Wednesday, July 31, 2013

You Never Knew with Daddy

My father was always a curious sort. You never knew what was going to capture his fancy. Looking back on it, he was a type of renaissance man. Once he was interested in something, especially something unique, he would spend hours reading up on it and talking with any expert in the field he could find. It is a shame he died prior to being able to grasp the realm of the Internet. There is no wonder where it would have taken him.

It was not unusual for us to have a gallon of vodka sitting on the bookshelf in the den with 2 or 3 vanilla beans marinating in the process of making homemade Kahlua. Once he had a Black Russian, and learned that he could make Kahlua at home, of course he was going to try. Certainly he could improve on the recipe.

He loved the game of chess. In looking for books for his library he found a gentleman with a shared interest in the game. They decided to play a game by mail. So in our living room he had a chess set sitting on a side table with the ongoing game. He and his friend exchanged postcards, each showing the board and the pieces and the moves they were making - one move at a time. A game could last a year or so, given it was all done by US mail. 

Speaking of mail, when we were younger we would spend two weeks each summer down at my grand parents' beach house at Windy Hill. One year Daddy decided we needed to send letters in bottles off in the ocean. So we each wrote a letter, "To whom it may concern, if you find this bottle ...." Then Daddy carefully sealed each note in a glass coke bottle and sealed it with wax. We went to the end of the fishing pier and tossed them into the ocean on their way to some foreign land. 

Now, all we had to do was wait. My brother was convinced a pirate would find his. Being smart (at age 6) and knowing geography, I was certain it was headed for the shores of England.  And, any day our notes would safely wash up on those shores and we would hear from the lucky person who found it. Needless to say I am still waiting to get word that my bottle has arrived.

When we were younger, it was not unusual for him to start speaking to us in French. During the Korean conflict Daddy served aboard an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. He spent most of his leave in France and managed to learn the language. He often decided breakfast conversations would be conducted in French. Because of this, as young children, we learned some rudimentary French. Unfortunately the school we went to did not see the value of teaching young students a foreign language. And, even worse, I never took it seriously enough to learn what I could from him.

One of Dad's former Navy buddies sold helicopters. He and his wife would visit with us occasionally. On one of their visits they came in on their personal helicopter and spent the night. Now, when I say "personal" I mean a helicopter that sat 6 people comfortably. The following morning Daddy had arranged for us to take a ride in the helicopter. He told us to bring our books because they would be taking us to school.

We left the airport and flew over our town, the city gardens, and even got to see our house from above. Then we turned toward our school. When I looked down, I saw the whole student body and all the faculty coming out of the buildings. Dad's friend circled the campus a time or two before he sat the helicopter down in the field next to the school. Dad opened the door for us to get out and there was the headmaster waiting to escort us to class. I was humiliated beyond belief.

My brother and I had to walk across the field with the headmaster while God and everyone watched us. The helicopter took off behind us and everyone (except my brother and I) waived enthusiastically to the big bird as it made its way back to the airport. We later learned that Daddy had called the school to tell them how we were arriving to make sure it would be OK to land in the field. The headmaster, who was a good friend of Dad's, said when everyone heard the helicopter circling overhead, he thought since it was a warm sunny morning, it would be fun for everyone to take a break, come out, and watch. 

Dad got home for supper that night, he was beside himself. "Wasn't that great?" I explained how humiliated I was and how I found the whole thing embarrassing. "Embarrassing? How many of your friends can say they came to school in a helicopter?" "None. But, we had walk across that whole field with Mr. Burns in front of everyone." His response was even more frightening, "Oh, sweetheart, you know I would never embarrass you. Next time, I'll do better." I just hoped there wouldn't be a next time.

Photography Post - Mountain Stream

This is an image of a mountain stream in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in Graham County, North Carolina. Kilmer was the poet who penned the poem "Trees", "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree." Kilmer was a journalist killed in WWI. In 1934 the VFW petitioned "that the government of the United States examine its millions of forested acres and set aside a fitting area of trees to stand for all time as a living memorial” to Kilmer. 

After considering woods all over the country, the US Forest Service settled on this 3,800 acre tract of old growth wood as a memorial forest to Kilmer. We have hiked several times in the forest and it is truly awe inspiring. (Although our initial outing there  almost killed us, but we survived the Naked Ground Trail.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hampton's Legion and a House Boat

Not every "House Adventure" my parents leaped into was land related. There was the one time Daddy decided what we needed was a house boat. Not that we lived near a lake or a river, I just think the novelty value of it intrigued Daddy or maybe it was something he read about. Any who, he was on the hunt for one.

Being a Civil War enthusiast history fanatic about the War between the States, in the early 1960's during the centennial of the war, Daddy was a member of Hampton's Legion. Stay with me here. This was one of the many groups dedicated to reenacting the war as it progressed from Fort Sumter to the bitter end. He took this very seriously. His uniform was historically correct down to the grey wool and gold braided trim for what ever rank he was. 

For four years Daddy and his comrades  in arms moved around the southeast (on weekends) reenacting the war. They traveled as a band of brothers, the infantry pulling their cannons and wagons behind their cars, the Calvary with their horse trailers. Looking back, I often wonder if they secretly thought they may have a chance of success a second time around. But, I guess not because they took their losses with their victories just as history recorded and came home ready to fight again in the next campaign. 

If the reenactments were close by, Mama would load us up and we would get to go see Daddy "play war" and hope he beat the Yankees. It was fascinating with the tents, the campfires, the cannon fire - basically the whole shebang. It lost its luster for Mama early on. Once you had seen a battle, they all looked the same to her.

Hampton's Legion played an important role in the Chattanooga campaign, so off to Tennessee they went. And, we were in tow this time, riding in the back seat of our family Oldsmobile pulling a full size civil war replica cannon. I would question the memory of this myself since I was only 4 or so, but we happen to have home movies and pictures from this particular trip. But, I digress.

Another reason we were going to Tennessee was to look at a house boat. Daddy had sold Mama on the idea that this would be an ideal investment for them. They had had a 25 ft cabin cruiser just after they got married that they both enjoyed, so his pitch was enticing. And, he had brought home brochures from the local boat dealer showing full color pictures of different models.

The one we were going to see was used, a much better deal. After we won the battle, pushing back Sherman's army, we loaded up the car (and the cannon) and met the boat's owner at a designated filling station. We followed him down to the Tennessee river to see the house boat. 

The boat was in the river tied to a tree. And, it did not resemble any house boat Mama had seen in a brochure. What they found was ratty wooden shack perched on a dozen or so empty oil drums. She would tell me later, only the African Queen came to her mind, and as much as she loved the movie, she had no desire to be on that boat.

