weekly photo challenge: mine #2

Having a passion for vintage furnishings is the equivalent of being…an organized hoarder.

There is a silver lining, however. I’m downsizing. Have been for years.

Trouble is as stuff goes out the front door…more stuff comes in the back.

Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Mine. Mine. Mine.Singin’ In The Rain…Just Singin’ In The Rain…Kewpie Doll… remember them from state fairs and carnivals…

Signed photo…Lana Turner...

Cake Topper…memories of a special day…

Gotta Match?Ribbett…Ribbett…Ribbett…Roly-Poly Santa…Santa on Wheels…

Vintage toys…Spice up your life…Tea anyone?…

Vintage plates…and dish rack…French candle holder…Book of Herbs…Vintage, cashmere, sweater…Vintage, designer shoes…hat stand…primitive foot stool…Chinese, lacquer ladder…Vintage print…Father…wishing you luck…

Vintage needlework…a welcoming home…

Vintage pillow topper…honoring mom and dad…Vintage Oil…

Vintage suitcases…great for storage…Victorian Trellis…decorative window screen…hugmamma’s…mama……vintage………hugmamma.

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how do you rid everything you own of bedbugs…???

Cleaning! Cleaning! Cleaning! I’m here to tell you that even then there’s no guarantee you’ve rid yourself of the little beasties! Bedbugs hunker down and bide their time. Evidently they can live without human blood for several months…hibernating. Unlike bears who, by virtue of their size, can’t be missed, and who CAN be deterred by jingling my bear bells, bedbugs literally come and go as they please, undetected by the naked eye it seems. Left to their own devices they multiply, until they’ve overtaken their surroundings and a full-blown infestation is underway.

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Image by CH®iS via Flickr

According to the rep from All America Pest Control, the infestation in my daughter’s old apartment was ultra-low. Even the Orkin rep had indicated that my daughter must be very sensitive to bug bites, which she is. Lucky for her, if getting bitten 30+ times is considered lucky, for had she not been bothered she would’ve been inundated by bedbugs. By comparison, dealing with 2 larvae and 1 dead bedbug found in the bed’s dust ruffle when it was laundered and removed from the dryer, was a piece of cake. Or so we thought.

No matter 1 dead bedbug or 1,000 live ones, cleaning everything is mandatory…or else! But you know what? My daughter became so paranoid that nothing short of baking the entire apartment would have satisfied her. But if “spot cleaning” cost $600, what do you think the charge would’ve been for bringing in heavy duty equipment to fry the little suckers? Probably a couple of thousand dollars!!! So instead the “light brigade,” an arthritic, middle-aged mom and her broken-handed daughter set to work cleaning every crevice of everything.

First my daughter had to recover her belongings from storage, bringing them back to the old apartment. No way were we going to take them to the new apartment without sanitizing them of bedbugs and/or their larvae. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t see them. Remember, they like to hide until the dinner bell rings…in their little pea-brains, I guess. While my daughter undertook the massive job of sorting all, and I do mean ALL, her clothes into piles for laundering, I proceeded to clorox wipe furnishings. I’m not sure whose job was worse.

Thanks to my generosity (or idiocy) throughout the years, my daughter has clothes up the wazoo!!! Not only were they hanging, organized neatly according to type, style, color, fancy, casual in her huge, walk-in closet, but they also occupied shelves in the closet, dresser drawers, bins in a bookcase as well as the second bedroom closet. Mind you, she is a ballerina requiring a whole wardrobe of dancewear in addition to street clothes. Nonetheless, the fault is mine… and my husband’s. Born into large families where luxuries were nonexistent, we, like many of our generation, tend to shower our offspring with what we never had. Bless our daughter’s heart for she has never asked for anything, probably because she knows all her needs will be met, and some. Perhaps the bedbugs were a blessing in disguise?!? Forgive me, I must be delusional. However my daughter and I agree that she has no need of any further piece of fabric, a favorite hiding place of those dreaded insects.

We felt the same about the furnishings. Wiping down every lamp and lampshade, picture frame, trinket box, extension cord, plastic food container, electric fan, dining room chair, pair of earrings, bracelet, necklace, cd speaker, clothes hanger, wire basket, wicker basket, candleholder, vase, candle, book, magazine, wastebasket, utensil holder and utensils, not to mention the really large items like a tri-fold room divider, made me sick to my stomach, literally. Actually there is some of that in this never-ending tragi-comedy.

