Make You Feel My Love




by Erin Lessin Mahone

One of my very favorite songs both to sing and enjoy is “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan, covered by artists from nearly every genre. It is a timeless love song with remarkable lyrics and a beautiful, simple melody. I’ve never met someone who didn’t like this song. It speaks universally of the depth of one person’s love for another – it says what love is:

“When the rain is blowing in your face and the whole world is on your case, I can offer you a warm embrace to make you feel my love…I know you haven’t made your mind up yet, but I would never do you wrong I knew right from the moment that we met – no doubt in my mind where you belong…storms are raging on the rolling sea and on the highway of regret the winds of change are blowin’ wild and free – but you ain’t seen nothin’ like me yet…I can make you happy make your dreams come true – no there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do – go to the ends of the earth for you to make you feel my love.”

Now that’s not the whole thing but you get the gist. It’s a lovely song about love.  Cut to real life…the place where we actually have to fit our raw emotions – our visions of what would be – into the blender of daily life and sometimes what comes out is not the sweet and genuine statement of “here’s what I will do to make you feel how much I love you every day,” instead we find ourselves forcing our loved ones to chug the “I will make you feel my love if it kills us all!” smoothie of the day. It can be difficult to give our significant others – and often our children even more – the love they need and are most able to accept in a way that is meaningful. Rather, we shove our ideas of what things are “supposed” to feel like, look like, and inevitably what our giving of affection is going to mean to them and about us – down their throats – whether they like it or not! “I will MAKE you FEEL MY love” – and it becomes all about us and ultimately not about love.

At work and in our lives outside these most intimate relationships – for the most part – people have to accept what we have to give. They can make suggestions or demand certain adjustments but overall at the end of the day we all go back to our own corners and while friendships and work interactions are important we have a certain amount of control over how much we are giving to others and they have to take it or leave it. Obviously, we can’t (or shouldn’t – certainly people do) abuse that autonomy but ultimately we do not have to share a home or a bed with those people.  Yet, I wonder how much more successful we would all be – and how much more peaceful our world might become – if we became more adept at being conscious of other people’s perspective.

I entered my adult life with very concrete goals in place about marriage and family – basically I would conquer them! My point of view came from the way I grew up – a child of multiple divorces, lots of moving, lots of changing schools, and interchangeable step-families, at times not knowing where I was going to live – and often not feeling safe.  I knew I could do it better and they (my family) would see how hard I was trying and how much I loved them and they would hoist me on their shoulders and crown me “Queen Mommy and Wife of the Universe.” The thing I struggled to realize – that seems so obvious – is that my husband and children do not share my past. Their framework for life is not built of MY experiences but MY experiences can positively or negatively impact how their framework is built or built upon.

Instead of thinking about my needs and my goals and my expectations and my past experiences and how I wanted to be a better parent than my parents and I wanted to conquer marriage what if I just looked at the people around me and completely removed myself from the equation. Is that possible? I would venture to guess that – at least in my life – I would have a lot more patience with everyone in my home if I removed my “stuff” from their lives. Who am I to say – beyond the expectations that they are kind, healthy, and purposeful – who am I to say any more than that?

In the end, making our love for others felt has so much more to do with them than it has to do with us. Love is messy and imperfect just like people and once we stop trying to fit it in a box, wrap it, label it, and post it on Facebook – and just start listening and taking advantage of the little moments to quietly share our love instead of trying “make” others feel it all the time – who knows what could happen.

Books have been written on just this topic – the most famous being The Five Love Languages – so there are certainly options to delve deeper into the subject. Ultimately, my goal is always to help us all find a little perspective and think about things in a way maybe we haven’t before. Sometimes – I need the reminder most of all.


Lovely New Locks in the Fall!


Fall Hairstyles PNG


“Freshen up your summer sun dried ends with a new hair cut, new rich color, and updated fall makeup,” says Stephanie Valentino, an Ashland, Virginia based Beautician. She approaches creating hairstyles for her clients as an artform and a way to make them happy. “Being a ‘Daymaker’ is my passion,” smiles Valentino, “I want them to feel vibrant, sexy and just wonderful!” And, she has done that quite well for 30 years.


Presently she has her own studio situated at Indulgence Salon & Boutique in Ashland, Virginia, Stephanie has an extremely impressive resume. She is working towards getting a larger venue. Admired for her creativity and skill, she was voted Best Hairstylist in Richmond some five years ago. Stephanie has also studied in London, created coiffures for Fashion Week in New York, worked in the film industry and been a Master Stylist in California all before coming to Virginia.


Stephanie is artistic to begin with, she loves painting and drawing and particularly sculpture. This orientation transfers quite easily to the art of making people look and feel beautiful. In fact, she has worked with Dr. Joe Niamtu, a Richmond, Virginia based cosmetic surgeon to create new styles for his patients. In a similar vein, together with a surgeon from VCU Medical Center, she participates in “Girls Night Out,” a program for girls born with facial differences who are patients of the Craniofacial Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The program continues to expands to include more little girls in need.


What does she recommend for women in terms of new “do’s” for the Fall? “I always think of Fall as a time for a fresh start. It’s a time to cut dry hair and split ends from the Summer styles. I also recommend:

Adding Shine

Adding Richer Color

And, new coiffures to create a fresh look.” Stephanie remarks that lifestyle and hair texture are big factors in the equation. “You have to have a look that you can maintain, a style that works for you.” She also states that as women age, less truly is more. As we age our facial muscles change. Softer hair and makeup colors tend to draw attention away from new facial lines and wrinkles. In a recent interview about long hair, she noted that it needs to be trimmed every 8 – 10 weeks and it’s important to use the good products. Maintaining a perfect balance of protein and moisture is key. And, it’s not necessary to wash long hair every day, every other day is fine. Sleeping on a silk pillow is another excellent tip, because it helps to keep the ends from splitting.


Stephanie Valentino PNG

As Stephanie says, “My job is to make people look their very best, because it’s what’s inside that really counts.”

Stephanie’s Style Studio is currently located inside Indulgence Salon and Boutique, 251 North Washington Highway, Ashland, Virginia, 23005. There will be a special “Blow Out Class” at Indulgence Salon and Boutique on October 6. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn how to use your blow dryer to re-create those stunning styles at home. For more information about the “Blow Out” please Indulgence at

You can reach Stephanie by calling 804-357-8137.

Who Says You Can’t Knot?


boys at the beach

So, I’ve been in a quandary….I was recently asked to give some advice to a pre-teen boy. Those were the instructions…give advice to a pre-teen boy. As you can imagine THAT is mind-stumping. I could think of things are preachy, or dumb, or clueless, and I shudder to think of the eye-rolling responses that I would get….and would probably be entirely appropriate.

It’s been a long time since I was between 10 and 13 and I was never a boy, although I have a lot of brothers. I might be able to give some suggestions about how to roll spitballs, or how to fold paper into the small triangle that’s used for tabletop football. I could maybe tell them how one of my brothers’ “signatures” was to place his lips on a windowpane and open his mouth so he looked like a lamprey eel. Or, maybe, how they used to go into apartment buildings and tie the front doors that faced each other together and then ring both doorbells at once. (They would run and collapse with laughter…I don’t think anyone was ever home, though.) I shouldn’t pass on those tips, because the little guy might end up doing time, though.

