Tag Archives: change

Snow Person


The crystalline and powdery snow that fell last night was beautiful. But it wasn’t very good for snowman building. I tried to ball some up but it wouldn’t stick together to make any kind of clump. Just fell apart.

We don’t get much snow here, and it’s been a long time since I have built any kind of real snowman. This snowfall required one. Somehow.

If I couldn’t build a person out of snow I would have to build a person in the snow. I had just the thing. In my office I have a family made of several wooden sculptures. Mom, dad, kid and dog. I could use one of those for the basic figure.

Add a head, and a scarf, some arms and its ready to go. Easier said than done perhaps.

In the coat closet there is a box of scarves and hats and gloves. The scarf with red and white stripes, which I’ve had for nearly fifty years, was obvious for a snow person. And a few sticks from the yard would be good for arms.

Not too thick, not too thin. Break them off to the perfect length and lash them together so they can be attached to the basic figure. When I put the sticks down to take off my glove so I could tie the sticks on to the body, the dog ran up, grabbed the sticks and ran off with them. She chewed the end off of one! Not a total disaster. Big head, shorter arms.

Speaking of the head, that was not hard at all. Sounds a little odd I guess, but I have a head, other than my own, in my office. It’s an old mannequin for hat displays. And that’s what I use it for. It wears a top hat. I can just stick it up on top of the basic figure and viola! Almost human!

I put the whole thing in the backyard, overlooking the pond. Since it wasn’t really attached, the head kept falling over. So I had to prop it up with the scarf.  I wasn’t trying to build Frankenstein’s monster. It’s name is Hungry, because it’s a little on the thin side.

It soon became evident that the dog would eat the whole thing if I left it outside, so I just took a couple of pics and brought it back inside.

The snow won’t last very long. And the snow person was short-lived as well. That’s how Mother Nature rolls I guess. Everything changes.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?



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New Traditions

Traditions formed around our celebration of the holidays take on a significance that defines the way we celebrate. And come to represent the holidays in and of themselves. Turkey at Thanksgiving. Lights at Christmas. Without them, there is no holiday. And any change to this routine can be devastating. In our minds.

Lights are how I define Christmas. Religious aspects aside, the lights mean more to me than anything at Christmas. Candles in the church. Lights on the tree. And lights on the house.

This year was different for me. I had moved into a new house, and had to redefine how I would use lights to decorate for Christmas. The new house has a different shape than the old. And different landscaping. All of which impacts the places I can put lights, and how they look.

It’s a work in progress, and next year I will add more. But for this year I settled for one hundred feet of colored lights, the big ones from the old days, strung out along the gutter of my ranch house. And three giant light up snowflakes in the picture window of the living room. Framing that window is a candy cane rope light. And a giant blow up Santa Clause waving from the garage. Lit inside with a single bulb. Without a light, the wreath hangs from the door knocker on the front door.

Around the back of the house there are three lit up blow mold toy soldiers, a blow mold Santa, and a Moravian star. Complete with a flaming tail made of icicle lights.

Inside there are two trees. One lit in white with formal decorations, and a second, larger one, brightly colored with hundreds of little lights. That tree is covered with decorations I’ve collected over the past thirty years, all with a rich meaning and significance. And, there is a lit up blow mold Santa. Not bad for the first year here.

Out of curiosity I drove by the old house to see what the new owners had done. Would it be as spectacular as I had done it in the past? More formal? Bigger and better? I had no idea. And when I drove by the house in the darkness of the late evening, I was amazed. Not a single light to be seen. No wreath. Nothing.

Inside I could see a Christmas tree. Located in the living area where I had always placed mine. But gone were the green and red rope lights wrapped around the columns of the front porch. Gone the wreath on the front  door. No Moravian star hanging on the porch, waiting to greet visitors. No strings of colored lights adorning the shrubbery lining the front of the house. And no lights strung out along the roof line. Not white. Not colored.

