Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Coffee Chat: A New Season
Oh Hello! Come and have coffee with me on the porch...Doesn't that scene above look nice? You can just smell the grill and the coffee...Notice how the men are wearing sweaters and sports jackets? It must be a tad cool outdoors, wouldn't you think? Which would mean we assume all those girls in their dress sleeves are menopausal, lol. And wouldn't you just love to find cups like the one in the foreground?
I am a sucker for pretty and interesting china. Trouble is, I seldom will take it out to use because I don't want to spoil it. I've made a strict rule with myself that I shall buy no more china unless I am meaning to use it. So far, I've only gotten china for the flea booth and it doesn't tend to do well there. But I do love to look and dream and now and then I just go to eBay and have a long gander at page after page of vintage china patterns and sigh deeply when I stop. Granny loved china, too. She always looked long and hard at all the pretty plates in the big department store sales sheets. For many of the years I knew her she only had two sets of plates in her cupboard: a platinum edged cream colored plate with a big magnolia blossom and leaves in the center and a set of aquamarine colored Melmac which was thick and heavy and indestructible. I have one of those little coffee cups here that I eat ice cream from.
She had a set of China from Japan that my uncle bought for her that was stored away and I do not recall her ever using it. Mama bought her pink Crystal glasses one Christmas to match. Granny bought a china hutch and put the china and crystal on display then. Katie has the china now, Mama gave it to her after before she married.
It wasn't until many years later that Granny indulged in two sets of Corellewear. One was a beautiful floral blue and white pattern that she displayed in the china hutch along with pale blue glasses and the china and crystal glasses were packed away and stored once again. My niece was given the pretty floral pattern dishes at the time Katie was given the china. The other set of Corelle was just a plain white with a blue and gray stripe around the edge, which Granny used daily. I admit I preferred the Magnolia plates myself, though I am not fond of Magnolias,in the least. They give me the worst sort of headache with their piercing perfume and even seeing them on a plate is enough to make me wrinkle my forehead a bit, but I associate those plates with childhood and Granny.
I finally got healed enough to work a wee bit more on the iris bed Sunday morning. I didn't stay out long, nor did I finish it that morning though I'd deemed it a not too difficult job. I was feeling the strain on my knee and decided it was best to take on in increments. I got a bit over half of it done and it looked so neat and nice that I was tempted to push a little harder. I didn't, though. When I came indoors I found my muscles were quivering mightily, so I opted instead for the usual housework done in spells with quiet sitting time. I got a great deal more done than I thought I might, but I didn't go out to play as I'd thought I would...It was either work or play, but definitely not both. And honestly, I'd really missed working the previous week. I've been down right bored, unable to do any big thing indoors or out. It's so frustrating to have a miles long project list and find yourself sidelined and limited to light housekeeping!
I've been admiring my living room with all the extra space we seem to have since moving out the two smaller bookcases. It really does seem a quieter, calmer room and I like it. I don't think I'm quite finished yet. I'm contemplating a few more changes and including the dining room/front entry area in that plan. I keep stumbling up against the fact that what I want will involve removing pieces we are using as storage. And as Sarah Richardson noted in the last issue of Good Housekeeping, storage pieces are key to any decor that appears minimalist. I'm not sure I shall ever qualify for minimalism but I certainly do want less clutter and I suppose it's the same principle. And then, too, there are things I just want to be in the room and I must find places to put them. Like John's old Underwood typewriter that weighs about 50 pounds, and the little wood shoe shine box that Daddy made in high school shop class. I'd love to move our record albums out of storage and into the living room so that we can play them on the Crosley phonograph we bought. I think the problem is that the storage I have isn't ideal for what I need it to do...but then I haven't found the right pieces at the right price, so it keeps being a never ending circle of thoughts.
One other thing that is bugging me is lamps. I moved a lamp from the room because it seemed unstable and it squawked and screamed every single time it was touched. Well I knocked it off and broke the thing a few weeks ago. No problem, I said. I have a lamp in the guest room I was thinking might work in the living room anyway, so I moved it in and it did work just fine except it was just a tad too tall so light shone hard into the corner of our eyes. Still, it stayed where it was because it was a make do piece. Then John and I noted that the light was often off. I thought he was turning it off, he thought I was. Well, no. We changed bulbs thinking the bulbs were blown, we tightened bulbs thinking they were loose, but soon discovered that wasn't the problem, either. Apparently there is faulty wiring, which he assures me he can fix and I shall take him up on it but in the meantime, no reading light was not part of the plan...
