Sunday, October 31, 2010

Art and More Art

Art. People who know us, know that we love art and love having it on every wall, mantle and bookcase in our home. We've been buying art for a very long time – mostly by regional artists, many of whom we have gotten to know. Ed's first piece was a Jim Cantrell that he bought for three installments of $25 in 1977. Our wedding gift to each other was two Beatriz Candioti pieces and every birthday, anniversary, child's birth and any other occasion that Ed could think of was celebrated with a gift of art. And so not only does our art define our home, it is indelibly connected to all the milestones of our lives together.

I've been thinking a lot about our art collection and how it might work in our new home. Because the new house is an open floor plan, there is not a lot of wall space from which to display it. I am hoping to hang our Truth and Justice glass art above the fireplace in our family room.

Maybe our Golden Goose will work perfectly in the entryway.

And, thanks to a suggestion by sister Julie, I'm thinking of hanging a collection of pieces on the two-story wall above the book cases. It's really high up and so not likely to get dusted on a regular basis, but could be stunning in its complexity.

Of course, we'll find a place for Art Snake's Galloway Family Portrait.

And I'm thinking our Carl McKenzie Statue of Liberty deserves a space on our mantle.

I'll find a little nook to hang Aunt Melta's Portrait of a Little Red-haired Girl.

It will be great fun to bring our art into our new home and figure out a way to curate it for the new space.

But the art that I'm most excited about will be right outside our windows. The views from the porch will provide an ever-changing canvas. As Andy Warhol once wrote: "I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Did You Hear That?"

If you show up at the house during the day, it is a bee-hive of activity: framers hammering, heating guys sawing through metal, the electricians drilling. But last night, we drove out just before sundown with some friends. We were standing in the family room and Ed asked: "Did you hear that?" We all listened carefully but shook our heads and said "No, we don't hear a thing." "Exactly, my point," he responded.

Yes, it is very quiet out there, just a bit of wind rustling through the house.

As you can see, progress is being made.

Front of house

Back of house

The cottage (my favorite)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Building a house is really just a series of decisions -- lots of them. Some will be great decisions. Some maybe not so good. But, no time to be wishy-washy.

Hundreds of light figures to chose from...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eat a Lot of Peaches

At the Palace Theatre on Friday night folk singer/songwriter John Prine put into song a description of what I hope our life on the farm will be like. In his Spanish Pipedream, he sang:

Blow up your TV,
Throw away your paper,
Go to the country,
Build you a home,
Plant a little garden,
Eat a lot of peaches,
Try an find Jesus on your own 

The song goes on to talk about a topless dancer doing the hoochy-coo, which sounds kinda kinky.  And I'm also not sure Ed would be willing to blow up our TV as he is quite fond of Jeopardy, college football, golf and Modern Family. But I really like the part about planting a little garden and eating a lot of peaches.

John Prine in concert on Friday night
John Prine also sang about the glory of true love, which seemed especially poignant to me as Ed and I celebrated our 25th anniversary earlier in the week.

Oh the glory of true love
Is a wild and precious thing
It don’t grow on old magnolias
Or only blossom in the spring
No the glory of true love
Is it will last your whole life through
Never will go out of fashion
Always will look good on you

You can climb the highest mountain
Touch the moon and stars above
But Old Faithful’s just a fountain
Compared to the glory of true love

So here's to my true love. May we move to the country. Plant a little garden and eat a lot of peaches. Check out that hoochy-coo thing. And, who knows, maybe even find Jesus on our own...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Together Again

This weekend all the Galloways congregated in Madison, WI. – the first time we were all together in too long a time. So, dear readers, you will get a break from the farm and catch up with the family.

Ed, Jack and I drove up on Friday, arriving in Madison just as Maggie got off from work at JenErh Farm. Mary was enjoying fall break from MICA by flying to Chicago to visit Jeananne, Katie and Catherine, and then by taking the bus from the Loop to Madison on Saturday afternoon.

