Saturday, March 24, 2012

Let's Play Tag

“We meet no ordinary people in our lives.”
C. S. Lewis

Do you remember going out on the playground the first day of the school year?  You arrive in the morning anticipating the time you can escape your chair to go meet friends for a few minutes of play.    You watch the hands on the clock slowly move.  Fidgeting at your desk you wonder if they are really moving at all, or is it a trick.  Finally the teacher announces it is recess.  You rush out only to find all your friends from last year already engaged in various activities with new acquaintances,.  Anxiously you look around, your heart tightening in your chest,  worried you will have no one to play with when suddenly, out of the blue, someone runs up, punches in the arm and yells, "Tag you're it".

I have recently become acquainted with the beautiful blog Ciao Domenica.   Last week while checking out Sunday's latest post I found she had "tagged" me.  If I understand the game correctly I am to answer eleven of her questions then choose eleven fellow bloggers to answer eleven of my questions.  It is a delightful and fun way to get to know one another.   I've been thinking about these questions for several days.   So, now let the games begin...

1.  Do you have a favorite writer and if so what is your favorite book by that writer?
Actually, I have several authors I enjoy.  There are so many wonderful authors just waiting to be discovered, and books asking to be opened.  It is hard to pick just one.   Do I go to a classic?  Today I will choose a contemporary author.

I found Pat Conroy many many years ago and instantly became a fan.  I cannot wait to get to the bookstore once I receive notice he has a new book being released.    The Great Santini is probably his best (at least most acclaimed) book.  I especially enjoyed reading the latest, his memoir, My Reading Life.  I felt a connection, especially his chapter on being a "military brat".

To read one of Conroy's novels is like ending dinner with the richest dessert.  You want to savor each bit while anticipating the next.

I'll share with an excerpt from Conroy's latest novel, South of Broad.

"Charleston was my father's ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life.  His bloodstream lit up my own with a passion for the city that I've never lost nor ever will.  I'm Charleston-born, and bred.  The city's two rivers, the Ashley and Cooper, have flooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula.  

I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged shell of some soft-tissued mollusk.  My soul is peninsula-shaped and sun-hardened and river-swollen."

2.  If there were four people from any time period you could invite to dinner who would they be?

I've always anticipated answering this question or one similar.  Surprisingly, I found it much more difficult to answer than I thought.  I am more awed by deeds than by individuals.  I will assume my family is already included.

My first guest would be my mother.  I lost her unexpectedly when I was in my thirties and my daughter was five.  On that December day I lost not only my mother, but my closest friend.  I have often said, if God had given me a choice I would have chosen her as my mother.  I would love for her to see the amazing woman her grand-daughter has become.  They are so much alike; both are beautiful inside and out. 

Second, Beatrix Potter.  She had an extraordinary imagination and talent.  I want to hear more about what inspired her.  I would love to take her into my garden and introduce her to the cast of characters crawling around.  She would so understand my talking to turtles and bumblebees.  You know she would have a new "tale" to write.
(I am almost sure she knits)

My third choice... Eudora Welty.  I probably should have listed her as a favorite author.  She began as a photographer capturing the faces of Mississippi during the depression,  later turning her talents to writing fiction.  I cannot think of another writer who was more accomplished at capturing the heart and voice of the south.   She was also an avid gardener.  Her home and gardens are in Jackson, Mississippi and open for touring.  I would love walking around my small bit of earth with her,  gathering stories and advice.  

Lastly, gardening and cookbook author, Lee Bailey.  I had the opportunity to meet and chat with this gracious southern gentleman many, many years ago at a book signing.  He spent a good deal of time with me chatting about entertaining, cooking, the south and gardening.  After purchasing one of his books he asked if I had others.  I said I did, and in fact, they were in my car.  Just as I had hoped, he ask me to go get them.  He showed me his favorite recipes and we browsed through his book of flowers.  As he opened each book he took up his pen and signed each one.   Hopefully he would make one of his favorite dishes while visiting and share some gardening advice as well.  Sadly, he passed away a few years ago.

