Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Here are the ideas for dealing with Dad’s stuff (see the two previous posts here and here):

Make a shadow box to donate to the Lions Club Dad belonged to. I was all for that, bought a shadow box, then remembered: Lions Clubs don’t meet in their own space. They rent luncheon spots (or dinner or breakfast). The officers change yearly. I’m not feeling that vibe anymore.

Make a shadow box of my favorites for myself. Well, I bought the shadow box, and I do really like this idea. So I will do that.

I recalled I have this vintage trunk that is about 7″ deep, by 14″ wide and 30″ long. It was an oxygen tank holder, but I stripped it of everything I could remove and lined it with cork board, thinking it would make a nice display for my art work when working venues. It worked okay for that, but it isn’t ideal. I could line the inside with favorite pins & glue the pins in place, leaving the outer shell vintage and “shabby”.

OR – I could also line to outside of the trunk with pins glued in place and pour a thin coat of resin over. That sounds cool, but I wonder two things: how much would such a thing weigh? and would I do all sides or leave two sides undone for standing & hauling purposes? Would it look decent? Would it have resale value as a piece of recycled art?

The last idea is to buy cork board at the craft store and re-do the Star Thread case for now (I’ll probably actually do this). I need to mull the other ideas over for awhile, decide on favorites, and build up my energy to deal with it. This is a part of grieving, and I’m in no hurry to rush it: grief takes its own path. I have a lot of grief to deal with.


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I spent today sorting through the Lions’ Club Pins, disassembling Dad’s displays to make better sense of what he collected, listening to his disapproving voice over my shoulder (you never really get away from that), dusting them off and discarding the filthy poster board, reassembling the pins in categories, and counting them.

There are 126 pins I could get rid of in an instant, 100 of which are duplicates of other pins he owned and 26 of which have someone else’s name on them (as in “vote for…” or “so-and-so in such-and-such position”).


I haven’t actually touched the last 26 as my muscles hurt and my mind is tired.

There are 229 pins left to deal with + 8 name badges (seven with Dad’s name & office and one with Mom’s name as a spouse). I could toss the name badges.

There are: Ely (Nevada) Lions’ Club pins, California-Nevada 4N Region pins, International pins, States of the Union pins, Cities of Nevada pins, and generic Nevada State pins (some with dates). The Cities of NV pins cover 27 Nevada communities, including Ely. 39 states are represented, including 17 California communities). 9 pins representing different countries (and several more of Canadian towns, provinces, and one territory).


Dad did not travel to these countries, and probably didn’t travel to all the states, either. I have been to Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan (the Sapporo Acacia Lions Club pin, upper right). The Lions’ Club “sent” me, but Dad really footed the bill because he couldn’t get the support of the local club even after we hosted our own exchange student from Sapporo the year prior.


L-right: me meeting the mayor of Sapporo in 1974, Keiko-san in traditional dress in 1973 when she stayed with us, and me riding a random farm horse on the island of Hokkaido. Keiko & her friend, Mitsuki, insisted the taxi driver stop and we ask this poor farmer if the American girl could ride the horse. ­čÖé

I digress.


These are easily the coolest pins: the undated Nevada Gambling Collection. They are definitely ones I will not part with, but will keep as heirlooms.

As for what to do with the pins, I’ve had a few suggestions:

  1. create a shadow box with my favorites and get rid of the rest.
  2. ┬ádonate the pins back to the local Lions’ Club they came from.
  3. join a Lions’ Club Trading Pins group and trade (sell or give away) the pins I don’t want.

I’m also considering attaching them to something and creating objet d’art. A sample would be one of those cars where someone glued or welded a million pieces of trivia onto.


That American Dolls horse has been a project since my youngest left the house, but I think you get the picture. I just have to find the right object to the Lions’ Club pins (a lion, perhaps? Or a wooden cut-out lion shape?).

I’ll start with finishing the cleaning job and putting the pins back into the Star Thread box for now. I’m afraid I am much too drained emotionally to think or act any further with this.

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It started with this:

Random photos of the cleaning I have accomplished only to realize I can’t just post these pics and *not* tell the stories about the items in the window or on the shelf or at the top of the stairs. For one thing, the stupid carpet didn’t come clean despite my efforts (the only carpet in the house and I hate it). For a second thing, there are too many memories and sentimental values assigned to the objects in the window, on the shelf, and at the top of the stairs.

