Sunset On the Mason Dixon Line

Posted on 10/26/2015 06:02:00 PM In:
Or somewhere thereabouts. 



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Knobby

Posted on 10/25/2015 10:42:00 AM In:
I said yesterday that Fallingwater wasn't my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright house.  Fallingwater is great, don't get me wrong, but this is my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright House: 



It's called Kentuck Knob and it's just a few miles from Fallingwater. It was built for the Hagan family who knew the Kaufmans, the owners of Fallingwater, and wanted a Frank Lloyd Wright home of their own so they somehow convinced Frank to design it for them.  But it was built late in Wright's career -- after he'd already become quite famous and I guess had had enough of traveling from location to location.  He famously asked for photos and some topographical maps and designed this building without ever visiting the site once.  He never even saw the home completed. 

This Grand Usonian is not the most unique of his designs and there are some issues with the layout, but this, of all his buildings, is the one I most want to make my home in.  Maybe it's because I simply don't have the ego to see myself living in a place as grandiose as Fallingwater.  Maybe because of the clerestory windows you can see in the picture above and that motif that looks to me to be at once both ancient Native American and modern.  Maybe it's because I always wanted to live on "a knob." Maybe it's the fact that the second owner, Baron Palumbo, was an avid sculpture collector and all the grounds are filled with his acquisitions, like this Claes Oldenburg that the Shortlings are so cleverly pretending they ate too much of in this picture.


Maybe it's because it's one of the few buildings that has a verified Wright signature tile. 


Maybe it's the fact that without ever visiting the location, he knew just where to put the windows so these hexagons would slowly track across the floor throughout the day.

 
Maybe it's the miniature Fallingwater in the back.


Or the tin roof.


Or perhaps, the running/rolling hill.


 
There are a hundred reasons I love this house.




 
 But I think probably the view has something to do with it too.






See why I wanted to go here in the fall?

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Can't Do That with Legos

Posted on 10/24/2015 09:39:00 AM
It's no secret that I am a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan. I adore his creativity, his love of nature, his philosophy of living, his brilliance with just a touch of arrogance... my husband has a lifetime goal of seeing every Shakespeare play; mine is visiting every Frank Lloyd Wright building that's still standing --  even if it's not a public building and that means I have to beg to be admitted and/or I have to sneak in uninvited. But that's another story for another day... you know.. after the statute of limitations has passed.

Fallingwater is incredibly close to us so that means this is one I need to see at least once each season.  I've been there before, but I hadn't been there at the peak of fall when the leaves were really beautiful.  As it turns out, we missed the peak color by a few days, but still Pennsylvania did not disappoint. 



There are so many great FLW houses.  This one is by far the most famous.  And while it's not my favorite, it's up there near the top.  It definitely my favorite FLW house that's been on the cover of Life magazine and featured in a postage stamp.  I love some of the other lesser known buildings, each for different, unique and very personal reasons.  That being said, if I had the chance to live in this one, even for a day, I'd give up vital parts of my anatomy to do so.

With Fallingwater, the story of the family that lived in it, the Kaufmans, is almost as compelling as it's designer. How they supported his work, the community, nature around them, and art is fascinating to me.  The fact that they battled Wright's legendary ego over this masterpiece, and even won sometimes, yet remained friends with him throughout his life is something I both admire and am pleasantly bewildered by.  There is some of my favorite art in the world in this house and photography inside is prohibited so add taking pictures of the interior to that list of things I'd give up vital parts of my anatomy to do.



There are lots of better pictures here and around the internet, so if you really want to see the inside and some great photography of this place, feel free to consult The Google and move away from this place.  But for a truly impressive feat of photography, scroll down and note the fact that while this place was crawling with people, I managed to get off a few clicks off with relatively few people in the frame.







This is my favorite piece of art on the property.  I'm reasonably certain I was not supposed to take a photo, but it was outside while we were walking from one part of the house to the other so I decided better to beg forgiveness than ask permission and be denied.