So, what’s something “safe” and neutral to pass on…that won’t seem totally moronic or could be construed as encouraging felonious behavior.

I settled on KNOTS…how to tie some basic knots. While these are basic–some of them are a little more unusual, at least to me. And, actually, this is something that everybody can use–so here we go. I went to the “2020 site” and found some instructions.

The Overhand Knot is the first:


overhand knot

Overhand Knot
The overhand knot is used at the end of ropes to prevent their unraveling and as the commencement of other knots such as a simple noose, overhand loop, angler’s loop, fisherman’s knot and a water knot. It is a very secure knot and should be used when you want a knot that is permanent.

While it seems so simple this knot is important, as it is frequently used in fastening the ends of yarns and strands in splicing, whipping, and seizing.

overhand knot instruction
Make a loop with your rope
Take one end of your rope and stick it through the loop you just made.
Pull both ends of the rope tight.


Clover Hitch

Clove Hitch Knot
A more secure knot is the “Clove Hitch”, sometimes known as the “Builders’ Hitch.”

How to Tie a Clove Hitch Knot


clove hitch instruction

Pass the end of the rope around a spar or timber.
Then pass it over itself and over and around the spar or timber.
Pass the end under itself and between the rope and spar.

Rolling Hitch Knot
The Rolling Hitch is a modified Clove hitch.


Rolling Hitch

How to Tie a Rolling Hitch Knot
Rolling Hitch Instructions
Two round turns are taken round a spar in which it is to be hauled and one half hitch on the other side of the hauling part. This is very useful, as it can be put on and off quickly.

Figure Eight Knot


Figure of Eight Knot
The figure of eight knot (also known as Listing’s knot) is used to prevent ropes from unraveling; it forms a large knob and is a very important knot for both sailing and rock climbing as helps to stop ropes from running out of their retaining devices.
How to Tie a Figure of Eight Knot


Figure Eight Instructions

Cross the end of the rope over the top of the remaining rope making a q shape.
Pinch the top of the loop and twist it away from the tail of your q.
Pull the end of the rope or the tail of the q up through the upper loop from behind.
Pull both ends of the rope to tighten forming a figure eight.


Bowline Knot

Bowline Knot
This is a most useful knot employed to form a loop which will not slip. Running bowlines are formed by making a bowline round its own standing part. It is the most common and convenient temporary running noose.

The sailor’s knot par excellence, is the “Bow-line” and wherever we find sailors, or seamen, we will find this knot in one or another of its various forms. When you can readily and surely tie this knot every time, you may feel yourself on the road to “Marline-spike Seamanship,” for it is a true sailor’s knot and never slips, jams, or fails; is easily and quickly untied, and is useful in a hundred places around boats or in fact in any walk of life.
How to Tie a Bowline Knot


UntitledBowline Instructions

In A the rope is shown with a bight or cuckold’s neck formed with the end over the standing part.
Pass A back through the bight, under, then over, then under, as shown in B.
Then over and down through the bight, as shown in C and D.
Draw taut, as in the first image above.

Cat’s Paw Knot


Cat's Paw Knot
This principle of fastening by twisted rope is utilized in the “Catspaw”, a most useful knot or “hitch” for hoisting with a hook.  Mine is pretty wimpy…., but you get the idea!

How to Tie a Cat’s Paw KnotCatsPaw Instructions

Pass the bight of your rope over the end and standing part.
With a bight in each hand, take three twists from you.
Then bring the two bights side by side and throw over the hook.

Maybe I can start hanging out with the 10 – 13 year olds now…it would certainly ROCK my world!

“Shaping Your Dream on a Daily Basis: Working in Clay”



Jennifer            Title

“Follow your dream,” is Jennifer Ranz’ mantra and it is something that she does every day. She is a working artist and mother, who successfully sells her ceramics and giclee fine art reproductions of her stunning watercolors. All this is done out of picturesque barn in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.







Growing up in Minneapolis and summering in Vermont, Jennifer and her brothers and sisters played happily outside, enjoying nature and sports, but she was never really focused on art. She grew up across the street from a potter in Minneapolis, and liked the pots in the home studio. Interestingly, she lived down the street from a painter in Vermont and enjoyed those paintings — so, there might have been some subtle influences after all.

In high school Jennifer took art and learned how to throw and build pots by watching her instructors, fellow students and others. Through observation and practice she was able to learn these skills and make them her own. In love with the medium of clay, after attending the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), she went on to get an MFA in ceramics at The Ohio State University.




Jennifer lived overseas for a number of years, before returning to live in Vermont. As a single mother and artist, her life has been a balancing act. In the years before her pottery studio was built she channeled her artist talents into painting, creating one stunning watercolor after another. Today, she pretty much focuses her attention on working with clay. She works currently with porcelain and white stoneware fired in an electric kiln. Every piece is handmade and individually-glazed so each is unique. Her pottery is decorative, functional and easy to use. Similarly, her jewelry is pleasant and                photo-91     photo-101

“I love the relationship with clay. It’s dynamic — there is a real give and take between me, the artist, and the clay. It’s fun!” And, that fun is visible in every piece of handmade, individually glazed porcelain, stoneware and pottery. Whether it’s jewelry or a ceramic serving piece, one feels the element of joy and freedom that Jennifer experienced in the creative process.

photo-92       photo-108  photo-102

Each of Jennifer’s glazes, like her artwork, are handcrafted. Her palette has morphed over the years since graduate school where she was making whimsical objects (lamps, etc.) and glazing them in hot, neon colors. The whimsy remains, but her glazes are a bit different, reflecting the colors in the natural world that surrounds

The KORU is one of the designs that frequently appears in her work. In fact, this spiral shape that is universally recognized, is almost organic in terms of ceramics that created using a wheel. The motion of the wheel dictates spirals in the clay. But, it is also a well-known Maori design. “Koru is the Maori word for “bight” or “loop” and refers to the new shoots of the silver fern, The spiral shaped koru is derived from an unfolding silver fern frond. The circular movements towards an inner coil refers to ‘going back to the beginning’. The unfurling frond itself is symbolic for new life, hope, perfection, rebirth, a new start, awakening, personal growth, purity, nuturing, a new phase in life, the spirit of rejuvenation and peace.”




Jennifer states, “I love using my hands and working with a variety of materials for creative expression. I live in a quiet, peaceful, unspoiled part of Vermont and am nourished daily by the visual surroundings. My love for this beautiful area inspires my artwork in ceramics and painting. I have been working with clay for nearly 40 years and enjoy transforming it into a variety of shapes that become sometimes decorative, whimsical but almost always functional. Each ceramic piece is completely handmade by me; the forms are precious to hold and a feast to your eyes being finished with a wide palette of my own glazes. My unique porcelain jewelry undergoes multiple steps before completion and is comfortable and enjoyable to wear. My waterco

lors depict the visual richness of the changing seasons, pastoral settings, the character of local architecture and the color and moods of everyday life in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. My home, studio and shop, which is open all year round, are in the magnificent restored historic 1880s Greensboro Barn. Come experience art made for you in the surroundings that inspire its creation.”



