Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Visitors

I am the happy owner of quite a few extravagantly dramatic witch hats. It’s a delight each year to choose which one to wear as I perform my witchy duties of greeting the bands of small goblins who visit my door in search of treats on Halloween night. I love to see the various reactions of the little trick or treaters when I open the door. Some stand back shyly as if distrustful of any procedure which requires human beings to dress is such an unusual manner...some charge forward in full gory glory, determined to scare the wits out of everyone they see, little thespians in the making, no doubt. The ones I love the most though, are those out participating in the revelry for the very first time. These are the ones holding their little orange buckets with chubby hands, trying not to trip over their pink princess dresses or looking rather lost inside their red and black Spiderman suits. I once had one of these wee ones take one look at me, smile sweetly and march right inside the house. Evidently I am not as scary as I think. Last year we had oodles of visitors, but one in particular stole my heart. A tiny sweet-faced little fellow, dressed most incongruously as a vampire, and followed closely by his dad, made his way tentatively up the walk. As I bent down and held out the big bowl of candy for him to choose his favorite, he stared at me in grave study, never saying a word. Many, many visitors and a few hours later, as things were winding down, I was standing out in the drive talking to neighbors, when I noticed this tiny vampire and his father approaching once again. His dad said, ....”I’m so sorry, but all he has wanted to do all night is come back here. He just keeps saying that he wants to go back and see the good witch”. Well, I ask you, just how many ways can one’s heart melt?? I bent down to talk to the little guy and it soon became apparent that he sort of wanted to stay for awhile. His father was explaining that it was time to go, and he was having none of it. Finally, I put on my most good-witchy voice and said, “I really must go I’m afraid.... It is time to feed my flying monkeys.” The little guy nodded knowingly and took his father’s hand while his dad gave me a grateful thumbs up.

Oh yes, I do love my Halloween visitors. And I so hope that little vampire returns on Friday night!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wind Advisory

There was a wind advisory for today. Meant as a warning, but taken as glad tidings, for I dearly love the wind. The day ahead was easy to predict when I spied the tops of the tall trees dancing together at dawn. Roundelays and reels, jigs and tarantellas, they wheeled and whirled with abandon while the wind chimes that encircle the house kept a delicate rhythm with the orchestra that played through the branches. It made the old magnolia tree jolly, its stout and leafy limbs bouncing up and down, up and down, in fat green chuckles. It played chase with the birds and loosened the maple leaves who were busy preparing for their colourful November tumble to the garden below. It ruffled Edward’s white fur, thicker than ever now with his own glad anticipation of the colder days to come. Edward responded by running full tilt throughout the sunny garden, leaping and rolling with the wind like a friend. Coats, newly unearthed from hall closets, whipped around the knees of dog walkers who were yanked up the street at at faster than desired pace by dogs who couldn’t believe their good fortune in waking to such a gloriously windy day. On and on it blew, creating shadows that gamboled across the carpet under my feet; shadows that brought the wool patterns to life as bubbling paisleys and animated florals, impossible to catch or to hold. It called to me from outside my window, throughout the long morning, with its promises of a carefree afternoon while I, determined to complete the tasks I had at hand, endeavored not to listen. But soon, unable to withstand temptation any longer, I acquiesced. Laying down my work with a thud, grabbing my coat and my dog, I made for the door.
The wind laughed with a bluster, for he knew I would come out to play all along.
He remembers me of old.

He shouts in the sails of the ships at sea,
He steals the down from the honeybee,
He makes the forest trees rustle and sing,
He twirls my kite till it breaks its string.
Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,
Whistling, howling, rainy wind,
North, South, East and West,
Each is the wind I like the best.

By Amy Lowell, from her poem The Wind

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Backward, Turn Backward

In the halcyon land that is my childhood memory, Halloween stands proudly alongside the most celebrated holidays as a time of unparalleled flights of fancy and fun. Before the likes of Jason and Freddy or any of their chainsaw wielding compadres, Halloween season meant the innocently spooky charm of black cats, grinning pumpkins, green witches on broomsticks, and all of the windy, dark, giddy, laughing, orange mystery that was October. Crimson leaves blew across grey neighborhood streets made strangely ominous by the curiously dressed small people, masked and cloaked as they were, who made their way past familiar houses that seemed more than willing to put aside their normally dignified facades to play along, sporting ghosts in their trees and jack-o-lanterns on their porches. How well I remember gathering my courage to knock on the front doors of unknown neighbors, grateful for the anonymity provided by my plastic mask - often a mask whose eye holes never quite matched up to my own, rendering me a bit wobbly on occasion. How I loved those weeks of agonized thought as I tried to decide “who to be” for the night. Halloween gave me the glorious opportunity to dress for one lone evening in a style I wished I could don every day of the year, so I had to choose most carefully.