Our Saturday morning started with cafĂ© au laits at Barriques’s coffee shop, following by a stroll around the Capitol farmers’ market, lunch at the newly opened Graze on the Capitol square and then a walk up State Street to the University of Wisconsin’s campus in time to see Mary get off the bus at the Student Union. We sat out on the terrace of the Union watching the boats sail on Lake Menota and the crowds of Badger fans partake in pre-game celebrations of UW’s football game against #1-ranked Ohio State (Final score: UW 31, OS 18). Nate joined us for dinner at Lao Laan Xang, a tiny Laotian restaurant on Willy Street.

After breakfast this morning at Sardine's and a walk around Madison’s arboretum, we are now headed to Lincoln Park in Chicago to take Louisville’s DePaul girls out for a Sunday night dinner and to meet our friend Julie for a post-work nightcap. We head home tomorrow and Mary jets back to MICA on Tuesday morning.

My heart always hurts just a bit when we part. Already looking forward to Thanksgiving and being together again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Style Statement

A couple of years ago, two Canadian women published a book called Style Statement. Part workbook, part inspirational narrative, their premise was that with some soul searching every person can come up with their own style statement, a two-word compass that helps you make more confident choices in life. Carrie and Danielle (the authors) claimed Refined/Treasure and Sacred/Dramatic as their style statements. I was intrigued by their version of personal branding, but never managed to actually come up with my two-word "brand."

When trying to design our house, I was accused by sister Julie of being bi-polar. One minute I claimed I wanted our house to be smart and sophisticated and in the next breath I proclaimed that I wanted it to be simple and farmhouse-like. I struggle with "branding" our house and until I could work it out, every design decision was difficult and fraught with paradox.  Would it be spa-like or shabby chic? Would it be industrial or bohemian? Would it be contemporary or country?

I'm not sure I'm totally there yet, but I'm using the style statement: Modern Farmhouse to describe our home design. In my mind, it will be simple in design and execution, modern in layout and detail, and yet have some nostalgic elements of an old farmhouse. My test is to imagine if Aunt Gladys or Grandmommy were standing in the kitchen, would they feel at home or would they feel like they are part of some George Jetson movie set? From the layout to the outside siding to the lighting to the paint colors, I'm trying to stay true to my Modern Farmhouse. Only time will tell if I've been able to successfully execute the brand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Room of One's Own

Since Day 1, my wish list for our new home included a cottage. There is something  enchanted about a little, separate space set in the woods –  something a bit Hanzel and Gretal-ly.

I became especially enamored of the cottage idea after spending a week in Colordo at Lee and Beth's ranch, which featured a main house with a big dining area and wonderful kitchen. Set around the main house in a semi-circle was a series of cabins -- each with its own bedroom and bath. The kids were younger when we visited and Maggie and Mary thought it was great fun to have their own cabin, for Jack to share one with Chase and of course, Ed and I thought it was great fun to have our own separate cabin.

Teen-aged Jack at ranch cabin

Our first go-around of the house design proved out of our budget to build, so we simply simplified it. I kept getting advice to nix the cottage and kept resisting the very thought of it. I REALLY wanted a cottage. I wanted friends to come visit and stay the night (or two) and I wanted it to be a space where our children could visit (or live for a time) and still have some privacy.

The final plans called for a 16'x18' space that is just large enough for a bed, small sitting area, closet and bath. A climb up a ladder will take you to small loft -- perhaps just large enough for a futon, or an artist's easel, or a writer's desk. At Maggie's suggestion, the back of the cottage features a garden shed. We are planning to put the vegetable garden in the "front yard" of the cottage and perhaps an apple tree or two in the "side yard." One won't have to drop breadcrumbs to find it; a stone path will lead from the main house to the cottage.

I can't wait for the cottage to be built and I hope you can't wait to check in for a night or two (although you may have to share it with Jack!).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thumbs Up? Or Thumbs Down?

