May 14
Quick Note on Our Store
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 05 14th, 2010| icon32 Comments »

Hi, All–Scott speaking here.

Our store broke early this week, and it’s my job to get it fixed. I’ve got everything back up but the pictures that go with the products, and hope to have the whole thing humming along by Monday.

Beware Mercury in Retrograde, I say! Beware!*


*It’s OK if you don’t get this reference. Ask Benita to explain it in more detail.

May 12

Well, I am past the half-way point of my vacation, and today was a very low-key day.  We were both very tired this morning and the weather was thundery, gray and raining, so we decided to go to Benihana’s for lunch (which we had meant to do yesterday but the tour at the Benjamin Harrison House took longer than we had anticipated so it was closed by the time we got there), then drove to Noblesville and visited a wonderful antique mall on the square.  It was very relaxing and centering and just what we needed for today.

When we got home, I slept for two more hours and Scott for three.  We both woke up refreshed, and tomorrow will be able to get back to work on the house.  We know exactly what we are going to tackle tomorrow and it isn’t for the weak of heart.  The kitchen and what is about to become my new sewing room.  We ordered a new table on Monday for me at Office Depot and they delivered it yesterday – and they had said 5-7 days for delivery!  We were both pleasantly surprised.

I cannot wait to get my sewing room set up.  I have lots of things to make and I need a place to sew.

May 11

Today was wonderful!  God provided us with weather that was very much the opposite of the forecast.  Today we were supposed to get severe thunderstorms with up to an inch of rain.  Instead we had partly cloudy skies.  It was humid, but it only got up to the mid 70’s, so it was much better than it could have been.

This, of course, made it easier to go to the places we planned to go today.  No fighting drippy umbrellas and driving rain.

After breakfast at our favorite place, the Original Pancake House in Fishers, Indiana, where we each got an anniversary hug from our favorite waiter, Donaldo, we drove downtown to the Scottish Rite Cathedral.  This cathedral is home to the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Masons and the art and architecture was heavily steeped in it.

This seal was in the center of what used to be the lobby of the cathedral before they moved it to the back to where the parking lot is.  This room is 33 feet X 33 feet X 33 feet all for the 33 degrees in the Masonic Temple and also represents the number of years Christ lived on earth.

These carved chairs sat in the four corners of this room.

Sorry for the funky way I had to take this shot in order to get close enough to see the detail.  The archways over the doors were full of masonic symbols and the oak doors were very elaborately carved.  They were beautiful.

This is a ceiling medallion in the next room, where we actually met our tour guide, a 32nd degree Mason named Jim.  Jim discovered that Scott has a degree in medieval history and he liked Scott immediately.  He was very informative, answered most of our questions, (I had a couple about the materials in the ceremonial costumes that he couldn’t answer).

The art glass was all donated by a company in Germany and were made specifically for this cathedral.  This one illustrates art.

This one illustrates music.

There were many more in this room, but, due to the lighting, the rest were pretty blurry.  I really needed a tripod for these shots because holding a camera still long enough for a camera on the setting for low lighting was very difficult.

This art glass was in the library and depicts several of the US presidents, all of whom were Masons.  I took this picture because I noticed something interesting on it.

In the bottom right hand corner was this.  This is Benjamin Harrison, who was both a Civil War general and president of the United States.  His grandfather was William Henry Harrison of Tippecanoe and Tyler Too fame, and William was the first president to die in the White house – just 30 days after being inaugurated as President.  William was still so popular that 48 years later his grandson was elected – Benjamin used his grandfather’s name and image heavily during his campaign to help him get elected.  The reason I took Benjamin’s picture here will become evident later.

The auditorium was so large, and the lighting was such that I simply could not get any pictures in there.  Please go out to the website and look at it in the virtual tour portion.  Let’s just say that when we walked into the room from just beneath the balcony at the back, the baby grand piano on the floor in front of the stage looked like a toy.

