From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi’s Vintage Bowl

On this Halloween night, the air is chilly and a steady rain is falling. It’s not likely that many trick or treaters will come calling tonight. However, I’m ready. The porch light is on. Candles are lit on the front deck as well, welcoming beacons in the twilight.

Indoors, candles continue the cheery warmth throughout the house, a cozy barrier against the darkness and the chill. And on the entryway table rests Mimi Leta’s vintage aluminum bowl, filled with packets of fruit snacks.

From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi Leta’s Vintage Bowl

A Bowl for Popcorn

I quickly learned two things about Leta Moore, the kindhearted, generous woman who would become my mother-in-law: she enjoyed cups of hot tea, and she adored a bowl of popcorn in the evenings.

Greg’s dad, Bob, popped corn over a burner on the stove. He added kernels and a bit of oil to a rectangular metal box with a very long handle. A wire mesh cover kept the popcorn in place, which was crucial. As the oil in the pan heated up, Bob shook that container vigorously, until every kernel popped.

While Bob popped the corn, Leta melted a small amount of butter in a pan on the stove. The fluffy popcorn was transferred into the aluminum bowl with the floral border, drenched in butter and sprinkled with salt. It’s the only bowl I ever saw Leta use for her special treat. She shared the popcorn, of course! I always smiled, however, over her obvious enjoyment of this simple snack.

From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi Leta’s Vintage Bowl

Vintage Aluminum Salad Bowl Set

After both of Greg’s parents passed away, I found the old bowl in a cabinet in the kitchen. Memories stirred as I held the container. Researching the keepsake tonight, I learned the big bowl was actually part of a set. Manufactured in the 1950s, the aluminum set included a large bowl with the stamped floral border, and four smaller salad bowls.

Greg vaguely remembers the smaller bowls, but we did not find them in the house as we packed up items. The larger decorative bowl came home with me. Although I don’t pop my own corn, and only occasionally eat a healthy non-GMO brand of popcorn, I have precious memories of Leta associated with this simple item.

And, the old bowl is the perfect size for holding Halloween treats.

From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi Leta’s Vintage Bowl

From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi Leta’s Vintage Bowl

From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi Leta’s Vintage Bowl

Be Happy

As I predicted, the cool, rainy weather kept most of the children indoors or influenced their parents to take them to indoor venues, such as the mall, for treats. That’s okay. I’m enjoying hot tea and cozy candlelight, and I have a new book to crack open and read.

A few trick or treaters have braved the elements and knocked on the door. I’ve seen Spider-Man tonight, and a princess, monsters and two young ladies wearing long gorgeous dresses and lavish makeup. It’s fun to step outside, with the vintage bowl full of treats, and speak to the kids.

One young girl, about five years old, surprised me. She’s my neighbor actually, and this child already understands that life is magical and that it’s okay to be who she is. She dances in the rain and plays with my cats and always calls out a friendly greeting when she sees me outside.

As I offered her a treat, she sang a little song. And then she reached into her bucket of goodies and handed me a Jolly Rancher lollipop. “For you,” she said. “You are giving me a treat?” I asked. “Yes,” she answered, with a big smile. “I just want you to be happy.”

I’m still smiling over her sweet generosity. Mimi Leta would have loved this girl. I’m never going to eat that lollipop. It will serve as a reminder that there are amazing people in the world. And one of them happens to be five years old, and living next door. I am happy.

From Popcorn to Treats: Mimi Leta’s Vintage Bowl

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

Tonight, on Halloween Eve, the story I intended to write fell apart, for various reasons, at 9:00 PM. Sitting quietly, considering other possibilities, a crazy idea came together. I’ve shared frequently in the past five years of blog posts, that I am an Intuitive. From birth I have had the ability to sense and perceive energy that many people are unaware of. I fully accept who I am now and embrace my quirky gifts.

I am also a realtor, meaning I help people buy and sell houses. It’s from that interesting space, where real estate and intuition overlap, that tonight’s story was born.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

House Hunting Haunting

Do you believe in haunted houses? From my personal experiences the last 15+ years as a realtor, I present my top three haunted house stories. Names and addresses and actual photos are omitted or changed, to protect clients. These tales are about real houses in the Joplin area, owned, sold, bought, and lived in by real people.

