You can’t take it with you. The past few months, I have been involved with the liquidation of a very large collection of dolls, left by their owner after his death. This probably sounds odd, so let me explain, I too am a collector, or what my family calls “Expensive Hoarding.” Regardless, of the name, they are the souvenirs of my life, and have helped me hold onto, rediscover and define who I am. Budget the cost against $200 an hour therapy, and I believe I have come out ahead, loved and happy, even if my $100 collection of Bullwinkle and Rocky plastic coins from potato chips in 1968, makes you shake your head. At least I can hold them, and laugh, seeing the face of my long since gone wonderful neighbor Velma, drinking hill top fruit juice when she opened a bag, and found a new one. A shrink, like the advice is invisible, and the money gone just as quick.
Nevertheless, between the why things are important, is the almighty cost, from someone else’s view point, and the justification in the first place. When we are gone from life, family members look at this very curiously, selfishly and short sided. Instead of seeing the joy in what made their family member happy, the majority choose to see the “how much is it worth financially” factor. It is an ironic notation; many of them saw the living family member in exactly the same way.
After my parents passed away from a basic life, having left no sums of liquid capital or objects de art to be passed down, I was comforted by what was left. For example, there was a button box with hundreds of loose buttons, and as I looked at them I smiled, remembering outfits and coats long gone, when and where they were worn and the delight when they had been new. There were flashlights without batteries, screws and pens, and notes of reminding, for directions, instructions and just love. They couldn’t take them to Heaven when they left, and I am so very glad.
Those memories were my parents, meaningless to anyone else. Those other family members, who felt the same way, claimed their treasures and felt renewed – well most of them anyway. So that brings me to the world I live in. If I were to sit down and actually try to calculate the cost of everything I surround myself with on shelves, curios, cabinets and boxes, I would be dead from the trying alone. Instead, I look at the why; find the smile, tear and warmth in my heart, which will always be the reason.
There needs to be a special estate lawyer who looks at the meaning of what is left behind, instead of the value, and makes sure it goes where it needs to go. I know the word lawyer negates it, and greed over rules it, but it is still a nice dream. Who cares if a doll was bought for $1800? It was on a day when a daughter was emotionally shattered, and remembered I was there for her, and would never leave her side. Every time the doll is looked at, that is what is rembered. Likewise, the $150 paid for a once retail $9 house of toy squirrels, never been opened from 1979, and the bond a mother, daughter and grandmother will forever have, there will never be a monetary value high enough for those memories.
I would like to look down upon my life after I am gone, and see my family and friends as they discover, groan, and laugh and at one point, hope someone will say, “I remember her telling me she had this as a little girl, and never wanted to forget that time camping” or maybe “She bought me one just like it, probably cost a lot, but it made her so happy, and she laughed herself, telling me how grandma got it for $1 mailing in a cereal box top back in the 1960’s.” These will be the people who knew and loved me, and they are the ones who deserve to have all I am.
Sure, there are over the top dolls in outfits from designers at the time, no longer known or recognized, and in the day I spent more than I want to admit. However, when I see them now, I hear the laughter of a group of adults enjoying a convention, a meal or a drink, laughing at en era now gone, in a world ending at Armageddon speed and sadness. We found friendship and bonds tighter than blood, through miniatures and recollections.
I reinforced my beliefs for equality in all people; saw how a simple piece of plastic could help in an auction for need, or at the end when cancer or AIDS took them home too soon. The sparkle I see in a sequin gown that would have bought 2 cars in 1970, is priceless in the humanity given to me.
So before it is too late, instead of seeing a collection that delights and defines someone in your family, as a pile of crap they wasted money on (their money by the way), and how you could profit from or fear at how to dispose of it all someday, stand back and see if you can figure out why. Then ask about it, or better yet, tell them what you see and already know. Time takes the value of everything, except people. A collection may be worth money at some point, but the real value is in person, the owner who loved it and you, if you are lucky and they are still alive, and they should be valued forever. The decision is up to you if they are “a keeper.”
To Melissa who used her love collecting, and true talent to bring joy to more people than some of us will ever know in a lifetime. Make-a-Wish and so many others will forever miss their beautiful fairy of light.
To Ben who had a crusty exterior, misunderstood and undervalued, but a heart as big the moon for those he loved. His ability to paint with thread, see beauty through the eyes of designers, and bring lasting joy to those who loved him back, we miss you.
To Linda who left us too soon, her ‘fancies” will forever bring smiles and admiration, to those who never knew her, laughed over one of her emails or saw the wisdom in her words.
There are so many others, and even more still living, who have shared with me over the miles and years, and become friends who changed my life forever.
Thank you, you wonderful dolls you!
