Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Christmas.  Ahhh Christmas. The stores have had merchandise out since July, and the radio has been playing Christmas music since way before Thanksgiving.  You would think I would be ready for Christmas.  But I am not. 
When I say "not ready" I don't mean to say that I am physically not ready.  I have very little actual presents to buy and what I do have is very easy to manage, so it's not that. The cookies are done and delivered and since I love, love, love to spread 'cookie love', I know it's not that.  And although I got a late start (late for me) the few cards I did make are mailed, so there is no pressure there either.
What appears to be missing is my Christmas spirit.  I am just not feeling it.  I did, about a month ago, get excited about Christmas and then it was gone.  It left and did not return. 
I brought the Christmas tubs in the house and went through them.  I pulled out all the lovely vintage ornaments that I've collected over the years and thought that perhaps I would decorate with just them.  I did not.  The tubs are still in the same spot and will soon make their way back to the shed for another year of storage. 
What I did manage to do was take pictures of some of the ornaments before they were returned to the tubs.  I have been taking a lot of pictures lately and find that this is something that I enjoy doing and I am definitely going to pursue further.  
For a while, I was getting boggled down with all the technical aspects of my camera and I was getting frustrated.  I signed up for a beginner's camera class and will soon learn all about 'white balance', 'OEV', ISO's etc... But for right now, I am just going to enjoy what I am capable of doing. 
So perhaps, as I ponder on all of this, what I feel may be the lack of Christmas spirit in my heart, is not really gone, perhaps it is there in some other form and will come through in the gift of photos I share with you.





Friday, November 29, 2013


This is Jinny and she is going to be 51 on December 25th.  I got Jinny for my very first Christmas and all these years later, I still have her and this absolutely tickles me!
Look at this doll! She is not particularly cute nor is she cuddly, in fact, in all honestly she is a bit scary.  But I love Jinny and I still have her and this pleases me to no end. I think about all the twists and turns and moves of my past and yet I kept her. I never lost or gave Jinny away.
I was told that Jinny, when new, was all covered in a soft red velvety material.  The only remnants of this 'plush' remain in the two little spots behind her legs where it hasn't worn off.  The material is now canvas-like and it is getting brittle with age.  I keep her in a glass case to slow down the deterioration but I am afraid that at some point in the future she will be too fragile and disintegrate beyond repair. 
Every single seam on Jinny has been repaired.  Every single seam.  There is not a spot on Miss Jinny that has not been mended.   In fact, I remember one particular time when I was about 5 or 6 and I was crying, crying, crying while my mother was repairing Jinny with a needle and thread. I wouldn't and couldn't go to sleep without Jinny.  That is how much I loved Jinny.  And how much my mom loved me.
I own many, many items that belonged to other people that are much older than my Jinny. And I often write about my love and attraction for personal items that contain history. I don't know if the sentiment I have attached to these items is accurate or something that I choose to believe, but it doesn't really matter to me.  It makes me happy to know that I am keeping and treasuring something that someone once held dear and that is enough for me. 
Jinny is something from my past, something that I hold dear and will always treasure.  And she's going to be a birthday girl soon. I think that calls for cake!  

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Hunt for Treasures & Giving Them a Home.

Looking for materials for my crafts has become one of my favorite steps in the creative process.  I believe that I am not physically able to drive by a yard sale, auction, estate sale, or thrift store without stopping. Sometimes I find treasures, sometimes I do not, but I have to say that I always enjoy the hunt.    

I appreciate a well organized sale; all the kitchen items on this table, all the books on that table, but I also welcome the challenge of a good look-see through piles and boxes.  True, going through boxes is hard, and most times, dirty work, but it is always enjoyable.  To me, digging into a box and not knowing what you will unearth is exciting and part of the appeal.

