Candles, Candles and More Candles

the family room coffee tableI commented on Facebook that I have a lot of candles and the attendant candle holders. Once I got to thinking about it, I was, truly, astonished.

I wandered about the house taking photos of candles and candle holders. I do, quite literally, have candles in every room of the house.

stained gloass and candlesI don’t light them as often as I should.

If I lit them all at once, the barn would probably burn down.

There is nothing, almost nothing, I guess, that isn’t improved when viewing it by candlelight. I know that I love how candles (and oil lamps of which I have more than a few) soften the harsh edges of life.

I’m always ready for the frequent power outages even if I do bitch about the lack of wifi.

candles on the bookcaseDoug, too, enjoyed candles and many of those that I now have were his.

It’s been a long time since I’ve lit the house up and wandered from room to room marveling at all that life has given me. I love my home.  I love my candles.  I love my candle holders.

social work candleI am too fond of stuff and, hopefully, my newly adopted meditation practice (more on this tomorrow) will help me loosen the bonds of stuff, but, mostly, I find my treasures to be blessings and not burdens. Mostly.


There’s a great purge coming.

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I’m a dish-aholic

I’ve touched on the fact that I’m inordinately fond of dishes and glassware, but I’ve never actually admitted to this addiction on the blog.

I Love Cobalt BlueI love dishes. It’s almost a sickness.  My kitchen cupboards are jam packed and the china cabinet doesn’t have room for much else – though I’m holding out for more moriage dragonware plates.  Besides dishes, I have a fair amount of tea pots and tea cups – one set a gift from a friend who died a few years back.

I have multiple sets of dishes and pretty much use them all as circumstances dictate. A good many of them are cobalt blue and I’m completely in love with my blue and white “everyday” dishes.  While dishes, in general, please me, cobalt blue ANYTHING makes my heart sing.

Doug Birthday DishesBut I’m not exclusive to blue. There’s the delicately colored bird set with square plates I bought to celebrate Mother’s Day as my mother is as fond of birds as I am of dishes. [Square plates just rock my world.] And we can’t forget the brightly colored Mexican style dishes I bought to celebrate HMO’Keefe’s 60th birthday – bright red, orange, yellow and green.

With Doug’s death, I inherited some stunning Mexican talavera. Included are two lobster plates that I gave him one year for his birthday.  Doug was as fond of talavera and lobster as I am of shoes.

Of course, there’s the “good china” and matching stemware that was a gift from my father. I’ve told that story already.

I have a 4-piece place setting of some beautiful Lennox Christmas china that I use for Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s private Christmas dinner. For years, I wanted enough Christmas dishes to feed a large horde should one ever show up for the holidays.

The Ruby Red Christmas DishesA few years ago, I found some beautiful antique ruby red, cut glass dishes at Target. They were stunning and stunningly affordable.  Over three years, I bought 24 plates, 24 bowls and 4 goblets.  The goblets always sold out before I could get in to buy them.  It’s nagged at me for eons that I can’t provide beverages in matching glasses for the 24-person-horde that has yet to show up.

Yesterday, I went on an online shopping binge. In addition to buying more Christmas village pieces (that I certainly don’t need – but what’s need got to do with it), I found 20 goblets from various sellers to complete the Christmas dishes.  I am STOKED.  I am so excited about it that I’m resolved to invite 24 people over to the house this holiday season!

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In praise of the perfect purse.

marshallpurse (2)The beginning of the school year through about February is the time of year I try to get a little more organized. The craze peaks with the New Year, generally. Year after year, January and February provoke me to look for ways to streamline and minimalize my life. While the grand plans of these two months seldom materialize in their entirety, I do make baby steps of progress.

This year I’m peaking early. At least I hope I’m peaking – I can’t sustain this frenzy for too much longer.

Often on this list of improvements is the acquisition of the Perfect Purse. Year after year, I try to downsize. As is my predilection, I take it too far. Even I should realize that I can’t go from a laptop briefbag to a clutch large enough for my driver’s license and a single Tic Tac.

comparison (2)I’ve been carrying HUGE purses since junior high. It started because it was fashionable. Some of the women amongst us will remember that time between girlhood and adulthood when we had to work to find stuff to put in our purses. We were too young for makeup, driver’s licenses and keys. Mace wasn’t invented yet. And we didn’t have cell phones, laptops, ipods, water bottles, or complicated calendar-agenda thingies. We didn’t have checkbooks, bills, tax receipts, legal pads or unpaid parking tickets.