One of the items that I did NOT bring back from Aunt Gladys' yard sale was a mid-century-modern outdoor chaise lounge. It's been in her basement for at least the last 25 years, maybe longer. (Ed remembers laying on it as a kid, so that makes it at least 50 years!) She remembers buying it in 1960 from a friend who lived "over by the library." I can't quite decide if it is really cool and would make a great addition to our farm house or if it would look "junky."

So, I need your help. Please tell me if you give it a "thumbs up," or a "thumbs down.' If I brought it to our new home, I'd put it on our screened-in porch. I had planned to put a cot of some sort in that space so we could use it as a sleeping porch on hot summer nights. This lounge chair could fill that role, as it can be adjusted to lay flat. It is in good condition and I even like the existing vinyl cushions.

So tell, do you like it? Or not? Be honest.


I have been working hard to get rid of the "stuff" that we won't need on our farm. It was harder to do than I thought  as I tend to get attached to things, and, if I were going to get rid of it, I wanted to make sure it was going to a good home.  As we packed up our Rainbow home, we made at least a dozen trips to the Goodwill;  hauled half-empty cans of oil paint out to the hazardous waste site; donated artwork to a fundraiser for Haiti;  left a lawnmower at the curb overnight; delivered art supplies to The Cabbage Patch; and foisted a bunch of stuff off on friends and family.

I still ended up with a basement full of boxes, filled with stuff that I'm not sure we need. I kept a fair amount of furniture that I thought Maggie, Jack or Mary might need someday, although all three are exhibiting signs of not wanting extra "stuff" in their lives.  I've sold a couple of larger pieces of furniture (yellow couch and grand piano) and have a few more items that I am hoping to sell before we move again.

So when Ed mentioned that his sister Gay was having a yard sale this weekend of stuff from 96-year-old Aunt Gladys' house and that we needed to head down to Owensboro to help, I gave him a look that very clearly said, "Great, I'm glad to help, but I don't want to bring a bunch of stuff back here." I'm pretty sure he clearly understood me. Unfortunately, he wasn't the problem. I was.

Aunt Gladys supervised the yard sale.

I couldn't resist some patchwork quilts that I am sure will work perfectly on four little bunk beds.

And Aunt Gladys talked me into not one, but two, large metal trays that she convinced me would be perfect for backyard barbecues on the farm.

All Ed was planning on sneaking into his pocket was a small reading light until I joked that a metal magazine rack placed strategically in our lake would make a great fish hangout and a dolly that I found out in the shed would be helpful as we moved heavy items. So...we headed back to Louisville with a car full of stuff. Darn it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Couple Discovers New Tree Species

Shortly after we bought our farm property, we headed into Carmichael's Bookstore to purchase a copy of National Audubon Society's Field Guide to Trees: Eastern Region. We wanted to be able to identify the trees on our property and figure out what other trees that we might want to plant.

While hiking around the property last week, we kept stumbling upon a beautiful species of tree that we couldn't quite identity. We thought it was some kind of crab apple tree as it's branches had little clumps of "tiny apples." The tree was perfectly cone shaped with shiny dark green leaves -- with no sign of the leaves turning fall colors. I snapped off a small branch to bring home so we could consult our guide and figure out exactly what tree this was.

I looked and couldn't find anything that resembled it in our trusty guide. Ed took over. Was it a Common Chokecherry? Nope. What about a Sweet Crab Apple? Nope. Perhaps some sort of a pear tree? Nope. A Buckthorn? Not that either.

Given our lack of progress, I turned to Google and clicked on "What is a Tree?" billed as a few simple questions to help one identify any unknown tree. I worked my way through the questions starting with "Identify by Fruit." Dead end.

I then did what any self-respecting scientist would do. I ate one of the fruit. Distinctly apple -- perhaps more like an Asian Pear. We were stumped.

So I've concluded that we have discovered a new species. I think I'm going to call it Gapploway Pear. Who knows, perhaps you'll get a jar of Gapploway Pear Butter for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is a Lake Really a Lake If It Doesn't Have Any Water In it?

