Summoned by the Queen

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
Sometimes something as simple as answering the phone can change your ho-hum day into the most perfect one. It is in those moments that a beam of sun is somehow interjected into the drabness of a winter’s afternoon.

Last fall, as Linda and I were taking another trip down the back roads in search of yard sales, we literally stumbled upon the Sawyer House. The Sawyer House is a 22-room, four-storey Colonial manor complete with vast lawns, gardens and a carriage house, and it houses a quaint English antiques shop. As soon as we saw it, we were drawn into its simply breathtaking scene. As we parked the car in the driveway, it was not hard for my mind to take over, imagining people on the lawn playing croquet and sipping sweet tea.
Excited, we rushed to the door only to find that the store was closed. Left behind was a sign that read, “Open by chance or by appointment.” Although I was disappointed that the shop was closed, I couldn’t help but smile as I read the sign; it seemed to make the place even more endearing.
On our trip back home we vowed to go back again, and a few days later, we did exactly that. This time, we were thrilled to find that the owners were home and happy to open the carriage house for us to meander through. As I look back, I do not know what left the biggest impression on me that day: the amazing historical home, the cottage that now houses an English antique shop, the amazing gardens with their larger-than-life sculptures, or the owners themselves. They all left a mark on me and pulled at my heart in such a way that I knew it would be a place where I would always return.
One dreary afternoon when I thought I could not take another day of gray, the phone rang. On the other end was the queen of Sawyer Mansion, Pat Erickson. Pat had called to ask if I would come for tea. She was planning a centennial celebration for the Sawyer Mansion and said that she would love to just bounce some ideas off me. I felt as if a carriage has just pulled up in front of my home, delivering a handwritten scroll inviting me to high tea at the castle.
As a self-proclaimed brilliantologist, may I just interject that there is nothing like the feeling of having someone like Pat call to ask if she, in all her grace and brilliance, can share some of that grace and brilliance with me. It was as if the sun itself swept down from the sky and handed me a beam, offering me an audience with the queen. It was like the moment when Cinderella looks down and sees herself ready for the ball; I felt that my own fairy godmother had sprinkled me with her magic dust.
Upon hanging up the phone, I called my friend Linda and invited her to be my guest. Even though the meeting was only two days away, I wondered how I would be able to wait that long.
Not that it could have, but the visit with Pat and Fred certainly did not disappoint. They were as warm, open and charming as we remembered. As we listened to her share her plans for their centennial celebration, the spirit of this truly wonderful woman overwhelmed me. Her ideas included the ways in which the celebration could help bring aid to women and children. One such idea was to dedicate the west porch to the theme of the women’s suffrage movement, selling cards made by women in Africa and other similar items.
I was equally as impressed to discover the love she had for the house that she and Fred have called home for 40 years. As we toured the mansion, we were struck by the pristine condition of the original wallpaper and how the necessary upgrades had been done in such a way that one would be able to tell it wasn’t part of the original home.
As I sat in front of the fire, sipping tea and nibbling on some homemade pumpkin bread, I allowed my mind to wander for just a brief moment. I remembered when I used to ask myself, “Why me?” when these sorts of things happened. I don’t ask that anymore, since I now understand that we see the world, and those in it, through the lenses we choose to put on.
I know that brilliance abounds; I see it everywhere. I am surrounded by amazing women who touch me to the very core. I believe that they have come to teach me something, and I am so much richer with them in my life. I can see them now simply because I am open to seeing them. Pat is one of those women. As I listened to her speak I was challenged to be a better me, for she is a queen with a servant’s heart.
As we prepared to leave, both Linda and I were humbled by her invitation to help her with the event. I can’t help but to see it as an opportunity to learn from the very best. We do not have much time between now and the weekend of May 15th when the event will take place, so I know how I will be spending my weekends for awhile. After all, when the queen summons, what is a girl to do?

  1. Maria says:

    When the queen summons, you put on your best dress, your best shoes, (your best everything!!!) and you jump in the carriage and go!!!

    How fun and exciting!!!

    The pillars on the front (or back) porch look amazing, I can only imagine how the whole house looks….

  2. auntpammy says:

    Wow, a regular Lady-in-Waiting! How lovely for you. From reading your lovely blog posts I can see why she wanted you to have an audience with her. Good luck with your celebration, I know it will be a true success.

  3. Sounds wonderful!
    I love the way you describe the impact that other women can have in our lives. Sometimes that’s a hard thought to put to words and you did it well!
    I choose ‘rose’ for the color of my lenses! 😉

  4. Gary says:

    Brings back memories Rene’…
    I always notice when someone lives with Style and Grace…
    While we never had a "mansion", my Mom and Pop were such people. I recall many Summer evenins spent with invited Friends on our back lawn, which was divided by a row of cherry trees into "the back yard" and "The Croquet Court". In the yard there was a barbeque going and tables loaded with Old Southern foods, and the ice cream churn cranking, and games of badmitton being played by us kids. After Supper, everyone went to the Croquet Court and my Pop turned on the floodlights and we played in teams until time for coffee and dessert. In Winter, Friends were invited for Dinner and games of canasta, while us kids played carom, hide and seek, and Chinese checkers. There was no tv… just people sharing stories and jokes and having fun.
    You are correct Rene’… people who live with Style and Grace make an impression that is everlasting in the Joy it brings.
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  5. Kelly says:

    It seems when we are open to opportunities and possiblities they will come. Your story is a great illustration of this. The connections we make with others (in many cases great women) I believe can be inspiration to do and become more. I found your story just that sort of inspiration. It sounds like it will be a great experience.

  6. Just like cinderella, for sure. It sounds like a divine house and wonderful company. I must say that some credit goes to you, as well. After all, you must have made a wonderful impression to be asked to come to tea. As you always do. You are a fun, creative, joyful person, who celebrates all people, who wouldn’t want more of you? 😀


    Thank you for such kind words… I am deeply touched. I have determined to see the brilliance in the world, and I am never dissapointed as it always shows up!!!!

  7. Reba says:

    Rene, You have such a way of writing that is with style and grace. I do so enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing and teaching us to choose the type of lens that we want in our lives. You are so blessed to have met the Queen! I have met one in my life, and they do always seem to send the sun into our lives on a beam. My mother passed away early in my life and I was careful to guard my heart for any other to take her place. But when I met this lady that is like a queen with style and grace, I chose to call her "my second mom." What better mentor!! I can’t wait to hear more about your encounters.


    I will certainly share more in this adventure. As I have thought about this encounter, I have been mostly struck by the servanthood of the woman that I met. Pat. It is her simple elegance that raises her to Queen Status in my eyes…. Not as someone who "lords over" but rather as someone who has determined to serve. While her home is a beautiful Manor… I never felt more at home or welcomed anywhere. I feel honored to be in her court, so much so I asked her to adopt me 🙂 . Just like your story, life gives us what we need. If we will choose to be open to it.

  8. Betsy Cline says:

    Where is this lovely house and antique shop at? Sounds like something my sister and I would love to visit but we do live in Florida so it would have to be on one of our sister trips together.

    They are located between Sunnyside/and Zillah WA. Although their address is Wapato, WA. and of course if you guys come out this way, let me know.. We will make sure that you get the farmgirl tour 🙂

  9. Grace~katmom says:

    oh Rene’,
    thanx for sharing with us…I feel like I was there….hugz

  10. carol branum says:

    hi Rene,Good for you,it will be fun…I had an aunt that lived in a fabulous victorian as a child I felt just like Polyanna in the Walt Disney movie.I helped polish her large collection of silver,while she tryed to teach me manners.She slept with her rare silver teaspoons of the apostles under her pillow at night…Have fun,and enjoy!carol branum,

  11. Jamie says:

    Wow, how lucky of a lady are you? What a wonderful opportunity and experience to get to be apart of. Can’t wait to see and hear how it goes.

  12. Janeen Breyman says:

    Your story has inspired me! I will be helping with a tea May 8th; the theme is Honor Your Mother. We will be bringing aid to a local agency who’s focus is to help low income pregnant women. I love the themed idea and the selling of products that you mention. Please let us know how this celebration unfolds as I might be able to implement some of the ideas.

  13. Nancy says:

    Rene, What a wonderful story! I look forward to hearing about the event and seeing more pictures. You will have such a great time!

  14. Marcia says:

    Often we are surprised when someone requests our insight, talents, knowledge, creativity, to be of help to them. Take the gifts that you have been given, be yourself. After all was it not another Queen that Pat met?!

    Thank you, what a kind thought!

  15. Sabrina says:

    The way you wrote this blog, I felt as though I was there with you. Thank you for inspiring me to see the beauty in the women that are in my life. They each have a gift that makes me want to be a better me. Thank you so much for sharing this story. have fun and let your creativity flow

  16. Shery says:

    Oh Rene`, what beautiful visuals — your writing put me right there (virtually that is). I wish I could have tagged along.

    You can tag along anytime Shery!!!!

  17. Valynne says:

    Happy Heart Day, Rene; and thank you for another inspiring blog post. I love what Marcia had to say:

    "After all was it not another Queen that Pat met?!"

    It takes one (brilliantologist) to know one, methinks.

    Hope to see you and the other farmgirls again soon, and here’s to a perfectly wonderful centennial celebration at Sawyer Mansion!



  18. Edie says:

    Rene, the house looks and sounds lovely. Hope to read more about your adventure for the May 15, event. Made me feel elegant reading your discription of the house. Hope your having fun in the planning. Edie

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