A Garden of Dreams

It is late March and despite the subfreezing temperatures and the promise of snow later in the week, we just met with our gardener to discuss the vegetable garden we want to plant this spring.  The snow has finally melted, for now at least, and it appears as if some “early birds” are already nest hunting around the house, confirming that spring will arrive…eventually and our Garden of Dreams will become a reality.  The excitement is palpable.  Well OK, maybe it is not as exhilarating as winning the Mega Millions, which I tried unsuccessfully to do this weekend or even as stirring as the status of March Madness, but for Irwin and I and our slow home lifestyle, it is absolutely thrilling.

 

Irwin & our gardener measuring for the garden

 

An "Early Bird" Nest Hunting

 

We have been discussing the possibility of planting a vegetable garden for eleven years, ever since taking title of our home in the country. The thought of growing food along with caring for farm animals has been a dream of ours from the outset. It is almost impossible NOT to consider a slow home, farming life when surrounded by lush farmland, rolling hills and babbling creeks, but the reality of our weekender status never allowed us to move forward with either. 

 

lush Farmland, rolling hills

 

 

 

babbling creeks

 

 

However, that never stopped us from dreaming about as well as continuing to discuss it.  Early on, immediately following our first visit to the local county fair, I was convinced that raising animals was our destiny.  After looking at all of the beautiful farm animals brought to show at the fair, I knew that would be a part of our future in the country.  And while my dream of an Alpaca farm is still on the back burner, our dream of building a garden and growing our own vegetables is coming to fruition. Now that is progress, country style.

 

A Fair to Remember:

Howdy Cowdy

 

 

 

A couple of kids

 

 

This big piggy

 

 

Seriously, she's got Milk

 

 

Alpacas...on hold

 

 After sharing the fresh salad our neighbor Gloria, a master gardener, brought to our Road Party last summer, we revisited the possibility of planting a garden this year.  Gloria had offered to mentor us, which was just the impetus we needed to get the ball rolling.  While we had what we were hoping was the ideal location, there was still the issue of maintaining the garden during the week, when we are in the city.  That glitch was remedied when our wonderful neighbor Jeanne suggested that we collaborate on the vegetable garden.

 

Gloria's fresh garden salad- helped make our dream a reality

 

The plan was simple.  We would house the garden on our property (Jeanne does not have an appropriate spot) and she would help maintain and water it as best she could, when we could not be here.  After initial costs were calculated, we would determine appropriate shares of cost and harvest and go forward from there.  All we needed to do was wait for spring.

And what a wait it has been.  Despite several glorious spring days, we in the Northeast, are still experiencing winter weather daily but are hoping that eventually, (and by that I mean before July) spring will indeed arrive.

So here are the basics of our plan:

A ten by ten or smaller sized garden with raised beds. We don't want to bite off more than we can chew, at least initially.  A fence eight to ten feet high surrounding the garden to keep out the deer that use that area as a thoroughfare as they head up and down the mountain and chicken wire under the beds to deter woodchucks.

That is it: Simple and sweet, at least for now.   Much like our life in the country.

We'll see how this plan pans out.  I am sure like most other things, it will be a process with many lessons learned along the way.  But have no fear, I will be sharing updates as they occur and spring’s renewal as it transpires.

Just wanted to leave you with these beautiful faces of Charlie’s friends in the country. They stopped by to say hello while we were out making plans for our vegetable garden.

Finnegan

 

collie

 

 

And share this beautiful pair of bouquets, which are always in full bloom.  All the proceeds from the sale of these spectacular chairs will go directly to Komen CT.

 

 

 the entire proceeds from the sale of these beautiful chairs will go directly to Komen CT

 

New Beginning: A Slowhome Lifestyle Inside and Out

As I emerge from the beauty, self-evaluation and repentance of the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, I am struck by the difficulty of the task that lies ahead of me and the enormity of work I have to do…on myself.  But like with many other aspects of life, this transformation is not simply a one-shot deal or quick fix, but rather a slow, deliberate attempt to make the necessary changes.