We got to go up on stage, and when we were talking about the lighting and the state of the art system they now have, I mentioned that I used to do the lighting at Indiana Central University (now University of Indianapolis) back before Scott and I were married and about the old board behind stage that we still used then.  Jim then took us to the right of the backstage area (stage left) to show me this…

Doesn’t this look like something on an old war ship?  This is far more fancy than the one that used to be at Central, but it was along the same lines.  Goodness it brought back memories – especially of the night the whole she-bang caught on fire!  That’s another story, though.

At that point, it was noon, and the tour guide had to go to a meeting of all tour guides, so we left.  If I had had a dollar for every time Scott said “Wow!” during the tour, I could have replaced the amount I donated since the tour is free.  Even the tour guide was teasing Scott about it, but Scott was seriously impressed by the place.  So was I.

The next stop on our anniversary tour was the…Ta-da!!!  Benjamin Harrison home!  See, I told you that picture would be relevant later on.

Both Scott and I had toured this house at 1230 North Delaware Street back when we were in college, but there has been a lot of water to pass under the bridge since then, so Scott wanted to see it again.  An interesting side note is that in the large side yard just south of this house is where the home of L.S. Ayres home used to set.  Just down the street at 1131 North Delaware Street used to sit the home of Christopher and Christina Rafert who were Scott’s maternal great-great grandparents.  That home also was an Italianate and Scott has been trying to draw this house using old newspaper photographs.  Because that home and the Benjamin Harrison home were constructed on the same lines, Scott took at lot of architectural photos today to help him recreate the image of his ancestral home.  The Rafert house was torn down in the late 1960’s to build I-65 through Indianapolis.  Next door to the Raferts was the home of Eli Lilly, and it, too, was torn down.

Anyway, back to the tour.

This is the front of the Benjamin Harrison home.  It was built about 1874, but the front porch wasn’t added until Harrison returned from his 4 years in the White House, in 1896.

A shot of the side of the house.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that it didn’t rain today.

Inside the front porch.  Can’t you just imagine sitting there in the summer time visiting with neighbors?  The porch was cooler than the air outside it, so it must have been a nice place to be on a hot, Indiana summer afternoon.  Besides, it faces east, so that helped, too.

Before we go any further, let me tell you about our guide for the tour.  I am ashamed to say I cannot remember his name, but he obviously loved history and loved everything in the old house.  In fact, he drove me nuts because he touched and handled everything and didn’t have gloves on.  As a former docent of the Morris-Butler House in Indianapolis, I had it beaten into my skull that you touch NOTHING without gloves because of the oils on our hands causing faster deterioration of the artifacts.  Also, he picked up and handled lots of the glassware and I was so afraid he’d accidentally drop something.

The best thing about him was that not only did he give us an hour and a half tour (it was supposed to be about an hour), but every time he was ready to go to the next room, he would say, “Now we’ll go to the next room, if you are ready.”  I think “If you are ready” is going to be repeated many times between Scott and I.  It got so we’d catch each others’ eye and smile.  I mean this place has 16 rooms and a stable with three rooms in it, so it got said about 20 times during the tour.  And he had covered each room so thoroughly and answered all our questions, that we were ready to move on when the time came.

Inside the front parlor.  Oops!  We weren’t supposed to use flash in the house, but I reset my camera and it turned the flash back on.  Lucky you though.  Again, in order to take pictures in low light situations, I needed to have had a tripod, but I didn’t.  So 90% of the pictures came out pretty blurry, and the ones I was able to get mostly clear had to have quite a bit of color shifting to get them to look half-way decent.  But here you are.

This was Benjamin Harrison and his first wife’s daughter’s bedroom.  It was large, and I really liked it.  I could have moved in with no problem – provided I had a maid to dust all the ornate woodwork in it.

I absolutely adore Wooten desks.  The Morris-Butler House has one that looks more like the one in the Wooten link (here is another good link on the Morris-Butler House).  All those cubby holes and the secret compartments fascinated me.  When I first started working there, we were allowed to open and close it for guests to see it, but later, that practice had to be stopped due to the wear on the hinges.