North Face of Mt. Everest

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It was a massive undertaking, but my daughter and I “hit the ground running” when we returned to her hometown after she visited with my husband and me. With adrenalin pumping, she and I proceeded to climb our own “Mt. Everest.” While she began the process of laundering her clothes, I spent the first day-and-a-half painting her new apartment.

Benjamin Moore’s “white stone,” a soft blue-gray, lightened and brightened the heretofore dingy, gold walls prevalent in 70s’ construction. While I chose that color for the public rooms, I opted for a soft blue in the one bedroom and a soft lavender in the tiny bathroom. I wanted to preserve and enhance the vintage charm of the apartment with its crown mouldings and high ceilings. Funny thing, when repairmen stopped by (another part of this tale), the first thing they asked was if we had just had the apartment painted. Of course I owned up to the fact that I was the painter, but that the tops of the walls needed to be done. And since I was too short, my husband would be finishing the job. The men grinned, admitting to their wonderment as to who we might have hired to do the job. Intimating that they thought we’d been “taken,” until they realized that a middle-aged woman, albeit a short one, did a damn good job. If I must say so myself.

From here the story takes an unexpected turn, so make sure you come back for more. Suffice it to say that I find it somewhat therapeutic to be reliving several of the worst weeks of my life, physically and mentally. They left me spent in every way. I was certain this was my final parenting job, that I could mother no more.

you think???…hugmamma. 😉 

a tribute to my mom…ironing

Ironing board

Image via Wikipedia

Do you iron what you wear? With drycleaners popping up on every corner, and the grunge look being in fashion, and ripped jeans looking cool, why bother to get the wrinkles out of everyday wear? I’ve got a small stack of shirts and jeans, both mine and my husbands, sitting atop the dryer waiting to be ironed. Sometimes I pull an item or 2 from the pile and give it a quick press when I’m in a hurry to wear it then and there. But most of the items have been patiently waiting their turn, collecting dust. Literally. It’s kind of an “out of sight, out of mind” thing.

When “the mood” hits me, I’ll gather the load of folded, by now very wrinkled items in my arms, bring them upstairs in front of the TV, and plop them down on a chair. Then I’ll ask my hubby to drag the ironing board up as well. He’ll usually go the whole “nine yards,” situating it in its usual spot, plug an extension cord into the nearby wall socket, plug the iron into that, and voila! I’m good to go. I’ll find a good show to watch on TV, and start ironing away. Once I get started, I can hardly wait to see the pile of clothes get smaller. It’s like a competition with myself, but also against the clothes. Will I get through all of them, or will I get pooped first?

Toritama produces 15% of the Brazilian jeans

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Because my husband’s clothes are larger per square inch than mine, ironing them seems to take twice as long. But I muddle through, knowing I’m being a good, no great, wife! Truthfully, I think he’d probably wear his clothes wrinkled. In fact, he’s tried that. Upon closer inspection I’ll give him the thumbs up, or thumbs down. The older I get, sometimes I’ll just squint and give a quick thumbs up.

How my mom ever managed to work for years as a laundress for a Catholic orphanage, I’ll never know. She spent 8 hours standing on her feet, ironing, ironing, ironing. In between that she’d put loads of wash on, and then hang them out to dry. She dealt with pieces of clothing that ran the gamut from kids’ play clothes to nuns’ habits, including their head gear. Starching items was a biggie in those days. For those not familiar with that term, select types of clothing were doused in thick liquid, that really seemed like glue. I don’t remember if it was then lightly rinsed, or just wrung out and hung to dry. What puzzles me to this day is how my mom managed to get the nuns’ heavy, black, woolen uniforms, and head pieces, looking like they’d been drycleaned? She should have gotten an award or something. I imagine her pay was even paltry, given the orphanage was run on a dime and lots of prayers.

