Wednesday, June 26, 2013

People Watching

So let me just put this out there, Val and I are people watcher. Yep, that is right we just can't help but notice people. Cute people; beautiful people; funny people; odd people and even those that we really wish we hadn't noticed.

Tones on Tuesday and Black N White Wednesday Submission
Today I am linking the above photo with:
Scattered Horizons


Often we will both spot the same person at the same time and just look at each other and smile. We  are not generally rude people but sometimes we just can't keep the mirth inside and on those occasions my 9 year old granddaughter keeps us in line with a sternly spoken "REALLY MOM!, REALLY GRANDMA!"

These next two are not very good but then that is what happens when I try to take photos with my cell phone.

It is not that we think we look better than the people we spot, believe me I am sure that other people watchers find our appearance amusing at times.
 How do you like Val's new socks? As Val says now all she needs is the cape and she is ready for the store!
Are you a fellow people watcher? Where is your favorite place to watch people? My favorite is a busy down town shopping district.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fast Cars N Good Times

I would like to dedicate this post to my father who left this world all to soon in 1985. When I was very little he introduced my brothers and I to racing, muscle cars and the excitement and fun to be had at the Riverside International Raceway. I think it only fitting that my first Sunday In My City post for our new home town of Rapid City, South Dakota show off the local race track; Black Hills Speedway.

A few Friday's ago Mr. G, Bubba and I headed out to the speedway to meetup with a couple of friends and have a good old time.
Not only was this Bubba's first time going to a race track but it was a special night as the program for the night included a Monster Truck show and two amazing stunt shows.
We got there early enough to go down and get a close up look at the monster trucks and meet the drivers.
There were three mini-monster trucks as well and we met these two drivers. Both have been driving in shows for a year. The young lady is 14 and the boy is 8. I do have to say though that while the female driver was very likable the young man had a rather nasty attitude and was very rude.
Our friends had warned me that it was muddy but of course I wasn't about to miss the photo op. Much to my dismay my flip-flop got stuck in the mud at one point and through me off balance resulting in a rather muddy foot. (Note to self: next time wear actual shoes!)
 The night was full of a variety of races.
The stock cars were Mr. G's favorite and of those number 22 was the one he wanted to win the race.

One of our friends picked number 35 to win and the cheering was on, in the end number 35 won both heats.
The main attraction of the night was the monster trucks, with three full size monster trucks and three mini-monster trucks. Although I have to say the full size ones did not impress the crowd, the mini-monster trucks did put on a very good show.
Of the three full size monster trucks the green truck was the only one that did not seem to hold back and really gave it his all. By the end of the show he had lost the back panels off his truck and died before it could get back to the spot where it was to park.

Of the three mini-monster trucks the young lady was by far the better driver and the one who really went all out making high speed approaches, high jumps and filling the field with her dust as she spun donuts. At the end she even went in reverse and jumped the cars getting her truck off the ground and soaring through the air backwards. I should mention that her father was the driver of one of the full size trucks, so I am sure he has been giving her lessons.

It was a good thing we decided to sit high up on the far side of the bleachers where there were not many people behind us, because Mr. G and Bubba got so excited they were often standing and cheering on the drivers.
When they started setting up for the first stunt, called Wall of Fire and Steel, Mr. G acted like the track crew had gone out to the parking lot and got his car. The car chosen for the stunt was the exact make, model and color as the car we had driven to the track. Of course little Bubba knew it wasn't Daddy's car out there and just laughed harder at his dad's antics.
Can you see the car held up by the stilts? Take a good look because it sure didn't look like that when the stunt was over. Here is a short video of the action:

To wrap up a very exciting evening a Firetruck that was outfitted with a rocket engine completely melted a car.

I do believe that little Bubba will forever remember his first trip to the racetrack, I know I do and mine was just a typical race with a few crashes....
I hope you have enjoyed this virtual trip to the race track and if you are ever in Rapid City I encourage you to visit the Black Hills Speedway. 

To continue your virtual travel head over to Unknown Mami's by clicking the button below.

Unknown Mami

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Fragments: Double feature

We are certainly enjoying all the extra room here in our new home. So much so that I was distracted and lost track of time, thus today is a double feature of fragments from the last week two weeks.

There is a large kennel two section kennel in our huge back yard, but we don't have an outdoor dog so it is going to be converted into a play house for the kids on one side and a painting studio on the other. Work has begun on the play house. Here Mr. G is guiding Bubba and Sissy in the building of a table for their playhouse. 

