The home of best selling novelist Nevada Barr and her husband Don Paxton
This is in my continuing series on highlighting well-known bookseller's and author's homes. Nevada Barr, one of America's most beloved mystery writers, lives in a charming neighborhood in New Orleans, with her husband Don Paxton. We became friends when I had the honor of representing her latest book (at the time) 13½ , a thriller set in New Orleans, published a few years ago by Vanguard Press. Her new title, The Rope, published by St. Martin's Press, is part of her famous National Park Ranger "Anna Pigeon" series, don't miss ether of them!
The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada's experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons."
From then on there was no stopping her and her fan base has grown and grown.
Years ago, when I was first invited to have wine and meet Don and the rest of her "family" (their cats and dogs), I was struck by the beauty and charm of their home.
On this lovely afternoon, Nevada has laid out a scrumptious lunch for myself and my companion, Linda Barrett, from Malaprop's bookstore.
The dog in Don's lap ("Mr. Paxton" as he is lovingly referred to by Nevada), is named The Wabbit. The one in Nevada's is Bella. "Bella is a professional dining companion (black tie, formal events, etc.). The Wabbit is a trainee (picnics, informal luncheons with friends.)" as Nevada explains.
After all 6 of us had dined, we make our way to the back garden to see Don's latest handy work. He has created what will eventually be this amazing cascading waterfall area along the back fence. He's been working on this water feature for some time now, with each visit I see more and more progress.
"Gar" (here, shyly peeking at us on the right) was a Christmas present to Nevada from Don. When I asked why, she responded "What woman wouldn't want her own gargoyle?" I guess she's right.
Hidden throughout the garden are other statues, each having their own story. This one was a wedding gift from a group of Nevada's close friends from Mississippi, "The Girls" as she calls them; they called it the Erratic Angel. When I asked about the name she said "The Girls, though they love me, think my path through life might be, well, a tad irregular."
"The cat, I hauled back (in coach) from Egypt."
The lovely Ms. Barr, relaxing, as I snoop around with my camera, looking for good shots.
Don is definitely a genius in the world of home decor and improvement. He has turned every room of their home into something of beauty and style.
We all go back inside to see his handy work and Nevada's art work. This is the kitchen where Nevada has prepared some memorable meals.
Just around the corner in the dining room, above the piano, are these four paintings, Nevada explains:
"These were the first art works I purchased. I paid a young art student $75 apiece for them and thought it an outrageous amount. Now I realize I virtually robbed the poor child."
In the dining room is this fabulous photo of Nevada when she was just three years old. It was taken with her best friend Jack Tucker, on Apple Ranch in Lassen County, California, which is where she grew up.
One of Nevada's many gorgeous paintings throughout their home, this one's entitled "Cat's Tea".
The story behind painted couch? Nevada originally had white covers made for it. "A HUGE mistake with 6 animals", she confesses. "In a week of frenzy, I painted them all." The Wabbit and Bella had to be in all the photos, by the way.
I loved this picture, taken at a formal event in Laurel MS.
Here they are, appearing in the first Mardi Gras after Katrina, they went as a Mardi Gras bride and groom.
The front living room, taken from two different angles.
You can see why I thought their home would make a perfect candidate for a blog post.
"Wabbit" is checking me out.
"Shall we go upstairs?"
The guest room, with Nevada's art festooning all the walls.
Artistic talent runs in the family, by the way, Nevada's sister Molly, made this wood and ceramic sculpture, there are several of them positioned all around the house.
The "Meditation Room".
I love the color palette in this corner.
Just some of Don's expert bathroom renovations.....
There is a mirror above the door behind you that is hung at an angle so you can see what you look like from behind.
....also incorporates more of Ms. Barr's' work, this one entitled simply "On the Beach".
At first I thought this was an exotic kimono from ancient Japan but no:
"A friend needed a television cabinet. Another friend and I bought the cheapest Wal-Mart had intending to paint it. No paint would stick on the plastic/wood. So we designed and sewed a "cabinet cozy". It only looks like a kimono."
That's why I'm not an antique dealer.
I couldn't help taking a photo of this adorable mouse door-stop. When I inquired about it she said:
"I am appalled that, in a house with four cats, you discovered a mouse!" And where and when did you get the mouse? "Not a clue."
An especially good photo, if I do say so myself.
Nevada's series of vampire/clown paintings are everywhere, her names for them are absolutely perfect. From right to left: Lisa didn't like clowns, they tasted funny.
Meredyth had dated her last clown.
Match.com just wasn't working out for Elizabeth.
The center one is "Take Back the Night"
This was taken at the Great Artists Collective on Royal Street in New Orleans.
"Oh, an attic!" I exclaimed, "More treasures?"
"Sure, come on up" Don says, and allows me entrance.
And sure enough, treasures abound with more paintings, 1st editions and their Mardi Gras outfits.
This was the staff Nevada carried the Mardi Gras when she marched with the Divine Divas.
The cats, M'Boya, Laura Lei, Honey and Pickles are trained to ring the bell if they'd like a treat. Obviously The Wabbit and Bella want in on the action.
Finally, I get a snuggle from Nevada.
Thank you so much to the both of you for such a fine afternoon. Your generous hearts and gracious hospitality was so appreciated.