Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Those People From The Slides

My Dad sent me a Ziploc bag full of slides that he found in my late Grandfather's things. We have no idea who these people are and so far, I'm not recognizing anyone as family. My Grandfather was a wheeler-dealer and bought and resold everything in the world so chances are, he bought them somewhere and just held on to them. Oh you people in my family do. Ahem. I get it honest. Only three slides from the bunch are scanned so far but here is a sampling of one.

So mysterious, this one. The others are a cute little kid's scene that I need to do some repair work to and one of some sailors on their ship. You KNOW it's going to kill me to never know who these people are - seriously. The slides are in pretty bad condition with scratches and a lot of fading but I can't wait to get the rest of them scanned and see the tiny little worlds that each one holds. I'll be sure and let you see too!

I hope that you all are having a great Wednesday. I'm walking around exhausted today. We were up in the middle of the night, watching the weather reports due to tornado warnings and high winds. I hate, hate, hate being awaken by the drone of the tornado sirens. It's totally creepy. I always take storms really seriously because we have a lot of large trees next to our house. Without my Henny Penny-ing around, Mister Kitsch could more than likely sleep through the sirens and ignore them - thus he didn't wake up when they went off. Nor did he wake up when I switched on the TV to see that the black computer screen with it's automated drone voice was telling us to take cover.

After I called his name a few times without waking him, I decided to shake his arm. The poor guy jumped up screaming and literally catapulted Mr. Kitten Pants who'd been laying across him. I could only watch as that poor cat went flying through the air over my shoulder and landing in the hall with a skid before looking at us like we were out to get him. I'm pretty sure he'd always thought that the broom or vacuum would be his demise so he was pretty surprised at the turn of events. He skulked under the bed with a brush-broom sized tail and wide orange eyes.

After that, we spent a brief stint in and out of the hall closet wearing our scooter helmets and with hasty backup lighting of tiny plastic toy lanterns that we bought for my niece and nephew. Having no basement or storm shelter, we'd cleared out the closet before we went to bed and were now surrounded by it's contents: Christmas decorations. Every time that I heard the house pop and creak, I imagined the authorities finding us like that if things turned towards the worse - the two of us wedged into a 4 x 3 closet  wearing helmets and clutching wee pastel lanterns.  Smiling Santas and crushed ornaments all around us. Mr. Kitten Pants would be interviewed by local news stations and would tell them that we only got what we deserved.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just a Squirrel Tryin' To Get A Nut

This is a salt and pepper shaker set that I bought from a seller on eBay. Her auction description assures me that Mr. Squirrel is casually riding a mushroom down the road - but I'm going to call this one as I see it and will address the elephant in the room:


Mr. Squirrel and his phallic mushroom car were also subsequently and harshly judged by the residents of the Kitschville Knick-Knack Shelf  as well.

He was forced out of town and eventually took refuge just over the county line with others who had been cast out .

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Saturday, January 26, 2013


My friend Katrina over at Eclectica Miami clued me in to this amazing video this morning. It's absolutely mesmerizing and I can not even imagine how long it took animator Cyriak Harris to do this. It was made as a music video for a British musician and DJ named Bonobo and he uses 20th Century video stock as building blocks to create this amazing world.

I recommend clicking on the corner of the video where it says "Vimeo" (or here) to make it larger - don't want to miss a thing in this one!

I dare you to watch it just one time. Ah-mazing.

Have a great weekend!

x's and o's,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ice Storm! Estate Sale! Kitties!

We had a whimper of an "Ice Event" here in Nashville last night. An "Ice Event" - that's what our local news channel called it as they were predicting Cold-mageddon last night.  Now, don't get me wrong. It was really cold - especially in a house with no storm windows - but it wasn't nearly the ice storm that deserved everyone running to the store for milk and bread like they did. What do people do with all of that milk and bread anyway? French toast? We may never know.

After the tiny bit of black ice had thawed this morning, Lisa and I went up to Ashland City for an estate sale. It was my first time in Ashland City and the estate sale went well. Usually estate sales are jam-packed first thing but there were only two other customers there besides us. The Ice Event had served us well! Here are some of the things that I came home with:

Without good reason: this cat. Honestly, I felt sorry for him. Once I got him home, I felt sorry for myself. I hadn't realized that the darn thing was molting and before I knew it, my entire desk, floor and table were covered in so much mohair that it was as if God himself (with his most-likely enormous beard) had shaken out his electric razor right on top of me.

In other cat related news, the house belonged to a lady who obviously loved kitties. There was a lot of cat related stuff there and unfortunately, the house did smell like a little bit of kitty. I always ask the people holding estate sales if they can tell me about who lived there. I like to know more about the people so that I can appreciate the items that I'm buying even more. I like for things to have history - even if I have to bug estate sale staff to get it. Today, I learned that owner of the home had gone to the hospital and that in the two weeks before she passed away, her neighbor was coming by to check on her kitty. Throughout this time, the kitty was alone at home and most likely, very nervous without his Mom. So, it seems he went crazy doing some spraying. Poor kitty! Admittedly, since I don't have children I often wonder if at the end of my days, will it be just the Mister and me and our kitties....will we be able to keep up with things...will our house go to pot...will the neighbors call us "The Crazy Cat People".... etc.

