Monday, April 14, 2014
When a House is a Home
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
. . .