Friday, September 30, 2011

Closings (of Real Estate and of Doors)... and Openings!

Last Friday when I closed the door to our Louisiana home for the last time, I lingered for a moment with my hand on the doorknob.  

I put some thought into actually closing that door.  I did it slowly and with great deliberation.  I said a little prayer for the house and thanked the walls for sheltering me for 26 years.  Okay it sounds a little wacky, but I actually stroked the doorframe.  

After a minute or two, I realized that although I was closing the door, I could mentally look back through it at any time.  It was a partial glass door in more ways than one.  Although I wouldn't be stepping back into my old house, I could remember my life there as if looking through the glass top of the door and that would be sufficient.

The tears did come a little later when I drove away, but at that moment of closing the door, I really was at peace.  

Now my mind is on the figurative doors that I'll be opening over the next months as I make a new life in Virginia.

I hope you won't zone out and skip over the following poem, thinking that you don't "get" or like poetry.... give this poem by David Wagoner a try.

It'ss about how an actor might approach the direction to "open a door."

There are a lot of ways to go about it...... How are you opening the doors in your life?  

At The Door

All actors look for them-the defining moments
When what a character does is what he is.
The script may say, He goes to the door
And exits or She goes out the door stage left.

But you see your fingers touching the doorknob,
Closing around it, turning it
As if by themselves. The latch slides
Out of the strike-plate, the door swings on its hinges,
And you're about to take that step
Over the threshold into a different light.

For the audience, you may simply be
Disappearing from the scene, yet in those few seconds
You can reach for the knob as the last object on earth
You wanted to touch. Or you can take it
Warmly like the hand your father offered
Once in forgiveness and afterward
Kept to himself.

Or you can stand there briefly, as bewildered
As by the door of a walk-in time-lock safe,
Stand there and stare
At the whole concept of shutness, like a rat
Whose maze has been rebaffled overnight,
Stand still and quiver, unable to turn
Around or go left or right.

Or you can grasp it with a sly, soundless discretion,
Open it inch by inch, testing each fraction
Of torque on the spindles, on tiptoe
Slip yourself through the upright slot
And press the lock-stile silently
Back into its frame.

Or you can use your shoulder
Or the hard heel of your shoe
And a leg-thrust to break it open.

Or you can approach the door as if accustomed
To having all barriers open by themselves.
You can wrench aside
This unauthorized interruption of your progress
And then leave it ajar
For others to do with as they may see fit.

Or you can stand at ease
And give the impression you can see through
This door or any door and have no need
To take your physical self to the other side.

Or you can turn the knob as if at last
Nothing could please you more, your body language
Filled with expectations of joy at where you're going,
Holding yourself momentarily in the posture
Of an awestruck pilgrim at the gate-though you know
You'll only be stepping out against the scrim
Or a wobbly flat daubed with a landscape,
A scribble of leaves, a hint of flowers,
The bare suggestion of a garden.

David Wagoner

(taken from the website

Our real estate closing on the house went as expected two days ago.  It's official: we're full-time Virginians!

I've got a veritable maze of doors ahead of me.... I'm hoping to be the "awestruck pilgrim" at most of them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We're Here!!

I was puzzled and aggravated by the photos not uploading on my last mobile post so I haven't bothered blogging.... a post doesn't seem complete without a photo or two!

  I'm currently ensconced at the town library since we've yet to decide how to get internet at the rental.  The last post should have included a few photos so I'll go back in time and post them here.

Our first day on the road brought us to Wadsworth Farm where we arrived just before dark.  The horses had this lovely pasture and so much grass that neither of them wanted their grain rations for the night!

Next morning we made it across the rest of Alabama, through Chattanooga and Knoxville and then into Virginia where we stopped for the night at Knickerbocker Stables.

Here are Sarge and Cloud in the arena with their first view of the Blue Ridge Mtns behind them.

We let them stretch their legs in the arena until bedtime when we moved them into clean, well-kept stalls in the barn for the night.  

