Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Historic Concord Holiday Home Tour

(A cute display window downtown.)

December 10th was a busy day in our little town. First there was a holiday Christmas market of local artisans downtown. We drove in and parked and walked the main street. We took Destin with us since he is the best and most well-behaved dog we have. Dressed in his little Santa outfit he was quite the center of attention. We couldn't walk two steps without someone asking to pet him. He loved every minute of it and gladly gave his butt up for a good scratch from anyone that was willing. We did buy something really cool, pic coming later after we hang it. We stopped for a Mocha Coffee at the Press & Porter and sat outside sipping them. (FYI, the Press & Porter is the local coffee house and gets its name from the businesses that occupied the space in the past. Press for the upstairs newspaper, and Porter for the Porter Drugs which was on the bottom level.)

In the afternoon we had tickets to the Holiday Open House Tour. The tour ran from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. They even had a trolley just for the event so people didn't have to walk between the houses which were spread over about a mile and a half in the historic district (which starts only two three blocks away from our house). We started walking from our house right at 4:00. The first house was probably 3/4 mile from us. It was one of our favorites. It's called the Franklin C. Niblock House and was built in 1926, a mere youngster compared to a couple of the others. The brochure says it's "a fine example of Colonial Revival."

We walk by this house all the time. It was lovely inside with radiators (I love radiator heat!!) and the updates to the house were done nicely in check with the character of the house. I was able to talk to the homeowners and a two of their sweet teenaged girls.

The next house, "The Paul B. Means House" was a long way from this one, about 3/4 mile. It was the hands-down favorite! It had gone through a total renovation in 2018 when it was purchased by the current owner. The owner, a very dapper gent with a gray ponytail was checking tickets at his front door. He had photos displayed on the walls of what it looked like before and throughout the renovation. What an undertaking! The house inside is absolutley gorgeous and whoever did the decorating for the tour did a wonderful job. I can't say enough good things about the renovation work that they did. In fact, it won the Residential Preservationist of the Year Award in 2019. They certainly did this old house proud. 

Our brochure told us that the house had been commissioned by an attorney (Paul Means) who practiced in Concord during the last three decades of the 19th century. The house was built in 1892 in a Italianate and Queen Anne style with Colonial Revival additions.

A few more houses were sprinkled in before we hit the downtown area, then the houses picked up after that. Some looked so wonderful outside, but inside they were a bit of a disappointment. Either they had done renovations not in keeping with the house, or not done renovations at all leading to very small chopped up rooms. Most of the houses had 8 bedrooms all with a fireplace (non-working now) and servant quarters. Somebody had to light all those fires in the morning for the gentry! Many of them had had kitchens that were not in the main part of the house back then due to the chances of fire and also the heat. Bathrooms were few and they told us that putting in bathrooms in houses this old is no easy task.

Finally we came to the last house on the tour. You might remember seeing my Halloween photos of all the carriages with skeletons? Same house. This is the John Milton Odell house. He was a mill owner and built his house across the street from his own textile mill, now known as the Locke Mill Plaza. It was built between 1882 and 1890. The portion of the porch along the South side was enclosed as a sun room during the 1920s. The interior went through an extensive remodel during the 1960s which removed many of the original details. It was interesting inside, with our favorite room being the sunroom. The owner confided to us that it's nice during the day but colder than, well you-know-what, in the night. It was massive inside, bedroom after bedroom and bathroom after bathroom. 

Of course I had to ask him the obvious question that stood foremost in my mind and that was "Where do you store all those carriages and Halloween things?" Poor man, he shook his head and said if he had a dollar for everybody that has asked him that he wouldn't have to let people tour his house! I felt bad for asking but I was curious, you know? He said behind the house is a huge 1600 square foot carriage house and that is where all of the paraphernalia is. The carriage house was not used much since right after the it was built the automobile came into fashion and horses and carriages went away. Sad.

Another woman who overheard my question said to him "it must take a long time to put everything up and take every thing down." He was quick with his reply — "I work with a skeleton crew" ~ wink. Which is a joke you won't get unless you have seen the Halloween photos. If you want to see what I am talking about, and you didn't see them on FB, ask me to post those photos here on the blog, ok?

Since it was dark by this time and we had walked the whole way (2.5 miles?), we decided to take the trolley back home. The trolley dropped us off two easy blocks from our house. What a fun night we had! Just love our little town of Concord!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Christmas Letter 2022

Christmas 2022

Glad Tidings of the Year!

NOTE: To clear up some confusion regarding this blog post, this is the Christmas Letter we sent out with our cards this year. I am reprinting it here on the blog with some added photos. And yes, it is me writing it.

2022 has brought a few changes to our lives, the biggest one being that we have moved (again), and this time out of Colorado and into THE SOUTH. Say what? Yup, the Robinson vagabonds have been on the roam again.