It was very disappointing. And as I thought about how I had decorated that house for the past nineteen years, since its very first Christmas as a newly built home, I thought for a moment that the house was calling to me. I miss you! Come back and decorated me!

Does the house take on the personality of its residents? Does it remember? Or mourn? I don’t know. It looked happier lit up. I do know that.

New traditions for me at my new house. And new traditions for my old house with new owners. Change. I go with the flow.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Procession

The patrol car was sitting on the side of the road at a very busy intersection. Odd place for a speed trap I thought. As I rolled further down the road, carefully watching my speed, I saw a second police vehicle approaching. Blue lights flashing. Further back there was a third car, also with lights flashing.

In between the second and third police vehicles was a long line of other cars. All burning their headlights. A funeral procession I realized. The first car had been there to stop traffic at the intersection to allow this solemn group unobstructed passage to their destination.

I pulled off the road and stopped. Waiting for the line to pass by. Other cars did the same. But not everyone. It’s an old tradition, common in the South, to pull off the road and wait while the dearly departed and their grieving family passes by. It’s a show of respect.

I’m a Yankee transplant. Although I have lived in the south for thirty years, I’ll never be a southerner because I wasn’t born here. But there are some Southern traditions I understand. This is one.

Not all of my fellow transplants know this tradition. And I dare say not even all southerners abide by it. So I find myself pulled over on the side of the road while others whiz by unaware of the ritual going on all around them.

Over time there have been modifications made to the observance of this tradition. You don’t pull over if you are on the interstate and the caravan is coming in the opposite direction. Nor do you have to pull over if you are travelling on a divided four lane road.

I don’t have a real job, so I’m never late for work. And I’m not headed to pick up my kids, or the groceries, or going anywhere so important that I can’t take the time to pull over and stop. Only takes a minute.

Maybe someday someone will pull over for my procession. I’d smile on them. If not, well, the times they are a changing.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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New Truck

It’s a time of transformation. I wrecked my truck and sent it to the repair shop, after having stripped it of everything that made it MY truck. Nothing personal or personalizing left. When it came back to me, it was barely recognizable.

The dents, the blown airbag and the broken bits and pieces had been removed and repaired and replaced. But the shop had given the whole thing a bath. And shined it all up. It looked almost brand new!

So, with a “brand new” truck, what could I do to personalize it? The front license plate had been destroyed. My initials in nautical flags had resided there since the day I got the truck. And on two other vehicles before. What now?

The dashboard had my special GPS system. When I was lost, or unsure of my direction, I would ask a small figurine of a Chinese Wiseman. He would direct me to look into the kaleidoscope for direction. That done, a turtle figure would carry me on it’s back in the right direction. And all the while a glass bluebird of happiness would tag along to make sure everyone was feeling good. I have never not gotten to where I was going.

And hula girl figures adorned the dash and the rear window ledge. They were just for company.

The tailgate had a green peace sign magnet. Now cracked.

And hanging from the rear view mirror was a clear crystal. Powerful. And a dream catcher hung from the hanging hook in the rear of the cab.

It would have been easy to just put it all back like it was. But for some reason I didn’t. Was it a lack of time to do so? Or was there a deeper significance to the hesitation?

As in my life, change happens. And sometimes we have to sit tight and see what is going to happen, and where the new path takes us. That’s where I am in life. Newly retired. Looking into the future that is shorter than the past. What do I still want to accomplish? How do I want to enjoy myself?

I have slowly put a few things back into the truck. Really important things that define me. And identify the truck as mine. The GPS and dream catcher have returned. A new peace symbol is on the bumper. And I’m working on a new front license plate. New design. The rest may just be fluff that’s enjoyed it’s run, but can move on.

New things are coming. Only time will tell what’s next. In wide eyed wonder I look for the blue skies of the coming days.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Sign

Signs make a difference. They identify things to make our lives easier. Enter and exit. Men and women. Price tags. They tell you where to go, how much things cost, what you are looking at and in general allow us to understand without thinking so much.

