Working on Downton

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The only thing that is good about this terrible period of time with no  new Downton is that more is coming in January 2015 and that they are working on the scenes as we speak….

When last we left Downton Abbey, the Crawley family was teaming up to rescue the Prince of Wales from a royal scandal, while Paul Giamatti was making his first appearance as Cara’s boorish brother.

From the looks of it, the British drama is about to enter its P.G. Wodehouse years, with the ornate finery of the pre-war era giving way to a more casual definition of elegance. (That means tweed. Lots and lots of tweed.)

To pass the time without smartphones, the cast relies on classic English parlor games to pass the time, just like the aristocracy of yore.

“Playing Wink Wink Murder – that helps at dining room table scenes,” revealed Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary.

Dockery was also keen to dispel reports that, as her TV husband Dan Stevens did, she’s about to leave Downton.

“I’m here ’till the end,” she told the magazine, “whenever that may be.”

Downtown Abbey‘s fifth season will premiere in America in January 2015, according to PBS Creator Julian Fellowes has said he hopes the show will be broadcast simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that now we have 16 million viewers in China,”  says Joanne Froggatt (who plays the maid Anna) at a panel discussion on the Paramount lot hosted by the TV Academy in May.

Among their fans you can count Julia Roberts, who hugged Julian Fellowes at a party (“it’s the highlight of my life so far,” he joked); Mick Jagger, who told Laura Carmichael he loves the show, per Robert James-Collier (under-butler Thomas Barrow); and Jon Hamm, who thrilled Phyllis Logan (housekeeper Mrs. Hughes) by giving her a kiss.

Among the common folk, Fellowes related how a woman followed him at a Barnes and Noble and begged, “please make Lady Edith happy.”

-excerpts from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter

 

Graduation Time

 

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I loved this article that I read on Facebook so thought I would share.Even if you don’t have a recent high school graduate, there are some great life lessons!

 

I can never remember if the word “commencement” means beginning or ending. My knee jerk reaction is to think that it means ending, though my writer’s mind quickly corrects it.

That’s probably because graduation ceremonies are called Commencement, and I think of graduation day as an ending — leaving the known behind: a good reputation, dear friends at a stone’s throw, families whose refrigerators and bikes and kitchen tables are yours for the sharing… the dismantling of decorated walls soon to betray you for guests, or someone else with new photo collages, new tapestries, new blue ribbons. I have never been good at leaving the familiar, and I usually mark it with a little hidden graffiti — Laura Munson lived here, and the dates.

But it’s not my turn this upcoming Commencement. It’s my daughter’s. Now it’s she who is dismantling her room, coming down to the end of her check list, five more days of school to go, graduation invitations in the mail, college deposit in, orientation dates in stone. There is a new timber in her voice; something dire. “Mom, can you do something with my Breyer horse collection?”

“Can’t you just leave them on your shelf?” I ask, vignettes reeling by of mock horse races on the lawn and barnyard feedings with tiny plastic apples, and that one coveted palomino paint that became real one Christmas.

“I need room for my stuff.”

“What stuff?”

I’m not sure whose job this is. Please Lord, not mine.

I look into her eyes. And I see…it’s my job. Some things are just too hard.

Suddenly, I feel a desperate need to give advice in fast forward. “Have I taught you how to make hospital corners? And to never leave a wet towel on a bed? Or leave a glass directly on wood?”

“I know. Respect the wood. You’ve told me.” She’s tolerating my Mom-ness much more than usual lately. She’s in the bittersweet of Commencement while I am bursting into tears in pathetic public places, like at the bank drive thru, catching myself in the video screen looking miserable. Will her roommate know that when she needs a hug but is too shy to ask, she makes tea? Will she know that she likes to sing in harmony and that all those eye-ball rolls don’t really mean anything? Will she know that she acts street-tough sometimes, but is deeply sensitive and if she’s playing the ukulele along with Jack Johnson, something pretty rough probably happened at school that day?

“Mom, why are you crying?” she says, bringing me back to the grim task of packing up her happy childhood.

“I’m sorry. I’m just going to miss you.”

Last week was when it really hit. I was doing laundry and I heard from her room in that new dire timber, “How do stamps work?”

“Stamps? Like postage stamps?”

