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Country living at Seven Gates Farm

May 02, 1997

By KATE COLEMAN

Staff Writer

James Cramer recently was enjoying some real "country living" at his home in Keedysville. He was anxious and excited about his hen, Priscilla, hatching eggs for the first time.

Cramer, Country Living magazine editor-at-large for decorating and design, will be at the Senior Fair, Wednesday, May 7, at Ramada Inn & Convention Center on Dual Highway in Hagerstown. Cramer and his partner, Dean Johnson, will be on hand to sign copies of "Country Living Seasons at Seven Gates Farm," the book that features the one-acre farmstead where Cramer and Johnson live and work. Their Yorkshire terrier, Elijah, also will greet Senior Fair visitors.

Seven Gates Farm, believed to date from about 1830, originally was owned by the Wyand family and spanned 250 acres. Cramer, who hails from Walkersville, Md., and Johnson, a native of Tennessee, came to Keedysville in 1984 to look at another property but bought the brick house and an acre of ground instead.

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The house, its gardens and outbuildings have been featured in Country Living and Country Living Garden magazines six or seven times since 1993, Cramer says. Apparently liking what they saw, the editors asked Cramer to work for them. He says he finds East Coast houses for the magazine and "styles" the features.

What's his background for the job?

"I'm just an artist," Cramer says modestly.

His art and that of Johnson, a woodworker, is in evidence throughout the book. Nature and simplicity seem to be the guiding principles. "I always decorated in little vignettes. People like them," Cramer says.

"Seasons at Seven Gates Farm," shows what the title promotes. In more than 300 color photographs, readers are guided through a tour of the house and gardens from early spring through Christmas. Cramer says his decorating is spare in the summer, and in winter he warms up the house with woolen blankets on tables, rag carpets and fluffy comforters.

The book also includes step-by-step directions on how to make a miniature garden, grow and trim a topiary and how to make an "angel shoe," the simple winged boot shown in the book's idea-filled Christmas section.

The book, priced at $30, may be ordered but will not be sold at the Senior Fair. It should be available at The Book Store Etc., Books 'n Things at Long Meadow Shopping Center in Hagerstown, Homeplace Everlastings in Beaver Creek and Waldenbooks at Valley Mall.

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