Sunday, February 27, 2011

Packing Up (Again!)

It seems like just yesterday that we were packing up our Rainbow Drive house, getting ready to settle for the year in our rental "tree house." This rainy Sunday afternoon found us packing up again, this time for our move to the farm. As excited as I am about our move, I'll be sad to say goodbye to this house we have called "home" for the past 13 months.

I am secretly hoping someone I know will rent/buy this house so I will have an excuse to return for visits. So spread the word. Bill and Judy will be delighted.

Here are some photos from our time here. What you don't see in the photos are the friends and family that have shared our home, or the deer, woodchucks, and birds that share our backyard.

The house sits at the top of a road that goes nowhere else and overlooks a deep wooded hillside with a creek at the bottom.

We moved our existing furniture into the home "
and were amazed at how well it worked in the house.

We feel like we live in a treehouse.

The master bedroom has french doors that lead out to the terrace.

Al fresco dinning was a breeze on the terrace.

I'm hoping Spring will come early this year so that we can enjoy the tulip tree outside our back window.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Walk Around the Outside of the House

I've been trying to take some photos of progress on the inside of the house, but there is so much chaos that it makes it hard to take a good photo -- and heaven forbid, that I post a photo that is not blog worthy!

So, because it was sunny this morning and I had my mud boots in the back of the Subaru, I ventured out with my camera for some outside shots. They still require imagination to fill in grass where you see mud and landscaping where you think it needs it.

Let's start with the cottage, which you know is my favorite.... The siding will be painted pale yellow (mistake with the siding order) and the two dirt mounds out front will be raised garden beds with stepping stones in between, forming a path. Along each side of the cottage will be blue hydrangeas (and the front door will be Babbling Brook Blue). To the left will be an orchard with three apple trees, two peach trees, a sweet cherry tree, a plum tree, a persimmon tree and a pear tree (with a partridge in it, I hope). To the right will be our berry patch (yet to be determined) and a Zinnia cutting garden. Tucked around the back will be a rain barrel, a compost bin and a propane tank.

The cottage: Won't you please come for a visit?
Here's a view of the back of the house. The posts holding up the covered porch will soon be wrapped in cedar and supported with some cool half arches. The small left portion of the porch will be a screened in with access off the master bedroom. 

We'll be able to sit on the back porch and watch fish leap out of the lake.

Here's a look from the back garage-side of the house. That's a generator that you see at the back right corner. No more spending a bitter cold week in a house with a gecko and no electricity.

And here's how the front of the house is shaping up. Still missing are two chunky brackets to support the front porch. A wide stone walk will lead from the front steps to the drive.

Next week a black wood-board fence and red cattle gate will go up and some maple trees will hopefully get planted at the front drive entrance. Ed and I are putting in the mail box this weekend and I'm hoping the daffodils that Jack planted along the roadside will soon poke their heads up.

Hard to believe that in less than a month, we'll be Shelby Countians!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No Such Thing as A Totally New Idea

Creativity: it's not a gift from the gods bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. Rather, it is the product of preparation and effort. It's a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's the premise behind Twyla Tharp's book: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Tharp should know a lot about creativity – she is one of America's greatest choreographers as well as a very successful business woman. She takes the lessons she has learned in her remarkable thirty-five year career and shares them with her readers.

I love all her ideas for how to cultivate creativity but here's one of her ideas that I have taken to heart when designing our new home. 

A box, the kind you buy at Office Depot for transferring files, is Tharp’s solution for an organizing system. She starts every dance she choreographs with a box. “I write the project name on the box and as the piece progresses, I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance.” For Tharp, this means a card with the project’s goal(s), notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of her working alone in her studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books, photographs and pieces of art that may inspire her. For Tharp, the box “makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet.” 

Well, instead of a box, I have a Houzz ideabook-- in fact, I have two. Houzz is an online resource of more than 90,000 photos from home designers around the world. For over a year now, I've been adding photos to my very own on-line ideabook. The photos serve as my inspiration for our house. 

