Despite the fact that my birthday passed almost a week ago, I was not yet ready to stop celebrating. So on Saturday my most cherished Maryland friends, Robert and Jan Levine, took me for a pleasant weekend drive to see the autumn-colored countryside. Happily, we ended up at the 15-acre spread of some acquaintances of theirs, Bob and Betty Farmer, who own Gristmill Landscaping and Nursery in Jarrettsville, Maryland (www.gristmill-landscaping.com). Bob Farmer specializes in Japanese maples and boasts a collection of more than 400 varieties on his lovely rural property.
|Giant stone sculptures at Gristmill Landscaping|
As we wandered the beautifully landscaped grounds with Robert and Jan's new poodle puppy, Chanel, I saw varieties of maples I had never seen before. Interested in identifying the species of little Neicha, my diminutive "rescue maple" (scroll down to see my blog post titled My New Garden – An Update, dated 7/18/12), I peppered Mr. Farmer with all sorts of questions about leaf structure and growth patterns. Seems to Bob that Neicha is probably an Acer palmatum (one of the upright species), and not one of the low-spreading, dwarf species known as Acer dissectum, but time will tell. Around every bend in Bob and Betty’s extensive garden were delightful surprises – a full size sculpture of an ancient Chinese warrior here, a giant stone turtle with smaller turtles over there, and a number of fabulous benches, bird baths, millstone fountains and other garden delights nestled among the gorgeous landscaping. It was an enjoyable afternoon.
|Robert and Jan's adorable new puppy, Chanel|
With our happy country sojourn behind us, Robert and Jan and I temporarily parted ways to dress for dinner and reconvened Saturday evening at the fabulous Food Market restaurant (www.thefoodmarketbaltimore.com) in the Hampden section of Baltimore City, where I was treated to one of my favorite meals, braised short ribs, so tender they melted in my mouth. I chose my favorite vintage trousers for the occasion, black travel slacks I bought at JCPenney when I worked for Penney's in the 1970s, and topped them with a red sequined tank by Material Girl for Macy’s which was in a box of clothing sent to me at the beginning of summer by my best friend’s mother, Joyce, of Spokane.
I tied a vintage beaded wrap by Gantos over the red sequins to ward off autumn’s chill and added a pair of sparkly red crystal earrings I bought on a ski trip to Park City, Utah, last March, which I paired with a red crystal bracelet made by my high school chum, Lily Williams, who teaches jewelry making in northern California. Of course, donning all this brilliant red gave me another opportunity to wear my new red Betseyville shoes by Betsey Johnson, which Robert and Jan had not yet seen.
|Jan and I celebrating my birthday at Food Market restaurant|
Our restaurant meal was delicious, capped by chocolate ice cream birthday cake, compliments of executive chef Chad Gauss. Robert and Jan surprised me with a gorgeous necklace and earrings in fine silver patterned after lacy leaves, and a Russian pin of a darling Arabian horse, both from Fire & Ice Jewelry of Baltimore, a chain of high end stores they own (www.fireandice.com).It was an enchanting day, crowned by a marvelous evening surrounded by beloved friends. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birthday celebration.
|Leaf jewelry from Fire & Ice|
|Hand-painted pin of an Arabian horse|