Today's show and tell is my father's very vintage doctor's bag!
There's not really much of a story associated with this one; I just like it. It is so reminiscent of days gone by. When daddy started practicing medicine, he did go on house calls. I was so young, I don't remember much about that--or whether or not he actually carried this bag. I do remember that my mom insisted he stop making house calls because she had to go with him (for propriety's sake). Since I was a baby, this was immensely inconvenient. Another factor in stopping those house calls was the fact that he rarely got paid for making them!
My prayers and thoughts go out to those in Newtown, Connecticut that lost loved ones on Friday.
As many of us are doing, I just keep asking, "Why?" I don't understand.
Although there are no answers to that question, I find myself wanting to do something, anything for those who have undergone such a horrible loss. If you have a few spare dollars this Christmas, you might consider donating them to:
Prayers and thoughts for our friends over at The Thundering Herd in the loss of their pack mate, Rusty.
This is a picture of Rusty from their blog (please forgive me for borrowing it, but I want to share this special dog and this wonderful blog with my readers). Rusty's passing makes my heart ache for the Herd's humans, as I am very familiar with that hole in your heart that the passing of a beloved pet leaves.
How wonderful the Internet is, though! I have made so many friends of the canine and human varieties through the Internet. I have never met them in person, but through words and pictures, I follow their adventures, and yes, share in their heartache.
So, if you have some time, head on over to read about Rusty and the rest of the Herd. If you love dogs, you'll love reading about this bunch of Sibes and their owners. In the meantime, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and give your fur-kids an extra hug and snuggle tonight.
I've spent the weekend attending a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools conference at the Anatole Hotel. These are some of their lovely Christmas decorations.
On a bright note, I did manage to decorate a small tree for my office at work. It's pink--just like my office. Yes, I know that those of you that know me personally find a pink office hard to believe. I'll post pictures of my tree when I take some.
Sorry that I have been more absent than present in my little blog. Christmas season has already been very difficult for me.
When mom first passed away--for the first two-three weeks--I was amazed at how well I was handling things. I was calm and decisive; I didn't break down into fits of tears or anything. I remember driving to work one day and congratulating myself on how well I was handling everything. As you've probably guessed, that didn't last. About a month after her death, the whole thing hit me like a ton of bricks. I bawled at the drop of the proverbial hat!
Well, I did the same thing when it came to Christmas. I planned ahead for the Christmas season, buying a new tree and some ornaments. I scheduled a trip to Oklahoma to see my cousin and her family. I went shopping for everybody I could think of. Yep, I was doing great--looking forward to it and everything. Until...one day in Target. I was browsing the Christmas aisle, looking for something, and I heard the first Christmas carol since last year. Immediately, I was transported to last year when mom was so ill, and I remembered how she didn't even get to enjoy her very last Christmas because she was so sick.
Before I knew what was happening, I was blubbering right there in the aisle of Target. I quickly shuffled off to a less-crowded aisle and mopped up my tears. Since then, I have to tell myself, "You will not cry today." I am more or less successful. Honestly, sometimes, less than more. Still, tears do not tell the whole picture. I find myself saddened into inaction, sitting and doing nothing when I get home from work. Nothing holds my interest--not television or the Internet, or my old favorite-- books. I haven't finished a book in weeks. I just want to sleep.
I know I'm depressed. I have no trouble recognizing the symptoms. Unfortunately, I just don't think there's any way around it, at least until Christmas is over. I miss both my mom and dad so much right now. There just aren't even any words to express how alone I feel.
So, please understand if I'm absent for a little while. This blog is cathartic, but I'm sure that reading about sadness is no more fun than actually being sad.
Despite this year's trials, I have a lot to be thankful for:
My best friend Martha. I couldn't ask for a better bestie! She came all the way from Seattle and spent a week with me when mom died. And then came back in October and spent two weeks with me, during which she whipped through the majority of what was left to be done in my house. What kind of great person comes on a vacation and then actually WORKS? The BEST kind!
