Here’s Bunny, wishing for an end to the interruption of his nap in the grain sacks.
Here’s Bunny, wishing for an end to the interruption of his nap in the grain sacks.
There are so many tasks calling out to me on a day like today. Income taxes (so much
pleasanter to do my usual extending till October). Cleaning the house (ho hum). Errands
(on a Saturday? When everyone and their brother is out there?). Instead, I decide to
clean unnecessary photos out of my Picasa. Of course, that leads to this : a discovery
of pictures that are almost silhouettes. Almost.
This vane seemed worth a full photo
These brawling cats were found on a fence in Pennsylvania
From my collection of French Christmas pageant wings….
Should I look for something productive to do? Maybe I better go to the movies.
This morning we only have about 7 inches of new snow. In all directions around us, though,
the fresh fall is measured in feet. So we are not going on the road on this Saturday, a day
when we would usually expect to be filling our truck and trailer with good stuff.
Instead, I found some old photos that seemed too cute to pass up. Above is Ken (on
the right) at camp with some fraternity brothers. He found some spectacles on a trail,
knocked out the glass and wore them for the weekend.
Here he is again ( bottom right) after football practice. It was his big smile and apparent
sense of humor that made me tell my friend “I am going to marry him!” even before I had
met him. He was and is too cute to pass up.
—-This morning I went on and on about how I would spend my time today, a
snowbound free spirit with a whole lotta nothin’ to do. (Read all about it in the blog
below, but only if you’ve nothing better to do, please!)
—-Clearly, though, I forgot who am. I had barely turned off the computer before I
was remembering the important things of life : my business, my customers, my
sources. And then I got to thinking about why I would let a little snow keep me away
from the bank where I had business more pressing than the visions of fireplaces, lap
cats and pots of soup that danced in my head. I needed to go to the bank. I needed a
money transfer sent to Europe. It really couldn’t wait. Not while I lured cats, who
would know I was up to no good, out of hiding. Not while I made soup. Soup? Who
am I kidding with that one?
—-So off I went, out into a beautiful white world. Really, the pleasure was all mine as,
alone on the road, I drove past woods full of those tall dark trees covered in snowball-like
blobs and pines edged in white. I was glad that I was taking care of a picker who has taken
care of me. It was the right thing to do.
—-One thing I didn’t do was try my cool vintage sweater-clad windshield scraper, a
favorite Christmas present that still seems too soft and pretty to use in such a way. Maybe
After a goofy green Christmas and a boring winter, I am finally getting some of the
snow that I have been not-so-patiently waiting for.
I have had to sit through email after email from customer-friends who really felt the
need to regale me with stories of lolling in chairs by a cozy fire with laps full of pets and
pots of soup on the stove, while foot after foot of snow piled up outside their doors. Even
my Texas friends were getting my snow!
I won’t even go into the charming stories from my pickers in Europe, whose unusually
snowy landscape has prevented all manner of commerce this winter.
Ken just called from our little post office, just two miles from our house, saying that I
should not venture forth onto the treacherous country roads today. So my dream has come
true; I am snowbound ! But before I started to make a fire or soup or gather the cats to try
to make them sit on my lap, I decided to get out my camera to prove to the world (or at
least to anyone so bored as to be reading this missive) that now, I too, am one of the lucky
As I look out into my snow-covered world, I spot my tree, a black locust, rumored to be
the oldest in the county. It is in my side yard. However, where I stand to look at out my tree
was once, in the1700′s, the front door of the house.
In those early days, when people were, in many ways, smarter or at least more in tune
with nature, a black locust was planted at the front door of a farmhouse. They are lightning
conductors and divert dangerous strikes away from the house, through the tree and down
into the ground. My tree is full of deep crevices in its bark and splits in its trunk from so
many years of standing on guard. These trees don’t die, they petrify but go on.
I am always grateful for my tree’s flowers, the shade and the protection. It feels just like
an old friend to me.
Ever been to Montour Falls ? It is just below Seneca Lake, one of New York
State’s beautiful Finger Lakes. We used to go there a lot to see a picker who always
had antiques and wing chairs for me to upholster with grain sacks. The first time
we went, this is what we saw…..
Right at the end of Main Street, a stupendous water fall that sure did look like it
was falling right into this house.
A sneak peek around the side of the house revealed a wide, fast moving river
at the base of the falls. For Ken and me, who were only visitors, the sound of
the rushing water was appealing. Although I don’t know how I would feel if I
lived in that house and could never turn the water off.
