the whole truth…and nothing but…

Photographs can sometimes lie. Or at the very least…they don’t always tell the whole truth.

Having secured a number of rentals over the last several years, whether for family vacations or for our daughter’s use while working, we’ve come to realize that photos don’t necessarily represent the total picture. 

Take for example the 1 bedroom condo we rented on Waikiki Beach last year when we returned to Honolulu for my mother-in-law’s funeral. 

The unit photographed beautifully, including the balcony with 2 chairs. IMG_4457What the photo did NOT capture, was the fact that we’d be sitting with our knees touching the rail. That’s if we could even squeeze our way onto the narrow balcony. What the picture also didn’t show was the view of the enormous parking lot surrounded by wall-to-wall high-rises. I’ll give the owner credit though for correctly identifying the peek-a-boo mountain view.IMG_4456

Then there was the rental my daughter and I recently occupied in San Fransisco‘s Mission District. It looked like a charming enough studio. There was a queen-sized bed towards the back of what seemed a somewhat spacious living area with a couch and television. I liked that one could watch TV while facing the balcony and the Zen-like garden beyond. Unfortunately any thought I might have had of spending time outside, disappeared upon arrival.

The area was a mess. A year’s worth of leaves had accumulated. Spider webs had taken hold. Plants were dying. Chairs were in disrepair. It was obvious that outdoor maintenance wasn’t a priority. Thank goodness a regular service handled the indoor cleaning. Or I’d have been out of there in a hot San Francisco minute.

Two other factors about the apartment were a little more disconcerting. One was that it shared a common wall with the owners’ garage. I sometimes wondered if we’d wake up under a car if one of the drivers stepped on the gas instead of the brake. The second was one of hygiene. The bath towels felt as though we were wiping ourselves with chenille bedspreads. You know, the kind grandma used on her beds. They were so thin. And sometimes we’d find strands of hair embedded in the dark fibers of the brown towels. Yuck! Yuck! And yuck!

I was reminded of these experiences after helping our daughter settle into her current digs this past weekend. She’s in Houston rehearsing the female dance lead in The Grand Opera‘s AIDA.

The best I can say about the apartment is that it’s spacious. It had been a detached garage in a former life. Now it’s a bungalow…living and bathroom/bedroom separated by a narrow breezeway-turned kitchen. Funky is the best way to describe the decor. I expected that from the online photos. What I didn’t expect was almost nonexistent lighting and dirt beneath the surface…not dust, but grease and grime.

My spirits nose-dived when we walked into the dimly lit living room. I could barely see the furnishings once we’d switched on the 2 over-sized, recessed ceiling lights. And it was only 6:30 in the evening! Some natural light shone from the kitchen windows, but not enough to make a difference. In fact, the overhead track lighting in the kitchen wasn’t the best light to prep and cook in either. The bathroom light was better, albeit haphazardly assembled. The light bulbs above the medicine cabinet were mismatched or missing, and only one of the mismatched lights that were part of the ceiling fan worked.

The bedroom lighting was a disaster.IMG_5094Light from an old-fashioned desk lamp shone like a spotlight on the wall next to the bed. With dark wood flooring and black bed covers, it was difficult to find comfort in that dingy room as well. The closet was an alcove to the left of the bed. There were enough shelves and hanging space for sure, and at least the ceiling bulb with pull string shone a good deal of light.IMG_5093 Fortunately there was an overhead light with ceiling fan in the bedroom, which lit up the space.

Family and close friends know I’m never deterred by less than desirable accommodations. I’m always up to the challenge of making things work, and I was determined to instill happiness in this apartment with a few dollars, and a whole lot of elbow grease and creativity.

Imagination is my middle name. Growing up poor in the good, old days meant having to dream up much of what I needed…whether it be play things or just pretty things. And at a very young age, I also learned the art of decorating. 

Charged with the task of cleaning and straightening our small upstairs rental each Saturday, I became extremely proficient at arranging and rearranging our thrift shop furniture. I took pride in making worn out furnishings look good. Over the years, first as a college student and then as a wife and mother, I have honed my talent such that I could do it in my sleep. Which, in fact, I often do…imagining how I would make over a room so that when day break arrives, I can “hit the ground running.” It also helps that my passion for hand-me-downs, in the form of antiques and vintage items, has only grown throughout the years. I’m now surrounded by what feels like…very dear, very old…friends.

So while our daughter followed her heart to the dance studio, her dad and I did a little sprucing up around the apartment.

Rolling up our sleeves, I scrubbed surfaces that looked like they’d not seen a sponge and disinfectant for some time, while hubby worked his magic on the laminate floors with a Swiffer mop. He went through half a box of replacement sheets, before we felt we could walk around the place with bare feet.

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…air mattress in living room for company…$1 pumpkin with gift tissue for hair…cheap place mats for dining…standing lamp brightens up a once dark room…colorful throws bought on sale, add cheer and coziness…

Once we sanitized the place, I proceeded to give it a face lift with bargains gleaned from a nearby TARGET. Thank God for TARGET! In no time the apartment looked more upbeat, cheerful, and cozy. The transformation brightened not only the apartment, but our spirits as well. 

With a little imagination such items as greeting cards, gift bags, colorful throws, bargain bowls, bag clips, rag rugs and towels, can turn any eye-sore into a warm and inviting space. Add to that a fresh set of linens complete with pillowcases, shams, sheets and comforter for $40, and a set of 2 table lamps and one standing lamp for $49…and our daughter was home…at last.

