on furniture with a story……..

In a book I was reading yesterday, one of the characters was shopping for furniture. She headed to antique and vintage stores to find what she wanted. Her comment, “I like furniture that has a story to tell”, hit home for me.  I agree with this statement, but not just in furniture.

I have always loved old furniture, old porcelain pieces, old trunks and old people with great stories to tell.  I find comfort in knowing they have had lives and hold history of people and places that I will never know or see.  Their histories contain stories of happy times and sad, of celebration and tragedy, of great adventures and of unwanted ones.  They are interesting.  They have a story to tell.

I am not comfortable with small talk and strangers at social events, never have been. Oh, I can work a room and speak about nothing with the best of you.  But, this is not my place of comfort.  I have had to learn this skill since I have run my own retail business and, prior to that, traveled with my husband meeting new people every day. My place of comfort is sitting quietly, observing and listening.   Sometimes, I am fortunate to be able to strike up a conversation with someone with stories to tell.

I would not be comfortable living in a home full of new furniture straight from the showroom floor.  I love beautiful hand-carved furniture and hand-painted porcelain. I love colorful quilts and hand-dyed and hand-woven textiles. I love hand-thrown and free form pottery.  I love handcrafted jewelry.  I love those items that have been touched by the artists who envisioned them.  Artists have their own language and tell their stories by the work they share.

I have loved sitting with old people and hearing their stories.  The old people in my life have been treasures waiting to be admired.  Often, just one question will open up the most amazing insight into their history.  Stories that without their speaking them to me, would never be known to anyone but themselves.  How special to be the one who hears the stories.

I am saddened that we live in a throw-away world that seems to be too busy for stories.  Too busy to even know there are stories.  We text or email instead of talk,  we stay inside on our devices instead of going out and seeing what real stories we may encounter.  We get rid of beautiful items that have an interesting history so that we can buy bright and shiny new things that we will probably replace again in a year or so.

I know, I know.  I am becoming that old person, becoming spry and a little cranky!!  I am just hoping to be the person who will be found by others to have interesting stories to tell.  I hope life continues to be an adventure of discoveries.  Discoveries of the great stories extrapolated from an old well-traveled trunk, from the intricate stitches in an old quilt,  from a lovely pottery cup while drinking my coffee and sitting in a beautiful hand-carved chair with a needlepoint cushion.  I wish to live my life knowing the stories whether they leave me laughing or crying.   In an increasingly gadget-filled world, I hope we all find time for the stories.  Sometimes, we must go looking for them.

on seeds from Versailles

As most of you know, I live in a beautiful historic building circa 1890 in the sweet little city of Guthrie, Oklahoma. From my upstairs apartment. I walk out onto a roof loaded with pots of flowers and herbs. I love this space, my escape from the world. As you can well imagine, caring for over 100 pots and an herb garden can be challenging with crazy weather. Because of all the rain this year, weeds have grown rampant and my early morning today was spent weeding, separating the intentionally planted from the renegade terrorists that constantly invade. As I am cursing and hacking the weeds, I remember the day I planted the seeds from Versailles.

My first neighbor in the building next door was a lovely man who became my friend. He was a retired professor with knowledge of many interesting subjects. He was well traveled and shared stories with me from both his years as a professor and about his travels. He also loved to garden. During his travels, he visited the Palace of Versailles and fell in love with the beautiful, well-tended gardens. Charles had come into a treasure from Versaille, some seeds from the garden. I do not know exactly how these came into his possession, whether by purchase or gathering, but he gave them to me to plant on my roof. Charles had a beautiful formal garden in the courtyard of his building and, I am a gardener who loves color and planned chaos–sort of like a Klimt painting of a field of flowers. So, seeds of flowers from a beautiful garden were more suited to my rooftop than his courtyard.

About 19 years ago, I planted these seeds, eager to see what surprises they would hold when they bloomed. As the summer came on, bright, dense plants began to make their way to the surface. By the middle of summer, I began to see all of my pots sprouting the same leaves beginning to suffocate some of my other plants. The plants from these seeds produced no blooms, formed deep roots and spread like weeds. I now believe that my gifted seeds from Versailles are actually weeds from Versailles.

