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Waiting for Lucy Elanor

Dear Faithful Family & Friends,

Today is the original due date for our first granddaughter, Lucy Elanor Stewart.  Yes, that is spelt exactly as Tolkein spells it, in “The Fellowship of the Rings.”  I am reading that work of literature for the first time and a few days ago I came across the word, elanor, the name of a flower.  Evidently, Elanor is also the name of the daughter of two Hobbits but I have not yet reached that part.

The days have gone swiftly by because our grandson, Benjamin, 2 & 1/2, has stayed with us for several days.  He was exposed to a virus and, in order to protect Haley and Lucy, we quarantined him until he developed and recovered from the virus.  While he was here, he amused me by some of the funny things he said.  Thank you for humoring me, by reading this, while I rest and recover from several days of Marmee Duty.

I took him to the John Deere Tractor Store and he saw all kinds of new and old tractors and attachments.  He saw the service men test-driving them, hauling them in, hauling them out, and repairing them.  They invited Benjamin to climb into the seat and “steer.”  He has told me this before but, after this “field trip,” with new admiration, he said, “Marmee really knows what little boys like!”  

Afterwards, he agreed that  “Looking at tractors makes a little guy really hungry!”  So, I told him we would go to Captain Pete’s Greek Restaurant and get a GYRO.  When we arrived, he walked in and said, “I want an ARROW.”

On another day, I came downstairs, after my morning shower and shampoo.  Benjamin said: “Marmee, your hair is kind of crazy but I love you, anyway!”  [Everyone in my family:  Stephen, Garrett, Haley, Daniel, and Benjamin has straight hair and I alone have curly/wavy hair.]

We have been watching the musical DVD, “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Sunrise, Sunset” has become one of his favorite lullabies.  He also enjoys “Matchmaker” and says, “When those girls sing about matches, they are not singing about making puzzles or fires.”

I told him a true story of his visit to Beech Mountain, NC, at our Summer Reunion, when he was only 18 months old.  I should mention that the three Blair sisters, Susan, Margot, and Amy, look very similar, each with short, curly/wavy hair and each wears glasses.  Before the trip, I rehearsed with Benjamin the names of the three sisters, using a photograph.

Here is the story that I told him:

“When you arrived at Beech Mountain, Aunt Susan was already there and she came out to greet you.  

We said, ‘Benjamin, who is this?’

And you said, ‘Aunt Susan.’  

We said, ‘Very good!  That is correct!’

Then, Aunt Amy arrived and came to greet you.

We said, ‘Benjamin, who is this?’

You said, ‘Aunt Susan.’

We said, ‘No, but that is close.’

An hour later,  Aunt Amy came into the room, and we said, ‘Benjamin, who is this?’

And you said, ‘That is Close!'”

When I told Benjamin that story, he immediately caught the humor, guffawed, and asked me to repeat it four times.  Then, he rehearsed it as he went down for a nap.


I hope to have news soon of the birth of Lucy so keep checking!  And please pray for an uncomplicated labor and delivery and for safety, protection, and health for both Haley and Lucy.  Haley will be in a hospital setting and will have a midwife, Daniel, and a doula [me] assisting her.

Coram Deo,


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An Invitation!

Dear Tallahassee Friends,

Stephen & I have secured two extra seats at a banquet for this Thursday evening.  The speaker will be Eric Metaxas, the author of the books featured above. The first two persons to reply to this blog update or to my FaceBook status update will be the winners of those seats!  However, act quickly!  Bonus: You get to sit at the same table with us!  If you are NOT the lucky winner/s, you can still attend!  There is no charge for the banquet but you must RSVP ASAP!

Here are the details:

“You are cordially invited to attend

A Woman’s Pregnancy Center Celebration of Life Benefit Banquet

As Our Guest

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at the University Center Club

Seating and Registration Begin at 6.00 PM

Dinner and Program 6.30-8.30 PM

There will be an opportunity to give during the banquet.

RSVP 850.297.1174 or


Stephen & Margot Payne




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Where Beauty and Grace Reside

One of the things I appreciate most about having adult children is the opportunity to learn from them, especially about thoughtful books and films.  A few years ago, our son, Garrett, introduced us to the sleeper film, The Painted Veil.  Ironically, only a few days later, our daughter, Haley, telephoned me from Texas and said, “You and Dad have to see this film!”  