How does she attract customers? Social media, and websites are obvious promotional tools, but she is also involved in numerous arts consortiums. These groups provide means to get the word out, but also to work and share with other artists. But, visit her website and see for yourself. Her art is the beautiful product of dreaming and remaining committed to the dream! Check it out:



So how DO you get into home restoration? by Robbie Rhur


Robbie Rhur’s Bio

Besides being a biologist working for the State of Virginia, Robbie has an eye for beauty and comfort. She spent her earliest years in Germany where her attention was always pulled towards romantic towns and stunning castles – she wanted to live in a castle until she owned her first home and realized how much work keeping up a single family home can be, let alone a castle, she now keeps her home ambitions of a more realistic scale.
After moving to Richmond VA and buying her first older house, she met JW and the two of them finished the attic space and remodeled the kitchen and bath in her house in a span of 10 years. The results were stunning and they realized that, while they were not a good love match, they were a hell-of-a home restoration team. So the stage was set for the restoration of the adorable but once sad little Tudor Revival cottage she bought 2 years ago in Richmond’s Northside.

So, how DO you get into home restoration – my story.

If you are reading this blog, you have likely thought (a lot) about what it would be like to buy a fixer upper. This blog is for women who want to find and restore a house into a home. This blog is not for flippers, I don’t flip houses; of the two I have restored, I’ve lived in them both and learned tons about how to make a cute house into a FABULOUS home!

Just for clarification, since 1985, I have owned 5 houses but 3 were either restored or new construction. It was upon my relocation to Richmond in ‘98 that I started down this path. One of Richmond’s best features is the number of old diverse neighborhoods and with their many different housing styles.

Finding the right house is key but, so is the right neighborhood, one in which you feel safe and hopefully close to your basic needs. I always look for that house, that upon entering, I feel an internal ahhhh, a soul sigh if you like.

That’s what happened when I entered my first Richmond home on Seminary Ave, my soul sighed. I was just divorced and had been offered a new position an hour away from my country home in Spotsylvania County. So I decided to totally upend my life and leave all my friends behind and move to the big city! The housing market was just starting to take off in Richmond so it was hard to find a house that I could afford; prices were climbing and houses were flying off the market! This forced me to look in areas that were close to urban blight but still comfortable and charming. PLUS I needed a large fenced yard for my four dogs – boy, were they in for a shock (not to mention my new neighbors, but that’s a whole other story). By the time I found the Seminary house, my realtor had shown me over 20 houses and I was feeling the pinch because I had to move soon but, nothing up to that point spoke to me until the Seminary house, an adorable solid brick cape: 2 bedroom, 1 bath, with a walk up-unfinished attic, attached garage, and a huge yard (by city standards).

I lived there 13 years and in that time I meant JW (my carpenter and one time boy-friend). I completed the attic space into and fantastic master suit, remodeled the down kitchen, bath, and made the crappy garage into and adorable carriage house after a hurricane did it in.

There is no doubt that if I had not met JW I would not have been able to learn what I have about home restoration, his help and guidance has been invaluable to my experience – our relationship has been both good and on occasion, terrible. In fact it was the ending of our live-in relationship that nudged me into looking at other houses.

At this point any sane person (or my mother) would ask, why would you choose to leave a home you just completely remodeled and turned it into such a lovely and unique space?

Remember what I said about location? When the housing market went bust in 2010, my once fringe neighborhood became kinda sketchy. Since JW and I broke up, I was not going to have a roommate. Plus the house held many memories of us together, I just wanted to move. Actually, I seriously considered a move back to Fredericksburg but my old community had changed so much that it would be like starting over and I had made some awesome friends here in Richmond. Fredericksburg City proper housing prices are higher than Richmond and I feel that houses in Richmond are generally much more interesting and the neighborhoods more architecturally diverse.

But what really sealed the deal? My dogs. The original fab four had all passed-on while at Seminary and I had three younger dogs. Since they were city dogs, I began walking them each morning at 6 AM before work. Our walks lengthened and before long we were walking well beyond our neighborhood to the one across the way which held lots of adorable bungalow craftsman homes with much smaller yards – I had come to appreciate a smaller yard, even with dogs, they just do not hang out in the yard, they want to be in house with you and a dog door is a must!

One morning we walked down this narrow street and I saw a ramshackle little Tudor Revival that had seen better days. It looked like a small version of the Addams Family house, I mean it looked haunted, with its peeling trim and faded cedar shake siding. But the roof was a rare random slate pattern I had never seen before and it still had its original diamond light lead windows that were about to fall out of the frames. My soul sighed just looking at that house and I thought to myself, “ If it ever goes on the market, I wanna buy it!”

Two months later I walked that street again just to see the house, a foreclosed sign was up and the house was empty. I went home and called a realtor that I had been chatting with about what I might be able to sell the Seminary house for in that horrible market and she looked up the Tudor for me and told me it was a HUD home and had been built in the 1920s – from the looks of it little had been done to the house in the 90 years since. The asking price was absurd for the shape of the house and the market but she assured me that all that was negotiable with HUD.

Next time: we go inside – YIKES!

I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV


Well, it’s been a long time, and, I don’t exactly know where to begin, except to say that I have had a lot of family matters fill up my life for the last few months. One of my parents has been very ill and has been in and out of the hospital numerous times since “The Holidays.” Because I am geographically convenient, I have been tasked with the lions’ share of the care-taking, appointment shuttling and had, until recently, completely “stopped” my life. My siblings have been very helpful, but, I am the one with the most flexibility.

The tide does seem to be slowly turning, but, coupled with the bonechilling cold of the winter (and some snow), it has been a very intense time that, sometimes, feels like a dream. I had actually prepared a couple of entries, one on making cool paper ornaments that are dipped in wax, and another is a foray into trying to bake a gluten free, sugar free red velvet cake. I’m not sure that one was entirely successful — it looks good, but tastes like glue. I’m still searching for a better way on that one! And, lovely Robbie has sent me an entry which, I will post after this one, in which, I apologize for my negligence. T

here are some takeaways from experiencing parental illness first hand. Other than the first and most obvious — OMG, I HAD BETTER TAKE CARE OF MYSELF, after the initial shock of the situation, I have become much more appreciative of my “free time!” I am not letting those casual, uncommitted moments slip away unsavored or unused…they are too precious!

Another takeaway is greater medical knowledge and capacity. I, who am deathly afraid of needles, can administer diabetes blood tests now and have learn to give insulin injections.

Also, and this is really important, it is key to be able to be an advocate in the Dr.’s offices. Ask the questions again and again and again. Don’t assume doctors will talk to you or each other (DO NOT ASSUME THAT, BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT UNLESS YOU ESSENTIALLY GOAD THEM INTO IT!!) Be the squeaky wheel, no matter how annoying it might be. I never thought I would be pushy, but, I have become pretty tough minded with the doctors, physicians’ assistants, etc.

Make sure the doctor will approve home healthcare, that way it will be covered by medicare.

Here’s another one…bleach and surgical soap don’t mix well. I put a white washrag that still contained surgical soap into a tub of water and bleach and it turned an ugly brown.

And, don’t forget, vitamin K, found in leafy greens, garbanzo beans, power bars, etc. can counteract the effects of blood thinners such as warfarin (also known as coumadin).

Medical supply stores are a GODSEND!