Here's an example. This is a photo that I found on and placed into my modern farmhouse ideabook. Check out the half wall, the wrapped stairs, the white board walls, the piece of art, and of course, the oar.

Just a photo I liked on
Then, working with interior designer sister Julie and home plan draftsman Heath, we spread out dozens of photos and talked about what we liked about them and how they might translate into our new house. 

So, here's how our stairway is shaping up. Use your imagination. It still needs some cool metal sconces on the landing, another coat of paint on the plank walls, the stairs stained, the risers painted, a fabulous piece of art on the wall and a pig-slop oar that has hung in Jack's bedroom since he found it on the old Fitts farm in Owensboro.

Our staircase, a work in progress – but one based on a photo I found on

And so that's how my box has turned into an ideabook. And how someone else's idea is coming to life in our farm house.

Catching up with Friend & Artist Dudley Zopp

Earlier this year our friend Dudley Zopp sent us an email announcing a solo exhibit of her paintings at the Coleman Burke Gallery in New York City. We were impressed.

Since we were already planning to go to Baltimore in February to visit Mary at MICA, we decided it would be fun to take the train to New York, catch up with Dudley and see her exhibit. I'm so glad we did.

Dudley met us at the gallery, opening it just for us as it is normally closed on Tuesday. The space was in an old warehouse in Chelsea, a part of NYC that we had never explored. Her art looked great in the space.

Jack checked out a couple of Dudley's oils on canvas, part of her Geologics series
The pieces for this exhibit (called: Erosions, Geologics, & Terrains: The Geomantic Art of Dudley Zopp) were inspired by her ruminations on geological evolution, gleaned from long walks along the coast of Maine. Her paintings visualize what can't be seen, whether beneath the surface of the ground or over the course of time. (Okay, I picked up that language from the catalog that was printed for this exhibit, but thought it perfectly captured the intent of her art for this exhibit.)

Four paintings from Dudley's Terrains series, watercolor and graphite

We are proud owners of three of Dudley's earlier pieces -- and Maggie has one also. It has been our treat to know Dudley for a very long time and to watch her evolve as an artist.

After our private tour of her exhibit, we took a brisk walk on the High Line before checking out the Chelsea Market, a cozy bar for a beer, and then a fun communal dining experience at Pastis.

Checking out the High Line, an old rail line that has been converted to a walking path.

Dinner at a communal table
The next morning, we saw Jack off for his bus journey to Montreal.

We checked out Eataly for a sack lunch for Jack's bus trip, stopping for a gelato.

And once again, Ed and I are empty nesters...

Soaking up some sunshine.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

At the Train Station

We are at Penn Station in Baltimore, waiting to catch the 1:09 N.E. Regional train to Penn Station in New York City. We just said "good-bye" to Mary after a very nice Parents' Weekend visit to MICA, highlighted by a reunion dinner with Ed's friends from law school: Gerry and Karla at Woodberry Kitchen, a crab cake lunch on Saturday at the Lexington Market, a hot and spicy Indian dinner with John and Hannah at Akbar, and capped off with a lovely brunch this morning at b: a Bolton Hill bistro. Why is it that all our travel revolves around food and most of our conversation is directed at where/what our next meal will be?

Waiting at Penn Station 1

Waiting at Penn Station 2

Outside Mary's dorm

Sister and Brother

Eggs Benedict at brunch this morning

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Last Post About Our Aunt Gladys

With Maggie's help, I figured out how to add an audio file of Jack singing "I am a Pilgrim" at Gladys' funeral. Click here if you want to hear it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Magic of Gladys

Natalee Gilmore Ferreri, Ed's niece, gave a heartfelt and moving testimony to Aunt Gladys' life at her funeral. Whether you knew Aunt Gladys or not, I thought you might like to read what she said about her Great Aunt Gladys. 