My cousin Kris and her family. It's nice to know that I have family that loves me and even wants to spend holidays with me! Kris dropped everything and came when mom had her stroke. She said that she knew if I asked her to come, it must be critical, so she did.
My friend Nicolas, who always helps me think things through. I don't get to spend as much time as I'd like with him, but I know if I ask, he'll be there. It's nice to have people like that in your life!
All my other friends: John, Joann & Bill, Rebecca & Jonathan, Gail & Steven--you all rock! You've been so loving and helpful throughout this year of turmoil.
My dog-children: Sitka, Juneau, and Poquito. You're the reason I go home at night. You're my companions and you brighten my days, even when you are naughty and chew furniture. I do love you more than my "things!"
My home. I am so lucky to have inherited mom's home. It's well-built, and large enough to house all four of us, and all of my stuff. I couldn't ask for a better place--and besides, it's filled with such happy memories.
My job. I love knowing that what I do impacts young (and sometimes not-so-young) people and their dreams for a better life. Sometimes I get frustrated with the politics, and the whining, but, ultimately, I love it.
My car. Never underestimate the value of having reliable transportation. It's not the fanciest ride, but I don't look like a slob driving it either!
My stuff. I know it sounds materialistic, but--if you've been paying attention to my blog--you know I love my stuff. It all holds happy memories for me!
My church. I appreciate all of the support I receive from my church and especially the church members. After a lifetime of avoiding organized religion, I have a new appreciation of what it means to be a member of a church family.
My health. Despite having several ailments, I am thankful that I feel good and have the ability to "get up and go." Being diagnosed with leukemia has made me acutely aware of how thankful am I for the ability to do this.
My country. I am thankful that I live in a country that allows me the ability to live my life as I choose, up to my ability to support that lifestyle. It's a true blessing to have this freedom when so many don't.
My mind. I am grateful that I have the ability to think for myself, and the ability to think clearly. One of our family friends died from Alzheimer's this year, and it really reminded me that having the ability to think and be rational is a gift.
Do you have anything in your house that has a pretty great story, but you sort of forget the story just because you see the object every day? Seeing the object all the time dulls the amusement factor of the story.
This antique floor lamp has just such a story. It belonged to my grandparents, and when my grandfather got remarried and moved to Texas (way back in the 1970s), my mom inherited it. When she got it, the shade was totally ruined, although the lamp itself was in good shape.
Mom decided that she wanted to redo it in what would have been the original style--with a beaded shade. Since it also needed rewiring, she took it to a Dallas lamp shop. When she asked the proprietor about redoing the lamp, he proceeded to insult both the lamp and my mom, suggesting that the lamp was a piece of junk, and that it didn't matter since she probably couldn't afford to have it fixed like she was wanting it anyway. I don't know whether that guy was just naturally grumpy or whether he was just having a really bad day, but he--understandably--ticked off my mom.
The next day when she had calmed down enough to talk about the incident, she called her banker (remember when we had those?). She gave him the shop's name and the owner's name, and she told him to tell the owner that she wanted to buy the shop--and to be certain that the owner knew for whom the banker was making the inquiry.
I don't know who got a bigger laugh over that phone call--the banker or my mom. The banker called my mom back to report on what had transpired during the conversation. The owner was puzzled at first as to why some apparently random woman wanted to buy his lamp store. When the store owner inquired as to who wanted to buy his shop (which, of course, wasn't for sale) the banker lowered the boom, saying, "Remember the woman who tried to have a vintage floor lamp restored at your store, and you wouldn't help her?" After receiving grudging confirmation that the owner did indeed remember my mom, the banker said, "Well, she just figured that if you wouldn't help her, she'd buy the shop and hire someone who knew how to run a business." The banker hung up on a very flustered lamp store owner.
We'll never know if he learned to treat customers better because mom redid the lamp herself! She found a plain shade, and hand beaded the trim around the bottom. She even rewired the lamp too! I think it turned out pretty well!
