If Dishes Could Talk

 © jb katke

If a persons’ wealth revolved around their dishes, I am filthy rich. Recently my dishes have started talking to me. I had a few words for them as well.

Through the years I had become heir to several sets of dishes and glassware. I would love to continue the momentum of passing them on. One little bitty problem, many of my young millennial girls don’t want them. I wonder what will take place when they are next in line?

As I began my annual dishwashing ceremony; I was again reminded of how much of what I have is disliked. Washing dish after bowl, after cup, after saucer; they all began speaking to me. This Desert Rose pattern can be seen in antique stores everywhere.

 They were Aunt Janes. She never married, didn’t have a home to call her own until both her parents died, leaving her the only home she knew.  In her years of collecting, did she have hope of establishing her own home and a husband?

Other pink flowers entered my life from an Aunt Marion I barely knew. When she passed away, Mom and Dad traveled to collect Uncle Charlie and whatever else they could fit in their car. Among them, dishes.

The interesting story on them are how important they were to Grandma Andrews, Moms mother. Jane had her china; she may have thought this was her chance to have her own. I know she voiced an inquiry of them to my mom. “Mom, we only had so much room in the car.”

Grandma turned her question to me, but I knew nothing. It wasn’t until after mom died that the question came up again. Still, I knew nothing. But sometime later, those dishes found their way  to my house. Apparently, Mom wanted me to have them. The pattern hails from the 1800’s, that’s all I know about them.

I am the proud owner of my mother-in-law’s serving dishes. Or maybe they were her mothers’; it doesn’t matter, they are mine now. More pink flowers. There must have been an unwritten rule back in the day that all china must bear pink flowers. I thought it was only yellow flowers I didn’t like.

My mothers dishes are another story. She got the pieces one week at a time, at the grocery store. Each week a different part of the set was featured. Mom marched them home, right into her retirement hope chest, planning to put them to use after dad’s retirement. They aren’t pink! Blue cornflowers are the design. They remind me her favorite color was blue.

A small red set comes from my daughter. They are high maintenance because they require hand-washing. These are ideal around Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Another plus is they are relatively small; it keeps me from overeating.

I have a set bearing an apple pattern. Also, from Aunt Jane. I believe she got hers at the grocery store, like my mom.  The green leaves and red makes them perfect for both autumn and the Christmas season.

Finally, my dishes. A small set of dinner plates only. They sport a quilt pattern, reflecting my appreciation of quilts.

The plain old white set is what I use on a daily basis. I purchased them expressively for how attractive they would look with the tablecloths I never use.

All of these dishes has made my husband Dave, a dish connoisseur. Some are too small, others have to wide a brim, making the cutting of food awkward, others are too much like a bowl. All in all, each of them are too something. Bottom line: I have had enough!

From Trash to Treasure

© jb katke

When I was growing up it was called making do, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve since converted.

Many are still staying within the confines of home. Upcycling old pieces has become the rage. The time is ripe for all crafters and do-it-yourselfers to unite.

Never has there been so many TV shows on home improvement. It’s satisfying sitting in the comfort of my home watching houses get torn into shambles and rebuilt into new and improved condition that someone will gladly call home. I love the fact that I’m not the one sweeping up the debris!

It doesn’t stop at homes, either. Old things have the capability of being put to a new use. This picture I share with you comes from my mothers childhood. It was her toybox. The measurements are 20”long x 9.5” tall and 11” deep. That is not very big by todays standard toybox size.

Why so small? Mom never said as much to me, but I venture to guess. Back in the day, children filled their time with useful activities. Gardens needed weeding, or picking the vegetables for dinner. Many homes did not have the advantage of sidewalks or paved driveways, hence, floors needed perpetual sweeping. You get the idea.

Today moms toybox now lives in my quilt room; holding all manner of sewing paraphernalia I most likely will never use. Maybe its time for round two of flushing out unused items. It still amazes me that I don’t miss quilting; when at one time I lived and breathed it.