During September, our wedding anniversary month, I think about weighty quotes, on the nature of love and marriage, that are substantial enough to ponder and to share with you, my Faithful Readers.  While re-watching The Painted Veil, I found them.

The Painted Veil film is based upon the same-titled novel, by W. Somerset Maugham [pronounced, “Mom”], English dramatist & novelist (1874 – 1965).  The title, in turn, is based upon the Sonnet, Lift Not the Painted Veil, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822.

Here is the sonnet, since it is very short:

Lift Not the Painted Veil

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread,—behind, lurk Fear
And Hope, twin Destinies; who ever weave
Their shadows, o’er the chasm, sightless and drear.
I knew one who had lifted it—he sought,
For his lost heart was tender, things to love,
But found them not, alas! nor was there aught
The world contains, the which he could approve.
Through the unheeding many he did move,
A splendour among shadows, a bright blot
Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove
For truth, and like the Preacher found it not.

Here is a very brief summary of the book:  The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham, 1925:

“A quiet, uncluttered, straightforward book in its rendition of the pitfalls of adultery. When Walter Fane discovers his wife Kitty’s involvement with another man, Charles, he takes her to Mei-tan-fu, a far off place in China during a cholera epidemic. Kitty, brought up never wanting, raised to marry well, shallow and ignorant of sacrifice and devotion discovers what and how it is to be compassionate as she faces unimaginable poverty, hardship and death in this ‘painted veil called life.’ ” [From A Thousand Books and Quotes, a blog]

I hope the following quotes [from the book] will encourage you to read the book and watch the film, in whichever order you prefer.  As for me, I watched the film first and  I read the book later and, as I recall, the two were slightly different.  Watch the film because it is visually  stunning.  Read the book because the language is masterful.

Proviso:  The film is achingly beautiful but it is intense.

The Painted Veil may challenge your assumptions about the nature of love and marriage.  It will certainly provide “food and drink” for hours of rich conversation with one, two, three, or more persons.

I would love to read your thoughts on the book and/or film.  Submit a Reply to me and we can converse!

Quotes from the book:

‘One cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one’s soul.’

‘Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.’

‘Beauty is also a gift of God, one of the most rare and precious, and we should be thankful if we are happy enough to possess it and thankful if we are not, that others possess it for our pleasure.’

‘I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.’

‘Each member of the orchestra plays his own little instrument, and what do you think he knows of the complicated harmonies which unroll themselves on the indifferent air? He is concerned only with his small share. But he knows that the symphony is lovely, and though there’s none to hear it, it is lovely still, and he is content to play his part.’

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I was planning our Annual Midsummer Supper and Birthday Party:   [I am June, Garrett is July, Stephen is August, and Haley is September.]  For several years, we have yearned to return to Angelo &  Son’s Seafood Restaurant in Panacea, Florida, exactly 37 miles [56 minutes], due south from our home.   Angelo’s has been a famous landmark on the coast for almost 70 years.  It is not a fancy place:  it is family-friendly and the attire is casual.  However, over the years, the prices have steadily climbed. Then, a few years ago, a hurricane decimated the building.  The remodeling and revamping required extensive time and money.  As a result, the prices are now “a little out of our league.”  Even so, I pitched the idea to Stephen.  He replied, “There is no way I am going to pay those exorbitant prices!”

That was when I suggested, “Well, then, let’s do an Angelo’s Theme and host our supper at home!”   Stephen readily agreed and mused, “How hard could that be?”  And, so, our Culinary Adventure began.

Stephen & I visited our local seafood shop and ordered our supper, fresh-off-the boat:  an eight-pound grouper and three pounds of shrimp.   I forgot to specify “fish fillets.” The shop owner deftly removed the gills and a few other items but handed us our grouper intact and on ice.   He was massive.  I named him [the fish]Popeye,” because of his bulbous eyes.   Even with a gift certificate, Stephen and I were  a little surprised at the hefty size of the invoice.

We returned home and I prepared the rest of the supper, inspired by Angelo’s Menu:  Fresh Green Salad with Greek Trim and Greek Dressing, Twice-Baked Potatoes, Freshly-Baked Bread with Herb Butter, and Iced Tea with Lemon & Lime Slices.  I spared no expense and used all fresh, organic ingredients from our member-owned food co-op.

