My Grandfather’s Chair

Growing up, I spent every Friday night at my grandparents’ home, only a few blocks away from my own.  And we were often in and out of their house during the week as well.  Like as not, when I walked in, I’d find my grandfather sitting in the living room in his favorite chair.

My grandfather wasn’t what you’d call a smiley man.  His resting face was grim.  But he’d beam when I entered the room.  “Hi, Granddaughter!” he’d say.

Always I remember him in that chair, his ash tray stand to one side, the table with the reading lamp and the clock with the numbers that flipped on the other, his feet propped on the ottoman while he watched the nightly national news, or Lawrence Welk, or his soap operas, or as he read Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.

Sometimes I’d watch t.v. too, with him cautioning me not to sit too close to the big cabinet television with the record player in one end of it. “You won’t be able to have children when you grow up,” he’d warn me.  Sometimes we’d play checkers on the ottoman.

Granddaddy died on September 24, 1980.  It was my first encounter with death.  I remember entering the house for the first time and dreading the sight of that empty chair.

Granddaddy's Chair 2

When my grandmother decided to relocate to a retirement community, my mother moved into the house, and the furniture Mima couldn’t take was given away.  My little sister got the chair.  I took the Naugahyde recliner from the basement (which I believe was the predecessor of the chair I’m writing about).  It didn’t last long–my kids have always been hard on furniture.

I love old things and I love family things, and over time I had filled my house with items from my grandparents’ house.  I was the one who took that cabinet t.v., even though it didn’t work anymore.  I had the oil pastel portraits of my grandmother and great-grandmother, the Seth Thomas clock that used to hang in the living room, and so many other treasures that I took because I appreciated them and had room for them.  When our house burned down almost five years ago, I lost it all.  And felt guilty for being such a poor steward of family heirlooms and memories.

We’ve lived for five years in a house furnished by the love of friends and family.  We’ve even added a few heirlooms from John’s grandmother’s house.  Over time, the furniture has become ours, safe and familiar.

My sister moved at Christmastime.  She decided she didn’t have room for Granddaddy’s chair and she asked me if I wanted it.  She knew how much it would mean to me to have it.  It found a new home in our family room.

I had visions of spending time sitting in it, but honestly it isn’t a very comfortable chair, at least not for me.  Emily sits in it sometimes, but more often than not it’s inhabited by cats.  Still, it makes me happy whenever I see it.

 

Graddaddy's Chair 1

Contrite Catholic Giveaway

 

Rosalie 1

Y’all, isn’t that just beautiful?  The verse comes from one of my favorite passages in the Gospels, the one that ends: “Neither be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Isn’t that a message we could all use right about now?  How would you like to have this beautiful watercolor print to remind you of God’s constant love and care?

Well, maybe you can because this is a giveaway! But first, let me tell you a little about the artist.

A former atheist turned Catholic, Rosalie Contrite now strives to live for the Lord and spread His love. She works from home, blogs and podcasts professionally, and homeschools her children.  She sells the print above and many more via her Etsy shop, Contrite Catholic Shop.  You can also visit Rosalie on her website and on Facebook.  I know her via a Catholic Bloggers Group of which we both are members.

Her work is just beautiful.  In exchange for hosting this giveaway and promoting her shop, I will be receiving a print of my own and I had a terrible time deciding which one to get.  This is a picture of the one I chose:

Rosalie 2

Now’s your chance!  You can enter by visiting the link below:

Rosalie Contrite Print Giveaway

The giveaway will end on Sunday, July 24 at midnight.  U.S. entries only, please.  I will contact the winner to get mailing info and Rosalie will ship the print directly.  Thank you for entering!

Five Random Favorites

This is a pretty random list of favorite things that are on my mind this morning, so that I can link up with Mama Knows, Honeychild!
five favorites
 
