Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fourth Annual Art Crawl

The kids have been getting into our closet recently...

Once a year the Water Valley Main Street Association and the Water Valley Arts Council organize a coordinated walking tour of all the local artists home studios and the galleries on Main Street.

You get to see the town full of people, look around in all the old homes that you walk and drive by the rest of the year, and enjoy beverages and snacks at every stop.

This year there were a few new twists, all good, with the founding concept remaining the same.

Mary-Lou and Snookie Williams, the social king and queen of Water Valley, getting ready to take their electric car to the next stop on the tour.

I believe this is called a photo-bomb.  I was trying to capture the packed downtown parking situation, and my lovely sister in law wanted in on the picture.

Then the sisters decided to keep jumping until I gave up.

We walked all over the place, at first introducing Eliza around, then finding it wasn't necessary. This young lady fits right in, and is happy as a clam chatting on a porch with the old aristocratic crowd, or jamming with the slightly less aristocratic carpenter/musician/professor crowd.

A new twist this year was a 9 pm fashion show at Bozart's Gallery.  Julia Ray, the young lady with a dress shop next to the BTC, provided all the dresses, and James, friend and wife of the baker at the BTC, provided all the models from his modeling agency.

It was a hoot.  The clothes were great, the girls seemed to be having a good time, and the crowd had a blast. 

Eliza, ever on the cutting edge of the fashion trends, actually bought a dress at a WV boutique earlier in the evening.  She stopped us, dragged us in after seeing it on a mannequin, tried it on, and bought it, saying, "This may be the cheapest dress I have every bought."

The local crowd was reeling from the fact that we were watching a fashion show in Water Valley, the addition of crazy hair and makeup on the models, or the select few impractical dresses, were icing on the cake.

It was awesome.  And shocking even to us, that we have this level of talent working out of the ground floor of the building, quietly making dresses at incredibly reasonable prices.

We went to the bar behind the pizza joint on Main Street, to top off the evening with loud conversation, loud live music, and some domestic brews.

When the band started I turned to the bar to grab a napkin to make some earplugs.  A friend was already pulling them out of the dispenser and handing them around, and we all looked at each other and burst out laughing.  

The sisters.  These girls will turn 25 and 30, respectively, on October 9th.

It was a very fun evening, we came home to clean dishes and a very snoozy babysitter, and that amazing sister in law let us sleep in until 9 this morning.

I've known that young lady since she was 13, and while she has grown up into a smart and accomplished young lady, in many ways she's still the same kid, and I love hanging out with her.

The kids love her, and the three of them were inseparable all weekend, with the exception of Saturday night.  The three of them even took a trip by themselves to a carnival in Oxford on Saturday morning.

So Excited.

When we first moved to Water Valley, and settled into our first house on Wagner Street, we found a wonderland just a couple blocks up the street.  A long, easily overlooked driveway leading several hundred yards back into the greenery, and at the end a peaceful wonderland that felt like the middle of nowhere.  Rolling land, a falling down old barn, and many old beautiful trees.  20 acres of rolling fields dotted with giant pecans and oak woods, all within an easy walk of the main street, the store, all the kids' friends' houses, etc.

The house was empty.  The owners were not interested in selling, though over the last six years we have reached out on many occasions.

At any time in the past four years, we would not have been willing to buy it.  We had children, a building under renovation, a house under renovation, and a store getting on its feet.  Last year we were not sure we were going to stay here, and after leaving the corporate world this spring, I went on a trek on the country looking for other places we might rather be, and other things we rather be doing.

One of the revelations I had over the past 4 months was that we really like Water Valley.  When weighed against all the reasons we like here, this town doesn't have any peers that I was able to find in 10,000 miles of exploring.

Which is all to say, for the first time the farm became available, and for the first time in a long time, we have the desire, ability, and schedule to go for it.

So we have.  Contract is in place, we're hoping to close at the end of next week.  

There's so much to do, the place has been empty for many years, and the land unmanaged during the late period of the prior owner's life.

There are orchards to plant, barns to save, woods to clean up, fence lines to re-establish, animals to get, and a house to design.

Walking up the drive.  The kids are running ahead of us.

This is a third generation farm.  The second generation who built all the current buildings was amazing in his prime, and built everything well.  Unfortunately his prime was 40+ years ago, so the barn is in rough shape, but things like the iron fence made from salvaged wheels from the rail-yards in Water Valley are solid, and still ring the entire house and yard.  The view out over that pasture goes down the valley to the water tower.

A very solid, if not all that attractive, workshop.

We've been spending our evenings walking up there and sitting in the front yard daydreaming.  Caspian and Annaliese love it.  One evening they each took turns acting out stories.

On the other side of the rail fence there is a patch of old blueberry bushes, and a couple chinese chestnuts.

We lost Annaliese to the little maple tree.  She couldn't quite reach the lower branch, so she found a few bricks, stacked them up, and got enough hold to swing her legs up.

Caspian was distracted from his story telling by the shrieks of triumph, and he was off to try his hand, with a little help from his big sister.

There will be more on this whole adventure.  In the meantime, I'm in the market for a tractor. 


There are some exciting things brewing, but while we work on making those happen, life patters on.

Walking to the second-to-last farmer's market last Saturday:

A relaxing afternoon in the backyard last Sunday, where we continued the fall cleaning and prepping by burning the big pile of pecan tree limbs that have been falling on the chicken house throughout the summer.