Returning home to the comfort of cozy surroundings has always been a priority in my life. It’s been a haven wherein my family and I can rest, recuperate, and re-energize for the next day’s adventures. And regardless of where my daughter’s career has taken her, I’ve always wanted the same for her…a home reminiscent of the one in which she’s grown up.

Memories are made no matter where we are…

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…child’s bed linen set at 30% off amps up this once spiritless bedroom…gift bags as wall art for under $5…bedside table lamp sets the right tone for winding down…

………hugmamma.

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…charming halloween cards and a pumpkin welcome our daughter home…and invites visitors to join her for conversation and comfort…

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…bowls add color while offering function…as do the magnet/hooks…

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happy daughter…happy, happy, happy…hugmamma…

what are friends for?

I had a couple of nice outings with two girlfriends recently.

Both are open and forthcoming with their lives…the ups…the downs. They’re also quick to offer words of support when necessary, just as I am when they’re in need.

Women connect on the ground-floor level. Together we take the elevator to the penthouse. Along the way…we get off and on…as life directs. A metaphor to be sure, but good girlfriends travel the floors in life’s elevator together…physically…and spiritually.

Molbaks' Orchids

Molbaks’ Orchids (Photo credit: JHall159)

Suzy and I enjoyed an outing to Molbak’s to take advantage of its outdoor sale…buy 1, get one free. Perrenials, annuals, vines, groundcovers, grasses, shrubs, trees…all outdoor plantings were included. In the decade and a-half that I’ve been frequenting this, my favorite nursery, I’d never seen such a sale. And Suzy hadn’t been to Molbak’s in 30 years, so she was thrilled when I invited her to accompany me.

To and from the nursery the conversation was lively. Suzy and I learned we had much in common. My father died when I was one; hers died when she was four. My mom was manipulative in many ways; so is hers. The comparisons continued. We empathized. We laughed.

Once we arrived at our destination we delighted in the sights that surrounded us, and the delicious lunch served in the cafe. After wandering around the indoor gift shop, we wend our way through the plants, selecting several for purchase.  All in all…a pleasurable outing for both of us.

My friend Mary and I stopped for coffee after exercise class yesterday. She needed a little cheering up, so I gladly obliged. She’s done as much for me.

It’s good to have someone with whom to commiserate. Moms have issues not easily understood by husbands and offspring. Try as we might, we can never seem to get our dilemma across to our loved ones. Easier to turn to other moms, not so much for a solution, as for an immediate “I know just what you mean.” That alone opens the floodgates to fluid conversation.

When all is said and done, life continues on…the load…a little lighter. All a woman needs is a sympathetic ear and a few words of support. No judgments. No put-downs. No unsolicited advice.

Mutual admiration, respect, concern, like, and love…loosely tied ribbons that keep friends close.

English: friends like you

English: friends like you (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…i’m blest with a few…good ones…

………hugmamma.

 

365 photo challenge: contemporary

My tastes do not tend toward the contemporary…now. But if I had another house to decorate…perhaps. Meanwhile my current home is a split-level contemporary from the mid-70s. And it suits my primitive, vintage furnishings quite nicely.

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cleaning the “bowl”

Decorative toilet seat

Image via Wikipedia

How many of you like cleaning the bathroom? More specifically, how many of you relish scrubbing the toilet bowl? While I abhor the task, I’m delighted with the end product, the sparkling, sanitized, glistening human waste receptacle. I know. I know. TMI. “Too much information,” for those without a young adult in your lives, who often reminds that too much honesty is unnecessary, and totally unwanted!

I can’t help but remember that wonderful 50’s commercial where a little man in a suit seated in a small boat, floated around on the water in a toilet bowl, talking about the best product for cleaning the inside of the bowl.  How clever! Although I’m sure as a kid I was more enthralled with the small man fitting in the toilet, than how my mom or older sister was going to get it clean. Eventually Mr. Clean took over from “Mr. Tidy Bowl” in the 70’s and 80’s. By that time I did care what to use, because I was the one having to clean the d–n toilet, and have been doing so ever since. Actually, I lie. Besides hubby helping out once-in-while,  there was a time when my husband employed a housecleaner while I lived with my daughter in another state, where she was training to be a professional ballerina.

When I returned home, my initial plan was to resume doing all the housework myself. But then I quickly came to my senses, and retained Lucy’s services. After all, she did a far better job than I ever did. With her caring for the inside of the house every couple of weeks, I devoted my time to gardening and my antiques business. But my stint in Nirvana was short-lived when Lucy returned to Brazil, her home, for back surgery. To this day I’m still singing her praises.

Ancient roman latrines / latrinae, Ostia Antica

Image via Wikipedia

More than any other product  Comet was the cleaner I used the longest. Doing what my mom did, I’d sprinkle the gritty powder into the toilet bowl, and with a sponge I’d put some elbow grease into my hand as it swished around in all the nooks and crannies, getting out all the grime and yuck. Once again, TMI. But those were the olden days when wives and moms meant business, doing fierce battle with dirt, in hand-to-hand combat, literally.

Various toilet brushes

Image via Wikipedia

Now that I’m older, and wiser, I use a biodegradable, lavender-scented cleanser which I sprinkle into the bowl, and with a stylish, long-handled brush, I get the job done in a more civilized manner. With a few scrubs here and there, and a press of the little toilet handle, yesterday’s grime is history. I’m no longer down on my knees in subservience to the bowl. It is now subservient to me…and my toilet brush. And of course it has a cute little receptacle of its own where it comfortably rests, until the next time. From a lofty height…

Toilet in german theater munich

Image via Wikipedia

i now look down upon my toilet bowl…and that’s as it should be…hugmamma.