(Above photo: Moving day...UGH)

This time we settled in Concord, North Carolina, a small town northeast of its big sister, Charlotte, and so far are as happy as can be! Lynne’s sister lives in a suburb of Charlotte, so that makes it even better. We see her and her husband often.

The other major thing is that we added a new member to our family on the same day that the movers were packing our house in Windsor. No, not another dog. That is the last thing we need. We added a Maine Coon cat, Monroe, aka MR. Monroe. It’s been a long time since we had a cat in the house. Monroe fits into our family purrfectly. He loves the dogs, he makes us laugh with his silly antics, he is a buddy, and he is gorgeous. We love him.

But here I will go backwards a bit and what would a major move be without a scouting trip, I ask you? We took our almost new motorhome (first outing you might remember turned into a broken foot for me; a fractured wrist for Rick) on a cross-country search for “the” place.   

We had Tennessee in mind and Kentucky. At the last moment Lynne was looking on Zillow and found some places that looked good in North Carolina. We even placed a bid on a house, sight unseen, in this very town, but we were outbid (thank goodness).

And so we headed out and made a few stops in Tennessee. Two things changed our minds pretty fast. 1) we couldn’t understand a word they said and 2) the side of barn with a full size ad saying FUCK BIDEN. Well. 

(Photo above: Dogs while traveling)

Onwards to North Carolina where we had lined up about 5 potential houses. The last one we looked at was the house we ended up buying. It was not what we were originally looking for at all. We had wanted land, away from town, a place to park the behemoth motorhome, a pool.  This house was within walking distance to the downtown, very much in town, very old (built in 1935), no pool but a lovely backyard—fenced and no place to park the motorhome (which as you will see a bit later in this letter matters not at all). Yet, it spoke to us. Certainly not a cookie-cutter house, it had a lot of old world charm, a wonderful kitchen, wood floors that creaked when you walked on them,  delightful old built-ins, plus more space to maneuver around 3 big dogs and ourselves.

The trip wasn’t all moonlight and roses, the ugly “Adventures in RVing”was not quite done with us yet. On unhooking the car the first time from its tow position, it rolled down the hill from our campsite and took out another camper’s picnic table and dented the stairs to their RV. ($1,000 to the folks who owned it) The slide broke when we were putting it out. We had a mobile fixit person come out to the campground and somehow we managed to get it back in (almost-within an inch or so) so that we could at least drive it.

(Above photo: The Behemoth)

This meant limping home with only one slide, and way less room than we had before and not as much fun for sure. We had a lot of rain, the broken slide started leaking. The air conditioner over the bed decided to dump a load of water right on Rick’s side of the bed. He was not amused. The door got stuck, again. Neither could we open it from the inside, nor from the outside. Sound like we are having fun yet? Then on the way home it was coughing and sputtering and refused to go over 40 mph. We crawled along the interstate with my making phone calls trying desperately to find a place to have it looked at. We found one, they identified the problem but they did not have the parts. We finally found a place near Kansas City that did have the needed parts and lo and behold it was only a mile away from our campground. You’ll be glad to know that the rest of the trip home was uneventful once they replaced the spark plug wires.

The motorhome went in for service June 2nd and was finally fixed and ready to be picked up November 15th. Now what? Well, we’ve managed to sell it quickly back to the dealership (but at a loss) and it’s now history. We have had our fill of “Adventures in RVing” as they were not the kind of adventures we particularly enjoyed. I see lots of Air B&Bs and VRBOs in our future.

I am sure you are hoping for me to wrap this up soon. So…

We’ve lost a couple of good friends this year and their passing saddens us.

We love out house, we love our town, we love the life we are leading here and we love each other. What more is there to say?

May peace, joy and happiness abound for you and yours in 2023.

Thursday, December 08, 2022


Not sure if I can type with my pinky finger bandaged or not but I am going to try. The vegetable peeler mistook my pinky for a carrot. But I'm going to give it a go. 

I think the best place to start is with New Jersey. We lived there for 10 years and really grew to love it. We loved the small town feel of our town—West Milford—the people, the culture, the countryside, the ethnicity of it all. Yet, as much as we loved it there Rick was wanting to retire and one of our dreams was to live at the cabin full time. No way could we retire in NJ and keep our beautiful house with the pool. It's an expensive state to try and retire in. Our property taxes there were $17,000 per year! And, those of us who know us best know that the cabin held a special place in our hearts and lives. We made the 3 day cross-country journey every year, sometime in the spring and somtimes in the fall to spend two weeks there.

