There’s Valuable and Then There’s Irreplaceable

         

          When my husband and I were newlyweds, one of our first homes (i.e. places to live) was a little rented abode (I would call it a cottage but honestly it wasn’t that picturesque), which had electricity but little else.  It had no running water and we heated it with a wood stove.  Our 2-B, 0-BA, house did not even have an outhouse.  With the help of my brother, that was built later and, when it came to temperatures of -40 below zero F, we quickly learned that a styrofoam seat atop the wood single-holer was a great luxury.

           Now, 30 years later, we live in a 4-B, 2 1/2 BA home.  In a sense, the kind of houses we’ve lived in has nothing to do with my topic for this blog except to point out that along the way I have discovered that some of my most valuable material possessions have little to do with price or market value.  

          After furnishing our various homes with everything from Garage Sale to brand new, and after raising three rambunctious boys, I’ve learned that broken antique plates, stained carpeting, broken vintage plate glass windows, and various other ruined “pricey” items, have never devastated me.  But, over these many years, there are certain  that I would be genuinely upset (i.e. freaked out) about if anything were to happen to them.  To list a few:

          * My kitchen scissors – Break a piece of my dinnerware and I merely blink.  But, if someone dares to borrow my kitchen scissors and fails to return them to the proper drawer…I   can   not   function.  I don’t even remember when I first got them; as far as I know, I’ve had them my entire marriage, maybe before.   I use those scissors   all   the   time.  They are one of my irreplaceables.

          * Another is a good nail brush.  Yes.  A nail brush.  For scrubbing toes and fingernails.  The one I had was wonderful.   I don’t remember how long I owned my beloved nail brush.  But one day, I finally had to throw it out after nearly all the bristles had either broken off or fallen out.  Little did I realize how hard it would be to find a replacement.  Seriously.  Aren’t nail brushes common?  I thought they were.  Until I started searching for another one.  Maybe I just didn’t know where to look.  I searched what I thought would be obvious places, like Bath & Body and the Dollar Store, with no luck.  I hunted for over a year and was without one until only recently when I found a wood nail brush with I-don’t-know-what-kind-of-bristles…at a little antiques shop in Amana, Iowa.  (BTW, the brush is new.)  Paid $2.50 for it.  It is now one of my invaluables. 

          *  My Melaleuca Vanilla Bean Sun Shades Lip Balm.     Do.   Not.   Touch.   It.  Actually, I mean them –  I have two – keep one on a little tray in my bathroom and another in my purse.  (I don’t even know the monetary price because my dear sister keeps me supplied.)  But, I come unglued when I misplace that little stick of lip stuff.  …Oh, Nancy, I am so sorry!  I just did a web search and discovered a tube of that is $14.99!  Are you serious?  That really is pricey!  And, it’s one of my irreplaceables.

          * My aluminum hair clips.  I’ve had them since I was a teenager…which was a while ago.  Okay.  I’ll give you a hint.  I suspect I’ve had them since Buddy Holly was alive.  I still use them.  Daily.   Have you ever noticed that some products just aren’t made with the same quality as they were years ago?  My hair clips fit that category.  Trust me, I’ve looked for new ones.  When I travel, I take crappy newer clips because I don’t want to take the chance of losing my good ones.  Monetary value – likely far less than five dollars – but to me, my retro aluminum hair clips are irreplaceable.

          Naturally, this is only a partial list.  Now that I think about it, it might not be a bad idea to make a complete list and take photos, and store the info in a fireproof strong box.  For insurance purposes, of course.

          What are some of your Irreplaceables?

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Breaking Out of the Mold/Box

I’m not sure where the boxes come from – whether it’s that people place us in boxes of their choice, categorizing us the way they want to see us – or if – by our own actions and attitudes – we train people to see us a certain way.  Either way, sometimes I feel so freakin’ much like breaking out of the “mold.”  There!  I did it just now.  I don’t usually say “freakin’.”   

