This is a blog, first and foremost, about my life in an 18thc. house in New England. I am a wife, historical reenactor, lover of old houses, antiques, and nature here in the country.
After the hurricane on Sunday mercy-killed our already decrepit twig arbor out front, that was barely supporting the wisteria, we decided to build one together, of a new design. Adam had Monday off, and we both spent the day, from 7 AM until past 5, cutting down trees, sawing them, and assembling them, both up on ladders, according to our own design inspired by a photo idea online. We decided to make our own quite a bit larger, because in addition to supporting the beautiful wisteria that I have grown from a small sprig, we decided that we would design and construct our own '18thc. tea arbor'!
We filled up the available small corner of yard next to the stream, making our twig gazebo approximately 6 feet by 6 feet, and well over 6 feet tall. It is all coming along nicely, and is now almost completed. We have only to make and attach the peaked roof, and weave branches through it to create not only support for the wisteria, but a lacy, sun and shade design overhead. We plan on laying simple flagstones in the dirt for a floor. Our new arbor/gazebo is perfect for a small round twig table and 2 chairs or stools. Total cost: less than $10. for screws, and a new drill bit.
We plan to dress in some 18thc. finery, and have a period tea picnic in our own yard when we are through with all our labors. Soon, I will post photos I have been taking of this project all along, and of the finished result, with an '18thc. photoshoot' of us having tea there soon to follow!
Yesterday I received and email from a dear and cherished pen pal friend of mine in California. Sharon and I are of a close age, and scarily alike! Her note read in part~
"...Loved your Tasha Tudor post. The photos were fascinating...seeing her stuff was great and you two looked wonderful...I was so interested to find that as a child and a teenager she liked the old ways and would dress in old fashion clothes. As a child I always wanted to wear dresses and pinafores while my sisters wore jeans and t-shirts and I was lucky enough to have a mother who would go out of her way to iron dresses for me in the hot summer when everyone else wore shorts. I always thought I was the only child who felt out of step with modern days and I was thrilled to see that she had felt the same way..."
This reminded me of a story about myself, going way back to starting in a new school in the middle of 7th grade...the 'tale of the pinafore'~
After 7th grade started, my parents moved us to a new "old, creepy" house in a new town. (At least this was we kids' impression of a shabby, c. 1910 fixer-upper house in a gracious old suburb of Chicago with tree lined streets, after living all of our short lives in slick, 1950's and 60's development ranch houses!)
It was November, and for my first day at the new school, my mom made me a new outfit. I too loved dresses. She made an adorable plaid dress with a fitted waist, and it had coordinating, solid cinnamon-color, pinwale corduroy, fitted pinafore over it, that tied in self-bows on the side. I thought it was so cute, but all the kids laughed and made fun of me.
I know I was "the new kid", but I guess I wasn't "cool" enough for them, even though my outfit was quite fashionable, and was not some "little house on the prairie" style.
I didn't care---I loved the outfit, and wore it many times---at least until I was in 8th grade, and had changed to my new 'look'---'surfer girl' style, alternating with a little 'Jackie O'!
It is such fun to share memories like these with a friend who is a kindred soul.
We have decided as of last night, not to go to Ipswich this weekend. There may be rain on Saturday, but with gas prices so high, and projects here we decided we really want to finish, we thought we would wait until '17thc. Saturday' in October instead. That should be the height of fall color here, and hopefully the weather will be more conducive to sitting around in layers of mostly-wool clothing.
Nights here are just starting to get a little chill, with the days sunny and warm. You hear fewer birds, and more crickets, and you know the seasons are slowly turning. Bright, late summer flowers are blooming in the yard, and I want to pick some, and cut one of my large purple and green heads of kale from the raised beds, and make an arrangement in the center of my over-250 year old table in the dining room. The late afternoon sun comes in the small paned windows in the west wall of this room, and at this time of year, it bathes the whole room with a soft, golden light, and always streams across my impromptu and natural table arrangements. It makes me happy.
I love this old house that I have worked for so many years restoring. I love the very early antiques I have lovingly collected over many years. This time of year it seems I am more prone to moving them around, trying pieces out in new spots in different rooms, and of adding a new-found treasure, if we are lucky. Things are lean this year, but I have memories of times past, when Adam and I headed out on a gorgeous, Indian summer day, pooches in pouches, and stopped for cider and apples, and to hunt in dusty, out of the way antique and junk shops. The remembrance of the thrill of finding just what we wanted, tucked forgotten in some corner, with an ancient price tag, and a bargain price makes me smile. On a perfect Sunday this fall, I hope we can head out to our favorite farm in Maine for the bags of Spencer apples, and local potatoes that we favor, and then on to some shops we have not been to in awhile, perhaps to find another joint stool, or other treasure to bring home to the old brown cape...
On the TOUR page of our website, you can visit our ancient little house, while you listen to period musick. I look around me now, remembering what a disaster it was when I first saw it, and in wonderment at how I could have possibly done all this to turn it once again into a classic and loved New England home.