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And Now, for a Thanksgiving Dinner that Couldn’t be Beat

Practical Man often says I was born in the wrong time–that I should have been a hippy.  Maybe he’s right.  Case in point:

  • I love Volkswagen anything (as long as it’s pre-1980).
  • I have a tendency to decorate everything that doesn’t move (and even some things that do) with bohemian prints.
  • 95% of the guitar music I play is 60s and 70s folk.

I would have liked being a hippy, I think.  Except for the straight hair and no bangs thing.

Let’s just say that I have forehead issues.

So, I can’t truly be a hippie, now can I?  First of all, I can’t even spell it. And I’m sure that hippies were more about peace, love and all that good stuff and not so much about the forehead vanity.

I know I should be thinking about pilgrims and injustices perpetrated on aboriginal peoples and green bean casseroles, but at this time of year, I can’t help it.  I think about the dump and VW microbuses and a strange and mythical place called the Group W Bench.

Doesn’t everyone?

It all started 32 Thanksgivings ago, when my dad introduced me to Arlo Guthrie’s iconic Vietnam protest song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree“.

I learned to love it–and now, I’m learning to play it on the gi-tar–with feeling.

So far, I’m pretty terrible but, in my defence, I’m a lot older than Arlo was when he first came up with the concept of an 18 minute and 34 second song.

18 minutes!!

My fingers, not to mention my will, are weak.

What can I say, I’ve been wasting my life, obsessing about my forehead.

But, I can play the chorus:

Alice's Restaurant chorus - musical score

 

I’m pretty sure I can’t sustain it for 5 minutes though, let alone 18 minutes +.

The point is, I’ve also been inflicting Alice’s Restaurant on as many people as possible, since I first fell in love with it as a teenager:

  • In 1996 (after I was old enough to know better), a friend and I attempted to write the lyrics (all 18 minutes and 34 performance seconds of them) in black magic marker on his bathroom walls.
  • I met my friend, Bamboo Guy, partly because we bonded over the fact that he lived in a church, just like Alice and Ray and Potcho The Dog, from the song.
  • My dad and I saw it live in 2005 during the Alice’s Restaurant 40th anniversary tour.

And, I’m not alone in my quasi-obsession.  My uncle Putt reportedly played and sang Alice’s Restaurant to countless Inuit listeners, while he was working in the Canadian North in the early ’70s.   He and my aunt recently gifted me with something I’d never seen before:

The Alice’s Restaurant book!

Alice's Restaurant book - cover

It doesn’t have “27 8×10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was, to be used as evidence against us”, but, it does have groovy sketches.

VW Bus

VW Bus with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction

Soooo very groovy.  I wish I could show them all to you!

Yep, as many of our southern neighbours are sitting down this weekend to what we up north call “American Thanksgiving”, I can’t help thinking of Alice and her restaurant and how one young guy took his peaceful protest on the road, way back when.

Protests go so much better with a gi-tar, don’t you think?

Go and sit on the group W bench

Although the Vietnam War and Alice’s Restaurant came about before I was born, I feel as though the past couple of weeks may have felt a little bit similar to what things felt like back then.

Kinda tense.

People feeling strong feelings.

Neighbours worried about neighbours.  Or, angry at neighbours.  Or, bewildered by neighbours.  Or, disappointed by neighbours.

Something about neighbours.

Kinda tense, as I said.

But, that’s not what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about giving thanks.

That’s why I called the post, “And now, for a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.”

Thanks–to Arlo (may I call you Arlo?), for showing me that we could believe in something and deliver a message to people in a way that made them smile, while also making them think.

Thanks–to my dad, for sharing Arlo with me and Uncle Putt for giving me his long-treasured book. Thanks–to Practical Man for driving all the way to Stockbridge, Massachussets to visit “the scene of the crime” and for listening to me squeal my way around the countryside that led to The Church.  Thanks–to Fairy Godson’s parents, who went to the ACTUAL Alice’s garage sale (accidentally) on Cape Cod and got to talk with ACTUAL Alice and then they brought me back a Christmas ornament from ACTUAL Alice’s garage sale that ACTUAL Alice used to have in her living room on her Christmas tree!

Thanks– to Arlo again, for being a role model in the never-ending sentences and segues that have become his (and, okay, you may have a point here:  MY) trademark style.

And, if you’re celebrating this week, I hope you have a “Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat” and I also hope you walk into the shrink wherever you are,

Just walk in and say, “Shrink,

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”

and walk out.

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, that's two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the Restaurant

If one person, you know just one person does it, they may think she’s really weird and they won’t pay attention.

