Holiday House Tour-The Model A

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As you walked up the driveway from the barn to the house there was an antique car that I had borrowed from a friend.It was fantastic to have it there-many people took pictures next to it,some for their Christmas cards.

I asked about the car and this is the story my friend told me:

It must be 10-12 years ago, I was driving to a Middlebury board meeting on a Wednesday night in the pouring rain in October. I drove through Bethel, Vermont, as I have done almost every Friday and Sunday nights for the last 35 years, literally! I drove by this green and black model A on the side of the road, badly needing a paint job. I drove by, and then it started to work on my head. I was not in a hurry to get to Middlebury, I would just go to bed later. I was by myself, so no conflicting points of view. After a couple of minutes I turned around to go check it out, got out an umbrella, raincoat, flashlight and returned to the car, checked it out, and wrote down the phone number, and noticed the asking price of $6000. It seemed intact, but in bad need of a paint job.   The next morning,  meetings didn’t start until noon so I got up early and drove back to Bethel, probably a 40 min drive. I called the number and the guy told me to swing by.
I stopped in the tiny First National Bank of Bethel in the middle of town and asked the teller if I could get a $6000 advance on my MasterCard? She referred me to the president of the bank sitting in the corner. I approached the president, and he said as long as I had an ID, and credit available, that would be fine.  I don’t think I had ever gotten a cash advance on my credit card.
I asked the president if he was familiar with the model A for sale around the corner. He replied, “oh John Merrill’s car? Definitely! He tried to sell it to me”. Fully convinced the entire town would now gang up on the flat lander to exploit as much cash as possible, I asked with trepidation, “What do you think of the car?” He replied, “it runs well, but obviously needs a paint job.  Have him start it up for you.”
“Is it worth $6000?” I asked nervously. “Probably” the bank president said, “but let me tell you a little bit about John.  You should decide ahead of time if you want to buy the car for $6000.  I wouldn’t negotiate. He doesn’t believe in negotiation. Either buy the car for $6000 or don’t buy the car.  Let me tell you a story about John.  I knew his now deceased father well.  I was over there one day and John had 2 Indian head pennies that he was selling. John was about 9 years old at the time. These two men came over from New York to look at the pennies to buy them and John took them in the house to show them the pennies. I was outside with his father and asked, ‘Aren’t you concerned about John negotiating with this two adults from New York?’  John’s dad replied, ‘Yes, I am a little worried for the two guys from New York!’
“Any idea where I could find someone to transport the car to Massachusetts?” “Sure, Ed at the Sunoco has a flat bed.”
So I left with the $6000 in cash and went to the local gas station where I have filled up hundreds of times. They had a tow truck and flat bed, as do most gas stations in Vermont. I talked to Ed, who gave me the same story about negotiating with John. He asked “Do you have AAA prime?” I said I didn’t know.  He said “Let me see your AAA card.”  He said “you don’t have AAA Prime but I can call and get you upgraded.  With AAA prime, I can put that car on the flat bed and take it to Massachusetts for free!” I said “deal”
I went see John.  I said, ” I have talked to the president of the bank and the fight who owns the Sunoco station. They both said I shouldn’t negotiate with you, but I have to ask, is this the best price?” John said, you can buy the car now for $6000, you can buy the car in an hour for $7000 or you can buy the car tomorrow for $8000.”
I bought the car for cash, had it delivered to Massachusetts and here it is.  The paint job is chapter 2!

It’s The Hard Days That Determine Who You Are

Having just lost my mother 3 weeks ago,a lot of this rang true for me-very good speech and one everyone should read- wherever you are in life.

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Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of “Lean In,’’ delivered the commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday. Below is an edited version of her remarks.

I AM NOT here to tell you all the things I’ve learned in life. Today I will try to tell you what I learned in death.

One year and 13 days ago, I lost my husband, Dave. His death was sudden and unexpected. We were at a friend’s 50th birthday party in Mexico. I took a nap. Dave went to work out. What followed was the unthinkable — walking into a gym to find him lying on the floor. Flying home to tell my children that their father was gone. Watching his casket being lowered into the ground.

For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief — what I think of as the void — an emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even to breathe.

Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.

I’m sharing this with you in the hope that today, as you take the next step in your life, you can learn the lessons that I learned only in death. Lessons about hope, strength, and the light within us that will not be extinguished.

You will almost certainly face deep adversity. There’s loss of opportunity: the job that doesn’t work out, the illness or accident that changes everything in an instant. There’s loss of dignity: the sharp sting of prejudice when it happens. There’s loss of love. And sometimes there’s loss of life itself.

The question is not if some of these things will happen to you. They will. Today I want to talk about what happens next. About the things you can do to overcome adversity, no matter what form it takes or when it hits you. The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.

