20 May 2024

Vintage Therapy

 My imagination went a few ways when I thought of this title.  I'll just let it be. (if you know the history of "therapy" for women, then you'll get the joke)


I had to people today and as always, when I have to people: I get a treat. Because: grown-up.

Sidenote:  I got a text last week from my job partner reminding me of this meeting.  I promised that "I will try not to be feral."  Well, I mentioned that I was going to light someone's shoes on fire if they didn't start doing something correctly so I was not entirely successful.  To be fair to me, it's a simple form using checkboxes. Also: feral.

After the two hour meeting was done, during which I was mostly helpful and appropriate, I left.  On one hand, I kind of wanted to get back home. Because peopling is exhausting.  On the other hand, I had earned a treat.  And it was sunny out so just going home felt wasteful.

BUT, I also have to people on Wednesday for another meeting.  Hmmm, what to do?  What's that? Two treats for two meetings? That's what I thought too!

A few months ago, I found an antique store in my old hometown that is huge.  It's in an old grocery store building and unlike many antique stores where I live, it's open every day of the week.  That being said, it's a little run-down and disorganized but there is so much there to browse. 

It's been a month since I'd been there so I was a little worried that there wasn't going to be much turnover.  To my surprise, there was.  Also, for a Monday at lunchtime, there were a few people browsing.  Last time I was there, it was only me.

There are a few things I'm looking for:

  • orphan vintage plates, cups or shot glasses to try to make glass flowers
  • small, orphan Pyrex bowls (I don't need big dishes & it's considered rude to break a set
  • small Fiestaware saucers/dessert dishes 
  • bar stools - I ordered the ones we have for the kitchen counter in a "That's close enough, we're poor right now" way and now some nearly twenty years later, I'm looking at replacing them.
  • Tin kitchenware - specifically a matchholder

Now here's the thing.  I mentioned this to my sister-in-law the other day: It's like when my mother-in-law died, she embedded her tastes into my psyche.  Like you see in the movies where the spirit leaves the body and goes into the loved one.

Because suddenly, I've found myself wanting brighter colors in our house.  This house has always had calming earth tones.  But now I'm choosing different colors to add to the calm.

I'm also drawn to vintage things.  I've always had that interest but it's grown exponentially in the last year.  It started with a kitchen supply organizer that I bought for $20 right after my m-i-l passed.  In fact, I burst into tears telling Kevin about it because I wanted to tell Mom all about it because she'd love it and say "Oh, we had that in our house when..."

The lids lift up and are serrated for tearing

So there's that.  Then I noticed that while I browsed through these antique stores, I would think "Mom had that" or "Mom would love that" and finally I kind of began "talking" to her as I looked.  It was like visiting with her as I walked through the stores.  Shopping was her favorite thing in the whole world. 

I have to say though: the inventory in vintage and antique stores now include items from my childhood and that hurts my feelings. Toys, dishes, lunchboxes that I had as a child are now considered vintage and valuable.

Today, I found a cracker tin that matches one that we've had for years.  It's for Ritz crackers and it goes with the Saltine Crackers one that I have that was "inherited" from Kevin's former wife.  There was a little problem though.  It was on top of a high shelf and I couldn't reach.  I looked around because certainly there had to be a stool or something in one of the stalls.  There wasn't.  There were plenty of folding chairs and even I was all "Nope, bad idea".  Finally, I spotted a book.

A book? you just wondered. Yes, it was a thick hardbound book like from a library. Normally, using a book would be sacrilegious.  Until you know the title: History of the Third Reich. Well, I can use that as a step stool with no qualms WHATSOEVER.   Sure enough, it was just high enough that I could reach what I wanted.  Then I returned it to its stall, but facedown and under something.  

I was through about three-quarters of the store and was thinking that this $12 tin was all I was going to get today, which was okay.  Not exciting, but okay.  Then in my quest to find orphaned plates, a little saucer caught my eye.  It perfectly matches the set that my m-i-l left us.   She loved this set and was always looking for pieces.  This is the first time that I've spotted a piece like hers.  Well, it was $9, for a saucer.  But I could feel my m-i-l be excited so I decided to get it too.  $20 would be nothing if I were at the book store or the plant nursery.

the label said it was a lemon saucer. I'm guessing 
that's what that little hook is for

Then. Then I spotted a shelf of hobnail glassware.  Also my m-i-l's favorite.  There wasn't any pieces that I wanted, they were all blue and green and kind of plain.  But there was this tiny little pitcher. Gradient orange and yellow.  My favorite.  I picked it up and my excitement plummeted.  $22.  For a tiny and I mean tiny pitcher.  Here, look:

regular sized votive candle for scale

I left it there and continued wandering around the remainder of the store.  $22 was a lot for what it would be: a sentimental purchase, even though I loved it.  Then I found a tea tin from England that I really liked but it didn't match the others I have.  I put it back and then found myself walking back to get the tiny pitcher. 