And then of course there was The Halloween Carnival. The Carnival was produced by my grade school a few nights before the 31st, and it was a true highlight of the school year. Red-brick and tree-shaded, our school was quintessential Americana, and quite honestly, so were we. It felt so odd to enter the school building at night, something we students never did; it was a spooky prospect in and of itself. The father of one of my close friends was in charge, every year, of the haunted classroom where, in total darkness and giggling nervously, we would line up to place our hands into bowls of wet grapes masquerading as eyeballs, while slimy cabbages and cold spaghetti were enlisted to represent other various and sundry body parts best forgotten. Each year, one of the more exotic mothers had the honor of playing the role of the gypsy fortune teller. Sitting in her brightly coloured booth, bejeweled and heavily made-up, she looked quite the part. However, she seemed to annually foretell the most optimistic fortunes imaginable which, to my mind, diminished her authenticity and made her just a bit suspect. But I was a questioning child. There were cake walks and kissing booths, along with blue ribbons presented to the most frightful and terrifying of costumes. Of course, nothing could have compared to the sheer horror of witnessing one’s parents and one’s teachers socializing. Together. None of us could ever manage to wrap our minds around that one.

Those days are past and I am grateful for the priceless memories which help me now to re-create a similar Halloween here in our own little cottage. We are fortunate to have lots of those strangely dressed little people who roam our streets on this spookiest of nights; little people who are brave enough to march past the ghosts and goblins hiding behind our tall trees, lift the latch to our squeaky gate and climb the stairs to knock on our door. When they do, they find a celebration not unlike the one that made my own childhood Halloween a holiday to fondly remember.
And they also find a large white dog who is completely convinced that they are all arriving just to say hello to him!

“Backward, turn backward,
O Time, in your flight
make me a child again
just for to-night!”

Elizabeth Akers Allen

Painting by August Malmstrom

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quoth the Raven:
“We have a winner”....

At one before midnight, with Edward watching on, I slipped my hand inside a green witch hat and drew out a tiny slip of paper on which was written, in red, a very special name. We are thrilled to announce that the name written thereon, and thus the winner of our drawing for the Wee Good Witch Keepsake Box, Is.....

29 Black Street!

A most sincere congratulations to Susan, a sweet and creative blogger. Please email me your address and I shall get your prize in the mail. May you find some extra special keepsake to hide within your new little Halloween Box!

“Can we go to bed now?”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hearing Ghosts?

The closest I have ever come to an authentic ghostly encounter happened whilst staying in a 16th century manor house near Tintagel, Cornwall on a blustery early April night. Of grey stone and ivy covered, the old house was surrounded by tall trees that sheltered the strangely dramatic nests of vociferous rooks, whose continuous shrieks lent a rather macabre air to the atmosphere, even on the sunniest of days. Sumptuously decorated, our bedroom allowed views out over wind-swept fields, all the way to the sea.
I had caught a most devilish cold in damp and chilly Bath and carried it with me to the Cornish coast where, undeterred by fever, I had scampered up
Tintagel Castle hill and stood out on its seaside bluff conjuring to my memory long cherished passages of Arthurian legend, in which Tintagel Castle plays a decidedly seminal role. A grand experience, and one I would never regret, but pay for it I did, with high fever and chills greeting me that night. As I lay in bed, sleepless and miserable, around three in the morning I heard a most unusual and unsettling sound, almost a Poeian cliche. A persistent, thundering knocking; a booming thump-thumping that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. The Songwriter sat up, fascinated, to listen, as on and on it went, for what seemed like hours, but what was in actual fact only minutes, I’m sure. The rest of the old stone house was silent, no one stirring. No one of the living variety, at least. Anyone who had ever seen the spookiest of sixties movies,
The Haunting, would surely remember poor Julie Harris in exactly the same situation as we found ourselves now, as we listened from our four-poster in Cornwall. I suppose the normal reaction would have been to wonder if perhaps poor Julie's fate could be mine also, and I have since often wondered how I would have reacted if I had felt well, and quite my usual self. As it was, however, I
wasn’t the least bit frightened, and frankly, could not have cared less, a fact I most definitely attribute to illness rather than bravery.
I have stayed in places most ghost-worthy, where the wind howled relentlessly all night and the shadows were deep enough to hide all manner of creature. I have burrowed in bed with one eye open, half in fear, half in hope. But alas, no apparition ever ventured my way, no spirit slid under my door. However, I’m young yet, still open minded, and there’s still time. I do wonder if I’m visited again if I’ll be quite so sanguine about it as before. We will just have to wait and see.

