Monday, August 29, 2011

all packed up

We've been packing boxes at our house. The Gardener is a scholarly man and has books and books and more books. I have my share, and then there's the dishes in the china cabinet cabinets. All of it is in boxes now. Pictures are off the walls, closets are emptied and packed up and in process of being cleaned. The place looks barren and has an echo. I feel like we're moving. But we're not. Just a bit confusing to my senses.

We're just getting new carpeting ... something we've put on hold for a few too many years. We've put it off partly because of the thought of packing up everything. But finally we're doing just that. In a sense it's a great thing to do. Like a huge spring cleaning, from the bottom to the top. Purging is taking place. Every book will be cleaned before it returns to the shelves. China cabinets are scrubbed and waiting.
 We're been working on this more than a week ahead due to busy schedules. And we're living fine with less around us. Granted the house has lost much of the feel of a home, but it does remind me that we can live without much of our stuff. I'm a visual person and love living in beauty and with things of historical, family value around me. It's not that I need these things, but they bring joy and a sense of where I come from and who I am. But still, can I do with less?

Friday, August 26, 2011

"through the years"

I remember quite well a big party my mother and her sisters put on for my grandparents' 40th.  
The theme was "through the years" and my mom made a beautiful scrapbook of photos of them.
 I thought my grandparents were sooooo old. And here we are at the same point in our lives, and definitely not
feeling that old. This weekend, yes, is our 40th. And yes, we got married just a few days after my graduation.
In fact, so many of us did that we had trouble going to each other's weddings!
Craziness! What a busy time that must have been!
And how the years have flown!
We are grateful, very grateful to God for our years together ... meeting 
first as teenagers my freshman year of college. I soon was at all the basketball
games watching a certain young center and captain ... we got
engaged while our legs dangled over a cliff along the Hudson River, during 
the time I was down the river at another university pursuing the nursing education part of my degree. 
And since those wedding bells rang, life has been one adventure after another!
Photos through the years: newlyweds ... hippyish days ... big hair years ... grandparents!
The picture on the left makes me smile. We had just arrived in Africa and our
luggage was lost. Friends there found a change of clothes for us but it was a 
bit challenging to find something for the tall Gardener!
He wore this flowered shirt (not his fashion preference) for five days,
washing it out each night. It barely covered his waist.
Oh the memories we have collected together!
And now for some more!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

f o u r de cade s

It's so hard to believe that it's been 40 years (this week) since this very proud moment in my life. 
Here I am standing in the middle of Manhattan with my parents. We shortened our uniforms
 significantly the night before, knowing admin. would not stop us from graduating at that point! 
I was so glad to be done and to have gotten through a rigorous four years. 

The other night on FB, friends from nursing school and I had a chat about the 
old days since it was such a big anniversary. (That, to me, is what is nice about FB.)
 I haven't seen those girls in almost 40 years, but it was like we'd never been apart. 
After a year of hospital nursing I became a Public Health Nurse,
 a job I absolutely loved. Here I am heading out for the day with our yellow beatle 
(one of the few cars the Gardener fits well in, believe it or not!)
I'm in my 6th year of blogging and near my 1000th post, so decided it was time to 
share some family pictures during this significant anniversary week in our lives. 
You can guess what I did right after graduation ... stay tuned!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


We didn't feel the eastern earthquake yesterday because we were driving in the car. When I looked at fb soon after it was amazing how many had already commented on the experience.

It did make me remember two other earthquakes I've experienced. The first was many years ago when we were a young family living in NJ.  The early morning sun had just brightened the bedroom windows when I felt the bed shake and then heard the windows rattle. I woke the Gardener in a panic. "This feels like an earthquake. But NJ doesn't have earthquakes. What can it be?" I must have fussed some more before he said rather forcefully, "Quiet, let me think." He was trying to figure out what else it could be. Then I reached for the radio and sure enough, it had been a moderate earthquake, the epicenter not far from us.

Then there was the night we arrived in Quito, Ecuador. Just in time for a light supper before hitting the sack. I was climbing into bed when the bed began to shake. It's the oddest confusing feeling. Then I saw the pictures on the walls swaying wildly and heard the windows rattle. We were on the 9th floor of a apartment building and I didn't think that was a good place to be in an earthquake. Immediately into my mind came the thought that we had traveled all the way to Quito to die. Eventually we slept, and the next morning discovered we were the only ones who had slept in the building. The other occupants spent the night in their cars. It was amazing and sad the next day to see the devastation.

