Thursday, August 17, 2006

end of summer blues

Do you ever feel nostalgic for something that you never really had? I watched "Lackawanna Blues" tonight (which I recommend, by the way), and I felt this strange longing for the times of the 40s and 50s. Not simply clothing, but lifestyles...jars of lemonade and sitting on the front porch and leaving the door unlocked all the time and dancing--really dancing!--and the blues, of course. I think part of why I'm so in love with secondhand, vintage clothing and housewares is that I have this silly nostalgia for times that seem so much better (in some ways) in my eyes.

For a long time I had been looking at the jewelry counters in department stores, searching for a pretty little locket. I rarely found any, and if I did they were meant to be extremely childish (and thus had little chains) or they were exceptionally gaudy or cheap or super expensive or just not quite what I imagine when I think of a locket. About a month ago I got lucky, though, and I bought a beautiful old locket at a thrift store. Once I brought it home I peeked in it and saw a picture of a man that seems to be some lovely old woman's husband. He's wearing thick rimmed glasses and a veteran's hat in this little black and white photograph, and he's not exactly a young fellow. In my mind I imagine this woman has been married to this man for years and has changed the picture in her locket as they've grown older together. Something about someone keeping someone with them always, in a locket near their heart, is just so wonderful and appealing to me. Of course, my made up story is just that--completely made up. Who knows who really wore that locket, what their life was like, how they really felt? Even so, maybe I'll take out that picture and tuck it away somewhere safe, and maybe put in a photo of my home, or something I feel is sacred enough to keep near always. I can pretend that is how the world is now, still. Maybe I'll even style my hair into a bouffant and wear an apron all day long. Because, though I know it didn't really belong to me, the feel of such a time feels special and real and true.

Monday, August 14, 2006

a fit

I'm currently throwing an internal temper tantrum. I tend to do this at the end of most seasons, but Summer's is always particularly bad (lucky Summer, I know). I think that I get too anxious about all of the should-ofs and wish-I-would-haves. Instead of saying "Oh well, there's always next year," I try to fit in too much, or I plan to fit it all in last minute, and then I am inevitably left disappointed or upset with myself. I suppose there isn't a lot that I'll be devastated not to have finished this summer, but I tend to wonder, What if I never tackle that project? Will I continually live in a cycle of regret? What if I never really learn to play that guitar? Will I ever finish that purple scarf? How about non-rectangle knitting projects? This summer I've only been swimming twice, and never made it out to a lake! Only six paintings finished...that's barely one a week, and I actually only busted out the paints two times. I was going to plan ahead for Fall's visit, and all of the activities I have planned for then. "Now I'll be even more stressed during the fall, since I haven't gotten an early start!" Regrets, regrets. I realize this is all inconsequential and silly. And it's really horrible, this end-of-summer anxiety that prompts my hissy fits, because it prevents me from enjoying and appreciating what I do have left. Instead I urge the world to slow down, to give me a few more days, a month, I'll even take hours! to finish what I planned for the summer. And that's not a very relaxing way to finish the "lazy" days. Just a little more time, that's all I need! (Oh, what a familiar phrase, year round!)

Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to Fall (I can't quite remember when it's capitalized, though, so I'm pretending I'm anthropomorphizing). Thanks to Alicia's post, I was looking at the beautiful online Boden catalog. Everything reminded me of that wonderful back-to-school excitement, full of rich Fall colors. I particularly remember my favorite fourth grade outfit, a teal jumper with bright purple tights. I also had the same jumper in purple with teal tights, and I thought both sets were the greatest ever. I think I may still be (not so) subconsciously influenced by those elementary school days, with black Mary Janes and new yellow Eagle pencils (my favorite #2s because they had nice erasers, plus soft white wood that felt good and not too scratchy on my fingers).
I'll like to layer up in skirts and tights, scarves and jackets. But my summer gloom is keeping me from being too eager yet. I think this slump will pass with time, but a nice cool autumn day would sure help ease me out of my fit. I miss my sweaters! Oh, I can be so childish. Usually I use 'childish' in a very good way, but not during any piece of time that involves the words "fit," "temper," "hissy," or "tantrum."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I have been meaning to do a post devoted to summer thrift and secondhand items for quite a while, but that lovely summer procrastination set in and prolonged my plan. First I felt I should clean everything up first. Well, make it all presentable enough for a little mini photoshoot at the very least, and I planned to eventually make sure it was all clean clean clean to use and have around, since I am strangely particular about such things. Then I thought 'Well, if I'm going to clean any of it, I might as well go ahead and make it all clean clean, if not clean clean clean, since I'll be cleaning it up at all.' So I went ahead and gave everything a wash or elbow grease or whatever was called for, and then I needed good light to shoot in, which is a daytime thing, and it always seemed to be night whenever the urge to photograph struck me. Today, however, was a success! And so I present the first of what will probably be many secondhand filled posts.