My brother and I were thrilled. How exciting was this! Of course we wanted it. We could sleep on it and play on it - our imagination ran wild with anticipation. Daddy had other thoughts. Before we knew it, we had been loaded up in the car and were on our way back home with no house boat. 

Needless to say that was not the house boat Dad had in mind. For next month or so we looked at house boats in mariners, at boat shows, and at boat dealers. Soon, that idea passed and Dad was on to his next thing - learning master chess moves. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Photography Post - Fiery Sunrise

A fiery sunrise over a golf course pond. If you look in the right hand side of the picture you can see the sprinkler going over the course.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reason #5 God is a Man

There was a very smart lady that worked for the Playskool toy company years ago and she developed one of the simplest most fundamental toy that most American children (ages 12 months and up) have played with for generations - the Stacking and Nesting Cubes. Of all the lessons one learned from this simple set of plastic blocks, the most valuable one was that by nesting them, putting the smallest in the next largest, then that one in the next largest, etc., from a stack of 7 blocks you are left with 1.

Reason #5 - Men never pick their things up and put them away.

Now one would think that the simple lesson we learned at age one of neatly combining a mess of 7 boxes into 1 neat container would stick. Ah, but grasshopper, you would be wrong. Where as women are instinctively drawn to the habit of "nesting" their dirty clothes in a hamper, or their dirty dishes in a dishwasher, men failed to grasp this concept early on.

Where women get satisfaction from picking up their magazines, random mail, and personal items and stacking them up or putting them away in a safe place, men tend to overlook these things. Once they have abandoned them on a chair, table, or counter they are out of mind but never out of sight. 

A man can walk through a bedroom, across the floor strewn with yesterday's clothes left just as he dropped them the night before, and fail to notice the trail of litter dotting the surface. They never feel the sense of urgency to pick them up and put them away. A woman, on the other hand, will wait until there is no longer a path through the abandoned apparel, having given the man plenty of opportunity to put his clothes away and, only then, take it upon herself to clean up the mess. 

Placing dirty dishes in a kitchen sink is a man's idea of "cleaning up". Since we have long given up on the arrival of the Housekeeping Fairy, reality tells us that one must scrape the residual matter from the plates into the trash, rinse the plates, and then place them in the dishwasher. 

Oh, and when a man asks if the dishwasher is "Clean or Empty", why do they always assume if the answer is "Clean", that means we are saying, "Please step away from the machine, I'll empty it." God forbid they take it upon themselves to empty the dishwasher. Oh, but then again, what am I thinking? God's a man, so I guess he did.

Photography Post - Cuban Transportation

A sample of several modes of transportation in Cuba. A motorcycle and side car are missing in the picture, but were fairly popular on the streets. The blue car is a Russian Lada. These cars are everywhere and spew enough smoke alone to choke the EPA. They reminded me of a "Push me - Pull you" because the looked the exact same from the front and the back. If the design looks familiar - it was based on a 1966 Fiat.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reason #4 God is a Man

"What Did I Do?"

If God were a woman, then your husband, male partner, male significant other, whatever, would know. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what he has done to upset you without your having to tell him. 

Reason #4 - Men are clueless when it comes to women and their feelings.

Perhaps, someone paying attention to what has been going on, for longer than the past ten minutes, and is a little more in tune to what really irritates the hang out of you, would be able to figure this one out. However, since God is a man, he has left his gender in a lurch. Or, perhaps, ignorance is bliss.

Men walk around like we are an emotional Rubic's Cube. Hint: If it made us mad last week, chances are we are still upset about it this week unless (1) you've apologized, (2) its been fixed, and (3) you admitted you were wrong. Chances are these remedies have been few and far between. But, we can always  hope for the trifecta, which means that perhaps, maybe, you are catching on when you realized what you did was wrong quickly after you did it, went to great lengths to undo whatever you did (or did not do), and offered a heart felt apology. Probably not, but we can always hope.

And, another word to the wise, when you ask, "What did I do?", trust me, you do not want an answer, because that shows just how clueless you are. You would think Mother Nature could have offered God some direction in this area. But, then God being a man, wouldn't have asked for directions, would he?

Photography Post - Raindrops on Pink

Delicate rain drops on the edge of a petal.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Photography Post - Eerie Yard Art

This would keep me up at night if it were in my front yard. However, it was for sale in a garden center. I'd rather take my chances with a gnome.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bonnie Doone

As I have mentioned many times I was raised reared as a Presbyterian. Daddy's family was from Scotland County, North Carolina and our roots were not far from the hills of country of Scotland. I was often reminded of this as a child with stories of distant kin coming over from the "old country", the history of the land in North Carolina, and the G*%  D*$#  Presbyterian Catechism. But, I digress.

Before Mama and Daddy got so involved with property in the North Carolina mountains we were members in good standing of the First Presbyterian church in my hometown. And, most Sundays you would find us in Sunday School and Preaching. In 1965, the Charleston Presbytery bought this magnificent plantation down in the low country of South Carolina on the Ashepoo river named Bonnie Doone. The property dated back to a land grant from  King William in 1722. Initially it was a rice plantation, and like many of the palatial homes in that part of the state, was burned during the war. 

Also, like so many of these great properties, it lay quietly until in 1932, when a Yankee from New York with money purchased it and built a lovely Georgian style home befitting the property and commissioned a well known landscape architect to plan a camellia garden next to the house. If one didn't know any better, the new house sitting at the end of the long drive of old oaks looked like it had been there all along. 

Our church immediately planned an outing for all the members to see the new property and we went. It was breath taking. Even at 6, I was jaded by the old homes, the avenues of oaks, the Spanish moss, and the bluffs over looking the slow moving river. But that day, I remember getting out of the car. 

Over the next years, I spent many weekends down there on retreats and camps. It was like heaven to me. Some times we would be staying in the main house which still had all the trappings of a fine home with the architectural details, the rich paneling, the huge rooms, and the beautiful floors. Other times we would be in the various cabins, houses, and even the stable that had all been redone to house groups of folks. 

The grounds with the ancient oaks, the lawn over looking the Ashepoo river, the old brick walls covered with ivy and moss were almost magical. Still to this day I have such fond memories of the place.       

I often thought about Bonnie Doone and what ever happened to the place. I asked Mama once, since she was still active in the Presbyterian Church, and she said that she didn't think the church had anything to do with it any more. Certainly, it hadn't burned, or worse yet, been sold for some development - 'Bonnie Doone Estates'. Just the thought makes my skin crawl.

