Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment"

It's time for my favorite day of the week, Tablescape Thursday, with our charming hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch. I hope you'll visit Susan and all her talented tablescaping participants.

The day had been a gloomy one. It was time to set a table in preparation for your visit, but where? There would be no light-filled images in a bright solarium. The dining room didn’t “feel” quite right for the items I’d selected. Then I thought of the old library table in the Lower Level (that sounds much nicer than walk-out basement, doesn’t it?). I gathered an assortment of chairs from around the house to provide (very mis-matched) seating.

The stemware and part of the centerpiece had come from an estate sale, held the previous day at the home (farmhouse) of a former US Congressman (from 1969-1989). Thank you to a reader who wrote and told me about the sale! It was the second day, and items were reduced by 25%.

Do you ever see things in stores or at estate/garage sales that remind you of dishes you have at home? Does the word “tablescape” flash through your mind instantly? That’s what happened when I saw a pair of decorative birdcages. One of the estate sale workers asked me where I found them (on a table upstairs), and another employee spoke up and said “She had them in her downstairs bathroom for years and years.” A man standing nearby said they were hand-made Tunisian birdcages. The Congressman and his wife had traveled extensively in North Africa, so it’s possible they’d brought them back as souvenirs. I paid $9 for the pair.

I decided to set the table in a simple manner for you today. Yes, I really did. I showed great restraint. ONE glass per customer (somehow our guests usually end up bringing their "welcome" wine to the table, and things get cluttered). I did once have a dinner guest laugh out loud at my idea of serving "a simple meal." Well, yes, there were fresh flowers ... and candles ... and cloth napkins. But I used stainless flatware and dishes that can go in the dishwasher. Well, enough of that ... on with the show ...

The shape of the birdcages caused me to think of a poem I read years ago. The first line kept running through my head. Here is:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree :

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round:

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted

As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By woman wailing for her demon-lover !

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty mountain momentarily was forced :

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :

And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war !

The shadow of the dome of pleasure

Floated midway on the waves ;

Where was heard the mingled measure

From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

A damsel with a dulcimer

In a vision once I saw : It was an Abyssinian maid,

And on her dulcimer she played,

Singing of Mount Abora.

Could I revive within me

Her symphony and song,

To such a deep delight 'twould win me,

That with music loud and long

I would build that dome in air,

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!

And all who heard should see them there
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Coleridge claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream. It must have been a magical dream indeed.

Dried oak leaf hydrangeas from the garden. Brass plated candelabrum, Goodwill.

Lead crystal stemware: "Heritage" by Fostoria (1979-1882). Production of Fostoria glassware ceased in 1983.

China: "Sherwood" by Syracuse (1949-1967). Thrift store purchase, $5 for all.

Silverplated flatware: "Queen Bess" by Oneida Community (1946). This pattern was offered as a Betty Crocker premium through collecting coupons from boxes of selected General Mills products. An excerpt from one of their many ads stated: "Lovely Queen Bess Pattern. Extra heavy silverplate; principal forks and spoons reinforced with additional layer of pure silver. Dramatic new Queen Bess design inspired by the Garden Rose of China."

Syracuse China, located in Lyncourt, New York (a suburb of Syracuse), was founded in 1871 as Onondaga Pottery Company (O.P. Co.) in the town of Geddes. The company initially produced earthenware. In the late 19th century, O.P.Co., began producing fine china, for which it found a strong market particularly in hotels, restaurants, and railroad dining cars. The company closed in 2009. Syracuse dishes will now be produced in China.

Syracuse Trivia:
The "Turner-Over Club"
Syracuse China sponsored the Turner-Over Club (later the Turn-Over Club) as a promotion for decades. The company gave out membership cards, with the idea that wherever members traveled, they would "turn over" their dinnerware to see if it was Syracuse China; witnesses to this curious behavior would then be treated to the story of the club and thus introduced to the brand name.

Hope you enjoyed! I'll be traveling next week, so this will be my last tablescape for a while. I'll do my best to stop by and see your tables while I'm gone.