Noel has been the star of the trip:  no protest at riding in the car, wearing a collar or being confined in the crate during stops.  At almost 15, I didn't think that she'd be so resilient.  She decided that laying on the floor behind the drivers seat was her safest spot when we were driving and in the living quarters of the trailer, she was comfortable and unconcerned.... curling up on the bed to sleep as if she'd been traveling all of her life.

As usual on the drive, the last few hours involves running the gauntlet of 18 wheelers on Interstate 81.  It's one of the busiest trucking stretches of road that I've ever driven and it takes some concentration to stay out of the way of the big rigs as they get slowed down going uphill and then speed up going down.

We arrived at Windward Farm where we'll be permanent boarders at around 1PM and spent a few hours settling the horses in and unpacking our riding gear and grooming supplies.  I managed to whittle down our entire barn and tack room to a manageable couple of bins, but I imagine that we've still got more things there than most of the other boarders.

After saying good-bye to Sarge and Cloud, we wound our way across the country roads to the rental house.  A few hours more of work and the living quarters of the trailer was unloaded and the basement and house were ready for the movers to arrive with the semi the next AM.

Just before dark, we made a quick trip out to the new house on the hill.  It probably sounds horrible to say that I wasn't in the mood to see it that night, but I was worn out and it was almost dark.  Worrying over what I'd see when the furniture and boxes began coming off the truck the next day was weighing on me and I knew that I was still missing the old house.  I guess I wasn't quite ready to give my heart to the place yet.... remember that I haven't seen it at all since construction began in May.  So that first "meeting" was a little anticlimactic.  I think Joe expected me to whirl around and gush, but he was understanding and after another visit today when I wasn't exhausted and worried,  I'm loving the new place now!

My worries were for naught as the move went like clockwork.  Mr. Clevis Jefferson was our United Van Lines driver and has been driving since 1961!  Yes, 50 years!  I guess there isn't much that he hasn't seen.

It was a pleasure getting to know him and his sons and grandsons who were his loading/unloading crew.

As was the situation when they loaded us onto the truck in LA, he couldn't get the semi up the driveway at the VA rental which meant that the crew had to wheel all 10,000 lbs down a long driveway AGAIN.

This time the driveway was bumpy limestone plus most of the items also needed to be wheeled through the grass around the house into the basement entrance.  But there was never a complaint or frown all day.  They were cheerful and polite young men who stayed that way during and after putting in a full day of hard labor.

So that was our big move!  Both horses, both dogs, one surprisingly adaptable cat and all of our belongings made it unscathed and in one piece.   Most of the boxes are stacked in the basement awaiting the final move next year, so we've got minimal work to to unpacking and getting settled.

The closing on the "old" house is set for tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2pm.  While there is no reason to be concerned, we'll be holding our breath until then.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Driving, Driving....

All is still going along well with the drive up to VA

Last nights stay at Wadsworth Farm in Alabama couldn't have been nicer.

Super clean and neat, good grass for the horses and quiet.  Owner Julia was waiting for us when we arrived even thought of having wireless Internet out at the barn that we could access from the trailer.

We stopped for the night in Bristol VA!  YES...they let us across the border!!! :)

Tonight we're at another farm listed on, Knickerbocker Farm. We were able to turn the horses out in the grassy arena for a few hours before putting them in stalls. Owner Susan even drove out to meet us at the interstate so that we didn't need to worry about taking a wrong turn.   

Once again it's perfect for a nights layover and we are able to relax and not be worried about the horses. 

My patience is kaput from typing this on my phone!!

***Sent from my phone so blame any typos on my one finger typing!

Friday, September 23, 2011

We're Off!

The moving van arrived right on time yesterday morning.  Loading went well.... there were plenty of times that I couldn't watch as they were stacking and wheeling things precariously down the long driveway, but I never heard any crashes!   :)

I was grateful to learn that our belongings would be the ONLY load on the truck (we knew that often they split loads in order to fill the truck.  Even better news was that our driver, who used his two sons and a grandson as his loading crew, will drive the whole route and his sons will also unload us in VA.

We had dinner at John and Sue's on Wednesday night.  They were the first to welcome us to "our" end of the street 26 years ago and brought us a much needed casserole for dinner when we were moving in after the house was completed, so it was appropriate that theirs was the last house we were invited to before leaving for VA.  