Now, I am going to cheat and add a fifth...Diane Sawyer.  I have no reason other than I've always thought we could be great friends.  She would ask all the right questions with true curiosity and compassion, keeping the conversation flowing.

3.  Do you like to cook?  Do you like to entertain at home?  If the answer is yes, who are your favorite entertainment and cookbook authors?

   Yes, I love to cook (my husband is the better cook) and entertain.   I especially enjoy small informal gatherings, but love planning large soirees.   No matter the size of the group,  I  want each of my friends to leave believing they were the honored guest.

  My favorite cookbook author would have to be my "go to gal", The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.  She writes in a manner that gives the reader confidence to tackle the scariest menu with ease.  She encourages the reader to use her recipes and ideas as inspiration making them one's own.  I think I have all of her books.  Do you see one missing?

I am also a huge fan of Junior League cookbooks.  I think I own way too many.  And, I subscribe to several food related magazines.  I am never lacking in ideas and inspiration.

4.  Are you in a book club?  What is the best book you have read recently?

Yes, I am in a book group, The Book Belles, with a group of wonderfully talented and bright women.  If you have followed me for very long you know there are not too many books I don't like.  And, I always think my last read is the best.  The latest book we discussed was A Paris Wife.  I actually read it during the summer, and yes, it is one of my favorites.

The most wonderful thing about our book group is it allows me to discover books that were no where near my radar and find some of my favorites.

5.  What room in your house do you go to when you want to relax?  Do you have a favorite nook for reading or daydreaming?

We are empty nesters living in a house with slightly too many rooms for two people.  Roger has an office he works from when in town.  I have a studio/project room that is only straightened when I don't have a project on the table.  When the weather is cooperative I enjoy sitting outside or in our sunroom enjoying the sounds of  the outside world while reading.  I have a chair in my bedroom where I sometimes sit to read or knit on a rainy afternoon.  It has a view of my front yard.  If it is cold you will find me curled up in a throw by the fireplace, Willie by my side.

6.  Tell me about your part of the world.  What do you like to do in your hometown?

I live south of the Mason/Dixon line and west of the Mississippi.  We have many wonderful state parks and naturalized areas surrounding us.  There is something for everyone here, whether you enjoy hiking, biking, or fly-fishing... browsing museums, art galleries or a Presidential Library... or looking for an active night life.  We have it!  If it were just a bit cooler if would be perfect.

I love live theater, almost as much as reading, and we are very fortunate to have an excellent local theater.  We've had season tickets for a few years, and it is one of my very favorite things.  During the spring and summer my weekend begins with a stop at B-Side for breakfast and off to to one of the nurseries or one of the Farmer's Markets.  My only other very favorite thing is found outside my backdoor.

7.  What is your preferred form of exercise -- walking, yoga, the gym, or other?

Reading?  Knitting?  My favorite exercise is jazzercise, however our schedules do not mesh during the school year.  I walk, occasionally around the neighborhood, but usually on my treadmill.  I walk between 1 1/2 to 3 miles depending on how good the book is I am reading:)  I aim for everyday...some weeks I am more successful than others.  I also do sit-ups and work with (light) hand weights...occasionally. 

8.  Have you ever written or would you like to write a short story, memoir or a novel?

Of course.  The real question is, will I?  I love playing with words.  They fascinate me.  Actually, I think I would love to write something non-fiction.  I can lose myself for hours researching something.

I was lucky to have had two teachers who encouraged my writing.  One awarded me a F on a short story (a story for another time).  The other appointed me editor of my high school paper.   The first was probably my best teacher; for some reason they both believed in me.  

(of course, I would really need to find a good proofreader.  I have a couple of people in mind.)

9.  Are you a gardener, or are you a garden admirer?  You can be both!

I play in the dirt.  I love to dig and plant.  I would be flattered if someone thought of me as a gardener.  Truly, the most I can say is I love in the dirt.  As I have mentioned it is my therapy and the garden is my cathedral.

I am a great admirer of gardens.  When I travel I am always drawn to gardens large and small.  I am both educated and inspired by other's gardens.