Later, our son arrived to help Stephen grill the grouper; they slathered it with olive oil, dusted it with Greek seasonings, and encased it in foil.  They threaded the shrimp onto bamboo skewers.  In spite of careful planning,  the grouper required a much longer grilling time than the shrimp.  So, the grouper was moist but under-done and the shrimp was dry and over-done.  Stephen had difficulty removing the foil from the grouper.  In disgust, he crushed up the empty foil, threw it back on the grill, and closed the lid.

The seafood was, I admit, a bit of a disappointment but the rest of the supper was superb.   We turned our attention to dessert, which would provide the Crowning Glory of the Evening.  That morning, Stephen had whipped up his famous Home-Made Cream Pies, settling upon Banana and Coconut.  For the benefit of our grandson, however, he made the pie gluten-free and substituted oat flour for wheat flour.  I prepared a teapot of Organic Chai with Cocoa to complement the pies.  Stephen retrieved the pies from the refrigerator and, with a flourish, set them on the kitchen counter.  Upon closer inspection, they might have passed for puddings.  I handed out spoons and bowls and everyone partook.  No one asked for seconds.

After our guests left, let me tell you, it was a JOB cleaning up that kitchen! I froze the leftover seafood, with plans to make chowder.  Stephen hurled the rest of the pies into the kitchen trashcan, along with the inedible seafood remains, and carted it all outside, to the City Trash Container.  It was too late to suggest that he freeze the seafood remains in a large zip lock bag, until Trash Pick-Up Day, which was now five days away.

We worked together for two hours and, weary to the bone, climbed upstairs to go to bed.  I was philosophical about the difficulties of the evening.   However, the culinary mishaps had shaken Stephen’s confidence and identity as a former Grill Master and Pastry Chef Extraordinaire.

The next morning, another hot and humid summer day, I walked out of doors and the air reeked of day-old fish.  Over the next few days, the odor reached a crescendo, until it attracted every cat in the neighborhood.  Various neighbors, on their daily walks,  gave our property a wide berth and finally, they began to avoid us all together.  I complained that, oddly, the odor was even stronger near the detached Laundry Room.   Finally, Stephen investigated and removed the offending grouper-encrusted foil, still inside the grill, located on the porch outside the Laundry Room.


Now, please allow me to be your Tour Guide, in your perfect evening of seafood dining in Panacea:

Choose a fine afternoon and enjoy a leisurely, peaceful drive, through the Apalachicola Natural Forest.  You will pass The Wakulla Springs State Park and Forest, The St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge, and the Ochlocknee River State Park.  When you pass through the vast, marshy, protected wetlands, and Oyster Bay, you are almost there.  Just over the crest of a hill, you will see a bridge, spanning the glittering water of the St. George Sound, at the confluence of the Ochlocknee River and the Apalachee Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.  The bridge leads to the pristine St. George Island and State Park and the St. Vincent Island Wildlife Refuge.

Before you reach the bridge, Angelo’s will come into view:  It is an imposing all-wooden structure, built upon sturdy pilings, and perched over the water.  If the weather is perfect, be sure to dine al fresco on the wrap-around porch, which offers an unimpeded view of the coastal panorama: the fishing boats returning to the marina, the seagulls wheeling, the pelicans diving for their supper, and the mullet jumping.  After supper, right before sunset, order your dessert, Homemade Cream Pie and Coffee.  Then, transfer over to the wide, western-facing porch.  Position a rocking chair close to the porch railing.  Reach for your dessert and cup, rest your feet up on the railing and savor every delicious morsel and sip, as you rock and watch the sun set over the water.


Panacea,” as you may remember, means “a remedy for all diseases, evils, or difficulties; a cure-all,” from the Greek  “pan” = “all” and “akos” = “cure.”  Evidently, “the establishment of Panacea began with the Panacea Mineral Springs, a concentration of small sulphurous springs known for their ‘healing attributes’.” [Wikipedia]

And oh! Did I mention that Stephen decided that he is taking us all to Panacea next midsummer?  

