December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tearing Apart My Bedroom - Part 2

Soooo, I got the bedroom rearranged in a relatively short hour of time, a couple of hours, more or less, and got a good work-out heaving and shoving.

Before: triple dresser opposite foot of bed.  Feng Shui say "NO GOOD!"
Let me tell you about this bedroom set.  I purchased it from Hack's on 14th and Mitchell Street way back in 1976 or 1977, which would have made me 25 or 26 at the time.  I was working full-time as a legal secretary and going to UWM part time working toward a bachelor's degree.  I also had a very complicated love life.  I was a busy lady back then, to be sure :)  Anway, up until this time, I had lived with the usual family hand-me-downs and Goodwill purchases and nothing matched anything.  Back then, of course, it was the dream of every girl to own an en suite bedroom set (except maybe some people living in New York or LA, but they're crazy, everyone knows that).  Yeah, I wasn't exactly a "girl" at 25 or 26, LOL!  But I still had the girly dream.

Before: Bureau.  It was constructed to look like a "chest on chest."
Of course, at the time I purchased this set, I had no idea what that
was or meant.  Thank you, "Antiques Road Show"!
The Hack family was an Old Establishment Jewish family who had a number of successful furniture stores in the Milwaukee area.  The Hack store I bought my set from had been there for years -- and there was a bowling alley beneath it where I used to bowl with some girl friends beginning at age 14.  Back then, it seemed nearly everyone in Milwaukee bowled.  Too bad that tradition died out.  It was FUN!  I still love to bowl, but haven't done it now for a long time, not since being on a league team with my brother, his wife, and some of their friends, back in the 90's!  EEK!

Anyway, with the passing away of the second or perhaps third generation of Hack furniturers (is that a word?), the business was closed and the real estate was sold off.  Talk about circles - I now work at a law firm that represented those generations of the Hack family and now represents the descendants of that venerable family. 

Back to the bedroom set.  Sooooo, Hack's had a reputation in the community for good value -- meaning that you could get furniture there that wouldn't fall apart and you wouldn't pay too much for it.  That was right up my alley because back then, I was maybe making  -- geez, I can't even remember -- it was probably less than $10,000 gross a year.  My tuition back then was around $110 a credit at UWM!  Boy, those were the days!

Back to the bedroom set.  So there I was, scootching around the store, looking at bedroom sets.  I saw this set and I fell in love! Even after all these years, I remember how immediate the impact of that set had on my eyes and heart.  It was everything I ever wanted.  I loved the design, I loved the color, I loved loved loved the "antique brass" drawer pulls, I loved the curves and the carvings. It's a French provincial style, as you can readily tell from the photos, and the maker was Bassett.  I believe they went bankrupt YEARS ago.  Pushed out of business by cheap Chinese shit imports.  On the ugly back of the furniture is stamped in black letters something like "Parisi...Cherry" which I think means "Parisian Cherry" the name and color of the set.  It's part wood or that fiber-wood stuff with a veneer on it and part "plastic wood."  LOL!  I think I paid $299 for the double bedstead and frame, triple dresser and mirror, nightstand, and bureau. 

A blurry shot - sorry.  I took this while the great bedroom teardown
2012 was taking place.  It's the ugly back of the triple dresser and mirror.
You can sorta kinda see the black spray-painted ID words/numbers for the set.
Granted, when I look at the set now, I see the plastic" wood" and the faux-carving and shake my head.  Not to mention this set has been through several moves, and will be 40 in a few years; she has water marks and burns and nail polish spills removed, perfume marks, dents and scratches galore and the mirror is really really dirty - wow, I need to clean that soon. But back when I first fell in love with it at Hack's Furniture on 14th and Mitchell, I was just a young woman from the lower south side of Milwaukee who thought she was buying herself a little bit of Paris and, as everyone knows, the French know how to do everything in style :) 

So, now I'm 60 (double EEK!) and now, only now, do I feel as if I'm finally discovering who I really really am, after all these years.  So I'm still shaking my head, but now, in amazement.  Why the hell did it take this long, I ask you!  And no way am I going to give up that lower south side girl who bought an inexpensive bedroom set made partially out of plastic wood!  Or give up the set, either.

One thing - I wish I would have bought a second nightstand.  At the time, though, the budget just wouldn't allow.  As it was, I "financed" the purchase; I think I was paying around 16% interest at the time, but I paid that sucker off in a year and was happy to pay the interest because it allowed me to have my very first and, as it turns out, ONLY, bedroom set!  I even had investments back then that were paying like 18% a year annual return; I think a "cheap" mortgage at the time was like 14%.  Oh, the things I've seen and lived through...

A year later I met a man that I almost married.  He had money, a beautiful house in an exclusive part of town, a fine career, an education, and was already twice-divorced.  he was 33 at the time.  He had an 8-year old daughter I never met, despite dating him off and on for five years.  He drove me to work in his BMW and introduced me to the "finer things in life."  He called me every day just to chat and later, to tell me he loved me.  He took me to the best restaurants in town.  We went to plays, movies, and rode our bikes with his best bud, Jim, although I could never keep up! He loved gardening and introduced me to plants and growing things just for the love of it, not just for food!  I had already a love for gardening (it's genetic, I think), and he nurtured it.  He freely introduced me to his friends.  He wanted to get involved in politics and was - ugh - messing around with the Republicans.  Ohmygoddess, there was this fund-raiser cocktail party we attended once -- we had one of our worst fights EVER afterward because of the -- well.  For the education he freely gave me, and for sharing his life so openly with me, I will always be grateful, and to this day, he holds a place in my heart.  Some of these memories still hurt. Some make me smile and fall in love all over again. He introduced me to the world of cooking gourmet foods, and art, and "fine" living.  I, in turn, had always loved opera and symphonic music (my dad would play it for hours on end on old 33.3 speed embossed records [before vinyl], and taught me about some of the early singers and some of the great composers) and I introduced him to that; and entertained him for hours before the fireplace as we sipped French-pressed coffee on Sunday mornings, talking about ancient history (history was one of my majors in undergrad and an enduring love).  He loved cooking.  I would be sprawled out in front of his fireplace, studying (for I was still in undergrad when we first met), and he would be in his finely-equipped kitchen, cooking wonderful things for the two of us.  Three things stopped me from agreeing to marry him when he eventually hinted around at it and then finally, asked, after several break-ups, and make-ups: (1) His prior failures in marriage; (2) he didn't want any children (I wasn't sure if I did either at that point in my life, but I wanted to leave my options open); and, most importantly, (3) he made fun of my Hack's bedroom set, with it's plastic wood. That really, really hurt.

Oh Goddess, I can't believe I'm writing about all of this.  But I am only revealing some -- not all.

Oh nightstand!  I wish I had another one of you.  But I'll never be
able to find another you...
It would be too simple to say that Mr. V saw me as his "Eliza Doolittle."  It was so much more complicated than that.  I was, and am, a fighting bitchy witch!  Part of the family inheritance, I believe, after learning about some of my ancestors through my research of the family tree.  Well, I'm pretty sure not too many people will ever read this, and those who do will mostly be my friends and buds, and they will understand.  At least, I hope they will understand why I am the way I am!  That little girl from the "lower south side" still lives on, vibrantly, within. 

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