Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Five Years Ago ...

My very first post on this blog was dated November 27, 2008 ... five years ago today.  881 posts later, I have shared a whole lot of stuff in that time.

A view of our house, from 2004, while the mason was at work and before the roof was replaced.  This place has my heart!

The central aisle of my Rose Field garden ... when it was perfect.

Writing a blog was The Husband's idea.  Our conversation went something like this:

"You need to start a blog."

"What's a blog?"

"It's where you write about stuff and publish it online for everyone to read."

"That's stupid."

"At least give it a try ... I've already set it up for you."

You already know how this turned out.

A view of our barn, on a sunny spring morning.  The story of its restoration is HERE.

The on-going porch project ... shared cardboard mock-ups of porch brackets in 2011 ... still haven't done any of it for real, though.

This started as a way to keep a garden and renovation journal, and to document what I do around here so folks who were interested (especially those who were interested in buying the roses in my brand-new-at-that-time nursery operation) could feel like they were a part of the place.  I found this to be way too restrictive for my all-over-the-spectrum interests, so things quickly evolved to include whatever was on my mind, or in my garden or workshop.  This blog is me, after all ... and I wanted to have more freedom to share and explore more parts of myself.

Maggie, my miracle kitty, snoozing in the sunny south-facing family room window.

Silly Dorothy ... curled up with her sister Alice on the sofa.  I think that everyone should adopt sister kittens.

Sweet Daniel ... he's been gone since May ... I still miss him terribly.

During this process, I have learned a lot about myself and I have met so many wonderful people from all over the world.  What I thought would be a solitary pursuit is anything BUT solitary!  We have conversations, both here and off-line via email, which makes this one of my very favorite places to be.

Basement workshop.  This work island is one of the most useful things I have ever made.  Click HERE to see how I built it.

Sanding the mantel in the family room.  I spent months stripping paint from all the moldings and walls in this old place ... see my heat gun and trusty carbide scraper in the background.

It seems appropriate for this anniversary to fall on the day before Thanksgiving, the day each year that we Americans set aside to reflect on and be grateful for the many blessings that we receive.  Thank you, thank you for visiting my little corner of cyberspace as often as you do, for reading what I write, and for caring enough to reach out and leave your thoughts behind in the comments ... I count each of you among MY blessings.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Quick Chalk Paint Project

Years ago, when we were in the throes of the most major portion of the whole-house remodel here at our old place, we hired a company to reline the fireplace that vents our boiler in the basement.  The boiler and three fireplaces share a huge chimney, which had deteriorated in places to the point of being dangerous.  While they had the scaffolding assembled, and the equipment on site, it was more cost-effective to have the living room fireplace relined along with the work on the boiler flue.  (The living room is directly above the room with the boiler.) 

One aspect of the living room part of the job was to reset some of the brick in the firebox, and to parge the whole thing with fireclay.  This made the fireplace safe to use, but I hated the look of it from the moment they did it.  (we haven't had a fire in it, though ... but we could if we wanted to.)  We are rarely in our living room.  It was the room that had the most challenges to overcome while we were renovating, so we made the decision to close the door and deal with it later ... instead of slowing down the progress on the rest of the house.

The mantel is leaning against the wall, and the brick surrounding the firebox needs attention.  These are projects for another time.

As I was looking at the ugly firebox yesterday, while in the room retrieving a couple of project pieces, I had a brainstorm ... Chalk Paint!  Annie Sloan's paint would be the perfect thing to use to get rid of the ugly, just-plastered look of our antique fireplace.

I ran down to my workshop, grabbed my can of Graphite ASCP, poured some into a container and added some water (probably a 1:1 ratio), and this is the result:

The hanging chain controls the damper at the top of the flue.  I bought the brass fireplace fender at a junk shop a few months ago.