On the way to Edisto for the wedding, I noticed a sign just outside Jacksonboro to Bonnie Dune. Well, I thought, something must still be there. Just yesterday, I finally got around to looking into what was there now. She still stands. And, from the pictures, my memory did not embellish her beauty and grace. She is just as I remember. But, as I read on, horrors! The Charleston Presbytery sold her in 1978 to, of all folks, the Charleston Baptist Association.   

So the good news is she has been preserved as is. The bad news is there will be no more dancing, imbibing, or carrying on in the halls of Bonnie Doone. I can assure you the church women of  the Baptist church (at least the older ones) will make sure that none such happens on the grounds of any place owned by the Baptist Church. If they had seen us down there, they would have deemed us heathens and prayed for our souls, knowing for sure we were destined for Hell. Thank God, those walls cannot talk.                                                             

Photography Post - Pink and Yellow Rose

Pink rose petals in the early morning dew.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Mother's Life in Roosters

Mama's "every day" china pattern when she got married was called "Poppy Trail". The dinner plate design sported a rooster in the center of a vanilla colored background. It was later called "California Provincial" - no words anyone would ever think of in describing my mother. But, I digress.

These dishes were in total juxtaposition with her formal china, that had a large single rose design on fine white bone china with a platinum  border, her crystal, and, of course, all her sterling silver. But, she loved her Poppy Trail and that was what we ate on every day (with the sterling silver flatware). The formal china was pulled out for Sunday dinner, special occasions, and guests.

The Poppy Trail pattern was discontinued and Mama found herself missing pieces due to various household mishaps. So the Poppy Trail was moved to High Acres. And, it was replaced with a rose pattern she got from the Piggly Wiggly. It took a while for us to get enough to eat on, since it was one of those patterns that you "earned" your pieces weekly by the amount of groceries you bought. Luckily the week they were offering the dinner plates was just before a big weekend at High Acres, so we "qualified" for 4.

Unfortunately, we were on vacation when the cup and saucers were offered, so Daddy never did have a coordinating coffee cup at breakfast. However, we did merit soup bowls, salad plates,  2 bread and butter dishes, a gravy boat, sugar bowl, and serving platter.  Over the next year or two, the store had similar programs and we were able to get a good supply plates and even cups and saucers. The subsequent offerings were never the same exact pattern, but Mama kept a "Rose" theme going - "close enough for government work", as Daddy used to say.

What was left of the Poppy Trail at High Acres was supplemented by the miscellaneous plates, cups, and saucers Stanbury bought Mama at the sales he attended. As you can imagine, it was quite the assortment. But, as proper as Mama wanted to be when it came to entertaining, setting a coordinated table was out of the quesion.

In her later years, Mama took a renewed interest in the Poppy Trail pattern and was able to find some random pieces in antique stores and at yard sales. The motif of the large Rooster in the pattern somehow spurned an interest in Roosters. So she started collecting roosters - as in pictures of roosters, rooster hot plates, a set (or three) of rooster canisters, a rooster clock, God knows how many salt and paper shakers, and every type of rooster gee gaw one can imagine. And, I will admit, we contributed to the madness. What else do you get someone who doesn't need anything and if she does, she does not hesitate to buy it for herself?

This all came to haunt us when she died. The kitchen in her house was full of all her "Rooster" paraphernalia. We each chose to keep what we found memorable, threw out what we found to be trash, and gave away the rest. However my brother soon told me, our nightmare was not over.

On her kitchen counter in her mountain house sat dozens and dozens of more "Rooster" items. At first sight, I found it hard to believe her collection was even more immense than I first imagined. In some state of insanity I told my brother, "I'll take the roosters." He just rolled his eyes, as if saying, 'Boy, you have really lost your mind this time.' In my mind, I figured this was a part of my mother that spanned her lifetime, good and bad. And, it wasn't like I was going to keep all of them. I could easily part with the Rooster paper towel holder, the dozens of Dollar Store Rooster figurines, and the plastic cookie jar. After all, I do have standards. 

Photography Post - Sunning on a Frond

A little fellow catching some rays.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stains, Nail Holes, and Steamer Trunks

One of the suggestions the realtor made when she looked at Mama's house in the mountains was to pull up some of the carpet to see if there were hardwood floors beneath. Sure enough, when my brother pulled up a corner in a closet - there they were - hardwood floors as pretty as you please. Her next suggestion was to pull up all the carpet in the den to reveal the hardwood floors but leave it down everywhere else.

There was a large stain on the carpet in the den, strategically placed in the middle of the room (naturally). Our concern was that whatever had damaged the carpet had possibly soaked through and also stained the hardwood floors beneath it. If we pulled the carpet up in the den and there was a stain, it would be virtually impossible to put it back down. Weighing our odds, and knowing the house was going to be sold furnished, we rolled the dice and  pulled up the carpet. Our back-up plan being the den furniture "could" be arranged such that the coffee table just happened to be placed strategically directly over near the area of the stain, keeping in mind the house was being sold "as is".

My brother called me a few days later, "Well, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there is hard wood throughout the den and there is no stain or damage. The bad news is that only three fourths of the kitchen has vinyl flooring. The rest is bare sub flooring." So we discussed getting someone in to re-floor the kitchen and one of the baths, while he was at it.

My brother and nephew power washed the deck and much to our relief, the paint did not come off. He was able to replace the numerous missing knobs to various drawers and cabinet doors in the kitchen. The stains in the ceiling were painted over and a lady was hired to do a thorough cleaning of the house. The 100's (I kid you not) off nail holes in the walls needed to be spackled. My mother never met a picture she didn't want to hang on a wall. 

The realtor had suggested we not paint the inside of the house, her reason being the buyer would want to paint the house and choose their colors. I didn't see this logic. Having all the walls covered with a neutral shade of fresh paint would make a big difference. And the smell of new paint, to me, is akin to that of a new car. It has that "Come hither" quality. But, I'm not a realtor, perhaps that would be too much 'Lipstick'.

In one of his phone calls my brother asked me if I wanted the long harvest table in the kitchen. My reply was, "I don't have room for that, do you?" "No," he laughed, "not many people I know do." "Is the church pew there also?" "No, somewhere that got lost along the way." "Have you gone through everything up there?" "Well, we still have the storage closet she had off the carport to tackle." "Oh, the treasures that still may await us." "Yeah, I can't wait".  "Well, she had to put the church pew somewhere. And, you remember, she was always fond of that Buckboard Stanbury bought Dad", I said in jest. Then I added, "Oh, and then there are the steamer trunks." 

