If You Don’t Get What You Want You’re Winning. I Think.

A night of freezing rain has kept the tires parked in the driveway and the cookie jar safely on its shelf in the shop.

And maybe a good thing it is too.

I did a bit of peeking and poking about on eBay and Etsy and discovered the cookie jar of my childhood was made by Bartlett-Collins.

The company started way back in 1914; Bartlett was an Oklahoma oil man, while Collins is cited as being an East Coast glass man. I suppose Bartlett brought the business sense and the cash to the equation, while Colllins was the one that blew the glassware into creation.

They made an assortment of glassware ranging from kitchen lamps to stemware to cookie jars.

All kinds of cookie jars.

I came across an identical jar to the one we had, only in turquoise.

 

And then I found one in red…

 

And another in yellow…

 

You can see where this is heading, right?

To make matters worse, these days homes have cupboards that fit tight to the ceiling. Not ours. We have old-fashioned solid oak cupboards with a generous space between where the top stops and the ceiling starts. The sort of cupboards that would have HGTV bringing in sledge hammers for demo day. OR the sort of vintage cupboards perfectly suited for fitting many, many, vintage cookie jars on display along its top. It could go either way.

With all the money saved by keeping the cupboards, just think of how many cookie jars one could buy!

Ack! What’s happening to me?

This is how I suspect all collecting starts. One small unnecessary item tugs at the heart. A single innocent purchase that serves as the thin edge of the wedge. Before you know it the floodgates are pried open and one morning you stumble out to the kitchen to make coffee and realize cookie jars have taken over your life.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not.

I love watching American Pickers on TV, but not just because of the bargains and finds that Mike and Frank pick up along the way. I love watching it for the collectors they meet. It fascinates me why these people collect the things they do and how that one coveted group of items can shape their entire life.

I suspect many start because of a childhood memory, like me with my cookie jar. Or it is an offshoot of a personal profession or hobby. Woodworkers collecting antique hand tools, electricians collecting glass insulators, doctors collecting old medical paraphernalia.

Once it gains a toehold, our hunter gatherer instincts kick in. It becomes less about the item itself and more about the thrill of the hunt. It’s no longer about living in the past, but a reason to get up in the future.

I remember hearing a person telling about how he collected a particular line of lenses and filters for a certain vintage camera. He spent decades stopping at every thrift shop, every antique store, every flea market, slowly adding to his collection. Finally, there was just one lens left and his collection would be complete.

One afternoon he and his wife stopped in at an antique shop, and there it was. The last lens. His wife couldn’t believe her husband’s good luck. She smiled and placed a hand over her heart, as he slowly picked it up off the shelf. She stopped smiling when he just as slowly, just as deliberately, set it back down and left the shop.

They got back in the car in silence. As the car swung onto the highway leaving the shop and the lens in its rear view mirror, she said, “I don’t understand. You’ve been looking for that lens for over 20 years. Why didn’t you buy it?”

It took him a few miles before he could find the words to answer.

“I don’t know why I didn’t buy it. I think I just…I just wanted to want it for a little bit longer,” he finally said.

I think this means you’re probably doing better at life than you might think. if you get everything you want, you might find out what you really wanted was the wanting. If you don’t get everything you want, maybe you’re really winning.

Maybe this means we should all be striving for just one good healthy slice and not the whole pie.

Maybe this explains why we get so much joy from giving and sharing, but get a bit crazy in the head when we get too much.

So does that mean I am leaving the cookie jar on the store shelf?

I don’t know. But maybe.

Just Love

I have a love/hate relationship with marketable quotes.

You know, those pithy signs you find in the decor section of stores.

I love to read them and so many strike a chord, change my outlook or make me smile. Other times I get comically cranky about the whole industry.

Like when I snapped a picture of the one shown above. On one hand the words instruct you to collect moments not things; a very wise instruction. On the other hand, you are being asked to shell out $21.97 to collect a thing, rather than a moment. Shouldn’t you just tuck the sentiment in the memory bank and leave the thing on the shelf? (FYI I came within a gnats eyebrow of putting this one in my cart before taking the message to heart and deciding to snap a picture of it instead. I don’t need any more things).

