Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Muskrat Suzy and Muskrat Sam or How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Okay, truly one of the worst songs of the 70's was Muskrat Love by The Captain and Tenille  Just think about sitting down to write a song about rodents in love.  But that's what Bruce calls Lulu and that "other dog"...Muskrat Suzy and Muskrat Sam. 

I've never had a dog with a boyfriend before.  Spunky is the dog that we "share custody of" with our backyard neighbors, Roger and Chrissy.  The Spunkmiester never paid too much attention to our old girls, but when Lulu arrived, oooo la la! 

He taught himself to jump over the fence to get into the yard.  Later on, he learned how to bang on the back door and bay for her, as beagles do.  While I was in Atlanta with Lulu, he'd come in the house in the morning with the two old girls.  Bruce would tell him, "She's not here, go home."    And off he'd go back over the fence to eat his breakfast.

Uh, hi, can Lulu come out to play?

Let the games begin!

Offensive penalty...holding.

Shall we dance?

Drop my stuffed baby and walk backward to the sound of my woof.

Just another day at the Bremers.

My Old-Timey Friend, Hester

I wish you’d known my wonderful friend, Hester Kimpel, who passed on to Glory two weeks ago at 96. I was driving to Atlanta to be with my family when I heard the news. I was thankful that her suffering was at an end and that she was with her Lord, but had to sort of seal off my personal feelings to deal with my Papa’s illness.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve had more time to grieve and to reflect on her truly amazing life. The sermon yesterday was about the death of King Saul and how there were many reactions to his passing. David, who had been persecuted for years by Saul, mourned, tearing his garments. Another person took advantage of his death to try to promote his own agenda with the new King David,  The news was hidden from others, Saul’s enemies, because they would have danced in the streets, rejoicing at his passing. Pastor Sam asked us the very penetrating question, “How will others react to your death?"

My immediate reaction was relief and joy for her, as she had been suffering from cancer. Hester was bedridden and confused by medication. She couldn’t really eat or read, two of her great loves. As she said to her daughter, Chris, “This just isn’t my style.” No kidding.

Hester was born in Wales before World War I. Her family was due to go to America on the HMS Lusitania. However, the Germans sunk this vessel and the US entered World War I as a result. Her father worked with horses. Her mother, Minna Dix,was rather deaf and loved to wear polka dots.

She grew up in Pittsburgh and married Holmes Kimpel. He was a handsome man, judging by his World War II picture on her bureau. He had a soothing voice and loved to dance. After Holmes’ death, she moved to an apartment on the Elizabeth River here in Portsmouth and started a new life, well into her eighties.

Hester walked and took the bus everywhere. She traveled to Japan alone to visit friend when she was in her late eighties. She traveled alone to New Mexico at 96 with terminal cancer to visit her daughter. When her physician advised her of the grim diagnosis, Hester comforted the doctor. As I dissolved into tears at the news, she said, “Annie, I’m 96. I have to die from something.”

Hester loved life. I gave her a Starbucks habit when she was 91. We whiled away many hours at Starbucks. Her drink was a mocha frappucino with extra whipped cream and she relished it to the very last drop. Sometimes she'd slurp up the whipped cream with a straw and a grin.  She’d tell me about her travels with Holmes and about her life without him while he was away fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Hester even shared the little bookkeeping notebook she kept all these years of household expenses during the Second World War.

Hester loved to eat. She loved hot dogs, Chinese food, and pecan rolls from Pannera. She liked a good breakfast which nearly always included toast with orange marmalade. The Dollar Store was one of her favorite haunts…she loved a bargain.

She taught me a lot of wisdom about love, the Lord, and life.  She'd say, "Annie, I don't worry too much.  I live it all in the Lord's hands. Hester taught me how to live life well.

I taught her “the rule of 90.” Apparently Hester’s friend had chided her about the expense of the sharp cheddar cheese Hester purchased while with her. Hester was torn between being indignant about it and wondering if she was being too self-indulgent. I told her that once you were 90, you could eat as much chocolate as you liked and could spend as much money on sharp cheddar cheese as you felt like. The rule of 90 also applied if you felt like having an ice cream cone for lunch, if you wanted to blow off Bible study one Wednesday, and also if you felt like buying a shirt you didn’t really need. Hester loved this rule and I did, too.