I can't remember what these things are called, lilies of some sort.  

Annaliese and I had a lazy half hour before school one morning, while Alexe and Caspian were on a produce run.  She commandeered my phone and took many pictures and videos.

Self portrait.

Caspian and I have boat loads of boy time throughout the week while Annaliese is at school.  This morning he organized a picnic in the hallway for us, maybe 40 minutes after his third breakfast.  The kid is hungry all the time.

She's been a great house...

Caspian waiting patiently while I got a haircut.

The kids are fighting quite a bit lately, and during one of their pushing matches caspian fell down and scratched up his leg.  He's been taking very good care of the injury, and this particular morning managed to color coordinate the bandaids.  

Play date with the little girl who lives across the street.  She walked over with a bucket full of kittens.

So pleased that my good friend has moved in above the BTC, and had this put on his office door!

Another tenant expanded her lease to include all three offices across the front of the building, so I put this tub in one of the back bathrooms for her.

One of the new young ladies at the store, also pulling favorite-babysitter duties.  

Soccer.  This is one of the few pictures I have of Caspian on his feet during the game. He's been either sticking to his coach's leg, or lying on his back in the middle of the field.  

Friday morning Caspian and I toodled up to Memphis, with a stop at the Mahindra dealership in Batesville, to pick up a.Eliza.

Her flight was delayed, so we did some exploring.

And running.

She arrived forty minutes late, and Caspian vaulted into her arms, and didn't really leave them all weekend.  We stopped for some terrible food, and worse service, at a Steak and Shake, and then got home in time for the whirlwind weekend activities of Water Valley.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Time fills up.

The charcoal is warming up, and the rabbit sausage/sirloin burgers are prepped, Alexe is doing payroll, and the kids are winding down with a cartoon.  A moment to catch up on the past week.

Last Sunday the kids and I took a trip to a neighboring town to get a gallon of paint to match the house and finish up the courtyard project, and we took a slight detour to play at the John Deere dealership.

We tried out all the different sizes.  I now know which ones I fit, which ones I want, and which ones I can afford.  They're not all the same.

Caspian and I are pal-ing around quite a bit these days.  We've thought about putting him into a program to match Annaliese's, effectively giving me until noon each day to get things done, but each time I think of parking him somewhere, I look at his little cherubic face and take him with me instead.

On a rainy Monday we went looking for adventure at the river.

We found mud.  We explored for a while in the truck, and then wrapped it up before we got ourselves stuck.

Tuesday was Alexe and my 7th anniversary, and though the morning was disrupted by Caspian's crashing of the car, we had a wonderful evening out, with the kids staying with friends of ours, and a long drive over to Greenwood, where we ate at the Delta Bistro.  Excellent food, and though I imagine everyone is treated well, our friend had called his good friend the chef before we arrived, and we were treated like royalty.

On the table, crab bisque (to rival anything in Annapolis,) fried green tomatoes, and crawfish pizza.  Not on the table anymore, some amazing grilled baby beets, and bread with truffle oil.  Everything up to this point is considered an appetizer.  

My girl.

Me, looking a bit thin in the neck.

Alexe had something with duck prosciutto, I had the elk brisket.  Both were delicious.

Desert, a surprise to go with the coffee we ordered, s'mores with hand made chocolate truffles.

Wrapping up the courtyard on Wednesday, I went so far as to put up bead board. I had to steal some paper from Caspian's giant coloring book to get the stencil right.

Just a wee bit of caulking to finish it off.

And voila, 3 years later, plus a few hours, the courtyard is as it should be.  Well, 30 minutes later after we had cleaned up and swept.

On Thursday morning Caspian and I took the 2 hour drive south to Columbus, where we had found a cute little cast iron tub to put in one of the upstairs bathroom above the BTC.  We're at full occupancy, and this was something that Miss Polly, who is extending her lease to include the neighboring office, will appreciate.

After 2 breakfasts, we were on the road, and Caspian talked about nothing but finding more food.  The suckers bought me about 10 minutes of quiet on that topic.

After picking up the tub at a very cool brick victorian under renovation, we hit a restaurant on the main street in downtown Columbus.  It was barely 11, but there was no putting this boy off.

Our plates were set down, and before I could get a picture, Caspian had dug in.

I have to include a picture of this wheelchair.  The man who rides it around town owns the three buildings left on Main Street that haven;t been addressed.  One has had the roof collapse, fall through the second floor, and blow out the storefront.  He won't sell them.  

That's all beside the point.  The man has a trailer behind his wheelchair!

Soccer continues, as does Caspian's appetite.  

This is Caspian minutes after a snack, holding a lie-in protest for another one.

Friday night I got to play patron of the arts, hosting a concert in my office.  The Kings Road group, hailing from Glasgow and scotland/london/australia/DC/Houston respectively, were passing through town, and our friend KD organized this gathering.

KD sitting in the green shirt, the wife of the guitar/cello/vocal talent from around the world is sitting in Mr. Parker's chair.

They sounded great, the turn out was good, and I was tickled at all the life, music, and energy vibrating through my fort.  

After the concert these fine gentleman helped me lug the cast iron tub up the stairs and into the bathroom. Another good story; I'm not sure many tubs in this town have been hoisted around by a man in a kilt.