Friday, August 19, 2011

a new perch ... the mantle story

A couple of months ago I sought some advice from you all about what to do with our fireplace.
I was amazed at the emotive responses. It was about 50/50--paint the brick and
DO NOT PAINT the brick! But overall the responses were to "get rid of the brass" and bring back a mantle.
Sometimes it just helps to have fresh eyes look at your dilemma.
One sweet blogging friend even did some research and sent us this photo 
 which became our "inspiration photo." 
It sort of put it together for us. Thanks Honora!
So the Gardener and I started to have some fun exploring what to do. 
 We had the vision for a surround mantle and began to do research. 
Hmmm ... kinda pricey, even with a kit from a big box hardware store.
Suddenly we were seeing fireplace mantles everywhere --- antique shops, consignment shops, 
Craig's list... but none were quite the thing or were too costly...
... until this one showed up on Craig's list for $40. We let it "sit" for awhile but finally connected and found it was still available. 
It had been torn out of a 90-year-old mansion in a pricey area of town, and was a bit worse for wear, but we could see the potential.
Here she is in her former glory ... taken out to make room for a stone wall surround.
Home she came to sit while we thought about her, had a new grandson, and did some other important things.
We put a call into a local handyman. He loves this kind of work especially.
He glued on the old stray bits of trim that came with it, added some of his own and put on a new top. 
He transformed her into a stately lady ready for paint. You notice here we boldly removed the brass 
without a clue how we would replace it. 
We were amazed at the size of the opening. 
But, when we were meandering through some delightful 
antique shops just across the southern border of our state, 
the Gardener spotted something plopped in a back corner. What an eye he has! 
There was my dream fireplace screen --all in black and just like the one by the fireplace in my childhood home. 
How very cool, and how very cheap it was! Perfect fit!
It will be fun to decorate this per the "whims" that come along. I've had a lot of fun going back and forth with a friend in Florida 
who has an amazing eye for decorating. For instance, she suggested lowering my mother's Charleston cross stitch just an inch and a half. 
It made a big difference. (You can see an example of her art on the bottom right of my sidebar.)
It's been a fun project, we now have a new story about our house, and most of all, we are grateful!
And thanks to all of you for your helpful comments!
Connecting to My Romantic Home and Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Two of my nieces (age 6) are dying to learn cursive. I wonder why. One, who is homeschooled, was told by her mom that she had to concentrate on her printing first. So she taught herself in secret! I do wonder if handwriting is becoming a thing of the past. Maybe eventually we'll only need to write a signature. But something will be lost, for sure.

My grandfather wrote many letters to his family members. I have a big box full of letters to my parents. As I read them I am learning so much! The one above is to one of my cousins. It's particularly special because even though my grandfather thought his health was improving, it really wasn't. He didn't even know he was dying of cancer, and three months after writing this he was no longer with us. (Notice you can see he wrote on both sides of the paper.)

"Longhand saves me. Slows me down. Puts me together, all connected again." (from the "Handwritten Life" in Mary Jane's Farm magazine, April-May 2011). ("Longhand" is sure an ancient term. It must have been used vs. typing, or maybe even "shorthand.")

Though many things are gained through technology, there is much richness to life that is being lost. Such as handwritten letters.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shower ... take 2

Two bridal showers in one weekend. And five weeks from now we'll have two weddings on the same weekend. Both daughters of good friends, and young friends of mine as well. Both young ladies went with me on mission trips to Romanian orphanages and now they are all grown up. 
The first shower had a fun black and white and yellow theme...and I loved how 
the bride, unknowingly, dressed in black and white. 
And that my gift was also wrapped in black and white. Smile!
Though both showers had a common theme of cucumber sandwiches, fruit and 
OF COURSE cupcakes, the second shower was all about tea! 
Such gorgeous teacups collected from all over the world and a delicious array of hot teas. 
Very cool.  (well yes, hot tea isn't bad at all on a warm day, especially if you are in AC)!
I wish both young women the very best as they venture forth into the wonderful world of married life!
Please visit Mary's Little Red House to see more mosaics!

Friday, August 12, 2011

drinking in the pink

I have a mental picture of my grandmother, as a young bride during difficult times, trudging up to the dime store to purchase some pretty dishes. I don't think they cost much, otherwise they would not be called "depression glass."
When I was a teenager I was privileged to receive my grandmother's old cedar hope chest, and inside was her large set of depression glass. It was really a dessert set with no glasses or cups, but lots of interesting serving pieces.

