Of A Barn Raising…

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The Sister & I at my Aunt’s Wedding – October 1995

I didn’t mention it, but my aunt came to visit last week, just for the day.  We don’t see her as much as we used to.  I won’t go into all the why-fors, as they stem from sad circumstances.  So, while we’re slightly estranged from each other, there’s no bad blood, so to speak.

But, she did stop for a short visit and The Sister & I were elated to see her.  It was a good visit.  She sent The Sister a thank you note for a painting she was given, and in the note she supplied a link to a magazine that her house was set at as a feature last October.  It’s really that house I want to talk about, because well… I helped to build it.

It all started with a trip up to Montreal to see her in 1994.  The Sister had gone when she was eleven or so, accompanied by our grandmother.  I went at age 14, solo.  It was my first ever flight on an airplane and my first time to another country.  Back then, of course my parents could see me off at the gate and passports were not needed.

It was an interesting trip to say the least.  My aunt and her then fiancee owned a rug store.  Well, he owned it, as he’d inherited it from his father.  But she is an expert on Oriental Carpets having written three books by that time (a fourth to follow within the year) & as his fiancee was pretty much part-owner of that store.  I went to work with her every day, except for the day they arranged for me to pal around with a girl my own age; a neice of their friends, who would show me around Montreal; and their days off spending time with their friends or at that weekened at their building site in upper state New York.

Most of my trip was spent learning the Oriental Carpet business, so to speak.  I learned to mend and clean rugs and helped on deliveries; as well as learning to identify certain weaves and styles and watching my aunt sell rugs.  It was fine by me, as I enjoy learning new things and Oriental Carpets are fascinating and beautiful.  There were a lot of interesting things, but our story is about this house.

So, we drove to their site in upper state New York and it was just the basement level. We were to sleep on cots in the garage that night because the next day there was to be a barn raising, which is how my aunt kept referring to it as.  The main frame of their house was going up the next day, and like a barn raising, it would be assembled on the ground and then raised up by big men pulling on ropes.  I was there for that.  In fact, I helped pull that sucker up into position.  It was more ceremonial than anything because the strong men were doing all the work, but my aunt and her fiancee were all, “Yes, help us!  Come on!”

There was also a little time spent showing me the property and discussing their plans.  And that they’d be getting married the following year and my aunt wanted me to be her Maid of Honour/Flower Girl.  “Oh, it won’t be fancy, we’re going to wear jeans.  I’m serious!”

So, in October of the following year, my entire family, though small, were trooping onto a plane headed for Montreal; my parents, grandmother, brother, sister, & I.  Even more exciting, was that I was missing school for this!

We spent time in Montreal, with my aunt finalizing plans, which really found my brother, sister, and I tromping around Montreal together, which was nice.  Then we all headed off to their completed home in New York because that’s where they were holding their wedding.

Thought they’ve added on, most of the photo’s from the magazine are how I remember it.  It was much smaller, so only they and their mothers were staying in the house while we all had rooms at a local motel.  It was my first time ever being in a wedding, and the only time I’ve attended or been in a wedding which was out of doors or where the bridal party were wearing jeans.

The service was nice and it was a fun experience, though it still baffles me why my aunt has always cottened to me so.  Like why didn’t she ask my mother, her own sister?  Was it because she stood in during my aunts first wedding?  I love my aunt and I’m not complaining, but it does make me wonder why we have this bond.

The events following were not so lovely, so I’ll just skip all of that shall I?  I don’t really want to delve into the drunkeness, the kidnapping, the deranged phone call, or the knock down-drag out fight of fisticuffs under the decking.  But there was one spot of lovliness throughout it, which I believe was either right before or right after the service, which is the photo of The Sister & I near the bluff overlooking Lake Champlaine, that I posted earlier.

Here, we’ll look at it again, because it does play a part in this story.

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So, here’s a photo collage I made.  First off, is my Aunt in the seventies.  This is a jacket photo from one of her first two books, but is a large proof that she’d given to our grandmother at the time.  After my grandmothers death, my aunt left all of her photos behind, saying she didn’t want them.  I wanted them!  So, I have them all now, including this one.  The second is a photo of my aunt and grandmother in my grandmothers house in the early-mid nineties.  I’m supplying it because that couch and lamp play a part later on down the line.  And then the wedding photo again.  I’m the brunette on the bench.  That area will be shown in a photo from the magazine, which is one reason that I included it.

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Mississippi decoration because my aunt is from here.  And they used middle names which is amusing because ‘Clark & Andrea’ are two totally different people than who they really are.
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The path that leads down to that bench I’m sitting on in 1995.  Incidentally, that far left garage door is where we slept on cots that night.

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There’s the lamp and the couch!  Also that table in the foreground was my grandmothers as well.  That side is really a leaf that you can put up to make the table top longer; there’s another one on the other side.
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Both right side photo’s: in the corner is my grandmothers’ old corner cabinet.

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They didn’t have a cannon at the time, but that is THE bench that I’m sitting on in 1995.

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And that concludes their write-up in that magazine.  It’s interesting to see the house again, and to see the pieces that were once my grandmothers now residing in the home.  It’s also a bit strange an unnerving to see because it recalls up times past and bittersweet and also tragic incidents.

While I’m excited that my aunt has written books or that her home had a write-up in a magazine, it’s not for the reasons of ‘yay I get to ride on her coattails of fame’ so to speak.  It’s just exciting that someone I know and love has written books; I mean, wouldn’t you be excited?  (I know I’ve written on that before, which is why I bring it up)  Or that someone you’re close to was featured in a magazine?  It’s kind of awesome for them.

However, I simply wrote about it because of how it inititally made me feel after the excitement of her being featured; which was, “Oh this is weird.  I helped to build that.  Oh… and there’s the wedding…”  It just brought a lot of memories and emotions to the table so to speak and I felt the need to get my side out, in an effort of perhaps alleviating things off of my chest really.

 

 

 

 

 

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