Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

The Plain Gray Hat

Sunday, January 10th, 2016
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Remnants of a once vast collection. + one Argentinian fan.

Hats. I love’em. I used to collect them. Vintage hats in particular, but the random, really great baseball hat, here and there, too. Then I moved into a very small two bedroom/one bath bungalow with my boyfriend (now husband) and at some point, I could no longer justify the space needed to maintain a 100-200 piece hat collection.

So, on New Year’s Eve, I found out the party I was attending that night at my friend Cass’ house required hats. As in, “you need to bring funny hats.” THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER THROW ANYTHING OUT. I had hundreds of the perfect hat. I knew I would need those, even if it was 16 years down the road. Damn it.

Todd reminded me that I still had a few in a storage box in the basement. (I admit that it is also true that you kind of forget what things you have when you keep them in storage and you don’t really miss them.) I rummaged around in the basement and found the box. I opened it. I smiled involuntarily. I couldn’t help it.

Those hats.

I do remember when we moved and I put the rest of them into storage, I kept the “prettiest” one out and put it on our new shelves in the basement, along with many hardback books, photos, some artwork we’ve collected over the years, a collection of hammer heads and figurines that belonged to my grandfather, my old camera collection, and my pottery. (That stuff could be a post of its own.) The hat originally belonged to my Aunt Lessie, who was both an occasional Goat Man, and a very fashionable woman of Savannah. She also forever remains ingrained in my memory for insisting on going swimming at our neighborhood pool with us when I was probably 12 or so. She actually brought her own bathing suit. God, I wish I had that still – probably 1960s! She wore it with her swimming cap, also vintage, a plastic number with plastic flowers on it. She was well into her 70s by this point, and I think my Dad almost had a heart attack when she insisted on going off the diving board. 12-year-old me thought she was a badass. I still do.

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Aunt Lessie’s vintage hat that sits on a downstairs shelf.

She and Grandma seemed to buy many of their hats at Savannah’s Glendale hat shop. Most of their hats had the Glendale label sewn inside them.

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I love the internet. This postcard, part of the Library of Boston archives, was issued approximately 1930-1945.

Um, I guess I should admit that I also collect some postcards, but only of places that any line of my ancestors lived. (If you are interested in Georgia postcards, you can see the rest of that library’s archived Georgia postcard collection here.) I later ended up with these Aunt Lessie hats and about 10 others, plus Lisa and I split all of my grandmother Palmer’s hats. These are the only ones I kept.

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Two of my Aunt Lessie’s hats: The one on the left is Italian, and the one on the right is a weird, stiff material, with plastic flowers. I always loved the way it fit, although now I would probably not wear it often. For one thing, it looked better with my hair dyed black. I used to wear it with vintage dresses and Dad would call me Minnie Pearl.

 

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I did not inherit this hat (or her others) until after she died, but seeing photos of my grandmothers and Aunt Lessie wearing hats fueled my love for hats very early on.

My hat collection, though, really started one fateful day in Little Five Points. I believe I was skipping school that day, although I can’t quite remember the details. I was there with my friends Jenni, John, and. . .one other person, but I cannot for the life of me remember who it was. Time makes things foggy. I bought this one at a vintage store. Or it might have been Junkman’s Daughter when it was over near where Criminal Records is now. Again, fogginess.

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Forest green beret with velvet bow.

Oh, how I loved this hat. I know exactly why; If you are a girl of the eighties, the hat with a bow might ring a bell for you, too.

In middle school, when that video came out, I wanted a hat just like Madonna’s. The green beret with the velvet bow was as close as I ever got. Side note: This hat was later hijacked for at least a year by my boyfriend at the time, who wore it liberally. He also wore eyeliner, because it was 1990. My Dad loved that I was in love with a boy who wore hats with velvet bows, and eyeliner. (And he was a Yankee, no less.)

