A Numbers Game: No naming the nests

NoMy sister Jo-Jo is famous for naming houses and spaces.  Sometimes the names are aspirational, other times more fitting to their geographic location, and still others…pure fantasy.  When I think back to Shangri-la – the name she gave to the third floor attic space that my Father converted to a bedroom escape at his Blueberry Pond Drive house on the Cape – fantasy comes to mind.  Shangri-la is of course a reference to James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon which speaks of this “mystical, harmonious valley….”.
If you’ve ever been party to the modern family mash-up, coming together under one roof in search of open sky, sun, beach, and a cool ocean breeze, you know that serenity is not exactly what is produced inside those walls.  After scaling a mountain of steps, and locking the door to keep out unwanted intruders, the attic did likely take on the mystical, harmonious qualities of a valley in the form of – quiet.  Jo-Jo owned the space because she named it.

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No. 2

Then there is the Surf Shack, The Manse – she insists on naming them.  I came up with a host of clever names for the Shack that were rejected out of hand, not because they weren’t perfect in my opinion, but because through the naming, there would be ownership.  I still secretly think of it as The Buttercup Bungalow.  A childhood name that she hated, and I adored “Buttercup” and her desire to have a California Style retreat.  Plus I love alliteration.  There’s a cadence to it that appeals, and my little fingers type out those bouncy words as fast as they pop out of my pouty pursed lips.

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No. 3

My PR Agent came for a visit and was gratifyingly appreciative of the way No. 4 has taken shape.  She asked, as many do, is it hard for you to say good-bye to the properties.  I answered as I always have – no – once they are complete, I am ready to move on to the next project.  Design ideas, and materials, and furnishings that have yet to be expressed are bubbling over, and I am antsy with the need to be unleashed.

No. 4

I wonder though if my habit of numbering the properties, rather than naming them, keeps it clinical.  It’s much harder to fall in love with something that you don’t give a special name to.  Even my very first property I only refer to as Charlestown.  As a habitual nick-name giver, I know that they express affection in a way a number never will.  Now that I have so clearly etched my number 10 in marble, what will happen if I don’t make it?  Will I never find love?  Say a little prayer for me this Sunday.  Keep naming…keep believing.

HIGH POINT: design inspiration

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Nancy Price Interiors . Abby Price Art

Design is a high point in my day.  I’m inspired by beautiful settings.  It’s always a bit surprising to me when people aren’t.  And there are people that are NOT inspired by beautiful settings.  It’s as if they can’t see it at all.  They are foreigners to me.  I recently had to take a personality test.  It said I liked aesthetically pleasing work environments.  This doesn’t shock any that knows me.  Though if you were to take a gander at the state that my office is often in, you might wonder.  A story for another time.

High Point, South Carolina is a place I’ve never been and were it not for the International Interiors Market that takes place there twice annually, I probably would never have known of it’s existence.  More than 100 countries are represented, more than 75,000 people attend to peruse 1.5M Square feet of show space.  I get dizzy just thinking about it.    It occurred to me that it could be this cold that seems to have lasted 3 months, and has a tenacity that is getting the better of me.   Silly right?  It’s definitely the idea of having access to so many amazing designers, products and furnishings all in one place.  I’d just load up on cough medicine and Red Bull, and be on my way.

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Made Good . Area Chair

Though I wasn’t able to attend, and I am currently on a buying hiatus – also a story for another time.  I have been watching Instagram blow up with jaw dropping photos of all the new finds, and lines that the showcase had to offer.

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Maggie Cruz Home . maggiecruzdesign.com Habanera Console and Cleo Stool

I feel a pang that has nothing to do with the cold, and everything to do with jealousy.  I’m consoling myself with the reality that so many of the offerings are never going to be in my budget, and that’s ok.  They can still provide inspiration, and that is just what they have done.  I hope that you feel the same way.

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SHO Modern Verge Pendant Shomodern.com

Take a look.  Next showcase is in October in the event High Point is destined to become….well the “high point” of your Fall.

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Woodson & Rummerfield . wonderdesign.com

On Point with Pink

Sometimes I stubbornly forge my own path, trying to convince others along the way that there’s value in my point of view.  It can be exhausting, and somewhat discouraging.  Now I am not saying that it’s not worth the effort, simply that when others happen already agree that I am right, I can’t say I hate it.

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M. Flynn . in the pink.