As we all learned in Psych 101, the first step in making any real change is the acknowledgment of the changes we need to make.  Although I am acutely aware of some of my shortcomings, self-reflection can be somewhat overwhelming; like looking at our reflection in a magnifying mirror under the harsh florescent lighting of a hotel bathroom.   Seeing things in this glaring light makes it more difficult to strike the appropriate balance and focus on our whole being.  The little blemishes in our persona seem exaggerated and we become so transfixed on looking at our shortcomings we neglect to acknowledge our accomplishments.

So how do we go about an inner redesign?  How do we untangle the intricate web we’ve spun? 

Tangled web

Well, I’ve decided to take a slow- home approach to my inner being, much the same as Irwin and I have adopted in our country lifestyle.  Rather than embarking on an extreme make-over, which would be much like throwing out the baby with the bathwater, or doing a home tear-down when only one room needs attention.  I am approaching my inner décor redesign slowly, with forethought and a definite plan. Segmenting that image I see in the mirror and tackling one section, “one room” at a time. 

\

Segmenting the mirror

this particular one is our 20th century wagon wheel Mirror

 

I will make small changes, re-purposing where possible, then stepping back and evaluating before moving forward. While I know that any change can be difficult, I also know that less is often more and in order to create a sustainable inner core, I must let go of much of the clutter that I’ve accumulated over the past year. 

 

Much like the serenity prayer, my goal is to “accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."  While I know there may be setbacks along the way, my direction will remain constant-moving forward slowly and deliberately learning and growing along the way.

Serenity

Wishing all of you a wonderful year filled with health, happiness & prosperity!

 

 

As the moon set I set the alarm for two am, yet by midnight I was still awake.  I could not shake the events of the past few days and I could not get this phrase out of my head: “More being, less doing.”

 

The moon setting over "our" mountain

 

It is no secret that we love our life in the country. We have managed to rebuild a slow home that we have furnished with vintage and mid century pieces and live an intentionally slower life that we fully embrace.  We even held off bringing internet into our home for over ten years, fearing that it might inhibit the quality of life we enjoy here.  I write about it all the time, the slower pace, the thoughtful lifestyle, paying attention to the little things, making memories, taking the time to smell thethe rebirth of spring, but never had the importance of this lifestyle become clearer to me than this past week.

I attended the memorial service of a friend’s sibling, an extraordinary individual who passed away too soon. Although the situation was tragic, the celebration of his being was stunning and I walked away wishing I had known him in life. His wife’s words resonated in my head as she reflected upon their life together, wishing that there were “more being and less doing”.

More Bee-ing

 

So simply stated, it was profound: More being, less doing. Which brings me back to Friday night.  Setting the alarm and getting up at 2am would probably have not been a priority two or three years ago.  I would have probably set the alarm with good intentions and then shut if off and gone back to sleep.  I now know better.  Given the finite amount of time we are privileged to be here and how quickly it flutters by, every day & every experience is a gift to be savored. The time spent “being” is why we do all the ”doing” in the first place.

Life Flutters by

 

Although I know that inherently, and write as well as talk about it, I often forget to do it.  My children remind me of this all the time and to be honest, I am not always the best at practicing what I preach, but I am going to try each and every day as I chant my new mantra: More being, less doing.

So, Irwin and I took a blanket outdoors after 2am and lay under several more as we faced the Northern sky awaiting a five thousand year old event that did not disappoint.  We spent over three hours gazing at the meteor shower and the enormity of the heavens; just being, not doing.

Perseid Meteor Shower

 

Irwin celebrated a milestone birthday this past Friday and he and I learned a phrase that had somehow escaped us thus far: Double Nickels.  Turning fifty-five, which we all know is the new forty-five, Irwin was welcomed into the “Double Nickels Club”, an honor we had no idea even existed.

the birthday boy

 

We had just come to the realization that we were no longer “the kids”, and now, without a moment to digest our pre-geriatric status, Irwin was a confirmed “Double Nickels Club “ member and as if that were not enough to process, I will be following in his footsteps in six months. 