My mom must have picked up on this new obsession, because she gave me the following hat for Christmas one year when I was in high school. (Jason B. Vat 69! And the pink cassette player from middle school. Lisa, why do we not have that any longer? It was awesome.)

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Me, wearing a hat from my mom. Christmas of my Junior or Senior year, I guess? That’s Pop sitting over to the side, wearing his signature goat man outfit.

So, over the years, I collected more and more of them. Vintage stores, yard sales, estate sales. It probably got out of hand, but if you ever loved collecting, you know how that happens. I had so many people start bringing them to me, because they knew how much I loved them. Here’s a not-so-great photo of my room at home one Summer.

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I used to have a protruding clavicle!

I must have really chopped my hair and it looks like it was black at this point. (I cannot even begin to remember what it was like to have so much time on my hands that I would move home in the summer and decorate my room. Does not compute.)

I know it was college, because my sister is wearing a hat that I either stole from my friend Mike Maier, or let him draw on. I know that the artwork on the hat is his. I believe he also drew on some shoes I had, and definitely some jeans. See all the hats on the wall? They went all the way around the room, and it was not the whole collection. There are some on the bedpost over my shoulder, too. You can also see the very odd 1980s intercom system we had in our house (behind the lamp).

Side note: I had a different room in high school. My sister moved into it after I left for college and I took over her room, shown here. In my old room, I would unscrew the intercom faceplate from the wall, pull it out, hide contraband on the ledge inside with the wiring, then replace the plate and screw it back into the wall. I struggle to see how my children will ever pull anything over on Todd or me.

Remember the boy with the eyeliner and the beret?  Here is a hat he gave me for Christmas the first year we were together. We were Freshmen at UGA at that point. It was a beautiful gift. (Another beautiful gift, in the background, is the fan and silver stand that my husband brought me from Argentina a few years ago. I have a habit of picking men who are more thoughtful than I am. Opposites attract, I suppose.)

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I adored this hat and yes, I kept it all these years, despite the fact that it was too small for my large head. I just loved it. I love it still.
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Side note: It was never lost on me that the boyfriend’s purchase, while acknowledging my love of hats, was also a nod to his obsession with Perry Farrell. I mean, come on.

There was one more hat in the box.

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The gray hat.

It is not beautiful. I don’t remember buying it or someone giving it to me, although someone must have. I do remember it being a staple of my wardrobe in college, though. I wore it almost daily, backwards (the 90s, yo), and I think that it’s functionality was the reason that I wore it so much. It was lightweight enough to wear in Summer and I didn’t care if it got messed up, so I wore it while I worked at The Grill, where every time you went home and you smelled like hamburgers and french fries (with feta) and grease. At one point, I lived in a three bedroom house on Prince Ave. with my friend Mya and a rotating cast of characters, sometimes as many as 6 of us living there at one time. There was also a time when every roommate also worked at The Grill and our house completely smelled like The Grill. It makes me gag now, the thought of waking up hung over, or having to be at work at 11PM for a night shift, and unable to find clean uniforms. We’d just share dirty work shirts off the floor of our bedrooms. My bedroom one summer was actually a dining room. With a curtain to the living room and a swinging door to the kitchen. (It is amazing what you start remembering when you start typing.)

I wore that hat out.

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So, here I am, on the day before New Year’s 2016, and we are asked to wear hats to my friends’ NYE party, and I open that box, and I am flooded with memories of high school, college, music, and friends. Of being excited by things and people and culture and life. But it was that gray hat that struck me the hardest. It made me think of that first time in my life that my heart was broken, and I didn’t know yet that pain lessens over time, or that you don’t actually need other people, because either way things will be okay. I learned that, if you’re patient, things will get better. I learned how to be alone and how to get over things, and how to love myself, all around that period of time that I used to wear that hat.

