Jul 3, 2008

"How Interesting!"

Welcome! Around my house, I have quite a few objects that could be considered "conversation starters." Which is ironic because I am not one really needing anything to start a gab fest. In fact, I find that my favorite topic is asking questions about the other person's life and their goings on. Which just now reminds me of a funny little story that I have to share, and I will keep it short....

Many, many years ago, while living in Germany, my ex-husband worked with several colleagues and I encouraged him to invite them to go out with us, as I was always excited about meeting new people. And being only 22 and living in Europe, everything was exciting to me. One evening, a colleague and his wife were to meet us at our apartment and the four of us were to go out to dinner. I have never met this American couple before and after the usual polite greetings we headed out to the car. The woman (I can't even remember her name) seemed "shy" and so I just began asking the usual questions such as: How long have you lived in Germany? Where are you originally from? Have you had the chance to travel anywhere yet? And she responded crisply with one-word answers: "One. Ohio. No."

She didn't look mad, or ill, or uncomfortable. So, in my excitement, I decided that she was indeed "shy." So I set out to make her comfortable during our short drive to the restaurant. I gave her a little info about us and then back to my questions: How did you meet your husband? How long will you be living here in Germany? I am learning to make ceramics, do you create any crafts? She finally shot me a look that could kill and said very sarcastically: "Hey! I got an idea, why don't I just write a book about my life and then you can read all about it."

Okay, I may be a little dense at times, but she made it very clear to me that she was not happy about our little outing. Dinner was uncomfortable to say the least and at age 22, I didn't have the life experience to realize not to take it personally. At that age, I didn't have the compassion to think that she had an issue which had nothing to do with me. I was very offended. If there was ever time I could have used a "conversation starter" it would have been during that painful dinner. I can laugh at it now, because it really was funny when I think about it. I am sure I drove her nuts, and she most likely just had a huge argument with her husband just moments prior to arriving at our apartment. Oh, and just to finish the story...we skipped dessert and I have no idea what happened to them because we never went out again. Moral of this story: Never let anyone keep you from ordering dessert! :-)

Well, back to my real reason for this post. I wanted to give you a little sneak peek at a conversation starter that was extremely popular in the Victorian era. In the August issue of Romantic Homes, I produced an article on Victorian Parlor Domes. My friend, Richard Cottrell, owns about 50 of them! Most of my blog postings are about my women friends, women business owners, and supporting women. But let's not forget about the important men in our lives. I have met and befriended some wonderful business men over the years that were kind, considerate, and so very helpful and encouraging to me and I consider Richard one of them.

Richard owns a beautiful antique store, Antique Center of St. Louis, along with his business partner, Louise Harre.

And if you are ever in the St. Louis area, his store is a must! Beautiful chandeliers, silver, mirrors, furniture. His store is what I like to call "a real antique store" only because he leaves his stuff alone - his items are "pure" where as I paint anything that stands still long enough. Even if pure antiques aren't your thing, you must stop by and see Prissy - his old Basset Hound who can be found (and heard) snoring beneath Richard's desk.

Richard's store always has several domes and I really knew nothing about them. When he explained he has a collection, and after seeing them, I just had to photograph them! Historically, a proper Victorian parlor would always have a dome to which visitors could comment upon and be impressed. "How interesting!" a guest may politely say to the hostess and thus the conversation begins. To read more about these fabulous domes, their history, and to find out which one is Richard's favorite, you will have to go out and get the August issue of Romantic Homes!

I have not seen the August issue at this time of posting my blog, but I will share some of my favorite shots with you. I would like to add that Richard's collection of domes are housed in his historical home in a little town of Clarksville, along the Mississippi river. Yes, the town experienced the flood. Richard's historical home was on the front page of the paper and it showed an eight foot tall wall of sand bags surrounding his entire property. Richard's property is directly across the street from the river. I spoke with Richard today, in fact, and his home survived. The basement flooded and the yard is trashed, but his home, and his treasures, are fine. Richard is also fine, but tired. His town was saved but surrounding towns didn't fare as well. I don't live near the river and my area was never a concern. Our prayers go out to those who are struggling with putting their lives back together.

So, please, enjoy the photos below, read the August issue of Romantic Homes, keep the flood victims in your prayers, hug the special man in your life, and have a safe 4th of July. No matter what struggles we all may have, I wouldn't want to struggle in any other country than our own. How lucky are we to live in a country with so many freedoms? We even have the freedom not to like our own country, if we so choose. But I happen to like it. A lot. And for a lot of reasons. Now that's a conversation starter fit for Independence Day! :-)

From my house to your house,
Richard's store, Antique Center of St. Louis, 4732 McPherson, St. Louis, MO, phone: 314-367-0588

Below are a couple of "artsy" photos that I took in an unfinished room of Richard's historical home. It was the light that came through the huge window that caught my attention. And of course, I loved the old, cracked walls. I loved this room, but I am afraid Richard will be horrified that I am showing it. Don't worry, Richard, you couldn't have a mess of a room if you tried. Even in a flood. Love you!


