Monday, June 28, 2010


Tonight I'm finally getting around to something I've been wanting to do for ages. I have several cassette tapes here with interviews I did with both of my grandmothers and my great-aunt Helen 10-12 years ago. Every so often I think about them and think that I've got to get them digitized and saved on my computer against the day when the tapes fall apart. Todd got me set up tonight and I'm playing them through and recording them right now.

I'm listening to an interview that I did with my grandma Clark over the phone in May 1998. It gives me a little lump in my throat to hear her voice with the Missouri twang in it. And I sound ridiculously young--I was 27.

You always wish you had done more, don't you? I have 45 minutes of Grandma Martin, about 90 minutes of Aunt Helen, maybe two hours of Grandma Clark. It's not enough.

I remember interviewing Grandma Martin, and some of the memories of her parents made her a little emotional, and I felt intrusive. So I didn't interview her again. Now I wish I had talked to her about her life as a young mother and about her kids and about how she managed to make ends meet. Grandma is still alive but at age 90, her memory is very patchy.

Remembering the face-to-face interview I did with Grandma Clark in 2001 never fails to make my blood boil--we talked for an entire side of a tape, she told me about meeting and marrying my grandpa--and at the end of the tape I took it out and it had not recorded any of it. I've never forgiven Radio Shack for their shoddy merchandise!

When I interviewed Aunt Helen, she sat in her rocking chair and rocked like a little girl, just as hard as she could. Six weeks later, she passed away. I was so glad I had gone to see her.

It is odd to fumble with cassette tapes and stick them in the little player. You realize how obsolete a technology is when you can't remember which way it goes into the player!

Now I'm sitting here thinking about all the other people I should get on tape while I can. I understood, logically, that my grandparents would not be around forever. Now they're gone into death and dementia and I'm looking around in surprise thinking "How did that happen?"

So if I give you a call and ask you to talk into my obsolete technology, you'll understand why, right?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yard sale finds.

I swear I have sat down to write a blog post and been thwarted at least three times in the past few days. Our internet seems to be dismayed by the hot steamy weather and develops an intermittent case of the vapors.
(And it cut out on me again while I was writing this.) That's my theory anyway--we may just need a new router or something prosaic.

I had a great Saturday morning, hitting a few yard sales for the first time in months and months. For quite some time, I've just been sleeping in on Saturday mornings and letting Todd go out and do the hunting and gathering--mostly because my house is brim-full of stuff and I have no more room. But on Friday night I started thinking about some of the things I'd like to do outside, and it occurred to me that yard sales are always a good place to find outside stuff, too.

I found these cushions at an estate sale:

They're very flat, and made from printed panels that were stitched around for a quilted effect. I remember this being a very popular craft 15-20 years ago. They just look so perfect on the patio chairs, don't you think? I bring them in at night so they don't get damp and dirty.

The back deck looks so cool and lovely here, doesn't it?

Actually it was upwards of 100 degrees out there and not much better today. So I admire the cushions from inside where it's cool and dry. Maybe someday I'll get to sit on them.

At the same estate sale, I spotted this doo-hickey:

I think it's supposed to be a sewing basket on a stand, but the top of the lid is all torn. The guy who was handling the outdoor traffic told me I could just take it, no charge.

I was all set to bring it home and chop off that lid piece and spray paint it and reveal a wonderful before-and-after miracle...but the spray paint can says to spray when it's between 45-85 degrees and low humidity. That may mean it will be September before I transform this thing. It certainly won't be happening this week.
I want to set it on the back deck and fill it with plants and tchotchkes. Can't wait!

I also got three strawberry jars, those terracotta jars with all the holes where you can tuck plants. When I asked the gentleman at the sale how much the strawberry jar was, he asked me to show him where it was. He told me that when I said "strawberry jar," he had no idea what I was talking about--his dad always called them "10-man urinals." I laughed and laughed!
This is a strawberry jar, for those who don't know:

I also got three books, an old-fashioned food mill, and curtain rods for Todd's study. Not too bad.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I am a member of Paperback Swap, so I get books in the mail from people all the time. This one was unusual, though:

Some of the stamps on this book are almost 60 years old! Todd and I were completely fascinated by them. I can't throw the wrapper away...but I'm not sure what to do with them...

I sent a message to the member who sent me the book, asking about the stamps (I'm picturing a woman who didn't feel like going to the post office and who decides to raid her husband's stamp collection) but haven't heard back yet. I'm so curious!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Flowerbed before-and-after.

