Excuse me, people!

We got an “alert” bitterly cold temps and snow.

Well, I’ll be darned. What is an “alert” about that? It’s been that way ALL winter, weather people. 

imageWhy not try this. Next time you “alert us” it’s because it’s gonna be 50 and sunny. Now, that would be something different.

Yah, how ’bout it?

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How does one get through life without a twin sister?

10410725_10203459787838583_2530156567021194094_nMy twinsie turned 56 today.  I hardly can believe it, she’s 56!  She’s a woman of maturity and strength, she has strong convictions and courage, she speaks her mind, she makes people laugh, she is humble enough to ask for forgiveness, and sensitive enough to hurt like no one else I know.

She is vulnerable, she is gentle, she has compassion.  She always sends cards on every occasion and often for no reason at all.  She was a beauty queen, she sings like she should be on American Idol (as someone hollered out at a funeral she sang at a few years ago, true story).  She’s a beautiful mother, and will soon be a grandmother, she’s an amazing wife, she likes her linen closets just so, don’t be willy nilly putting stuff away in her linen closets.

She’s unique, she’s understated and over the top all at the same time.  She’s shy, and she somehow can be the center of attention simply by walking through the door.

She rocks glasses like no one else I know. 🙂

She loves jewelry and has so much of it, it’s mind boggling, some of which has made it into my own jewelry box, worn home in my ears or on my wrist or around my neck.

She’s been my protector and my consoler.  She’s seen me at my worst and she’s seen me at my best, because she just sees the best in me.

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She has an eating disorder when she eats cake (JK) and she’s got a heart for the Lord, for humanity, for peace.

She’s the only person, besides my hubby, who I want to spend weeks at a time with, we work well together when the work is hard, and needs to be done, we will do it.  She’s Martha, and she’s Mary.  She’s an awesome cook, but she doesn’t cook much.  She’s chaotic, and orderly all at the same time.

She’s emotional, she’s romantic, she loves flowers and chocolates.  She snores, and she laughs when I take video of her doing it.  She’s got this slightly crooked front tooth that she hates and is always straightening, but it is something that I think defines her beauty.  A tiny flaw in a perfect face with deep dimples that are to die for.

She’s a silver maiden, come to that place with worry and concern, but finally she’s blossomed as her hair becomes what it is, silver and rich and she looks like Marilyn Monroe, and she loves makeup, and she’s a pro at it and when I am with her, I am as beautiful as she only because she radiates such grace and beauty, it washes over me.

We love our antique hunts, and she’ll give into me more than I would like to admit (there, I said it, she’s waited a long time to hear me say that, like years.)  She’s both stronger than me, and weaker.  She loves to have her toes licked by my dog (so do I, weird, right?) and she falls asleep when we watch movies.

She mostly doesn’t get the joke, and so when I explain it to her, it makes the joke so much funnier.  She makes me laugh like no else in the whole world, and that’s not an understatement.

She inspires those around her because she’s holding us to a higher standard, and she expects it of us, and guess what, if we don’t reach it, she’s the first to say how proud she is of us anyway.

Today is twinsie day, we are going to sit in a salt room absorbing all that purity of salt (okay, so we’re giving it a try) and we will have a 60 minute massage, and 30 minute reiki treatment for balance and peace (so they say, what the heck).  And we are open to the adventure, because life with my twinsie has been one adventure after the other.

Because I love my twinsie, and she loves me.

Yellow Daffodils in a Mason Jar.

It’s been a long winter, can I hear an “amen” on that?  Oh man.  Usually in the midwest we have at least a nibble of spring by now, but this year? Not even a taste.

When we were taking care of my hubby’s dad back in 2000, I’d see him staring out the window and ask him what he was thinking and he’d always say, “I’m just waiting for spring.” And sigh.

Spring — he thought spring would bring health and vitality and he’d be able to go to the grocery with us again, and sit out on the back porch, or sit at the kitchen table and make lists for our next trip to the grocery and talk for hours and hours.  Dad was a gruff grumpy guy who seemed like he had little to say, but he loved to talk to his kids and the man loved to make his lists.  And we loved him so very much.

His faith in spring was so endearing, but it broke my heart, because spring would not bring what he’d hoped it would.

Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his brain in October 1999.  We emptied out the apartment where he was brought as a newborn and his beloved fish swam in a red bucket at my feet as we drove out of the El Strip behind his apartment building.  He came to live with us after much discussion with the family, and it was here that he died almost six months to the day of diagnosis.

The first day I saw him staring out the window, I asked if he needed anything from the grocery as I was making a quick run.  He handed me his list–his beautiful black hand writing scrawled on the pale blue lines–and smiled sadly, and then looked back out at the scratchy tree limbs against the gray winter sky. It had begun to snow.

At the store I found daffodils, and I bought some of the green stalks with no blooms yet.  When I got home I propped the daffodils in a mason jar and set them on his dresser drawers.

Dad stared at the stalks and asked what they were.  “They’re daffodils and soon you will have your very own spring.” I answered and he looked at the green stalks and scoffed.  Didn’t much look like spring to him.

I shook my head smiling as I filled his little containers with snacks and put them “just so” on the table next to him.  “Just wait and see,” I said. As he clucked, and repositioned the little containers again.

The next morning, I got him up in his chair for his breakfast.  Overnight some of the blooms had been coaxed from their green sleeves, and bright yellow spring flowers bobbed in the pale morning light.  A smile spread over Dad’s face despite himself when he saw them, and he shook his head.  I could see that he was pleased as I dropped a noisy kiss on his forehead and he waved me off with a “Hrrmph.”

Spring had sprung somehow, even with a foot of snow outside our door, and cancer clouding our horizon.  Spring had come just for Dad in a tiny Mason jar.

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Treasures from the Trail

“See you soon”s said, and it’s time to get on the road and, I have the flu from the OFP (namely from my daddio, but I love you anyway. 🙂 ) And, twinsie and I had one place and one place only that we were going to get to on our way home and it’s an Antique Mall in western PA.  We stop there every time we head out to Dad’s and every single time we’re unscrewing and taking apart something so we can get it into our car and get it home.  I have no idea where these skills came from, except to say that when we are inspired, we can get it done.

This trip it was all about me, I don’t think Twinsie found a single thing.  Sometimes it’s like that.  Last year she found more than I.  But, we still love the hunt together.

Backstory:

In October hubby and I joined in the apartmenttherapy.com Style Cure and we painted our family room orange.  Yes, orange.  We’ve wanted to do that hue for a while, we have been accessorizing in orange with pops of color here and there to test the waters and have been digging it.  BUT, this was full on all over orange (maybe a little garish, if you will) with an accent wall of burnt orange.  Needless to say I spent a couple months having second thoughts.  But, how to tell hubby?  Yah, not gonna happen after three days of us meticulously painting. I was gonna love this paint color whether I liked it or not.  🙂 These photos are for you Found This Painted That, I promised!

This is ORANGE bordering on GARISH.  Eeek.
THIS IS ORANGE!!!

So, I began neutralizing the orange using gray for the couch and carpet, and shades of teal, red, navy, cream and golds.  It was getting there, but I needed something to tie it all in, we needed to shop the shops on our stops.

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Sweet little mud area off the garage door. I painted what was once a mustard distressed reclaimed window turned mirror using a deep gray. I was sloppy with it, so that some of the mustard would show through. Perfect with my yellow McCoy birds and other one-of-a- kind art.

Boom!  On our way out to dad’s we stop at this tiny antique shop in central Ohio, one that amazingly we’d never been before.  We opened the joint up, first customers of the day, and I head into the ladie’s room, EEEK! there was a framed Lucretia Hall (1773-1851) coverlet. Pictured below in “The Orange Room.”

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Perfectly ties in the colors of the room, and with an interesting history lesson on Lucretia Hall as well. LOVE the stories behind the finds.

On our way home, too sick to drive, Twinise driving through snow, sleet and wind, the Antique Mall was on our exit to the hotel.  Yah, so we gotta stop, she says, and I nod, blowing my nose and coughing.

Snap! We see this gorgeous mid-century wooden cart, and picture made with wood veneers, absolutely stunning.  And the perfect colors and pieces to tie in the colors of the room.

But, how to cram it all into the Jeep?

