Beautiful Hankies

When I was a girl, I remember seeing Grandma with an apron in the kitchen and a small hankie in the pocket of that apron.  In the hankie was a small round box of snuff. Close by was her coffee can (we won’t talk about that).  She had a quilting frame hanging from the ceiling and a sewing basket was always nearby.  She sat in “her chair”, sometimes with her feet propped up, always with a hankie in her pocket or sitting in her lap.

It was white, most of the time. Sometimes it had lace, or ruffles, sometimes it was thin and transparent. Sometimes it appeared to be more of a face cloth.  But, ALWAYS a hankie on her person.

On the other side of town, Great Granny (other side of the family) rocked in her chair on the braided rug. She died when I was about 9, so my memories of her are not as complete.  She cooked, sewed (in fact she smocked our dresses), and could tell good stories when she wanted us to take a rest on her big bed with the chenille bedspread and tufted pillows. She always wore an apron (hankie inside the pocket).

Mom gave me Great Granny’s apron when I started my Hope Chest, at 16.  It was the first item to go in! It hangs proudly in my laundry room on a faux clothesline.  The pocket has clothes pins in it, a safety pin through it and a hankie peeking out, of course.apron

Her hankies were printed, I know because I gave her some for Christmas. It was a box of three! I wanted to buy them because I saw her using Grandpa’s handkerchief once and it seemed so big in her tiny hands.  I was so proud to give her that gift. Mom let me deliver the Avon brochures to earn the $.75 it cost to purchase that box with the cellophane lid.

Her daughter in law, my Granny, used elegant hankies. Her’s were more costly, I supposed,  and fancy, as she was the first woman in our family to become a business woman. She was very fashionable, could design clothing and then sew them for the public.  She mixed face powder downtown in her regular job and later took up bowling tournaments to win a little on the side. She finally landed in Real Estate, joining the Million Dollar Circle when I was 14.  She pinned her hankie to her dress with a sweet brooch in the 30’s, kept one in her bowling bag at all times and I found one folded neatly inside her Bible when I was a child sitting in church. She used her beautiful hankie to wipe my mouth clean of the Ruby Shock red lipstick from mom’s Avon box when she came for a visit. And in her 90’s, she kept one in her hand or pocket to wipe her eyes as age related Macular Degeneration slowly and viciously stole the vision from her soft blue eyes.

My mother used hankies many times through the years. She tied my lunch money in them (until it became fashionable to use socks) and pinned it to my dress. She embroidered initials and sweet little flowers on the corners of some for gifts to give. She made dolls from them and we used them once for Halloween ghosts. She pinned one across the v-neck of my sweater for modesty when I was 12. And once, she lost a lot of weight during an illness and her wedding ring fell off. I watched as she tied her treasured black-hills gold band to a hankie and then tied it to her bra inside her work uniform.

When I was 18, mom really didn’t want me to marry.  But sadly, she participated with a smile and a hankie. Her mother, my Grandma, had given her a beautiful blue hankie with small pink flowers on the corner and a white edge. Grandma didn’t get dressed up to go anywhere anymore and this was a fancy, sheer hankie – made for a special occasion. Mom tied it to my bouquet so I would have all the generations of love with me. I kept it in my wedding journal with the pictures neatly pressed with the dried boutonniere  worn by my dad. Later, I tied that same hankie to my daughters bouquet in order to send generations of love down the aisle with her.  I made a baby cap with some purchased hankies for my granddaughter and my friends daughter and made hankies for work peers as gifts, back when I could sew. For a long time, I kept a hankie in my Bible, like Granny.  It came in handy with small children, emotional moments and emergency spills.

My friend, Rita, slipped a hankie in a card when my mother died. I was surprised to find it there and appreciated it at that moment.  I used it for months as her absence became more and more real.  What a lovely gesture of thoughtfulness. That one measure of kindness has added comfort to my life so many times. The same hankie comforted me as I bid farewell to my sister and a few good friends since then.  I used it when I was nervous, when I was sad, and when I was afraid. It’s like the tears in that hankie brought strength when I needed it most.

Yesterday, while cleaning a buffet drawer, I came across a stack of hankies. The fabrics are all different, some are printed and not, lacy and plain. hankie They are everyday hankies that were owned by some great women. I started collecting them as the powerful and loving women in my life left the earth. Today, I washed them fresh and pressed them (yes, with an iron) and made them ready to give someone else comfort. I hope the new owners will feel comforted by the generations of love carried within the tear-filled and lipstick- stained threads of the women who came before me- full of love, faith and determination.  My heritage.

