Dino Captured by David Ellis
Well…here we are well into 2013! December flew by! I slept off much of the time between December 24 & January 9th. Oh! There were well intended plans. You know the kind…learn another language, ride a bike to the Cape and back, get my eyes lifted…or was I thinking boobs lifted, have endless dinner parties with twelve courses and fifteen dear friends, see all the movies I have yet to see and, lastly, read that stack of books I promised myself to slog through during the summer. Can I tell you this…the bike tires are flat as are the boobs , the dinner parties never happened (don’t fret, you were not left out!), and as for the stack of books, it grew even taller with some irrational trips to Brookline Booksmith. I simply can’t be trusted with free time though I did love each and every minute.
I don’t believe I have fessed up to all of you that my little Dino packed up his knapsack with trail munch bars, an extra Patagonia jacket, his flash light, and off he went to live with Gracie and our neighbors Harvey and Nancy. The above photo was Dino at his best…fixed on the purple sofa waiting for Gracie, Harvey and Nancy to scoop him up for one of those four-mile hikes that pugs are not known to adore. Miss Rita Rose has me all to herself, though I did find her on pug rescue looking for a weekend date. The girl is shameless!
My House in Canandaigua...Still For Sale!
A piece of this past week’s time off took me on a road trip to my favorite part of upstate New York for a poke around in the antique stores. Found many delicious treasures. Pop by the store for a peek. Of course, I lusted after my little house I saw last September. Still on the market! Betcha anything the price is reduced! I saw the town with a foot of snow and the town folks hunkered down for winter. I saw it without leaves or green gardens and with ice on the edge of the lake and guess what…I still loved it! Imagine the dinner parties one could throw in that dining room. I would invite all of you…we would take over the town…each of you would move there with me and together we would read that stack of books and drink single malt scotch and we would tuck in for the grey winter and not surface until the days grew longer and the lilacs scented the air. Until then…come see me and Miss (single) Rita Rose at the store.
September's House in Canandaigua, New York
This little Victorian beauty has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a front and a back parlor, two fireplaces, and a divine kitchen with pantry the size of a Manhattan apartment. It features parquet floors, crown molding, and those delicious high ceilings the Victorians are famous for. September’s house was for sale! The asking price $225,000, which can barely buy you a parking space in Boston’s Back Bay. I wanted it for that summer retreat we all think we want. I wanted it for winter too, but I hear this part of Upstate gets mighty cold. Lust is such a wicked thing!
My friend John’s amazing New York apartment was the feature for last Sunday’s Style magazine in the New York Times. What did I tell you about LUST. John’s place is remarkable. It is tasty and understated and comfortable. It is John at his best!
Thank You Boston Home!
By now, one great huge yawn might be heard from those of you who have already seen this article in Boston Home’s fall issue. I want to tell you what a treat it was working with Rachel Levitt Slade, the editor, Jonathan Kozowyk, the brilliant photographer who made my little humble house look grand, and Alyssa Giacobbe who is such a fine writer and captured the essence of a house well loved. Thank you, Darlings all…for your time and your amazing talents. It was a joy to be included in this magazine!
Chairs On a Wall at Flora Grubb
Two weeks ago, I ventured off to my old stomping grounds…sunny California. San Francisco to be more exact. There was the Gift Show to attend and several dear friends to check up on and the need to see what the other Coast is up to. Our first stop was Flora Grubb. This, my dears, is a jaw-dropping experience. We just don’t have places like this in New England! There were palm trees galore and succulents and vibrant pink-air plants and odd bits of sharp leaves growing on moss and chairs on a barn-board wall. My heart could barely take it all in…there was no question that, after Flora Grubb, I would need a salted carmel ice cream cone from Bi-Rite. I mean, really, what better way to revive oneself than with a hit of salt and sweet!
Copper Rocks...Load Those Up Please!
Whenever I return to California, I wonder about life on the Snow (or lack thereof) Coast, and then I remember my little store and all those dear friends and my own little corner house that could sure use a copper rock or two. That is when I know more visits are in order out West. I do love this four-season world of New England…we could just use a bit more whimsey and an air plant or two!
Janette's Little Garden at Stinson Beach
My old friend Janette has a fine life, a lovely get-away at Stinson Beach, a superbly elegant flat in the city, which she shares with two dogs and a dear husband. Janette and I go back more years than I care to recall. We have shared divorces, births, deaths, wine, a wee business adventure, and endless pots of tea. She is English, which naturally makes her a dog lover and an exceptional gardner. I know, I know…not all English folks garden nor do they own dogs, but bear with me here, she does both quite nicely.