Realtors are not required, by law, to disclose that a house is haunted. It is considered stigmatizing to the property to reveal such information. There are many ways for a house to be haunted. It’s energy that gets trapped in a home. Grief, fear, pain, illness…both physical and mental, can pool in a house and affect it, sometime by creating an uneasiness or heaviness. And sometimes the energy gets caught in a loop, and plays over and over again like a song stuck on repeat.

Do I think it’s a good idea for my clients to know what I’m picking up, intuitively, in a house? Yes, but it also depends on the clients. If they consciously or unconsciously react to what I can feel, I share. If they seem oblivious or closed off to hearing that the house has a “presence”, I refrain and trust that they will make a decision that feels right for them.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

This is My House

I felt very unsettled the first time I walked into this vacant house. When there’s positive energy in a home, such as love and comfort, my scalp tingles. When there’s negative energy, such as deep regret or fear, I get tingles of energy across my upper back. This three story home, complete with a basement, caused ripples across my back.

When I learned that the current owners had moved out, and rented another home, I knew they had experienced a haunting. During a phone call, one of the sellers admitted the old house had a problem.

Soon thereafter, I met the “problem” during a showing. Because of my own discomfort I stood near the open front door while my buyers climbed to the third floor. From the empty, shadowy kitchen a petite woman appeared, dressed in an old fashioned dark colored dress. She was not happy. After telling me her name she told me this was her house, and no one else could live there.

That night I researched the house, using the name I had received and discovered the information was accurate. I also found out the house had been built for her, a century ago, by the woman’s husband and she only lived there a short time before she died. It was a possessive energy I felt in the home.

The next time I showed the house, I waited until the buyers were on the top floor, and then I stepped into the kitchen. I felt drawn to a small room that led to a very dark basement. Being the lowest point in the house, basements collect negative energy, which is more dense. I don’t like basements and I refused to go down the stairs. Suddenly I felt a whoosh of air near the left side of my head and heard a loud smack against the wall. I jumped, but refused to be intimidated. Instead I talked quietly and calmly about sharing the house and allowing other people in, who would love the house as much as she did. There was a lightness that came into the room, and some of the heaviness lifted.

I had not had any offers on this property, and the house had been listed previously by another company. However, after my chat in the kitchen, I received three offers in the days following. One was accepted. I hope they all continue to live happily together.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

The Ghost on the Stairs

This haunted house, also vacant when I listed it, had a dark and tragic history. One family had lived in the house for many, many years, until there was no one left to occupy it. I could not be in the house alone, so heavy was the energy, and I limited my time within it. I learned from a friend of the family that a son had committed suicide in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The sadness and despair in that room was overwhelming and seemed to follow me down the long upper hallway whenever I had to give a tour of the house.

One day, I stood in the home’s dining room on the first floor, while a curious buyer explored a bedroom off to my right. Greg, who had volunteered to accompany me, stood in the foyer near the living room. I heard the sound of footsteps upstairs, even though I knew there was no one up there. As I listened intently, the footsteps moved to the top of the enclosed stairs, and started down…clomp, clomp, clomp…toward the dining room.

I experienced a moment of panic, wondering what my buyer must be thinking, but glancing at her, she did not appear to hear anything. Greg had not turned to look my way either. Apparently I was the only one who could hear the footsteps as they descended. Freakishly, the sound grew louder and the “person” seemed to be moving faster as it neared the bottom of the stairs.

I watched, fascinated, to see who, or what, would appear. A shadowy figure moved away from the stairs, crossed the dining room in front of me, and passed right by Greg in the foyer before disappearing. As the figure traversed the rooms, the sound of its footsteps accompanied it.

Well, that ought to discourage the buyer! I thought. But she didn’t notice. She never said a word about the sounds or the shadow, choosing to pass on the house due to the extensive repairs that needed to be done.

The house eventually sold. The buyers’ agent and I discussed the house at length and I shared my experiences. His clients bought the property anyway. A short time later they moved out and had the house torn down.

A Country Haunting

The most haunted house I’ve been in locally, was an old farmhouse, out in the country. I strongly advised my clients to pass on the property as they looked for a fixer upper to purchase. This two story home had such negative energy that I could not be in the house for more than a few minutes at a time, and I could not go upstairs at all. As I stood in the yard, while my clients toured the vacant home, the neighbor walked over and confirmed what I could feel.

Many tragedies occurred within the house, and the “helpful” neighbor whispered stories to me of abandonment and insanity and ghosts that roamed the attic.

