Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Cabin in the Woods

In the woods, off of a narrow country road on the south side of Wooster, Ohio, sits a fully-restored 1820s two story log cabin with a large front porch and an incredible view of the wooded landscape.  I know this because we stayed there this weekend.


I don't think it's possible to give you a completely accurate picture of how it feels to stay in a restored, yet still primitive, antique log cabin, but I'll attempt it.  I will say that the cabin is updated with modern amenities, but the cabin keepers are history lovers, and they devoted years of time and money to preserve this structure as accurately as possible while still making it a very pleasant stay for guests.

From the moment we arrived, I was in awe.  A sweet little family of stone carved owls greeted us as we approached the cabin's covered front porch.  Once on the front porch, I took in the sweeping view of the acres of woods and a creek bed below. 
When we walked through the front door painted in a German style and into the cabin, the smell of nearly two hundred years of age greeted me, sending me into a state of euphoria. 
I was grinning like an idiot!  There is something about the smell of "old" in regards to a house...I instantly think of the people who have lived there across the ages.  It smelled of lingering wood smoke and aged timber, mingled with the various scents of all of the dry herbs that were hanging from the ceiling.  To me, it was heavenly.  We were given a tour of the cabin, including instructions on how to use the large Rumford fireplace (the fireplace was rebuilt with the cabin reconstruction, but the mantle and stone surrounds were around the same age as the cabin, purchased from other properties that were being torn down in the area, along with the winder staircase that wrapped around the back of the fireplace).  Sadly, it was just a little too warm while we were there to use the fireplace, much to my dismay.
The owners spent several years rebuilding and restoring the cabin.  All around the first and second floor, small detail plaques were located to indicate what had changed, what had been, or what had been found.  It was a great touch to be able to see the history and have it explained at the same time!

The main floor floorboards were original to the 1870s, when much about the cabin style was changed.  Narrow floorboards were much more fashionable, and the current owners decided to keep them when doing the restoration.  However, older wide floorboards were found in the upstairs, in what is now the bathroom.  The floorboards in both bedrooms upstairs and the upstairs hallway were replaced with a lighter wood in narrow strips to mimic the floors below, but gave the rooms a little bit lighter feel.  The cabin itself was somewhat dark, with small windows typical of log homes, and it was wonderful to see how the light affected the cabin's feel throughout the day--it seemed to constantly change.  The owners were able to use original hardware on the doors, which was nice to see. 

The windows, trim around the windows, and some other trim found in the house had been reproduced, delightfully remade to match almost perfectly the original trim in the structure.  The windows were made with a special process that mimicked old period glass, with waves and imperfections.  I loved the owners' attention to detail--it was quite apparent that they truly loved restoring the cabin to its original state.
The floors on the second floor of the house are wonderfully crooked and sloped.  It added greatly to the character of the house, and when not used to walking on them, will throw one slightly off-balance until used to the feeling.  In some places, the floor below can be seen (or at least, light beams) through the small gaps between floor boards.  Laying in bed at night, looking up at the ceiling into the attic, tiny dots and lines of light could be seen, almost giving the illusion of sleeping under the stars.  During the night, the house creaked as it settled in the cool night air.
All of the exterior walls are the logs and plaster chinking, but interior walls are either wood planks running vertically or whitewashed plaster.  The paint colors are perfect for the time period, and vary from deep red, sage green, beige, dark brown, and a medium blue, which was my favorite.  Period antique furniture is found throughout the cabin, as well as antique fireplace equipment.  Both beds upstairs are antique rope bed frames, but have modern mattresses on top of the ropes.  Where antique furniture could not be found or antique lighting could not give enough light, modern furniture and electric lighting was used, but was still fitting to the feel of the history.  It all works well together.

This was my dream come true!

We were able to get away and have the relaxing, peaceful weekend that we'd been wanting for a long time now.  Being away from the traffic and noise associated with living in the city was exactly what I needed, and this setting fit the bill perfectly.  We got up late, took our time, and I even cooked us a big breakfast on Saturday morning before we headed out to find what Wooster had to offer.  We ate dinner at a lovely upscale restaurant that used to be the city's jail in the old days, and we were seated in the basement where the old jail cells used to be located. 
The food was superb and worth every penny, and our waiter was so very helpful in answering questions about the menu (it's not always easy to navigate eating out with a food allergy).  My chicken Marsala was so good...I wanted to keep eating it long after I was too full to have another bite.  I was very close to needing to be rolled out of the restaurant, and I thought for sure I was going to have a food baby.  My husband couldn't stop raving about his surf and turf dish, with lobster, tenderloin steak, shrimp, broccoli florets, risotto, and a rich Bearnaise sauce.  There was also salad and fresh bread served with the meal, so there was no way anyone could leave hungry.  It was a wonderful and much-needed time of relaxation for both of us, and I always love to get away with my husband.

We didn't get to talk to the cabin keepers until we were ready to check out, but I would have loved to be able to talk to them more.  Perhaps next time we stay, we'll be able to talk to these fellow history lovers!  They seemed to have a great knowledge and love of what they have and what they do.  Owner Paul talked about how their property and the surrounding area was the only spot in Ohio to see a Civil War skirmish, and mentioned that they found several musket balls embedded in trees on the property as they were making room for the house they built and the historic buildings they acquired and moved to their property.  He and his wife, Anne, also talked about the area being a settlement of a local Indian tribe before the Civil War, and have found Indian artifacts on the property as well.  They have much knowledge of the county and are active in teaching the history of the area.  They were very kind and gracious to us while we stayed there.