What I must tell you, in between all the waxing on and on about friends and California, is this…the show in San Francisco was terrific! I bought many unusual things for the store, including a remarkable Teak Spirit House from the late 20th century…which will reside in the store for years to come. Arriving soon will be a few antique items from an importer I rarely get to visit. Watch for the antique carved carp that may have held up the roof of a business in China many years ago. Oh! I had such fun!
Perfect Pink For an August Month!
That could be me up there in the front passenger seat. I might be wearing that little floral sundress with the nipped-in waist and the sweetheart bodice with the narrow little spaghetti straps that slide off my tender young shoulders. My hair might be piled high into one of those French twists. For certain, I will be on the road to somewhere completely outrageous. I will have my sleep-over clothes, my pancake makeup, and my dancing heels in a Sansonite piece in the backseat.
August is the month for such adventures while the Senate and the President check-mate one another, and the country waits and wonders where it will all end…if it ever does! The open road is my idea of August.
Now, were I to stay out of the Caddie entirely (note the rear bumper seems to be showing its age) and roost instead on that purple chaise lounge in the Florida room…which is most likely the case. I will be reading another endless stack of books…”Tunnel Vision” by Gary Braver and two books about the folks who attempted Donner Summit during a dreadful winter…”Impatient With Desire” and “Searching for Tamsen Donner” both by Gabrielle Burton. Seems to me August is the perfect time to read of a trek over the summit in a dreadful winter. Sadly, the Donner Party did not fare so well.
Years ago, in a mustard-colored Volvo wagon, we drove the Donner frequently. There were four of us…a bearded Republican husband (#2), two daughters, and one chocolate brown Burmese cat named Mugger. We would take this route to visit my parents in Sparks, Nevada. As the kids bickered in the back seat and the two adults (one with a beard and the other wearing the afore-mentioned sundress) bickered in the front seat over the Vietnam war and equal rights for women. The only happy traveler was Mugger who dozed in the “way-back” of the mustard-colored Volvo.
Stay safe and stay tuned…more adventures from the open road to follow!
Now you all must know that I am no cynic when it comes to love and life. And rarely do I go on about the makings of love but I spotted this hornets nest hanging in the Margaret C. Ferguson greenhouse on the Wellesley College campus and I thought…hmmm, could be some sort of symbol for this lovers’ day.
It is a complicated structure as most relationships tend to be, and it reminds me of two things. It reminds me of the time my second and last husband decided to take matters into his own hands. We had a doozie of a hornets nest hanging out under the dining room window. Now, one could easily have called in the hornet/bee authorities, and in minutes, the whole buzzing thing would have been removed.
But no, this was a job for the man of the house. There was much preparation for this caper complete with a can of hornets nest spray which had, as I recall, a very long reach. The secret of using the spray was well posted: “Get no closer than 24-inches. Spray directly into the entry hole. Move away from the nest rapidly.” The man of the house wore quite an outfit for the occasion. There was the Quaker lace tablecloth (a wedding present rarely used), which he draped over his bald head and down over his face and neck, tucking the random ten feet of the lace cloth under his coat. He wore a hat with a visor and a pair of gloves with gauntlet cuffs (all the better for those terribly mad and upset hornets to buzz into).
The three of us (young adoring wife and two beautiful adoring daughters) watched from inside the dining room window. It was a hot day, I remember that, and the husband was definitely over-dressed…but then you could think about the lace cloth and how there was some sort of ventilation. The hornets thought about that too. In all my years of marriage, I have never seen such a running about with hornets…who seem to move pretty fast. We were stunned and then fell into fits of laughter. Once the swelling went down on the husband’s assorted stings, he also laughed at the folly of it all.
The second thing this hornets nest reminds me of is my mother, who loved nothing more than stirring up a bit of trouble. She loved to say, “Gawd, Joanne, that (insert name of any one of her sisters) lives in a hornets nest. Or, you got yourself into a hornets nest.” Either way, a hornets nest was, to her, delicious trouble pure and simple!
The Big Switch-Over!
Well, darlings is there anything more sobering than poking about in the soon-to-be last year’s calendar? It is at this moment when I wonder if I sent a thank-you note for that lovely dinner back in May, and then I wonder did I even attend the lovely dinner?
I am reminded of old friends both in this world and the one beyond. I am compulsive about listing both birthdays and, sadly, death dates. I am reminded that a dear black dog named Boo died June 14th back in 2007, and for a lovely moment, I remember Boo and how she once, as a young puppy, tore through my freshly planted tomato garden turning up sod as she whipped around the tender “Early Girls.”
I see that in May I had the liver spots zapped on the backs of both hands. A non- insurance covered event where the room smelled of burning hair and burning money…but, oh what hands, worth every dime!
I look fondly at an obit I saved from the small print of the NY Times…a woman I never knew who died at 93 years of age and left behind her 98 year-old boyfriend, and I think…thank you, Jesus, there is hope for all of us! Not that I want the boyfriend of any age but that love was there for both of them.