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more.".....
from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, October 20, 2008


There are just so many sweet souls out there in the ether, otherwise known as the blogosphere. Sweet souls that leave me charming, affirmative comments, send me kind and humbling emails, give me awards, and tag me for interesting questionnaires. Sometimes I feel quite lame in answering... I know some do get past me! Blame it on an artist’s quirky, head in the clouds, schedule. But please know that I do appreciate you all very much! I think of Patricia over at PVE Design, who spontaneously painted the lovely portrait of Edward that now hangs proudly in my library. Thank you, thank you Patricia! You are a wonderful talent, and thoughtful beyond measure. I think of others of my amazing artist friends at
Middle of Nowhere, The Hermitage, 29 Black Street, Sarah Laurence, Oakmoon, A Fanciful Twist, Beading at the Beach.....who sent me a beautiful handmade pendant out of nowhere, Moonlight and Hares, Sea Angels, Dog Daisy Chains, Acorn Moon.....I could go on and on.
My oh, so talented fellow interior designers
The House of Beauty and Culture ,Cote de Texas, Katiedid, Architect Design, My Notting Hill, and All the Best. The wonderfully eclectic, always interesting, and so welcoming, landing pads that are Life at Willow Manor, The Weaver of Grass, Letters From A Hill Farm, Garden Delights, The Dutchess, About New York, Cait O’Connor, etc, etc... And my most favorite fashion blog, better than any magazine...Observation Mode. For more great sites to visit, check out my ever-expanding blog roll. All these and many more make my reading and writing experiences here so rewarding, so inspiring, and just plain fun.
So, to honor all your kindness to both Edward and myself, I am doing my very first give-a-way. This little Halloween Keepsake Box, shown above, will be sent to one of you wonderful souls. Edward will help me with the drawing on Thursday night at one before midnight, and we'll announce thw winner Friday morning. To enter, please just comment on this particular post!
Happy Halloween to you all!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sea Walk

I walked out to the sea at midnight.
In the roar of the night sea winds, I crossed opalescent white dunes, and stood spellbound under the hallucinatory glow of a low-hanging full moon. Not a bashful moon, content to gently impart its light in a modest manner, satisfied with the usual soft shadows and gently glimmering waters. This moon was theatrical. Suffused with an intensity of flame, it poured its golden light liberally over all creation, with a passion that enabled the dark sea waters to shine as rolling glass and the soft sands to glitter with such phosphorescence as if composed of a multitude of fairy crystals. This October moon was the author of a night not quite day and a day not quite night. The only solitary soul on the beach, it was as though I walked through a painting, feeling ephemeral and everlasting at the same time. I drank in as much of the restorative scene as I could hold and eventually turned and headed back to the tiny cottage where a big sleepy white dog sat staring out from a screened porch, only barely concealing his exasperation at not being included on this gift of a seaside walk.

I made it up to him the next day when he ran, unleashed and with his distaste of wet feet forgotten, over rocks and into tidal pools with the sort of joy that remains reserved for big dogs on fair beaches.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Call Me Ishmael

I have never enjoyed election season in my country. I find the stakes are far too high and the issues much too serious, to be entertained by the process, particularly when that process degenerates into something resembling a mendacious, hateful game played to be won at any cost and with no regard for veracity or consequence. I care, and I grieve, deeply about the place in which my country finds itself at present and, if I am not careful, these worries can grow until sleep eludes me and joy hides. But I do know of a remedy, tried and true. Like Melville’s Ishmael....”whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul...especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off - then, I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.”

