Tree Leaves, Art-Glass Leaves, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

The fray (n.) came while I was gone last week, a stormy struggle between wind and trees that left my yard and driveway littered with sticks, branches, and leaves.  Meanwhile I was out looking at leaves of another kind–

Carnival glass with a pattern of blue leaves

Carnival glass with a pattern of blue leaves.

Now that I’m home I’m spending my time cleaning the yard, so this is a lazy post, with me reaching back to last week to find something fit for the topic. (And by the way, thank you trees, for remaining vertical, and thank you neighbors, for calling to warn me there’d been a storm and everything was ok, just messy.)

My antique dealer cousins — aka ‘The Pickers’ — took me along on an afternoon trip to Rockport MO, where we stopped at 3 Korners Antiques, home of the motherload of carnival glass. I hadn’t paid much attention to carnival glass before, but seeing it en masse, I finally realized how gorgeous it can be. This shop was like a mini-museum.

Carnival glass case

(I’m beginning to see the light)

Carnival glass case

Carnival glass: lovely! But it’s all peacocks — where are the chickens?

But wait — I just found this carnival glass chicken pinboard!

All these peacocks and leafy Art Nouveau and arts-and-crafts motifs reminded me that I recently found my old term paper on Art Nouveau from an Independent Study section in art history, way back. And yes, it had been living undiscovered in one basement after another for the last few decades. A glance through showed me that I didn’t mention carnival glass at all.

Carnival glass peacocks

I don’t know anything about the difference between old and new glass, I just took pictures of what was accessible. And shiny.

Carnival glass peacocks

Could I, in my snooty days, have seen the iridescence and the luster and considered it budget Tiffany?

Labeled Lalique

Something besides carnival glass: these little cuties were purportedly Lalique.

I left the store empty-handed, being in the mode of look-don’t-buy (plus, did you see the $-signs?). Still, I’m glad I thought to take these photos. Meanwhile, I’m hoping for another afternoon out with The Pickers next time I’m in town. As for now, I’m back to the job of cleaning up after the fray.

What do you think — peacocks or chickens?

Related posts:

Now for a 21st century moment: Rockport MO was the first town in the US to be powered solely by wind turbines

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray



Farmer’s Markets, Milkweed, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Nothing says summer like the local farmer’s market — the fruits and vegetables are fresher than the grocery store, there are more organic choices, and you can use your own containers. It’s good for us, good for the farmers, and good for the planet.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

But humans aren’t the only ones who need to eat in summer. There’s one more thing that defines the season for me. It’s a roadside market for a Monarch caterpillar — a milkweed plant.

Milkweed about to bloom, complete with bug visitor.

Milkweed about to bloom, complete with visiting bug.

Here it is when it’s blooming —

Milkweed flowers.

Milkweed flowers – taken on last summer’s trip “home”.

It’s almost August now, time for the seed pods —

Green milkweed pods.

Green milkweed pods.

If you grew up in the country, like I did, you took these roadside plants for granted.  Once, on an autumn trail ride, I saw an entire tree covered with migrating Monarchs.  Now I wish I could get these butterfly snacks to grow in my backyard. I miss seeing the plants, miss seeing the fall butterfly migration go through, and though I plant as many caterpillar-friendly plants as I can, I don’t get nearly as many takers as I used to.

But on the bright side, it’s summer, and if you’re among the corn-fed (like me) let’s go back to the farmer’s market for one more thing to be thankful for —

Farmers Market Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn — Yum.

Hmm, looking back, I see that, instead of “Summer Lovin'”, maybe I should have saved these photos for a “Summer Eatin'” challenge.  I must have succumbed to writing-while-hungry.

What’s your favorite thing about summer?

More on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Plastic Free July is almost upon us!

I’m re-blogging this Plastic-Free July challenge from “Treading My Own Path” — quite a challenge for me, but even if I just make it for two weeks I know it will help reduce some of the “too many recyclables” I’ve complained about on past posts. Anyone else in the US up for this? Let’s go then… and don’t forget to pack your re-usable coffee mugs. (Oops, no more yogurt cups, I’d better dust off that Yogomatic too. )

Treading My Own Path


This year’s Plastic Free July challenge is almost upon us, with just a little over two weeks to go. Plastic Free July, in case you don’t know what it is, is a challenge that runs every year which encourages people to give up disposable plastic for the month of July. (If you think that sounds too hard, you can also commit to a week or even one shopping trip instead.)