I think it’s time these treasured hankies get back to work, don’t you agree?

It’s Been Awhile

I’ve never taken a month off in my life!  This was a first.

No writing, no recruiting for my direct sales endeavors, no creating posts or following up. No phone calls for orders (I just took what came in and felt grateful), no suggesting new products or looking for new affiliates. No cooking or dishes, no yard work.

I didn’t even enter my office.

The laptop was more of a dust-top!

So, how did I spend that valuable time?  We took a little 10 day road trip, then a smaller 3 day road trip and then…  we did whatever the day brought.  vladislav-babienko-703733-It's Been Awhile.jpg

Studies have long suggested that vacationing was good for productivity, creativity, employee morale and our overall health.  Many workers still don’t take vacation due to work constraints or finances.

In our case, Honey was physically worn out and needed to just lay around and let his muscles recoup. After years of physically carrying his day to day load, walking more than 7 miles with it and the time pressures of completing his daily rounds successfully, he was tired, sore and finally required hip surgery. These days, those same workers drive that 7+ miles and work in clusters. I guess it took the old guys time to get to the decision influencing level to save those following in their footsteps.

Later, workload didn’t keep me from going on vacation, it kept me from taking time to plan a vacation. We would choose the date in January and then, months later, the appointed day would appear and nothing would be in place to make it a good, quality release. So short “vacays” or combining vacation days with other events became the norm.  I’m here to tell you that those are just not the same as the last month we took off and were spontaneous most of the month.

We are not big travelers. Airlines have their share of issues these days and the airports are so crowded. There are just too many people around for us.  We don’t live off the grid, but my children would tell you we are in the middle of nowhere.  We like our peaceful surroundings, trees, no traffic (about 6 cars a day)… so traveling to big cities, in airports, train stations, etc. have no appeal.  Been there. Done that. It was fun.

We like to drive.  We like to be close enough to see the mountains, the trees, the animals, the local restaurants, the artisans and walk around small town streets.  I like visiting local museums, playing with grandchildren, cooking with my daughters and swimming alone.  He likes sleeping late, hotel waffles and looking at old stuff.  If we could figure out how to travel with both dogs, we would be in heaven.  Leaving them overnight, much less 10 nights, takes planning! And not worrying about them while we are gone uses up half the time of the “no stress” theme. They are so spoiled, boarding just won’t work. Besides, they always stink when they get home.

The dogs are big and what I call, yard-dogs.  They are mixed up breeds, sweet, affectionate and loud.  We didn’t train them to walk on a leash or socialize them (because that wasn’t a thing in our rural home), and they really like running in and outside all day. We won’t be traveling with them anytime soon.  They think the only time you get in the car is to go to the vet for shots and pedi’s.  Walks down the oil top road are familiar routes and don’t require leashes that keep control.

We planned half this vacation. I put my direct sales business,  Avon  on auto and we hired our friend to come each morning to feed the dogs, give them access to the yard and play with them for a bit. Then, our daughter stopped by each day to rub on them and hand out the treats. Our friend returned again and locked them up for the night because in the pasture and woods there are coyotes and now, a lingering bobcat.  See what I mean, it takes planning.

For my direct sales businesses, (retired doesn’t mean dead) I used Hootsuite.com to schedule all the posts on the pages and groups, packed note pads and copies of brochures to have at my fingertips.  I notified everyone that we would be on vacation, left them the website addresses and promised them a treat if they placed orders on the website during my absence. These businesses, can run automatically because they can use technology to get service and I’ll still earn a bit. I just need to work ahead.  Knowing that everyone is taken care of makes leaving for a few days, quite easy.  The few messages I received on my phone were forwarded to my lovely daughter for handling.  She was able to fill some emergency orders (gifts) from my very limited inventory and enter a few orders for non-techy customers in the Avon app, so I could complete it when I arrived home.

A couple things came up (with the dogs) during our half-planning that made us delay our trip by a week. But, when you are driving and retired, a week is nada!

Finally! The day has arrived.  Did we get up all energetic and ready to go?  No… we slept late, ran some errands, had lunch with friends and left at 5:30 pm on a half planned 3,000 mile road trip! No reservations, just the gps app and an end goal.  First stop… Ft. Worth (3 hours), to drop off my favorite living plant. Daughters-in-love are grand, especially when they have a green thumb!

No stress, no mess, ready to drive. Looking for mountains and grandchildren out west.