Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Things You May Not Know About Me, Part 1 - Old Stuff

I like old stuff.  My house is old.  Built in the 1950s, it has all the character of a sixty year old home. Even though it has been renovated and updated, it retains its mid-century charm.  The tiny living room is an L-shape.  The fireplace is flanked by brick with a cabinet to the left to hold firewood and bookshelves for my books.  My reading nook is there, nestled in the corner, with an oversize leather chair.  My grandmother's colonial style side table sits next to it.  I can turn to my left and go through glass-paned French doors covered with lace curtains that lead to my studio.

Curled up in my reading chair, I often wonder who else spent time in this corner of the living room. Did they lose themselves in a book here, too?  Maybe there was a rocking chair for soothing crying babies.  Did they have pictures hung on the wall that constantly fell off like mine do?  And who nailed the three brass nails into the mantle, ready to hold Christmas stockings each December?  It is interesting that there are only three.  One for my son, one for my daughter, and one for me.

Hanging on the wall in this little nook is my grandfather's gray fedora.  I remember Papa Peach wearing this straw hat with a striped grosgrain ribbon surrounding the crown.  The $24.00 price tag is still inside. There is a slight brown stain on the brim.  How did it get there?  I wish men wore hats again.  They always looked so distinguished, like a real man.  Are there any real men still out there?

On the bookshelf next to the fireplace is an old fishing reel that was made in France.  A dear friend found this and gave it to me several years ago. It is grimy from years of use or maybe from just sitting around waiting for someone to love it again.  Who fished with it?  Did he, or she, catch a monster fish that made for a great story for years to come?  Or, did this old reel cause the fisherman to lose that monster fish and he took it off his pole and threw it aside, never to be used again?  I'll bet whoever it belonged to he, or she, didn't figure it would end up on my bookshelf years later.

The kitchen, with its hideous linoleum floor, has a shelf that goes around above the cabinets.  It is the perfect place to display my grandmother's prairie green Frankoma pottery.  Every dish reminds me of family dinners that Grandma Peach used to cook.  I remember the bowl she used for the green beans, the dish for the pot roast, and the gravy boat. When I was packing up the pottery, I dropped a lid to a sugar bowl.  As it dropped to the floor, I was crushed, knowing it would shatter.  But no....it just bounced a little, then rolled over.  Not a chip on it.  Made from good ole' Oklahoma clay.  This stuff is as tough as its owners were.  

A few of the kitchen cabinets are glass fronts with ivy etched into the panes.  These cabinets hold my great grandmother's colorful Fiestaware and etched glassware.  I really only remember Maudie in the rest home, but I have loved her Fiestaware.  Food just always tastes better when I use it.  I wonder if she felt that way.  The plates are all scratched from years of use, forks scooping up whatever she had made for dinner.  And years later, they sit in my kitchen, still lovingly used and fiercely protected.

One of my favorite things is a blue and white gingham apron that I remember my grandmother wearing when she would make homemade noodles.  She would roll them out on the counter and let them sit to dry a little bit.  I always tried to sneak a piece of the uncooked noodles lying there tempting me.  Every now and then she'd let me have a piece, but not too often.  She told me I would get worms.  I didn't care.  That dough was soooo good!  My daughter, Caroline, models it here.

Recently, I have indulged in an old love of mine....vintage luggage.  I bought a caramel colored, leather Samsonite suitcase at a garage sale for $13.00 and the following day had a friend give me another Samsonite suitcase that was a little larger and a little darker.  After polishing them up with some Mink oil, they look almost new.  That prompted me to look a little deeper.  When I did, I found a faux crocodile Samsonite suitcase and train case.  They were both in good condition, but did they smell!  Whew!  They smelled old.  Very old.  But I love them.  These things must be about the same age as my house.  It made me think...where have they been?  Maybe to the Grand Canyon, Paris, Lubbock?  Were they packed in a rush to get an expectant mother to the hospital, or in a rush to get home to a dying parent?    Did they sit in a closet, unused, waiting to go on a grand adventure that never took place?  

This is what I love about old stuff.  There is a story there.  It is rare that we actually get to know the story behind the suitcase, or the blue handkerchief, or the old fishing reel.  But there is a story there.  These items belonged to real people, with real lives.  People who made a difference in our world, good or bad.  They existed, they touched these things, loved them, despised them.  But they existed.  They were here.  They left their mark on our world.  Who knows?  Maybe fifty years from now, some aspiring writer will have something of mine in their home, wondering about the previous owner, trying to figure out something about my life based on some old stuff that they found, and loved just as much as I did.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Favorite Things

These are my worn cowboy boots

A few of my favorite things....

* cowboy boots worn so often that they hug your feet perfectly

* the loud squeak, then POP of a screen door slamming in your great-grandmother's house

* the gentle whir of box fan to cool you off in summer

* sitting at my drafting table in my studio creating something completely unique

* curling up with my two teenage kids when they need their mama, because they still do sometimes

* hearing "Manamana...do do do do do, Manamana....do do di do"

* the silence of the early morning when everyone else is still asleep

* nuzzling noses with a horse and inhaling that beautiful smell

* grabbing my camera and heading to New Mexico to explore

* a perfect glass of wine

* trying to be mad at someone but they just make you laugh hysterically instead

* knowing that all is well in your world

* sunflowers in your garden reaching out to the sun each morning

There are so many little things in life that make us happy, make us smile. I keep a journal where I try to fill a page each day with a few of my favorite things, things for which I am grateful, people who make me laugh, words that inspire me.

What makes you happy?  Take a few minutes to think about them, write them down.  The next time you are frustrated or unhappy, go to that list...really take some time to absorb it.  You'll be smiling in no time.  Works for me!

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