What pleases me is using the time I used to say I never had enough of for sewing, but now am writing. It satisfies the soul and take comfort I am doing something God initiated. If you have been following me all along, you know; this was never on my bucket list.

An idea is a mental revolution of doing what never was previously thought about. Such as the pie safe my husband Dave made. He probably didn’t know I loved pie safes. We trotted over to the new homes being built outside our door and gathered the wood pallets destined for the trash. The rest is history. You can get a glimpse of it in my A Labor Of Love blog.

A repair man commented on liking my singers. Singers? What is he talking about? Pointing up to the space above our closet were perched two sewing machines, removed from their cabinets. Once they were serviceable necessities in my grandmothers homes, now décor.

Likewise for the vintage hand tools from my grandfathers tool box. Newly attached to a distressed wood backing; complete with a center vice grip displayed as if a letter K for out last name. More décor. I should probably mention grandpa’s tool box as well. It’s built for the ages, weighing in just under twenty pounds empty. It now houses my ribbons, trims, and lace pieces that I won’t live long enough to put to use.

Having these things around me brings a smile. I think back on the people who once used them and how essential the items were to their daily life. Just as I looked upon myself as a quilter, God saw another use in me. One I never dreamed of, but feel a contentment that I am capable of more than I think. With Gods help, of course.

Not Sorry

© jb katke

It’s so easy to look back on things we’ve done and have regrets. Can we take a moment and make a list of what we are not sorry for?

I’m sharing this photo with you, a weekend project. The wheelbarrow carries much more than these pumpkins you see. It was my dad’s, and he used to give me rides in it when I was a child. We have no need of it, but I can’t seem to part with it yet. Having limited storage ranks this as yard décor. I hope.

Currently, we are in an HOA community, they call the shots as to whether we can keep it or do away with it. Providing it is not a problem will entail having to have some form of a pretty in it year-round. I’ve figured out summer, each fall I can do as you see here. Winter I will have to think on.

My husband has his doubts. Especially after we embarked on moving the thing full of dirt in this locale. A few things were in its path, making it difficult. It took muscle, moving the downspout and a guy grumbling, “The things we do to keep a wife happy.”

Not sorry. It’s looking good, for the moment. Now if I can just get the powers that be to see things my way.

When a new baby joined our family, I made it a practice to keep the older siblings home from school when I returned home with our new bundle of joy. My purpose was to give the children a chance to get to know their new sister and how home was going to look a little different. Hopefully too, they wouldn’t feel left out and resentful. Not at all sorry.

The day our youngest put in a request to wear her roller skates to school amongst warnings, “You’re gonna get in trouble!” She didn’t. Permission granted, not sorry.

Here is a big one, giving my granddaughters cake along with their breakfast! When Momma found that out, “Mom! I can’t believe you did that! You never let us kids do that.” Along with grand parenthood comes certain rights, like spoiling them rotten. Not sorry.

Finally got my husband to agree to moving. “This winter we’ll fix up the house and put it on the market in the spring.” I found our new home that same afternoon. Not sorry, we enjoyed that home. 

It took a long time coming, but I have a hutch for all the inherited dishware that belonged to various relatives, I was next in line. No one, including me, has good dishes anymore, making hutches almost extinct. I enjoy mine. Not sorry.

I accidently got into a car accident, totaling my vehicle. A car I never liked anyway. It is now of great importance to my husband that I like our cars. Not sorry.

It took me some time to realize the Lord was serious. I’m now following his direction and writing a book. Not sorry.

Really grateful that our Creator sees potential in all of us, giving us opportunity to step out of comfort zones and see what a difference he can make in life. So incredibly not sorry!

Things That Bring A Smile

© jb katke

During this COVID season, I have cut back drastically from shopping. Such a pity as I am an excellent shopper. I have a system; beginning to my right, I walk the four outer walls. Then proceed up and down the center aisles, making sure I miss nothing. As I go along, I place items of a potential purchase in my cart. Just before I approach the cashier, I retrace my steps and return my choices back on their respective shelf. I don’t bring much home, but do save a few dollars in the process.