The solace in all of this is that Gladys lived a good life. No, not just a good life; she lived a phenomenal life. It's a life that should be celebrated. It’s a life that took her from the farm to Nashville to California to Maple Avenue, GE and the Owls Club to XYZ – all the while making friends and memories along the way.

The magic of Gladys was not only that she was special, but it was her ability to make you feel special when you were with her. She would do anything for anybody. She was so kind, so happy, always on the go, and always smiling. 

I can remember as a little girl that she would take me Magliners on Saturdays; she would let me play Bunco and maybe I'd get lucky and win a dollar or two; and she would make me breakfast before I would walk to high school. It’s no secret that Gladys loved to cook or shall we say pre-cook because there was always something in the fridge or the freezer. And, you might not know when that dish was made! But for me, she would always make me, as we liked to call them, dressed eggs. I can tell you all right now that I will forever regret for not learning exactly how to make those eggs and the secret ingredient that made them so delicious!

I think about her sewing and how, through it, she met so many people. For me, she made countless school costumes, curtains, clothes – there was nothing she couldn't do or wouldn't do. The week of my wedding she literally remade my dress for me. Twice.  And this is when she could barely see. I don't think she was too happy about the project, but she would have never said no. And that was Gladys, she never told anyone no. Maybe if she had, just once, I would have learned how to use that sewing machine.

Gladys was 96 years old when she died, and I was lucky enough to get to spend 35 years with her. She out lived so many of her friends and family. I can't help but think when she got to Heaven on Sunday night she was greeted by so many people: Bobbie and Bernard, Mama and Papa Fitts, Ira Lee and Mimi and her beloved husband, Eddie. It probably was one big party, and I think they may have said, Gladys, where have you been? We have been waiting for you for such a long time. I'd like to think her answer may have been something like this:

I had one more hem to put in.

There was one more episode of
Wheel of Fortune to watch.
I wanted to play one more game of Bunco.
I needed one more burrito from Los Toribios, where I'd definitely say, "It's too much, I can't eat it all!"
I wanted to go to that casino with Judy.
There was one more birthday I wanted to celebrate.
I wanted to see that squirrel in
Christmas Vacation one more time.
I needed to make sure that my beloved Maple Avenue was left in the capable and caring hands of the neighborhood "cookie-eaters."
I wanted to hear my friend Natasha sing one more time.
I wanted Annabelle to roll my hair again.
I needed to make sure that Leslie, Mandy and Ben were okay.
I wanted to read the paper with my coffee and cookie one more time.
There were a few more cards that I needed to send.
I wanted another lunch with Willie Lee.
I wanted to hear what happened with all of Madallyn’s and Jake's games.
There were a few more Christmas gifts to buy and stash away in July.
I wanted to go ride those big rides at
Holiday World with Maggie, Jack and Mary.
I needed to make sure that Todd got moved to Portland.
I wanted one more Christmas morning.
There was one more Fourth-of-July parade that needed a Grand Marshall.
I wanted to hear one more song from the First General Baptist carolers.
I wanted one more early morning with Steve with lots of laughs.
I needed to make sure that Ed and Debbie's farmhouse got built.
I had one more pepper plant to put in the yard and one more weed to pull.
I needed to get Scotty one more Snickers bar from the big blue urn in the back room.
Someone had to go to Natalee's wedding.
There was one more church that I wanted to attend.
I wanted to check out one more club and make a few more new friends.
I had some more pecan pies and batches of creamed corn to make.
I wanted to give a few more smiles.
I wanted to touch a few more lives.

I think she would have let everyone know that Pam was with her in the end. And I think she would have make a special point to tell Mimi that Gay was doing great, and along with Steve, she took such wonderful care of her until the end, opening up their home to her, and loving her. And, I especially know Gladys would want to tell Gay and Steve: Thank you for everything.

When she a got a bit sicker last week, Scott Edward sent her the most beautiful flowers. On the card he wrote: You are the most wonderful person I know. I don't think there are more perfect words. Quite simply, she was the most wonderful person I have ever known. 

