People that have followed my three year restoration journey have frequently read things where I talked about my vision for my home. Recently the vision of hosting friends as overnight guest materialized when my former employee, but more important descriptor friends Vicki Schwartz and her husband Steve spent a long weekend with me. Vicki worked for me when I ran the “good” visitor center that used to be located on Fountain Square in what is now Graeter’s Ice Cream. That center closed in 2005, but I have maintained a friendship with Vicki and her husband ever since. So much so that when I’ve traveled to North Carolina anywhere close to Winston Salem, which is where they live now, they have hosted me at their home (once by myself, once with a teenager, and once with my two dogs, now that’s friendship). They come back to Cincinnati at least once a year and they got to see my house during construction, I didn’t have walls yet. I told them then when it was finished they must stay with me on one of their visits. Covid delayed that opportunity by a year.

They got to stay in the Janet Suite and I gave them a key, so they could come and go as they pleased. They arrived on a Thursday night after an eight hour drive.  I was prepared with cheeses, ham, turkey, and a variety of chips; something light as I thought they’d be more tired than hungry.  What Steve had a taste for was a peanut butter sandwich, so thankfully I had that in the pantry. Vicki joined him and had PB&J.

Of course they loved the house.  I’ve shared pictures of the finished product, but they said the images didn’t do it justice.  They truly did not want me to put up a fuss.  For breakfast I had fresh baked muffins for them.  Steve just needed two cups of coffee and Vicki brought her own tea bags.  Friday they spent the entire day out visiting other friends.  I had not gotten a chance to give the yard a fresh cut, so I did that.  It warmed my heart to see clearly how at ease they felt in my home.  I loved seeing my “bathroom of positivity” (decor is filled with positive motivational statements) so lived in.  Friday night they had dinner with friends, so an easy day of hosting for me.

Saturday was hang out day for me and Vicki and Steve got to visit some of his car friends (he has a vintage Alfa Romero that he’s had in the Cincinnati’s Concours D’elegance many times).  Vicki was part of the original docent class for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, so she wanted to go there and hoped she see any of her former fellow docents.  We lucked up and caught James (Jim) Brock as he was arriving for his shift.  Before moving to Winston Salem Vicki hosted her docent colleagues at her home, so I quickly offered to host them next year when Vicki and Steve make their trip in 2022. They had recently lost one member of the original class, Verneida Britton who also use to work for me at the Visitor Center, to cancer.

Saturday evening I hosted a Visitor Center reunion cook out.  Our boss, Joan Kaup, and two other of my staff, Carolyn Sherman and Sandra Bowen came with their husbands.  I am the age now that these ladies were when they worked for me.  Sandra and I recently reconnected when she came to my first open house (I didn’t know she was following the journey), but Joan and Carolyn I have formed friendships too.  What was amazing is that it turned out Vicki and Steve knew Joan’s husband Rick from when he lived in Mariemont (where they lived) with his first wife and Vicki actually use to work for Sandra’s husband.  It turned out Vicki’s and Sandra’s tenure didn’t overlap.  It was an evening filled with great conversation and no concerns about Covid-19 as the entire group had been vaccinated.  It was nice to remember that I actually had some enjoyable years of employment at that start of my CVB career.  I’ve gone on road trips with Joan, Carolyn, and Vicki as a testament that friendships can be formed at work. 

Sunday during the day they visited more friends, but that evening they took me to dinner at the Chart House. I hadn’t been there in years. Beautiful setting as our table was near a window with clear views of the Ohio River. Great food, more great conversation, and awesome key lime pie for dessert. I’d get that pie as a carry out it was that good.

Monday was the departure day. I was able to pack them turkey and ham sandwiches for the road. In route to home they had planned to stop at the cemetery where Vicki’s parents are buried to place flowers and do any needed clean up. Vicki sent me a text sharing they were back on the road after consuming their delicious sandwiches. Not that I want to monopolize their visits to Cincinnati, but I hope they will chose me over other friends when they make the trek next year. It was nice having them visit. My house was filling the purpose for which she was restored and now with the mask mandate lifted I hope more visitors will come.

This photo showed me it was time to address the graying wood of my pergola. Stay tuned for the first “maintenance” project for my restored home.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for a terrific evening Venus. The food was delicious and the company was so much fun. I enjoyed reconnecting with David Bowen, who was such a helpful friend, so generous and resourceful, when we were pulling together the book to commemorate 150 years of the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Your home is warm, inviting, comfortable, and will soon be recognized as the gathering place.

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