This is what I found when I came home yesterday. My 50+ year old Ethan Allen pedestal table--ruined, all because a stinkin' Milk Bone slid under there when I was doling out treats yesterday. I didn't have time to move the table before I left, and none of the dogs saw it go under there.
Lesson learned: never underestimate a dog's sense of smell, or his (or her) determination to get to a treat.
You don't? Ah, never owned a big dog, I see. Little dogs do not have "the zoomies."
The Urban Dictionary defines the zoomies as: "When your dog runs around ... like crazy jumping on the couch, running up and down the stairs, and all over the house. It usually ends with them falling to the floor, panting like crazy and taking a nap."
To be honest, Sitka is too lazy to get the zoomies. The fastest she ever goes is if she's outside and I call her in for dinner. Then she moves as fast as her pudgy body will carry her!
Juneau on the other hand, for all his size, is prone to the zoomies, but ONLY when the temperatures drop below 50 F. When the temperature drops to the 40s (which is generally in November), Juneau turns into a different dog. Even Sitka--though she doesn't move fast--shows her joy when the temperatures drop.
And when it (rarely) snows? I've never seen them so happy!
Where to start, where to start? I have so many things that I love...
Ah, I know!
My blanket! Yes, I was one of those children who slept with a blanket! No teddy bears or dolls for me--at least not for comfort while I was sleeping. My blanket was IT!
Before I was even born, mom had two baby quilts: a brown one and a white one. My grandmother made the top for the brown quilt, and mom finished making it into a quilt. My mom purchased the top for the white quilt in New York City when she and daddy were on his graduation trip from medical school. The only way they could afford to make the trip was that it was completely subsidized by pharmaceutical companies "wining and dining" new graduates. She had just enough money to purchase two little souvenirs--a small delft pin and the unfinished white quilt top. When she got home, she did the embroidery that decorated the top and then made the top into a quilt.
The reason that I'm telling you about the white quilt is that it was my first choice when I was a baby. I loved that white quilt; it was so pretty with its pink binding and beautiful embroidery. I lugged it around until the pink binding frayed. Being ever practical, mom sat down one day and removed the pink binding, just stitching the edges of the quilt with a blanket stitch. When she presented the "fixed" quilt to me, I wouldn't have anything to do with it!
I immediately switched to the brown quilt, lugging it around with all the affection I had once give the white quilt. I slept with it every night, and when we went on vacations, it went with me. I even carried that thing all the way to Hawaii in 1973! When I went to college, so did it--and when I got married, it came with me. It has absorbed countless tears, fears, and secrets. Being the good friend it is, "brown blanket" has been a patient listener and a great tissue for those tears. Mom tried to wash it once, and I threw a fit, afraid it would dissolve!
I haven't slept with it for years, although I will admit to dragging it out and weeping a few tears into its threadbare cloth when I get especially sad. If I had to evacuate, "brown blanket" would be the first (inanimate) thing I grabbed. It has a place of safety (and honor) in the top drawer of my dresser now. I open the drawer and pick it up and hug it every now and then, just because I'm girly that way.
I'm pretty sure the only thing still holding it together is love!
So, what about you--did you have a blanket, a doll, a teddy bear? Do you still have it?
Recently, one of my co-workers and I were discussing a photograph that we saw in a magazine. The photo showed a woman posed in her home. The home was lovely and it was obvious that a decorator had spent a lot of money to make it look that way. Despite its loveliness, the home looked so impersonal to me. When I mentioned it to my co-worker, she had trouble comprehending what I was meant.
I had to explain it to her--that it looked as though the objects in the home had been chosen strictly for their decorative features, and that they probably meant nothing to the owner. Her response, was, "So what? Isn't everyone's home like that?" I was equally flabbergasted--"You mean to tell me that you think most people just have 'things' in their homes? That they don't care about the objects they surround themselves with?" It turns out that, indeed, that was her belief. And maybe she's right; from what I've seen of most people's homes, they are just filled with things. And, other than personal photos, there's probably not a lot that people would grieve over if it were lost.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, or if you know me personally, you know that this is the exact opposite of how I live and how I decorate. Everything--everything--in my home means something to me; otherwise I wouldn't have it there. The sweet ladies who came in to unpack my boxes even commented, "You have the best stories!"
