It’s Memorial Day….

Today is ‘Parade Day’ in towns across America.

Darling Daughter was up early and decked out in red, white and blue. She is leading horses in the parade. Or at least I think that is what she said she was doing…

Not altogether sure. Just crossing my fingers the one of the horses doesn’t drop a ‘pile’ that she has to walk around. Darling Daughter is NOT good with ‘smells.’

As a child she spent an entire morning at the Farmpark using her fingers to plug her nose. Same when we took her to the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney (Orlando) and even walking the streets of New York City.

Pray god she isn’t one of the ‘scoopers’ and they told her she was ‘leading’ to rope her into the job??

I digress…

We celebrate Memorial Day with parades.

But it isn’t about the parades and picnics. It is about remembering those who have fallen in service to our country. Remembering how lucky we are to have our freedom. And its price for some…

My mother impressed this upon me at a young age. Her brother served, though he returned home.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.  ~ Joseph Campbell

And so I will take a moment to thank all those men, women and families who have dedicated their lives so that my family and I have our freedom. And all of those who continue to enlist…

Getting a little bit personal: Jim, Tammy, Brett, Bailey, Kenny, Uncle Bob, Joe, Dave K, Tom S, Donald Hickok (my Grandfather). Thank you.

In the meantime, I am off to the parade. And I’ll be sure to take my camera.

Just in case Darling Daughter is actually walking BEHIND the horses with a scoop and shovel…

BMW’s, Bathing Suits, Barn Sales and Broken Vans…

In Loudoun County, Virginia there are NO Dodge Grand Caravans.

At least I didn’ t see any.  (And I looked!) BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Volvo—these are the brands that clog the roads and highways in this neck of the woods.

Further, there is NO rust on cars. And really, there isn’t a recession down here.

My green van was an anomaly…(was being the operative word.)

Per the US Census of 2010, Loudoun County was ranked #1 in the USA for Highest Median Income.

My aunt lives in Leesburg, Virginia. And Leesburg is part of Loudoun County.

When I drove past a “Barn Sale” sign, I HAD to check it out. I know what I’ll find at a Barn Sale in Perry, Ohio. But a Loudoun County Barn Sale? I had to check it out.

THIS WAS THE BARN ….

It was a beautiful barn. On a gorgeous piece of property.

And I should have expected such a barn, after rolling down this long driveway. Then a quaint little, wood bridge.

If the Stunning property didn’t do it, surely one of the houses on the property (there were several…) should have been a clue.

Or the shiny, black BMW I passed on my way down the lane. Also, I parked by a scattering of very nice vehicles in a grassy field.

The Barn Sale?

Not much under $50. The furniture and antique items upwards of $500. I could understand if things were truly unique, but there wasn’t anything THAT special.

And there certainly weren’t any $1 items!!

Of course, I had just spent the previous day at the Luckett’s Spring Market that was nearby. Maybe that threw me off. Because the Spring Market was packed with stunning finds. It would be tough to compete with what I saw there.

Still…it seems that ‘Barn Sales’ are just different down here.

I didn’t buy anything. But I had the BEST time checking out the sale. People watching. Checking out the cars. Taking in the scene. Listening to conversations…

MORE AMUSING ANECDOTES from the Never-Ending trip.

The trip that isn’t over yet. After nearly two weeks, I’m still in Virginia.

FLIP-FLOPS:

Aunt Kate accidentally slipped on my sparkly, black flip-flops. And I heard her mumbling about how awful and uncomfortable they were. Next thing I knew, she bellowed up the steps…

Aunt Kate: I’m throwing your black flip-flops out.

And she did.

THE DOGS:

There were three dogs in the townhouse the past couple of weeks. We tried hard to keep it clean. Kept vacuuming couches.

But the Bailey the Beige Dog constantly slept on the Red couch. Leaving cream color hair all over the dark red couch.

Wouldn’t be so bad to vacuum the red couch.

But the The Little Black  neurotic Dog was constantly on the creamy beige suede couch. Leaving black hair ALL over it.

Really?

They could have at least snoozed on the couches that matched their fur.

TALK OF BATHING SUITS:

Aunt Kate was thinking out loud while tapping away on her iPad. I was tapping away on my laptop. We were both distracted. (No surprise there…)

Aunt Kate: I’m going to need a new bathing suit.

