Three Out Of Five Ain’t Bad

Early last week, we went to see a picker in the Adirondacks

who had called us about a table with beefy legs and a work bench

that he thought we would like.  We took the long way (no highways

allowed!) which took us past so many old Greek Revivals, barns

and churches in various states of repair. We passed through

Saratoga and Lake George with no complaints. The picker’s house is

high on a hill in the woods. Here are five things we saw in the tall


The beefy table!

The workbench!

The snake!

Another workbench sitting on his truck!

A chops-licking kitty!  Where did that snake go?

We only brought home three of out the five things we saw.  While we

greatly admired the other two, it seemed best to let them stay behind

in their Adirondack home.

For Those Who See

 Amish people live in New York State.  Did you know that?

We drove by this field of Amish haystacks one day when an appointment with a picker left

us no time to stop.  Edged in wildflowers and with a fabulous view, not to mention the funky

haystacks, the field begged us to come back another day.

A few weeks later, we were back in that same area.  After a few wrong turns, there they

were, right where we left them, looking like wonky little cartoon characters marching in


I know that they have a purpose and that hard work is involved.  But, as I sit here today, it is

easy to think that these haystacks, that have compelled me to go out of my way, are placed

here for the pleasure of those of us who don’t just drive by,  but stop to really see.

Silhouettes (sort of) In The Snow

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.


Other things

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.

Where Ya Been So Long?

         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

snow-bound ones.

        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.

My Garden Of Metal and Stone

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.

And these.

And this other stuff.


And,  for now,  it is enough.

It’s Big

–We were wandering around some country roads in Vermont looking for interesting stuff

to buy.  A sign that proclaimed “Big Furniture Sale” caught our attention and we took the

required left-hand turn.

–Not knowing how old the sign was (the sale could have been three weeks ago ’cause who

takes signs down anymore?) and not knowing how old the furniture was (a herculon sofa?

a pressed-board dresser? a Philadelphia highboy?) was never an issue. The word on the sign

that made us act was “Big!”  It’s not that we don’t care for medium-sized things. We just

really love the large, the heavy, the outrageous. We mostly sell industrial furniture, the kind

of things that have to be loaded onto our truck with a fork lift. We’re always hoping for a 16′

table, a country store counter, an architectural wonder.

We followed the signs down a long driveway.  And then we saw it. It was big alright!  And it

was metal (another favorite). It was so wonderful that we thought that the man running the

sale would never be planning to part with such a treasure.  Amazingly, though, he would and

 did part with it….. this huge, fabulous nautical float, the float of all floats.