Hearing their words made me start thinking about those wonderful stores. I miss having someone who shares in those memories, those shared stories. So, since you guys are my wonderfully patient audience, and I love to tell stories, I'm going to start a regular feature called Show and Tell Sunday where I "show" some of my favorite things, and then "tell" their stories. Please feel free to share your favorite things and their stories in the comments.
And what about you? Do you surround yourself with meaningful things? Or do you prefer a sleek, decorator look?
I think you can probably see from my previous posts that my parents and I were not exactly minimalists when it came to decorating our houses. Okay, that's the understatement of the year! Around our houses, the rule was, "If you have more than two of anything, it is considered a 'collection'." And, of course, collections must be added to! (Yes, I know I just ended a sentence in a preposition, and my mother is rolling in her grave because of it!)
Throughout my life, I have collected: dolls, rocks, seashells, Japanese lusterware, crockery bowls, hammered aluminum kitchenware, teddy bears, trinket boxes, native American art, crosses and cross pendants, David Winter houses, napkins, ballpoint pens, restaurant ware, miniature liquor bottles, sand, and booklets. Because I have an almost pathological need to hang on to everything, I still collect everything except the dolls, rocks, napkins, and seashells! Just recently, when the organizers came, I gathered the courage to divest myself of most of my dolls. I spent my youth collecting them, but I don't really have any valuable ones. I saved my favorites, and they're going in the room with the teddy bears. Okay, I don't add any more David Winter houses because they don't make them anymore, and I can't find any little liquor bottles that I don't have, so I guess those are out too.
You may be asking yourself how I came to collect some of the things I do (or did)? There's no rhyme or reason to it! If it strikes my fancy, it's fair game. But there's always a story there too. For instance, I started collecting sand when I was younger and travelling a lot. I would collect a little bit of sand from each beach that I visited. I was even in Hawaii so long ago that visitors could still remove black sand from that famous beach. I started the David Winter collection when I honeymooned in London. They were new and all the rage back then. I thought it would be a great souvenir from our trip and I liked how tiny and detailed these miniatures were. The teddy bear collection started when I decided to go to Baylor University. Since their mascot is a bear, teddy bears were the perfect collectible for a Baylor student. The crockery bowls are some of my favorite things. That collection started when I received my grandmother's bowl after her death in 1985. I remember her making sourdough bread in it every week. As I travelled with my family, I started noticing other bowls--different and so pretty. Poof--a collection was born!
These are pictures of some of my "stuff."
Crockery bowls (one of my favorite collections)
The expensive blue crockery
Between the two of them, my parents collected: stringed instruments, wood carvings, thimbles, glass oil lamps, pitchers (cows), owls, tiny perfume bottles, crystal, matchbooks, bricks, hotel soap, and hand fans. There are probably more collections that I can't think of, or that quickly fell by the wayside.
Collections provide the "spice" to my daily life. They always have and I suspect they always will. I love getting the opportunity to search for items to add--which is probably why I'll end up on Hoarders. I watch that show and see myself. I once told Martha that I was one bad life event away from becoming a hoarder.
Perhaps someone should check on me every now and then in case my piles get too high and one of them collapses on me!
A little while back, I wrote about the joys (and challenges) of owning snow dogs. However, my two furry beauties are not the only dogs I own. I also have this little booger that goes by the name of Poquito Bandito!
Like my other two, Poquito is a rescue, coming from a group called Texas' Little Cuties. He wasn't supposed to be mine, though; he was supposed to be mom's. Last October, around the time of her birthday, I was at Petsmart getting something for my rowdy bunch, when I saw that they were having an adoption event. Mom had expressed the desire to get another dog for some time. Her last dog had died several years ago, and she was lonely. Even though she had the desire for another dog, she was always unsure about actually getting one because of her increasingly poor health.