I can't wait to go back again!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Scriptural Simplicity

Life is interesting, isn't it?

Sometimes it's great, other times it's so hard.  

Hills and valleys.

Yet, one thing is always constant: God's love for us.  It doesn't change, it doesn't waver, it is a constant in an ever-changing world.

Each day I read a passage of the day on Bible Gateway, and this morning's passage really struck me as appropriate for where I am: 
"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit." (Psalm 51:12).  

I have been feeling really worn down lately.  Life's not quite as I had hoped it would be at this point; it's not necessarily bad, just different, and this little passage seemed like an apt prayer.  

It's easy to lose the joy of the Lord in the midst of things that bring us down.  Maybe God's plan and our plan don't line up together.  Maybe something promising fell through.  Maybe this, or that, or something else...the enemy loves to distract us from what's important and tries very hard to get us focused on things that aren't important, doubt our path, confuse us.
  Not only that, but if we lose the joy that we should have, we are less willing to listen to God and do what He asks us to do.  It's a domino effect--when one piece falls, so go the rest of them.  But God loves us, and doesn't want us to fall into these traps.  He wants us to keep our eyes focused on Him, ready and willing to do His will.

I know I'm not the only person who goes through this.  If you're feeling down, I hope that this simple little passage will resonate with you as it did with me!

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation!

Sustain me with a willing spirit!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy October!

Well, just like that, September is gone and October is here.  The trees are starting to turn their beautiful colors and the farmers are harvesting the fields.  Oh, to be a farmer, reaping the fruits of a summer full of labor!  The harvested corn fields look like a carnage has taken place--jagged stalks sticking up at all angles, random ears of corn strewn here and there, yellow leaves laying everywhere...and the animals have feed for another year. 
The beans are turning their beautiful shades of yellow and brown, and will soon be ready to harvest and sell. 
The trees are exploding into vibrant shades of yellows, golds, reds, oranges, and purples, seemingly overnight. 
The world, always beautiful in its own respective season, is changing once again.  And once again, the Lord has reminded us to take notice of His creation, and marvel in awe at the world that He created for us.  How can anyone look around and deny that we were made--created?  Every leaf, every blade of grass, every flake of frost...all were created by the One who loves us more than anything else He made (and He made everything!).
Happy October!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Historic Barns of Northwest Ohio, Pt. 2: Second Annual Barn Tour

Last year, our local historical society arranged for six barns to be open to the public for tours.  Hard to believe that a year has passed since then!  Hubby and I had so much fun touring the countryside and exploring the old farms that when another tour was announced for this year, we bought tickets right away.  This year, we headed to the eastern half of our county to tour six more barns.

It was a beautiful day again, just like last year.  The sun was shining, there was a great breeze (it actually got windier as the day progressed), and we got to see some great farms!

The first barn we went to was built in 1865, and is now a reception venue available to the public:
The owners of the barn fixed it up so that they could have their wedding reception here, and have since opened the barn for others to use, too!
Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheWStarBarn
The Athen Ry band, they were really good! https://www.facebook.com/theathenry


The next barn was a working cattle farm that used to be a dairy farm:
Best friends, bovine-style.

I love the rhythm of the framing.  The ceiling is 55' tall.  It had a cathedral feeling to it!

1877 farm house.  The owner said that the walls were composed of a thickness of two bricks, then an air layer, then another two bricks.

Fall is coming!
One of the largest barns in the county--80' across this side, and 120' deep.
Great combine!  'Merica.

The third barn we visited was set up a little like a museum, with farming implements and artifacts displayed in the bays and on the walls:

Commode!  More comfy than an outhouse...?

I loved the texture of the wood floor with the antique nails.
While we were there, this group of historic cars drove up and parked.  Visitors were allowed to look in the cars and ask questions of the owners.  They were pretty neat!
The next barn was a quick tractor ride across the field, to the farm next door.  This barn housed a quilt display from the local quilting club:

Wasn't sure what this was...used for hauling something!
This next barn was made using a new type of construction, that was more stable than older barns.  It was also quite large, with additions through the years:

In comparing the framing of this barn to the others, there is definitely less wood used on the sides, yet is supposedly more sturdy and secure, not to mention cost-effective.
Original sign from the dairy operation
A great old planter.
I loved the hardware on the door--the stars are great!
The last barn that we visited was also the oldest, dating back to 1854.  It has a heavy German influence, and was the most decorative, with oval louvers.  The barn has been fixed up and is available for parties and receptions:

This little guy was resting after a hard day of greeting people at the barn door!
A great "chandelier" hanging from the rafters of the barn.

Not sure what the purpose of this stuffed bird was, but he was keeping a "birds-eye" view on the situation! 
The barn from the front--I love the deeper red color with the yellow, black and green accents.
I've always thought old barns were interesting.  As a city girl, I always thought the grass was greener on the other side of the fence--the side where cows mooed, goats baaahed, chickens clucked, and corn grew.  I always thought that it would be fun to live on a farm, but alas, we knew no one who owned a farm, so I was never able to experience farm life.  I think I would have enjoyed it, though.  In a way, touring these historic barns brings together so many things I enjoy: historic architecture, rural living, adorable animals, nice fall weather, and last but certainly not least, just spending time with my best friend.  I'm so glad that the Historical Society has arranged these tours over the last two years--we haven't been disappointed.  We're definitely looking forward to next year's tour!