In addition to having a large backyard we now have a good size front yard and all this in a quiet and safe neighborhood. Combine the extra room and the cooler climate  and the kids are spending a great deal more time outdoors.

On a totally unrelated note: My little sister had her birthday last week. Since it was the Big 4 0, I thought a gag gift was in order so I made her this.
Personalized Over the Hill certificates available here
Unfortunately the joke was on me. It seems that somehow 2012 was last year! How I didn't realize it was 2013 and not 2012 I really can't tell you other than to claim senility. It would have been more understandable if I had just forgot what year she was born but nope that wasn't the case. As you can clearly see I even dated it 2012!

While Norfolk had it's thunderstorms they were nothing like a good old South Dakota thunderstorm. Unlike my Grandchildren I enjoy the lightening and thunder, and can often be found sitting outside with my camera trying to capture the lightening. Here is a shot from a little storm one night last week.

Mr. G, little Bubba and I went to the Monster Truck show at the Black Hills Raceway. Mrs. G, Sissy and Mel (my youngest daughter) opted to go to the movies instead of joining us at the Monster Truck show as we thought there would be peanuts which Sissy is deathly allergic too. We all had fun that night. At the racetrack, I took tons of photos which I will be posting at another time, but here are a couple.

On Sunday the whole family piled in the car and headed up the mountain for a family outing. We were on a mission, the kids and Mr. G to get fresh saltwater taffy and me to enjoy the sights and take pictures of the beautiful scenery and historic town of Keystone.

There you have it. I hope you're having as much fun this summer as I am. Now don't forget to click the button below and hop over to share your Friday fragments at Unknown Mami's as she is meme sitting FF this summer for Mrs. 4444's at Half-Past Kissing time

Unknown Mami

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thought for Thursday: Be the Infulence

My thought for Thursday comes from an inspirational quote I saw a while back and decided was perfect for this composite photo art. What better way to spend a day than sharing the beauty and fun of the ocean with a child.

Design available on posters and gifts Here
When you come right down to it this can go for women and girls as well. It is up to us as adults to be that good influence on the little ones around us, even if they are not our sons and daughters.

This week's Thursday Challenge at Spunwithtears is 'Outdoors' so I am sharing this artwork. The photo of the man and boy is a stock photo which I altered and combined with a background I created  using a photo that I took last summer. 

To share or enjoy other Outdoor images hop over to the Thursday Challenge.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Labor of Love: A look into the restoration of a Civil War era home

Have you ever looked at an old house or building and thought if only it could talk, just imagine what it would say? Well, I have. In fact once many years ago I told my husband old buildings talk if you just open your eyes and listen.  Of course they don't actually speak, rather it is usually the details caught by the eye that fuel the imagination as to the lives lived within the walls. Today though I have a treat to share with you. A rather detailed look into a fabulous civil war era home; the High Victorian Italianate architecture, The Confederate Army Colonel who built the home, mysteries and possible scandals surrounding the original family and the excitement and struggles faced by the current owners who are trying to preserve this small part of American history.

My first glimpse into the interior of this fabulous Civil War era home came last year on a crisp December afternoon when Civil War reenactor Helena and I set out in the Freemason Historic District in down town Norfolk Virginia to shoot a Civil War era Victorian portrait session. While photographing Helena in her beautiful Victorian clothing at various locations in the neighborhood we were approached by a very vibrant woman and asked if we would like to shoot in the sitting room of her home as it was "very Victorian". As it turned out her home was none other than the historic John Cary-Weston House on Freemason St., and that sitting room is absolutely heaven to a lover of the Victorian era. I have had the opportunity to return on a few occasions for portrait sessions with different models, and once again more recently to sit and visit with Lisa and learn more about the home and it's history.

At first sight I was enthralled by this house that nearly screams Victorian yet has a very definite French vibe. I was mesmerized by the exterior with it's fancy ironwork, carved friezes and fancy work all around, including the beautiful bay windows, carved brick, wrap around porch and mansard roof.

carved brick and ornate iron window trim

On that first visit, Lisa explained to us that the home had been built in 1870 by a former Confederate Army Colonel named John Cary-Weston and that she and her husband were in the process of restoring the home to it's original glory.