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Tangibles & Intangibles

I read in this morning’s news that “Big Tobacco Sues Feds.”  [I do not know how to provide links, so “Google” this and read about the case.]  The contention focuses on the government ruling that Big Tobacco Companies must print, at their own expense, graphic images [e.g., breathing tubes, coffins] on the label of each tobacco product.   The expected outcome, I suppose, will be that the graphics will more strongly dissuade pre-smoking addicts than will the mere printed language advisories.  Or, perhaps, pre-smoking addicts cannot read.

I can understand the point of view of the government:  Everyone knows, since the Surgeon General’s warning in 1969, that smoking is harmful to one’s health.  Now, we know that addictive smoking, over the years,  will probably prove deadly.  In spite of the fact that each individual has the right to decide to smoke, the reality is that the government [you and I] and health insurance companies [and you and I, in the form of higher rates] will, in future, underwrite the bill for the exorbitant yet preventable medical expenses of the smoker-addict.

There is also the problem of second-hand smoke, which interferes with the rights and endangers the health of the non-smoker.  This carries its own form of trauma, as it concerns the family and co-workers of the smoker-addict.  I have at least one suggestion:  Big Tobacco Companies can include a “pink ribbon” for breast cancer, which is a possible side-effect of exposure to second-hand smoke.  Also, there exists the DNA-driven  “addictive personality syndrome,” an intangible, which is difficult to communicate within a graphic image.  However, the Big Tobacco Companies should also include this; I suggest the Watson-Crick helix.

However, let us look at the Big Tobacco point of view, as it compares its governmental constraints to that of the Alcohol Industry.  Each bottle, of course, comes with a Government Warning on the label.  I just examined the label on my Paul Masson California Marsala.  [Excuse me, while I return it to the kitchen, as writing at the computer, early in the morning, with a glass of Marsala on the desk, would be a little hard to explain to an observer.]

The proviso reads:

“According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. 

Consumption of alcohol damages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems.” 

 No graphic images appear on the bottle label.

Let me be clear:  In the matter of the Alcohol Industry, I am talking about the possibility of  warning labels regarding the possible future behavior of the unlucky pre-alcohol addict, who discovers, too late, that the DNA is stacked unfairly against him/her.  This future possibility affects not only the health and welfare of the addict but also the health and welfare of his/her family.  I specify “family” and not “co-workers” because the nature of the behavior of the alcohol-addict toward his/her family is devastating to the family dynamics, in a manner far surpassing any devastation to the atmosphere of the workplace of the alcohol-addict.

Because of this future behavior possibility, the Alcohol Industry has a challenge, if a government decree forces it to print graphic images, in addition to warning labels.  The following tangible images are difficult, yet not impossible, to convey:

-Liver damage

-Vehicular crash, driving citation, DUI, license revocation

-Fetal alcohol withdrawl syndrome

-Termination of employment, unemployment line, homeless shelter


However, consider the impossible task, on the part of the Alcohol Industry, to convey the following intangibles, in a graphic image warning format:

-Psychological and emotional trauma to the family of the alcohol addict, including parents, spouse, children

-Psychological and emotional trauma to the family of the person/s injured or killed, as a result of the alcohol-addict’s impaired driving

-Changed personality of alcohol-addict

-Loss of educational and vocational opportunities

-DNA susceptibility to alcohol addiction; DNA “addictive personality disorder”

-Estrangement from family; divorce


I find that I must side with Big Tobacco:  Until the day that government forces the Alcohol Industry to conform to the same regulations, concerning the inclusion of graphic images, both tangible and intangible,  on warning labels, Big Tobacco appears to be “singled out” by government decree.

[Margot Blair Payne, August 2011]


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Book Review: The Call

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling

the Central Purpose of Your Life

By Os Guinness (Word Publishing, 1998)


[A Note from Margot:  There are some books that Stephen and I value so highly that we buy a dozen and give them out to friends and family.  This is one of those books. We strongly recommend it for your home library.]

From the back cover of the book:

“Have you longed?  Have you searched?  Have you listened?  The call is the answer.  In the tradition of C. S. Lewis and Oswald Chambers, internationally renowned author and thinker Os Guinness has penned a classic reflective work on life’s purpose.  Thoughtfully conceived and elegantly written, The Call will be read and re-read today and treasured by generations tomorrow.”


Book Review by Stephen Payne

Os Guinness attempts to shed light on a question that plagued many of us:  What is my calling and how do I discover it?  Guinness presents his ideas concerning these questions in a series of twenty-six individual meditations, to be read one day at a time.

