Beach

Beach

Monday, April 14, 2014

When a House is a Home

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Yesterday at lunch, my wife and I sat down for a nice, simple, relaxing meal of tuna, pasta salad, and avocados. We sipped a couple of glasses of my favorite wine, Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, that we fell in love with when we visited Florence, Italy years ago. The experience left my wife reminiscing about some of our life adventures and travel destinations, and we never left the dining room. I never before realized there had been a method to her decorating madness. In the past, I just ate there.

Carol’s eyes began exploring the room as though we were re-living the moments when the inanimate objects sharing our meal had been acquired. I sat silently, listening to her every word, while I made a mental note of her journey through the room.

The dining room table and chairs upon which we sat were purchased years ago on one of our ventures into Mexico. In the center of the table sits a large vase partially filled with sand from St. Augustine Beach. Above the sand, she had placed various items. There were starfish she picked up from the beach on our first visit to St. Augustine before we re-located here.

My attention was drawn to a number of sand dollars from a Mother’s Day trip to Maine. I clearly remember that day. We were living in New Hampshire, and following a particularly cold winter, the snow began to melt. When I asked my wife if there was something special she wanted to do for her holiday, she replied that if it were not so cold, a visit to the coast of Maine would be terrific. I told her the weather was insignificant, and off we went. Upon our arrival, there was nobody on the beach and zillions of sand dollars visible in the ocean. I remember Carol exclaiming something to the effect that unfortunately the water was freezing and we had nothing with which to carry them. So in I went, and loaded up my pockets. I did get some strange looks from people for the rest of the day, especially when we stopped for a lobster dinner. I was still soaked and did not thaw out for a week or so.

Also in the vase, there were tiny shells from an island off the coast of Tarpon Springs. The table itself is set with tin soup bowls from April Cornell, a company I did not know existed, and pottery dishes and cups from Portugal.
 
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Turning her attention to the dining room hutch, she recalled it had been handmade for us by a Georgia craftsman. The pine hutch contained pottery from Key West, her grandmother’s yellow crystal wine glasses, champagne toast glasses from our wedding, a tea pot from the Bennington Pottery in Vermont, and a Japanese fishing ball from Cedar Key. We laughed for about fifteen minutes after noticing a beautiful pottery soup bowl monogramed “Stacey and Jim, December 29th, 1998.” Neither of us knows the couple, but we wished them luck. The hutch also displays a large crackle pottery serving pitcher made by Carol’s mother in a ceramics class many year ago, and a wooden jewelry box from Vietnam.

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At the time we purchased the hutch, we also bought a handmade china cupboard from the same Georgia craftsman. On the cupboard sits a pottery bowl from Cozumel, filled with railroad spikes we found on the ground between the railroad tracks in Mount Dora. Next to the bowl, she placed a pottery flower vase she bought in Kinsale, Ireland and miniscule pottery work boots from Spain.

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In the corner of the room is Grandmother’s clock I won at a charity auction in Henniker, NH. Next to it, I noticed an American doll carriage frame from the 1950s that Carol hand-stripped and re-finished. I thought it was just something she had placed there to trip me if I wandered the house in the middle of the night. On the wall above it is a Salvador Dali print won at a charity auction.

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Speaking of auctions, leaning on the opposite wall is a small “Bernie Madoff” table we won at auction when they sold the bastard’s belongings to help those he screwed. Upon it, Carol placed iron candlesticks from Germany and a pottery fish from Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.

Rounding out the dining room tour is mannequin from Canada we picked up in Quebec City, donning six hats from different places we visited; specifically, the Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bermuda, Belize, Austria, and France. Everything rests comfortably on the floor atop a hand-knotted woolen rug from Turkey.

The photos I posted do not tell the whole story. My picture-taking ability is poor. Also, they probably do not reflect my descriptions, because Carol changes things around every day. That is not an expression. She changes things every day, calling our house her palette. Those who know me believe I had no clue these items had such a history. I could care less about “things.” But I sure am happy I share my life with my wife. She is a trip.

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35 comments:

  1. Just traveled around the world via your dining room. It was a fun trip!

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    1. Liza: Thank you. I did the same thing listening to her.

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  2. I loved reading your journey with your wife. We have things in our home that speak of our adventures in life too. Such fond memories they bring. Bernie Madoff's table. Cool!