The other day I was at the art museum and while I’m pretty good at figuring out what I’m looking at, reading the sign put up by the show’s curator sometimes brings me new insights. Who might have thought that a blank white canvas titled “Empty” was really a deep and penetrating examination of the loss of interaction and communication between individuals dwelling in our urban areas? That is a better, or at least more intellectually satisfying explanation of the blank canvass than would be scam artist trying to pull a fast one and expose the snobbery of art aficionados looking for a deeper meaning in a blank canvas slapped up on the wall as a joke. Jokes on you sucker!

Of course the same sign can have very different meanings for different people. That octagonal red sign so often seen on our streets means to some people “stop!” To others it means slow down a little, look both ways and speed on. And to still others it means nothing. Yesterday a sign was put in my front yard. It says “for sale.”

Twenty years ago I bought this piece of property and built a nice house. I’ve lived here with my family ever since. My two daughters grew up here and I’ve experienced all the joys and sadness of raising children here. I’ve painted the inside of the house and decorated it to reflect my style, taste and personality. I’ve planted trees and shrubs and flowers to make the outdoors satisfying to me. I’ve done many things here, all tucked away in my mind, some further back than others.

We have been talking of selling the house for sometime now. Ok, lets get it ready. And I’ve cleaned and scrubbed and painted and planted and beautified to make it appeal to another family. I’ve told myself that it’s a building with four walls and a roof. No emotional attachment. After all, I lived in my last house for seven years and never thought of it as mine. Selling the house will be like selling an empty picture frame at a yard sale.

My wife on the other hand talks about how emotional it all is. Our children grew up here. It’s been twenty years of our lives. I remind her that her family moved three times before she graduated from high school. And that my parents moved from the house where I lived for thirteen years the day after I graduated from high school. It’s just a house. Home is where the heart is. All that. The kids seem ok with the whole thing, but they do say that this is where they grew up.

And then the sign went up in the yard and I signed the deal with the real estate agent. I could feel my heart sink. This is my home. I’ve been here for twenty years. So many memories. Even the ones in deep storage came flooding back.

And now I look at selling the house as a matter of personal pride. This is the greatest house ever built and if you, Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, can’t see that then there is something dreadfully wrong with you. I’m waiting to be insulted with low ball offers. And I’m waiting for the perfect buyer to come along.

To a buyer, the sign says “this house is for sale, check it out.” For me, the sign says that a huge part of my life is about to change.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Change is good. Change is hard. Both old clichés. Both true. Sometimes you plan it, and sometimes you don’t.

You might be thinking that you need a new car. You have your heart set on something. Maybe it’s new, maybe it’s used. Or it could be some classic you’ve always dreamed of. Or you might have walked onto the car lot and found something that suited your needs. Utilitarian. Affordable. Just something different. Whatever your approach to car buying, you decided you wanted a change, you found what you wanted to change to, and you make the change. Simple.

The thing about change is you don’t always have control over it. It just comes along and you have to adapt. You might be just rolling along, thinking everything is going great just as it is. No cares. No worries. Then change jumps up in front of you. Could be any number of things. Someone offers you a job. You lose your job. You meet the girl of your dreams. You lose the girl of your dreams. Whatever. Here is a change for you! Go with it…

You might have made very elaborate plans for a change, precise down to the smallest detail, but then something comes along you hadn’t anticipated, or couldn’t control, and poof, your plans are shot to hell. You are renovating an old, downtrodden house. Classic bones. With your hard work and dedication it’s going to be magnificently returned to its former glory. And modernized too. OOOPS! The whole thing is full of termites. Has to be torn down. Change in plans. Go with it…

Some of my readers know that I run a little antique business in two locations. As the new year dawned I decided to shake up both stores and redo their contents. Get rid of the things that were sitting there collecting dust. Move in new items to see how they did. Move things from one location to another. Two stores. Two markets. Different customer tastes.

