Casey's and Sloane's Blog
Him, as he walks into my room: “Mom, it’s time to play your favorite game.”
Me: “Which one is that?”
Him: “Help Dakota find socks that match all of this,” as he points to his outfit for the dance.
Of course I played.
I posted that snapshot of life with my son to my Facebook page a few days ago. It accompanied this picture:
That is my son. With his date to the WPA (Women Pay All) Dance. No matter the age, when they are kids they look grown up the minute they put on a sport coat. Or, in the case of her parents, I’m guessing it’s the high heels.
Lately he’s been telling me, “Woman, I am a grown ass man, and I don’t need you tellin’ me what to do!” He even kicks in with a little bit of a drawl delivering it.
This kid lays me out with his solid, quiet humor. So much bluffing about being grown up and blustering about being able to do it himself. I’ve been hearing this since he was three – what he doesn’t need from me and what he can do himself.
Until it comes down to socks.
I do not envy my son the following things: youth, thick hair, brainpower, speed, agility. Or even his dry, quiet humor.
I do, however, envy him his cousins. He has more than a full house of amazing people to live his life with. Two in Chicago, one three blocks from home, and three more in our town. My cousins were not the best. Maybe this was because we were too close in age, we lived too far apart, one of them stole from me, or we spent so little time together that we had little in common.
This past weekend, we traveled to Chicago to begin the process of looking at colleges and universities for our son, a junior in high school. The highlight of the weekend was not the campus tour, the great road trip, or the fantastic food. It was watching my son get his hair done by his cousin, Emily – an untrained but enthusiastic twelve year old.
The beginning. The basket is chock-full of doodads,
She of the “super-thick Asian hair” was stunned by how thick his was. Within minutes of greeting him for the first time this weekend, she said, “Tonight I want to do your hair.” Dakota, my son, was pretty much not in full favor, but he played along for the rest of the day, during the walk to dinner – where he was the vehicle – and all through the dinner at a local restaurant while my niece regaled him with the instruments, gels, cremes, clips and equipment she planned to put to use. He playfully hemmed and hawed and told her to pretty much forget it.
She didn’t. When we all got home from dinner, she raced to retrieve all her implements and, clamoring back down the stairs, proceeded to get Dakota to sit up straight in the chair so she could begin.
He gave up and gave in. Before it was all done, they were both laughing and shooting selfies.
I have spent a few days looking at these pictures and digesting the smiles and smirks. These guys love each other and have a trust between them I will never know.
I do not envy him much. Not his cool demeanor, his calm personality, or even his temperament. Those I pretty much adore.
Cousin Totem Pole: She rode on his shoulders to dinner. I figure she was planning her attack on his hair from that vantage point.
My Dad really doesn’t like the sound of Garrison Keillor’s voice. I guess it’s pretty much like me being scared out of my wits by Christopher Walken’s voice. Heck, the whole Christopher Walken, really. But I was headed somewhere….
This weekend I finished my National Geographic magazine. There is really only one way to read the magazine, and it goes like this:
1. Rip open the plastic bag it arrives in and think briefly about how much you miss the brown paper sleeve it used to come in.
2. Immediately find your son and give him the Geo Quiz on the mailing label. Watch his face as he nails answer after answer correctly.
3. Go through the magazine. Read the editor’s letter. Read the short articles in the front. Read all the captions on all the photos and maps.
4. Fold down the corners on the articles you plan to go back and read after perusing the entire magazine.
5. Go back and choose which articles to read in which order. It does not have to be in the order they appear in the magazine. Choose carefully the story you want to end with.
6. When finished, copy pages you want to keep for files and ideas.
7. Hand over the magazine to your son. Remind him of the really good articles that he should consider truly reading, knowing full well he only really participates or accomplishes steps two and three.
Lake Calhoun and “the cities” in the distance. Credit: National Geographic magazine.
The last article I read today was a piece Garrison Keillor wrote about his personal geography of his beloved Minneapolis-St. Paul. I enjoy listening to him on A Prairie Home Companion – a treat I love sharing with my son and husband – and I’ve read many of his books. His style of memoir is very enjoyable. And, during every show and every book, I think of one thing I want to tell my Dad about.
Today was no different. The last five sentences of his article were absolute magic. I immediately wanted to call my Dad and read them to him.