The first few chapters lay a foundation, by defining the term “calling” and dividing it into three separate parts: primary call, secondary call, and individual call.  The “primary call” answers the questions, Who am I?  What is the meaning of life?  Am I fulfilling the purpose for which I am here on earth?  Guinness defines this primary call as “the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.”  The focus here is that “we are called to someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching), or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia).”

Guinness describes the “secondary calling” as a response to God’s primary calling on our lives.  After God calls us to Himself, He can then call us to “homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history . . . Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him.”  Guinness warns us to “keep first things first.”  God calls us to Himself before He calls us to a vocation.  Discovering the secondary call is a matter of seeing how God has gifted us and made us unique.  We must choose to use our unique gifts in a way that serves humanity and not our own selfish desires.  This calling refers to our life-purpose or life-task.

Almost every chapter in the book starts with a two to three page biographical sketch of a historical figure or an event.  A chapter called “The Focused Life” tells the story of Magellan, the Spanish explorer.  He experienced many setbacks as he attempted to circumnavigate the earth; however, his message was always the same:  “Sail on! Sail on!”  Guinness suggests that our lives offer so many choices that we are often sidetracked from our calling.  He urges the reader to stay focused.

In another chapter, “Dreamers of the Day,” he tells the story of T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.  Lawrence was a dreamer; however, he was no ordinary dreamer.  He lived his dreams.  Guinness encourages the reader not to let “…the here and now, the present and the accepted, form a prison cell for your thinking…”  My favorite quote in the book was one by T. E. Lawrence, “All men dream: but not equally.  Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.  This I did.”

In one chapter, Guinness presents Andrew Carnegie as a man who lived his life to impress others.  He played to an “audience of many.”  Guinness reminds us that our calling should be a gyroscope to our lives, providing stability and direction.  Guinness contrasts this approach to living our lives by Gallup polls.  Guinness states, “A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others – the Audience of One.”

Os Guinness has written a book that should be read in small pieces and pondered.  It will inspire you to cast off the mediocrity of aimless living and to focus on the upward call to God that will provide the purpose we all dream about.


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A Midsummer Night’s Scheme

Dear Family & Friends,

As promised, this is the story of the second secret proposal.  The setting is Los Robles, our historic neighborhood.

A Midsummer Night’s Scheme

Standing on floor:  David and Sarah, brother and sister of Jay;  Bill and Kristy, parents of Kathryn; Margie and John, parents of Jay.  Standing on stairs: Kathryn and Jay.

 Most Excellent Oberon, Your Royal Highness:

It is I, Robin Goodfellow, “that merry wanderer of the night,” who greets you.  I have returned from the Antipodes and I hereby submit my report of the clandestine operation, under your command, to join the Houses of Davis and Stewart.

Queen Titania graciously granted my request and loaned four of her “Fairies-In-Waiting,” to assist me in this secret mission.  Throughout this covert assignment, the Good Fairies and I were cloaked and invisible to the eyes of the mortals.  Therefore, the mortals will never guess that we, the ambassadors from the Fairy World, were orchestrating every maneuver and every strategy, in the scheme to join the two Houses!  [Me thinks: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”]

Before leaving the Fairy World, your wise counsel prompted me to travel to Cupid’s Flower Field and to there secure a vial of Love Potion Essence. Then, after I entered the Mortal World, I touched a drop of the Essence to each eyelid of the Young Gentleman, Jay Stewart by name, as he slept in his parents’ home.  Likewise, the four Good Fairies applied a drop of the Essence to each eyelid of the Young Lady, Kathryn Davis by name, as she slept, in her parents’ home.  When next they saw each other, the match was easily made!

I whispered into the ear of Jay that he should propose to Kathryn, on an appointed Midsummer Evening, in the Enchanted Park, which the mortals call, “Los Robles,” named according to the Ancient Oaks.  I further influenced him to serenade the Lady, in the Park, under the branches of a tree, newly-planted and dedicated to the memory of the beloved Kathy, the late grandmother of Kathryn.

On the appointed Midsummer Day, in a stroke of genius, I arranged for Jay and Kathryn to employ a carriage and to dine together, far away from the Park.  As dusk approached, the Good Fairies and I covertly assisted the mortals, in making preparations for the “Secret Proposal” and for the “Surprise Party” that would immediately follow.

