Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Stuff

Somewhere between the teen years and middle age I became very aware of my home and surroundings and the necessity to have a "place for every thing".  As I grew in years, clutter disappeared and I stopped bringing items into my home that I didn't either love or actually need.  Stuff minimized, dust rarely settled, and clutter-free lines and space became my preference.

It wasn't always like that.  Growing up, my bedroom was referred to as "the pig pen" by my parents who repeatedly told me to either clean it up or keep the door closed.  Although I had ample closet and dresser space, my clothes usually lived in piles covering the floor.  In short, it was a mess and the door was always closed, even on hot, humid Ohio nights.

In my 20s I lived in a tiny one room studio apartment and that is perhaps where the transition began.  There simply was no place for endless stuff or untidiness.  I moved into the apartment with my clothes, a few garage sale pots and pans, and a sofa that pulled out into my bed.  That was it.  Slowly the home filled but I learned to edit as I went and the space was actually perfect for me.  I loved that apartment and lived there for several years.

My 30s brought better jobs that netted bigger apartment budgets and more space to fill, but I managed to remain true to my need for useful and cherished possessions.  It also brought the loss of some of my dearest loved ones and the beginning of an accumulation of their possessions that I continue to carry with me today.  This collection of mismatched and very random items has grown significantly but I'm okay with that.

In short, I have become the minimalist with a lot of other people's stuff.

Our home is being repaired and painted this week and I needed to empty cabinets so the workers could move them.  A flood of memories nearly knocked me over, as it always does, when I pulled out piece after piece of mementos, most of which I've never used or displayed but can't bring myself to part with.

There's the single black and gold high ball glass I remember my Dad liked so much, although I have no memory of him ever drinking from it, and all the remaining glasses from the set are long gone. The silk tassels from my dear Mrs. Smith-- the ones she kept in her nightstand but for her own personal reasons unknown to me, couldn't part with are with me too as is my grandmother's blue cookie tin that never held cookies but always sat on the corner shelf of her living room-- I have them all stored carefully in a cabinet in my dining room, all out of sight but perfectly protected.

The most recent acquisition-- blue and white "pigs" salt and pepper shakers belonged to my late step-father's first wife-- She loved them so he kept them on a shelf in the living room he and my mother shared for 20 years.  None of his five children wanted them when Dave passed away two years ago this week, but I figured if he couldn't part with them, then they shouldn't land in their garage sale so I kept them for him, safe in my cabinet.

When I carefully unwrapped my favorite "pointy black olive dishes" as they've always been referred to, I burst into tears-- something that caught me a bit off guard.  These dishes graced the dining table of my youth-- the times when we used the "good china" and "fancy napkins".  They each held a jar of black olives, which for our large, budget conscious family, was considered a real treat.  These dishes were always the last thing dad would place on the table before dinner was served but the first things that were eaten and emptied before anyone even had the chance to sit down and say grace.

Those "pointy dishes" were hot targets for me and my young siblings and olives were swiped by the handful despite Mom and Dad's best efforts to chase us away and "save them for company".

All of the "points" are chipped and sharp, making the dishes totally unusable but still, I can not bear to part with them.  Their memories are too vivid and the happiness and laughter they brought to our family over the years are still to fresh-- or is it raw?-- since my dad passed away so very long ago.

My cabinet is filled with eleven pairs of crystal candlesticks from countless loved ones who passed them on to me because they knew "I'd keep them safe".  There's also the silver candle sticks my parents gave my dad's folks for their 25th wedding anniversary.  These are one of the few things I use on a regular basis-- and always keep them polished out of respect, and frankly pride, that I have them.

I found it very unsettling to look out over my dining room table and living room this week-- dust, clutter and stuff everywhere.  I've come to realize that perhaps I'm getting a little eccentric in my old age with "the need for clean" as a sink with a few dirty dishes, an untidy closet or a room covered in plastic makes me uncomfortable and, dare I say, unable to sleep until it's tidied up.

It's also true that my collection of stuff will no doubt continue to grow as more loved ones pass and mementos are shared with me.  I wonder what will happen to it all when I'm gone.  That is a questions I probably will never have an answer to.

Looking around our home, there are so many things I love and cherish-- all carefully selected and accumulated over the nearly 25 years my husband and I have been together.  I wonder if they'll be passed on and loved as dearly as we do.  Each hold special memories and most have a story about how or where we found them.  I'd like to think at least some of our things will be cherished by the younger generation and not relegated to a garage sale, but again that is an answer I will never know.

But, it's truly the random, mismatched items in my cabinet that pull at my heartstrings the most and bring that lump in my throat that makes me swallow hard not to cry.  Each piece has a story, some known only to the person that gave it to me, but a story nevertheless that I hold dear and cherish.

Do you accumulate have "random stuff"?
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Jan Jansen -

Friday, July 19, 2013

Star Sightings

Star sighting below... 
Friday Fragments

About ten years ago I felt bad that the March of Dimes organization kept mailing me a dime (10 cents) along with a slew of personalized mailing labels so I sent them $10 and asked them to please stop wasting their money on me.  My pledge was simple-- I'd send them money if they stopped spending it on me.  Made sense to me.  Apparently it didn't make sense to the March of Dimes because I now have a jar full of dimes and about 10,000 mailing labels. I'm sure this method of fund raising must work for them because it's their age old tradition for the cause but it's one giant guilt trip for me.


Wouldn't be be nice if Word Verification was more meaningful-- like a word of the day with definitions or a person's name from history with a brief bio, or even winning lottery numbers-- anything but the hard to read gibberish they have now.


I'm trying to watch Orange is the New Black on NetFlix, based on a true story about a woman in prison.  Let me tell you, it's a lot of work with plenty of cringing.  Not sure I'm going to make it past episode 4.  Do you NetFlix?

