Nice to see you again.
I’m planning a trip upstate in March to spend some QT with Mama and Papa Wolff, because:
I’m blessed to truly enjoy spending time with my incredible family, and
I miss sitting in wooden chairs.
Let me explain #2. Going to visit the Wolff Ranch is a very Norman Rockwell experience, but it’s also like going back to colonial times. The wooden chairs are a big piece of that.
Our morning ritual is sitting in a circle of wooden chairs, drinking coffee. When you wake up, you pull in a chair from the library (don’t worry, we'll get to that) or dining room, grab your coffee, and wait for everyone else to join. Then we all sit there for at least an hour, deciding what we’re maybe going to do that day and thinking about what's for dinner.
There’s no dining table in the kitchen, and, as you know, everyone always gathers in the kitchen, so this works pretty well – considering there are also no couches. Anywhere. There’s a futon on the second floor, in what has morphed into Papa’s studio-slash-storage space for family photos, treasures, and heirlooms, but it’s not really conducive to “hanging out.”
Hence the wooden chairs.
These wooden chairs also appear later in the day, when we gather in the library. The library is a room with an entire wall of built-in bookshelves. It's the warmest room of the house in the winter, because it has a wood stove, and because there's always so much love there. Yup, I went for it. The wood stove isn't the only source of heat: there's also centralized heating. Good God, we’re not neanderthals. (Though Papa has been known to bear a striking resemblance to one.)
The library serves as a living/family room. We sit in a circle, in wooden chairs, or, if you manage to get prime real estate, the rocking chair. Some of us are often working on a puzzle on the card table or reading the Sunday Times. This is all true. This is how we spend most of our afternoons.
After a day of who knows what, we enter the final act: evening. After a lovely dinner in the dining room, full of engaging conversation and laughter at each other (especially at Papa), we often play family games by candlelight. Don’t worry – they’re not all howdy-doody games. Cards Against Humanity and a new variation on that theme, New Phone, Who Dis?, are crowd favorites. We’re also known for some Taboo and Catch Phrase. However, some nights we opt for a more “modern” family pastime: a movie. For this, we gather in the library again.
Remember how I mentioned the lack of couches? Well...there’s also no television.
Let me repeat that: there is no television in the Wolff house.
“But wait – how do you watch movies?!” you might be wondering.
Well, we pull wooden chairs into the library, and we huddle around the desktop computer. It’s a good-sized computer screen, a full 21 inches, but it has its limitations. When it’s just Mama and Papa, they pull that card table over and have a lovely dinner movie situation. When we number five or six, it’s challenging to create a circle that allows everyone viewing access.
So, we create rows. Rows of wooden chairs. It’s kind of like being in a prayer meeting.
“Sister Leah! Would you like to lead us in a moment of silence before the opening credits?”
“Father Dennis, what are you doing with your feet, pray tell? They block my view!”
“Sister Mimi, what say you to some more wine?”
Again, if you're among the first to sit, you can lay claim to the rocking chair. Poor Papa got the back row last time, and he fell asleep halfway through the movie. We had to shift into a sardine-like configuration so that he felt more like a part of the experience.
Yes, those wooden chairs are an integral part of the Wolff family homestead. It just wouldn’t be the same without them – though none of us ladies would object to a couch.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. So, I figured it was time to go home. Even though the past few months have felt slower, I’m still surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city as soon I walk out my door, and my mind is often buzzing with something or other regardless of where I am.
I miss the quiet backyards. I miss the thrill of sweeping with a “new broom” from the Amish store up the road. I miss thinking about what’s for dinner during breakfast, because that’s the biggest decision of the day.
In short, I miss simpler, colonial times. It's one big flip-switch experience, one continual reminder to enjoy what really matters in life and give fewer hoots about the other stuff.
I know, I know, I could create that here in the city, but it wouldn’t be the same. We have a couch, and we have a TV...and we definitely don’t have enough wooden chairs. That's why, every so often, I have to get my fix.
Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.
BTW...shameless plug for my new IG: @flipswitchbook! Trying to build some semblance of a following as I work on my book, coming out later this year. Hope to see you there!