Me: Hmmm… (I made as noise as I continued to type…)

Aunt Kate: That goes down to my knees…

Now she had my attention.

Aunt Kate: And down to my elbows.

We both chuckled. (She pointed to knees that aren’t quite what they used to be…)

Aunt Kate: You know like they used to wear in the old days…

Me: Actually, they might have had something there. With their modest bathing suits, long full length, sleeved cover-ups. Jaunty straw hats with the wide brims. Huge, dark sunglasses.

Like Audrey Hepburn…

Or this photo and the mood it sets…

 

 

Do we really need to see some of what we see at the beach??? It isn’t always as attractive as people think it is…
THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE:

I accompanied Aunt Kate to her doctor’s appointment today. They ushered us into a room, I sat down and this sign was on the wall. Couldn’t miss it.

I concede that there was a bad snow ‘incident’ down in Virginia a couple of years ago.

But how much’ inclement weather’  IS there? Yes. They close cities down when there is an inch of snow. But how often do they get an inch?

Further it is May 25th.

Probably, they NEVER needed this sign. And they certainly don’t the snowflake and snowman sign now. Swimming pools are already open down here.

THE GREEN DODGE GRAND CARAVAN:

I can report that there are still NO Dodge Grand Caravan’s driving around in Loudoun County, Virginia. My van was MIA soon after my arrival. It was only on the road once during my visit. Mixed in with all the ‘fancy’ cars, trucks, SUV’s and vans.

I did recoup a little bit of cash when it died, before it got towed away.

When I return home in a car that isn’t mine, I’ll be borrowing my Dad (and his wife’s) car. But only for a couple of weeks…

I’ll soon be on the hunt for another vehicle.

When I get home, that is.

A NOTE ABOUT MY LAST BLOG… Had technical difficulties when I posted it. Then had to take it down. Then put it back up. My apologies to those directed to a page NOT there. Feel free to scroll back and take a look if you like. It is there now.

Shopping (sigh….) at Luckett’s Spring Market 2012 in Leesburg, Virginia

An update on my ‘field trip’ to Luckett’s this past weekend.

Driving to the Market was wonderful. Even in heavy traffic. And even in my old green minivan. Because I LOVE driving in Virginia. It is so beautiful, blue skies, rolling hills, plantation houses set far back from the road…

As I parked in a grassy field, I noticed those headed for the entrance had either large shoulder bags or dragged rolling carts.

Luckily I always have a bag. I quickly dumped its contents to van’s floor. Then dropped my notebook, pen, camera, wallet, lip gloss and a water bottle inside the bag. (Only the essentials for me!) And I was off.

There was just so much to see. A ‘candy shop’ or ‘playground’ for somebody like me. Salvage windows, doors, Adirondacks chairs, antique fabrics, vintage signs and furniture. Furniture. and more FURNITURE.

One of my favorite, quirky items? An old, antique disco ball…

Hanging in an old barn. Lots of barns and potting sheds scattered about. Along with all the festival booths, the regular Luckett’s stores were open, as well.

There was A Journey From Junk and Divine Details who set up together under one tent. One of my favorite, hand painted signs was there.

Laughed out loud. (I took it in the ‘biblical’ sense) And I wasn’t the only one. Then when I passed by later, I realized it could be taken at face value. Why am I up???

One of the highlights for me?

I met Miss Mustard Seed, of Mustard Seed Interiors. She is an inspiration. A writer. Mom. Wife. Daughter. Business Owner. Designer. Blogger. And (hurrah!!) Author with a book due out this October…

She gave out these lovely gifts…

There were nearly 200 vendors at the Spring Market this year. Yet Miss Mustard Seed (AKA Marian Parsons) stood out from the pack. Of course, her merchandise was stunning–especially the furniture pieces painted with her new milk paint line. She sparkled. That’s the only way I can describe it. She was engaging, gracious, patient in answering questions, willing to pose for photos, slipped her readers a ‘free’ bag or bunch of lavender when she could. And watching her in action–it was clear why she has been so successful. She was surrounded by her family (who were also friendly and efficient). All wore matching “Mustard Seed Interiors” t-shirts and they were a well-oiled machine–there to support her. There was such warmth surrounding that space.