Showing us into 'The Parlor' I was struck not only by the beauty of the architecture with the 12 foot high ceilings, 9 foot high arched windows, and rich walnut woodwork, but by the fact that the home was in fact decorated in the High Victorian style with American Eastlake or American Gothic furnishings, statues and all sorts of artifacts from the civil war era. As I was to later learn in my interview with Lisa "in the Victorian era they loved the juxtaposition and would incorporate different elements of style together". Her love for this old home goes far beyond a love for Victorian architecture but to the very depths of Victorian culture.

Many owners of Historic homes go to great lengths to restore and maintain the external architecture of the homes they preserve, yet few go to the lengths that Dr. Guy Trengove-Jones and his wife Lisa have.  It is common for historic home owners to restore the outside and then during restoration of the inside to fully modernize it even to the point of changing floor plans. Yet not only are the Trengove-Jones restoring the outside of the home to it's original appearance they are also returning the interior to is Victorian glory. No longer is the 17 room home that boasts 10 fireplaces divided into five apartments as it was in the '50s.

Once again this house has the opulent look of money both on the outside and inside just as it must have back in the late 1800 and early 1900's. One main difference being that the furnishings and interior decorations would have cost the original owners much more than it cost to decorate a home in this style today. As Lisa explained "Nowadays antiques are really cheap, 10 years ago they had great value but not anymore. Anyone who wants to decorate with Victorian style can snap up a bargain left and right and make it look just like this."

With few exceptions everything from the wall and window treatments to the ceilings and furnishings exudes Victorian opulence. The 1 1/2 story brick kitchen house that still sits on the property is no longer the homes kitchen but it hasn't been overlooked or forgotten. The Kitchen house is now a very quaint living quarters.

Not only have they taken on the enormous task of restoring this historic old home but they have also taken on the task of discovering and preserving the memory of the original owner and his descendants. John Cary-Weston Confederate Colonel and member of the Albermarle and Chesapeake Canal Company purchased the land back in 1852 to build a summer home for his family. Construction of the home took nearly 20 years, beginning  sometime during the 1850's only to be halted by the civil war and then resumed after. The home was finally finished in 1870 just months after his first wife Jane Parks Weston died. Although she had been ill for years with an illness that kept her bedridden in a centrally located bedroom on the second floor of the house, the exact cause of death remains a mystery. Jane's death was just the beginning of the tragedies, mysteries and possible scandals surrounding The John Cary Weston family.
One of the second floor bedrooms

Area to the right looks into that centrally located bedroom.
Scandal soon followed when within a very short time of his first wife's death John remarried to a woman named Nannie  who is believed to have been a former household servant. Then in the beginning of 1871 John's son by Jane, Cary Parks Weston died at the age of 26.  In her research Lisa had gone to the nearby Princess Ann Cemetery and located the family plot. During that time the family cemetery plot was another way in which family's proclaimed their status and she found the Cary-Weston family plot very intriguing. As she explained  "… after the patriarch passed away, his spiral top enormous tombstone is in the middle with his first wife on one side and his second wife on the opposite side with their tombstones being identical even though their deaths were 26 years apart." Another oddity is the fact that the 26 year old son was not buried in the family plot but in another section of the graveyard some distance from the family plot and even stranger is the fact that buried next to him is Julia the first child born from the second wife. The intrigue captured me further when Lisa said "I studied the dates on the tombstone and it is very odd, there is an overlap." This overlap she explained put the birth of the 2nd wife's child less than nine months after the first wife's death, leading one to wonder a number of things first of which, what was the real cause of the first wife's death? Second, why bury Cary Parks Weston and Julia Weston so far from the family plot?
Could it be that Jane Parks Weston was the daughter of Marshall Parks Sr. and sister to Albermarle & Chesapeake Canal Company president Marshall Parks Jr. Was she John Cary-Weston's connection to his position with the Albermarle & Chesapeake Canal Company? Could Nannie's daughter have been buried so far from the family plot because if anyone saw the date of her birth beside the date of Jane's death a connection may have been made that there had been possible foul play which could have jeopardized not only his position with the company but the social standing of the entire family, by this time John and Nannie had another child a son they named Cary Parks Weston II? And Why was the first Cary Parks Weston not buried on the family plot? At first I thought that maybe he had fought opposite his father in the Civil War as did unfortunately happen, but that was not the case. Cary Parks Weston was a V.M.I. cadet sergeant-major and later a lieutenant in the Confederate Sates of America under Stonewall Jackson. According to Virginia Military Institute archives Cary Parks Weston died in February 1871 of scarlet fever after a four day illness.
Cary Parks Weston source V.M.I. archives
Lisa told me that just after they purchased the home, Mr. Roper who is "somewhere in his 70's with an encyclopedic memory", and whose family has lived in the grand old house across the street since the civil war told them he was pretty sure that the Cary-Weston descendants had long since passed away. So that is what was put on the plaque in the front garden outside their home, however they have found that isn't the case.

