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…

spring cleaning…in august?

I’ve got my daughter’s homecoming to thank for my self imposed spring housecleaning…at the height of summer! 

Trying to figure out where I would put extra boxes of pasta…spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and shells…and salt and pepper dispensers…and oodles of boxes of different varieties of green tea…and multiple cans of spray starch and shaving cream…and on and on and on…made me decide to rip the house apart and start all over again. How far have I gotten? Don’t ask.

TIDY TEA

TIDY TEA

Actually, the kitchen is nearly done. The shelves in my pantry are organized. Wonder of wonders! No more stacking boxes of tea on top of one another so that it was difficult to know what I had. I’ve cut apart the boxes, so that the tea bags are fully visible and labeled. There’s my husband’s “go to” green tea with lemon, and my personal stash of sleep aids…decaffeinated green tea.

Then there’s…earl grey green tea…peach green tea…mango green tea…jasmine green tea…chai green…acai green tea…pink lemonade green tea…green tea with ginger, coconut and vanilla…and finally, yerba matta green tea. This last one was recommended by my chiropractor. I drank it once…and grew chest hairs!

Did you know that green tea is a great metabolizer? Three cups a day can help with weight loss according to some diet gurus. Now you know why I stick with decaf. I’d be swinging from the dining room chandelier otherwise.

In addition to the green variety, I’ve got…English breakfast…Earl Grey…coconut macadamia nut…mango passion fruit black tea…and oh, yes…just plain old black tea. Haven’t drunk that in years, but I keep it around just in case it comes back into style.

Trooping the colour - Kate

Then there’s the specialty of the house…not mine but the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. Their special blend of black tea which, you guessed it…I’ve yet to break open. I’m waiting for that special day…when the Queen comes for high tea. I don’t care which one it is…grandma or Cinderella. And you know when that’ll be…when h..l freezes over!

To top this all off, I’ve something which professes it will “sweeten” my mind…vanilla almond. I’d better drink a bucket of that when I’m done reorganizing my house…

What I did with the teas, I also did with the shelves holding the canned foods, the bottles of everything you can think of, and the pastas/rices and grains. In another area I was able to store all the family’s vitamins and supplements…except for my husband’s which are in the bathroom medicine cabinet. In order to do this I had to move some of my everyday spices, like salt and pepper, baking soda, baking powder and others of this variety to another cabinet. I’ve yet to get into my beloved spice drawer to clean up the mess left by a bottle of vanilla which spilled and sesame seeds that jumped out of the bottle because the cap wasn’t secured tightly. I wonder whose fault that was? Probably mine, since I’m head chef, besides being head housekeeper.

Today, Labor Day, I’ll be laboring in the adjoining dining room which has become a temporary storage area, meaning…it looks like a dump. 

WHAT A MESS!

WHAT A MESS!

My helpful hubby and daughter insert themselves wherever they can, meaning…wherever I think they’ll be able to do things as well as me. No ego here. Just the plain, honest truth. There’s no one who knows better where everything should go than the house boss. Don’t you agree, ladies?

So while you’re all picnicking and swimming and lazing about in the sun…think of me…slaving away in my castle…

…like the idiot that i am…

………hugmamma.

staying power…us vs. them

Despite the turmoil bedbugs have caused in my family’s life recently, I’ve an underlying admiration for their “sticktoittiveness.” I’m certain you’ve heard the word before, although it’s probably not in Webster’s Dictionary. After all, bedbugs are just trying to coexist, especially since they need our blood to survive. Don’t you think we can spare a little, now and then. If it weren’t for the itchiness and accompanying rash…???

During his initial visit to my daughter’s apartment, the rep from All America Pest Control, demonstrating his vast knowledge of bedbugs, explained that there’d been an infestation in the U.S. back in the 80s. However until recently, the problem had been on the wane. With the influx of people from Third World Countires, the rep indicated that bedbugs were again on the rise. Why so?

Image representing Bill Gates as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

According to the rep’s explanation, bedbugs are rampant in Third World Countries because the people have not the means to erradicate them. Since the pests aren’t a health threat, as yet, the people learn to live with bedbugs. In other words, they’re viewed as a nuisance, not a hazard. Makes total sense. Who has unlimited funds to drive the little buggers from existence? Maybe Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Queen Elizabeth. Not me and mine, that’s for sure. Therefore as a result of the inability to contain the bedbugs, they are being inadvertently transported by Third World Country travelers, via their belongings, as many seek to improve their lots elsewhere in the world.

My personal take on the rep’s stance is that we should learn to live with bedbugs to some degree. It’s a fact that world travel isn’t going to disappear, and neither are the nasty pests for that matter. So what other recourse have we? We’ve not the financial resources to exterminate their entire population, nor have we the stamina to Clorox-wipe them out of existence. Believe me, I tried. After cleaning too many articles to count, my daughter and I took to garbage bagging stuff and leaving them to bake in the heat of her locked car for a couple of days. Otherwise, we’d still be sanitizing every crevice of every single thing. That’s more my friend Sylvia’s “cup of tea.” She has staying power to match that of bedbugs, especially when it comes to cleaning.

