Dropped and forgotten? Or lost and always missed?

While walking, I happened upon a guitar pick on the sidewalk.
It left me wondering...

Was it dropped and forgotten?

Or was it someone's favorite or "lucky" pick?
Something they never intended to lose
that they will always miss for the music it created in their hand?

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I'm declaring it here and now... I love classic beauty

"I love classic beauty. It's an idea of beauty with no standard." 
~Karl Lagerfeld

I've been keenly aware of my interior design aesthetics the past 6 months or more. It started when I decided to create a Pinterest board called "Finding my interior design style" after reading a very well written blog series entitled "How to Overcome Decorating Paralysis" at Fieldstone Hill Design. I saw the article pinned on Pinterest and despite the fact I was feeling just the opposite of "decorating paralysis", I clicked through and read it out of curiosity. I ended up with some epiphanies I hadn't anticipated.

I've felt like I've made some good choices when designing our cottage's renovations over the past 13 years, but was frustrated that I seemed to be making choices that didn't have as much lasting power as I'd initially hoped they would. I was wanting to change things after only a few years that were supposed to never be changed as long as we lived here (50+ years). Through the series mentioned above (particularly the Personal Style Boot Camp) I discovered that I had to define some "don't buy words"--style definitions of things that I'm lured to but are, in fact, my design "kryptonite".

Here's an example of what I mean... my head is easily turned by mid-century malt shoppe/soda fountain/diner decor, colors and accessories. I will ignore all else if I see something in that style. But (and this is a big BUT) 50's diner/malt shoppe kitsch in my own home doesn't really sit well with me for very long. It's too busy... too much like a movie set... too kitsch-y for my long-term aesthetic. As stated in the blog series that enlightened me, "...it ultimately will not have 'staying power' in my home".

Once I read that, I felt free for the first time in a long time! And I could finally declare that what did have staying power in my home was classic beauty—the kind of design that could be hundreds of years old or brand-spanking-new and you'd have a hard time discerning which it was. The classic design that emerged in the early part of the 20th century is a great example because you can see it in very modern homes today and it doesn't look dated.

My other realization was that just because something was "vintage" or "antique" didn't mean it belonged in my design aesthetic. And just because something was "new" or "modern" didn't mean it was verboten. I could mix the two and be quite happy... so happy that I never feel the need to change out that design element ever again.

Man, I wish I'd had Pinterest 13 years ago. I really REALLY wish I had. Fortunately, I'm resourceful enough and thrifty enough that I'll figure out ways to switch to my real design aesthetic without spending a lot of money.

And I just have to keep telling myself, "Lesson learned... move forward" instead of looking back and bemoaning my previous choices. I think that will be a bigger challenge than the actual work. In fact, I know it will.

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Memories of Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax dresses and a nosegay

I am a word nerd. I think many bloggers are (whether they know it or are willing to admit it).

Back many moons ago, in my junior high school at the end of every year the 8th grade students participated in "Eighth Grade Graduation". It was a big deal. The school band played "Pomp and Circumstance" while the entire 8th grade class walked in a procession decked out in the finest dress.

Back then Jessica McClintock's Gunne Sax dresses were all the rage so there was a sea of 8th grade girls wearing long calico dresses with lace-up bodices and fancy cuffs on long puffed sleeves. The graduation ceremony happened on the afternoon of the last day of school day, so all the 8th graders showed up wearing this formal attire at the beginning of the school day. The first half of the day everyone went to their regular classes. Those of us girls in 7th grade got to watch the 8th graders gliding across campus from morning class to morning class in their beautiful dresses while we dreamed of the next year when we could do the same.

The year I was one of those starry-eyed 7th graders, one particularly stylish and gregarious 8th grade girl we all loved and admired wore a beautiful Gunne Sax dress while carrying in her hand what appeared to be a miniature wedding bouquet. I was enthralled by flowers even back then, and I thought it was beyond sophisticated and charming that she got to carry around this darling bouquet of fresh flowers. I was transfixed. I heard her mention again and again that this "nosegay" was from her mother.

"Nosegay"... it sounded to enchanting and alluring.

It was a word I'd never heard before.

My flower-loving-word-nerd heart was hooked.

I never forgot that day... that moment... that space in time... when I was introduced to the concept of a "nosegay".

According to Merriam-Webster:
"Nosegay" is a homegrown word -- that is, it originated in English. Fifteenth-century Middle English speakers joined "nose" (which meant then what it does today) with "gay" (which at the time meant "ornament"). That makes "nosegay" an appropriate term for a bunch of flowers, which is indeed an ornament that appeals to the nose.
Is it just the 7th grader coming out in me, or doesn't that still sound so enchanting and alluring?

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Dahlias that never stood up straight or "The Dahlia Principle"

photos taken in Golden Gate Park

Years ago I wrote a blog post about how my dahlias never stood up straight. No matter what I did or what measures I took, when the dahlias would grow they'd always grow sideways with large green serpentine stems stretching out horizontally instead of vertically. It seemed like something so straightforward. You put the bulb in the ground. The flower grows straight up from the ground. The flower blooms and looks like all the other dahlias you've ever seen. Easy peasy, right? Not so in my case. It's like their "dahlia dna" got the wrong set of instructions. It wasn't the weight of the blossom that caused it because they'd start growing like that long before there were flowers. It was maddening. One year, those dahlias didn't come back. Something must have eaten their bulbs. I never bothered to replace them. I decided to just admit defeat and learn to appreciate dahlias in other gardens besides my own (the photos in this post were taken outside the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco).