Bye for now,


  1. Great tablescape, Bill, that room makes a great backdrop. Those birdcages were worth every cent and I like how you used them. It's been a long time since I've read that poem...thanks for sharing it all with us :o)

  2. Bill, this tablescape may be of a simple manner in your mind but for me it is simply STUNNING! First, I love your "lower level" room with the brick walls. It is the perfect setting for a dinner. The hydrangea around the candles is the perfect centerpiece with your estate find bird cages. Wonderful table and wonderful poem! ~ Sarah

  3. This is beautiful, Bill. I love the setting against the brick. Wonderful!

  4. Love your tablescape. The birdcages are fabulous. Great find! Lovely home. Will have to investigate your blog with a cup of hot tea. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Bill, I adore your "simple elegance"! Great finds, as usual, and I can't wait to see what you've got in store for us after your trip. Have a safe one!

  6. I love your tablescape and the birdcages are perfect for candles.

  7. Beautiful dishes and poetry too! Sigh! Lovely! Those are amazing birdcages -- I too, seem to look at everything these days with an eye for tablescaping -- it become a passion, doesn't it?

  8. "Lower Level" instead of basement....LOL That is one heck of a nice basement!

    You were smart to mix & match the chairs & to keep the lower backed ones at the ends so as not to block the view & light from the glass.

    You never fail to make me smile, to teach me something & to inspire me, Bill.

    I know how hard it is to do "simple" when you love the formal look so much. This tablescape is a wonderful combination of the two.

    Those birdcages have to be the find of the year!!!!
    Wonderfully intricate in design & in perfect proportion for your table, too. They look like little GAZEBOS!!!! :D


  9. Your "lower level" is a perfect backdrop for this tablescape. Mercy! The flatware and crystal make me want to visit an estate sale soon (as if I don't already have oodles of mine own!) You know what really speaks to me? The mismatched chairs. It's all storybook perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  10. O*M*G*! I am IN LOVE with those birdcages!!!!!!! They are wonderful and that you got themn at such a price is making me GREEN with envy:):) Your "lower level" is beautiful, love that brick wall and your French doors. We will truly miss your beautiful tables while you are gone but please have a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing your inspiration. Pinky

  11. What a neat "walk out library"! Love the brick - it just feels so warm and inviting. Your setting doesn't disappoint nor does this post. Always a joy to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oh, so glad to see you do something a tad more simple (easier to get inspired because it is more practical for we-who-have-not-much (as far as tablescape material!!).

    I love the setting you chose--really cool. When looking at your tablescape, a writer could be inspired to tell a few tales!! It is a very interesting space, and I like the brick wall-- glass doors--etc --just wonderful for the imagination!!

    For some reason the setting reminds me of something a judge would have--don't know why and the only judge I know personally is a woman on the SC state supreme court!!

    It is just so interesting and love those cages and the reflection that comes off of them!

  13. Love the new locale! What a great place to set a table.

    It is interesting how a random object can make us think TABLESCAPE! I think we both have a huge store of dishes, yours a bit more formal than most of mine, but I will have to start pulling out the formal too. It's good that something jars our mind and reminds us of what we have!:)

    - The Tablescaper

  14. I love the brick wall! Gorgeous! The table is lovely...I think my grandma had the flatware at one time...and no, I don't have it!! Those cages are so pretty...that was a great find!
    Happy TT!

  15. I have the same magnolia picture and actually have a brick wall in the same room! I have thought about covering the brick wall, but it brings so much character to the room. Your tablescape is beautiful!! Thanks for sharing with us!

  16. Bill, wonderful table! I LOVE the mismatched chairs and the poem is a nice touch. Be safe traveling, Michelle

  17. Love those birdcages, a perfect accessory for your table! Your "Lower Level" room is fabulous! Such a romantic setting!


  18. A beautiful table -- but yours always are -- you have so many pretty things,

  19. Bill, one word, super! Ok, one more, beautiful. Alright, I thought of another one, romantic...

  20. Fantastic, Bill! My favorite are those candle holders that look like bird cages, you used as part of the centerpieces....Christine

  21. Bill, Rustic yet elegant all at the same time. Absolutely splendrous. Have a wonderful evening!

  22. Bill, your tablescapes are always so magical! Love this one! I'm having a giveaway worth $175 you're GOING TO LOVE LOVE LOVE! Please stop by soon - it ends quick! Thanks for sharing, and inspiring! :)

  23. What a perfect place to set up a tablescape. Everything you touch seems to turn
    Have a safe trip....

  24. I enjoyed not only the tablescape but the presentation of your blog.

    Very entertaining and informative. Thank you for taking the time to share!

