It once was lost, but now it’s found…

As my sister and I were working on our family home last year, preparing it for the estate sale, we were, naturally, overwhelmed by all of the ‘stuff’ in the house.  Stuff that needed sorting; stuff that needed to be thrown away; and stuff that needed to be saved.

The more we worked, the more we realized that the “saved” pile needed to be the smallest.  There was just no way either of could take everything; and frankly, neither of us really wanted everything.  So we had to pick the items that we REALLY wanted the most, and leave the rest behind for the sale.

As time wore on, we knew what we wanted.  We marked those items off and set them aside.  Beth took a few smaller items, and I took a table that was my Grandma’s that I really liked a lot, along with a number of smaller mementos and a few handy kitchen items.  It seemed pretty easy at the time, but in reality, it was quite overwhelming. And even during that time and long afterward, I kept wondering if there was something else I was missing.

When the sale came around October, I knew it was too late– I had to accept that whatever I took was what I got– everything else had to go to the sale.  And truly, that was the most important thing about it: every penny we sold went to Mom so she could pay for her assisted living care.  So whatever we could contribute to further that cause was the best for everyone.

After the sale, however, and after the sale of the house, I finally realized there was one item I wished I had kept: My Dad’s budding box.

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Roses by the house, 1974

Dad was an avid rosarian.  At one point we had over 250 rose bushes in our backyard, and that was largely due to his skill at budding and grafting rose bushes. Each summer, he budded close to 30 roses from bushes he either already had or that his friends had in their yards.  I’d watch him as he’d carefully perform the steps of budding new roses, and eventually he taught me how to do it.  It was one of those things that he and I enjoyed doing together– something we shared.

So this box meant a lot to me. But as far as I knew, it was long gone.

Until today.

My Aunt Rita held her annual family and friends picnic at Simmons Island earlier in the day, and we had just finished everything up.  I had my camera with me, so I decided to take some pictures around downtown Kenosha before heading back to Chicago.  I’d walked around for about an hour and was getting warm so I got back into the car for a drive around.  I was getting ready to “scoop the loop” down 6th avenue, when I suddenly turned onto 56th Street.  I saw the old Leader Store, where we used to buy our school, Cub Scout and Girl Scout uniforms when we were kids, and something caught my eye.  I hit the brakes and quickly did a u-turn and parked.  I couldn’t believe it… but it was my dad’s budding box, in the window, with his name clearly showing.  It was marked with a price tag: $20.

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Dad’s budding box in the window of the former Leader Store in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Dad built this box in the early 1970s, along with a few others for some of his rosarian friends. I believe he got the idea from another friend, or an article in The American Rose magazine; but in any case, he built it himself, painted it, and even painted the rose and his name in a distinctive script.  He used the box to carry all of his budding tools and supplies, so he could quickly set up shop when he was ready to work.  And use it, he did.  A lot.

It’s one of the last remaining items that showcases his art talents.  Many of them were lost or destroyed over the years, including a beautiful set of budding instruction charts that were wrecked when our basement flooded a couple years ago.  It truly is a one-of-a-kind, priceless item that we really cherish.  So to have it back would mean so very much.

There were no phone numbers in the window, indicating who to call if one had a question about one of the items.  The store was empty, so clearly someone was using the window space just to display these items.  I snapped a picture of the box in the window and sent it to my sister.  And then I posted it to a group on Facebook called “You Know You’re From Kenosha If…,” where current and former residents of Kenosha reminisce about things, places, and people they grew up with and remember fondly while living in Kenosha.  There have been some great, lively discussions and a lot of really great history shared in this group, so I figured it was the best way to find out some information about where the box was displayed.

Almost immediately, I started getting comments with ideas of who to contact, as well as a lot of support and wishes for me to get this box back.  By the time I got back to Chicago, the woman who placed the item in the window had sent me a private message on Facebook with her number saying to call her back about the box.

I called her once I got settled, and told her the story behind the box, and how I discovered it in the window.  She barely could recall how she even got the box, but she knew she liked it and thought it was interesting — and she wondered why nobody was interested in it or wanted it.  So in the end, she graciously offered it back to us, no charge.  I was moved by her generosity– even though it’s ours in heart and in history, it’s technically hers right now.  But I’ve discovered with people who deal in antiques or collectibles– it’s not so much about what you make on an item: it’s more about how the story is told, and what it means to someone.

Beth will pick it up later this week.  I’m excited to have it back in our family again.

A really nice example of the power of the internet, and specifically, the positive power of social media.  When good people are involved, it can do pretty awesome things.

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I’d like to add a plug for Janet Steinmetz at Black Sheep Mercantile.  Janet is the wonderful lady who has the box and offered to return it.  If you’re in Kenosha, please stop by and visit her store at 6227 22nd Avenue.