The estate sale lady assured me that a family member came in and adopted the kitty after the lady died. I felt like she might have been telling me this because I got all weepy faced when she told me about Mr. Home Alone Kitty being without his owner towards the end. Either/or...I immediately went and found Lisa and launched into this rambling conversation about houses that smell like cat pee and made her promise to tell me if my house ever smells like cat pee. Then I went even further with, "Oh no....wait... does it already smell like cat pee??!" She assured me that she hadn't noticed anything in her brief time at my house as I implored of her, "I REALLY want you to tell me if it ever does! You're my lifeline!" as she tried in vain to look at the estate sale wares.  Sometimes, I think it must be really hard to hang out with me.

Or to read the stuff I write. How many other blogs talk about cat pee? None. You know why?  It's disgusting and completely out of vogue.

Besides getting myself a reputation as a desperate goon at the estate sale, I also got:

Try as I might, I can not make a pot look exciting but I was plenty excited about this super clean Club pot in yellow.

I also got this large children's book.

From the inscription inside I could tell that this book was given to the lady of the house back in 1957. I'll do a post one day about the amazing illustrations inside but let's just say that the book had me at this one: 

Dogs and pigs in britches! Maybe I'll tell you one day if the cheese got spoiled or not. 

I also got this book: 

Oh, ho, ho! 

I don't want to spoil the entire plot in case this adorable book is made into a movie but...

At one point, she turns blue!! 

I also got this painting. 

The lady ran a framing shop and had some interesting art around. To me, he looks like a preacher but turns out after reading the back, it's Leonard Bernstein!  Still, he's handsome and he's a keeper.

I also got: 

....because he made me giggle. After close study, he's running at full trot but at certain angles, he looks quite honestly like he's about to lighten his load on someone's lawn. I have big plans for a confectionary creation with this guy that more than likely, you will not want to see.  Also more than likely, expect me to show it to you anyway. I'm pretty sure you all don't come here because I practice the mystical art of restraint and class.

Anyway.. Do you all have big weekend plans? I hope that you've got something good on deck. The Mister and I are going to attempt to build something. I'm also going to scan some slides that my Dad sent me. They appear to be of sailors back in the day. Cha! Cha! Cha! and Ooh La La!  Well, whatever you do - have fun doing it! We'll see you on the flip side!

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Were All Kids Once

I was picking out childhood photos to make fun of my brother with this morning and came across this one of myself. This was first or second grade, I think. Anyway....I quickly realized that I was a pretty big dork as a kid!

And I might have also been a boy. 

On a positive note, this IS proof that I had bangs before bangs were cool. Or maybe while they were cool and through many cycles of their of coolness and uncool-ness. So the next time that someone tells me that I have "Zooey Deschanel hair" or even more timely: "Michelle Obama hair", I'll have to remind them that for the most part, my forehead hasn't seen the light of day since toddlerhood. Half the time, even I don't know what's under those bangs.

I have no quick excuse for my freakin' huge shirt collar though. All that I can guess is that disco fever had puddled down to the elementary school set.

The loverly ladies over at Modern Kiddo just did a post with some of the best vintage school class shots. Go on over and take a look. The fashions will inspire and amaze you (and make my yellow vest seem less jarring). Wonder at them all here at Modern Kiddo.

I'd love to hear about your most mortifying school photos! Please tell me that you had them. Soothe my Buster Brown haircut ache!

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Squirrels!!! Etc.

So, I went on a rant about e.l.f. cosmetics yesterday and their distasteful "I Have A Dream" ads. Of course, I also had to send them an e-mail. Because  (a) I am just that kind of a citizen or (b) I clearly have too much time on my hands. You decide. I received a note back from them saying that they did not intend to come across as disrespectful. And then lo and behold...I get a sales event  e-mail from them this morning that said  "TODAY we have a dream!" I guess the dream is just going to keep going. all of the celebratory hoopla yesterday, I completely forgot about Squirrel Appreciation Day! This is a major misstep on my part because as some of you may know, I LIVE for squirrels. Live ones. Fake ones. I don't care. I love me some squirrels. I always celebrate the holiday and can't remember when I haven't.  So today, I thought that I'd rectify the situation by walking around the house and photographing the newest squirrel related items in my collection. Here goes:

These first two were birthday presents from my friend Joan: 

I had seen different versions of these measuring spoons (mostly a cute little chicken) but never the squirrel and definitely not one devoted to Tennessee exclusively. I don't use these but keep them up hella high on the kitchen shelves because one of my kitties is fixated on eating his little eyes off.

Squirrel Peanut Butter!

This is an empty can which I've added to my vintage products collection. I have no idea what Squirrel Peanut Butter tasted like but I imagine that it was most likely the finest tasting peanut butter in the world. Unless it was made of real squirrels - then it was just sadistic. As you can tell, Joan is great at picking squirrel gifts!

