Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: The Princess Bride

Deviled eggs, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Brownies with chocolate chips, and the movie “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Stuff that Works

By G. S. Norwood

Do you have trusted favorites? Movies you always turn to when you’re sad? Music that somehow never grows old? Maybe it’s a series of books that feature such a beloved setting and characters you can slip away into them whenever the world makes you weary, and find yourself at home amongst friends. Do you long to pull on your favorite sweater, and settle down in your favorite chair, with your favorite tea in your favorite mug? Congratulations! You’ve found yourself some stuff that works.

“Stuff that Works,” by Guy Clark (Paul Adamietz and his You Tube Channel)

Americana music legend Guy Clark defined stuff that works as, “Stuff that’s real. Stuff you feel. The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall.” Here’s some of the stuff that works for me.

As You Wish

My relationship with The Princess Bride goes all the way back to William Goldman’s original novel. I discovered it at a little science fiction book store just off campus when I was working toward my BFA in Theatre. I read it in a weekend to escape more academic reading assignments, then started sharing it with my friends. And I even brought it to the costume shop where I worked over the summer. If an actor was assigned to help us, but had no sewing skills, we would demand dramatic readings for entertainment. The sword fight on the Cliffs of Insanity was a big favorite.

A montage of images from “The Princess Bride.”
One thing that works: The Princess Bride. (Credits below).

So I was eager to see what Rob Reiner had done with the story when the film came out in 1987. Warren had no experience with the story, but trusted my judgement, and he loved it so much we went back a second time to take his mother to see it. Then we visited my mother at Thanksgiving and took her to see it, too. Now I divide my friends into those who quote The Princess Bride and those who have no idea what the rest of us are laughing about.

I watched it again not long ago, and am delighted to say that it still holds up just fine.

Dried Leaves in Water

Somehow, I never picked up the habit of drinking coffee. I remember, when I was a kid, my parents’ morning coffee smelled so good as it was perking. But, when I begged for a sip, the bitter brew tasted just horrible. They drank it black, and never thought to sweeten it with milk and sugar for a child’s palate.

Tea was a different story. Mom used to give us hot tea with buttered graham crackers when we came home from school in the afternoon. We always had iced tea in the summer. By the time I got to college, my taste for tea marked me as a slightly eccentric individual. (Even back then I enjoyed having that kind of reputation.) Now I start nearly every day with a cup of hot tea.

A mug, a plate, and a teapot near G.’s tea kettle.
All set for dried leaves in water! The ceramics are all by Alex Macias. (Photo by G. S. Norwood).

My taste for functional pottery grew out of my love for tea. Now my mug collection threatens to take over my kitchen cabinets, and nearly all my dishes are handmade pottery creations.

A Home in Notting Hill

I have never been to England, but I feel as if I have friends in Notting Hill. This is because mystery writer Deborah Crombie does such a great job of evoking the sights, sounds, and criminal intent of London in her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels. She calls them “novels with a body in them,” and has created such a beloved cast of characters that I can’t wait to read each book as it comes out. Opening a new Deborah Crombie novel is like sitting down with old friends over tea, for a nice long gossip, to catch up on what they’ve been doing. Going back to re-read earlier books is a joy as well. Escaping the stress and boredom of the mundane world with a trip to Notting Hill is a coping mechanism that has worked for me for years.

Deborah Crombie and all of her books that were published as of May, 2021.
Mystery novelist Deborah Crombie and her book covers to date (credits below).

Random Pleasures

There’s lots of other random stuff that works for me. Stuff I can go back to whenever I feel stressed or just too tired to think. The animated film, Wreck-it Ralph is a good example. Weird, I know, but I’ve watched it more than a dozen times.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s cover of the old Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia song, Ripple. You can play that one at my funeral, if you’re not sure what music is appropriate.

A soft gray sweater tunic I picked up one year at Chico’s. It’s baggy. Shapeless. It came in purple and gray. I leaned toward the purple, but it looked horrible on me. The gray, however, was cloud-soft, flattered my face, and lived in my closet for years and years and years. I always look forward to the onset of cold weather because I know it is waiting for me.