“Yeah.” This from a 4.0 student.

I went into her room. She was sitting on her bed addressing graduation party invitations. “Really? You can program a computer, but you don’t know how stamps work???”

“My generation doesn’t really use them.”

I was sure she was playing a joke on me. Stamps? But she wasn’t. She really had no clue that you use the same stamp for a local letter that you do for one that goes all the way to New York City.

Geez — what other glaring omissions have there been in my mothering? I’ve tried so hard to fill in every blank, taking every single second possible as a teaching moment. “Maybe I should write you a survival handbook for college and beyond. Would that be helpful?”

“I know all the basic stuff. But yeah…maybe the extra stuff.”

I wracked my brain, taking inventory. The extra stuff. If stamps are “extra” this could get ugly! I decided to do it room by room, compartmentalizing life in cross-section, like the dollhouse we spent hours decorating and playing in.

Kitchen:
I started with How to boil water, tell if pasta is ready, smell a gas leak, turn off the water main…but suddenly it turned into a different kind of “extra.”
• If you’re having a bad day, leave the dishes. But do soak them, or you’ll really be in a bad mood when you get around to cleaning them.
• If you’re having a really bad day, don’t adhere to the utensil slots. Just chuck ’em all in and let them fall where they may. Actually, if it’s a really bad day, just leave the dishes alone. They can wait.
• No matter what kind of mood you’re in, make yourself a nice meal, especially if you’re lonely.
• Always eat some fruit in the morning and some veggies at some point in the day. Keep bananas, carrots, apples, and potatoes around. They do the trick when you’re not feeling inspired.
• Keep a granola bar in your purse. (Tip: Use only small purses–lest you end up with a Mary Poppins carpet bag, coat rack and all. Read Nora Ephron’s essay on women’s purses.)
• Splurge on really good jam and really good bread.
• Always have a flower or a piece of greenery in a vase on your kitchen windowsill. It really helps.
• If you see evidence of mice, set traps immediately. This probably will not apply to 99% of the places you’ll live, (we live in Montana), so take it metaphorically: See s*** for what it is and get rid of the source before it gets out of control.
• If you use To Do lists, get rid of the word “goal” and replace it with “possibility.” You’ll be nicer to yourself that way.
• If you find yourself writing down something that you’ve already done on a To Do list, just so you can cross it off, you might want to stop making To Do lists.
• Allow yourself to grocery shop without a list, but not when you are hungry. You might surprise yourself by what ends up in your grocery cart–like rhubarb or radishes or kale or pistachios!
• Always smell fish before you buy it. If it smells like fish, it’s no good. Also, look into its eyes. They should be clear. This also applies to boyfriends.
• To cut goat cheese, use dental floss. (Unflavored! Duh. Don’t roll your eyes.)
• To make Deviled Eggs, put boiled eggs into cold water/ice bath. When cool, cut in half, shell ON, with sharp knife, then scoop egg out with spoon. Magic!
• Learn how to make homemade chicken broth. (Ask your mother)

Living room:
• Splurge on nice candles. Light them for yourself daily. Light the not-nice ones for guests. Not the other way around.
• Lie on the couch and do other things than watch TV. Like read a book or listen to classical music.
• Watch old movies. You know…back when people used stamps, and women dressed for travel. There’s a lot to learn from the “olden days.”
• Limit TV.
• Listen to NPR. Especially opera on NPR. Pretty much everything you need to know about life is in operas.
• Make sure to have musical instruments and keep them within eye-range so you’ll actually play them. Guitars and pianos welcome group jam sessions.
• Always have a drum somewhere for that person who claims they “aren’t musical.”
• Have board games and cards in a drawer or on a shelf. Play them. Especially Scrabble, backgammon, gin rummy, Farkle, and Scattagories.
• Have guide books and binoculars. It’s good to know your birds and flowers and other critters. Even in the city, there are hawks.

Bathroom:
• Have nice hand towels and nice soap in your powder room. Your guests should feel special.
• Use your powder room. You should feel special too!
• Always have an extra roll of toilet paper in each bathroom.
• And a plunger. (Replace plungers every-so-often, unless you are the type to wash and disinfect toilet plungers. Dirty secret: I’m not. That’s what the second flush is for.)
• Don’t forget to wash the toilet flusher handle when you wash your toilets. They are dearly overlooked. (Try not to think about that too much in hotel rooms.)
• Put nice art in your bathrooms. And magazines. You can learn a lot about a person from their bathroom.
• Supply room spray.