Now back to spoons!

This spoon rest is from my friend Allen. Look at the glorious eyelashes on that girl! 
 I heart her too much to let her hold gloomy spoons so she just hangs out and classes up the joint. 

My Mom gave me these next ones. 

You can tell by the way that I cut their feet off when taking the photo that they make me a little nervous. I think it's their expressions. 

All rhinestone eyes and "I'm gonna eat your face off!" 

Still, I love them and am not one to shy away from whackadoodle faces on things. They're prancing across the top of my china cabinet every day of the week. Some day, I'll have to take you on a tour to see the odd faced things in my house. Honestly, I'm pretty sure that I'm drawn to knick-knacks and such if they DO have weird faces. 

Here are some recent eBay scores.  They're all wooden brooches. 

They're taking a walk past my one dilapidated Marx dollhouse in this shot. I found mine on the side of the road and it's more haunted house than dream house. Did you all see the end of the Fallout Shelter Marx dollhouse that we looked at the other day? That baby went for  $1040.00 and some change! Whoowhee!  

Here is Mr. Grumpy Squirrel. He's an old chalkware piece and more than likely, was a carnival prize. 

He's a pretty mean looking squirrel too. I found him in an antique store that has more frilly eighties stuff than shriek-worthy stuff so you never can tell about what a store is going to have. He's as large as a house cat and heavy as all-get-out. 

Finally, here is a notebook that my adopted brothers Johnny and Michael sent me from Florida. I think it pretty much says it all about my love for squirrels!


I hope that you all are having great days today - and if you did remember to celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day yesterday, then I hope that the buzz hasn't worn off yet and you're still as giddy as school girls!

p.s. Are any of you other Blogger users having serious formatting issues? I've got fonts changing mid-post and spacing going insane and well, I'm just barely sorting it all out. Zoot Alors! I just went over to look at my coding and felt a little bit like fainting. So, in the spirit of squirrels who do the zaniest things, I'm going to leave it all just like it is today. 

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Monday, January 21, 2013

What Today Is About

What are you folks up to today? I've been watching the Inauguration and getting completely weepy. I'm such a huge sap. I don't know how people even go to those things without having to be taken out on stretchers. If I were there, I'd be the one on the ground weeping and wrenching the garments of a complete stranger next to me. We're strong supporters of President Obama at our house and it's hard not to admire him and at the same time, worry about the immense weight that is on his shoulders.

It's also Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the United States. It's good to see everyone giving this day as much respect as it deserves. Especially e.l.f. cosmetics who left this in my in-box this morning. 

Sooooo classy. I'm pretty sure that discount cosmetics were the very thing that Dr. King was thinking of when he said "I Have A Dream"! And here's to all of the retail outlets today who are offering discount sales on mattresses, furniture, clothing, cars and housewares. I'm pretty sure that's what he had in mind too. Last year, K-Mart offered free shipping on their website when customers put in the code "MLKDAY" in the checkout's coupon code field. No sign of that this year. Maybe they finally figured out that it was just a bit too, too much?

 If you want to be inspired by some of Dr. King's speeches today, go here. There is full text of the speeches and you can hear audio from the majority of them through the players at the top of each speech's page. It's so hard to believe that he was only thirty nine years old when he was killed. Thirty nine years old. Just think of what he accomplished in those short years. One can't help but imagine what more he would have done if his life hadn't been cut so brutally short.

Here is his very last speech, made the day before he was killed: I've Been To The Mountaintop. Click the audio player under the photo to listen. And if you haven't already, please watch Freedom Riders. It's an absolutely amazing documentary. I'll readily admit that it made me wonder how brave I would be if put in the place of just one of those souls who climbed on the buses and headed South, risking their lives to fight for equality and justice.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Joys of Being Ancient and "Come On People Now, Love One Another Right Now"

First, let me say thank you to everyone who has heeded the call in my last post and have told me about yourselves and your blogs. I have soooo enjoyed checking out your responses and am looking forward to checking out your blogs too, if you have them! It's been a lot of fun for me. I also want to thank you for your sweet comments about Ranch Dressing and my writing and such. It means the world to me. More than you'll ever know, actually. If you have yet to tell me about yourself, please do if you're up to it.

Today, I went out to do some errands and first on my list was buying some film at Walgreens. I moseyed up to the photo department counter and asked the barely-out-of-diapers clerk where I might find it. He stammered, "" as if I were asking for a solid gold pig. "Yes, you" I replied and took his photo with a little "click!" in the air of my imaginary camera's shutter. He stood there for a minute behind the photo department counter and looked at me like I had just asked him to answer the final question on "Jeopardy". He eventually walked me over to a tiny display nestled between the batteries and the compact disks where he stared blankly for a minute and then said, "I think? this is where the film used to be?"

There was nothing on the display except for a few disposable cameras and blank, dusty spots where film could have once hung. I thanked him, grabbed a few chocolate items to soothe the ache that is being old enough to remember film and left the store. Now, I know that film is still sold and when I got home, I flexed my "I'm still hip to the technology of today" muscles and ordered some on the internet just so that I wouldn't have to go from store to store feeling like Methuselah. I think what's bothering me is just that I realized that one can no longer walk into any store and buy film.  And that makes me feel ancient.

