Saturday, July 05, 2014

Home From the Hamptons


And we finally arrived. The ocean was magnificent. And cold. We dipped our feet in, but that was about it. We spent some time sitting on the beach and collecting seashells. And we shopped. And ate. And visited. And laughed. It was a wonderful trip. And ended all too soon.
 
Here we are, Gerry, me, Mary, and Sherry. Yes, I know, my friends with the rhyming names. Gerry and I have known each other since our early teens, and actually found out that we are third cousins! Sherry organized our very first trip to England in 2000, and we met Mary on one of the later trips. These are my traveling companions and we also have had the most wonderful adventures. Sherry moved to the Hamptons last year and hosted our visit. She always knows the best things to do and places to see, no matter where we are! She knows where all the celebrities live and we drove by a lot of their houses,even though we mostly saw gates and hedges. There is a lot of privacy here. It's where the beautiful people come to get away, I guess.

Can you guess who this gate belongs to? Notice the monogram. So many people have homes in this area-Paul McCartney, The Barefoot Contessa, Jimmy Fallon, Billy Joel, Gweneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, and Jerry Seinfeld, just to name drop a few. The funny thing is, no matter where you go, everybody there looks at you to see if you are "somebody".
The shops are all big names. No chain stores allowed. And everything is so expensive. Just to think that some one  will actually buy $300 cashmere sweaters for their baby boggles my frugal mind. Our favorite places were the resale shops. We are so easy to please. The best was "The Ladies Village Improvement Society". This was started in 1895 and is housed in a home built in 1740. Loved it.
And the garden shops are all magnificent. I think several rent out areas for parties and weddings because they are just beautifully landscaped. I really liked The Bayberry in Amagansett.
We had movie night and immersed ourselves in the GrayGardens story. For those who may not remember, Big Edie and Little Edie were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy. They lived in an old East Hamptons mansion that became increasingly rundown and pest-infected over the years. After it was condemned, the family tried to clean it up. Two documentaries were made in the 1970's and later a movie with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. The story is riveting and there is quite a cult of information available. Of course, we drove by the restored house.
My alltime favorite celebrity moment was meeting Amy Zerner and Monty Farber. They have a shop in the village and I just happened to find it. Any one who knows anything about the tarot will recognize their names. They have written lots of things and she is a textile designer. I really want one of her very,very expensive jackets. Their designs are based on her original fabric collages. They were so nice and we are now facebook friends.
(I took two of these simple sweater and dress combinations with me on the trip. I thought they would work well, but now I am just thinking.......Frumpy!!!. I think I will have to be my own next project. I see a makeover in my future, even without consulting the cards!)
The Hamptons were perfect. But as all good things do, this had to end. And just as we began our vacation with weather delays,  we ended it in the Chicago airport. It took us 26 hours to get home from New York, with several cancellations,flight postponements, and a night spent on very uncomfortable cots in the airport. Have I mentioned that Mercury was retrograde?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Traveling---Trips and Tips



All aboard for our train ride to the Hamptons. By Sunday we were feeling pretty sure of ourselves. We said goodbye to our apartment, and the doorman quickly got a taxi for us. Inside the train station, we purchased our tickets from a machine. The train is very reasonably priced. Every one stood watching a big sign, waiting for the track number to be posted. As soon as it lit up, people moved in a giant wave. New Yorkers don't waste time. We settled in with good seats near the door. After a few minutes, we found out we had to move to another train. Something was wrong with the one we on. After about 15 minutes, we had to transfer to our final train. Here is my first and biggest tip about riding the train: You do NOT want to have a lot  of luggage. A small overnite bag or backpack is perfect. I hope you are getting a mental picture of our heavy, heavy suitcases. It is crucial to this part of our journey. The train ride was over two hours and was very nice. One of us slept. The other one plotted the stops. After asking which of the Hamptons was the one before our stop, I felt pretty prepared.  When Bridgehampton was called, I knew we were next.  Our suitcases were handy and we were ready to move. As soon as he called East Hampton, we were on the go, dragging our suitcases up the four steps to the nearest door. We were the only people getting off. I reached the door, and it closed. As I was screaming "Noooooooooooo" and pounding on the door, my friend leaned against her suitcase and fell over it (That's the trip part). As she landed on the floor, a very nice lady helped her up. I was still pounding on the door. The ticket taker came by and said he didn't see anyone, so he had given the signal to go on. The train was behind schedule because of the extra transfer at the station, so I guess they thought they could make up some time. I don't know how he could have missed seeing us, even without the Statue of Liberty crowns. Once again, I had nixed the idea, in case our friend meeting us at the station decided to pretend not to know us.
All ended well. I called her, and she was able to meet us at the next station, which was only a few minutes away. We stood by the door the entire time. After being told for two days not to stand up on the planes, and not to stand up on the buses, we learned that it is vitally important to stand, and be ready to run, when one is on a train.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Travel Guide. Part One