I had it all planned. Take this from store A and move it to store B. Move these things around in store B, put in the things from store A, take out a few things and move them to store A. Simple. Couple of hours worth of work.

Delayed by a change, I got a late start.  I decided to take some things from my storage area with me to see where they might fit. I had to clean them. Had to price them. And tag them. And pack them for the trip. Took two hours for that. Going to store A was a breeze. Moved things around, pulled some out, made it look really good. Then, after talking to some people for a little while I was off to store B.

Here I planned to move a china cabinet from one side of the building to the other. But I couldn’t find the thing! It’s huge. Where the heck is it? Did it sell? After a few inquiries I located it, and found that it had been filled with silver and crystal. Looked really good like that so I decided to leave it. Now, what to do with the big hole I had created for it by moving other items? Fill it with something. Not like I don’t have enough stuff to fill a couple of mansions.

By the time I had all of that done it was so late that I didn’t have time to go back to store A. Another day. I had accomplished my overall mission, to change the stores around, but I hadn’t done it according to plan. I was tired and I was frustrated, but I thought to myself that it all looked pretty damn good. I was satisfied. For now. There would be another day for more changes.

And in my life there will be changes. Some I can anticipate, others I can’t. I know my daughter will graduate from college this spring. I don’t know if she will then head to grad school or the work force. Who knows what else might change. My whole world could be turned upside down. Good or bad.

Change is good. Change is hard. Sure. Planned or unplanned. Good or bad. Understood or not. It happens. Go with it. Lots of clichés. But this one is easy to understand: the only thing that is constant is change.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Just Passing Through!

Sometimes when I go to an estate sale I will notice that the resident of the abode has kept certain things in the same place for a very long time. This may be evident when I pick something up to look at it and notice a clean spot in the dust where the object sat. That’s kind of like my antique booth when nothing is selling! LOL!

One very vivid example of this hit me one day when I went to the second day of an estate sale in a home built in the 1950s and occupied by the same family since then. When I went into the living room the first thing I noticed was the sculpted wall-to-wall orange carpet. Upon closer examination, the striking thing about the color was that there were rectangular and square patterns on the carpet that were of a sharply brighter orange color. These shapes were left by the furniture that once occupied the space. And had protected the carpets original color from being washed out by the sun. The shapes were sharp and crisp and I knew that the very same piece of furniture had rested in that spot, without moving, without replacement, since the 1950s when the home was new. The furniture had all been sold, but I could picture it in my mind.

To me, more so since I’ve started this antique business, things, that is objects, have become much more transient. I used to buy or otherwise acquire things for myself. To own. To point to as mine. Even if they were locked away out of sight.

Now I see things, and people, as transiting through the world on their own journeys, stopping by wherever I am to linger for a while. Sometimes a brief moment. Other times, for a longer time.

Very rarely do I buy something just for me. That doesn’t include things like food or essentials like underwear and toothpaste. I’m talking about objects for display, or utility, that I enjoy for their own sake. Things like glass objects, paintings and sculpture, jewelry, furniture of a certain style. Stuff I like because of how it looks, or works, or what images it calls up in my mind. Mid century modern evokes images of childhood. Ship models send me to visions of life on the high seas as Horatio Hornblower. Other things have other impact, but you get the idea.

I gather these things and hold them for a while to enjoy. And then I pass them along to someone else. Some things I buy just to resell, and enjoy while it’s in my store. Some things I will keep around for a while as an example of something. Until a better example comes along. And some things I will always keep, because of their beauty, but mainly because of their sentimentality. My kids will probably have one hell of an estate sale when I go!

And I find the same thing happening with people. They come and go. Sometimes staying for a long time as a good friend. Or bursting on to the scene, making a big splash, and vanishing. Nonetheless leaving quite an impression. The leaving used to bother me. But now I see it as each encounter has its reason and value. And when its mission is accomplished, it ends. Perhaps to be reborn later.

People aren’t like things, but they all come and go. And leave their mark.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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