Gifts to warm the home

The rain was gushing today, but the ample front porch keeps the front of the house dry.
The rain was gushing today, but the ample front porch keeps the front of the house dry.
Bandaged toe.
Bandaged toe.

This weekend I was recovering from a procedure I had on my foot on Friday. Had to keep the foot elevated, but had I been as mobile as usual, the weather was not exactly encouraging to do chores or to do fun stuff. So I guess it’s time for a blog.

I moved to this house in the summer, but thoughtful housewarming gifts keep showing up unpredictably. This post is to highlight the ones I thought of today. I hope I don’t forget any, but if I do, I’ll just add them later.

I’ve got a few friends from the earliest of days, and I love that. One of them has been among my best friends since I was 16 and he was 17. He sent me my very first housewarming gift, a steel fish. I think it’s gorgeous and it was the very first thing I hung on my walls in this big place.

This beauty is perfectly suited for my plum walls.
This beauty is perfectly suited for my plum walls.

Another metal gift is one I have needed for ages! After the woodstove was installed, I found a nice-sized stick that I used as a fire poker. In its early life it was about four feet long. It kept accidentally catching on fire. I can’t tell you how many times I would have to run from the fire to the kitchen, to douse the smoking stick. One night I didn’t realize a tiny ember had remained on the stick and it smoldered and burned down about four inches while I slept. Yikes. Anyway, after a few months, my poker stick was only about 18 inches long. I complained about it constantly, but never found time to go shopping for one of those metal fireplace sets. You know, the ones with the broom and the poker that hang from a gaudy rack that sits beside the fireplace? I was complaining to my step-father while Tara and I were in Idaho the last time, and he jumped into action. He dug around in the shed and came up with a steel rod that had a few nuts on one end. It was too long, so he heated it with a torch and cut it, then bent and tapered the end. He heated the nuts into place, then filed them down smooth. I tell you: I was thrilled! This is a perfect fire stick. I never have to run to the kitchen blowing out flames anymore.

Metal pokers are best. Can you see it, leaning against the bricks?
Metal pokers are best. Can you see it, leaning against the bricks?

In the way that happens so often in the blogging world, it was my turn to be blessed with a gift from a blogger. Marlene, whose unceasing accomplishments astound us all who know her at insearchofitall, made this kitchen towel for me. She said it wasn’t just for show, and I was free to use it as a towel, but for now I like it hanging up. I washed it first, to make it look a little used. This gift is one that brings love into my world and makes home feel that much more like home, you know?

Close up of the kitchen towel that Marlene made for me as a housewarming gift.
Close up of the kitchen towel that Marlene made for me as a housewarming gift.
My beautiful kitchen towel tells the truth: lots of love here.
My beautiful kitchen towel tells the truth: lots of love here.

My Tara is in love with bees, you may recall from the brand new bee tattoo. Anything bee-related is good, so I recently received two beeswax candles that please their tastes as well as mine. From what I am told, beeswax candles are superior. I haven’t had the heart to light either one yet, but they smell divine. It’s like what honey would be if it were a gas. Omigosh sweet goodness.

A bees wax squirrel candle. Can't get more perfect for me!
A bees wax squirrel candle. Can’t get more perfect for me!
The sweetest-smelling dragon
The sweetest-smelling dragon

My Pa said during one of our phone calls, “You know, I am sure I have a book about ponds around here somewhere….” Lo and behold, one day these pond books showed up. I am so excited to get what I can from them. Both are written for people who want to build a pond from scratch, so much text is dedicated to planning and engineering. However, I am sure that if I read them both, I will find reasons for the engineering, and that will give me an education. I really want to know how to take care of my pond. It is important to me to be a good steward to this land.

Pond books that I can hardly wait to read.
Pond books that I can hardly wait to read.

Another long time friend is one I met in college in northern California, before I transferred to Brandeis University. I took an honors Anthropology class, just because I was trying to take all the honors classes, and what a great decision it was because within a few weeks I had decided to major in Anthropology. I loved that class, the beautiful and intelligent professor, and this awesome chick who sat next to me every day. She and I even did a part-performance from the Vagina Monologues in that class, and I was in awe of her bravery for tackling the skit she chose. We have been friends ever since. Anyway, my friend now lives in Sante Fe, and sent a care package filled with wonderful things carefully selected from town, including a little burlap bag of garlic, canned roasted peppers, a sage smudge she wrapped herself, and a bag filled with pine nuts still in the shells. She also sent a two-page letter explaining the significance of each thing, and how she might come across them in a typical day. I have eaten everything that’s edible, but I still have some of the nuts left. They are good to munch on at work.

Empty garlic bag and mostly empty nut bag.
Empty garlic bag and mostly empty nut bag.

