Grandma & Grandpa’s Shed

Back in 1977, the summer after Greg and I were married, we were visiting with his grandparents. They lived just down the road from us south of the tiny town of Noel, Missouri. I don’t remember the exact conversation, however two things contributed to what happened next.

I expressed an appreciation for vintage items and, being newlyweds, Greg’s grandmother was aware that we could use some household items. She gestured down the hill to the old shed and told us to help ourselves to anything in there. It was full of stuff she no longer used or wanted. “Just watch out for spiders!” she called out as we made our way to the old structure.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

The shed’s dusty interior was indeed crammed full of a variety of fascinating items. What I wouldn’t give to see all the contents again. Now I would hire a truck and load it all up. Back then I was a bit shy about accepting gifts that were offered to me. On that afternoon, I eyed everything with a practical eye. What could I actually use?

Greg and I spent a happy afternoon, sorting through items in the shed. There were spiders, poisonous brown recluses that can inflict a nasty bite. We tried to ignore them, hoping they would do the same to us. I hauled out items that caught my eye, either because of usability or beauty or both. We received a final approval from Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Bill before we loaded up the car. They waved us on, chuckling over some of my choices.

I still have those items, 40 years later. Many of them are used on a daily basis. The rest are on display or have been repurposed in my backyard garden.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Many of the items I selected were destined for my kitchen. The blue and white enamelware colander gets used so often, draining cooked gluten free pasta or vegetables, that I almost forgot to retrieve it from the dish drainer, to include in tonight’s display. I also use the colander when I pick veggies from my garden and to hold washed veggies as they dry.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

I don’t use the vintage ceramic pie plate much anymore, although I make a raw blueberry pie with a cashew and date crust in it occasionally. The colorful plates are from Bauer Pottery in California, and were made in the mid 1950s.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

I used the cut glass silverware holder and the small white ceramic toothpick holder when my kids were younger. Both are display items now. And the tiny wooden butter mold is a keepsake as well. The vintage glass pitchers are frequently used. Years ago they held juice or lemonade or black cherry kool-aid. For months after acquiring the pitchers, Greg or I would pick up packets of black cherry flavored kool-aid from the store. I thought it was his favorite flavor, because he always bought it. And he thought it was mine, for the same reason. Finally one day we both admitted that neither of us liked black cherry kool-aid! We never purchased it again, thankfully. Today those pitchers hold ginger water or lemon water.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

The old glass canning jars with side wires were made in the 1920s – 1930s, before metal ring lids were common. I’ve used them to hold a variety of dry goods or tea light candles. Greg was able to figure out the age of the Ball jar by the style of the lettering. And the vintage milk bottle and cream bottle still have their original cardboard toppers.

Grandpa Bill worked as a milk delivery man when he was a newlywed and living in Kansas City about 1918. He drove a horse drawn wagon, filled with his customers’ milk orders. He used to tell the story that he would hop out of the wagon to drop bottles of milk on doorsteps and his horse, who knew the route well, would walk on around the corner and wait patiently for him there. Grandma Ruby laughed at me for wanting those bottles…but those old containers are now 100 years old, and I love the story that they represent. These items are for display only.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

This afternoon, as I thought about these items, in preparation for writing this post, I realized that these were “wedding gifts”, of the most precious kind, for a young couple who didn’t have much. I’d rather have an old item, even one that is practical, that has a story attached to it, than something new from the store.

Which made me wonder…what did Grandma and Grandpa Moore give us as an actual wedding gift? Money? Dishes? Oh, I remember…they bought us a bed, with a nice set of mattresses. And then I remembered something else. Grandma Ruby made us a tablecloth, for our little second hand dining table that I repainted. Greg reupholstered the chairs. Ironically, my grandmother made us a tablecloth too as a wedding gift, and she was the one who gave us the dining set. I rummaged through my storage chest upstairs, another vintage piece that I will write about soon, and I found both tablecloths.