  25. WOW!!!! Your "Lower Level" is gorgeous. Your brick walls and stained flooring are the perfect setting for anything. I love the charm and personality of the mis-matched chairs. Your photography is stunning. Your eye for detail is depicted in each image. Your china, flatware, birdcages and candels make this a perfect tablescape. I enjoyed the little bit of history you shared. Have a wonderful and safe trip!!!!

    Katherine S.

  26. Beautiful tablescape, Bill, and the birdcages are gorgeous and so unique. And let me just say that you have the nicest walk-out basement I've ever seen! I love the brick and the cozy feeling it imparts.

    Have a great trip!

  27. Beautiful post Bill. This Fall of 2009 seems different to me, more bittersweet, almost quiet. A good time to gather with friends for upliftment and fun..Ahrisha

  28. Stunning!! I adore this tablescape!!

  29. Bill, you are so charming! I love the history behind the bird cages, what a special find indeed.

  30. Bill, great tablescape , so nice by candlelight too. You found some fun things at that estate sale. I would have loved the birdcages too, they are a weekness for me.
    Linda Q

  31. What a charming room your lower level is with its brick walls. The birdcages are a stunning addition to your formal table. I believe my mom had that same silver plate. Thanks for giving the history and info about Syracuse China. We used to live near it and frequented the seconds store often. I am sad to learn that it closed this year. Have a great trip and return here soon.

  32. Beautiful table setting. Love those birdcages!
    Don't know if anyone else is having a problem or not, but my "Reading List: on Blogger no longer lets me know when you publish a new post. The last couple of posts you have done, I found because I had your blog on my Favorites list. I have been a follower for quiet a while now - will sign up again and see if that helps.
    Have a greaat evening.

  33. I would have grabbed those birdcages myself. They are so unique and look wonderful on the table. What a lovely setting for dinner party...I enjoyed my visit.


  34. Hi Bill,
    Simple, yes. Beautiful, YES! The birdcages are so unusual. What a great find!!!

    Tell us about the floor in your "lower level". Is it stained and polished concrete? Whatever it is, it is beautiful.

    Have a wonderful rest of the week,
    Jane (Artfully Graced)

  35. Thoroughly enjoyed this, Bill. You have such a very lovely home, and I'm pleased that you share it with us. I particularly like the fact that you used different chairs around the library table. That makes it more fun!

    Speaking of which, have fun on your trip...


    Sheila :-)

  36. Bill,
    Your Lower Level resembles no basement that I have ever seen, it reminds me of a rustic English Country House we stayed in years ago. The tablescape is, as always, stunning and wouldn't you love to hear what a dulcimer sounded like? I'm sure it would be heavenly.

  37. Bill - this tablescape is simple, simply beeutiful! Love the birdcages, what a find. Safe travels ~ Jennifer

  38. Your photography skills are amazing! The night time pictures with the candles were stunning! The candelabra reflecting in the door was outstanding. A lot of the pictures had an old English or Irish Pub feel to them, very warm and inviting.
    And I love your home, it's so warm, and so unique, and so elegant looking.
    This tablescape was wonderful (I especially love the silver and those birdcages were found treasure), and the surroundings are even better! Love the brick wall! And I loved the mismatched chairs.

    I liked this post a lot, it gave me a very serene feeling.

    I enjoyed your last post too! Thanks for the tour of the beautiful homes.

    Enjoy your travels!
    After this weekend I won't be posting again until November, but I'm going to try and visit in the meantime.
    Happy trails to you!
    All the best,

  39. Oh, I almost forgot to mention two other stand-outs, I love, love, love the beautiful rose painting! Thanks for including it! And great job on the centerpiece!

  40. As usual Bill, there comes a point when scrolling down through your pictures that I just have to say "Ohhhhhhhhhh" and when I saw those gorgeous cages with the candles lit, well it was an Oh moment. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy your travels and be safe!