I just spent eight days in New York City and the Hamptons. What a trip that was! This was a reunion visit with three other friends that were my fellow travelers to England. We are all about the shopping, and the quaint little villages, and the resale shops, so visiting is always a good time with lots of laughter. It was just what I needed.
Gerry and I didn't get to "our" apartment until late (almost midnight) Friday night. Charming, charming building, complete with doorman. I guess when you are traveling on Friday the thirteenth, you have to expect a few difficulties. We thought we would arrive late in the Iafternoon, but the flight and the weather didn't co-operate. Luckily, it's very easy to find a late dinner in the neighborhood, and we also found a yarn shop practically next door.  It was our first stop on Saturday morning. I bought a skein of the most expensive yarn
I have ever seen, I will either make something small but beautiful, or I will wind it into a ball and be happy. Next came brunch, outside, complete with people watching. I bought an antique book from a street vendor. "Around and About Old England"  My favorite place, and a lighthouse on the cover, so I couldn't leave it, even though I promised myself not to buy too many books on this trip. They are so heavy, but I am so weak.



We only had one full day in the city, but with the hop on hop off bus tours we were able to see quite a bit. Most of it was from the bus, since we got a late start. But we took three tours. Actually, we took one of them twice. First, we did the uptown tour. That one was the best. Our guide and bus driver were very informative and entertaining. We saw Central Park, brownstownes, and mansions, churches, and China town, Harlem, and Sean Connery's home.  Jacqueline Kennedy's apartment building, and also Maya Angelou's. The Trump Tower, Grant's Tomb, the Museum Mile, Times Square, and much, much more. At the end, we gave them a big tip. Then we wanted to do the Downtown Tour. The guide said "Yes,yes, this is the downtown tour. Hurry and get on." So we did. Before you knew it, we were seeing Chinatown, and Harlem, Times Square, Grant's Tomb etc. Well, you get the idea. People in NYC are always in a hurry. They talk very fast, and will always say yes to any question you ask. This tour guide had a broken microphone, so we didn't hear a lot of what he had to say. But by this time, I was about ready to give the tour myself. (Remember, I had years and years of training at a Living History Museum, I know about tours.) At the end, we felt sorry for him, and gave him a medium sized tip. By then it was almost time for the Evening bus, so we got on that one too. It was starting to get cold, but we stayed upstairs for most of it, wearing our yellow plastic bag ponchos. Gerry wanted us to wear the Statue of Liberty crowns that she had purchased earlier in the day, but it was a little windy. Of course, the city, by night, is fantastic. We went over the bridge  and spent a lot of time freezing in Brooklyn. The Empire State Building was lit with red, white, and blue for Flag Day. We saw Chinatown again. This tour was supposed to include the Statue of Liberty and the site of the Twin Towers, but I don't think that happened. The guide was a comedian (not so much) and we heard too many stories of his fiances and girlfriends. By this time we were very very cold and hungry. This time, a small tip. We were finally catching on that we were about the only ones putting money in the bags they held out as we got off the bus. Hey, we're from Iowa, and we are always polite. After a trip to Starbucks, we hailed a taxi, and went back "home" feeling like New York natives.                                                                                

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maybes and Mishaps


I've been feeling just a little melancholy lately.Maybe it's the weather. Spring just doesn't want to happen this year. Maybe it's the holidays. And maybe it's just that I feel that some changes are on the horizon. It is really hard not to miss all the people and objects that I no longer have. I use up such a large portion of my energy and my brain just trying not to think about the way life used to be. Of course, at night, there are no shields, so I often wake from disturbing dreams. Who knows? Nearly every night, I dream about death and houses. Maybe I am just tired from all that dreaming.
Lately, I have spent lots and lots of time trying not to think about my old house. Even though I am very well suited to my current place, it doesn't feel like it is really mine. Maybe it's because renting doesn't feel like a permanent committment.  I'm not sure. I do know that I really wish I had more shelves and cupboards and drawers!
We have had a lot of stormy weather lately, with sirens and newscasts and everyone I know facebooking from their basements. That could be it. I am missing my basement and my lovely, organized crafting room. That is the one room here in my new place that I can not get to come together. Without all my shelves, and cupboards, and drawers, I can never seem to find anything. Maybe I am just creatively stifled.
Today I met the sweet young family who bought our little cottage. And it makes me so very,very glad (in my melancholy way). I have heard such good reports about them and I can tell that they truly love the house.Maybe that shouldn't even matter but it does. I believe that old houses have a sort of soul and absorb the feelings of the people who live there.Maybe that's the difference. A rental is often just a temporary home. So many tenants only stay a year. I plan to live here for quite a while, but I've seen lots of people move in and out of the neighborhood since I've been here. My downstairs neighbor moved out yesterday, and even though I hardly ever saw him, the house feels different. Maybe after I have been here a little longer, and feel more organized, this place will have more soul. Maybe.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Musings