Where there’s a will there’s a way, and what I haven’t mentioned yet is the dining set that was Hedy’s that no one claimed.  Made in Denmark, it is a midcentury piece, that is awe inspiringly beautiful.  The mechanics, the craftsmanship.  We. Had. To. Get. It. In. The. Jeep.  So, we did with the Lucretia Hall tapestry.  Luggage in, and then of course this stop, which will now include those midcentury pieces.  By this time, the guys at this antique mall know us from our previous visits, and they watch as we divide and conquer the packing thing.  Even we are impressed as we were walking around steeling ourselves to the fact that this will be the time we won’t get it in the car and we’ll have to leave it behind.

Nope. Mission accomplished.

And the final result, using final loosely.  I find that when I bring things into our home, it may start one place and move to another, and yet another until it’s in its perfect place…for now.  And then, you know, I shop the house when I get in the mood to change things, and everything is new again and again.

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And finally the table and chairs.  I had a Crate n Barrel glass halo table with rattan chairs in our kitchen which we totally loved.  But, it only seated 4 comfortably, and 6 in a squeeze.  This table’s top pops off, and two leaves under it pull out on each end and then the top is placed into the center.  It will sit 8 people comfortably.  No more taking down the halo and putting up the old church banquet table that we store in the garage a few times a year when we had dinner guests or family over.  And such beauty and craftsmanship in golden teak.  It was a little worn in places, but nothing that Restore-a-Finish couldn’t solve.

We still can’t believe that we A) are able to have this beautiful table, and B) got it and its chairs home scratch free.  Meant to be. I’m tellin’ ya, meant to be.

Lily Belle is a happy camper.
Lily Belle is a happy camper.

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Next project if I find the nerve?  Painting that 70s hutch.  Stay tuned, and thanks for taking a peek at our Treasures from the Trail.

True Tales from the Old Folks Place…People and Conversations…We’ll See You Soon, Daddio.

On the drive from the midwest, we say Chicago, though we don’t live there, to the Jersey Shore, we hit every kind of weather you can experience in winter.  Sunny but with strong winds, fighting to keep the car on the road, to sleet, ice, snow and finally thick fog and torrential rain.  My knuckles were sore from gripping the steering wheel for two days after we pulled into the Old Folks place.

A word about the Old Folks Place, I say that, but the image you might conjure up might be different than what it really is.  It’s a beautiful apartment building, with wings coming from it for step down units.  The apartments are gorgeous, and each one we saw was uniquely decorated, I should do a blog on the stories from their belongings alone.  Most moved from larger homes and had to choose what they loved most to bring to their apartments.  There were some amazing old pieces, mixed with stylish decor.  Some had only antiques.  Other couples had twin beds.  One apartment had a tiny workshop area.  Each place brought the history of its occupants.

They get dressed up for supper.  Supper is served like a restaurant with several choices, and they sit with different people most nights.  The food is so good, twinsie and I love eating there and the company is even better.  Our father is handsome and dapper and the ladies all love it when he stops to chat, and the gents love to clap him on the back and have a few words.

Twinsie and I were all over the building for 10 days as we cleared things out of our Dad’s apartment to bring order, or ran to see Hedy at the Alzheimer’s Unit.  Here are some of the conversations we had, or overheard.  True Tales from the Old Folks Place…

In grocery before getting to dad’s, it’s inky black out, pouring rain with thick fog and frazzled nerves: Twinsie to stock boy:

“Hi, can you tell me where the pop is?”

“Pop?”

“Yes,”

“Pop?”

“Yes, pop.”

“Pop?”

“Yes, you know Pepsi, Coke. Soda pop?” (Voice becoming a little shrill.)

‘Oh, soda!  Gee, pop sure is old fashioned.”

*******

On the elevator at the Old Folks Place (OFP).

“Hi, ladies, did you just get your hair done?  You look beautiful.”

“Oh, thank you, we get it done every Friday, how’s your fatha?”

“He’s better, thank you. Have a lovely evening!”

Dedunk, thump (rolling their walkers over the elevator door) “Those are the twins..”.

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Beckie riding up the elevator chatting with a couple.  She’s wearing a long tunic and leggings with knee high boots.  After she gets off she hears: Man: “Boy, she sure has a short skirt on.”  “Smack” Woman: “She’s got on leggings…”

******

Dad after he’d been sick with the flu for a few days and his fever finally broke:  “Boy, I don’t know what I would have done if you two hadn’t been here to take care of me.  I would have been very frightened, and probably wouldn’t have had the strength to get the help I needed.” (Hear my heart break.)

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Woman we meet in the hall outside Hedy’s room:  “Are you twins?”

