Sunday, January 31, 2010

Celebrating 31 Blogs in 31 Days

So here we are, 31 days later. I did it!! Tonight we all went to Pinnacle Peak to celebrate; steaks all around. Oh all right, we didn't go to celebrate my brilliant accomplishment. We went to celebrate the Geezer's birthday, and #3's promotion with as many of the family as we could gather round. (Wasn't hard to do,we are all sleeping under one roof this weekend.)

Then on the spur of the moment we decided to create a birthday card to share with everyone. So, as I said, here we are.

From left to right front row ~ The Madam, played by Yarntangler The Prospector, played by Lone Duck

2nd row ~ The Union Officer played by Sage Words The Undertaker played by Geezerguy The Gambler played by The Commodore.

3rd row ~ Sassy Spice played by Chica and Savvy Spice Buttercup

And that my friends is how we end 31 in 31.

See ya down the road,
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The BEST Birthday Boy Around

Today is the Geezerguy's birthday. I won't tell you how old he is because that would be telling you how old I am. But He began receiving SSI last year and he won't be asking the Beatles famous 64 question for another year so maybe you can figure it out.

Tonight we'll party with our kids like we did so many times in the old days once we left our parents behind in New England and began the migration West. Only differenc now is that we'll have chili the eldest son Lone Duck makes, play Cranium with the the Commodore and Buttercup while sitting and spending the night at Sage and Chica's home. I'm willing to bet the phone will ring in the middle of the game and it will be Skooba and Pearla too. I'll take the camera.

Some of our friends and family have not seen Jim/Geezer for awhile and since he's the BEST model in the family I take lots of pictures of him. (Did I ever tell you he was also asked to be an aritist's model while we were in South Dakota? No? Okay, yet another blog idea.)

So with no further introduction may I present my BEST friend and first, last, and only husband ...

In 2007, Skooba and Pearla were married in Seattle. Just before the wedding ceremony, a gentleman sporting a very distinguished and neatly trimmed beard approached and asked Jim if he was a Rabbi. Jim was a bit startled and said, ", I'm not."Turned out the guy was a Rabbi, in fact a half hour later he married the kids. But not before he told Jim he looked more lthe part than he did. (the guy in the background is one of the sons, See if you can guess which one.)

The Bible says, "Blessed be the father who has many sons."Jim couldn't be happier that he is the father of many sons. He's proud of every one of them every day. But he always had a wish for a little girl of his own. I think that's why our DILS can get him to do anything they want him to do. But 4 years ago I began wishing and finally made a decision. And Jim finally gt his little girl.

Okay, This could cause some ripples. But As I said there are some of Jim's friends and family who have not seen him for quite some time. he's not the conservative, withdrawn guy in the background all the ime these days. Heck ,he's a story teller and he tells quite a story using facial expressions and body language. So here are a couple of prize shots.

The first is entitled
Don't You Dare!
The second is called.
I promised I wouldn't use that picture. I didn't say anything about this one.I couldn't have done this blog If Jim had been any of those other guys that gave me corsages years ago. So glad he's the one that turned up with the yellow roses!

Happy Birthday Honey!
always and in all ways.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Coming Full Circle in Tucson

I often tell people I grew up in a rock shop. My earliest memory of the rock and mineral business goes way back to Levittown. I remember Mom rolling a small pickle jar over her thigh to polish some stones while we watched Rooti Kazootie (anybody else remember him?)

It took a long time but finally one day she emptied the special dirt (grit) and water out of the jar and the once plain old stones were smooth and sort of shiny. That was cool. After that we'd all sit there rolling jars of rocks across the rug while we watched Howdy Doody or Gerald Mc Boing Boing.

Then Mom decided we should should amp up the polishing, so Dad got us a rock tumbler . Wow! that was fantastic. We had entered the age of automation. That tumbler did all the work while we were at school or out playing or even when we went on vacation. As long as we changed the grade of the grit three times, we would eventually get beautiful shiny smooth stones.

I remember we'd come home from school every day to find out if it was time yet to empty the barrel. Finally, the day would come. Mom would carefully pour off the water and we'd fish out all the colorful stones onto a towel on the kitchen table. No Hope Diamond could ever be more beautiful than those first agates and bits of quartz. I have no idea what we did with all of those first efforts except take a baby food jar of water and grit into school for show and tell.

Sometime between then and when I was 14, Mom acquired lapidary equipment and began cutting and polishing cabochons. Not happy with the findings that were available, she also became an extremely accomplished silversmith, designing lovely jewelery. I still wear items Mom made me when I was a teenager.