I am really making an effort to stay on top of the flowerbeds this summer, and try to keep them from getting so messy. (Last summer was particularly bad because we traveled to Ohio for over a week, and then I had my breast-reduction surgery at the end of July and couldn't do anything strenuous with my arms, like pull giant weeds!) It's early days yet, but so far, so good. We're not going anywhere this summer, which should's always during our week-long Fourth of July trip home that the chaos starts to snowball.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Todd and I (but mostly Todd) took on an area that badly needed attention: our front flowerbed.

As you can see, this was a sad spot. We put some work into it last year, adding some rock "walls" and lots of plants, but coming into this spring it was weedy and overgrown, and the landscaping timbers around the edges were disintegrating. With some new timbers and fresh mulch, everything looked much happier:

Then Todd took on the mailbox post and devised a new design for it, plus a coat of paint, and a solar light for the top. Oh, and some new house numbers:

I want to add some brightly-colored annuals in with the perennials, but I think we have definitely accomplished something here. What a good feeling that is!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Deck ideas.

I just love some of these Better Homes & Gardens ideas for dressing up your deck...I'm saving them here so I can come back to them someday!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


In honor of my aunt Molly who has a big birthday today, here are some pictures of her latest creative triumph.

I mentioned last year how Molly had moved the old summerhouse, which stood next to my grandparent's' home for decades, to her own yard after their property was sold.

Here's what it looked like at Grandpa and Grandma's house:

Here's what it looked like when Molly first had it moved to her yard:

And here's what she's transformed it into:

I wish I had a really good shot of the exterior, but my memory card was brim-full and I had to snap selectively. This is my Aunt Molly, my Uncle John, and my nieces Kylie and Natalie. (I took these while I was at home a couple of weeks ago.)

Inside Molly has filled the little house with old things:

Kylie, Natalie and Marissa loved the little house and immediately started playing "Boxcar Children." And a few days later my aunt hostessed my mom, my sister and I for tea and scones in the summerhouse, which was just lovely.

But why save an old falling-down shed and move it at considerable expense and inconvenience? A quick glance through the family photo album will tell you why. The summerhouse lurks in the background of lots of photos. Here are
my grandparents with my Uncle Lowell, my Aunt Naomi (Molly) and my mom is the baby--but not for long.:

Two more brothers, my uncles Larry and Ron, with my mom and Molly:

And then two little sisters, Kathy and Charlotte:

An almost-complete family...

...till my aunt Carol came along to make eight kids total.

Then there were grandkids (my brother, my cousin Krista, myself (the oldest) and my cousins Darrel and Dennis):

We all had fun at Grandpa and Grandma's house. (Grandpa, my cousins Michael and Alan.)

The younger ones didn't get to spend as many years there as we older ones did, but they'll remember it, too. (Grandma and my cousin Daniel.)

Before you know it, you've got a BIG family (and there were more grandkids, grandkids-in-law, and great-grandkids in the years to come.)

And then there was just the two of them again.

And then they had a big sale and a couple of the great-grandkids came to help. (My niece Kylie and my nephew Tanner.)

But this is the way it used to be in front of the summerhouse:

I'm happy this little slice of family history was saved.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


My loyal readers (all two of them!) have mentioned to me that my blog has been awfully quiet. My desire to express myself seemed to completely dry up in April, and in May, I was either traveling or gearing up to travel again. Spring has whizzed past and now summer has begun. Amazing!

In April I was trying to reassess whether keeping a blog was something I wanted to do. It's been five years since I started blogging and the emphasis of blogging has shifted in an interesting way, as more and more people create money-making enterprises around their blogs, or connect their blogs to their businesses, and track their followers and their ad revenue.

In this climate it seems downright quixotic to just jot down my thoughts and post a few pictures for the tiny handful of people who might see them. On the other hand, I've never had a problem before with pursuing my own little interests down my own little-traveled path.

And blogging
is a pleasure. I realize that particularly when I go back and look at a given day in several different years and see what changed and what remained the same from year to year. I've always had a good memory, but it seems to be letting more and more things slip through the cracks, and my blog helps me hold onto some of those things.

All that is my long-winded way of saying "I'm back!" (For now, anyway.)

Pictures to follow, once I get some time to work on the upstairs computer where they're stored.