But if two people do it…in harmony, they may think they’re both Canadians and they won’t pay attention to either of them.

And if three people do it…can you imagine three people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walkin’ out?   They may think it’s an organization!

And, can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day…walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walkin’ out?

Friends, they may think it’s a MOVEMENT.

And, that’s what it is.

The Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement and all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the gi-tar.

With feelin’.

Disney Ears and Down-filled Everything

I went to Disney World, for the first time, on my 40th birthday.

As you do.

That year, they had a “Come to Disney for Free on your Birthday” promotion.

We were already going to be in Florida and it was the perfect excuse to go.  Disney isn’t cheap and as you may remember, Practical Man loves a good deal, yes indeedy.

He’s just not a huge fan of Disney.

Or crowds.

Or mouse ears.

mickey mouse ears

“You’re not going to wear those when I’m with you, are you?” I could already hear him asking at the prospect of my dreamed-about Mickey ears.

Umm…

SIGH.

I knew this would be the question he would ask because he asked it when I came home with rubber boots that had large, purple and pink flowers all over them.

And when I found the perfect artsy-hippy-dippy-trippy shirt.

He also asked it when I made the first large-ish felt flower for one of my hats.

my eyes showing underneath a blue hat with a large, red, felt flower

But, 20 or 30 large-ish felt flowers later, he’s kind of getting used to me now. I think he’s realized that he can still maintain his preferred position “under the radar”, even when I’m wearing something attention-grabbing, because people are too busy gawking at a 40-something woman wearing items normally associated with 4 year olds, to pay any attention to him.

I don’t mind the gawking.  Adults don’t smile nearly enough so, anything I can do to help in that area is right up my street.

My festooned, childlike street, of course.

(You may recall how much I love a bit of festooning.)

Back to my point, which is that we were going to be in Florida for my birthday, visiting my aunt and uncle.

My first hint that Practical Man didn’t really want to spend a festive 40th birthday day with his dearest at Disney was, well…okay, I married him, so I like to think I know about some of his likes and dislikes.

(I’m always studying, in case we we end up on one of those newlywed games, even now that we are 20 years into our romance.)

Anyhoo, the second clue was that for most of the drive to Florida, Practical Man kept saying to me, “Don’t you think you’d have a better time at Disney with your aunt?”

I tormented him through Pennsylvania and both the Carolinas and Georgia, but knew that, yes, I would have a great time with my aunt Feather at Disney.

She has no problem with Disney, crowds or mouse ears.

And, she encourages things like staying overnight in the Herbie the LoveBug themed Disney hotel (Hurrah!) and eating Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars (Yum!) and not minding when her niece wears Mickey Mouse ears all day long over her sunhat, even though she’s 40.

I am 40ish going on 4.  Yep, that’s me.

As if it could get any better, the Magic Kingdom folks gave me a giant button at the gate that said “Happy Birthday Christine!” in two foot letters on it and every time there was a parade or a character going by (which was a lot), they would lean down from their stilts with a giant smile and yell, “Happy Birthday, Christine!” which Practical Man would have hated, but which I love-love-loved.

But, my favourite part was the parade that started, right after the sun went down.  All the floats were lit with thousands of coloured lights and it was warm and beautiful with my Aunt Feather and there were fireworks all for me, I’m sure, on my 40th birthday.

SWOON.

The Magic Kingdom really is just a festooned, childlike street, after all.

Have you noticed how “festoon” rhymes with “swoon”?

Last night took me right back there.  It was the Santa Claus parade in my hometown and I was invited to join Fairy Godson and his family and friends at the big event downtown.

lit up train float

Even though there were shades of Magic Kingdom in this festival of lights, Florida it was not.  I was wearing down-filled everything with an added layer of neoprene on my feet, thank goodness.

Brrrrrr.

My magic kingdom for some down-filled undies.

Even though the weather is finally turning a bit more wintery, just for the record, it’s still a bit too early for Santa.

Practical Man has rules about these kinds of things:  no Christmass-y stuff until December 1st.

Or, maybe that’s the earliest date I have cajoled him into.  We definitely follow the “out of respect for our veterans and their families, absolutely nothing festive until after Remembrance Day” rule.

Even though it was early, it felt like the festive season at the parade.  All the kids lined up to catch their candy canes and stickers and wave at Rudolphs with blinking noses and Elves and that giant marshmallow guy from Ghostbusters.

parade float - giant balloon marshmallow man

Who knew that Ghostbusters were festive?

My friend Grover, that’s who.

Fairy godson was taking it all in, with a line of other kids his age.  They were, like me, wrapped in down-filled everything, from head to toe.