I see lists of books I have yet to read and movies I must rent and words that delight me that I must one day use (if ever I can remember to). I see addresses without names attached and phone numbers also without names, but one has an underlined “URGENT” along its side. I believe I might save that number for the urgent events in one’s life!
Before the year is fully here, I want to tell all of you (all ten of you) who read this blog to have a healthy New Year filled with much laughter, good health, and an adventure or two. I will see you at the store or on the street or in my dreams in 2011!
Yep! It is that time of year again…where boxes arrive with goods I swear I don’t remember ordering. I wonder also if I might have been on drugs when I did the Gift Show at the Javits! So many decisions made last August, so much merchandise arriving this month, did I really order all of this in a totally sane state?! There is glitter from one end of the store to the other; product is screaming for position. I leave the store each night with armloads of empty boxes, and once the alarm is set and the door locked, those goods take on a mind of their own moving themselves into precious store space. The books, always a pushy lot, muscle the soaps out of the way, and I can’t even tell you what happens to the tubes of French hand-cream! Those wonderful French will have no part of taking a back row. What I am telling you is this…we have wonderful treasures in the store right now…drugs or no drugs this is the best season ever!
Now there is some chatter about shopping locally, which I know you all do, so maybe I am preaching to the choir here. There is a movement afoot for Small Business Saturday, and God knows the best stores ever are privately owned by small madly insane folks like yours truly. We are talking here about the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but any small business would love any old Saturday traffic…not just Saturday after Thanksgiving!
A Clever Book!
My dear friend Janette came for a wee visit from San Francisco a week or two back…she brought me this book that I hope to sell in the store. After all, where else can a girl of any age find such urgent information as “How to Ride an Ostrich,” found on page 135. Or “How to Make a Macrame Bikini,” page 187. Or “Eighteen Uses for a Spare Fishnet Stocking” on page 26. Or “How to Look Glamorous in a Sidecar” (something Rita Rose has already mastered) on page 241. Perhaps my all-time favorite is found on page 213…”How to Give Yourself a Brazilian Wax!” This is a must have on any bedside table (the book, not the Brazilian wax!).
Shoes that Could Tell a Story
Well…this is it! No more Rowley for the season. I can’t tell you how sad this makes me. I had such fun every Sunday morning covering those big tick-infested open fields. Guess it will be church for me on Sundays! These steppers were on a table of other delicious goods a month or so ago. They reminded me of how it felt to navigate in heels. It might have been my second marriage when I wore such heels. That was a while back…and with the heels, I wore a charming little handknit suit…a skirt and top sort of thing. The skirt would barely fit now as a cufflet on one thigh, and the top, as I recall, was deeply scooped…perfect to reveal the tiniest bit of cleveage. The headgear for such an outfit was a mantilla lace shawl dyed by my amazing, soon-to-be, mother-in-law in a cup of her hot black tea. It might still have been damp when I strutted down the isle of Christ Episcopal Church in Sausalito California in June so many years ago. What a day it was! The first marriage was a far more serious event…complete with white Chantilly lace gown, tea length with a million small covered buttons up the back, and the white pois de soie heels whose tips had traces of grass and slight bits of mud caught up from my parents front lawn, as I made my way to the waiting ’58 ivory colored Buick Royale. That was a day too, and one I wouldn’t want to repeat with or without the nice pointy-toed shoes!
Barn Wall of Shutters
What a journey! If you haven’t been to the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, it is time to plan a trip! Miles of hills and barns and fields of corn with the scattering of sunflowers in between. Folks committed to their land along Rt. 20 with farm stands…. most holding veggies fresh that day…and many stands with the tin Folgers coffee can, a bit dented, with a slit cut in the lid where you can deposit monies for goods taken. An honor system that only the rural merchant farmer believes in! I bought jam made from the flowers of Queen Anne’s Lace, which grows wild in the fields, and I bought Bread and Butter pickles, which reminded me of my own mother’s B&B pickles. (What I would give for a canning session with her once again!) Besides the buying, it was the experience of it all…chatting it up with the farmer and his wife, the pickle maker, and meeting the wife’s 84 year-old mother who sat roadside under a shade umbrella with nary a line on her wonderful face. For the truth of who we are as a country, you must go to the rural world, sit under the shade umbrella, eat a local peach whose juice drips down your elbow, and talk canning with an 84 year-old!