Kasey said...

so excited to see a new post!
What lovely pics, and I can't wait to see the magazine.

Myrna said...

What a great post! It just goes to show you there's nothing new under the sun--what with the cloche craze going on--reminds me of the domes that you write about. I have to say, also, that my decor style can be a bit 'quirky' and sometimes when I have visitors at my home and they don't quite "get it" they'll often say "how interesting", in a tone that I know they are just being polite! To each his own!! :-)

Ulla said...

You look adorable in that last photo! I love domes too, but Richard's collection is truly out of this world! Thank goodness for sandbags! So do tell, is that real food in the last images? It looks so edible!!!
Cannot wait to see your new article!!!
Hugs from Califorina

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth.
I found your blog a while back. I'm a native St. Louisan (and aspiring entrepreneur) and have been tickled to read about locations and landmarks I know so well. Love the shots of (and info about) the domes! Had no idea. Keep up the nice work!

Jackie said...

Hello Elizabeth, I am so happy that you posted!!! I always look forward to your writing and photography! It's lovely. I received the Romantic Homes issue last week....Loved your TA DA article as usual....Hope you are coming along well. Have a safe July 4th!!

I loved the last picture of you in the room with the domes...you look beautiful!!! As usual! The walls, woodwork and flooring are aged beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Hey sweetie!
Great post and the article was "as always" beautiful in the mag! I lived in Germany for 4 years and would see those domes everywhere (back in the late 60's) but never knew that they had such a unique history. Thanks for bringing us all a "bit" of history along with beautiful pics!

Mary said...

Such a coincidence Elizabeth - I just read the article this afternoon, curled up on my bedroom loveseat with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Guess most people were BBQ-ing for the 4th but I decided to beat the 90+ degrees and stay indoors!! Being a an ex-pat Brit gives me a good excuse - but of course I LOVE my adoptive country very much......and hold dual citizenship.

I loved the domes - making all those 'orange blossom pearls' must have been a chore - I have visions of young Victorian girls, working their already thin fingers to the bone rolling those cotton thingys!!
The bisque porcelain figures are exquisite.
How great to know that Richard's house survived the terrible flooding - I will definitely look up his shop if I get to St. Louis.

As for you dear, I'm hoping life is good. Your post is always anticipated and although you haven't told what's happening with YOU lately, I'm hoping this means things are going well. Hope to see more of your fabulous room designs in future magazines - you are the best.

Enjoy your Summer - stay safe - too warm for knitting so hope you have found a cool hobby for a while!

Polly said...

What a coincidence! I was just reading that article last night, and commenting to my husband about how beautiful those wonderful domes were! I'm so glad his home was saved from the flood waters.


Tracie~MyPetiteMaison said...

What a great post. I agree no one should stop you from ordering dessert, but your post was quite timely for me (what do they call that? coincidence, syncronicity wise), I needed a little - don't let anyone ruin your day, as we all do at times, so thank you so much!
I love your work and I've got Romantic Homes on my coffee table right now, going to go take a look!
Richard's pieces are beautiful, thank you for sharing. He sounds like one of our mentors, Robert that owned an antique store and has passed on now, what a kind soul.
As you can tell, I'm kind of a conversation starter, myself.
Glad to have found your blog, Elizabeth.
Happy day!
My Petite Maison

blessings said...

I love all that cracking paint stuff. And the domes are so lovely. I'm excited to see the August issue! Blessings... POlly

secretleaves said...

Beautiful pictures! But you always take such lovely shots.

And great advice, about never letting a bad situation keep you from dessert.


*The Beautiful Life* said...

At 22 (and maybe not even now) I would have been CRUSHED to receive a response such as you did to your innocent, hospitable attempts at getting that woman to "open up". Too bad for HER. Let's hope maybe by now she's a bit more at ease and enjoying life. And, LOVED the "moral of the story" about learning to never skip dessert! AMEN, Sistah! ;)
Richard's home and shop look enchanting -- have a few cracked walls myself. And yes, depending on the mood I'm in on any given day, they do indeed look 'charming'.
Take care and so glad to read another post!

stadtgarten said...

This story about your dinner with these people is very interesting. There are sometimes people difficult to have conversations with. And I can absolutely understand that at the age of 22 one feels very bad with someone like this.
The idea with the domes as a conversation starter is very interesting. What a pity that they don't sell Romatic Homes here (not even at the Hainerberg Shopping Center)
Have a nice week, Monika

Judy said...