Little boy wearing winter clothes

Sucking on candy canes, naturally.

I was jealous of their ear flaps.

It was 16 degrees Celcius yesterday afternoon, my friends.  The climate changed just in time for the parade and our recent rash of Spring-like-weather-in-November had done nothing to harden us for standing out in the festive wind coming straight up Princess Street, off Lake Ontario.

Did I mention I’d like someone to invent down-filled undies?

But, it was still as lovely as that time at Disney.

elf village, lit up

I had no mickey ears last night but, just look at all the pretty lights!

We waved at baton twirlers and gymnasts (there were a lot) and dancers and pipe bands.  We yelled Merry Christmas at passing elves and tigers and snowmen.  Float riders reminded us that “Santa would be coming soon” and we jiggled to the assorted Christmas tunes emanating from the passing parade.  There was even a ferris wheel float!

I’ve decided I’m a night-time parade kind of a girl.

No matter the season or the location, this kind of joyous, sparkly, celebratory event is right up my street.

santa's float

My festooned, childlike street, of course.

With a side of down-filled underwear.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

Chubby Fairies in our Forest

So far I haven’t died.

Or hallucinated.

That seems like a good thing.

Practical Man found a giant puffball yesterday, when he was out in our forest.   When he told me how large it was, I decided I had to see it for myself.

Out in The Nature, as it were.

This tells you what a momentous occasion it was.  Me, out in The Nature, in the middle of the week, no less.

Practical Man standing in the forest by a fence.

That’s Practical Man, not me. If you catch a picture of me in the forest, it’s kind of like capturing a picture of a Sasquatch in the forest (ie: rare).

We ventured out today after lunch, across the yard, down our forest path and back to the last part of our trail, before it ends at the farmer’s lane.  I pointed out what I thought were new trees and Practical Man assured me that those trees had been there for 10 years.  I noted the grassy areas where there used to be just rocks and he shook his head.

Sigh.

Things sure do change in The Nature, when you only come out to visit a few times a decade.

Finally, under the trees, off the trail, I saw it.

I didn’t see any fairies dancing.

But, then, this wasn’t a toadstool.   It was a puffball.

I picture Rubenesque fairies (of the sort I could blend in with), eating ice cream under this cherubic baby.

Or rather, babies.

There were two.

Two puffball mushrooms - one very large one in the foreground.

A giant puffball and a super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious puffball.  The giant-est puffball of them all.

It’s hard to capture the scale, when it’s in the forest, but it was GIGANTICO.

Bigger than my head and we all know that my head is blessed with some magnificent largesse.

This mushroom was endowed with some encephalic proportions, yes sirree.

Here’s a picture of it in the kitchen sink, in case you had any doubts about the size of it.

giant puffball so large, it almost won't fit in a standard kitchen sink

The puffball, not my head.

I was slightly nervous, what with it being a wild mushroom and all.   Practical Man knew what it was (Calvatia gigantea) but, to reassure his suburban-born wife, he did a little extra research.  The Google assured us that it was the harmless and edible Giant Puffball (The Google is always truthful and wise, as long as you don’t believe much of what it says.)  And, our friend, Trail Diva, reassured me that we seemed to be the lucky owners of a forest delicacy.

Fried in some butter, it could even be used in lieu of noodles for lasagna, she said.

She had me at “fried in some butter”.

Accordingly, Practical Man plucked it from its forest home and brought it to the house.

It was kind of like bringing home the moon.

A moon that might kill us with its toxins and pent-up mushroom rage.

What, what, what?

A puffball is a pretty show-offy mushroom with its moon scape-y shape and super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious size, I think you’ll agree.  This made me wonder if it might be the mean girl of the mushroom world.

You can tell I love The Nature, right?

We had to use a very big, bread knife and even that wasn’t enough to deal with the extravaganza of mushroom we had on our hands.

Practical Man's hands slicing the first slice off the mushroom

Houston, we need more counter space!

I can hear my friend Pippi saying, “Bleeech”, as I write this.

Not a mushroom fan, that one.

Even I was slightly overcome.  This was bigger than the watermelon we had last week and that took a party and 4 meals to devour.

We have mushroom enough for crowds.

large slices of mushroom on the cutting board. The remaining mushroom beside them still looks HUGE.

Or, for a wicked show-and-tell at school.

Yes, definitely that.

Except, there’s no show-and-tell when you’re an adult, more’s the pity.  Many a meeting could be livened up with some show-and-tell, don’t you think?

I’m not sure mushrooms would make it past the (inevitable) safety checkpoint on the way to work show-and-tell, though.

