28 November 2009

Quail In Aspic

After all that turkey and dressing, I thought you might like some Quail In Aspic. The legendary Cecil Beaton was given rare access to Count Charles Korsetz. After much prodding, Count Korsetz allowed Beaton to tape record the story of his life. According to Beaton, the Count had never written anything, "beyond his signature on checks."

The Count discusses his life at university:

Bedecked for Oxford
"My father sent one of his rare communications, a tophole piece of advice. I must admit. :"The big nobs won't pay you much attention at first, but it's no use throwing your money around too soon. Just wait until they come to you.""

The manly equestrian arts:

The Count apre polo
"An assiduous rider was count Larisch. His presence could not have been to display his powers of horsemanship for, unlike most Austrians, he was one of the worst damn exponents of the art I ever saw... The only time I saw him hunting with the Beaufort he fell off at the very first fence and appeared no more at day."

His later years:

An older Count
"...many of our old friends had developed what they call 'a social conscience.'... Apart from addressing a few polite words to gardeners, trainers, jockeys, gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and peasants this was my first contact with the 'lower-orders'."
The Count's honesty was unsettling to some. Some however, realized that they had never actually hobnobbed with Count Korsetz. And some thought he bore a striking resemblance to Cecil Beaton's friend, Elsa Maxwell.

Ah, that Cecil Beaton, what a cut-up! Enjoy.

25 November 2009

Etiquette Wednesday -- Elsa Maxwell

Since it is the day before Thanksgiving and also Wednesday, we thought we would provide you with etiquette and entertaining as you approach the holiday. Actually, it might be more “entertainment” than entertaining. If you are facing a family fiasco or “your” friends are bringing “their” friends, just close your eyes and think, “What would Elsa Maxwell be doing…”

Simon Doonan wrote of Elsa Maxwell:
"Even if you took Martha Stewart, Julia Child, Two Fat Ladies, Regine, Suzanne Bartsch, Nigella Lawson, Diane Brill, Carmen D’Allessio, Pat Buckley, Amy Sacco, and Phyllis Diller and threw them all into a gigantic blender, you would still fall short of producing anyone as compelling and scrumptious as the late, great, über-hostess Elsa Maxwell."

While Miss Maxwell is no longer with us, she has left us with the blueprint in How To Do It.

Here is a typical seating arrangement at one of Miss Maxwell's parties.

It seems Stavros Niarchos wasn't invited to the above party, but he did make it to her Tiara Ball.

Here are just a few party pointers from Miss Maxwell that I have translated for Thanksgiving:

Avoid people with causes to boost or grievances to air.

(Since it’s Thanksgiving and you are probably having the family in, rest assured there are grievances and at least one PETA pushing adolescent. Sorry)

Avoid the very shy, uncertain, introverted types.

(Seat them at the kids table.)

I always make it a point, for instance, even in a predominantly eggheaded group, to have a smattering of beautiful women regardless of whether they are dumbbells or not (and
most beautiful women are not very bright.)

(Remember, Elsa Maxwell tipped the scale at about 300 pounds, so she might be bitter, still when you tell this story and your brother’s girlfriend asks, “Who is Elsa Maxwell? “, feel free to move them to the kids table.)

As for the limits of age, there are none.

(Bravo Elsa. Feel free to move two young folk from the kids table to the big table. Pick the boy who laughed when the girlfriend asked “Who’s Elsa” and the overweight niece who can program your Blackberry.)

Miss Maxwell called on some of her friends to provide the recipe selections in How to Do It. The ever-emaciated Mrs. T. Reed Vreeland (Deeeahhna to her friends) actually stole this recipe from Elsie de Wolfe.

Consomme Vért-Pré

Make a very good rich bouillon. Add enough spinach to color it green, and just before serving add finely chopped fines herbes. Serve hot or cold.

(This is the perfect dish for PETA lovers and super-models. In a pinch, add one vegetable bouillon cube to a quart of hot water. When it is dissolved, add 1 oz. of green food coloring. Voilà, Consomme Vért-Pré. Don’t worry what people think. You know in your heart the model will dump your brother before Christmas.)

Now get out there and entertain!

24 November 2009

Honest Scrap

Wow. Thanks, again, to little augury for thinking of us (and reading us.) The rules for this award are:
share 10 random facts about yourself and tap seven fellow bloggers in return.

About me...


I am addicted to Tab.


My IQ is 175; ironically, my income is $175.


I have a collection of stuffed Tiggers. Many of them bounce.


