Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spicing Up The Season

The name McCormick is legendary in history. Originating in Ireland and Scotland with varied spellings, the root word is a Gaelic reference to Corb, which means raven, and Cormac which, translated literally, means charioteer or warrior.  It was a very popular name choice of Medieval parents, who added Mc to a like-named child to indicate “son of”.

I had the good fortune Saturday night to be invited to a housewarming party by Tracy and Christopher McCormick, a young couple who both work for 3D Exhibits, a Chicago-based company which designs and sells trade show booths  Tracy works in sales and marketing for 3D, while Chris is an exhibit designer who also sells.  Together, they create a formidable team of display booth talent which 3D is lucky to possess.  I met the attractive couple through my frequent companion, Jesse Turner who, in turn, owns a lighting, interior design and construction management company (LIDCM) which builds architectural models and exhibits of all kinds.  

In March of 2012, I invited Chris and Tracy to dinner at my house in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. They brought their two-month-old daughter, Maya, and several bottles of fine wine. We all had a marvelous time.  In August of this year, with Maya and their 11-year-old son, Hunter, in tow, Chris and Tracy traded their cramped Baltimore row house for a spacious home on a quarter of an acre in Pasadena, Maryland. The rear of their new home looks out over the confluence of Rock Creek and the Patapsco River on the Chesapeake Bay. The breathtaking vista from their backyard stretches as far as the eye can see over blue water. It’s quite a departure from the limited sightlines of a Baltimore row house.  But the McCormicks’ new digs did not come without an investment of sweat equity.

Clouds and freezing rain obscured the view from the
McCormick's backyard on the evening of their party.
This is what you would see from their lawn on a clear day
The 1935 bungalow on which Chris and Tracy set their hearts had long since been divided up into apartments.  At the close of escrow last summer Chris set about tearing out walls and removing kitchens on each of the upper floors.  They reshaped the house into a single home, boasting a modern, free-flowing floor plan, with picture windows across the back to take full advantage of the lovely view.  Over the ensuing months Chris did all of the work himself and was still painting various walls which define the newly unified spaces on the day before their holiday soiree.
This 1935 house was broken up into apartments before
Chris and Tracy restored it to a single-family home

For my own part, I've spent the past few weeks feverishly preparing for an annual fundraiser for Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, a unique ecosystem of rare and endangered flora and fauna near my home in northwest Baltimore County on whose board of directors I have served for several years. I wasn’t certain I would be able to attend the McCormick’s housewarming party, so hectic were the days leading up to my event, which was to be held the day after the McCormicks’ fest.  But the holiday fates were kind and I was able to complete the staging of my benefit in just enough time to slip into something festive and make my way south to Pasadena.

I love the asymmetrical pattern
of the poinsettias and the sparkle
of the beads and crystals 
I chose to wear simple black leggings by HUE, a gift several years ago from my best friend, Kari’s, mother, Joyce in Spokane, Washington, which I topped with a vintage holiday sweater covered in crystal-embellished poinsettias by Victoria Jones. I pulled on tall black boots by Pleaser and some knit boot toppers which I’ve owned since the early 1980s, added some fun, jingle bell earrings, pulled a fresh-baked appetizer from my oven and headed out the door.

At long last the McCormicks were able to throw open the doors of their fabulous new home to all their friends. I was excited to see what they had done. While Hunter was occupied elsewhere for the evening, little Maya, who will be turning two in January, greeted guests in her mother’s arms.  The kitchen and dining room tables groaned beneath potluck offerings contributed by their visitors. I found a place to set my still warm artichoke dip and crackers while Chris poured me the first of many glasses of wine from carefully selected bottles in his well-appointed, climate-controlled wine cabinet.

Chris McCormick, left, added a granite-
topped island to their master bedroom
closet, just like I did to mine
I was quite flattered when, on a grand tour of the home, Chris was quick to point out that he and Tracy planned their walk-in clothes closet after seeing the closet I designed in my own ancient farmhouse. Indeed, I could see the trappings of my scheme in theirs.  

It was unfortunate that an icy rain fell most of the night, for it meant we could not venture forth into Chris and Tracy’s back yard to take in the expansive view.  Alas, clouds and sleet obscured even the view from the windows.  So we contented ourselves with admiring the interior of the home and Chris’s extensive handiwork.

While the Spice Islands corporation reigns as the seasoning purveyor of choice for west coast cooks here in the United States, in the mid-Atlantic, the McCormick spice corporation dominates. They seem to have a factory in every corner of Baltimore County. Even a visit to my local Honda dealership for an oil change is often met with the heady scent of cinnamon emanating from a McCormick facility nearby.

The McCormick family at Easter: Hunter, from left, Tracy,
Chris and Maya 
Chris does not declare any connection to the McCormick spice empire and I haven’t asked him if he is descended from Saint Cormac, the first bishop of Cashel who wrote the book of Psalms.  But I think it’s kind of cool that he and his lovely family reside in a region which claims the raven as their football team’s mascot.  As talented as Chris is on so many levels, he’d probably make a pretty good charioteer, too.

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