10.  When you travel, do you like to go to a city or the countryside?

Oh my...both!  
I love visiting the city.   I love the energy and mystery beyond each block.  I want to visit every museum and art gallery.  I want to walk, get lost and explore.   I want to admire the architecture and the bookstores.    I want to dine at fine restaurants and at the local cafe'.  I want to walk amid the history.

When life runs away with you there is no better way to relax than to escape to the country.  One of our favorite escapes is The River Lodge in North Carolina. 

We wake in the morning to a wonderful breakfast, and the day is our's to explore the countryside, go fly-fishings, sit on one of porches with a book or drive up the mountain to the lovely town of Highland to shop and have lunch.  We end the day at the lodge playing a game of pool or in front of the fireplace enjoying a beverage and conversation with the owners.  Just writing this inspires me to plan a respite.
11.  What would your dream celebration be for a big birthday?

Well,  as you know, I have another decade celebration coming up in a few years.  My daughter suggested we go to Paris to celebrate both our milestone birthdays.  I think that would be a fabulous way to celebrate.  I have begun making a list of books and researching.

With that said, the past fifteen years I have spent my birthday in Seaside, Florida.  We rent a house for a week in the winter;  I have the people who are most important with me.  I spend the day walking around the town and sitting by the water reading.  My family spends the day sneaking around town, planning my surprise.  There are whispers and giggles, and I pretend to not notice.   Paris sounds wonderful; I hope with all my heart we do get to go.  However, if I am allowed to spend every birthday in Seaside with my husband, children and future grandchildren....I will have celebrated my birthday in the best possible way.

Tag You're It!

 Now I get to ask the question!

1.  What is your passion?  Do you have more than one?

2.  If a movie were to be made about your life, who would be cast to play you?

3.  You've won a vacation sweepstakes, do you choose a mountain resort or a beachside cottage?  Where in the world would we find you?

4.  Describe what makes a great book.  Is it prefect writing, a great story, good character development, a popular author, or just a great escape?  Or, all of the above?

5.  When you need to leave stress behind, how do you decompress?

6.  What is your style.. classic, sporty, bohemian, or trendy?  What one item can you not live without?

7.  Tell me about the teacher who had the most profound influence on the person you are today.  Not all teachers are in the classroom.

8.  What was your favorite book as a child or teenager?  How did it affect what you read today?  Is it still a favorite?

9.  Here in the south there is the old rule of not wearing linen before Easter.  We have about two weeks before Easter.  Are you a traditionalist or do you throw the rules out the window?

10.  You are hosting a small dinner party.  Do you allow your guest in the kitchen and make preparation part of the party, or is it all your show?  How about the clean up?

11.  Why did you begin your blog?  Has it turned out as you had hoped?  Have you discovered anything about yourself?

Please visit Sunday at Ciao Domenica and all the other wonderful and eclectic sites.  They each have a story to tell and they do it beautifully.


Note:  Please excuse any spacing or other errors in this post.  Just before publishing I hit "some" key and totally messed up the formatting.  I hope I have corrected everything, but if not I apologize.  Thank you!


  1. Bonnie, well done! I absolutely love your answers and your photos. I also enjoyed getting to know you better. It should be obvious to me that this would happen, but I still get a little jolt of happiness when I discover that the bloggers I picked share so many of my passions and interests. Of course you would be in a book club, and of course you like to cook. The list goes on and on. I have a cherished cookbook by Lee Bailey called "Country Desserts" that I've used many times. I also love Ina Garten, and I think I saw all of her books there in your photo. Beatrix Potter would be someone I would like to meet also. Did you see "Miss Potter," the film about her a few years ago. Loved that! And your book club has a name, I am now inspired to come up with a name for ours. Finally, that dream trip with your daughter to Paris sounds perfect for your milestone birthday. I just went away with both my daughters for a special weekend to Northern California, and we had a wonderful time. Thanks so much for participating and doing such a suberb job!
    xx Sunday

  2. Sunday, Thank you! The exercise was a lot of fun. I do not have Bailey's dessert cookbook, but will add it to a very long wish list. I did, in fact, see "Miss Potter" several years ago. I, too, enjoyed it very much. I love Northern California. We lived outside of San Francisco before moving here. We have talked about returning to visit. Thank you again for you kind words. Bonnie

  3. Hello Bonnie:
    It has been fascinating to read this post and to have a deeper insight into your world, your words complemented by the charming photographs. Your love of literature shines through very strongly and we do so hope that one day you may realise your ambition of writing something yourself.