Monthly Archives: February 2012
Worms, Spaghetti and Road Rage
I will never have the phrase “Bright eyed and Bushy Tailed” on my tombstone – nor do I want to think about any such bushy tail. I am a night person. There is such a soothing calmness in the world, when the sun is more setting than rising – sorry Ernest, and when night shadows appear in a calm and quietness, making everything more productive.
Today I needed to make an early morning errand run before 8:00am, and it was like walking a plank. Who thought up the notion it is better to jump in a vehicle with eyes not accustom to bright light, lack of food, chilled from leaving a warm bed and/or hot shower, put on tight clothing and shoes and while adjusting a mental to do list against 8 hours, jump in a speeding vehicle and be nice to each other? Holy dogs in Heaven, there are reality game shows that do not demand as much of people.
It is truly scary, that after all of that trauma to get to a place of business in such condition, we are then expected to make decisions which will affect other people and their best interests, financial well being or health. I don’t know about you, but wherever that early bird is eating a worm, they deserve it and more. There is a reason the bed is warmer and your need to relax at its highest, 5 minutes before and after the time you are to get up. Our mind and body know what is right, and they reach out saying, isn’t this great, realize this is where you need to be right now and be the best you can be, life is too short for anything less. Why do you think week-ends are given star status? Because that is when most people listen to that inner voice, delight and welcome the warm and relaxing pace, waking up ready to face life when we know it will be handled at our personal best.
I love to go to sleep at night, with trace aromas of baking in the air, a hint of soap knowing I have cleaned or on crisp sheets, washed during the day knowing they are waiting for me to enjoy. It is wonderful to get things accomplished, knowing the phone is not going to be ringing with random stupidity, no one will be knocking at my door delivering, asking or selling and I am comfortable in clothes that are not squeezing me out a door. I look at the comparison of 7am and 7pm like a pot of good spaghetti sauce. Sure all the ingredients are there and it’s hot and will be filling and nutritious. But, after simmering and bringing out all the flavor in each ingredient, letting the smells tease me through the day, to then sit down and enjoy each mouthful, with no metronome of life reminding me I have other things to accomplish, is what makes it a perfect sauce.
I am sure those people who rush out each morning, avoiding road rage and tight shoes, putting their lives on hold, only to rush home in similar traffic at night are necessary to make the world go round. However, like a diet someone once explained, listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs or wants. If you are craving a steak, potato and beer, break it down and you might discover all you are looking for is the steak sauce, so put some on a little lettuce or a cracker and you are satisfied. Same goes for the rat race, what is it I need in my life? Simple, I like the accomplishment of getting something done; feeling good about myself and having a sense of happiness and love I can share with others. Yup, a clean house by 8pm, cookies in the oven before bed, and listening to the sounds of night, thanking God I am alive.
Guess that explains why angry people offer the bird.
Was it worth it?
The door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, he sold you the world – and a bill of goods, but more than that he offered a chance to open your eyes, your horizons and without a doubt your mind. That was of course if you could make payments past the volume Aa-Az, otherwise you knew a lot about ants, aardvarks, Antarctica and Alaska. Yup cold as hell and the weirdest petting zoo anyone would ever care to see – but you could make conversation.
It was so much more though – the era, the people and what we wanted in life. Housewives were still desperate, but they read books at night, and tried to better themselves from the life they had sold out for, school was gold stars, talent shows and book reports, reading from SRA kits jumping a new color with pride and newspapers gave us home and the world, along with “funnies” that everyone shared, and laughed. A great way to open a family moment was simply to check in with Family Circus or Nancy and Sluggo, and someone was bound to say ‘hey remember when we did that…” I guess the common denominator then was “When we wanted to learn or enjoy something, we made the effort for it.”
My grandson asked me to buy him something the other day, we located it on the computer and he looked at me like I had a Jetson/Star Trek replicator and said “well, get it so the mail will come.” Okay, he is 4 but the reality is, that is who we have become. There is no thought into what we buy or look for; and it is a far cry from the Sears or Spiegel catalog which we pondered over, budgeted and waiting for the box to arrive. In a matter of seconds we jump onto EBay, buy something, pay for it online and in some cases, it really is at our door the next morning. But are we happy about it or just programmed to be complete?
We don’t really work for anything of value anymore. Information is digitized, and we are Tweeted, Emailed and Texted, minute by minute with updates of news, gossip and plain stupid, that after a while doesn’t even sink in anymore. The joy of hunting down a fact, feeling satisfied at learning something and then sharing it has all but disappeared, like the Fuller Brush Man (go ahead and Google it for the love of mike, so you have the concept). People just don’t ask what did you learn today, or anything new? And if they do, they don’t really mean it, because we all have the same information, and no one really looks past it for more depth or value. We’ve become a highly educated stupid society.