I moved on to the post office where I saw that the one grumpy clerk was up against a wailing wall of waiting customers. My postal branch office is heinously understaffed and they don't mind showing it. The line was almost snaking out the door and you could just feel the impatience thick in the air. Even on a good day, it feels like at any moment someone is going to snap and start yelling and won't be able to be stopped.

The customer who had the attention of the clerk at that moment was THE cutest little senior citizen lady who had obviously just returned from the beauty parlor. She had her "got my hair done on Friday because I'm going to church twice on Sunday hair". It was round and it was fabulous, complete with a flip at the ends. She was teeny tiny and very well put together in her smart wool coat with matching handbag.

From what I could gather, she had already been through the line once and was now back again. She told the clerk that she'd meant to put an outgoing letter in the mail slot when she came through the first time...and now she couldn't remember if she had. It was a bill that she needed to pay and she was afraid that she'd lost it, complete with the check inside which she described as "too large to lose". The clerk didn't understand so the little lady went around and around with her and matched the clerk's gruffness with the sweetest little voice until she got her point across. I could feel the crowd around me collectively shuffle from foot to foot as they calculated how long their wait was about to be. In a huff, the clerk walked to the back and we could all hear her slide out the mail bin that sits under the collection slot outside. Then we all couldn't help but hear her let out a huge groan when she saw how much mail she was about to have to sort through to find the envelope that the little lady may or may not have remembered to mail. She continued to huff and groan as the unyielding sounds of her unhappiness and the mail being shifted wafted to the front. I hoped and hoped that the little lady could not hear her.

 The line continued to grow. I looked around me and exchanged glances with a couple of other women in line, both of them older than me. We smiled nicely at each other as if to say, "She's a little old lady. This could be us next week."  Unfortunately, most everyone else around us seemed out of touch with their own mortality and aging processes and sighed and grunted as if they just could not take it anymore. I'll have to be honest with you - it really bothered me. Has our society shifted completely to a place where we can't be bothered to wait politely behind a little old lady who has lived many decades before us and has seen more and done more than we might ever do or see? I have to tell you - she has been reared in and experienced generations where people knew politeness and social graces - and even if they weren't in the mood to use them, they usually did. What must this new era seem like to her? Does she feel an abrupt shift like she has been thrust ahead in a jolting time machine - or has she slowly noticed the changes as they took hold, bit by tiny bit?

There are different schools of thought about those of us who love vintage things and who have a deep and abiding interest in learning about the times before us. Many people think that we're delusional or that we think that everything that happened in eras past were good things. I for one know that not to be true. I am from the South, people. I am well aware that generations before us made some grievous and often irreversible mistakes in decades gone by. I can't explain them away and I don't know why these things happened.What I do know though is that my Grandparents used to tell me about the neighborhoods that they lived in - how nobody locked their doors and how every neighbor would look out for everyone else's homes and bands of roaming children. How when someone got sick or died, their family dinner table would be heaped full of casseroles and cards from neighbors before nightfall.

When I think of my own late Grandmother being that lady in line today, with fellow citizens behind her acting as if their time was more important than hers, I get sad. I get sad when I realize that besides my very next-door neighbors, I don't know a single person on my long street of houses - and they don't know me. Last year, I found a lost dog on my street. It was snowing and the ground was frozen over and as I walked from house to house and porch to porch to try to find the dog's owner, nobody would answer their doors to me. I could hear televisions and see lights on inside the houses. Cars were in the driveways. I knew that my neighbors were home. Out of dozens of houses, the only people who dared to open their doors to me were one young couple and an elderly lady. The elderly lady seemed quite pleased that I was there. We talked about her own dogs for a bit and even though I could have been a danger to her, she opened her door to me and we stood there and chatted on her porch with the wind whipping around us. In the end and with blocks of ice for feet, I eventually learned that the lost dog lived right across the street from my house. I didn't know my neighbors and I didn't know their dog and to me, that is a shame. I can see their house from my front window even.

Sometimes, I think that we've become a society that becomes more and more about the "me" of it all everyday and less about the "we". We take care of our own and often times, never look beyond our own noses or front windows. The error in this is that when the chips are down, most of us will never be able to make it through this world alone. We all age and get sick and die. We're all going to need someone to help us bring our groceries in - or a sympathetic postal clerk to help ease our minds that our bills are paid. Every single one of our lives and experiences and sorrows are important. They really and truly are. None more than another but equally., I started out talking about feeling old because I couldn't find film and before long, just in the short timeframe of writing this to you, I realized that I am still relatively young and have a very good chance to expand my circle a little bit  and if nothing else, realize my own inequities in not realizing when I get caught up in the "me" of it all. This post went from aiming to be a funny story to a full-on appeal for us all to slow down...take a breath....consider what it might be like to walk a mile or two in someone else's shoes. We're all here doing the same things. We're being born and aging and dying and it's the in-between parts that will affect how those around us do the very same things.