My last gift has to come with a story, so you can understand why I love it so much.

Out of the blue, I got a box from another friend from the early early days. I went to school with this kid starting back in 1980 and we graduated together in 1988. His dad owned “the” lumber/hardware store in our tiny Idaho town, called C&M Lumber Company. It was absolutely the only place to go for tools, for 2x4s, for paint, for glass, you name it. “C&M” we called it, was a hub, and I was like a kid in a candy store there. I belong to that quirky group that loves hardware stores (I know you’re out there!). Anyway, I have these beautiful, sweet, childhood memories of bemused adults interacting with me as a 14-year old customer, and treating me with more consideration than I’ll bet the adults got. For example, I wanted to paint my bedroom once, and my dad said it was ok. He wouldn’t buy me any paint, but I could use anything in the garage that I found. I found about five containers of mostly-empty, close-to-white paint, from different brands, who knows what it all was. It hadn’t occurred to me to tell my dad that I planned to paint with coloured paint. One of the containers was a 5-gallon bucket, and I dumped them all (plus a pale yellow one) into the big one, and stirred. Then I lugged that thing (it wasn’t full, of course) across blocks and blocks of dirt roads, all the way to C&M Lumber Company. Without any concept of how it was usually done, I explained to the person working that I was there to get it coloured. “We don’t usually do it that way…” the salesman began. But in no time, he had agreed to try to make it a shade of dusty rose I liked, and it was like a little chemical experiment, as he dumped in some of this, and some of that, Β stirred it, and then painted a bit of it, to see what it looked like as it dried. All totally FASCINATING to me, as I watched eagerly. I had money, and was ready to pay, but at the end I was released without spending a penny. I was oblivious. But what a great place, to put that much effort into a kid’s project. I ended up painting my room dusty rose with dark grey trim and proudly showed my Pa, who flipped out because it was a forest service house, and residents needed to get permission to paint any colour but white, pale yellow, or pale Forest Service green. After a few days, he relaxed, and decided that no one would find out till after we moved, since I had an attic bedroom.

If I wear this hat, I'll fit right in among the locals in Rainier. But I'll be the only one with the gorgeous goose embroidered on the side. Look at that!
If I wear this C&M Lumber hat, I’ll fit right in among the locals in Rainier. But I’ll be the only one with the gorgeous duck embroidered on the side. Look at that!

There was also the time when I was into a kick of etching artwork into glass. I had found a thick, tinted, and huge mirror at the dump, that had broken into about six unwieldy pieces. I carried these carefully to C&M to get the sharper points cut off and cut in half so they would be easier for me to play with. This time it was the owner himself, my friend’s dad. He began the same way as the paint guy. “Well, we don’t usually…” and before I knew it, he had cut all the pieces for me. Then he took all of them to a power sanding machine and ground down the edges of every mirror piece so I wouldn’t cut myself. Again, my parents had no idea I was there. Again, I tried to pay and was shooed out the door. For years I understood hardware stores as places where you did not spend much. Funny, that’s no longer the case for me.

Today, my school friend runs the place. I haven’t been inside since I was a teenager, but I have been through town, and I have seen the brand new big building outside of town. It must still be as vital today as then. In the country, the hardware/lumber/tool/garden store is critical.

I did my friend’s son a favor a few years ago, and he promised to make it up to me. Viola! Favor returned:

Look at all these shirts! I am so excited to get them!
Look at all these shirts! I am so excited to get them!

In closing, I am including this short video of my woodstove. I tried twenty times to get a photo to show what I was seeing, but I couldn’t do it. I had to use video. What you see is not flames, but smoke, lit up orange from the coals in the back. Cooooooolll.


20 thoughts on “Gifts to warm the home

  1. Oh, Crystal this felt like the holidays. So happy you received so many useful and beautiful housewarming gifts, the embroidered towel, bees wax bee and dragon with the beautiful fish jumping in freedom all were lovely. Just stopped by to say Hi. I follow you but don’t see or check in too often. πŸ™‚

    1. And when you do stop by, Robin, you make me smile! Thank you.

      My holiday season is stretching from Fall through Spring, I think. I feel grateful for so many friends who care enough to put their heart into personal gifts. It’s inspiring.

      1. It is truly fun to see your land and home. Thank you for sharing all of this. I remember your first posts about the moving party and helpful friends. This year your gardens will be going full blast, so to speak.

    1. Yay! I’m glad you like the hat. It doesn’t really show in the photo, but there are two colours of embroidery thread. It’s just beautiful. I’ll have to start wearing it and make it mine, you know?