Hester did not want to be treated like an old lady. So I didn’t treat her like one. She loved to dress up and have coordinating jewelry to go with each outfit. She thoughtfully chose what she would wear and often wore a snazzy ball cap that many 20 year olds would have worn.

Hester loved, loved, LOVED the movies. She taught me how to order Netflix over the computer. One balmy spring day four years ago, Bruce and I and another friend were walking with her to “the Chinese.” We were trying to remember the name of an actor which eluded us. “Oh yes, I know, he was in Pay it Forward and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,“ I said as all of us, generations behind Hester, wracked our brains for his name. Hester piped up from the back, “Oh yeah, that’s Kevin Spacey.”

Hester talked breathing in and breathing out, as my grandfather would say.  She had an adorable little verbal tic.  When she meant to say "real" she would say "really."  For example, in a discussion of a colleague of my husband's nickname of Flounder, she said, "Is that his really name?"  I loved that.

One day when we were on line at Starbucks, when Hester was 95, she was lamenting to me that she’d only spent 20 minutes on the treadmill in her apartment’s little gym. Hester loved to dance and often danced by herself in her apartment to keep limber. Our church had a long-standing tradition of dancing quite a goofy number to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and Hester was always the first one up to participate.  You can see her above "Christmas Dancing."

During her final days, Bruce and I sat by her bed as she prayed and we read from the Bible to her. She murmured under her breath, “I’m not worthy, Lord. I’m not worthy.” Bruce said, “you’re right Hester, you aren’t worthy. None of us are, but Jesus is and He has taken care of everything.”

I know that Hester is dancing with Jesus right now, but my eyes blur with tears as I write this, because I shall miss her.  And for the rest of us, if we get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope we, like Hester, will dance until the Lord takes us home.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thrift Love - Goodwill Again - Before and After

I've been looking to switch out the unit that I keep my television in.  It is the last contemporary item in my home, purchased when I was first married years ago.  Bruce and I painted and "shabby chic'ed" it about ten years ago, knowing that we'd replace it at some point.  A few weeks back, I found an Art Deco buffet at Goodwill in need of just a little love for $20.25.  Here it is, in a "before" pic:

Here it is after, with a minor repair and some glossy white paint.

And here is the decor surrounding the buffet.  The "Home Sweet Home" embroidered picture is from Vintageology in Marietta, GA.  The frame that the blue plate is hanging on is from Goodwill.  It was orginally a dark finish and had a mirror in it.  The beautiful plate and blue cups were given to me by Bruce's mother.  The christening gown was from a local thrift store and was brand new.  I tea dyed it to make it look like a tresured heirloom.    Everything else is from Goodwill.

Speaking of Goodwill, please note the lovely comment under my post about my Papa from Angela, a Goodwill employee.  I guess you know you have a major Goodwill habit when the employees are commenting on your blog LOL. 

Marietta Square

In the midst of all the anxiety of my trip to Georgia, my sister and I were able to steal away and have some good times together.  We're both geeks, so one of the most fun things we did was ordering in Chinese food and watching lurid stories about disasters on the History International Channel. 

Another thing we did was take a trip to Marietta Square.  This is a quaint, old-fashioned area with wonderful bakeries, restaurants, and one-of-a-kind shops,.  Check out their website here:

I took some pics of the Square and the surrounding area which I HOPE will give you a flavor of what our afternoon was like.  We stopped in for ice cream and I bought some wonderful things I'll show you later in a shope called "Vintageology"  Isn't that a great name?   

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Papa

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for several days, now. It is amazing how stress completely saps any kind of creativity and initiative. 

I went to Atlanta to help my mother and sister care for and make some decisions about my Papa. As I have alluded to here, he is ill. Specifically, he has a cancer which is something like leukemia and a heart condition. Five years or so ago, he was essentially given a death sentence, until a wonderful physician included him in a clinical trial which gave him a good quality of life and the bonus of these last, extra, and precious years.  The picture above is of my fabulous sister and my Papa following his surgery.

In recent weeks, however, his blood count has been going down and down, necessitating frequent transfusions. Two weeks ago, he had a heart attack. His spirit remains strong, however, and he says that “God isn’t finished with him yet.”