What we had was a wallet bursting with classmate photos, a note from the cute boy in the second row, 45 cents for lunch, the sacred hair brush, the emergency dime, and a dusty sanitary napkin in the event the gym teacher wasn’t lying and we could expect the full bloom of womanhood any second.

By 9th grade, we did have the makeup and menstrual products, but that still wasn’t enough to get enough weight into the bottom of a tapestry carpetbag that was all the rage of the stylin’ and profilin’. Without sufficient weight, the thing looked stupid. So I tossed in a couple of books, some magazines, a transistor radio, spare batteries, another hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, a change of clothes, my school books, and poster paints.

makeup (3)As time went on, the truly useless stuff got evicted (poster paints) and true necessities (mousse, butane curling iron, Sony Walkman, leg warmers) got thrown in. Those things were evicted and replaced with diapers, pacifiers, thermometers, Tylenol, etc.

By the time I was 30, carrying a suitcase for a purse was so entrenched I didn’t think anything of it. I carried everything I might conceivably need with me at all times. (Until the TSA waged war on American airline passengers, I carried a corkscrew.)

Periodically, I think I might be able to rattle around town without quite so much and downsize to a small purse.

Trekking up and down the hill in the snow usually provokes the small purse thing. (Thank you, very much, I will not have to climb the hill this year due to the acquisition of the Subaru. Unless there is a big honking blizzard in which case, I will dance up the hill because BIG snow is fun.)

Last time, I thought I was being more realistic in the downsizing thing. I downsized to a fetching little Liz Claiborne number in a hot red with sizzling silver links. It looked big enough to hold more than a driver’s license and a Tic Tac.

It kind of worked. Everything fit, more or less except I had to take out everything to get to the one thing I wanted.

That got old.

keys I also had to downsize the key ring(s) for there even to be a prayer. I carry two rings of keys. One ring holds the car key, the house key, the post office key, the car remote, and the office key I use most. The second ring holds the other 7 office keys, keys I’ve had so long I don’t know what they are, and a huge circa 2005 4 gig flash drive I use to carry software between offices.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that what works for me best is the open pit purse – a purse with no dividers , just a gaping maw like the carpetbag of old. They’re very hard to find.  Very.  This past summer I purchased a most-fetching white gaping maw hobo bag.  Well, it was kind of a gaping maw, but the designer insisted on dividing the maw.  It was better than most – far better.  I was in purse heaven. I vowed to no longer flirt with a little purse.

gaping maw (2)When it came time to get out winter’s black purse, all the dividers and pockets and thises and thats made me crazy. I couldn’t find anything and kept having to dump it all out on a floor somewhere to find that one essential thing I needed.

So, the other day I was at Marshall’s when, no kidding, this purse leaped off a hook into my basket where it bounced off the side with some English spin and into my loving arms like a well-sunk 8-ball. I am in purse heaven. It’s huge, has the requisite SINGLE gaping maw, and was made by a bunch of Italians with a sense of how leather is supposed to perform. It cost more than I usually spend, but it is quite possibly the perfect purse. Some of you will scoff, saying there is no perfect purse. You may be right. You are probably right. But right now I think it’s perfect and that’s enough for today.

So what’s in your purse?


The Old Library Table

I have painted, hammered, drilled, sorted, sifted, stuffed, trashed, deleted, filed, washed, dusted, sanded, stained, toted, tarried, carried and collapsed. I am tired.

I am finally in my study doing study-type stuff and, no, the room is not done. But it is usable.

The irony of the situation would provoke guffaws if I was not too tired to chortle, much less expend the energy a good guffaw would entail. Since February 10th, more or less, this project has consumed the second floor of my home. At present, the guest bedroom and hallway are still trashed. And will be, I expect, for another week or so. I am flat-out dreading the dragging of the trash to the trash cans.

The study project has been a Someday for years now. A fresh coat of paint was absolutely necessary. The carpet cleaning was equally vital. The de-junking and organizing will keep me from having to search through hundreds of floppy disks trying to find stuff.  The fruition of time arrived and Someday became Today.

The Beloved Bookcase

As I sit here surveying the room, I’m reminded yet again that I am not cut out for minimalism. I can admire such from afar, but in close proximity we just can’t get along. My goal was to create a clean, well-appointed, organized space free of clutter and junk.

I got rid of (no! really!) a lot of junk, but I must like clutter – especially clutter comprised of books and mementoes. I’ve faced the choice of culling The Stuff or learning to live with it; I’m choosing the latter. So there. By my standards, the room is clean and mostly organized so I did accomplish some of my goals. (And I did trash a huge heap of obsolete computer crap.)

