Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Christy & Bryan!

Happy One-Year Anniversary, to our dear daughter and son-in-law, Christy & Bryan!

The very happy day...

When Hers and His became Ours

With all our love,
Mom & Dad

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our Waterfall Today

Back in January we posted about our waterfall. Today R.H. took some video of it after the rain last night and this is just an attempt to see if I can attach video here, a first attempt.

We'll see if this works, if the video is viewable. Meanwhile, thank you to all the thoughtful comments about friendships that commenters wrote on the previous post. As my Oklahoma friend emailed me, "Differences do make us individuals and they are like salt and pepper." And a whole lot of good recipes call for both salt and pepper, don't they? What would eggs be without both?

Have a good Sunday evening, friends. Tomorrow R.H. and I will be wishing a happy anniversary to our daughter and her husband on this blog. Really it will be family time but if you'd like to visit we'd love to have you. You are my blog family, aren't you?

Friday, April 26, 2013


Usually when I type a quote on Across the Way I put it in italics. With the following quote, I won't do that as italics can be more difficult to read and I want to make this as easy to read as possible because it meant a lot to me when I read it. Why? Because it reminded me of you, of me and you, my readers, my friends. It was written by Faith Baldwin:

"I have a friend whose ways are other than mine; 
we have our own likes, dislikes, prejudices and enthusiasms.
I like my steak rare, she prefers hers well done, so each considers the other
in this unimportant respect a barbarian.
I stay up late, she goes to bed early;
I'm crazy about crossword puzzles, she couldn't care less about them.
We differ about some books, plays, television productions, colors and fashion.
Sometimes, of course, we agree.
It's all trivial enough and we recognize our similarity,
one to the other--and to other people.
Differences make each of us himself, but likenesses made us part of a far larger world.
My friend and I have known anxieties, sorrows, and suffering;
we are often insecure and troubled.
We look upon the changing face of nature and may see different aspects of it,
but we share, as we look.
We can laugh or cry together and recognize the essential needs we also share.

So the difference makes us individuals, but the likeness makes us sisters."

Faith Baldwin in Evening Star

As I read this I immediately thought of my blogging friends, both those who also blog and those who don't but who I hear from through comments or email. What Faith Baldwin has written about her friend is also true, I think, or it should be, of those I communicate with in this wonderful electronic friendship. Naturally, it is easy and comfortable to have friends who are similar to me. You are important to me. But it is also important to me to have friends who delight me with your differences. 

It was also Faith Baldwin who wrote, "It is said that we don't make our friends, that we simply recognize them."

Isn't that an exciting sentence! I hope I can keep my eyes open and recognize friends that I meet through Across the Way or through those blogs I visit or through private emails like those I have had from a dear Oklahoma friend. I can't help but believe that there are even readers who I've never met who recognize me as their friend. I send out a warm hello to you. I hope you're doing well and that life is kind to you.

This picture is of a vintage Hallmark card that I found at Goodwill. It is my bookmark in the book quoted from above, Faith Baldwin's Evening Star. I love it and I hope you will too. It is my little gift to you today, my friend.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What the House Wants

"Generally, when I renovate a house," Rafferty explained as he opened the front door," I have to juggle three things: what the clients want, what the clients think they're supposed to want, and what the house wants."
                               Marisa de los Santos in Belong to Me

Rafferty is a very minor character in this book but one I wish was a major character. (I don't know why it is that I'm always falling in love with a minor character in a novel. Do any of you do that?) If I were going to have my house renovated, Rafferty is the man I'd call--that is, if our son-in-law would not take on the project. And he most likely could not as he's a little bit busy building many of those lovely Amelia Island houses. Our Bryan is an expert at understanding "what the clients want, what the clients think they're supposed to want, and what the house wants." I believe he would immediately understand Rafferty's dilemma. If you ever contact Bryan to build your house, tell him his mother-in-law sent you!

Here is a link to one of Bryan's houses...


