Monday, April 28, 2014

Pieces of the Story

Christmas, some years back:

“I hope you like it,” my sister said, “even though it’s probably just a box of crap”.


Practically every time I visit my husband’s grandmother:

“Take it, honey.  It’s just crap nobody wants.”



I boldly confess that I will, indeed, take all of your crap, but only if the crap in question is a box of vintage costume jewelry.  That’s what I received in the above scenarios, and that’s what I like – old accessories with a story to them.  Granted, I don’t know the story behind every piece I’ve acquired over the years.  Much of my collection comes from garage sales, thrift stores, and a wonderful clothing swap party that my friend Marian hosts from time to time ( 

This past weekend’s swap party proved highly successful for me.  Not only did I score enough clothing to keep me out of the stores this summer, I met a wonderful woman named Monica who specializes in my favorite pastime.

Monica’s jewelry was not up for swapping, however.  She sells it on behalf of others.  Her clientele includes folks who’ve lost Grandma and would like for Grandma’s jewelry to go to a good home.  They also include people who are simply downsizing their jewelry boxes.  Old pieces.  Interesting pieces.  Pieces full of personality.  Pieces you just don’t find anymore.

I had my eye on this:


And on this:


Knowing that old costume accessories can sell for a pretty penny, I hesitantly asked her price.  I almost fell over –in a good way- when she told me.

“I’m not really looking to make money here.  I just want to find people who’ll be good to these items.  I merely need a little to cover gas to these sorts of events and such.”

I handed her the cash, and as she wrapped them lovingly and placed them in a bag, she informed me that the necklace and the bracelet were owned by the same woman.  “Her name was Laura,” Monica said, “would you like to know more about her?”

“Indeed I would!” I proclaimed as I sat down at her table.

“I actually knew Laura quite well.  She passed away a couple of months ago, and I miss her.  She was like a grandmother to me.”

“How so?”  I asked.

“We used to do tequila shots together.”

Now, I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I never did tequila shots with either of my grandmothers.  Nonetheless, Laura sounded like my kind of gal.  In addition to her affinity for tequila, Laura was also a school teacher (I was, too, and totally get her need to imbibe from time to time), she tended to favor books over people on occassion (me, too), and knew how to play the ukulele.

“You’re kidding!”  I cried, “I’m learning to play the ukulele!”

“I think Laura had a hand in you finding her things,” smiled Monica.

I agreed and took my leave of her, Laura’s jewelry secured in my purse. 

That evening, as I put the pieces away in my jewelry box, I took a good look at what I’ve got.  Someday, when I’m too old to fasten a necklace or simply too worn out to care, I’m going to start passing this stuff along.  Many of those on the receiving end may view it as crap, but hopefully others will fancy it, particularly if they know the story that will go along with it.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Between God and Me

Although I acquired a snazzy new outfit, I didn’t go to church this Easter morning.  I recognize it’s no different from any other Sunday, really, but when a holiday rolls around I do like to put in an appearance –whether I have a new outfit or not.

But not today.

You see, God and I aren’t on the best of terms at the moment.

Now, before you raise an eyebrow, call the prayer chain, or (if you happen to be my dear mother) collapse into a fit of vapors, let me explain a couple of things.  First of all, my definition of God may differ from yours, and I appreciate you for respecting it.  In spite of what I do and say, I take my spiritual beliefs seriously.  Secondly, because my views on The Almighty are hard to explain, I shall refer to those views as ‘God’ or ‘He’.  Finally, I’d venture to guess that many of us have questioned our beliefs at some point in our lives.  If you haven’t, you’re either lying or are a much better person than I.

I have an awful lot of questions at the moment.  I know I’ve been a nag with regard to them, and for asking certain favors of God these past few weeks.  He, evidently, has had enough of my henpecking, and appears to be giving me the cold shoulder.  That’s fine, Big Guy – I'm feeling pretty tough right now, and am fairly confident that I can handle whatever you wish to sling in my direction.

It’s hard, though, to keep up my defenses and play along with His macho head-games.  As I scrawl out this little musing, baby ducks gather at my feet.  I’m outside, by the way, not in my office.  That would be weird, huh?  An occasional gecko sneaks in, but never a duck.  Gosh, could you imagine? I wouldn’t mind the ducks, but the mess and the smell would simply drive me over the edge.

But I digress.

Try as I might to withhold the fabulousness that is me (wink, wink or gag, gag depending on your opinion of me), God keeps sending tiny reminders that we’ll keep moving forward, somehow.  Sure, scars will run mighty deep, but we’ll make it – eventually, although changed.

I’ve had the chorus of an old Lyle Lovett song playing in my head today.  It’s called God Will.


God does

But I don’t

God will

But I won’t

And that’s the difference

Between God and me.


I think God gets the fact that although we’re ‘created in His image’ we’re certainly not wired as such.  I believe He’s okay with that and I think He’s okay if we don’t want to hold hands and sing songs of praise at this particular point in our lives.

