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Sunday, March 30, 2008

What I Did On My Spring Vacation . . .

"Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends." ---H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Spring Break has been great!! I had a list a mile long of all the things I needed to accomplish during my week off, but, as usual, not much has been checked off that list. The first half of the week, I spent really relaxing (which is something I don't do very often). Then, for the last half of the week, I joined my best friend for a weekend of antique shopping.

We had such a good time. The weather ended up being pretty good---only a few drizzles and no real rain until the trip home. It seems like we did lots of walking and lots of shopping, but we also managed to eat some great food! Pasquale's was one of my favorites--the food was good and sitting out on the deck listening to live music was fun. But the food at Fishes And Loaves was also great, as was our favorite "steak on a stick" booth at the festival itself.

We stayed at our little farmhouse B & B and enjoyed visiting, sharing purchases and chatting over bakery goods and were able to get on the road pretty early each morning, pushing our carts past the hundreds of local and national vendors. Valine and I never seemed to be able to keep up with the rest of the group (much to their chagrin, I'm afraid) because we stopped to browse so much. And, of course, Valine makes friends with everyone, so each purchase meant extra minutes spent chatting with the vendor.

But, taking that extra time meant that we found the things that were the most special to us. And for me, it meant noticing a few extra things---for example: the flowers that many booths used as decor were absolutely beautiful and no matter what the booth actually contained, we seemed to be drawn in to any booth decorated with fresh flowers. One vendor even displayed this great vintage truck full of spring blooms!

And as I was perusing the merchandise on the front porch of a small shop, I noticed this little guy sunning himself on top of a vintage quilt.

All in all, we had a great time and came home with our vehicles packed with our purchases. I had a couple of favorite "buys", but I think this was one of them---my small glass bird vase. It makes me smile every time I look at it. And when I got home to find my "peppermint" azalea in full bloom, it seemed appropriate to display a few in the vase.

Now, if only I could have one more week off to get all those "other" things done around here. . .
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Love Birds!!

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven. --Emily Dickinson

I know I've mentioned it before, but in case you didn't know, I love birds!! Any kind of bird really! Don't know if it is the birds themselves, their nests, their feathers or what, but I love birds!! The birds have been so busy outside lately---flying from tree to tree, probably picking out the very best place for their nests. Soon, I'll be hearing tiny chirping coming from the big oak tree by my driveway and then will find tiny bits of blue eggshells on the ground.

Yesterday, while taking Emmi for a walk, I noticed a young robin in the yard of a neighbor. He sat so very still, despite the squirrels that were running around him, that I was not at all sure that he was okay. His new brown feathers and little red breast were a bit rumpled and I worried about him the rest of my walk. In fact, so much so, that as I neared the end of the walk, I decided to re-trace my steps and go back and check on him. I've been known to adopt a few baby birds over the years (some with better results than others), so I just couldn't bear to leave him there if he was hurt. As Emmi and I approached the house, I was relieved to see him still in the yard, but not hopping around. I guess he'd just been enjoying this beautiful spring weather, too.

Spring Is Here!

"Spring is here", said the bumblebee.
"How do you know?" said the old oak tree.
"I just saw a daffodil
dancing with a fairy on a windy hill!"
---song by unknown composer

When I was a little girl, I remember learning this song. I think it was in kindergarten which was a half-day program at my church MANY years ago. I can remember waving my hands in the air and dancing as I imagined the fairies were doing. As a preschool teacher now I often find myself remembering these tunes that I learned so long ago and passing them on to the children I teach.

But, today the words to this song came to mind as I was sitting out on my deck---no preschoolers anywhere in sight! The wind was blowing, an oak tree swaying and a few flowers waved their stems as if they were dancing with an invisible fairy. I watched as birds flew from tree to tree, and even a butterfly or two stopped by. The azaleas in my flower beds are beginning to bloom and there are fresh green sprigs on the hydrangea stems. I love the spring!!!

On a Roll . . .

The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary. ~Mary Kurtz

Well, I'm on a roll----not that I don't have plenty of other things I need to be doing. But, instead off finishing the laundry, cleaning out my closet or even finishing up paperwork for school, I just finished another sewing project. After creating the tissue holders, I decided that I could at least make a wallet for myself. It was quite time-consuming, but I'm fairly pleased with the finished product. I included a zippered portion for bills and change, slots for ID and credit cards and a flap that has a space for my passport. Maybe someday I'll actually get to use that!!

I added a velcro strap on the side of the slots to keep them from falling out and have a velcro closure for the passport flap. In the event that I make more of these someday, I will change the way I put together the flap so that the corners aren't so bulky and I'll make it a bit longer so that you could put your checkbook in there if you wanted to. Hmmm, maybe next year, I'll make checkbook clutches for the ladies. . . .
Monday, March 24, 2008

Antiques and friends---what could be better??