We were exhausted after yet another night being up until 3AM, yet we still managed to go have a nice dinner out at the Mag with Paige and David last night.   I knew the cleaning and final packing could wait;  a visit with dear friends took precedence over getting an early start this AM. 

This morning after the house was cleaned, a bottle of champagne left in the refrigerator, and all of the critters ready for the journey, I was on such an even keel that I was SURE that I wasn't going to cry.  

But seconds before I got in the car,  the tears welled up.  

After little sniffling on Joe's shoulder, I climbed into Bernard since I was taking the first leg of "Noel duty" while Joe was following in the truck with the dogs and horses.  .

.... A few more tears going down the driveway.... A few more going across the front of the property.  And then I couldn't stand it anymore; by the time I reached Mr Grimmer's a half mile down the road, I had to pull over and sob.  I was totally overcome.  

I've only felt this way at funerals.... you know the feeling like your chest is about to explode or is being torn into pieces?

It was about 10 minutes before I had pulled myself together enough to drive.  I gave myself an imaginary shake of the shoulders and told myself that I hadn't lost anyone.  I still have the same wonderful four sons, husband and dear friends.  All that I no longer have is the house.  A wonderful house it's true, but a house all the same.  My sons will still be my sons whether I've got that house to remind me of their childhoods or not.  My friends are all still alive and well and able to be called and emailed.  I'm still hoping that friends are constant fixtures in our new guest room.

It may take a while to feel familiar, but I know that my life will be full and rich in Virginia.  Onward!

It's 11 pm and I need some sleep.  We're staying at a "horse motel" in northern Alabama; a lovely place about 4 miles off the interstate.  The horses have a safe, lush pasture (they could have had stalls but I chose to let them stretch their legs) while we're in the RV half of the trailer which is  plugged into the clean and quiet barn.  Joe, Biggs, Atta and Noel are much smarter than me and they are all fast asleep!  

BTW little 15 year old tabby Noel who has never left the house except for occasional vet trips, is handling the upheaval like a trooper.  There were only a couple of minutes of mewing in the car and she's made no protest about the collar and tag that I'm making her wear.  Such a sweetheart!

Here's a photo from loading day.... Do you think Sarge may be telling Cloud that it seems like a rather large trailer for just the two of them!

Thanks to everyone who has called, emailed or commented..... I'll get back to you personally in a day or so...... What a week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Final Day of Packing! and Inside Tour Finale

I wasn't able to find even 5 minutes to jot out a blog post yesterday, but I'm forcing the world to stop spinning for 15 minutes this morning so that I can get this written.

The moving van is coming tomorrow and we're almost ready for its arrival.... I believe that I'm ready both as far as the packing goes and mentally.

We were up working until 3:00 AM last night (or is that this morning?) boxing up more of the kitchen and then the laundry room.... it had to get done even if it meant a near all-nighter.

The last few days have brought more goodbyes.... Tim and Ada.  Matt and Suzanne.  Larry.  The ladies in book group.  Saying goodbye to the Sunday eating gang was eased by the hope that they'll come and visit.  But still it's hard to imagine not having such dear friends to chat and joke with on Sunday night.   That's about all I can say about that......

Offsetting the goodbyes and the physical wear of packing is the excitement of getting to Virginia. Each night we practically pinch ourselves that we're able to fulfill this dream and shake up our lives a bit.

Here are the last few photos of the house.  I won't go through every room as there are too many.... 5 BR, 3 1/2 bathrooms, a study and a playroom.  The rooms are lovely..... skylights and a cathedral ceiling in the bigger kids upstairs bedroom with a reading loft reached by a wooden ladder, window seats, built in cabinets and cubbies, our awesome tile shower and tub with the view of the pool......but you'll mostly just see furniture in those rooms and so I'll post a few photos of the den and then cut short the stroll down memory lane!

Look closely and you'll see that it's Christmas in the first photo!!

If the boys remember coming up the driveway after school to a welcoming oasis then we achieved our goal of creating a space that would nurture our growing family.

