Saturday, May 23, 2015

An Estate Sale Horror Story

No, nothing really bad happened at this estate sale. It all happened in my head.

It all started at book club when one of my pals mentioned another member was busy working on an estate sale that would take place a few days later. "They have lots of antiques and ton of crafty stuff," Sarah said. "It's going to be a good one."

I refrained going on Friday. I do not need one single thing. Ever. But the thought of a second day's discount (and the fact that it was rainy and cold and Rick was doing an out-of-town 100-mile ride that day) led me to googlemaps and then to the house. Cars were lined up on both sides of the road. I viewed this as a good sign. I would be fed up with the crowds and leave quickly, dollars saved, no need to add anything to the pile.

The first thing I saw was the chintzware. I have a few pieces of my mom's and I thought, "This is so pretty. My colors. Spring. Wouldn't it be nice to have dessert on these little plates or serve home made macarons on this lovely larger plate."

I passed up the very nice stacked tables, thinking they'd be good TV tables or even art overflow tables. One was kind of wonky and wobbly and yes, I know me -- I'd knock it over in a heartbeat. But the buttons were nice!

A couple of cute Christmas items which I am convinced I will give away. Maybe. So, not pictured!

And then... the basement. This is where my freakout began.

The room was long and narrow. Imagine, if you can, several folding tables, two deep and several long, filled with plastic shoebox-sized storage boxes with everything under the sun. Ribbon. Stickers. Papers. Printed out collage sheets. Old cards. Stamps. Flowers. Tags. Embellishments. Books. Glue. Scissors. Napkins. Tools. More buttons. Work the woman had done herself.

There had to be 40 or 50 boxes. All well-categorized (probably the work of the estate sale people). Then there were Xyron cartridges, paper cutters, big stuff.

And another table with a huge box of Valentine-related and another of mixed holiday and more of her cards and on...and on... and on.

Fill a bag for $5. (Amazing what you can fit into an oversized lunch bag). Some things marked as bulk. As you can see, I was restrained but not good.

So, you might ask, where is the horror story in this? Apart from the fact that day two was only 35% off (not the expected 50%), the sale was fine. What wasn't fine was my head.

I came home and looked at my stuff -- not the new, but all the old stuff I already have. Now, mind you, this is stuff I am using. Not daily but regularly. I am not willing to part with it yet. But I couldn't help thinking "This is what my house will look like someday." Wall to wall tables with boxes of ribbon and cutouts, stickers and tape, books and mediums, buttons and papers, stamps and pens, feathers and glue guns, tapes and tags. Not to mention a few new old Golden Books. Or what will be left of them after my scissors go at it!

I'm still shaking.

Now granted, I hope I won't be here to have to deal with that. It'll be Rick's problem (or someone's!). He'll call the estate people and they'll put them in neat categories and say "fill a bag for $5" and that'll be that.

But I have seen the future. And it scared the heck out of me.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Will Never Get These Read

But, I will certainly have fun trying!


Rick and I spent a couple of days in the metro Detroit area helping Kevin and Molly move to their first house. They own it fair and square -- apart from the lion's share of it which the loan company has, but details, details! It's theirs to settle in and have a real home.

I don't quite understand this interpretation of Beethoven!
Amidst packing and unpacking, sprucing up the house inside and out and doing all those moving things, Rick needed to check his work email so we went to the library. And wouldn't you know it, they were having a book sale.

Yes, I know -- this is a place is I should not go. But really, how could I pass up tons of books? Or these terrific travel pamphlets. I've always loved these and am getting quite a collection on all things Brit. Now there is a Mont St. Michel booklet to start France off!

My shelf is bulging. Well, actually, one of my wicker chairs, till I can figure out where they will all go! I couldn't resist the memoirs.

These two food memoirs/biographies were especially good finds for me -- Ruth Reichl's "Tender at the Bone" and the bio of Judith Jones, Julia's "Mastering the Art" editor.