Much better!  Graphite is a good dark grey, which sort of simulates the look of a old smoky used fireplace.  (When we actually USE this room and the fireplace, which I'm working toward doing, we can get some REAL smoky sooty stuff on there to complete the look.)  The mantel is still leaning against the wall and the brick surround will wear its patchwork of crumbling plaster for the foreseeable future, but that's okay.  At least the firebox itself looks better now. 

It feels great to spend so little time on a nagging project, and to have it make such a difference.

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Welcome to the HRF Board"

Now that everything is official, it's okay for me to let the cat out of the bag ...

I received the following message via email earlier this morning:

Hi Connie,

It's with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Board of Directors for the Heritage Rose Foundation. Your term will start January 1, for three years.


(The "stephen" is Stephen Scanniello, the current president of HRF.)

I am very proud, and more than a little bit star struck, to have been asked to serve on the HRF Board beside some of the people who inspired my passion for roses in the first place.  I'm also kind of stunned, since it felt like this nomination came out of nowhere.
All I can really say is, "Wow!!"  I'm psyched, and I'm ready to get to work!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Typical Scene Around Here

We don't eat at the dining table very often anymore.  Because of this, we tend to use the table as a place to set things ... and the items promptly become invisible and they can stay there unnoticed for days.  The humans don't pay attention to the stuff.  Dorothy and Alice think that it makes a great place to nap.

That is Dorothy on my computer bag, and Alice on the tote that held my goodie bag loot from last weekend's HRF conference.

When you look at this scene from the opposite side, you see that Dorothy is also sleeping on top of Ruby's Santa hat.

At least someone in this house has a use for the hat.  Ruby certainly doesn't.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

International Heritage Rose Foundation Conference

The Heritage Rose Foundation conference in Lakeland, Florida, last weekend was wonderful!!  I spent five days immersed in everything roses, and I met so many new people.

Travel day on Thursday started on a bad note (accidently showed up for my flight at the wrong airport).  JetBlue fixed everything, I phoned the rental car company and amended my reservation, and things went smoothly from then on.  The conference kicked off on Thursday evening with a reception at Florida Southern College, our host location.

This is the new rose garden, designed by Stephen Scanniello to coordinate with the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on the campus of FSC.

Friday, our group boarded two tour busses and set off to see the rosy sights, accompanied by a steady drizzle.  Our first stop was Rose Petals Nursery, owned by my friend Cydney Wade (who was responsible for planning the whole bus tour.)  This was my first opportunity to see Cydney's place in person.  She and her husband worked SO hard to prepare to host our group ... the place was beautiful!

The sign that greeted us as we got off the bus.

A beautiful vignette in the potting/working area, with a note from Cydney's sweet husband.

I plan to absolutely steal this idea to display my own collection of antique watering cans.

A little bit of light rain can't stop true rosarians from enjoying a beautiful garden.
My magic umbrella must have lost its power.  I bought it two years ago, have taken it unopened on every trip since then, and it had never rained until this trip.

This is 'Emmie Gray' a China rose from Bermuda.

'Papa Gontier', Tea rose, with a windmill in the background.

Bottle tree!!!

Rusty rooster in a hanging basket, with 'Reve d'Or' in the background.

Hibiscus, with benches full of Rose Petals' roses for sale beyond.

Spanish Moss in the trees seems so exotic, to this Virginia girl.

Next stop was The Dudley Farm, a Florida state park.  It is one of the last vestiges of an intact working central Florida farm, donated to the state by the last Dudley to live there.  Unlike some historic sites that are recreations of a way of life, this one is the REAL DEAL, with the 1880s house, outbuildings, fences, livestock, gardens, and crops.  I wish we had had more time to explore here ... I will certainly return when I go back to visit Cydney in the next year or so.

The Dudley house is a short walk from the visitor's center, along a path that was once the main road to Gainesville.

More trees with Spanish Moss.

The Dudley House, with its swept garden, full of original roses and other plants.

The main hall.

