Thursday, October 9, 2008

When we first moved to Willow Manor 20 years ago, this lovely old
dinner bell was on the property. It has a beautiful patina and
marvelously mellow G-sharp tone that echos down through the
river bed. I used it quite often when the kids were young, scattered
hither and yon through the rocks and trees. But now that we are
empty nesters, it seldom rings. I am very fond of this old friend. It
symbolizes family, dinnertime around the table and the days when
our house was happily bustling with the dirty little feet of children
and animals. But don't get me wrong, I am finding the empty nest
quite comfortable! I will update you on the bat cave renovations soon.

youngest son swinging at the manor, 1990

One of the Family, Frederick Cotman, 1880

When he's late for dinner, I know he's either
having an affair or is lying dead in the street.
I always hope it's the street.
Jessica Tandy


  1. My grandparents have a bell like that as well. We used to swing from the rope when we were kids. I love your new header, perfect for this time of year.

  2. The first thing, actually the second, the first was the horse, was the absence of you-know-who and how peaceful the scene of three generations is without the drone. With that extra presence there is also associated tension. Straight backs of children, anxiety in the demeanor of the wife..the quote is very apt.
    I wonder if the bell came from an old sailing ship, it has the look of a ship's bell.

  3. Grrr Willow !
    You have always, always,... beautiful photos ! Pfff...
    The bell is really big, and the girl on the swing seems pretty...

  4. You know what? I love your quote of the day. Oh, this one here is funny, but the other quote is so true. Sad, but true. Awesome photo accompanying that, btw. You are such an artiste!

  5. We have an original servants bell from the late 1700's that is still affixed to the lounge wall. It isn't in use of course, apart from when Amy shouts for her supper but it looks so characteristic to the old house. I also have a little bell in the house that is incredibly old that I ring to encourage spirits to communicate. Bells fascinate me in this way! I'm just bordering on bonkers I'm afraid.

    I love the picture of the horse with its head over the door.

    CJ xx

  6. What a wonderful thing to have. And the memories associated with it will keep you warm throughout your life.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. An excellent comment by Jessica - I quite agree.
    The falling leaves women are amazing and lovely.
    Your post sounds a little nostalgic and melancholy.
    I think fall does that to one.....

  8. The stages in life are so sweet...each one in their own way. What a sweet pic of the baby of the fam...awwww! :)

  9. Oh, I loved Jessica Tandy! :-)

  10. I tried ours for the last year but my boys never seem to respond. Maybe dissecting frogs is affecting their eardrum.

  11. What a lovely post. The family meal scene takes me back to my childhood - the big rambling thatch house filled with the menagerie (no horse in the house mind,) all waiting for their share of the meal to be sneaked to them under the table, all the while father instructing otherwise.

  12. One of my favorite paintings! I always wanted a horse to look in on my breakfast table just like that!

  13. I wanted to cut my closet door in half like that for a horse. Darn. My parents wouldn't let me. ;)

  14. What a treasure you have there. We have a door that came with our house and had been with the family of the previous owners in every home before this one which it stayed in after the death of the family matriarch...I love sentimental attachments like that...It gives such an energy to a space.

  15. Sweet post. :)

    And I just love Jessica Tandy!

  16. Willow, you over-estimate my perspicacity, I only noticed the empty place after I had posted my comment.
    Love the glowing , voluminous backsides on your header!

  17. I think that if that bell were in my custody I would ring it at least once a day, just for kicks if there weren't any kiddos to summon to supper. Wouldn't be able to resist. I love bells. Ring it tomorrow evening for me, will you please? (: )

  18. I love the Emma Thompson quote. She was so good in just one scene in the slightly mediocre "Love Actually". The English are masters and mistresses at covering up their emotions, and watching an actor do that has a wonderful resonnance for me. Thompson and Hopkins together....sublime!

  19. My mother had a smaller version of your bell that she rang inside the house for dinner time. She never invited the horse in for anything though.

  20. That Jessica Tandy quote is priceless. I'm so jealous of the bell!

  21. Willow, such a beautiful bell and story. The kids grow so fast. Your little boy looked adorable swinging. Wasn't Jessica Tandy a feisty chick? Cute quote.

  22. Adrianne, okay, tomorrow at 6:00 pm. I'll ring it extra loud! :D

  23. Love that quote!!
    The bell and the Willow Manor history makes it very special.

  24. This is a fabulous post, Willow--photos, artwork, that quotation...just wonderful! I also really like (and tend to agree with) Emma Thompson's quotation...lovely! Oh--thank you for your kind birthday wishes! I appreciate it so much!

