Monday, April 26, 2010

26 April 1956 “The New Princess Grace, A Busy Week in The Veg Garden, Statues, And A Sewing Corner You Can Build”

On the 19th of this month in 1956, our beloved film star, Grace Kelly, became Princess consort to Monaco by marrying Rainier III, Prince of Monaco.

As is customary in some countries, Kelly and Rainier had both civil and religious weddings. The 40-minute civil ceremony took place in the Palace Throne Room of Monaco on April 18, 1956, and was broadcast across Europe. To cap the ceremony, the 142 official titles (counterparts of Rainier's) that Kelly acquired in the union were formally recited. The following day the church ceremony took place at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral. helen-rose Kelly's wedding dress, designed by MGM's Academy Award–winning Helen Rose, was worked on for six weeks by three dozen seamstresses. The 600 guests included Hollywood stars David Niven and his wife Hjördis, Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner, the crowned head Aga Khan, Gloria Guinness, Daisy Fellowes, Etti Plesch, Lady Diana Cooper, Enid, Lady Kenmare, Loelia, Duchess of Westminister and Conrad Hilton. Frank Sinatra initially accepted an invitation but at the last minute decided otherwise, afraid of upstaging the bride on her wedding day. The ceremony was watched by an estimated 30 million people on television. The prince and princess left that night for their seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon cruise on Rainier's yacht, Deo Juvante II.

I love the bridesmaids dresses. They show that when things are done tastefully with a clean restraint, though it might seem very 1950’s, it still has an almost modern quality about it. I know today’s weddings would rather have a more sleek wearable dress, but the frothy glide of these gowns must have been lovely.


I realize that it has been exactly one week since my last post. I should beg forgiveness, but I know that all of you are also busy. Spring has sprung and since this is our first summer in this house in years, I have so much to do to get the structure of my gardens in order. If I had only to pop out and weed and rake and plant, I would have more time, but as it is I have been installing fence, digging holes, moving rocks etc. I am so happy to be back at our lovely little house, but am also excited to get the form of my yard in order.

I have been involved in a recycling project here with fencing. I have moved old picket from one section of the property to become the ‘new’ veg garden fencing.

gardenfence1 This is the side yard with the Southern exposure. It is the perfect spot for the veg garden. Here you can see I have already begun digging the post holes and some of the fence is laying about. I love the way a fence gives structure to a garden. And I love my post hole digger. I have put up so much fencing, but here it feels good as we know we will always, in some capacity, own this home. It has a permanence to it that I enjoy and using the old weathered fence gives it an instant feel of settled antiquity. As the house itself is almost 300 years old (in 2018 it will be it’s 300th birthday and we should have a party to celebrate, I think) with old weathered cedar shakes, the turns and warping of the old fence seems more appropriate than say a modern plastic fence.

vegfence2 Here is another angle before the fence goes up. The archway with gate I also moved here from the back part of the property. It is also older and will receive a new interesting gate, when I get around to it. I wanted it to frame the main entrance to the veg garden and to line up with the window and the old colonial bench I moved there.vegfence3 You can see the off kilter quality of the bench, the arbor and the house. I like that and though I eventually leveled off the arbor to the ground with my level while attaching it to the fence, the very settled crooked look of the house still gives an overall appearance of settled age. I think every garden, even the utilitarian veg garden, needs a good place to sit and dream and plan. It allows you the place to collect your thoughts and admire your labors.

I will be planting my grape vines along the inside of the fence in this garden and will train the vines over this arbor. I had originally thought to train roses over as well, but am trying to use as much dual purpose plant as possible. The grape is pretty AND it provides for the table. I really want to plant roses along the front of the fence outside of the garden for show, but may plant plum roses, so that they are lovely but also proved me with their rosehips for jam and preserves. We shall see.vegfence4 Here you can see that I took the time to 1)first dig the post holes, 2)then lay garden fabric. Then I put the poles in, being carful to cut a hole for the post to fit through the fabric and then cemented them in. then compost went over that. I have a love hate relationship with this fabric. Sometimes I don’t like to use it, but it does break down eventually, it is breathable so the soil is still arable and it really does stop weeds. I laid it so it covers both inside and outside the veg fence. This will allow me to simply cut a hole when I am ready to plant my grape vines inside the fence and my Rosa rugosa outside the fence. The Rosa Ragosa is the best Rose to use for Rosehip jams etc. Here is an example of the bloomrosa-rugosa and look at the lovely bright rosehip you get in fall.rosehip So, the fabric and mulch will allow a weed free area for them to grow in. With all I need to do this year and the various aspects I wish to add to the garden, any way I can reduce the amount of weeding I will need to do, the better! I am also going to use this fabric in the rows of the garden between my plantings, so I don’t have to worry about weeding the paths I will only tread upon to get to the various rows.vegfence5 So, here is the present state of my week long handy work. The mulch is mostly in, the fence posts are cemented and the old fence attached. It still looks a little rough, but it will improve as the plants are added, the mulch area edged etc. vegfence6 Here is another angle. you can see that i have also made a secondary gate here in the foreground. This will lead to the front door. I will be installing a brick path with salvaged old bricks probably next year. This year it will get, at both gates, a trim gravel pathway. The old gate now is simply one from the back of the property but it will probably get some new hardware. I think I will make the gate for the arbor out of old twigs and branches collected from an old Rose of Sharon that needed some major trimming this year. I like the idea of using the old and new growth of a tree that didn’t quite make it but was always part of the property. It feels more genuine some how. I just love the rustic beauty of twig gates and even twig furniture. boywithtwiggate twigarbor twig-gate-by-the-sea