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    1. Elsie: Yes, those adventures together are the important things in life.

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  3. Stuff is just stuff, add a memory and it becomes treasure.

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  4. I understand what you are saying. So many things in our house came from specific people (relatives) or specific times. It seems like everything has a story. I really enjoyed the virtual tour around your dining room!

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    1. Robin: Next time you come over, soon I hope, take the memory trip with Carol. She is unreal. She remembers every second of everything we ever did in life.

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  5. I love all the eclectic culture in your decor! My home is similar, in that my fave items come from other parts of the world. I prefer jewelry the same way. I never want my hubby to buy me jewelry unless it's from another country, so I can remember the story of it when I wear it. I like antiques for this reason too.
    Florence is one of my fave cities too. How could anyone not love it?
    How very cool you have a Japanese fishing ball. In Hawaii they always say to look out for them cuz it's possible they could wash up on shore if you're lucky. Mostly on kauai.
    BTW my hubby works in Tarpon Springs.

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    1. Pk: Carol does the same thing. Travel is as cool as it gets!

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  6. Hi, JJ.

    Thanks for the follow. I'm happy to reciprocate and join your fanclub.
    Your writing is rich and smooth flowing. I see I'll be taken on many fun journeys here.

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  7. Hi JJ .. lovely tour of your travels and your collections as such .. I still have some things but downsizing isn't always easy .. but I have pictures mainly .. and "my things" are found around South Africa and here with kids or friends in the UK .. so I see them quite regularly!

    Thoroughly enjoyed Carol's travels through your eyes . lovely - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary: She is a sweetheart. Cheers.

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  8. Our own house is a bit of a 'round the world' exhibition from my husband's travels before he knew me! The antique and vintage items I sell sometimes make me feel a little sad because I often don't know their 'story'.

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    1. Vintage Jane: I agree. That is exactly why I was so impressed with my wife. She made it a point all these years to recall all those memories.

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  9. A house filled with treasures and wonderful memories - what can be better!

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  10. Everything has a meaning and a memory. I truly understand. People ask me why it's so difficult to get rid of all the furniture and stuff from my recent move out of 3 houses. It's the same as with you, every stick of furniture has a memory. It's like discarding a part of me.

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    1. Manzi: I would imagine you are like my wife and remember every item along with its history.

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  11. I love it when the mind travels like that. How lovely that you and your wife enjoy all those memories together.
    You awakened my interest in visiting Maine now.

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    1. Julia: The Maine coastline is gorgeous! Years ago, it was much more rural in certain parts than today.

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  12. I am not HERE'S TO YOUing this month, but I heard this song today and it made me think of this post. So, if I were doing HERE'S TO YOU, this one would be for you...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acvIVA9-FMQ

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    1. Robin: I can't deny it. In fact, that is the secret.

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  13. I think my husband and I are your west coast doppelgangers!

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    1. Jasmine: Then you are in for a long, happy marriage.

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  14. What a great post! You have really gotten to do a lot of great things! Love your wife's decorating style. This is the kind of stuff that makes a house a home.

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    1. Jennifer: It truly is as you say.

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  15. I love how you and your wife have collected lovely treasures from all around the world! It's quite an eclectic mix with Bernie Madoff's table doubling as a conversation piece. It's great how your wife remembers every detail, and serves as the family docent!

    Julie

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    1. Julie: She is. What a character!

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  16. Wonderful post. Happy Easter, JJ.

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    1. Sandra: Thank you, and Happy Easter to you as well.

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  17. Even though I have never met you or your wife in real life, I feel that I can say with full heart, your are both the cutest couple ever! I adore your stories. May I share this face (within this post of mine) it's one I'm sure you've seen before! Just another day in the real world! http://twincitiesblather.blogspot.com/2014/04/thematic-photographic-chaotic.html?showComment=1398176911782#c3486992389403762498

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    1. Karen: You flatter me. Of course you may share it.

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  18. What beautiful memories -- a quite the traveling couple, too! I laughed that you don't pay much attention to the décor, etc.......I think that's definitely a "man thing" I can change a picture on the wall, or add something new, etc.....and my husband won't even notice it 99% of the time! Glad you have a long and happy marriage. We just celebrated our 31st anniversary and we're very happy!

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