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Posts Tagged ‘doll’

There is always something that sticks with children, even long after they are grown, that was taught by their parents. For me, that’s crocheting. My mom would sit for hours curled up under a blanket watching a movie with me crocheting yet another afghan or blanket. The rose colored yarn mixed with white yarn intertwined with pastel soft green to create a heavy double crocheted blanket. She used her long knobby fingers to move the crochet hooks in and out of the yarn, looping two or three loops on the end and then pulling it through. Loop, loop, pull, loop, loop, pull, for hours.

After awhile, I wanted in on the fun and towards the end of my elementary school years I decided I wanted to learn. I sat right beside her on the couch as she showed me how to loop the yarn in between my pointer finger and middle finger and then around my pinky on my left hand as I held the crochet hook and looped the yarn around my pinky finger on my right hand. I pushed, I pulled, I looped, I pulled some more, but my blanket had bulging spots where the yarn stacked up too high because of too many loops; or it had a large hole where I had too much slack on the yarn. Regardless, it was my first blanket I double crocheted with my mom and it was beautiful.

After that I got pretty good at making small, very small blankets for my cat. In reality they were the size of pot holders and were demoted from cat blanket to shag carpet for my doll house. In the meantime, my mom made me a large white blanket with rose colored doily trim that framed a small pastel green basket in the middle. Rose colored flowers with white centers dotted the blanket, the petals sticking up giving the blanket great texture. The basket was crocheted and then tacked on standing out amongst the flowers. To show off her great talents she also made me a matching doll blanket and pillow for my doll cradle. I still have the large blanket and use it when reading a good book. It’s heavy and surprisingly soft, which tells me my mom only used the good yarn. My step-daughter now has the doll blanket and pillow. It looks as if it were made yesterday despite the use it has gotten out of it in the last 18 years.

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When I went to high school, thrift stores were cool. T-shirts that made no sense became funny and no poor teenager could beat the price of only a few dollars or less. I was a thrift store junkie.

My mom and I were dirt poor. Eviction notices taped to our door, no electricity, and scarcely any food, we were poor; dirt poor. Never fear! For some pocket change, I could update my wardrobe periodically. During our “recession,” I managed to get a waitressing job at a family owned Italian restaurant. It was authentic, and yes the family was Italian as could ever be. I loved working there and the money was just right for my modest lifestyle.

That’s when I discovered thrift store t-shirts. My main focus was the little boy section. Yes, little boy section. Our scarce pantry allowed me to stay trim; very trim. For 25 cents I could get a little boy’s t-shirt that displayed some action figure or a travel destination.

I made sure to stretch my money as far as it could go. I once spent over an hour trying to spend five dollars. I managed to get three items, of which I still own today, one I still wear. Pretty good buy if you ask me.

My mom and I would spend hours combing the aisles at our local thrift store. We would spend majority of that time trying on clothes; hundreds of clothes. One very stressful occasion, I had a baby in tow. It was my weekend with the lifelike baby doll from child development class. She was a screaming dark skinned newborn with a vengeance. As I walked around embarrassed by the screaming child, my mom and I tried effortlessly to calm her down. This doll required a key to be placed in the dolls back and then turned when she cried. I put the key in, turned it and nothing. The baby kept crying. I held the key forever rocking the baby, patting the baby, even singing to the baby; like it could hear me. The baby kept crying. Finally the baby cooed and went to sleep. On a side note, the baby turned out to be a baby exposed to crack while in the womb. That explained everything.

Being as poor as we were, it was short lived. Our electricity was off for two full weeks, the eviction notices didn’t stop and we ended up renting a house for free in a nearby city, but the pantry always stayed scarce. We just never had any money. Mom worked as an aid for a family with an elderly man who could no longer take care of himself but didn’t want to go to a nursing home. She worked full-time for them and fell in love with the family paying no mind to the modest paycheck; she was happy with that job. I worked at the Italian restaurant for two years which allowed me to purchase some food, keep gas in my car, and purchase little boy t-shirts from thrift stores.