I’ve got to put in a photo of this chest of drawers

The Big Question. What did I purchase?

Nothing big, because I have budgetary constraints…

A new lamp shade. Or at least to me, it looked like a Perfect lamp shade.

It is really a wood and metal bushel basket. Use your imagination and you might see it with a bright, funky color washed on the rustic wood.

I got a pretty, retro red snack tray with daisies on it. I have loved daisies since I was a little girl. It’s probably about 6″ x 10″ and will end up on a wall, in a plate rack, or by the front door to hold mail.

I couldn’t resist the tiny oil painting of pink roses signed ‘Merle Baker.’

Miss Mustard Seed gifted me with a lovely bag of lavender tied with a cream satin bow. Lovely!!

Lastly, notice the plant at right. It is a topiary plant. Very hardy. Difficult to screw it up. (We’ll see about that…)

They sold these plants wrapped around shapes–round, stars and suns. I chose to buy the plant and grow and prune it around a shape of my choosing. I might regret not getting the ‘ready made’ topiary. Time will tell.

All and all, it was a magical experience. But my trip has not been without its challenges. My van died. Still not sure what I will be driving home…

Dad: Are you taking the bus home?

Me: Only if I can stuff the dogs into suitcases.

As usual, the past two weeks were full of  disasters and debacles.

But…I found a new motto in one of the stores at the Market.

Didn’t buy it. (Damn budgetary constraints!!) But I am going with it for now.

At least until I am successful at SOMETHING.

Stick with me. More stories about my trip in the coming days….

Note of Apology: To anybody who read, tried to read this blog earlier today. Sorry that it was cut off. Had a few technical difficulties. Hopefully, it is fixed now.

I just realized why I HATE shopping…

If I can go to the store and buy it new, I generally don’t WANT it.

With a few exceptions.

I do frequent grocery stores, bookstores and the pharmacy. And I am a hot, sweaty mess without my Premarin. I’m rarely cranky–so if I am, the kids ask if I took my pill. Referring to the HRT.

My family is tight-knit, funny, and sentimental.

When we are together, we share experiences. We have fun.

My memories?

The whole family going to see the movie Elf when it came out, because it was a big deal to my kids. Family dinners, game nights, baseball games at Three Rivers Stadium when my aunt lived in Cincinnati. Bowling outings. Meeting up at a golf course for a round of golf. Family vacations in Hilton Head, trips to Cedar Point and of course Washington, D.C.

What we have never done for fun? Gone shopping.

Not to say we don’t gift each other on occasion. My aunt bought me a lovely Tiffany Drop Heart Pendant for my birthday the year I was preparing to move from my home, with divorce imminent. She felt I needed something special.

Not too long ago, my father and his wife had a lovely old family clock restored for me.

Shopping absolutely bores me. If I need something, I get it. But I’m in and out. I have never shopped as a form of entertainment.

Just today, I needed a new pair of shorts. I went into Eddie Bauer and bought a pair. Took me about 15 minutes. Sure, there was an outlet full of stores. And I could have spent the day trying on shorts. But I got what I needed.

Then my aunt and I took the dogs to a lake nearby, where they spent an hour jumping off a dock and swimming for tennis balls. Far more entertaining to me than the outlet mall.

I also enjoy walking in the woods, or on the beach. Reading. Throwing a Frisbee to the incredibly athletic Little Black neurotic Dog. Going for a long bike ride. Rollerblading.Yard work, planting flowers. Auctions. Painting and refinishing the retro furniture that I find.

Spending time with family and friends.

Or what we call ‘Field Trips’ in my family. And Road Trips.

Road Trips are long trips. Vacations to Hilton Head, New York City, skiing at Peek ‘n Peek or going to my aunts in Leesburg, Virginia. As I did this week.

Field Trips are short adventures. Like the year the kids and I hopped in the car on a whim on Christmas morning, then showed up at a family brunch in Pennsylvania. Or heading to the West Side to see friends there. Or to Geneva-on-the-Lake.

What made me think of this? And my aversion to shopping?

Being in Virginia this week. Walking around my aunts home.