    The part which touched us most deeply was the description of your garden as your 'cathedral'. What an enchanting image that is and we shall hold that in our minds on subsequent visits to you.

    And, how marvellous that you have introduced us to some other blogs which we have yet to discover. We shall be seeking them out!

  4. Interesting peek into the rest of your life! Thanks for sharing. I will play along, but it may take all week for me to do the thinking.

    Besides, I'm off to Jazzercise!

  5. Thank you for the tag! So sweet of you to think of me. I enjoyed reading about your favorite things and I am a big Ina Garten fan as well, I stop what I am doing every day to watch her on the Food Network and also have all her books! The photos are glorious and make my mouth water! I also love the fact that she is so down to earth about entertaining, and is not embarrassed to say she will buy dessert or appetizers sometimes! Since I live on Long Island, I love to watch her go shopping, as I have been in most of those stores, so it makes me feel like we are neighbors! Have a great Sunday.

  6. P.S. I will be answering the ll questions but I may do a few at a time, instead of all at once. My, you certainly did your homework!!!

  7. Are we twin sisters separated at birth? Somehow given the same name? I could just cut and paste your answers for almost all of the questions. Please invite me to the dinner with your four choices! I love Pat Conroy, of course, and met him a long time ago in Charleston. I even have that bag (Ballard Designs?) that you have--a different color, however. I look forward to answering your questions soon.


  8. What a great post this is. It is really nice to learn some things about you.
    We visiting the Lake District many years ago and went to a Beatrix Potter exhibition - it had a short film about her and it was very interesting. I always loved reading her books to my girls when they were growing up.
    I had never heard of Eudora Welty before - so I googled her. I'd love to read one of her books.

  9. Webb, I hope you had a great time at Jazzercise. I look forward to being able to start back once summer break begins. For now it is the treadmill.

    Bonnie, It is amazing! The more I find out about you the more I realize we live the same life just miles apart.
    I can't wait to read your answers.


  10. what a wonderful entry bonnie, i so appreciate the time you put in to this!!

    i would have loved seeing you in d.c.!!

  11. Thank you Bonnie, I will work on that this week. I am sure I will not come up with such a well written or interesting post as you, but I will give it a go.

  12. As I was reading your responses to these wonderful questions, I thought hey - we could be best friends!
    But then tag I'm it? Eeeeep!
    I'll try - but it might take me a some time to put it together, OK?
    Happy week to you and yours, Bonnie!
    ~ Zuzu

  13. A nice idea to ask your own questions and not just pass on the ones that were offered to you. That's the kind of blog tag I like. I'll check out some of the other blogs you mentioned.

    I'm sorry you lost your mother early, but she would be glad to know you chose her for your imaginary dinner party.

  14. Arleen, Thank you so much for responding. I look forward reading your post. Bonnie

  15. Zuzu, I thought the same thing the first time I found your blog. I took me a bit of time to complete mine as well. I am so happy you are participating. Please, take your time. I look forward to reading your post. I hope your week is off to a good beginning. Bonnie

  16. Jenny, You are so kind. She was a very special woman. I would love for you to participate in the tag if you so desire. I hope you are having a good week. I remember you said you would be busy. Thank you! Bonnie

  17. Thank you so much for the nomination! I'm glad you enjoy reading my blog. And I loved your answers; you put so much thought into them. I'm looking forward to checking out some of the other blogs you mentioned.

  18. I've finally been able to play! Thank you so much for nominating me. I'm just about to post my answers. I have enjoyed reading yours and answering your questions. Jane xx