My travels through the neighborhood yesterday – on a day that can only be described as dreary, raw, and rainy, reaffirmed my belief in the color pink.  It’s as if all the shops that I visited knew it was just the infusion of cheer I was searching for.  Like my friend and Yoga Coach, Amy Coleman says, “when the sun doesn’t shine outside, we bring it in”.  then she follows that with what feels like a million Sun A’s until my limbs are on fire, I am gasping for breath, and my cheeks are radiating heat and energy.  If the sun is blazing red, pink is rosy warmth.

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Birds of a feather . Flock to M. Flynn.

First stop – M. Flynn. 40 Waltham Street . South End – http://mflynnjewelry.com a lovely jewelry store owned and operated by two sisters, Molly and Meagan Flynn.  Aside from the dazzling jewels they feature, the eternity bands, and beachy bracelets they carry, the store is always appointed with fresh cut flowers that make it feel celebratory.  It’s walls are painted in pale pink and off-set by white floors and ceilings, their messy industrial nature keeps it from feeling too prissy.

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Lekkar . hello cream puff. How is it possible you’re 20% off too?

Spirits lifted I next stopped at Lekker Home . 1313 Washington Street . South End – https://lekkerhome.com.  I had heard word of  a pink sofa with gold legs.  In what scenario was I NOT going to visit that cotton candy delight?  None.  It was lovely, and if it wasn’t 84″ long (too big for No. 4) I would have tossed my newly upholstered Verellen out like a boy toy I’d grown tired of – just kidding Verellen – I adore you.

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Yes Way – Rose.

Rose you say?  Which way – off to BRIX Wine Shop where they were having a Rose pouring, and India Hicks Trunk Show.  1284 Washington Street. South End.  www.brixwineshop.com.  Klaudia and Carri, aka “the BRIX Chicks” are as happy and complex as the wines they sell, the stories they share, and all the shades of Rose that are offered.  If you want to expand your repertoire beyond Whispering Angel and Miraval (Angie and Brad’s wine), pop in for a visit.  I promise, it won’t feel like class, the stories they share run the gamut from enchanting to scandalous.  Pick your poison.

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Hudson Boston . Casting a flattering glow.

Next off to Hudson, where I was so happy to see a lamp, whose heavy black base was accented by a enormous pink shade.  It was just the subtle touch needed to take the edge off.  Jill knows.  Pop on by at 12 Union Park Street . South End.  https://www.hudsonboston.com 

All that pink, and… being right, put the pep back in my step.

 

Rosy Glow: Living in the pink

Photographers live for “the golden hour” that time of day when the light is glowy and romantic, and casts a shimmer and sparkle on those that are bathed in it.  It’s sequins and fireworks, and candle light.  It’s dew drops, and effervescence, and youthful sleepiness.  It’s first bloom, it’s a Florence skyline, it’s perfection.  I want perfection for a moment.  There…I said it.  I want it in that moment when the light sheds years from your world weary skin, and plumps your heart to overflowing with happiness and possibility.

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No. 4 Coming Together . Painting – Stephanie Shank . Verellen Sofa

I think I may be on my way to achieving it in my living room.  I went for the pastels and the peaches, the blush and palest of the cream white tones.  I blanketed it in a backdrop of Benjamin Moore Sand Dollar.  (oh Ben, we’ll get to you tomorrow – you’ve stepped up your game yet again – how you do please me).

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Pastel puddles under toe (not to be confused with undertow which sweeps you along and spits you out if you know how to work with it, or has disastrous ramifications, if you don’t)  We won’t think about that now.  We’ll think about the luscious Landry and Arcari Turkish Oushak that tickles my toes, and my fancy all at the same time.  Though I wasn’t sure it achieved my bright side fantasies, it is well suited to the setting and I have grown very fond of it.

 

Achieving lighting levels that will flatter you and your guests require some simple rules of thumb.

  • Variety:  Cans, pendants, chandeliers, standing lamps, table lamps, wall mounted,
  • Bulbs:  Say no to Florescent, yes to LED, and don’t be afraid to strategically employ soft pink bulbs,
  • Dimmers:  yes please – have an Electrician install them everywhere, variety is key to achieving a sultry smolder or a blushy beam,
  • In-direct:  keep them guessing.  From what point does the light emanate?  Hide it behind a plant, beneath a molding, allow it to splash a wall or painting rather than direct it’s beam toward some Bell in a Ballgown.
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Oomph Slipper . Bungalow5 Side Table . L & A . Turkish Oushak

I’ll be bringing back an Electrician – a fourth time.  There’s work to do yet, but my furnishings and art are working hard to do their part.