A few weeks after Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave.” Phil put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

We all at some point live some form of option B. The question is: What do we do then?

Psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three P’s — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

The first P is personalization — the belief that we are at fault. This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.

When Dave died, I had a very common reaction, which was to blame myself. He died in seconds, from a cardiac arrhythmia. I poured over his medical records asking what I could have — or should have — done. It wasn’t until I learned about the three P’s that I accepted that I could not have prevented his death. His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?

Studies show that getting past personalization can actually make you stronger. Not taking failures personally allows us to recover — and even to thrive.

The second P is pervasiveness — the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life. There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.

The child psychologists I spoke to encouraged me to get my kids back to their routine as soon as possible. So 10 days after Dave died, they went back to school and I went back to work. I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion, and for a second — a brief split second — I forgot about death.

That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving, and they carried us — quite literally, at times.

The loss of a partner often has severe negative financial consequences, especially for women. So many single mothers — and fathers — struggle to make ends meet or have jobs that don’t allow them the time they need to care for their children. I had financial security, the ability to take the time off I needed, and a job that I did not just believe in, but where it’s actually OK to spend all day on Facebook. Gradually, my children started sleeping through the night, crying less, playing more.

The third P is permanence — the belief that the sorrow will last forever. For months, no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there.

We often project our current feelings out indefinitely — and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious — and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad — and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings — but recognize that they will not last forever. My rabbi told me that time would heal, but for now I should “lean in to the suck.” It was good advice, but not really what I meant by “lean in.”

But I wish I had known about the three P’s when I was your age. There were so many times these lessons would have helped.

One day my friend Adam Grant, a psychologist, suggested that I think about how much worse things could be. This was completely counterintuitive; it seemed like the way to recover was to try to find positive thoughts. “Worse?” I said. “Are you crazy? How could things be worse?” His answer cut straight through me: “Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia while he was driving your children.” Wow. The moment he said it, I felt overwhelming gratitude that my family was alive. That gratitude overtook some of the grief.

Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful.

Last month, 11 days before the anniversary of Dave’s death, I broke down crying to a friend of mine. We were sitting — of all places — on a bathroom floor. I said: “Eleven days. One year ago, he had 11 days left. And we had no idea.” We looked at each other through tears, and asked how we would live if we knew we had 11 days left.

As you graduate, can you ask yourselves to live as if you had 11 days left? I don’t mean blow everything off and party all the time. I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is.

As I stand here today, a year after the worst day of my life, two things are true. I have a huge reservoir of sadness that is with me always — right here, where I can touch it. I never knew I could cry so often — or so much.

But I am also aware that I am walking without pain. For the first time, I am grateful for each breath in and out — grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to celebrate my birthday every five years, and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always. I used to go to sleep worrying about all the things I messed up that day — and trust me, that list was often quite long. Now I try hard to focus on each day’s moments of joy.

It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband helped me find deeper gratitude — gratitude for the kindness of my friends, the love of my family, the laughter of my children. My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude — not just on the good days, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it.

I hope that you live your life — each precious day of it — with joy and meaning. I hope that you walk without pain — and that you are grateful for each step.

And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.

The Final Inspection!

Yesterday happened to be Dave Jenkinson’s birthday (he is the main contractor on the house) so I ordered a cake from Concord Teacakes to celebrate. Right as we were cutting into the cake and all of the workmen were gathered in the kitchen, the inspector drove up the driveway to perform the final inspection and give us the occupancy permit so that we could actually stay in the house. It all passed, so last night was our first official night in the house!IMG_3273-2

We were able to get our Christmas tree up which seemed appropriate for our first night there.I feel like this house is a combination of all of our years as a family-we took a piece of each of the 12 houses we have lived in and enjoyed, and created this house. Christmas trees are the same-each ornament brings a memory-something one of the 5 kids was interested in,or a place that we visited,or a location where we have lived over the last 34 years. A true piece of your history as a family.

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Happy Holidays to all!

Moving Into Woodstone

We aren’t living in the house you-we still need the occupancy permit -but we are having a lot of fun getting all set up. So far all went smoothly due to the incredibly warm weather(in Massachusetts??!) and it is so nice to see our stuff again. Trying to get ready for Christmas all at the same time is proving interesting!

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Home Stretch at Woodstone

Wallpapers and grasscloth are installed on the first floor.Trim almost all painted and Family Room my favorite green- Saguaro by C2 Paints. Parquet floor in front hallway is finished but needs a couple more coats which happened this weekend.  The screen porch is begun-they can finish that after we move in. The mudroom tile is in. Brass locks have been installed as well as most knobs and pulls. The kitchen island is in and the granite comes Friday for that and all counters. The columns outside were all painted on Saturday,after these photos were taken. Move in this week!