I think that the biggest thing I continue to learn is that events like the illness or death of a loved one (both of which I have experienced in the last 12 months) have their own process and rhythm, and there is not much a person can do to change it. Try to hold onto as much of your own life as possible, but, realize that the situation has its’ own pace, one to which you will need to adapt.

On The Move!




“Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride on a wheel. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.” Susan B. Anthony, suffragist, 1896

I was watching Katie Couric this afternoon, it was a show about summer issues–home remedies for bee stings, summer sports, etc., etc.  One of the segments was a wonderful interview with former Olympic Swimmer, Dana Torres.  Now retired, Ms. Torres talked about swimming in the Olympics, and how she felt like her age and experience only helped her.  What a breath of fresh air– chalk one up for “saddle time!”

As the two women talked they discussed Title 9 and how it has opened so many doors for women in so many ways, and it made me think about the history of women in sports.  It goes back a long way!  And, to add to the sentiment, the bicycle chains helped break societal chains.




So, I have found an interesting timeline of the History of Women in  Sports(

Here is the first part — more to come soon–and GO, GIRL, GO!!!



776 B.C. – The first Olympics are held in ancient Greece. Women are excluded, so they compete every four years in their own Games of Hera, to honor the Greek goddess who ruled over women and the earth.
396 B.C. – Kyniska, a Spartian princess, wins an Olympic chariot race, but is barred from collecting her prize in person.
1406 – Dame Juliana Berners of Great Britain writes the first known essay on sports fishing. She described how to make a rod and flies, when to fish, and the many kinds of fishing in her essay, “Treatise of Fishing with an Angle.”
1552 – Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), an avid golfer, coins the term “caddy” by calling her assistants cadets. It is during her reign that the famous golf course at St. Andrews is built.
1704 – Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727) sets out alone on horseback from Boston to New Haven and later New York, keeping a diary of her travels, which was published in 1825 as The Journal of Madame Knight.
1722 – British fighter Elizabeth Wilkinson enters the boxing ring.
1780 – Three days of horse racing at the track in Hempstead Plains, Long Island, include an event for women riders.
1784 – Elizabeth Thible of Lyons, France, is the first woman to soar in a hot air balloon.
1798 – France’s Jeanne Labrosse makes a solo balloon flight.
1804 – The first woman jockey was Alicia Meynell of England. She first competed in a four-mile race in York, England.
1805 – Madeleine Sophie Armant Blanchard solos in the first of 67 gas-powered balloon flights. She made her living as a balloonist, was appointed official Aeronaut of the Empire by Napoleon, and toured Europe until she fell to her death in an aerial fireworks display in 1819.
1805 – The first ice skating race for Dutch women is in held in Leeuwarden.
1805 – Englishwoman Alicia Meynell, riding as Mrs. Thornton, defeats a leading male jockey, Buckle, in a race.
1811 – On January 9, the first known women’s golf tournament is held at Musselburgh Golf Club, Scotland, among the town fishwives.

1819 – Mms. Adolphe becomes the first woman to perform on a tightrope in the US in New York City.
1825 – Madame Johnson takes off in a hot air balloon in New York, landing in a New Jersey swamp.
1834 – The first modern Lacrosse games are played. Lacrosse will become a major new sports opportunity for women in the 1990’s with many colleges offering scholarship dollars. The original game was played by North American Indians.
1837 – Donald Walker’s book, Exercise for Ladies, warns women against horseback riding, because it deforms the lower part of the body.
1850 – Amelia Jenks Bloomer begins publicizing a new style of women’s dress, first introduced by Fanny Kemble, a British-born actress – loose-fitting pants worn under a skirt. Other women’s rights leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony adopted the new style. But it wasn’t until Katharine Hepburn (another actress) began wearing stylish pants in public nearly a century later that a wide-spread revolution in women’s clothing finally “took.”
1855 – The first modern game of hockey is played in Kingston, Ontario, using rules similar to today’s. Women’s hockey will become a new sports opportunity in the 1980’s and ’90’s, with the US Women’s team winning the gold medal in 1998, the first year women’s ice hockey is a medal sport.
1856 – Catherine Beecher (1800-78) publishes Physiology and Calisthenics for Schools and Families, the first fitness manual for women.
1858 – Julia Archibald Holmes (1838-87) climbs Pikes Peak in Colorado (14,110 feet) wearing bloomers on Aug. 5.
1863 – New Yorker James Plimpton uses a rubber cushion to enable the wheels of roller skates to turn slightly when the skater shifted his or her weight. This design is considered the basis for the modern roller skate, allowing for safer, controlled skating.
1864 – The Park Place Croquet Club of Brooklyn organizes with 25 members. Croquet is probably the first game played by both men and women in America.
1865 – Matthew Vassar opens Vassar College with a special School of Physical Training with classes in riding, gardening, swimming, boating, skating and “other physical accomplishments suitable for ladies to acquire … bodily strength and grace.”
1866 – Vassar College fields the first two women’s amateur baseball teams.
1867 – The Dolly Vardens, a black women’s team from Philadelphia, is a women’s professional baseball team.
1867 – Frances S. Case and Mary Robinson climb Mt. Hood in Oregon (11,235 feet).
1867 – St. Andrew’s in Scotland is the first ladies golf club.
1869 – Frenchwomen enter cycling races at Bordeaux, France.