So, like Ishmael, we are heading to the sea. A tiny, lovely little cottage awaits our arrival tomorrow. An old wooden cottage right on the sea, with a tiny little bedroom, a tiny little kitchen, scuffy wooden floors and a big screened porch overlooking the beach, the waves and the spacious skies. Edward will be thrilled to bits for, although he is unaware of it now, both he and Apple are going along, and
they simply adore being seaside. We shall run on the beach, play on the beach, we shall doze on the screened porch - we shall eat fruit, think lovely thoughts and read lovely books. We shall fix our gaze far, far out to sea and remember all the good that still remains in the world.
I look forward to returning with a quieter mind and a renewed sense of hope for positive changes in my homeland, as well as a marked decrease in my desire to methodically knock the hats off strangers in the street!

quote by Herman Melville from his book, Moby Dick

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Haunted Houses

The Songwriter has an unabashed love of classic ghost stories which has resulted in an impressive collection - more than enough of the scary tales to satisfy each and every dark October night. Sometimes on especially wicked evenings, he reads them aloud to us.
M.R. James, Ambrose Bierce, Edith Wharton, Dinesen and Poe - all masters of chilling lore and frightful fable. We often gather round the orange glow of a fire to listen, snuggling down in soft blankets, with comforting pillows at the ready in case I happen to need something to clutch tightly and still a pounding heart. I am not sure if Edward listens all that closely to the plots of each tale, but if there were an actual ghost in attendance, he would, no doubt, be the first in the room to notice him. I am certain he sees things I cannot. And after all, I do happen to believe in haunted houses.
Once, on a golden autumn afternoon I stood in the dining room at Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island, watching as the late afternoon sun streamed in through the huge floor to ceiling window. Hammersmith Farm was the childhood home of Jacqueline Bouvier and served as a family retreat after she married John F. Kennedy. During his presidency, Kennedy’s helicopter would often land on the expansive back lawn and he would stride up the hill to enter the house through that very dining room window. Standing there, I could almost hear the helicopter blades whirring overhead and catch the whispers of happy, echoed welcomes on the air. There was hardly anyone else in the rambling seaside house the afternoon of my visit and unlike many famous houses, there were no restrictions, I was free to wander anywhere I chose. The rooms were unchanged, frozen in faded time. Jackie’s wicker-filled childhood bedroom, the large, serene room she later shared with her husband, the floral walls of the gracious staircase where, in a familiar photograph, she once lifted her arms in delight on the night of her debutante ball, the grassy sunlit hill where the famous photographs of the Kennedy wedding reception were taken - all remained just as they had been then. I felt like a most reluctant fortune teller in that place, as I knew what lay ahead for these large-spirited people who still seemed so very present in the glow of that sunlit afternoon. I could feel the muted rustlings of history in every room, down every hallway. There was an undeniable melancholy to the atmosphere, as if the grand old house itself had absorbed something essential one grey November day, a sadness that now permeated the very air inside its shingled walls.

Hammersmith Farm was sold not long after my visit there, the floral wallpaper stripped, the furniture carted away. I have always felt fortunate to have been there when I was, for I believe I visited more that just a house that afternoon. There were spirits present there, shadows from history still dancing in the setting sunbeams that shone through a tall dining room window.
A haunted house? Absolutely.

"Our revels are now ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on..."

William Shakespeare from The Tempest

Painting Above: The Haunted House by Atkinson Grimshaw

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now Open...
Keepsake Boxes At The Shoppe of Edward

Secrets. Treasures. Keepsakes. For all of us, these are such personal, valuable things. Where do we hide our secrets? Where is the place to put that small wondrous item that holds special meaning for us alone? A perfect pink shell picked up on a special seashore, that lock of golden hair, that first tooth, the little bit of blue from a wedding, the sweet note or the first love letter.
I have always been enamored of the keepsake box, the reliquary, the chinese box that only I knew the secret way to open. In the spirit of treasures and secrets, I have been making Keepsake Boxes for clients and friends for several years. I enjoy creating them so much that I am now making a few available through
The Shoppe at The House of Edward. Each one unique, these boxes feature vintage and antique items and are embellished with various glass beads, vintage flowers and German glass glitters.

There will be special Holiday Boxes each season,
with a few
Halloween Boxes available now,
each featuring a little too cute to be scary
Wee Good Witch
just waiting to hide
all the deepest darkest of secrets,
or maybe just some save-till-later candy.
Christmas Boxes should be available
starting around the first of

There will be beautiful Dog Boxes,
each featuring a silver-plated
frame to showcase a
favorite photo of a
favorite best friend.

and extra special Wedding Boxes.

