Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pie & Other Things

We had a lovely rainy day Saturday, so I was house bound. I am not a homemaker, I'm a barnkeeper. But there are times when being in for a day can have satisfying results. One of those is pie. I had rhubarb, which I had picked a few days ago, and fresh strawberries which I purchased that morning. The result was very good, if I do say so myself!

I had tidied up a bit, but my house had a long way to go to be presentable to company. The pie had just come out of the oven, I was on the phone with Mark, who had gone to Mpls. to get his tennis racket restrung, and was returning with Vietnamese Spicy Chicken for dinner.

An unfamiliar car pulled up the drive, and I in my clodhopper slippers, stepped outside into the drizzle to investigate the situation. We don't get too many unannounced cars pulling in, this is more of a large delivery vehicles kind of place.

An unfamiliar older man opened the car window and announced he used to live here. It was the man we purchased from 16 years ago. Amazing how much he aged over 16 years, while I have hardly changed a bit. He had his adult son with him and wondered if he could show his son the interior of the house. His son had never seen the place and the dad wanted him to see the great room.

The prior owner was, as I understand it, a brilliant, entrepreneurial man. He had been married four times, the first three to the same woman. The fourth had ended at the time we found this place. He had a serious alcohol problem. When he stopped drinking, he made money, when he started again, he lost it. The son was a result of the first wife, the three times married and divorced wife. He never saw the place because he moved to Washington at seventeen and had not returned to MN until Friday afternoon. He told me he is fifty. Needless to say, there is a lot of water under the bridge between he and his dad.

The dad is a creative man. He purchased this place from the original farming family who had owned it for generations. Why it didn't continue to pass on in the family is another story. One of ornery greed and the breakup of a family. But that isn't today's story. The prior owner to us made this into a house that looks like a New England cottage on the outside and a mountain lodge inside. He wanted his son to see it.

I had no choice. I had to swallow my limited pride (it wasn't too bitter a pill) and let them into my mess. Mess is not quite the right term, although there was a little of that. Dust and dog hair and probably a musty dog/horse odor which permeates my nasal membrane, leaving me impervious to the effect of the smell. The thing about embarrassment, it is usually fleeting.

I rather swiftly directed them to the barn, my real home. This was as it should be, filled with beautiful, well-fed horses and a clean horse smell. They were dutifully impressed! The number of horses I own always leads to talk of the economy. We had a common ground, although the son is a precinct captain of his local Republican caucus and I have been a district delegate for the Democratic Party. With a gulf like this, we had very similar opinions. A bad economy, brought on by unfettered greed, brought two diverse people together with a shared disgust. And a shared fear. The three of us had a civil, interesting conversation.

So a day that started out making a pie, progressed into an unexpected interruption, a small embarrassment, a prideful display of horses and an intellectual discussion of politics. All in the span of an hour. Sometimes I actually do enjoy my life. 


  1. What an interesting background that fellow had! Even though it was an unusual interruption, it sounded enjoyable nonetheless. That rhubarb strawberry pie looked delicious and warm. It snowed just west of us last night...geesh...it's June!!!

  2. I have heard a lot of stories about the past occupants of this place. The immediate area is populated by families who have been here for many generations. And they like to tell the tales!

    I had to turn the heat on today. It was 59 degree in the house. A little too cold.

    The pie is good, but it feels like a day for chili or stew.

  3. Neat! Interesting story. I was just reading your blog to Bill and trying to describe your kitchen and great room. Then I was thinking about you sectioning off part of your big room to keep the heat in. If they would have come visiting earlier in the year, they would have seen your creative draping of plastic!

  4. I live in a place with a checkered past. I was more worried about my creative draping of dog hair. : )

  5. What a wonderful way to find out a little history of your property. Not so long ago we went away for the weekend to a small town about 4 hours drive away. The town where my grandmother grew up. Her house was still there. My mum and I knocked on the door but no one was home.

  6. What a interesting visit. I have been in that same situation where people have stopped who were prior residents and wanted to see the inside of the house. GULP!

    It sounds like you were semi prepared, which is more than would happen here. I do the same thing----"Why don't we go out to the barn"......

  7. Well I for one am interested in the story of the family that eventually did not pass it on. There is probably a little bit of coffee drama and a lesson to be learned there.

    I LOVE rhubarb. When I was little, we used to pick it, put some sugar on it and eat it raw.

  8. Jean, I was wishing I still had the excuse of Atlas. He wouldn't let strangers into the house! I just had to swallow pride and let them in.

    J, there's also the story of the swat team....... : 0

    Liss, I hope you can get back there sometime. It would be great to talk to the people living there now.

  9. What a great day! (I hate unexpected visitors though...)


I really appreciate the concept and sentiment behind awards, but I cannot participate in them anymore. I have too may and I have not got the time to devote to participating properly. To all who have honored me, I am grateful but I don't have seven more things to tell anyone about myself! And I'm a terrible passer-oner.