The weather being inclement, I whispered into the ears of Lord & Lady Davis, the parents of Kathryn, that they should secure a banner or tent, to shelter and protect the “Secret Proposal Site” from the rain.  My suggestion prompted Lord Davis to borrow a large patio-table umbrella from an obliging neighbor.  Next, I directed Lord & Lady Stewart & their two adult children [Sarah and David, by name] to spread a blanket under the umbrella, on top of the damp grass.  Upon this blanket, they placed a waterproof case, which contained a musical instrument, rather like a lute.  Carefully hidden within the case was an heirloom ring!

Having finished these tasks, the Families Davis and Stewart departed from the Enchanted Park and sought shelter inside the Davis Manor, located next to the Park.  The Good Fairies and I kept sentinel over both the musical instrument and the ring, while the mortals, inside the Manor, stood in front of the windows facing the park.  From this vantage point, the mortals observed Jay and Kathryn, as they arrived, at dusk, in their carriage, to the Enchanted Park!  With a bit of Fairy Dust, we cloaked the mortals so that they could observe Jay and Kathryn but not vice versa.

Jay serenaded Kathryn with a love song, a sonnet, composed from his own pure brain and accompanied by the lute.  O, how she appeared to swoon, as the words of the love song enveloped her!  How she wept tears of joy upon the hearing of his declaration of love!  How much greater was her joy, when Jay concluded his song with the last line: “Will you be my wife?”  How her heart did melt, when Jay knelt before her, bestowing upon her an engagement ring, fashioned from a cherished heirloom from Grandmother Kathy.  Jay’s joy was unbounded, too, when Kathryn, without hesitation, accepted the proposal of marriage and vowed that “My heart is true as steel.”

We directed the two Young Lovers, through the driving rain, to the Davis Manor, to share the glad tidings with Lord & Lady Davis.  Upon entering the front door of the manor, they found the interior strangely dark and quiet.  So, we guided them to the back door, which opened up into an Enchanted Walled Garden.  Hanging from the branches of the Garden Oak Tree were [what the mortals call] “Fairy Lights,” which, along with the candles on tabletops, illuminated the Garden, performing the office of the moon, which was sadly blotted out by the clouds.

When the two Young Lovers opened the back door, how Kathryn did swoon again!  How her face flushed! How she laughed with merriment, when she heard a joyful, loud shout:  “Surprise!”  For there, gathered in the Enchanted Walled Garden, were the family members and closest friends of the Houses of Davis and Stewart!  The astonished Kathryn declared, “I am amazed and know not what to say!”

Ah, me! Such merry-making ensued!  All the mortals raised a glass, to toast the Engaged Couple and to wish them joy!  Then, the mortals took “photographs,” which, through some sorcery, captures images through the means of a small box with a magic eye.  Your Highness may view some of these “photographs,” which the Good Fairies “borrowed” and which I have included in this report.

I orchestrated the rescue of the refreshments from the weather, as the mortals transferred them, with Fairy-like energy and efficiency, into the Manor, where all the mortals dashed to escape the rain, thunder, and lightning.  There, the revelry continued, the likes of which I have seldom observed, outside of the domain of the Fairy World.

The Bard did write [giving these to words to Lysander to speak]: “The course of true love never did run smooth.”  And, in truth, I thought that the inclement weather might have beaten us.  Yet, on this Midsummer Evening, Zeus, the god of thunder, was no match for Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

All that remains, after this successful campaign now ended, is for Your Highness and Her Highness, Queen Titania, to be present, yet hidden and veiled, to bless these two Young Lovers, on the day of their Nuptials, on the Evening before the Dawn of the New Year.