This is not art.  Well not permanent art anyway.  I got to take it home with me.





The bridge that leads to the house.



Stairway that leads down to the waterfall.



The stairs from across the bridge.












This is not Fallingwater.  This is my living room.  Since the day I found this house and walked through it, I was drawn to it. We stopped at the open house on a whim; we had pretty much decided we weren't going to try to move that year.  Afterward as we got in the car to leave, I said to The KoH, "I hate how much I love this house."  Then we spent the better part of the next year trying to buy it.

 

We love the mid-century modernness of it and often refer to it as our "Fake Unsonian," even though there's not really very much Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired about the design of our house. That's okay, no one has any idea what we're talking about when we say it.  I even had to explain it to the appraiser who was here this week.  It's mostly a run-of-the-mill house.  But when I walked into the great room of Fallingwater and got the same feeling of being in the trees I get from getting up in the morning and watching the sunrise before anyone else in my family is awake and up, I realized maybe the source of original reaction to this house.

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To Gillian on Her 15th Birthday

Posted on 10/21/2015 11:23:00 AM
Note: I wrote this several days ago but I'm a day late in posting because I forgot to hit publish on the post and then I didn't look back into the blog yesterday.  Testament to how completely nuts I have been this year.  As early as last month, I planned on working at home yesterday to enjoy a little bit of solitude, but then I didn't really even spend that much time reflecting.  So today's letter comes the day after her 15th birthday.  It's not the first time I've let the moment almost pass me by but I think this year I'd probably gotten it out of my system a little early and then got caught up in the Have-To-Dos of every day with a job and a family.  Just goes to show you, you can't schedule feelings.

You know how life happens while you're not really paying attention?  This year, we bought and moved into a new house.  Then we still had the old house and had to sell it, but we put a whole lot of time and effort into renovating the old house first and then Stuff and Things happened and we couldn't sell the old house to the first couple of people who wanted to buy the old house and almost couldn't sell the old house to the third buyer because the county is a Big Dumb Stupidhead so we carried two mortgages for about half the year.  Oh and by the way, we moved into the new house and then had a whole lot of unplanned renovation projects and money to be put into that and unplanned travel.  It sucked.  Because Reasons!

I couldn't wait to get rid of the old albatross around my neck... er... I mean... house.  

When the sale finally did go through, we breathed a sigh of relief and didn't even care that the new owners almost immediately cut down the entire flower bed full of day lilies we spent fifteen years cultivating and coaxing to grow in that spot.  Not that they weren't allowed to do it; I just would have dug up more bulbs to take with me if I'd known.  Good luck getting anything else to grow there, New House People; it won't happen.

I believe we celebrated the house sale with pizza and a "good riddance" and let the moment go by because I'm sure some kid had a homework assignment or a music lesson or whatever.. other things were happening at the same time.

Then one day, earlier this month, I was a bit early for a rehearsal and happened to drive by the cemetery so I stopped in to see her, which I sometimes do when the moment allows.  There was a big sign near the gate that said, "If you have family or loved ones buried here, please contact the main office."

My heart fell into my stomach because... well.. I don't know why.  Not sure what the worst could actually have been in this situation but my brain went there anyway.  Everything else has gone horribly this year, why not this too?  I stopped into the office with that sense of impending dread, but it was after hours and they were closed. I called and left a trepidatious message asking what it was about and to please call me back.

They called back the next day and it turned out to be nothing, really.  The cemetery wasn't being razed to make way for a high rise.  There was no long outstanding bill that needed to be paid.  The office was just updating their records and wanted to know if we were still at the same address.  I said, no, actually we had just recently moved and I gave them our new address.  They took it, I thanked them, and that was that.  Not even a little crisis, which was a pleasant surprise.

Then I hung up the phone and realized for the first time that that is not my house any more.  

The kitchen door I was standing in when I learned I was pregnant with her is something I will probably never stand in again.

That wall I stared at for weeks on end when I was ordered to bed rest - only on my left side, I'll probably never see again. 