I’ll eventually have to deal with the two boxes at the top of the stairs: the “Star” thread display case and the “Fairy” soap case. And I don’t want to.

Dad’s been gone for 8 years this May. Mom has been gone for 24 years this June. I *have* to deal with it sometime.

Dad’s entire collection of Lions’ Club pins is stored in the Star display case. I haven’t counted how many pins. There are a lot of duplicates. There is a lot of Lions’ Club history. There’s not a lot of monetary value, if eBay is to be believed (I didn’t see any bids on most of the pins I searched for, but they were priced individually between $2 and $4 – unless they were really old. None of these are really old.

All of them are intricate works of art.

Dad collected pins from different states, a few countries, for different accomplishments, for different people in office (Lions’ Club offices), and for nearly every burg in Nevada. I haven’t even looked at the 100% attendance pins. Oh – and I’ve given four pins away to grandchildren, allowing them to take their choice.

I think Dad would have liked that – me, passing on his collection to small children. Or maybe not. He had a love/hate relationship with small people.

But, really, what do I do?

Some of these are really cool pins!

I don’t have the walls to display them on, but I think I will rethink how the Star case is set up to display the pins. The duplicates will have to go away, which means eBay. The ones with names on will also be put up on eBay, I think. They are of no historic value to me, but maybe to the ancestors – and I’m not spending the time to track down those people even if I probably should.

The best I can do is to organize the pins, wipe the dust off of them, and set them up in a better display. They do bring me joy, but they may bring my heirs headaches. I’m pretty certain there are over 300 pins here.

And the contents of the Fairy Soap box? Old country/western cassettes. I don’t even want to think about that. I’ll be converting those to digital.

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A Little Bit of Thrift

I’ve been putting together a little outfit over the past few months. it’s rather frumpy and retro, but it’s also something I’m excited about. I may even wear it to something other than a cosplay event, although my inspiration was “Dot” on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” crossed with “Mrs. McCarthy” of the “Father Brown” series. Different eras, I know. I think I ended up more Mrs. McCarthy, but that’s quite alright.

I picked up the dress for $6.99 and the hat for $3.95 at two different stops, but on the same day last summer when out and about “thrifting” with friends. The dress will require that I move the buttons a bit (my middle no longer sports a waist), but it’s entirely doable with minimal trouble. The hat is absolutely vintage velveteen GORGEOUS.

I love that hat! I love that it fits my small head – hats rarely do!

I found this purse a few months later when exploring a new thrift store in town. It was love at first sight, but I needed an excuse to buy it. $8, never been used that I can tell, vintage style, large enough to use as an overnight bag, flashy, and just generally outrageous. The lining isn’t torn, stained, or worn. It has pockets upon pockets. It’s just the right amount of gaudy to go with that dress, don’t you think?

Today, I finished it off; all I needed were a classic pair of pumps to wear, somewhat practical and low-heeled.


Enter the last casualty of Internet shopping: Payless for Shoes. They started their clearance sales today, and I – with many other patrons – arrived at opening time. I spent a lot of time trying on shoes (I have funny shaped feet: need wide shoes, but can sometimes make do with not wide shoes, wear a 7.5(US) but can sometimes switch it up to an 8. 20% off wasn’t doing it for me, but these had a flat price of $25 on them (regular $39.99) which made them even cheaper than the 20% off sale.

I’ve no idea when or where I will wear this outfit (after I move those darn buttons on the dress), but I do think it’s splendid. Only the hat is actually vintage, but the whole thing cost less than $44.

Last, there was a bonus on the dress. An unusual pin.


I’m not familiar with the symbol. It’s not Masonic. It does appear to be religious. Any ideas out there?

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(Because the weather has been boring and grey…)


hose waiting for work


Cotoneaster tangled in moss


marble and rust


obsidian shards


a peony stretches upward


tiny moss forest


textures of the filbert tree


filbert catkins


hope against the gloom


maple sees huddled together


ghost bicycle in a sedum forest

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I was cold. I was so cold, that I was in tears. It’s something that gets into my bones, my muscles. It might only be fifty degrees – not “cold” by any measure of temperature, but it has gotten into my psyche and I am in tears.