Thrift stores also have come in handy for many more needs in my life. Random dishes, gently used of course, stocked my cabinets when I first went out on my own. My roommate when I was 18 did a great job stocking our kitchen, but when she moved out, it was my turn to stock the kitchen; so I went digging for thrift store treasures. Hand crafted coffee cups are my still favorite thing to hunt for. My collection ranges from hand painted mugs to hand crafted works of art. Shot glasses, glass wear, and skillets also make up my collection. Majority of the cooking wear in my kitchen came from thrift stores 7-10 years ago. What a treasure! I love things that last long.

My mom always loved buying clothes from thrift stores. Some of the things she would find looked like something already in her closet that she’d worn for years. Faded oversized t-shirts, jeans with holes and worn bottoms, tank tops, and jean shorts were her favorite clothes to buy. She also enjoyed the book selection. Tall crates full of books waist high would be scattered in the back half of the store. Mom would dig in looking for self-help books. Her collection included books on how to apply make-up and look like a model, how to lose weight, what you should eat to avoid cancer, how to keep your plants looking fabulous, how to crochet, everything you need to know about dogs, money, how to look younger, how to work out.

Although majority of her books are outdated and dusty, it really paints a picture of who she was as a person. For instance, my mom loved to sit on the floor in front of a tall, leaning wall mirror and apply her make-up for hours. She would do it in such a slow charismatic way as if she were having a long conversation with the woman in the mirror. She would roll thick heavy sections of her coarse brown hair around large hot pink and red curlers. Smoke a cigarette. Pluck her eyebrows. Curl her bangs. Smoke a cigarette. Curl her eye lashes. Pluck any stray hairs on her face. Smoke a cigarette. Apply eye shadow. Smear on mascara, lots of mascara. Smooth on foundation. Dab blush. Glide powder over her face. Spread pale pink gloss over her lips, blot once, smooth lips together and smile. She would then take her hands up to her hair and flip her bangs on either side, to make them stick out by her eyes. Smoke a cigarette.

Mom always worried about her weight. She was never fat and always at a healthy weight for her age and height. We both seemed to be linked when it came to our weight, even after we went our separate ways. When she lost weight, I lost weight. When I gained weight, she gained weight. She was obsessed with trying new fad diets and investing money on pills, shakes, videos, and equipment that would only keep her interest for a few months until it was tossed aside.

Mom was also a health nut, well I guess not the kind that actually is healthy, but the kind that is unhealthy but always researching how to be healthy. She liked researching different foods and how it helped make you healthy. She especially loved plants, such as fruits and vegetables. She became especially intrigued by pineapple and started growing one four years ago. I have it now. She told me it takes seven years for a pineapple to grow. I guess I will see if she’s right in three years.

Mom loved her plants like children. She talked to them and cared for them every day. Plucking leaves, repotting mature starts, watering with grower; these weren’t the only ways my mom cared for her plants. She understood them. She understood their light temperaments, their behavior pattern for growing, and their water intake. I have 17 of her plants and more to come my way as my grandma replants starts from some of my mom’s plants. I must be honest, I don’t talk to them, I barely remember to water them, and I have no idea how much light or water each one is supposed to have or when to repot them. I don’t even know their biological names. I wish I had had more of an interest in horticulture because maybe I would know how to continue caring for her other children.

All the books my mom had in her collection relate to her life in some way. She loved to crochet and made me a large white blanket with pink doily trim, and little green baskets holding pink flowers all over the blanket. She did it all by crocheting. She also made me a matching blanket and pillow for my doll. I still have the blanket and my step-daughter has the doll blanket and pillow. I will cherish them always. My mom had a lot of dog books because she was a dog groomer and liked to learn about different breeds, different styles, and tools to use. Mom also read a lot about money, probably because she never had any.

I never knew mom as well as I think I know her now. Her life was one of dreams and wonders that she loved to read about and plan. Majority of them never were started, but some of her plans worked out. She was very thrifty and taught me to live life no matter what the circumstances. Even when we were dirt poor, we still had fun and laughed a lot. She taught me to always preserver even when I feel like giving up.

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