini-memes.
But this one got me in the old gipper and I had to give it a go.
So here it is…
The Meme from Gladys that I could not ignore.
List the top 25 authors who most influence your writing.
Okay… I don’t know about the whole influencing the writing thing… but I can name 25 authors that inspire me. After thinking it over for oh… twenty seconds… I decided that my parameters would be thus. I would only consider writers whom after I read their first book, I searched the stratosphere high and low to find all their other books and then devoured them like a starving beggar in disgusting, slobbering, gulps, because the subsequent books proved just as delicious as the first.
For instance… I love the book, Back To The Damn Soil by Mary Gubser, but the only other book she wrote was a cookbook and since well… uh… since… uh… cooking is not… uh… exactly my… uh forte, I don’t feel I can include her in this list. On the other hand, I sincerely adore Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibson. Stella wrote several other books, but they are not easy to find – so I have no idea if I would like them or not, but I am including Stella – because…. because…. well just because!
These are after all, my rules.
And trust me…. I am nothing without my rules. I am a mountain of rules. I am a seething pile of rules. Just ask my sister.
Wait!
No…
That is my sister that is all about the rules.
I am more the ‘oh go stick your dumb old rules in your stick hole’ type.
Unless I am making the rules… and changing them any time I’d like. At that point, I am all for rules.
So here are my twenty five most inspirational authors according to my rules in no particular order…
1. Carolyn Keene – My all time home girl and the author of the finest girl detective literature in the history of humankind
2. Madeline L’Engle – loved her early and love her late.
3. Jane ‘the beloved’ Austen – no one writes the dialogue bettah.
4. David Sedaris – the funniest ‘boy’ writer I know.
5. Agatha Christie – the settings, the characters, the little gray cells.
6. Stella Gibbons – author of Cold Comfort Farm the best book of all time.
7. Thomas Hardy with whom I have a twisted love/hate relationship.
8. Emily Dickinson – brevity in poetry… ahh the sweet nectar.
9. Bill Bryson – A Walk Through The Woods is in my top ten. I have all his books
10.Betty MacDonald – The funniest ‘girl’ writer ever.
11.Erma Bombeck – Sorry Dooce – you are not the post modern Erma. No one comes close.
12.Arnold Lobel – Frog and Toad
13. Gladys Taber (yes, the elderly woman who writes about her neighbors, her cats, her dogs and her little farm… she blogged before there were blogs).
14. Anne Lamott – Quirky Episcopalian that lives on a boat, wears her hair in dred locks, and is constantly wondering why people look at her oddly.
15. Leo Dangel – Rural Poet Extraordinaire
16. James Herriot – All Creatures Great and Small
17. Helen Fielding – The Bridget Jones books
18. Evan S. Connel – Mr Bridge, and Mrs. Bridge
19. Haven Kimmel – A Girl Named Zippy, and She Got Up Off the Couch.
20. Elliot Merrick – Green Mountain Farm, Northern Nurse, True North. I have only read Green Mountain Farm, but it is such a gorgeous book, that I know I would love the others. I JUST KNOW!
21. Willa Cather – My Antonia, O Pioneers, truly one of the greats.
22. Beverley Nichols – No one breathes life into garden statuary the way Nichols does.
23. Okay… who am I missing? Am I going to get roasted if I pick J.K. Rowling?
24. I am going to say Jane Austen again, just because I feel like it.
25. Ho
w about Ken Follet for the last slot? He wrote the Cathedral book. You know… the cathedral book.. ‘Pillars of the Earth’. I was completely enthralled by that book and could not put it down. I am now in the midst of his follow up ‘World Without End’.
If you want to join in – leave a link to your post, or leave your list in the comments. And good grief!… you don’t have to do twenty five! Feel free to re-write the rules to suit yourself. Shoot Fire! You can leave your top twenty five homemade remedies for curing hepped up innards if you feel like it. Just don’t tell April I said you could.