Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Heroes take journeys,

confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves." 

      Carol Lynn Pearson
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day to honor those who died in the Civil War, but, because we could not keep wars under control, the name was changed to Memorial Day to honor all those who died while serving in the Armed Forces.  On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (see--Congress can do things!), which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.  After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress' change of date within a few years.

Although the holiday typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, it is good to think about what benefits come from those who serve and die for those of us in this country.  We can vote (even if many of us do not!); we can speak, worship, and travel through this country freely; and we can do as much or as little as we want.  And, speaking of doing what we want, the small business entrepreneur represents someone who works for himself or herself not for some big corporation.  Being able to start a business is one of our rights...something to think about as you roam about those small towns on your summer holidays.  Unlike a co-op or even a consignment shop where many pay rent and may work, the one or two person owned shops put forth all effort and money to make a shopping experience special. 

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to a local fellow business woman, Yvonne, who just opened a new shop, Sea Lily's at 9500 Third Avenue in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

Yvonne...and all of us with small shops...try to find special merchandise for you.  Unlike the big box stores that just pack it in, a small shop owner thinks about everything he or she puts out.  Let's take a tour of Sea Lily's...
 From wonderful hats...

 to colorful scarves...
 and amazing jewelry in all price ranges ... 

And there are wonderful prints and posies and several card displays...and Yvonne is partial to mermaids so be aware they will be swimming around the walls and displays at Sea Lily's for sure!

 This is a favorite pick of Yvonne's---that great lamp...and mermaid bookends...
 And, if you have a youngster or a young-at-heart mermaid lover, some cuties here...
 Hostess gifts or host yourself!
 Beautiful handcrafted pottery...
 Sweet night lights...
 Treasures on shelves and in cabinets...

 And, lotions and perfumes for that touch of luxury after a day in the sea and sand...

So, if you are in Stone Harbor, check out Sea Lily's and say hello to Yvonne!
And be sure to check out her favorite lamp...if it has not sold! 
Remember as you grill that steak or walk on the beach or visit little shops around town...we have the freedom to do all of this because men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free to discover our "true selves".
All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"There are no bad pictures;

that's just how your face looks sometimes.”
― Abraham Lincoln
I was catching up on my reading and came across research that was published in Psychological Science that caught my attention.  The study discovered that "by taking a picture, instead of helping someone to remember an event, it might just cause memory loss".  It was based on having individuals take photos of a museum visit, and it revealed that "objects seen during a museum tour were less likely to remember facts than people who have only gazed at the items."

I wonder if all of the instagraming and pinteresting are doing a ctrl-alt-del to our brains.  I am still old-fashioned enough to love the actual photograph...not a computer image.  In fact, I have a Pinterest page for the shop, but I just cannot bring myself to pay much attention to it.  In fact, as the days go by, I am getting a tad bored with "pixel photos" as I am going to call them.  I look at photos that I gather in my travels...or check this one out that one of my "picker sisters" brought me.  It is a metal frame, and I can just imagine the tales behind this woman.  Now, if I saw it on Pinterest, it would be neat, but it would be fleeting.  The reality of a photo in a frame puts that person in constant contact.

Even though "scrapbooking" is around...and seems to be falling out of vogue...what will folks 100 years from now have to look at?  Point and clicks?  What will your grandchildren have?  Technology evolves, but paper involves. 
I guess the imaginative spirit in me wonders about the people on the paper.  I do consider the folks of the screen, but not as much I realized as I do about the photo finds.  Who is she?  Where did she live?  What kind of life did she have? 
Maybe the point and clicks reveal too much, and so we really don't need to think or imagine about them. 
So, as the summer vacation days are upon us, why not take some of the I-photos and print them out.  As Dorothea Lange, an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work, perhaps one of the most famous shown below, wrote...
             “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. ”

Sunday, May 11, 2014

“A mother is the truest friend we have,

 when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”   ~Washington Irving

This year I feel as though I am playing "mother" to my Mother.  Her hip fracture and subsequent break put her through two surgeries in less than two months.  She will be 88 this week, and I am trying to cause peace to return to her heart.
Mother's Day is the second-biggest holiday in terms of consumer spending, and this year Americans are expected to spend between $18 billion and $19.8 billion to show mom how much they care.  A retail group says most moms should expect the traditional gifts of a card, offered by 81.3 percent, flowers (66.6 percent) or a nice meal out (56.5 percent). Overall the report says we're feeling a little less flush than last year and will be spending an average $163 on gifts, down $5 from 2013.

The woman who organized Mother's Day--which is celebrating its hundred year anniversary this year--Anne Jarvis, would have liked that amount to be zero.  It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women's organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis—Anna's mother—held Mother's Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination.  The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865. 
Anna Jarvis never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother's Day observances in 1908. 

On May 10 of that year, families gathered at events in Jarvis's hometown of Grafton, West Virginia—at a church now renamed the International Mother's Day Shrine—as well as in Philadelphia, where Jarvis lived at the time, and in several other cities. In 1914,  President Wilson declared it a national holiday for the second Sunday in May.  Anna Jarvis's idea of an intimate Mother's Day quickly became a commercial gold mine (as Americans can do better than anyone)  centering on the buying and giving of flowers, candies, and greeting cards—a development that deeply disturbed Jarvis.

 She set about dedicating herself and her sizable inheritance to returning Mother's Day to its reverent roots. Jarvis's fervent attempts to reform Mother's Day continued until at least the early 1940s. In 1948 she died at 84 penniless and broken in Philadelphia's Marshall Square Sanitarium.

Hallmark Cards sold its first Mother's Day cards in the early 1920s and reports that Mother's Day is the number three holiday for card exchange in the United States, behind Christmas and Valentine's Day—another apparent affront to the memory of the mother of Mother's Day.  About 133 million Mother's Day cards are exchanged annually, according to Hallmark.  After Christmas, it's the second most popular holiday for giving gifts.  In a way, it is good to know that cards still exist and mothers are not just getting tweets or texts, still it is not about stuff as I wrote a couple weeks ago.  It is about people...and whoever your mother is...whether from birth or from love...
 “Because I feel that, in the Heavens above 
 The angels, whispering to one another,
 Can find, among their burning terms of love
 None so devotional as that of ‘Mother’”
Edgar Allan Poe

Sunday, May 4, 2014

"The world's favorite season is the spring.

All things seem possible in May."  ~ Edwin Way Teale

And with that idea, I am in the process of reworking some parts of the shop.  I bought a new cash register, and, in order to unplug the old one, I had to download a huge stepback cupboard.  In the process of taking everything down and out of the bottom closed shelves, I discovered a set of dishes that had been tucked there for safekeeping.  The problem though was they were so safe that they were forgotten.  So, out they came...
The set represents another lifestyle...note the no harsh dishwasher...this set truly is symbolic of another world.  It was produced in the German Fraureuth Porcelain Factory.

The mark dates to 1919-1926.  In a way, it is modern in the colors and design.  The company was in business from 1865-1926. 
They are modern in the trials that they faced as well.  In 1865, Arwed Gustav von Römer and Georg Bruno Foedisch took over an old cotton wool factory in Fraureuth.   By 1867, they had 60 workers and two porcelain stoves.  They took care of their workers by establishing a "sick fund" and a "funeral fund" as well as establishing a factory savings bank for the workers security (modern comparison stops there).  By 1879, their workers number 444, and they received awards for cobalt and gold designs.
As they added more workers, they established an accident insurance for the factory(imagine a company that cared for its workers).

The number of workers rises to 544, and they continue to receive honors for their designs.  In 1892, they begin to produce tableware, and profit increases as they become one of the largest porcelain factories in Germany.  By the turn of the century, they are exporting to France, England, America, Australia, China, South Africa and east India.
They create a foundation for war survivors and those killed (imagine modern companies doing that!).

By 1920, they expand to 1200 workers and 300 officials as growth continues; however, as new production methods are instituted, the quality becomes substandard.  The buyers do not like the lesser quality since they believed cheaper was not better (contrary to modern times), and so, as taxes were left unpaid, bankruptcy was declared, and by 1934, the company was dissolved.

I am always fascinated by the history of the businesses behind the pieces.  Not to mention, looking at these dishes from the perspective of sitting down for a meal with fine china and cloth napkins as opposed to styrofoam and paper.

For as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above the hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."