The fabric pictured above is from an estate sale I went to on Friday with my wonderful pals Natalie and Rachel. We went to three estate sales and these are from the last we went to, a real treat, which was exactly what an estate sale should be in my mind: an adorable house from the sixties filled to the brim with old lady style treasures. Which, unfortunately, also means old lady grandma house smell, but the washing machine and a nice dryer sheet took care of that.

These adorable peeptoe heels are also from estate sales, from our first stop. At $1 per pair I didn't even care that they are far too small for me (a 7 1/2 and an 8) because I can surely find someone who will want them, I imagine. And I just can't stand that something lovely might never find a home, which is generally my problem when buying anything, particularly secondhand, because it means I probably don't actually need whatever I'm purchasing, but rather just find it too charming or pretty or ridiculous for it to go unowned.

This green tablecloth is something that I picked up in Grinnell, at Second Mile, while visiting wonderful friends this summer. Second Mile was just packed with things I found I just wanted so much that everything turned into something I had to have. I also quite like this photo I took of the tablecloth. While estate saling with those girls I was constantly (and probably annoyingly) repeating that I NEED a house, or at least an apartment, somewhere permanent, to fill with all of these fantastic finds. I passed up a mod red armless armchair that I probably could have had for a quarter (they were pushing everything as make-an-offer we-want-it-out-of-our-hair) and so many great linens and china and much more and oh! it was all glorious.

I feel as though this is going to get less and less tasteful and more outrageous as I go on. Accordingly, I present these crazy gold plastic sunglasses with yellow (maybe they were shooting for gold here, too?) lenses. I have a certain person in mind to give these to, as my own everyday glasses make nutso sunglasses a mere dream for me. Another 2nd Mile find.

This is actually something I will either pass on to someone who will make use of it, or hold on to for my own travels (hopefully in about a year, yikes yikes). A vintage travel journal (look inside!). 2nd Mile for this one, as well.

Next up, a beautiful album I had hoped to use for the polaroids we took of all of our visitors last year, but it's made for the slightly smaller photos of the sixties, not for polaroids. I have another album that was first planned for that particular project, before this blue number seemed more ideal, so all is not lost. I'm thinking maybe I'll do an art project in this instead (with art pages displayed in the photo slots, I'm not going to cut the album up or ruin it in any way, don't worry!).

This oval frame is a cheap looks-like-wood plastic, and it was cheap, at Second Mile. I have a bunch of random frames on a wall in my room, this one should fit in nicely. I'm not sure I'll actually have pictures or artwork that will fit in this...perhaps I'll just hang it as is. If I put quite a few various frames on the wall (all of them now are rectangular with art in them) I think it will look just as at-home as any other frame.

Sorry, you can see my hand and camera reflected in the glass. Originally you could see me taking the picture, all disheveled and messy, which wasn't quite what I was going for. Though it did make me feel like a real photographer, down and dirty in hopes of the perfect shot. Then I realized I was in my entryway in the suburbs of Minneapolis, not in wild forests of far away lands, so I decided to photograph things while laying on my stomach, to make it at least a little dramatic. Those photos were horrible. I eventually returned to regular ol' me.

I'm questioning this photo collage in hindsight. It doesn't really fit in with any of what I've got, but it might look kind of crazily cute against my light purple walls. We'll see. The inset photos are what I really bought it for, fun fun!

Please pardon the glare, I took this in the afternoon and perhaps there was, dare I say it, too much light?

I also purchased these two vintage scrapbooks at 2nd Mile. Currently the blogger image uploader refuses to work nicely for me, but tomorrow I'll try to fix it. I think they scrapbooks are the greatest looking, but I'm worried about actually using them for anything. I'm pretty positive the paper in them would be horrible because of acidity and whatnot, but I think that maybe I can just buy new filler paper and find a different project for the old pages. What I'll scrapbook about, I have no idea. (Sidenote: I have decided to never ever again photograph items with such bold fabrics as the background. Some of the bloggers I admire do so flawlessly, but my photos just look dark and gross.)

Oh, this estate sale find of mine (the same sale as the shoes) has me really excited. A vintage Kodak camera, it uses 616 film. I don't have any of said film, but I think I might be able to find some (though perhaps it'll be expired, but what an adventure that could be). My only problem might be processing, unless I can find a darkroom savvy soul who would like to undertake this project with me. Nonetheless, this camera is fantastic.

I still have a few fabrics, picture frames, and other already photographed finds to share, but I think this is awfully long as it is. For now I'll finish with a phonograph (I've been trying to fit in as many 'f' sounds as possible here in this last paragraph). This is the second record player I've bought this summer, and I think it will have to belong to someone else. I really like the one I have, and this new one needs speakers, which means more money, which is all rather unnecessary since I already own a record player. You can take a better look at this newest-to-me phonograph here. Tomorrow I think I'll finish with the other already photo-ed pieces, and perhaps some costume jewelry will make an appearance, as well! I've been working on this post for over an hour and a half (not including shoot time--can you totally tell I'm playing pretend while doing that?) and it still looks rather junky, imho (my so-called life!), so I'll additionally try to work on a nicer formatting system of some sort.