Jul 3, 2008

"How Interesting!"

Welcome! Around my house, I have quite a few objects that could be considered "conversation starters." Which is ironic because I am not one really needing anything to start a gab fest. In fact, I find that my favorite topic is asking questions about the other person's life and their goings on. Which just now reminds me of a funny little story that I have to share, and I will keep it short....

Many, many years ago, while living in Germany, my ex-husband worked with several colleagues and I encouraged him to invite them to go out with us, as I was always excited about meeting new people. And being only 22 and living in Europe, everything was exciting to me. One evening, a colleague and his wife were to meet us at our apartment and the four of us were to go out to dinner. I have never met this American couple before and after the usual polite greetings we headed out to the car. The woman (I can't even remember her name) seemed "shy" and so I just began asking the usual questions such as: How long have you lived in Germany? Where are you originally from? Have you had the chance to travel anywhere yet? And she responded crisply with one-word answers: "One. Ohio. No."

She didn't look mad, or ill, or uncomfortable. So, in my excitement, I decided that she was indeed "shy." So I set out to make her comfortable during our short drive to the restaurant. I gave her a little info about us and then back to my questions: How did you meet your husband? How long will you be living here in Germany? I am learning to make ceramics, do you create any crafts? She finally shot me a look that could kill and said very sarcastically: "Hey! I got an idea, why don't I just write a book about my life and then you can read all about it."

Okay, I may be a little dense at times, but she made it very clear to me that she was not happy about our little outing. Dinner was uncomfortable to say the least and at age 22, I didn't have the life experience to realize not to take it personally. At that age, I didn't have the compassion to think that she had an issue which had nothing to do with me. I was very offended. If there was ever time I could have used a "conversation starter" it would have been during that painful dinner. I can laugh at it now, because it really was funny when I think about it. I am sure I drove her nuts, and she most likely just had a huge argument with her husband just moments prior to arriving at our apartment. Oh, and just to finish the story...we skipped dessert and I have no idea what happened to them because we never went out again. Moral of this story: Never let anyone keep you from ordering dessert! :-)

Well, back to my real reason for this post. I wanted to give you a little sneak peek at a conversation starter that was extremely popular in the Victorian era. In the August issue of Romantic Homes, I produced an article on Victorian Parlor Domes. My friend, Richard Cottrell, owns about 50 of them! Most of my blog postings are about my women friends, women business owners, and supporting women. But let's not forget about the important men in our lives. I have met and befriended some wonderful business men over the years that were kind, considerate, and so very helpful and encouraging to me and I consider Richard one of them.

Richard owns a beautiful antique store, Antique Center of St. Louis, along with his business partner, Louise Harre.

And if you are ever in the St. Louis area, his store is a must! Beautiful chandeliers, silver, mirrors, furniture. His store is what I like to call "a real antique store" only because he leaves his stuff alone - his items are "pure" where as I paint anything that stands still long enough. Even if pure antiques aren't your thing, you must stop by and see Prissy - his old Basset Hound who can be found (and heard) snoring beneath Richard's desk.

Richard's store always has several domes and I really knew nothing about them. When he explained he has a collection, and after seeing them, I just had to photograph them! Historically, a proper Victorian parlor would always have a dome to which visitors could comment upon and be impressed. "How interesting!" a guest may politely say to the hostess and thus the conversation begins. To read more about these fabulous domes, their history, and to find out which one is Richard's favorite, you will have to go out and get the August issue of Romantic Homes!

I have not seen the August issue at this time of posting my blog, but I will share some of my favorite shots with you. I would like to add that Richard's collection of domes are housed in his historical home in a little town of Clarksville, along the Mississippi river. Yes, the town experienced the flood. Richard's historical home was on the front page of the paper and it showed an eight foot tall wall of sand bags surrounding his entire property. Richard's property is directly across the street from the river. I spoke with Richard today, in fact, and his home survived. The basement flooded and the yard is trashed, but his home, and his treasures, are fine. Richard is also fine, but tired. His town was saved but surrounding towns didn't fare as well. I don't live near the river and my area was never a concern. Our prayers go out to those who are struggling with putting their lives back together.

So, please, enjoy the photos below, read the August issue of Romantic Homes, keep the flood victims in your prayers, hug the special man in your life, and have a safe 4th of July. No matter what struggles we all may have, I wouldn't want to struggle in any other country than our own. How lucky are we to live in a country with so many freedoms? We even have the freedom not to like our own country, if we so choose. But I happen to like it. A lot. And for a lot of reasons. Now that's a conversation starter fit for Independence Day! :-)

From my house to your house,
Richard's store, Antique Center of St. Louis, 4732 McPherson, St. Louis, MO, phone: 314-367-0588

Below are a couple of "artsy" photos that I took in an unfinished room of Richard's historical home. It was the light that came through the huge window that caught my attention. And of course, I loved the old, cracked walls. I loved this room, but I am afraid Richard will be horrified that I am showing it. Don't worry, Richard, you couldn't have a mess of a room if you tried. Even in a flood. Love you!

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