      My toe is already better. I went without bandages today and wore a regular sized shoe to work. πŸ™‚

    1. Glad you liked the C&M stories. I actually appreciated the chance to relive those memories. I posted a link to this blog on facebook and tagged my friend, so he can read about my memories of the store. I’m pretty sure I never told him how much I loved that place. As the current owner, I wonder if random people come in and tell him stories from their own memories. It must happen.

      I like the way you say I “earned” friendships. That’s true, isn’t it? We earn our friendships.

  2. Read this yesterday but got sidetracked by TS. πŸ˜‰ You know the story. Still trying to catch up. What on earth did they do to your toe??? I need one worked on too but just don’t want to go there. How much longer are you down for healing? Thanks for the ping-back and I’m glad you liked the towel. There are so many things I want to make and in my mind I do…but. You know the story. It’s good to have friends. I cherish the few I have. Hope you are up and about feeding chickens soon. Giant hugs. M

    1. All is well with the chickens and the toe. I had part of my toenail removed. (Just the thought of that gives me the heebie jeebies.) And though the podiatrist assured me that it’s a very minor procedure and any podiatrist can do it and he did his own, in fact, etc etc… this stuff does nothing to reassure me. Rather, it makes me feel even more ridiculous for having so much anxiety. I avoid doctors, clinics, and medication when at all possible, and have my entire life. So minor to him is major to me. *sigh*

      Anyway, the healing was going along ok till I went out Wednesday night to a concert. I thought I would be sitting, but the music was too much to resist, and like half the auditorium at the Schnitz, I was up stomping my feet and wiggling my tailfeathers. The toe was very upset with me after that.

      But the relief from pain of my ingrown nail was almost immediate and I’m still so grateful for that, that I have planned to get the other one done soon. BUT! First I have my oral surgery on Thursday, for an implant for a new tooth. That is going to be even more horrible. Ugh.

      I am reluctant to talk about all this health stuff, but I guess it’s a fact you’ve been dealing with too, in your own life. And besides, I wanted you to know what I’m up to. I can’t wait to celebrate my new tooth with you (they told me sometime in the summer) by sharing a meal!

      1. I know what you are talking about. I’ve had to have foot surgery and it’s nothing to sneeze at. When your feet hurt, everything hurts. Daughter just had a post implanted and a new tooth put in. T.S. had one done a few years ago. They are painful and very expensive. I get the reluctance to take meds or see doctors. I wouldn’t go either but TS insisted so he would stop worrying about me. ;( I’ll be happy when the weather gets better and we can get out more. Looking forward to seeing you again. Heading for Phoenix next Thurs till the following Tues. Nice to have personal taxi service to the airport. πŸ™‚ You can always send an e-mail. I’ve been wondering how college is agreeing with your Tara? Good to hear the chickens are still doing well. Have been sending vegetable scraps with my sister for the chickens at her place. She brings eggs. πŸ™‚ Keep taking care. Giant hugs.

  3. What a lovely home and lovely housewarming gifts! I hope your foot heals up soon, but until then, spend some time relaxing by that fire. I absolutely love woodstoves!

    1. Yes, I am growing to love the fire too, and I am extravagant with it. I try to keep it roaring because I’ve got thin little limbs and fingers and I’m cold all the time. But when that fire is going…I am happy and warm.

      Thank you for the healing wishes! It’s in good shape today, and would have been even better if I hadn’t gone out dancing Wednesday, ha ha! Don’t tell my doctor. πŸ™‚

  4. Okay I will admit, I am a hardware store hussy . . . uhm . . . no waitacottonpicki’minute –

    Make that a hardware/garden shop/do-it-yourself store valued customer. Yes, yes, that’s it.

    Love you cousin!

    1. I knew it! Hardware Store Hussy is a title you could be proud of! One of these days I’m going to have to get you guys over here to see the farm. Seems like your life is packed fuller than mine, though. Love you too, Cuz

  5. Hey Crystal! I’ve missed catching up with you! And even though I haven’t visited lately, I think of you daily. Yes, the mailbox still sits in my living room and is my favorite piece of art πŸ™‚
    I’ve asked my friend to come put it up for me and soon, I’ll have the most fabulous mailbox on the street.
    Anyway, I’m hoping the toe is healing (no more dancing at concerts until fully healed!). Thanks for sharing your fire; I enjoyed hearing it as well as seeing it.
    I’m so glad that your friends have showered you with home warming gifts. You bring out the love, Crystal!

    1. Laurie, I can hardly wait to see a photo of the mailbox out in the sun! I wanted to give you an update on the colours, which do not hold up perfectly in the weather, but do actually retain enough to make the project worthwhile. I had already seen the fading on mine, so yours was protected better with clearcoat than mine.

      I know exactly what you mean about a piece of art in the living room, since yours sat in mine for a long time! ha ha

      Glad you liked the fire, and I played the video again so I could listen to it. You are right, those sounds are so lovely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s