Depending on my mood, I can get downright defensive.

Be Calm.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

Stay in the Moment.

Live, Laugh and Love.

Just Breathe.

Relax.

I start to feel like I am being peppered with unsolicited advice until I’m like, DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO! Who ARE these people with all these smug quotes and instructions who think they hold the answer to my head? You don’t know my head. You don’t have a clue. You can take your chalk paint and barn-boards and stuff them right where…and that’s when I realize I really need to breathe. And relax. Be Calm. And so forth.

At times it seems a tad ambitious to sum up and solve all our problems with a one line instruction beautifully painted on a piece of barn wood.

And yet…that is exactly what I want.

An infallible one line instruction to guide me through life.

It’s a human head and soul thing. You can go back over two thousand years and there you have the disciples of Jesus begging Him for The One Instruction. He tells them parable after parable after parable, but they still keep hammering away at him. Tell us, tell us, what should we do?

Finally he sums the whole shebang up by saying “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s it.

That’s all there is to it.

Love.

Simply love.

Not judgement, finger-pointing, condemnation, preaching, ridiculing, bullying, punishing or rampant posting of nasty comments in the below section.

Just love.

Just.

Love.

Maybe I’ll paint that on a piece of wood and hang it on my wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Acts

 

This would have made a great post for Valentine’s Day, but better late than never…

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Spotted this heart made out of rocks in a lake this summer while on holidays. I love it when people take time to create beautiful things that get left behind for others to admire. Random acts of beauty, paying it forward, things that aren’t exactly vandalism (though may involve a teensy bit of trespassing) and things that make people smile. Anything that creates a bright spot in a passerby’s day.

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A man works on a stone installation near a public trail by a lake.

Of course, a lot of people use their own property as a canvas for this sort of thing. Even a beautiful flower bed can lift the spirits of someone driving past. I once met a woman who had the most incredible yard. It was bright, quirky and crammed with an assortment of antiques filled with flowers. She lived beside a busy freeway and told me that not a week went by where someone didn’t make the effort to pull off the highway just to tell her how much they appreciated her garden. Many said they purposely added twenty minutes to their commute just for the daily dose of joy her garden gave them.

If you are one of those people who takes the time to create joy and smiles, whether through a garden or quirky art installations, thank you. Intentionally or not, you probably touch more lives than you realize.

I don’t have a front yard, but I would love to do something like this with our balcony…

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Though when you’re four floors up things can quickly go awry and with my luck they almost certainly would. It’s fun to surprise people, but not by having pots in pants raining down on their heads.

For now maybe I’ll just stick to recording random acts of joy and sharing them here instead.

Random acts of joy…they’re a good slice.

 

Spring…is that You?

Well, it’s Groundhog day and it was cloudy, so that means our local groundhog didn’t see his shadow, which means spring is practically here!

And look at what I saw in Canadian Tire today…

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And then I was in Wal-Mart and saw this…

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Buckets of sour candies for $4.27! No, wait…that’s not what I meant to show you. Look at the snow blowers on clearance. 

Oh yeah baby, spring has sprung.

Never mind that we live in the north or that spring rarely hatches up here before May or that I am looking out my window right now at snow-covered roofs. The local hog has spoken. And so have the seed displays and clearance blowers.

Shhhh…let me have my delusions.

 

Hey there Universe; Thanks for the Show

When I left the apartment night before last, I hadn’t bothered to grab a coat, only planning on a quick trip across the parking lot to the dumpster and back. I don’t even know what made me look up after tossing the bag inside, but when I did there it was.

A planetary conjunction.

A perfect triangle.

On the left side was a brilliant waxing moon and on the right an equally bright Venus. If I hadn’t heard about the impending triangular conjunction on the radio earlier that afternoon (and then promptly forgot about it) I wouldn’t have known it was even called a conjunction and I certainly wouldn’t have noticed Mars. The red planet didn’t shine as brilliantly as its moon and Venus counterparts, nor did it appear as large, but if you knew it was there you could easily make out its ruddy glow forming the top point in the moon and planet triangle.