Hi Elizabeth. Jan who used to live in St. Louis sent me to your blog and I love it. I will visit again soon. She said you sent emails for updates but I didn't see anywhere to sign up. I'd love to get reminders of new post.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for taking time to read my blog and to comment - I love reading your responses! Judy, and for anyone else wanting reminders that I posted a new blog, if you provide me with your email I will add you to my list. I won't publish your comment with your email, of course.

Take care and have a great day,

jpdmom said...

Great story - and how funny years later (when we are wiser) we are able to realize that it probably had nothing to do with us. However, I do think she sounded pretty rude - no matter what the circumstance. Love the pictures too (like always) Beautiful domes..I want one!

Jamie R Lentzner

Anonymous said...

Really loved the post and the photos the story about the restaurant was really amusing as it really reminded me of a situation that I've been to myself few years ago

PAT said...

Hello Elizabeth

My friend Lori e-mailed me about this post.

My husband and I were in Clarksville, over the winter, Eagle Watching. We had taken the day to ponder an invitation to have our home featured on a new HGTV show...we decided to decline, mainly due to J's current health issues. We took the lovely drive north, for a little getaway and to think the invitation through more clearly.

As we were leaving Clarksville's riverfront, I snapped a couple photos of a lovely old brick home. I blogged about our "TV decision" and the trip up to Clarksville. At the end of the post I added the photos of Richard Cottrell's home. Not long after, Richard left a comment on that post, graciously inviting us to see the interiors of his beautiful home. We decided June would be a good month, since my husband was going through cancer surgery during spring. Then, the Mississippi got a bit out of hand. We're still looking forward to that tour and hope Richard's beautiful home survived the flood.

Thanks for this post. I'll look for the August issue of Romantic Homes.

FrenchGardenHouse said...


I so thoroughly enjoyed your article and seeing all the gorgeous Victorian Wax pieces.

I recently sold a pair of gorgeous Wax Hands, and am almost sorry I did, now:)after seeing how lovely they look under the dome.
xo Lidy

Diane Irvine Armitage said...

Wonderful post! I love old things under domes and your photography of them is exquisite! I'm a big fan of your work and love to read your blog and see what you are up to :-)

cconz said...

i'm a great lover of domes also! i love your shots of richards shop and goodies. i'm going to make it a stop. thanks for sharing.

Paige Thomas King said...

Just added a note about you to my blog and decided to check in on your blog(s). I always enjoy your shop talk series, but hadn't read your adventures blog in over a month. I'm delighted to catch-up with you!
Of course, I've already consumed your article in last months (this months--magazine schedules throw me off!) Romantic Homes. I always flip to the contents to see if you've made a contribution--sorry I don't see you in the September issue. Maybe October?
Keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this post months after you wrote it. My this summer has flown by, hasn't it? I have seen those domes before, in antique shops in my area, but I didn't know what they were. Your post about them is interesting and your photos - well, your photos are always so lovely.

As for your "shy" companion at dinner...well, I think her behaviour towards you was very rude, not to mention odd. I imagine you are a FUN dinner companion. Ah well...hopefully she's at a better, happier place in her life now. And it's good that you can laugh about it now. :)

Elizabeth said...

What a strange story about the unfortunate dinner party!
Some people are quite impossible to talk to.
And , yes, it is all to easy to think it is one's own fault when others might just be........very odd indeed.
Wonderful photographs.
Greeting from New York.

*The Beautiful Life* said...

Hi Elizabeth,
No need to do anything -- just wanted to let you know I just "awarded" you a blog-love "award" -- just 'cause. :)
== Ruth

Jackie said...

I hope this comment is finds you happy and healthy~
I read your TaDa Article in Romantic Homes last evening. I wanted to praise you on the elegant photography (as always) and for a well written article!!!!

*The Beautiful Life* said...

Hello Elizabeth,

Missing your wonderful posts and just thought I'd pop in to say I hope all is well...Happy Autumn!

christmas river said...

Elizabeth! Where are you? I have followed your adventures for a while now, and have been waiting patiently for a new post....are you OK? I just cannot hop on a plane from Australia and check on you personally (Much as I would like to!), but with 6 children and a business to run...
HOpe you are going great and that we see you in these pages again soon.
Shani @ christmasriver.wordpress.com

Beryl Lynn said...

Id love to see more pictures!
I have recently starting collecting bell jars (cloches)
and I can tell you they are not cheap. Actually, Martha Stewart made one for her K-Mart line and its actually somewhat cute.

me2 said...

Thanks for the tip, I will have to check it out when I am visiting my family in St. Charles!

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