"If we get in there, and it is filled with any more of her "treasures", they are going with the house." "Easy now, there is always the possibility that she hid her will somewhere in there." (We are still searching for her elusive Last Will and Testament.) "Dear Jesus." "I'm just saying." "Oh, that would be just like her to leave her Will in the bottom of an old steamer trunk in the storage closet off the carport of her vacation home." "Trust me, you know with her, stranger things have happened."

Photography Post - Cuban Man

A man sits on the street in Havana Centre, Cuba.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Selling Mama's Mountain House

Putting my mother's mountain house on the market has turned out to be quite the challenge. Unlike her pristine, up-to-date, well furnished and decorated cottage here that she had in a nice neighborhood of folks her age, she chose a different route for her mountain house.

First of all, after Mama sold High Acres, some 15 years ago, she has had a succession of mountain homes. And, when she bought her final one, she decided that perhaps it would be best if she found something in a neighborhood of permanent residents rather than a vacation community. That way, if something were to happen, she would always know that there would be folks around who she knew to help her. She picked a small town in the mountains that was well known for its mixture of vacation homes and permanent residents (many who had retired there). Made sense to me.

Well, that was until my brother called me. "Do you know what Mama has bought this time?" I told him I knew what she had in mind, but was not aware she had found something. "Well this takes the cake." "I thought it was good idea for her to find a house in town." "Oh, I did too. But, in that beautiful little town, our mother has picked out the ugliest house on the most god awful lot she could find." "Was there nothing else available?" "Hell no. There are plenty of houses to choose from."

In the all the years Mama owned that last house, I never made it up there, a point of contention she brought up often, especially when she wanted to remind me I wasn't paying enough attention to her. Both my girls, however, did visit the property and they came back in total agreement with their uncle. My attitude was it was her house, so be it. And, it couldn't be that bad.

Well, it could and it is. The first time I saw the house was a month or so ago when I went up there to  meet my brother to look at some furniture. My brother did not do it justice in his description. It was worse than I imagined. Of all the precious cottages and rustic cabins in the quaint little town, my mother had selected a brick ranch house built in the late 60's that sits on a busy road. It has a steep drive way, no grass in the front yard, and no back yard because the hill behind the house is so steep, the back windows just look out on the embankment which is a mere 2 or 3 feet away from the house.

Then when I went inside, the house was stuffed with furniture and furnishing she was still moving from house to house that came from High Acres. (Talk about two tons of fertilizer in a one ton truck.) And, if we thought Stanbury's treasures were strange at High Acres, they seemed really peculiar in this house. Not only that, she had nothing done to the house since she moved in. Well, she had a window added to the den because she thought it was too dark. (Not like there was a view.) And, she had added a gas fireplace - there was no chimney, a theme she had going. Unfortunately, she had not hauled around any spare mantles from the farm.

We speculated on what it was going to cost us to get the house in shape to put it on the market. Our estimate was not pretty. My brother met with a realtor and called me. "The realtor suggested  we just sell it 'As Is'." There is a God I thought. (Of course that might have been the realtor's polite way of saying, 'Honey, there ain't enough lipstick for this pig'.) Then he added a list of things she suggested be done to the house before it went on the market, all of which were very reasonable. 

"Oh, and one thing, she asked if we would be willing to sell it furnished." "As in leave all the things that are in there now?" (We had already moved out everything we wanted to keep and were trying to figure out what to do with the rest.) This was music to my ears. "Well, that should have been a no brainer."

So now we just wait and see who comes along and wants the ugliest house in the town. All I can say is - this realtor is going to earn her commission. Maybe we'll luck up, after all, the seeing impaired need to buy homes just like everyone else.

Photography Post - Rose Bud

A rose bud just beginning to open.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Photography Post - Sunset in the Pines

A fiery orange sunset in the pines of the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Florida. This pristine state park is located in the Apalachicola area on a thin peninsula with Saint Joseph Bay to its west and the Gulf to the west.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Heat and Cold, and Miracles

The mantles from several old fireplaces were among some the parts of the razed house Mama had purchased to move to High Acres. And, some of these mantles were more ornate than others. Mama had a hard time deciding which one she wanted in the great room, but finally made her choice. As the structure of the house was being completed, she was very specific with Stanbury, as to where in the room she wanted the fireplace and which mantle to use.

On one trip up, Mama found that the mantle had been installed just where she wanted it. However, there was just a blank wall behind it. Upon questioning Dad, she learned that the plans for a chimney had been delayed. His story was that he wanted to find a brick mason who was experienced in building chimneys in the high wind conditions surrounding the house. So there was Mama's mantle in all its glory installed in the great room with no fireplace. There were plans for another fireplace up stairs but Mama wisely decided to wait until the chimney was built before she installed that mantle. So in the great room upstairs there was a stack of several spare mantles.

Eventually the mantles were quietly moved to the barn and some thirty years later when Mama sold the farm, there still was no chimney on that side of the house. However on the other side of the house, there was a small chimney built for the franklin stove that was in the small den. That side of the house did not have the wind issues and that stove was one of the first things installed. We often suggested she could use one of her fancy mantles over the squatty wood stove in the small den. She failed to share our humor.

In the summer, since there were few insects on the mountain, we kept most of the large windows open during the daytime. The constant breeze kept the house nice and comfortable. I can never remember being warm during a summer up there.

Come to think of it, I can never remember being warm in that house - ever. In the winter, even with every door and window closed tightly, the house was drafty. Although it was newly built, it took on the persona of the old things in it. It never held heat. The small den was the only comfortable room because of the Franklin stove which we kept going constantly while we were up there. It was not unusual for someone to "fall asleep" on the sofa and end up there all night. Unfortunately, there was only one sofa and it was just a matter of who could stay up longer to claim it.

The rest of the house was heated with a myriad of strategically placed electric heaters. I often went to bed at night weighing the dangers of freezing to death because the heater was safely off or dying in a ball of fire due to a faulty heater. More often than not, I took my chances with the heater.

Mama's cooking fiascoes were so prevalent that there was a blackened scorch mark behind the stove. And, then there was that period of time, thanks to a crate of sconces Stanbury brought her, Mama decided that candle light would add to the ambiance of the house. (We quickly put the ca-bosh on that, not wanting to push our luck.)  All of these possible calamity's coupled with the copious quantities of consumed adult beverages, it was a miracle that the house never burned to the ground.

As the saying goes says "God watches out for fools and children." Perhaps we can add High Acres to that list.