I haven’t used the tablecloths in many years, but they are still in great shape. The one from Grandma Ruby became the backdrop for the vintage pieces tonight. I can hear that beautiful and grand woman laughing with amusement over my display of items from her old shed, resting on a now vintage tablecloth that she lovingly made. She would be so pleased to know I’ve kept it all. These pieces give me pleasure as well.

Grandma and Grandpa’s Shed

Surrender 74: Putting the Keep in Keepsakes

Today was another Monday spent in Arkansas. While Greg worked outside today, doing some needed repairs, I had the inside of the house to myself. The children have taken the items that they want, or tagged the bigger pieces for later delivery. Greg and I have also picked out the mementos that have significance for each of us. 

Today I started the task of the final pass through. Beginning in the spare bedroom, I once again sorted through boxes of items, creating three stacks: sell, keep, throw away. By far, the two largest piles were in the throw away and the sell categories. 

In the still house, in this stripped down room, I felt a mix of emotions. Is this what’s left at the end of life? Piles of stuff that no one wants or needs? I threw open windows and let sunshine and warm fresh air in, to dispel the gloom and chill, of the room and of my thoughts. 


I know, in my heart, that Bob and Leta Moore leave a much greater legacy than these boxes of knick knacks, piles of papers and stacks of photos. And those memories and stories and character qualities are passed on to their surviving son, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

I sorted through the items, hauling out four more large bags of trash. From that room, I only toted home one small box. But, what interesting items I found. The tiny gold ring, a baby’s ring or a pinky ring, pictured above, obviously belonged to someone. The little wooden frame is handmade. Unfortunately, there’s nothing written on the back to tell the ring’s story. And now, no one to ask about it. Into the Keep Box it went. 


My grandson Dayan helped me properly identify this cow bell! I sent him a pic and an inquiry about the country of origin. I was thinking Peruvian. It’s Swiss. He’s such a smart young man. One of Peterson’s world traveling sales reps must have brought this piece home to Leta. Her home is an international bazaar of goodies. I kept this quirky bell too. 

This cute little chick, made from modeling dough allowed to hardened and then painted, brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. On the bottom is scratched “EM”…Elissa Moore. There’s no date but she was a just wee girl when she made this for her Mimi. And Mimi loved it and kept it. This big-eyed guy went into the Keep Box, to be given to the artist. Elissa was happy that I found him. 


I found this unusual item, made of brass, that I had never seen before. I picked up the duck head, wondering where the rest of him went!  On closer examination, I discovered it is a pencil sharpener. That made me laugh. I can use this conversation starter with my colored pencils, and think of Leta every time I use it. 


As I was finishing up in the spare room, I picked up one last item. I didn’t want it. The kids didn’t either. It had no value at all. The beach ball, still inflated, had been hidden away, in the closet, for at least 25 years. That’s no exaggeration. My children are all in their thirties. It has been many, many years since they have batted this colorful ball around. 

As I held the somewhat squishy ball, a thought struck me. Papa Bob, or perhaps even Mimi Leta, blew this ball up for the grandkids, long, long ago. I was holding their breath, literally in my hands. Breath…air exhaled from the lungs…synonymous with life. 

In that quiet, now sacred space, I slowly pulled the plug on the ball. Hesitating for just a moment, holding my breath, I squeezed on the beach ball, releasing the air within, releasing so much more. Fearing the air would be stale, I nonetheless directed that pent up breath into my face, inhaling deeply. The air was cold, sweet, with no hint of staleness. 

I stood there, eyes closed, breathing in the air that Bob or Leta used to inflate that ball for my kids. Their beautiful grandchildren. What fun and loving grandparents they were. What precious people who enjoyed life. I breathed in the essence of their lives, spent now as this ball was spent, an empty shell. 

The tears started. I surrendered to them. Releasing tears. Cleansing tears. Grateful tears. It was time to go home. 


Journey 227: More Treasures From Annie

Back across Kansas we went today, my mom, sisters and I, to Derby, just south of Wichita. We met my cousins, Sheila and Greg, and Greg’s son Wes, at Aunt Annie’s house. My beautiful aunt passed away this past spring. This will most likely be the last time I visit her house. 

