Sunday, January 26, 2020

Snow Magic

Whimsy and Hugs!

Friday morning dawned with rather spectacular visible snowfall. Only the most ardent Summerphile could say it was not a beautiful sight. I slid around from one window to the next snapping photos while my cat pondered the flood of whiteness and total absence of birds and squirrels.

We had some sunshine for about 10 minutes late Saturday and the outlining snow slipped away into just plain January weather.

We are celebrating Chinese New Year today with our favorite orders from our favorite China Garden restaurant. It is The Year of the Rat... hopefully not literally!!! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Sassy Aunt Thelma

Whimsy and Hugs! I know it seems I am constantly celebrating some birthday or anniversary of people long gone from this world. That may seem very odd, even maudlin as my Gramma used to say.  I know I certainly was not a fan of her sighing and announcing that "today would have been Daddy's (her dad!)  some such ungodly high number birthday.  I know I thought to myself. "Who really could possible care? Even you, Gramma...  why would you care about something sad and long gone such as somebody who has died ... and  their birthday. Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and many days this year you have seen me give some sort of recognition to a loved one and an "anniversary of the heart."

Today is such a day. My dear Aunt Thelma Herrington McIntyre will celebrate her 120th birthday in Heaven today...  I like to think of her there with her dear "Brother" as she called my grandfather, Mom's dad. Some of my life would be a pleasure to her, and some she might abhor (such as my dear little kitty.) She hated cats, and that traced to a terrible event involving a truly deranged person in her life and a murdered kitten done as a punishment for my aunt who was about ten years old. She outlined the details to me, a young woman in my twenties, and I have never quite fathomed the limits of cruelty allowed in the human heart.  Aunt Thelma was one of those survivors who often rise so far above circumstances in life that they seem to have been bettered by adversity. I realize the flaws in that thinking, but with her, life dealt her lemons, and she made lemon pie ... with a crust touched by the goddess of pastry.

Aunt Thelma, Uncle Mac, and their sons Ike and Buck...  (sounds like the stuff of a 50's movie, doesn't it?) their house was a tribute to that era. Aunt Thelma's house was cleaner than ours, with the starched and dark cleanliness of old things that had never ever given time for dirt and dust to settle into the pores. She had a beige carpet, beige curtains, beige furniture, and she lived in one of those skinny, two-story homes in Quincy, Illinois. Their home was so close to their neighbors that my dad could stand in the middle and reach out his arms to touch the painted brick sides of both homes at once. I was allowed to look and never touch her odd little Asian ballet couple statues with amazing lampshades springing from their stylized black and chartreuse costumes and faces.  I could imagine playing with the china horse collection of my uncle, but I was never allowed to even once take a fragile pony to bounce and buck along the back of her low-backed, modern, uncomfortable, crunchy sofa with orange and tan pillows. She had taste for modern, Asian, and simplicity (odd, I say because my family was full of those who loved country and ruffles and antiques of all kinds, an excess of lovelies to the point of and beyond clutter and way past the ability to keep clean ... really clean.)

But oh, how loved I felt.  I was the only daughter of  her brother's only daughter. We were the two girls in her whole life, and we reaped the bounty of that joy. She was generous and fun, modern, and quite impractical.  I loved that. My mother described her as that aunt who gave her the velvet tam in the midst of the depression era of her childhood. I remember her gifts as those of someone who set no limits to the use of the item, but definitely wanted to please and tease me with a new concept.

She made delicious, predictable food, wonderful unreplicated ham with a glaze recipe given to the gods at her death I think. Once in my whole life, my mom blessed me with the compliment that my ham tasted kind of like Aunt Thelma's.  I felt like dancing and sending up fireworks...  high praise indeed! She didn't bother with new dishes when we visited every year around Christmas, on Thanksgiving, and on Easter Sunday. Those were her days. We also usually made a trip sometime in the summer. She visited us about the same number of times, and her sons made those trips possible after Uncle Mac passed away from emphysema.

She and my uncle had been to Disneyland, a pilgrimage I thought to be somewhat more momentous than the moon landing at the time.  They drove a "fancy" car that they called the "Humdinger," and I think my dad was a bit disgusted with their bragging about it. Probably I imagined that, but... it might have been old and worn joking to my worker-bee father. They brought me a Tinkerbell (smashed last year by my theives) and view master reels of Carsbad Caverns, Hoover Dam, and Disneyland itself.  I recall setting up many movies with my View Master projector and a sheet flung over the closet clothes. Mom and Dad just loved crawling in my dark closet for a midnight movie (the same four reels over and over?) in the middle of the day. (Ha!  Kids believe the funniest things about their parents.)

