Sunday, November 25, 2007

Window Shopping

This is the view from Olana, Frederick Church's home in Hudson, NY. We saw it up on the mountain as we drove across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on our way across the river to Hudson.
(We didn't go up there today, though--too much shopping to do!)

Kathleen and I went shopping today. We drove south, intending to go to Hudson, to check out some of my favorite shops, and do a little Christmas shopping. Well, in the manner in which we do things, we veered off of our planned path, and ended up in Saugerties. How did that happen, you ask? It all started when Kathleen said (because we always have our best chats in the car) that all of her friends have fun stories to tell about things their mothers used to do when they were younger, and she didn't have any to share! She said I don't tell stories about my younger days. And you know, she's right! My father used to share his childhood stories with us all the time when we were kids, and I remember being entranced by them! So why then, have I so neglected that tradition? I guess I've never been much of a storyteller...

So there we were, taking the scenic route south, making a bee-line for Hudson, and it occurred to me that we were coming up to the turn I took during the summer of 1985 to go to work at Pleasant Acres Resort in Leeds, NY. I thought, HEY--what a perfect opportunity to share one of my "stories." So we took the turn, and as we drove the twisty road to where the resort used to be, I saw new houses that had been erected, forests that had been chopped, and a "newness" that took me aback. But the further we drove, the more familiar it got, and I showed Kathleen the spot where I had 360'd the old green Subaru on a rainy day and scared myself half to death, and told her a bit about the 7-days-a-week, 3-meals-a-day drudgery that was that summer of waitressing at Pleasant Acres. It wasn't all drudgery, of course, because I worked with my sister, and made new friends, but when I think of the hours I worked then--oy! Thank God I was just a kid. Hmmm...I forgot to tell her about the night my sister and I sang during "Talent Night" up on stage. That was a big night for me! Lights, a band, microphones....people WATCHING It was fun. I guess that's a story for another day!

As we drove through Leeds, which is a very cute old town, I saw the sign for the NYS Thruway, so we got on it, heading south. Silly me...if I had just gone straight THROUGH Leeds, we would have been over the river and into Hudson in 5 minutes. But NO. It's been so long since I've been on that road, that I got confused. So, since we were headed south toward Saugerties, and we couldn't turn around, I made sure we stopped and did a little shopping there, before we headed back up to Hudson. We ended up in the Saugerties Antiques Gallery, and The Willow Tree, and we passed a bunch of others on our way out of town, in our haste to get to our REAL destination. The find of the day? A book at The Willow Tree called something like "Tell Me Your Stories, Mom." (It's downstairs hidden with the other Christmas gifts, or I'd go find the real title for you.) How serendipitous was THAT, though?! Kathleen picked it up, and said "Oh my GOSH! LOOK at this! Can I give it to you for Christmas, and will you fill it out?!" I looked through the book, and it's a guided story-telling book, with lots of questions to prompt stories from my childhood. It's JUST what she needs from me, and it's JUST what I need to give her. My hist0ry--it'll be my gift to her. I wish I had one from my mother.

We finally made it to Hudson, and stopped at my favorite shop, Lilli and Loo, which unfortunately does not yet have a website, or I'd link you up. It's two floors filled with beautiful handmade scarves, fabulous funky furniture, and quirky little accessories like carved graphite sculptures that you can write with, and real bugs encased in clear acrylic blocks. The owner has a great eye for what's new and different, and her store is a visual treat. I can't believe I didn't buy anything there!

Then it was off to Hudson Home, which is my next favorite shop in Hudson. This place is unreal. They have a great line of transitional furniture, cowskin rugs, beautiful glassware, funky one-of-a-kind lighting and accessories. It's another treat for the senses, and I love going there just to drool. They even had two silk Fortuny lamps which I tried to keep my hands off of. They were following behind me with drool-cloths...hee!

There is one thing they had done in their front room, which doesn't show on the website, because those pictures are older, that really caught my eye this time. First of all, it was the fireplace wall. Inside the "fireplace", or rather, where a fireplace SHOULD have been, they had glued thin slices of birch logs all onto a black board, to make the fireplace look as if it had been stacked chock-full of logs. I just saw this in one of my deco mags recently, and thougt it was such a clever idea! THEN, surrounding the fireplace, and bear with me, because this is difficult to describe, but it was essentially a faux library wall. All white. There were thin firring strips attached to the wall horizonally, protruding a bit, to give the illusion of shelf edges. Then hundreds more firring strips had been cut into book-height pieces, and lined up and stacked up on these "shelves" to create this relief, I guess, for lack of a better word...a "library" relief. I wish I had thought to get a picture of it on my phone. Darn. Next time. Anyway, the whole thing was painted white, so it was punctuated only by the fireplace mantel, and the "logs" inside it. Too cool for school, my friends. If I can find a picture on the internet of something similar, I'll come back to show you. Heck, maybe when I get my house, I'll copy it and show you MY version! Ha! :)

Well, here's a link to the antique shops in Hudson, and galleries. I wish there was a site with ALL the shops. It's like a little Hamptons right in the middle of "upstate" NY. Hudson used to be such a dive. It's amazing what has happened in just a few short years. People travel from all over to do their shopping there...I even saw the furniture twins (I forget their from Antiques Roadshow there a few years ago. Nifty.