All those moments when I sat on the floor and sang to her and talked to her and begged her to grow so we could get to meet her are all contained within those walls and those walls don't belong to me anymore.  My last physical connection to her is kind of.. well, gone.

I totally understand why our culture buries its dead in cemeteries. They give you a physical location - a connection to a place and time that life often doesn't allow to remain because life marches merrily, mercilessly on. It's a place to direct your energies.

I knew I was being kind of literal and dumb about it, but I hung up the phone, quietly closed my office door and cried for the first time in a long time.  Maybe it's just the stress of this year.  Maybe it just blindsided me.  But this was a tough pill to swallow and it took me a couple of days to feel right again. 

I know it's been well long enough for life to feel right without her and I do, mostly. But every once in awhile, I look around.  I see my beautiful, amazing girls, growing and being pains in the ass and brilliant, being horrible to each other sometimes but also kind and wonderful others.  I see this incredible man being their father every day.  I'm so grateful for the family I have now and would never regret any of it.  Everything we went through has contributed to who and where we are now and she is so much a part of that.  Sometimes I think maybe that's why she came and what her purpose was here.  

But then sometimes I look around and I see a hole in it all.  Someone is missing.

It sneaks up on you, this grief stuff.  

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THIS is Why I Hate Eating There

Posted on 10/19/2015 04:57:00 PM
I love the “Food without a side of questions” mantra all the radio ads for Chipotle are sporting this season.  As a firm but gentle counter, here is, more or less, a transcript of my last interaction there.

Noise level in restaurant is deafening.  I walk up to the bar and scream across the sneeze guard, "Hi.  I'd like...."

CW: *interrupts me* "What do you want?"

Me: "A steak burrito, no rice, but everything else on it."

CW: "OK." *passes empty tortilla to next employee*

Chipotle Worker #2: "What do you want?"

Me: "A steak burrito with everything on it, but no rice, please."

Chipotle worker: *mumbles something unintelligible with head down*

Me: "What?"

Chipotle worker: *mumbles something unintelligible again*

Me: "I'm sorry, I can't hear you."

CW2 finally looks up at me: "WHAT KIND OF MEAT?"

Me: "Well.... steak... you know... 'cause it's a steak burrito?"

CW2:  "Yeah, but what kind of meat?"

Me: "OK... steak."

This seems to finally land with CW2 and she plops a spoonful of steak on the tortilla and passes it down.

CW3: "What do you want on it?"

Me: "No rice, but everything else,"

CW3: "Do you want rice?"

Me: "No."

CW3: "Do you want beans?"

Me: "Yes, no rice, but everything else."

CW3: "What kind of beans?'

Me: "Black beans."

CW3: *plops a spoonful of beans on the tortilla and passes it down*

CW4: "What do you want?"

Me: "Everything."

CW4: "Do you want lettuce?"

Me: "Yes. Everything."

CW4: "Do you want tomatoes?"

Me: "Yes. Everything."

CW4: "Do you want cheese?"

Me: "Yes. Everything."

CW4: "Do you want sour cream?"

Me: "Yes. Everything." *seeing where this is going* "And hot salsa, please."

 CW4: "Do you want guacamole?"

Me: "Damn, I missed one."

CW4: "WHAT?"

Me: *sigh* "Nevermind. Yes. Everything."

Might want to rethink that slogan, Chipotle cause whoever came up with it has clearly never tried to order something in your restaurant.

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There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

Posted on 10/11/2015 02:02:00 PM
There aren't that many moments when they're getting along, so I have to take photos which I can use to fool them into believing they liked each other when they're older.



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Fireflies

Posted on 10/10/2015 01:56:00 PM
Firefly season is over and I no longer need to psych myself up for when I get up in the middle of the night and see out of the corner of my eye, what my brain immediately assumes is a person walking through the back part of my yard with a flashlight, only to end with the inevitable epiphany: those are fireflies, you dummy. 

So that's good.



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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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