This used to be our playground

Peanut on the front porch of our house, 1970

Peanut on the front porch of our house, 1970

Mom coming out of the house, 1969

Mom coming out of the house, 1969

Uncle John and Peanut in the living room, 1968

Uncle John and Peanut in the living room, 1968

Me on the swingset and Peanut in the grass, 1973

Me on the swingset and Peanut in the grass, 1973

Dad and I in the backyard, 1972

Dad and I in the backyard, 1972

Summer with lawn chairs, 1971

Summer with lawn chairs, 1971

Roses by the house, 1971

Roses by the house, 1971

Dad and I watering the grass, 1972

Dad and I watering the grass, 1972

Mom's crab tree, 1984

Mom’s crab tree, 1984

Christmas in the living room, 1968

Christmas in the living room, 1968

Dad with me and Beth by the roses, 1978

Dad with me and Beth by the roses, 1978

Me with Beth on the swingset, 1974

Me with Beth on the swingset, 1974

Mom with Beth outside - 1973

Mom with Beth outside – 1973

Mom and I when I came home from the hospital - 1970

Mom and I when I came home from the hospital – 1970

Grandma on Dad's chair, 1970

Grandma on Dad’s chair, 1970

The family in front of the house for Beth's first communion - 1982

The family in front of the house for Beth’s first communion – 1982

Last night, my sister went up to Kenosha for the closing on our family home, where our family has lived since 1966. It’s the only home Beth and I knew from our growing up years until today.

Last year, after we moved my mom into her new home, we spent months cleaning (and cleaning) the house, getting the things we wanted out of it, and planning and executing an estate sale with the incredible help of The Balderdash Collection. In November we put the house on the market, and yesterday it was sold. Pretty incredible when you consider the market today.

A few weeks ago, I stopped in at the house and took one last walk around. Although it was completely empty, I still could see everything the way it was, and I could remember things that happened in every nook and cranny. Where I’d listen to my music. Where my mom would sit and look at the crab tree in the front yard. Where we sat at the dinner table. Where we’d sit and watch TV as a family after dinner. Where my sister and I played together and made up silly games. Where fights happened. Where good and bad news was learned. Where my Dad died. They all happened there.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a place as special as this… but it’s time. We have a lot of wonderful memories there, and we’ll never forget those. But now it’s time for new memories.  In new places.  And now, someone else can make memories in our old home.  I hope it has as many good things in store for them as it had for us.

Hello, yeah, it’s been a while…

Last post: October, 2011.

Yikes.  I really gave up on this place, didn’t I?

At least this is still here.  I somehow managed to keep it alive, even though I haven’t posted anything.

So I guess my first question is, what’s the purpose of having a blog anymore, especially if you’re an independent, personal blogger?  Blogging is very different today than it was in 2004, when I first started blogging.  Back then, it was the “new thing” that everyone was doing.  This was pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, heck even pre-MySpace.  There were no Social Networks around to keep everyone connected.  They were in development, to be sure — I think Friendster was just starting out at the time (remember that?) — and old-time bloggers will remember Tribe, which was a very early precursor to all that came later.

When Facebook started, you had to keep your posts to the (fairly common) standard of 140 characters, just like Twitter.  However today, you can post full articles.  Most bloggers prefer to do their blogging on Facebook– it’s easier to maintain, all of your readers are already “friends,” and you don’t have to republish anything.  The drawback, of course, is that you can’t attract new readers from outside your friend ‘circle’ unless you make your posts public and hope that it gets shared to the point it goes viral.  It’s a rare thing, but it does happen from time to time.

I decided to use Facebook in this way for the last year.  I grew tired of having to bounce back and forth from platform to platform when I wanted to get long-winded about something.  My friends who read this blog (there aren’t many of you left) will probably back me up when I say I let my long-windedness fly free on Facebook lately, and that’s exactly why.

But all the while, I thought about my lonely blog, sitting here, still getting hits (occasionally) and waiting for me to come back and write again.  I tried to restart it a few times.  I currently have seven draft posts that never made it past the third or fourth paragraph sitting my in my drafts folder.  Titles included:

  • Dusting it off
  • Re-Launching… AGAIN.
  • I still own this blog.
  • What Whitney Meant (started right after Whitney Houston died)
  • Back on the wagon (about starting back at the gym)
  • 2011 – A Better Year (a year-end post that got way too long-winded, so I gave up on it)
  • 41 (about my 41st birthday)

So I guess I didn’t completely abandon this blog– I just never really got through a post to get it going again.  I’m hoping that I finish this one.  It’d be nice to hit “publish again.

After I lost my job in July, I figured it’d be good to restart the blog so I could write out my frustrations and feelings.  Or just have a place to let my creative juices flow again.  Didn’t quite pan out that way at the time, but now, six months later, I need it again.  So here we are.

So where will we go from here?  Hard to say.  Now that the writing cherry has been popped (sorry for the visual), hopefully ideas and words will flow more freely.  I’ll take less space on Facebook and more space here, and simply express myself.

And hopefully, I will figure some things out in the meantime.

Oh, by the way… Happy New Year!

Re-Launch: Dream Big

Steve Jobs was a dreamer… and a visionary.  The kind of person we all could look up to and admire.  The kind of person that we would all like to be– if we had that kind of drive.  