He and I are at least back on speaking terms, with fewer insults hurled than in recent conversations.  We can actually have a chat without one of us getting snippy and storming out of the room.   It’s still a little shaky, but perhaps sooner rather than later we can sit around and swap stories like we used to.

And what stories they shall be, I’m sure.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bad Times, Bad Manners

(The following, I know, is not my most well-written attempt.  You may be asking, "Is any of this blog particularly well-written, Beth?  Do you really need the disclaimer?"  To which I reply, "Up yours, Smart Guy."  It's written out of love, of which I know a little, and snarkiness, of which I know alot.  If you can relate and find a chuckle or two, then I know it's a success.  If not, perhaps you should take a good, hard look at yourself and find another blogger to bother.  I got bigger fish to fry than you, Chief)

No loss is ever easy, but the loss my family and I experienced last month really hit below the belt.

But I don't want to talk about it.

What I do want to talk about, boys and girls, is the ‘what to do and say' vs. the 'what not to do and say’ when someone passes.   Before I begin, however, I must preface it by acknowledging that there are an awful lot of classy people out there who’ve helped us out tremendously during this time.  Words cannot express how much your deeds, words, prayers, and good energy mean to us.  We are lucky – still incredibly sad, but lucky in that we have your support and friendship.

I don’t think anyone really knows, exactly, what to do during a loss.  Sure, there exist certain things that need to be figured out fairly quickly, and we were extremely fortunate to have someone who spearheaded it all on our behalf.  Many people simply want to reach out and do something.  Food preparation is always a nice gesture, as is dropping off paper goods.  Light housekeeping, laundry, walking the dogs, and such – much appreciated.  Knowing when to be there, and knowing when to make yourself scarce– that’s important, too.  Donating time or money to a worthy cause in memory of someone – perfect.  All those little things make a huge difference.

So with that being said, let’s take a peek at the ‘oh no you didn’t’ side of things (because it's me, after all, and my blog, and we're not going anywhere until I call out certain behaviors):

Inane Chatter – I’ve never been a big fan, and I wholeheartedly believe the world would be a much better place if everyone would just shut up for at least a little while.  When dealing with something tremendously heavy, the last thing we want to hear about is Ethel’s rosebushes.

Drawing Comparisons – I lost my father nine years ago; you, perhaps, have lost yours as well.  That’s common ground.  The phrase, “I know how you feel” applies.  “I know how you feel” does not apply in every situation, particularly in a situation that is quite out of the ordinary. Comparing one loss to another is unbelievably self-centered, I think.  Misery doesn’t love company – at least mine doesn’t.

Complaints– No one thrives upon another's gripes.  You’re mad at your brother – big deal.  Your toilet leaks – so what.  You’ve got the blues in the night – who doesn’t?   Figure out how to deal with it without dumping it on someone else and move on.

Don’t Judge and Don’t Hassle – about anything a grieving person is doing or not doing.  I mean, if they start taking hard-core, illegal drugs, you might say something, but if they’re skipping a meal or smoking a cigarette, that’s really none of your concern.

Don’t Expect to Be Fed – This actually happened when my dad passed.  He had barely been taken to the funeral home when someone showed up ‘out of concern’ and then asked my mother why no one from the community had brought any food.  Pal, if you’re hankering for a casserole, go home and make it yourself.

Don’t Post Sad/Bad News on Social Media Sites – We know what happened, so we don’t need a link to remind us of it.  I actually took a pre-emptive strike and contacted people who needed to know, and kindly asked them to relay to others that any messages for us should be sent privately.  Why the pre-emptive strike?  Because I can name at least four people who would have posted something on Facebook had word not gotten out that such an act would be considered highly unfavorable, to put it mildly.

Don’t Complain About Your Kids – Hug them tightly.

Small Acts of Kindness Go A Long Way – I haven’t paid for a drink in a month, and I am much obliged to friends and club owners for that.

Don’t Wear Your House Shoes to a Funeral – another winner from my dad’s passing.

Don't Say the Following:

He/she is in a better place (perhaps true if they’re aged and ill, but still…)

I told him not to buy that damn boat (particularly if the boat had nothing to do with his demise)

We became close…very, very close…as close as any man or woman can be (someone actually stated this at a memorial service for a friend of mine – gossip ensued)

She led a secret life (evidently, judging from what the jackass above just said)

I could go on, but I won’t.  Again, though, let me reiterate that generous and thoughtful people live and love in this world, and I appreciate them.  And when you get down to it, that’s what really matters – people.  Not money, not possessions, not jobs, not those day-to-day tiny inconveniences.  In the grand scheme of things should be a phrase that’s positioned first and foremost in our minds. 

Think, too, about the legacy you want to leave.  Do you want to be remembered as someone who enjoyed life, who brought along a certain amount of vibrancy everywhere you went?  Someone who was an absolute joy to be around?

Or do you want to be the house-shoe- wearing, complaining- about-your-kid, no-casserole-having- numbnut?

Think about it.


Ps… If this particular little musing resonated with you on any level, kindly make a donation to The Monarch School ( in memory of Stephanie Kirkpatrick, who always giggled when Aunt Beth used the term 'numbnut'.