A plate piled high with strips of mushroom

Looks like tofu, tastes like butter.

Anyway, we cooked it, outside on the barbecue (it’s the expensive hydro rates in the afternoon and it’s 30 degrees C today, that’s why).

Fried in butter, ‘cos those were our instructions.

Honest.

frying pan with slices of mushroom, golden brown

We both tried a little schnibble, after it had been fried.

(I watched for convulsions, in case Practical Man and The Google and Trail Diva were wrong.)

It tastes pretty good but we’re not sure about the consistency.

Slightly mushy.  Too much butter?

Is there such a thing?

We’ve decided we’ll make lasagna a la Trail Diva with it.

Even though the Italians are probably rolling over in their gnocchi-lined graves.

And Pippi is probably saying, “Double Bleech.”

By the way, this post is a bit of a “do not try this at home” affair.  Don’t–I repeat:  DON’T just grab mushrooms out of your yard and chow down.

Gotta be careful with the fungi, friends.

If we end up hallucinating or dying, I’ll let you know.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

How to Get a Kitchen Makeover for $2

Today, there was an auction of the very best kind.

#1:  It was the kind of auction that allowed me to sleep in (I do love my 12 hours/night, y’know):

It didn’t start until a very civilized 10:00 am.

#2:  It was the kind of auction that was perfectly timed to finish up with all the stuff we were interested in before the rain started:

We were home in time for lunch and a rainy afternoon nap.

#3:  It was the kind of auction that was a mere 8 houses down the road:

It seemed like fate and Humphrey Bogart.   Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, this auction was on our very own, country road.

Really, to ignore it would have been rude.

R.U.D.E., I tell you.

So, we wandered over–um, drove really, because hoofing it 8 houses back, not to mention through 100 acres of their windy lane before we got back to our country road with our auction treasures did not appeal–and settled in for the show.

I oogled the property, which had pastoral rolling landscape and a heritage, brick house.  It also had some lovely outbuildings made of antique brick.  The property is listed for a cool $899,000, so oogling was far as I was going to get to go with this charmer.

Accordingly, I oogled up a storm, surreptitious-like and trying not to salivate, as you do, even though officially, we’re downsizing soon.

Yep.

The auctioneer stood in front of one of the brick barns, hooked up with a wireless mike, like some kind of rural Ontario Madonna.   He stammered in his everyday speech, but, he was flawless in his auctioneer chant-erooning.

I’m sure that’s a technical, auctioneer term, isn’t it?

auctioneer holding out his cane and wearing a straw fedora, in front of a crowd

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, who’ll give me b’dee, b’dee, b’dee $100.00 for this outboard motor, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.  Only needs a pull string and….b’dee, b’dee, b’dee…a motor, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Such a cool way to parlay a speech difficulty into a successful career as a professional chanter-ooner!

I loved his vintage-style straw fedora and cane.

I have lots of hats.  Maybe I need a cane for when I’m leading workshops at the university.  I could point and gesture like a pro if I had a cane.

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, let’s talk about some resume strategies and interview skills, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Oh yes, I think it could work.

Our auction skills are rusty, having not been to one in a couple of years.  This auctioneer was making time, too, so you couldn’t snooze on the job, if you thought you might be a buyer.

No, sirree.

auction bidder ticket - #103

The giant, shiny maple syrup finishing pan that Practical Man had his eye on, went for a good deal but it was ever so lightning fast with the b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, and my maple syrup mogul hesitated.

No hesitating or dithering at this auction.  Dithering meant you walked away giant, shiny maple syrup finishing pan forlorn.

Sob.

The only thing I really spotted on our initial walk-around that made my heart skip (other than the $899,000 property itself) was a Fed-Ex/food truck-shaped van (dreams of a mobile cupcake empire danced in my head) and, be still my heart:

a genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone.

Tra-la-la.

vintage rotary phone with the receiver off

I usually see them when we’re touring house hovels that we don’t buy.  Like the one in Enterprise a couple of years ago.  And the one last week, that had the falling off chimney and disintegrating summer kitchen.

They make me want the house hovel–just because of the phone.

I’m sensible like that.

This phone wasn’t avocado green, robins-egg blue or 60s pink (that can be remedied with plastic paint, if I get bored some future Sunday afternoon) but, I figured its ho-hum colour meant the price would be manageable.  It was in among the “smalls” that Mr. Auctioneer was going through at break-neck speed.

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Before we knew it, the phone was on the table, waiting for its turn in the limelight.

Before we knew it, it was being offered with a bunch of other stuff that got bundled in, because no one would bid on the stuff on offer, right before my phone.