Your humble servant,


~~~Margo Blair Payne, June 2011

Jay and Margot

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Dear Family & Friends,

I live in a historic neighborhood, named Los Robles, in a 64-year old home.  I want to share with you the story of  two secret marriage proposals that took place in our neighborhood:  one in my own home [2010]  and one in the Los Robles Park [2011].  Here is the story of the first event [below].  I’ll post the second story soon!


 “. . . When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie, that’s amore . . . When your eyes start to shine, like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore. . . ”

Did you happen to see the gorgeous full moon on the evening of Friday, February 26, 2010?  It was this Bella Luna that illuminated Cristobal Court in Los Robles on that night, as it peeked into the wrap-around windows of our “Garden Room” – the room that faces Cristobal Court and sits under our Southern grandiflora magnolia tree.

On that enchanted evening, we transformed our “Garden Room” into “Bella Notte,” an Italian neighborhood bistro.  Now, you may ask:  What was the purpose of this transformation?  Answer:  To provide a romantic setting for our two young college friends, Thomas & Kellie.  You see, Thomas wanted to surprise Kellie with a quiet, intimate supper and a proposal of marriage.  And where, from among all the possible venues, did Thomas choose for the setting of this momentous occasion?  Our charming neighborhood, of course!

Our back door neighbors, Bill & Kristy Davis, secretly worked behind the scenes and helped to enhance the magic of La Luna, by employing the strands of small globe garden lights, installed high up in the branches of their oak tree,  which shades our mutual garden wall.  Imagine the surprise and delight of Thomas & Kellie when, as if on cue, those garden lights turned on and softly illuminated our Garden Wall, Courtyard and “Garden Room” below!

We, in Los Robles, appreciate the historic beauty of our neighborhood and we have witnessed many weddings under the ancient oaks in the Los Robles Park.  And now we have the distinction of hosting an engagement!

Are you wondering how the evening turned out?  Take one look at the image of the starry-eyed couple and draw your own conclusion!

 “. . . This is the night, what a beautiful night, and we call it Bella Notte . . . Look at the skies, they have stars in their eyes, on this lovely Bella Notte . . .”

 ~~~Margot Blair Payne, 2010



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Christmas in July: Family News & Photos!

From Garrett:
Garrett:  Christmas 2010
I am still working at Marquis Software Development. This year will mark my six year anniversary with the company.  We stay very busy.

I have finally cobbled together a fully analog stereo sound system.  The realized goal is to have a room devoted to listening to vinyl records and reading books, in an attempt to minimize the digital footprint in my house.  I rather got a bit carried away:  One pallet arriving by freight later, I now have speakers built in the 70’s that are among my larger pieces of furniture.  Also, out of necessity, I am learning the art of soldering.  Nothing will make you feel more like your dad than buying soldering equipment.

I am still playing bass guitar in the rock band In Wrath.  Excuse me while I shamelessly promote the band:  You can purchase our full length Fit And Tried on iTunes, Amazon (digital), or (180gram clear vinyl with digital download).  [There, that was relatively painless.]

From Haley:

Haley, Daniel, and Benjamin:  Christmas 2010

Haley, Daniel, and Benjamin Stewart have had a busy year with lots of change!  They moved back to Tallahassee last May, to be close to family (two sets of grandparents, an aunt, and an uncle) and so that Haley could start her first semester of an Art History graduate program at FSU.  They are thrilled to be back in Tallahassee!  After completing her first semester at FSU, Haley decided to postpone grad school (possibly forever) and stay home with Benjamin, while working only part-time. She is a ballet instructor for South Georgia Performing Arts and does choreography and rehearsal assisting for the South Georgia Ballet.
In 2010, Daniel worked as a medical tech at a mental health facility with very difficult hours.  He was hired this January to work at Marquis Software Development with Garrett and Stephen.  He is enjoying biking to work and being on a normal schedule!  We celebrated Benjamin’s second birthday this February and are delighted to announce that he will become a big brother this October!  The Stewarts live in a house just a few doors down from Uncle Garrett and keep a large vegetable garden and 5 chickens in their yard.  They are enjoying getting settled into their new parish, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, which is just up the road from their house.
Benjamin:  Choosing a Christmas tree, 2010
Benjamin:  Family Birthday Party, February 2011
Benjamin in the Garden, 2011
Daniel & Haley, Summer 2011
From Stephen & Margot:
Margot, Benjamin, and Stephen
Christmas 2010
Well, if you keep up with my blog [], then you know all of our recent news!  I also recommend two blogs from Haley:  [ and], in which she provides thoughtful text and lovely photos.
I do have a bit of  “new” news, which post-dates Haley’s submitted paragraph:  we recently found out that we are expecting a baby granddaughter in October!  O, joy!
We just returned from a nine-day vacation to the mountains of NC.  See Haley’s “Carrots”  blog [URL above] for some beautiful photographs and descriptions!
Coram Deo,

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The First Sorrow

June 20, 2011

Dear Family & Friends,

Yesterday morning,  a friend wrote, “The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.”   Yesterday, she saw her mother for the last time and she had the honor of being with her mother, as she breathed her last.   I immediately wrote my friend a note of condolence, for she and I now share the grief of being “motherless daughters.”