Life really does creep up on us.   We work and raise families, always pushing towards the next vacation, the next summer, the next level of success, the next milestone, when all the while life is moving forward.  Unlike the endless summers of our youth, the days quicken and the years pass and while you may have been considered the “kids” just a handful of years ago, you are now referring to your children as the kids and receiving Long Term Care mailings from AARP, to which you have been a card carrying member for a nickel’s worth of years.

But is this really such a bad thing?  While we might be longer in the tooth, we have attained years of life experience.  Being born smack dab in the middle of the ‘Boomer” Generation( 1955: A “double nickels” year), we have had the best of both worlds.  While we were taught the old fashioned way, with paper and pencil, were forced to do research with books in the library rather than on line and witnessed monumental historic events, we were still young enough to learn computers after Fortran and move from the Space Age into the fast paced virtual world we live in today.

That is probably why we love MCM furnishings so much.  It is not only because we are from the same period, which we are, but also because we share so many similar attributes.  Both of us were born in celebration of the new post-war era.  We were designed/raised with old world know-how and the belief that anything was possible. 

  

1950'sAtomic Steel & rope lamp

 

1950's Bat Winged Chair

 

1950's cerused oak console

Fran by lu Jarvis

As pre-Sesame Streeters,  who grew up with The Beatles, The Jetsons, TV dinners and Lost in Space, we were not married to anything that came before us, and were open to almost anything new.  Although we were born only ten years after the end of WWII it seemed like ancient history even when we were still toddlers.  And because we had lived through so many turbulent events, we learned how to reinvent/re-purpose ourselves to suit ever-changing lifestyles.

The Jetsons

 

 

TV Dinner

 

 

Lost in Space

 

We might be slightly marked like the Double Struck 1955 Lincoln Penny, but as in the case of the penny, it only increases our value.  Our imperfections, like those of our MCM counterparts serve as reminders that we are resilient survivors whose practicality and function are always in style.

 

double struck penny

 

Irwin & I were born in an amazing year- the one where the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the world series, Germany became a member of NATO, seat belt legislation was first introduced, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus AND...Disneyland opened!

1955 World Series

 Rosa Parks Arrested


 

 

1955 Pontiac Star Chief -the car I grew up with AND was NEVER equipped with seat belts

  

Disneyland Opened

 

So, cheers to  “Double Nickel “ club membership!  We wouldn’t want it any other way!

It is often said that you can never go back, that it is best to allow memories to remain as memories because all to often, when revisited, reality pales in comparison.  While this is true most of the time, sometimes, if the stars are aligned, some memories are well worth revisiting.

Irwin & I returned to the country for one night last weekend, because although we knew we needed to be in the city Sunday, we just could not bear to miss a weekend of spring’s continued revelations.

Upon arrival, I was shocked and disappointed to find the addition the robins had added to the nest featured in last week’s post, The Best Nest, torn down and laying in shambles on the ground.  I was not sure if the original builders returned and reclaimed their nest or something catastrophic had happened since neither bird family appeared during our short visit.  The burning bush guests were still in place, but there were still no tenants in the roof of our front door porch and it remained beautifully repainted and nest-free for the first time since we own our house.

Nest remains

 

 

pieces on the ground

 

Still Vacant

 

While Irwin was thrilled with the prospect of clean front steps for the first time in ten years, I was struck with a bout of melancholy.   As silly as it may seem, I love having these guests every year because they are a reminder of life’s promise and renewal.  While I began to grapple with my sense of loss, I walked around the perimeter of the house, desperately seeking some new affirmation of life, when I noticed our budding lilacs.


 

lilacs in bloom

 

Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers.  Their scent takes me back to my childhood, when my grandmother, who truly had a green thumb, tended the small garden that surrounded our house.  While we had fruit trees and a grape vine along with her prized roses, my favorites were the enormous lilac bushes in front of our porch.

 As I stood there, feet firmly planted on our soil with my eyes closed, memories of my childhood flooded my mind.  They were so tangible and life affirming, that I found myself smiling. 

