Saturday, October 3, 2009


With Susanne off to Woolrich, Pa., to shop with her mother and sister, the Box and I chugged over to the Estates of Forest Hills to see the châteaux américains featured in the local "parade of homes."

It was a beautiful autumn day, so the place was crowded with people ogling these palatial homes, ranging in price from $550,000 to more than a million dollars. What always strikes me is the extra rooms and spaces for which there seems to be little need. I heard a lot of people asking, "What is this for?" I even overheard a child ask, "Is this a room?"

Then there were the usual odd features, like those huge windows over the front doors with a sill below them that you could never reach to dust. On the second story of one house there was a smaller window that had a rounded top, a lamp hanging from the top of the window, an electric candle in the window, and a semi-circular hole in the floor in front of it, fenced off by a metal railing. I guess you'd have to leap from the railing over the hole to get to the window to wash it or change the light bulbs.

I was particularly interested in the wood trim in the rooms. Some of it was quite beautiful and lavish. We dream of having little windows and built-in bookshelves surrounding the faux fireplace in our living room, and at least two of the houses had this feature. Both were very attractive. One was actually the second floor family room, because, you see, one is never enough.

I also took note of bathroom floors, showers, and vanities. I liked the vanities that were taller than standard and had a sink that sat on top of the counter, so that there is not so much bending over for a tired old back. All of the houses had spacious bathrooms. Interestingly, I don't recall a lot of whirlpool tubs. Instead, in the master bedrooms there were large showers with beautiful tile work and shower heads galore. Simpler showers and tub/shower combinations were found in the "lesser" bedrooms.

In this development, most of the houses have a "European" flair, even some castle-like turrets, steep roofs, and lots of added patina to make them look older. I saw one "Georgian" house (at the top of this entry) and one other grey stone house that looked vaguely "early American."

When I got back to our rather modest home in its modest neighborhood, I appreciated our house even more than usual. No useless spaces, no gaudy finishes, no two-story entry.

I parked the Box in front of my sister-in-law's new GMC vehicle and when stepping back, a Biblical reference came to mind: "But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)

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