Speaking of gates, I recently also installed quite a few feet of tall stockade fencing to privatized the back portion of the yard more. In so doing, I needed to make a gate and used some old lumber to create this. gate1 This is what we see from inside the fenced yard. you can see the odd blue painted piece, but I wanted to use up scrap wood and this fence will either get painted crisp white or else a more subdued Cape Cod Gray, I have not decided as of yet. Here is the front.gate2 Again, old boards. But you can see the fence to the left (Which I hung last week) is also old fence we had on the property. It is simple stockade with the pointed tops, but I have hung it upside down with the flat at the top. Then i will build out a top piece of lattice and trim to give it a more decorative look. When I priced out this type of fencing with the built in lattice panels it was around $75 a panel! As I have hung about 20 panels, that would have been very expensive. When it is all done, I need to decide to I want it all crisp white or more subdued grey, like the natural fading of cedar. Any suggestions? You can see my trusty drill resting in the metal urn. These urns may end up at the entrance to the veg garden planted with two large tomatoes or else in the back at my stone wall (still to be built) planted with evergreens. The eagle on the gate is an old metal one that once was attached to the old front wooden storm door of the house. I have wanted to use it some where and I think it rather cute here.

So, you can see, I have been very busy this week, and therefore unable to get to my blog as usual. I have also planted up some of my cold hardy veg seeds. I put in my carrots.Carrot-Tonda-di-Parigi_lg These are an Heirloom carrot French 19th Century. They grow quickly and are perfect for planting in pots, if you can only garden on your deck or porch or terrace. They like cold, so plant now if you are still in a frost area and you can plant throughout the season into early fall. My French Breakfast Radish french radish These are so delicious and have been grown since the 18th century (perfect for my 18th century house.)I also planted my Green cabbage seedsCabbage_copenhagen_lg Also an Heirloom seed. I love that planting and keeping alive these old variety of plants is not only important to our ecology, but also a bit like time travel. In a way we can taste and eat what earlier generations did.

For my tea garden I have started my Chocolate mint and apple mint. I will have in my tea garden, Fennel, Bergamot (bee balm), Echinacea, chamomile, hyssop, anise, lemon balm, Borage, Rose Scented Geraniums. I may add more. All of these also have medicinal value and are very relevant to plant in a garden in my Colonial era home. In fact, when putting up my fence this past week, we sacrificed part of an old tree in order to make more space to be fenced and used in the future as food gardening. Not only is it good for our budget and our diets, it is more relevant and true to what would have been done around this house in the 1700’s. Ornamental gardens are lovely and I shall certainly have many flowers and such, but when what you grew meant your survival for the winter, it was a serious business. So, I can appreciate the true to history aspect of slowly giving up my front lawn over to fruit, veg, and herb.

My seedlings are coming along nicely. Here is one of my tomato planted in a pot.tomatoseedling It never ceases to amaze me that a tiny little pin point seed grows to make such plants. I was considering how much I am saving by growing my heriloom tomatoes by seed. At our local garden center, they have heirloom tomatoes only available as a large plant around end of May. They are around 8-10 dollars. I counted up all my seedlings I have growing and realizing they will be around that size. I have $400 dollars worth of heirloom tomatoes growing in my little living room!

I used to be the lazy plant buyer and am now happily the seed starter. I promise myself to build my own greenhouse for next January seed starting. I have been collecting up old windows for some time. I have a new friend who also has been saving windows for such a project and we may use the Amish trick of sharing labor to help one another erect our greenhouses. I will share all with that when it happens, but that is not until Autumn.

