Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Words to the wise come by the roomful at home

No one knows when the habit of hanging sayings around the house first started. Let's just say it has been a personal trait of mine for many years and in several houses.

Inasmuch as you can't come to the house and read for yourself, the idea came to me - while hanging two gems today, of course - to share some of the sage advice with my faithful readers.

Overnight guests may not find the perfect snack in the refrigerator during a restless night, but there is no lack of reading material in every room, and there is no need to open a book. Just read the walls and tables and give them some thought.

That's what I do. This description may paint a vision of a messy house with a loony housekeeper, but I enjoy reading and absorbing the meaningful verses. I have no explanation for this lifetime attraction.

Several pieces were removed and stored to obey the "scale down" rule if you want to sell your house, but now they are back.

I still live here, and I like my stuff. And there is always Oscar Wilde's saying, "Life is too important to take seriously."

As I write this, I can easily read a 1732 Benjamin Franklin quote that is within arm's reach. It was framed for wall hanging in the 1970s when I was reviewing restaurants. It reads, "If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."

Taped to the desk is a saying - author unknown - that offers good advice for busy people: "I'm taking care of two things today and at least one of them is myself."

The quote that I put on the guest bedroom wall today (mostly because the turquoise frame matches the room) is by Henry VanDyke. "Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang, except those that sang best."

An Erin Scofield quote brought home from a wedding is a romantic guideline: "You cannot really love someone who never makes you laugh."

Most of the time I believe the words that hang in the upstairs hallway, but then there are occasional experiences that provoke disbelief like "All the love you give away returns to fill your heart each day."

The upstairs bathroom is large enough to accommodate three of my favorite verses. "To be what we are and to become what we are capable of becoming is the only end of life." That's a R.C. Stevenson quote I cut from a greeting card. Also from a card, "When we follow our dreams, we discover the magic that is within ourselves."

The inscription on a small satin pillow is lovely to read and to vicariously admire the gifted author, Maya Angelou, who created it. "The woman who challenges herself to invent herself daily displays sublime creativity."

A creed of the Shaker community at Pleasant Hill, Ky., is an inspirational reading that always encourages me to return some day to visit the well-preserved buildings, to stay overnight in one of the dormitories, and certainly to eat Shaker-style food.

The writings reflect the Shakers' fetish for cleanliness.

"Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.

"If you improve in one talent, God will give you more.

"Clean your room well, for good spirits will not live where there is dirt.

"There is no dirt in heaven."

Two well-known sayings are attributed to famous authors. "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it" - Goethe. But it's Thoreau's advice that keeps me traveling to distant places: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."

Do I have favorites from the large collection?

Three come close. A Gaelic verse, brought home from Ireland, just makes me happy.

"Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never loved before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though Heaven is on earth."

Then there's the sage advice about dieting. I don't know who said it, but it makes sense to me. "The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. "

One more. It's the saying that touches my heart and tells me I am blessed. It is "Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog." That I have done and returned the love manyfold.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com.

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