Tag Archives: declutter 2017

Declutter 2017: Letter from Julia

When I was going though a box of correspondence from my mom’s house I came across a small, folded note in an unmarked envelope. Now, my mom kept pretty much every piece of correspondence she received, so it was not unusual that she kept this, but it was a surprise to me and made me very uncomfortable because 1) I didn’t know anything about it and 2) it put me in a very bad light.

It took me a while to figure out that the note was from Julia. I thought, at first, that there was someone I’d been unkind to named Pat Knight who I’d completely forgotten, then I realized it was from Julia.

Readers of this blog may recall that I briefly had a roommate from England shortly after I moved out of my mom’s house and it ended badly. She was beautiful, blond, British and outgoing. At the time I felt much inferior to her, appearance-wise. We’d go to a bar and guys would be lining up to meet her. There were times guys seemed to want to get to know me because they wanted to get closer to her. To put it bluntly, I was envious of her looks and ease with men.

I actually looked forward to her returning to the States [1] as my roommate before she arrived; and I know we had some fun together. The part about me only allowing her to come back to the States because I owed it to my parents is not right — I may have said it, but that was easier to say than admit that I was jealous of her looks and accent and how guys acted around her. I also was not jealous of the relationship she was growing with my family [2].

I know I was difficult to live with, but at the time I felt as if I were the injured party. I paid the rent and she didn’t always have the cash for her part of the rent. I paid for her medical bills when she went to the doctor because she had no insurance. I did the housekeeping and did our laundry. I definitely resented her for a lot of things and I am sure it showed.

There were other things that I won’t mention here, but both of us were on shaky ground based on societal rules (and U. S. and state laws) of the time.

The part about the letter is probably true. I don’t remember writing it, but I hated how I was acting, I hated the jealousy I was feeling. I’d long felt that there was something wrong with me because I had such a short fuse and would explode at the slightest provocation.

For years afterwards friends and family members would ask me if I’d ever heard from her or knew where she was living. I didn’t until I got in touch with her brother, and then got in touch with her in 2010. This year we became friends on Facebook.

And as I told Julia in an email nearly 8 years ago — she’s why Dean and I are together. Dean and I dated a few times in 1979, but I wanted to date someone else. A year later Dean, who  was a client of the salon where Julia worked, had her for a hair washer. When he heard her talk he asked if she knew me. She said yes and that he should call me. He did and the rest is history.

Notes:
  1. She’d spent a few weeks with us during the summer, then returned to England to get a visa so she could stay longer []
  2. well, I say that now, but perhaps I was. I know I was jealous that my mom talked to Marcia about things that she would not talk to me about []

A few found things

Continuing my never-ending purge/clean-out and I have found many things I want to blog about. Here are three unrelated items, but in chronological order (probably).

I’ve had a life-long love of reusable carrying bags. This must have been one of my first. It may have been a present from my mom (only she would have bought me something like this). I kept my embroidery and needlepoint supplies in it. It is ripping at a seam on the bottom and likely no use to anyone, but I am not throwing it away. I’m donating it. Maybe someone will want a retro bag for a costume party.

Clear plastic carrying bag with purple flowers
Clear plastic carrying bag with purple flowers

The second item is something I imagine my British family gave me for my birthday or Christmas. I tried them on, but the material must have reacted to the cold or heat of my mom’s attic and they no longer stretch. I tried to give them to Clare, but she was not interested. I probably won’t get rid of them. They don’t take up too much space.

A pair of knee socks that are decorated to resemble the Union Jack.
A pair of knee socks that are decorated to resemble the Union Jack.

I know exactly where this last item came from. In 1978 I was working as a server at the Manor Pancake House in Elgin to pay for my upcoming +3-month long stay in England to student teach in London. I’d worked there long enough to have “regulars” and this item came from my favorite “regulars,” Carol and her workmate Chuck. They worked at Beef Villa and we got to know each other through visits to one another’s places of employment. I don’t know that we ever actually hung out together except at work.

Anyway, on my last evening at work before my trip to England was a very snowy one. I didn’t expect to see too many people I knew at the restaurant, but pretty much all of my “regulars” came in to say goodbye to me. I was really touched. Carol and Chuck even brought me a present. A stuffed polar bear. I named him Chuckles — sort of a combination of Chuck and Carol. All these years later, the three of us have reconnected (on Facebook of course). Chuckles is a keeper.

Chuckles the polar bear
Chuckles the polar bear

The truth about the girl in the photo

Unknown girl

My folks inherited my Grandma Patrick’s china cabinet and throughout the years objects came and went from the cabinet. I found a box full of things that I remembered having been in the china cabinet over the years.

