Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Romance, Books, Homes, and Goats! What More Could You Want?

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Passion of Carl and Lilian Sandburg!

Stop yawning, you!
We're talking PASSION here, people!
Passion that involves four of my favorite things: Romance, Books, Historic Homes, and...GOATS!
Yes, you read correctly!
I like goats almost as much as I like sheep.
And so did the Sandburgs.
Allow me to explain.

For my birthday, my sweet daughter came home from college (see Sleeping Beauty in her very own bed in yesterday's post) so we celebrated with a trip up to Flat Rock, North Carolina, to Carl Sandburg's home.

It's called Connemara, and it's a beautiful place.
We go there every few years, and I get inspired every time we stroll the grounds and tour their house.

Let me tell you about their passions!
PASSION ONE: Each other!
Carl and Lilian were completely devoted to each other and honored each other's passions as well. Carl's passion for writing was well known, but Lilian was famous internationally in her own right as a breeder of goats! In fact, they only moved to Connemara because she thought it'd be a better place for raising her herd.

Carl would work all night, until 5am, when when Lilian would rise to feed the goats. Every morning she would leave his breakfast/lunch on a tray for him outside his room, to eat when he got up around noon.
I'd love to live like that, if Todd would be Lilian and I could be Carl.
Sadly, Todd just doesn't love goats.

Here's Carl's downstairs office, complete with his cardboard box filing system.

Every night, the whole family would eat dinner together and then take a walk around the farm.
Here's the dining room where they ate.

There are tons of books in every room of the house. They moved in with over 14,000 books, and added plenty more in their twenty four years there.

PASSION TWO: Writing and books!
Carl won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg, and another for the biography Abraham Lincoln. But did he display them? No!
He did, however, display a plaque given to him by the NAACP for his contributions to the civil rights movement, along with a plaque from the Girl Scouts.

You may know him best for this poem:

The fog comes on
little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and
city on silent
haunches and
then moves on.

Don't you love that?

Here's his upstairs office, the one he used for his serious writing at night.

PASSION THREE: Historic Homes!
Connemara was built back in 1839, but Carl and Lilian didn't buy the place until 1945.

And no, I don't have triplet sons. Todd was getting a little fancy with his camera while Sarah and I took the house tour. I've toured it many times, but it never gets old.

Stepping into that house is like going back in time. Two years after Sandburg died, in 1969, Lilian and her daughters packed up a few suitcases each and left the house for the National Parks Service. Lilian's only condition was that it be kept exactly as she left it. There are calendars still on the wall, magazines on the coffee table, Sandburg's cigar butts still in the ashtrays. You can really get a sense of what their lives were like.


Lilian's goat Jenny held a world record for many years for producing over 2.5 gallons of milk per day! Whoa. That must have been quite a sight.
I almost feel sorry for her. (The goat, not Lilian.)
I can almost feel her pain.
We won't go into that.

And one last fun fact...
Stephen Spielberg supposedly modeled ET's face after a combination of Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein, and Carl Sandburg!

I don't know...what do you think?

Enjoy the youtube video of his poem Chicago.
If you have family in the windy city, it will make you want to phone home!
(Get it?)
And see you tomorrow for Tons O'Fun!

Love, Becky


Susan said...

Becky, I won't be able to participate in the Wednesday Wonders, but I do want to say Happy Birthday. Enjoy it and do something for yourself. Hugs.

Suzie said...

Im so glad your daughter came home what a nice B-day surprise

Barb said...

OMG Becky. I can see where ET came from. He does look like a combo of the 3.

Loved the pictures- tell Todd "very cool" with the triplet picture.

It looks like you had a very interesting day. What a lovely place to spend family time.
Happy BD.


Sherry Martschink said...

Just loved the books in the dining room! Of course, I love books everywhere.

Interesting info about ET!

TattingChic said...

What a great post! I never knew all this about Carl Sandberg. What an interesting life he led with the love of his life. Sounds like you had a nice day visiting there.

Rosemary said...

Hi Rebecca,
Hope you had a Happy Birthday!
I do know that poem, but didn't really know who wrote it.
Looking forward to tomorrow!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Happy Birthday! And I just wanted to share with one and all that I once attended a school named after Carl Sandburg. Because that's totally important. Really.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey folks!
Susan, we'll miss you!

Suzie, it was great. I've missed that girl! We went to Target and bought her pink rainboots--and I reveled in the girliness of the moment! Now I'm back with the boys.

Barb, isn't the ET thing hilarious! I think he looks like Carl the most. I doubt Carl would mind.

Sherry, I always wanted a dining room full of books.

Tatting Chic, there is so much more about him that I didn't have time to share. I'm going to look for a book about his life. If I find a good one, I'll let you know.

Rosemary, I'm so glad you're participating.

Tonggu momma, I read about that school! And when I searched for the youtube poem, I found all sorts of videos by its students. Y'all have quite a choir!