We've always joked that problems are what everyone remembers from a trip or vacation.... the blowout, kid throwing up or the major snafu is vividly etched in our minds and talked about for years while the trip that goes like clockwork is more of a blur.

Most assuredly, we had some "disasters" in this house over the last 25 years.  Would we be human if we could have raised 4 sons without a few problems?  There were the arguments, tears and hurts that every family experiences.

But, oh how I hope that they remember the day in and day out happy times, the joy of waking up in a safe loving home.  Meals together, fires in the fireplace, relaxing on the sofa, playing games......

I want them to remember the feel ..... and I mean that literally..... the feel of this house.  Walking in and being home.  

And now it's time for me to get back to work.  It's becoming less of a home and more of a house with every box that is stacked against the wall, but I still love it and hope that it brings joy to the new owners!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Agony of Packing Continues and Inside Tour Part One

The Coundown.
Moving Day..... 5 days away.
Closing..... 10 days.

Want to know the truth?  We're dying down here.

We woke up this morning with our muscles aching.  My lower back is giving me trouble and Joe's back and thumbs hurt (honestly, that's what he says!).

So after we stumbled out to the destruction that is now the kitchen, Joe went out to the horse trailer medicine cabinet and got us each a pre-breakfast appetizer of Aleve.

Yesterday we finished the den (behind schedule), so we didn't begin the kitchen until late in the afternoon.  Not surprisingly, we didn't get it finished.  But it'll get done eventually.... or else the new buyers will get a partially furnished home!

Aside from the packing, we're on a mission to use up food from the freezer and pantry so we're having some rather awesome concoctions.  Last night was pan-sauteed redfish (caught by a friend in the Gulf last month) and a crazy pasta and vegetable mish-mash that could never again be duplicated because of the wild assortment of odds and ends in there.  

We're also using up some of our propane supply by soaking in the hot tub for a few minutes before bed!

I'm wasting precious packing time on the blog not because I want to remember how tired I am, but because I want to put photos of the old house on the blog now and then when I'm gone.... I'll be gone.   Really gone.

I don't want to do this when I'm in Virginia.  Taking a house tour now is looking at the photos and saying what a nice place we managed to build as youngsters in our 20's and loving our home.  Because we do love it.  And because it's STILL our home.  If it weren't in Zachary LA we'd never be thinking of leaving what we've created and nurtured.

But to do this after we'd moved would seem like I was mourning what I had left behind and I don't want to do that!  After we move, it'll be all photos of the new house and the sights of Virginia!

But come on in.  You don't want to see what it all looks like today!  It would be hard to see the walls for the boxes,  so most of these photos are from a few months ago when we were keeping things all neat for house showings.

Remember how there was a wrap-around porch on the house?  Well it wraps around the dining room and since we're all friends and family here, you'll probably be walking up the side walkway and coming in the kitchen door.

I love the kitchen!

Okay, true....I love everything about the house!
Except where it's located!  :)

The back side of the island is "command central"!  Where all of the action happens..... Looking out and left and right....

I've always had a triple sink and will be putting one in the new house too!

The kitchen is mostly unchanged since the mid 80's, except for tearing out the rose colored tile and installing granite and a new backsplash.  I miss my tile, but I followed the rest of the herd over the cliff and installed the granite when we decided to sell.  
Here's the corner step-in pantry and the back door.  There's a half bathroom, coat closet and laundry room back there.

Joining the kitchen is the dining room.... lots of good meals have been eaten in there!  Open to the kitchen and yet just slightly isolated enough that no one ever threw backpacks or keys on the table.  Plenty of windows.  
The curved glass piece in the corner came from my father's family and it's the only piece that I have from the Brunsons.  It's one of the ones that the movers wanted $700 apiece to crate!!!! 

The sideboard, table and chairs were my great-grandmother's for whom I'm named.  They were originally in Iowa so have been well travelled!   

That's it for today!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Packing and Outdoor Tour Part Three

I wish I could say that packing yesterday sailed along and that Joe and I swirled through the house with joyous abandon, jazzy music playing, reminiscing and happy as newlyweds.   The truth is that I was grumpy and Joe was painfully slow (over an hour to pack 3 boxes of books?.....just saying!)  But I can smile about it now and for some reason, I'm in a much more serene mood today.