Oops, I almost forgot our in-between stop in Catskill. It's called Variegated, and they do all of their own silkscreened linens and pillows. Very cool. The town of Catskill is also seeing a bit of a rebirth in recent years. Kathleen and I actually went to Hood & Company on Thanksgiving day....I spent a chunk of change there on Christmas gifts. The owner is a doll--very sweet guy, and very into making the whole Main St, Catskill thing a success. I wish him the best!

Ok, that's it. I'm done talking about my shopping day! I hope I didn't bore you all. I just love that I live so close to such great places to shop. Tomorrow I'm headed up to Saratoga for an appointment with a client at Sutton's Marketplace. I'll let you know what I find! Last year, they had great Christmas trees up all over, and ornaments galore. 'Tis the season! Where have YOU been shopping? (And I don't want to hear ""

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Sharon Lalor

Wow...has it really been over two weeks since my last post?! Well, this time of year is crazy for me. I just finished up a bunch of pre-Thanksgiving sewing jobs, as well as squeezing in a trip out to my mother's house last weekend to clean it up and get it ready to sell.

My sister and I went out with Kathleen, and we really made some good headway, for only having a day and a half of work time! We made one trip to the dump, and one trip to Salvation Army. Then we cleaned and "staged" the place. There is still a TON of stuff we need to get organized, but we left things looking very good.

My first bit of thanks for today goes to my mother, who saved some of the cutest stuff from our childhoods. Marj and I found cards sent to my parents when she was born. There are photo albums like you wouldn't believe, as well as boxes of more recent photos, which we'll have to organize at some point. Kathleen has volunteered herself and Madeline to put them all in scrapbooks. I don't think she has ANY clue the task at hand!

There are cassette tapes of us singing together as kids...classic hilarity. We were good singers, but the conversation in between songs is the best part....a fantastic glimpse at the girls we once were. Thanks, Mom, for saving all that stuff, even though it's been cluttering up attics and basements and barns for the last 30 yrs. I mean, seriously, do I have to save Kathleen's kindergarten artwork too? Sigh. I guess I do! :)

Speaking of my mother, her birthday was three days ago, on the 19th. She would have been 68 this year. That was a difficult day for me. In fact, it's been a difficult week. Yesterday, while peeling apples for an apple pie, the smell and the sight of them brought back memories of peeling apples, and helping Mom make pies when I was a kid. She always made her own crust, and made little tarts filled with raspberry jam with the leftovers. They were like our little reward for helping out. So I peeled apples and cried a bit, but smiled through my tears. These are all good memories, and ones that I'd love to pass down to my daughter--traditions and comforts that will be remembered when she is an adult.

OK, since this is a post about thanks, I guess I'll just dedicate the whole thing to Mom. My last bit of news for today is that we have an offer on her house, just four days after it was listed. We'll be closing in mid-January, and my heart once again fills, because thanks to Mom, I'll be able to buy a house of my own, and put down some of my own roots with Kathleen. She'll have a place to call her own, and she'll be able to come home to it someday from college, and know that it's ours. This too makes me cry, because as a single, self-employed mother, homeownership seemed to be a distant dream. Today, that dream is much closer to reality.

Thanks, Mom. I miss you.

Remember the ones you care about today. Hold them close, tell them you love them, thank them for the place they fill in your heart. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Phew! It's Over!

I'm not really a Halloween humbug, but like I said earlier, it's not really one of my fav's. Kathleen's costume came out cute, although she said that at the party she went to Friday night, noone knew what she was supposed to be, so she was bummed. She can't say I didn't warn her! A "baby doll" is a touch less recognizable than Avril Lavigne. But whatever...she looked adorable, and had a blast. My niece Madeline made her own Pop Tart costume, and it was FABulous! I was so impressed. The kid is a riot. She used shredded construction paper for her "sprinkles", and she painted the board and glued that stuff on with a tiny bit of help from her mother. Isn't it fantastic?!

Jennifer's son Will was a little Native American, although he refused the face paint. I remember when Kathleen was his age--she didn't want to put anything on her face either. He lost his feather at some point in the night, but the persuit of candy was much more important than some silly feather.

So we had a nice spaghetti and meatball dinner with spice cake for dessert at my house, and then off we went through our neighborhood for a bit, then down to Kelly's. There were lots of people at Kelly's, and the bonfire was burning...I can't believe I didn't take pics of everyone around the fire this year. It's nice to have that small town atmosphere, and to catch up with everyone after we haven't seen them in a few months. And of course all the kids love it, because the get to run around in the dark like little monsters! :) We trick-or-treated down there (in New Baltimore) too, and that was a gold mine. The houses are fairly close together in the hamlet, and some people were really into the whole thing. The decorations were great. Kathleen got to meet up with more of her friends, and she had fun. She got tired at 8:30 though, so it was an early night for us, which was AOK by me! :) She had school the next day, and she knows her limits. The poor kid gets up at 6am every day.

I just shot into the dark at the kids with my flash, lol, so the quality is a little bit hurtin', but I wanted you to see the crowd at Kelly's. A giant hay-wagon FULL of little kids came by as we were leaving. There had to be 20 kids on it! It's a good thing Kelly stocks up! You can see Kelly above in the pic on the left...she's the one in the background with the big witch's hat on. She tries to make a new hat every year, and pesters me for fun fabric every year starting around the first of October.
I'll leave you with this Picasa collage of other pics from the night. I must say, it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. ;) Hey, as long as Kathleen has fun, it's all good.

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