Six years ago, I saw my mother for the last time, on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, 2005.  My husband, son, and daughter drove five hours, to the town in which my parents lived, in order to spend the weekend with them.  My father, at that time, still lived in the home they had shared for 35 years. However, my mother, hospitalized in December 2004, had steadily declined, physically and mentally, for six months.  She could not return home nor could she benefit any further from rehabilitation therapy.  She was, therefore, in a “netherworld:”  the long-term wing of a skilled nursing facility, where small doses of drugs kept her free from anxiety and pain.  I visited my parents often during this depressing six-month period, sometimes staying for weeks at a time, as did my two sisters.

I spent the Father’s Day weekend driving back and forth to the nursing facility from my parents’ home.  I was shocked to observe that neither the hospice staff nor the nursing staff had properly attended to the bathing and grooming needs of my mother.   So, I spent Saturday taking care of these needs:  I washed and conditioned her hair, gave her a facial, trimmed her nails, applied lotion to her parched skin, scrubbed her dentures, and made arrangements for her to receive a complete “wheelchair  shower.”  I went through her closet and dresser drawers and organized her belongings.

The aides transferred her to a wheelchair and I wheeled her outside, to enjoy the sunshine, flowers, and birds.  I thought she would enjoy this but, now bed-ridden, her world had collapsed and narrowed, until she could focus on only one thing:  her bed.  She begged me to wheel her back to her room.

Of course, I did.  Together, we looked through the photograph album that my sister had created for her, for Mother’s Day.  We viewed and rehearsed the names of each of her children and grandchildren. In spite of Alzheimer’s, she recognized everyone.

On Sunday morning, Father’s Day, in my father’s home, my husband prepared breakfast for all of us.  Our family of four packed up and drove north to return home.  The nursing facility was also to the north so we dropped by to say “Goodbye” to my mother.  Nothing had changed about my mother’s condition on that day.  In fact, she seemed amazing alert and, ironically, witty.

When I pressed the “Call Button” beside her bed, to ring for the nurse, my mother asked, “What are you doing?”  I replied, “I am calling to summon the nurse.”  My mother snorted in derision, “Hmmph!  You will be waiting a long time for that!”

The weather was very warm and I was dressed in a linen dress.  My mother startled me by saying, “Turn around!”  I complied.  She said, “Well!  My mother would never have allowed me to go outside wearing a dress as wrinkled as yours!”   I teased her by retorting, “Well, that’s rich, coming from someone who has not ironed anything in the past three or four decades.”  [She thought that “Perma-Press” was the best invention ever.]

It was time to leave but I lingered and adjusted her bed.  None of the positions seemed comfortable to my mother so we went through all the positions again.  Finally, she seemed content and I left her room.

As my family headed north toward home, I began to sob, wondering if I would ever see my mother again.  I considered asking my husband to turn the car around, head back to the nursing facility, and leave me and my luggage there.  There, I would stay with my mother, supervise all of her needs, be an “elder-care/health-care bulldog,” [as my son refers to me], and become the worst nightmare of the nursing staff.

I continued sobbing and my family consoled me.  We continued driving home to Tallahassee.

The next evening, exactly six years ago, the telephone call came from my sister,  to tell me that my mother had died just one hour ago, only one day before her 59th wedding anniversary.  It seems trite to say that nothing can prepare you for this news.  I doubled over in physical pain.  My husband, son, and daughter, gathered around me and tried to console me.

The first sorrow may be the death of your mother but the second sorrow is knowing that she died alone.  I missed being with her when she breathed her last.  I missed it by one day.  I wanted to be there — I should have been there — to comfort her.  Now, I weep at the thought of my once-beautiful mother, not properly cared for in that “netherworld,” instead of in her own home, surrounded by her family.

This knowledge haunted me then and it continues to haunt me now.

It is a double sorrow.  It is grief multiplied.

Coram Deo,


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