A bedroom, with quilting frame hanging from the ceiling.

Another bedroom.


Notice the swept paths in the garden.

Tropical plants, and a few roses, in the garden on the side of the house.

I don't remember what this building was called.

Chimney, made of native stone.

Our final stop was the garden of Don and Jan Rogers.  It's a brand new garden, filled with their collection of modern and old garden roses.

All of the roses are still small, since the garden is new.

'Gruss an Aachen'

This is Cydney, looking radiant and exhausted, as the day concluded.

We got down to the business of the conference on Saturday, meeting in the Alumni Center at FSC.  After a quick continental breakfast, the morning's programs began.  We first heard from Dr. Nancy Morvillo, who gave us a lesson on DNA ... in a way that we non-scientific folks could all totally understand.  Next, two students at a NYC science high school reported on their own rose DNA experiments.

Because of the rain, lunch was set up on the Frank Lloyd Wright esplanades beside the new rose garden.  If you look carefully, you can see me on the far left.

photo by Malcolm Manners

My program about the roses at Hollywood Cemetery was the first one after lunch.  I was a tiny bit apprehensive about the maiden voyage of a program on such an important subject in front of this distinguished audience ... but I needn't have been at all concerned.  The program went super smoothly, and I spoke for only a little bit over my allotted one-hour time slot.  I was told by lots of people for the whole rest of the weekend that they enjoyed it and they are now a LOT more interested in cemeteries and their history.  (I don't get nervous at all about talking to a large audience like this, thank goodness ... it may sound strange, but I think it's FUN.)

Stephen Scanniello's introduction, with my title slide on the screen.

Getting started.  (Malcolm Manners photo)

I'm rollin' now!  (Malcolm Manners photo)

Programs concluded with a beautiful presentation by Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, about Thomas Jefferson and his roses.

The members of the Bermuda Rose Society had a lovely display of shadow box arrangements ... a form that they are famous for.  I'm not much of a flower arranger, but these were so beautiful and unique that I may have to rework an old picture frame and give this a go.



Saturday night was all about the buffet banquet and auctions.  Rare rose books and other goodies were on the Silent Auction.  We were treated, as we are every year, to Stephen Scanniello's talents as an auctioneer for the Live Auction.  He works the room like a pro, bringing lots of laughter and even more $$$ for HRF.  I won a very rare China rose in the live auction, but there was a mix-up at the cashier ... someone else paid for it and took it.  The person wasn't there on Sunday for me to talk to them, and I doubt I will get my rose.

Sunday was more relaxed, with the general HRF meeting, a taste of the new Rosa Mundi (publication by HRF) given by Gregg Lowery, and an inspiring program by Mike Shoupe on considerations for rose breeding in the future.  I spent some time in the sunshine in the new FSC rose garden, snapping a few photos and absorbing the atmosphere.

That steel gazebo in the center of the garden is HUGE.




... and then it was over.  Memorable snapshots from the weekend were the time I spent visiting with the delightful people from Bermuda, or having dinner chatting and eating Thai food with Tom Carruth (rose breeder and Curator of the garden at The Huntington) and Etienne Bouret (a SUPERB garden photographer from France), or comparing notes with Stephen Hoy (writer of the wonderful "Singularly Beautiful Roses" newsletter), or reconnecting with the lovely ladies that I met last year in the conference in Sacramento, and so much more. The whole weekend was a who's who of so many rose people that I admire ... don't pinch me, because I don't want to wake up.   

This said, I am really glad to be home. I am motivated and energized to get to work on my own roses. I got a great idea for a new garden while I was at the Dudley Farm. Speaking of roses, I only came home with two new ones from the rose sale ('Bloomfield Abundance' and "Green Mount Cemetery Red") ... I still can't believe that I had that kind of restraint.  To all of the rose people that I met this weekend, it was a pleasure to get to know you in person!   Thank you for helping to make my trip such a memorable one.
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