I don’t mind real cold: that icy, biting, sub-zero wind that freezes earrings and nips at the nose. You can bundle up against that kind of cold: gloves, muffler, hat, down jacket, silk long underwear. It’s the cold that seeps into your joints when you aren’t paying attention that cripples my mind and spirit. That’s a devil I have a hard time fighting with until my bones are warm again.

The other cold can be cured with hot cocoa and laughter.

I poured myself into that deep scouring I promised the house when I retired. My heart was not in it. Motions, just going through the motions – but my bones warmed and my muscles began to warm up. The zen state of cleaning emptied my mind.

He asked if I wanted to go for a walk. My impulse was to say, “No.” He tempered it with a suggestion:

“Why not drive down to the promenade and go walking?”

I needed to fire up my car anyway: it thinks cold weather is an excuse for the gas line to freeze or the battery to die. Luckily, it has a new battery and I poured an additive into the gas tank to keep it starting on cold mornings. Still, driving it every day is insurance against a frantic call to AAA for a jump – right? Even a drive as long as 1.5 miles.

We parked in a two-hour zone, behind a Ford Escalade. We walked down the street, to the elevator (we have a public elevator, outside, located on the side of a cliff). On down to where the walkway meets 7th Street and Singer Hill. We turned around and I adjusted my knit muffler to cover my ears as the icy wind was buffeting us.

Clouds were moving in from the southwest, but the view to the north was clear: Mount Saint Helens, Mount Washington, and other Washington State Cascade snow-covered peaks. Now, heading south, we could watch sea birds dip and dive beneath the wide Willamette Falls. No one else walked the promenade.

Graffiti marred some parts of it – I hope chalk was used. This promenade, the stone pillars and the concrete rails – these were created by artisans during The Great Depression. They have been renewed, remodeled, but the fact of the labor of love done by men who merely wanted to earn a dollar or fifty cents a day to feed their families remains. Perhaps some of these vandals could work that hard, knowing their labors would buy only a loaf of bread and a night’s lodging for a family of five. Respect is earned by understanding. By labor. By having our eyes opened to the struggles of others.

The promenade is scarcely a half-mile long. By the end, I unwrapped my muffler. My ears were still chilled, but no longer icy. We crossed the VA parking lot and walked the sidewalk over to The Highland Stillhouse, a public eatery and whisky house. We’ve been going there since they opened: situated across from a view of Willamette Falls, with a Scottish menu, beer, whiskey, and old homeland music piped in (Irish mostly, but we won’t tattle).

We ordered a plate of pretzels (two large pretzels, heavily salted) and two beers. Two more beers. I should remember the beers, but what I remember is the conversation and the connection between my husband and myself. The laughter. The serious pokes. The political differences laid aside in our united effort to change the world through discussion. The sense that my Scots mother was there (she was, after all, the person I learned how to drink and save the world from).

She was not first generation Scots. John Melrose emigrated during the Civil War. He had to sign papers agreeing to not choose sides in the American Civil War. But neither was my father first generation Irish: the Cusicks came across in the early 1700’s. We’re a mix of nationalities, identifying with those two primarily.

We talked about genealogy: his family is primarily German, but identifies strongly with the small bit of Irish. We’re both Germanic. I own two sets of wooden shoes from the Dutch family line – but no note on who owned them or why they were kept. Note to self: make notes for my heirs, Our heirs.

We walked back on High Street. There’s so much architecture to look at: clapboard homes and Victorians. Trim hauled around “The Horn”. Garden wonders – at least two gardens with “Pesticide Free” signs. We live in a temperate zone, despite the wintry chill in the air. February is our best chance at deep snow here, and it is rare. Green things are pushing up through the soil and Camellias are staring to bloom,

Perhaps we’ll get a few inches of snow on Saturday. Maybe we will be lucky and get over ten inches. If we do, we’ll go snow shoeing.

If we don’t, nothing is unusual. Life is beautiful.

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I broke out of my comfort zone this evening and went to an established writer’s group. I’ve attended one other, but in the company of a friend, and a very long time ago. This time, I was going in solo, with no idea how the group was organized or who else would be there.

I am an INFJ, and come across as very reserved if I don’t know you. If I know you, or I feel comfortable, I can be easily mistaken for an extrovert. I suffer anxiety, just thinking about going into a strange situation. I sometimes cancel plans with besties because I suffer anxiety. But this is part of the Retirement Plan: “Finally Write Those Novels Stuck In My Head” Or in my Documents, or the manila paper folder marked “stories” in my filing cabinet.