  25. The dinner bell is so beautiful. How lucky you are that nobody had decided to run off with it before you moved in! I love the painting, by the way--I don't think I've ever seen it before!

  26. Oh your posts are so beautiful to read and delight in the images.

  27. That is a great old bell. I like stuff like that. There is a place in Elgin Nebraska that is full of bells. I'm not sure if the guy sells them, or collects them.

  28. Willow I am long overdue visiting here.Reading back, thank you for the introduction to Xavier Mellery, and I love the header you have now. The colour of the garments is my favourite(when on sailboats also!)So many lovely things, and quotes to see.As for your bell, when I was teaching in a small country town, there was a bell such as yours,rung for the children at the start and end of school,and meal breaks. A thing of beauty and long history.Many of the school photos on the bleachers were taken near that bell, and I look back in fondness at the bell and the faces of students I taught who would now be in their late twenties,who would have gone from that primary school to the high school with the excrutiatingly loud buzzer.Loud and grating seems to be so much part of today that it is lovely to come here and reflect on your posts.Quiet times.So necessary. Thanks for your lovely recent comment.

  29. A few days I am gone and I missed so much. Not only are each post captivating, I love the header surprises and the little details on the sidebar. What a beautiful blog you have Willow. As for the Manor Bell, I notice the amazing and wonderful stacked stonewall!

    Very true about the people who have suffered and truly suffered not just perceived suffering or bogus victimology. I have known a few intimately, they are the ones who survived gracefully and only look back to glean more lessons from the past, not to blame it for the present.

    I love your blog!

    Nice avatar too.

    You go Willow!

  30. My little 88 year old mother has one hanging right by her front door. I guess standard doorbells just aren't loud enough. Pappy

  31. Looking forward to seeing the bat cave.

    Love the Jessica Tandy quote.

  32. We had bell that mother rang to summon us from neighborhood play. It was much smaller but quite old. I still remember its sound. I love yours and the precious memories connected to it. One day, perhaps you'll use it to call grandchildren in for a big family meal!

    Regarding the grits... it's the recipe I always made for our friends in Ohio who were curious about grits, wanting to try them. It serves 10 so you can half it if you're not feeding a crowd (or hungry sons hanging around for the weekend). I've made it with sharp cheddar, too, and it's very good that way, but not as fancy.

  33. Lovely post, as usual. There are a couple of comments I would like to make:

    First, there seems to be a strange connection between the picture of your son and the lady in the painting below beckoning him to dinner. Was that fortuitous :-)?

    Second, is the quote from the film 'Golden Pond'? As I recall, there were many witty and off-the-cuff remarks in that film.

    Lovely tale about the bell.

    Greetings from London.

  34. Cuban, the Tandy quote is a personal quote referring to her long time husband Hume Cronyn. It's not from "On Golden Pond", that I know of. It's great, isn't it?

  35. MG, I can't wait to make them. I went to college in the south and learned to love grits. I'm still a northern girl at heart, though, and never think to make them. I've been craving them ever since I got your card!

  36. I love the bell and the painting 'One of the Family'.
    I love it all, as usual.

  37. i hope one day you'll get to ring that lovely bell with your grandchildren. my parents had a similar bell on their property a while back and all the little ones would beg "grandpa, lift me up so i can ring the bell!!" you're right -- wonderful family memories are ours to savor!

  38. My father used to ring a bell, much smaller than that though, like an austrian cow bell. I still have it and when the work is done, hope to put it on my wall.

    Love the Jessica Tandy quote. Brilliant. Also the photo of the swing. Idyllic.

    Looking forward to seeing the cave take shape. Can't work much out from the photo!


  39. Lovely--no, wonderful picture and post. I love your snippets of your fantastic abode. How fun that would have been to ring!

  40. I don't want a pizza, I don't want a piece of
    Peanut brittle, I don't want a pear.
    I don't want a bagel I don't want a bean I wouldn't like
    A bag of beef or a beer or a
    Cup of chowder, corn, cake, or creamed cauliflower cause I'm
    Waiting for the dinner bell to do the bell thing (waiting for the dinner bell)
    Dinner bell dinner bell ring.

    They Might Be Giants

  41. I have an very old copy of the painting..."One of the Family"....I would love more information on it if email address is


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)