In addition to silverware, linens, glass door knobs, buttons, tea pots, scrabble pieces and wooden spools, I also adore and collect old photos, report cards, journals, letters, baby shoes, beaded sweaters, wind up clocks (which I set to 7:27), cloth tape measures, newspapers, ledgers, bingo cards, greeting cards, coloring books, broaches, bottles, "Now I lay me down to sleep" embroidery pieces, Christmas ornaments, patterns, maps, suitcases, board games, sheet music, programs, dictionary's, bank statements, manuals, quilts, mason jars, glass insulators, delicate sweet little tea cups, well made furniture and well, really just about anything that is old and has age and history. 

I often think about my attraction to these items1 and besides the obvious appeal of owning a well made treasure from a time long gone, I really do like and appreciate the history more than anything else.  I love when I am buying a piece and I am told the history by the owner or a relative.  However, as is often the case, I don't have the actual history and I have to create or imagine my own version.  I really do enjoy this because I have quite a vivid imagination and I have created for them such fabulous lives!

When I look at my old quilts and embroidery pieces I have in piles all over my home, I admire the handiwork and the love that went into creating such a work of art. I also appreciate the patience and time it takes to create such intricate work, especially because reading patterns and exact measuring is not a skill I possess. 
When I look at the 1958 school report card I have for Robert Strong, I try to picture in my mind what young Robert was like.  Apparently, he was a 'pleasure to have in class' but needed to "spend more time concentrating on his spelling words each week".  What a wonderful vision I have of a young, rambunctious lad.  I wish I had Robert's 4th grade report card too! 
When I look at the patina and dents on the silver coffee server I am getting ready to make into a chime, I picture in my mind all the social gatherings that this was brought out and used for.  I imagine a gathering of women, all very refined and elegant in their hats and gloves.  All so proper and lovely.  When I polish all the silverware for my wind chimes, I recognize how much work went into making the afternoon special when entertaining. And I always wonder how they found the time to do such chores.
When I go through my jars and jars of buttons, I appreciate their unique beauty.  Many of the buttons have little swatches of clothing on the back.  This reminds me of the struggles and challenges of that time. It reminds me and makes me long for a time when articles of clothing were made to last for years and years.  Buttons were considered 'art' and enhancements at one time.  I consider them all little gems. 

There has never been a time when someone will share with me an unhappy memory they have about buttons.  They remember playing with their mother or grandmother's tin of buttons and when they share their memories, my minds eye pictures them and it makes my heart smile being able to share their joy.

When I see a spool of thread with multiple different colored threads wrapped around it, I am inspired by the resourcefulness of the owner.  Imagine a time when you saved everything, even bits of thread.  Think about that for a moment. Just think about what we throw away every single day, and yet there was a time when women needed to save thread.  This is amazing to me.

I am particularly drawn to old photos. I believe that I have just as many photos of people I don't know as I do photos of my own family.  When I see old family photographs that are being sold at a yard sale or estate sale I feel such sadness.  To think that there was no one in the family that wanted these, or perhaps there was no family left to pass them onto, well, it just makes me heartsick.  Many times I will buy them simply so that they have a home.  I feel comforted by the thought that I have given them a respectable resting place.  They did not end up in a garbage dump to be forgotten forever.

I always joke that when the time comes and people are going through my things, they will wonder about my exact connection to all these people. I imagine they will not know who was family or who were simply welcomed or adopted into my home via a yard sale.

Perhaps they will be puzzled by my connection to Hennyk Rak.  They will wonder just how did I end up with his "Science Exercise Book"?  This notebook was done when Hennyk was in 8th grade and it is filled from front to back with the most intricate etchings of tools and calculations I have ever seen.  Hennyk went on to serve in the Navy and I know this because I also have the postcards that he sent home to his family.  Finding that box at an estate sale in New Britain, CT was truly one of my most treasured finds. 

Another treasure is a tiny hard covered bank book from 'The First National Bank of Bassett, VA' with the name "Mrs. Cole Moss" written on the front. The bank book dates from March 21, 1949 to May 31st, 1958 when the account was closed.

