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Memorial Day Matters


Memorial Day is this Monday, May 25 and seems quite early relative to our inner calendars. Can summer really be just around the corner? End-of-school activities, exams, graduations, moving children in-and-out of dorms and apartments, and sporting events often distract us from the gravitas of this holiday’s observance. In addition, few of us have any family serving in the United States armed forces. Since service is volunteer only, we aren’t surrounded and touched by the impact of having numerous family and friends drafted and deployed.

Memorial Day flag in Windmill Point, Virginia  © The Gracious Posse

Although my father and uncle served in Korea and Vietnam, respectively, it was my grandfather’s service in the Army as a Chaplain in World War II that has most resonated with me. I learned much about his experiences in the book, Padre Down Under, that he wrote about his experience serving in the South Pacific.

At age 36, pastor George Chappell Hardy felt the call. 

The blood of my ancestors, who had fought in every war in United States history, had begun to stir in me a year and more before Pearl Harbor.

…the Church should go with the men wherever they had to go; that in war they needed religion as never before in their lives.

from Padre Down Under

He served two years in the South Pacific theatre with infantry units, ministering to the survivors, injured and dying. No doubt many of you have similar tales of your ancestors. In the midst of grilling burgers, taking study breaks, unloading cars or relaxing at the beach, take a moment to give thanks for them and the other men and women who have carried the load for us.

If you want a meaningful and inspiring way to remember those who have served, come to St. James’s Memorial Concert on Sunday evening, May 24 at 7 p.m. The Festival Choir and Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, arguably one of the most beloved and renowned piece of sacred music ever composed. Many of the posse, including myself, will sing. The concert is free and will be followed by a champagne reception.

Memorial Concert invitation framed

Thanks to the sacrifices of our military members, may the blessings of life in our United States of America shine upon you this weekend.


Friday, May 22, 2015

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Stop and Smell the Peonies

last peony

In the midst of May Mayhem when running around like the proverbial chicken with her head cut off, one thing always slows me down: the scent of peonies. The ethereal fragrance of the varieties growing in my garden hint of roses with a bit of spice, and cut peonies in vases adorning my home provide whiffs of delight whenever I dash by them. Just a trace of peony scent is enough to  reduce my speed as my attention turns to their visual and viseral beauty.

2015 peonies in vase

I should know better than to plan a trip during the peak of their blooming season: usually the second week of May. This year’s late winter delayed a majority of the blooms, but I planned in advance. Engaging a designated cutter, she filled my fridge with these worthy treasures while I was away.

peonies in fridge © The Gracious Posse

My instructions to her:

Squeeze the buds when they look like they are just fixin’ to pop. If they squish like a marshmallow, cut them with a lengthy stem and trim off most of the leaves, then lay them in the fridge.

I returned from Mexico to a refrigerator laden with delicious peonies.

Following my Five Tips to Prolong Your Enjoyment of the Peony Season, I can simply harvest a few peonies from my refrigerator each day. A few hours after submerging them in a sink full of water with a new stem cut, the blooms are resurrected  and ready to scent the house or be shared with a friend.

gift of peonies © The Gracious Posse

Though most of the peony plants around these parts have finished blooming, their season of scent lingers at my house. I can think of no better gift to myself or others during this crazy time of year. Fortunately, even if you couldn’t harvest a refrigerator full this year, you can find peonies for sale at the local grocery stores right now. Why not treat yourself and take some time to stop and smell the peonies?


May 20, 2015

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Otomi Textiles ~ Mexican Inspiration Becomes a Mild Obsession

Otomi Textiles via defunct Hamptons of the Delta

We threw together our trip to Mexico pretty quickly. All I thought I was seeking was some warm sunshine after the late winter in RVA and some chilly golf time in the May Gray of San Diego. Sitting by a pool with an umbrella drink was just what the doctor had ordered, while shopping in the Cabos area hovered at the bottom of the relaxation agenda.

cold drink in Cabo © The Gracious Posse

What a mistake! Leaving shopping until the last day had me kicking myself as we headed back to reality. I knew that I didn’t need any silver jewelry or the ubiquitous Mexican pottery, but I thought we’d go in search of some colorful Mexican something. In the back of my mind, I recalled Jennifer at The Pink Pagoda having used Otomi fabric from Mexico as the inspiration for her daughter’s sitting room in last Spring’s One Room Challenge hosted by Calling It Home.

April 2014 ORC by The Pink Pagoda

Somehow I also knew that in addition to the multi-colored Otomi styles, bold single-colored designs in these traditional patterns are available, too. As we headed up the road to the Old Town of San Jose, I thought we’d look for a pillow or two to use as the design inspiration for a room in my daughter’s new place. With very little guidance, we managed to stumble upon a few shops that carried these distinctive designs, and I became just a little obsessed.

aqua otomi throw pillow available on Etsy

The single colorways make a modern graphic statement, while the multi-colored fabrics feel joyful. After examining these designs up close, talking to a few shop owners, and doing some post-vacation research, I have discovered a few things.

1. These traditional embroidered designs originated in the southern part of Mexico near Guatemala.

multi-colored otomi throw pillow available on Etsya particularly beautiful color combination

2. The backing of these textiles is an ivory tone, not pure white.

oversized lumbar pillow on white bench available on Etsy

3. If I had shopped earlier on my trip, the stores could have accessed exactly what I wanted in a day or two.

small orange otomi pillow available on Etsy

4. The multi-colored Otomi would make an amazing design focus or accent for a nursery.

Otomi tapestry from La FuenteThis tablecloth would make a great wallhanging, framed or unframed.


The Nesting Game nursery

5. I have a hard time making design decisions because I like so many things (I think I already knew that).

Otomi Textiles via defunct Hamptons of the Delta

6. There are lots of possible design applications for Otomi.

Otomi shade from Zinc Door


green Otomi lampshade from Zinc Door 

Olli hand embroidered lounger via Remodelista

16 inch square Otomi covered stool available on Etsy

You could so easily cover recover a round ottoman top with a round Otomi tablecloth.

round blue Otomi tablecloth available on Etsy

7. Don’t forget apparel and accessories, too.

Otomi top © The Gracious PosseI almost pulled this top off another customer in one shop, then spent way too much time trying to locate its twin elsewhere, to no avail.

Otomi multi-colored handbag available on EtsyWhat a great summer tote this bag would make.

8. Purchasing Otomi in the US is more expensive.

I just spotted this pillow on One King’s Lane for $175.

blue Otomi pillow on One King's Lane

While the piping and gold zipper might add a bit to the cost, I could have purchased something similar in San Jose for about $30 US. The aqua Otomi pillow near the top of this post would also go for about $30 US in Mexico, but you’ll pay $60 for it from Etsy.

9. The bottom line.

I should have stayed in Mexico longer. Now that I know what is available, I am just going to have to return. I can see TEdF rolling his eyes right now.

Otomi handtowels © The Gracious PosseI love the only Otomi purchase that I had time to make ~ two small lime green hand towels.

So what do you think of the bright and bold Otomi patterns? Could you find a use for one or more of them in your home? Anyone want to join me on a trip south of the border? Let’s make it a posse getaway!


May 18, 2015