Poem for Spring

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These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.

The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods –
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.

Robshaw: Revival of the fittest

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Step back in time…were it not for the sneakers.  Robshaw in India from his website.

John Robshaw strikes me as an old soul with an adventurous heart, and an appropriately reverent appreciation for the commingling of history, and artisanal craft.  It’s a mouthful, but I suspect, though I have not met Mr. Robshaw, that his waters run deep. Therefore, they are worthy of the words. One little post from a gal on a modest quest like me, cannot possibly do this man justice.  I can however attempt to share with you all, some of elegance of what he creates. From the dusty roads of Rujistan to NYC’s Bowery, Robshaw has pioneered a revival.

 

JR The Bowery

The Bowery . in a time gone by.

From fine artist to artisan, from the studios and classrooms of Pratt, to the dirt floors, and open air markets of India, where the ancient and traditional techniques of hand blocked fabrics, found an eager student in John.  He has made a living, in living his passion.

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Aerial Light Indigo

I can only imagine he has a heart born for exploration, an inquisitive nature which led him to ask how, and why this ancient tradition was carried out in this fashion.  Crouched in small covered shacks, carving wooden blocks, which will later form the pattern.  Robshaw heralds the imperfections of the design, as a sacred sign of authenticity.  He imbues a sense of awe, infuses his own stylistic technique for overlapping pattern, and natural variation in color, that is the result of something made with adept skill and pride, rather than the cold, formulaic drone of mass production.

 

Left:  Robshaw: Aleppo Light Indigo. Right:  Malik

Robshaw is a fine artist indeed.  His Bowery based shop is gritty, and full of curiosities.  It doesn’t feel at all far from the farmland that its Dutch name indicates was its origin.  Before all all the shops, and bars and restaurants sprung up, before its neighbors in Chinatown called themselves by that name, and long before the Lower East Side was hip and called The LES, and before it was inhabited by writers, and Wall Street Brokers, Hasidic Jews and bejeweled starlets…it was just farmland.  Like a seed planted in that rich soil, Robshaw sprung up, flourished, and spread from East to West and back again.

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Robshaw . Murmur Kashmir

While many of the patterns feel Bohemian, I envision them in The Manse’s – Cape Cod Coastal setting.  The watery blue hues, the organic leafy patterns, vines and blossoms, feel right amidst the sand and seagrass.  Crisp, not rumpled.  Roman, not flowing reams of fabric for windows, upholstered stools and benches, not soft hassocks and floppy pillows.  Whatever your preference, Robshaw’s refined designs are both unique and familiar.

Left:  Robshaw . Citadel Lotus.  Right:  Robshaw . Faris Silver.

Sold to the Trade, and not here in Boston, you must email:  fabric@johnrobshaw.com.  Pillows and sheets can be bought at ABC Carpet in NYC.  I often find pillows at Hudson in Boston’s South End, and Target http://www.target.com/p/john-robshaw-bedding-collection/-/A-50746566 has an amazingly vibrant and playful line of bedding designed him.  Something to suit all budgets this Saturday.

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John Robshaw . Kalmala

Poolside Pastel for your Paradise

It’s that time of year, when winter is largely behind us, but here in New England, summer seems a long way away.  It’s cold outside and I am longing for a little vitamin d.  I am feeling resentful toward all those that are reporting they are in a sunny warm place, out boating, and swimming, or lying poolside wiggling their toes in the shallow end where the kids play.  The only light of day my toes are seeing is inside a heated yoga studio.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am grateful to take them out for a walk, but it’s not the same as sinking them into the sand.

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The Beverly Hills Hotel . The Hollywood Reporter . Renovated Pool Area

Alas, as I push to complete this project, and I track down, dozens of different players to assembler the parts – another small carpentry project to create panel doors that will be installed on the built-in (this will be the third builder involved in the completion of this single piece).  If you think that’s unusual or even an isolated incident – it’s not.

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Beverly Hills Hotel . Cabana . The Hollywood Reporter

I’ve had three different painters on this job – four if you include my builder who went a round in the unit.  I need a single brass cabinet pull that didn’t come with the original order – always check the order.  They ship by weight rather than by actually counting the pieces that you requested, and paid for when you placed the order.  I say this with no incredulity in the voice in my head (which is the one I hear when I write this) I’m numb to those realities.  That’s not the part that bothers me, it’s that the lead time is 8 – 12 weeks.  Good golly, how is one expected to hedge against that reality?