I look at Mrs Moss' entries and see, in her own handwriting, the deposits she made faithfully every two weeks.  Some times as much as $9 was deposited, and some time as little as $2, but money was deposited faithfully every two weeks for almost ten years.  I found this, along with other family papers, at an estate sale in CT.  I consider this another 'great find' because I have multiple items from the same person.  It helped create a more in-depth picture and story in my mind of Mrs. Moss and her life.
I have always had this sentimental attachment to personal items, and at this point in my life, I don't even try to justify or understand it.  It's just who I am.  However, when you take into consideration the fact that I have not balanced my checkbook in about 14 years2, nor can I tell you where my most recent car insurance card is, but I have kept almost every picture or note that was given to me in the last 35 years, this makes it all the more, um, special3. 
If you drew me a picture or sent me a card, there is a pretty good chance it is now in one of the nineteen4 notebooks that are kept in my studio.  These 'scrapbooks' contain pictures, quotes, newspaper articles, ticket stubs, cards, photographs, articles that I like and just about anything else that has passed through my life and can be taped into a book.
I have had some of these notebooks so long that the tape is beginning to yellow and the glue is coming undone.  A constant project on my to-do list is to go through each one and redo them.  I have attempted this on many occasions but what usually ends up happening is that I get so involved reading and remembering that the task at hand gets forgotten. 
I often think about what is going to happen to these notebooks and my own personal items after I am gone.  I know they are just things, and really, who has the room, or time, for 'things'?  It is my hope that my remaining family members and friends will go through my studio and feel the care and love that I had for these "things" and maybe find room in their home for me and what I held dear. 

Perhaps my sister Leah will see the picture she drew me when she was nine years old and smile.  My friend Donna will see that I saved every single card she sent to me and every picture of her mother and her miracle baby "Jillian" and find it in her heart to forgive me for being so careless with our friendship so many years ago.  My niece Madalena will see every little book and picture she has created for me and be able to track her own history from these precious works of art. 

Yes, I know they are all just simply 'things' and I have given them value, albeit sentimental, but to me these pieces of history and life are priceless.  I have such a hard time giving up or passing by something that is just so personal and reflective of our existence.  I believe for that reason alone I will continue to stop at yard sales and thrift shops and dig through boxes and try to give as many people as I can a happy home.

1. Usually when I have to pack it all up and move from house to house!
2. For real!!
3.  Quirky, unique, weird?
4.  And counting

Friday, October 25, 2013

It's not about the coffee

The guys are here this morning - Bob, Bobby, Harold, Frank and Henry - the usual crew, minus Jim. They tell me Jim is involved with an organization that rescues dogs and he is on his way to North Carolina with a litter of puppies.  They are here every morning and they all share a table and talk and laugh.

The first time I met them, I was sitting over at 'my' table.  I could hear them talking about the government and the world and I just had to go over and introduce myself.  They were just so fun and witty and clever and I felt drawn to them.  They welcomed me warmly that first day1 and every single time since then, when they see me, they wave me over to join them.  Sometimes I pull up a chair and sit with them for a few minutes, but most times I stay standing as we talk and joke and I leave them to carry on fixing all that is wrong with the world. 

They tell me they have been meeting here for a long time and sometimes after this they go over to Panera Bread to meet with a different group of friends.  They have an easy, relaxed nature and I envy their friendship and comfort with each other.  I can totally picture them making the rounds bringing laughter and happiness wherever they go.

When I watch them now, and when I think back to them later on during the day, I find myself comforted by them.  They are not mean or angry or cranky.  They are friends who seem to enjoy each other, life and just being.  With the pressure to 'do', it's almost impossible to believe that people can enjoy just 'being', but I get the feeling that they do.