This morning, 19 years later, I am still pulling them from my pots. My takeaway from this experience is a life lesson. Wonderful, well-meaning people sometimes share things with us. Information, advice…… seeds. Before we take it to heart and run with it, it is to our benefit to understand exactly what we are dealing with and decide for ourselves what is best for our own lives. I think we are all fertile growing fields for seeds. Not all of them are what we think or wish them to be. The wrong seeds can take over and suffocate those good things we have worked to build. Glamorous as something may sound–reference, Palace of Versailles–when transplanted into our own life does not always transfer the glamour.

This is my little sermon for today. Know what you are planting. Forget the Ides of March–beware the Seeds from Versailles. It may be exciting when you begin but the residual clean-up is exhausting.

on legacy…….

As I get older, I begin to think more about what I have accomplished in my life. I think back to the story, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and wonder if my life has mattered or made a difference in my everyday dealings with people. But this is not how our society seems to measure success. The question is always “What is my legacy?” As defined by Webster, legacy is monetary. If that is the only meaning, I have not acquired a great legacy. Many people think children are their legacy, having contributed to the world by their progeny. Again, if that is the meaning, I have not created a legacy. So, I am not certain what my legacy is to be. And, is it so important to worry about leaving one? Isn’t life fraught with enough insanity without worrying about leaving behind a legacy?

There is nothing wrong with acquiring wealth and I have respect and admiration for those who raise children. I just wonder, as individuals, what of us is left behind when we leave this world. I offer the opinion that it is what people remember of us and how well we have treated those around us. I think of the people I have met in my life who have left a lasting memory. They are not the ones who had great wealth and power. They are the ones who were kind. Who loved me even if I was wrong. Who offered a place of respite when I was tired. Who made me laugh through tears. Who celebrated my smallest victories. Who had an ear to listen when I needed to talk. Who were vulnerable enough to share their lives with me. Who were there through all the laughs, tears and craziness of this life. I know and have memories of people who are and have been all these things. When I hear their names, I smile.

I am always working towards the goal to be this person. I want my “legacy” to be a memory of kindness, of shared laughter, of shared tears, of comfort, of hugs. I wish the mention of my name to be synonymous with a smile. Still working on that legacy!

On friendship………

An interesting word. The definition of “friend” is:  a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. The definition of “ship” is: a vessel used for transporting goods. So, my definition of friendship is: individuals who care for and love each other and form a relationship transporting each other to a safe place.

We live in a modern time when becoming “friends” is taken as lightly as pushing a button to “friend” someone on Facebook. Many times, this is someone who you have never met or shared a face to face conversation. I do not think this action is a bad thing, but I think we need to know what makes a true friend. Just because someone says they like a post or share a post, does not mean they have your best at heart. Now, in our crazy world of immediate gratification, information at our fingertips and texting instead of talking, friendships have taken a backseat. True friendships for me are the tried and true ones. The ones that have weathered storms of illness, divorce and loss. The ones that have you jumping up and down with joy for accomplishments and dreams achieved. The ones that cause you to laugh so hard you both have to run to the restroom or be sure you have brought a change of underwear.

Friendship, by my definition, is the friend who will love you through your mistakes and forgive you even if you can’t seem to forgive yourself. A true friend will feel free to share opinions and try to stop you if you are getting ready to be stupid. It doesn’t seem to matter if you have long separations, with a true friend the joy of being together always returns. Shared memories, both happy and sad. Lucy-Ethel, Hawkeye- BJ, Lily-Rosaleen(Secret Life of Bees), Calvin-Hobbes, Christopher Robin-Winnie the Poo, Kirk-Spock. All fictional characters, but samples of amazing friendships.

I guess the gist of all this is to remind us to be grateful for those special friendships that stand the test of time. It has been said that anyone will help you move but a true friend will help you move the body! A bit extreme, but the idea is there. Through good and bad, listening and arguing, laughing and crying. Friend/Ship. I am grateful. You know who you are.

On aging…….

I am learning every day that this life is a blessing and must be appreciated and nurtured. As a shopkeeper, I have many customers who have become my friends over the years. Some have moved to seek new adventures and fun. I am happy for them and celebrate their good fortune. Some have passed on to the great unknown–I miss them and have mourned their loss with their families. Then there are those who are still with us in body, but the mind and memories are fading. I think this is the loss I mourn the most.