Photography Post - Lighthouse on Cape St. George, FL

The lighthouse is on Cape St. George, which is located off Eastpoint in the Apalachicola area. The light house has a history dating back to 1833 when the original building was constructed. It survived a few calamities, including relocation, wars and storms, and finally in 2005 the structure collapsed into the sea. But, thanks to the St. George Light Association, a new lighthouse was constructed on a safer place on the island, using many bricks of the original structure that were able to be salvaged.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Our House on High Acres

For the past week or two I have regaled you with stories of my family's life in the mountains of North Carolina. In 2010 I wrote a post about the construction of Mama's house on High Acres. Since we are at that point of the story, I thought I would just re-post the narrative. If you have been reading for the past week or so this should all make sense.

The Mountain House on High Acres
(Originally posted 1/26/ 2010)

When my parents bought the farm in the mountains there was much discussion about building a house, not just what to build, but how to build it. The location was not an issue. There was an apple orchard located on a peak of the farm that offered a 360 degree view of hills and valleys that included three states. And, although the sunsets were spectacular, the winds could also be quite stiff at times. But my parents had their heart set on that house site. Stanbury, the farm overseer, just stood there, scratched his head, put his cap back on, and said, "Warll, we'll have to nail the shingles on real tight."

Now my mother, being very practical, found a grand old Victorian house in our home town they were razing to make room for a bank. She took it upon herself to purchase the home and have the company tearing it down number the pieces (that is the windows, the staircase, the doors, doorways, arches, mantles, and any other architectural pieces worth saving). Then she informed my father it was up to him to get it transported to the farm. My father's response was, "Then what?"We'll use the pieces to build the house," was my mother's reply. 

So the numbered pieces were loaded and transported up to the farm. As it was being unloaded, Stanbury stood there, scratched his head, looked at my Dad, and said, "What ar we supposed to do with them thar things?" Dad looked at him and smiled, "Build a house." This where it got interesting.

If my mother thought the grand home that was torn down was going to be replicated on the farm, she was sadly mistaken. Several weeks later when we went up to the farm, I was a little taken aback to find a large 2 story plain square building on the house site. When we entered the structure, I was even more surprised to find a rather plain straight staircase in the main hall adorned with all the ornate balusters and the fancy newel post from the old house. There was the ornate archway leading into the great room which had all the windows stacked on the floor. Perhaps, I thought, it was going to take some time to come together. I could tell by the look on my mother's face this was not what she had in mind.

"Where are my white columns?" my mother asked quietly. My father pulled her aside for a conference, where he explained that due to the exact location she had chosen to build, unless they had done some very expensive excavation, which was not in the budget, the footprint of the house was relegated to it's square shape. "But, it's so plain", she said. "It just looks that way now", my father assured her. "We just got started. Give it some time."

A month or so later we went back to check on the progress of Mama's house - and it had progressed. There was now siding - rough hewn siding (that Stanbury proudly told her came from Poplar trees from the farm). All the large windows with their casings were installed, as was the enormous formal front door with its fancy facing and side beveled windows. A small portico had been built out over the door, and there in front were Mama's white columns. However, all of this was overshadowed by the barn red color Dad had the house painted. And, this much red with bright white trim made a statement. Mom was less than thrilled.

But we loved the house. It had large rooms and plenty of space for our many friends who came to visit. Mom busied herself decorating. Dad had his back deck to serve cocktails while we enjoyed the sunsets. The furniture was fairly eclectic from the full size church pew that served one side of the long kitchen table to the mahogany chairs in the small den to the old iron beds in the bedrooms. But one thing was consistent - no one room of the house was ever completely finished. It was always a work in progress. 

We were always sanding and stripping the ornate moldings, adding insulation to the rooms (there was never enough), paneling rooms (it was not unusual to be in a room with bare insulation showing between the studs on at least one wall), or painting or staining some surface. And yes, Stanbury was right - we were constantly having to replace shingles. It never ended. When Mama sold the farm, the house still had unfinished rooms - and that was 30 years after we built it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mama's New House Site

Our Few Acres was wonderful. Now when we came up to the mountains, we still stayed at the house in Hidden Valley, which was just a mile or two from the farm. And, yes, I am taking liberties referring to it as a farm, but in our world it was land, had fences, and had cows therefore it was the closest thing we had to one. Most Saturdays I spent just walking around exploring, watching the cows, or riding around the area with Daddy.

Dad and I soon learned that around the curve just before our gate, lived a wonderful family who had recently moved to the area. He was a retired Naval Commander. And he, his wife Gloria, their son, and daughter-in-law were all living in this small white tenant house on their property.  They (as in the Commander and his son) were in the process of building a huge home, up the hill behind their current house, with a porch that wrapped all the way around it. Daddy and the Commander hit it off immediately. And, they promised to invite us over as soon as they finished the new house. They loved to entertain. Little did I know then how true this was.

Of course, Mama wanted to build on the farm. So she started looking for house sites. Daddy told her she had 13 acres to choose from. He would move his cows to suit her, once she chose where she wanted to build. She started down by the gate in a pretty wooded area, but soon decided that it would be too noisy by the road. The Lower Pasture was considered but it was small. Then she got to the Upper Pasture. This was the obvious choice. Daddy went back to his cows and told her to let him know when she made up her mind. About thirty minutes later she came back,. "I found it. It's perfect. Come see."

So we all headed to the Upper Pasture. She walked toward the top and we followed. No surprise here, she obviously wanted a view. She kept walking into the woods. And, she wanted shade. We kept walking. Things were going well until she crossed the fence and we followed along. Next thing we knew we were standing on the top of this mountain with a 360 degree view of hills and valleys below. It was breathtaking. She walked to the highest point, turned around, looked at Daddy and said, "Here." "Right here? You've got to be kidding. You know when you crossed that fence you were past our property line?" "I figured as much. But this is where I want my house." He just looked at her, then looked around at the view and shook his head.

Eventually we all went back down the hill, across the fence, and returned to Our Few Acres. Daddy knew the discussion was not over. Mama was going to build her house on top of that hill. After some inquiries, he found out who owned the land just above the Upper Pasture.  It was a nice family, Hoyt and Roland Jones. Her family, the Kerr's, had owned the land for generations, still worked it,  and were extremely well thought of. With hat in hand, he and Mama paid them a visit. After some discussion, they agreed to sell them the two acres that would include the top of the hill and the land between that and our current farm. Only one stipulation, they would have to purchase the remaining 198 acres of the tract.

There was no way Daddy was going to purchase 200 acres of land for my mother to have one acre to build a house on. Certainly, somewhere on their current 13 acres there was a suitable place. However, being a gentleman, and not wanting to seem rude, my father agreed to go with Roland to look at the property.  Maybe he could convince him to part with only 2 or 3 acres after all.