So we retired to the cabin. Our cabin on 73 acres of high prairie, off the grid. In winter, Colorado did not plow the dirt roads leading to it, so the best way in was through Laramie, WY and then south to the border. Wyoming plowed to the state line but it was 5 miles further to our cabin. Did you know that the wind blows in Wyoming? (Understatement there!) It deposits snow that is so deep and drifted you can't get through. We did buy a track vehicle, but still we had to park our truck at the state line at a "neighbor's" and leave it there. We toughed it out for a little over two years before we decided it was a good idea to buy a house in town and keep the cabin for weekend getaways. Off the bucket list. Live at the cabin full time.

Moving back to a place you haven't lived in for 10 years creates a few problems. The whole Front Range of Colorado had exploded in population. It was pretty unrecognizable from the place we remembered. People were ruder. The building of houses, stores and shops, restaurants was non-stop. It seemed as if every week there was yet another cornfield or vacant piece of land that had earth movers crawling all over them tearing up the earth to build more subdivisions where every house looked alike. Where would the water come from for all these houses? Colorado gets drier and drier every year and water is becoming more of a problem.

Traffic was terrible. And most of all, where was the culture we had in New Jersey? Colorado was so, well, white bread. It had been (as us older Coloradoans say) "Californicated" and not at all like it used to be. It was not the Colorado we knew.

Our old friends? Well, as you would expect they had all moved on. Many of them had become grandparents and were totally immersed in them. Can't say I blame them, but it wasn't really our thing. We lost them before when they had children in the first place, and now again it was a repeat of that all over again. Not having children is for sure a lifestyle choice. We had no idea how much that decision would affect us in the years to come. Neither one of us has any regrets. 

The cabin's spell on us had started to wane. Our beloved cabin was not the same after having lived full time in it for 2+ years. It was no longer a getaway place, but somehow had become less of a getaway and more of a second house. I think we ruined it by living there full time. For several years the forest fires made the air outside unbreathable. We could not have campfires anymore. Our lovely pine trees that used to surround us had all given up the ghost to the wretched pine beetles. Now dead, they kept falling over and creating more and more work for us to keep our walking path free from fallen trees. It was ugly. We lived in fear of our cabin going up in flames, or even worse that they would save the cabin but the property surrounding it would be nothing but a burn scar, rendering our property's value next to nil. We decided to sell, which we did at a really good price. That helped us to buy our house here in North Carolina. Neither one of us regret our decision, even though the cabin was integral to our lives and all the dogs that were basically raised there from puppies. It was time.

We've done many moves and have never regretted any of them even though some of them have been difficult, like moving to a foreign country and learning a new language where our vocabulary was reduced to that of a 2-year-old. We adapted ourselves to whatever environment we were put into and learned so much from those experiences. Those experiences shaped us into the people we are today. I would not trade those years in Europe for anything. 

To sum up the question WHY:

Our move here was basically driven by unhappiness where we were. We wanted back some of what we had in New Jersey. Life is way too short to stay where you are not enjoying it. So if you are just hanging around waiting for something to happen differently in your life, make that scary leap and JUST DO IT.

This was a sign in the Dublin Airport:

Friday, December 02, 2022

I Need Your Help!

That is, in deciding what the next blog entry will be. I have multiple things running around in my head that I want to write about here but I just can't decide which one should come first. Can you help? Here is a list of things I am thinking about:

  • Fall/Autumn in the South
  • Our house here in North Carolina.
  • Our not-so-good "Adventure in RVing" that was our scouting trip to decide where we wanted to land.
  • Why? People are always asking why we left Colorado.

Which one would you like to hear more about? The "Fall/Autumn" one is in the form of a poem. Well, sort of. Kind of.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

It’s Official!

Okay then. Like the title of this entry says "it's official" meaning I am starting up the blog again. I won't be announcing it on FaceBook when I do an entry, so if you want to read you will just have to check back here from time to time to see if anything is new. As you will notice, I have no idea what to call this blog. My old blog was obviously ''a "new" Jersey Girl" when we lived there from 2006-2016, then it went to the "Off the Grid" cabin blog for both Rick and I, and then I tried under the blog name "Used to be a "new" Jersey Girl now living in Colorado", which was pretty lame if I may say so myself. Both the name and the content. So, I am at somewhat of a loss. I don't want to be "a "new" Southern Girl" because I am NOT Southern and not a girl anymore (don't I wish). Thoughts anyone? Leave me a comment if you come up with something!

I'm not sure how much I will blog. Just when the mood strikes me I guess. As far as photos are concerned, I know they featured heavily in my old blog, but things are different now and I don't have that much to photograph. So hopefully you will join me on this new adventure! Stay tuned ... first real entry coming soon!

P.S. Someone suggested to me that I create a mailing list of people interested in knowing when a new post goes live. If you would be interested in this option, let me know by Messenger! Thanks! The list is private.


Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved once again, this time to North Carolina. Here I write about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2023 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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