This is a journal I made years ago using a photo of my mother when she was a teenager. I love this picture. It is so full of hopes and dreams.
I am the oldest of five children and my youngest sister (Shawna) was only four when I became a mother. So I have been surrounded by children most of my life. I remember lots of times when I longed for a little piece of quiet, but I can honestly say that I have loved every moment of being a mother.
I don't have a lot of family keepsakes, but I do have this note written by my grandmother after my mother's birth:                            
                                                                 Our hopes for our
      Baby's future are Health,
        Contentedness, Happiness
     And a kind loving heart.
     And: Honor Thy Father
      & Thy Mother.
      May Joys ever be yours.
I remember my grandmother as a stern woman who didn't often show her softer side. I was afraid of her when I was growing up, but got to know her better after I had babies of my own. She liked to sew and made quilts while nursing her babies, liked to write, had a very strong faith, and was superstitious about the things that bring bad luck---black horses, red dresses, and singing at the table.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Great Day For The Irish


Wishing a Happy St Paddy's Day to my three Irish colleens, Erin Kathleen, Meghan Elizabeth, and Bridget Eileen. Once we started with the Irish names, we just couldn't stop! And top of the morning to all the boys too.    

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Not Just For Curtains Anymore

 Once upon a time I lived in a house with all the storage that I ever thought to need. My grandkids called it the house of doors and drawers, because there were so many. Now that I live in my cozy little home with very few drawers, I am learning to improvise when it comes to storage. For years I had an old dental cabinet where I kept my jewelry. I couldn't bring it with me, but the cabinet lives with my daughter Meghan now in her wonderful old Victorian house.
I had to think of new ways to store my jewelry and these are some of the things I did. The inspiration for the hanging necklaces and  milk glass vases came from WhippyCake. I love her blog and her style, which is nothing like my own. I used tension rods  between my bedroom door and closet door, and curtain hooks. It works very well. I think I will shirr a fabric tube or use washi tape on the white rod to add some color, but that hasn't happened yet.  



On my dresser I have a narrow shelf with compartments which I filled with milk glass vases. These hold cuff  bracelets. A black velvet jewelry holder from the craft shop keeps the rest of my bracelets from tangling.

Having everything on display is very different for me. I enjoy looking at it. Most of my jewelry is handmade or gifts. Nothing valuable if you are counting dollars, but fun to look at.




I covered a foam florist wreath with strips of fabric and lace, and  pinned brooches onto it. Still more to add. I think I thought of it myself, but I'm sure it's been done before. Probably on Pinterest!
The bedroom walls are much darker than they look in the picture so there is a lot more contrast. (Will I ever be a photographer?  So many times I put off posting because I don't have decent photos, but I have decided to concentrate on timely writing instead of beautiful pictures. Forgive me)

 I also use tension rods as a way to put a fabric wall hanging under my fireplace mantel. And they can be put across a
bookcase shelf to hold ribbons. I'll show photos of my crafting room when I finally get it organized and I can find things again. Hope springs eternal.














Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Old Grey Mare-A February Rant