Bedroom:

Don’t be a slob. Pick up your clothes. If they’re not dirty, put them somewhere to wear again during the week, like in a hamper in your closet. NOT on a chair. And definitely NOT on your treadmill. Like your mother. Who then forgets she has a treadmill.
• Wash your sheets at least once a month.
• Splurge on nice sheets and feather pillows.
• If the person/people with whom you are sharing your room snore, make sure you have earplugs by your bed.
• Supply your nightstand with books that you want to read when you grow up: a book of poetry, a spiritual text of some sort, a classic novel, something on the best-seller list that is not written by a celebrity.
• If you eat breakfast in bed, use a tray. Crumbs are worse than bed-bugs in some cases, especially if you’ve listened to your mother and splurged on good bread.
• Eat breakfast in bed, but not lunch or dinner. That means you’re depressed.
• Do not let your dog sleep with you. Or your babies. They need a bed of their own, and so do you.
• Sleep in every-so-often. Like till eleven. This will get harder and harder the older you get.

Closet:
• You’re on your own on this one, but do get nice hangers if possible.
• Oh, and do accept that your “skinny” clothes are probably a thing of the past if you haven’t been able to fit into them for a few years…

Office:

Virginia Woolf was right — you need a room of your own, even it’s in an eave, or a closet under a stairway, or (if you’re lucky enough) a whole studio over your garage, or an unoccupied bedroom, or a renovated garden shed. Claim space for yourself!

• Don’t allow people to come and go without knocking.
• If you have children, always have an available chair in it for them. It’s important to have your own space, but it’s also important that they know that your work does not take away your motherhood.
• This one is really really important: Whatever it is that you do in that office, whether it’s a vocation or avocation, make sure it’s something you love. NOT something that you are necessarily good at. If you happen to be good at what you love, then that’s a bonus, but not a rule!

Outside:
• Have a communal outdoor space that feels like a room in your house, but isn’t exactly…like: A screened porch, fire escape, hammock, hot tub, front stoop, garden or terrace. It doesn’t have to be big. Just a place where you sit at least once every few days and dream a little.

A few extra extras:
• Write handwritten notes on nice stationary to people you love. That’s where the stamp comes in…
• Try not to kill bugs. If they’re inside, put a mason jar over them and take them outside. They do elegant things like lick the wax off the peony buds so that they can bloom. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there.) (Mice are a different story. If you’ve had one die in the walls, you’ll know what I mean.)
• Practice Yes and Possibility instead of No and Not Possible. Positive begets positive and negative begets negative. You don’t want the latter.
• Have fun, for crying out loud! Life is beautiful and heartbreaking any way you slice it so you might as well enjoy the ride!
• There is no such thing as cool.
• Judge not.
• Don’t mistake a full schedule for a full life. If you find yourself saying, “There’s never a dull moment,” you should probably make it a goal to have at least one “dull moment” every day.
• Take walks. (especially in the rain)
• Sing.
• Dance.
• Read poetry.
• Have dogs.
• Grow a garden.
• Travel.
• Create the sacred wherever you are.
• Be kind to old people and remember they know a lot more than you do. Ask them to tell you their stories.
• Know that there are saints everywhere. Look for them. They’re often where you least expect it.
• Call your mother. Texting is a challenge since she can never find her reading glasses. Plus, she likes to hear your voice. It reminds her of lying in bed with you when you were little, reading books, singing, praying, watching the moon, dreaming. And she loves you no matter what, which is hard to find.

  written by :Laura Munson for Huffington Post

Monticello

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Architect,gardener,scientist,philosopher,mathematician,horticulturist,politician and spoke 5 languages…Jefferson was truly a man of the enlightenment. Beginning with entering the front hallway of Monticello you are told by the tour guide that he specifically made the entrance a “Museum” with relics from the Lewis and Clark expedition,maps, and antlers of animals both rare and native to Virginia.He felt that if anyone was waiting for him, they surely should be learning while waiting.

