Friday, January 1, 2016

2016, It's a strange New Year

Pink flowering Quince, Rugby Rd, Cville.
As I drove downtown in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday, I was amazed at the dots of color on many of our early blooming plants. I do not ever recall my New Year being welcomed by waving pink and yellow flowers. It's a nice contrast between the dead blossoms and the early flush of Spring color. But wait a minute, it's not Spring! Sadly the pretty buds will be crushed by the anticipated January and February chill but a good freeze will kill off many insect pest populations.

Forsythia in bloom on Forsythia Hill
A few years ago in Cville we had a really early Spring in February. I didn't like it much because every plant in the yard exploded at once, leading into a lull of no bloom activity. YAWN. I prefer a gradual opening of plants, a daily treasure hunt to see what has decided to open its sleepy eyes. With the cold air pumping in from the North this week, I'm afraid this oddity is nearly over. We can only hope that Spring will stay put until its normal arrival come late March to early April in Virginia.

Dried Hydrangea blossom on Forsythia Hill
A few weeks ago while dashing around madly trying to tie loose Christmas shopping ends, a woman with Florida plates tossed a wad of gum out her car window in front of me. I was so angry, waving and pointing, and kept thinking about it for a good hour. This led me to question my reaction and ask myself why in the world would my thoughts be occupied for so long concerning such a trivial event. People over the world have bombs being dropped on their heads, are fighting back Ebola, and are starving. I remember when I was growing up my mother always said, eat your greens, little children in Africa are starving and they really ARE!

Jethro, a rooster with a good attitude.
In trying to analyze what has happened in our society, I decided that people are too quick to judge. Shooting down crowds of people they dislike because of their frustration. We have become an intolerant society. Possibly due to the use of all the electronics. You can google and find an answer to any question in 2 seconds. We just don't have the patience to deal with society that can not satisfy us quickly. Nothing seems to be right and by God if its not right then you are gonna hear about it. Face to face or through an online review.

Finding beauty in the madness.
The looming Presidential Election might just be more entertaining than enlightening depending upon who is nominated to run. The political climate in the US falls into the category of intolerance generating feelings of hatred and madness. What should be look for in a President? In looking back, the top 3 President's ever were Abe, Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt. This is an interesting list and not surprisingly, recent presidents are ranked as some of the worst in history (personally I think Jimmy should receive a better ranking but it's not based on his performance after his stay in the White House). Franklin Roosevelt served longer than any other President (4 terms). No wonder he died in office. If he were living now, he probably would have died after term 2! He ended Prohibition and got right to work when elected, making his campaign promises good.

I said no to Starbuck's red cup all together!
Nothing too strange is slated for me personally. I'll continue to sell my vintage wares, develop my garden for the bugs and birds, and try my best to remove intolerance from my thoughts leaving compassion, and curiosity in its place. Some of the most fun I had last year was from unexpected events.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Echinacea
Butterfly watching, exploration of local Wineries with the girls, and the surprise transformation of Janie the hen into Jethro the rooster! Continuing my desire to tread lightly on Mother Earth, last year I only accepted one plastic bag from a store, using my cloth bag all other times. I always carry a cup with me for those Coffee Shop trips and rarely used their paper cups. I'm planting more native plants, swapping and trading with fellow plant lovers.

Set achievable goals for yourself and stick to them! If you forget your cloth bag, just put your items in your cart and wheel to your car. You will be sure to not forget it the next time!

Wishing you a Happy 2016.

-Rebecca

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Charlottesville Area Holiday Giving Guide, a Time to be Grateful

The biggest time of the year for non-profits to receive donations is during the Holiday Season. As the year nears to an end, its time to get those tax deductible donations to deserving charities.

As your heart strings are pulled with each mailer and online story, its time to reflect and be grateful for what you have. Living in this gloriously beautiful and bountiful county we take many things for granted. 

We often forget that even in our lowest of low moments there is always a worse situation. Try to imagine living in a tent for 20 years evicted from your homeland, persecuted because of your religion or race. 

The last time war was declared on our homeland soil was in 1941 on the attack of Pearl Harbor and I for one have never lived in a war zone. To live day in and day out with bombs raining down on you is unimaginable. 

I often feel the potential for happiness in our country is squandered without thought of a worse scenario. Be grateful for your blessings and be thoughtful of others during this season of giving. There are families that barely find the resources to pay the monthly rent living in fear of eviction and forgotten animals that are chained and allowed to live their entire life alone outside.

I look for charities that work day in and day out in the trenches and use their funds to really help those they service. If you haven't quite found the right charity, here are a few to add to your list for consideration.