These two looked fun -- more Britain and Judith Viorst on aging? Sounds good for grins!

And I loved this one -- it's huge with yellowed pages. And I'll never read it. But the illustrations at the top of this post are from this book and you can bet you may be seeing it in "altered" form as parts of various 
future collages!

It was a good thing Rick finished his e-mail check when he did or who knows what would come home. But it was $11.50 well spent. (Oh, and there was also a book on Versailles and one on the Titanic!) Meanwhile, it's going to be a good-book summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Real Gypsy -- Three Years Later

Those who have started following The Marmelade Gypsy over the past few years may not know there was a real Marmy Gyp. So please indulge me while I remember Gypsy, the namesake of this blog and my good buddy for 14 years, on the third anniversary of his passing this weekend. For many years, this photo was the banner for The Marmelade Gypsy.

Everyone who has a cat thinks theirs is the greatest -- even if they periodically despair of bad behavior. And they're right.
And so was I.

I won't go into Gypsy's story here, apart from the fact that he found me when he was just a kitten, about eight weeks old. It took two months before he became our cat. Well, admittedly our cat. As Rick said to me about six weeks before that, "You've got another cat."

He was playful and sweet and he loved his treats.

He also appreciated hanging out under the tree at Christmas. "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille," he seemed to be saying.

He was always ready for his close-up and there was a secret to the good photos I had of him. His limited vocabulary had two words that made him look up alertly. "Fancy Feast." Long after we had moved from Fancy Feast to a better food, he still would perk at the name. So, instead of "cheese," we'd mention the FF word and bingo!

Like many animals, he liked the sink.

And, he was tolerant of the seasonal humiliation of bow ties and Halloween costumes...


...and one couldn't do laundry, knit, read the paper or a book without his crawling up for attention. Which I was always only too glad to give.

So many of us have had our pets leave us, hopefully after long, happy lives. When Rick and I went to Europe, we left a very sick cat in the hands of a wonderful woman named Jan who came to stay with him for the nearly three weeks we were gone. It was tough duty -- she had a lot of phone calls with Friend Kate and our wonderful vet who talked her down more than once when Gypsy stopped eating. She gave him his IV fluids like a champ and he hung out with her while she did her bead work. Before we went away, we did pictures with the sweet boy.

And Jan took this photo while we were gone. It's part of a series of his last pictures. When we returned he was so thin. I didn't want to remember him that way. I am convinced he hung on during our trip and for two weeks after so he could be with us when he let go.

Blogger Vagabonde kindly made me this wonderful waterlogue version of Gypsy which I've since had made into note cards.

I find his fur in the keyboard and he's still a part of this blog, even though Lizzie now has center stage in the banner.

Time helps heal but it doesn't always stop the tears. Lizzie is filled with play and a big purr and I love her to pieces. She is Lizzie -- she is not Gypsy. There is no other Gypsy, nor will there ever be.

And I'm OK with that.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Trying to Find My Place

I've been spending more time in my art journal lately -- with notably mixed results.

Napkin, gouache, paper, gesso

I've been including a mix of things there but mostly collage and paint -- gouache and fluid acrylic with a bit of watercolor pencil thrown in.

Gouache, india ink

I think one of my big challenges -- in addition to working on drawing skills -- is finding my own style. It's rather elusive, but then I suspect I need to draw more before the style emerges.

Gouache, watercolor pencil, washi tape, Pitt pen

On occasion I'll work with a favorite photo. Here's the original photo, which was taken from my friend Jerry's fifth floor Paris apartment, overlooking the roofs of his courtyard.

Here is my version. Not ready for prime time but a noble effort.


Lately I've been taking to doing a collage on one side of the page...

Napkin (birds and flowers at bottom), paper, words, gesso, gouache

Then drawing and/or painting a more-or-less mirror image on the other side of the spread.

All gouache

These are kind of fun -- a good stretch and fun working with the paints. The results are mixed to be sure, but I enjoy it.

And sometimes, just pages, picking up whatever I have at hand.

