‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Real Trout Towers

It's always disconcerting inviting people to Trout Towers for the first time. It's even more disconcerting when I invite one of you.

By "you" I mean people who have come to know Trout Towers through what I've written - real-life friends who know me and read the blog, and internet friends who have become real-life friends. You have an image of what it will be like, and I don't want to let you down.

In general, I think people are let down.

After all, it is just a house. There are no turrets. There's not a widow's walk. We do not have topiary shaped like chickens.

There are signs of life around the house I notice only when people are coming over: the drift of items tucked in and around shelves; ceiling lights we didn't find a fixture for and forgot; handprints on walls; half-finished projects. It's as if we lit the house with candles all week and then brought in stadium lights for when guests arrive. Stadium lights are very unflattering.

All of this is not what I think of as Trout Towers, nor is it what I think of as I hatch cockamamie plans for parties. I don't think of the failings until it is too late and guests are en route. Hiding in the bedroom is out of the question because that's where people put their coats.

I could try to blend with the coats, but here's what happens: Once there are coats on the bed, I start seeing Trout Towers the way it really is.

People arrive and I remember that I love them. I offer food. They offer food. We are all so glad to see each other, everything else melts. The stadium lights shift their focus from the flaws to the friends. They are radiant.

At some point I realize I've invited five times as many people as I have chairs. (This is why I don't do dinner parties.) I worry about being a good hostess for a few seconds and then am derailed by something shiny - like friends connecting with other friends, or someone's baby falling asleep in my arms.

I am suddenly, unspeakably proud of my home. Because this is Trout Towers. This unselfconscious buzz of people and kindness. I don't have the shiniest candlesticks or the nicest countertops or the most organized bookshelves. I do have the most interesting friends with the biggest hearts and the greatest talents. As some very wise person once said, "the ornaments of a house are the guests who frequent it." They pretty much go with everything.

People may very well be let down by the lack of chicken topiary. Believe me, I feel their pain. But as cozy as this pile of coats is, I'd rather hang out with my friends and family.

That's where Trout Towers is.


Meadowlark said...

Well said!!!! :)

I make a blanket apology with new people "This is my house. It's old. I like it just the way it is. That's all you're getting from me."

Mostly because we live in a "hip and trendy" community where everybody is impressed by the size of their new and fancy houses, and I live in a 1950s ranch with basement (which 99% of the houses around here DON'T have, because they had to be blasted out of the rock). I rarely invite anybody back if they seem uncomfortable with the perpetual not-shiny-ness of a 50 year old house.

I'll come visit you. But I truly am disappointed with the no topiary chickens. Cuz that would rock. You need to work on those, K?

Lemon Gloria said...

I think entertaining is much more to do with the people than the house, quite honestly. You and your husband are incredible people, and I'm certain nobody is ever disappointed. I would love it if I ever had the opportunity to see the brick and mortar TT.

Also, I find topiary weird. But the idea of chicken topiary is pretty compelling.

I miss you around here! I hope you all are well!

Cheryl said...

Shiny. Isn't that for ornaments on trees and rings on fingers? If it's for houses, we're all doomed.

Beautiful post Susan.

I for one, am disappointed that there's no widow's walk. Your avatar would look magnificent pacing back and forth waiting for her sailing lover to return home.

Kelly said...

Oh, I think you are being a little hard on Trout Towers. Luckily we never expected actual towers, but your home is cozy and charming, in part because of the elements that reflect the lives lived there. There is nothing more disappointing to me than a sterile house, and I've been in more than a few. All that said, you speak the truth - the people within Trout Towers make it sparkle. It is a magical place.

My only disappointment was that the chickens were not invited in for at least one cocktail.

Susan said...

Chickens love cocktails.

Greg said...

When's your birthday? It might take a while, but I'll start working on one of those fowl topiary things. But I'll need some old wire coat hangers...

A lovely post, to match a lovely home and its hostess.

Susan said...

You have until August, Greg. Is that enough? I'll look for coat hangers...

Rose Brier Studio said...

You know I couldn't have said it better. Trout Towers is such a state of mind -- and that's really all one sees when one goes to your house . . .
well, except the silly musicians in the corner!

People can always go to Disneyland if they want animal topiary!

Laggin said...

Oh...girl. You just got inside my brain and wrote about my house and how I'd like to be able to accept it.

Susan said...

Laggin, light the house with candles and twinkly lights, lock the doors that are strictly off limits and fill your house with 5 times its capacity so no one can see more than 3 feet. Voila, the house is perfect.

Kristin @ Going Country said...

We were going to take out the huge, overgrown bushes in front of our house this winter, but now I'm thinking making them into sheep topiaries (is that the plural of topiary? I have little experience with this word) would be way more fun.

Deb said...

I firmly believe that any party where people take much note of the surroundings positively or negatively was a lousy party indeed, in dire need of more entertaining people, food, and gaiety.

Chicken topiary is the stuff of my NIGHTMARES. Shutter.

Anonymous said...

I once went to friends who just moved to a new house. The large living room was 'filled' with a couch, two chairs, a cupboard and a TV set. That was all. Then they said they were sorry for the mess. I couldn´t figure out what they meant, but it turned out there was a box with CDs hiding behind the couch. The place had no feel, no emotion, no life in it what so-ever.
I love untidy houses, it shows who you are.

Laggin said...

Hey, I moved: http://thenewroof.blogspot.com/

John said...

I read this post aloud to Frances the other morning, the day of our annual post-holiday employee/post-employee/significant-other-of-past-or-present-employee party (aka the Click! family), which we host at our very humble (small and old) home. We barely made a dent in the dust/cobwebs/piles of magazines before people arrived, and had spent way too much time worrying the night before about how many chairs we had and where people would sit, but it was a fabulous gathering of loved people in a loved place.

Thanks for a sweet reminder of what makes it all work: good people, and cramming them in so tight they can't see anything but each other!