Also in the entrance hall there is a clock which not only tells the time but tells the day of the week. He ran out of room as the ball descends to Friday afternoon so he merely cut a hole and put Saturday in the basement! He also had extensive notes on the weather each day.

He thought about ease and convenience in many instances. He invented the swivel chair, a double door which when you open on one side, has a pulley system he invented to open the other. He had a dumb waiter that spins around for staff to collect  dishes after a meal , a pulley system to the basement where new bottles of wine can be brought up,the empties taken away. His closet above his bed(which to his specification is 6’3″ to be 1/2 inch longer than his 6’2 1/2″ to not waste room) has holes for ventilation but is a clever way to hide his clothes and not take up room. His bed was conveniently positioned between the bedroom and the office so he could leap out to begin his day’s work and study.

Jefferson was very fond of the architect Andrea Palladio. He spent over 40 years altering and working on Monticello-always discovering something new that he saw when he resided in Europe several times. Even now there is much work going on-they are building cabins that would look like the slave quarters seen at Monticello in jefferson’s day.

On this topic,slavery, Jefferson never resolved his own personal feelings. He definitely felt that all men were created equal yet he had over 200 slaves on his property.

Jefferson stated in a letter to a friend “All my wishes end,where I hope my days will end,at Monticello”. He died on July 4,1826-just hours before his friend John Adams in Boston,and 50 years to the day of the enactment of the Declaration of Independence which he penned.

If you have not made it to Monticello which is located near Charlottesville, Virginia- you really need to add it to your list.

Maya Angelou-A Legend Is Gone

 

Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress

(CNN) — A literary voice revered globally for her poetic command and her commitment to civil rights has fallen silent.

Maya Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday, said her literary agent, Helen Brann.

The 86-year-old was a novelist, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist. In 2010, President Barack Obama named her the recipient of the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

One of Angelou’s most praised books was “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”The memoir bore witness to the brutality of a Jim Crow South, portraying racism in stark language. Readers learned of the life of Marguerite Ann Johnson (Angelou’s birth name) up to the age of 16: how she was abandoned by her parents and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She was homeless and became a teen mother.

Its publication was both daring and historic given the era of its debut in 1969.

“All of the writers of my generation must honor the ground broken by Dr. Maya Angelou,” author Tayari Jones posted on her Facebook page Wednesday.

“She told a story that wasn’t allowed to be told,” Jones said. “Now, people tell all sorts of things in memoir, but when she told the truth, she challenged a taboo — not for shock value, but to heal us all.”

Black American novelist Julian Mayfield is said to have described the autobiography as “a work of art which eludes description.”

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was an international bestseller and nominated for a National Book Award in 1970. In six other autobiographical books she subsequently penned, Angelou revealed myriad interests and occupations of her life.

From being a drop-out to Dr. Angelou

Angelou spent her early years studying dance and drama in San Francisco but dropped out of school at age 14.

When she was 16, Angelou became San Francisco’s first female streetcar driver.

Angelou later returned to high school to get her diploma. She gave birth a few weeks after graduation. While the 17-year-old single mother waited tables to support her son, she developed a passion for music and dance, and toured Europe in the mid-1950s in the opera production “Porgy and Bess.”

In 1957, she recorded her first album, “Miss Calypso.”

In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York and played a queen in “The Blacks,” an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.

“I created myself,” Angelou once said. “I have taught myself so much.”

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

“Maya Angelou has been a towering figure — at Wake Forest and in American culture. She had a profound influence in civil rights and racial reconciliation,” Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch said Wednesday. “We will miss profoundly her lyrical voice and always keen insights.”

Angelou spoke at least six languages and worked as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. It was during that time that she wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” the first in a series of autobiographical books.

“I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine … before she realizes she’s reading,” Angelou said.

Poetry after childhood tragedy

Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis. She grew up between St. Louis and the then-racially segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas.

The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. When she was 7, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. He was beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him.

“My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,” she said.

From the silence, a louder voice was born.

In her poem “Caged Bird,” Angelou wrote: “A free bird leaps/on the back of the wind/and floats downstream/till the current ends/and dips his wing/in the orange sun rays/and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks/down his narrow cage/can seldom see through/his bars of rage/his wings are clipped/and his feet are tied/so he opens his throat to sing.”