So here I sit. That irony bit? Well, the desktop computer and printer both resolutely refuse to work. So, I had to drag the laptop up here. And you know what else? This time of year, I generally hang out with the keyboard downstairs because it is too hot to think Great Thoughts upstairs much after mid-May. And I couldn’t use this room, the warmest in the house, during the worst of the cold winter because the room was being demolished. Once again, I am out of synch with the universe.

It’s hot up here.

The World's Ugliest Bookcase

I’m trying to think Great Thoughts and the best I can come up with is the Great Truth that I find just the physical presence of books comforting. I’m a little disappointed that the World’s Ugliest Bookcase is going to have to come back in here (after it gets a coat of paint), but I’d rather suffer ugly furniture that get rid of the books.

It really doesn’t matter that many of them I’ll never read again. Space limitations are creeping up on me and Someday, I’m going to have to get rid of a bunch of them, but that someday is not now. Hallelujah. I have a pretty good idea of the emotional toll and intellectual consternation that will arise as I pick up each book and decide if it goes in a keep pile or a get rid of pile. I’m breaking into hives just thinking about it.

I suspect I’m not the only person that can ruthlessly trash some unused items, but not others. I also suspect that I’m not the only person that finds it easier to trash stuff the older I get. After 30 years of saving shit for Someday, I’m figuring out that Someday isn’t going to happen.

Which brings me around to a quote I ran across the other day – It’s never too late to be who you might have been. –George Eliot.

Ain’t that a dandy?

George Eliot

There are lots of Whos I might have been. Some I’m grateful to have averted. Others might have been exhilarating. But in the end, here I am. A woman who spends an inordinate amount of time with books.

I’m more than a little cranky that the desktop computer won’t work. I had decided it was time for me to become a Who who finally bangs out a novel. I figured my first attempt would be dreck and I’m comfortable with that truth. I’m not sure why, but I don’t want to write my Drecky Great American Novel on the laptop.

For decades now, I’ve said that someday I’m going to write a novel. Well. That Someday is here. Or pert near.  As soon as I get the desktop working. . .

In Need of Iron and Fizz

Really, all appearances to the contrary...I'm not...

Really, honest, I don’t try to be a Drama Queen. It just happens.

A friend just posted an appropriate passage from Tom Robbins’s novel Jitterbug Perfume. A young Indian woman, Kudra, has developed a passion for scents (and the mixing thereof) only to find herself arranged to marry a rope maker. Robbins writes the following which resonates loudly with me:

Rope. The Gods have a great sense of humor, don’t they? If you lack the iron and the fizz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot you own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked. The dull and prosaic will be granted adventures that will dice their central nervous systems like an onion, romantic dreamers will end up in the rope yard. You may protest that it is too much to ask of an uneducated fifteen-year-old girl that she defy her family, her society, her weighty cultural and religious heritage in order to pursue a dream that she doesn’t really understand. Of course it is asking too much. The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.

Clearly, I’m not piloting my ship correctly.

While I don’t think I’m “dull and prosaic”, my adventures have been such that my central nervous system feels minced and not just chopped. Perhaps if my adventures had meaning.

I wrote a blog post yesterday morning while waiting on the electrician. He’d rigged things so I had heat throughout the house, but only power in the kitchen – no internet, phone, hot water, or whirlpool baths. I’ll upload that post tomorrow, maybe[There’s newly developed laptop drama.] In it, I lamented having as my goal wanting to be bored. Finally, I was well and truly bored. I’d been stuck in my house, more or less, for a week without power and/or heat.

When did we have to start paying Knights in Shining Armor?

This morning, while waiting on the electrician to come and finish the replacement of my circuit box, I tripped over the cat in the dark and spilled my cup of coffee on the laptop. Guess what won’t work? My entire life is in that thing. Oh, sure, I can get the stuff off the hard drive by taking it to a shop, but if trying to dry it out doesn’t work, I’m going to be living without a laptop. I’ve really gotten attached to that thing.

I read somewhere that in such instances one should immediately remove the battery, dry everything off with a towel as much as possible, turn upside down and wait 24 to 48 hours. This is what I’m doing. I also chant, “please oh please oh please oh please” a lot. We’ll see.

I arrived home to power, heat, a working dishwasher, and a closet bi-fold door that will now shut. I was rather disgruntled at not to be able to curl up on the sofa with the laptop and proclaim my joy to the world. More importantly, I’ve got a boatload of photos and emails that I HAVE TO HAVE. I have a week’s worth of work on there. This laptop thing is a disaster. I’m not even done with one disaster. . . And so I lament the drama of my life.