We got most of the den packed, but we're a little behind my orderly plan of attack that was supposed to give us 2 days off before the actual move.  Slowing us down horribly is getting our "art" (sounds grand doesn't it?) boxed up in those maddening puzzle boxes that they call picture/mirror cartons.

During all of the chaos and crabbiness, Sarge decided to lay down out in the pasture and die rather than move to VA.  Not really, but he did get a touch of gassy colic and after an hour of walking him around, we went to the drugs and gave him a syringe of Banamine.  He's recovered now and probably just wanted to throw a monkey wrench in our schedule!

We worked until 6 pm, then tidied ourselves up and drove into Baton Rouge meeting Clark and Raeanna who made the 90 mile drive up to have dinner with us one last time.  I tell you these kids of mine will do ANYTHING for a free meal!

We got our minds off of boxes, tape and bubble wrap for a while and learned more about the first six weeks of medical school and Clark's plans for starting his job on Monday!  Talk about things to remember for those two.... I hope one of them is keeping a journal!

But it was sad beyond sad to hug them goodbye out in the parking lot.  We're hoping to see them at Christmas, but who knows?

We put in a couple of hours of packing after dinner and then melted into bed at 1 AM.  What a day!

Joe is fixing breakfast (a rare occurence) so I'll take a minute to finish out the outdoor tour.....

The barn is just a few steps from the end of the driveway....

Once again, we often pat ourselves on the back for coming up with such a nice plan and design.

The tack room and workshop are in the front and then the three stalls have access to the pasture which wraps in a "U" shape around the house.

We'll be boarding Sarge and Cloud when we get to VA.

No plans to build another barn.  We were so disheartened to learn that with the "new" real estate appraisal methods our lovely stable was only valued at $10/square foot.  Sad, sad, sad.

It'll be nice to leave their daily care to someone else for a change!
Here's the view of the back of the house from the pasture. 

 We built the pool about 10 years ago; our goal was to have something that would look attractive in the landscape even if it were never used for swimming.

I was originally certain that I wanted a "curvy" pool but quickly realized that every pool photograph that I was drawn to was geometric.  So I switched gears and created an angular design.  It incorporates a 50' lap lane into the design. .... I can do wonders with graph paper!

Oh and I said yesterday that we didn't hire out anything on the landscaping?.... I take that back.... We definitely didn't install the pool ourselves!!!

All of these photos look so sparse since I decided not to plant my usual myriad of pots and planters round the pool this summer.... and a few of the photos are from early spring.
 Deep enough to dive.....

And the hot tub feels great to old muscles after a day of packing!  

With the woods all around, it "could" be a pretty good pool for skinnydipping.  How I'd know anything  about that I'm not really sure.....  ;-)  

I'll leave you back here relaxing while I get back to packing.  It was supposed to be kitchen packing day today, but we're still working in the den.  :( 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Packing and Outdoor Tour Part Two

The packing continues!  Today the project was to get the barn and workshop cleaned out and to load the horse trailer.

I took a break to drive to Baton Rouge to get my hair cut (priorities you know!) and Joe is off to poker tonight where he's being feted with a going away cookout from the poker gang.

Saying goodbye to Nona who has been doing my hair for 27 years now was strange.  It's almost impossible to believe that I won't be coming back.  I had a lot to mull over on the way home..... it was my first "goodbye."  :(

Yesterday we packed Asher's room (which was once the nursery and in recent years has been the downstairs guest room) and the back coat closet.  Although that doesn't sound like we accompished much, we both had other errands to run and Mr. Biggs to deal with in the evening.

Bigg's routine tooth cleaning didn't go well.  He had a rough go with the anesthesia, and his veterinarian was quite concerned.  When we brought him home, he was still disoriented and distressed.... running into walls if we let him walk around unattended and severely agitated.  No more anesthesia for Mr. Biggs!!

After finally falling asleep at 11pm, he slept like a rock for 9 hours and woke up almost back to normal.  He's still wobbly at times, but spent the entire morning out at the barn with us today and seems to have regained his awareness of where he is etc. Whew!

