Rainbows, sunsets and sweet memories of home

Rainbows, sunsets and sweet memories of home

Friday, June 19, 2015 at 7:36AM | Wrenda

It's true. You can't go home again. Sigh.

That's why I waited almost 10 years before going back to the Virginia peninsula where I was born and raised before leaving to come to Florida for a job at Walt Disney World.

For me, the area is filled with such wonderful memories but also of deep loss. I avoided it for a long time.


But I wanted to see my cousin in Williamsburg and I felt a pull to be back in the history-rich area where I grew up. As the late writer, William Styron told me many years ago when I interviewed him for the Daily Press, "no matter what you are writing about, you are writing about the first 17 year of your life." I believe those memories impact everything that we do. They are always there.


A great day in 1963 on the York River (Goodwin's Island) with my dad, John Wren Goodwyn Jr.

On this recent visit, I didn't go by Warwick High School where my dad played football and I danced with the Grenadier Band and Bagpipe Corp on the same field. I didn't see the old cottage on the York River where my mom, dad and little brother, along with our dog, spent so many afternoons in our tiny boat crabbing and clamming. And sitting on the screened porch watching storms, rainbows and sunsets. I didn't ride by the restaurant on Warwick Blvd where my dad worked extra hours so I could have braces and ballet classes.

And I didn't go by my grandmother's house in Hilton Village or climb up the long stairway to the ballet school (now something else) where I spent years taking dance classes. I didn't drive past the tennis courts in Huntington Park where my father taught me that people wouldn't remember if I won or not, but they would remember how I acted no matter what the outcome.

And I didn't go past the Daily Press where as a young reporter, my father taught me to always try to see the other person's point of view. I didn't go downtown, where as a child, my mother and I took the bus to go shopping and had lunch at the Woolworth's lunch counter. It was a big treat.

I decided to let those memories and gentle, swirling ghosts of the past, stay in my heart, resting softly.


Instead, my cousin and I took a road trip to Smithfield and spent an afternoon with a couple who were dear friends of my family. Their 1780 home sits on the bank of the James River and is beautiful.  We had soft crabs for lunch and walked through downtown Smithfield. And I ran into a classmate from high school who owns the Christmas Store. We drove past Bacon's Castle to Surry and took the ferry to Jamestown.


I had dinner with a longtime friend on the York River and walked along the boardwalk. Took a ride past the battlefields that my dad and I walked so many times because he wanted me to know everything about the history of Virginia and what it meant.

There was lots of time wandering through Colonial Williamsburg and although I hadn’t planned on it, I found myself in Bruton Parrish Church where my family had been many times. I headed up the aisle and decided to sit in Thomas Jefferson's pew and think for a minute. And suddenly an orchestra came in and had a rehearsal for a concert taking place that evening. It was a special treat.

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At sunset, I found the gate open to the Williamsburg Palace grounds and worked my way back into the maze, which in the second grade seemed very frightening but on this day was just a fun jaunt.


And we had lunch at Chowning Tavern…a tourist thing to do. But I was a tourist this time and it turns out that Chowning is where my cousin had her first date with her husband. It was the right choice.


I took long walks around my cousin's beautiful neighborhood, Queens Lake. And slept better than I have in months. Ran around with two Jack Russell Terriors, Snickers and Krypto. Visited Endview Plantation in Newport News (1769), which is the ancestral home of my cousin and her son. On a tour, we discovered that he looks striking like Dr. Humphrey Harwood Curtis, who acquired the home in 1858. We all wished we could go back in time for just a few hours to see what a day was like at Endview. And for a short time, we almost felt the layers of history that surrounded us.

At Endview Plantation in Newport News with my cousins, Carol and Mark (Curtis) Welch.

At Endview Plantation in Newport News with my cousins, Carol and Mark (Curtis) Welch.


It was a sweet visit and I found myself wanting to return soon.


This coming Sunday, Father's Day, I will be thinking about my father. He always said that when something sad happens, we needed to balance it out with something fun. So this weekend, I will think of him with my mother, brother and our dog on the river in our little boat catching soft crabs, swimming and laughing. Dinner will be great and I know the sunset will be spectacular. And maybe there will be a rainbow. I'll be at the beach looking for one.

Travels: Treasures from the beach

My recent trip to one of my favorite places in the world, Mendocino, resulted in two amazing finds. Perfect for someone like me who loves to take beautiful things and repurpose them!

It was way before sunrise when my husband went out to hit the beach in the headlands to see what had washed in overnight. A trip down the driftwood stairs to the beach and you are really in another world. This beach is one of our favorites. It is filled with beautiful driftwood that we use for his artwork.



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And today was a really lucky day. He found this beautiful abalone shell just waiting for me to take it home. It now holds the jewelry on my dressing table and is a real (and beautiful) treasure.


But that wasn’t all...he found a piece of abalone on the beach that is just perfect for a necklace. So with the help of a Southwest Florida jewelry designer,  I was able to turn it into a beautiful one-of-a-kind necklace. Something that I will always treasure as much as my memories of Mendocino.  


Stickley speaking: My fall design fix



It came at the perfect time for a fall fix: a trip to the northeast for the Interior Redecorators conference. I  stayed at a lovely inn in Morristown, N.J., conveniently located next to the train station for easy access to NYC.  The weather was beautiful and the trees made me think of fall in Virginia where I am from and North Carolina where I went to college.