Needless to say my mom taught my siblings and me to iron correctly. On a shirt or blouse, we learned to iron the collar first, then the upper neck area along the back, then each sleeve, then the front of one side, moving around the back of the shirt or blouse, to the remaining front. On a pair of slacks, we would iron the front, then the back, then fold the legs together so that we could iron one side at a time, being certain to iron the inside of each leg as well. It was expected that when we opened the pants up again, there would be creases down the fronts of each leg.

Image by me. Larger version available on Flickr.

Image via Wikipedia

Talk about learning to iron as if we were artists, or scientists. My mom took great pride in not only mastering the technique, but having each item of clothing looking a thousand times better than when she got it. And that skirt or overall may have passed through her hands a gazillion times! No matter, my mom washed it, dried it, and ironed it as if for the very first time…and never complained. Even when she developed varicose veins as a result of working barefoot on concrete floors. The sight of her calves marred by streaks of blue bumps, were a constant reminder to me of how my mom sacrificed her own comfort to keep us kids fed, and clothed, with a roof over our heads.

Being widowed at such a young age, 30, my mom was immensely grateful to be working. And the Maryknoll nuns were like guardian angels always hovering to make certain we had enough food and clothing, even if both were surplus from the orphanage’s own stockpile.

So yes I still iron, however minimally, in memory of my mom who made the task monumentally important. Such a small, everyday occurrence, that for her meant all the world.

i try not to underestimate the small…for they are usually larger than they seem…hugmamma.  

“can you part with it?”

If you were to look through the stuff in your closet, are there any items with which you’re  unable to part, at least not yet? There are a couple that immediately come to mind in my overstuffed 70’s style closet. You know the kind, short in width and depth with bi-fold doors. How I dream of a walk-in-closet. Sigh…another house, another life, whichever comes first. But back to the pieces of clothing which no longer seem right for my senior body, but are nonetheless reminders of bygone days, when I was more hip.

Weight gain can be a problem in older or seden...

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It’s the same dilemma we face when we gain a few pounds. We put away those smaller-sized outfits knowing, or maybe hoping, we’ll soon be wearing them again. We’re convinced that little extra weight will come right off. No problem. And then we hold that thought for  ……years.

The shirt and the jacket that have hung in my closet year-after-year-after-year, were victims of weight gain, and old age, my weight gain, my old age. So rather than hide them away from the world any longer, I’m going to sell them as vintage clothing…very soon. I’m certain someone will want to look as hip as I once did. You think?

Dare I ask…what you think of this…

……………………………………….or this?

And what’s Misha’s opinion?

Take them away! They hurt my eyes!!!

grandsons!…what do they know!…hugmamma.

attitude adjustment

One day I had occasion to visit a beautiful, upscale mall in sunny southern California, The Costa Mesa Mall. Sprawling over several acres, it was a shopper’s paradise. A favorite phrase,”eye candy,” coined while strolling the cobblestone streets of Venice, seemed just as applicable at this retail complex. Anchoring this shopping mecca, were giants Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Sak’s, and Sear’s. Sprinkled in and around them were other name stores, Gap, BCBG, MaxMara, Mango, Barney’s New York, Abercrombie & Fitch, and a seemingly endless list of other brands. Rolex caught my eye. I’d not seen it in any other mall I’ve visited. In fact, I’ve never seen its storefront before.

My first stop had to be Bloomingdale’s. Our first “introduction” was at 53rd and Lex in NYC in 1976. Several years ago, my daughter and I visited a branch in Soho, New York. There’s a distinct vibe to the retail icon. It’s upscale with a contemporary, youthful flavor. New York is culturally diverse, with Chinatown and Little Italy as neighbors, deli workers commuting alongside doctors on subways, and homeless setting up house across the street from Trump Tower. As a result, Manhattan’s Bloomingdale’s caters to customers from all walks of life. Everyone is treated equally. When you enter the store, whether you browse or buy, you’re a BFF (best friend forever).

As I wandered through Costa Mesa’s Bloomingdale’s, the mood was the exact opposite of its “sister” in the east. I felt invisible as I made my way through different areas of women’s wear. Several of the saleswomen were young and Asian. None approached to assist me, instead greeting and speaking with Caucasian shoppers. I took notice because I’m half-Chinese. Perhaps I didn’t appear to have the money to spend. No matter I thought, I’m just browsing. If something “grabbed” my attention, I would’ve made myself known.