My mom. Respect and love of pets starts early. 
I tend to lean toward animal rescue groups as I have a history of helping animals and feel they can't defend for themselves so are most worthy. Giving directly to a local Animal Welfare Agency is the way to go. The larger national groups DO NOT annually trickle funds down to local groups and often your local Humane Society / SPCA receives no government funding. They need your help the most. If you prefer to not give cash, they often take supplies - food, cat litter, etc or operate Thrift Stores

My shelter babies. No chain zone at my house!
Two of my favorite Charlottesville, VA Animal Welfare groups merged together under the Voices for Animals umbrella. Houses of Wood and Straw (HOWS) is a tireless volunteer group that helps the most desperate animals that are chained outside 24 X 7. If it were up to them, no animals would be chained but sadly Virginia law finds this perfectly acceptable, even though for years rescue groups have attempted to change this. HOWS does what it can, given the law, to upgrade dog houses, expand fenced areas, and to pay for medical treatment of often the emaciated or the forgotten.

There are is an Animal Rescue for just about any pure breed pet imaginable. One that I volunteer for is Siamese Cat Rescue Center. One would think a Siamese Cat would never enter an Animal Shelter. But they have saved over 10,000 Siamese from death. When I was the Director at the Pulaski County Humane Society (another good charity that tirelessly operates on a shoe string budget) they saved many of our Siamese cats from death. It runs like a well oiled ship and there is a dedicated shelter at the Virginia Chapters home.

Forget the Yard Sale, haul it to the SPCA!
I tend to get motivated at the end of the year to start clearing out. Your local SPCA Thrift Store is a great place to donate your used items. If you prefer to give to a non-animal based charity several of the more well known agencies pay their CEO's huge annual salaries. So give some thought as to who can really benefit from your castaway treasures. 

There has been a lot of talk in the media about refugees and fear of allowing a potential criminal into our country through this program. Since my move to Charlottesville, I've been fortunate to meet refugee families and learn of their plight. One particular family arrived several years ago after living in a tent for 20 years. They didn't even understand the operation of a window, much less a stove! Arriving in December wearing flipflops and summer clothing, and not speaking one word of English. Imagine for one moment if that is all you had. Ok, so do it again, visualize if that was all you had and you were placed down into what appeared to be MARS. If a criminal wanted to enter our country, this program would be the last port of entry as it can take from 3 years to 20 to escape your tent city! To make a cash or item donation to help a part of our population that is truly destitute upon arrival, the local International Rescue Committee is the agency which coordinates the arrival of refugees.

For a host of reasons, sometimes years can pass without employment. This, understandably, can lead to depression or loss of a home. A few years ago we went to a plant sale and discovered Our Community Place in Harrisonburg, VA, a vibrant community center that helps anyone that needs assistance, and several days a week it provides free meals.

To find an international charity, Give Well rates charities.

A little goes a long way and it is absolutely true that if we each gave just a little, it could make a world of difference. Happy Holidays and spread the joy!

-Rebecca



Friday, November 13, 2015

Vintage for the Holidays

Poland Wawel China Serving Platter by ForsythiaHill at Etsy
As a vintage seller, I often run into one of a kind items on Etsy that I just have to share! Let's take a walk down memory lane and get into the spirit for the Holiday season, vintage style. All items mentioned in my blog are currently for sale, but hurry, the season is HERE!

Pink and Black Sunbeam Mixer by Vetera on Etsy.
Many of my treasured household items are put to use during this time of year. The antique platter of Grandmom's is always used at Holiday dinners and the vintage mixing bowl set is pulled out to accommodate the assortment of cookies I whip up. I have one platter that doesn't match anything I own that was my Mom's. I use it every time I bake cookies and it always reminds me of our house where I grew up.

Charming set of Cone Gnome's by Cybersenora on Etsy
Vintage ornaments are often fun conversation pieces. You will be sure to get friends and family asking about your unique "kitsch" vintage holiday collectibles! There is something homey and warm about vintage Christmas Decor. It's really fun to collect a certain era or theme.

Bottle Brush Wreath by CommodityMOD on Etsy
Don't limit your decorating to indoors! Unique wreaths, swags, balls, and outdoor ornamentation can be found online and shipped straight to your door. I love simple accents that meld well with nature. Each year I cut Pine and Holly boughs and put my window baskets to good use. A little twig tree at your entry door is a great place to hang vintage ornaments to greet your guests.

Pretty Lion 9 candle Menorah by ForsythiaHill
Have fun this Holiday season and shop vintage. Often items are built to last and a much higher quality for a lower price. I also like the fact that it is a great way to reuse and recycle old objects. Who doesn't like a treasure hunt.

Happy shopping, vintage style!

-Rebecca


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