Surrounded by greats

Angelou’s list of friends is as impressive as her illustrious career. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey referred to her as “sister friend.” She counted Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., with whom she worked during the civil rights movement, among her friends. King was assassinated on her birthday.

In an interview with CNN in January 2009, just days before President Obama was inaugurated for his first term, she gave her thoughts about the United States’ election of its first black president.

“It was as if someone in the outer sphere said, ‘What can we do to really show how important Martin Luther King was?'”

Seeing Obama about to take office made her feel proud, she said.

“I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m talking all the time to people, and sometimes I’ve really said it so many times I wonder if I’m coming off like a piece of tape recording, but I’m very proud to be an American.

“In 30 or 40 years, (the election) will not be considered so incredibly important. … There will be other people in those next three or four decades who will run for the presidency — some women, some native American, some Spanish-speaking, some Asian. We’re about to grow up in this country.”

Obama remembered Angelou on Wednesday, saying she was “one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.”

He noted that she expressed her talents in many ways, but “above all, she was a storyteller” and “her greatest stories were true.”

The president said that his own mother was so inspired by Angelou that she named his sister Maya.

‘A long journey’

In CNN’s 2009 interview, Angelou spoke in the way that she came to be famous for, each sentence a crescendo of emotion, a call to everyone to act and to be better.

“Our country needs us all right now to stand up and be counted. We need to try to be great citizens. We are necessary in this country, and we need to give something — that is to say, go to a local hospital, go to the children’s ward and offer to the nurse in charge an hour twice a month that you can give them reading children’s stories or poetry,” she said. “And go to an old folks’ home and read the newspaper to somebody. Go to your church or your synagogue or your mosque, and say, ‘I’d like to be of service. I have one hour twice a month.’

“You’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel,” she said. “And good done anywhere is good done everywhere.”

Here is a piece that she wrote that I love:

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

Cokie Roberts and Founding Mothers

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We were lucky enough to have Cokie Roberts speak to us in Concord tonight about the role of women in the Revolutionary War. At the Concord Museum we currently have an exhibit entitled “The Shot Heard Round the World:April 19,1775″” so this tied into the exhibit perfectly. She was both humorous and extremely interesting as she led us through her investigation of the role women played behind the scenes. Cokie is the author of several books on this topic-“Founding Mothers-The Women Who Raised Our Nation” which looks at the patriotic and passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families-and their country-proved just as crucial to the forging of the new nation as the rebellion that established it. “We Are Our Mother’s Daughters” examines the nature of woman’s roles throughout history as well.

Cokie Roberts is a very familiar voice to anyone who’s listened to NPR over the past three and a half decades. She worked as NPR’s congressional correspondent for ten years before she moved into TV and became co-anchor with Sam Donaldson of  ABC’s “This Week”.

Currently she is a political commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition and ABC News. In addition, in her latest book that is for children and came out earlier this year, Cokie examines how the wives, mothers and sisters of America’s founding fathers helped forge the nation.

It tells the story of some of America’s first first ladies, including Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison, as well as patriots like Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man and fought in the revolution. This children’s book is based on Founding Mothers based  but this is an illustrated children’s version. It’s called “Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies.”

-excerpts from Radio Boston

 

Play Ball!

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Yesterday a good friend(who is from Boston so most photos are Red Sox related!) went to the Baseball Exhibit at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley,CA and reported it was quite amazing. A treasure trove of the most rare baseball memorabilia, all one person’s personal collection. (Anonymous). There are a few different hand quilted wall hangings/bedspreads that are incredible… one of the pictures shown above has hundreds of “autographed baseballs”; the woman sent the cloth to all of the players for their signatures and then she embroidered over them in very fine thread. She hand appliquéd the portraits as well. I can’t begin to imagine how long it took!

One piece of trivia learned: in order to sign 19 year old George Ruth to his first contract, in Baltimore, the team manager had to adopt him. The other players starting referring to him as the manager’s “new babe”….hence the name!

The exhibit  opened on April 4th and will close on September 4th,2014.

The Great American House

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The book “The Great American House” by Gil Schafer III is quickly becoming our “bible” for building a new house. Gil makes houses look and feel like they have always been there and that is exactly what we are  all looking for building this house in Concord.