“Yes, we are.”

“I had six boys and finally got my girl when I had twins my final pregnancy.”

“Oh, how nice!”

“Her twin brother played on the Yankees!”

******

In Hedy’s room:

“Look!  Nothing here is mine, so what am I doing here, Frederick?”

“You are here because they are giving you medicine, and they have to see how it works, and then you can come home.”

“Where?”

“Our apartment, sweetie.” And she plops down on our father’s lap and they snuggle and kiss.

******

In the hall outside hedy’s room: “Are you two twins?”

“Yup, sure are.”

“I had 6 boys and got my daughter with my final pregnancy.  Her twin brother played for the Yankees!”

******

In the elevator:  “Are you the twins.”

“Yes, I suppose we are.” We say, bewildered.

“The grapevine is active here.”

******

Outside the elevator waiting for it to arrive having an animated conversation with a man who is obviously sick and pale, and his wife.  As we get into the elevator, she says. “He’s had a couple pints of blood today and has the pep to his step back, always feels better after…”

******

In Hedy’s room after we snuck down belongings and filled up her drawers so that she would feel at home.  We put photos out and little boxes in her drawers with inexpensive costume jewelry trying to make it exactly how it was in the apartment.  Each room in this wing has a large shadow box outside each door.  She refused to have anyone put anything in hers when she first arrived, no photos of her and our father.  She was mad at him for “locking me in here.”  We decided it was time to put photos in her shadow box that included a beautiful black and white photo of her and our father taken just five years ago at twinsie’s daughter’s wedding.

We were walking Hedy to her room and I stopped by the shadow box.  “Oh my!  Look at you in these photos!”

“Yes, I don’t know how they got there.  Your father must have brought them. Here I am with my mother and father and sister.  But all I really care about his this one.” She cupped her hands around the large B&W photo of her and our dad.

Inside her room, she asked us to sit and then putzed around moving things on her dresser and opening her drawers.  “I don’t know how my things got here.”  Turning around she put her hands on her hips and smiled.  “Do you think your father did this to surprise me?”  And she laughed and clapped her hands.  “I love it!”

“But, why am I here, I suppose that’s normal for people to say here, but look, I’m healthy!  Unless it’s here?” (she said, pointing to her temple).

Me: “Hedy, actually you are having trouble with your memory, so they are giving you medication to see if they can work that out and then you can go home to the apartment and live with dad again.”

Giggling with joy, she says, “Oh, that would be so nice.”

******

In the hallway: “Are you twins?”

Yep, we sure are, do you have twins?”

“Why, I do!  I have six boys and had my girl and her twin brother my last pregnancy.  He played for the Yankees, maybe you heard of him?”

******

At the table at supper: “You girls should come up and have a glass of wine with us.”

“Wink.”

Now, alcohol is prohibited in this building, but there are a lot of wine and liquor bottles in the recycle bin, and one of the ladies at the table is a faithful Baptist, and she doesn’t like such talk. But she’s good natured with the ribbing, and we all laugh.

******

My friend Harry is having pizza.  “Ugh, Harry, look at that flaccid piece of pizza.  That’s a crime.  In Chicago the pizza is so thin and crisp it would never bend and get sloppy like that.”

“You had pizza in Italy?”

“No, but I hope to one day.”

“They eat it with a fork and knife.”

“Huh, interesting.”

A blizzard has come and gone, our dad is on the mend.  He’s got a new wireless Bose that twinsie bought, and he listens to Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Beethoven.  And he can actually hear that beautiful music because we made him get new hearing aids. Twinsie has sat for hours continuing his iPad education started by our big sissy who was there over Thanksgiving.  We bought him a new comforter and sheets, a Kuerig coffee maker, a wireless printer, and have put out his beloved things that come from his past, mingled with his favorites of Hedy’s.  The lights are just so, his books lined up on shelves, his papers just the way he likes them.  And suddenly it’s time for us to go.

No goodbyes, we hate them.  Just “we will see you soon!”  We all cry, we hug and cry some more.  It’s the night before we are to leave and I’ve already come down with his flu, so we want to get started early just in case we hit bad weather again.  So, we are saying, “See you soon.  I love you so much, Daddio.  What would I have done without my twinsies?…”  And we wonder, truly, what we would do without him.

We’ll see you soon, Daddio.

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