So I moved the big fat Ginger jar lamp, the one we bought together 22 years ago and which I spray painted to cover the oh so chic back in 1990's design in blue and mauve and gold on the front. I love the lamp now but discovered it was too short to read by, so a stack of books was supposed to remedy that. Then I realized that though I sit next to John and we both keep pulling our chairs forward, we can not see each other around the thing as the belly of the jar is right at eye level now, necessary if I want to read, but totally aggravating when I want to converse with my husband! I even went on a stint of looking for new lamps for the living room though personally I'm not really into matchy sets. The last matchy set we bought ended up with one broken and John borrowing the other for his music room which meant no more matches.
I realized that I'm just days away from the moment last year when I decided that I wasn't going to make those big annual resolutions anymore, but just stick to the monthly ones I make. And you know, I don't believe I'm any further behind nor ahead of myself than I was when I did all that excessive planning. What I do enjoy doing, though to say 'enjoy' is stretching it a bit, is the annual review. It reminds me of the good things, but also of the tough places and there were plenty of those this year for one reason and another, mostly having to do with myself. It's always a discouraging thing to realize that for all the progress you think you've made spiritually there are areas that just flat out become messy...and it's equally humbling to realize that God loves me just as much during these messy days as he will ever love me if I manage to get even one of these lessons right!
I was crotchety on Sabbath this past weekend. I'd hurt most of the week and pushed myself to work as best I could. John has this saying "Do like circus folk and work it out..." Well it didn't work it out, it just hurt and I kept going despite it. Mind you it wasn't the worst pain I've ever been in. It just hurt and limiting and that's where the frustration came in. So I was restless as could be and bored, if truth be told. I'd just read a unsatisfactory book after putting down another that was unsatisfactory (namely the autobiography by Elizabeth Taylor which was so disconnected I tossed it and then The Circus of Dr. Lao which had only the faintest resemblance to the movie that I liked. I loathed the book). I flipped through magazines and looked at lovely designed rooms and felt slight envy which made me churlish. Then John and I had a minor spat, nothing much to it at all, but suddenly I was just all tears and weepy and he, bless his soul, was snoring through another football game by the time I got to that point. I was feeling lonely and a little lost and I wanted someone to keep me company in my agony. And let's face it honey, if I'd been on the receiving end of someone else's ill temper, I probably would have slipped on over to watch a football game and taken a nap, too!
I went off to the craft room meaning to start a project, but I couldn't get inspired over a thing. I looked over the booth stock that was visible and felt depressed over the lack of anything resembling income. I looked at the mess in the room and the packed drawers of craft supplies that go largely unused and wept a little more. I studied my inspiration board and felt frustration mount as I realized I was no closer to that room than I'd been when I moved the vanity into place, sigh. Finally I got out my journal and jotted down my 'poor me, poor me' thoughts which isn't in the least cathartic, and yet is at the same time, because eventually the saner, more reasonable and wiser side of myself will come out in words and I asked a rather interesting question of myself on paper: How did Granny do this? How did she face this stage of life, alone, with no outside interests to speak of, and herself as her only company at this exact age?
We grandkids could only visit during school vacations, so for all intents and purposes we might as well have been hundreds of miles away as my own are. Her son and daughter both worked full time and were busy as could be just making ends meet for their own families, so they seldom visited. There were not really any close neighbors but there were a few to visit in the area and cousins and sisters who stopped by now and then, but mostly she was alone. I cast my mind back over my childhood and adult years and I don't recall her ever, not even once, suggesting that she was lonely or bored. I had the idea even as a rather obtuse pre-teen that Granny LIKED being alone on the place and creating her own work and making her own rewards for the hard work she did. She might have been mostly alone but she made a life for herself on her own terms. So why couldn't I find that same contentment, which is generally mine, and just get on with it?
It was just the sort of stern talking to I really needed and while I won't lie and tell you I was all charm and sweetness and good humour and light afterwards, I at least was over the 'poor me' stage of things, and that was a major improvement. I know too well that I'm in a dangerous spot when I am continually looking at others waiting for them to do the things that will make me happy about my lot in life. Phooey! It's an unfair burden to place on anyone other than yourself...and accepting that everyone must do what they must because their season of life isn't ours is key to shaking off that silly fool thought.
