Early in our marriage Mrs. Barn and I took a trip to Asheville NC for a craft fair and tour of the Biltmore Estate, the largest private home ever built in the USA.  Biltmore was mind blowing, and five years later I would decline an offer to become the museum’s Chief Conservator.  The trip, tour, and fair were extravagant expenses for us as we were both college students, she as a Graduate Fellow (read: $tipend) in Plant Pathology, me working at Winterthur Museum’s Metals Conservation Laboratory.  I recall three purchases we made a that craft show, two of which were the pottery tureen and soup bowls that we still use, and a hand-colored pressed engraving of a country house in a snowstorm, still hanging on the dining room wall as I look outside watching the snow falling.

The third purchase, an ultra fashionable winter hat made from a fleece, had retreated from my memory until last summer when I re-discovered it among a box of stuff in my old basement workshop.  I immediately brought it to the mountains and put it back into circulation, waiting only for the weather to get cold enough so that my head would not cook (it is *really* warm in addition to being oh so stylish).  These days I find it to be the last thing I reach for before departing the cabin for the walk up the hill to the barn.  Up there I keep it on until the heat builds up from the wood/coal stove as my work day begins.  There it hangs by the door, ready to be put back on if I need to go outside the heated envelope of my shop.