I think part of my personal challenge is deciding what is appropriate “breaking out.”  But, by saying “appropriate,” am I placing new borders?  Okay…anyway…if there were no borders…and all things were possible – here’s a Starter List of things I’d do differently…even though I’m old enough to be a great grandmother…

* I’d wear short skirts and multi-colored striped tights.

* I’d wear false eyelashes.  Sometimes.

* I’d wear hats.

* I’d wear long skirts.

* I’d wear dresses almost all the time…and many of the styles would be from the ’30s and ’40s.

* I’d wear gloves – even to Walmart.

* I might be meaner – i.e. tell people off who are cruel to me or others.

* I’d party more.  And dance a lot!

* I’d have a clothes line…and use it!

* I’d talk a whole lot more about what the Bible says, because our society has strayed so far from it and I personally want to go back in that direction…and…because I see so much pain in people’s lives and the Bible has answers.  God’s ways work!  They really do!

* I’d play music loud.

* I’d shred junk mail without opening it.  (Gasp.)

* I’d host a lot of parties (if I had the energy).

* I’d decorate a room in my house with decor like Famous Dave’s restaurant – i.e. – A ’40s hunting cabin.

* I’d keep adding to the list…

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LAUNDRY DAY

 

 

Monday – sorting – and washing laundry day .

 

Tuesday – washing and drying laundry day.

 

Wednesday – folding-and-putting-away – and more washing – laundry day.

 

Thursday – hero coming home from out-of-town business trip, thus more laundry, laundry day.

 

Friday – another sorting, wash/dry/fold and put-away laundry day.

 

Saturday…

 

What I want to know is, how did my mother do it with

 

eight kids

 

a ringer washing machine

 

and a bag of clothes pins?

 

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Corona 1, Robins 2

 

Came home from NC and discovered three little robin heads peeking from the nest under our front porch eaves.

 

 

Yesterday one decided to try his wings…

 

Fledgling # 1

Fledgling # 1

 

…and became a victim to the neighbor’s cat last night. 😦  Hero tried to rescue it but, alas, the damage was done.

 

Darn you, Corona!  Yes, the cat's named after the beer.  I love our neighbors and the cat, but right now he's not my friend.

Darn you, Corona! Yes, the cat's named after the beer. I love our neighbors and the cat, but right now he's not my friend.

 

Just now I heard a clunk! on our front porch and, sure enough, a second fledgling is now sitting on the concrete looking helpless.  Oh, whew, it just made its way up to my potted pansies. 

Aren’t those little tufts on his head the cutest?

 

Meanwhile, baby robin number three calls forlornly from the nest… 

   

 And I declare to Corona that they are NOT your supper!

 

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Six-day Riddle Solved

 

Though I flew home Monday, I’ve still been flying by the seat of my pants since we arrived.  I am not yet unpacked.  But, there are priorities, after all, so here’s the solution  to the Six-day Riddle (good guesses, by the way):

 

The photo was taken in Embera Drua, located on the Upper Chagres River in the Panama rainforest.  We reached the village by motorized canoe. 

 

 

 

 

I was captivated by the accounts of Miguel Flaco, the botanical doctor, who described the medicinal properties of local vegetation.  

 

 

 

In the mystery photo, Miguel shows the scars left by the bite of a venomous Bushmaster snake, the largest pit viper in the world (which reaches a length of from eight to twelve feet).   When asked if I could photograph his scars, he obliged by hastily picking a leaf  to display which type of plant saved his life.  Look how far apart those fang marks are!  

 

 

 

He said that normally a medicine is made from the plant but he was alone when the snake attacked so all he had time to do was pluck leaves and eat them before he passed out from the poison.  (Added: He also noted that the leaf is shaped like a heart…apparently a clue as to its healing properties.)

 

Needless to say, it was the trip of a lifetime.  I could post dozens of photos, and pages of copy about the amazing adventure, which I took in the summer of 2005.  It was in the Embera village where I had my first taste of Tilapia (fish), prepared by the local women.  Delicious! 

 

 

 It is perfectly okay to laugh at this photo.  Everyday in the Panama rainforest was a bad hair day for me.  Never had my tresses experienced such humidity.  Donning the cap was the only way to prevent a mega-fro, which, as you can see, was escaping anyway. 

