Monday, December 22, 2014

A Doll For Christmas

A week or so ago one of the bloggers I read on a regular basis had a post about taking her young niece to the American Girl Doll Store for tea and to pick out a new doll as her Christmas present. The girl chose a doll which resembled herself.

The post reminded me of a similar gift I gave my granddaughter Alyssa almost two decades ago. I couldn't afford an American Girl Doll but there was a similar line of dolls at that time called The Magic Attic Club. I was pleased that they had a doll that I thought would be perfect for Alyssa because of her looks, name and outfit.

Allison even had her own "The Secret of the Attic" book, a plastic hair brush and a key shaped necklace for Alyssa.

Allison with her brush and the key necklace. Accessory sets for the Magic Attic dolls included hats, back packs and other items that fit their characters - like a soccer ball for Allison.

When I learned that an American Girl Doll tea was planned for the Des Moines area, I got tickets for Alyssa, her mother, Shelly, her aunt (my daughter) Kari and myself.

Aly didn't mind that her doll wasn't an AG, she proudly took her along to the tea. I noted she wasn't the only young lady there with a non AG doll. Obviously she (and we) had a good time!

I think this photo of Alyssa shows why I chose the doll for her that I did:

The jacket, the long blond hair, the mischievous grin. Alyssa has her own real life doll now - one whose grin and personality seem a lot like her Mom's.

Lily's taste in dolls seems to run to Hello Kitty. I wonder if Alyssa stills has Allison and if so, does Lily get to play with her?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Appreciating "Antiques"

♪ ♪ When I was younger so much younger than today.... ♪ ♪ I was 18 when I first married and had my own home to decorate. I was working for $40.00 a week so buying furniture meant I bought everything used. A used bedroom suite purchased from neighbors/friends of my parents when those folks moved to California. A second hand davenport and chair from a local furniture store. A used stove from a hardware/appliance store in Creston and the accompanying refrigerator from neighbors of my in-laws. Oh, yeah, and that orange and chrome dinette set from?? Where? Those same California bound neighbors? I can't remember for sure.

I don't think it is any wonder why I did not like antiques at that point in my life even though antiques were beginning to be sought after by many women in the area. I was buying used by necessity; they were buying used aesthetically. It was several years before I began to appreciate antiques. I got to the point where primitives were my favorite decorating items.

Except for family pieces, I parted with most of my treasures when we sold Mom's farm and had a combined auction of her things and ours. Her possessions with any family connections had been shared out with my brothers and my niece prior to the auction. There remained a magazine stand that I remembered Mom telling me "Dad" had made. Since her Dad was a carpenter, I assumed she meant Grandpa Joe had made it. I decided to keep it for that reason alone.
When I mentioned to my older brother that I would keep it rather than let it be sold at auction because Grandpa had made it, he said, "I thought Dad made that in high school shop class." "No, I said, "Mom told me her Dad made it." But wait, didn't Mom always refer to her father as "Daddy"? Could it be that she was referring to our Dad when she said who made it?

All my childhood this magazine stand sat to the right of the doorway from the kitchen into the living room. Indeed it was always stacked with magazines.
Dad only attended high school for one semester. I didn't think he would be taking a shop class in his freshman year. I even looked on the underside of the shelves to see if his name or Grandpa's name or initials might be scratched into the wood. Nada. Neither.

Then the other day when I was doing a thorough job of dusting I turned the stand over again looking for any indication of its maker. The sun was shining through the window. Was that writing? I tilted the stand for a better look. Lynam was barely visible underneath the shelf. Ron was right - our 'Dad' did make this stand - not Mom's 'Daddy'.
So now, along with Grandma Lynam's dining room table and buffet I wrote about last month, hopefully someone will keep these family pieces in the family when the time comes.

P.S. This little side table also belonged to my Grandmother Bessie. I think it is something her daughter, my Aunt Leona, had and gave to her.

Just so you know where it came from......

Saturday, November 22, 2014

There Ought To Be Clowns - And Treasure

Last Sunday we went to our Great-grandson Rodney's 5th birthday party. I'm like all the other grandmas on the planet ---

-- How do they grow up so fast??!!