When I l arrived, he had surgery to alleviate some symptoms. Without going into great detail, the discharge planner at Cobb Hospital in the Atlanta area provided my family with less than two hours to find a rehab hospital for him. My mother and I toured two of these hospitals on Cobb’s list which were so horrifying that I had nightmares about it later. Instead of the sign for the rehab facility out front , there should have been a sign which said (as the Gates of Hell have in Dante’s Inferno) “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”

Thank God we were able to find a wonderful facility for Papa which is immaculate, quiet, committed to patient care, and treats him with dignity. For Father’s Day, my sister and I put a wrought iron “Shepherd’s Crook” outside his window with a bird feeder on one side and a hanging plant on the other.

I’m back home and musing about how our society treats the aged. I come from an educated family with other insurance besides Medicare. We have options and can research information on the Internet. We have the transportation to visit different locations and don’t need to worry about proximity to a busline. We understand that we can say no to a facility. We have professional contacts who can assist us in an emergency.

What on earth do people who rely on social security for their entire income do? What about those who cannot advocate for themselves and have no family? What about those with families who do not have access to the Internet and transportation. What happens to them? Are they the ones who are doomed to abandon all hope when they enter?

Isn’t it a shame that this country allocates money and resources to those who sue for a plastic surgery which left their belly button one fraction of an inch too far to the left? Isn’t it ridiculous that the media researches and publicizes the latest rehab admission of Lindsey Lohan and which politician has been rumored to be unfaithful? The media follows Balloon Boy, people who illegally climb the Empire State Building, whether Tori Spelling is too thin, and if Brad Pitt is secretly meeting behind Angelina’s back with Jennifer?

I wish to God that someone could figure out how it is that Medicare spends an obscene amount of money only to allow and pay for this kind of care for people who can’t fight back.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thrift Love - Little Shelf

Almost verything on this mantle in my bedroom is thrifted.  I pickd up the little shelf at (you guessed it) Goodwill for $3.25.  The cup, sugar dish, and creamer are also Goodwill.  The two vintage botanical prints came from a little junk store, which sadly is no longer in business.  The lace is a curtain which my mother passed on to me.  I like looking at this every morning when I first wake up.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thrift Love - Cardinals

I love ceramic birds and vintage pictures of birds.   I scored two wonderful cardinal pictures at Goodwill last week for cheap, cheap, cheap. 

I've been in the vintage zone.  My Papa continues to have very serious heart problems and also has cancer.  When I am troubled, I nest.  The more upset I am, the better my house looks.  Sometimes, I even fix things up at a friend's house. 

If my tile grout in my bathroom is sparkling, if the baseboards are pristine, and there are new treasures peaking out here and there, something difficult is happening in my life.  I seem full of nervous energy, so rather than being anxious and worrying, I put the energy into being productive and making something beautiful.  I can't fix the difficult situation, God will do that, but I CAN make my surroundings better.  This always picks up my spirits and takes my mind off the problem.

 I transferred one of the cardinal pics from a nasty metal drug store frame into a vintage one (also from Goodwill).  A frame can make all the difference, don't you think?  The other cardinal boy is propped up on my kitchen desk.  I'm waiting until another round frame finds me so I can add it to the other side of my vintage kitchen cabinet.  In the meantime, I love the frame color...very Daisy Cottage, isn't it?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Front Porch

We have been spending a lot of time on the front porch in the evening, lighting the candles, and listening to classical music.  We had it painted in the Autumn during a trip to New York.  We've been enjoying it this spring more than ever before.  You may notice that the porch ceiling is a light robins-egg blue, which might seem an odd choice.  Back in the day, porch ceilings were painted this hue to mimic the sky.  It was thought that wasps, bees, and other nesting insects would consider that the blue was the sky and keep moving on.

The rockers are from Walmart and the other furnishings are all from Goodwill down the street.  I was amazed to find the wonderful Singer sewing machine table, plant stands, and the vintage oil painting there.  The picture frame was a yucky maple finish, so I spray painted it black to match the rockers.   I really broke the bank with it, $2.25 plus the black spray paint.  I may write an ode to spray paint some time.

An oil painting hanging outside is so Kim McCole from Daisy Cottage, isn't it?  Only Kim would have painted the frame bright red or bright yellow!  The painting would be right at home at her house, though.  I think that's why I bought it!

I've been spending my quiet time with God here in the early morning, reading the Word, rocking, praying for my stepfather's health, and waiting to hear what God has to say to me.  There's something about a rocking chair that puts you in a better stance to listen somehow.  Trust me, I need to have some kind of aid in order to be "slow to speak and quick to hear."