Holiday House Tour-The Living Room

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These adorable angels were made by the Milton Garden Club. If you look closely- it is a pine cone, a pipe cleaner,a golf tee, an acorn and a milkweed pod then it is spray painted in gold-so clever!!img_4932

These reindeer were purchased in Finland by Bill. The glass cubes are “ice cubes” made by Simon Pearce and tied with very thin red ribbon.img_4934

 

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The family tree is very special to me. All of the ornaments have a story behind them. Interests the kids had-hiking boots for Kate’s days at Dartmouth,scrubs for Phil in Med School,Bud Light can for Peter’s favorite,computer screen for Chip,horses for Susan. We also have an ornament made by my Mom for when we got engaged-complete with the teddy bear with a ring around his neck as Bill did. I also have many handmade ornaments by me and by many members of our family.img_4951

The brass reindeer I  purchased this fall from Gerard’s in Lincoln MA-love them! Judy surrounded them with beautiful balls of moss and boxwood that she created, mixed greens,gold ribbon and magnolia leaves.img_4977img_4978

These are our pyramids-each of the kids has one and I also have my Mom’s.   I bought all of them either in the Black Forest in Germany or at The Christmas Haus,located in New Oxford,PA.  I used to go to the Christmas Haus when my two boys were at Gettysburg College.img_4952

Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys

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Monday May 16th,2016-the album Pet Sounds is 50 years old. It is one of my absolute favorite albums EVER!

The story of Pet Sounds is the story of art versus commerce, youthful optimism versus adult cynicism and the independent spirit versus the mundane status quo. It’s also a story of tremendous courage. In 1966, 23-year-old Brian Wilson hijacked the Beach Boys, a multi-million-dollar industry consisting of his two brothers, cousin and childhood friend, to give voice to the sounds he heard in his head and the emotions he felt in his heart. The result was an album that had leading musical figures struggling to match his technical innovation, lyrical depth and melodic genius. Half a century later, it’s questionable whether anyone has.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the seminal album’s release, here are some facts about Pet Sounds‘ creation:

Pet Sounds‘ lyricist penned jingles for Barbie dolls, Max Factor cosmetics and Gallo wine.

 In an effort to craft material that moved beyond the Beach Boys’ lightweight fun-fun-fun-in-the-sun fare, Brian Wilson sought to work with a lyricist from outside the band’s usual circle. In late 1965, he tapped Tony Asher, a copywriter at the prestigious Carson-Scott advertising agency, who had written campaigns for Mattel toys (“You can tell it’s Mattel – It’s swell!”), as well as Max Factor, Gallo Wines and a host of other high-profile clients. The pair was loosely acquainted through mutual friends, and had recently crossed paths in the recording studio where Asher was producing advertising jingles. The meeting was short and uneventful, but the urbane and articulate ad man stayed on Wilson’s mind.

“A few weeks later, I got a phone call, ” recalled Asher in an interview for the Pet Sounds 30th-anniversary box set. “And Brian said, ‘Listen, I have an album that is overdue. Would you want to help me write it?’ I thought it was somebody in the office playing a joke on me.'” After confirming it wasn’t a prank, Asher secured a leave of absence from his job and reported for duty at the pop star’s Beverly Hills home several days later. Though it may sound like an unusual pairing, Asher’s experience turning long meetings with ad clients into crisp copy and memorable slogans made him an ideal partner for Wilson. Most of their writing sessions began with abstract conversations about life and love, which would inevitably seep into their work. As Asher relayed to Nick Kent: “It’s fair to say that the general tenor of the lyrics was always his and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter.”

 

“God Only Knows” was written in under an hour.

The track has become one of the most beloved in the band’s canon, famously praised by Paul McCartney as the greatest song ever written. Its legendary status is even more remarkable considering that it came together in less than an hour. According to a 2015 Guardian interview, Wilson claims that he and Tony Asher composed the song in just 45 minutes. “We didn’t spend a lot of time writing it,” confirms Asher. “It came pretty quickly. And Brian spent a lot of time working on what ended up being the instrumental parts of that song. But the part that has lyrics really was one of those things that just kinda came out as a whole.”