I once waited at a stage door to meet Vanessa Redgrave. She is remarkably tall and was very gracious.


I am the seventh “Lucinda” in my family going back to the Civil War.


The only Olympic sport I watch is fencing.


I don’t always wear underwear, but I ALWAYS carry a “hankie”.


In 6th grade, my favorite author was Andre Malraux. (Today, all my friends tell me that if they had gone to school with me as a child, I would have spent most of my time stuffed in a locker.) Later in life I found out Malraux was a bit of a sexist and I was bummed.


My favorite fashion designer of all time is Elsa Schiaparellii. My mother had an old bottle of ”Shocking” with the perfume long evaporated. My mother was always dressed to the nines. On most days I am dressed to the twos.


I am left-handed and dyslexic, therefore I spell like a demented and drunken Elizabethan typesetter. Those squiggly “PASSWORD” letters on comment pages are a disaster.


1.Left handed people are more likely to be on the extreme ends of the intelligence scale. Left-handed people have a higher portions of mentally retardation and they also have a tendency to have high IQ's. Left-handed people who have higher I.Q.s tend to have an I.Q. of over 140. (See #3)

2. Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers. (See # 3 again)

3. 4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed. I was not one of them. (See # 3 one more time.)

4. Left-handers excel at fencing. (See # 6)

I love food, the South, books, tunes and design, so here are a list of bloggers I love in no particular order; it was enough to be nominated.

Deep Fried Kudzu I lived for years in Alabama. Who knew there was such cool stuff there.
i suwannee Another Southern girl with high style.
Frognall Dibdin's Shelves: A Book Blog. Fine old books and a witty host.
Brilliant Asylum. Definitally brilliant.
Biscuits and Such. Food, food, food. Oh yeah and she's Southern.
ali mode. They have been busy lately, but we are hoping this will spur them along.
Late Greats. They always have great tune ideas.

23 November 2009

Hunting Season

Today is the beginning of deer hunting season in West Virginia. Hunting is a polarizing issue.

One of the most vivid memories I have of being with my father was hunting with him. I was four-years-old and he got me up before dawn and we went off in search of pheasant. It was bitterly cold and the sun was blinding. The stood me in front of his body and aligned my shoulder to touch his thigh and braced my body. I had watched him enough to know how I was supposed to hold the gun, and being left-handed, mirrored his position. He checked everything with the gun and with me and told me I could fire when ready. Of course I fired immediately, because what I wanted to do, more than shoot an actual bird was to just shoot the gun. I bagged no pheasant that day, but I will never forget those moments with my father.

Last year a young man that worked for me off and on told me he was going turkey hunting. His cousin was going lend him a rifle so he could hunt. He wanted to shoot three turkeys, so he could give one to each of the mothers of his children and have his own Christmas dinner. He was hunting to put food on the table.
I don't believe that the NRA, with its lobbyist in Armani suits, speaks for my handyman, or for me. In Washington, D. C., a city with the strictest gun laws in the nation, barley a week passed that I didn't hear the fire of an automatic weapon. The people firing them were not looking to put food on the table.

In her introduction to Women on Hunting, Pam Houston wrote:
"To hunt an animal successfully you must think like an animal, move like an animal, climb to the top of the mountain just to go down the other side, and always be watching, and waiting, and watching. To hunt well is to be at once the pursuer and the object of the pursuit. The process is circular, and female somehow, like giving birth, or dancing. A hunt, at its best, ought to look from the air like a carefully choreographed ballet."

You don't have to go with me... but I thought I would share with you some of my favorite actresses and a former First Lady "packing" along with a lovely song from Hem...

20 November 2009

Osbert Lancaster and Drayneflete Revealed

Osbert Lancaster was a cartoonist. That is kind of like saying Mrs. Beeton was a cook. Lancaster is best known for his work as a cartoonist, but he was also a student of architecture, a set designer, a bon vivant and wicked wit.

A large exhibition of his work, was organized in 2008 to commemorate the centennial of his birth, resulted in a biography/monograph, Cartoons and Coronets: The Genius of Osbert Lancaster.

He combines his love of architecture, his art and his wit in my favorite of works, Drayneflete Revealed,

a parody of the architectural development of an imaginary English hamlet. The endpapers feature a current map of the village attributed to the students of the Drayneflete School of Arts and Crafts,

no doubt a reflection of his memories of the Slade School. The rather elaborate joke moves from the early bronze age, to present day.