Now to get back to the house tour!!!  I left you rocking and swinging on the front porch.

Go around the far side of the porch and out into the side garden.... there's Mr. Biggs waiting for you.
We've never had anyone do "work" for us.... we do the designing, the planting and yes, even the brick laying.  Joe poured the concrete foundation and I laid every brick you see.... one by one....  I had pretty much perfected my methods by the time that I was finished!

On one side of the main walkway is the herb garden area..... the kitchen window looks out at the circle.....

A dining/sitting area is on the other end with my much loved angel fountain.....

I gave a lot of thought to bringing the angel with us, but in the end I just couldn't imagine the corner without him and decided to let him stay behind to watch over the place.
 Across the driveway is the vegetable garden (which currently has ZERO vegetables... other than the asparagus bed).  It's surrounded by an antique cypress picket fence.

We are both proud of our design for the garden shed that Joe built about 10 years ago.  It has a cedar shake roof, a potting area on the right and is even cuter on the inside than it is from out here!

This last photo is looking back at the house from the garden shed.

I'll leave you hanging around out here until tomorrow!  Maybe you could do a little virtual weeding for me?

Mr. Biggs says he wants his dinner and I need to squeeze in another hour of packing before calling it a day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Packing and Outdoor Tour Part One

The magic wand is still awol and so Joe and I are  toiling packing away.

I made out a schedule of rooms to do each day (I'm a "list-maker") in order to finish with 2 days to spare and we're doing our best to stick to the plan.

Of course there are scads of other things odds and ends to fill our waking hours..... library returns, dry cleaning, safe deposit box..... The dogs went in for visits to the vet yesterday and Biggs is back there this morning getting his old teeth cleaned and a growth removed from his neck.  Joe doesn't have any growths on his neck, but he's headed to the orthodontist this afternoon!

The master bathroom, hall bathroom and closet under the stairs was packed away on Monday.  (I looked for him, but I didn't see any evidence of Harry Potter in the room under the stairs!).

Yesterday we finished the garden shed, everything else outdoors except for a few items that I'm still using, and the upstairs of the house.  Upstairs was mostly finished already so it just took a couple of hours there.

The closing has been delayed again and is now set for a week AFTER we've moved.  ;(  This caused us a lot of worry last night and we stewed for most of the evening trying to decide if we should change the moving date with United.  But in the end we've decided to keep moving ahead and just trust.... and pray and hope and have faith etc that all will work out.

Since we won't be here too much longer, how about a tour of the "old" house?  I'll take a few days to show you around the outside.

I'm standing in the front pasture here.  Can you believe that these trees were only about 3" in diameter and 7 feet tall when we bought the land in 1984?  

Come on up the driveway.....

You can see the barn straight ahead and the garden shed.

I did a  post last year about some of the camellias and the Magnolia Stellata that bloom in the winter along the driveway.

Judge Solomon azaleas and the pasture fence are on the left and a variety of trees and shrubs on the right (blueberries, fig, persimmon, Chinese Pistachio, oriental Magnolia, Oak, Loblolly Bay, Fringe Tree and more)

Pull into the parking bay.... there's the house and the raised wrap around porch.

The "Near East" crepe myrtles that encircle the end of the parking bay are just finishing their late summer bloom. 

In the winter their bare branches are lovely to look at... so "sculptural"!  

Look the other way and there's the vegetable garden and the cedar garden shed.... but don't go over there yet...

Instead go up the front walkway......

There's Sarge saying Hi from the front pasture.

Clark and Asher dug the front pond for me when they were just youngters!

I have a photo of them doing it,  but it's packed away with the scrapbooks already!

That's my day blooming waterlily that I ordered from Hawaii.

We laid every brick and planted every plant here....

Lots of love and care....

Make yourself comfortable on the front porch....and then we'll go walk around more outside tomorrow!

I'm off to pack!  Today's goal is to dismantle the roll top desk, pack Asher's room and the back coat closet and begin to get the living area of the horse trailer loaded.  