How would you like to do your filing in this cabinet?

Commemorative newspapers were printed for the new president and were presented to Benjamin Harrison when he took his railroad tour of the nation after he had been elected.  The reason I took pictures of these “newspapers” is this:

They were printed on silk!  All of the “papers” in this case, from several different cities, had their announcement of his election printed on sheets of silk and they were presented to Harrison when he stopped in their city.   Now that is cool!

Before we went out to the stable house, we got to see the kitchen, my favorite part of any historic house.  I am batty about old cook stoves and this one was a lovely example.  It would have made the west-facing kitchen hellishly hot in the summer, but it would have felt nice and snug in the cooler months.

And another favorite piece of furniture of mine – a real Hoosier cabinet.  As much as I admire the fancy furnishings of the rest of the house, I always gravitate to the comfort of the kitchen and all its old-fashioned, but still familiar tools.  Scott’s family may have belonged in the front parlor of this type of house, but my folks would have been found more at home in the kitchen.

The little rose garden at the side of the house was sweet, but…

…their peonies are in full bloom and mine are still tight little buds.  I’m guessing the warmer temperatures that are usually associated with cities helped boost these, and they were lovely to see.

So that is how Scott and I celebrated our 25th anniversary.  We took our time, learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  If you ever get to come to Indianapolis, I can recommend these as places to visit.  And don’t forget the Morris-Butler House, too.  I have very fond memories of that place.

May 10

Three of the nine days of vacation are already complete – that’s one-third done.  Gee, this is passing quickly!

Saturday, we went to Indianapolis, met Scott’s mom and step-dad for lunch at his mom’s favorite Mexican restaurant (we paid – Happy Mother’s Day!), and had the loveliest time with them.  Really, I could say I have one of the best mother-in-laws in the whole world!  Other than that, we rested Saturday knowing what the rest of this week was going to be like.

Yesterday, after breakfast, we dug into our spring cleaning.  Scott got about 90% of the media room (combination living room/music room that is actually in what is the master bedroom of our house) and I worked very hard on my studio ( which is actually the living room of the house).  The problem with my studio during all of this is that, since it is in the middle of the first floor, it is where things get parked that are being moved from one room to another or from one room waiting to be hauled to Goodwill, or for things we don’t quite know what to do with yet.  It still looks like a warehouse, but I did get the dyer’s closet all set up and got most of my books put away (except for those going to Half-Price Books on Saturday).  Some things moved in, some things moved out and some things are still hanging around like teenagers with no place to go.

We worked for about 9 hours on the house yesterday, and parts of it are beginning to take shape.  The other parts…  Have you ever heard of the saying, “It’s always darkest before dawn”?  Well, in some areas of our house it is very dark.

This morning, at 8:00, we had two tri-axle loads of #53 stone delivered with about 1/3 of a load being dumped in front of the garage and the rest spread by the dump truck as they drove out.  That 1/3 of a load needed to be spread out and it had to be done this morning while that area was in the shade and it was nice and cool.  Also, it is supposed to rain for the rest of the week, so with the dust in the #53 stone becoming cement when it gets wet, today was the day.  It took about an hour and a half.  Whew!

Once we were done with that, I got the tractor out and mowed the yard.  That took an hour and 45 minutes.  I love mowing our yard when it is nice and cool and the sky is clear and sunny.  The farmers we rent the land around us to were out planting corn this morning and, somewhere, someone had a fire going and it all smelled wonderful!

After a shower, Scott and I loaded the car with stuff going to the local humane society and to Goodwill, and headed to Olive Garden.  We figured after all that stone spreading, we had earned pasta!

With Goodwill and the humane society drop-offs done, we went to Office Depot and ordered a new table for my sewing room.  Then we went to Lowes for a few items (namely one of our 25th anniversary gifts to one another).