Author Jim Fusilli theorized that the song’s title was born out of a love letter Wilson wrote to his wife Marilyn in 1964, signing off with “Yours until God wants us apart.” Whatever the true genesis, this reference to God created a dilemma for the two collaborators. “We had lengthy conversations during the writing of ‘God Only Knows,'” remembers Asher. “Because unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing ‘God Bless America,’ no one thought you could say ‘God’ in a song. No one had done it, and Brian didn’t want to be the first person to try it. He said, ‘We’ll just never get any airplay.'” Though a handful of Southern radio stations banned the song for blasphemy, it was warmly received nearly everywhere else.

The original title of “I Know There’s an Answer” caused major conflict within the band.

While Brian Wilson was busy writing and recording instrumental tracks for Pet Sounds, the rest of the Beach Boys spent early 1966 touring Japan on the back of their most recent hit, a brainless campfire cover of the Regents’ “Barbara Ann,” which Wilson had tossed off in the fall to fulfill record-company commitments. When the group reconvened in the studio that February to record vocal parts for what they assumed would be another sunny Brian Wilson anthem, one of the first things they heard was a track called “Hang on to Your Ego.” Written with the band’s road manager Terry Sachen, the lyrics were inspired by Wilson’s experience using LSD. The whole band was taken aback by this jarring new direction, but Mike Love reportedly took particular offense to the piece, which he rejected as “a doper song”.

For the album’s emotional closer,”Caroline, No” 23-year-old Brian Wilson cast his mind back to his teenage crush on a cheerleader named Carol Mountain.

He had been obsessed with the girl as a student, rhapsodizing about her beautiful complexion and long dark hair. By 1966, Wilson had discovered that Mountain was married and still living in their hometown of Hawthorne, not far from his Hollywood home. Though also married, Wilson began to call his unrequited high-school love, who had no inkling of his true feelings until decades later.

Though they didn’t meet in person, Wilson grew depressed that the torch he carried for Mountain had begun to dim. “If I saw her today, I’d probably think, ‘God, she’s lost something,’ because growing up does that to people,” he explained decades later. He relayed this story to Tony Asher, who penned a chorus in the form of a dialogue between the two: “Oh, Carol, I know.” Wilson misheard this as “Caroline, No,” giving the song its pleading title. The recording became one of the most heartbreaking tunes ever committed to wax, plodding ahead at a depressive crawl. He played the song to his father (and onetime band manager), Murry Wilson, who advised his son to speed up the tape a full tone to give his voice a sweeter, more youthful quality. The effect made him sound like the lovesick teenager that, in many ways, he still was.

Session musicians used Coke cans, water bottles and orange juice jugs for percussion.
The arrangements on Pet Sounds boast a dazzling array of percussion previously unseen in the rock-music arena. Sleigh bells, timpani, güiro, vibraphone, bongos and other exotic instruments all add color to the album, but certain sounds aren’t instruments at all. In order to create the music in his head, Wilson improvised a number of percussive instruments from whatever he had on hand. For the Latin-tinged “Pet Sounds” track, he encouraged drummer Ritchie Frost to tap two empty Coke cans for a distinctive percussive beat.

Drumming legend Hal Blaine, unofficial chief of the crack team of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, had something special up his sleeve for the clip-clop rhythm that kept “God Only Knows” galloping forward. “We used to drink orange juice out of the vending machines,” he explained. “I took three of these small six- or eight-ounce plastic orange-drink bottles, and I cut them down to three different sizes in length. And I taped ’em together, and I used a little vibraphone mallet. Brian loved that kind of stuff.” Session man Jim Gordon (later of Derek and the Dominos) actually played the OJ bottles, but Hal pulled off a similar trick on the introduction for “Caroline, No,” playing upturned Sparkletts water jugs like bongos.