But, but, but..before we knew it, we were the proud owners of (a smallish box of junk and) a genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone!

back of bidder ticket - reads: $2 for phone

We went all out at this auction, spending a grand total of $2.00.  Since we weren’t buying the $899,000 property, we figured we could splurge a little.

Back at home, we set about cleaning off the barn dust and checking out our purchase.  It was like new.

Even better, when we plugged it into a phone jack, there was a dial tone!

Even, EVEN better, Practical Man could call me on it!

off-white vintage phone rotary dial

That’s not our number, just in case you were wondering.

At first, it didn’t ring with that distinctive, brain-penetrating vintage ring, but when he opened it up, he found a disconnected wire and immediately fixed it, because that is what a Practical Man is best at doing:  making my strange dreams come true.

The 40-year old phone then proceeded to ring, like it was 1976 (the year it was made).

BRRRRING!

BRRRRING!

BRRRRING!

Really, it takes so little to amuse me.

Even, even, EVEN better, I channeled my inner tween self (in full disclosure, I was a tween long before the word “tween” was coined), put my index finger in the rotary dial and dialed Practical Man’s number.

Be still my faint-y heart.

Now, you might not get the thrill here.  You might be one of those people who have people on speed dial or voice-command, so you only ever have to push one button (or less) on your phone.

I am one of those people who loves to type (I rarely copy and paste, if I can help it) and I love, love, love to DIAL!

I can’t wait to dial the longest phone numbers I can come up with.

Really.

Can I call Australia?  Or, darkest Peru?

Someday, I’m pretty sure that there will be a giant auction at our house.  They’ll shake their heads and sell off all my vintage doo-dahs and Practical Man’s gizmos and gubbins (those are technical terms).

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

In the meantime, for the love of all things vintage, please–as Blondie‘s Debby Harry used to sing–CALL ME!

The $2 auction purchase has been installed–where else, but where it belongs–and I can’t wait for our genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone to ring.

BRRRRING!

our new, vintage phone hanging on the kitchen wall

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

Treasure in a Symphony of Vintage Books

Everyone knows that collecting books isn’t the same as hoarding, right?

Right?!

Collecting books is literary.  It’s a luxury (after all, how many mansions and castles didn’t have a library room?)  It’s professorial.

And, even though I’m a professor’s daughter and not a professor myself–not to mention a library user and advocate–I do love to keep me some books.

Especially vintage books.

Just a few.

Before you start picturing the worst-case scenario, let me clarify that we only have four bookshelves in our home.

Okay, fine.  We have books in nearly every room (on tables, in magazine racks, in cabinets,) but only four official bookshelves.  That’s what counts.

Four bookshelves is nothing for a bookworm/vintage lover/pack rat, all rolled into one.

No, siree.

three white bookshelves, loaded with books

I know there are only three bookshelves here. The fourth is against a different wall. This helps to break up the “hoarding of books” impression.

Really, I’m small potatoes in the world of book hoarding–I mean–collecting.

I once knew a couple who brought back over 250 books from their honeymoon.  He was doing his PhD (What did I tell you?  Book collections are professorial.) and she just loved books.  Their Victorian house was a maze of floor-to-nearly-ceiling shelves, lining the walls in every room, the hallways and even up the stairs.  The top floor used to be fiction and the bottom floor was non-fiction.  Even if I hadn’t been living in a village with a teeny, tiny library at the time, I would have loved their house.  It came up for sale recently and I was tempted to buy it even though they and their books are long gone.

Their collection made that house a home.

It was a swoon-y, book lover’s house of the best kind.

Like that couple, our measly four bookshelves are also floor-to-ceiling and chock-a-block with books of all kinds.  Mildly organized, as I like to be once or twice a year and clustered among other vintage objects that need a home.  I also (ahem) collect a few vintage toys, which fit very well in my children’s book section.

I believe the staging experts calls this “giving the eye a place to land.”

Uh huh.

One shelf with lots of children's books on it

Anyhoo, the annual book sale for the local symphony orchestra started this weekend and I have never been.  I can’t imagine why, especially after all the fun I had there on Friday evening.

It was in a warehouse, which made it even more fun because of the whole forsaken, industrial vibe.  Plus, there is bound to be tonnage of books in a WAREHOUSE!

warehouse building

This is actually the warehouse BESIDE the warehouse that we went into, but I loved the look of it. It deserves some admiring glances.

When we got inside, there was a map which showed what types of books were in each section.

Maps = tonnage!

Sections = tonnage!

I consulted the map and tried not to squeal.  There was a children’s section and music A, B, and C sections!

