Friday, November 09, 2012

The personal vs. the impersonal

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?

The three biggest treasures I have at home! 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Collections...or "Why I Will Eventually End Up on Hoarders"

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

Japanese lusterware
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!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Odd man out

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!