1869 – The first women’s croquet championship is held in England and won by a Mrs. Joad.
1870 – In a sculling contest held on the Monongahela River, Lottie McAlice and Maggie Lew, both 16, row 1 mile. McAlice wins the race in 18:54, winning a gold watch and a $2,000 purse.
1871 – Addie Alexander climbs the 14,256 foot Longs Peak in Colorado.
1871 – Miss Carrie A. Moore demonstrates a variety of roller skating movements at the Occidental Rink in San Francisco. Later in the same day, she exhibits her skill on a velocipede.
1871 – the Empire City Rowing Club’s 10th annual regatta features a rowing match among young women on the Harlem River in New York on Sept. 25. Five women row 17-foot workboats around a 2 mile course. Rowing the Glen, Amelia Shean wins the singles race in 18:32. Elizabeth Custarce and Annie Harris win the pairs race.
1872 – Mills College in Oakland, CA establishes women’s baseball teams.
1873 – 10 young women compete in a mile-long swimming contest in the Harlem River. Miss Deliliah Goboess wins the prize, a silk dress worth $175.
1874 – Mary Ewing Outerbridge of Staten Island introduces tennis to the United States. She purchases tennis equipment in Bermuda (and had trouble getting it through Customs!) and uses it to set up the first US tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club that spring.
1875 – Lizzie Ihling, the niece of famed American balloonist John Wise, makes a solo flight on July 5. The skin of the bag began to rip, sending the balloon falling to earth. Lizzie was not injuried.
1875 – The “Blondes” and “Brunettes” play their first match In Springfield, IL on Sept. 11. Newspapers heralded the event as the “first game of baseball ever played in public for gate money between feminine ball-tossers.”
1875 – Wellesley College opens with a gymnasium for exercising and a lake for ice skating and the first rowing program for women.
1875 – English teenager Agnes Beckwith, accomplishes a long distance swim in the Thames River from London Bridge to Greenwich, a distance of about 6 miles.
1875 – The first roller-skating rink opens in London.
1876 – Mary Marshall, 26, shocks spectators when she beats Peter VanNess in the best of three walking matches (called Pedestrians) in New York City.
1876 – Maria Speltarini crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope in July, wearing 38-pound weights on each ankle.
1876 – Ten percent of the members of the newly created Appalachin Mountain Club are women.
1876 – Nell Saunders defeated Rose Harland in the first United States women’s boxing match, receiving a silver butter dish as a prize.
1877 – Eliza Bennett swims across the Hudson River in August.
1877 – The first women’s field hockey club is started in Surrey, England.
1878 – Woman pedestrian Ada Anderson walks 3,000 quarter-miles in 3,000 quarter hours over the course of a month in New York’ Mozart Hall, kicking off a series of “lady walker” matches.
1879 – The first National Archery Championship is held, with 20 women participating.
1879 – Speed-walker Ada Anderson walks 2,700 quarter-miles in 2,700 quarter hours, as indoor Pedestrianism continues to attract attention.
1880 – Balloonist Mary Meyers makes her first ascent on July 4 at Little Falls, NY before a crowd of 15,000.
1880 – Distance swimmer Agnes Beckwith treads water for 30 hours in the whale tank of the Royal Aquarium of Westminster to equal a pervious mark set by Matthew Webb.
1881 – Bell Cook of California and Emma Jewett of Minnesota toured the country, competing in a series of 20-mile horse races. On Sept. 29, in Rochester, NY’s Driving Park, the two compete, with Jewwtt winning for the first time when Cook was thrown from her horse with only half a mile to go. Jewett covered the 20 miles in 45:05 using a nunber of changes of mount.
1881 – Indoor tennis is played inside the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City on Nov. 26, with 12 courts put in use for women enthusiasts and their male partners.
1881 – Edith Johnson of England sets the world’s endurance indoor swimming record at 31 hours. The record holds until 1928.
1882 – The National Croquet Association is formed to revise and standarize the rules.
1882 – At the YWCA in Boston, the first athletic games for women are held.
1883 – Mrs. M. C. Howell wins her first archery title. She will win the national championship for women 17 times between 1883 and 1907.
1883 – The first baseball “Ladies Day” is held on June 16 by the NY Giants, where both escorted and unescroted women are allowed into the park for free.
1884 – Women’s singles tennis competition is added to Wimbledon. Maud Watson wins in both 1884 and ’85.
1885 – The Association of Collegiate Alumnae publishes a study which concludes that “…it is sufficient to say that female [college] graduates…do not seem to show, …any marked difference in general health for the average health … of women engaged in other kinds of work, or in fact, of women generally…”, refuting the widely held belief that college study impaired a woman’s physical health and ability to bear children.
1885 – Annie Oakley (Phoebe Ann Moses, 1860-1926), 25, is the sharp-shooting star of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. She could hit a moving target while riding a galloping horse; hit a dime in mid-air; and regularly shot a cigarette from her husband’s lips.
1885 – More than $20 million has been invested in roller skating rinks in almost every city and small town around the country.
1886 – Mary Hawley Myers sets a world altitude record in a hot air balloon, soaring 4 miles above Franklin, PA, without benefit of oxygen equipment. Her first balloon ascent was in Little Falls, NY in 1880. Between 1880 and 1890 she completed more balloon ascents than any other living person.
1886 – The first known women’s lacrosse game is played.
1887 – A women’s field hockey club is started in Surrey, England.
1887 – Ellen Hansell is crowned the first Women’s Singles tennis champion at the US Open.
1887 – Lottie Dod wins the women’s Wimbledon Championship five times between 1887 and 1893.