Practice kindness and patience when you can. And for God's sake, explain to your children and grandchildren about antiquated but important things like film and cassette recorders and old ladies. And civility and The Golden Rule. I promise that I'll do the same - well, with other peoples' children and grandchildren, of course. I can assure you that my cat children will neither listen nor change the world so I won't be wasting my time there!

In the end, the postal clerk found the little lady's letter and she had indeed mailed the check that she'd been worried about. As the clerk briskly waved the piece of mail at her, the lady said to the clerk sweetly, "Thank you for allowing me to sleep soundly tonight." The postal clerk (who clearly didn't care if the lady slept or stayed awake forever) bid her farewell and barked out "Next!" as the senior lady moved slowly out the double doors, down the hill and onto the sidewalk where I could no longer see her.

I think it's interesting that that one little lady in line at the post office has made me think about all of this. I know that I'll be her one day. She'll never have any idea that her worry over the lost mail or her transaction with the clerk has made me spend half the afternoon, questioning my own mortality and the steps and falls that will get me there. I've decided that when I get the ordered film in the mail, I am going to use it to photograph only things that are fading away and that won't be with us forever - as a tribute to that little lady with her Sunday-Go-To-Meeting hair and the way that she continually treated the postal clerk with the kindness of a different era, even though she herself was treated with less than that.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Four Hundred! And a Question for YOU!

Today, I reached 400 followers here at Ranch Dressing! I know...I know...some of you bloggers who have thousands of followers won't even get out of bed or lay fingers to keys for such a number - but to me, it's a LOT! I am thrilled to have every last one of you!

So, two things:

1. Since I can't make celebratory balloons and confetti rain down upon our heads, I'm going to shower you with a collection of some of the odd comments left on the blog. Well, Spam comments. I get some doozies but I only save the ones that make me giggle. Behold these:

"Are you currently strolling the optimistic talk or have you been mumbling beneath your breath "three more times 'til Friday!"?

(I think that one is soooo mysterious.)


(Yes, in all caps like that. And I got it twice. I think someone was trying to warn my readers of something but we'll just pretend like it never happened, m'kay?)

"Having a sexy school girls gizmo in your rest home gives you the extravagance of having choice, freshly baked smart sexy girls whenever you feel like having it."

(That's some kind of sci-fi porn madness right there!)

"A thin cotton sock helps so much to prevent these icky situations!"

From now on, that one is going to be my answer when anyone comes to me for advice - no matter the topic.

"If you continue to behave in this manner, you will end up in the naughty beanbag."

(Okay, you caught me. I heard that last one on the "Super Nanny" TV show.)

Strangely enough, most of my Spam comments are about Ugg boots or sports jerseys. Or penis enlargement methods. I can only gather from this that as a society, we are most obsessed with sports, boom-boom sex and toasty warm feet.


2. I wonder a lot about my readers. Who are you and where are you from? Do you have blogs of your own and what do you write about? I'd LOVE it if you'd comment and tell me about yourselves and link to your blogs if you have them. I'd love to know!

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Marx Dollhouse....With An Extra That You Won't Believe

I know that most of you are familiar with gorgeous vintage Marx dollhouses. I can never pass one in an antique store or estate sale without leaning in and peering into each room - and imagining being able to shrink down to take a legitimate walking tour between the walls. I had one as a little girl and I'm sure that many of you did too. I was doing a stroll through the Marx dollhouse listings on eBay this weekend when I came across this beauty.

This home is complete with.....wait for it...

 a fallout shelter!

Yes, that's right. You can see all of the rations on the shelves, complete with canned foods, batteries, gasoline and a first aid kit. And a calendar of course, so that the dwellers of this dollhouse could count off the days until they could emerge to see what had happened in the outside world. I had to research the blower on the wall and apparently, some blowers were used only to keep fresh air and ward off mildew in the bunkers when not in use - though some are said to bring fresh air in while filtering out radioactive particles. I imagine that a family (dollhouse or otherwise) would quickly run out of fresh air after being closed up for a while.

Okay, I'm getting claustrophobic just thinking about it. Here is another view of the shelter:

On this wall, you can see emergency lighting and a fresh air system with buttons reading "Filter" and "Fresh Air". As far as I can find out so far, this room would have come with the type of plastic dollhouse furniture befitting such an addition: folding cots, a small sink with cabinet that sat under the pots and pans there and a round table.

The eBay Seller, Sandy3950 nicely agreed to let me share the house which features the usual rooms that one might find in a Marx dollhouse - but in place of a garage or utility room it has the fallout/bomb shelter. The house was made in 1962 and wasn't much of a heavy seller, thus adding to the house's low production number and eventual rarity on the market these days.

It was produced during the same year as the Cuban Missile Crisis and less than a year after President John F. Kennedy appealed to the citizens of the U.S. to be ready for nuclear war - worries abounded that The Cold War may a take a turn for the worst. Understandably, our nation was whipped into a pretty good frenzy. Here you'll see an entire publication of Life magazine devoted on how to survive a fallout, complete with plans for building shelters.