There is both sadness and fear in this loss. Sadness because,¬†although they are right in front of me, they cannot remember our conversations and shared experiences. Fear because losing one’s mental faculties is something I cannot begin to imagine. Previously, my experience with this has not been firsthand but has only been through my friends dealing with parents or spouses. In the last few years, however, some of my friends and peers are beginning to experience cognitive issues that are much more serious than just wondering where they left their glasses.

My thoughts today are on appreciating those with whom I come in contact. I cannot say enough about how much I love the stories, the glimpse into the lives of others, the honor to share special moments. These are things that I will always hold in my heart along with both smiles and tears. As I grow older, I hope to become even more aware of the importance of sharing stories, of having an appreciation for lives lived. We only ride around once. Let’s make it a good ride.

On forgetfulness………

I do not think forgetfulness is a new thing for me. I have often been lost in my own private world and somewhat oblivious to happenings around me. Having said this, today I put on my raincoat and pulled out my umbrella and walked a few blocks in the pouring rain to get a haircut. I went into the waiting area, hung up my dripping raincoat and umbrella and began looking through the magazines to read while waiting. My hairdresser peeked her head around the corner to see if she could help me. I reminded her that my appointment is today at 3:30. As she is doing a perm on another customer, she takes a quick break and checks “The Book”. My name is not in “The Book” for today.

I am now doubting myself and explained that I have her card on my fridge as a reminder. I suggested she check next Tuesday, thinking I may have made a mistake. Sure enough, I am in “The Book” for next Tuesday. I then proceed to tell her that my card says my appointment is today, May 7 at 3:30. Very calmly, with a look that suggests-in the kindest way possible-that I may have lost my mind, she tells me that today is April 30.

So, I apologized for being totally unaware of time, put my raincoat on again, retrieved my umbrella and ventured back out into the storm. All the way back I am feeling a bit foolish and trying to figure out what happened to my mind. I am blaming it on my hair. When I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, my hair was crying for a haircut and I was sympathetic. I might wear a hat the for rest of this week.

I think I am going to be paying more attention to my calendar from now on. Maybe even call ahead to confirm my appointments. Maybe I should hang a calendar on the mirror and put an “X” on each day that passes. I just want to be absolutely certain my name is in “The Book” on the day I show up again. Otherwise, I may be the subject of unwanted chatter about my mental state.  Perhaps it is better for me to be the one who is talked about than someone else.  I do have my own private world, after all.

On “Why didn’t you tell me”

One of my favorite, laugh every time comedies is “The Vicar of Dibley”. There was an episode when Geraldine the Vicar, was telling Alice the Verger that she looked lovely with spinach in her teeth–or something to that effect. I am so humiliated when I am out somewhere or I get home and look in the mirror and see something terribly wrong. Laugh if you will, but I think everyone has had this experience.

Here are some of mine: There was the time I did have something green stuck in my teeth. There was the time I had red lipstick on my teeth. There was the time I had red lipstick on my chin from biting into a large burger. There was the time I had crumbs stuck on my red lips. There was the time I had a different earring on each ear. There was the time I put my blouse on wrong side out. There was the time the hem of my skirt was tucked into my underwear as I was leaving the restroom. There was the time I had on different color socks on each foot. There was the time something was sticking out my nostril. You get the idea. Sadly, many of these things have happened more than once–except the skirt in underwear thing. I now check that before I leave the restroom to make certain my behind is not revealed to all.

I think we need to be vigilant with our friends and let them know when something is amiss. Let’s join together as an aging sisterhood and stop the embarrassment. Today a customer came in the gallery and I went up to greet him. After he left, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized my unruly hair was sticking out like a wing on one side. Now I have to remember to pat my hair down every time I meet the public. I am calling on all of us to stop being shy about pointing out the obvious and save ourselves from total mortification. We women of age must band together!!! I can laugh at myself and join with others as they laugh, but I would prefer the laughter isn’t about my teeth, nose, lips or whatever other body part I have neglected to protect.

This is a call to those of us who are becoming spry. Spread the love–help each other!!