This is a semi-dwarf Gala apple tree!  We both love Gala apples and this will be a welcome addition to our garden area. See how cloudy it is getting?

While we were at Lowes, we also got these…


Cilantros (coriander)

And three Homestead tomato plants.

I still have seeds to plant, and I have some peat pots to plant them in to get them started.  I should get that done in the next couple of days and set them in the kitchen window sill to germinate.

One day last week I took a picture of the snowball bush to show it to you in full bloom.

And the peonies are in bud and should be blooming in the next week or so, weather dependent.  It’s been pretty cool here the last few days, but that’s okay.  With summer in Indiana looming over us, I’ll enjoy this as long as I can.

Tomorrow is a day off for us for our celebration.  We are pretty sure we know what we are doing, but I’ll let you know what it ends up being tomorrow.  With the rain coming in (we could get up to an inch tomorrow), nothing outdoors will be done, but there are still plenty of options open to us.

For now, I am officially tired and my aching back and I are going to take some Advil and sit and read the rest of the evening.  I have the feeling I’ll be going to bed early tonight.

For all you moms out there, I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day!

May 6

Today is my little brother’s 44th birthday (Happy Birthday, Clinton!!) and it got me to thinking about our childhood together.  I was lucky in God’s choice for a sibling for me because we had more fun together than fights.  We had to rely on each other quite a bit for companionship because there were few other playmates around except for the cousins and we didn’t see them as much as we would have liked.  When the distance you live from your closet neighbor is measured in “miles” rather than feet or yards, you tend to make do with what you have available to you.

Clinton is only 21 months younger than me and we were very close growing up.  Our childhood, while not idyllic in the least, was filled with lots of fun, even though it was also filled with lots of work.  Growing up on a farm is never all fun and games, and our family heated the house with wood all winter, so that meant there were lots of Saturdays spent in the woods cutting down trees, hauling brush, stacking wood, hauling wood, and all that jazz.

Also, there was the annual corn harvest each year and it was our job to ride in the gravity wagon behind the 1948 8N Ford tractor and the one-row corn picker and use our legs to keep the corn from piling up all at one end.  Our other job during this was to keep an eye out for fires caused by the old equipment going over dry corn stalks.  If we saw one, one of us would jump down off the gravity wagon, run to the fire, stomp it out, then run and catch back up with the gravity wagon and climb back on board.  I doubt if Dad was even aware of these little side trips when they were made.

The little 7-acre farm where we actually lived had a yard that grew year by year.  When we moved there in 1972, there was a barn lot, a chicken lot, and lots of pasture.  The yard was about half an acre, and poor Mom had to mow it with a push mower because Clinton and I were too little (7 and 9).  When we got old enough to help mow, we would take turns mowing it, so many laps a turn.  Then Dad decided that since we no longer had chickens or calves in the chicken yard, he wanted it mowed, too, so he bought an old Wheel Horse lawn tractor and Clinton would use it while I continued to use the push mower, but only for trimming and the front yard (because it looked nicer mowed with the push mower than with the tractor).  A few years after that, we no longer kept calves there at all (they were kept at the family dairy farm about 5 miles away), so Dad decided he wanted the barn lot mowed too.  Then he added in part of the pasture between the chicken lot and barn lot.  By this time, we were mowing over 2 acres.

On mowing day, Mom and Dad would leave no chore list for us like they did on the other days.  We’d get up early and usually be out mowing before 8:00.  I would get done with my part about half an hour before Clinton would get his part done, and I’d take him out a huge glass of iced tea, then head to the shower.  By the time I was done with the shower and was getting dressed, he’d finish mowing and come in for his shower.  This was usually about noon.  After a quick bite of lunch, he and I would grab our fishing poles, some hot dogs as bait (with a couple of extra because Clinton loved cold hot dogs) and hop on our bikes.  Down the road about 2.25 miles was a creek that had bluegill in it and we would park our bikes off the road, climb over a fence (no, we never asked permission to fish there, but we were never stopped, either) and head up the creek a bit to a spot where we loved to fish.  We never kept any of the fish, just played catch and release.  But it was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