Eventually I found mugs, large plates and bowls at kmart and finally had something that looked OK to drink from. But I always hoped, in the back of my mind, to eventually find teacups.
Over the years I've never found just the right ones ... until last week.
You know how it is ... there they were, just there calling me from a little town near the NC/GA border. I didn't have the saucers with me, and I've learned there are different colors of pink
depression glass...but I was pretty sure so went on and bought them, the price was sooo good!
Brought them home and the color was a perfect match, as was the design. Quite possibly they were meant to be together!  Now I'm wondering about the story behind these cups. How did they get separated from the rest of their family of dishes? And how were they purchased, and what was the home like where they were used? My mind can really go on things like this!
Now, anybody for tea?
Reposted from July 2010. Connecting to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound and Happy to Design's Sunday's Favorites.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

birthday good will

We had a slow day on my birthday (after all I'd been celebrating in one way or another for a week.)
We dropped some things off at GW and decided to pop in. You just never know what you'll find. The Gardener has a sharp eye. I had made my round of the dishes and saw nothing interesting. Then I noticed above the crowds (The Gardener, at 6'6" is always findable in a crowd or a store) that my beloved was studying something in the dishes section. I rushed over to pull him away saying, "There's nothing of interest here." Apparently new stuff had just come out. 
There she was. $5 and perfect.
I love her "aerial" view. And have learned the best time to shop at GW is when the new stuff comes out. If you know when that is.
 (We found one other gem, but that's for another post.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


One of my favorite birthday gifts ... love the colors, the big handle, what it says and the
 interesting brown interior! I think I'll need to bring my own cup next time I meet a friend for coffee !!!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

from many pieces

There is a lovely blue Wedgewood porcelain lamp that has sat on my mother's dresser for as long as I remember. I've always fancied its simple urn-like lines, and and it's pure white shade. There's a crack or two I've noticed––it has obviously been repaired, but I never really knew what all that was about.

Today my mother and I were taking a walk where she lives. We passed some windows with messed up venetian blinds and I told her how I hate to see messy blinds in windows. Just a personal preference––neat rather than messy. Back at her little apartment, we sat on the sofa to talk. 

"Speaking of venetian blinds," she began, "when we moved into our little parsonage as newlyweds, the church had fixed it up for us and had hung new venetian blinds at the windows. But they didn't know how to hang them. I discovered
that fact the day I first went to clean the living room. I pulled up the blinds and they came crashing down, taking my beautiful wedgewood lamp with them. It broke into many pieces. How I loved that lamp––a wedding
 present from my aunt and uncle. When your father came home for lunch he found me on the living room floor dissolved in tears."

My father, loving groom that he was (all his life), took the pieces and somehow glued them back into a beautiful lamp that still hangs together 65 years later. You'd never know how broken it had been. Nor can I visualize my mother on the floor crying!

I love the stories that come at the oddest comments. Now I'll examine the lamp more closely, and from now on when I  look I'll think of my dad's loving hands gluing broken pieces together for his young bride.  I have two more stories about broken Wedgewood, but this one is the dearest by far! (Top photo is of a favorite lamp of mine, as yet unbroken).

Reposted from three years ago because I like the story so much. Joining Chari's Sunday Favorites.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

hello from the beach

One hundred years ago my great-grandfather apparently took one of his boys (my grandpa) down the shore (what they say up north). I guess they had their photo taken and made into a postcard -- seems a bit extravagant to me but maybe it was the thing to do. No pictures of the sun or shore (just a fake backdrop you see), and it seems the greeting back to family members was mainly a blessing or words of a hymn.
Fast track to today's world. Eldest is spending a week "at the beach" (as they say down here in the south). His "postcard" came by way of a picture text--no words. How the world has changed!
But I know exactly what he is saying to me:  "Mom all is well; having a great time; not all my day is spent on the beach--see here I am at a lighthouse (I see the corner of his car). I thought of you because I know you love lighthouses--and I remember being here with you and Pop years ago."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

shame on us

The Gardener and I were up doing business on the north side of town and finally 
got to visit a popular French bakery that 
we hear so much about. Before I got inside the door, the curtains on the glass doors told me I'd love it.
Shame on our indulgence, but such a French pastry who can resist? At least we shared it!
I loved, loved the table we sat at ... it had a built-in tablescape. Am I the only one who 
would get confused and keep trying to pick up the fork? Well I did. It got embarrassing!
So much to look at. A visual, creative feast for the eyes. And open 24/7.
Cozy. "Paris Shabby Chic."
I found it so interesting to look at all the lamps they had built. A sharp eye will find some here and there.

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