Landscaping begins!

Glenn and Jackie have begun working on Wise Manor’s landscaping!  Years of neglect, storms, ground shifts, and tree removals have all left their marks on the terrain around the house.  We began by chopping down the boxwood and holly hedges at the front of the house (they are already leafing out again), then removed the old nandina bushes that had thrived but never filled in nicely.  Jackie is cleaning out all the beds and moving the St. Augustine grass into the lawn where it belongs.  Glenn is building a screen at the rear of the house to hide the AC mechanics and other stuff.  Glenn has also planned the layout for the sprinkler system which he described to me while I stared blankly at him.  We have plans to thin the magnificent amaryllis as there are gazillions of them; I’d like to see them all around the house in different beds.  Glenn planted ferns and hostas in the shady moist space between the house and the carport; they should do well there.  We are talking about some evergreens and hydrangeas where the nandinas once were.  Very exciting stuff!

Pilgrimage weekend

What fun my weekend guests had! My sponsorship of the Re-enactors merited a pass to many of the activities so my guests not only toured all the homes, but also attended the parade and the shoot-out afterward, watched the battle out at Tuscumbia Ranch, and loved the reverence of the Illumination of the Confederate and Union graves at Oakwood Cemetery. Some of my guests attended the ball and learned period dances and songs. I was on my way to the tea when I remembered that “period dress REQUIRED”, so changed beds and ironed instead. Jefferson events just keep getting better!

Unbiased opinion

“What is it about Jefferson, Texas, that makes me not want to come home after I visit there? Could it be the countless amounts of antique stores and shops to visit? Maybe the plethora of lovely, historic hotels and Bed & Breakfasts at which to stay? Ghost hunting after dark? Or maybe it’s peacefulness that overcomes me from just being able to sit on a park bench in the middle of town, in the middle of the day, and relax after a long walking excursion.  Whatever it is, it keeps me going back.” — Angela Thomas, KEEL Radio 710

Eave ornament

Well, Glenn has done it again!  I asked for it; I got it!  Using the existing gingerbread on the front porch as a guide, Glenn designed and constructed a decoration for the under-eave at the front gable of the house.  As a Queen Anne  house, I had often compared mine with other houses of the same era and noticed that mine is missing an eave ornament.  No more!   It was constructed, painted and installed before my weekend guests arrived last Friday, who, incidentally were delightful fun and took the whole house so they are on my “love you; please come back” list.  AND, although fall can’t seem to make up its mind whether to come on or to concede to summer, my fall decorations are up, prompting my guests to inquire and be sent over to the Pottery Tent south of Jefferson on Highway 59.  Bet they got lots of good stuff!

New stuff

My last parlor chair has been returned from the upholsterer and it is my favorite of all three pieces I originally sent!  The fabric is a burgundy on burgundy stripe and it made up very rich and Regency-looking.  Would that I had had the courage to use it on the sofa!  Ah, well, what’s done is perfectly lovely, fresh and comfy.  I sent over two of the dining chairs that Moses the Cat had made his own.  The petit point tapestry chair backs cannot be replaced (we bought them in Austria in the 1980’s), but Ballew’s can replace some of the shredded trim to make them more presentable.  When these return, I’ll send two more so my guests will always have matched seating for breakfast. 

Work on the exterior of the house continues, but the window over the stairs is not yet installed.  My neighbors have been apprised of this installation, so I’m being asked every day when the window will be inserted.  I have not yet passed the nagging along to Glenn, my carpenter, but may have to do so soon to stop the inquiries and keep the viewers entertained.

Saturday, Diann and I went shopping in Longview and I bought a wardrobe for my bedroom and one for the Ramsay Suite.  This old house (1851) was built without closets and the existing ones have been installed in my lifetime.  (I’m wondering where the family wardrobes have got to.)  I have a pocket closet in my room, but not big enough for both current and seasonal clothes, so this will help.  The wardrobe I purchased for the Ramsay Suite does not come close to matching any of the furnishings, but I’m just tired of seeing those disgusting “brass” coat racks substituting for closets.  The wardrobe/armoire is smallish, but taller than I, and has a nice mirror on the door (something else the Suite has always needed), so I’m looking forward to delivery later this week.