When I saw it lying in the storage bin, I immediately thought of this photo of me in the hat, and my grandmother’s vintage coat (GOD, why do I get rid of things?) standing on the beach in Charleston. I was brokenhearted and had that awful feeling of wanting to run away, of fear, of not knowing I would be okay. I remember discussing it all with my friend Matt, a fellow insomniac who visited me quite often while I worked the night shift at the Grill. We made the decision to drive to Charleston as soon as I got off work at 7 a.m. We took my truck, a hand-me-down tan Nissan truck with a camper on the back that had belonged to my grandfather, with zero bells and whistles and which smelled like old dog farts, no matter what I did to alleviate the smell. We drove to Charleston and spent a cold day walking the streets, snapping photos, and then finding a cheap motel. And the next morning we drove out to the beach – Folly, I guess – and we had breakfast and then walked on the freezing beach. He took this picture without me knowing.

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The other thing I notice about this photo is that it very clearly shows my “old” nose, before the drunken face-first wall incident of my 21st birthday, or the “Memorial Day drunk driver hitting us head on in Florida on the way back from Brant and Melissa’s wedding” accident, both of which busted my nose and required surgery to fix. It looks pretty much the same now, but I can still tell the difference.

I still remember that morning on a Charleston beach, and the thoughts I was thinking, the things making me feel sad and overwhelmed. The feeling of not knowing what would happen. I was on a precipice. And it reminded me of the sadness and depression I felt just last year in 2015, on a different beach twenty-five years later, where I walked my dog at 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and snapped this photo of myself.

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There I was that morning, on another precipice, seemingly standing at the edge of the world. I was in a similar place: Not heartbroken, but sad, lost, frustrated, and wanting to run away from all of my confused feelings. The difference was that I had already been there once before. And I didn’t really run that first time, 25 years ago, even though I had the benefit of spontaneity, no responsibilities, and a road trip. I came back from Charleston to Athens, and I learned how to deal with feeling the things that I didn’t want to feel, and I learned that no matter what, I would be okay, because I loved myself and I could take care of myself. I learned that Everything would be okay.

And I learned it all while wearing one nondescript, really nasty, trashed gray hat.

Babyland

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Todd took Rollie to Monster Jam last night and when Tills heard they were going, she was a little upset. So, my sister and I decided we’d take the day and drive to Cleveland to take her to Babyland General. (We took Dash, too. You know. To see if he’s gay or not.)

Now, neither of us had been there since we were little girls, and admittedly, we were pretty excited. We had “Adoption Dolls” as little girls, before Xavier Roberts sold to Mattel and they renamed them Cabbage Patch Kids, and they were like magic. It is funny now to think how all the moms and daughters of the 80s drank the kool-aid on this one: These dolls are really nothing much to look at. Some of them are damn ugly. (Lisa, I’m looking at Tiffany!) But there was something completely magical about them. I can still remember getting my first one (a knock-off named Stephanie.)

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This is Lisa and Me, Christmas 1981. I am not sure if we got Stephanie and Samantha this Christmas, or if they just came downstairs with us on Christmas morning. (Yes, this was also the year we arrived in the future and got an Atari! And I got The Black Stallion Breyer horse. A magical Christmas, all in all.)

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And here I am a month later, on my birthday, holding both of the girls before opening my gifts. Lisa and I played with these things So. Much.

And I can remember loving her, and wanting another! I remember going into the toy shop in downtown Alpharetta. (I forget what it was called – maybe the Indian Trading Post? It had an old cigar store Indian out front.) I would go in that shop, and look at all the “real” adoption dolls they had in there. I think part of the magic was that there were so many different colors and combinations of eye and hair color, and they had real baby clothes on, and they were given real first and middle names, just like real babies, and when you adopted one, you got a real birth certificate, with baby footprints and your name signed on it, and their birthdays and everything.

Magic.