"There was a temple of Castor and Pollux occupying the site of the present Parish Church ... another temple standing on ground now covered by the offices of the Drayneflete and district Electric Light Co., that was probably dedicated to the worship if Venus suburbia, the Suburban Aphrodite, a cult very popular in Roman Britain. In the center of the market square there stood a gigantic statue of an Emperor, of which the head ( now in the Museum) was discovered by a Mr. Brickworthy in 1885, when clearing out an old cesspool in the Vicarage garden."

Gigantic head of an Emperor (Claudius? Caligula? Nero? Trajan? Vespasian?)

Drayneflete suffered considerably during the Medieval era:
"Gone is the exquisite old Custard Cross where the market price of custards (or costards) was regularly fixed by the masters of the Custard Makers' Guild....gone is the beautiful old Moot Hall, wantonly destroyed... to make way for the a heavy and ill-proportioned building in the Renaissance style, gone the fine fourteenth-century hall of the Worshipful Company of Drumstretchers. "

After the bombing in 1944 one shard of the medieval masonry remained standing. In my favorite cartoon we find a before and after illustration of a fifteenth-century wall-painting of St. George. The first panel purports to be the painting at its' discovery and the second, after a careful cleaning by a professor Isolde.

For anyone who has ever been appalled at a poor restoration, this image should leave you laughing.

19 November 2009

The Young Visiters

Blogging is very fascinating to me. I follow about 20 blogs and I am always pleasantly surprised when they post about an item that is on my mind or on my bookshelf. For several week now, I have had my copy of Daisy Ashford's The Young Visiters on my desk. This week, The Persephone Post, posted about Ashford's book. It was one of the books they had wanted to re-publish, but a reprint already existed. Daisy Ashford wrote this novel in pencil when she was nine-years-old.

Young Daisy loved to talk to adults and read Victorian novels and both are evident in her slim novel. In 1952, an edition was published with an introduction by J. M. Barrie and the drawings of William Pène du Bois.

Pène du Bois was born in Nutley, New Jersey. At eight his family moved to France, only to return to Nutley when he was fourteen. At nineteen, he sold his first book, The Great Geppy. He abandoned college to continue his career as a writer and illustrator. Thought of as a children's writer, his books are wildly imaginative. The Great Geppy is a striped horse -- NOT a zebra, but a striped horse who solves crimes at a circus. My favorite, Squirrel Hotel, is about a squirrel hotel, elaborately appointed with doll furniture, electric lights and a circular staircase. When the builder disappears, a reporter looks for him by tracing his purchases for the hotel, including 48 four-poster canopied doll beds.

In 2003, a quirky adaptation of The Young Visiters was filmed starring Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy. It is well worth adding to your Netfilix queue.

18 November 2009

Wednesday Etiquette

Today's etiquette tip goes out to you men who are in the market for seducing women. Now I am the first to admit that Quentin Crisp might not be the first name to come to mind when thinking of seduction (well the seduction of women), but his advice is spot on:

However feeble the excuse that may be given for saying 'no', a gentleman always accepts it. If a woman says, "I can't invite you in, the place is too untidy,' he does not say, "Oh I love untidiness,' because he ought to know damn well what she means. A gentleman doesn't pounce ... he glides.

If a woman sits on a piece of furniture which permits your sitting beside her, you are free to regard this as an invitation, though not an unequivocal one. If she sits in a chair, you are not really free to sit on the arm; the words, 'Surely you would be more comfortable over there,' mean "go away,' although whether they mean go away for ever or only go away for the time being you will have to work out later.

The Pounce is desperate; The Glide is calm. The Pounce is clumsy with frustration; The Glide is airborne with sangfroid.

Remember, "No" means "No." Now get out there and brush up on your sangfroid.

17 November 2009

The Old Barber Shop

With considerable help from the many residents of Shirley, we have been sprucing up downtown. For those of you who have never ventured to downtown Shirley, WV, here are some highlights. This building used to house the barber shop. It is now empty. I rent the double red doors to a neighbor to park his tractor.

We have had a few complaints that the red is simply too bright. We disagree!

16 November 2009


I know most of you follow An Aesthete's Lament, religiously. One of my favorite features is, "Why Aren't These Still Made? Well, I saw this design and thought, why wasn't this ever made?

The (badly reproduced) design is from the endpapers of The Gun Club Cookbook, featured earlier this month on Cookbook Of The Day. I just think these endpapers with their bright yellow background and crossed guns over a salt shaker would make a terrific wallpaper.