1.  This popcorn popper

So we have lots of people in this house who are popcorn-crazy (also just crazy, but we won’t post about that) as you could tell if you came to see me because of all the popcorn in the couch cushions (and everywhere else too if we don’t clean up before you come).  And so we had been buying and eating lots of microwave popcorn, which as we all know is one of the unhealthiest things in the whole world.  Then I found a stove-top crank-operated popper we inherited from Grandma, but that thing was labor intensive, and heating oil on the stove to high temperatures is always a little scary.  And it was a pain to clean, so it was always sitting around in the way because I could re-use it without taking it apart and washing it but I couldn’t put it away like that!  Plus I was afraid to let the kids use it, so anytime anyone wanted popcorn (all the time) it was all on me.  So I looked on Amazon, ordered this, and my life was changed.  It requires no oil, and the little kids have already learned to use it themselves.  And old-fashioned popcorn is cheaper, so there’s that.
Which leads me to another favorite . . .
2.  These popcorn bowls

photo credit: sharsuniquefinds via ebay

Now, I would never in a million years have bought these, as darling as they are, because I don’t believe in buying single-use things that then have to be stashed away somewhere taking up valuable space and like as not getting ignored in favor of something more convenient most of the time.  But these came with the house–the prior renters left them, unused and still in the box, in the garage.  And we have a cabinet right over the stove that is too high and inconvenient to store things we want to use all the time in, but still accessible enough to get to.  So we use these every day, and the big one conveniently fits right under the opening of the air popper, and holds exactly the amount that 1/2 cup of kernels pops into.
Of course we put real butter on our popcorn, which leads me to another favorite . . .
3.  My butter dish
butter dish
I like to leave my butter sitting out on the counter.  Before you start worrying that it will spoil, please understand that between cinnamon toast, popcorn, and using it for cooking, we use about a stick each day.  And hard butter won’t spread, which is such a nuisance.  So I used to just leave it sitting out on a small plate.  But the cat would lick it whenever he got a chance.  I’ve seen the other things he’s had in his mouth, so there was no salvaging that butter!  Now the lid keeps the butter safe.
4.  My new coffee cup
red coffee cup
Emily bought this for me at Wal-Mart the other day, just to be nice.  That’s enough of a reason for me to like it, but I also like the way it looks sitting on the counter waiting for the next cup of coffee.  It makes me happy.
And now I am seeing that this post really does have a theme after all, so I will add one final favorite . . .
5.  My red kitchen

food tomatoes
You can read more about it and see more pictures here.
That’s it for this week!  Please visit the linkup for more favorites!

Sanctuary Redux

I promised a while back I would post pictures of my new bedroom furniture once it was in place but then Christmas came and you know how that goes.  Anyway, the lighting in my room is not the best but you can get a decent idea in the pictures below:
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There’s a cedar chest at the foot of the bed that matches as well, and there’s another chair.  That’s not the bed that goes with it–that one is a double bed and too small for us–but the one from the set we have harmonizes well enough, don’t you think?
And yes, once the old stuff was out I was okay, and I’m used to it, and I still get that good feeling when I walk into my room. 🙂

Embracing Change

I don’t like change.  I never have liked change, and anyone who knows me well knows this about me.  Now I would assume that it would be hard on ANYONE to lose every single personal possession to fire, to have to move into a new house with all new things in it, but it’s got to be even worse for a person who is resistant to change, right?
For a long time I felt kind of like a stranger in my own home, like I was just staying in a really nice hotel.
But my bedroom was different.  It quickly began to feel like home, safe, a sanctuary.  The furniture we were given for that room is nice furniture–French Provincial in style, like the bedroom set I grew up with (gone in the fire because it had been passed down to Emily), but made, I think, of walnut.  Someone gave me a bedspread that was just like one of Mima’s that I had.  I put out Mima’s afghans that had come back to me.  I filled the room with books.
Most of the furniture we lost in the fire was antique or at least vintage, most of it acquired from my friend Antoinette’s store, Myrtle’s Mess.  It exactly suited our Victorian house, and it suited my taste as well.  We had pieces from many eras, and I grew to love the Art Deco style.  We had a cabinet radio, two bureaus, and a wardrobe for this era.  They were scattered about the house but I cherished a vision of the future when these pieces would be united in one room and maybe I would get more of them.  My Granny had the waterfall style pieces in her bedroom, which may have been one reason I felt drawn to this style.
Now, John’s grandmother had an absolutely gorgeous bedroom set.  Below are pictures I took of it right after her funeral.  You can just ignore that person who appears in the mirror. 😉
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I had coveted that furniture for YEARS, and Grandma knew it, too.  She had told me directly that I could have it when she was gone.
And last weekend was the unexpectedly early moving day.
Problem was, when I took the above pictures, I had JUST FOUND OUT (like, less than 24 hours before) that my house had been burned to the ground, that I had nothing and that I was homeless.  Whereas, now, I’ve been living in this house, in my sanctuary bedroom, for over a year.  And whenever I started thinking about the new furniture coming, I started feeling strange, almost panicky, like I even might start to cry.  And yet I knew I loved and had always wanted the furniture, and that moreover ours is the only suitable room for it in the house.
I understand what was going on with me psychologically, that the resident furniture was a comfort to me in a traumatic time and that was why it was so hard to let go of.  But those feelings definitely added to the stress of last weekend, as did memories awakened by the cleaning out of the garage (the subject of my next post, probably).
But I did it.  I embraced change, and in a day or so I will have pictures of my newly-decorated room to share.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