So, in the end, i ended up with one knock-off, who was my first, and whom I loved just as much as the next two. Stephanie Lynn was later joined by Minerva and Betsy. (I think those were their names. Guess I need to check the birth certificates.) I suppose i remember Stephanie’s name because i named her myself. The other two came with laminated tags on their hands that had their names Sharpied on.) Minerva was a redhead, and Betsy (?) a raven-haired beauty.

Anyways, I digress, but the point of all this is to say that being a parent is hard and sometimes infuriating, sometimes scary, sometimes sad. But sometimes it is wonderful. Taking your child to do something you did as a child, or teaching them to fish, or seeing them touched by magic that you can still remember and feel? That is one of the most special parts of parenthood. Yesterday was one of those days.

Green Recessionista? Cheap Meanie?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I’m really not sure whether this makes me eco-conscious, or a big old, no fun stick-in-the-mud. I do know that it looks frighteningly like something Pop would have done, although I did not take it as far as his sister Mary, who would just strike out the writing on cards and then reuse them.

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Perhaps would have looked cuter had I saved weeks of comics and wrapped it all in those? Curious to see what Rollie’s reaction will be when his gift is not clad in Spidey or, um, anything with color on it.

So, am i Green or Cheap? (or both?)

Mother’s Day Tea

Friday, May 7th, 2010

I still feel strange being the Mother in the Mother’s Day scenario. When I think of Mother’s Day, I think patent leather shoes and church and lilies. But here I am, perched in the too-small church preschool chair, being served sweet tea and cookies by a four-year-old.

This Kid’s Got Heart

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Lots of heart.

She just came up to me with this and said, “I made this for you, mama.”

Aw, HELLs Yeah!

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Just received this in an email from what I thought was my children’s deadbeat Dad, on the lam in NYC.

Subject: Uh Oh
Message: Whaaaaat’s This????

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Pretty. Shiny.

I guess maybe he really was working. . . or else he was very. very. bad.

The Bigass Bulldog Birdhouse Birthday

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Why, yes . . . yes, I did get a $100 dollar Georgia Bulldog birdhouse for my birthday. Funny story behind that, which I will get to in a moment. But first, I have to say that I had a lovely morning, getting to sleep late, which for people with kids means eight a.m. (Screw you, childless folk.)

I woke up to Todd and Tiller climbing in bed with me (Rollie had already caught the bus), and Todd doing a darn good version of The Beatles’ “Birthday,” with Tiller grinning like a cheshire cat and a cup of coffee materializing on my bedside table.

Coffee. In. Bed.

Then I was informed that I should finish my coffee get dressed and go downstairs. I did, and I found this:

Hundred dollar Georgia Bulldog birdhouse with hydrangea and cards.

Hundred dollar Georgia Bulldog birdhouse with hydrangea and cards.

I was a little caught off guard. That is one big ass bulldog birdhouse. Did the Tiger husband really buy me a bulldog birdhouse? Is this a joke? (Also, let’s be honest. While I am a bulldog fan, I don’t want to be those people. You know, the ones who have UGA everything. That being said, if those folks at the lake ever die, I am so going to try to buy their huge Bulldog statue they have in front of their cabin, right on the lake.)

We opened the very sweet cards from the kids and Todd, and I oohed and aahhed over the birdhouse and the hydrangea. I asked Todd, “Am i really allowed to put the birdhouse in the yard?” It seemed to pain him as he replied, “yes, baby, you just tell me where.”

“Where on earth did you get it?” I asked.

“Echo’s garage!” Tiller replied with glee. “Echo” is what Tiller calls Mr. Echols, the old man who lives next door to us. Some things you just don’t correct, because they are too cute.

I stared at Todd and then the truth came out.

Mr. Echols likes to show us stuff in his yard. He has a friend, who made him a couple of birdhouses, huge wooden deals, kind of more on the side of what Todd and I call, “Country Christian” or “Ducks in Bonnets” style than cool and funky folk art Finster-style birdhouses. Meaning, not exactly what I would choose, but neat enough.

