• January 2021
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When I was a kid

in junior high, my aunt and grandma created these little bears. They’re made of felt and are about 5 inches tall. They have moveable arms & legs. They were “discovered” at a flea market in Canton, TX called First Monday (a great flea market, BTW) and soon these little bears were selling in boutiques across the nation.

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I remember helping with little jobs. My grandma lived next door & I would rush over each day to see if they needed me to do anything. I’d help cut out felt pieces, cut tiny strips of toilet paper & roll the strips to make tiny TP rolls for the bag lady’s shopping bag. My favorite job was making the tiny ribbon roses.

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To make the ribbon roses, we used a sewing needle that had the top of the eye broken off. I’m not sure if it was manufactured this way or if my aunt or grandma broke it off. I’d start the ribbon with a tiny dot of tacky glue on the end of a toothpick. Then twist the ribbon, place a dot of glue, twist, dot of glue, twist, dot.. until a tiny ribbon rose was created. I’d make tons of these little roses for the bear creations and sometimes I’d make the tiny ribbon leaves that complemented the roses. The leaves were not as much fun as the roses, though.

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I’m not sure how many different designs/costumes they came up with during the time they made these bears. I remember a Scarlet O’Hara bear, a bride & groom, Little Bo Peep (in one of the pics), a cowboy, a clown bear on a carousel horse that was handpainted by my mom & displayed in a glass dome. Once when I was in Atlanta, I saw a display of the little bears in a little boutique. It was kind of surreal.. knowing that I’d probably made some of the little ribbon roses that were in that shop.

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Today, when I look at these little bears displayed throughout my home, I am transported back to those few summers when the days were filled with ribbon, fingers sticky from glue, felt bears strewn all about, stories and laughter from my aunt & grandma.

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When I was growing up, the house I lived in had an attic fan. My maternal grandparents also had one. Now I live in a home with an attic fan. It’s on right now. The sound of it, the feel of the air rushing in the windows, bringing in cool, fresh, evening air, reminds me of my childhood. I can hear the outside noises.. owls hooting, insects (not sure if they’re cicadas or locusts or what) in the trees.

This house has a small shed in the back that has a tin roof. When it rains, the sound of the rain plinking down on that roof takes me back to sleeping in Meema and Grandad’s back bedroom (we called it the WAY BACK) on rainy nights. I can hear it from my bedroom. I love the sound of rain on a tin roof. I should probably record that sound & play it when I’m feeling stressed.

Sounds and smells are such powerful transporters. Certain smells still take me back to places I’d thought were forgotten. My sister & I were looking at houses a few weeks ago and one of the homes had a smell in one of the bedrooms that reminded me of my grandparents’ house. I didn’t like the house or want to live there, but the smell in that one room…. even the closet was like Meema & Grandad’s closets, made of the same type of wood, same sliding doors.

Once I almost bought a used car because it smelled like my parents’ house. Isn’t that strange? I went back to that car over & over just to sit in it b/c of the smell. I had moved 9 hours away and was more homesick than I realized before sitting in that car.

I wonder if my home has a particular smell. I’m sure it does, although I have no idea what it is. I don’t smell Mom & Dad’s house now when I walk into it, since I’m over there for a while on most days.. but when I first moved back, I could smell it. I’ve never been able to pinpoint the smell of Mom & Dad’s house.. I’m sure it’s the cleaning products they use or something like that. It’s always the same, though. Comforting. The smell of home.

When I come home after being on vacation or away for a weekend, I try to see if my house smells like anything.. but I never can smell it. I’ve even asked my sisters if my house smells like anything.. they say it smells like “my house.” Duh. 🙂 What else?

Mrs. V and me

Mrs. V. was my 6th grade Reading teacher. For some reason, I was fascinated by her. She was not a warm or friendly woman (at least not to students) — she was rather cold and austere.

She had shiny dark brown hair that she had done in a beauty parlor once a week. It was sprayed stiff and didn’t move. I had never seen anyone as young as her (she is about the age of my parents) have their hair done like that. When she scratched her head, with a pencil, all of her hair moved at once.

Mrs. V. also had very long polished fingernails. I bit my fingernails and wished for nails like hers. I tried and tried to let my nails grow out, but they’ve still never looked like hers.

Mrs. V. used a chalk holder that held 3 pieces of chalk to make straight lines on the chalk board and had beautiful precise penmanship. She kept her desk and grade books very organized.

I have never been a very organized person and have learned as an adult to use a planner. If I have it written down, I’m more likely to get it done. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done.

Mrs. V. did not inspire me to be a better student. I easily made A’s in her class. I only remember her organization… not her sharing a love of books or learning. I remember wondering if she was precise and organized in all areas of her life. I thought it might be boring to be so planned & stiff about every detail.

While I still strive for organization, and at times feel I am losing the battle, I definitely do not lead a boring existence. Life is colorful and full of surprises and lots of laughter, often at my expense. 🙂 My children have learned that losing our way on a road trip is not a tragedy but an adventure.