The “green thumb” gene was not one that I inherited from my grandmother, as evidenced by the number of plants that have died under my care, still my appreciation for all things green runs deep.  As the lilacs of my childhood signaled the beginning of spring along with the promise of summer, our lilacs in the country perpetuate that affirmation each year.  It is no coincidence that our lilac bushes usually reach full bloom around Mother’s Day, showering me with fragrant memories.

 

Summer's promise

 

We returned to the country yesterday to celebrate Mother’s Day with our children and as promised, the lilacs were in full bloom. As we sat around the table enjoying our first barbecue of the season and reminiscing, the fragrance of the lilacs wafting through the air reminded me to step back for a moment and drink in the new memories we were creating.

 

Full Bloom

 

And….as it that were not gift enough, to my surprise and delight, when I looked out the kitchen window this morning, I saw that the robin’s nest was rebuilt.  Still in true robin’s nest style with a multitude of branches and leaves hanging over the side, but seeming more finished and polished than the last incarnation.  I’m assuming this time they consulted with an interior designer!

Re-designed nest

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Another Season

As we turned into our driveway and caught sight of the magnolia in bloom, I took a deep breath and let out a sigh; another season had arrived. While all of the seasons are breathtaking in the country, spring is by far my favorite.

Our Magnolia

We had planted the magnolia five springs ago in memory of Irwin's father who had passed away the year before. Magnolias were his favorite and this little fledgling has been a source of inspiration to our entire family. So to see it in bloom with daffodils at its side practically brought tears to our eyes.

Beautiful magnolia blossom

 

Daffodils

Irwin and I first became acquainted with our country home in the springtime ten years ago.  At the time, it was a decaying house and acreage.  Looking back, it is hard to believe that we were able to envision any existence in this place, yet ten years later we continue to marvel at how life affirming this plot of land on this mountain can be.

our mountain

As the house was in the process of a rebirth, so too was the surrounding land, which began to revive itself and offered up new surprises almost daily.  There were the apple trees that revealed themselves the first fall, the shock of lilacs the following spring, rosebushes that seemed to appear out of thin air several years later, and the countless other miracles of nature that we have been privileged to witness, including the appearance of our beloved Charlie, who too was a gift of our mountain.

Lilac in bloom 
 

our sweet willow

charlie, our greatest gift

When spring arrives on “our mountain”, as we have come to think of it, the simplicity of rebirth and renewal make almost anything seem possible.  As Irwin and I took a walk out into the woods, signs of spring’s resurgence were all around us and the profusion of new growth was awe-inspiring.

A walk in the woods

 

rebirth on the forest floor

 

 

Greenery abounds

We were greeted at breakfast Sunday morning by our first guests of the season, who were up bright and early working on their new home right in the elbow of the gutter outside our kitchen window.  Seeing those birds made me smile because they were confirmation of spring’s return and with it the proliferation of new life. I was duly impressed by their fortitude; they were not deterred by our removal of all the nests last fall in order to repaint the house.  They returned and began to build anew in the very same spot they had built their nest last year.   

 

our 1st guest

foundation is built

All of the creatures, both large and small have been busy preparing for springtime on our mountain. There is much activity, some of which is easily observed.  Other activity cannot necessarily be seen, but signs are all around.

the smallest creatures

 

Paw prints courtesy of our friends down under: raccoons

That is the miracle of another season.  No matter how severe the winter, no matter what happens on Wall Street, when spring arrives and the creatures of our mountain that share our house and land return, we know that literally, hope springs eternal.

Even the inanimate objects have embraced the season and have found ways to come to life.

 

mossy turtle 

And if the sights and sounds that surrounded us were not affirmation enough, what we stumbled upon on the path leading to the back of the house confirmed what we already knew: We are extremely lucky.

 

lucky penny

Whether we realize it or not, nature is our greatest collaborator each and everyday.  So while we should celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2010, we must cherish our Earth and it’s miraculous beauty every single day so that generations to come will be able to bask in the sheer joy of… another season.