Let me explain with photos…

The pretty, antique mirror on the wall belonged to a relative. For my whole life, it hung above our living room fireplace. My mother inherited it. When she passed and my father sold that home, it went to her sister–my aunt. The black table is new from an upscale Virginia furniture store. The grandfather clock was purchased at Pierces in Mentor, Ohio. Maybe 25 years ago? It has been on a few moving trucks over the years.

The sectional and club chair are modern. But the library table in front of the bay window is late 1800s. It was inherited from relatives in my uncles family. It is in near Perfect condition.

Here’s a closer look at the table…

The series of pictures on the wall are Warren Kimble and depict the seasons; spring, summer, winter, fall. I have the same set in my house. A 30th birthday gift from my family–including Dad, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles. My set will probably be in one of my children’s homes some day. (Notice the dog? We all have dogs…)

The little pottery jug with lid to the left must have been bought by my aunt ages ago. I can remember her having it when I was a young child. And I am 41 now. It sits on her Corian countertop and holds dog treats. It has actually held dog treats for many years.

Which brings me to function. We USE everything. If there are books lying around, they’ve likely been read. Jars hold things. We use our dining tables and put our feet on the coffee table.

A prime example of this…

The Nordictrack. It is there because my aunt uses it when the weather is bad and she can’t get outside for a walk. And it is placed so that she can see the TV when she does so. She has had the machine for years. It isn’t the newest, latest or greatest. But it works great. (Function, again.) And it actually looks fine.

I’ve always known how my family decorated. We don’t so much ‘design’ rooms, we fill them with our favorite things. Or things we use. We make ourselves comfortable.

We don’t go store to store with paint and material swatches to match furniture, wall art and accessories. Nor do we stress over color and everything being perfectly matched. Or what is ‘in style’ at the moment. When we do buy furniture or big items, we buy what strikes us–what we love. Then work with it. Often for 25+ years. (Or more…)

Rooms come together as an extension of surrounding ourselves with what we love. Things that have meaning to us.

And in looking at my aunts examples of this in the photos, it works for her. Her home is a reflection of the people who live there. Always has been.

I guess I’m a product of my environment.

So it is the elder generation’s fault that I hate shopping. Because it feels like a waste of time. I already have everything I need. No need to go out looking for more things, when I could be doing something fun!

Tomorrow, I’ll be going to an event here in Leesburg. The 2012 Annual Luckett’s Spring Antique Market. People fly in from all over the country to attend. I cannot wait…

But not because I plan to spend the day buying things. Or wishing I could buy things. I’ll spend it meeting vendors, talking to people, snacking on festival foods, looking at artwork and being inspired by others creativity.

In other words, I’ll soak up the experience of being there.

And if I find a little trinket to remember the event by, I might just buy it.

But only because I happened upon it. Not because I was shopping for it.

Here’s a link for those wanting information on Luckett’s: http://luckettstore.com/events/50-spring-market

Goodbye Trusty Honda. Hello minivan.

“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”    ~Keith Urban

Most people are only too happy to let go of their old cars…

I have never been like most people.

Last Friday, I sold my Trusty Honda Accord. And it was difficult. Still is.

Once I agreed to the deal, I spent several hours wiping tears from my cheeks. Even took the old car for a final drive to the beach to walk my dogs, just before its new owner arrived to pick it up.

My car was old—yet solid. If I was mechanically inclined, I would NOT have let it go. Could have kept it running for quite a few more years. But I am not.

So it needed to go.  And still, it took me months to take action. I really, really loved that car. Which is crazy. It was a 1999 with over 220,000 miles on it.

What tipped my hand? Why last Friday?

I HAD to get to Virginia on Sunday. Monday at the latest.

(That’s a story for another day…)

And it seemed a bad idea to take my Trusty Honda. I needed space for hauling. And I was taking BOTH dogs. The jig was up. There simply wasn’t a choice.

Prior to Friday, I had several offers on my old car. And I would have gotten a better price had I sold to one of them. But they were as mechanically inclined as I am. (Not very!)

I was determined to sell the car to a mechanic or somebody who could keep it running. It was the only way I could feel okay selling such an old vehicle. That person turned up on the exact day that I was ready (forced?) to move on.

Thought I didn’t get as much as I could have for the Honda, I got enough to purchase the minivan I found at auction on Thursday. I agreed to buy it Friday night, sight unseen.

