Monday, May 28, 2012


My father found himself during WWII, in a platoon of Italian guys.  In fact, he was maybe the only non-Italian.  Marty was in that group and he and my dad spent the entire three-year-stint together, assigned to Africa and then France before finally coming home. 

They became dear friends and stayed in touch until my dad died just over a year ago.   

"Hey you fat, (bleepslob" is how my father would begin every phone conversation with Marty, and I came, over the years, to understand just how lovingly those words were spoken.

Marty, now ninety, left me a voice mail message today: 

"Well, I've been calling this number (meaning my dad)
for the last twenty years and old habits are hard to break. 
Hope all is well there. 
I can't help it; Ernie's been on my mind all day. 
Stay well.  Talk to you later. 
Love ya.  Ciao."

I returned the call but missed him.  It's likely a good thing; I'm certain to have called him a fat, (bleep) slob.

Memorial Day 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

chihuly; day and night

Chihuly is a world renown Venetian glass sculptor whose pieces are housed and exhibited all over the world.  To see his work interspersed throughout the gardens of an arboretum, in sunlight and later with evening illumination, is a gift I will cherish along with these photographs.  I hope you enjoy them.  Click to enlarge to full screen...


Chihuly - Dallas Arboretum
May 5, 2012 - November 5, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

the violin guy

Gals, these are for you...

The Violin Guy 
set up in the afternoon and played into evening at
Main Street Bistro-Shire. 
Ladies swooned, men admired, and a little girl at the next cafe, danced the night away. 
It was grand
Hope to see you next time.  Until then, enjoy these.

The Violin Guy & 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

a good blue suit

When it all comes together -- script, set, casting, acting, directing -- it can be magnificent and memorable.  Such are the first three minutes of the film A Good Year.

For those three minutes, I forgive any future scenes which are predictable or silly.

Beautiful in so many ways is the French chateau with its vineyard and its large and inviting patio entrance where the opening scene takes place at a small, round, chessboard table.  The weather looks perfect and there's great music playing inside the house. 

A good film does this to you; it makes you wish to be there, to join the characters, in this case the masterful Albert Finney and the adorably impressive Freddie Highmore. 

Oh, that it were real and that I could share the afternoon and the '69 Bandol!  I'd savor each sip while Finney in the role of Uncle Henry, instructs us about wine and the importance of a good blue suit.  

The minutes are made magnificent as Ridley Scott sums up humanity in its many forms and presents them to us so subtlely within that single, memorable scene. 

age and youth
wisdom and innocence
honesty and deception
competition and sacrifice
humor and seriousness

A Good Year, a film by Ridley Scott
based on the book by Peter Mayle

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

sneak peek

Dallas Arboretum

Sunday, May 13, 2012

ranting and raving

If you are my friend you have undoubtedly heard me rant about partially-hydrogenated oils, chemicals, and other questionable ingredients present in too many grocery store items.  So it was with some disgust but a growling tummy, on the evening ending a very busy day, that I popped this frozen dinner into the oven. 

I try to boost the flavor and the nutritional value of such frozen entrees by adding ingredients or at least spices and herbs.  This night I tried to assuage my self-disgust as well.  Knowing I would be a lucky girl if there was more than an ounce of angel hair to be found in the small plastic carton, I put a pot of water on to boil then dropped some pasta; one with texture to it, coming straight from Italy.  

If you are my friend you have undoubtedly heard me go on about the importance of cooking pasta al dente, not only because it tastes so much better but because it is healthier, having a lower glycemic index rating, meaning a better insulin response. 

When the frozen dish was hot and bubbly, I tossed it together with my al dente angel hair and turned it out into a bowl.  Look; what a difference!  Al dente strands stayed firm, even nesting together while the packaged ones, slimy and bloated from overcooking, slid to one side where I let them remain. 

I can't say I'll not have another frozen dinner now and then when busy and hungry collide, but I can say, with certainty, that I'll continue my ranting against bad food. 

If you are my friend you have undoubtedly guessed this though, haven't you?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

when writers come to town

I dropped myself smack into the Roaring Twenties one evening last month, into a crowd dotted with pencil-thin young ladies showing off exquisitely coiffed hair, costumed in flapper dresses, strands of pearls wrapped all around; all of which would have jolted my Ganny Lowder instantly back to her youth. 