If Bryan could not fit our remodel into his busy schedule, I'd try to find Mr. Rafferty. I would listen to him when he said:

"Like this room," began Rafferty, walking through what Dev supposed was the living room, to one so tiny and dim that it was more an alcove than a room and was lined from floor to ceiling with new, built-in shelves. "People think they need light, light, light. A lot of folks would want to cut in a bigger window, add a French door, maybe get rid of one or two of those big trees outside. Some people would even knock out this wall and incorporate the room into the larger living space. And, yeah, light's important, but it isn't everything. This is a house that wants to hang on to its small, quiet pockets. It respects a person's privacy."

I hummed with sheer delight when I read this because I think every house should have small, quiet pockets. Or is that just an outdated idiosyncrasy of mine? I know I must be in a rare minority about this subject. While I understand the importance to parents of small children of having them play nearby while they're in the kitchen cooking, open floor plans are vastly overrated, in my humble opinion.

I want to wander from room to room in a house and not see everything at one glance. Isn't it odd that while American gardeners have enthusiastically embraced the English notion of having "rooms" in their garden instead of a huge lawn broken up by beds, they have gone in the opposite direction inside their homes?

You almost cannot sell a house to a young couple today unless it is an open floor plan house, as friends of ours found out when they wanted to downsize and put their gorgeous home on the market. I loved that house but it lacked the see-it-all-at-a-glance aspect that buyers seem to want today.

I love a house with surprises, nooks and crannies, odd little juts out and steps down, hideaways, a sense of moving from one activity to another in the rooms instead of almost everything but the most private things taking place in a huge open room.

Sometimes I think about a kitchen from the 1950s where the woman was alone with her thoughts while preparing dinner and the man and children waited in the den where the one television in the house was, watching one of three channels available. Soon they would be called to dinner, except for the teenage daughter who was busy setting the table in the dining room or breakfast nook, back and forth putting ice in the glasses, and in between trips, seeing that her mother's back was turned to her as she stood at the stove stirring the gravy, asks Mom questions that she might not face to face.

Does this horrify you? Am I completely adrift in la-la land of retro Father Knows Best television?

Literally everything goes in cycles. Will I always be in the minority?

Do you think we'll someday turn back to wanting a house with more privacy?

Will we want doors to close between the rooms?

A kitchen where a person can cook without everyone in the party crowded around talking? A kitchen where there is no television blaring a few yards away in the "great room"?

A house where family members find their own private space for much needed solitude so that they can come together refreshed at the dinner table and have something to say to each other?

Will a small room like Mr. Rafferty's be made into a reading nook for the bookworms of the family?

What do you think?

What does your house want?

Photo credits:
    (from A Life in Decoration by Keith and Chippy Irvine)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nora, Sweet Nora

Easter weekend was a cloudy, drizzly one when R.H. and I visited sweet Nora...

The first granddaughter born to us among our grandchildren after four grown grandsons...

You were named for Norah Jones because your mother and father danced to her "Come Away With Me" for the first dance at their wedding.......

A bright light dazzled our eyes as we watched you eat your sweet potatoes, Nora...

And read your books...

And play with your new musical instruments...

And then try out the box they came in for size...

You reached for the bubbles your mommie blew...

And flew down the slide secure in daddy's arms...

And your smiles lit up our world...

Goodbye until next time, sweet Nora...

[Good-bye=contraction of God be with ye.]

This blogger was in a blue funk for days after leaving sweet Nora. Can you blame me?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dust Be Gone

Thank you so much to all who commented so sweetly last week about my small bathroom and its bouquet of glass! The bathroom refurbishment also gave us the opportunity to do something about my dressing room. Here is where I admit that about the only reason I can call it a dressing room is because it contains my closet, something that was missing in this 1920 farmhouse bedroom when we bought it.

Other than the closet, this tiny 8 x 10 room also held an ironing board that always seemed to be up and was a handy place to hold a multitude of things and even a surface to wrap Christmas presents. The main thing that used to be in this little room was a huge industrial shelving rack holding my collection of mostly women's magazines dating back to 1865. The collection has taken me over thirty years to amass and is all inventoried. They have given me hours of good reading but they were a dusting nightmare. I know I should have gotten before pictures but here is a shot of some of the magazines stacked all over our small dining room during the redo. We call it the small dining room but there is no large dining room.