Against my advice, my clients purchased the home. One week later, the wife called me, in tears. They were experiencing all kinds of strange problems as they tore out walls and hauled out trash and attempted a remodel. “You were right,” she said. “This house is haunted.” She called me again, a short time later, crying, sitting alone in the house. Her husband was at work. “Do you hear that?” she asked, holding the phone away from her ear. I couldn’t tell what the noise was. My frazzled client shared that she could hear someone walking around, in a house that she alone occupied.

My clients moved out of the house, and into an RV, while they finished the remodel. I found them another house to buy, and they relocated, leaving me to list a house that I could barely enter. At one time I had photos of the home’s interior, showing rooms filled with strange distortions, white orbs and streaks of light.

Open houses were interesting, as I sat on the deck and watched for visitors, only stepping into the house while people looked around. Children cried. Adults felt odd in the house. I thought it would never sell, in spite of the beautiful remodel. Eventually it did, to a couple who didn’t feel a thing in the house. Perfect.

I could tell many more stories. Or I could write a book about the haunted houses I’ve shown, listed or previewed. I pitched the book idea to a publisher and received interest in anything I wrote on the subject. Perhaps someday, I will write all the stories down.

I’m a realtor and an Intuitive. I can show you a house…and tell you whether it is haunted, or not.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II Costumes

Earlier today I shared the decorations and props that provided the marvelous backdrop for this year’s Family Halloween Party. (Check out The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I.) My sister Debbie, niece Ashley and her husband Jon amazed us all, once again, with décor that supported the 2018 theme carnevil.

The majority of the guests that arrived supported the theme as well, appearing in costumes as clowns, oddities, circus performers and presiding over us all, a ringmaster.

This post features the costumes of The Barnes Circus. Have a look!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II Costumes

Picking Costumes

We all know a year in advance, what the party’s theme is going to be. That allows ample time to make decisions about costumes and props. My family likes to be creative so we spend very little money dressing up, preferring to visit thrift stores, use what we already have, and make what we need. That’s part of the fun of coming up with a costume.

As each person chooses a character, he or she notifies Ashley or Debbie. They compile a list and keep everyone updated, so that we don’t have duplicate characters. I knew immediately what I wanted to be this year. In keeping with a circus or carnival theme, I chose to arrive as a fortune teller. My decision was made primarily because I had just bought a long bohemian style multicolor skirt, with tassels, that seemed perfect. Little did I know, when I chose my character last year, that it would have a strong influence on me, on the way to the Family Halloween Party.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesThe Ticket Taker and Greeter, Ethan Barnes.

Carnevil Costumes

It’s fun to tour the transformed house, when we arrive at the party, and it’s fun as well to see everyone in their costumes.

Meet the characters.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesOur very own Greatest Showman (and party planner), Ringmaster Ashley Barnes.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesMaster of Magic, but apparently not of sawing his assistant in two, The Great Laurent…Jon Barnes. I don’t say enough about this extraordinary young man. He creates many of the bigger props, adds lights and the mechanical elements, and serves as cook and bartender as well. He’s an all around good guy…husband, dad, son-in-law, and family member to the rest of us.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesThe Three Legged Man, Kaleb Barnes. Kaleb was inspired by the film, The Greatest Showman.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesInspired by American Horror Story, Debbie appeared as the character Mordrake, the man with two faces. Her costume creeped me out the most. Watching that face on the back of her head move as she turned or shifted was eerie!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesScott as the Menacing Clown and Nicole as the Contortionist. She is always so clever with her costumes. She appears contorted atop a table.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II Costumes The Snake Charmer, Pat, AKA Mom. She’s always creative with her costumes, coming up with great outfits without spending much, if anything, to create the look.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesLion Tamer, Linda, posing with Scott, Nicole, Lola, as Minnie Mouse, and Weston, who ditched his costume immediately.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesKnife Thrower Extraordinaire-ish, Nate, with his unlucky Assistant, Adriel, posing with The Tattoo Lady, Elissa.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesGreg as The Bearded Lady. Greg was a huge hit, gathering lots of laughs. Trying to do his make-up, I got so tickled that I couldn’t find his mouth to add lipstick. Kaleb offered help…’I think his mouth is where his mustache meets his beard.’ Side note: the gloves and all the jewelry belonged to Greg’s mom. She would have loved seeing this Bearded Lady!