In 1990, when we moved to this rural farmhouse, I had great plans for my property. I wanted steps going down the hill and through the woods to my stream, where there would be a lovely rustic terrace for lolling in a hammock, dangling hot feet in the cold, clear water, sharing simple meals with laughing friends. There would be charming paths through the meadow out to the big rocks that border our back woods. A guest house in the pig barn. A workshop and studio in the horse barn. A large pond. Oh, and landscaping, the old fashioned country kind.
In the 1970s, this was still a working farm. There was no electricity, no plumbing (although there was a very fancy three-hole indoor outhouse) and no central heat. When the last member of the original family died, there were 27 rooms… many flapping in the breeze, over 200 acres, 20 barns and outbuildings and almost half of the more than 7,000 sq. ft. inside the house was piled from floor to ceiling with stored family antiques.
When we got it, the place was a disaster and nothing worked. The house, which had been empty for a few years was full of bees, flies, red squirrels, carpenter insects of all kinds. There was not one nice room or even a corner that was ready to use.
On the other hand, there were large, low-ceilinged rooms and lots of them! Three staircases! Eight working fireplaces!Exposed beams! Wide plank floors. The people who had inherited the property had taken a shot at fixing it up but had, understandably, thrown in the towel. But, they had put in 5 bathrooms! Heat! A laundry room! Not a bad start.
In the 6 months before we moved in, the floors were refinished, a new kitchen was hand built by a local master carpenter-violin maker who also built a library in one room and new fireplace surrounds. Over the years, we have moved walls, relocated the entrance to a staircase, replaced all of the porches, ceilings and bathroom fixtures, added a second library, rebuilt the dining room and included a wall of (yet more) bookcases and glass doors for collections, relocated squirrels, bats, bees. Every room needed something or everything… and we’re still not done.
So, back to the great plans for the property! In keeping with the most noticeable section of the house, we built a Greek Revival well house. It does shelter one of our wells, but its main function is wall space for the 8 foot diam. antique clock face that our 7′ 6″ ceilings would not accommodate. Ken lugged the stones from a nearby farm to build wonderful low walls around a court yard. Dozens of large trees were planted. A blue stone front walk replaced the dirt path to the front door. A new fence, and then another when carpenter ants took up residence in the first.
As I write this, even with the many things I’m sure I’ve forgotten that we’ve done, I know that we’ve done a lot.
But, the outside is still so unfinished. Even though I have a set of fabulous plans, drawn up by a professional who got that I wanted everything to be old fashioned and in keeping with a farm in the country, even though I still dream of paths through meadows, there are things that derail me. There are gnat-like bugs here almost year round which makes a stroll to the stream unthinkable. A thicket has taken over the meadow and, knowing how little shelter is left for our wildlife, the thicket will have to stay. The barns are chock full of our inventory of industrial stuff waiting for Ken’s loving touch. Ken’s lacrosse field is in the only area big enough for a pond. And, as for the landscaping, I go from one season to the next, putting it off because we’re never around to water it or we’re never around to supervise the planting or some other excuse. I admit that part of me just doesn’t relate to fixing up a yard. I’m good at the inside. The outside I don’t get.
No, I don’t have the flowers or shrubs or anything like that. But, I do have this.
And this other stuff.
And, for now, it is enough.
Remember that old John Denver song that went “sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy” ?
That is just what came to mind yesterday when we plunked this wonderful early sofa down in
our space in Hudson. The sun would have been right on my shoulder if I had had the time to sit.
Meanwhile, the sun on this stuff was in my eyes and just plain annoyed me, even after I
rolled down the awning outside.
It is always so interesting to me how much light affects our moods. I watched myself go
from pleased to pissed in under a minute. Sometimes, sunglasses are the only way to go.
What a day ! The snow I’ve been waiting for all winter AND I can insert photos in my
After months without either of these things that I love, I feel like
everything is just the way it is supposed to be !
Last week we went to meet one of the factory guys to pick up a load
of the industrial pieces that we love so much. As we pulled into the
lot near the old wooden building, where we had not been before, I
spotted what looked like a grain elevator. This was very exciting to
me as I have been intrigued by these edifices, even though their
invention, in part, spelled the beginning of the end for grain sacks
around the world. See the little building up on the roof ? That’s the
grain elevator !
Like an indoor silo, it stored the grain so that the farmer did not have
to. Inside was a riot of eye candy !
No paper ? No worries ! All plans, calculations and fine art could be
worked out right on the wall.
Mixed among the many treasures that day was a wonderful grain
sack filler/funnel to which a grain sack would be attached and loaded
with grain. Shown on the right in the photo below, my new
filler/funnel sports a great sack from my inventory. I already owned
the filler/funnel on the left. So I guess that means I have a collection!
What a good way to display lavender bags and pillows.
Sometimes, the unexpected pleasures are the best ones of all.