This has been quite a week and it isn't over yet. Our new computer system went live at work this week, and for me it has been a nightmare. Literally, I have even been dreaming about it every night. All my young- and I do mean young- co-workers don't even realize what an advantage they have by working with computers all their lives. I can tell they are upset with me. And of course, at least once a day, the trainer will say to me that she has never seen "that" happen before, as my computer seems to do something entirely of it's own free will. No matter how many times someone tells me to push this key or that key, it absolutely makes no sense to me until I understand why I am doing it.
As we all know by now, electronics just don't seem to like me. My garage door opener quit working (And it is probably the coldest, snowiest week of the year.) My phone battery keeps draining and I don't know why.  And, yes, I am trying all the things I am supposed to do. And I must be the only person in the world who can't get the Facebook movie of my life to work. Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera
On the home front, here is a picture of all the mail I have gotten this week. This was the week my Medicare deluge started. (And after this week, retirement looks good, if only I could think of another way to make money and not have to learn anything new that I don't want to learn) Every single thing I've gotten this week has been from Medicare, or Aarp. Or a reminder to get burial insurance. Until today, when I got a pretty blue envelope inviting me to make this Valentine's Day one to remember! I can call now to reserve my place for a private showing of the latest in hearing aid technology. I am feeling so old. Even though I know that is better than the alternative. Any nice mail would be greatly appreciated.
It was no surprise to me to learn that Mercury is retrograde. All month. I can hardly wait  to see what else is ahead for me.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Tea Time


For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a teacart. When I moved here, I realized that I finally had the space for one, under the window in my dining room. This is my smallest home, yet it is the only one with the right spot. Every time I visit the antique stores, I have looked for one. Not too big, and definitely one with a lift off glass tray so I can put postcards and vintage papers underneath. Friday night I decided to walk through the  Brass Armadillo antique mall. As I pulled into the parking lot, there was a vendor carrying this beauty inside. I hurried in and searched until I found it. Just perfect and even a few dollars less than the limit I had given myself. Meant to be, right? It even fit into my car, and it was payday, so there was enough money in my account. All the signs told me this was my teacart. And now it is. Happy Valentine's Day from Me to Me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

100 Things About Me- Part one



I was sorting through boxes (still and again) and found this picture. I think I was probably three. It made me think of the lists I often see and have never tried to do. So here it is---Things about me That Aren't Really Important to Anyone Else......but isn't that why we have blogs?????
1.I don't want to be too predictable.
2.I am from a really unusual family who could easily fill this list, but I am trying to make it all about me.
3.I really do love Irish music.
4.I prefer tea but drink a lot of coffee.
5.I like to knit and crochet, but have never made anything that has to be fitted.
6.I still have the first "antique" I ever bought. Candlelsticks. 50 cents
7. My absolutely favorite job was at  a living history museum. It was my life for many years.
8,I can make jewelry from hair. (See #7)
9.I can cook on a woodstove (Ditto)
10. I know more about nineteenth century ettiquette than anyone probably wants to know.
11. I always spell etiquette wrong. Other than that, I am a really good speller.
12.I was a page at the Iowa Legislature when I was in high school, and worked there again for a session four years ago. Loved it.
13. I've always hated office jobs.
14. I work in an office.
15.I have always wanted a gypsy wagon in my back yard.
16. Now that I rent, I don't have a backyard.......or a gypsy wagon.
17. Sometimes I tell fortunes at parties.
18. I used to have a fairy ring in my yard. Every day I made a wish when I got off the school bus. For years.
19. I'm mom to five children. My mother has five children. My grandmother had five children.
20.Sometimes I write poetry. Not often.
21. I really want to write a book, but I'm afraid to start.
22.I have been baptized three times.
23.Every single moment of my life is touched by grief. I have learned to live, even to enjoy. But it is there. Every. Single. Moment.
24. I married at nineteen and never regretted it.
25. New furniture makes me nervous. I like things to have a little wear.
Okay. End of Part One. 100 really seems like a lot.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Word of the Year-2014


Every year I pick a word. And this year the word is Discovery. Or Discover. Or Discovering. I thought about picking Adventure, but want to notice and learn about things first. I actually used this worksheet to help me pick out a word. I thought about nearly a dozen words, but discover was the one that seemed just right for the year I have ahead. Last year's word was mindfulness, and I spent most of the year thinking about things, and moving and clearing out my life. So this is the year to discover new things about my self and my world.
Did anyone notice that the link goes to an address called "Word of the Year Discovery Tool". I filled out five pages of worksheets trying to come up with the perfect word for me. And only just now I noticed that I "borrowed" my word right from the title! Maybe I need to go back to "Mindfulness" for another year! Stay warm and think about a word. It's probably right in front of you.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Everywhere Christmas