Each Wedding Box features an antique wedding couple in china or bisque. No two boxes are alike, some are double tiered, some triple, with each tier opening to hide treasured wedding keepsakes. These special creations can also be custom ordered in individual colour palettes.
I have opened a shop at
Etsy to feature these Keepsake Boxes, along with the occasional antique treasure I may pick up on my journeys. The Halloween Boxes are up now, and the Wedding Boxes, Dog Frame boxes, and a few Baby Boxes will soon follow. I so enjoy creating these and will make every attempt to keep some in the store at all times. If there is something special you would like fashioned just for you, do send me an email and let me know.
Wander through the shoppe, and take a look. You never know, you may just have a secret keepsake in need of a hideaway.
And, each box comes with an autographed photo of Edward himself!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Blessing of the Animals

Freshly brushed, with a spring in his step,
Edward went to church today.
The Sunday dawn gleamed with perfection, one of those early October blessings in and of itself, complete with an cheerful quality to the light, and a nip in the breeze that made one glad to be even a small part of creation. The majestic atmosphere of the old cathedral was only enhanced by the presence of so many of God’s creatures - family members not normally in attendance. Stained-glass saints looked kindly down from their windows as bejeweled matrons sat serenely holding look-alike Persian cats while tweedy gentlemen entered beside their stout and hardy Bulldogs. Delighted children carried in fat new puppies sporting bows for collars, a pair of noble harlequin Great Danes strode calmly down the center aisle alongside scampering Westies, perpetually smiling Golden Retrievers and inquisitive Beagles. A grey kitten was on a leash. Near the front, a dignified white Standard Poodle sat upright and reverent in his pew, while a timid little woman in brown perched with one small hand protectively resting atop an ornate, golden birdcage. The congregation rose to sing “All Creatures Great and Small” and when the priest spoke of the depth of God’s love and care for these good friends of ours - both those present and those gone on before us - more than a few tears filled human eyes.
When the priest placed his hand on Edward’s fluffy head, spoke his name, and blessed him as one of God’s sweet wonders, I realized once again how fortunate I am to share my life with a wonderful, loving animal.
Truly a blessing. For both of us.

"I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."
Abraham Lincoln

Friday, October 3, 2008

This Very Night

On the sea, where the stone cyclops dwells just off shore, and keeps his watch with a proprietary stare on the hillside above, never blinking, never looking away, a sentinel with a permanence as solid as the rock of his composition, we spoke our name into the air and the massive gates began to slowly open. The ancient fir trees nodded to each other as they watched us pass, on and further on, till we turned right at the monkey puzzle tree and beheld the old house waiting, just beyond the moss covered wall. A gust of wind ushered fat, unwieldy raindrops into our path as we were bundled in through the old carved door by kindly souls who escorted us safely into our quarters where the fire blazed and the rooms were scented with sandalwood. As the wind howled, the stony giant watched through our windows.
All through the black night.
The first time, on this very night in October, I slept here.

The Castle By The Sea

Hast thou seen that lordly castle,
That Castle by the Sea?
Golden and red above it
The clouds float gorgeously.

And fain it would stoop downward
To the mirrored wave below;
And fain it would soar upward
In the evening's crimson glow.

Well have I seen that castle,
That Castle by the Sea,
And the moon above it standing,
And the mist rise solemnly.

The winds and the waves of ocean,
Had they a merry chime?
Didst thou hear, from those lofty chambers,
The harp and the minstrel's rhyme?....

from Castle by the Sea by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Midnight. September 30

Wait. Shhhh! Listen. Did you hear that? No? There it is again, are you certain you didn’t hear something? Coming from down the road, or ... maybe ... just outside that window? Sort of an lyrical, otherworldly sound ... pleasant, but a bit mysterious. A bird ? Perhaps a raven? Or... maybe... laughter? Black cat .. or bat ... or rat? Maybe. Perhaps you should check behind that door, just in case I’m right. I know I definitely heard something, and don’t try to tell me it was just the wind. Oh wait, I know what it is ... I remember now. It’s October! Oh yes, can’t you see it? Just slipping through the trees and wafting across the stream. Look, there’s color leading the way, with wind and music and firelight right behind her! Oh, I think I saw a witch there in back and yes, there’s that laughter again. I’m certain that was a jack-o-lantern grinning out from behind all those swirling scarlet maple leaves, and I can just make out a thin sickle moon and several pale ghosts somewhere near the end of the line. Yes, yes, and now I smell apples and wood smoke as well! October! Now can you see all those lovely days lined up just outside the window?? Look... I can count thirty-one of them, all heading this way.
Go ahead, open the door. Invite them all in!
October is here.

October's Party

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

George Cooper