As the flutes from “Caroline, No” fade away, the melancholic sound of a passing train is heard while dogs wail. The locomotive whistle was sampled off a 1963 effects album called Mister D’s Machine (“Train #58, the Owl at Edison, California”), but the barks come from Wilson’s own dogs: Banana, a beagle, and Louie, a Weimaraner.

According to legend, John Lennon and Paul McCartney got together to pen a Pet Sounds-style preamble for their lush “Here, There and Everywhere.” The track found its way onto Revolver that August, but it was their 1967 follow-up that truly bore influence of Brian Wilson. “Without Pet SoundsSgt. Pepper never would have happened,” admitted Beatles’ producer George Martin. “Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.”

Zaha Hadid 1950-2016

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Swim Center at the 2012 London Olympics

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Guangzhou Opera House

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Riverside Museum in Glasgow

Zaha Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker architecture prize in 2004 and twice won the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the RIBA Stirling prize. Other awards included the Republic of France’s Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.

Hadid won acclaim in Scotland for designing the popular Riverside Museum in Glasgow, known for its distinctive roof structure. Muriel Gray, chair of the board of governors at the Glasgow School of Art, tweeted a picture of the Riverside museum with the message: “Horrible shocking news that Zaha Hadid, incredible architectural trailblazer has just died. Huge loss to design.”

Hadid was recently awarded the RIBA’s 2016 royal gold medal, the first woman to be awarded the honour in her own right.

Architect Sir Peter Cook wrote in his citation at the time: “In our current culture of ticking every box, surely Zaha Hadid succeeds, since, to quote the royal gold medal criteria, she is someone who ‘has made a significant contribution to the theory or practice of architecture … for a substantial body of work rather than for work which is currently fashionable’.

“For three decades now she has ventured where few would dare … Such self confidence is easily accepted in film-makers and football managers, but causes some architects to feel uncomfortable. Maybe they’re secretly jealous of her unquestionable talent. Let’s face it, we might have awarded the medal to a worthy comfortable character. We didn’t. We awarded it to Zaha: larger than life, bold as brass and certainly on the case.”

Estabrook Woods

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One of the reasons we bought our property is because we literally back up to this wonderful piece of land known as Estabrook Woods. This is from their website:

Estabrook Woods is an amazing place nestled inside Concord, MA. If the variety of trails weren’t enough, the history is very special. Here you can walk on the same road that the Minutemen traveled from Carlisle to the North Bridge to face off against the British in 1775. Every year on Patriot’s Day, the reenactment soldiers still travel this 350 + year old road. The site of an old lime kiln from the 1960s can still be viewed here. Just a few miles from Walden Pond, Henry Thoreau also walked here, lived here and wrote about these woods. In fact, his Walden Pond house was moved here from the Walden Pond site. Today, the land is mostly owned by Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. It is a wild tract of more than 1,200 acres of woodland, hills, ledge, and swamp. It is the largest contiguous and undeveloped woodland within thirty miles of Boston.

Estabrook Woods is a recreational delight. You can travel the wide, but rocky carriage roads or turn down a winding stretch of single-track trail. It’s a favorite spot for dog walkers, light hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The New England Orienteering Club (NEOC) has a map of the area and holds meets here on occasion. Most of the terrain is ride able by a mountain bike. Some is fairly easy, but most trails are rocky and technical in places. Some rock gardens and slick stream crossings will almost certainly have most riders off their bikes. For the advanced rider, take the winding single-track up to the top of Punkatasset Hill and enjoy a rocket ride straight down to the bottom. Pick up the Davis Corridor to Carlisle and after a short road ride to Kimball’s ice cream, pick up the singletrack behind the farm and you can make it almost all the way into Great Brook Farm State Park on trail. Trail runners delight in the flowing trails and variety of gently rolling terrain.