While out in the garden this past week, I began to consider statuary. Statuary has always been an important part of my life. I have always been drawn to the human figure. Again, sometimes I associate this with my own solitary childhood. The very lack of people about me may have, on some level, left me to wonder at the creatures more. What are these walking breathing replications of myself: people? Or, because of my solitary, the staid voiceless human form trapped in stone and marble may have almost seemed more relatable; more relatable. Who knows? But I have always been drawn to the human form.

In my own artwork, the figural has always been my first initial act. Drawing and painting the figure was always more exciting to me than a landscape. I loved figure drawing and the 5 and one minute poses often practiced in such classes were my favorite. I always found my own result the most active or true when only given a one minute, a piece of charcoal and paper to render the still figure.

So, it stands to reason, I am drawn to statuary. I have a variety of busts and figural sculpture I have collected over the years. Hubby often refers to them as my ‘Lady heads’ (a quote from a funny sitcom of a few years ago called Arrested Development. )

My garden, which I also treat as an extension of my home and therefore see it as rooms,  are the  recipients to my love of the figure. Here are some shots I took the other day.

statue2 This little  lady still has not found her permanent home, but I love how the weather has chipped away at her exterior exposing her earthen core.statue1There is a very real human beauty to this, for me. The crack in the eye, the wear of the ‘skin’. Time passes, we age, and all that. There is a tranquility in their being affected by time. Even they, in their stoic poses, cannot out run the ever elusive Time. Sappy, I know, but true. statue3I love getting in close so one has to look twice to see the figural form. The eye, the turn of the nose, the lichens blending with the green of the background.statue4 The turn of an old stone jug cracked with age and seasons.

Even the plants themselves can have a figural or representative quality. My little “hens-n-chicks” plants are spreading with the warming Spring.hennchicks2I love suculents and these are the perfect variety for our North Eastern climate. They are easy to share, as well, as one has only to break off some of the little “chicks” to give to a gardening friend and they will soon be over run with the little darlings.

Speaking of chicks, I thought I would share with you what, hopefully, my own chicks are looking like.chick10days They already are looking very bird like, though a bit alien as well. I wonder if their little eyelids blink yet? It is amazing that in 21 days the darling little chick is formed and born. I am crossing my fingers that most of my eggs do hatch.

The business of my Spring will have to continue, as I will begin building my chicken house next weekend. I have a good amount of time before the chicks will need their home, as they have two weeks until they are born. Then, they need to live in their brooder for about 5 weeks or so, but I plan on finishing their home before that. I will share that process with you.

I was considering the other day the first time I heard of the ‘Honey do” list. I laughed, when I learned what it was, because quite honestly, I tend to do many of the things that would end on that list. I feel as if I had to wait for my hubby on his days off or after work, I’d never get anything done. I also feel a part of what a 50’s homemaker was capable, was construction. My magazines are full of ‘how-to’s’ with pictures of the lady of the house wielding the hammer. Rather or not this actually happened, it seemed the magazines and books of the times considered it normal for the woman of the house to be able to hammer, saw and do basic building either by herself or alongside her husband. It makes me laugh when I think of the modern conception of the 1950’s housewife, all dolled up, mindlessly bringing the slippers. When, really, one was expected to be all facets of an individual. Something to which I can relate.

I think modern people, most likely through advertising which finds it easier to sell to ‘groups’, have found themselves pigeonholed. If you care about the earth, then you are hippy crunchy and you dress and buy this. If you care about looking nice or dressed up then you would not be caught dead getting dirty and then you do this. I don’t know why or when we lost the power of a well-rounded life. I love dressing up. I adore being pretty, but I also like to know that I can build if I want or plant a garden. I want to know not only how to cook and eat the food, but how to grow it.

As my time in the 50’s continues on, I have found myself less and less being really aware of the differences as I find myself more immersed in simply living and constantly learning. I hope my posts have not suffered for it, but I feel less like two people (modern me and 50sgal) and in fact more a well rounded individual. As I depend on the modern world less for entertainment, diversion, and ease, I find my life fuller and happier. This may not be true for all personalities, but it certainly is so for me.

Now, I will end here while on the concept of the homemaker being as involved in the construction of her life as the casual beauty of it with this fun article from a Better Homes and Gardens. It shows how easily we can put a ‘sewing room’ into our homes. There are plans for the roll out version shown so you or your hubby could easily copy and build it. I think this would work as well for a craft corner as it would a sewing corner.sewingcorner1 sewingcorner2



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