I believe my Dad likes hearing these stories and things from me. Maybe because he hears a voice he loves, not Mr. Keillor’s.
p.s. I have been receiving National Geographic magazine since my grandmother gave me my first subscription when I had my first apartment. It was a Christmas present I received until the year she died. Purchasing it for myself has been a yearly reminder of how much I was loved. Still am, really.
My friend went to Africa and I got these photos. Works for me. No jet lag.
I remember as a child going to friends’ houses – and one teacher’s house – to look at photos of trips taken to far away places. Sitting on the sofa, the carpet or a chair I was always enthralled with their stories, memories and images. These were usually very casual affairs planned at the spur of the moment. There were never too many images for me to take in. I remember going to the home of a friend of my great aunt Eunice to watch their slide show of a recent trip to Europe. The husband had served in World War II and although he did not want to show his wife the Europe he had seen, he had been keen to go back and see Europe with her. The photos were so vibrant and bold. I still love slides for their crispness,
I have enjoyed the immediacy of Facebook and the photo albums people post. When my friend posted these photos, it’s possible she was still standing in the Senegalese surf.
That said, I miss the slide shows and the impromptu photo get-togethers of my past. It is a goal of mine this year to make my Dad pull out my grandmother’s slide reels for a “memory making” night with his children and grandchildren. My sisters and I made our grandmother show them to us at least once a year when we visited. She stored these treasures in the cabinets hidden in the side tables in her living room. I knew at a young age that they must be important if they weren’t relegated to the attic or basement. I can’t wait for my Dad’s stories to mingle with the stories she told.
If you’re looking for me that night, I’ll be the little girl sitting on the itchy wool carpet soaking it all in. And I’ll bet my toe-headed blonde sister will be by my side with wide eyes and open ears.
p.s. My friend, Brenda, is allowing me to post these to Pinterest. You will find them there, and the only trouble for me will be which board to tack them to. I doubt I stop at just one.
There has not really been one part of growing older that has been bad for me. I am still waiting for the grey hair because I’ve dreamed of it for years. I firmly believe that my monthly facials will soften the deep skin lines, all of which I have earned with a life well lived.
What I have liked the most is building friendships with people older than me. People I first knew because they were parents of high school friends. Teachers I had throughout school who now school me on the really important things. These friendships bloom after time has passed, if you’re lucky.
One such woman recently regaled me with her knowledge of plants – she owned a landscaping company for years – when she caught me day dreaming at the potted cyclamen in the grocery store. After the long New Years hugs we exchanged, she asked if I was considering the plant.
Geranium in my kitchen, not a cyclamen at the store.
She is a reader of my blogs and knows that I am not particularly good with indoor plants. She has a faith in my green thumb that I do not harbor. I told her I really was mostly intrigued and in love with the color of the blooms. I think I might have mentioned that I would only kill it. “No you won’t. These plants can take a lot.”
I then took a moment to tell her about the orchid I recently received from my husband who was assured that “orchids are easy and you can’t really harm them” by the florist. Within two weeks, it was holding brown, crunchy blooms and now lives at my mother’s house.
My friend listened with her ears and then smiled with her eyes before saying, “Orchids are hard.”
Totally made my day, and she garnered another hug with that comment.
Sentimental me took her comment to mean a bit more. Later that day, I moved kitchen furniture around to allow the geraniums more southern light. They are the only plants that I bring inside…and only because of the color of their blooms. Well, that and their willingness to not give up on me and my green thumb. Sounds like a friend of mine.
p.s. I wrote previously about these amazing geraniums. Right here. I’ve also spent time thinking about plants and possible interventions. Here’s more.
This season has been challenging. We entered the holiday season with the least experienced staff in many, many years. After 17 years in business, we had become accustomed to having a handful of senior staff members in our ranks to help rock the season with us side-by-side. But this year the stars simply did not align. We found ourselves training an almost entirely new crew in the few months leading up to our biggest and most demanding season.
Yes, we had a couple of seasoned veterans, but these are team members that work very limited hours. So really the team was being built almost from scratch. At the start, we often resembled the movie Bad News Bears. Everyone had a heart of gold, but we were in serious need of finding our groove. And our leadership – us – well, we weren’t drunk like Walter Matthau was in the movie, but we were spread thin and overcommitted on too many projects.