Some of the things were old photos. One photo in an ornate oval frame was in the china cabinet for the past several years. The photo was of a young girl holding dried flowers and wearing a lace cap over ringlets. I don’t know if I ever asked Mom who it was, but I assumed it was either her mother or Dad’s mother when they were very young.

When I brought it back to Bethesda I began to get suspicious because it looked like neither of my grandmothers’ other childhood photos. I took the photo out of the frame and was not terribly surprised to see that it was not printed on photo paper, but plain, shiny paper — the kind that comes with frames.

I don’t know how long that photo with the stock photo of the long-ago young girl sat in Mom’s china cabinet, but it did give me a laugh.

Declutter 2017: Little Golden Records

For the past few decades I’ve been in the market for an affordable record player that was capable of playing 78s because I had a pile of Little Golden Records from my childhood that I wanted to hear again. I remembered playing some of these records over and over again and even wrote about them in a memoir essay for a college class. I felt sure that I was going to be suddenly transported back to that pink room on Mountain Street.

little golden recordsA few months ago I pulled out the records and looked at the titles. I figured I probably didn’t need to play them again because I assumed I could find them on the Internet. While I did find some, I could not find all of the recordings. But it didn’t matter because I realized that my memories of the records were somewhat false. For instance, I was sure that Walt Disney himself was singing “Bibbity Boppity Boop!” on one of the records but it turned out to be Mitch Miller and the Sandpipers.

Not long after I’d decided I should just toss the Little Golden Records in the trash, I found a great deal on a small portable record player capable of playing 78s. It was about the size of my childhood record player. I bought it and when it arrived I immediately plugged it in and played one of the records. No feeling of nostalgia. I tried another. Same thing. Nothing. Looking at the titles, I don’t think that any of these records will give me that warm, slightly bittersweet feeling of longing for the simpler days of being a kid that I was hoping for, expecting.

I sit here wondering why these circles of yellow plastic don’t bring back fond memories. Is it that I am so old that I’ve forgotten actually playing them? Is it because I don’t need to feel nostalgic about these songs? Is it because I’ve got lots of better memories than being 5 years old listening to records in my bedroom? I don’t know, and I think I should stop wasting my time on wondering.

These, warped and scratched up as they are and worthless, will go in the trash today. Also, they smell bad.

Here’s a video that someone with an unscratched record posted on YouTube. It’s the only record with a singer other than Mitch Miller and his orchestra plus the Sandpipers.

Declutter 2017: Four Prints from Frances

I don’t know why Frances gave me the partial set of lithographs from the Old South, but she did. I expect they were something she’d gotten after writing about home design in The Washington Evening Star. I don’t know what happened to the other prints in the set, perhaps they adorned her walls.

These prints have sat in the attic for years, first in the knee wall where generations of silverfish feasted on the outside cover of the prints, then in my electronics/stuff-to-blog-about/junk closet. I pulled it out the other day and was reminded how lovely the prints were — for some reason the silverfish left the prints inside the set alone.

The cover describes the contents:

“A series of six colorful subjects, reproduced in full color lithography, inspired by a way of living — of ease and slow-paced leisure — which has become an integral part of the American tradition. Their joyous composition and gayety of color make these bright watercolors ideal for any decorating scheme.”

New Orleans Promenade, Charleston Flower Merchants, Savannah Cat Walk, New Orleans Hurdy Gurdy, Doorstep Flower Venders, Charleston, and Savannah Green Grocer.

The prints are all signed “Sikat” and were published and copyrighted in 1953 by J. B. Fischer and Co. in NY City.

I am not sure what I am going to do with the prints. I’d like to have them framed and hang them, but I don’t think Dean really likes them. I don’t want to sell them or give them away unless the person I am giving them to knew Frances.

I will ask my kids if they want them, but I suspect the answer is no so they will likely go (protected this time) back into the knee wall.

Declutter 2017: Live Off the Land and Like It by Dayton Primrose

Several years ago my mother’s friend, Wendy, learned I was interested in edible wild foods. I may have told her that I owned Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons or else we were just talking about wildflowers. Her mother had a wonderful yard full of lovely wildflowers and maybe it was when I visited it. Regardless of how Wendy learned about my interest, she gave me a small pamphlet that her father wrote about edible wild foods, Live Off the Land and Like It. It has been lying around my house for years and I finally scanned it so I could share it. I hope Wendy doesn’t mind. I’m planning on giving the original pamphlet to my daughter who actually makes things out of wild plants.

I’ve not tried any of the recipes, but maybe you will find something intriguing. Here’s the PDF so you can actually read the recipes: Live off the Land and Like It

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