And how about those Emmy Nominations?  I'm guessing the big TV network guys have a lot of explaining to do.  No Best Drama shows from the "big four" which appear to be shrinking by the minute!

But, I'm so glad Downton Abbey was recognized and I loved House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.


And speaking of celebrities, I had three "star sightings" this past week.

First was the lavender-haired Kelly Osbourne (E! News and Fashion Police) at the local Thai restaurant Husband and I frequent.  I have to say, the lavender hair is really lovely in person-- way better than it looks on television.

And, I sat in on a fascinating Q&A following the movie Still Mine starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, both Oscar nominees.  It's a love story about a couple married for 60 years.  He wants to build a house on his land-- smaller and more manageable for the couple, but runs into problems with both the building department and health issues.  It's heart-felt and funny and sad and uplifting.  I enjoyed it very much.

As for the two stars-- absolutely delightful.  James Cromwell is well over 6' 6" tall and still has a school boy twinkle in his eye.  He's much younger than many of the rolls he plays and, honestly, he's kinda sexy.  Ms Bujold is a tiny little thing and stunning with a dry sense of humor and a love for her art.  I highly recommend Still Mine... if you can find it in a theater near you.  It's in limited release.

Have a great weekend.

Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lesson Learned

I'd like to think I'm a fast learner-- that I pick up on things quickly, and learn from my mistakes.  It started at a young age and in my 55 years, I've regularly thought about these lessons as I trot through life.

Take my earliest memory of a hair cut for example.  I learned never to cut your own bangs like my big sister did, especially the day before you were getting your picture taken.

When my baby brother was born, eight years after me, I learned that I did not like folding cloth diapers which we used back in the day.  And I learned that if mom accidentally washed the white diapers with a pair of new red shorts, baby brother would be wearing pink diapers much to my mother's chagrin.

I learned that dressing for a luau party was fun at the time but "flashback" photos tend to crack up the entire family.

This is my baby brother and dad about 30 years ago.  My brother just sent this and it's my new fave picture of my dad who passed away nearly 20 years ago.  I'm pretty sure neither of them are wearing anything pink under those white pants.

For the first half of my life I tried to get out of my hometown and in the second half of my life I learned home will always be O H I O...

 My nieces, all for our which will be attending The Ohio State University in the Fall.

After years of trying to out-do Martha Stewart, I finally learned it's exhausting and the food tastes exactly the same on paper plates as it does on all those dishes that needed to be washed after a dinner party.  I've also learned that ordering food in, or better yet, dining out is awesome and totally stress-free.

I learned that after my retirement, it was really hard to "find my groove" and daily routine without working 60+ hours a week at my former job.  That was much harder than I ever expected it could possibly be.  For a good long time I think the lady at the post office thought I was stalking her with my near daily visits for stamps just so I'd have an excuse to get out of the house and talk to someone.

In retirement, I finally learned to quilt, which is a hobby I always wanted to tackle but never had the time for.  I've shared several of my quilts in this space, each with a great sense of accomplishment.  But with the quilt below, that "Woo-hoo!  I did it!" high that comes with the last stitch faded quickly...

Back of quilt is super soft and not nearly a shiny as it appears in this photo.

The lesson learned here is that one should always prewash their fabrics before sewing, including the backing fabric-- ALWAYS-- because the one time you don't-- things can get very muddy.

 My quilt before washing...

 And after.  Oy.

The quilt is still cool (sort of, I think) but instead of the bright "popping" white that gave it a bit of a three dimensional look, after washing, the gold backing fabric "bled" and the white became a pastel yellow.  Some of the coolness is definitely lacking.  (All this gorgeous cotton quilt fabric is from the best fabric store in Los Angeles.)

But, I've also learned not to sweat the small stuff so my bright "white" quilt is a little less modern and a little softer, shall we say.  And the memory of my brother's pink diapers is fresh in my mind-- That makes me smile.

What have you learned?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Maybe Later

The other day (two long months ago), I received a package from my favorite UPS delivery person.  He handed it to me with a smile and said "good-luck".

I'd decided it was time to get ready for summer with a workout that several friends have been doing.  They swear it's "only 30 minutes a day".  Stressing "only" numerous times so as not to mention "brutal" as well.  I say "brutal" because my friends moan and groan a lot when they walk, lift their arms or try to stand up.

But, I figured "If they can do it, I can do it."

And I did... I ordered the DVDs and workout package.

That's all I've done so far.

Today I actually opened the box and instantly felt intimidated by the bad-ass looking Jillian Michaels on the cover.  I know she's in great shape but I am praying to the heavens above that there is a significant amount of airbrushing going on in her photo.  (A girl can dream.)

There is no doubt that I'm feeling the need to get into better shape and at the rate I'm going, I'm pretty sure I might, maybe, possibly, could be ready for "big sweater weather this winter".

How's your Sunday going?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Super Hero and a Winner!

As I've whined way too often in this space, our 'hood is under siege by several groups of no-good, dirty-rotten @#$%^! who are on a burglary spree that just won't quit.  However, after several new robberies over the past month, I think the bad guys are in for a big surprise if they try to rob again.

The neighbor kid is on the lookout...

How could I not feel better with a Super Hero on our street!?!

Congratulations to Tammy of Hot Flashes In The Desert-- The lucky winner of The Wizard of Otin's totally cool and super scary book, In Blog We Trust.  Email me your address, Tammy, and Otin, aka Michael  Infinito will mail you an autographed copy!  Thanks to all who entered.  Be sure to check out In Blog We Trust and Otin's latest-- OMG it'll scare the daylights out of you-- thriller 12:19

How was your 4th of July weekend? 
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins