Friday, April 23, 2010

How I met Martha...Part three!

Dear Reader,
I had intended to finish up this tale today, yet it has been so fun recalling the visuals, that the final installment will find its way here on Monday.


At the age of twenty-three, you can be easily crushed by rejection. But the great thing about youth is that your inexperience and lack of wisdom allows you to "take it on the chin" and keep going.

More on that later...!

When I left you last, we were peering beyond the gate at Martha Stewart's East Hampton house. It was spectacular and something more than my well-developed imagination could have truly dreamed. I had always read that Martha required little sleep, so when I called from the phone booth and she answered, I was surprised to discover that she was just "getting up". We set a time to meet at her home - around 1 pm - and she shared that she was going out to an antiques market in Sag Harbor.

My friend Kelly and I worried about the vase of sweet peas in the heat of the car and the now impending four hour wait. But, the Hamptons are rich with stuff to do and I remember a trip to the Barefoot Contessa and a drive down Georgica Road looking at the spectacular homes of people like Steven Spielberg and Grey Gardens, made famous by Little Eddy Beals. We walked the beach, saw Roy Schreider (of JAWS movie fame) and after many nervous drives up and down Lilly Pond Lane, finally made the turn up Martha's drive and through the shapely, teal-colored gate.

Now, I have been nervous in my life; like my meeting at Clarkson Potter Publishing to cut a deal for my first book, or the time I spoke to the American Antiques association at the American Folk Art Museum's annual Antiques show, or my first meeting at Wedgewood when I was hired to create a line of Christmas ornaments to be sold at Macy's…but this one, this visit had my heart in my throat.

We parked the car on the large pea-stone drive in front of the garage guest house that had been featured in the magazine as Martha's daughter's weekend getaway. I grabbed the vase of sweet peas and moved stealthily across the stones and up the porch steps, which were dripping with even more pink roses. Beyond a screen door was a sweeping floor of oversized teal-colored tile (the shade of Bauer pottery) where matching colored towels softened the sleep of an enormous black Chow dog named Zsu zsu. I knocked on the door which was quickly answered by a casually dressed dark-haired woman whom we later came to know as Mariana Pasternak, Martha’s friend and confidant who actually testified against Martha in the later SEC insider trading trial that ultimately led to jail time. Marianna currently has a book out about their friendship and estrangement; and while she freely shares the tales of her friendship with Martha, she was clearly working in a "housekeeping" role on the day we were there. She explained Martha was still out at the antiques market, offered us Perrier water and said we were "welcome to look around." I decided to take a seat at the kitchen table and simply drink in the surroundings. Now, I had never met someone of Martha's status before and I was young, but I was certainly brought up in a way that would not allow me, in good conscience, to take myself and my friend on a self-guided tour of someone else’s home, no matter what the caretaker might suggest. I held my portfolio tightly against my chest, sipped the water and simply absorbed. The table was made of one long piece of marble seemingly 15-20 feet long with thirty barrel back farm chairs painted in another shade of teal around it. Dozens and dozens of McCoy planters and Jardinières in mixed shades of teal decorated the window ledges and the center of the marble table. Warm cherry built-ins held multiple cake stands and compotes as well as tea pots, china patterns, interesting pieces of McKee glass and slag glass. The enormous kitchen island boasted at least three deep sinks and even more marble…with a giant Garland stove and lots of industrial-style kitchen appliances. Oversized stuffed fish decorated the walls, and through a doorway, a pantry boasted even more entertaining antiquities.

Mariana decided to make some calls to track down Martha, calling “Lexi” to see if she had stopped at the newly opened Bridgehampton motel that Alexis had recently restored and opened. No luck. So Kelly and I continued to sip and soak up the experience. After another fifteen minutes, a pick-up truck pulled into the yard. It was Martha with some newly purchased porch chairs. She glided through the screen door thinking we were another visitor also expected from New Hampshire, and was surprised that it was me that Mariana introduced. She immediately asked Mariana to make sure that the wicker chairs in the truck bed be taken to the basement and that the back kitchen floors would need to be re-washed. She then commenced a proper tour of the house where I saw beige Belgian linen from only one mill in the world, a sisal-looking carpet made of silk, and Venetian glass chandeliers in taupe…the very best things gathered from around the world to feather this very comfortable, yet sophisticated nest. While we toured, we chatted about Mary Emmerling, our trip to the Hamptons and, ultimately, what it was I was really looking for...


Come back on Monday to read the final installment of the story, and find out the winners of the two free copies of HOLIDAY!



  1. Oh my! I think my heart would be in my throat too.I can't wait to hear the rest!

  2. Your visit must have made quite an impression as you seem to be able to recall with such detail all that you saw. Thanks for sharing this story. I am enjoying following along.

  3. You know I will be back...your story is wonderful.....can't wait to hear more. Hope your weekend is filled with an adventure or two...I am going on a date with my camera. xo

  4. wow wow what a barn burner story..

  5. OK, now you're just messing with us! LOL

    Seriously, can't wait to read more. Have a great weekend! :)

  6. Love your story! And stuffed fish? Really? Your details paint such a colorful picture. Are you sure you can't stretch it out for at least a couple more posts?

  7. You are a great story teller Mr. Matthew Mead, all the way to the cliff hanging end! I looove that you've made me want more! Debbie @ Cottage Hann~Me~Downs

  8. Great story and teaser for the rest of the story. Back on Monday for more.


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