I’ve always believed if you didn’t do or learn something new each day, you have wasted that day in your life and it will never be coming back, waste enough of them and neither will you. When we become a person who lives on the bubble, it just as bad as being a bubble head. Why is it we have accepted the norm of having a 5 second delay ticker for updates and entertainment in our lives, when it is so much more gratifying and valuable, to take the time, walk away and discover it first hand, in depth and in full context.
One thing I always prided myself on was visiting the buffet of knowledge. Pick up a little of this and that, and you can carry on a conversation with just about anyone, and in the process add to what you already know. I suppose this generation does the same thing, but standing next to a group texting each other just isn’t the same.
Yes, the sky is blue – past that? John Tyndall in 1859 discovered when light passes through a clear fluid holding small particles in suspension, the shorter blue wavelengths are scattered more strongly than the red. This can be demonstrated by shining a beam of white light through a tank of water with a little milk or soap mixed in. From the side, the beam can be seen by the blue light it scatters; but the light seen directly from the end is reddened after it has passed through the tank. The scattered light can also be shown to be polarized using a filter of polarized light, just as the sky appears a deeper blue through Polaroid sun glasses.
Maybe that’s why Apple’s Suri is such a hit on the cell phone now – she offers more than just a quick ticker, and when you ask her a question if she isn’t busy – gawd did I really say that about an electronic application? She’ll give you an answer like a close friend. It’s almost as warm and cozy, as life when I grew up, and would “go ask my Dad,” which I did often, and we had great conversations, a wonderful relationship and memories I’ll cherish forever.
As for my life? Yeah, it was worth it – and I plan to make sure it continues to be that way, as I learn a little more here and there, so I can share it when the time is right, laughing at the card catalog in my head, which has nothing to do with Hallmark, and is yet another thing someone will need to look up to appreciate.
The Greatest Love
When the world was black and white, we all wanted Technicolor, and dreamed of the 15 minutes of fame that might come with it – now everything is an enhancement, in sound, photo and color. It wasn’t that we were dissatisfied with our lives back then or now; we simply wanted to see and feel how brilliant we might be. I don’t think there is a child alive who hasn’t tried on adult clothing, to see the sparkle, or try and fill the shoes; it is who we all are. If there was no desire to be more than the sum total of our parts, nothing would ever be accomplished, and forget black and white, we would be sitting in the dirt with rocks, eating apples, not blazing new frontiers with them.
In the last year of my mother’s long and very lived life, she could no longer bake pie. This might make you laugh and say so what – go buy one. Well, because she was black and white. Having been born in 1917, a woman was judged on her marriage, children and how she could bake, cook and sew. By the time she was 90, she was a widow, daughters grown, she couldn’t see to sew, didn’t cook much for herself and then couldn’t bake. To quote my father, she felt as useless as “tits on a bull.”
The thing is, she took it in stride, she didn’t buy a pie and slip it into her own dish to pretend she made it, or take sleeping pills to dream about how wonderful she once baked. Yes, she was sad, but she held close the memories of how wonderful things had been for her, and if she couldn’t bake them, she wanted to share her recipes with anyone who wanted them. Her funeral card even carried one for her famous sugar cookies. She said, after I am gone, maybe I can make someone smile over coffee, if they bake some and maybe they will think of me too.
Just because there are not a million eyes watching you succeed, doesn’t mean you don’t. And likewise, when you begin to slip or fail, those same million eyes may look away or condemn you, but it is no different, than feeling you have failed to the few eyes you truly love. Superstardom is just that, “super” life on a grander scale, and the same emotions we all share, are taken out of proportion. All any of us want is acceptance, but we are afraid to accept who we aren’t, who we once were, and look for ways to hide.
Today, in particular when yet again another enormously talented person has passed from life, we need to take a moment, and well – just be sad. We are the same creation of life, our needs and desires, not that different in the long run, but what is different, is what we are able to do with the special gifts we have and how they are received. The world of sports and entertainment is a Technicolor wizard for making things happen, appear larger than life (yes, just as frightening as the dinosaur in the rear view mirror) and memorable. When one of us attains status, it comes with great power and even greater disappointment, which I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t handle it.
We all have something that we feel is special about us, that we do well and most likely, it will never be elevated to superstar status. However, when it is gone or begins to fade with age, a part of us does as well, and there is no getting around the emotional pain, depression or loss we feel. We are emotional creatures of comfort and love – Be honest, when you have made someone you care for happy, there are no words for how you feel, and likewise when you let them down, the low you experience is bottomless. So why are celebrities that we elevate treated differently when it happens to them, just because we are all watching, making it worse.