Several months earlier, my cousin Bobby and his wife Seene had visited and had brought their little Chihuahua, Mia. Mom loved that little dog! She'd never considered getting a Chihuahua before, but thought that Mia was adorable. When I was at Petsmart, lo and behold, there was a little brown Chihuahua looking lost and lonely in a large cage. I inquired about the adoption fee, and the lady running the event even took him out of his cage so I could hold him. Well, that little dog decided right away that I was the one! He snuggled right down in my arms--so calm and affectionate. "He'd be perfect for mom," I thought. I called her immediately, and basically talked her into it, although I didn't have to twist her arm too hard.
$145 and some new dog supplies later, we were on our way to my mom's house. This little bit of a dog climbed right in my car and made himself at home. I have to admit, I'm not a small dog person, but he had even me enchanted!
Everything was peachy, hunky dory, right as rain--until he realized that I would not be staying at this new home of his. After bringing him to mom, I stayed for a visit, and all the while, he refused to leave my lap. When I got up to go, I tried handing him off to my mom. After all, he'd just settled right down when I picked him up. Yep, that didn't go as planned! Poquito (whose name was Phoenix at the time) tried to bite her and then he jumped down, ran across the room, and hid behind a chair!
He stayed behind that chair for nearly two days!
I felt terrible; for once, a dog had bonded with me instead of mom! Mom was always like a dog whisperer. Dogs loved her! Every dog my family ever owned ended up being hers, really. Every dog except this one.
I stayed away, figuring that if he didn't see me, he'd eventually get used to her and used to the idea that he lived with her now. It took two days for him to come closer. It took one more day for him to get up on her ottoman. And in another day, he was finally in her lap--where he stayed until the day she had a stroke! Once bonded, he was hers utterly. I was relieved that he no longer even gave up his comfy spot on her lap to come see me when I visited.
The day I woke to find mom having a stroke, she was holding Poquito with her good hand and petting him. It's an image that is burned into my brain, and a strong testament to how much she loved that little dog.
With everything else that I had to think about after mom's stroke, little Poquito was not exactly my main concern. In my spare moments, I contemplated finding him a new home, maybe sending him back to Texas' Little Cuties. After all, I already had two BIG dogs who have high prey drives. I know for sure small animals like rabbits and squirrels are not safe around them, and I knew mom's days of caring for an animal were over. Juneau and Sitka had met Poquito, but had never been left alone with him. I wasn't sure they would behave (in other words, not eat Poquito) without supervision.
Finally after a couple of days, I just gave up, and instead of running back and forth between two houses, left all the dogs in the house together. I had neither time nor energy to run to two different houses to take care of three dogs. Surprisingly enough, in that resiliant way dogs have, all three adjusted. Poquito was--thankfully--not in pieces when I returned that evening.
After mom was gone, I found I just couldn't send him away. Just as quickly as he'd accepted me tthe first time, he did it again!
The last 10 months have been dog-filled, much to my happiness! He and Sitka don't pay too much attention to each other, but I think that Juneau secretly likes him! Poquito tries to play with the big dogs, but they're just too rough (and I make him leave them alone--just to calm my own fears). And, although I'm not a "little dog" person, I have to say: this is one huge dog in a little dog's body! He has enough guts and personality for three dogs. Despite his bossy tendencies, Poquito is still a lap dog, too. The minute I sit down, he makes a beeline for my lap and stays there until I get up. I have worked to socialize him more. Being a rescue, I don't know what kind of life he had before he came to what I'm now calling Pooch Manor, but he doesn't seem to like people much. Having people in my house, guests and workers, has really had a positive affect on him.
And, so, on we go--with much yapping, and hair-shedding, and lap-sitting!
Mom to two dogs--Sitka and Poquito. Angel Juneau waits north of the Rainbow Bridge. I spend most of my time vacuuming up dog hair and and trying to avoid being on an episode of Hoarders. Currently fighting CLL/SLL!