Really, I wasn’t in the deal to make money, just to make my trip to Virginia happen. And I wanted the situation to be win/win for everybody.

Ironically, my new van is a Dark Green Dodge Grand Caravan. Nearly the EXACT van I drove when my children were younger. Even the same color.

Full circle.

On Saturday morning, I rose early to pick up the van. I handed over the cash. Found a notary. Changed over my auto insurance (using my cell phone) while picking up flowers and running Daughter to her hair appointment—she had prom later in the day. Then slid into the title bureau for temporary tags—with about 7 minutes to spare before it closed. Saturday was chaotic.

My new green van has half the miles on it that my Trusty Honda had. And a new transmission. It doesn’t make the funky grinding noises that my old green van made, or catch when it switches gears. It is a smooth riding vehicle. Mechanically sound. I knew it would get me where I needed to go. Or at least I hoped so…

The downside?

My van isn’t ‘pretty.’ The former owner was a contractor. Meaning it was a utility vehicle, used to haul tools and such to job sites.

The exterior has rust spots. The inside isn’t clean.There is a small tear in the dashboard. A missing armrest. And it smells–like dirt, dust and the like…

Yet it was my BEST option. When it comes to vehicles, I will always choose mechanically sound over ‘pretty.’

I sang its praises to my father and the family—Again, I was getting where I was going. Nobody was stepping in my path.

And on Monday morning, I loaded the van.

I got an E-Check (required on Ohio), then had my new set of wheels titled into my name. I was NOT making the trip without a clear title coming along with me. I might find a van I like better while in Virginia.

Aunt Kate: Where are you?

Me: Just leaving.

Aunt Kate: Just be careful. It’s pouring rain down here…

Me: Oh…then I’m going to get wet.

I ran back into the house for my raincoat.

Aunt Kate: Huh?

Me: I’ll be driving with the windows open.

Aunt Kate: Doesn’t the van have air conditioning?

Me: Yeah. But it smells…And putting the AC on blows those smells directly into my face.

Aunt Kate: Oh…

As I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed that along with the exhaust running a tad loud, there was another funny little sound.

My solution?

Music. I cranked up the volume. And rode the six hours to Virginia singing all the way. Motown, country, easy listening, hip hop…

There was no need to keep the music low, to hear the directions from my GPS. Either my cord wasn’t working or the van outlet doesn’t work. Not sure which.

Anyways, I know the way to my aunt and uncles house in Virginia. I just like to drive on autopilot, “up ahead…get in the right lane.”  Or “take the exit left.” The GPS keeps me on track, in case I lose focus.

Early in the trip, I remember feeling lucky that I am so happy. That I’m blessed with the resilience necessary to roll along with life.  Even when it is not at all easy. That my crazy weekend and stinky, old van didn’t faze me…

The one living being on the trip not keen on the van? Flippity-Gidget.

That’s my nickname for the Little Black, neurotic Dog. She won’t walk on the floor of the van. She enters by hopping directly onto a seat. Once inside, she leaps from seat to seat—even up over the middle bench to get to the far back seat.

It’s odd. But then, she is odd.

The Red Dog? He’s always content. And the new van gave him a choice of two ‘couches’ (bench seats) to snooze on. He counted sugar plums all the way to Virginia…

Probably, there is a 50/50 chance I will be driving the van back home.

It’s possible I’ll sell it while I’m down in Virginia.

Because my aunt and uncle have lots of cars—three, actually. For two drivers.

Which gives me an opportunity that I don’t have at home. I can be without a vehicle and take the time to look for something I like. And I haven’t yet formed an attachment to this van…

The lines are often quite blurry when it is time to move on. From people. Jobs. Relationships. Our living situations. Our homes. Even cars, clothing and smaller possessions.

Letting go can be excruciating. It is always easier to hang onto the known, even when it no longer fits our needs. We cannot find our future if we hold onto our past. The only way to get to the future, or the ‘good’ stuff is to let go.

The Trusty Honda was ONLY a car. I know that.

It was time to move on. I know that, too. What we know in our head doesn’t always line up with what is in our hearts.

And so I’m amusing (consoling?) myself wondering what I’ll be driving when I eventually turn up in Cleveland. With me, you never know…