Pilgrimage weekend in Jefferson

I heard great compliments on all the activities in and around Jefferson this weekend. Two of my ladies dressed in period costume and attended the Southern Heritage Grand Ball where they were taught the dances of the Civil War era, admired the other dresses and attire, and generally enjoyed their evening. One couple saw the parody of the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial staged at the converted “Old Jewish Synagogue.” They told me that family acquaintance, Bill Cornelius, had been playing the prosecuting attorney for 57 years! Holey Moley! Although I saw very little of John in Margaret’s Room, his film crew from the Travel Channel was everywhere the re-enactors were all day, every day. The weather was sunny and warm and we all marveled at how the re-enactors fared in their woolen uniforms, on horseback, shooting muskets and cannon. One of my guests is a Civil War buff and was interested in the war experiences of my great-grandpa, Rudolph Ballauf. After showing off old Confederate money, uniform bars and buttons, service medals, and reunion ribbons, I recalled a stash of items from the Wise family and shared a box of musket accessories with him. He was enchanted to find all the implements for measuring and making and loading rifle balls, and was able to tell me that one item was used for cleaning the rifle barrel. The gun from the stash is long gone and I cannot remember ever having seen it, but I think my guest was happy to have communed with my ancestors for a moment or two.

And although we talked about the homes tour very little at all, I’m assured that all of my guests had a wonderful weekend in Jefferson.  They enjoyed visiting with each other over breakfast and exclaimed over the Eggs Alfredo whipped up for Mother’s Day, and yes, there were two sets of Mother/Daughters in the house.

Renovations continue

Lovely folks from Shreveport just left after celebrating their first wedding anniversary in Jefferson at Wise Manor with Stillwater Inn for dinner last night and Jodie’s Ghost Walk last evening. 

Glenn has not quite finished work on the dumb waiter, but I have been using it to haul fresh towels and linens, cleaning supplies and fresh coffee, etc. upstairs.  Glenn will be back to adjust the speed of ascension and descent and to keep it level, but it is quite functional as is.  Just in time!  as my poor old knees are starting to creak. 

The parlor sofa and Mom’s chair are back from the upholsterer’s and look spectacular!  Ballew’s was able to pick them up, order in the fabric, repair and re-upholster, then deliver, all in two weeks!  The fabric for the other chair is on back order and will arrive soon.  I have already referred two friends to Ballew’s and they seem very pleased.  In the meantime, I have discovered a retired upholsterer here in the Jefferson community.  I’ve decided to send her one of the rockers from the Ramsay Suite.  The fabric is in good shape, but it clashes with the new linens I’m using upstairs now so needs to be changed out to blend better.  The parlor furniture was in very bad shape thanks to years of use and a steady procession of highly pampered cats which could do no wrong, even if it involved shredding the furniture.

Jefferson’s first ever Easter Parade was a great hit last week.  It was a small, but auspicious beginning and ladies and gents alike had a splendid time!  I expect the parade will double in size by next year.  Start planning your Easter hat now.  More fun in Jefferson! 

And the glass for the new window installation in on its way!  The stained glass and the etched center panel will be delivered Tuesday and Glenn should have it installed within the week.  His crew is finishing up the very back of the house, installing new siding, but there are lots of things still on my to-do list.   Very excited to have the new window going in over the staircase!  Restoring this beautiful old house is a joy to my spirit!  Loving it!  Hoping Mom is watching…

Saturday afternoon in Jefferson

Just returned from the Excelsior House Hotel where the owners (the Jessie Allen WISE Garden Club< did you get the hint?  Jessie Allen Wise was my great grandmother on my dad’s side>) held a beautiful anniversary tea.  The table was set with tasty items from the Excelsior House Cookbook and each item was labeled with the page number from the Cookbook!  We took our plates out into the courtyard and chatted beneath a portable pavilion set up for the occasion.  Several of the ladies were in period costume and apparently had persuaded several gentlemen into period gear for the festivities.  The day is sunny and warm; a perfect day for a tea party

Work on the exterior of Wise Manor progresses.  These guys are skilled, neat, and polite.  I am truly blessed!  Glenn is designing my dumb waiter; we are considering motorizing it!  I vote YES!

Someone said a lovely thing to me earlier today at the tea when I was extolling the renovations of Wise Manor, “Wise Manor is a Jefferson gem!”  I like that!  I really, really LIKE THAT!  This house makes me happy, and comments like that intoxicate me!

Thank you for all the lovely complements on the new web site.  Holly is pleased that I am pleased; and I am pleased that you find the site interesting and beautiful!  Thanks for your input; it is always welcome.

A Happy Couple play bride & groom for the Spring Tour

A Happy Couple

Teri made her outfit to docent for the Spring Tour of Homes.

Historical Dress