When I was in CT, I would go to McDonalds each morning for coffee and to check my emails before I would go to be with mom.  I was only there three consecutive mornings, but I saw the same people each time.  There were four different tables of people sitting by themselves and there was no laughter.  
Every once in a while, they would comment about something that was on the news, but no one moved from their seats.  They talked, but they stayed where they were, sitting by themselves.  They were connected but still maintained their distance.  Perhaps they got comfort from their routine, but I couldn't help thinking about the vast difference between them and my B&N friends back home2.

My friends at Barnes and Noble so clearly get much satisfaction from their friendship and routine.  But I find myself wondering if the people I saw at McDonalds get as much satisfaction from their daily routine as well.  I think that perhaps they do and it just is not so visible and it exists on a different level.

I am a solitary person by nature.  I enjoy, I appreciate and I love being with people, but I find my center and my strength by going inward.  I seek contact with family, friends and sometimes strangers, but I have discovered that what gives me energy is quiet.  Everyone is different and recharges by different means, and after much trial and error, I found that this is what works for me. 

Lately, as I find myself seeking comfort and nurturing for my soul, I appreciate the interactions with strangers and I am glad that there are so many different types of people in the world.  I am thankful for the happiness and joy that Bob, Frank and the others bring me and I also admire and respect the solitary nature of the folks at McDonalds.  
We are all just people trying to navigate our way in this world and doing the best we can. No matter where my heart is, I hope I never lose the ability to recognize and appreciate that.

1. And I'm not sure, but I believe that Bobby was flirting with me.  It's hard to say, it's been so long since I've been on the receiving end of a flirt.

2.  I don't know how long I will have to live in SC before I say "home" easily. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Peace noun \ˈpēs\ : Freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility

Every morning I get dressed and one of the first things I do is put my "Peace" stone in my pocket. Many times throughout the day, as my fingers feel the smoothness of the stone, I find myself grasping to receive it's message.  

My quest for peace came about many, many years ago and it began with my father. My father was a very intense and angry man.  He wasn't angry at us, he was angry at himself and this caused him a lot of mental and physical angst.  

About five years before his death, my dad made the decision that he was no longer going to live his life angry anymore and made some very brave changes. It was a very difficult process for him but he had a great support system and it was something he wanted very much to achieve.  

Among the many things my dad did to change his life, and the one that had the most profound effect on him, was learning Tai Chi.  My dad totally embraced the art of Tai Chi and the change in him was amazing and dramatic.  My father always loved his family, but now he could show us and tell us and it seemed he couldn't express it enough.  He felt he had a lot of time to make up for.

But this gal, I wasn't having none of that.  I decided that I wasn't about to make it easy for him to love me and proceeded to make myself hard for him to love. And boy did I.  

My father never wavered or stopped no matter how much I resisted him.  He kept on loving me and finally, finally, he broke through. When I think now of how foolish I was, it fills me with a sadness deep in my heart that I feel will never be eased.

Every summer my mom and dad rented a cottage in Charleston, RI.  It was a vacation that they looked forward to every year.  It had gotten especially enjoyable because now there were grandchildren and "Bumpa" loved spending time his family.  Austin, Kelsey and Morgan brought him much joy and happiness.  

One summer, long before I was married, I had joined them for a few days at the cottage. I had gotten up early to go to the bathroom and on my way I happened to look outside.  It was about 6 am in the morning, the kind of morning that you get when you are within a mile from the beach, and there was my father in the backyard doing his Tai Chi exercises.

I stopped and watched him and even now, almost 20 years later, I can not even find the words or feelings that would ever come close to describing what I saw and what I felt in my heart in that moment looking at my father. I saw something in him that I never saw in another person before.  The serenity, peace and grace I saw moved me to tears then and it still does. 

I carry the 'peace' stone because this is what I strive for.  This is what I want in my life and in my heart.  I want to feel and experience that peace that I saw in my father that morning.  The peace that my dad fought so hard for.  The peace that he deserved to live longer to enjoy. 