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Spiders, Dinner Club, and Hoarding the Fiestaware

fiesta blog IMG_2435Bob would have loved the neighborhood Dinner Club. He loved good food, drinks, and convivial company. But joining meant hosting once a year — and back then, with all the piles of stuff around, I wouldn’t have let anyone in the house. I regret now that I was never able to find a way to organize the house so that was acceptable to both of us. As for Dinner Club, after his death I eventually joined with a neighbor who’d been a member with her late husband and needed a partner. For the first few years, we hosted at her house and I brought the food. Last weekend, I hosted at mine.

At table, neighbors shared stories of cleaning for Dinner Club. Yes, I was shocked. I’d spent all week putting things away and cleaning, but somehow I thought everyone else was neat all the time and never traumatized like me. One neighbor said that when she hosted, she’d cleaned for days, then happened to look up and see a big dust-web stretched across the ceiling. I was still smiling about this after everyone left. Then I went into the breakfast room, where we’d organized the hot dishes for dinner, and there, looping across the light fixture, was a long string of web. Dang. At least my neighbor found hers before the guests came. I’ll have to hope my guests kept their eyes on the food. The next day, sitting at the dining table, my attention strayed to the plants in the window – and there on the bottom of the Christmas cactus’ plant stand, shining in the sunlight, was the silver tangle of yet another web.

I was so sure I’d dusted every surface. Maybe spiders like convivial company too, and came out to spin while we were spinning stories. I hope so.

Dinner Club table

These are things I’m glad I hoarded.

Here’s a photo of my table: I don’t have sets of fine china and crystal like other members do, so I have Vintage Dinner Club with my mismatched flatware collection, Bob’s mother’s tablecloths, my grandmother’s linen and glassware, and fiestaware pieces that my mother, Bob’s mother, my aunt, and friends’ family members gave me.  I love using their things. It gives me a thread of connection to the people who made my life.

Hoarding the Compost

Blogging about hoarding gives me new insight. I see hoarding I haven’t noticed before. Example: I’m even hoarding the compost.

I‘ve had compost ever since I’ve had a house. It’s a religious experience –  garbage transformed into fertile soil. I started with a modest mound in the back yard at my Kansas City house –  summer grass clippings, autumn leaves, and year round vegetable scraps. Back then, Bob looked at that lowly pile and started buying me nifty interlocking compost bins. By the time we had to move, I had six of them. They’re five of them in my backyard here, where the tree canopy is three times as dense and the leaf cleanup lasts for weeks each fall.

Compost Sam IMG_1966

This job takes two afternoons — thank you Sam.

I know I must have some useful compost, but (here’s the hoarding) the last few years I’ve just left it there and piled more leaves on top, not to mention making a mountain of leaves alongside.

Here’s my second experience accepting help. Sam helps me muck out the compost.  We even find the sections of a long lost bin lying hidden under the leaves. We distribute several wheelbarrows full of black gold to my outdoor plants. The mountain is reduced to foothills now. Soon most of the leftover leaves will fit into the bins. I think the secret is to leave the extra bin empty so I have a place to turn the compost.

Rethinking the Rules

Utility closet garage MG_2229

Oops… I already need to revise my rules. I’ve started on a closet when rule number three is to start with what I can see. In other words ‘forget the closets’.

But the utility closet in the garage is useless as-is: full of dirt and cobwebs, and with shelves that are falling off the wall. I need this closet NOW. Here it is after we took out about half the stuff: empty plastic jugs, old paint cans, brushes and stir-sticks, half full boxes of (dusty) dust masks, etc.



Utility closet garage IMG_2228

Here’s my friend Sam helping me clear out that closet. See how much we’ve already taken out?

It also dawns on me that I need to add a rule: “Accept help when offered.” It’s going in the list today. In the seven years since Bob’s death I’ve always refused help, feeling that the clearing out is my job and my karma, mine alone. But if I haven’t got it done by now,  I may never get it done without help.

Inspiration: “Sandy’s Trash”



(USA Today)

On December 14 2012, I saw this headline at the news-stand. Yes, my name is Sandy, and I know the headline referred to Hurricane Sandy. Still, it made me think — my trash could take years to haul away too. That’s when I knew I had to take more radical action to get through all the boxes of “stuff” that still litter my house and my life.

That’s when I decided to start this blog.