In lingerie, I looked at a selection of bras displayed on a table. While fingering one in particular, a lovely, black, young saleslady approached saying “Isn”t that nice!” I replied that it was, but couldn’t find the price. She checked one like it nearby. It too had no price, so she left to make inquiries, indicating she’d be right back. Upon returning with the price, she pointed to another bra that was on sale. Following her to the “sale” rack, I explained that I had been searching for one that I had seen more than a year ago at Free People. The saleslady quickly informed me that the store had a branch in the mall. I was pleasantly surprised that she referred me to a competitor. Her recommendation reminded me of the Santa Claus in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” If an item was not in stock, he sent customers from Gimbel’s, where he worked, to Macy’s where he thought they’d find exactly what they were looking for.

Leaving Bloomingdale’s I pondered what had just happened to me. I was ignored by my own ethnic “sisters”, and treated kindly by a black woman, who reached out in true sisterhood. On my way out of the store, I saw BCBG, a retailer of expensive, designer wear. Stepping inside, I strolled about, stopping to more closely inspect items that were of interest. The 3 young, Asian, sales help never acknowledged my presence. Interesting, I thought. As I made my way from the back towards the exit at the front, I stopped to allow one of the sales women to pass. I noticed a half-smile on her lips as she walked by. Continuing towards the door, I saw a Caucasian customer enter and heard one of the sales ladies call out “Hi! How are you?”

In my 20’s I perceived such affronts as there being something wrong with me. Almost 40 years later, I find such experiences curious. On its face it might seem that the Asian women thought I was “beneath” them and their Caucasian clientele. I was dressed well, but not anything like their regular customers. By contrast, the young, Black woman treated me as an equal or better, since I was a potential consumer. But setting aside what might seem like the obvious, it may be that the Asians were behaving according to stereotype, quiet and shy. And the black woman was, perhaps, more outgoing by nature. Murmuring to myself, I continued on my way.

My next encounter, more pleasant than those previously, added another dimension to the racial question. Sylvia, in DKNY, greeted me with a pleasant smile and “Hi! How are you?” As I wandered from table to rack, looking at Donna Karin designer digs, Sylvia’s eyes followed me. Stepping closer, she commented that I should let her know if I needed any help. I thanked her. When I finally spied a long, grey, sleeveless dress that might fit my daughter nicely, I asked for Sylvia’s assistance. We talked a little about the details of the dress, its fit, its color, its multiple use. I shared a picture of my daughter. Sylvia complimented my daughter’s beauty and her pursuit of dancing as a career. I learned that Sylvia was of Korean-Polish ancestry. I expressed my feeling that marriages between easterners and westerners, can produce attractive offspring. My husband and daughter who are Hawaiian-Chinese-Portuguese are proof-positive. I left in a very good mood, promising to return later that day, my daughter in tow.

Before heading off to get a bite to eat, I stopped in at Free People. Immediately inside the doorway, Ashley greeted me with a huge smile and friendly manner that wrapped around me like a warm blanket. We chatted continually while I moved hangers aside to better inspect each piece of clothing. I couldn’t stop staring at her, wondering who she looked like. After a few moments playing charades, we arrived at the conclusion that she bore a close resemblance to the youngest of the 3 protagonists fighting the “good fight” against the witches in “Hocus Pocus,” a Halloween favorite on the small screen. Throughout the boutique, Ashley met up with me to comment on an item that I’d hold up for a better look. A native Californian, she was the friendliest I’d ever met, and I told her so. She laughed, and thanked me for the compliment. To better explain myself I told her of my experience in Bloomingdale’s. “Oh!” she exclaimed, eyes rolling, “They need an attitude adjustment!” Well, I just loved her absolute candidness. She was too precious, I thought.

It was so refreshing to make small talk with a young person, so totally unimpressed with outward trappings. She was Caucasian, but it didn’t matter. She was a resounding reminder that it’s what a person is like on the “inside” that matters, not skin color, or social status, or age. Because of her innate skills for serving customers, Free People made a tidy sum when I returned with my daughter to make a number of purchases. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I wanted to return to Bloomingdale’s and BCBG to say “I was the one you wouldn’t help. Big mistake! Huge mistake! Huge!”

best not judge a book by its cover…hugmamma