Not a day won't go by where I won't miss her and love her and always be eternally grateful for my Aunt Gladys. 

Natalee and Aunt Gladys, celebrating a special day

Celebrating a Life Well Lived

Ed spoke at Aunt Gladys' funeral last week, reminding us of her legacy to each of us. 
Blessed those that mourn for they shall be comforted.

I knew this day was coming but I never thought it would get here.  You would have thought I would be better prepared.  But how do you prepare yourself to say goodbye to someone who has been a force of nature in your life, as Aunt Gladys has in mine and in many of yours.

I remember years ago when my kids were small.  We were travelling to Owensboro and someone was complaining.  I said, “One of these days we’ll be coming here and Aunt Gladys will be gone.”  Debbie said, “Yes, she’ll probably be at the mall”.

And so it was for many years, but this time she’s now gone and we all have a hole to fill in our lives. If we mourn today and shed a tear, it’s not for her but for ourselves because she is as well-off today as she has ever been.  We join together to comfort each other, to celebrate her life so well-lived and to reflect about what made her life so meaningful, so successful, so rewarding and so long. 

First, though, I would like to thank Steve and Gay for unstinting devotion, sacrifice and love that made Aunt Gladys’ last years so wonderful.  My real worry is that now that Aunt Gladys is gone, who’s going to punch Steve’s buttons.  She loved to get Steve’s goat because she loved to have fun.

Just last month we came for a Christmas meal.  Maggie brought her friend Nate who had never been to Owensboro and never met Aunt Gladys.  Gay asked Aunt Gladys to say grace and Aunt Gladys launched right into it, among other things, thanking God, for bringing the Galloways and, she said, this one odd one, referring to Nate.  It was a blessing I doubt Nate will forget.  But, I know she did it for fun. 

She was one of the most optimistic people I have ever known.  Well into her nineties, she froze snowballs in winter to save for her Christmas-in-July party. A few years ago she planted gooseberry bushes knowing it would take two years for them to bear fruit.  Just recently she was thinking about what she was going to wear for this year’s Thunder over Maple party.  And, I’ll guarantee that she had other plans for today.

She was a skillful seamstress.  She valued her craft and her usefulness.  Into her nineties, her skill kept her in touch with family, friends and the world. 

Lastly, her happiness and her long life are a testament to an abiding interest in other people.  She always cared more about other people that she did herself.  This, I believe, is the key to happiness.

Aunt Gladys would be very proud if we were to take these lessons as her legacy so she will live on in us. 

Oh, and if you get to Heaven and your robe doesn’t fit, I know someone who can take care of it for you, golden thread – no extra charge.

Celebrating her 81st birthday with a hike at Cumberland Falls

At 95, dancing the night away at Natalee's wedding

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hard Week

It's been a hard week for us. On Sunday afternoon Ed's sister Gay called to say that Aunt Gladys was not doing well -- in fact, she was dying. Ed and I drove down to Owensboro and spent the last few hours of Gladys' life sitting with her, and others who loved her, as she drew her last breaths.

Aunt Gladys will live on in the hearts of all her nieces and nephews.
At her funeral on Wednesday, Jack sang; and Ed, his niece Natalee, and his great niece Leslie spoke about their love for Aunt Gladys. It was a wonderful celebration of her life and, even though she was 96 (going on 97), it was still so sad. We are all going to miss her.

Here are the lyrics to the song that Jack sang, click here to hear an audio file:

I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Travelling through this wearisome land
I've got a home in that yonder city, good Lord
And it's not, not made by hand

I've got a mother, sister and a brother
Who have gone this way before
I am determined to go and see them, good Lord
For they're on that other shore

I'm goin' down to the river of Jordan
Just to bathe my wearisome soul
If I can just touch the hem of his garment, good Lord
Then I know he'd take me home

I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Travelling through this wearisome land
I've got a home in that yonder city, good Lord
And it's not, not made by hand