Deviled eggs, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Brownies with chocolate chips, and the movie “Wreck-It Ralph.”
Some of the Stuff that Works for G. (credits below).

Stuff That Works

Deviled Eggs and Fudge Brownies are not necessarily to be eaten together. But these two simple foods are my go-to recipes when I need to contribute to a pot luck dinner. I am a traditionalist on both fronts.

The deviled eggs have mayo, yellow mustard, and a dusting of paprika. You can use vinegar, pickle relish, Dijon mustard, or any number of other “gourmet” variations, but they won’t taste right. The original is always the best.

Ditto the brownies. Make ‘em from scratch. Use butter and Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. Replace the walnuts the recipe calls for with Nestle’s Toll House Morsels. You won’t regret it.

And that’s the goal, isn’t it? To find stuff you can reach for, time and again, when you need just the right thing without overthinking it. What is some of the stuff that works for you?

IMAGE CREDITS:

We definitely have a lot of people to thank for the imagery in this week’s post, starting with Paul Adamietz and his You Tube Channel for the “GUY CLARK STUFF THAT WORKS” video. If you enjoyed it, please give him a thumbs-up (and maybe subscribe?). While we’re on the relatively simple images, we’d like to thank G. S. Norwood for the photo of her MUG, PLATE, AND TEAPOT, all created by Alex Macias, of Alex Macias Ceramics of McKinney, TX. All of the montages were assembled by Jan S. Gephardt. Credits for the montage images are grouped by montage.

For the PRINCESS BRIDE montage:

We thank the following: Fototelegraf, for the movie still of Fred Savage and Peter Falk as the grandson and grandfather. Kentucky Sports Radio, for the photo of Inigo (Mandy Patinkin), Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), and Fezzik (André the Giant). All Posters, for the kiss that “left them all behind,” featuring Westley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright). On roughly the next row down, we acknowledge with gratitude: Abe Books, for the 1984 cover of the edition that G. read, of William Goldman’s book, The Princess Bride.

We were delighted to find Kelly Martinez’s “Movies from Another Point of View” on Buzzfeed, with the “Have Fun Storming the Castle” photo of Carol Kane and Billy Crystal as Valerie and Miracle Max (the latter recently quoted in a different post on this blog). Thanks very much to Amazon, for the nice image of the original movie poster from 1987. And for the center-bottom photo, once again featuring Elwes and Wright as Westley and Buttercup, we’d like to acknowledge (and urge you to investigate) All Roads Lead to the Kitchen’s recipe for “Fire Swamp Fireball Cocktail.”

For the montage of DEBORAH CROMBIE and ALL HER BOOKS:

We are delighted to thank Ms. Crombie herself, via her website. Since G. mentioned the Notting Hill setting, we were pleased to find the photo of Deborah Crombie at Falafel King in Notting Hill, London (2009) in her website’s photo gallery. And we gratefully acquired the images of her book covers (with helpful ordinal numbers!) from her website’s listing of The Books. Many thanks and much love, Deb!

For the STUFF THAT WORKS montage:

Many thanks to IMDB, for the Wreck-It Ralph movie poster. A big thank-you to Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s website “Photos” gallery, for the photo of Gilmore on stage. The mouth-watering photo of fudge brownies with chocolate chips comes from Food and Thrift’s post, “Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies . . . and Breast Cancer Awareness!” (YES! There’s a recipe there, too!). Now we’re both grateful to blogger Elizabeth, and craving brownies. Finally, author G. S. Norwood is also the author of the deviled eggs (and the apple pie in the background), as well as the photographer for the last image on the right. Many thanks to all!

This is how the strong survive, a montage of happy roses.

Only the Strong Survive

By G. S. Norwood

I have blogged about my flower garden before. Heaven knows my Facebook friends are tired of the new iris and rose photos I post every spring. But this year it felt a little different, stepping out into my garden after the Great Texas Deep Freeze of this past February. When our temperatures dipped into single digits, I was afraid everything in my garden would die. With temperatures like that, only the strong survive.