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Santa Barbara, California

 

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Whether you enjoy hiking, fine-dining, water sports, lazing on the beach, culture, or a great night-life, Santa Barbara has something for you. We certainly went from the very sublime at the Botanic Garden to the crazy but wonderful Summer Solstice Parade!

Santa Barbara is sometimes referred to as the American Riviera. Its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and colorful culture make Santa Barbara a premier location.

Santa Barbara is a 2-hour drive north from Los Angeles or a short hop from any corner of the world via the Santa Barbara airport. Santa Barbara’s harbor is home to the world famous Stearns Wharf, a great destination for the entire family. Visiting the zoological gardens makes for a great family day-trip.

 

With sweeping views to the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and stunning landscapes, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a great place to explore California’s native plant diversity.The Garden’s 78 acres encompass a variety of cultivated displays as well as stands of natural coast live oak and riparian woodlands. We saw redwoods,woodpeckers,beautiful plants and views from almost every corner.

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The next day we went to the Summer Solstice Parade. What a riot!

Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. In subsequent years, their parade joined forces with a Summer Solstice Music Festival coordinated by Michael Felcher, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, staged at the Sunken Gardens to celebrate the longest day of year.

The Parade and Festival is the largest arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators from around the world.

The Summer Solstice Celebration has evolved into creative and original display of floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks of more than 1,000 parade participants. There is dancing, music, drumming and drama that is fascinating to watch!

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Fifth Season- Final Downton..sigh…..

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Even though Downton Abbey’s fifth season got off to a shaky start, it ended up being so eventful that the estate’s fearless leader suffered a cardiac scare tonight from all of the activity. Among the year’s high and lowlights inside our favorite Yorkshire household: Mary got a haircut, a weirdly inconsequential fire ravaged Edith’s room, Isis died, a creepy art critic preyed upon Cora, the Dowager toyed with the idea of running off with a long-haired Russian refugee, Daisy quit the kitchen George Costanza-style only to revoke her notice, the Bates family was subjected to a tired retread of that whole falsely-accused-of-murder-and-sent-to-prison plot, Lord Grantham took in an orphan only to realize it was Edith’s illegitimate child, and Rose married a Jewish fellow. And during tonight’s two-hour season finale—which aired in the U.K. as the show’s Christmas special—the gang joined the Sinderbys at Hogwarts for grouse hunting before ringing in the holidays at home. (We are serious about Hogwarts—Downton filmed the Brancaster Castle exteriors at Alnwick Castle, which doubled as Hogwarts in the Harry Pottermovies.)

Let’s Review:

Carson Makes It Official by Proposing to Hughes (Believability: 3)

We are not monsters—we all want Carson and Hughes, longtime work husband and wife, to continue their march to full-on coupledom. They are far better suited for each other than any other couple in the house. But if we did not love these characters so much, and already have their housewarming gift ordered (a lovely calendar to remind Carson on a daily basis that it is no longer 1890), we might be dubious about Carson’s decision to commit to Hughes after her red-flag filled confession. In the course of a two-minute scene, Hughes reveals that she has possibly psychotic family members whom she will need to support financially for the rest of her life . . . and no money. And somehow, Carson is still like, “‘Das cool. Here are the keys to the house I bought in both our names.”

While Suze Orman may not approve, Carson goes ahead with his plans and proposes to Hughes on Christmas Eve while she awkwardly holds two drinks in her hand. The moment is perfect though—who would have thought that last season’s hand holding would lead to this?—and our hearts swell when Carson tells Hughes, “I am not marrying anyone else.”

Anna Is Thrown in Jail Because One Man Thinks He Saw Her Throw a Serial Rapist Into Traffic (Believability: 0)

We know this happened last episode but we still can’t wrap our minds around this plot twist, even though we’ve spent five seasons systematically lowering our expectations for Downton Abbey storytelling logic. We’ve been through this whole a-Bates-family-member-is-falsely-imprisoned-for-murder plot before and it doesn’t make much of a difference to us that Anna is now goingOrange Is the New Black instead of Bates this time around. (We will say that Anna’s miserable-in-prison expressions are not much different than her everyday expressions and Bates’s worried-about-Anna faces aren’t any less creepy than normal.)

Mary Still Has Not Realized That Marigold Is Edith’s Daughter (Believability: 3)

It seems insane to us that Mary has not noticed that Edith, her blood sister and chief antagonist, has birthed a daughter who is now living in their household. She certainly notices the bizarre fixation that Edith has with Marigold, is annoyed by it, and puts Edith down on the subject whenever she has the chance. Mary’s most immortal line about parenting arrives tonight, and chills us to our core: “Why don’t you just shut [the children] up in a box in the attic and let them out when they are 21?” For once, Edith sees a way in which Mary’s cruelty can be used in her favor: “[Mary] is completely uninterested in me which should keep [my secret] safe.”