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The Viceroy . Palm Springs . CA – Kelly Wearstler Design . copyright Katherine Belarmino

So, I won’t be going anywhere.  I’d settle for a pleasant May, and a number of fantasy worthy destinations to inspire pool, beach, or back yard lounging when the time comes, in my neck of the woods.  Though I grew up on Nantucket Sound, which is nothing at all like California, I love

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One Kings Lane . Light Yellow Umbrella . $539.

CA hotel pools, because…they’re so pretty.  It was just National Stripes Day, a few weeks ago, and I love stripes, and fringe, and pom-pom, and palm trees — even if they are pink and manufactured from metal.  They are still cool in their kitschiness.

Santa Barbara Umbrella . Mirasl . Flamenco . Cirque  www.sbumbrella.com

Serena and Lily . Left:  Pacifica Corner Sectional $4998.  Right Sebastopol Stool $198.  www.serenaandlily.com

I am a big fan of the Serena & Lily aesthetic, but it’s out of my budget.  Perhaps it’s not out of yours and/or you can use it to inspire your design.  Just as I will.  Whatever will I do to simulate a pool.  That is not in my future.  I know that.  My good friend Lisa is having one put in at her home.  Maybe she’ll allow me to help with the design.

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Pier One Imports . Casbah Stacking Chair . $139. www.pier1.com

A sunny Sunday to you – wherever you may be.

Something Beautiful: Jenna Lyons

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Jenna Lyons

Creative Director and President of J. Crew, until Monday, when I heard the sad news of her departure.  If you don’t know already, this woman is seriously cool.  Design is in her genes, whether she wears them (jeans that is) to the Met Ball, the who’s who of whoing in American Hip People of the Moment, or she’s donning a jacket that any American teenage kid would wear to school, with stilettos, and a high-fashion silk print pencil skirt.   She can pull it off.

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Lyons . Sleek Elegance

Like great interior design, there is a fascination with well juxtaposed materials in fashion.  Fluffy fur, paired with a utility jean, sequins with khakis, suiting with a pajama top.  Yes, it’s surely true this look will not work for everyone, and I don’t want it to.  She’s special. She’s amazing.  She’s the reason I still spend more money at J. Crew (shoes excluded) than on any other brand combined.

I feel like the air has been let out of my balloon.

I admit that I didn’t come to know who she was before her Park Slope Brooklyn Apartment was featured in Domino Magazine.  Will you hold that against me?  Not too long ago, she came to Boston and spoke at the Copley Place Store.  I was fascinated by her upbringing, her self-consciousness, her belief that she wasn’t pretty.  She’s so incredibly relatable, real, warm, and when I had my picture taken with her, she made me feel fun…special.

Jenna Lyons Park Slope Home.  Black . White and Yellow Graphic Beauty.

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I find it interesting that not all people that are fashionistas, are good at interior design, and not all interior designers are terribly fashionable.  Interesting because I draw inspiration from fashion for my interiors projects all the time, and I adore fashion.  I would’t say I am a huge risk taker, but wearing 5″ heels on a construction site is riskier than any Safety Officer wants you to be – what do they know about fashion anyway?  I love my industry, but I simply could not be in it, if it didn’t allow me, to be me, as far as fashion is concerned.

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Juxtaposing materials and textures.

“It only takes one colorful item to make a great day beautiful – or a bland outfit sunny.”  Jenna Lyons

J. Crew followers may not have been able to express themselves in quite the same way as Lyons – I suspect she wouldn’t want them to, but at the same time, to go back to a plain old t-shirt, khaki pant, and tennis shoe – the brand of old, seems too dull for words.

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Look at that floor!

“As far as I’m concerned…leopard is a neutral.”  Jenna Lyons

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I’m hoping that the Leopard that is so often present in her style, expresses itself in her comeback.  If her “Crew” couldn’t get on board the J., she’ll find another vessel and trust me when I tell you, I’ll be her winch man.

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“When something hasn’t been as beautiful as it can be, the reason is always bigger than the thing.”  Jenna Lyons.

Whatever the reason for the departure, it won’t be bigger than her ability to overcome it.  Certain of that!