Despite the cold air (wow – we got down to actual freezing here the past couple days, nothing like the sub-zero temps of my youth but certainly cold enough to keep my older self cocooned inside the house), I drove down to the library and found the meeting room. It was a scary crowd inside: two elderly women prone to talking too much and three elderly men who didn’t talk at all. By elderly, I mean a lot older than me. Okay, maybe the same age as me. Maybe even a decade younger, but no more than that.

The syllabus stated this was for writers of all levels. I wasn’t surprised to learn the facilitator is a published playwright or that she has a novel “out there” in search of an editor. One member has published, or is in the process of publishing, his memoirs. No one else claimed to be that accomplished (I have a couple published poems under my belt from my twenties). (I have scarcely written down poetry since then, although I thinkin poetry – hardly anything to be proud of.)

Cutting to the chase: I was the newbie. There were “scheduled” readings on the agenda. A very approachable facilitator. One member had Parkinson’s, so his wife reads his writings for him.┬á There were five readings tonight, and I remained in my reserved role, biting my tongue in order to see how others responded, and feeling out the group.

The first writer read a short story, which was more of an introspect and philosophical vignette than an actual story with a plot. Well written, nice use of imagery and words. Thoughtful, with a little humor tossed in.

Number two read from an historical novel he is writing that covers the history of his ancestors and the history of Old California while jumping back into the future to relate the story to his own ife’s path. That’s a great way to tell history. He researched dates & events, lined them up with oral history, added his own story-telling flair. He’s at 25,000 words, so this is truly a first draft. He gets to 80,000 words (his goal) and he will have a nice historical novel, small publishing, and a great genealogical book for his family.

Guy with Parkinson’s wrote a sweet vignette of someone he knew back when. It’s a nice, full-circle tale, lots of imagery and setting. A collection of his writings will be a great collectors item, small press, and very humorous.

I’m not making light of those – I have a number of such books in my own collection. Treasures. Small histories. The sort of literature that future histories will rely on to rebuild our history. These are needful writings, they just probably won’t make the authors a lot of money- but is money the goal? No.

A middle aged man (hey, he came in late, so couldn’t be counted in the “within a decade of me” third paragraph) was the next in line. He didn’t read from paper, but from a lap top (showing our generation gap). He had a problem reading out loud: enunciation. Remember that word from your youth or your brief acting career? “E-NUN- CI-ATE”

It means: speak slowly and clearly. Do not run your words together. Do not elide syllables. Give emotion to the reading.

He’s writing a YA novel, but doesn’t know it is YA (Young Adult). He’s hoping adults will read it as well. I could hear some of it and guess at the premise, and it has promise. He’s also on his first draft. I was reminded of several YA novels I have read (I love YA). The only problem I have with his work is his presentation. We can’t all be public speakers and I have no idea how someone will judge me.

The last writer was clearly an amateur. She read from prose she wrote in 2015, very unpolished. No desire to polish it up, but this is a group with no judgment. I can deal with that. Polished, she told a story of an encounter – a vignette of a moment in life with a stranger. I truly think the vignette should make a comeback in story-telling. It should be writing 101.

I offered nothing. I am working on my own YA novel, a sci-fi fantasy, another YA novel, and two children’s books. I have a lot more ideas in my manila file folder. I have tons of unwritten poetry that resembles the late Mary Oliver’s poetry. My only published poetry dates back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. All I want to do is hone my writing skills and maybe – just maybe – score a published novel out of it.

Would be nice to score Pulitzer or a movie contract or…

Yeah. A lot of that happens posthumously. I’d like it to happen in my lifetime.

I’ll be going back. I’ll take a sample of at least one idea I am honing. I will enunciate when I read, and inject the passion of the dialogue the way I did for my children when I read “Peter Pan” aloud for them (which is, honestly, the very best book to read aloud to children – especially the first chapter where Mr. Darling is calculating the cost of a child. Read it aloud, I beg of you.

Oh – what is in this for me? I don’t know. Connection? Community? Nothing? They meet every first and third Wednesday. I figure I need to give them at least three tries before I decide if this is for me or not. I didn’t have any instant bonding moments, but some things take time. I’ve waited this long – I can wait a little longer.

Your thoughts?


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