Having arrived early, I passed the time in the Dallas Museum of Art's Atrium Cafe, where I tolerated a terrible chardonnay while devouring some great food from the cafe's American 20's Inspired Menu

How I love a pre-show hour;  unhurried yet bursting with heightened anticipation! 

The vast, white staircase beside the atrium, is in itself art to me, strategically a sharp contrast to the vibrant, colorful glass vine adorning the large window opposite.  That sculpture was created by Chihuly, the Venetian artist whose show comes to our city's arboretum in a few days. 

I've tried at home to adhere to the premise that rooms should leave one wall or at least one space, bare.  "The eyes need a place to rest," I've always heard, and in this mass of people, I uncannily found myself often looking upward.

I wasn't here for the Youth and Beauty art exhibit, and I wasn't here for the performance of Twenties Era Music which was about to start, the musicians readying on the small central floor as I was preparing to leave the tiny bar table I'd so patiently waited to snag. 

I saw George just then, George of the McKenzie Quartet I follow around town.  We spoke briefly later in the night when he passed me as I stood in the long book-signing line, just as I'd done the night Pat Conroy came to town.

That evening was not my first time to see Mr. Conroy but it was the first time I thought to bring him a yellow rose, welcoming him to Dallas.  A few pleasantries were exchanged in a matter of seconds as he signed my book. 

I'd wanted to talk about Beach Music and Rome, the low country and gardenias but it was late, the end of the line, and I found myself embarrassingly at a loss for words.  I thanked him sincerely and read the inscription as I walked away:  "For the love of Texas". 

I cringed, my heart racing, fighting the two feet wanting to run back to the table so I could explain.  "No, no, you've misunderstood; I was born in Charleston!  You see, I'm not from here!  I don't know why I'm here!  I miss the south!" 

I wanted to cry. 

I did have a few tears that festive Friday night as Paula McLain stood at the narrow podium and reintroduced The Paris Wife to us, her rapturous audience, reading a few first pages of the prologue with the voice she'd imagined and given to Hadley, giving it then to each of us. 

That is why I had come.

With nothing less than a lump in my throat, I've since reread those paragraphs several times.  The first, just because.  The second time to Spoke, late one night.  Tears came before I got to the third sentence even, but he made me continue, knowing instinctively that there was much there, much in the lines and between the lines that I wished to share, that was important for me to share with him. 

I'm waiting now for Ann Patchett to return to Dallas, maybe this time to the art museum where she'll stand at the same rostrum as did Conroy and McLain and where I'll hang on also to her every word.  I'll happily bide time in the book-signing line, however long and on any given evening. 

Several years ago she signed my favorite of hers, the beautiful Bel Canto: "Nashville sends its love. Come visit."  I think sometimes not of visiting but of moving back to Nashville.  I've considered ways to convince Spoke of the city's merits.  I've imagined us in other places too. 

"What would I do there?" I ultimately ask myself each time the thought of moving entices me.  It's very clear I'm still trying to find my way in Dallas, but I'm beginning to realize, to admit; I'm having so much fun doing it. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

sister's day

Today is Sister's Day! 

It was a decade ago I guess, when I first exclaimed that to Robin.  

I'd let my dad in on the secret from the very beginning.  I knew he'd think it funny that I'd made the day up, and I knew he'd find it even funnier when I said, jokingly, that I figured I'd get a gift out of the day.  He had some belly laughs those first few Aprils when I'd remind him that Sister's Day was just around the corner.

The second year, I remember Robin telling me of her confusion and frustration, unable to find a single Sister's Day card to send to me!  I didn't confess then but shortly after, wouldn't you know, the greeting card industry did, designate a day for sisters. 

Robin and I ignored it; for us it will always be May 1st.

The very best part about it is we never made a big thing of it, giving our full attention instead to the May date we'd celebrate with Mom and soon after, the June date when we'd celebrate our father. 

Ours has become rather like a simple blessing we wish for each other on that day. 

Once when I was considering giving up this blog, Robin said if I ever did, she would feel "so deprived".  Praise doesn't get much better than that and even though it came from her, my beloved but biased sister, it touched me and I took it to heart and so it's in part, in some small part, that I am here, still a blogger, and wishing her a very happy and blessed Sister's Day.