I apologize for not getting photos of all the other guests that attended the party last night! Normally I get a pic of each attendee. I stepped into my character in a much deeper way than I originally intended to, which kept me busy having fun all evening.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II Costumes

Madame Cynvia

Earlier this year, after deciding on my character and costume, I decided it would be fun to learn to read oracle cards, and give actually readings at the party. I’m an intuitive…with the ability to sense and interact with Spirit. I thought reading cards would come naturally to me, and I was right, it did.

However, what began as a party activity quickly became so much more. From the right deck “choosing” me, to online classes appearing in my email inbox at precisely the right time, to learning the cards, it has all been an intriguing journey that has taught me new things and taught me more about my unique, quirky self.

The incredible thing about oracle cards is that it’s all about energy…and story. I let the person being read handle the deck of cards, shuffling and mixing them up, until they feel ready to randomly pull out a specific number of cards. Then I tell the story of the cards that were selected. It’s truly amazing how beautiful and accurate the stories are. I’m grateful for the whole experience, and the eight month journey that brought me to last night. I appreciate all those who pulled up a chair and sat with me…and shared their lives with me.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II Costumes

Group Photos & Extra Pics

Here are a few additional photos, depicting what a fun time we had.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesKaleb tossed his mustache. He said it kept getting in his mouth!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesMore of the attendees!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesFamily group shot.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesSisters pic. We missed our brother and sister-in-law last night! The Halloween Party is when we take our annual sibling photo.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesAnd then Debbie turned around. Creepy!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesMom and her girls.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesRoy arrived as a “member of the circus audience”! Greg’s hand mirror was his best friend all evening.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II CostumesAn extra foot makes a good pillow when it gets late.

The Family Halloween Party 2018 is in the books…and the blogs. I deeply appreciate my family for the time, money and effort that they put into this event.

The decorations will stay up until Halloween…and then the work begins afresh for Debbie, Ashley, Jon and the boys as they pack away a carnival. I know my family though. They will enjoy the rest of the holiday season…and their minds are busy conjuring up ideas for next year. By next spring they will be in creation mode again.

The Family Halloween Party for 2019 has a Classic Monsters theme. I’m already planning my costume…

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II Costumes

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

Last night was the Family Halloween Party…and yes capital letters are appropriate. This huge event is hosted by the oh so talented trio of my sister Debbie, my niece Ashley and her husband Jon. Those who don’t have fun with this October holiday may not understand the anticipation that my family has for this annual celebration. We do Halloween BIG. And the Oklahoma branch of the family goes even BIGGER. I’m talking about a total transformation of their house, not just a few pumpkins, candles and spooky creatures scattered about.

The theme this year was a carnevil one (darker twist on a carnival) and the Barnes House became the Barnes Circus, complete with red and white striped tenting, carnival food and games, and a freaky side show. The guests were encouraged to arrive in character.

Blog post Part I shares the highlights of the amazing décor. Later today Part II will feature costumes.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

Welcome to the Barnes Carnevil Circus

Debbie, Ashley and Jon, and their sons Ethan and Kaleb, begin the creation process for their annual party in early spring. They have themes already planned through 2020, and a great deal of thought and creativity and hard work goes into the finished project.

Most of the props and decorations are hand made. Debbie and Ashley scout out thrift stores and clearance sales in big box stores to obtain the materials for their creations. And then those ordinary objects undergo remarkable changes. It’s repurposing, at an extremely high level!

Driving through the neighborhood yesterday, I saw a handful of houses modestly decorated for Halloween. Then, turning onto my family’s street, I see their house. It’s a car stopper for sure, with carnival music playing and lots of canned lighting placed for when darkness falls.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IOoops! The cannon misfired….

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IWalking into the circus, posters adorn the wall. Our faces were cleverly added. There’s Greg as Greer, The Bearded Lady!

Come One, Come All

Inside the house, the transformation was startling! Debbie, Ashley and Jon recreate with meticulous details and an eye for authenticity. Hours and hours and HOURS of work bring their theme to life.

Come with me for a tour.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IRed and white tenting covered every wall and ceiling of the main floor living areas. Watch out for the carnevil clowns! They were everywhere.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IAnother unfortunate mishap! The Great Laurent needs more practice.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IReal cotton candy and bags of popcorn on the walls, for the taking. And a buffet being laid out that included typical carnival food and veggie options. (Thanks guys!)

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

Twisty’s Bar, for the over 21 crowd. Twisty is a character from American Horror Story.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IMadame Cynvia’s corner. Meet her in the next blog post.

To the Fun House Room

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IHall of funhouse mirrors…all hand made.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IWelcome! This room, that normally serves as a guest bedroom, had been completely emptied of furniture. Glow in the dark décor and props created a fun room indeed!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IDo you feel like you are being watched?