At some point we creatures who love to be accepted, wanted and loved on every positive level, will discover we can’t make pie anymore, and it is tragic that society has pushed us into believing we are only what we can accomplish, and not the soul inside that has a vision. All that matters are the results, for those who cannot; the proof for them is indeed only in the pudding. So anti-anxiety pills, plastic surgery, lip sync performance, steroids, alcohol and every other thing you can imagine, which will numb the reality of our decline, will always be an easy way not to face our own music.
How idealistic it would be if when the moment starts to appear, when we forget an ingredient, burn a crust or completely fail, that we stand back and see not the waterfront, where we could have been a contender – but the watershed, where for one brief shining moment, there was a place called Camelot and it was wonderful. So when the day comes and someone says, hey didn’t you used to be…… we can laugh and say, sure was, and I still am!
Today, accept who you are, the talent and ability you have and have shared, and don’t condemn yourself when it is gone or if you fail. Change direction, be more than the sum of your parts, and find a new way to celebrate life, because just as life is not one dimensional neither are we.
Mom’s Sugar Cookies
|2 cups flour||1 Teaspoon baking powder|
|1/2 Teaspoon salt||1 1/2 sticks soft butter|
|1 cup sugar||1 egg|
|1 Teaspoon vanilla
Mix together either roll out thin or into balls to roll in sugar. Flatten balls down and bake 375 until golden 8-10 minutes
A Pickle by any other name…..
When did life become so boring and we have so much money to waste, that the need to cut and paste ourselves became a cottage industry? Children I can understand, most recently a blond haired nephew of mine, was found hiding behind the couch at a family dinner, were he had removed his shirt and with a black sharpie marker, illustrated himself ala Ethel Hays, but without the pancakes. If you have to ask, just know it was politically correct. I also understand tattoo art, my children have all been dipped in an ink well, one way or another, and my late father as much as he hated them in his old age, served his country and his tattoo parlor with pride.
What strikes me as bizarre is the need to send large sums of money to pierce places – painfully albeit, that very few, if anyone else will ever see, and likewise jewel or feather over something God already decorated, rather nice and practical I might add. If you are already shaking your head in agreement, read on – if not I would suggest the pickle option, and unlike a Seinfeld episode it doesn’t rhyme with a girl’s name, it is just a friggin Gherkin.
Am I to believe there is a rational need to spend from $200 and up for feathers and fur, to bring back a questionable practice from 1617? And again, in the moment that will arise, who cares if you look like a parrot – not the cockatiel you are planning to copulate with that is for sure. I have decided other countries must look at us and shake their heads in amusement, disgust and confusion. Seriously, where else on the planet, are people left unnecessarily underfeed and homeless, while others over feed their egos, and spend money replacing something they already had in the fur place.
I remember growing up the term pasties had nothing to do with kindergarten glue or dessert – at least in my house that is. They were also under $5 and could be written off on an IRS employment form. Yes, at any given moment, there is a need for self expression, a change of lipstick, a new pair of shoes, a hair style or yes, even some ink. But hundreds of dollars to just be blown to the wind – or something like it. Somewhere in the vast galaxy of the past and passing, PT Barnum is shaking his head wondering how in the world he could have been so blind, as to not have had a wild Merkin on display, because we have proved there is indeed one born every minute.
Snow really, I mean it
There are so many visuals when you see that word. Dandruff, non identical flakes, cold weather, bad television reception, drugs and a virginal young miss not wanting her heart to be cut out. Today, I had the weather variety, but had to face a dog refusing to be drug outside, who later gave me a nasty reception. I guess being a flake and having my heart cut out, or a bad hair day weren’t on the white horizon.
Aside from the cold, dangerous road conditions, and other inconveniences in this overly modern world we live in, I have to say it was peaceful. From early morning when I got up, the silence from lack of activity was wonderful, stunning, in an untouched landscape of sparking white, zeroing out all conflicting color, and activity. Having a day when I knew no one would be knocking at my door, was self reflecting and rejuvenating in a way. Indeed a snow day does have its privileges and I love when the time and space continuum calls them.
As a kid I had one of those great plastic magic slates where after drawing, everything disappeared with the flip of a page. I think that was really the beginning, for our understanding the need as an adult, for an occasional clean slate and later a snow day. God bless them both.
There is nothing wrong with taking a deep breath as an adult and realizing the need for flipping up the page and starting over. I think more of us need to do it, and stay in touch with who we are, and not who people want us to be or who they think we are.
I know tomorrow will bring rays of sunshine, melting ice, traffic, people in a hurry to reestablish routines and dogs who will welcome going outside again. My wish is this brief interlude will make us a little better for it all, and in a fairy tale of hope, we will have hearts beating a little more for those we meet up with, a crisp and untouched clarity for what we want to do, which will only enhance the reception we receive, that is if we don’t flake out – because when it is all said and done, no drug in the world can do better.