I love sharing pictures of my new house with you and I hope you like seeing how far we’ve come since September.  The reason these postings are few and far between is that the rooms have to be clean before I photograph them (got to keep it Pinterest safe!).
Today’s feature is Lorelei’s room.  Her room makes me really happy because it is a blend of a few salvaged things from our old life and new things that were given with so much love.
I also love it because she’s seven and it’s about time she had a nice room to call her own.  When she was born we still lived in our big Victorian house.  There were four generous bedrooms and one small one–so guess who didn’t have a room of her own?  Not that she cared–she slept in bed with Mommy and Daddy, we kept her clothes in a dresser in William’s room, and her toys were in a basket in the den.  We were excited when we moved to the next house–there was a small room just right for Lorelei.  There were problems, though.  No closet–except for the utility one with the leaky, noisy AC equipment.  Her room was part of what had originally been a mother-in-law apartment, which meant she had to go through Teddy’s room to get to hers–and Teddy did not always want her barging in.  Finally, it was a long way to Mommy in the middle of the night!  Inevitably, she ended up sleeping with us again.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Her room suffered only water and smoke damage, so we saved a few things, some of them quite precious, as you will see in the pictures.
This picture (one of a pair) hung on the wall of my Uncle Walter’s nursery, just about 100 years ago.   My grandmother unearthed them when my little sister was a baby, and they hung in her room throughout her childhood.  When we moved to the Victorian house, we put them in William’s room (he was the baby then).  I don’t even remember why, but they were not hanging up at the time of them fire, but were in a sheltered spot in the basement where they suffered very little damage.  My middle sister had them reframed behind special glass to preserve these treasures and now I have them back–the only family heirloom I have left.

Detail from the picture above

Here’s another picture that made it.  Actually all the pictures on Lorelei’s walls were saved, but most have now been relocated to other ares in the house–including a couple now in the room of their original owner, big sister Emily.
One of the very first people to respond with concrete assistance after the fire was Laura, a friend from law school days whose generosity I wrote of in an earlier post.   Her little girl is growing up and was ready to part with her four poster bed and matching mirror, and her Disney Princess lamp.  And Laura loaded all this up in a U-Haul trailer and drove to and from Nashville (that’s six hours round trip, folks) less than a week after the fire.  Did I mention that we had not even seen her in over ten years?  I hope it won’t be that long until we see her and her family again.

A bed needs a mattress and sheets and pillows and such, of course, and those were provided by friends from church.  They had them ready long before we had a house to set them up in.  Aren’t they pretty?  And other people provided spares, both old and new.
We used an end table (and where it came from I couldn’t say) but we still needed a dresser.  Enter more Good Samaritans!  If you live in Knoxville you’ll have heard of The Brown Squirrel furniture store.  I’ve been hearing the commercials my whole life!  And its owners have kids at KCHS.  Mrs. Matthews came by the house with a notebook and a measuring tape, asking what we still needed.  Within a couple of days, we had a dresser and a rocking chair.

Note the afghan, another treasure salvaged from Lorelei’s room. It’s the one Mima made for Teddy’s crib.

One last piece of furniture rounds out the room–the fanciful bookshelf below, which was a gift to Emily on her–I think–seventh birthday.  I did the best I could, but it’s still a little sooty.  Like so much of the furniture we once had, it came from Myrtle’s Mess.

Oh, and did I mention the closet?  No one likes to think of a little girl having all her pretty clothes burn up.  When it came to donated clothes, Lorelei won the jackpot.  I had friends I’ve never even met in real life mailing her boxes of beautiful things.  So thank goodness that her new room also has a walk-in closet!

Here is Lorelei on her very first night in a new bed in a new room in a new house:

Just don’t ask me where she sleeps now.
 