Though such a thing might have been unthinkable in the days of Elsie de Wolfe, today anyone, including me, can be their own wallpaper designer. In Canada, a company named Rollout Custom Wallpaper will produce wallpaper from your design.

I wonder if the The Gun Club Drink Book has crossed guns over a martini glass?

10 November 2009

HOUSECLEANING at Lucindaville

First, here is a...
big kiss

to everybody who reads our blog. We love you! Next, we want to give a really big kiss and shout out to:

who has been our number one publicist, linking to our site on numerous occasions.

Here's to the "Good Life."


We get some great comments on our site, but I am never really sure that people see them. I know sometimes I comment and rarely think to look back at them, so here are some you might have missed.

Barbara shared this story about Jane Goodall as a child after reading our post on Eggs:

I once heard Jane Goodall tell a story. When she was 4 she was fascinated by how an egg could come out of a chicken, since there were no obvious holes big enough. She sneaked into the hen house and spent a whole afternoon waiting to observe. During that time her family thought she was missing and were panicking they way you would if your 4 year old had disappeared. At the end of her vigil she did indeed watch a chicken lay an egg, upon which she stepped out of the hen house with wonder on her face. Her poor panicked mother saw her come out and instead of yelling at her, she pulled her gently on her lap and said "Tell me what you've seen," because she could tell from Jane's expression that she'd had a profound experience. What a great mother she had.

After reading my post on Oliverio’s Cash & Carry, an anonymous reader reminded me that the "souls" of shoes are "soles" but with Christian Louboutin shoes, one might actually argue that they are the "soul" of his soles!

Please continue to correct my spelling. Being both left-handed and dyslexic, I spell very much like a drunk and disorderly Elizabethan typesetter, and frankly the "spell check" on blogger sucks!

Anne tried my Sweet Potato Cake with Golden Mixed Berries and said: It IS luscious...addictive. And versatile; you can use whatever dried fruits you have on hand. The fact that it ages well is immaterial because it won't last that long@

I made one this weekend and in the hubbub of the kitchen, I left out the baking powder. The cake looked a bit like a floor tile. It still tasted quite good, though.

Keep those comments coming...


I love living in the country, but there are inherent problems, especially where communication is concerned.

In the past two weeks my phone has been out for 5 days.

My electricity has gone off 4 days right in the middle of the day...

which in turn means my computer has been off in addition to the cloudy days where I suffer from satellite outages.

THEREFORE: We are often posting late and in clumps so we can get everything on. Do forgive us...

If you could see my house today, you would say, "She never wasted a moment" ... so I am off to clean.

09 November 2009

Garden People

The above picture of Rhoda, Lady Birley, is a favorite of bloggers, as is Lady Birley, who is the perfect English eccentric, making lobster and feeding it to her garden.

What many people may not know is the name of the photographer who snapped this image -- Valerie Finnis. Finnis could also fall into the category of English eccentric, all the more reason to love her work.

In the rarefied world of “garden photographers”, Valerie Finnis is the exception to the rule. Most photographs feature the sprawling landscape, the individual plant, the over-styled architecture, but Finnis knew in her heart what made a garden – the gardener. Valerie Finnis never liked to take a garden photograph that was devoid of the gardener; one simply couldn’t capture the essence of the garden without them. Because of this, we have great images featuring many famous names in unlikely poses. Ursula Buchan assembled a wonderful collection of Finnis' photographs into a book: Garden People: The Photographs of Valerie Finnis.

And a glorious book it is; beautifully bound and small enough to hold and fondle without breaking either your arms or the binding. The cover features the inimitably Nancy Lancaster, watering away. My particular favorite is this photo of Anna Griffith, an expert in alpine plants.

First, I aspire to that exact greenhouse. Secondly, I want to look like that when I’m 80 or 60 or now! Many of the women who grace the pages of this book are out gardening in dresses. The one time this year I went into my garden in shorts, I turned the tiller over and burned my leg and I still have the rather nasty scar, so perhaps I will stick to long trousers. Though women weren’t the ones out there in dresses…

George Sherriff’s mama should have told him watch out when he was gardening in his skirt. (I know it’s a “kilt” and needless to say those Scots are right up there where eccentricities are concerned.) Here are Patricia Neal and her daughter Tessa Dahl in their garden. One a crisp winter day, Finnis had snapped Roald Dahl with their other children. She noted the difference in the garden from season to season and also noted that Neal’s hat exactly matched the tulips.