And it makes me so happy, seeing it up in the window with the other hobnail vases that she gave me.  (I say hobnail like everyone knows what that is.  I didn't know that's what it was called until she was INSISTING that every piece be found and live in a good home)

Finally, one of the last tasks from this whole past year was going through the cedar chest where some vintage family heirlooms, keepsakes, and items were stored.  I have kept these curtains for about thirty years, knowing that I would use them someday in some way.  Well, I finally did.  Gone is the pashmina that could be seen from space and replaced with these 1940's linen curtains that I LOVE.

Slowly, I'll have a vintage kitchen; if you ignore the modern appliances.  It's time to paint the cupboards and that will complete the transformation.  Right now I'm happy with the curtains and the pyrex and hobnail.  #thanksMom

11 May 2024

That's What A Mom Does

Mother's Day is "Not My Day" or "Happy You're Not A Mom Day" for me.  A few years ago I wrote this post and now I post this essay annually, always with little additions and tweaks.  This year has a specific change, as we're nearing one year since Kevin's mom passed.  

This is our first Mother's day without her and while I've always disliked this day, her presence always helped.  However, this year there is no buying an expensive beautiful Mother's Day card.  No buying giant hanging baskets.  I had to deep breathe past the greeting card aisle in the grocery store this morning.

Then today there was a gentle knock on the door. The only one who comes to our house is my father-in-law.  Sure enough, there he stood with flowers in his hand.  "Happy Day" he said "Because I know I can't say Happy Mother's Day"  I made a joke so I didn't cry in front of him then lost it when he left.  He makes us crazy but he really is the sweetest man.

On the other side, I spent nearly $100 to not have to go to my mother's this weekend.  Kevin insisted that I at least send her flowers, which is a good solution for this particular situation. 

~ ~ ~ ~

Having been raised by wolves, as I've regularly described my childhood, other women stepped up to make sure that I was parented when my parents couldn't or didn't know any better.

As a baby/toddler, it was my mom's best friend.  As I was a trauma birth, she was the one who cared for me the first months of my life.  In fact, she made sure I was taken care of the first part of my young life. She sees me as the daughter she never had.

Even as an adult, she had that presence.  I remember arriving at a family function years ago and it had been a crap day. I was spewing all the reasons why I was late and it was an awful day and in mid-sentence she stopped what she was doing, dried her hands then turned to hug me tight.  Like a mom would.  

My paternal grandma helped while she was alive.  She died when I was six, but I still remember her babysitting and making sure that I was spoiled and had what I needed: ceramic figurines from the tea box, scrapbooks, napoleon (neopolitan)  ice cream, and affection.  

During grade school, my mom became a volunteer firefighter with a group of stay-at-home moms.  Those women also stepped up and made sure I was okay over the years.  Equipping me with wedding shower gifts and handwritten advice when I married the wrong man at nineteen, with kind of an unspoken understanding about the decision I was making. I didn't understand it then but I've since realized their support.

Where we lived when I was a child, the houses around us were all summer homes.  The mom in one family seemed quite strange to me; she did yoga and meditated and was always calm.  She was a gentle mom and I liked her very much, even though she was a mom the likes of which I had never seen. She has since passed and the beautiful obituary that my friend wrote for her described her as Soft.  As in everything about her was soft and gentle. It clarified why she was an important presence when I was young: she was soft when everyone around me was hard.

My grade/middle school best friend's mom was also just a quiet presence.  They were poor, I mean, really poor and she was overwhelmed with all these kids and the things that came with that.  I didn't realize it then but I do understand now. But I just became another one of her kids, like it was no problem at all.

Mostly I remember my high school best friend's moms.  At seventeen, I was working, going to school, paying bills, and driving.  I was an adult mostly but I still felt their watchful eyes on me. They made sure I got home, school, or to work on time, had what I needed, fed me, answered my questions.  Parented me when I needed it.

As of next week, I will be married thirty-one years and with Kevin nearly thirty-four.   My mother-in-law didn't understand me at first, having been raised by the aforementioned wolves.  (Sidenote: before she died, she said wolves are good mothers so I had to think of another animal)  In turn, I didn't recognize how she was in life was, indeed, normal. A normal mom.

Now, perhaps in some respects too late, I've realized the presence she has had in my life. The mediator, the dinners she made, the flowers she gave when she "bought too many" or as a thank you.  The mom she was to Kevin.  Yes, she made me want to drink on many, many occasions but from what I've read  That's What Mother's Do.  I just didn't recognize it at the time.

So, today I'm giving a shout out to those moms who take care of kids who aren't theirs.  Not just the foster moms or the step moms.  The moms who just take in the friends of your kids without a thought.  You might not think they notice but they do.  You  may think it's nothing or just a little thing that doesn't matter. But it's not.

I appreciate every meal, every hug, every correction, every thing they did to step up and fill the gaps.  Even now.  

And I sure miss my mother-in-law

She's smiling at Kevin, holding our card.
The last Mother's Day that she had