Red Red Red

In my pre-fire life, I used to think about redecorating my kitchen.  Apparently some people actually do that kind of thing, but in a single-income seven-member family, you replace things when they break with whatever you can afford–you don’t “redecorate.”  Granted after twenty-some years of marriage and five kids, most of what we had started out with had been broken and replaced already. Nothing matched, and I’d quit caring.  It was so miserably hot that I spent as little time as possible in the kitchen anyway.
Still, a girl can dream, and I used to dream of a red kitchen.
Post-fire, the kitchen was gone along with everything in it.  Located next to the garage which seems essentially to have exploded, it was incinerated.  Shards of dishes were buried in the ashes beneath the former location of the cabinets where I kept them.  Jake dug through the ashes where the pots and pans were kept, hoping to salvage my favorite cast iron pot, but its bottom was gone.  The only things that remain are two spoons we found in the yard, some plates and cups that were left out in the car, and the last remaining fork from our wedding flatware, which Jake retrieved for me from the blackened hulk of the dishwasher.
One of the first of many, many gifts we received post-fire was a set of Paula Deen cookware.  And it was RED.  Suddenly I realized that redecorating was a necessity and the red kitchen could be a reality.  Happily, the palette of the new house lent itself harmoniously to the red theme.  Target gift cards supplied coordinating appliances and accessories–it’s actually amazing how many red kitchen things there are!  Serendipitously red kitchen gadgets arrived from friends as if by magic.  Even the donated dishes (I’m still way too thrifty to buy red dishes when we were given at least three separate sets) harmonize with the redness, and I find their definite late-80s vibe comforting.
Our new kitchen is open to the adjoining family room, so there are a few red accents there too, and I got a red rug and hung some red pictures down the hall to the office.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and it makes me happy every time I look at it (when it’s clean, that is).
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New and New to Me

For seven years, our family lived here:

It was built in 1889, and parts of it didn’t seem to have been replaced since then.  It had been patched and smoothed over so that we did not realize what we were getting into until it began to disintegrate around us.  We are not handy and we could not afford the extensive renovations it needed and deserved.  But we loved it, and no modern home will ever have that much personality.
To go along with our old house, we had lots of old furniture.  John’s first apartment was furnished with his grandmother’s old living room furniture and his grandfather’s old bedroom furniture.  We added my old bedroom furniture and then started acquiring things from my friend’s antique shop.  The old furniture suited the old house.  We had armoires, a secretary, a sideboard, bookcases.  As older relatives died, we inherited heirlooms, an old cabinet radio, paintings, clocks.  Almost everything we owned was pre-owned, and we loved it all.
Well, it’s gone now.  And maybe it would be out of place in a four-year-old house anyway; I don’t know.  One thing’s certain:  we don’t mind at all that all the lovely things we have now are only new to us, because that is what we are used to.  That is comforting.
Here is a picture of my favorite piece of furniture we were given:
This came to us from a church friend.  It was her mother’s old kitchen table.  I can’t tell you how delighted I was when I saw it. (I had not idea about most of the furniture until it arrived in our home the day we moved in.)
My grandmother had a table that was very similar.  This was the kind of kitchen table a lot of people were still eating on when I was a little girl.  And someone even gave me some Melmac if I want to be even more authentic!
Here’s a close up:

This little breakfast nook turned out to be the perfect spot for the table:

 
I think that John thought the table’s placement there was temporary and that when we get the Queen Anne dining room furniture from his grandmother’s home would would be moving the oak dining set from the formal dining room into the kitchen.  But he is wrong.  This is not going anywhere.

Some old things you treasure just because they are old.  Others are special because of their history, their sentimental value, their family connections.  Someday I will write a weepy post about some of the heirlooms that are no more.  For now, I will just say that I feel sick at the thought that so many things no longer exist to be passed down to the next generation.
That’s one reason I was thrilled to acquire the item below, which while currently brand-new, will become an heirloom one day:
This beautiful quilt was handmade for me by my friend Emily.  She blogs here about her various crafty projects in progress.  I am amazed by her talent!

Right now this beautiful heirloom-to-be is putting in its time as camouflage for the old office chairs that provide additional seating in our living room, nice side chairs being one of the few things that have not yet come our way.  It is also being used by John to keep him warm when he naps on the living room couch.