After painting the bathroom and dressing room, in came a large piece of furniture, our old entertainment center. Nobody seems to want these old dinosaurs, even on Craigslist, but I knew it would look much better than the industrial shelving in my "dressing room."

I know bloggers won't understand why I didn't work some magic on this old cabinet with some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Sigh. No, I didn't, and R.H. made it perfectly clear that he was not going to either.

What he and our son Gurn did, however, was to make sturdy new shelves in it to hold all those magazines and a nice solid back to keep out all the dust.

A nice young friend spent five hours dusting each magazine and then arranging them not only by year but by month, January through December. I'm talking about 1865 through 1970. It was a dusty job.

Gurn made labels so that I can see the years at a glance.

Son Zack, who moved all the dusty magazines out before work began, had said, "Mom, we're giving all these magazines to Goodwill when you're gone."

"Heck no," big brother Gurn said. "I'll take them all and sell them on eBay!"

(Where buyers will tear them apart and sell all the old Coca-Cola adds on eBay themselves. Arrgh! Don't get me started on that destructive practice, except to say, "Once they're gone, they're gone for good, folks.")

My dusty dressing room is gone too. There is even a place for the ironing board to hide.

I'm never going to mess up this room again. I promise.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Bouquet of Glass

Until last week we did not have any of the beguiling bouquets  of glass that I have seen in the houses of many bloggers. Oh, how I have looked at them with greedy thoughts, but there was not a single chandelier in this farmhouse except for a cute but cheap little white metal one hanging over the kitchen sink that can barely claim to be called a chandelier, although it attempts to emulate its betters with a few dangly prisms and crystal beads. I love it, especially at Christmas when I hang old silver ornaments from it. Don't be fooled by this picture below of our kitchen chandelier as the glam comes mostly from the Christmas ornaments.

I remember when R.H. questioned my choice of this poor little wannabe chandelier before shaking his head and putting the box in our basket. "Are you sure? Are you sure you want to hang a chandelier over a kitchen sink?" He came to like that baby chandelier almost as much as I do. Recently he shook his head at the location I chose for a new chandelier, one that comes much closer to claiming to be a chandelier, even though not a vintage one.

This one came with gloves to handle the prisms and instructions as to where each piece of glass went.

And this honest-to-goodness chandelier now hangs in my bathroom because one of life's little disturbances happened about a month ago. After taking a shower I saw that water was pouring from under the baseboard. Not a good thing to happen, except that it compelled us to do something I'd been wanting to do for a long time, paint my bathroom and dressing room. It had not been painted since 1995 when we added on this bathroom.

We moved everything out of both rooms, stashing them as we went in the bedroom, living room, office, small dining room. In came building materials, tools, paint, and a new shower. This was a short project compared to the five month long project when we built on a new kitchen and laundry room eight years ago, but these weeks of working on this bathroom seemed like months with my things moved into my husband's bathroom.

R.H. has worked on this project in his spare time, joined much of the time by our son Gurn, and son Zack helping a few days.

The old shower had to be torn out, exposing rotten wood in the floor and walls so it was a matter of taking it down to the studs.

Three times the new shower was put in and taken out until they finally got it just right. This is not a tiled steam shower with multiple jets. This is a small bathroom and we were working on a budget anyway. But I love this new shower even if I did feel as if I should say "Beam me up, Scotty" the first time I stepped into it.

I hope you'll enjoy the pictures of my newly refurbished bathroom. I won't miss this....

It and the adjoining dressing room are small but were a luxury when we added it on in 1995 after four of us standing in line for one bathroom the first five years we lived here. And that one small bathroom most likely seemed a luxury to the family who built this farmhouse in 1920. Who knows how many years they made do with an outhouse. And the concrete frame for that is still in the ground out back. Flowers grow really well in it.

I wanted this bathroom to look like it was added on when we built it and so R.H. left the exterior lap siding.

R.H. used bead board around the shower this time.

He replaced the old chrome knobs on all cabinetry with glass knobs that Lowe's was closing out. This cabinet got glass bridge drawer pulls, and I got that idea from Dixie at French Lique, Texas blog Pop over there and say hi to her and look at her beautiful green glass knobs in her kitchen. Many of hers are original Depression era knobs collected slowly over the years. Dixie, we used your white paint, Behr's Pot of Creme to paint all the cabinets and wood trim.