The once-verdant plant stand is a disaster zone after the freeze.
The patio plant stand in happier days (at left). Today it’s a total loss. (G. S. Norwood).

Total Loss

Let’s get through the painful part first. My back patio plant stand, which has been thriving in fairly deep shade for at least the last five summers, is a total loss. I’ve managed to overwinter three types of ferns, and even some tender begonias, for the past two years. They all bit the dust this winter. Even though I covered them, they weren’t strong enough to survive snow and sub-zero nights.

The only up-side is that I now have a chance to clean out old pots and repaint the weathered boards I used to build the plant stand. The boards still need another coat of paint, but then it’s off to the nurseries for me. Fingers crossed that there will be anything left after all the other gardeners in the county turned out to replace the zillion plants they’d lost to the freezing temperatures.

If only the strong survive, the verdict is still out on the flame acanthus.
In happier days, the flame acanthus attracted hummingbirds to the window outside my home office. Now it’s mostly dead, with a few inappropriate volunteer trees mixed in. (G. S. Norwood).

Looking Dead

Out front there looked to be some obvious casualties. The creeping lemon thyme and the delightful blackfoot daisy that once spilled over the edge of my planter box were both undeniably dead, as was the dwarf butterfly bush I’d intended to plant in a bare spot last fall.

Other perennials, including three flame acanthus bushes, a Texas sage, my cluster of rock roses, and a newly planted abelia looked dead, but still had some spring in their twigs. I might have to do some pruning, but there is a chance they can come back from the root.

The clematis vine, on the trellis next to the front steps, also looked dead. But it always looks dead over the winter. I decided to hold out some hope that these plants were, to quote Miracle Max in The Princess Bride, “only mostly dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”

Built of sterner stuff than the Texas natives, the clematis bounced back.
The clematis vine was only mostly dead, but quickly came back to glorious life. (G. S. Norwood).

Only the Strong Survive

In contrast to the Texas natives like the flame acanthus and the blackfoot daisy, my roses apparently loved the cold snap. They have come roaring back this spring, with thick foliage, lots of blossoms, and nary a hint of black spot. Even the Snow Witch rose that got accidentally mowed over is blooming like never before. They brighten my days and perfume my yard. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

This is how the strong survive, a montage of happy roses.
The roses came roaring back. Clockwise from upper left: Maggie, Zephrine, Carnival Glass, Marie Daly (pink), Sweet Pegge, and the return of the previously-mowed Snow Witch. (G. S. Norwood).

Iris Festival

Like the roses, my iris are enjoying a great spring. Iris grow happily in colder climates. February’s freeze seems to have invigorated them. Old favorites like Titan’s Glory and War Chief are blooming lushly. I even have blooms this spring from rhizomes I planted years ago but never saw a flower from, including the spectacular Cantina and Medici Prince.

If only the strong survive, here’s a gallery of my iris heroes.
My iris are having a great spring. Clockwise from upper left: Diamond Lake, Cantina, Medici Prince, Titan’s Glory, Cascadian Rhythm, No Count Blues, Blue Heritage, and War Chief. (G. S. Norwood).

The Garden Evolves

I’m not going to tell you that I’m glad we had such cold weather this past winter. Never mind my plants; 151 Texans died because of that cold snap. We don’t need that again. But the freeze did give me the chance to reassess my garden. In the weeks ahead I will trim back the plants that got overgrown. Shape and reshape the overall composition of the borders out front. I’ll give big plants more room, root out volunteer trees that are in completely the wrong place, and make the whole thing just a little bit closer to my ideal. Because no garden is ever completely finished. A garden is a living thing that keeps the gardener busy, and happy, for a lifetime.

IMAGES

Many thanks to author G. S. Norwood for the photos she took of her garden. All are ©2020-2021 by G. S. Norwood. If you wish to use them, kindly attribute the photographer and provide a link back to this post. G. is the author of the urban fantasy “Deep Ellum” stories, set in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. The montages were prepared by Jan S. Gephardt.

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