Here is the text from the letter from President Kennedy in the same magazine. To set the scene, this was just a month after the beginning of the construction of the Berlin Wall and a few months after Kennedy's failed summit with Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev:

 A Message To You From The President

The White House: September 7, 1961

My Fellow Americans:

Nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear wars are facts of life we cannot ignore today. I do not believe that war can solve and of the problems facing the world today. But the decision is not ours alone. 

The government is moving to improve the protection afforded you in our communities through civil defense. We have begun, and will be continuing through next year and a half, a survey of all public buildings with fallout shelter potential, and the marking of those with adequate shelter for fifty persons or more. We are providing fallout shelters in new and in some existing federal buildings. We are stocking these shelters with one week's food and medical supplies and two weeks' water supply for shelter occupants. In addition, I have recommended to the Congress the establishment of food reserves in centers around the country where they might be needed following an attack. Finally, we are developing improved warning systems which will make it possible to sound attack warnings on buzzers right in your home and places of businesses.

More comprehensive measures than these lie ahead, but they cannot be brought to completion in the immediate future. In the meantime there is much that you can do to protect yourself -- and in doing so strengthen your nation. 

I urge you to read and consider seriously the contents in this issue of LIFE. The security of our country and the peace of the world are the objectives of our policy. But in these dangerous days when both these objectives are threatened we must prepare for all eventualities. The ability to survive coupled with the will to do so therefore are essentials to our country.

                                  John F. Kennedy

Here is a photo from the LIFE magazine archives of a family in their fallout shelter, taken in 1961:

Inside the Kelsey-Hayes shelter which he and his son put together, Art Carlson and his family demonstrate how a family might divide the responsibility for making it safe and livable. Here Carlson shows a table full of equipment which he would care for. It includes emergency tools like shovel and pick for digging out through debris, a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and bottled gas stove for cooking. Mrs. Carlson sits next to a larder of canned foods and the supply of water which she will keep fresh by frequent changes. Daughter Charlene (left) is in charge of bedding for the folding cots and fold-up bunks. Son Claude looks after the candles, flashlights, transistor radio and a fresh supply of batteries. Daughter Judy is the shelter librarian with a stack of books and games to pass the time. The shelves also contain paper napkins, cups and plates, toilet tissue, cooking utensil, and changes of clothing for everyone. The inside walls of the shelter are painted bright colors to add a cheerfulness and increase illumination.

People built fallout shelters underground in their yards, in basements and sometimes in allotted spaces within the living quarters of their homes, much like in the dollhouse where as you can see here, the shelter was handily right off of the kitchen:

Isn't it interesting how such an important era in America's history was captured in the room of a dollhouse? It does make one wonder why this model didn't sell well. Though talk of the Cold War absolutely infiltrated all aspects of citizens' lives during that period, did parents think that it might be going a little too far to include fallout shelters in their children's dollhouses? I can't help but think of how boys have been expected to play with toy guns and to play "war" throughout all of time but perhaps the picture-perfect ideal that is a dollhouse was too beloved to mar. Who's to say really.. but it is intriguing to me - and I would have loved to have been in the pitch meetings at Marx when this dollhouse was born. I also like to wonder how many children acted out their own imaginary feared scenarios in the houses' compact fallout shelters.

It's such a fascinating era in our history and even if we didn't experience it ourselves, it's still pretty easy to imagine what it might have been like given the political climate that we live in today. I'd love to hear from some of you who who remember this time frame. Did your family discuss the possibility of attack? Did you have your own fallout shelter? Have you ever lived in a house that has one? Do tell! And are you like me and keep some rations squirreled away on the side?

If you'd like to bid on the dollhouse - or would just like to see more, click here or on any of the dollhouse photos above. Besides the obvious draw of the teeny fallout shelter, it also have a covered patio and if I do say so myself, perhaps one of the cutest dollhouse  (or real for that matter) nurseries that I have ever seen, complete with squirrels and kittens on the walls!

If you'd like to see inside of a shelter built for President Kennedy in Florida go here. And if you want to see some interesting old ads for supplies to stock a fallout shelter, go to the great Retrospace blog here.

Thanks so much to Sandy for letting me share the dollhouse and I wish her much luck on her auction!

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Better To Have It

Barbara Lynn! Holy moly, she is smooth! Ladies, I'm posting this video today to remind you to be sure and channel your inner bad-ass.

If you want to see Barbara in person, she's still out there doing her thing and doing it well. In fact, when I was researching what she's up to these days, I learned that  she's playing Deke Dickerson's Guitar Geek Festival in Anaheim, CA on the 25th of this month. And lo and behold, good friend of the ranch, Dave Gleason will be playing too. He and his pretty lady recently left the winky-blinky neon lights of Nashville to go back to the bright sun of California and we sure do miss them. Check them out if you're in the area!

Have a great weekend, all!

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

That Story About The Conjurer

With the recent run of sicknesses that I've had this Winter, my Mom mentioned to me that I was "always a sick baby". I didn't find this hard to believe as I've never had my tonsils out and well, have always been a bit of a whiner.