This weird dahlia problem is somewhat of a symbol for certain things in my life. No matter how hard I may try to prevent some cyclical patterns from repeating themselves, I can't. I end up either having to adapt or just admit defeat and move on.

Case in point... after 13 years of living through restoration/remodeling projects in this house Hubby and I know that no matter how straightforward a project appears to be at the onset, something will crop up that puts it into the "difficult" or "Man, I didn't see that one coming" category. It is a general rule we've come to have a sense of humor about (believe me, it took a long time to get to the point where we could chuckle about this phenomenon). We've actually come to expect it--particularly when others besides ourselves are doing the work.

Sometimes we've called it "the Home Depot Curse". That term came about because whenever we’d get into a line to checkout at Home Depot with a cart full of supplies, the customer ahead of us would suddenly have an issue with their purchase—their card would decline, a bar code wouldn’t work on an item, or something else would occur that the cashier insisted “had never happened before”. If anything happened when we were standing in line, we felt an obligation to apologize to whomever was standing in line in front of us or behind us by saying, “Sorry. It’s us. We have ‘The Home Depot Curse’.” We got to the point where we'd split up and have one of us stand in one line and the other in another line and then whichever line "broke down", we'd switch to the other person's line. When my brother was helping us with major construction, we'd split into three different lines and really fake out "the curse".

At other times, we've simply said, "We've got the Midas touch in reverse. Instead of everything we touch turning to gold, everything we touch turns to crap." That started to sound too cynical and faithless for our spiritual and good-natured sensibilities, so over time we abandoned that notion and phrase.

I think I'll call it the "Dahlia Principle" from now on. It sounds much nicer than either of the first two nicknames, don't you think?

We've had the weirdest things imaginable happen during the course of our home improvement adventures. While digging trenches for french drains around the perimeter of the house several years ago (another seemingly straightforward undertaking), we unearthed counterfeited engraving plates buried by the former owner's felonious son who was involved in many nefarious activities including counterfeiting checks. A phone call later and we had a member of the sheriff's department collecting the evidence as we all stood next to the small trench. After taking the evidence and our statement, the sheriff's deputy parted with a smile and a chuckle and said, "Give us a call if you dig up anything else... like a dead body." Thanks officer.

That gives you an idea of how bizarre things can get around here.

So in case anyone is wondering why I haven't written an update on the progress of our latest remodeling project, know that the "Dahlia Principle" is in full swing right now. The wonderful and competent contracting company that we hired to do our drainage and foundation footing across the front of the garage has been sucked into the vortex that is our lot in life when it comes to home improvement. A seemingly straightforward day-and-a-half job has turned into much more than that. Everything is on hold until they can find a slot in their schedules to come back and resolve things.

Sorry... I guess I should have warned them.

The good news is that while digging to install the foundation, they didn't find anything that warranted calling the sheriff's department. That's a good thing, right?

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Rainless rainbows and giant prisms in the sky... that's what ended our Labor Day

Hunkered down inside all day (despite the holiday) because of the heat and humidity, Hubby and I finally decided it was cool enough to venture outside to take a short drive just before sunset. We wandered out to the car in the driveway and looked up. What we saw stunned us both.

Above us was a sky lit up like fire as the setting sun reflected off the unusual clouds. And in the midst of it all was a big rainbow coming down out of the middle of a cloud.

It hadn't rained. It wasn't going to rain. Yet there was a rainbow.

Our iPhones came out and we starting taking pictures thinking there was no way we could capture the intensity of the moment with little cameras in our cell phones.

We finally got in the car and headed out of our little hamlet and onto the big freeway that takes us up and out of our hilly terrain into the large valley that sits at the base of "our mountain" which hovers over the valley at 3,864 feet (1,178 m) in elevation. This is a drive we've made a thousand times. Our car always goes up and over the rise in the freeway until we reach the crest and suddenly the valley opens up in front of us with the majestic mountain rising in the distance (a camera never does this scene justice).

Yesterday evening the vista was even more magical than usual. To the right of "our mountain" was a giant shaft rainbow. I've never seen one before. It was like a huge prism hanging in the sky from the clouds overhead. The mist from the clouds was hanging in vertical bars and refracting the setting sun so perfectly that it was creating this beautiful phenomenon of nature--not a rainbow but a shaft prism.

I took out my iPhone again and started taking pictures as the car jiggled along the freeway toward "our mountain". I hoped and hoped that it would even capture a tenth of what we were seeing. It did capture that (and then some). Even though it couldn't capture all the bands of color our eyes were seeing, it caught enough to show the enormity of the miracle we were witnessing.

For those of you that experience summer rain and/or summer heat and humidity, you'll have to forgive our childlike excitement. These cloud formations aren't what we normally witness here in the hot, rainless summers of the San Francisco Bay Area. And we certainly don't experience them by the time September rolls around and we're completely starved for rain. Usually we still have a month or so to go until the autumn and winter rains come. So you can imagine our sheer childlike wonder and delight seeing rainless rainbows and giant prisms in the sky as the sun set on a September evening.

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