They went up the road behind the Jones' home. As they got to the end of the road, Roland made a right turn through a gate. There was this unbelievably beautiful piece of property with rolling hills and meadows, pretty woods with poplars and other hard woods, and  an apple orchard. Dad was speechless. And, then they drove through the field to the top and there was that view. They started discussing money.

After a deal was made, that I think included free prescriptions for the Jones and their family for life in addition to the cash sales price, Mama and Daddy drove back up the road to take another look at what they had just purchased. Daddy looked around. "I hope you are happy now. This is a damn expensive house site." Mama's response was, "Well, I don't know. All I did was select a house site and somehow you finagled a cattle farm to go with it."  That was the afternoon we went from Our Few Acres to High Acres and Mama finally had a place to build her house. And, Daddy had 213 acres he could call a farm.

Photography Post - Street Vendor

Street vendor selling his wares on a street in Havana Vieja. Most of the shelves in the stores are empty and street vendors are best source of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our Few Acres

Mama and Daddy had a short tenure in Hidden Valley - two or three years at most. During that time, Mr. McMillan's pond was never stocked, a fact that never bothered me as much as the nightmares I had of the dam breaking,  flooding the valley, and washing our house off the side of the mountain down the creek. The park was never built. The day we left the valley it was still a dirt lot. And, I'm not sure what happened to the poor little ponies.

All this was not for lack of help. Mr. McMillan did have assistance in running his operation in an old mountaineer he called "Franklin". I don't think Mr. McMillan ever had intentions of finishing these grand plans. Once he sold all of his lots, no one saw much of him. It wasn't like there was a home owner's association or covenants or anything to hold him to his promised attractions.  Looking back on it, I question if the land owners were given clear title. But, then those fools from Florida would buy anything in the mountains of North Carolina.

Since we were the last house on the line, and the road down the hill was often in poor shape, Dad got to know Franklin very well since he often had to find him to pull our car out of the ditch or sometimes just around a curve. Often the wet clay road was in such poor shape, just getting out of the valley was impossible.

One day, Dad told Franklin he and Mama were looking for some  more property up there, maybe  15-20 acres in the area. Dad had always wanted a few head of cattle. Sure enough one weekend while we were up there, Franklin showed up at the house. "Bill, ar think I found yar sumpthin to look at. Ain't much." So off we went.

What he had found was 13 pretty wooded fenced in acres located on a hard packed state road. There were two open pastures, we learned later were called the "Upper Pasture" and the "Lower Pasture". The far end was bordered by a stream - "Big Hungry" creek - yes the very same one. It was exactly what Mama and Daddy were looking for and the price was right. They bought the property and Mama quickly named it "Our Few Acres".

Daddy asked Franklin if he knew someone who could help him look after the cattle he planned to put on the place. Franklin said he would be happy to do that, he had the time. So he was at the farm when the Angus cattle Daddy had bought were delivered.  Daddy was thrilled. Franklin just shook his head, "They're pretty alright, but a bit small don't you think?"  At that time Angus were not a popular breed in that area and their stocky build and short legs did not impress him. Dad wasn't phased. Finally, he had him a herd of cattle (albeit only 15 head). 

During that conversation, he asked Franklin, "You never told me your what your last name is." (Daddy had always paid him in cash.) "Franklin." "Well, then what's your first name?" "Stanbury. Stanbury Franklin." "Well, if it's OK with you, I'm going to call you Stanbury." And, so it was that Stanbury became part of our lives (and Daddy became a cattle farmer!)

Every morning we were up there, Stanbury would drive up in his old blue Chevrolet truck that looked like it was going to fall apart at any moment. When he arrived, I can hear it now, "Morn'n Bill. Della  (Stanbury's wife) sent ya sumpthin." And, with that he would hand Daddy a brown paper bag. That "sumpthin" might have been a mess of fresh squash from her garden, a jar of her apple butter, or a warm Rhubarb pie, you never knew. 

Dad being Dad, he wanted to do something in return. When he learned Della had some health issues, he told her he could save her some money on her medicine. So he got her to start sending him  all her prescriptions from her doctors. And, every time we came up, Dad always had a bag of medicine for her. He never billed her. Needless to say, she thought the world of him, so the sumpthin's for him got more special, although I never developed a love of Rhubarb pie.

It wasn't long before Mama started talking about building a house on the new farm. And, that was fine with us. Getting out of Hidden Valley could come none to soon. I still feared being washed away at any moment due to an inferior damn, falling down the side of the mountain by one misstep off the door stoop, or spending the rest of our lives stuck in red clay.

Photography Post - Moon in the Morning

Moon in the morning at dawn.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

McMillan's Hidden Valley

High Acres was not our first house in the mountains. We started at the bottom of the hill - literally. When I was 7 or 8 years old Mama found an ad in a paper for property for sale in a new development in the NC mountains - "McMillan's Hidden Valley". The ad described a picturesque valley with a mountain stream running through it. The development also had a pond stocked with trout, a park, and horses available for the home owners to ride. Sign me up! So we took a road trip.

When we arrived , we were met by Mr. McMillan, the sixty five year old gentleman from Florida, who had moved to North Carolina and purchased some acreage for his "Hidden Valley". There was one dirt road through the development and it curved sharply down a hill to the bottom of gorge. On the way down the hill, Mr. McMillan proudly showed us a dam where the pond was being built. There was a cleared dirt area, where he had plans for a park. (The "horses" turned out to be two sad looking ponies in a small pen in Mr. McMillan's front yard.) My brother and I were not impressed. They did not even have ranch dressing.

There were already houses built on the lots along the road. All them unremarkable, small, and square. And, most of the license plates were from Florida, not a good sign in the my mind. (I had been ingrained early on that Florida was the land of transplanted Yankees.)

Mama's mind was made up before we arrived that we needed a lot there, sight unseen. And, always wanting some privacy, she and Daddy selected the last lot at the very end of the development. Literally, at the end of the road. Now, the first time we got out of the car to look at the proposed property, was frightening.  The lot was an acre in size, however, the land was vertical  (as in at a 75 degree angle). Mama looked at Daddy and said, "It's perfect. Let's buy it."

My brother and I were holding on to a tree at the top of the lot for dear life peering over the edge. Our parents were busy starting to plan where the house would go. We just looked at each other in total dismay. Real estate deals were nothing new to us. But, this one seemed a little more adventurous than the ones before.

Several weekends later Daddy had arranged for some of his friends to come up with several truck loads of building supplies (as well as several coolers of beer). Always being practical, Mama had designed the house so that it was square and everything was in divisions of 8 feet, so no sheets of plywood or 8' boards needed to be cut. Of course all of this simplicity was offset by the engineering required to install the 40 foot tall iron poles to rest the front of the house on and the elevated walk way that allowed us to safely get from the car to the side door.