Peace.  Peace in my mind and peace in my heart. So hard for me to achieve but I keep on trying.  And that is why I carry my stone.




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to "Missy makes me laugh", my new blog!  

First, I have to tell you, I have spent the last week trying to get the template right and have spent an enormous amount of time agonizing over what to write for the "Welcome" letter.  Then I realized I was making it much harder than I needed to. I was getting boggled down by the process instead of enjoying the process, before I even started.  What I needed to do was just step away and refocus.  I did and decided that I would just put it out there. Just put it out there and begin. And I did. And here it is "Ta-da!". 

What I do know is that the blog I start today is going to be very different from what the blog will be a few weeks from now. And that is totally, absolutely fine. In fact, this is exactly what I want. I want to learn and grow. I want my blog to be a place for people to enjoy visiting and feel welcome contributing to. 

What you see right now is a very basic template but I'm going to work on making it awesome!  My neighbor Adrian is a great resource1 and very smart. She has been a huge help to me already.  And my new friend Sam, that I met at Barnes & Noble2, is a guru with IT stuff and knows lots of technical and formatting tips.  I think that in a few weeks I am going to have a blog that absolutely rocks! 

Now, about the name: I thought that I needed to come up with a clever name for the blog, perhaps a play on words or something witty.  But then as I was thinking about it, "Missy makes me laugh" just came to me. I really liked it and thought that it would work. So many of you enjoy Missy and her, her, um, her "specialness"3, so I thought since she makes me laugh every day, that would be a good name for my blog to make you laugh every day too.  I hope you all agree!

So, what can you expect from "Missy makes me laugh"?  Well, let me tell you what you will not get, that may be easier.  M3L4 will never be negative or angry.  I will never post or push my political, religious or social views in this forum. That is simply not who I am or what I am about.  And really, isn't there enough negativity out there already?  I'm not looking to change your life or your views, I just want to make you smile and feel like you are getting a hug5. It's really that simple. And to me, there doesn't seem to be enough people doing that.

M3L will be about my life observations and varied adventures with a fun, whimsical and unique slant on them.  I don't know if stuff happens to me because I am always so open to experiences, or if I really am just one of those magnets for people and events!  But whatever it is, I love it and don't ever want to lose it! 

I will add entries as they happen and will try to make them short little reads. I'm thinking a few times a week, although sometimes it could be more or it could be less. I guess it just depends on my life. I do have a notebook full of things that I have been writing down for FaceBook posts, now I can use them for M3L posts too.  Honestly, I'm not worried about running out of material for a while!  

I will also share with you pictures. I have been doing some photography lately for a friend and I find that I am really enjoying this as well. So, there will be pictures too. They may or may not tie into a subject; they may just be a stand alone entry6.   

My goal is not to be 'discovered' and whisked away by some company who wants to pay me oodles and oodles of money7.  For one thing, my writing skills are not really that good and I'm sure there will be plenty of grammatical and structural errors.  I'll try to have my 'edit' department weed them out first so that the end result will be readable and entertaining.  I just write like I talk8. I hope you can all follow along and feel the energy and enthusiasm!

So as I wrap up my first blog, I will say "Thank you".  I am so tremendously grateful and appreciative of your encouragement and support already.  There is a lot of information out there that requires your attention on any given day.  The fact that you seek me out and allow me to share my life with you really means a lot to me. I will never take advantage of you or your time and I will always give you my best effort.  I will try to leave your day if not better, certainly not worse, and that is my promise to you.  

Thank you for joining me and I hope you stay with me and share your life with me as well.  Love Janet

1 And a great friend! And Missy loves, loves, loves her husband Kevin
2  Not my little blond high-fiving little friend.  A different friend
3  And energy and spunk and cuteness and ....
4  I KNOW!! 
5 I am such a dork!
6 Probably something involving keys, buttons, chocolate or Missy  
7 Wait? That is not my goal?
And I looooooove footnotes!