I'd rather be swinging on the porch swing with you!  

Monday, September 12, 2011

A-One Movers and NOT a Hope Chest


The novice Penske driver did an excellent job and all of the delicate furniture made it with wobbly curved glass etc. intact!  Even the old geezer driving the truck and trailer got his load with the workshop and yard equipment, mirrors and TV there without a mishap!

Whew!  Balancing out the charges that we'd have entailed for these items with the cost of renting the Penske and the fuel, we still came out a couple of thousand dollars richer.  Crazy!

The 2 horse trailer has been left behind at the rental and they're headed home now.  Tomorrow I'll have Joe to order around help here with the packing.

It's T minus 3 days until closing and 10 days until moving day!!

I packed the rest of the dining room yesterday so thought I'd share the story of my china and silver.

I chose each of them when I was in elementary school!  I was entering 6th grade when my mother decided that we would take a mother-daughter outing to Rider's Jewelers in Baton Rouge and I could choose a silver and china pattern to start collecting.  It probably sounded kind of kooky to me even then, but at that gawky stage, I imagine that I was up for anything that made me feel more grown up, so off we went.

And here I am an old middle-aged lady and still as in love with both of them as I was then.

My mother made it VERY plain to the ladies at the store and to friends later that this was NOT a "hope chest" being started.  She was adamant that this was intended to get me started collecting something and was not in the least about getting married.  Her exact words were that "whether I was married or not", I'd be setting up a house of my own one day and I'd want "nice things."

When Joe and I married, our first joint purchase was a massive old blue Ford tractor, (we didn't notice until later that the serial numbers had been wiped out on it.... we were so enamored with the new paint job!), so maybe it was a good thing that my mother provided me with a head start on the pretty things!

The thought was that my parents could give me occasional gifts and I could spend my babysitting money on something permanent that would never be outgrown or worn out.

I was drawn like a moth to the flame when I saw the "W-595 Columbia Enameled" plate amid the display of other Wedgwood patterns and I knew that was "the one."  Since it was so unlike anything that my mother would ever have chosen (we were radically different and I was decidedly a Daddy's girl), I know she didn't steer me toward it.  To her credit she didn't try to dissuade me either!

For the silver, my mother rightly suggested that I chose one of the more simple classic patterns so as not to compete with the wild china pattern.  Gorham Chantilly was my choice and though it doesn't make my heart sing like the china, I still love it too and honestly wouldn't choose another.

People usually say "How lucky that you still like it and that your tastes didn't change!"

But you know what has changed?  The bland brown everday stoneware pattern that I picked out as a bride-to-be?..... Yuck!  And it's long gone!

I wonder if as a young child,  I was able to go with what my heart wanted and loved: colorful hand-painted roses and little peeps of blue flowers with wild looking gold griffins and more colors than you could shake a stick at?!

If I had picked a pattern at aged 21 or older, I'd probably have gone more sedate.... You know something that could match anything, something that food is supposed to look good on, something "classic" and subdued.  Adult talk.  Blah, blah, blah.   So I guess I've got what my inner child picked.... and I smile whenever I look at it.

Back in the day, I'd save money from babysitting or birthdays and buy a shrimp cocktail fork or an olive spoon... it was all pretty scattered.  There was never an effort to get place settings etc, just whatever struck my fancy.  My mother might bring home a spoon she saw at an antique shop or I might receive a salad plate for a Christmas present.  And like the old hope chest idea, I did keep them all stowed away in one of my dresser drawers!

When I stayed in  London for three weeks as a Sophomore in college, my friends were searching for souvenirs to bring home.  Most went looking for Fair Isles or Irish Fisherman sweaters (remember those?) which are probably long outgrown!  My fellow Pennsylvania students shook their heads in disbelief at their wacky southern friend who had a china pattern, but I struck out one day for the Wedgwood store on Regent Street and had these two bowls shipped home.

They're still going strong 36 years later while the Fair Isles sweater that I bought went to the trash heap many years ago!!

Now that I've wasted an hour composing this post, I need to get back to packing!

So much to do.... and I'd rather be doing anything else!

Where is that magic wand when I need it?