1887 – First Women’s French Tennis Championship is held.
1887 – Indoor baseball (the forerunner of softball) was invented by George Hancock at the Farragut Boat Club on Chicago’s South Side. The first game was played on Thanksgiving Day. The basic equipment included a huge 17-inch ball and a stick-like bat. No gloves were worn, and the catcher wore no mask. It quickly became the indoor winter sport of choice for boys and girls in the area.
1887 – Rose Coghlin ties two men in a mixed trap shooting match held at the Philadephia Gun Club. All three score 7.
1888 – The modern “safety” bicycle is invented with a light frame and two equal-sized wheels and a chain drive.
1888 – Women join (bi)cycling clubs in Chicago and tennis clubs in New York City.
1888 – Berta Benz becomes the first woman to drive on a 60 mile trip cross-country in Germany in a “motor-wagon” (a 3-horse-power car with solid rubber tires) with only her two teenage sons along in August.
1888 – The Amateur Athletic Union is formed to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sport. During its early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the US in the international sports federations.
1888 – AAU holds its first fencing championships. Professor J. Hartl of Vienna tours America with a women’s fencing demonstration; women begin to fence at private clubs.
1888 – Lord Stanley, the Governor General of Canada, has an outdoor skating rink created in his back yard for his wife and 10 children (including 2 daughters) to skate and play hockey on. Lord Stanley will donate a silver bowl worth about $50 which will become the coveted Stanley Cup, to be won each year by the top amateur hockey team in Canada.
1889 – The first women’s six-day bicycle race ends at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
1889 – Isobel Stanley is one of the first women hockey players in Canada. Her Governmnt House team played the Rideau ladies in what may be the first women’s hockey game in Ottawa. There is a photograph in the National Archives of Canada commemorating the “action.”
1890’s – More than a million American women will own and ride bicycles during the next decade. It is the first time in American history that an athletic activity for women will become widely popular.
1890 – Miss Carrie Low and John Reid defeat Mrs. Reid and John Upham in golf’s first mixed foursome.
1890’s – The Bloomer Girls baseball era lasted from the 1890s until 1934. Hundreds of teams — All Star Ranger Girls, Philadelphia Bobbies, New York Bloomer Girls, Baltimore Black Sox Colored Girls — offered employment, travel, and adventure for young women who could hit, field, slide, or catch.
1890 – A women’s baseball club plays a game against the Danville, IL Browns before 2,000 fans on Sunday, June 8. As the women leave town in carriages for Covington, IN, they are arrested and fined a total of $100 for disturbing the peace by playing baseball on Sunday in viloation of the local “Blue Laws.” The men’s team members are also arrested.
1890 – Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochran Seaman) becomes the first woman to travel around the world alone – she does it in just 72 days while a reporter for the New York World newspaper, returning on Jan. 25.
1890 – Fanny Bullock Workman (1859-1925), with her husband William, begins 10 years of bicycle tours. Cycling across the back roads of Europe and charting new pathways for fellow cyclists, the Workmans published their first travel book in 1895, after a tour of Algeria. They toured the Far East, cycling across Asian countries and the Indian Subcontinent in 1897 and 1898, publishing more travel accounts. For the rest of their careers they were mountaineers, completing eight Himalayan expeditions between 1898 and 1912.
1890 – Fay Fuller climbs the 14,410 foot Mt. Rainier in Washington.
1891 – Zoe Gayton arrives in Castleton, New York on March 20 after walking cross-country in 213 day, leaving the West Coast in Aug. 1890, averaging 18 miles per day. She won a $2,000 wager.
1891 – At least 60 women enter a rifle-shooting contest in Regina, Saskatchewan.
1891 – Mary French Sheldon (1847-1936) mounts her first expedition to East Africa. Her her travel accounts broke new, scientific and anthropological territory by focusing on the women and children in the territories she visited. She was one of only twenty-two women who were invited to join the Royal Geographic Society in 1892, an invitation withdrawn after contentious debate about women’s presence in the Society. She eventually made four trips around the world.
1891 – On Feb. 11, two unnamed women’s ice hockey teams play a match in Ottawa, Ontario.
1891 – The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island opens its doors to women. Golf proved so popular that the club opened a 9-hole course for women two years later.
1891 – Beatrice Von Dressden, 14 of Buffalo, NY, makes her first parachute jump from a hot air balloon.
1892 – The journal Physical Education (a publication of the YMCA) devote an issue to women, saying that women need physical strength and endurance and dismis the popular idea that women are too weak to exercise.
1892 – Gymnastics instructor Senda Berenson Abbott adapts James Naismith’s basketball rules for women and introduces the game to her students at Smith College, where she became the first director of physical education in Jan. Her rules confine each player to one-third of the court.
1892 – The Sierra Club of California welcomes women members as it organizes.
1892 – Louise Pound, (born Lincoln, NE June 30, 1872), enrolles at the University of Nebraska and earned a BA degree in 1892 and her MA in 1895. While in college she helped organize a girls’ military company and she set a record at rifle target practice. She was the first woman named to the Lincoln Journal Sports Hall of Fame in 1954. She participated in tennis, golf, cycling, and ice skating, and also coached girls’ basketball. She made pioneering contributions to American philology and folklore.
1892 – Hessie Donahue, who donned a loose blouse, bloomers and boxing gloves and sparred a few rounds as part of a vaudeville act, knocks out legendary heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan for over a minute after he accidentally landed a real blow on her during the act.
1893 to 1900 – The “Golden Age of the Bicycle”, with the development of the modern-style “safety bicycle” with two equal- sized wheels, coaster brakes, and pneumatic tires creating a comfortable, faster and safer ride. A side effect is more common-sense dressing for women.
1893 – 16-year old Tessie Reynonds of Brighton rides her bycycle to London and back, a distance of 120 miles, in 8.5 hours. She wore the shocking “rationale” dress – a long jacket over knickers, which outraged some observers as much as her feat.
1893 – Formation of the Ladies Golf Union which sponsors the first British Ladies’ championship, won by Lady Margaret Scott.
1893 – A women’s ice hockey team is formed in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
1893 – Katharine Lee Bates climbs to the top of Pike’s Peak and is inspired to compose a poem, “America, the Beautiul.”
1894 – The first ladies golf tournament is held on the 7-hole Morristown, NJ course on Oct 17-1894. Miss Hollard A. Ford won with a 97 scored on the double-7, 14 strokes under her nearest rival.
1894 – College girls at McGill University in Montreal begin weekly ice hockey games at an indoor rink – with 3 male students on “guard” at the door.
1894 – Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, 23, sets out to become the first woman to bicycle around the world, a journey that lasted 15 months and earned her $5,000 along the way.
1894 – The first Australian women’s national golf championship is held.
1894 – The Irish Ladies Hockey Union, the first national women’s field hockey association, is formed in Dublin.
1895 – Annie Smith Peck is the first woman to reach the peak of the Matterhorn. She climbed in a pair of knickerbockers, causing a sensation with the press. She helps to found the American Alpine Club in 1902.
1895 – The first Women’s Amateur Golf championship is contested among 13 golfers at the Meadow Brook Club, Hempstead, N.Y., on Nov. 9. The match is won by Mrs. Charles S. Brown with a 132 and the runner-up is Nellie Sargent.
1895 – The first organised athletics meeting is generally recognized as the “Field Day” at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, on Nov. 9. A group of “nimble, supple and vivacious girls” engaged in running and jumping events despite bad weather.
1895 – Frances Willard, president of the WTCU, publishes A Wheel Within a Wheel, a best-selling account of learning to ride a bicycle.
1895 – The first women’s softball team is formed at Chicago’s West Division High School. They did not have a coach for competitive play until 1899.
1895 – Volleyball is invented in Holyoke, MA. By the 1990’s, volleyball is the second-largest participation sport in the United States with more than 42 million participants. There is indoor and outdoor competition for boys and girls, men and women and co-ed teams.
1895 – The American Bowling Congress is organized, establishing equipment standards and rules on Sept. 9. By the 1990’s, bowling is the second-largest participation sport in the world, with more than 100 million athletes, 46% of whom are women who compete equally with men.
1895 – Mrs. Frank Sittig exhibits her new duplex riding skirt – which The New York Times judges to be “An ideal suit for cycling, to which even the most prudish could not object.”
1896 – Women are buying 25-30% of all new bicycles.
1896 – Susan B. Anthony says that “the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.”
1896 – The first 6-day bicycle race for women starts on Jan 6 at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
1896 – The first women’s intercollegiate basketball championship is played between Stanford and the University of California at Berkely. Stanford wins 2-1 on April 4 before a crowd of 700 women!
1896 – At the first modern Olympics in Athens, a woman, Melpomene, barred from the official race, runs the same course as the men, finishing in 4 hours 30 minutes. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, says, “It is indecent that the spectators should be exposed to the risk of seeing the body of a women being smashed before their very eyes. Besides, no matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organizm is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.”
1897 – Lena Jordan becomes the first person to successfully execute the triple somersault on the flying trapeze. The first man to acomplish this didn’t do so until 1909.
1897 – The first Women’s French Tennis Championship is held.
1898 – Three women create a stir when they compete in a “century run” endurance contest in bicyling. Irene Bush of Brooklyn rides 400 miles in 48 hours; Jane Yatman of Brooklyn rides 500 miles in 58 hours; and Jane Lindsay rides 600 miles in 72 hours.
1898 – Lizzie Arlington becomes the first woman to sign a professional baseball contract, appearing in her first professional game pitching for the Philadelphia Reserves.
1899 – Setting a new women’s cycling endurance record, 125 pound Jane Yatman rides 700 miles in 81 hours, 5 mintes on Long Island. During the 3 and one half day trial, she rests less than 2 hours. Her record is beaten on Oct. 19 by Jane Lindsay who rides 900 mikes in 91 hours, 48 minutes.
1899 – Two teams of women ice hockey players play a game on the artifical ice at the Ice Palace in Philadelphia.
1899 – Ping-pong, or table tennis, as it soon becomes known, is invented.




