Recently I got to visit with our neighbor Kerry Rogers Baldridge, who writes the most incredible blog about restoring her antique home, which is around the corner from ours. By the way, she has the most adorable dog in the world, Seamus, and here is his picture. He is a Bodhisattva, which in this case means small, aging, incontinent creature that probably is a dog, with a Yoda-like aura and meditative disposition (deaf). Just look at that tongue. My husband chortled when he met him, “Poor fella looks like he got hit by a car,” if by “hit by a car” he meant, adorable. Because he is!
Kerry had generously done some title research for us so we gave her a “tour”, and by tour I mean navigating her around piles of unfolded laundry to look at pine flooring and skirting her quickly through our kitchen full of dirty dishes to find the chimneys….plus this was Sunday morning so the bedrooms upstairs were totally post-tornado. But Kerry doesn’t see any of that. She sees the bones of a house. She’s a literal time-traveler, a wonder woman who has clearly been lead to her niche. Which is to “see” through layers of lead paint and trends to the house’s true self.
We found out some amazing things about Thomas Shinnick who bought the land for this house in 1867. Some Shinnick or another owned this home until the late 1980’s, and now I am mildly obsessed with finding out more about them. I say mildly because I’m hoping to stave off the full-tilt obsession that will kick in any day now. Trust me.
I want to do actual research. I want photos. Yes, I will do some preliminary channeled fact-finding. But I think I want to do the physical world stuff. The kind that requires making an appointment at the Exeter Historical Society, which will make Curator Barb RimKunas take the day off “unexpectedly” the day of my appointment, because she is so tired of dealing with myriad (flakey) ghost hunters and psychics….I barely have the heart to do this to her. Maybe I’ll just not mention my real motives, which are to find out if it is indeed Mary who is talking to me, and if not, who. Because Barb is one of the few people on earth that make me laugh my ass off and I would never ever want to disrespect her or alienate her in any way. I know which side my bread is buttered on, so to speak. If you think about it, it is generous of her to even associate with me given my predilections which I’m sure she’s heard about by now. And she’s been kind enough to regard me with only normal levels of New England wry reserve, which this California girl like, totally understands now, is like, not personal at like, all.
Mary has welcomed us into our antique home enthusiastically from day one. “Children in the house again!” she exclaimed to me the first week. She has insisted on a standard of care of said children, plus husband/household that includes: installing a kitchen garden, learning to knit, cleaning with non-toxic, single ingredient cleaners (using cloths not paper towels), line-drying (including in winter), baking bread, baking pie, and cooking lots of other things. From. Scratch.
She also encourages napping, walking everywhere, and candlelight. During the ice storm in December 2008, she led me to my bedroom window at dusk and told me to look. And listen. This is what it looked like when she was alive. So beautiful and quiet, minus the generators.
She can be bossy. When she chided me this week for not baking until the heat wave broke because I didn’t want to turn on the oven, saying, “If you make yourself too comfortable, darlin’, you’ll not get used to it! I had to bake daily regardless of how hot it was. Had I not cooked we wouldn’t have eaten! And I didn’t have the big fancy kitchen either.” To which I mumbled something about indoor plumbing, ice cubes, birth control, tampons, and equal pay for equal work. Oh yeah, we’re still working on that one.
But eventually even I caved and made the damn pies. BTW: pie crust is easy if you have a good teacher. And a great back-up.