It wasn't until I dug deeper that I learned about the time that she took me to a Conjurer. Some people call them "witch doctors" but in our South steeped in religion, I think that those who believe would just say that they're blessed with the power, a God given inclination towards healing. Some people believe in it and some people don't. Still, you just don't hear much about that kind of business very much these days. I'm sure there are still folks who can heal but you'd have to search a lot harder to find one than you used to.

My Mom had mentioned in passing in the past about her taking me to a lady who "talked" sickness out of me but for some reason, I'd never delved into it. After lamenting over why I always catch every virus that passes through town, I finally remembered to get the scoop this week. So I e-mailed my Mom:

You told me one time that I was sick as a baby and you took me to some lady who talked it out of me...or something? Tell me about that.

And she answered back:

When you were a baby, you had mouth thrush. I took you to the doctor. He looked at you and said what it was and did not give me anything for it. So Mama knew this lady over on a street near the fairgrounds and we went in, she looked at you, took you in the bedroom and brought you back and said that it would be gone tomorrow. And it was. I don't know what she did. She charged me nothing. You had no problems after that. Mama said that she thought the woman gave you a couple of drops of blood. 

Okay, so one thing that you need to learn about my family is that they're infamous for huge pregnant pauses. The kind that leave you hanging on the edge of your seat, dying to know what the next bit of information should be. Sometimes, I think that they do it for sport because they know that I have to know everything about damned near everything. Take for example how my Mom ended her e-mail by dropping that bit of "she thought the woman gave you a couple of drops of blood" know, like that's something that happens every day.

Of course, my mind was reeling - What kind of blood? Was it my blood? The lady's blood? The blood of a slaughtered farm animal that she was slowly draining the life from out back of her house? 

"....she thought the woman gave you a couple of drops of blood."

My immediate response back to her was "a couple of drops of blood...from who???" but of course since a full minute had passed, my Mom had left her computer and there I was, hanging on the edge of my seat and wondering what kind of blood I'd been fed as an infant. As one does. A full day later, she answered back matter-of-factly as if she was rectifying the mistake of an ingredient left out of a shared recipe:

I'm sorry. A couple of drops from you. 

That sentence in its simplicity is such a beautiful thing to me because she's still acting like this is just what parents do every day: a steamy shower for the croup....Vicks VapoRub for a congested chest and well, bloodletting for mouth thrush. By the way, do yourself a favor and do not look up photos of mouth thrush. After making the mistake of doing so, I can fully understand why my Mom was ready to hastily turn me over to some complete stranger who lived over by the fairgrounds. I'm pretty sure that the next step would have been to leave me anonymously on the steps of the local firehouse and call the whole thing done.

I decided that I'd break my cardinal rule against using the phone (the phone makes me squirmy because I can't see peoples' expressions when they're talking) and called my Mom for more info. She told me that she didn't really remember much about the specifics. At first, I was surprised but then she reminded me that it was forty years ago. She said that she recalled that the woman was a little old soul who wore her hair clenched up in a bun (who besides me is picturing Granny Clampett now?) and that she lived in a little white frame mill hill house. She didn't recall having any hesitation about the whole thing and said that she took my toddler brother along too. She went into the house and the lady quickly took me from her and went into the back bedroom alone with me. She said that I was only back there with the lady for a couple of minutes and when she brought me back and put me in my Mom's arms, she told her that I was cured. And then the next day, the mouth thrush was completely gone.

Anxious to get more colorful details about the whole thing, I implored of her to tell me that she'd heard me screaming in agony from the back room or that she suspected that leeches had been used.. but alas, my Mom said that no, neither had happened. I longed for there to be more drama. Did the lady have dried animal parts hanging from the ceiling and jars of curious elixirs and powders on her shelves? Nope. It was just a normal house, she said. Did my Mom have to promise the old lady my fresh new soul in exchange for the cure? Nope. There is still no explanation for why I am so soulless. I hungered for this story to somehow become crazier than it was. Once again, I asked my Mom how she knew that it was my blood that was fed to me. Had I come from the mythical back bedroom with a bloody finger? My Mom replied:

I remember thinking it was your blood.  I wouldn't think that she would have given you any of her blood.....but back then, there's no telling what they'd do.

Aha! I was starting to break down the facade a little. She sort-of-kind-of admitted that there was a small chance that I had been given some rogue blood as a child! I then asked her if she hadn't been just a little nervous giving her baby to a woman who she'd barely met, to take off alone like that. She replied:

Like I said, I wouldn't do that to you now because I'd be scared of perverts and diseases...but back then, you didn't hear about any of that. You took people at face value. Being young like me, it didn't phase me. Someone told me to do it - and I did it....and moved on. 

She later told me that she thinks that the lady might have pricked the inside of my mouth for the blood - but I think that she was just tired of me going all Matlock on her with the twenty questions.

