Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Old Lair

On this day in 1972 (45 years ago), my family moved to this house.


My engineer dad got a job at Morganite in Dunn, NC, and we moved from small-town St. Mary's, PA to (really not that much bigger back then) North Raleigh. I marvel at how real estate transactions ever happened without the Internet. Morganite flew my parents down, and they had a weekend to select the house we'd grow up in. As an adult, I thanked Dad for moving us to Raleigh rather than Dunn. His commute was over an hour -- I don't even think the Beltline was completed then. 

Mom moved from a drinking, smoking, card-playing life in a German-Catholic town that had its own brewery since 1872 to Southern-Baptist-dominated Raleigh, which didn't even have "liquor by the drink." As I understand it, the restaurants would have little cubby holes behind the bars, and like, your company would maintain bottles of liquor there that the bartender would pour for a corking fee? Something like that. I think it was bordering on scandalous for a woman to drink or hang out in bars. Then Mom got a job as a waitress at nearby Mayberry (later, Lock, Stock & Barrel), and it was probably remarkable for her to be walking up the street in her little uniform, too. I wish she were around now so I could ask her what it must have been like to pick up and move her family of six to such a foreign culture after she'd lived her whole life in St. Mary's. (I have a bit of an inkling, now.)

The house in Raleigh had woods in back, at least until I was in about 4th grade, when they built houses back there. All the kids would hang out in the woods and build forts. We knew the woods like the backs of our hands. There were trails and places everyone knew: the Bunny Trail, the Whoop-de-dos. There was a burnt down old farm house back there overrun with vegetation. I was shoeless from April to October, crossing the creek over a fallen tree and sometimes even walking barefoot down the gravel Rocky Road to the Power Lines. If the briar patch got me, I washed my cuts with nasty creek water.

Some kids had motor bikes. I knew who was coming to visit by the sound of their bike. My brothers won a Kawasaki from WKIX. I was too little to drive it, but I rode on back and had my bare legs singed multiple times - specifically that time Bob wiped out on Devil's Hill with me and Eric on back. Our house was midway between the Power Lines (the nighttime party hangout) and Colony Shopping Center, and the shirtless freaks and bell-bottomed hippy girls were always stopping by looking for one of my brothers. Sometimes they'd hang out and play ping-pong or TV tennis or Led Zeppelin records or guitar.

We moved to Raleigh two weeks after a mass shooting at North Hills Mall, a mile and a half away from our new house. Our car stopped for gas just after crossing into North Carolina. It was late afternoon in summer, so naturally, it had just rained. Steam issued forth from the pavement like a lava pit in Hell, and my brother Bobby gasped for air as he got out of the car to pee. "Is this what it's gonna be like here??" he asked Mom. She didn't know.

How could she know whether they'd made a good decision, that the house would be in our family for 40 years? That its cracked patio would host killer keggers; that its brown oven produce golden turkeys; that its front stoop shelter a boyfriend's shy goodnight kiss? That, according to my husband, I actually walk differently when I'm within a mile of it because I guess I feel like I belong there?

Random bit of advice, though: If you aim to learn to ride a bike without training wheels, don't let your older brother teach you on a driveway lined with holly bushes.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Shoes with Mojo

Ladies, do you go out to bars alone? And do your shoes have mojo?

My husband was out of town with his other wife the Army again, and naturally there was a band I wanted to see. I first saw Cigar Store Indians, a rockabilly band, probably in the late-90s during my swingdance phase. They are from Crabapple, GA, which it turns out is just north of Atlanta, where I moved about 16 months ago. They were playing at the Star Bar in Little Five Points, where we'd recently seen Southern Culture on the Skids, so I knew what environment to expect and that there was a parking lot and I wouldn't have to walk very far unescorted. So I psyched myself up for it and went out alone. This is not something I have done often, but I have done it. I'm an introvert, remember. I wasn't just going out to meet up with friends. I didn't have the excuse that I was traveling on business.



I've really been wanting to swingdance again lately; it's been a while. I was hoping maybe I could find somebody to dance with last night. If you are at an event that is not billed as a swing dance, you can often still identify other dancers by their shoes. It's true. So to help potential partners identify me, I wore saddle shoes.

Now, I've believed for years that shoes can have a certain mojo, but that was all due to my fuzzy leopard-print, extra-hi-top Chucks that I bought in London. I credit/blame them for some adventures involving a dude with a blue mohawk, but that story will have to wait for another time. But this night, my black and white saddle shoes worked their own little magic, even before I clicked them together three times.

I felt rather self-conscious when I entered the bar at around 9:20. It turned out the band wouldn't start for another 40 minutes, I think, but it was late enough that there were no open stools at the bars, and yet early enough that very few people were standing in the open like me. I tried to find an out-of-the-way place to stand where I drank my Newcastle and of course made a little origami crane out of the label.

Were people noticing that I was a chick out in the bar alone? Maybe they would think I was just waiting for my friend(s) to show up. As more people filtered in, I hoped I was at least not sticking out like the man in the khakis and navy blazer. (Did he just come from the country club?) I finished my beer and the band still hadn't shown signs of starting, so I went to the Ladies' Room and then got another beer.

Then this really tall, black-haired chick in all black comes up to me telling me how she loves my shoes.

"And they look good on you!" she adds, gushing.