  41. Hi Dear Bill! Oh and what a poem! Your table is beautiful as always! Your home is beautiful! I just love being able to see other areas. The lone painting on the wall just sings too! Your new bird cages are marvelous! How unusual and lovely. Love your candle stand and hydrangeas, your dishes and glasses! Shoot! I just love it all!
    Yes, I know the song 'The Girl Can't Help It'. That is a good song for dishaholism! I'll have to remember that one.
    Have a wonderful weekend and
    Don't forget to be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  42. Hi Bill,
    What a neat room! Love the library table and the mix of chairs! What neat tablescaping pieces you found...and with a it! Only 1 glass...geesh. Ok, I'll make do. ;-)

  43. Hi Bill, enjoyed looking at your tablescape. I have three words: intimate, inspiring and inviting ! Love those bird cages and that table is gorge!

  44. Thanks for the information on your floor, Bill. I have always thought about doing a floor like this. Alas, I have no basement here in FL, but the pool bath which gets a lot of wear and tear may be a good candidate.

    You and your photos have inspired me...
    Many thanks,

  45. Great post and beautiful table. Interesting "Turn Over Club" information. Thanks for sharing with me today.

  46. Hey Bill,
    Just wanted to stop back and thank you for becoming a follower and leaving a comment. I hope you'll visit often!

  47. Hi Bill,
    I thought I had already commented, but don't see it. Fabulous job, as usual! Great poem! I always enjoy seeing your creations!


  48. Hi Bill -- it is time after time that i read your blog and am transfixed by it.

    Love the brick wall with painting just perfectly chosen. Especially am in love with the mis matched chairs.

    Stunning... Thanks for sharing.

    If you have a moment I would love you to stop by and say hi.

    TTFN~~ Claudia ♥ ♥

  49. Bill,
    This is a wonderful post!

    I enjoyed it!


  50. Hello Bill~I've just strolled into your blog for my first visit...I've enjoyed taking a peek at your past posts. You've got so many wonderful treasures. Your tablescape is so beautifully inviting.
    We share similar taste for so many of the same design elements. The decorative birdcages added the perfect touch to your table.

    I've bookmarked you in my favs.
    I look forward to coming by your charming blog again.
    Come by for a visit. Your company would be nice.

    Sweet wishes,

  51. Good Morning Bill,

    This is the first time that I have visited your blog. I LOVE the pictures and the poem. Your home is exquisite!!

    Thanks for sharing with us today!

  52. Hi Bill,
    Your table tucked away in that beautiful corner of your room adds greatly to the ambiance. So simple and refined. A "feast" for the eyes!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  53. Hey Bill I hope your OK...I haven't seen you around and just stopped by to say Hi!! Hope all is well on your side of the mountain my friend...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  54. Bill,

    Your table is certainly pretty, but I love the addition of the mix-and-match chairs. It makes gives your setting so much more visual appeal and offers a casual touch to what could have looked very formal. Gorgeous! And there's nothing wrong with a walk-out basement. I wish I had one! Stan

  55. Bill, you are such a talented photographer. I think I love this post the best...until your next one. I think the walk in basement was the perfect setting. A little gothic romance like Jane Eyre. The mismatched chairs were an inspired touch. Tell me, how does one wrangle an invite to one of your soirees?


  56. Beautifully presented Bill, lots of talent goes into assembling assortments into a pretty tablescape. Too funny your comment about the word “tablescape” flashing at the sight of something with promise.

  57. This is a refreshing tablescape.
    Liked the atmosphere you've created and the chairs add alot of charm against the brick wall.
    God bless,

  58. FAB-U-LOUS and I love the background of the old brick! And the birdcages...what a coup!

  59. Bill,
    Lovely as usual, I love your lower level, the brick has such a beautiful patina and creates a great backdrop. You tablescape is just as elegant when you are being casual. Soon you will need a room like Bonnie on Susan's post. You do have some great finds!

  60. Bill, I miss you and hope you are doing well. I thought I would send Magpie Search and Rescue to see if some culprit had eaten the breadcrumb trail back to the Land of Blog. If so, I'm leaving a fresh one.


    Sheila :-)

  61. Love the tulips. Very cheerful and fresh. The leaf glasswear reminds me of a set my grandmother had. It brings back good memories.