Parquet Floor from Monticello

A few people have asked about the parquet floor that we did in our front hallway-what was the inspiration for it?

The truth is, that was in the works from the very beginning. At our very first meeting with the architect, my husband mentioned the parquet floor. Right away Jen Hart, the architect, lit up-“I have always wanted to do that!” she said. The reason? They both went to the University of Virginia and love Monticello in Charlottesville. This floor is in the parlor (pictured below) and is made of cherry and beech. It is said that Thomas Jefferson designed it himself, although the thought is that he may have seen something similar during his years in France as the  Ambassador in 1784-89.
Each unit is constructed of a center square of cherry and a border of beech. When first installed, the contrast between the woods would have been even more striking than it is today, with the cherry coming across as a rich red and the beech a golden blonde. Beeswax was the only substance used to bring out the color of the woods. Additionally, the squares were installed with their grains going in alternating directions, which would have added further nuance to the regular geometric pattern of the floor, depending on the angle of light and where one was standing.

J J Hardwood Floors from Acton,MA certainly did a very good job of replicating the floor for us. We were all very true to the design as well as the woods used for the project and the installation.

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Back To The Future!

I love these movies so I am intrigued by this-

October 21st is a special day in the world of ‘Back To The Future’, when Dr. Emmet Brown and Marty McFly head to October 21st, 2015, to keep Marty’s kids out of trouble. 

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What did ‘Back to the Future II’ get right?

(CNN)“Back to the Future” Day is Wednesday, and fans are tallying up the 1989 film’s predictions of life in the year 2015.

How did the movie do? Here are some of its hits and misses:

Big-screen televisions and video conferencing: Yes

The film features several scenes of characters watching screens very much like the oversize ones we actually use these days. That’s saying something, because most TVs of the 1980s were heavy, square appliances with bulky picture tubes. Some of them even came in wood- like furniture!

Also, the “BTTF II” characters talk to the screens just like we do today. Not bad, given that videophones – though long promised -barely existed in 1989.

Hoverboard: No

Despite the recent Lexus commercial showing skateboard aces skimming around a skatepark on maglev hoverboards, the technology just isn’t there yet. The Lexus hoverboard requires a special surface to ride on, as does a rival, the Hendo.

Another hoverboard, the Omni, is essentially a skateboard with helicopter rotors. Sorry, we’ll just have to wait a little longer before flying around Hill Valley is commonplace.

News drones: Yes

During a crucial scene in the film, a USA Today drone can be flying around the Hill Valley courthouse taking pictures. Major media companies, including CNN, are now looking into using the tech for news purposes.

Hands-free video games: Yes

Our intrepid time traveler, Marty McFly, plays an arcade game called “Wild Gunman” at Café 80’s in 2015. Two kids are shocked that McFly has to use his hands to play, calling it a “baby’s game.” Thanks to products like Xbox Kinect, hands-free video games are now pretty commonplace.

Fashion: Mixed

The less said about the custom of wearing two ties at the same time, the better. However, the movie did get the concept of everyday athletic apparel right.

Everyday consumer products: Yes, with an asterisk

Pepsi is still around, and the beverage company wasn’t going to miss a chance to put out a limited edition Pepsi perfect like the one Marty orders in the film. But the key words are “limited edition.” Similarly, in reality, “Jaws” only made it to “Jaws: The Revenge” (the fourth film in the series), but that didn’t stop Universal from putting out a fake trailer for “BTTF II’s” “Jaws 19.”

But there’s a Pizza Hut in town, and the McFly family is shown chowing down on a pie. Some things never go out of style.

Video glasses: Yes

Marty McFly’s troublesome kids wear high-tech goggles to the dinner table, which are remarkably similar in function to Google Glass, Oculus Rift and Samsung VR.

The World Champion Chicago Cubs: ?

Some futures just aren’t knowable…yet!

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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