Since she couldn't make shiny stones out of rough stones until she had the rough ones, the entire family got into the act and we became Rock Hounds. The youngest two were referred to as Pebble Pups but Denis and I were smart enough to learn just enough to be taken seriously as collectors so we avoided that term. I wasn't too keen on the whole idea until I got to be close to 15 and realized there were a lot of teenage boys in the Rock and Mineral Club!

Eventually, Mom was making a nice little amount of money selling her jewelry to friends and coworkers. The logical next step was to open a store. So we opened The Original Cha~lor Mineral House in November in a tiny, unheated niche on Park Street in Adams. Ma. Originally the space had been a hallway separating two sections of a building. When half of it was torn down they left the hall next to the diner. Dad and Denis and Terry painted it and speckled the floor with blobs and splatters of different colors. It looked pretty cool (for it's time) but was a dreadful surface to try to find the small polished stones that often got spilled on it.

By that time, I'd learned how to make many of the simpler pieces, although to my regret I never learned the smithing or lapidary part of the design work.

We sold our jewelry and rock specimens. Among the gifts we carried were imported onyx bookends and chess boards . The kids loved the tiny onyx donkeys, birds and elephants too. This was 1963 in a small town in Massachusetts, where one did most of their Christmas shopping at Woolworth's. These ubiquitous items one sees in every souvenir shop now, were unique and very welcome.

One Sunday afternoon, Mom and I drove to Windsor, Connecticut on a buying trip to The House of Windsor. I had never seen a wholesale warehouse before and I thought they sold everything . We bought some gift items and then I insisted on spending $14.00 of my hard earned babysitting money on a large mystery box of Holiday Craft materials. There was a small display of possible items that might be in the box and I went for it despite Mom's advice to simply buy something I knew was safe.

I was delighted when I opened the carton and discovered enough ribbons, holiday picks, and flowers to make over 60 corsages for Christmas. We went home and I got started so they were ready to go on display on the day after Thanksgiving. At an auction that same week, Mom found a small paper roller and cutter for gift wrap. We bought full sized rolls and cut them down to eight inches wide and I began wrapping all of our gift items for free and charging a small fee to custom wrap boxed gifts from other stores as well. Mom was very pleased at the outcome of my investment and at the first of the year I was named a partner in the business. I suspect that was probably for tax purposes or something but it sounded good. And I still use it on my resume.

A couple years later business was doing well enough to expand and the folks bought a store and several acres on the famed Mohawk Trail. Experiences there are worth a blog of their own and I'll get to it one of these days. I worked at that store until shortly after I ws married.

Later they moved to New Mexico and when Dad had retired took their Rock and Mineral business on the road as Workampers. Jim and I envied their freedom as they spent five or six months each year traveling the country and selling at shows as The Findings People.

Once I left the Chalor Mineral House I thought I'd left all the rocks behind. Fast forward til 1999. #2 son came home from working at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park in Valecito, CA and mentioned they needed someone for part time work. So I began working there, for about 8 weeks, at a wildlife exhibition. A bit later they hired me to work in the gift shop. My son was now an assistant manager, so he was technically one of my bosses (on paper). On my first day, I was dusting shelves and found myself in the corner with a feather duster brushing dust from a pile of mineral specimens. Suddenly, I was laughing out loud. I realized that I'd begun my retail career dusting rocks for my mom. Now I was dusting them for my son!

Another ten years have passed. In that time I have sold rocks, minerals, tumbled stones, and hundreds of little onyx donkeys in a total of six states. And this week I'll get to see where many of those gift shops and other tourist spots buy their merchandise. I'll be going to the Tucson Gem Shows with that same son and his wife as they choose some of this season's merchandise for the six outlets they furnish in California . But as I walk through all those displays I am pretty sure Mom will be with me too, telling me which ones to point out to Buttercup.

See ya down the road,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BEST Things We've Seen on the Side of the Road

We have taken so many pictures since we got a digital camera back in 2005. It took me forever to learn how to add photos to my blog and then I no sooner learned when we lost our hard drive. Luckily for us, one of the four BEST sons in the world was able to restore most of them to us recently and now I can have fun trying to remember where all these things were.

Not all of my side of the road pictures are spectacular. Often they were snapped as we drove past, through the window or screen. But I love the strange or quirky and I spend at least an afternoon every couple of weeks seeking out these places on one of my favorite sites Roadside America.

