Something Old, Something Blue

And then the blogger settled into a deep funk brought on by the blighted winter landscape, wind chills, and long, dark nights.

Ugh.  This is the part of the year that I find almost impossible to slog through.  Complaints come easily;  It’s just too cold.  The car is salty and gross.  The fleece of my sweatpants that was so fluffy and soft in October is crusty now.   At any other time of year I’m generally a happy, peppy kind of person, but in these early months I’m far too introspective, fixating on disappointments and dormant dreams.  Sigh.   As I write this, I’m sitting by the fire, entranced by the flame, thinking how very necessary it is for me to stay rooted to this spot.  This is the only place where I don’t automatically tense up and curl into a hunched position to conserve my own body heat.  I can’t stay here, though.  Tomorrow I’m Iowa bound, and will almost certainly drive smack into snow.  It’s a business trip, an obligation that can’t be shirked (well, unless that Powerball ticket I purchased earlier today delivers).  I just wish I were headed south, instead of north. 

My dog Olive is laying at my feet.  Her eyes are closed and her tummy is facing the warm fire with all four of her paws stretched straight out in front of her.  Now and then she makes faint squeaking sounds, talking in her sleep, dreaming a little dream.  Out the window I can see the frozen pond in the distance.   I know she’s not dreaming about that.  It’s just plain boring out there.    I harp on about the cold, but the winter color scheme is bothersome, too: nothing but brown and gray and white, everywhere you look.  Is there anything more dismal than a pure white sky?    And so the funk continues.  I have the winter blues.




Blues…OK, so here’s the plan.  I just, in this very moment, came up with it:  I’m going to commemorate my somber mood with a blog post about blue things.  Strangely enough, I always claim that blue is my favorite color, and yet I own few things that are blue.   I never decorate with it;  I prefer the warmer tones of rose, buttery cream, and soft green for a homey feel.   I do wear blue, but rarely.   Still, I have a few blue things somewhere.  I’m going to pull my lazy self from the fire and shop my own house for blue treasures.  I’ll be back shortly…

Two hours later…

Finding blue things was harder than I thought.  But what I did find led me on a sentimental journey back in time to when my collection of antiques was new and very small.  All of the pieces below (with the exception of the bowls, which are my mom’s) were purchased more than 25 years ago.  My taste seems to have changed very little; revisiting them today I find that I still like them a lot. That probably shouldn’t surprise me, though.  Back then every purchase required thoughtful deliberation.   Not only did I have a tight budget, but I knew so little about antiques that I was almost afraid of them.  Shopping for old things seemed like a test  I could fail.  What if I paid $25 for an item worth far less than that?  I remember watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow not long after I moved to Kansas City in which a woman, confident she had an authentic turn-of-the-century lamp signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, learned that it was a reproduction worth a fraction of what she had paid for it.  The expression on her face was blank and frozen as she tried to process this impossible bit of news and select a suitable reaction as the cameras continued to roll.   I didn’t want that to happen to me.  I mitigated that risk by purchasing small, inexpensive items.  Anyway, here are a few of those items as they appear today, blue and pretty.

Blue item #1: Faceted glass necklace. I bought this necklace when I was a freshman in college. It was my first piece of antique jewelry. I bought it at an antique store in Topeka that I loved and that closed many years ago. I was crazy about that shop. It was a fairly big place, situated in the old Holiday Square strip mall, packed with old treasures galore. I would go there after class sometimes just to walk around and imagine what things I might choose to decorate my home once I had a little more money saved. A chair in my current living room came from there, and a lamp, too. Wow, I haven’t thought of that magical place in years. They had an amazing old wooden glass counter with hundreds of beautiful sparkly vintage jewels. This necklace was in that case. At the time I thought it was the most beautiful necklace I had ever seen.
Detail of the sterling clasp. I have no idea how old this is, but the clasp suggests age.
Blue item #2:  An old mandolin pin. I’ve had this pin so long that I don’t remember its story. Where did it come from? I don’t know. But I’ve not seen another one like it.  I’ve always believed that there must have been other instruments made to match, and for a long while I actively looked for them.  If they exist, I’ve never found them.
Blue item #3:  This pretty jazz-age etiquette book is a little prize in my old book collection. I purchased this ages ago when on a shopping trip with a friend down in Kansas City’s River Market area. This is Volume I; alas, Volume II is lost to time.  I bought this primarily because its blue and gold cover was so pretty that I thought it would show well on display.  But it’s a fascinating read, too.  One of the things this book emphasizes is that rules of etiquette exist to minimize awkwardness and facilitate good feeling by helping people understand what to expect when engaging with each other.  Not such a crazy notion, if you ask me.
The book’s frontispiece. I love this photo of a bride in 1922. Most of the content of this book is devoted to the rules of etiquette for engagements and weddings. There is also a  short section on child rearing, however.
Words of encouragement for us all: “…every woman may become a lady in every sense of the word.”
Blue item #4:  These beautiful berry bowls are my mom’s. They had belonged to her grandmother, and my mom purchased them at auction. The pattern is Northwood Blue Opalescent Klondyke. These little dishes were on display in my mom’s china cabinet for years until my parents moved. Now these little gems are usually packed away, wrapped like diamonds in protective paper. My mom loves these dishes, and with good reason; so pretty.

A local meteorologist just forecasted below average temperatures this week with the possibility of a winter storm warning in the coming days.  Groan.  If I can just hold on, I’m off to Georgia next week.  I’m crossing my fingers for temperatures in the 70s as I glide onto the runway at Hartsfield airport.  I can hope, can’t I?

Until next time…

Jennifer Passariello

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