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Enough Said…..

Ode to Etsy: small business . big community

New businesses, ways of working, entirely new economies, and economic realities…are popping up at a pace that is frankly dizzying.  Sadly many companies, and ways of life are disappearing just as fast.  I’m telling you right now, if Dairy Queen disappears into that good night, there will be nothing good about it!

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Etsy . SouthernShades $70.

Etsy represents an old way of doing things, like back in the day when people attended craft fairs to get one-of-a-kind gifts, and pieces for their homes, with the new reality, people are so super busy that the thought of traveling to Brimfield for the Antique Flee Market seems as daunting as going to Fiji to meet the Dalai Lama…impossible. It’s the time not the dime that’s the problem.  And this my friends lends itself nicely to the reality that our intense need for speciality items hasn’t diminished one iota, even if the way in which we go about getting these things has.

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Etsy . Mowdwrk . $295.42

More than a convenient place to shop, Etsy, which was launched in 2005, and is global by nature of it’s this e-commerceness”e”, is a community.  It feels a little like WeWork, and though store-owners don’t share the coffee or the medical plan, they are benefitting from a peer-to-peer network, and the collective power of hanging your shingle along side other photographers, pillow makers, jewelry designers, and a shared belief artisnal over mass produced.  Maybe I can’t get to Brimfield, or Fiji in the next few years, but bet I bet I can get something something unique from one, or both places, on Etsy.

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Etsy . Thetuftedfrog . $260.

Let’s talk price.  Some items are very expensive.  Predominantly one of a kind, and handmade, it should not be surprising, but more often than not I find them far more affordable than the larger stores in which I am inclined to shop.  This has led me to start proactively searching there site before I hit send to place my order.  I’ve simply got to stop spending so much money on furnishings.  Money that I will never get back.  A year ago, I would have told you that it absolutely wouldn’t be worth all the disruption, if I couldn’t design my properties just exactly as I wanted.  If you can’t read between my lines, I’ll spell it out here for you – expensive!  Now that I have been turned on to Etsy, I feel like I can have it all.  Want the new Schumacher fabric for your throw pillows –  one of the Etsy Store Owners likely has it.  I’ve even found things I didn’t know existed before.

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Etsy . LoveColoray . $320. removal wallpaper

Etsy’s opened a whole new world to me.  I could log some miles surfing those shops.  Back to the problem of time…Happy Sunday.

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Etsy . CanvasCarnival . Curtains . Price based on size.

Classic Beauty: Neoclassical that is

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Harvard University . Memorial Church

Harvard University’s Memorial Church in Harvard Yard is indeed a place of grace as advertised.  Getting sense of place right is a strong suit.  I need only walk from the parking garage past the Curious George Store, cut across the island where International Magazines (pick your language and feel right at home or in an exotic new land) are sold at a Kiosk, before entering the gates to the yard.  My first foot fall through the gate changes everything.  I breath easier, the trees, the landscape, the energy, the possibility.  It’s all there.  Add stunning architecture, architecture that is meant to impress, and impose upon you the importance of this institute of higher learning.  It succeeds.  I pass John Harvard’s statue on the left as I make my way to Mem, and then I am there.

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Designed by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch & Abbot, MemChurch was dedicated in 1932 on Armistice Day.  Meant to honor the men that died in WWI, it would go on to honor those that died in WWII, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, so many conflicts.  It is not felt in this church.  There is serenity, calm and a sense of belonging – whether you are religious or not, whether it’s filled with voices singing and organs playing, or there is only the soft creak of the enormous wooden doors, the quiet shuffle of a visitor, taking a look, or finding a pew to sit, like me, and enjoy a few minutes of solitude.  So little of my life is quiet.  Why don’t we value time to think a little more?

Like most church’s, Memorial Church was designed to create a sense of awe in the eye of the beholder, to lift you up, bring you closer to God, if you are so inclined to believe.  I can assure you, this space can make you believe, and Jonathan Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister at the Church, will make you glad you came.  He radiates light and energy, he fills the voluminous space inspirational words, and the architecture reinforces the message.

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Today it might be sleeting, raining, snowing, and seem as if spring will never arrive here in New England, but it will be bright again.  MemChurch is the same message of hope.  It’s open to ALL, services every Sunday in the main Sanctuary, morning prayer, weekdays in Appleton Chapel.  Take a peek, see where this new found inspiration will take you.