I'm sure some of what we've spotted is listed there but sometimes it's just fun to find them ourselves. The first one below was hard to miss but much harder to get a picture of for you.
We used to tow an old Datsun that had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It ran for awhile but it only brought stares because it was so homely. We considered covering it with storybooks and plastic story characters and using it to advertise our fledgling storytelling business by driving it in parades. Unfortunately, it became terminally ill (we had to disconnect the battery cable from it's terminal every evening, in order to make it stop and to prevent the lights from coming on in the middle of the night). So we never got around to doing that. Shortly after turning it out to pasture we came across another vehicle that had had lots of plastic surgery to enhance it's looks.

On the West bound side of route 108, just before you reach Oakdale, California, keep an eye on the fence . You'll come across this shrine to a fallen friend. We discovered Cricket's story when we visited the Cowboy Museum in Oakdale. Seems Cricket was a rodeo horse that had been retired and put to pasture. to live out his days. Cricket was a people and traffic watcher and spent his days for several years beside the fence watching the cars go by. Occasionally, he'd wait for a car at the Eastern most corner of his field and when a car approached he'd race the length of the field just to see if he could beat the car. Rumor has it a few locals made sure he won the race as often as possible. When Cricket died someone -unknown -put up the little monument and it's been there for years.
You know, we never had a motor home until 2004. When we began the search for our RV I pushed for the motor home over a fifth wheel for one very important reason. I was used to making frequent stops and thought it would be more convenient if Jim could just keep driving . But before we bought it there would have been many times I would have been happy to have spotted this roadside attraction we saw in Arkansas.
For that matter even Jim would have been glad to see the Booger Hollow facility had he spotted this just before it.

But ,of course we don't need that because we do, in fact, carry our on-board potty with us. Nope, all we need at the end of a long day's journey is a suitable place to stop for the night. One of these days I'll show you some of our favorite backyards but right now it's late so I'll end with one of Jim's favorite pictures. This is one he loves to show all his friends who are still running the rat race but wish they could be living our life.

See ya down the road
(or along side of it),

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Off On the Road to Tomorrow

Nothing much doing today. We went and picked up LoneDuck and visited the Tucson Gem Show office to see about some temporary jobs during the two week show. Then we went and tsk tsked our way through a large well known RV parts and accessories store looking at absurdly high prices for things we never we knew needed.

LoneDuck is seriously considering taking up the full time RV lifestyle in another year. He's hoping to find a good used Class C (at a miraculously low price sometime this Spring or Summer.)

Then his plan is to move into it here in Tucson until he fills up his pickle jar. Once the jar is full he'll be Off on the Road to Morocco (Indiana) or Utopia (Ohio). He'll join the Workamper extended family and find some fun places to work. Alternatively, he may decide to become a vender. He loves blackpowder events and Ren faires.

Duckie is in the beginning stages of his journey. I know sometimes it feels like it's never going to happen. We had setbacks up to a month before we left our house. He's just beginning to realize however, that his journey has already begun. The adventure began the day he made it a goal instead of a someday dream. This planning stage is actually one of the BEST parts of his trip.

Now as he works toward his goal he must also keep remembering it is still a wonderful dream that's going to come true.

See ya down the road, Lone Duck,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Silly Sappy Sentimental Stuff Today

Instead I'd like to direct you to one of the BEST things I've fallen over in months.

Take time to read and view as much of this site as possible and then bookmark it for later.

The Responsibility Project Talks about taking responsibility in every facet of life. It's not preachy. (I hate preachy no matter how many boys I sent to the pulpit.)

Just one thing. No matter how much of it you view, be sure to watch this short film produced by George Clooney . You'll come away from Tony feeling great.

See ya down the road,

Monday, January 25, 2010

One Rose or Two part 2

So where did those corsages go? Pearla, my youngest DIL thinks only at prom do girls get one these days. She then happened to say that since she went stag to her prom she didn't have one then either. I thought that was kind of sad. Still at least she went. When I was in high school it would have been social suicide to go to prom alone.

Oh well, back to nostalgia.

My very first corsage from a boy ,was given to me by Tommy L. He was a year ahead of me in school-an important distinction for a sophomore. He was taking me to the Children of Mary Valentine dance at St. Joe's in North Adams. I had a wonderful white wool dress with red piping. I wore red high heels and, of course, my bag matched. The red rose corsage, very similar to the one pictured here, was absolutely perfect.When he gave it to me it became the symbol of an unforgettable evening. While dancing, Tommy asked me to go steady. I had been one of those girls who didn't think going steady was such a good idea. But then no one had ever asked me before (probably because this was my first real dress up date).