Some where along the way, Daddy had gotten his hands on several gallons of surplus Army Green paint with a dual purpose - the color blended in with the Rhododendron that covered the property, and it was incredibly cheap. And, my earlier comments about furniture from the Holiday Inn were made in semi-jest. In preparing to furnish the mountain house, Dad found out they were refurbishing a local Holiday Inn. He went and purchased 4 rooms of furniture.  So the decor of the three bedrooms and some of the den furniture was late "Holiday Inn".

When all was said and done, we had an army green 1600 square foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bath house (furnishings circa 1960s Holiday Inn) with a large screen porch across the front that over looked the "Big Hungry" creek - a good 70 feet below. My parents officially had a mountain house and no fear Architectural Digest was going to show up any time soon for a photo shoot.

Despicable Me -2, a Movie Review

I didn't see the first Despicable Me. I found the trailers most entertaining, but never could get my DH to go see it. Then the sequel, Despicable Me 2, looked irresistible. And, I'll admit right from the get go, I want a Minion or three. I did not get a good start in the theater when the young man sitting behind me started announcing every ten minutes or so (and not in a hushed tone) "Oh, this is my favorite part!" Let's just assume two things - (1) He had seen the movie before and (2) it never dawned on his parents that the rest of us did not care. 

The story line is cute and funny. It has spy gadgets you can imagine a top notch spy needs and more - a great car and a lipstick taser (thingamajigs you would expect Agents 86 and 99 to have if they were around today - no shoe phone though, dag nabbit!) And, of course, there is an evil villain or two. You cannot help but love Gru (voice by Steve Carell) with his 3 adorable little girls.  Kristen Wiig is the voice of Lucy, the humorous female spy, assigned to Gru as his partner - much to his dismay. The voices of Benjamin Bratt (as Eduardo) and Russell Brand (as Professor Nefario) are also key characters.

The animation is colorful and well done, the way animation was when I grew up, not the harsh sharp drawings of some of the newer (gaming type) animation. OK, OK, I cannot help but show my age. So what? The story moves along. Sometimes the humor of the Minions alone keeps the story going. There were some slow parts, but then most movies seem to drag at some point. 

I had an idea how the movie would end - no spoiler here - world saved, good over evil and boy rescues girl after coming to his senses. But there are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. And, as the reviews keep saying - the Minions hijack the movie. It would definitely be weak and not work without them. But they can only make so much mischief. OK, they can wreck havoc or save the day. But, now they have their own movie coming. 

Now, I want to see the first one. And, by the way, don't be in a hurry to leave your seat when the movie is over - stay for the credits.

Photography Post - Man on Green Balcony

This shows the juxtaposition of the incredible beauty of the architecture reminiscent of Havana's glory days and the poverty of the city today. Note the clothes drying on the line, the old TV antennae, and the peeling paint.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Photography Post - Boulevard in Miramar

Houses on a boulevard in the Miramar neighborhood of Havana. These were the houses owned by the well to do who fled the Island during the revolution, many of them to Florida, leaving their homes and most of their belongings behind.

Monday, July 8, 2013

High Acres, a Holiday Inn?

Visiting High Acres was not for the faint of heart. Although it was a great place to relax and get away from it all, Daddy always wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of.  He loved High Acres and loved nothing more than to share it with friends and family, making sure everyone had a great time. And this would start with Bloody Mary's as soon as you rolled out of bed ('Hair of the Dog' as Daddy called them) and the consumption of libations continued until bedtime. 

Regular guests learned early to pace themselves, lest they suffer undo bodily harm. It was not unusual to have some one fall off a horse when the horse was standing still or worse yet, fall off the back deck and roll down the mountain through the apple orchard. Yes, it happened more than once but we would always send the jeep to procure them. But, I digress.

Daddy had this, apparently, God given talent to be able to drink all day and rarely get drunk. There were a few people who had the reputation of keeping up with him and their reputations preceded them. Every guest may as well have accepted the fact that there was going to be at least one great embarrassing story at their expense. If they couldn't handle it, probably they would never feel comfortable coming back. And, we would never want them to feel uncomfortable,  but then chances were they would not want to come back. 

While most guests wanted to be included on Dad's outings, there were those less adventurous souls (usually the dull spouse of some real fun guest) who just stayed around the house reading or doing needle point or watching TV, keeping Mama company, or, more often than not, driving her crazy. She valued her "quiet" time on the farm because she always had her list of projects she was working on for the house. 

One of Dad's best friends, Douglas, had a wife, Mary, whom Dad best described as having the personality of a brick wall. From the first time they came up to the farm, she was not a happy camper. "Why wasn't the house finished? Does everyone start drinking in the morning? What is there to do? No, I have allergies and don't care to go outside." At one point, Daddy had had enough to drink at supper that he started explaining to her that they had tried to copy the rooms at the Holiday Inn, but they would not sell him the furniture and besides, he and Mama were not sure where they would put the front desk.

She thought he was serious until another guest started questioning whether the bright green and yellow neon sign placed out by the gate would bother the cows. The conversation went downhill from there. Comments were made that they had done a super job transforming the great room into the hotel bar and it was too bad they couldn't get the furniture. A question was asked about which room would be the presidential suite. 

Mary's attitude never changed. And, every time Dad invited Douglas up to the farm, we prayed that Mary would decide not to join him. But, alas that always seemed to be the case. And, Mama dreaded those trips. She tolerated the house parties because Daddy did all the entertaining. However, Mary became her new "best friend". Eventually, Douglas would come by himself and offer some lame apology for Mary not being able to join us. Of course that apology was never as lame as Mama's, "Oh, Douglas, I'm so sorry Mary could not come, Bless her heart."

The Heat, a Movie Review

Often movie trailers show all the funny lines and by the time you see the movie, you've already seen the best parts. Well, The Heat with Melissa McCarthy (as Mullins) and Sandra Bullock (as Ashburn) is not such a case. I am going to have to see the movie a second time. The reason - I often found myself laughing so hard at one line (along with my DH and everyone else in the theater) that I would miss the following line which was obviously as funny.  

This is the movie best described as "The Bridesmaids" in uniform. (Or in the case of Melissa McCarthy's "uniform", not so much.) It is hard to describe her outfit but it was as old as the four door Rambler she drove around the streets of Boston, often in total disregard of everything around her, and as shabby. At one point Ashburn tells Mullins that just turning her shirt inside out does not make it clean to wear the next day.