Source: Jackie Gleason Columbus, OH Desc: Pict...

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Another bug with staying power is the termite. It’s a native of tropical climates, because of the warmth and moisture. I’d forgotten what nuisances termites can be until our family rented a spacious home atop Diamond Head one summer years ago. It was in the Black Point neighborhood where the view of nearby Waikiki Beach is stunning. Sipping coffee while watching early morning surfers ride the waves was luxury personified. While the house retained its charm, it was in need of updating. But with so many windows giving way to beautiful views of the flora and fauna, as well as the ocean, and allowing the tropical breezes to wend their way unobstructed throughout the many rooms, we felt we were in paradise, which we were. Having extended family over to enjoy our hospitality was the reason for our once-in-a-lifetime treat. The “fly in the ointment,” were the termites.

Mastotermes darwiniensis or Darwin Termite, is...

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Termites would settle on the window sills in never-ending numbers. I’d Windex them away, only to find more settling in as replacements later. The kitchen windows seemed to hold a particular attraction for them. Keeping termites from alighting on our food was a battle. Not a major one, but still a struggle nonetheless. It was not an appetizing sight to watch their little bodies writhing about as they attempted to take flight. There was no fear of them attacking us for they were so inconsequentially small. But they were as bothersome to us, as David and his slingshot were to Goliath.

Just as with bedbugs, and most definitely cockroaches, termites will probably outlast the human race on this planet we like to call ours. It’s my feeling we only rent, while the insects own. We’d better start being nice to our landlords.

Inspecting for Bedbugs

Image by bug_girl_mi via Flickr

…here bedbug…nice bedbug…hugmamma. 😉      

cicadas, food poisoning, and bedbugs…???

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...

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It was like the plague of locusts as foretold by Moses to the Pharoah, if he did not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt. Wouldn’t you know that at the time we needed to undertake my daughter’s move from one apartment to another, made monumental by having to sanitize everything first, the cicadas would have to rise from “dead?” Evidently before the adults die they bury their eggs in the ground at the foot of a tree, and they all hatch 13 years later.

When we lived in Connecticut more than a decade ago, it was somewhat charming to hear the cicadas chirping outside our bedroom window at night. But I was not prepared for their dive bombing antics while we attempted to move stuff in and out of both apartments and the storage unit. My daughter and I had to hope a cicada wouldn’t fly into our ears or mouths as we weaved in between their flight paths. Nor was it fun to try sidestepping their seemingly dead bodies which lay everywhere, in the parking lots, on the walkways, on stairs, and most definitely forming welcome mats outside the apartment doors. Some were dead; others would suddenly take flight scaring the bejesus out of us. Even as we removed bins and garbage bags filled with my daughter’s furnishings from her car, we were waving our arms frantically so the cicadas wouldn’t find their way inside. One did. I had to kill it because it kept trying to fly at me.

A pair of Greek cicadas

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For a month or so, cicadas were everywhere, in town, in neighborhoods, at malls, at grocery stores, at restaurants…everywhere! The buggers crawled up sides of buildings, houses. They seemed to occupy every tree and bush. Bumping into one accidentally would ensure being bombarded by cicadas not keen on being disturbed. It was my theory that if there were breezes, the insects remained in trees, but since that was few and far between in the torrid mid-90 degree temperatures, the cicadas preferred to find respite on the cool concrete of nearby structures. So it became us against them, as to who had the right of way in the buildings. Their sheer numbers made them mightier it seemed. We could hear the lone shriek here and there as women, us included, came under attack.

Thankfully, the cicadas were taking their leave of earth toward the end of my stay. Their numbers seemed to be dwindling. Since I’ve been home, I’ve not heard my daughter speak of them anymore. But she has assured me she doesn’t plan to be living in that state 13 years from now. Know what? I’ve already told her she’ll have to get her next boyfriend to help her move, whoever he may be. I’ll definitely be too old to repeat this once-in-a-lifetime experience. She laughed; so did I. Hmmm…

I mentioned the heat. Unless you live in the south, you don’t know what hot is. While the warmth was a welcome relief from Seattle’s wintry climes, I felt like I’d gone to hell, bypassing more pleasant destinations like Hawaii or Florida. It was wonderful dressing in shorts and flip-flops every day. But feeling the need to take baths several times daily was not joyous. The heat was made even more unbearable by the equally high humidity. But riding high on adrenalin, my daughter and I were not deterred from our task. Until another predator came calling, an invisible one…salmonella.

 

Salmonella typhimurium invading cultured human...

 

I’ve had my fair share of food poisoning episodes over the course of my 61 years, none worse than when my daughter and I visited NYC years ago. She was enrolled in a summer dance program at a well-known performing arts high school near Lincoln Center. Unfortunately the name escapes me, it’s so famous. I jest. It really is. I think Broadway and Hollywood celebs have attended it. Anyway…I took my daughter and a fellow student dancer to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The food and conversation was great. As I downed forkfuls of one of my favorite desserts, a cannoli, it seemed the ricotta cheese filling was runny. It seemed odd, but I didn’t stop eating it. Huge mistake for which I paid dearly hours later.