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Here is an article that was in Architectural Digest in June 2012 about the above house that really rang true for us.

If every house tells a story, then every architect is the author who sets the plot in motion. For a 400-acre working farm in New York’s bucolic Dutchess County, Gil Schafer has written a particularly captivating tale using a vocabulary of rugged fieldstone, painted clapboard, and weathered cedar shingles. Commissioned by a Manhattan couple with three children, all avid equestrians, the residence is an amalgam of styles that embodies a picturesque historical narrative. “My goal was to avoid a new-looking building in a bald field,” says Schafer, who is based in New York City. “Instead I tried to establish an organic sense of place, grown over time, by inventing a certain architectural mythology.”

The structure’s L shape unfolds sequentially, as if cobbled together by generations of prosperous owners. At one end of the building is a section that appears to date from the 18th century, calling to mind a once-freestanding granite farmhouse sprouting three modest dormers. Attached to this is a two-and-a-half-story Federal-style block graced with an expansive Greek Revival veranda—imagined evidence of an 1840s renovation—that takes a portion of the farmhouse into its embrace. Bookending the Federal-style segment is a small stone wing, which links to an elegant windowed passage (actually a glorified mudroom) that is connected, at a right angle, to a drive-through carriage barn clad in white clapboard. Of his inspired meldings Schafer observes, “It’s not quite higgledy-piggledy, but feels as if the carriage barn was added a century or so after the farmhouse was built.”

It is his imagination, grounded by a sensitivity to practical concerns, that has kept the clients, both financiers, in his thrall. “Gil balances aesthetics and functionality beautifully,” says the husband, who has enjoyed four Schafer-designed residences over the past seven years. “Working with him is an effortless continuum.”

After accepting this fifth project from his patrons, the architect considered siting the new dwelling in a variety of locations on the property, including some on hilltops and lowlands. The couple, however, was keen to make an existing pond the focal point, so Schafer opted for a plateau overlooking the water. Today a half-mile drive leads the way from a nondescript country road to the finished house, the pastoral approach rising sharply through a sun-dappled woodland and then opening onto a clearing with black-stained fences stretching in all directions. Winding past cornfields, a paddock, a barn, and that sparkling pond, the road finally reaches its destination: a 12,000-square-foot, six-bedroom manor set behind a gravel courtyard ringed by low stone walls and punctuated at its corners by a quartet of sycamore trees. (Garden designer Deborah Nevins, who frequently works with Schafer, developed the landscape plan.) A parterre with boxwood clipped into cloudlike mounds signals the main entrance; opposite the parterre, on the other side of the courtyard and facing the house, is an apple orchard. Nearby are a fenced cutting garden and a vegetable patch that spreads across a third of an acre. “We now grow 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and other organic produce,” the husband says, adding that Schafer is overseeing the development of a four-acre plantation of oak and hazelnut trees on the farm, for the cultivation of Burgundian truffles.

The house’s internal details are a tribute to Schafer’s neotraditionalist credo, each room and corridor contributing to a unifying sense of warmth and elegance, but with evocative twists. Stately enfilades, for instance, provide organized sight lines that belie the rambling façade. Solid-brass hardware, purposely left free of lacquer so the metal will develop a mottled patina, was used on all windows and doors, and even the woodwork was designed to appear venerable. “We sourced several 1820s Federal mantelpieces for the principal rooms,” the architect explains. “These determined the molding program.”

Entrusted with the decoration of the interiors, too, Schafer spiced the comfortable gentleman-farmer schemes with notes of worldly sophistication. In the formal dining room, sepia-tone scenic wallpaper portraying views of Moghul India makes an exotic backdrop for a gleaming Regency table. The quietly refined living room, accented by Gustavian chairs and jewel-hued fabrics, gets an unexpected jolt thanks to a large Walton Ford mixed-media work depicting a cassowary attacking an emu; the piece hangs above a sofa, precisely where an equestrian painting or a bosky landscape would customarily hold court. That outsize work of art might seem off-kilter to some visitors—especially in a space that otherwise exhibits all the attributes of traditional gracious country living—but in Schafer’s opinion, its curious subject lends just the right touch of personality. “I like a vernacular that feels slightly monkeyed with,” the architect asserts. “True authenticity is a lack of perfection.”