We wanted the ceiling to show the wood and rafters when R.H. built this bathroom, and they look even better with the new green paint.

I love this bathroom. It represents such a sacrifice on my husband's part. He finished building it originally in 1995 after blowing out his knee at work and wore a leg brace for two weeks while waiting for knee surgery, still working like crazy to finish the bathroom. You just can't keep a good man down.

This time we quickly nixed our idea to replace the flooring, deciding it would be fine rather than go to the expense and time to put down new flooring. Cabinets and fixtures, other than the shower, were kept the same, other than repainting the cabinets.

I'm enormously pleased with the paint color I chose. It is the first time we've painted a room green in decades but I feel serene looking at it. In House Beautiful's Color section featuring dining rooms one month, I fell for a color called Green Barley by Pratt & Lambert. Couldn't find that paint near us so off R.H. went to our favorite Benjamin Moore Paints where they figured out that a green of theirs was a close match. No name on this, simply a number, AF-450. Excuse the wrinkles in the paper!

I wanted a green similar to this old green hamper.

And the green of this great chair, one of two the previous owners left in the smokehouse when we bought the place. These shades of green remind me of the green handles on the old kitchen utensils of the 1940s.

I have to show you the little lamp that sits on the back of the toilet. You might think it's a Cinderella lamp but the figures on the faded lampshade are more like Colonial men and women. It is marked Japan on the bottom and I bought it in an antique store almost thirty years ago.

Since I won't often be inviting you into my bathroom, I must show you a few more things. Here are three small McCoy vases that sit on top of the medicine cabinet. Its brown color got a white paint job this time around.

This little Lenox vase was a gift from a sister.

And the small teapot travelled back from London with her for me.

This green sugar bowl and the two matching plates behind the faucets are English and were bought decades ago purely for their celadon green color.

The angel was a gift for the garden many years ago from Gurn and his family. I wanted to bring her inside but she looked entirely too new. I bet you guessed how she became so nicely weathered...buttermilk poured all over her and then a garbage bag slipcover for a few weeks does the trick. I've had to repeat this several times over the years when she starts growing younger.

The small glass compote holds old pearls and a luscious silk flower pin, in the center an old jewel, made for me by a sweet, talented daughter-in-law.

The silver mirror from Pottery Barn was a birthday gift a few years ago from our children. I love how it and the mirror on the white cabinet triple reflect the new chandelier.

There it is, my little green bathroom with its beguiling bouquet of glass. I'll try to show you the small dressing room next week as a followup. It will be short because you've been so patient through this long post.

I must include these words from my favorite garden writer, Beverley Nichols so that you'll see that the title of this post, A Bouquet of Glass, is not original to me but another jewell I've plundered from Mr. Nichols in All I Could Never Be.

She could never resist a chandelier, even if it was broken and falling to pieces. Some of my most hilarious memories of Catherine are driving back to Piccadilly down the bumpy streets of the Camden Road, crouching on a back seat surrounded by an immense bouquet of glass, which jingled and jangled at every hold, causing startled passers-by to jump as though they had just collided with a lamp post. Once home, the lustres were carried in basketfuls up to the top floor, and deposited on a small and ever-growing mountain of glass which one day she was going to turn into a series of perfect chandeliers. I don't think she ever realized this ambition. The nearest she got to it was just before the war. At that time, when everybody else was thinking about black-out curtains, Catherine perversely surrounded all her windows with glittering chains of crystal. It was delicious, mad and typical.

Thus did Beverley Nichols write of the Baroness d'Erlanger who later lived in Hollywood as Catherine d'Erlanger and was quite a quirky lady.

Thank you for looking at my new bathroom. Can you tell that I am very proud of it? And thank you so much to R.H. for indulging me in this bathroom makeover and this lovely chandelier. He spent many hours, many days working on it, often after work. And thank you to our sons for all their help.

Sometimes what at first seems like nothing but trouble--a leaky shower--is such a blessing in disguise!

"Beam me up, Scotty."