Inn on the Main
Times past, I have avoided a bed and breakfast stay like one might avoid the plague! This amazing place (photo does it no justice), owned by the innkeepers Jaynee and Guy Straw, opened a whole new world to me! Give me this bed and breakfast anytime! For starters the innkeepers were beyond delightful. The interior was lovely…my room (with a fire place), well…I could have moved right in-just me and two little pugs! Jaynee and Guy gave us directions for an evening meal at, of all places, a Mexican restaurant! This in the heart of Canandaigua, New York! I took them up on the challenge…after all, I am from the West. I know my Mexican food…last best Mexican meal was in Nevada, and I truly doubted it could have topped that! Before I go into overdrive on the evening meal at said restaurant, let me just say the breakfast served the morning of our departure was jaw dropping! Try homemade French toast with toasted macadamia nuts and New York maple syrup, perfect cups of coffee (my friend Diane tells me I like “party coffee”…I add heaps of half and half and sugar…bring on the party!) and on the plate lovely slices of fruit. Is it no wonder I could have moved in!
The Wall of Rio Tomatlan...About the Best Ever Mexican Restaurant!
This is it! I would happily drive there, right now, for dinner! I adore Mexican food and was over-the-moon with this place…in fact, I had lunch there the next day before heading East…yep, a Mexican lunch shortly after the French toast breakfast! Somehow I managed to find a little space for Queso Fundido (grilled mini tacos with melted Oaxaca cheese, fresh pico de gallo and a tomatillo chile de arbol sauce)!
Bounty from Roadtrip
Victorian Feather Basket in Shadowbox and Old Canvas
This whole adventure was taken to find more antiques for the store…I did find some real treasures though fewer items than I expected. They will all be in the store, yes! for sale, when we reopen on September 7th. I can’t wait to see you all again! Next adventure will be the Gift Show…more dining, big decisions on what to bring into the store next, late nights in New York City with fellow shop owners. Though I will love every minute of it, I can’t say I would rather be there than sitting under a shade umbrella with an 84 year-old jelly maker in upstate New York!
One Tiny Corner of the Underbelly!
All week I have been crawling around in the basement of my store. Thank God it is blissfully cool down there…getting a photo for this blog of the array of goodies is mighty difficult. I remember once standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon…this was years ago when a friend and I did a Thelma and Louise-type road trip…left the kids at home with our husbands and off we went in her white Peugot station wagon. Our husbands agreed to such nonsense…knowing if they didn’t, we would most likely go anyway. Well, that is another story, but the point is this: I am trying to give you a sense of the goodies in this basement! And I am finding that it is akin to that time I attempted a shot of the Grand Canyon with my Brownie Hawk Eye camera! What I am shamelessly attempting to do here is urge you all to hop on a plane if you live far away or come on your bike if you live close and partake of the wealth of my collecting! This basement is full of unnecessary and irresistible objects (trust me, I know…I bought them all!) that will be curbside out front of the store on Friday July 30th for the summer sale. Lots and lots of good stuff from the store shelves and a great sampling of the props from the basement. I need a good purge before Fall rolls in!
Don’t forget…we will be closed for all of August. I will be going on a few adventures in western New York State seeking more antiques for the store and will post from the road! Happy late summer and don’t forget to wear your sunblock!
The Magic Above My Store!
Nine years ago, when I thought about opening a store, I met my future and present landlords. I met also the magic of men who love trains…these “boys” are dedicated, let me assure you of that! They have the whole of the second floor of the building that houses 6 Birch…I understand it is some four thousand square feet up there (my store is a tiny little 450 sq. ft.). Well, on that second floor are miles (or so it seems) of model train tracks…all constructed on waist-high tables. You can stare into villages created with minature people and town squares and trees all hand-made by the train men. There is a swimming scene with folks on teeny tiny beach chairs, and I believe a nude diver about to take a plunge off the tressel into the water below. The cars in the town squares appear vintage and are no bigger than a man’s thumb! There are hills and train smoke and sounds of the passing engines as they move through the mountain tunnels. I can tell you it is pure fantasy….open to the public twice a year. If you are in the neighborhood the first weekend in December or the first weekend in March, head on up the narrow wooden stairs for a delightful awe-inspiring adventure!
The early and mid-fifties of my own childhood was spent with weekend visits to my Zio (uncle) and Zia (aunt) who lived in the Southern Pacific Yard in Sparks, Nevada. Zio was a Section Foreman for the SP, and he lived in a “grand” wooden house painted the color of an egg’s yoke, a bright hard-to-miss mustard yellow. On Saturday, just after lunch, we would gather in the living room, all would be silent while opera was broadcast on the radio. I remember it to be the Met Opera Series; my uncle would close his eyes and swoon while the sounds of Tosca filled the room. My cousin and I would slip out into the garden and wander towards the Round House…a huge wooden structure built entirely of wood with a tin roof and completely round with two giant openings. The wood was black with the soot of the engines that were turned around in this round house. It felt adventurous to a couple of kids wandering through an “off limits” area over train tracks, snooping around for the hobos who would jump onto the next slow moving train for another world far from our own. Is it any wonder I love the train men who are my landlords and the world they inhabit!