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

Up, Up, Up the Stairs

Upstairs the carnevil circus theme continued.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IThis hypnotic disc that Jon made actually spun.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IMore scary clowns lurking upstairs.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part ICarnival style games were set up in the family room. The kids had a blast up here, winning prizes.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IEven the bathrooms get a makeover, set up to look like circus performers’ dressing rooms.

The Side Show

The office to the left of the entryway showcases the creativity of my family. The space became a side show room, full of oddities from around the world. Take a peek inside.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part ILighted cases displayed curiosities. Remember that the majority of props are hand crafted.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IAshley, who is a graphic artist, creates each sign and poster.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IAmazing attention to detail.

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

 

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part IA Scottish Fairy!

Family Fun

What a fun night we all had, at the Barnes Carnevil Circus. Family members mingled with the Barnes’ and Debbie’s friends and co-workers. The atmosphere was lively, and laughter filled the “big tent”.

The Family Halloween Party is one of the year’s highlights for me and a highly anticipated event. Although we all know the theme beforehand, we don’t get to see the finished project until we show up for the party. Ethan and Kaleb have become experts at giving tours to arriving guests. I so appreciate the generosity and creativity of my sister and her family. And I heartily applaud their hard work.

Watch for The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II later today, for a look at the characters that attended the party. You won’t be disappointed!

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

Tonight’s post began as a story about a miniature golf club that Greg’s grandfather, Bill Moore, whittled when he was a young man. The story grew as the research expanded to include Grandpa Moore’s greenskeeper card and an early 1900s hickory golf club with a metal head.

I love when a story takes off!

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

A Tiny Golf Club

Bill Moore enjoyed a long association with golf. He played the sport, becoming a golfer sometime in his late teens or early twenties. And he spent years working as a greenskeeper in the Wichita, Kansas area.

As a young man, with a wife and growing family, Grandpa Bill worked as a golf course superintendent, hired by the Wichita Board of Commissioners. He oversaw several of the golf courses in the area, responsible for the greens, grounds and landscaping, designing greens, and monitoring the health and environment of the golf courses. He held this position from 1923 to the early 1940s.

Grandpa whittled the miniature golf club in June, 1920, when he was 22 years old. His interest in golf predated, and perhaps led to, his job as a greenskeeper. Late in his life, this sweet man with the dry sense of humor, gave the tiny golf club to his son Bob, who mounted the keepsake and added the little number 9 pin to it. He in turn passed the vintage club on to his son, Greg. I marvel at the exquisite detail of this whittled piece of art and I’m grateful for the info written on the frame backing.

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

Meadow Lark Golf Club

Discussing the whittled club with Greg led to digging out Bill Moore’s official greenskeeper card, issued to him in 1927. The National Association of Greenskeepers of America was founded September 13, 1926 and Bill was a charter member of the organization.

The Meadow Lark Golf Course, one of the courses that Bill Moore cared for, was renamed the LW Clapp Golf Course in 1956. The 18 hole public course still exists today and is in use. Grandpa Bill carried guest cards that he could give out, that entitled the card bearer to privileges at Meadow Lark.

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

Vintage Spaulding Golf Club

Ultimately, digging into the story of the little whittled golf club led me to a vintage Spaulding club that also belonged to Grandpa Bill. This old club has a hickory shaft and a narrow, metal head.

Engraved on the back of the club head is a wealth of information. I know from the words there that this is a Kro-Flite custom made club endorsed by the Professional Golfers Association. Researching online, Greg and I discovered the history of the Spaulding Sport Company that manufactured these sweet spot clubs in the early 1900s.

I enjoyed the trek into history tonight, launched by a tiny replica of a larger wooden golf club. Even more, holding the framed art and the vintage golf club resulted in reminiscing about Greg’s grandfather. We had fun piecing this story together. Several times we wished we could ask Grandpa Bill questions. Instead we relied on information online and Greg’s detailed genealogy notes.

How amazing it would be, to have an old photo of Bill Moore on the golf course, taking a swing with one of his wooden clubs. I don’t possess such a photograph. I can imagine the scene though.

Dressed in knickers, with a jaunty cap on his head, a young Bill eyes the fairway, calculating the distance to the pin and the lay of the land. He executes a perfect swing, hitting the ball solidly. No need for him to yell out “Fore!” The ball lands with a soft thump, on the edge of the green, a green that Bill Moore helped to design and now cares for. He chuckles as he strolls down the fairway.