But most of my favorite childhood memories took place at my maternal grandparent’s place, which was about 6-7 miles from our farm.  Mammaw and Pappy had a little 21-acre farm that was mostly woods, and most of it was on the side of a hill.  About the only level spot was where the house, yard, garden and barn were.  In the winter, the sledding was the best, but you had to make sure to break with your legs about 2/3rd of the way down or you’d run into the fence at the bottom of the pasture.  The walk back up to the starting point was a bit long, but that just meant the ride down was extra long, too.

On the very backside of the farm, up past the pasture and around the fence line in the woods (mostly uphill) was a steep little valley that ended in a little spring that fed a pond down further in the woods and that you might be able to get a glance of if there were no leaves on the trees.  Most years, about April or May, my brother and I would take a bit of lunch with us, a shovel or two, and walk back to that spring and head up the valley to the mouth of the spring.  There we would work diligently clearing out the leaves, limbs and other debris that had clogged it up over the past year.  It was usually sweaty work with lots of gnats bugging us, but we also garnered great satisfaction over doing it.  Once it was done, and the water was running clean again, we would take out a cup (or jar or whatever we had brought for the purpose) and fill it up from the spring.  I don’t think I have ever had water that tasted so cold, so fresh, so clean that what we had from that spring.  Then we’d eat our bit of lunch, pack up and continue our way up out of that valley and around the fence line until we came back out at the pasture and headed back to the house.  There we would report to Pappy the condition of the fence line and how the spring was faring.  He was always worried that the spring wouldn’t be able to feed the pond enough to give the wildlife enough to drink over the summer months.

In the fall, during fall break from school, Clinton and I would spend the two days (Thursday and Friday) at Mammaw and Pappy’s.  This was the time of the annual leaf raking, because Pappy’s yard was full of big, old sugar maple trees and the amount of leaves that would fall was amazing.  The entire yard (a couple of acres) would be covered 6” deep or more with beautiful, colorful leaves.  The first day we would divide the yard up into his section and my section, then rake roads and paths and rooms into our section.  Once we had that done, we would connect a road or two between then, then play the rest of the day in our little “town” with houses, shops, post office, etc.

The next day, we would rake the leaves into huge piles in the areas that Pappy would want to build his fires, but there was always one huge pile built under one of the maple trees.  This tree had the best branch sticking out to tie a rope onto and make a swing (i.e. tie a big knot in the end to sit or stand on while swinging).  Then we would go to the barn, carefully chose the right rope from Pappy’s collection, and make our swing.  We’d spend most of the rest of the day swinging and jumping into that pile, reraking it up, swinging and jumping into it, reraking it up, until it was getting close to time to go home.  Then we’d rake the leaves over to one of the piles for burning, carefully take the rope down, untie the knot and replace it where we found it.  We had two days of play and fun, and Pappy didn’t have to rake his leaves.  Just light them and watch them as they burned.

Most of our holidays from school were spent with Mammaw and I remember several summers, when we were too young to stay home by ourselves, where we were dropped off there on Dad’s way to work (Also, I can remember watching Dad drive by the house and forget to pick us up and have to turn around at a neighbor’s and come back for us – boy, did we tease him for that).   Mammaw would have a quilt and pillow ready on the couch for Clinton, and I would crawl into bed with her for a couple more hours of sleep (Mammaw was not an early riser).  When we got up, we would have breakfast and we’d help Mammaw with some of her morning chores before we headed out to play and she headed to the living room to work on a quilt or to crochet or whatever while she watched her “stories” (soap operas).

There were several summers where we’d find kittens either in the barn or the smokehouse and we’d play with them, getting them used to being around humans.  The mamma cats never seemed to mind – I guess they knew neither of us would hurt their babies.  In fact, we gave her a much needed break from them so she could sleep or hunt.