This will be the first Christmas in my new little home. It is beginning to look a little festive as I try to find places for decorations. This week I hosted our Christmas Craft Nite. No dinner to prepare, as we ate out at a new restarant in my neighborhood. Donning  my adventuress hat, I had the Duck Duet. (For the first and last time). Then we came here for the Christmas tour-which took about 2 minutes-this place is small, and for dessert and gifts. My dining room is large enough to put the leaves in the table, even though I had to borrow extra chairs. We had chocolate brownie trifle, and macarons. Christmas crackers on the side, so we all got riddles, tiny toys, and paper crowns. Hopefully, we didn't scare the neighbors when all those crackers popped. Not sure if I have mentioned before that I live in a very quiet neighborhood now. I made the paper trees for everyone. I am still having a paper Christmas this year, but have added some of my other decorations mixed back in. The holidays are a time for Tradition. For me, there are Traditions Discarded, and Traditions Packed Away. But there are also Traditions Renewed, Repackaged, and Transformed.
      No surprise to most, but I did manage to find space for a lot of my bookcases. I love this one!
Here is the main tree. I also have 3 little trees that Finn, Tess, and Cass decorate. So right now there is a forest in my home. The Jingle pillow was a gift. Works perfectly in my old reading chair.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Remembering Rich

Richard Thomas Moran  September 27,1979-September 23, 2010
Dear Rich,
It's been three years since you gave us the ultimate Irish Goodbye. One minute you were with us and then, suddenly you were gone. A lot has happened in that time, but we are sure you are keeping tabs on us. And, of course, you have your dad with you too. And so many others. Several of your friends have gotten married and have babies now. Life does go on.
People say it gets easier, but I think we all miss you just as much as ever. You are always, always in my thoughts. When I forget what I'm saying, or stop typing in the middle of a sentence at work, it's because you are there. When I have a blank look on my face, and don't follow a conversation, it's because I am remembering you. When I see a pineapple, or a lighthouse, or the moon, or all those silly mustaches that are everywhere now, I think of you. Because of you, my taste has become positively tacky. I even bought a coin purse that looks like a pineapple. Meg bought shoes with pineapples on them, so it's not just me. Are you laughing yet? And the music. I can hardly listen to anything because of the memories. So, don't worry, I think it's pretty safe to say that you are always Number 1 with us.
Do you recognize this list? I found it after you left. I framed it and decorated it. You would probably think that is crazy. I'm not sure when you wrote it. Some of the things you got to do. The rest, I hope you are doing now.
Go to Vegas
Mardi Gras
Backpack through Europe
Go to Ireland
Drive through America
Own a lighthouse
Write.......something
See the Pyramids
Meet Jimmy Buffett
Earn College Diploma
Be on a gameshow
Reread the Bible
Be able to quote Shakespeare
Act-then direct
Carnival in Rio
See the ruins at Machu Pichu
See a bullfight
Run with the bulls in Pamplona
Figure out why JD Salinger is so damn secretive
Be a cowboy
See a game at Wrigley
Learn to sail
Meet James Ellroy
Go to Iceland
Go to Australia and New Zealand
I don't find as many quarters as I used to. But they are still popping up here and there. We see red cardinals all the time. Oh, and I found this laminated and stuck in your mirror." LIBRA: Take stock of your life, and implement long-term plans and preparations. The need to wait until everything is right will turn to a desire to get things done and move to the next level." Did you know?
Love,
Mom

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Moving Right Along

"Good Luck Follows Bad" That's an old gypsy proverb and it's how I'm thinking about life right now. It seems like everything is going smoothly now, and I am not used to that these past few years! I have found a place that will be perfect for me, I think. A duplex in an established tree lined neighborhood. I even have a bookstore and coffeeshop within walking distance. This place was built in the mid 1920's, so it has many features that I love.  As you may know, I am all about the cute,and this place warms my heart.  
I have the second floor, and actually have about the same square footage as the main floor of my present house. So I will have room for most of my favorite things. But I still have a lot that has to go. 

This arch leads to the dining room, just like the one in my house now. It will be strange to be a renter, and I will miss so many things about my little cottage, but finding this place helps so much. Of course, now I'm worried that I have jinxed myself. I've already signed the lease and have the key. This VictorianGypsy is ready for some good luck!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sold!!

It's been a whirl wind of a week. Once I finally listed the house, things went very quickly. Just about 5 days! I felt like the popular girl at the party. Everybody wanted to dance with my house. Hope it continues to go so smoothly. Of course, there is the inspection, and the appraisal, and all those other nervewracking things, but it all looks good. Now, of course, I have to find another place to live......and soon. I have my eye on a duplex that reminds me a lot of this house. Hopefully, I will get it. 
Today marks the completion of the second year of my life as a widow. In my head there is a book forming about the bitter and the sweet and all the changes we go through in this journey and the things I have learned. I don't know if it will ever happen, but it is there.