Jamie said...

Oh, great post! I love history - it's so fun to go through old houses like that, especially when they are set up exactly as they were left! Your post below was too much for me - YUM!

Anonymous said...

Hey Becky,

Happy belated birthday!
Great to find you in the blogosphere. Fun post!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have been to Connemara and agree that it is fascinating. I remember thinking that old Carl must have been a tad high-maintenance to live with. I'm married to a writer as well, so I can say this!!

I too, adore goats by the way. You should see this if you have not.


susie said...

I remember seeing that Carl kept a plaster cast of his face and said that it was nice because when you got mad you could step on yourself. Strange the things that I remember.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Huh. I never knew much of that, so thanks! As always, you've enlightened me again today.

p.s. they named their home after a lovely spot in Ireland.

Doreen said...

Happy Birthday Becky. I hope you had a wonderful day.

:)Thank you so much for stopping by to visit today.


LW said...

A very Happy Birthday to you!!!
what a lovely way to spend the day.
I think ET does look a little like Carl...

see you tomorrow....
I am ready....


Susan Sandmore said...

Looks wonderful! I swear I've been there (school trip) but I can't recall a thing about it, so maybe not. Hmmm.

ToddR said...

I could not wait to see if anyone saw the ghost of Becky in the picture of the goat barn. It is pretty cool.
(a result of the "panorama" function on my camera)

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Todd, that is one sneaky way to get me into a picture without telling me! You're a rat. A cute rat, but a rat nonetheless.
If I had known, I wouldn't have slouched!
By the way, we should probably talk face to face, rather than over my blog. How are you doing, rat man?

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey Jamie. My hubby is the history buff in my house, but I like it too--if it's connected to houses or good writing!

Jennifer! It's great to hear from you! I hope you are well. I'm afraid I don't check in at myspace as much as I should. I've been having so much fun with this blog that I forget about it! Don't we share the same b-day? Or maybe that's something I dreamed up. If so, Happy Birthday! If not, happy day anyway.

Pamela! That's the funniest video I've seen in a long time! I may have to include it in a later post. It's a good thing that goat doesn't live with me. Some days I hear "Mom!" so much that I just want to tackle someone. It might push me over the edge! Hilarious!

Susie, that's funny. I wouldn't want a plaster cast of my face around. That would freak me out.

Hey Green Girl! Yep, that's what the tour guide said. I believe the second owner gave it that name. He was a textile tycoon named Smythe, and he wanted to honor his Irish ancestry. I've never been to Ireland, so I can't say if it looks much like it.

Hi Doreen. And Louise, I think ET looks most like Carl, less like the other two. Or maybe I just can't see it.

Hey Susan, don't you hate it when that happens? I get that all the time, and usually I find out later that I read a book about some place that I was sure I recognized, or maybe I did go when I was little. But oh how it bugs me. My memory constantly drives me crazy, how it's so good at some things and so bad at others. Especially when I'm under stress. Like the time I forgot my son's middle name. Talk about embarrassing. And yet I can recall verbatim a conversation I had with a stranger on a street.

Maybe I should stop confessing things now. Mom, I'm really fine. Don't worry.

Anonymous said...

Hey Becky.

We do share the same year, and Chemistry!!! (If my mind serves me right.) I'm doing well. Coming out of a tough year, but God is good and continues to heal me up one cell at a time.

I'm taking a Chem test right now to become an on-line tutor. It's been so long...I awakening brain cells I haven't used in 8 years.

Randy and Linda said...

We have always wanted to visit the
Sandburg home, and the one time we stopped to visit, we got about halfway around the lake trail when a wicked thunderstorm sent us running back to the car! Thanks to your nice photos I almost feel like I've been there. We will get there soon.
Glad Todd is having fun with the panoramic mode and stitching software - nice pics Todd!
I love old houses, too - they have such character and almost take on a personality of their own.
Meant to tell you that Linda and you have some things in common. You're both writers, except hers is technical and owned by the company. And she's a biology grad from Furman - well not quite the same as biochem, but some similarity.
And I mostly want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!

May Vanderbilt said...

I LOVE THESE PEOPLE. This life they lived! So Romantic!

I'm jealous. It makes mine look a little ordinary.

Robyn said...

Happy Birthday! (And I love the goats).

Can you still include me in Wonder-full Wednesday? I just posted my 'Wonder.'

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Jennifer, I'm sorry your year's been tough. I'll say a prayer. And I know what you mean...My middle child is taking chemistry now, and I'm having to wake up my chem teaching muscles!

Hey Randy, thanks for the b-day wishes. And I didn't know that about Linda. Tell her hi for me!

May, I know! The more I find out about them, the more I love them!

Robyn, I'd love to add you! And I sneaked over to your site early. Your post is fantastic! I really enjoyed it. (I'm clapping--giving you a hand!)