 

Earth Hour Came A-Courtin'

Irwin and I decided to spend Earth Hour in the country this year.  We thought it would be a good opportunity to celebrate global renewal in a place that celebrates life everyday, in simpler, more basic way.

And simpler it is.  Our house is located in a rural community, where cow crossings outnumber street crossings.  Our single stoplight town is a twelve-minute drive down the mountain and has no drug store or cleaners. Our road is unpaved possessing neither streetlights nor sidewalks, and cell phone service is non-existent on our property.

Cow Crossing

 

Local Pedestrian

Our one & Only

While we celebrate the fact that we have indoor plumbing and electricity (most of the time), we have no internet access and put our cable television service on hold from January through May, requiring us to get in the car and drive over a mile and a half down the road in order to check our email or text messages. It doesn’t get much simpler than that for modernists like us.

That being said, celebrating Earth Hour in the country required very little powering down.  In fact, just before 8:30 pm, when Earth Hour began, only two small lights were on in the house and Irwin & I were already seated in front of a roaring fire, in our otherwise unlit Great Room.

Can you hear the roar?

As Earth Hour approached, we powered down the house and lit a small candle in a chamberstick as well as pair of beautiful candles in our courting candlesticks for extra light.  Yes, you read that correctly, courting candlesticks.

chamberstick

 

 

courting candles

I had no idea that courting candlesticks even existed until last time we were in the country and used these candlesticks.  I made a comment about the fact that these rustic candlesticks had a crank to adjust the candle up or down, and Irwin then explained that these were, in fact, courting candlesticks.

Courting candlesticks were used from the 1600’s through the 1800’s by the parents or guardians of proper young women to set an appropriate time limit for dates with their suitors. The candle would have been placed in the room where the young girl would have welcomed the young man.  If a parent did not approve of a young man, he or she might be inclined to put out the candle immediately.  If the suitor was well liked, the candle might be raised to the highest point to allow for a longer date.  Who knew?

 

Courting candlestick

And so Earth Hour was spent, relaxing in front of the fire with courting candles for added light.  While banding together with our global community is empowering and working towards a common goal of global sustainability is extremely important, we don’t need to wait for Earth Hour to arrive to “power down “ our lives.  The benefits of getting back to basics on a regular basis are bountiful and a renewed appreciation for the many blessings we already have in our lives is paramount.

Earth Hour Came A-Courtin'

 

Mother Nature's "Purge-ery"

Although I had anticipated posting a new ‘In Voice” post today, this morning’s walk along the Hudson inspired me to do otherwise.  The originally scheduled post will appear later in the week.

Manhattan was fortunate.  While this past weekend’s storms hit the outer boroughs, along with parts of New Jersey, Westchester & Connecticut, the island of Manhattan came through practically unscathed.  The weather was so tolerable, that I was able to resume my brisk walking Sunday afternoon.  While I fully expected to see downed branches on the street and throughout the park, what I encountered at the Hudson shore shocked me. 

The debris left after the storm

 

It seemed that the river’s waters had risen quite substantially during the storm and overflowed onto the docks and shoreline.  While the waters had receded, the Hudson’s gift to us remained: Miles and miles of trash.

While I understood the significance of this gift, nature’s “purge-ery” after the deluge, the impact of this event did not hit me fully until I returned to the Hudson for this morning’s walk. 

debris remaining today

 

Today is a glorious day, the antithesis of the events of the past few days.  And while the parks department has removed a considerable amount of the refuse, the clean up continues still.

Garbage bags filled with trash that washed up on shore

 

An unsightly reminder

 

I know that we are all working very hard to improve our environment by recycling, repurposing and using greener alternatives.  I know that the once polluted Hudson is far cleaner than it once was, but the evidence of our neglect cannot be overlooked and cannot be swept under the rug or into trash bags, even greener, reusable ones, without a moment of reflection.

re-usable trash bags

 

We need to step up our game.  While some of the debris from the storm could not be helped, most of the trash on display consisted of water bottles and soda cans, both of which are so easily recyclable, yet there they were, strewn along the river’s edge for all to see: A clear message from Mother (or Father) Nature. 

understandable debris from the storm

 

The ugly truth-What most of the debris consisted of

 

It’s as if Mother (or Father) Nature had had her fill and literally threw up all over us- returning to us what she could not digest.  It is definitely payback, our karma, which we all know can be a “B#@*%”.