One of the powerful experiences that has come out of so many losses this year is that I have spent more time with my cousins. We have determined that it is important to  connect, now, rather than gather only during funerals. I am enjoying the reconnections, the laughter, the sharing of stories, the hugs.

We’ve spent a fun day together, doing all of those things, as we sort through the remainder of my aunt’s possessions. My cousins very generously invited my mom, sisters and me to open boxes, look through piles of old photos, and sort through treasures. I took home items for my backyard garden earlier this year and I think of Aunt Annie every time I look at the metal containers holding brightly colored flowers. 

I picked up several items today…a crystal vinegar cruet, vintage china, and other small pieces. In the backyard I wandered about, enjoying my aunt’s gardens, admiring the flowers in bloom. In the garden shed, I found an amazing item for my own garden…a large wooden box with faded red paint. It’s perfect to hold terra cotta pots, which I found nestled on shelves. 

I’ll save these items for next spring, when I’ll fill the flower pots with an assortment of plants. Herbs would be a great choice. Then I’ll find the right spot in the garden to display this earthy vignette, with its connections to Annie. 

I so appreciate my cousins and sisters. They are such gracious, genuine souls. As we chatted and laughed together over dinner tonight, I marveled at the passage of time that has aged us all from rowdy, inquisitive kids…to rowdy, intelligent adults.  I’m grateful for my mother as well, with her wisdom and her playful spirit. I am glad to have each as a traveling companion, through the challenges and joys of life’s journey. May we have many more adventures together. 

Journey 66: True Treasures

true treasures exterior

Today was such a gorgeous spring-like day, temps in the 60’s, abundant sunshine, signs of earth’s awakening everywhere. I journeyed to Arkansas to visit Greg’s dad. We chatted and enjoyed a late lunch together and Greg and I did a little laundry for Dad Moore while we visited. As we left, the day just called to us, and we headed east, no real destination in mind, no schedule, no appointments to take us back to Joplin yet.

true treasures entrance

As we drove the winding road, approaching Bentonville, AR, Greg suggested I google antique and junk shops, to see what was nearby. We both enjoy browsing through these treasure troves. It’s a type of scavenger hunt, where you don’t know what the item is that you are searching for, until it catches your eye and your attention. I located a number of such stores in the area. Yet the one that pulled me toward it was called, interestingly, True Treasures, located at 10770 Hwy 72 W, Bentonville.

true treasures booth 2

In a few moments, thanks to my phone’s GPS, we had arrived. I was intrigued immediately, just with what I could see grouped in the yard and on the porch of the inviting structure. As I opened the front door, I noticed the hours of operation. Saturday the shop closed at 5:00. The time was 5:05. I’ve worked in retail. I know how it felt when a customer walked in just as I was closing up. I hurried in to ask if they were indeed closing. The sales clerk VERY, VERY graciously invited us in to look. I had already seen enough, from my peek through the door, that I couldn’t resist that invitation!

true treasures booth 3

We moved quickly through True Treasures, exclaiming over interesting finds. The displays were so artfully and creatively arranged and there was a bit of everything there, from painted furniture, old doors and windows, and vintage linens, to collections of buttons, Scrabble tiles, and wooden blocks. Even the public restroom was adorable with items for sale sharing space with the toilet and sink.

true treasures buttons

Loved this big bowl of loose buttons!

True Treasures is the type of space that makes me smile, and that I normally would linger in for quite some time. Today, I didn’t linger. I was very conscious of keeping the sweet woman who invited us in, late. We will come back and visit another time. The merchandise changes daily, and I have no doubt I can find new treasures every time I stop by. Tonight, I spied almost immediately what I wanted to purchase on this trip. A pair of black and turquoise stools caught my eye. They are perfect for the island in my kitchen and loaded easily into the back seat of my car.

true treasures booth

What a beautiful store, aptly named, designed to delight and inspire. I’m so glad we stopped. And so grateful for the kindness of the young woman inside. It was the perfect adventure for this beautiful day. I’ll be back!

true treasures stools