Our group toured Craftsman Farms, the former country estate of noted turn-of-the-century designer Gustav Stickley, a major proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement in decorative arts, home building and furnishing styles.  Stickley combined the roles of designer and manufacturer, architect, publisher, philosopher, and social critic. He is best known today for his straightforward furniture, sometimes called “mission” or “Craftsman” furniture. This was of interest to me because I recently wrote an article on Stickley for the Fort Myers News-Press.

We enjoyed an afternoon walking through beautiful and quaint Chester which was painted in fall colors, learned how to make ready made drapes look like a designer did them and spent time with designers from all over the country...including my friend and interior decorina, Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs and had a wonderful dinner at the incredibly beautiful home of fellow designer Susan Hayes of Refeather Your Nest Decorating.

Then it was off to NYC for a day at the New York Design Center where Lauri Ward of Use What You Have gave us an invaluable refresher course on how to best serve our clients.

Having been to the NYDC many times, Pamela and I headed up to the newly opened 1stDibs on the 10th floor...fantastic for that unique accept piece or antique (take your checkbook with lots of $$$)!!! And then we hit the streets for a short walk and a timeout in Bryant Park on this gorgeous day.

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Now it’s back to work with lots of projects waiting!

Need some help making a few fall changes in your home? I'm inspired!

Time to hire a professional? Read my tips for working with an interior decorator in the Fort Myers News-Press. 

Mendocino: Forgotten in time

It‘s a steamy, hot day in southwest Florida and my thoughts have turned to my recent adventure to cool and blissful Mendocino. 


The haunting beauty of that area of the California coast is breathtaking and stays with you long after you leave.





The most amazing quality of Mendocino is the peaceful and stunning quiet of the area. The first few times I was here, I thought that time had forgotten about Mendocino. But during this stay, I realized that the magic of the place is that it has forgotten time. And therein lies its rare, uncomplicated beauty.


You can walk the blustery Headlands State Park (always reminds me of the Cliffs of Dover in England). Pick up colorful bits of this and that in nearby Glass Beach. Find some courage and go cave kayaking in the Pacific. Have a drink in front of the fireplace at the old Mendocino Hotel, a historic landmark, and let time transport you back to the 1850’s when the town was a booming port for logging trade. You can pick up beautiful pieces of driftwood on the beach or as I like to do, sit on a bench and take it all in. That is the pure joy of Mendocino, taking it all in.


Since for me, it is always about the houses, I love to walk the streets and explore the Victorian and saltbox homes. Some have been forgotten and are overgrown with beautiful flowers. The rolling meadows and redwood trees and just the quiet of the village of Mendocino, make me think of the movies shot there, East of Eden with James Dean and Summer of 42


But mostly I love the fact that what happens in the rest of the world really doesn’t matter here. You can leave some cash in a jar after hours for the artist who leaves a few of her pieces for those who might visit after her studio closes. Or take a break and sit for a while on a mosaic sofa that nature has taken over.



And one night I was taking a walk on the Headlands and stumbled into the playhouse where the Mendocino Theatre Company was presenting Master Class.  I asked at the box office and they told me the show started in 10 minutes and since I did not have my purse with me, I could come back and leave my money in the mail box the next day. I did. I think life should always be this way but it only seems to happen in the quaint town that forgot about time. 



And there is my favorite bookstore, Gallery Bookshop, where you have a view of the Pacific and peruse all kinds of great books. And it is fun to stop in The Birdhouse(a studio that was converted from a water tower) where artist  Monika Maluche makes her beautiful little ceramic birds. You can pick one up for $20.



But my best find in Mendocino this visit was free. My husband, in the early morning hours, found a gorgeous intact, abalone shell that washed on the beach. Perfect to hold jewelry on my dressing table, it brings back all the perfect memories every day.

I'll be back soon. It would be impossible for me to stay away.



Flying fish+a bronze pig+flowers: a morning at Pike Place Market


Photo of flowers at Pike Place Market, Seattle

Photos: Wrenda Goodwyn 


It doesn't matter where I am, I always look for decorating ideas!

It’s a beautiful day in Seattle at Pike Place Market and I am taking a quick walkthrough.

I am drawn to this place because where else can you have your picture taken with a 550 pound bronzePhoto of Rachael the pig at Pike Place Market, Seattle pig named Rachel; dodge flying fish; sample fruits and vegetables, buy some really cool crafts and listen to entertainment?

But really, for me it is the flowers and the colors. All fresh and locally grown. Wish I could take them all home with me. 


Pick your color palette! 


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Thanks Mr. Chihuly: You made my day in Seattle!

Photo of glass flowers at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle

I knew this was going to be a great day.

The kind that people who live in Seattle never talk about. The skies were blue and the sun was shining.  l almost skipped to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition that’s located at the base of the Space Needle.

Photo of Dale Chihuly and Wrenda Goodwyn at Chihuly Art and Glass in Seattle With Dale Chihuly at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.This was a day that I had looked forward to since the exhibition opened a year ago.  Stained glass has always been one of my passions and I have dabbled in it for years.  Dale Chihuly pushes the envelope with his dreamlike pieces. You want to stare at them for hours and that’s what I did.

The centerpiece is the Glasshouse. A 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space, the Glasshouse is the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories. The design draws inspiration from two of his favorite buildings: Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London.


The installation is an expansive 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber. Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. The perception of the artwork varies greatly with natural light and as the day fades into night. It is inspiring and captivating.

So after going through the exhibition(45,000-square feet of colorful bliss) twice to take it all in, I entered the Glasshouse and there he was: Dale Chihuly. It was my lucky day.  He was talking about how he did the installation. I met him and we talked for a few minutes.  He was gracious and had his photographer take a photo of us. He made my day in Seattle.

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