Napkin (bird, flowers) acrylic, papers, mica, words, stamp embellishment

It's practice. That's what I keep telling myself.

Paper, pen, napkin (bird), mica, sygma white pen, Golden acrylic

And while practice might not make perfect in all cases, it should make it better over time!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Remembering Mom on Mother's Day Weekend

Mother's Day is "one of those days." And this year, it comes only a few days after what would be her 97th birthday and only a couple of weeks past the 38th anniversary of her death. Needless to say, I have some very clunky emotional moods and moments in spring. (And yes, it gets easier and no, it never stops.)

I got my cooking passion from mom!
So, please indulge me while I share a few of my favorite photos of my mom, who left all too young and missed oh, so much.

She didn't know when this photo was taken that 40 years later our cottage would be next door to this wall

She was the third of four sisters and for a brief few years also had a younger brother. Throughout their lives they were close, although one sister died when I was only five and her children, all under 13. (The oldest, however, lived well into her 90s.)

At the lake -- Mom is the one laughing in front.
On Grace's wedding day with my grandparents
Gracie, here, died exactly seven months after my mom. I was 25, Grace's kids younger. So most of my cousins have had full lifetimes without our moms to share them with.

I love the old photos. They tell stories of my mom that I remember hearing. I wish I knew more. Some of the photos are stories in themselves. I'm told this photo was once used in an Oldsmobile ad -- it's Mom with her mom and brother. I'd love to find the real ad!

I don't know what it was about old cars, but I love these photos, too. They tell stories, they tell of a time.

I think she was older in this one -- not much. But the faded color leads me to believe this might have been a bit later.

There were times at the lake with her friend Fran. I cherish my visits with Fran who reminds me so much of the vitality and energy of my mom, the mom who would have made it to 97 years. The first person I go see when I get up north is Fran and I'm always delighted with the stories she shares.

But as much as I love these classics, my favorite photos are those from my lifetime. Mom and Dad loved hanging out with my her sister Grace and Marty. All gone now, but oh, the fun times. (None of us can remember why they were all dressed up while at the lake!) No one ever laughed more than my parents when they were with my aunts and uncles. One night while playing cards on the porch, my cousins and I heard continual merriment as the adults took an evening float-boat ride and passed the house more than a few times, the laughter and merriment increasing with every passing moment!.

A rare dress-up photo from the lake

At a wedding where we only knew each other -- Maybe it was more fun that way!
My mom adored Christmas. The house was always decorated to the hilt. Yes, I inherited that addiction. And the ornaments.

I also still have -- somewhere -- my dad's ugly Christmas pants and mom's skirt. Couldn't let that one go (Actually, these aren't the really ugly pants. Those were plaid.)

She was incredibly brave through her cancer and made wise, tough decisions during my childhood (along with my dad) that helped shape the person I am today. She loved to laugh and she loved presents and celebrations. She loved road trips, the lake, her family, everything I ever did, my friends, beautiful jewelry, England, cooking and fun.

But most of all, she loved Dad and Me.

How I wish I could take her to lunch for her birthday, find her the most fun presents, take her on a special day out or enjoy another trip to England together.

She carried her cancer with more elegance, grace, hope and optimism than anyone I've ever met.

She taught me to deal with things -- pain, bad days, fear. To be able to share them but not obsess on them -- at least, not too much with others. She taught me how to live while dying. When she was in the hospital there was always laughter, sleepovers, guests. I asked her once if all that tired her out and she said "I'll get my sleep."

So, here's to my mom -- and to all of you who are mothers or have their moms still. Yes, they all can be annoying or aggravating at times, they make mistakes, the can drive us nuts. But they gave us a great gift by bringing us into this world. They lived lives we'll never really know or understand because every time or era, every situation is different. But they are our moms, and they deserve a day. This day.

And if you are lucky enough to still have one, ask them about their lives, their childhood, take them to dinner or call. Because some day, you won't be able to -- and you'll really wish you could.

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