Sunday, in an effort to 'not do too much' per John's request, I did make time to sit in between spells of working. I looked at a stack of vintage magazines and decided that I'd had enough of them for this month and put them away. I went on Pinterest and read every single money saving/coupon tip/5-,6-,7-,10-step article to financial fitness...and I found ONE that had information that was new to me and helpful. Again it is a season of life thing. I'm a veteran of this savings game. I already do and have been doing every thing most experts and bloggers suggest with the exception of a very few items that I just don't want to bother with. Those are things that will not net a huge savings or even a noticeable one in a year's time, mind you. But I am glad I read them all because I realized that (a) I'm doing very well at this frugal game and (b) I can still learn something new, and I shall not find those new ideas if I don't read through all the usual stuff. There's always a bit of dirt to dig to reach the diamond, you know.
I decided to balance the checkbook and that's when I saw that I'd been charged twice by a store we'd visited. That made me feel sort of sick. I don't like to make mistakes with our funds and it makes me feel doubly ill when someone else does. I found my receipt and discovered there was no phone number for the store on it, nor one in the phone book, nor yet one to be found online. This is not the first time I've come across this phenomenon of the 'no phone listing' for a business. By the time I gave up searching it was 9pm and I realized it was highly unlikely I'd talk to anyone anyway. So I just settled in my mind that I'd have to go visit the store Monday, which wasn't in my plans in the least.
John came in from work and I told him the trouble and that I needed to visit the store. He dug about online after breakfast and found a corporate number which low and behold informed me via automated voice that they didn't have phone numbers for stores to 'cut costs'...Huh. I did finally get a customer service rep who told me to "Take your receipt to the store and let them know the trouble," which I had planned to do anyway, just thought I might possibly be able to call instead.
So we got ready to leave home, walked outdoors and found the sun shining and gentle breeze blowing from the west. Drove the 35 miles to the store where I played 'stump the management' with how to go about fixing the problem because it seems they use a deposit service who tend to these things and hey guess what, they are saving money too by not having a number...Eventually things were sort of sorted out. I was told my account would be credited in 10-30 days but they did it in 24 hours. For the wrong amount. I'll have to return to see if they can correct their second error. At least every single person I dealt with was as pleasant as they could be, not one suggested it was in anyway my fault, and everyone apologized multiple times for my being inconvenienced the first time and I'm sure they will for the second time as well.
Just in that bit of time in the store, it began to cloud up and before we'd driven two blocks I told John I was convinced it was going to rain. The sky got darker and heavier and there was not even the slightest glimpse of sun anywhere. We didn't actually get rained upon until we were nearly home and then it poured, raining for about 4 hours and then the sky was sunny and clear all over again, just as it had been earlier. It puzzles me no end how that can happen, but it does.
I decided that afternoon that I simply had to do something, so I made German chocolate cupcakes (lovely something don't you agree?) and after clearing all that up, I settled in my chair and had one with a cup of coffee while we watched an old MGM production of Romeo and Juliet. It might have been a black and white film but the decor was lovely and the costumes! oh my! And then I took one of those little unexpected naps, due no doubt to my worry the night before that kept me awake more hours than I slept.
I decided another project was in order after napping which involved a set of toile curtains and a needlepoint seat cover that I picked up at thrift store...I'm pretty proud of this project. It's not perfect. I sooo want the things I do to be perfect, I do truly, but if I let that ideal for perfection take over too much, I'll stop a project right quick and never have the satisfaction of seeing it finished. I squelched Miss Perfection and told her to shoo and went on with my work. As it happened the seat cover, lovely as it was, was unevenly made. I wonder if that is why it was in the thrift shop? I thought it such a lovely thing and had it in the booth but it sat there for months and months without anyone showing any interest so I brought it back home. I do, honestly, like every single thing I buy. I figure if I like it someone else might. That idea works about 45% of the time, lol.
I needed to do a tiny bit of hand sewing so I came back to the living room and got caught up in a Lucille Ball film, "The Big Street". She was not a likable character, though beautiful enough to take your breath away. I got fully engrossed in that film and we finished it through to the end. John made supper and we ate right there in front of the TV. Mind you all, 8 out 10 evenings that's where we eat supper anyway, but there's generally nothing I'm really watching on at the time.
Isn't she just beautiful?
The project didn't turn out too shabby either:
Well I suppose this has been a random batch of conversation, hasn't it? Sometimes it's just so. I need to get up now and get busy once more. Things to do and all that good stuff. Talk to you next week, I hope!