Thing is, instead of just dreaming, Steve Jobs did what he dreamed about doing.  If he had an idea, he went for it.  If he wanted to change the way people thought about things, he tried it.  He didn’t always succeed.  But for every failure, there is the possibility for a success. Steve Jobs never let his failures get in the way of his success.

The text used in the above image comes from an Apple Computer ad from the early 1990s. I couldn’t find the original ad anywhere online, so I re-created a new version of it using an image of Steve Jobs and the Apple Logo.  I hope I don’t get sued.

The story below was posted to my blog on October 22, 2005.  

 

Many years ago, I was visiting my cousin with my family. I was in my early twenties, just starting college. The year was probably somewhere around 1990-1991.

My cousin had a poster on her closet door. It wasn’t the typical poster for a teenage girl– one would expect Kirk Cameron or even still Duran Duran at that time– it was actually an ad for Macintosh computers. Macintoshes were still quite new at the time, and Apple was doing everything they could to make people realize what they could do. Their ads were moving and inspirational.

The poster/ad didn’t have pictures of icons or screens or a mouse or anything like that. It merely contained text and an Apple logo.

The text of that poster struck me immediately. I grabbed a sheet of paper and wrote down every word. And that text has stuck with me ever since. Every now and then, I remember this text, and it helps me to remember why I must continue to pursue my dreams in life. The text was titled:

Dream Big

If there were ever a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,
it is now.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily—
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that’s your aspiration,
something that’s your dream.

You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.
Have fun.
Dig deep.
Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
And there will be bad days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
pack it up, and call it quits.
Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,
that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea,
determination, and the right tools,
you can do great things.
Let your instincts,
your intellect,
and your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasting friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you.
And you will pass this way only once.

Do it right.

No matter what curve balls life has thrown me, I always remember that there is a greater goal ahead of me. I may not know what it is, and I many never know what it is; but as long as I continue to dream big and keep trying… and living… and loving life, I’ll find happiness, somehow.

Thanks for sharing this with me.

My TV Season Premiere Reviews (So Far):

The Playboy Club - B-

It’s got hints of the style and the 60s flair, but I wish it was kicked up a notch.  The mystery aspect is cool, and they do get the Chicago Way down pretty good.  The Bunny costumes and the club itself are pretty swanky, but I wish the hair and makeup were more accurate to the time.  If you look at pictures of the original Playboy Clubs, those girls looked FIERCE (and I don’t use that word often).  These girls look like 2011 gals with a bit of styling added.

Some of the acting is a bit stiff, and some of the characters are forgettable.

I think the LGBT storyline has potential.  Not many people know anything about the Mattachine Society, so this could be educational to them.  It makes me think about how many people had to live a lie just to live their lives back then.  We’ll see where this goes.

Still, it’s got Eddie Cibrian, who is never bad to look at.  And there’s a lot of great music to enjoy.  I hope it sticks around a while.

 

Pan Am – C+

I was expecting so much more.  It was just okay.  The costumes were great, the sets were awesome, and the music was fun… but the acting?  Flat as a pancake.  Aside from Christina Ricci, (who was a bit under-used in the premiere), I couldn’t really tell the girls apart.  And there is no way that kid would be captain of a brand new line of planes on its maiden voyage.  I’m not giving up on it yet.  I think it’ll build up to something fun, along the lines of the Love Boat without the cheesy comedy.  Maybe more like Fantasy Island?  We will see.

 

Revenge - A

I LOVED this show.  Far too many times when I watch new TV shows, I’m lost within minutes trying to figure out what’s going on.  Not here.  They did a great job of setting up the story, telling us who the characters are, and why they are doing what they are doing.  Emily VanCamp really surprises me here.  I liked her on “Brothers and Sisters,” but her character was so mousy I was worried that she could not carry this kind of show on her own.  My mind was changed almost instantly.  She draws you in and can actually kick some ass while doing it.  I think I will love her interactions with the delicious Madeline Stowe as the arch-enemy matriarch of the Grayson family.  Definitely looking forward to the next episode.

 

New Girl – C

Zooey Deschanel is as quirky as her name, and boy does she quirk it up on this goofy new comedy.  I missed the premiere episode, but saw the first 15 minutes because I programmed my DVR to record 15 minutes past the end of “Glee” for when it followed “American Idol.”  I enjoyed those 15 minutes and figured I would give the show a chance.  It’s cute and funny, if not a bit weird.  The guys are all douchey in their own special ways, but none douchier than Schmidt, played by Ugly Betty‘s Max Greenberg.  He thinks he’s all that, and he so isn’t.  It gets a bit annoying after a while. (Did anyone notice that he’s already stripped his shirt off for no apparent reason in each episode?  What’s that about?) I found the show charming, but I’m worried that it could get annoying after a while.  A few more airings will prove me right or wrong.

 

Still To Come:  Up All NightWhitneyThe X Factor, and I think I may need to program Suburgatory – just looks too fun to pass up.