Three sub-sections = tonnage!

view of the book sale

Practical Man and I mused about the definition of “Ephemera”.

Such a fun word, don’t you think?

Can’t remember what it means, of course.  This is why I don’t do crossword puzzles, like my sister and Grandma Helen.  I could Google the word, but I like to give my brain a chance to percolate for a few days.

It’s cheaper than Lumosity.com.

I hot-footed it to the music section, leaving a Practical Man in my book-hoarding dust.  There were books about genres of music and books about the people who make music.  But, I’m not as keen on reading about music as I am about playing it.  So, I searched through lots of classical piano books–even a couple that looked just like the ones I scored in East Berlin back in 1985, before the Berlin Wall came down.  (You had to spend all your money before you came back to the West and I spent it, even then, on super-economical, communist music books.)

On Friday evening, I looked for guitar books to help me with my new-ish relationship with Alice, my guitar.

It was a fun search but, yielded nothing interesting.

music books

One part of the music section: full of memories from my childhood of piano lessons.

Then, I saw them:  piles of vintage sheet music.  There were boxes full of music with retro graphics and songs from the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Swoon-y swoon, swoon!

There was music featuring my friend (well, in my imagination anyway), Julie Andrews.  I’ll frame this score by my piano.

title page to the score for My Fair Lady

Some of the books just SMELLED vintage and special and the pages and illustrations dated them instantly to a by-gone era.  Like, this Fireside Book of Folk Songs that is a large, hardcover book from 1947.  There are songs to sing and play from South America and Scotland, Cowboy songs and Railroad songs, Hebrew songs and Chinese songs.   There is even a part for spirituals and hymns. The arranger notes in the preface that “To avoid the monotony and vulgarity, no attempt has been made to persuade one style of accompaniment to suit varying styles of melody, and the square-toed “oom-pah” bass had been studiously avoided.”

Now, who wouldn’t want to take that book home with them for the bargain price of $1?

The Fireside Book of Folks Songs - cover (green with red printing)

I found a couple of gifts for people who appreciate this kind of dusty treasure just as much as I do (I wish I could show them to you!) and Practical Man popped by every once in a while to carry my growing pile, because opening my car door and carrying my books is the kind of vintage gallantry that oozes out of his pores every old day of the week.  He paid my $12 total at the end of our book sale, Friday night date, too.

He’s a keeper, that man.

As I rifled through the sheet music, I felt my heart begin to beat faster.  Judging from the era of most of the music, I wondered if it had come from one person’s collection.  And, I suddenly realized that something really special might be found within the stack.  Something that was worth far more than the 10 cent price tag that was listed on the sign.

And then, I found it.

The song that would bring tears to my eyes in a warehouse full of bargain book tonnage:

Cover to sheet music: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

It was sung in an episode of Downton Abbey in recent years, but, that’s not why I know the chorus by heart:

Let me call you sweetheart

I’m in love with you.  

Let me hear you whisper

that you love me too…”

Originally a hit in 1911, it became the biggest selling popular song on the market again, in the run up to WWII.

But more than this, it’s the song my grandparents played in their “cellar” rec room, amongst the ’50s furniture, when I was growing up.

It was the first song that they danced to at their 40th wedding anniversary, when I was 13 years old, my grandfather with tears brimming in his eyes.

my grandparents, dancing outside at their 40th anniversary

That’s my grandpa Lou, trying not to cry as he dances with grandma Helen, on their 40th wedding anniversary.

It was my grandparents’ love song.

Their song.

And, in part because of the symphony book sale, its ours too.

books in a giant warehouse setting

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

Why I Don’t Have Children

“Auntie Kiss, it’s the first day of school!”

These words were fairy godson’s greeting to me this morning, when I arrived at his house to help walk with him on his very first day of school ever.

As in, it will never happen again, EVER.

It’s probably a good thing that Practical Man and I don’t have any children.

I don’t think the Kleenex industry could handle it.

Never mind that my heart has a tendency to plummet its beats per minute, without warning, and make me faint.   Yes, my biological heart is a drama queen.  But, my metaphorical heart is also kind of high maintenance.  I’m the person who cries during every Downton Abbey and Little House on the Prairie episode.  I can’t get through a whole verse when I’m singing the song that reminds me of Ugly Orange Sweater Guy’s mom.   I even get weepy at TV commercials (there was one when I lived in England, 30 years ago, that still makes me choke up.)

Suffice it to say, we go through a lot of Kleenex around here.  The extra-strength kind.