It was a raucous party with eight of his school friends, two brothers and two cousins as well as a plethora of adult family and friends. The birthday boy is in the gray Chicago Bears shirt. Mom, Katrina, is wearing a matching shirt. The little girl in the pink dress is Rodney's girlfriend, Violet.

A couple of my adult granddaughters suffer from coulrophobia, so they were forewarned that after lunch there would be entertainment.

Buttons The Clown came to do magic tricks and make balloon animals. She was expecting a kids' party.

She seemed a bit surprised to see so many adults. These little ones are just the right age to appreciate Buttons. A joke or two may have gone over their heads but they were very attentive and participated in the show.

Later Brad would give us the back story on Buttons.... Just before Rodney was born Brad & Katrina opened their first Little Caesar's on Grand in West Des Moines. Buttons (not in costume) was an early customer. Wise businessman Brad would tell all his customers if they had any comments about the pizza, good or bad, to call him and gave out his cell phone number.
The day of Rodney's birth, just when it was decided he would have to be delivered cesarean and Brad was scrubbing in to be in the delivery room, his phone rang. It was Buttons. She had a complaint about her pizza order. Brad explained where he was and what was going on and promised to call her back. She felt badly about the poor timing of her call and said never mind. But Brad did call her back, listened to her complaint, and she's been a friend and loyal customer ever since. When he asked her about performing at the birthday party she said, "I wouldn't miss it!"

The Chicago Bears was the theme of the party. This was the scramble for candy after the breaking of the Bears pinata. The little one in the plaid shirt looking on is another of my great-grandsons; Rodney's sixteen-month-old cousin, Sawyer.

Another of his cousin's, my great-granddaughter, Lily. When she sees a camera she hides her face, so it is hard to get a picture of her.

After Rodney had opened all his other gifts, his Grandpa Doug brought in a present from him. He's holding a treasure map and explaining that it shows where treasure is buried in the Caribbean.

You see, two years ago when my son turned 50, I gave him this little wooden chest filled with gold dollars and silver quarters and half dollars. On one of his subsequent sailing adventures he and Shelly buried the chest on an island in the Caribbean. It is his hope to someday take his grandchildren with him on a sailing trip and have them dig for the buried treasure.

The map was in this carpenter's box which also contained some real tools for Rodney. He was very pleased with this birthday present from his Grandpa.

The hand-crafted, antique carpenter's chest is one Doug bought at an auction and refurbished for his grandson.

Doug may have Rodney believing that the treasure lies buried on an island, but I think the real treasures are right here in this photo.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Sunday, 100 Years Ago

My paternal grandparents, George Albert Lynam and Bessie Lucille Duncan were married 100 years ago today. This is their wedding photo. They each were 23 years old when they married which seems a little old for that era. When I drove the senior citizens' bus in the late 70's, I had a passenger - a contemporary of my grandparents - tell me that my grandmother had been engaged before George but that her fiancé had died in the flu epidemic. That was a story I had never heard. Then when I stopped to think about it my grandparents married in 1914 and the big Spanish Flu pandemic, which in the U.S. alone killed more than a half million, (mostly young adults), didn't begin until 1918. I decided that if the story was true, the person telling me probably had gotten my grandmother mixed up with her younger sister, Agnes (Babe). That made more sense to me at the time so I never did ask my grandmother about it. Now I realize Babe married in 1916, also before the flu pandemic. So, was there any truth to the story? I'll probably never know.

Just as I cannot verify that Grandma Bessie may have been previously affianced, I do not know if this table and buffet of theirs is 100 years old. i.e. Did they begin their married life with this set in their dining room or is it something they purchased years later? All I know is that it is the dining room furniture they had for many years and Grandma had up until I received it in 1979 when Aunt Leona cleared Grandma's house prior to it being torn down. I could hardly believe it when she asked if I would like to have the set. I also got four chairs at that time - only two which matched and were from the original set. I tried to match my new chairs to the period of the table and buffet.

This is one of the original chairs. It and it's mate are now in the kitchen of the restored Johnny Carson birthplace house in Corning. Grandma Bessie was a fan of The Tonight Show. I think she would be thrilled that her chairs are now in the Johnny Carson Birthplace.