Well done, Grandpa Bill…well done.

Fore! A Vintage Golf Story

The Cost of a New Life

I’ve had a theme unfolding this past week, in the form of a common thread that ran through my thoughts, higher awareness, conversations and memes. The theme centers around a new life, and what the cost of one is.

The Cost of a New Life

How Much Does It Cost?

As this year winds down, I’ve had opportunity to take four of my five grandchildren shopping for their birthdays. Number five is in December. This annual tradition allows me to spend one on one time with each child. We have a meal together and then I hand over a specific amount of money, as a birthday gift.

The kids then decide whether they want to save the cash for a bigger purchase, or spend it at a favorite store. The money belongs to them, once I give it, and the choice is theirs on what they do with it.

As the children age, I notice a shift in their response to having cash. When they are very young, they quickly spend the birthday money on the latest hobby or passion. As they grow older, they begin to make more calculated decisions about how they will spend their gift cash. Older still, and I hear them ask about cost. And a bit beyond that, they weigh the cost of the item against the perceived joy or pleasure they will receive. At some point the question, “How much does it cost?” refers to much more than just the price of the desired object.

I notice these changes in my grandchildren with a mixture of fascination, understanding and sadness. They grow up so fast.

The Cost of a New Life

The Cost of a New Life

I had a Yaya/Grandchild birthday shopping trip last night. And I watched and listened as my granddaughter asked about cost and muttered several times, “It’s not worth it” as she put an item back on the shelf. She ultimately made wise purchases, spending about half of what I gave her and saving the rest. This was the first time, at age ten, that she didn’t spend all of her money.

Thinking about the cost of many things this morning, including the price paid for growing up, I noticed the above meme on Instagram.

“Your new life will cost you your old life.”

Lindsay Joy

Those words resonated with me and aligned with my recent reflections.

What does a new life, a fresh way of living, a ‘do over’ cost? What do I exchange, pay or give, to obtain it?

The price, the sacrifice, the cost…is the old life.

The Cost of a New Life

The Cost of Becoming a Butterfly

I immediately thought of the transformation of caterpillar to butterfly. The two are so different in physical appearance that one could think they were different species. The chubby squishy caterpillar with all the legs and the voracious appetite becomes the graceful, beautiful butterfly that flutters into the air on delicate wings.

The cost of becoming a butterfly, is the caterpillar. One ceases to exists as the other emerges. The caterpillar offers its energy and the willingness to change. The butterfly releases the cocoon of the past and doesn’t look back.

My external form has not transformed as radically, however I’ve transformed several times during my life. Most recently, I desired to change my health, and embrace a new lifestyle. The cost of that change? My old way of eating, my former relationship with food, and my beliefs about what causes disorders and disease.

Like my grandchildren on their birthday shopping excursions, I weighed the cost of that new life against the perceived returns and made choices that supported my decisions.

Was the cost, and the price I paid, worth it?

Oh yes! Like the butterfly emerging from its cocoon, I slipped off old habits and left them behind. And like the butterfly, there was struggle involved to break through the layers and layers I had spun around myself. The struggle for the butterfly and for me makes the experience real, and creates the strength to fly, to live, as a new creature.

There are many times during a lifetime that require such sacrifices. Starting afresh, becoming new, making another life all require paying the price with the old life…the old way of thinking, believing, speaking and acting. If the cost wasn’t so high, if I didn’t pay such a drastic price, it would be too easy to slide back into the old way of being.

And if I return to old behaviors, and limiting lifestyles, I know…I did not pay with the old life. I gave less than all.

Change isn’t easy. Transformation is scary. The process feels like death, and in many ways it is.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

Proverb

It is not over. Beyond change….is new life.

The Cost of a New Life

Jolabokaflod: Christmas Book Flood

I happened across this long, unfamiliar word a few days ago…Jolabokaflod. Because it appeared to be connected to Christmas, I looked it up. What I discovered is a charming Christmas Eve tradition, that involves gifting a book, to incorporate into my holidays this year.

Jolabokaflod Christmas Book Flood

What is Jolabokaflod?

This Icelandic custom, which translates to Christmas Book Flood, was born from necessity. During World War II foreign imports were restricted in Iceland, limiting the ability to exchange Christmas gifts. However, paper was cheap. Iceland didn’t have a large enough population to support a year-round publishing industry, so book publishers flooded the market with new titles in the final weeks of the year, just in time for Christmas.