Yet, somehow, I manage to forget this fact from one minute to the next.  I run around in life, completely un-prepared, when it comes to mopping up my emotions.  The 3-ply Tempo tissues from Germany that I bring pillow-sized packages of back, every time I visit, are piled neatly in the hall linen cupboard. Practical Man buys the bulk boxes of Kleenex so we’re never, ever out.  I even have some lovely vintage handkerchiefs but, they are not tucked into the wrist of my sweater set, like they should be (in 1952).

5 vintage, embroidered handkerchiefs

Fat lot of good all this preparation and stockpiling does me when my eyelashes runneth over (as they do multiple times daily).

Case in point:  I turned up this morning and there was Fairy Godson, aged 4 years and 32 seconds, looking cute as a button for his first day of school.  Immediately, I realized that I Was In Trouble.

Double decker doo-doo kind of trouble.

If ever there was a day to carry on-board swaths of cloth for the mopping up of my eyelashes, today was it.

Little boy wearing a baseball cap

Sniffle, sniffle.

So, I distracted myself by helping his parents take the requisite First Day of School photos on the front steps and then, Fairy Godson and I headed to the back yard so he could open his “Schultuette”. This is basically a giant cone (the closer the cone is in size to the child, the better) that is a tradition for a child’s first time s/he goes to school, in Germany.  As my former German exchange partner said, “I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on in other countries.  It’s great for kids and also for commerce”.

A red German Schultuette with a ribbon tied around it. (Name has been smudged)

No kidding.

We can’t buy ready-made Schultuette here (but, this could be my million dollar business idea #823, ho ho!) so, Practical Man and I wielded the trusty packing tape gun and with some grunting and contortions, managed to fashion a piece of bristol board that I had cut, into some semblance of a giant cone, in which to put treats and school supplies.

A few M&Ms.  A couple of gumdrops.  Some jelly dinosaurs (a “Stegosaurus – that’s the one with the points on his back, Auntie Kiss”.)  Crayons.  Stamp markers.  Pencil case.  Frog and Ladybug magnets to hang artwork on the fridge.  Mini chocolate bars.

If my stolen idea from Germany catches on here, may I suggest one minor variation to the Canadian version of a Schultuette?   Ours should have treats and school supplies and TISSUES for the Auntie Kisses in the crowd.

Small boy opening his Schultuette cone

This is how you know your Schultuette has been a success: the child loses his arm down in it.

Sniffle, sniffle.

After all the treasures were discovered and Kite Papa gave Fairy Godson permission to taste one M&M and a jelly Stegosaurus from one of the treat bags in the Schultuette, we headed off for school.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Fairy Godson wasn’t sure what to expect either, since he was only born three weeks ago, by my count, but he was running at the beginning of the journey, so I’m pretty sure he knew that whatever was coming his way, it would be lots of fun.

Little boy skipping ahead of his mom

In the schoolyard, it appeared to be controlled chaos.  Kids and parents everywhere.  Giant backpacks on impossibly small-ish people and water bottles and teachers wearing name tags.  It was loud and busy and I felt as if I’d stepped inside the pages of a Richard Scarry “Busy Day” book (without the piglet firefighters).

I’m 47 and a half years old, not to mention 5’9″ and not waif-like.  I am pretty much built for handling a crowd.

Fairy Godson, on the other hand, is only 2 months old.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, he is small and sweet and was wearing a ginormous backpack that contained all the things he needed for his very first (never happening again, EVER!) day of school:

Lunch.

His water bottle.

A sweatshirt, in case it gets cool.

His “inside” shoes.  (Apparently, this has not changed since I went to kindergarten some 43 years ago.  Perilous the child without indoor shoes!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Why not?  Christmas is already happening in Costco, after all.  It’s only a matter of time before it ends up in kindergarten backpacks on the first day of school.

Small boy wearing a very large backpack

Fairy Godson’s Kite Mama pointed out some of his neighbourhood friends and friends from his daycare, too.  He was quieter now, looking around and holding his parents’ hands and taking things in.  It was very, very busy and hot and loud and all kind of new and strange, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I was inwardly fuming.  I  couldn’t believe they didn’t let the parents (and Auntie Kisses) stay for the first week or few months.  Y’know, just to get everyone used to things, like how my heart is probably breaking and fainting because for goodness sakes, Fairy Godson is just a baby!

Look how small his shoes are and his little hat.

Sniffle, sniffle.

I was without tissues and I had turned into a helicopter Auntie Kiss.

The time came for Madame to lead Fairy Godson and his classmates into the school.  I took a deep breath and followed along at a distance.  And then, it happened.  This was the moment where Fairy Godson had second thoughts.  He clung to his parents and turned his face away from the red, brick school that he had talked about, with such excitement, all summer long.  He cried all the way into the school with Madame.  I cried right along with him.