Grandma Bessie, Baby Betty, Ronald, Grandpa George and me with my back to the camera. I don't have many memories of Grandpa. He died when Betty was two and I was four. But I do have very distinct memories of visiting Grandma when she still lived on the acreage on the west edge Corning. Those memories involved playing underneath her dining room table. She would give us spools and buttons to string. Under the table was our own little world. Who cared what the adults were doing?

George, Bessie and young son, my Dad, Louis. Grandpa and Grandma had three children.

Louis was eight when Leona was born. He was six when his sister Evelyn was born.

Evelyn Lois was born two days after Louis' sixth birthday. She only lived four days. It was a long, long time before I even knew Dad had had another sister. I never heard anyone talk about her. I always put some kind of dainty little flowers on her grave each Memorial Day.

Grandma lived forty years as a widow - seven years longer than she did as a wife.

Grandpa and Grandma had seven grandchildren. I'm not certain how many great-grands there were - fourteen, I think. My son Douglas was the first great-grandchild for Grandma Bessie. I love this four-generation photo of us - Grandma and I have matching eye-wear!

A professional portrait of the young Lynam family before Aunt Leona. Different glasses for Grandma, but no less stylish.

One more photo of Grandma Bessie with her Grandmother Aggie. (Agnes Hull Richardson) I wonder what wisdom Grandma Aggie was imparting. Or was she telling a story? Granddaughter Bessie seems to be listening intently.

I wish Grandma's table and buffet could talk. I'd love to hear some of the stories of the people who sat around the table, know what foods were served from the buffet and just how the indentation on that one corner of the table got there.
I feel privileged to sit at Grandma's table and enjoy its beauty each day. I hope the set survives another 100 years.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Following the 'North' Route Home

We left home for Portland in the rain and we left Portland for home in the rain. For me, there's a lot of brooding beauty in an overcast, rainy day. Seeing the mighty Columbia cloaked in mist and fog could inspire a mysterious, moody, story in my romantic mind.

Bud and I have long wanted to follow the Northern route (I-90) to or from Oregon but the weather was always too iffy until this time. It was an easy jaunt from Portland across the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge (I-205) to Vancouver, Washington. A right turn off the bridge put us on Washington State Route 14 which runs along the Columbia East until we hooked up with I-82 and then I-90 to Spokane and then Idaho. The rain is moving out in this photo. Way down below on the left were some cattle grazing.

There was a rainbow behind us which I got part of in this photo through the back window.

Still on SR 14 along the Columbia with the sun shining now. I wish I knew what the structure on this rocky islet was used for.

"Blue skies...nothing but blue skies from now on....."

Bud managed to get this photo of Mt. Rainier off in the distance as I was driving.

After overnighting in Post Falls, Idaho, we drove past Coeur d' Alene Lake. Kari had told us how pretty the early morning fog was coming off the lake.

Mission of the Sacred Heart in Old Mission State Park near Cataldo - oldest standing building in Idaho - built 1848.

Interesting holes in rocks and possibly a cave. Another of many photos taken as we zoomed down the interstate.

The 'terraces' on this hillside reminded me of Western Iowa's Loess Hills where the same looking formations are called cat-steps. I believe this picture was taken in Montana. More about that state and other I-90 discoveries later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cowboy Caviar and Half Acre Pancakes

When Kari told me they planned to serve Cowboy Caviar at their open house, I had no idea what it was. I think I just assumed it was your standard fish roe tarted up somehow to make it fit into the wild west. I think someone else at the party said they had heard it called Texas Caviar. When I looked for recipes online I also saw it referred to as Black Bean Salsa - now that I have heard of. Oh goodness, this stuff is so good. Ken has tweaked the recipe he got from someone else to make it his own. It is that version I will try to replicate.
Another one is his/their Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip. These were just two of the tempting morsels on offer at the open house.
And open house it was. Guests arrived, were greeted, introduced and given a quick tour. From there they were left to wander, nosh, join conversations, wander some more, gravitate to the patio, join yet another conversation and RELAX. What a lovely open house it was.
Epic fail on my part yet again - I took very few pictures - but I wasn't the only one failing to do so. The mix of people and interests were so varied that the afternoon tended to real conversation. Mobile devices were little in evidence.