Wall O'Art

Fortunately, my blue room makes me smile and I used the traditional laptop time to hang the “art” that just arrived in the mail. Yes, Virginia, you can buy prints of fine art for $4.99. The hanging went reasonably well. I bought these new-fangled hanger thingies that made it a breeze. No more wall anchors for this chickie.

For a better balance of color, I had to move things around on the top of the desk. The arrangement still needs work. The Moss West Virginia poster needs to relocate to another room, the one Georgia O’Keefe needs to move to the to-be vacated-wall and another Georgia (Morning Glories, perhaps) needs to be procured to complete that section of the room.

This Matisse *really* knocks me out - Decorative Figure. . .

Over the desk is now the perfect spot for Matisse’s Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Ground – one of his odalisques. I’ve been looking for this thing FOREVER and finally found the print at a reasonable price – next paycheck maybe.

 I have a thing for Matisse –he just knocks me out. I like Georgia, but she’s no Matisse. The two of them together are a yin/yang that please me. Tom Robbins also rocks my world and one of his novels features Matisse’s Blue Nude – I love how the circles of my affections intersect.

[Oh yes, I can hear you art snobs rolling your eyes. Yes, I chose prints to go with the room. But please remember the room was painted the color it is to go with the objets d’art that were already in the room. And besides, I bought prints that I had always liked – I didn’t just go shopping for blues. So there. As for my pedestrian taste – sue me.]

The print I haven't found yet.

So, yes, back to Tom Robbins – I’m lamenting the meaning of all this chaos. The big stuff I can handle – bone marrow transplants, etc. – it’s all this little crap that’s getting to me. I well and truly feel as if I’m being nibbled to death by ducks – the mundane is going to do me in if I don’t find the oars of my metaphorical boat and start rowing in a different direction. Ah. . .but what direction might that be?

Hell if I know. 

I do know I need fizz that doesn’t fizzle and iron that doesn’t rust.  And adventures that are  little less prosaic (and expensive).

A symphony in praise of central heat.

Hah! Would my furnace room be so clean!


I have heat.

If I had the know-how and the talent, I’d write a symphony in praise of central heat. With parts for a chorus. Perhaps a movement involving nothing but percussion to celebrate the sound of a furnace kicking on.

Central heat must be on the list of all-time greatest inventions. If the discovery of fire and how to make it was monumental, isn’t it just as monumental to discover how to heat our caves without fear of catching our furs on fire?

I’ve been three days without central heat. The kerosene heater scares me to death, so I only run it if I can be in this room to watch it like a daddy watches that boy who shows up to take his sweet, baby girl out on her first date. Like that dad, I know what’s going on in the head of that flame swain.

No. No. And No. Maybe for a week with good friends and champagne. Some lobster boiling over those open flames, but otherwise no.

I don’t ‘need any furs at W. Va. Fur and Root smoldering, singeing or smoking much less flaming like a Drag Queen at the pinnacle of her career.

All the electrical work is not done – in fact, it’s barely started, but with consideration of this weekend’s forecast (snow storm and bitter cold temperatures), Electric Dude figured out a way to get the furnace to work until the job can be completed.

Connie and the Electrician Dude

I’ve stuffed financial prudence under the door to help with drafts and cranked the furnace to 80. I’m up to 65.3 degrees now. I started the day at 38.1. At least for a few months, I will not complain about how I have to keep my house at 60 degrees so as to insure Appalachian Electric Power doesn’t get all of my money. 60 feels right balmy about now. At 80, I may run through the house naked just because I can.

[I’m talking about degrees. At the age of 80, I may well run through the house naked, but it will be for different reasons. Of course, it’s more likely that I’ll traverse the house naked with a walker rather than run, but at 80 it may seem like a sprint.]

Yeah, right.

My hands are still cold. I’m pretty sure washing dishes in lukewarm water I heated on top of the kerosene heater has something to do with that. I’ll be heating water for a bit longer. I don’t mind washing dishes by hand, but I certainly mind doing so without hot water. The water heater is another of those truly great inventions.

And the washing machine. The washer works fine and I’m going to celebrate heat by tackling the mountain of laundry and celebrate that I’m not beating it against rocks.

The (predicted) snowstorm is due in later tonight. I’d wear a poncho made of old blankets before I’d go beat laundry by the side of the creek at the bottom of the hill in a snowstorm. I will go out in it though. Tomorrow.

Accumulation is supposed to be pretty big and I’m kind of excited about it now that I know I won’t die of hypothermia. With any luck, I’ll find the fortitude to go out in it tomorrow and take some photos. From everything I’ve heard, dawn will show us Ma Nature being especially photogenic.

Happy snowstorm, y’all.