I love my Mom for what she did. She was just a young mother out on a mission to make her kid well. As I talked to her further, she told me that when she was a child, her family lived next to a man named Mr. Creamer who was a Conjurer. She told me that she'll never forget burning herself and going over to see him for relief. Tall, lanky Mr. Creamer  stood there in his front yard and lightly rubbed the burn and blew on it and softly whispered to it. She said they called it "talking out fire" and that if anyone who had the power ever told how it was done, they would instantly lose the power. They were only allowed to pass on the details on their death bed to someone who they trusted to continue the healing. Then she told me about another lady on a different childhood neighborhood block who she went to when she had a wart on her thumb. She said that the lady didn't even look at it or do anything. She simply told her that it would disappear and within two days, it was like it never happened. So, I guess my Mom had no reason to doubt that the lady by the fairgrounds could do what our pediatrician didn't even attempt to do - to make me well.

I asked my Dad what he'd thought about this when it happened forty plus years ago. He said that he reckoned he'd never heard about it. Somehow, that made me treasure that it happened even more. It almost makes it feel like while my Dad was at work, my Mom made her rounds about town with her daily list of to-do items:

1. Grocery store
2. Pick up dry cleaning
3. Take baby for bloodletting
4. Buy potting soil

And I like to think of us then in the car, driving back home - my Mom sorting through the thousand things in her mind as the mother of two small children no doubt would - and my brother with no seatbelt, bouncing on the bench seat beside her, his teeny toddler head bobbing up and down when we hit bumps in the road. And me buckled in the plastic carseat with my bright red hair and apple cheeks - the taste of blood in my mouth and the faint, disappearing memory of the lady conjurer's grasp fading behind us.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crawling Out From Under

Happy 2013 everyone! I hope that you all had a great holiday season and are now neck-deep in satisfying resolutions and general good tidings!

Yes, I realize that I am a full nine days late in joining in the revelry. Our holiday story here at the ranch started off pretty swell with a flight out to Kansas for a Christmas complete with snow. We'd both been sick in the weeks before Christmas and felt pretty pleased that we were both well in time to see Mister Kitsch's family. The visit went great as his family is awesome, there are always tons of dogs to play with and there is no shortage of great food and conversation. The Mister and I even took a day to drive out to Lawrence, Kansas (one of our dream cities to live in) where we got to meet our friends' adorable babies and do some antiquing. Let me tell you, folks....Kansas and Missouri have THE best antiquing in the world. We got some loot! Believe it or not, everything is still packed from the trip but one little guy made it out into the house - Uncle Jack Mouse.

I like how he's got one hand on his hip and looks like he's about to tell the best story on the planet. I've named him Uncle Jack Mouse because of my Great Uncle who used to weave the best yarns (and who kept a hammer and screwdriver under his car seat because he didn't trust his airbag or power-lock windows not to trap him and be his demise in an accident).

Alas, all good vacations have to end. The day after Christmas, I started feeling crappy and by the time we were flying home the next day, it took all that I had to prop myself up and not get pulled by security for looking sweaty and sketchy. Once we got home, the sickness hit the Mister too and well, we've been battling it ever since - nearly two weeks! We must have caught some mega-gonna-get-you-quick virus on the plane. You all know how the air is on those things!

There used to be an air travel sanitizing kit that was sold in the Skymall catalog - and I would always laugh at it because basically, before sitting down at your seat, you'd have to hold up the line of passengers behind you by completing a full-fledged Hazmat style cleanup in your seat's vicinity. I went to try and find a photo of it for you but apparently, the product has been pulled. I did find this in their catalog however:

Now, I can see various reasons why this wouldn't completely work against preventing bedbugs - but it does make me giggle to see him all swaddled up like that. I'm the person who always grills the Mister over the phone when he's away on trips with "Have you checked the seams of the mattress?" and "Is your luggage in the tub? Don't lie to me. Is your luggage in the tub? You have no clue what is in the carpeting!" Even if I can restrain myself and leave those out, I can never stop myself from reminding him, "Remember not to sit on the bedspread. Go on ahead and take it off - but don't put it anywhere near the bath tub. That's your safe place."

Yes, it's a wonder that he's still with me - but it's also a wonder that we ever get sick with all of my precautions. We've both been to the doctor and still, this sickness won't pass. I'll woman-up and admit that I've been whimpering and feeling sorry for myself while reading all of your blog posts about parties and good times. And there have been so many posts about how you've already got your entire lives and homes reorganized, replanned and rejuvenated for the new year. Being always the Mother Hen, these posts make me happy for those who post them - but they also make me feel like I was pretty lame in being so proud about getting a shower completed earlier in the day. I think I'm going to give myself a free pass for January as I'm starting to see that it's going to be a long haul!  We had to cancel Christmas with my family and it's been rescheduled for March. We've named it "Marchimus" and unlike the year that we didn't make it home until July, my Mom is taking down her decorations this time so that the church ladies won't talk. That's just the way this year is going to go.

Something good did come from this sickness though. I had an interesting talk with my Mom this week about a story from my baby days. My head is getting all swirly so I'm going back to bed for now - but will share that one with you tomorrow!

Until next time,
x's and o's,