Later, when he took me home he leaned over and kissed me, very gently. I was ecstatic. Two weeks before my birthday, he had saved me from becoming one of those poor girls who became "Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed". There I was, falling in love(with falling in love) on the spot when my dad opened the front door. He turned on the porch light and rather dryly asked Tom how long he planned on leaning on the doorbell!

Three weeks , one movie, and one bowling date later, Tom told me, while we were putting out the hymnals in the choir loft, it probably wasn't a good idea to go steady after all. Stunned I asked him "Why not?" Imagine my chagrin when he quite matter of factly replied that since he was going into the seminary in September, to become a Catholic priest, he probably shouldn't have a steady girlfriend.

Side note: In my youth I apparently inspired many men to seek a higher calling. I have on my dance card, a Catholic priest, an Episcopalian priest, a Methodist minister and a Bhuddist Monk! (a great Chinese guy who we met and hung out with for 2 weeks in Bancroft Ont.) All but Eddie, the monk, gave me at least one corsage of every imaginable flower except my favorite yellow roses. I told Peggy, while we were still in high school that if any guy finally gave me yellow roses I'd marry him!

So Pearla also said she thinks no one wears corsages anymore. Now, far be it for me to be one of those mothers-in-law everyone hears about but I think she's wrong. I've been browsing fashion magazines a lot lately looking for ideas for the scarves and accessories I crochet. I see corsages all over the place. While many are made of fabric or feathers or even leather, some of them look exactly like the ones I wore so happily 40 years ago.

In fact, one Christmas crafts magazine this past year
featured the comeback of Christmas corsages. Funnily enough the very first craft I ever made money at was making Christmas and easter corsages which I sold through my Mom's little rock/gift shop and to friends. They looked like these. In fact, I'm sure the green one is one I made. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't say that. It was on an antiques site

The only difference in the corsages now is that they are usually called flower pins and they don't always cause boys to blush when they pin them on. Maybe that's because of where girls wear them.

So I'm getting into the act and II've been making corsages and pinning them to hats made from a 1929 pattern now for about a year. Hopefully, a whole new generation will think they are neat, groovy, cool, rad, awesome, bad, bitchin, or ...Oh I got it... RETRO! Maybe I'll make one for Pearla. Yeah I think I will.

See ya down the road,
PS I finally got that yellow rose corsage about a year before Jim asked me to marry him. He had no idea what he was getting himself into and he's never said if his mother picked it out. If she did... I got another one two years later as part of my bridal bouquet and wore it in triumph when we left on our honeymoon.

Overnight Late Breaking News

Align CenterUnbelievable as it seems, the Geezerguy has finally written a new blog!
Please go check him out. Then leave him a comment, click on follow, and tell your friends. Anything to get him motivated again because he's too funny to be lazy!
Any and All Fulltimers, Cavers, Workampers or Geocachers are encouraged to join him.

This has been an unpaid an unapproved message by the committee to Get the Geez in Gear campaign.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One Rose or Two ? - part 1

Tonight's blog was not brought to you by my sons. Sorry. I had this really fun idea for a blog and was planning on telling you that I had done an unscientific poll . All it depended on was a one word answer from each of the four of them.

So I called Duckie. For the first time in months I got his voice mail . Huh. Figured I'd try again later.
Then I called Commodore Salazar ( I have to keep using his professional name so it gets hits on line and helps with the advertising for his magic business). Well no surprise there, he wasn't home.
Surely Sage Words would be of some help. Well, he is being of help but to others. That's because he's working pretty much round the clock getting those supply planes to Haiti. He's excused.
Not to be outdone, I called Skooba. I was absolutely certain he'd answer the phone and he did. He either really loves me that much or he hasn't programed a Mom ringtone in his phone. I'm comfortable in believing it's the first.

So I asked my question "Have you ever given your wife a corsage?"
Long pause... I started grinning...
"A...corsage?...uh, Honey, have I ever given you a corsage?"

Much laughter from the background...
"No Mom."

That means I have two seperate findings from this poll.
75% of the Cumberland sons were not polled
25 % of the Cumberland sons didn't know if he'd ever given his wife a corsage.(He's been married a year and a half)

Okay so my sons are all between 30 and 40. Maybe they were the wrong guys to ask about corsages in the first place. For that matter do they even make them any more except for mothers of the bride and groom? Hmm, even that might be something that's gone by the wayside too. Five weddings in our family and only Com. Salazar gave me a corsage.