So, Echo was showing Todd the birdhouses and telling him about the friend who makes them, and all the different styles he makes. “He also makes Georgia Bulldog birdhouses,” he said.

Todd replied, “Oh, Anne would love that!” Being polite, you know.

So, a few days before Christmas, Mr. Echols pulled Todd aside to show him my new birdhouse. That’s right. He just went ahead and had the guy make me the birdhouse. FOR A HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Todd had already bought me Christmas gifts, and he didn’t want to hurt Echo’s feelings, so he decided the birdhouse would be my birthday gift.

And what a gift it is. . . I will never look at that birdhouse without thinking that my husband, the Auburn Tiger, is sweet enough to just cough up the hundred bucks so as not to hurt Echo’s feelings, and that he loves me enough to put up a bigass Bulldog backyard birdhouse for me.

Already this birthday is pretty bitchin.’ Thanks, Toddler!

Squid

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

When we were in Auburn over the holidays, Todd and I had drinks at our friends’ Iain and Noelle’s house. I love Noelle, because she is a crazy dog lady like myself (but with the added plus of having a husband who allows her more than one dog – they have three) and there are usually about five to ten dogs hanging out there on any given day. Also, they don’t care when I bring along the Q Man. I love that.

So, when Quint was a puppy, Iain’s son, Noah, couldn’t say Quint and instead called him “Squid.” And so the nickname stuck for the Stewart clan, and when Quint is at Iain’s house, he is Squid.

Iain is a very talented watercolorist. While we were there, Iain’s brother Matt showed me a watercolor that Iain had done of Matt and Shannon’s two dogs, Bodie and Omar. I LOVED it and was so jealous. I told Iain I wanted him to do one of Quint some day. Unbeknownst to me, Iain went back to his office and pulled up this picture of Quint on his computer:

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And then, while I drank beer and petted dogs, and chatted with Noelle, Shannon, and Fiona while watching Dream Girls, Iain proceeded to sketch and paint Quint, in about 20 minutes. (Like i said, he is v. talented.) Check Squid out!

My dog Quint in a watercolor by Iain Stewart.

My dog Quint in a watercolor by Iain Stewart.

That is not a very good shot of the painting, and I did not have time to scan him in, but if you want to see a great scan of the Squid watercolor, and other works by the very talented Iain, go to Iain Stewart Watercolors website or Facebook page. Make sure to become a fan!

You will see that Iain only dabbles in dog portraiture, but is an amazing Landscape Watercolorist (I have one in my bedroom that he gave to us on our Wedding Day) and a talented Architectural Illustrator. In addition, he does a wonderful drunk Scot impersonation, and a damn funny r2d2.

It makes me feel a little like a wealthy Victorian lady to have a commissioned portrait of my favorite pet. I must go find my parasol and bonnet now.

Lego nerd

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

I swear to God, Rollie and Todd have been playing Legos for five hours straight. I am completely amazed at rollie’s focus and Todd’s infinite patience.

I Love AngelARTGifts

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Some of my favorite gifts this season were made by Adrienne at AngelARTGifts.

My friend Adrienne makes some beautiful handsewn gifts, and she made these for me. She traced Rollie and Tiller's handprints and put them on handtowels. I gave a set to each of the grandmothers and kept this set for myself. So sweet!

She makes some beautiful hand sewn gifts, and she made these for me. She traced Rollie and Tiller's handprints and put them on handtowels. I gave a set to each of the grandmothers and kept this set for myself. So sweet!

On this one, their hands were so close in size that she put letters on them to designate whose hand is whose.

On this one, their hands were so close in size that she put letters on them to designate whose hand is whose.

It was such a joy to see the look on the Grandmas’ faces when they saw them. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t look at mine and get a little weepy thinking about how my babies’ hands will never be quite this small ever again.

Click the link above and check out her other creations. Personally, I am eyeing the sweet crayon roll. Very cool!