So, here’s the memo directly from the front office, don’t turn your back on Mother (or Father) Nature, whose wrath we have seen so often as of late.   Take five extra seconds and properly dispose of cans & bottles, or even better, stop purchasing bottled water all together.

don't turn your back on mother (or father) nature

 

Let’s not have to wade through debris while on our nature walks at the shoreline.  Because while galoshes can be cute, nothing can replace the feeling of sand in between our toes.

 

 

Polka dot boots from zappos

 

sand between our toes

 

It was the grand finale of the 2010 Olympic games; the last competition before the closing ceremony and in a nail-biting display of skill and true grit, our fate was sealed in sudden death overtime.  Team USA was defeated by Canada and in a heart wrenching second, all dreams of US hockey gold were squashed.

As disappointing as it might be for the team, its fans and our country, we must not dwell on our loss.  We must embrace our success and remember the drive and determination that made us the great nation that we are today. This is particularly true in manufacturing and production.

Many of the industries that helped make our nation a manufacturing giant are shadows of their former glory and many more have moved manufacturing, production and customer support to the other side of the globe in an attempt to sustain profits. While many have abandoned the “Made in America” maxim, there are still many companies manufacturing quality products right here in the good old US of A; reinventing themselves as well as the way they do business in order to flourish in the 21st Century.  These companies understand that while prices may be difficult to compete with, quality and service are certainly not. We are proud members of this “Made in America” winning team.

We understand that, ”With simple, clean, comfort in mind, the “Greatest Generation” drew upon their ingenuity and determination, to produce timeless, elegant, modern decor.“  We are committed to lovingly restoring these fine examples of Mid-Century craftsmanship so that they remain testaments to renewable design for the 21st Century.” [ The Legacy of the Greatest Generation: It All began With a Sofa March 20, 2009 ]

By “re-making” these American beauties, we are not only perpetuating the fine work of the “Greatest Generation”, but we are reducing our carbon footprint and promoting greener, eco- friendly, renewable design. In addition, many of our  “remade in America” pieces are exported globally, contributing to the U.S. export market as well.

Here’s specifically what we do:

  • We deconstruct almost every piece that we acquire

  • We refinish and repair the wood

  • We polish the metal

  • We reupholster and repair and/ or replace the foundation of the piece [ Inner Beauty Feb 1,2010 ]
  • We rewire all lighting

And, in addition, we offer exclusivity.  What do we mean by that?

Well, when Irwin painstakingly combines elements from different Mid Century Modern pieces and adds his own design twist, he not only builds iconic “re-made  in America” pieces germane to today’s lifestyle needs, but by doing so, offers our clients the added luxury of exclusivity.  Our clients appreciate the inimitability of these designs, which are much akin to “Furniture Couture”, and facilitate the creation of personalized spaces.

Here are several examples of "Furniture Couture": 

 A one of a kind  Mid Century Pleated Mirror created by layering three different pieces together:

We've gone for the gold with this giant starburst mirror

A coffee table that has been "re-made" as an amazing bench:

 

We've taken silver with this Eyelash bench

While we know that we are not an industry giant and are truly a unique niche business, we also understand that contributions both large and small are instrumental in changing the way things are done.

Other "Re-Made in America" Favorites:

pair of Knoll style club chairs

 

Mid Century Modern Media console

 

tall modernist chrome lamps

 

MCM end tables

And while almost all of the furnishings, lighting and accessories in the gallery are made and “remade in America”, occasionally, we grant citizenship to a select group of foreigners who have pledged allegiance to being “Re-Made in America”.

italian glass Rod Sputnik Chandelier

 

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