New Blooms for Spring – Part Two



(Here is ‘Let’s Dance ‘–‘Starlight’ –)

Picking up where we left off last week….wishing it would warm up!!!!

Backtracking, I had a great conversation with Charlie Blair, who, together with his wife Terry, owns Ashwood Garden & Nursery,  He very graciously, outlined some of the new plants that they will be showing for spring and summer 2014.  We left off here…at HYDRANGEAS!!!

Hydrangeas are a perennial favorite.  Whether they be mopheads, lacecaps, paniculata,  blue, pink, white, green, large or small, their frothy blossoms never fail to make me smile and feel a deep sense of satisfaction.  As they flower forth and gently sway in the breeze I always feel like things are right with the world. Last year my husband, unknowingly, pruned the Nikko Blue shrubs way back.  So, we had a year without hydrangeas — but, then I found out about “Re-Bloomers.”  How fantastic!  These beauties can be pruned fall or spring and they will still flower.   Charlie talked about two varieties, one, the Macrophylla, “Endless Summer,” and also “Let’s Dance – Starlight” a stunning lacecap rebloomer with gorgeous foliage.  Here is information:

Let’s Dance – Starlight-

Height 2 – 3’

Spacing 3 – 4’

Exposure Sun or partial sun

Hardy Temp -20 F (-28 C)

Uses Great landscape plant adds a dash of bright color to gardens.  Good in groupings or masses, in a perennial or shrub borders, as a specimen, screnn or hedge.  Use in mixed containers, containers or as a cut flower.

Features Large, vivid lace-cap flowers every summer. Reblooming.  Good for      cutting.  Soil PH affects flower color.

Soil Prefers moist, well drained soils

Pruning Prune to shape after flowering

Type  Deciduous

Bloomtime Summer

Flower Color Various

Foliage Color Dark Green

Zone 5 – 9


Endless Summer

Endless Summer® The Original is a mop-head type hydrangea with the unique ability to bloom consistently on both old and new wood. The result is a plant that provides beautiful flowers all summer long. The flowers grow up to 8″ in diameter, with pink blooms in alkaline soils and blue blooms in acidic soil. Since Endless Summer The Original blooms on new wood, removal of spent flowers will encourage rebloom.

Sun Exposure Partial Shade
Bloom Time Flowers all season long, repeat blooms
Plant Color Pink or Blue depending on alkaline/acidic soils
Height / Spread 3-5′ / 3-5′
Shape Rounded
Foliage Green
Fall Foliage Bronze
Zone 4-9

The Original Story

Woody plant expert Dr. Michael A. Dirr of the University of Georgia had long been in search of a perpetual-flowering Hydrangea macrophylla. In 1998, on a visit to Bailey Nurseries in Minnesota, Dr. Dirr saw a hydgrangea in one of the Bailey trial blocks that caught his eye. The plant had been discovered by a Bailey employee and had gone largely unattended for some time. Dr. Dirr took cuttings back to the University of Georgia, where extensive testing proved that this plant was, indeed, perpetual-flowering. We thank Dr. Dirr for his research efforts. Without his expert eye for Hydrangeas, we wouldn’t be enjoying the beauty of Endless Summer today!



Charlie also mentioned “Bobo” a dwarf hydrangea paniculata, which is extremely hardy (to – 40!).  It’s very cute, too!  At only 2.5 feet, it makes an adorable mid-bed plant.

Here is a picture and some stats.

Height 2.5 – 3’

Spacing 4 – 5’

Exposure Sun or partial sun

Hardy Temp -40 F (-40 C)

Uses Excellent as part of mixed borders, or as a foundation plant.  It can also be a showy specimen plant, or grown in a container.

Features  Abundant white summer flowers. Blooms every year.  Hardy. Soil pH does not affect bloom color.

Soil Adaptable to most well-drained soils.

Pruning  Prune back in late winter/early spring.

Type Deciduous

Bloomtime Summer

Flower Color White

Foliage Color Green

Zone 3 – 9


Goji Berries

Here’s another interesting plant — it’s edible, healthy and beautiful!  Check out Goji Berries this year!!!  Also known as wolf berries,boxthorn, lycium or matrimony fruit, this member of the Nightshade family (solonacea) is related to tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes and others.  Anti-oxidant rich, this super-fruit is also beautiful to the eye.  Goji berries are a lovely addition to summer container or vegetable gardens.  Here’s a bit of information for you:

Height 10 – 12’

Spacing 5 – 7’

Exposure Plant in sun or partial shade

Hardy Temp  -20 F (- 28C)

Uses Specimen, home orchards

Features Red fruit

Soil Well-drained soils

Pruning Prune in late winter/early spring

Bloomtime Summer

Flower Color Purple

Foliage Color Green

Zone 5 – 8

I am DREAMING of warmer weather and beautiful gardens in bloom!!!

WHY A WILL? Sarah Ludlow McCurry

Sarah Ludlow McCurry gives excellent legal advice!

Sarah Ludlow McCurry gives excellent legal advice!


About the Author: Sarah is a wife, mom, lawyer and partner with the law firm of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC (  Sarah focuses her practice on civil matters, including small business representation and wills & estates

A few months ago I wrote about the Power of Attorney and why I feel they are so important.  Today I will tackle why a will is the number one legal document I recommend everyone should have.  For those that are asking what a will is – a will is a written document that outlines a number of important wishes, including how you would like your estate to be distributed, upon your death.

Most gut reactions to my stance is that “there is a law that will handle it for me”, or that “I’ll be dead, what do I care”.  So why?  Why do I so highly recommend having a will?  There are countless reasons – I could talk for hours – but here are my top five.

First, as a mother of two, my number one priority is my children.  If you have minor children, a will allows you to name who will raise your children in the event something happens to you and your child’s other parent.  If you do not, your estate will have to pay while a guardian ad litem and the courts decide.

Second, a will lets you delay when a minor child will inherit your assets.  If something happens to you and your child’s parent, a will and associated documents can let you delay when your children will have control of your estate – so if you don’t want your 18 year old to have control of your entire estate – and perhaps want to wait until they are 21, 25, out of college – a will and associated documents can achieve this for you.

Third, a will allows you choose who your assets go to.  If you do not put down what your wishes are, intestate law kicks in – and the Code of Virginia will dictate how your assets will be distributed.  This is especially important in the case where your spouse has had children with someone else.  Virginia Code Section 64.2-200 holds that if you die without a will, and your spouse has surviving children, and one or more of those children were not your children as well– then you the surviving spouse will receive 1/3rd of the total estate and the children will share 2/3 of the estate.  I have made the following handy dandy flow chart to help make sense of this:

 Surviving A Spouse

Fourth, cost.  Wills are important documents.  They cost money.  However, they will never cost more than what they can save you.  As mentioned before – if you do not name someone to take legal guardianship of your children, you will have to pay the state to do so.  If you do not name who will be in control of your minor child’s finances – you will pay the state to do that.  In addition, if you do not have a will, the state will require that your family post a bond in order to administer your estate. Again, a will saves money because a will lets you waive the requirement that your executor post a bond to probate your estate.

Fifth, peace of mind.  I can say from personal experience that I had an immense sense of relief once my documents were put in place.  I know that my kids are going to be taken care of by people that love them and have the same morals and parenting style that I do.  I know that my kids will not get the money at 18 and blow most of it (like I would have).  And I know that I have put something in place that will make it easier for my loved ones to handle my estate if something were to happen to me, or both my husband and I.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general reference only and is not intended as legal advice for any specific situation. You should consult a qualified, licensed attorney for actual guidance relating to each individual situation in which you are involved.


The Journey Inward-Going into the Tudor


The Journey Inward-Going into the Tudor

by Robbie Rhur

Yes, that is a dramatic title for a blog segment about buying a restoration house but I have always felt that a house is a reflection of the owner (in dream work houses reflect your psyche) okay, let’s not get sidetracked.  When I ended the last installment I was gearing up to go inside the Tudor HUD house.