 

Okay, enough.  Riddle solved.

 

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Six-day Riddle

 

 

As I wrote in my last post, I’ll be traveling for the next several days.  So, I thought I’d leave you with a riddle to work on til I get back around the 2nd. 

 

I took this photo.  It’s untouched.  It’s the real deal.  Where is it?  What is it? 

 

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Memorial Day Birthday

 

      For most of my married life, my birthday has been lost in the shuffle of Memorial Day weekend.  Time and again it got overlooked because we were out of town or busy with other activities.  So my birthday has become basically a non-event.  Not that we didn’t acknowledge it, it’s just that it was never much of a celebration. 

 

         About this time last year, I was with my sister reminiscing about the simple two-layer cakes our mother used to make for us eight siblings on our birthdays.  “It has been so many years since I’ve had a ‘real’ birthday cake,” I told her.  I couldn’t even remember the last time.

 
     As we chatted, I got excited.  I got bold.  I decided I was done ignoring my birthday.  I determined that I wanted to have an old fashioned two-layer birthday cake once again. 

 

     My heart’s desire was to celebrate with my siblings but we live 4 1/2 hours apart and that didn’t work.  So, after my birthday, one sister emailed asking whether or not I got my cake wish.  I wrote back:

 

Dear Sis, 

 

      Yes, I got my two-layer cake.  I made it myself.  I used a Duncan Hines yellow cake mix.  Not quite as homemade as I’d originally envisioned, but both layers baked fine. 

 

       For the filling, I chose Smucker’s Seedless Raspberry Jam and Orange Marmalade.  I planned to put one flavor on each layer and then put the two together.  Then frost the whole cake with orange whipped cream, and beautifully display my masterpiece on Mom’s vintage cake stand.

 
      As I worked, trying to get the right flavor mixture for the whipped cream topping, I pinched a bit of the cake out of the center of one layer to taste with the frosting and fillings.  I did that three or four times while trying to get the orange flavor just perfect.

 
      I placed the bottom layer on the cake stand and applied the Raspberry Jam.  Then I picked up the top half on which I’d spread the marmalade, but it stuck to the waxed paper I’d set it on.  With fingers spread wide, I attempted to balance the whole layer with one hand while peeling the paper off with the other.  However, because it was weak in the center from my taste tests, it broke in two.  One half plopped on the counter.  The other was still in my hand, stuck to the waxed paper. 

 

         “Well, no problem,” I thought.  “I’ll just put the two pieces up there and cover it with whipped cream; the break won’t even show.”   I picked up one half and positioned it on top of the bottom layer. 

 

       Now, as you know, a nice two layer cake is mounded highest in the center.  And mine happened to be a nice cake.  So before I could get the second half off the wax paper and on the top, the first half started moving.  The jam and marmalade fillings made perfect conditions for an avalanche.  With great glee, that first half started down the slope and was picking up speed.  I ran to the cupboard for toothpicks. 

 
      I finally got them to stay put.  But even impaled with all that wood, those two pieces would not stay together.  There was definitely a Grand Canyon divide down the center.  Jam and marmalade oozed out the sides and down the cake, puddling around the edges of the cake stand. 

 

       I got out my specially-formulated Orange Whipped Cream and tried to camouflage the whole mess with the creamy topping.  Have you ever tried putting whipped cream on a porcupine?

 

       My original idea was for a nostalgic “like-Mom-made-when-we-were-kids” birthday cake – the kind with a simple buttercream frosting.  The whole problem occurred when I decided to embellish.  I have learned my lesson.  No more fancy, schmancy two-layer cakes for me. ”

 

       Love, Your Older Sis

 

      Well, here it is, a year later, and  Memorial Day Weekend to boot.  Wouldn’t you know, we’ll be traveling.  Again.  On my birthday.  Which is the 28th.

 

     I still want an old-fashioned two-layer birthday cake like mom used to make.  Still looks like I’m going to have to make it for myself, too.  Wish me luck.

 

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