I'm like, "Thanks!" Then she asks my name and shakes my hand and tells me her name is Chastity. Then she departs and heads towards the door, like she's friends with the doorman.

Ok, well, that was encouraging at least. I stand there another five or ten minutes, and the band looks as if they are finally beginning to start. Chastity comes back up to me and introduces me to her friend, though I don't think I caught her name. Well, the friend says hi and immediately PUSHES me all the way to the front of the stage - you know, past all the tall fuckers who have started to converge - and straight up to center stage. So I'm laughing and I say thanks, and the band starts. And that's where I spent the whole show, front center stage.

There were a few times when people with cameras asked to get in front of me, and I said of course, and they were always very polite and left after a few minutes. This one chick was like, "You're so little. Stay there!" and then this other chick was also gushing over my shoes. (People, it's called the Internet. They're not hard to find.) But I did keep turning around looking behind me to see if anyone was swingdancing. I think I saw a couple in the back maybe do one dance, but that's it. So I never did get to swingdance, but I had just about as much fun dancing by myself center stage.

Yet all those times I kept turning around, I never saw Chastity or her friend again.

Angels. They were angels!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Starts with an F and Ends in U-C-K

New to my collection this year:  firetruck earrings for September 11.  Can you see the tiny letters that say, "OUR HEROES"?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pecan Pi(e) Day

Though pi earrings and 3.1415 earrings do exist, I prefer the homophone, which I got from an Etsy shop called Inedible Jewelry.  Pie > math.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Earrings I Don't Have

Updated list of earrings I don't have:

Christmas Earrings I Don't Have:
Santa 
Elves
Reindeer 
Gift boxes
Sleds/sleighs
Stockings
Holly
Wreaths
Abominable Snowmen (I have plenty of the unabominable kind)
Lumps of coal
Krampuses
Jesuses
Fruitcakes
Leg lamps

Other Holidays I Don't Have Covered:
Guy Fawkes Night 

Pie Day
St. Lucia Day  
St. Nicholas Day/Belsnickel/Krampus 

Miscellaneous Earrings I Want:
Bajoran earrings
Lips
Birthday cakes
Candles
Guinness
Fireworks
Seahorses
Umbrellas
FUNCTIONING watch/clock earrings
Chandeliers that light up (I can dream)
Stop lights that I can control based on my mood (I have a vivid imagination)
Leg lamps that light up (a really vivid imagination)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mistletoe Earrings

Perfect for the Solstice.  Plus, you can always hold it over your head when you're feeling flirty.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

365 Reasons to Fight

Two and half months after we wed in 2006, my husband left to spend a year-long deployment in Iraq.  I wrote him a LOT of letters.  One of the early ones included a list of reasons to fight:  one for every day he'd be gone.  At one of his duty stations, he would choose one of the reasons each day and type it into the screen saver on his computer. Some of the other soldiers started asking, "What are we fighting for today?"  I can only imagine what they must have thought of me on some days.

Some of the items on the list are things he or I loved, but an American soldier also fights for things he  (or she) doesn't love.  Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served to protect our rights to disagree.

Click "Read more" to see list:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tree of Life

Here is the latest in my junk jewelry art.  They continue to follow a holiday theme. I just couldn't wait for Halloween to post this.

This one is inside an 11x14 shadow box. Junk jewelry is glued to the black background that came with the shadow box. No items needed to poke through the background this time. Click on the Crafty label in the righthand margin to see more junk jewelry art designs.

The tree and the hillside are made with broken silvery chains.  The stars are beads from broken or tarnished jewelry. The moon is not made of cheese but rather pieces of three earrings.  The crosses and chains belonged to me and several family members: my mother, father, and brother Tom, and likely good ole Uncle Lushwell.  They rest in peace, but now at least some of their trinkets no longer rest in pieces.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stars & Stripes Forever


I made this flag by gluing broken and tarnished chains into a 5x7 shadowbox frame. The "stars" are the backs of earrings that I had used in other similar projects. In addition to gluing with E6000 glue, I used tiny straight pins to stick the stars to the back of the shadowbox.

Not sure if you'll be able to see, but one of the "stripes" has "Dot" engraved on it.  So I thought I'd share a picture of Dot, my inspiration and certainly one of the most patriotic people I ever knew.

For more of my junk jewelry craft designs, click the "Crafty" label in the right-hand column of this blog.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Resurrecting Dead Jewelry


After the Christmas tree and Valentine I made from jewelry I inherited from various family members, I still had lots of less blingy, more colorful beads and plastic earrings left over.  I don't eat hard-boiled eggs, yet I still have a desire to celebrate spring by decorating eggs in my own way.  Using the colorful beads to make an Easter egg just seemed obvious since I had already hopped on to the holiday theme.

Most of the beads and earrings in this craft belonged to my mom, but there are a couple of strands of broken rosaries in there, too, that likely belonged to my uncle or brother. The 8x10 white shadowbox frame came from Michael's, as did the purple felt I used for the background.  For further instruction about how I did this, see the directions at the end of my Junk Jewelry Christmas Tree blogpost.  For other designs, click the "Crafty" label in the righthand column of this blog.

The bunnies and eggs so prevalent in springtime are symbols of fertility and rebirth. Though I can't resurrect the relatives who instilled in me a love of holiday traditions, at least I can help breathe new life into the trinkets they left behind.