Rather than spending the night in bed, I was in the bathroom relieving myself of every last drop of that rancid cannoli. Finding no reprieve I finally had to call a taxi to take me to the nearest ER. Vomiting blood scared me into leaving my daughter alone in a hotel room sound asleep. Fortunately my good friend Katie and her teenage son were in the same hotel, coincidentally deciding to visit NYC that weekend. So I alerted her to my situation and asked her to be on call should my hospital stay be longer than I hoped. As it turned out I was totally dehydrated, and the blood was from having aggravated my stomach tissues with all the vomiting. Intravenous fluids and rest got me back on my feet so that I was able to walk back to my hotel, a few long blocks away.

Returning to the present bout with food poisoning, my daughter was the first to begin vomiting and so on. She literally sat on the floor, head nearly in the toilet bowl, spewing forth everything she’d eaten within the last 24 hours. It seemed to go on and on. I was concerned that she’d become so dehydrated, that I asked several times if she needed me to take her to the ER. Having already been there, done that when I was with her in February, my daughter was not inclined to repeat that long, drawn out, 7 hour scenario in the hospital. Thankfully she started feeling better probably a day-and-a-half later. Knowing she needed to maintain a balance in her electrolytes, I got her Pedialyte juice. Once stabilized, she began having broths, soda crackers, and eventually more solid food. Meanwhile, I pushed on with cleaning and moving stuff, as my daughter lay resting. Unfortunately I didn’t escape her fate. As she seemed to be on her way to recovering, I took my turn at the toilet bowl. And then I was laid up in bed as well. We were two miserable human beings as we lay amid the mess in her old apartment.

You’re probably wondering why we opted to sleep where the bedbugs were rather than in my daughter’s new apartment? Well, remember the repairmen? This is where they come in, but that’s another chapter. So go have some coffee, a bite to eat, a snooze. But come back later…

and i’ll tell you another story…hugmamma. 😉  btw…i remember the name of that high school in nyc…la guardia performing arts high school…no memory loss here…just delayed…ha, ha.

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

Image via Wikipedia

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. 😉 

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

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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

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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.  

decorating tip, “change it up”

Growing up, our family never bought a stick of furniture. Everything was a hand-me-down, or a thrift shop leftover. Needless to say nothing matched. Since one of my Saturday chores was housecleaning, I taught myself to meld what most might consider junk. I didn’t know it then, but my passion for antiques and vintage collectibles probably grew out of necessity. Overstuffed armchairs, a long sofa with missing springs, a vintage, stand-alone radio whose flat top displayed religious articles, along with an assortment of odd pieces was my introduction to decorating. Each time I swept and dusted, I also rearranged the furnishings, even if it was just a nudge here and there. I continued this practice during my stint in retailing, during and after college. As a sales clerk and then a department manager, I was advised to “change things up” regularly. Customers would perceive that the store was constantly bringing in new merchandise, when in fact it wasn’t. To this day I redo my rented space in an antique mall, which always derives compliments from management and customers alike. Reworking the space freshens the look, and casts each item in a new light. It also helps with the “bottom line,” sales.

My house undergoes the same rearranging, more so in the past than now. Older age brings contentment with the status quo. Forty years of housekeeping will do that. “Been there, done that!” However friends and family will attest to the fact that the holidays consume my time and energy as I transform my home into a wonderland. For Halloween and Christmas my stored treasures are retrieved from the garage and incorporated into my furnishings. As in bygone days I have fun blending furnishings, with seasonal decor. Rather than relegate normal household items to the bins from whence the ornaments, wreaths, and garlands came, I intermingle all to enhance every room, including the bathrooms. I usually “pull out all the stops” for the holidays, because it always gets a jaw-dropping reaction. There are drawbacks, however.

It usually takes me 2 weeks of cleaning and decorating, to dress 5 or 6 medium-sized trees for display in various rooms, to hang garlands with ornaments atop cupboards, to create elaborate centerpieces for the kitchen island and dining room table, to configure a unique vintage vignette across the fireplace mantel. And that’s only a sampling of the holiday facelift. THEN there’s the dismantling, not done until April the last couple of years. Having taken so long to arrange, I’m in no hurry to destroy my masterpiece. Luckily my husband enjoys my creativity, or else he’s a saint for humoring my eccentricities. Probably a little of both. Friends don’t mind either. They enjoy a prolonged Christmas, especially when it’s in my house, not theirs.

So while visiting with my daughter, it’s fun for me to redo her apartment. Physically and mentally spent at day’s end,  learning and dancing new choreography, she is only too happy to let me “have at it.” She enjoys her mismatched furnishings, bistro table and chairs from Pier 1, ottoman from Bed, Bath and Beyond, long, antique dresser serving as a side table, antique Queen Anne side chair in need of reupholstering, vintage corner cupboard in a pretty, muted yellow. My daughter has grown up with my eclectic taste, and passion for vintage and antique furnishings. And we both love a good bargain, so Target is always one of  the stops when we’re out shopping for something new.

Well I’m off to perform some “magic” on my daughter’s apartment. Will chat again later. Enjoy all the moments of your day…

hugs of energy, as you go about your day…hugmamma.