Iceland, which publishes more books per capita than anywhere else in the world, ranks as the third most literate country, globally. They sell most of their books between September and November, in preparation for this holiday.

While giving books as gifts is not unique to Iceland, the tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then spending the evening reading them is becoming a cultural phenomenon. Social media has helped to raise awareness about this cozy hygge-like celebration.

Jolabokaflod Christmas Book Flood

Celebrating Jolabokaflod

The concept of Jolabokaflod is simple. A book for each family member is wrapped and then they are exchanged on Christmas Eve. For the remainder of the evening, people read their books, traditionally while tucked into bed, and enjoying chocolate.

I love this idea!

When my children were young, Christmas Eve was not cozy or relaxing. I busied myself prepping the next day’s big meal and then stayed up all night wrapping gifts, after the kids were asleep. There are sweet memories of thinking about each person in my family as I wrapped his or her gifts. And some funny memories of all night movie marathons, popping in VHS tapes as I struggled to stay awake while wrapping presents.

But cozied up and calm? No. I typically felt stressed, frantic, and behind schedule. I’m excited to try out a new tradition, and to spend time curled up in bed, reading a new book, nibbling on a piece of healthy dark chocolate.

Jolabokaflod Christmas Book Flood

Ideas for Christmas Book Flood

Here are a few ideas for bringing this new tradition into the holiday season:

• This isn’t necessarily a time for expensive books. If your gift list is long, set a limit of $10 or less per book, and pick up paperbacks.

• Visit used book stores, shop online or take advantage of Black Friday sales at Barnes & Noble, Books A Million or indie book shops.

• Be mindful of those who don’t enjoy reading. I have at least one grandchild who isn’t a book fan. Get creative. Look for books around a favorite hobby or topic or a new interest. Shop for a graphic novel or comic book instead of a chapter book, for kids and teens.

• For family gatherings on Christmas Eve, have everyone bring one wrapped book, with a few descriptive words written on the gift tag. For example, “shifting attitudes for greater happiness”, “classic children’s story” or “historical novel set in 16th century France”. Place the packages on a table and allow each person to take turns selecting a book or trading a book with someone else.

• Don’t forget to pick out a book for yourself, and wrap it!

• Include a few pieces of chocolate with each book, using dark chocolate for the health conscious. Alternatively, a packet of hot chocolate mix could be added as well.

Most importantly, withdraw from busyness and to-do lists, with a new book. Burrow beneath a snuggly comforter or a fuzzy blanket and simply read. What a beautiful way to quiet the heart and mind, and prepare for a special, less stressful, Christmas Day.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.

I can’t wait!

Jolabokaflod Christmas Book Flood

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Working in my studio this afternoon, I paused to swivel my chair toward the windows. Golden October sunlight streamed into the room. Depending on one’s perspective, I was either distracted by the golden light…or invited outside by it. I chose to see it as a beautiful invitation. With October drawing to a close, and afternoons like this one becoming less common, it felt like an opportune time to move through the garden and harvest what I could.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

A Harvest of Sweet Produce

I didn’t change into gardening clothes, so sure was I that a stroll through the garden would satisfy my longing to be outside. Wearing a nice paisley shirt, vest, jeans and boots didn’t deter me though. Soon I was elbow deep in the raised veggie bed, digging up sweet potatoes.

What a great harvest this year! Sweet potatoes piled up in my red tub. I can’t wait to prepare and eat these sweet veggies in the coming days. I’ve already earmarked recipes such as sweet potatoes with braised red cabbage, chili roasted sweet potato fries and cardamom and coconut milk mashed sweet potatoes.

It is incredibly satisfying to me to tuck these little plants into the dirt in the spring, and harvest food during the summer and fall. I plucked a green pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. One tiny pepper remained on the last pepper plant, however my volunteer tomatoes vines are heavy still with green tomatoes.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Herbs Abound

Most of my herbs are still flourishing. In fact, they are lush with new growth. Sage, lavender, basil, lemon grass, lemon balm, bee balm, chamomile, mint, dill, thyme and rosemary are available for teas and recipes.

The fragrant plants released their scents as I stopped to touch them and pull a few weeds. I feel such peace in my Backyard Paradise, such love. Lemon balm won me over this afternoon. I snipped sprigs of the bright green herb for tea time.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Bringing the Vintage Flowerpot Indoors

Finally, I examined the vintage flowerpot, and made a decision. This container is almost as old as I am. (Read its story.) It has rested for many years in various spots around my front deck and garden. Instinctively, it feels like it’s time to move this treasured keepsake indoors. I fear a hard freeze, after a rain, could damage the flowerpot and that would make me sad.

