Friday, July 29, 2011

I am my Mother's daughter ...

I've always enjoyed reading Harry Rinker's columns. Today's "Rinker on Collectibles: What Happened to Grandpa's Things" from Ruby Lane's "Notes from the Lane" is no exception, and it brought back a flood of memories. For those of us "of a certain age", the article will likely evoke an emotional response.

I never knew either of my Grandfathers. Both had died long before I was born, or was even a twinkle in my parents' eyes. My paternal Grandmother died when I was 4, and my maternal Grandmother died at age 90.

My parents retired to Florida from the Midwest, selling the family home and downsizing. My brothers and I were invited to help them sort the memories long-stored in boxes and drawers. As the only daughter, many of my Mother's prized possessions came to me.
In her cedar chest, she had a white box. In the white box was a white silk scarf carefully wrapped in tissue paper. This silk scarf was her father's. He would wear it with his "good" coat to go to church on Sunday. She also had 3 small wooden boxes, all hand made by her father. My brothers, being men, had no interest in "sentimental" items. I have my Grandfather's scarves. We each were given a wooden box. I keep my little box polished and proudly displayed. I was entrusted with all the family photographs and albums. They adorn my guest room walls.

Over the ensuing years, my mother would give me things so she could see me enjoy them while she was still alive. Jewelry pieces. A knick knack. Some little treasure she knew that I always admired. They assumed places of honor in my home.

My father's family, while wealthy in the early 1900s, lost everything in the depression. There is a box of photographs, but few items. I have my grandmother's cameo pin. Her hand mirror. A pink depression glass bowl. I don't think my brothers have anything. Nor were they interested.

In the cedar chest mentioned above, we found my father's Korean war shower clogs. Some military issue clothing. Bits and bobs of his history. A family vote was taken, and the vote was that what was in the cedar chest stayed in the cedar chest and came to my home.

My father was as was described in Rinker's column: hard-working, a saver, a fixer. If it was useful, keep it. If it had no "purpose", then why bother. He is now in his 80s, and has grown very attached to the few things he has that were part of his family history. He has an old "watermelon glass" bowl. While not worth millions of dollars, it does have a high monetary price, but more importantly a high sentimental value to him. He has all his Masonic keepsakes.

My mother was sentimental and saved things based on their emotional value.
We lost her to cancer 16 years ago.
Among her treasures we found a cardboard box, about 12x12x7. Inside was every wedding invitation, birth announcement, graduation announcement, obituary, and card she had ever received.  My puzzled father looked at me and said "You mean I have moved this box around the country for 45 years, and that's all there was inside? Trash?"  Mom never thought of it as "trash". It was history, memories, love ... from birth to death, it was all there. I took that box and sorted through it. Most of the announcements were from people long gone. When I found something related to someone I knew, I sent it along to them. A very "woman thing" to do.

I'm still a sucker for ephemera. I will buy large lots of old letters and cards and photographs at auctions. Baby books. Post cards. It evokes a sense of history, of continuity, of the fragility of life and love and relationships.

I am my Mother's daughter.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

We love our Blenko ...

On the way home from dropping off our grandchildren, the Charming Husband decided I needed a stop at our favorite place in West Virginia:  Blenko Glass. We love their glass, and have a large collection of their signature water bottles, including several in long retired colors. We picked up a new bottle in Kiwi, and a vase in this season's Patriotic Red, White & Blue colors.

I could spend hours watching the glass blowers, and I have. We only had a short amount of time this visit, so we couldn't stay long. This visit we found them making cobalt blue vases with a clear flat base and two clear handles on the necks. Loved watching them do the pulled handles.

Here's the last picture we took of our water bottle collection ... we've since added 8 additional colors!

If you ever find yourself near Milton, West Virginia, I highly recommend a visit to Blenko's visitor center.

Here are some other sites devoted to Blenko Glass:

The Blenko Archive

The Blenko Four and Friends

The Blenko Project

and, finally, Hillary Homburg's Blog about Blenko Glass.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The return to my real life ...

