Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why I Blog #87

...because I can't juggle cats.

In all seriousness, this question has been popping up a lot lately.

"Why do you do it? What's it all about, this blogging thing?"


It doesn't bring me money, or fame, or even a large amount of notice. My reader base is small, my subjects range from the inane to the personal. Some may even say I'm somewhat "glurgy". Mostly, my blog is words, ideas, pictures in my head that need a way out, or the filing cabinet that is the contents of my brain will topple over, spilling out all it's misfiled information onto my cerebral cortex, where they will short out my neural pathways, causing a fire.

Spontaneous combustion is never a good thing.

In other words, blogging is an outlet, somewhat artistic since I take a thought and flesh it out, like dabbing on details to a painting or adding a few spices here and there to a stew. I may take liberties, but not in a James Frey kind of way. My blogging is more literary (I dare say) that an "Oh, by the way, I bought a new pair of Jimmy Choos today" fashion.

See what I did there? I took liberty in that last sentence because me in a pair of Jimmy Choos would be like me laid up in the hospital in a body cast. No, wait, that is exactly what me in a pair of Jimmy Choos would be like because that would be the end result.

So, short of said money-fame-notoriety, I do get something out of blogging. It's the little kid in me, stomping my feet, sticking out my lower lip and demanding, "Look at ME!"

You are looking, aren't you?

Also, it possibly may be little baby steps towards a writing career. At this rate, I'll be that ninety year old lady just publishing her first book. But that way, maybe the editors will be kind to me.

*This is number 87 in a series of "Why I Blog" post, which may or may not have 86 previous entries.

Heart and Soul

I was thinking about the house, the one I grew up in, and the fact that soon it will no longer be "mine" in any sense. Many times I have gone over there when my dad was away for the summer, just to look around. There are a lot of memories in the house I would recall as I haunted the rooms. Some were mere shadows, others were as clear as a photograph.

Memories of Christmas and birthdays were clear and crisp and good. Mom liked to see our faces as we opened presents and soaked in the appreciation we showed her. Vacations were also a joy. We usually went to historical places like Boston or places of natural beauty like Niagara Falls. There was no knowledge or wonder in theme parks. We also spent time in Wisconsin many summers to visit with my dad's family. Leaving my home back then, just for a few weeks made me sad as I imagined the house empty, its large glass paned eyes watching us drive away. I would lie in the back seat, hiding my tears from my sister. I didn't want her to know that I cried for the lonely house. It seemed such a silly thing to do, but I could not help myself. The empty house looked melancholy.

See, I felt that the house had a presence, a soul. It was more than wood and glass and limestone. We even believed it to be haunted. Or maybe it was a playful little sprite who shone lights in the darkened attic, or made sounds of footsteps walking up and down the wooden stairs. Most likely it was just the fact the house was built in 1900, and its old bones were creaking, though the lights I could never explain. I have come to realize that the presence in the house wasn't ghosts, or sprites, or the soul of the house itself. It was the family who resided in it. It was us. The fact was made painfully clear, the first Christmas spent without my mom. The house echoed, even though it held our remaining family. My sister and I had left years earlier, but always returned for the Holidays and other family events. When we came back, it was if the house kept a place for us, and we slipped right in, like slipping on a well-worn kid glove. Our absence was temporary, and somehow the house knew that. Death, though, left not only an absence, but a deafening silence, never to be quieted, never to be appeased.

My dad is finally moving from the home I've known all my life, from it's converted coal room in the basement where his wine bubbled away, to the cluttered attic two stories above. As I walk around his new house, the house right next door to mine, I unlock the back door and walk into the kitchen where boxes of his kitchen supplies are stacked on the counters, one thought wafts through my mind.

"Welcome home".

For a house is just four walls, a floor and a roof. A home is much more.

Someday, the house I have known for over forty years will be sold and the new inhabitants, perhaps a family, will fill its rooms with bits and pieces of their lives. Maybe the ghost or the house sprite will entertain them with flashing lights in the attic and tease them with footfalls on the staircase. I am sure I will drive by and look to see how the old place is holding up. Will I feel a tug, a pang in my heart, a rash desire to run up on the porch and ring the doorbell, ask if I can have a glass of lemonade? Or will I just drive on by?

I will go to the place here my adult life resides. I will kiss my husband on the cheek, walk next door and have a beer with my dad, and go on the computer and find a silly cat picture to forward to my sister. I'll call my one daughter in Nebraska, and joke with my younger daughter who is still in school. I will hug my dogs and ruffle the bed-head fur of the cat. I will look fondly at the photo of my mom, the one I took one summer in the gazebo and realize that my mom is still here. For me, I have discovered, home is the people who inhabit your heart, not the structure that keeps the outside at bay.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My mother was a collector. She loved old jewelry, mostly old pins, which she would wear with great panache on coats, blouses, and even the occasional sweatshirt. There was hardly a day when she would leave the house when she wasn't wearing a large sash pin, or a small cluster of scatter pins. One of my last memories of mom was helping her pick out which one of her Christmas pins she would wear on the day she never lived to see.

In preparing to empty the house, which is somewhat like preparing to eat a herd of elephants, let alone one, with the help of my dear aunt and uncle, we bagged and inventoried her pins for auction.

We have counted over one thousand pieces of jewelry as of yesterday.

My mom never impulsively bought anything, for the most part. To think that over the years she inspected each and every piece she acquired is boggling. I can imagine her, standing in front of a glass case in some antique store, holding a pin or brooch that caught her eye. Not only would she examine the piece, turning it around in her hands, looking for hallmarks, noting the style of clasp which was a good indicator of age, she would envision where she would wear said pin; would it look nice on that denim blazer hanging in the back closet? The one that she planned to wear when the leaves turned the same amber shade as the stone in the piece in her hands?

She would then look at the price tag, question whether or not to but the item, as to which my dad would say to her, "Buy it." Dad would have never told her otherwise. Trite as it sounds, if my mom would have asked for the Moon, my dad would have found a way to give it to her.

This happened over a thousand times. I'm not even counting the other collections...the art deco jewelry caskets, the Nippon, the milk glass, the platters...

I have talked amongst family and friends, the torn feelings over dispatching with these items, how in some way we are selling pieces of my mom. Family member and close friends have been able to take some pieces home, pieces that spoke to them in some way. I have more than a few myself. Every time I hold them in my hands, I think about how my mom held them in hers, imagining the compliments she would gather like yet another collection.

But, practicality wins over sentimentalism, and as each piece of jewelry gets tucked inside a cardboard box, I imagine I am releasing a bit of my mom, for as much as she personified the jewelry she purchased, she was and is far more than a sum of all her things.