Barrow Manages to Uncover Sinderby’s Darkest Secrets, and Lure Them to Hogwarts Within Some 72 Hours of Being There (Believability: 6)

Barrow only uses his vengeful skill set for good these days, not evil. And in tonight’s episode, we see Barrow take up Lady Mary’s invitation to bring down Sinderby’s butler, and then go one step farther, raiding Sinderby’s own closet for the perfect skeleton that could completely undo him—and manages to find it, or “him” specifically: the illegitimate son he sired with another woman. Barrow lures both to Hogwarts during a party, but Rose thwarts his plan and saves the unsavory Sinderby. Why exactly? I suppose to forge a good relationship with her father-in-law on the foundation of his extramarital sins. But we would have loved to see how the episode would have played out Sliding Doors-style had Sinderby’s illegitimate son been discovered.

Lord Grantham Knows Exactly What to Say to Edith in a Tender Moment (Believability: 2)

Who is this new and improved Lord Grantham, who not only detects emotional nuance but is able to appropriately reciprocate it? Last week, we watched as Lord Grantham surprised everyone by going out of his way to do something thoughtful for Mrs. Patmore. And now, when he decides to tell Edith he’s learned of her secret, he does so with sympathy and understanding. “I’m sure I need your forgiveness just as much as you need mine,” he tells Edith after she apologizes. The line is so Oprah-level spot-on, that we half expected Lord Grantham to suddenly rip his face off, Mission Impossible mask-style, revealing that Dr. Phil had been there underneath the whole time. It will be interesting to see how Mary reacts to the news that her sister is Marigold’s mother, and see whether this news will finally soften their relationship as cartoonish enemies.

Branson Says Goodbye to Downton (Believability: 4)

In what was surely the worst moment of the episode, Branson stares off in the children’s nursery and, when Edith asks why, he says because he “is taking pictures in his mind” so that he has memories of the home when he is in Boston. Later, he tops himself for stiff line readings when he tells Lord Grantham that he will not consider leaving Sybbie at Downton but adds this as some weird consolation: “I love the way you love her.” Farewell, Tom.

Lady Mary Essentially Informs a Stranger How Much He Has Unknowingly Inconvenienced Her Extended Family (Believability: 9)

Well what else should she do during the course of the episode? Break Anna out of prison? Mother her child? Forge a relationship with her last living sister? Ha! No, Mary played etiquette police on tonight’s episode, informing Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode) that he had rudely (if unknowingly) crashed their hunting party. Of course, Mary can segue any awkward introduction with a handsome man into a flirtation, and manages to do just that, showing us that she has better chemistry with him and his fancy car than she had with either Blake or Gillingham.

Spratt Challenges Denker to a Broth Off (Believability: 4)

May we never forget that this was actually a storyline in tonight’s Downton Abbey. Spratt nurtures his inner Barrow this episode, suggesting that Denka prove herself as a lady’s maid by making broth. Alas, the challenge only unites Denka and the Dowager and wastes valuable screen time that could have been spent on the surprisingly crafty Molesley.

The Dowager Sends Prince Kuragin Away with His Miserable Wife (Believability: 7)

“I will never again receive an immoral proposition from a man,” the Dowager tells Isobel after reuniting her suitor with his far flung wife. “Was I so wrong to savor it?” After getting a glimpse of the wholly unpleasant Princess Kuragin (who follows Larry Grey and Susan MacClare in this season’s procession of awful Downton guests), we understand why the prince was so eager to leave her. Later in the episode, the Dowager confides to Isobel that the princess once physically wrestled her out of running off with the prince. Asked if the Dowager’s husband realized, when she got home, that she had been ruffled up, the Dowager offers the best-timed retort of the evening: “Men notice nothing.”

Yes, the same man that dyed his hair shoe-polish black earlier this season finds a way to free Bates from his self-imposed Fugitive sentence. (Where were these two back when Bates was wrongly accused of murder the first time around?) While the rest of the house wrings their hands over the criminal drama-prone character—who foolishly confessed to a murder he did not commit to free Anna, and then ran away Dr. Richard Kimble-style—Molesley finds a photo of Bates and then recruits Baxter to travel to each and every pub in York until he finds a witness who can confirm Bates’s alibi. And it is a good thing too: I don’t know that any of us were as invested in this plot retread to purchase “Free Bates” T-shirts this time around. The episode ends with Bates sneaking into Downton Abbey on Christmas Eve and surprising Anna, which is nice for them. But of all the characters on the series, these two need a plot makeover most. Maybe next Christmas.

Julie Miller is a Hollywood writer for Vanity Fair‘s website.
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