I never gave much thought to how lakes come into being. My knowledge of lakes is limited; the only times that I've had close encounters with these bodies of water is on our canoe trips in Ontario or fishing on Lake George in Florida. I guess I always assumed that all lakes were carved by glaciers eons ago or created by damming up an existing river.

So when Ed suggested that we build a lake next to our farm house, I was totally baffled. How in the world does one go about building a lake? How does it fill up? How does one keep it from turning green with algae? How do fish get in it? Where in the world does one begin?

That's where the Allan, Stevie and Teddy come in. They are wonderful good old boys who run an excavation company in Shelby County. Stevie (son of Allan) met Ed at the property and assured him that he thought a lake could be dug in a low spot on the property and it most probably would even hold water. An hour and half later (as no conversation moves to a conclusion quickly with Stevie) Ed agreed that they should build us a lake. And build us one they did....

Our lake: waiting for rain...
 Make no mistake that just because they use a bulldozer as their primary tool, they are nevertheless fine artists with their creations. Each time I ventured out to look at the progress, they showed me their latest formation, each of which they thought up as they worked on the lake. The "boys" created a dam at one end just high enough for the lake to stretch a football length or so ending just in time to save some beautiful trees at the far end. Because they knew we wanted to fish in our lake, they strategically placed some tree stumps and rocks to provide fish hangouts. And when they heard we wanted to swim, they created a stairway in and out of the lake with large limestone rocks they uncovered. A rock bridge they build at the far end and they even designed a Flintstone bench for us to sit a spell. With a fallen walnut tree, they fashioned stump stools and placed them in a campfire circle under some shade trees on the far side -- the perfect place for roasting marshmallows on a starry night. I could tell they were enjoying making these features as much as I was delighting in seeing what they were going to come up with next.

Just before they loaded up their equipment to head to their next job, they seeded the area around the lake so we would have beautiful green grass on its banks. That was nearly three months ago and we have not had a 1/4" of rain since then. So right now, we have an amazing dirt bowl that we are confident will someday turn into a beautiful lake -- one where we can fish, and swim, and build a campfire next to. One that we can enjoy with friends and family for years to come.

Now, if I can just be patient and wait for the rain to come....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

After You Leave the Paved Road

 Ed asked if he could be a guest blogger. And so it goes...

The comments about how over the years we have come to cherish places at the end of the road got me thinking about the two characteristics of a true Kentuckian.

First, you’re not really a Kentuckian unless you understand this joke:

An old fellow was driving a country road and got pulled over by the state police.  The trooper noticed that he didn’t have a license on the back of his car.

Where’s your license plate,” the trooper asked.

“I ain’t got one”.

Well, let me see your driver’s license

I ain’t got one of them neither.

You got any i.d.?

The old fellow thought for a minute and asked, “About what?”

Second, you’re not a real Kentuckian unless the directions to your house have to include the phrase, “after you leave the paved road”.

Now, that's us.

And so it goes....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Go Outside and Play!

Ed and I spent Sunday afternoon at the farm. It was a beautiful October day, cool with a few puffy clouds in a bright blue sky.  We pulled up the drive, and all of a sudden there arose our house -- with all of the first floor and most of a second floor and roof framed. Whoa! Our house had leapt from a paper plan to a three-dimensional space. We entered the front doorway up a little makeshift gang plank and suddenly we could envision our living space. Here is where the fireplace will be and here is the kitchen with a nice big pantry. Here's our study and look at the view from the windows! Room by room we walked through the house, imagining the finished space and our lives in it.

Front of house – almost framed

Back of house – almost framed

Afterward we we walked the boundaries of the property, hacking our way through head-high brambles, stick tights, golden rod and thistle. Ed led the way, whacking away with the machete that Mary gave him for his birthday last month. It felt like we were 10-year-olds playing fort in the back fields, keeping our eye out for Indians Native Americans lurking behind the sycamore trees in the creek bottom.

It felt good to go outside and play.