And, even with the insane humor and physical comedy (neither of these great actresses lets you down) there is a good story line. Bullock plays straight man to McCarthy's comic genius. Think of McCarthy with a badge, an attitude, no couth, and even worse social skills thrown together with  Bullock's character as an FBI agent, even more arrogant than her role as Margaret Tate in "The Proposal". And, it goes down hill from there. 

Mullins' dialogue is foul, to say the least, but it truly fits her character. Ashburn reeks of her Yale degree and has a hard time relating to anyone else. Both are serious about their careers in law enforcement. We learn early on that Ashburn has solved the case of an infamous serial killer. Mullins, meanwhile, has arrested her own brother. (I would assume anyone with a grenade launcher in her refrigerator is pretty much "into" her job.)

Jane Curtin has a hilarious, although very small, role in the film as Mullins' mother. One of the great scenes in the movie is Ashurn finding herself at  the dinner table with Mullins' dysfunctional family. And, although everyone at the table speaks English, there is a major failure to communicate.

The 117 minutes flew by. Now, I just need to see the movie again and get the lines I missed the first time. 

Photography Post -Yellow Sunset

A sunset with a multiple colored sky.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

White House Down, a Movie Review

What happens when you show up at the theater to see one movie only to learn that the online site had the times wrong, and alas, that film will not be shown until 10:05 that evening? You go to Plan B. Well, my choices were limited and I took, what I thought, was the lesser of all the evils - White House Down.   Now, in full disclosure I will admit I had only seen one trailer for this film and I only remember Apache Helicopters being shot down over the White House. At that time, I quickly turned to my DH and said, "Not on my list."

Well, there I was by default. The movie opens with the usual suspects, a Capitol policeman, Cale, (Channing Tatum) waiting to pick up the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins) and then the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx) discussing trying to pull all troops out of the Middle East and establishing  peace with the head of his security detail, Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Then we learn the policeman, Cale,  is trying to win back favor with his daughter, Emily (Joey King),  by taking her to the White House with him for his interview for a position with the Secret Service on the President's detail.

Back to the President, obviously African American (Foxx), is married to a beautiful lady (Garcelle Beauvais) and they have two daughters - sound familiar? Brokering pulling troops out of the Middle East? I imagine this will be an interesting film if it makes it to the theater in the White House. 

Cale and Emily join a White House tour much to Emily's excitement. By this time, you know there are bad guys in the capitol, and a problem is afoot. The story line becomes one of political intrigue and just when you think the end is near and everyone is safe, the story takes another turn, then yet another. You must suspend some reality to get into the story. And, then upon leaving the theater, have a lot more faith in the security of the White House and the Capitol complex than shown in the movie, otherwise you may never sleep again and be ready to buy survival rations and dig a bomb shelter. Thankfully, I have full faith in those in charge so I can sleep at night.

The story line is curious and fast paced. The twists and turns keep you attention. Eventually the cavalry does arrive but survival is based on quick thinking, hand to hand skills, and LOTS of artillery. Cale's daughter Emily plays a pivotal role. The story here is more interesting that what was shown in the trailer. There is also a highly unlikely car chase scene and the downing of several Apache helicopters. And,  good wins over evil. The question, however, is who is good and who is evil. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Art and Furnishings at High Acres

I have said before that neither of my parents ever saw an antique store they didn't like. And, the house at High Acres became the final Show Case of their efforts. Now in "Show Case", I do not mean anything Sothebys would be interested in. Mama and Daddy were much more eclectic and intrigued by the bazaar. For instance, when one of the old churches near the farm was being torn down and replaced by a new structure, the congregation was thrilled when Mama and Daddy made them an offer to take all the old wooden pews off their hands.

So we found ourselves the proud owners of a dozen or so church pews, some 12 feet, some only 6 feet long. If you've never had any, church pews can be quite handy. Mama had an old harvest table in the kitchen that was often necessary to seat the number of folks Daddy was known to invite for a weekend. A 12 foot long church pew fit well along the side of the harvest table. There was a short one my mother painted red in the entrance hall. I had one painted antique green in my bedroom. Another was placed on the back deck. And several were stored upstairs for further use. Mama was less than pleased to find that Stanbury had even taken one and placed it in "her" picnic shed by the pond. 

One afternoon Mama commented to Stanbury that she was looking for an old steamer trunk. Next time we went to the farm, we found 3 old steamer trunks sitting in the great room. Obviously, Stanbury had been to "the sale" (as he called it) and got her 3. He was pretty proud of himself. Given one of them was basically falling apart, the second one was covered with cracked leather, and the third one was made out of aluminum, they were not exactly what Mama had in mind. Stanbury commented to Daddy, "What's she gonna do with them thar old things any how?

Daddy paid Stanbury for the trunks and gave him a little more guidance for the next sale. Sure enough, the next time up we found 2 antique trunks with beautiful leather, wood, and lovely paper linings. Mama was thrilled. She thanked Stanbury profusely. He beamed in pride. They rarely spoke the same language and he was thrilled he had finally made her happy. She then asked, "Do you ever see any of those old iron beds at those sales? Anything like that you see, just buy it for me." Stanbury looked at Daddy who just gave him that, 'Go ahead, I'll pay for it' look. 

From then on we never knew what treasures awaited us upon our arrival at the farm. Stanbury did come through with two iron beds. One had brass balls on the corner knobs, although only on 3 of the 4 corners. There were old milk cans, a yoke for a plow mule, a dozen or so old green jars, glass transformers, a dress maker's form, a Mexican blanket, and  wooden milk crates. He bought her incomplete sets of mismatched china, an old table, a chest with all the knobs missing, various odd looking chandeliers,  two cane bottom chairs, and several old quilts. Sometimes trash, sometimes treasure, you just never knew. One day, Daddy asked Stanbury how he knew what to buy. "Well, if it looks like junk, then I know its what Miss Zenith wants. Darn if I know why. But I buy it any way." 

Of course Daddy also added to the collection. He had purchased every copy of Reader's Digest Magazine from 1950 through 1970, as well as two or three dozen of the volumes of the Condensed Books. Then somewhere he found a collection of National Geographic Magazines containing various issues from 1910 through 1972. Needless to say, we were not short of reading material.

So when visualizing the house at High Acres you have to start with all the beautiful pieces from that large Victorian home that they had torn down. Then  put those lovely carved archways, large molded doorways, the stair case, and huge windows into a large square house that was sided with rough cut siding painted barn red and sitting on top of a mountain. And, then consider the eclectic collection of furnishings  and objects d'art Mama and Daddy had accumulated. All that results in one unique home.