Aunt Thelma dyed her hair dark red her entire 94 years, and I fell for that hard.  I never thought her to be exactly the same age as my gray-haired grandmothers. Aunt Thelma was my age, I thought...  and then a little younger as I visited into my mid thirties as a tired working mommy. She not only went bowling at age 93, but she bowled after a broken ankle with an average high enough to be missed by her team. That team loved my aunt at "her" Tangerine Bowl, and the young working women who had bowled with Aunt Thelma huddled together at her funeral with wide eyes of denial that death could be possible for that old lady they felt was their equal.

My mother declined in my honor the gift of Aunt Thelma's fiesta china (and I am still just a bit bitter about that). Mom didn't care for it and couldn't fathom I might like something she didn't. I remember sitting in Aunt Thelma's kitchen the day of her 93rd birthday. I had bought a jeweled bolero sweater, which she wore immediately, and my little son had given her a mylar balloon about the same size as she was. She ate cake and spilled her story about being five years old when her mother died from a buggy wreck suffered during her final weeks of pregnancy. My great grandmother Savannah Herrington, her and my grandfather's mom, died after about  two weeks and lost the baby as well. It had changed  lives beyond the expected as their father  (and her brother) chose poorly as a stepmother figure and stepsister....  Lives were harrowed by a woman who must have been truly ill in her mind and spirit.

Aunt Thelma sat lost in thought that day., She told us she could remember getting to see her mother only a few times during those weeks after the buggy accident. On one of the last days, she revealed a story that will always have my interest. Evidently a relative lifted up the five year old daughter to say goodbye to her mother. Aunt Thelma smiled brightly and announced she could remember her mother's soft smile as she asked her daughter to come close for a whisper.  "My mommy told me a secret that day, and she told me to never EVER tell it to a single soul."  Mom and I were so very hooked.  I can recall the look we gave each other as we leaned in. Aunt Thelma continued. "Mommy told me that secret and told me it would be enough to see me through  anything life had to offer. She said I couldn't ever tell a soul, and you know what? I never did..."  Mom and I often laughed through the years after that about how we held our breath waiting for this secret from our 93-year old auntie/warrior/sweetheart. Aunt Thelma continued. "I never told a single soul...  she tried to straighten the stooped dowager shoulders she had inherited from parents who didn't grow old enough to manifest them.  "And...  I never will..."

Gotcha? She got us, too, We never knew. We often tried to guess, but we came up short. What could be whispered to a little five year old to get her through the pits, the absolute pits of life my aunt had to bear. She endured illnesses, deaths, disappointments in her children, a cheating spouse, and all that after years of what anyone would term child abuse.

She had a spirit that lives on to this day, and it makes me cry to think I am the only one who remembers her well. The only one to keep her alive.  Big responsibility. Today, on the snowy anniversary of her birth 120 years ago... I gave it a shot.  Happy birthday, dear Aunt Thelma. Thanks....

Here I am... ready for a ride in the Humdinger...

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ice Storm

Hello, Lovelies!
I was so happy to hear from a dear friend this afternoon. She always calls and cheers me up and also talks about my blogging. I told her the reason I hadn't blogged was that I hadn't done much... Pretty true.
What a lovely Christmas season, though. We had several little gatherings of two or three that really highlighted the season. My only two forays out since I dunno when (maybe Halloween) were the Christmas in Bevier Saturday and an impromptu car trip with my sweet sister/cousin to see the lights on the 26th.

These were in the country with a whole field of beautiful lights. They are put up by an assisted living home... Lovely!

My Studio has been busy with several gifts made for the holidays, wrapping headquarters, and the storage center for all holiday decor... It. looks. it! This photo happened AFTER I cleaned and straightened for 5 hours... I laugh because it looks like a "before" photo.

A few random snippets of some of the journals I have made for gifts. I am deep into another big folio project now.

Vegetable-Sausage fritatta... I enjoy trying different recipes for Paleo inspired cooking. ... 6 eggs beaten with 1/4 c. water, 1 # spicy sausage (browned and crumbled), a zucchini, an onion, and a yellow bell pepper. I added salt, Italian seasoning, pepper, and garlic powder. (Yeah, I added 3/4 cup of cheese, which is not Paleo)... Baked at 350 for 25 minutes.

Moved things around and created a little Coffee bar. A good friend of Mom's from her doll club made the feather tree. The lamp was a gift from my parents while I was still in college. Mama made the little bluebird tea towel tucked in the wintry bucket.

Hope you stay warm, safe, and cozy through this wintry season. We had an ice storm yesterday, but we were blessed by a few hours of rain and warmer temps before our current winds and single digit temperatures. I think that saved us from power outages here. The driveway, although gravel, is a solid sheet of shiny ice. Next week sounds cold and filled with rain, snow, and frigid weather.

Wee hours in the morning find my gal Callie checking out the ceilings all over the house. She does not like the sounds of winter on the metal roof...

Happy January 2020... Month #1 is on the downhill slide of the calendar! Whimsy and Hugs!