Rags and Riches

by Kate

A few days ago we returned from a whirlwind week in California. After months of low grey skies looming over this grey East Coast city, a week of bright sun on the West Coast was incredibly rejuvenating. We plucked ripe oranges from citrus groves, ran through avocado groves, explored San Diego, the ports of L.A., and sleepy Santa Barbara, and drove the coastline all the way to San Francisco. I look forward to sharing the pictures and stories we gathered along the way, but first I want to share the story of another epic journey.

On the day before we left for California, a battered tan van dragging the remnants of a muffler and proudly emblazoned with the Devils Hole Ranch logo pulled up in front of our humble Pittsburgh abode….

and my sister Mary and sort-of-sister-in-law Emily (see here for the inside scoop on this) emerged.

Granted, they were looking a great deal less glamorous than this shot would imply. After hard labor revitalizing historic mansions together and a grueling drive from New York state to Pittsburgh, they were ready to collapse on my couch and have some hot tea, followed by Southern Comfort. Please note that even in an exhausted state, Emily was able to borrow a stylish hat from my toddler to accessorize her outfit.

Emily and Mary were headed to the Wisconsin homeland. Spring is calling Mary home- in fact, I believe she even has her eye on a new set of lambs. As for Emily, she was headed to harvest a crop of sequins and bows. That is, she was on her way to help the rest of her spectacular female relations clean out her Grandmother’s closets. This sounds like a pedestrian pursuit, but no. Oh no. First of all, I want to state that Emily’s grandmother wore a strapless ballgown constructed out of peacock feathers to a wedding a few years ago. She is well over 80. It was spectacular. A glimpse into her closets and home is available by way of this wonderful blog post. Please go read Jenna’s blog! She is Emily’s cousin, and a wonderful writer and cook and great inspiration. So! Emily was en route to clean out her grandmother’s closet, mostly so her Grandmother can purchase an entirely updated wardrobe at Rummage. (Read that link too, it is worth it I swear, oh dear this is a convoluted post but worth it in the end, I hope. ) In order for Emily to help clear out her Grandmother’s closet(s) she had to clear her own in preparation for the tsunami of clothing she was about to inherit, so Emily and Mary entered my home laden with garbage bags full of evening gowns, heels, and hats.

But wait, you say, I spy sober male apparel upon that heap! You are quite correct. I recently happened to inherit a great deal of high quality extra large coats, jackets, and flannel shirts. I’d been trying to find a way to deliver them to my broad shouldered farmer father and carpenter brothers, and this was the perfect opportunity. Mary and Emily agreed to load them into the van, with the condition that I needed to immediately try on every flounced, sequined, and sparkling item they had brought me, find the most ridiculous item possible, and greet my husband while wearing it in their presence.

This sounded like a great deal to me. As I said, it has been a long dark winter. Sequins and gold silk shoes went a long way to cheer me up. Casey was less impressed- but I am pretty sure the look of confusion and mild horror on his face was exactly what Mary and Emily were hoping for.

The next morning the girls headed off, bearing a heavy load of high quality coats and leaving sequins in their wake. As for our family, away we flew to California. I left the hat and glittering backless dresses at home, and spent my time in baggy beat up jeans gathering memories. I promise to share them with you soon.

Till then,


6 thoughts on “Rags and Riches

  1. Jenna

    I can’t wait to hear about your California trip. And Mama Kitty . . . there is so much to say about that woman. Is it possible that you’re her soul-granddaughter? Because you wear sequins and hats and ballgowns with the same flare!

    1. sweetridgesisters Post author

      It looks like Darlington is about two and a half hours further south and east from our farm, but I think my Mom taught in that area at one point right out of college. I’ll have to ask her. What a great post- I feel like I just learned so much about American history! -kate


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