I made an appointment with Deb, my realtor, to see the Tudor and I took JW to get an expert’s impression of the house, knowing it would need a lot of work.   The house was advertised as a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house, so I was expecting a roomier house than what it looked like from the outside.  I had researched the house on the City’s webpage and knew that the house was set up in a T configuration; the front of the house (top of the T is what you saw from the street) was the foyer, living room, side porch and the front bedroom.  The rest of the house went straight back and was comprised of the dining room kitchen, hall, bath and back bedrooms.

I had looked at the on-line photos and it didn’t look that bad.  The living room was painted bordello, high gloss, red and the dining room was painted bright yellow/gold…..hummm.  The kitchen looked cute, dated but cute.    But what I really loved – it had an awesome red metal spiral staircase.  I had always loved spiral staircases.  In junior high, one of my friends had a spiral staircase that led to their basement and I loved it – of course they had egress from a sliding door to the backyard patio, this made it possible to put furniture in the room.  Not something I ever considered due to my enthusiasm of spiral staircases.


                                                                                                                                  Tudor: Day 1 Cute!

Pictures just cannot prepare you for the reality of what a house is really like. It was a bright sunny day when we opened that large iron clad front door but the inside was dark, smelled stale and musty. The colors in the two front rooms (living and dining room) dulled the feeling of the house immediately. But there was lovely stained glass in the door and windows that led to the screened porch. We walked to the kitchen to sign the HUD sheet and Deb noted that about 100 people had walked through the house since it had gone on the market and no one had bid on it. From the look and smell of the kitchen I understood why!

Robbie -2-2

                                                                                               Living room with bordello red walls and fake ceiling beams

The kitchen was postage stamp small, with a badly peeling ceiling; a tiny fridge was crammed into the alcove next to the back door that led to the step down utility room. I felt that the alcove had been intended to function as a pantry since it had a sweet little wood casement window that the fridge was currently blocking but where would the fridge had sat otherwise? There was not even a place for a trash can, let alone a dog’s water bowl.

Robbie - 2 - Tiny fridge in alcove blocking window


                                                                                                                     Tiny fridge in the alcove blocking window

There was a pantry closet just outside the kitchen but most of it was taken up by the AC unit – so the house had AC, a plus, kinda. In fact, a walk through revealed that the house was frighteningly confused when it came to heating and cooling systems. Let’s recap: radiant heat downstairs with a dedicated AC unit in the kitchen pantry, upstairs had baseboard electric heat and one side of the house had duct work for an AC unit that sat on second story deck built off the back of the house. REALLY, you couldn’t have just run the connectors to the side-yard like the rest of the industry? Plus, the upstairs had 3 window units installed right into the sides of the house, not the windows – no, they cut into the house in three places to put in POS window units!

The downstairs bathroom was large for a house of the era, bathrooms in these houses are typically narrow and rather small but this bathroom is both wide and long with a 5.5 foot tub. But the bathroom was filthy and would be a total gut because the tile was in terrible shape. Mind you, the water had been turned off so I was not able to determine the condition of the drains and toilet. Let me warn you now, it’s important to know the condition of your plumbing going into a rehab but it’s best to assume the worst right up front – as I found out

The front bedroom was okay, a water damaged ceiling had never been repaired but all in all, besides the filth, it would not take a lot to restore that room. Nor was the back “bedroom”, terrible, same issues as the front. I put the back bedroom in quotes because it was so small, not being able to support anything larger that a single bed, maybe bunk-beds?

The upstairs was interesting and functional, if your under 4 feet tall. The upstairs was never intended to be an upstairs. Clearly it was intended to have been an attic for storage, oh! And maybe a good place for a whole house HVAC system? Once you ascended the spiral staircase into the huge skylight in the roof (bonus) you entered a long narrow room that ran the length of the back (back of the T). The peak was 6 feet 9inches and the ceiling went straight to the floor on both sides, so you were in a large triangular shaped tube. On the back end was that deck that held the upstairs AC unit, which you could access through a boarded up door (broken glass). The metal spiral staircase had metal railings wrapping the landing leaving part of the upstairs open to the down giving it a loft feel.


Robbie2 - 4

                                                                                      This photo makes the room look so much bigger than it really was

Heading to the front of the house was the two upstairs bedrooms and the bath. The up-bath was the tiniest bathroom EVER (I know I said that about the kitchen too), also a triangular room but with an even lower peak. The bathroom sat over the foyer and sported a tub with a hand held shower attachment, but it was the décor that really got me – think Chucky Cheese. The tile floor had small white and red squares. The front room to the right of the bath was small but really open, airy, and comfortable and was in good shape. The room to the left of the bath? not so much. I dubbed it, the creepy room, it was disgustingly dirty and had creepy little hand prints on the wall as if someone had locked their love child away from neighborhood prying eyes! Of all the rooms in the house this one gave me the full jibe jibes- blame my active imagination.


Robbie-2-Chucky Cheese Bathroom

                                                                                                                            Chucky Cheese Bathrooms

robbie 2 -5

                                                                                                                                   Creepy Room

And that spiral staircase I was so thrilled about – sigh. It sat in the middle of the hall and at the entrance of what had been the second bedroom when the house had been built (the small “bedroom” had been designed to be a nursery most likely). To get to the staircase you had to use the hall, or you had to gyrate around the metal and likely hit your head to access the staircase from the room just outside the kitchen where the pantry was located. Previous owners had cut an arch into the bedroom wall effectively removing the bedroom function of that space and creating a … I don’t know what. But from that room you could access the upstairs (if pressed), the kitchen, and the back “bedroom”.

Robbie - 2- 6

I was terribly disappointed that my soul did NOT sigh, after going through the Tudor. But what the Tudor did have: 1. An amazing random slate roof – on the front – the back had been re-roofed with fairly decent architectural green shingles to stop all that leaking I had seen in the ceilings. 2. The house still had the original lead diamond light windows – okay, they had to be restored but still, they were present. 3. The house had huge double hung windows in the dining room, staircase room, and back “bedroom”, all of which had been replaced with good quality double paned vinyl windows. 4. Nice stained glass in the living room, some damage but not much. 5. The wood floors were in reasonably good shape. 5. The utility room was large enough to allow the kitchen back wall to be pushed out, thus creating enough room for a full sized fridge, trash can and dog water bowl! The house had good flow and despite the creepy room, massive filth, and smelling bad, it still maintained the feeling of a home. Lastly, JW reminded me that from what he could see, the houses issues were really cosmetic; it did not seem to have major issues.

So JW and I talked about the project, he did some quick and dirty recon on the Lowes homepage to determine general costs and I decided to take the leap. The truth was that I really did like this house and I felt that it needed someone with real dedication to restore it. Let insanity ensue!

About the author….

Besides being a biologist working for the State of Virginia, Robbie has an eye for beauty and comfort.  She spent her earliest years in Germany where her attention was always pulled towards romantic towns and stunning castles – she wanted to live in a castle until she owned her first home and realized how much work keeping up a single family home can be, let alone a castle, she now keeps her home ambitions of a more realistic scale.

After moving to Richmond VA and buying her first older house, she met JW and the two of them finished the attic space and remodeled the kitchen and bath in her house in a span of 10 years.  The results were stunning and they realized that, while they were not a good love match, they were a hell-of-a home restoration team.  So the stage was set for the restoration of the adorable but once sad little Tudor Revival cottage she bought 2 years ago in Richmond’s Northside.