"Friends don't let friends shop alone." ---anonymous

Spring break began for me a few days ago and I have been enjoying the wonderful weather and the deck behind my house. Emmi is having so much fun exploring and playing in the backyard now that I have it mostly "puppy proof". All too soon, the holiday will be over and work will resume, so I plan to enjoy every minute of the vacation.

And this year, that means that I will be traveling down to south Texas with Valine, her aunt Pam and friends. Pam and her friends began an annual tradition of attending the RoundTop Antiques Weekend several years ago and invited Valine to go with them 2 years ago. Then, last year, they graciously invited me to spend the weekend with them, too. We stayed at a great little farmhouse bed and breakfast and spent each day perusing the treasures at the countless booths.

Because they have been going for a while, they have their own rituals that Valine and I have joined in (you know, "when in Rome, . . ."). Some are kind of corny and not necessarily my style, (like wearing matching shirts and even hats while shopping), but others include sharing our treasures on the last night and eating some great food. I have to admit that even the pink cowboy hats played a part in making it a memorable weekend. We have green polo shirts to wear this year and are supposed to bring our cowboy hats back, along with the hot pink t-shirts that say "Friends Don't Let Friends Shop Alone".

Last year, I made gifts for each person--oilcloth pockets to hang on our shopping carts. They turned out great and were a hit with everyone. Since I still have oilcloth left over, I had big plans to make "wallets" for each person, but as the time is drawing near, I have amended those plans to a less ambitious project. I found these really pretty tissue packs in the dollar bins at Michael's and now I'm putting the finishing touches on the oilcloth tissue holders.

These tissue packs open at the top, so I made a little velcro flap there to accommodate this and since we will be keeping all our belongings in our wire shopping carts, I even included a little strap that can attach to the side. Though not terribly complicated, they did turn out cute and I hope everyone enjoys them. Now if I get started a little earlier, maybe next year, those wallets will become a reality!

Makes Me Think!

"Those who know how to think need no teachers." ---Mahatma Gandhi

Hmmmm. Recent conversations with a couple of different people have made me long for dialogue with people that challenges me and actually makes me think. I have so many great friends with so many different backgrounds, but I realize that our conversations often consist only of day-to-day activities and things that are going on in our lives. Seldom do I get to have conversations with people that offer me a chance to think about deep held beliefs or new ways of thinking.

I enjoy my friends and love to be with them, but after these recent conversations, I realize how much I miss having someone to talk to about such things. I used to be able to have these types of talks with Jim---sharing thoughts and beliefs and exploring new ways of thinking and applying information. And, I'm able to have these kinds of conversations with Jana and Callie. But, for the most part, these areas are lacking in my day-to-day life. Not that I want everything to be "heavy" or "deep", but occasionally having someone to explore deeper topics with is really quite rewarding.

I know it's not New Year's or anything, but I resolve to make a more concentrated effort to read new material and find people to discuss it with.
Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hand-Me-Down Acres

"Family life is full of major and minor crises--the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage and divorce--and all kinds of characters. It is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul." ---Thomas More

This evening, I talked to Valine for a while as she cleaned up from her annual Easter celebration. Her family takes turns hosting the different holidays and Easter is "hers". I'm sure she cooked a great meal and everything looked pretty. But, once everyone was gone and she began cleaning up the kitchen, it was time for a "best friends" talk.

Years ago in college, we discovered that while we are very different in lots of ways, we share so many of the same experiences. We met in our education classes and bonded over the fact that we both were dating guys that were out of the country---hers working off-shore and mine in the navy. So, instead of having dates for the big football games and other occasions, we spent a few weekends at my parent's lake house in Texas. And we've been best friends ever since.

Through the years we've shared so many things. Those overseas guys eventually became history and we met the ones we were to marry. We shared weddings within a month of each other, the birth and raising of two daughters each, teaching young children , and the woes of working with a bunch of women. A few years ago, though, we unfortunately shared the deaths of our mothers to cancer and the remarriage of our fathers shortly after. When your mother dies and your daddy remarries it changes your life forever---even if it happens when you are 45 years old.

So, while we like our step-mothers and are pleased that our dads have found someone to be happy with, we find family get-togethers difficult. Even when they go well, I usually drive away with tears stinging my eyes from missing my mother. It's not that anything terrible happens or that someone says something mean or anything like that. It's just that things are now so very different. Everything looks different, it tastes different and it feels different---and I long to be with my mother again.

Tonight, Valine and I were talking about houses, furniture, etc. and from somewhere, she came up with the idea of the bed-and-breakfast that we should open someday. We can use all the belongings we've recently inherited and decorate it with various heirloom knick-knacks. In fact, between the two of us, we have so much stuff in storage that we just might have to open two inns-------"Hand-Me-Down Acres"!! She can cook and entertain, and I'll sew and decorate!! Sounds like a plan!

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