Summer vacation is over ... the grandkids have been returned to their homes. I always love to see them come visit, have a wonderful time while they're here, and love to see them go home to their parents! This Gramma isn't as young as she used to be, and it shows.

And why do I always forget that July in Florida is really hot? Really. Hot. The kids were healthily covered in sunscreen. Guess who got sunburned ... c'mon. Guess. Yup. Gramma. The hotel pool was superb, as was the beach. We love staying at The Hampton Inn & Suites at Vilano Beach.

I wasn't able to visit with my most favorite jewelry friend, Ali Mama at Bayard Antique Village. She was in the hospital during our visit !!!  It just wasn't the same without a day with Ali Mama and her sparklies!  Get well soon, my friend!

We tried a new restaurant for dinner, and had some great food. If you're in Vilano, try out Beaches on Vilano. Their blackened Tilapia was yummo. The Granddaughter loved their Shrimp Augustino.

The BEST meal we always have in St. Augustine is our annual visit to La Cocina Mexican restaurant. The Grandson declared their Ceviche "the best fish in the entire world". At 9, his world is a little small, but the Ceviche is one reason we go back year after year.

From Florida, we travelled to Atlanta for an evening visit with our Son and the Bride to Be. Dinner was at Rosebud ... great food ... better company.

We hit the road early, and drove to St. Louis. Dinner with family at Mama's on the Hill (Mama Campisi's). When Mama was alive, it was my all-time-favorite Italian restuarant. While the food was good, it just isn't the same without Mama in her white apron, waving her wooden spoon.

The next morning we headed to Indiana to visit even more family, and had Mom's marvelous lasagna. We love visiting the family there ... Mom & Dad are THE BEST. Ok, so they're not really "Mom & Dad", but that's what we like to call them. Their hearts always have room for everyone, and their hugs are so warm. I haven't had anyone to call "Mom" in a long time, and it feels good to have someone in my life who lets me (even encourages me!) call her "Mom". Cousins, who are more like the Charming Husband's siblings than cousins ... and their kids ... and now grandkids. Baby Riley kept us entertained with her antics.

We ended the trip with a 12 hour day of driving, arriving home exhausted but happy to be here.

Today was recovery day for me ... tomorrow it's back to my real life, and some more Charmed Living!

Friday, July 8, 2011

How I spent my Summer Vacation ...

Every year we try to plan an adventure for the grandkids who come visit us. Last year it was a camping trip to Maine, fresh lobsters, Vermont and Ben & Jerry's.

We asked the 9 year old what he would like to do this summer ... and he requested a trip to Philadelphia. What did he want to do in Philadelphia?  Two things:  run up the stairs that "Rocky" ran up, and see the Liberty Bell. We're an easy day trip away from Philadelphia, so we made plans.

A Saturday morning drive up, a hotel downtown. We chose the Fourth of July weekend, which wasn't crowded in Philadelphia, surprisingly. First stop: The Philadelphia Art Museum and the "Rocky Stairs". A picture with the "Rocky Statue". Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner. A walk over to the Liberty Bell. Walked down to the riverfront, and listened to the Army Band for a bit. A quick vote:  Fireworks or back to the hotel for an evening swim in the pool ... swimming won!  The next morning we visited the Carpenter's Hall. The grandson was excited to think that Benajamin Franklin and George Washington could have stood on the very spot he was standing ... a little awestruck. Another meal of Philly Cheesesteaks.

The drive home took us by the Outlet Malls to do some school clothes shopping, and we found some great sales. Imagine buying a sweater for .24 -- yup, that's 24 cents.

Met friends at Stoney's Kingfishers in Solomon's, Maryland. Some baby ducks swimming around in the water, good food and better company. Crab cakes were yummy, as was the Cream of Crab soup. Our first meal there -- we'll definitely make a return visit.

Notice the "Rocky Shirt" on the young man!

It's always amazing to me how quickly the time passes when the Charming Grandkids are with us. Seems like they just got here and it's time for them to go home. We'll make our annual trip to Florida for the Charming Husband's training class ... then zoom up to Missouri, drop off the kids and zip back home.

Wonder what adventures we'll find along the way?