So what's happened to corsages? For women in my age brackett, the subject can bring back some sweet memories. Do you remember your first corsage?

I do. My Dad gave it to me. Every Easter Sunday he gave Mom, my little sister, and me corsages. The first one I remember was when I was seven and it was daisies to pin on my blue coat over my new dress. Daddy gave me a corsage every Easter after that until I got married and every one was a loving gift, remembered fondly.

But then there were the corsages that were a part of the entire dating life of a teenage girl until the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Those sweet tokens that made each of us believe that special boy really liked us, at least for the evening.

There was a ritual about the whole thing too.

Monday ~~
"ah...I was wondering if you are going to the Freshman Reception with anyone?"

"Well, no, not yet."
"That's good. I mean that you aren't going. I mean no body asked you. ...uh... do you want to go with me?"
"Sure. That would be nice."
"Okay, well, I got to get to class."
"Right. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Tuesday ~~
"Um... my Mom said she could drive us. "

"Uh ...where do you live?"
"Up the hill from the library, the big house with all the steps in front."

"Oh. I know which one you mean."
" Okay then, I have to get to choir practice."
"Right, I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Wednesday ~~

"Hey, I guess I have to get you a corsage."
"You don't have to if you can't afford it. I don't mind."
"Oh no my dad will let me have the money. I can get one cheap at Grande's only a couple of bucks."
"Okay then."
"Well, do you want one that you pin on your dress or one of those arm things?"
"A wrist-let would be great."
"Alright. I've got to go to detention, I forgot my Algebra homework."
"Oh too bad. Talk to you tomorrow."

Thursday ~~
"Hey, are you going to the Freshman Reception with anybody?"
"Yes, I'm going with Buddy."
"Why the heck are you going with him?"

"Well, he asked me and I said yes."

"Guess I shoulda asked you sooner."
"Yeah, pretty much everybody has a date by now."
"Okay, See ya around."

Friday ~~
"Um I forgot to ask you what color is your dress?"

"Lavender, is that some kind of blue?"

"It's more like a light purple."
"Oh. I thought, you know, there s that dilly dilly song...Well, I got to get home and mow the grass."
"Okay, talk to you on Monday"

Two weeks later he shows up at the door corsage in hand. You look at him wide eyed as he proceeds to jab you four or five tomes before your mom offers to help pin on the biggest red rose corsage you ever saw onto your strapless lavender dress.
I guess even after all the reminders to "just ask her", the wrist-let and lavender part never made it back to his mom, who probably ordered the flowers in the first place.

Chrysanthemums for homecoming dances, carnations with gold glitter and holly leaves for Christmas balls. Spring time brought the sweet flowers out; Lilies of the Valley and violets (my second favorite corsage ever) and yellow roses. Later, the more sophisticated, attention grabbing boys gave us orchards but I detested them myself. The minute he leans into you as you're dancing it is crushed and turns brown before the night is over.
This was going to be a simple little nostalgic piece tonight but I found an entire other direction to take this discussion in, while looking for a few pictures. So tune in tomorrow for the second part of One Rose or Two?

See ya down the road,

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kings Say the Darndest Things

In the United States we don't hand out crowns for leadership, scholarship, or achievement. Oddly enough, we reserve such signs of rank and privilege for beauty queens and birthday parties.

We don't allow one woman or one man to have the power to make every decision for us. The man who sits in the Oval Office knows he serves at the will of the people and that if he doesn't get it right he may as well not unpack his bags.
My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.
William Shakespeare

But that doesn't mean we don't have wise men and women in our country who occasionally have something to say that we should take to heart. And a few of these men and even a few of these women are indeed Kings.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.”

Coretta Scott King

If a bullfrog had wings it wouldn't bump his behind every time he hopped.”

Don King

You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.

Stephen King

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries.

Stephen King

“Victory is fleeting. Losing is forever.”

Billie Jean King

“Critics don't buy records. They get 'em free.”

Nat King Cole

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will
teach me anything.
So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.

Larry King

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.”

BB King

There's something to think about in everything these Kings said. I particularly like speculating on Don King's remark about the bull frog. After all, one of our ancestors grew legs like his and walked out of the water. If they had grown wings instead, imagine where we might be .

See ya down the road,