We’re kindred spirits, y’know.  That’s how fairy godmother-ing works.

parents leading their son into school

Believe it or not, there was NO volunteer handing out tissues (or therapy) to the parents and Auntie Kisses at the door.

Heartless, heartless, education system.

I can say that, because I’m part of it.  I work at a university.  In fact, it’s my turn for the first day back, tomorrow.

Sniffle, sniffle.

Of course, I won’t have any tissues.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 

 

Navel Gazing


12 banana muffins sitting on a wire rackPractical Man–my main squeeze, my boyfriend, my love–is in the kitchen whipping up a batch of banana muffins.

As he does.

I am mostly sitting in his favourite chair (as I do), holding my belly button with both hands and trying to take deep, cleansing, banana-muffin-scented breaths.

My hands are cupped, as if I’m carefully holding a baby chick, but what I’m really doing is attempting to keep my belly button from making a fast getaway.  It’s a task that requires vigilance and dedication, even through my bewilderment.  I don’t honestly know why my belly button has forsaken me in this manner.  I mean, I’ve been good to the thing, over the years.

  • I’ve kept it (mostly) from being sun burned.
  • I’ve kept it (mostly) from being mercilessly tickled.
  • I’ve never pierced it (my sister holding the waistband of her pants out for two days after she had hers done a hundred years ago, was a good deterrent).

As in most things, I am a belly button goody-two shoes.

Yet, here I sit.  In full-on Belly Button Betrayal.

I got terrible books out of the library and Olympic Golf has officially come back.  This is what misery looks like, my friends.

Every once in a while, I limp into the bedroom to the full-length mirror and lift my shirt to look.

Is it still there?  In one piece?

Now, I’m navel gazing.

For real.

Except, not like Gandhi or Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the wildly popular memoir, Eat, Pray, Love).  Someone with important socio-political/existential/spiritual (Gandhi) or even spaghetti questions (Elizabeth Gilbert) on their minds.

I do have those questions but, tra-la-la, the Olympics are on.

So, I’ve been navel gazing for a week, on account of the laparoscopic surgery I had.  Note to self:  my belly button does NOT look like the ones on the Canadian beach volleyball team.

Actually, navel gazing and fussing.  Lots and lots of fussing.

I don’t remember Gandhi doing much of that, do you?  Maybe you lose your belly button when you’re fasting for important, civil rights reasons.  Not that I’ll ever know.  I came out of surgery after lunch, ready for a 3-course meal, since I hadn’t eaten since MIDNIGHT the night before!

I’m really more like Elizabeth Gilbert than Gandhi.

More foodie than faster.

Uh huh, that’s me.

By the way, do you think making banana muffins is a sophisticated avoidance technique?  Practical Man is…well, practical.  When there’s a problem, he usually has a very practical solution. And, making banana muffins does afford a brief respite from your fussing/navel gazing wife doesn’t it?  Actually, don’t answer that.  I’m not sure I care if it’s a sophisticated avoidance technique, so long as I get some banana muffins out of the deal.

Naval gazing and fussing.  I feel like that might be on my headstone some day, darn it.  Kind of sums me up pretty well at the moment.

And, while I am a talented fusser, as Practical Man can no doubt attest, I would like to stop.

Really, I would.

It’s just that I never thought my belly button could hurt quite this much.  On account of, I am a documented ‘fraidy cat and I’ve never had a single baby and everyone knows (or at least, I knew with utter certainty when I was 6) that babies come out of that aperture thingy in the middle of our belly buttons.

YAWN.  (That’s how I thought the aperture part opened, when I was 6.  The doctor would tickle it a little, and the mama would YAWN and then the baby on the bench nearest the belly button door, would pop out.)

Uh huh.  Inadvertent childbirth.  That must be it.

That’s really the only reason I can think of that my belly button would feel like it’s had a grapefruit pulled through it.

Ta da!

Ouch.

Maybe not.  As far as I know, there is no tropical fruit lurking in my belly.

I’m more of a vegetable–okay, carbs–girl, to be honest.  With an ice cream chaser.

Good thing, too since I now know how much it hurts to get (what feels like) a grapefruit pulled through your belly button.  All you women who gave actual birth to an actual human and not a grapefruit.  Pfffffff.  Sure, that’s cool.  But, I mean, really.

Have YOU ever had a grapefruit pulled through your navel?

It’s almost time to head to the mirror again.

Watch for my life-changing memoir:

Eat,

Fuss,

Banana Muffins.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet