I’ve been trying to count only sunny hours lately. It’s challenging on many fronts. I know I’m not alone in this. But spring is on the way again, the days are getting longer and despite snow (!) warnings for this weekend, it will come. Just as it does every year.
Since I last wrote to you, I’ve been playing hooky but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. I’ve just been working on things on the personal side. SO many things have been put on hold for far too long and it’s time to get moving.
Two years later and we still have a storage Pod in the driveway…I think this wave of construction is finally complete. Now comes the task of bringing everything back into the house and either getting it organized or letting it go.
Looking at trim for new curtains
I’ve finally re-engaged with the remake of the living room, too. After 21 years, both the curtains and the furniture need rehabbing. For 2 years I have had a bolt of fabric standing in the corner, waiting for me to have the time to pick out trim and get it made into new curtains. As a closet interior decorator, this is a fun project. Except that I am having a dickens of a time finding fabrics that I actually love. I’ve been hitting all the fabric stores for 3 months now and have yet to find a combination that gets me really excited.
Major pruning and garden clean-up is underway
I’ve also managed to get some much-needed time in the garden. It had been so neglected for the past couple of years that I felt really sad every time I went outside. There’s a ways to go but at least we’ve made a start. I’ve gotten all the roses pruned and we’ve cut out a lot of dead stuff from the shrubbery. Garden beds are getting cut back and raked. And with this crazy weather – 75 degrees one day and then 35 the next – Mother Nature is pretty confused. With this last stretch of warm weather, all the cherry trees are in full bloom, the daffodils are already on the wane, and even the hostas have broken ground. We are about a month ahead of schedule! People love the warmer temps but, honestly, it is not a good thing. We’ve already had to cut the grass for goodness sakes!!!
The other thing I’ve done is to make 2 trips home to work on sorting my parents’ house out. This last trip, at the end of February, was concentrated on getting their bedroom cleared out.
This is the view from one window in my parents’ bedroom. Pretty special.
As you may imagine, it’s been a bittersweet project. My dad has been gone since June 2011 and it is still really, really hard for me to part with his clothes. But my sister and I managed to go through all their clothes, separating them into piles for the church rummage sale, those that were good enough to go to the hospital commission shop in town, and those which just weren’t good enough to go anywhere.
This process has taken me back to the 10 years I spent doing estate sales. I know how to clean out a house. But when it is a house that your parents built and lived in for more than 60 years, it’s an emotional minefield and not a task to be rushed. I am incredibly fortunate that I have had the blessing of time.
I stumbled across some marvelous finds. In the back of a closet was a large portfolio; when I opened it, I found a cache of handmade Valentines that my grandfather LaMotte (my mother’s dad) made for my grandmother. Every year of their married life, Grandfather made Grandmother a Valentine. Isn’t that wonderful? But these are not Valentines in the usual sense – they are HUGE. Some of them measure 2 feet in diameter!
Like this one from 1957:
Grandfather’s 1957 message of love to Grandmother
It’s in the form of a play that reads clockwise all the way around. I love everything about it. The thought of him cutting out all this stuff and pasting it together charms me no end. What a treasure. And what a testament to love.
In this same closet, way in the back on a shelf was a small metal box. When I opened it, I saw 2 rubber-banded stacks of correspondence. They were letters, telegrams, and flower cards people sent when both my sister and I were born. I had no idea that this stash even existed. I opened the top letter in “my” pile; it was from my godfather, “Uncle” Chuck Lloyd, congratulating my parents on my birth. And the tears started to flow. My heart felt so full and yet so sad at the same time. I couldn’t read any more. I just couldn’t. I put the rubber band back on and brought them back here with me for the day when I could sit down and read them all. And maybe just have a good big cry.
In a bottom drawer of my mom’s, I discovered 2 tiny perfectly starched embroidered infant dresses. Just these 2 little things – I’m guessing 1 for each of us – out of all the clothes my sister and I have had during our lifetime, my mother lovingly ironed and saved for herself to remember her babies. I don’t think I can explain the feeling in my chest when I unearthed these. It was overwhelming.
But there was more. I reached back in the drawer and found a large envelope. Inside were more letters. As I pulled out the top stack, I was looking at my dad’s familiar handwriting. The postmarks were all from 1950 and the dates were in perfect order: June to November. These were the letters my father wrote to my mother during their courtship. They met on a blind date of all things and I think it was love at first sight. He wrote her several times a week for the next 6 months until their wedding on November 25, 1950.
I was faced with a dilemma: read them or not? After all, my mom had burned her parents’ love letters, feeling that they were just too personal for anyone else to read. I feel a little differently. I think letters are a gift, a tangible reminder of your parents’ love for one another. But still…actually reading them is another matter altogether. In the end, I did read a couple of them and then slipped them back into place to save for the next generation.
A letter to Santa from my sister
In this same envelope were cards, all in my father’s hand – some from him (all with “to my darling” on the envelope) and some from us before we were old enough to write our own. There were some of those, too, once we started writing for ourselves. Valentines and letters to Santa and Mothers Day cards. What a trip down memory lane. And all of it gathered meticulously together in this single envelope.
There were plenty of less emotionally charged moments, too. I found my dad’s top hat from the 1940s for one thing. They sure knew how to dress back in their day. Times have changed.
Trying on my dad’s top hat
And there was this stuffed in the furthest recesses of a cupboard, all by itself:
I’m back home now, continuing to count my blessings.
I’ve been concentrating on Ginter Park Garden’s Club’s 4th Annual Spring Market. Once again, I am co-chair and I’ve spent countless hours getting vendors lined up as well as trying to get the word out. We have an amazing group of local artisans and vendors this year. If you are in the Richmond area on March 25th, please join us. We’d love to have you! You can find out about it here.
I’m off to the Philadelphia Flower Show next Wednesday! I’ve never been and am soooo excited! The theme is Holland this year. Windmills! Tulips! Oh, my!
Oh, and I almost forgot! The Beekman Boys, Josh (l) and Brent, were here in Richmond last weekend at the Garden and Home Show. I caught up with them on Friday. What a treat to get in a little visit with them.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Stay warm and don’t forget to set your clocks ahead Saturday night before you go to bed! Next week will be so much lighter! Yippee.
Soon, I’ll be back in the workshop making new treasures, too!
I’ll leave you with some flowers, the lovely Lenten Rose (hellebore) to cheer you. Til next time, xoxo