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.

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Missed connections – years apart

Missed ConnectionsIn the past few days, I’ve had a couple of missed connections return into my life after many years.

The first was a guy I talked about in a post on this blog, and in my brief life as a podcaster. We met at a bar and hit it off great. We were going to get together for a date, but one roadblock came up after another, and we never did go out. We did remain friends though, and he ended up in a relationship.

A couple of days ago, I found that old podcast file and listened to it again. First, I thought how glad I was that I didn’t continue as a podcaster— It really wasn’t my forte. But second, I got to wondering about this guy and what was up with him.

The next day… the VERY next day… he signed up for an audition with the chorus.

Now is the universe telling me something? I don’t know. But I’m interested to see what happens here.

The second missed connection was a guy I met on gay.com many years ago. He lived in Chicago and then moved to Hawaii for a while. I found him recently on a, ahem, gay-related site, and we chatted and texted back and forth for most of the day. We might be getting together soon.

What’s with all these years-apart missed connections coming back into my life? I’m intrigued by this latest universal intervention. We shall see how it all plays out.

I Love New York – 33-29!


Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the bill allowing full GAY MARRIAGE in the state.  This is incredibly significant for equal civil rights, because the precedence set by this passage could pave the way for other states to pass the same legislation.

The bill was passed with provisions protecting religious organizations if they wished to not allow gay marriage, or to refuse couples from using their buildings and/or halls for such celebrations.  These provisions absolutely MAKE SENSE, because they are perfectly within their right to disallow such things under the proclivity of religious freedom.  The provisions greatly helped the bill to pass, and the bill passed with bi-partisan support.

It hit me earlier today that this historic vote falls as the anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969 approaches.  That this event is taking place now, on the eve of that anniversary, in the same state where it occurred, is incredibly moving.

I created the above image just as the vote was taking place.  The moment it passed, it became my Facebook profile picture, and within minutes, many of my other friends started to use it as their picture.

Feel free to pass it around.  And proclaim your love for New York loud and proud!

Happy Pride, indeed!

 

 

 

 

So… what the hell happened?

The GAP logo.
Image via Wikipedia

Last week, I posted this short paragraph to my Facebook account:

Just had an experience that is making me re-evaluate the way I live my life. I need to make some changes, post-haste. For now, though, I’m going to spend a quiet night at home.

The comments, emails, text messages and phone calls that followed were overwhelming.  In a good way.  Without even knowing the source of my dismay, my friends from far and wide reached out to me with words of comfort and encouragement.

Mom and Beth, sorry you are hearing about this firsthand– I didn’t include you on that post– I didn’t want to worry you.

So… what the hell happened?

Well, in hindsight, it seems kind of silly.  Really.  I wasn’t held up at gunpoint or told I have some life-ending disease.  I wasn’t fired from my job or evicted from my home.  Nobody was maimed or harmed in any way, shape or form.

Only my ego.  And maybe my self-esteem.  But it’s really my fault.

OK, enough with the setup– here’s what happened.

On Friday after work, I was preparing to meet some friends out for drinks and then head to a fundraising event for the chorus.  I was looking forward to the events, mainly because in the very near future, things were about to get really busy with the chorus show.  A last hurrah, of sorts.

So I decided to go shopping and buy a new outfit for the evening.  I needed some new shirts, as I’ve worn my short-sleeve shirts to death.  The most logical stop was The Gap, since there was one just a block away from my first stop for the evening.

I went in, and I found a couple really nice short-sleeve shirts and a pair of jeans.  I also looked at a new jacket, since it had suddenly turned colder that day and I didn’t have one with me; and the jacket I already have is starting to look a little worn.

I found XL sizes for the shirts, because that’s been my size for years now.  I had been working to change that, but in the past few months I haven’t been so good about going to the gym.  We’ll talk more about that in just a few minutes.

Anyway, I proceeded to the fitting rooms to try my new selections on.

NOTHING fit.

Absolutely nothing.

Not the shirts, not the jeans, not the jacket.  They were all too tight.  In fact, the shirts were so bad I couldn’t even bring the buttons together with the buttonholes, and I had a hard time getting my arms in the sleeves.

Now I could see if one shirt was bad, but two?  That’s just weird.  I’ve worn XL Gap clothes for years and they always had ample room.  But not with these shirts.  At the first attempt, I thought, “This has to be mis-labeled. ”  It felt like a MEDIUM, not an XL.  But I took it off, and it was definitely marked an XL.

Dejected, I stood in the fitting room and started at myself, then at the clothes.  What was this telling me?

  • I wasn’t going to buy anything that day.
  • I needed to fix this problem.

How did it get to this?  I was doing so well just a year ago.  And now I can’t fit into new clothes.  How did I fall so fast?

Then I started to feel humiliated.  All I wanted to do was get out of there and go home.

So I patiently gathered up my things, brought the clothes back to where I found them, sauntered out of the store, and went straight home.

That’s what happened, and that’s why I was feeling so low that day.

Now, in hindsight, I have a few thoughts:

First, there has to be something amiss with those clothes and the sizes.  I could see if they were a little snug, but to be so tight that I couldn’t even bring the buttons together seemed ridiculous.  I have never had that happen before, and I’m sorry, but I haven’t gained THAT much weight.  In fact, I had a doctor appointment the following Monday, which only proved that to me– I am still well under the weight I was at when I started my workout regime in May 2010.

Second, I don’t usually resort to the tactic of “Vaguebooking” to elicit responses from people… but I felt pretty vulnerable that night.  I almost deleted that post shortly after I wrote it, but after the responses started coming in, I actually did feel a lot better.  I can’t thank those of you enough that reached out.  You helped me greatly.

Third, I have made a promise to myself to get back to the gym once and for all.  It’s going to be tough at first, I know; but I did it before and I know I can do it again.  I can’t help but think of how well things were going last year and how great I’d look now if I had only stuck with it.  So I need to stick to it and keep thinking of the end result.  It will come.

Now I need to actually JUST DO IT!  Getting started is the hard part.  But I know that (second) first day back is coming very soon.  It will happen.

And a year from now, who knows… I may be wearing that MEDIUM after all.

But let’s just take things one step at a time.

Resuscitation/Procrastination

So you may have noticed that I’ve posted here again.

Yes– it’s been a while.

I think my last post was just before my 40th birthday.  Right about then I got busy with chorus and the holidays, and next thing I knew it had been a month or two since I had even checked my blog.

So once again, I abandoned ship.  Surprised?  Not really.  I’ve done it before.

Seems I’ve been doing that a lot lately– I start something gung-ho and then let it slip into memory.  Consider the casualties:  My blog, the gym, my intentions to date again… all have slipped me by at one point or another.  And all make re-appearances only to slip away again.

I posted today on Facebook that I was going to give up procrastination for Lent.  An ironic statement, being that I haven’t been a practicing Catholic in years; but the punch line made it funny:  I said I’d start on it tomorrow.

Yup, so many things get cast aside, and yet time keeps ticking along.  I guess in the grand scheme of things, some things have to remain constant.