Resting on my potting table, the ceramic container received a good scrubbing on its exterior and a new plant to cradle. After removing the faded moss roses, I transplanted a Purple Heart plant into the pot. This seemed fitting, as the container came to me from my mom years ago, and the young plant did as well, last spring.

I discovered that the snake plant I had intended to grow in the container is poisonous to cats. Purple Heart is a safer alternative and thrives well indoors. The freshly cleansed and potted container has a new home next to my little entryway table, where it can continue to bring me joy.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Harvest Smile

William Cullen Bryant wrote, “Autumn, the year’s last, loviest smile.”

Autumn offers the loviest smile, indeed. The very air shimmers with magical golden light that seems to ignite a kindred glow within my heart. I love this season of the year, this sweet time of harvest and brilliant colors and the soft sighs of nature as it prepares to sleep.

I’m grateful I turned my chair to appreciate the sunlight. And I’m ever so grateful that I accepted the invitation to venture outdoors.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Movie Review: A Star is Born

When I heard about this remake, the 4th movie titled A Star is Born, I was intrigued. The last version, starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, released in 1976. I was ready for a fresh take on the musically rich film.

Daughter Elissa, who had not seen any of the previous versions, joined me for a Saturday night showing.

Movie Review A Star is Born

A Star is Born Cast

The musical drama stars Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot and Rafi Gavron. Bradley Cooper also co-wrote the screenplay, based on the earlier versions of the film, and made his directorial debut. A Star is Born carries an R rating, for language and adult themes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 16 minutes.

Many of the songs featured in the movie were written by Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper or both, and performed by them also, wonderfully well.

The Story

Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a seasoned musician, with some hardcore vices, traveling from concert to concert. His life revolves around singing and writing music, alcohol and drugs. Late one night he walks into a bar, in search of a drink, and catches a remarkable performance that enchants him.

Ally (Lady Gaga) is an aspiring artist who writes her own songs but does not sing them. She has almost given up on a career in the music industry. Too many times she’s been told she has a beautiful voice…but not the conventional looks needed to succeed as a musician.

Movie Review A Star is Born

Jack appreciates Ally’s unconventional beauty and her musical abilities. She has a fresh perspective on life and translates what she sees into soulful lyrics.

A relationship immediately blossoms between Jack and Ally. She accompanies him as he completes his tour. And he pulls her, literally, into the spotlight, encouraging her to use her voice to tell her stories. Jack’s older half brother Bobby (Elliot), an accomplished musician himself, travels with the entourage, acting as both manager and father figure.

After she’s recruited by high level talent manager Rez (Gavron), Ally’s star rises and opportunities abound. However Jack descends. He teeters on the edge of a dark abyss where alcohol and drugs wait. Their love is real, the musical talents of both are very real. Life lived publicly is hard.

Movie Review A Star is Born

My Thoughts on A Star is Born

This is a beautiful remake. I thought I remembered the story from the 1976 film. However, apparently I have very selective memories about it. Although the names change in each version, and the different times are reflected in each film, the basic story is similar. For me though it was like watching for the first time.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Copper are amazing together. They have strong chemistry that makes their onscreen relationship all the more believable and their struggles heartbreaking.

I love the musical soundtrack accompanying the story. Lady Gaga not only unleashes her voice, she shines as an actress. And Bradley Cooper possesses a wonderful voice as well. As the man behind the camera and in front of it, he skillfully builds an emotionally packed film that had the theater audience laughing and crying, in turns.

Movie Review A Star is Born

Telling the Story

My favorite quote from this movie occurs when Bobby shares with Ally Jack’s thoughts about creating music.

“Jack talked about how music is essentially twelve notes between any octave. Twelve notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes. That’s it. He loved how you see them.”

The same is true with telling stories. We have 26 letters, in the English language, to combine into words and sentences. How we combine those letters reflects how we view the world, and ourselves. Bradley Cooper offers A Star is Born as his story to the world, and it is a worthy one to receive.

View it. I intend to watch A Star is Born again, most likely after it releases digitally so I can enjoy the film at home. In the meantime, I am listening to the soundtrack. “Shallow” is on replay, on my phone and in my head. Have a listen too.