What an amazing universe we live in.

What an amazing coincidence that I went out with the garbage during the two hours once a decade that this conjunction is so easily visible from earth.

Since it was -15 C and I didn’t have a coat, after a couple of minutes I turned to go back to the apartment. I felt like I always do when I witness these events, be they super moons, comets, eclipses or what have you. There is always a sense that simply looking at them and then walking away isn’t right. The moment should be honored somehow. Like I should have spread banquet tables across the parking lot complete with punch bowls, snacks and a live band or something. I feel guilty walking away. It’s like I’m shrugging at the universe (that said, I feel guilty about pretty much everything, including the garbage I had just tossed in the bin).

I was still in a fog of awe and guilt when I got back up to the apartment, so I put on my coat and made my husband come back down so we could admire universe’s handiwork together. It was like I was saying, “See Universe? I’m back. I really do care. And look! I brought my husband.” It wasn’t banquet tables and music, but it was something.

I could just imagine the conversation in the sky.

Humph. Did you see that woman toss her garbage, glance our way and then hug herself and run back into the building? Well, that’s it. We’ve had enough with being unappreciated. We’re shutting down the entire show. No more knocking ourselves out circling the sun and doing once in a decade dazzling things just so…wait a minute. Hey, she’s back! And she brought somebody with her. Well, in that case…everyone as you were. Keep on circling. 

But anyway, crazy thoughts aside, I really am glad I got a chance to see it.

And Universe, if you’re listening…thanks for the show.

Signed,

A. Fan.

Communication World, Global Commerce - China, Far East

Margaret Falls

A couple of years ago we found ourselves traversing a canyon trail that promised to take us to a place called Margaret Falls.

“Found ourselves” sort of makes it sound like we were abducted and dropped off against our will, or perhaps that we slept walked to the falls, which would be quite a feat considering our bed is located over a thousand kilometers away.

Rest assured that we ended up on the trail-about 15 kilometers west of Salmon Arm, BC-quite deliberately, but nothing prepared us for the insane beauty of the place. From the moment we set foot on the paved path until we reached the falls itself, we felt like we had entered a sacred place.

Or perhaps a theme park or movie set.

It was confusing. And breathtaking.

Here are some pictures of the walk through the canyon, but they really don’t do the place justice.

The paved path, with its knee-high boundary fence to remind people not to trample the unique and fragile ecosystem, made it feel surreal. The waterfall fed creek flowed past moss-covered rocks while perfectly placed trees-both alive and those giving themselves back to the forest floor-made it easy to imagine the scene was birthed by Walt Disney rather than Nature…which is kind of tragic when you think about it.

One tree angled itself onto the pathway and had been clamored on by children until its trunk was polished smooth as resin.

On we went, over bridges and through the shady canyon and then…there it was! It was no Niagara, but it was perfectly proportioned and so worth the hike.

Well, the “hike” was a five-minute stroll along a paved path so pretty much anything would be worth it, but still. It was beautiful. There was a cave right in the waterfall. Apparently locals often climb through the falls and inside the cave, though this is highly discouraged and illegal.

I always imagine what tourist attractions were like before they were attractions. Before the necessary rules and the ropes. What it must have been like for the first humans who stumbled across it. During the hot summers this shady oasis would no doubt have been a popular gathering place for indigenous people and later homesteaders. If only the canyon walls could talk.

In a world where things are always changing there is a comfort in a waterfall’s never ceasing flow. I like to think about how the waterfall I am looking at now, is the very same waterfall someone else stood in front of and admired a hundred years ago…or more. It is hard to fathom so much water always falling year after year after year. And of course what a terrible thing it would be if it were to ever stop.

There is so much beauty in our world and I am so grateful for the snippets I have been able to see first hand. Margaret Falls is definitely one of them. It’s a good slice.