We are just back from vacation. We traveled to Mr. Blandings's family's home in Colorado. The house, as near as we can tell, welcomed it first visitors ninety-eight years ago next month.
The boys love it there. We hike almost everyday and our middle son appears to be part mountain goat. The oldest, tentative as oldests tend to be, is more likely to stop and evaluate the best way to get around a prickly bush while his brother never pauses and comes back happily covered with bruises and scratches, badges of honor of a day well spent.
The house is beloved by Blandings. Well, the house is beloved by Blandings with a genetic link. I think I do a fine job of stiff upper lip but Mr. Blandings rarely lets a day go by without mentioning to some stranger that I would rather be somewhere else.
This is not exactly true. I love being there with my family, immediate and extended, and there are many things about the house that I think are pretty terrific.
The house holds remnants of a former matriarch whom I never met. I think we might have had a thing or two in common.
It was here that I first saw this pottery with this combination of brown and turquoise glaze. There are a few pieces in the house, none marked, but I stumbled into an antique store close by which had a pitcher marked "Redwing" and a collection was born.
We are just up the hill from a wonderful Rock Shop. It sits just at the base of the Pike's Peak Highway and contains treasures galore. Mr. Blandings said they never went there, though it has been open since the 30's; his grandmother called it the "gyp shop." But his oldest sister says she and her cousin went there, though it might be "better" now. She may be being kind as I adore the Rock Shop and extol its wonders to all who will listen.
The boys are completely on-board and agonize over the selection of geodes and crystals. As the world is typically unjust my Rock Shop budget is bigger than theirs. And I tend to go back. This time I picked up a malachite box and a silver spider.
The spider is a pin, but she is going to live on a table in the office. The woman who wrapped her up for me told me that spiders are strong symbols in Native American cultures and one myth credits the spider with creating the alphabet. That seemed fitting.
So, we hiked, we shopped, we ate and the boys planned a project. This was the first time in several years that Mr. Blandings and his sisters were in the house at the same time. After participating in a similar project earlier this summer the boys thought it would be fun for all of us to make tie-dyed shirts.
Just to give you a sense of the audience, other than the boys, I am the most likely to wear a tie-dyed shirt. I like them. I will wear mine. The boys will wear theirs. The others were incredibly good sports. We all thought our shirts were headed for disaster about half way through the dying. Mr. Blandings was convinced his would be solid brown.
But after the rubber bands came off and they were rinsed each shirt was as personal and distinct as its creator.
And, on this vacation, I decided to give Ernest Hemingway another try.
Hemingway and I go way back and For Whom the Bell Tolls has waited on the shelf since I was in high school. I am pretty sure I never made further than the first thirty pages or so. I like Fitzgerald and had sort of figured it was a Ginger or Mary Ann situation and it just wasn't meant to be with me and Papa.
This year I was determined. I guess it thought it was going to be about the glory of war with this little romance on the side and I'd prejudiced myself against the story before I started. I've been stunned by my ignorance so many times by this point that it no longer surprises me and sometimes pleases me.
I have a history of taking on wildly inappropriate vacation novels; I read The Prince of Tides on my honeymoon. This book. This book is still tumbling around in my head and firmly embedded in my literary DNA. It might have helped that I could smell the pine needles as Robert Jordan was crunching them with his rope soled sandals.
So it was relaxing. It was as relaxing as a vacation with three small boys could be. My sister-in-law said at one point, "You are going to need a vacation after your vacation."
And I do. But I am not taking a vacation from the boys, I am taking a blogging vacation. This week will mark two years of writing Mrs. Blandings. I asked Mr. B right before we left, "Why am I doing this?" He replied, "Because you love it." Oh, right.
But in order to keep loving it I am going to take a little time off. A week. Maybe two. Mr. Blandings does not think I will make it two weeks and he is likely right. But I'm not fighting fascists here. It's just a little design blog. I'll be right back. You'll barely know I'm gone.