It was a rough start.
There was frustration. There were tears from some. There were times we doubted we would make it through the season. But, at last, we have.
We are deeply thankful that the stars did finally align. These last two weeks have been joyful for us behind the counter, and we hope it has been joyful for you in the store. Our store is really about people – not product – and the new people we introduced into our ranks have proven themselves to be resilient, thoughtful, and hard-working.
The next time you visit our store, please congratulate our newest team members. We should have bought them cheesy T-shirts that read “I Survived My First Christmas at STUFF”. But they are too angelic for that….
This time of year, I drink a huge amount of water through a straw. I seem to consume more that way. This collection on my dressing room table this morning reminded me that life is long, fun and wonderful, but not particularly tidy. We work monstrous hours at work that are thrilling and full of joy. Water is what wards off the evil spirits, in my view.
And today it was evident that life has been full of water in re-usable cups, with a side of Lysol from the big can!
p.s. One of these cups may very well be from this past summer. Read more here.
It isn’t easy to get a Simmons sister to blush. We like to think we are prepared for every situation. We are comfortable sharing our opinions, our joy, our pain, and our emotions at work, at home, and in our blog.
But we are not comfortable sitting still and letting the spotlight be on us. With this realization and admission, we are bravely passing this along. Our close friends insisted we celebrate this recognition. We couldn’t have conceived a better Christmas gift. We are deeply thankful.
p.s. Click here to read the article.
The grand irony in our lives is that we own a store named…STUFF. We should have named it The Artist. From day one, we have focused on our artists first. We have always encouraged them to follow their creative paths. We have always told them to value themselves and their work. We have always offered them access to our experience in the art-selling business as it evolves (and boy howdy, has it evolved). And we have always treated them as real people – not machines, not factories, not nameless, faceless, grossly under-valued workers in some far off land.
Have we had some rough spots? You bet! We are all only human. At times our stress or their stress has clashed. Do we disagree sometimes? You bet! We are all wildly passionate people. But we all respect each other and work together to move forward. To support the arts in all its forms. And in the end we are just like you: we all have to pay our mortgages, feed and clothe our families, and participate in our communities.
Last week we sent a note to our artists and asked for photographs of them and their families. These images are what were sent to us. Each time we opened a new digital file, we would smile and sometimes giggle and our hearts would expand a little bit more. These photos reflect them so perfectly. Their personalities come shining through. The love they have for their families, their pet companions, and their creative lives is alive in each and every photograph.
It is with our deepest gratitude that we share this “holiday card” with you, our loyal customer and friend. You support these artists and their families every single time you shop here.
We hope to see you soon.
I think I’m ready to talk about this.
On the premise that we all turn into our parents and grandparents, I have decided that I might most be like my dad’s dad, who saved old, used, no-longer-lightable light bulbs in cardboard boxes in his workshop. Or I might be like my mom’s dad, who used the very last of the Chapstick by digging out the remaining wax magic with a Q-tip and then proceeding with the application process in private.
Yep. That’s who I am most like. Cal Price.
I have used the same body lotion for over 30 years. Vaseline Intensive Care in the jumbo container with the pump. I have very sensitive skin, and I can’t just jump willy-nilly from brand to brand, or I will end up at the dermatologist with the rash to end all rashes. Been there, done that.
I will admit to using specialty lotions on elbows, ankles and kneecaps – Soaplogies shea butter in the lavender scent – but, on the whole, I am a Vaseline girl. I have lived through the scent changes, bottle re-designs, and various other attempts by them to knock me off course. But I’ve stayed true.
Even through this last bottle re-design where there is over TWO INCHES of lotion left in the bottom of the plastic bottle when the last squirt has been eased from the pump. It seems like the well is dry when in fact it is not!
So I have taken to using our serrated bread knife to saw through the plastic bottle – tossing the top in the recycle bin and the pump in the trash bin – and going after the lotion with my fingertips. There is usually several weeks of lotion remaining for use, and I just have to removed the very fancy – designed by me for easy access! – Cling Wrap topper for daily use.
I was too embarrassed to show the fancy plastic wrap lid in the photo above. I do have my principles.
Just like my grandfather who kept the Q-tips and old Chapstick tube in his bathroom drawer while the new Chapstick tube rode in his pocket with his change.