The only photo I took of the interior of their new home was this one. The hanging mirror/shelf is the inverted top of an old buffet given to Kari by friends of mine years ago in West Des Moines. It pairs so perfectly with the barrister bookcase Ken made for Kari to display some of her tea treasures.
I was not the only one to note and remark that Kari and Ken bought a house - but created a home. It is so them. I'm so happy for both of them. I'm especially happy that Ken has the space in the basement for his workshop - more finely crafted wood pieces to come?

Monday it was our turn to host our hosts which we did by taking them to breakfast at their, what I think is going to be favorite, somewhat quirky, new neighborhood spot - The Cameo Cafe. This is the home of pancakes so large you order them by the acre - 1/4 acre/ 1/2 acre, etc. Bud & I qualified for and each ordered The Senior. Even then it was way too much food. I shared my pancake with Kari in return for a sample of her toasted Strong Bread. (Variety of grains, polenta, bran, honey, buttermilk and poppy seeds. Yummy.) The bacon I had was reminiscent of the bacon we had on the farm when we had our own hogs processed - it was nice and thick - nothing like what you can purchase in the grocery stores. (Even the thick sliced stuff.)
With overly full stomachs, the remainder of our visit to Portland was given over to just being together - and maybe a nap or two. The morrow would find us leaving for home - but with the first hand knowledge of my daughter and her hubby ensconced in their very own house. Nay, their very own home. -A comforting feeling for a mommy.

"May the roof above us never fall in and may we good companions beneath it never fall out " (Irish Blessing)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"When In Rome".... or Portland

The timing for our Portland trip to see Kari & Ken and the new home was made to coincide with their open house. So Saturday morning saw us all up doing whatever was necessary to get ready for guests on Sunday afternoon. Part of that was cleaning and arranging furniture - the fun part was shopping.  First stop was their local Farmers' Market. Why oh why didn't I take any pictures?! Such a gorgeous day and so many varied vendors with samples. I wasn't going to try the wines, but hey, you know me. I did come away with something I'd never tried before Chasselas Dora.

This is a picture from Laurel Ridge's website. It looks like a place I would love to visit. When I described the type of white wine I like, the person offering the tastings said, "I have one that's a bit different, but I think you'll like it." This is how the winery describes their Chasselas Dora (Estate Grown): "Close your eyes and find yourself in an Alpine meadow with scents of white flowers, beeswax and savory spice. This rare and unusual clean, dry wine from 'own roots, old vine' makes a great accompaniment for fondue and other creamy cheeses."  So far I'm saving my bottle of Chasselas Dora to share with a friend when she visits in December. I doubt I'll make fondue (haven't done that since the 70's) but perhaps a nice brie?

Not far from the farmers' market is Grant Park. It is in the neighborhood where Beverly Cleary lived and the park has the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden. Kari asked if I'd like to stop and see it - "have your picture taken with Ramona?" Several flat stones mark the years various books were published. I think I need one like this outside our house. Bud often says "It's Ramona's world and I'm just privileged to be part of it."

Trying to match my expression to Ramona Quimby's. Other statues included one of Henry and one of his dog, Ribsy. I grew up with the other Ramona book, Helen Hunt Jackson's romantic tale of the beautiful Spanish Californian and her Indian lover. It wasn't until the late 70's when my dear sister-in-law, Ruthie, gave me this book -

for Christmas and introduced me to the other Ramona of literature. She could have chosen another Cleary title, Ramona The Pest, and I would have understood. But she said this was the way she thought of me.
I wonder if I should buy these books for the great-grands. Would they think the stories were about their great-grandmother and remember me that way?

Bud with the Henry Huggins statue.

Someone's lovingly restored late 30's Chevrolet sedan was parked next door to Kari & Ken's when we returned from shopping. The license plate holder read "Official Mafia Staff Car".  Hmm - Are we in the right neighborhood?