If you don’t have a copy of this little gem, do put it on your Christmas wish list.

05 November 2009

Garden & Gun

Just got this e-mail from Garden & Gun:

Dear G&G Friends, Fans, Subscribers, and Club Members,

I don’t have to tell you that this has been a tough year for magazines and media companies. We have seen some great ones go down, including Gourmet and Southern Accents, among others. But we have built something special at Garden & Gun, and we’ve been determined to weather this financial storm by being nimble, creative, and aggressive in securing our future, and in continuing to deliver this great publication.

To help shore up our business for 2010 and beyond, we recently made the difficult decision to skip our October/November issue. This was a painful thing for the G&G team, and we hate to disappoint you, our loyal subscribers. However, please rest assured that you will receive the full number of copies you ordered when you subscribed or joined one of our club levels. (We will handle that for you, so no need to call our customer service.) And know this: We will never compromise on the quality of the writing, the photography, or the beautiful paper that Garden & Gun is printed on.

The next issue you receive will be a December 2009/January 2010 issue (above, right) that will be mailed to subscribers in late November (and that will appear on newsstands December 8). It’s an issue we’re very proud of, and it will be loaded with great writing, great photography, and timely content, including a special Southern holiday gift guide. In 2010, you (subscribers and club members) will receive a full run of six issues. And if you have joined the Garden & Gun Club at any level, you will receive all of the benefits and privileges for which you signed up.

We hope you understand the necessary steps we’ve taken to move into 2010 in a strong position, and we trust you’ll stay with us as we strive to capture the Soul of the New South in print, on the Web, and through an expanding array of auctions and events. Thank you for believing in the mission of Garden & Gun, and for your commitment to preserving the best of Southern culture.

Rebecca Wesson Darwin
President and Publisher

I can't lose another magazine! I'm taking it personally.

Remember Remember

Today is Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night. I do love a holiday that allows for multiple celebrating in a single day.

Here's a synopsis. Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, was in charge of handling the explosives for the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, an attempt to assassinate King James I. It failed memorably. On 5 November 1605, the day the plot was discovered, Londoners were encouraged to light bonfires to celebrate the failed plot. The holiday took on a vaguely halloweenish bent as children donned Guy Fawkes masks and begged for pennies.

Like everything else out there, you can read all about it if you are interested. James Sharpe wrote an informative and fun book, Remember Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day.

Paul Melancon has a wonderful song for the event, which is featured on his disk, Slumberland. Give it a listen:

Guy Fawkes Day

04 November 2009

Take Me To The Water

I have a profound love of "B" things: baking, Jane Bowles, books, Balenciaga, bees, Cecil Beaton, Bunnys (both Mellon and Williams) and baptism. Growing up in the South, people often wear their religion on their sleeves, and being surrounded by it on a constant level tends to leave you either repulsed or fascinated. I have a profound fascination. I love street preachers, snake handlers, prophetic painters, church architecture, and baptism.

As a child, my family lived in a series of houses beside a lake. My great-uncle Knox, named for the theologian John Knox, would often allow the small country churches in the area to bring their congregations to the lake to preform immersion baptisms. I would stand in the window of my house and watch as preacher and congregants waded into the water and were pushed below the surface to be born again. I regret that I have no photographs of those baptisms.

If you read my blogs you may also realize that I love music. Recently, Dust-to -Digital produced a book/CD that was made for me. Take Me To The Water features a collection of immersion baptism photographs from the collection of Jim Linderman and a CD of rare folk and gospel recordings from 1924-1940, recorded from original 78 rpm records. Dust-to Digital is the recording label from the rabidly tenacious and encyclopedic mind of Lance Ledbetter.

Ledbetter spent 5 years searching for old gospel recordings before compiling his first collection, Goodbye Babylon, a six-CD set that became a must have for anyone interested in religion, early music or Southern heritage. The CD were packed in a wooden crate complete with a 200-page book and bit of raw cotton.

No only is Dust-to-Digital concerned with the preservation of music that may soon be lost to us, but their sense of design is impeccable. While the old-fashioned music of the Deep South might not be to your liking, check out the offering of Dust-to-Digital for their sheer brilliance of design.

If you want to feel a bit washed in the blood, listen to Reverend Nathan Smith's Burning Bush Sunday School Pupils sing Baptism At Burning Bush.

And please, please, purchase something, anything from the Dust-to-Digital. This is one small business that makes the world a better place. Since the holiday season is approaching, might I recommend Where Will You Be Christmas Day?
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