The line has lived on through the descendants of  Cary Parks Weston II [the second child of 2nd wife Nannie] [b1873 - d1942]  Cary Parks Weston II's daughter Cary married one of the most eligible bachelors of the 40's one of the sons of the Sloane family of the Hermitage museum fame,  and they had a daughter which they named Cary Patricia Sloane. Mrs. Cary Weston Sloane and her daughter left Virginia after her divorce from Mr. Sloane and after a great deal of searching the Trengove-Jones' have located and been in contact with a descendent of John Cary Weston. 
A Weston family portrait which hangs in the dining room
When asked what drew them to purchase such a historic home, not just an old Victorian home but one that was on the National Historic Registry, with a smile on her face and a glint in her eyes Lisa quickly responded "the romance". She further explained that the "lure of the romance of visiting beautifully kept large Victorian homes that you could sit in or stand and picture yourself in that era, it's a fantasy."

Although when they first saw the house it was in ruins and thousands of potential buyers had passed up the chance to purchase the home because of the restoration and upkeep would be extremely expensive, this particular home had everything they were looking for. As Lisa put it "Viewing the house on this street  with it's corner lot, with it's Frankenstein elements, it looked like Eddie Munster's house it was really creepy and cool, in it's run down situation it needed us to save it."  It's corner location with the historic cobblestone road, view of the water and obvious need for someone to care about it made this home ideal to the Romantic Victorian Fantasy. (click here to watch a short video of the area. The waterfront, cobblestone road, intersection and house are visible within the first minute of the video.)
I have often wondered what difficulties other than financial might be associated with owning a historic home and Lisa was kind enough to explain that there are different levels of recognition with historic homes stating that "When you are on the National Registry it just means that they can't bulldoze the place, although they can find ways around that.
The second level is a Chartered Historic District which this house is part of. When your home is in a chartered Historic District  they [the charter] will tell you what you can and can not do to your home from the outside, such as repairs or improvements, replacing a window, painting or fixing a door. All these things you can only do after receiving approval from the city…It can disenchant you and drive you crazy."
current renovations
Still this home, this Labor of Love as Lisa calls it, has it's rewards. Those rewards come when Lisa and Guy can share their home as it was meant to be shared when it was built. Regarding those rewards Lisa recently wrote me "It is a privilege to share this crazy old house with people who have an interest in it (like you) If I never let anyone inside, or I didn't keep it in a good order to show it occasionally to a house tour or a Girl Scout or Boy Scout Troupe, etc., I think it would be a terrible WASTE. It really feeds on itself for my motivation. If someone sees it and really "catches" the character of it/beauty of it, they have made my week! People like that (like you) are constantly inspiring me to have ideas to make it better, more "user friendly" for other people to enjoy, even people I haven't met before! … Whenever we have a gathering or a house tour, it is a VERY interesting house in that we see it was meant to be USED, and the house "likes" lots of people, over 50 and under 200 for an event. The doors all open, the verandas, and the wrap around porch, the back porch, the courtyard, all the pass-throughs, it is pure MAGIC when the house is humming. We ONLY get a sincere glimpse into the golden age when this occurs. "
The welcoming side entrance
There in lies the fantasy and romance, the immersion into a time of grace and beauty, mystery and intrigue. A glimpse into the golden age that I hope to enjoy next time I am in Norfolk, Virginia. Maybe just maybe I will be lucky enough to also take in the annual Freemason District Ghost Tour hosted by the Trengove-Jones and group of talented actors, featuring over 10 historic homes and notable caricatures such as Robert E. Lee, Edgar Allen Poe and Jack the Ripper to mention a few. 

P.S. I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into this beautiful historic home that sits quietly in my former city of Norfolk, Virginia. You can continue your virtual travel by visiting Unknown Mami's Sunday In My City. ~ Nita Davis


The house and The Weston Family:
Interview with Lisa trengove-Jones

Resource 2
Resource 3

Albermarle and Chesapeake Canal:

Resource 1
Resource 2

Cary Parks Weston:
Interview with Lisa Trengove-Jones

Resource 2
Resource 3

Cary Parks Weston II:
Interview with Lisa Trengove-jones

Resource 2