We would try to sneak up on the bullfrogs that lived by the pond in the pasture, just before the woods started.  We tried building a “fort” by weaving fallen branches in between four trees up by the pond, but it never reached more than a couple of feet tall.  We climbed every tree we could.  We climbed all over the barn.  We played in the woods.  In the fall, we would gather hickory nuts before the squirrels could get them.  We gathered walnuts and put them in the driveway for the cars to drive over and break open the husks.

From Clinton’s birthday in May until Mom’s birthday in September, all birthdays were celebrated there with wiener roasts and Mammaw’s homemade potato salad (which my cousin, Tanya, has been able to replicate, but I cannot).  We cousins would catch lightening bugs and put them in jars to watch them flash before letting them go before we went home.  We’d roast the hotdogs on sassafras sticks that Pappy cut that day and prepared for that very purpose.  We would take sticks and play in the fire long after dark, then take the glowing sticks and swirl them around to see the lines they would make in the air.  We’d listened to our parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle telling us that “children who play in the fire wet their beds at night.”  We never did, of course, but they would always tell us that.  We would listen to the grownups talk, tell stories, and catch up with one another.

Each Christmas, Pappy would go looking for just that perfect little cedar tree to bring home (usually from one of the nearby fields) and Clinton and I would help Mammaw decorate it while listening to her tell stories about all the ornaments or about her childhood Christmases or to one of the Christmas albums.  And drink hot chocolate while we did so (Swiss Miss in hot milk cooked on the stove).  Every year, the decorated tree was declared the prettiest they had ever had, and we’d all feel the contentment from the day together.

It was there that Clinton and I learned how to embroider (me flowers and such and Clinton race cars), I learned how to piece quilts, make yo-yo’s, sew my dolls’ clothes, Clinton learned how to work with wood and help Pappy at whatever he was doing.  Mammaw and Pappy both passed their green thumbs along to me and I loved helping to repot the dozens and dozens of houseplants they had each summer.  Pappy taught me how to deadhead roses, and tie up beans.

It was to their house that our family took refuge the night after our house burned to the ground (December 10, 1977) and we stayed a week until a house trailer could be secured, delivered and set up.  Pappy took Clinton and I shopping for new Christmas decorations, and he cut our Christmas tree that year and helped us decorate it.

All my growing up years and up into my adulthood was surrounded by that place and the love and support it brought to us.  Whenever I think of home, I rarely think of the little 7-acres farm I lived on, but, instead, I think of Mammaw and Pappy’s house and farm.  Whenever I hear someone say “homeplace,” there is where I think.

The place no longer exists, the house is long gone as are the gardens.  It hurts to drive past it and see it all being trampled by steers being fattened up for market, and I usually go out of my way to not go by there when I drive down to visit my family in southern Indiana.

But in my dreams, the place will never cease to exist.  It is in my heart, where it belongs.

May 5

Seriously!  This has been a couple of weeks of working at the office, working on the house, working on the diet, but nothing to see for it, yet.

Scott and I cleaned out some of the bookcases in the library Saturday morning and he took 9 bags and I took 2 huge tubs of books to Half Price Books to sell.  He walked in with 9 bags and walked out with 9 books (and still owes me $3).  I walked in with 2 tubs and walked out with 3 books and still have $30 to spare.

I also bought a new, small tapestry loom, but it’s still in the box, so nothing to see there, either.

I did get to spin more on that same yarn I’ve been spinning for the last month.  I’m very nearly done, but nothing to show you, yet.

Next week, Scott and I are taking the entire week doing the spring cleaning.  Yes-siree-bob, we are spending our silver wedding anniversary week cleaning house.  How’s that for romantic?  Okay, the actual day of our anniversary will see us doing something, but we just don’t know what that something is, yet. 

So, folks, we got a whole lotta nuthin’ going on.  Sorry for the slowdown in the traffic, but the gapers block will clear out soon and you can be on your way.

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