A new home dec store opened in the neighborhood some time back and I could resist no more. The day was reserved on my calendar and I was so anxious I could taste the anticipation. Enough time had passed that I gave myself permission to make a fresh addition to my home. Clearly, I was in a spending mood.

Following the above pattern, I happened along many nice items. They didn’t make it to my cart, though. The place was full bore decked for Halloween. I’m not into spooky, so passed them by. However, I am all over autumn décor. There was much to be had; but a bit glamorous for my taste. Others were a little too scare crow like. Did I mention that I’m picky? I prefer the term selective. Much was priced over what I was willing to spend. Leaving the store, I was disappointed in my inability to satisfy that spending spree I had hoped for.

But wait. Next door is an antique shop. Old and broken in is more my style. Antique stores are not what I remember from my youth. My parents used to frequent them when there was a furniture need; and indeed, the merchandise was vintage. Today, we might find something old, a fair share of refurbished items or new crafts with that aged look. If you are intent on a genuine antique, care must be taken.  

I am glad I entered. Because being a genuine antique is not of importance to me, I find myself  more open-minded to what strikes my fancy. Today my fancy was struck by a vintage toy we once had for our children. It was a pint-size bench that held round pegs for hammering. Immediately, it brought a smile to my face.

Our first home had four bedrooms upstairs in a revamped attic. There was only one heat register; unacceptable for Michigan winters. The home improvements started with a new furnace and heat ducts for the upper level. The job created quite a racket, more that our little son could handle. When the workers began their hammering, so did Jamie on his toy. I thought was his coping mechanism was clever for a three-year-old.  

I’m not quite sure what to call the other purchase I made. Possibly an urn, or maybe a vase? It certainly was not a need but the colors called out to me. Blue and green are a favorite color combo of mine. Showing the purchase to my husband, Dave, I noticed Roseville written on the bottom. I have watched enough of the TV show, Antiques Roadshow, that the name sounded familiar to me. Roseville pottery is of value. There were no other markings to determine if it is the real deal or a knock-off. No matter to me, I like it.

My mother’s words come back to me, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Another adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It makes me so very grateful that Jesus found joy in me before I had joy in him. He might be smiling at us right now.

Who Would Do This?

© jb katke

Who do you know that would make three rounds of shopping through the grocery store? I did.

At the time, we were living north of Chicago and the meat cutters union decided to close the counter at 6pm. The solution was easy enough, do your shopping during the day. That wouldn’t work for us. We were a one car family for several years. My husband would have to rush home to collect me and our baby in order to get what we needed.

The first round I picked up meat, the second round consisted of baby food and essentials, the third time round was for the enjoyable miscellaneous items it would be nice to munch on. This was a time before cell phones that had a calculator. To stay within budget, I had a small clicker type device that kept track of my expenses

Do you know anyone who dislikes parties to put on a bash for the neighborhood children. I and my neighbors did. In the eighties there were many news articles of candy that had either a needle or a razor injected into it. For the safety’s sake, we eliminated that concern opting to throw a party, thus doing away with a trip to ER.

For the children to feel like they were not missing out going door to door, you can imagine how much goodies we had to provide for them. The upside of the situation; we were free to make baked goods and popcorn balls, knowing all would be safe for them.

Do you know anyone who swore up, down, and cross ways they would never live in a house that required you to pass it in order to arrive home? I did, only to make a liar of myself. Many homes are backed up to a main street. I must pass my home to get to the street that enters the neighborhood, then make an immediate turn onto my street where home sits. You will never convince me Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor. Speaking of homes…

Among the few that have the privilege of having a new home built in accordance with many of the buyers specs; who on earth would pray that it wouldn’t be ideal? Right again, I did.

We all have our reasons, here are mine. As I read through the Good Book, I came to realize there is another life other than this one we know today. A life with no end. When I leave this world, I am hanging my hat on living with Jesus and his dad. It has everything we hoped for on planet earth, but never came to be.

To seal the deal for my forever home, I have decided to agree with Jesus and give honor and respect to his dad, the Creator of life itself. To do that, I have willingly made other things, the stuff that is a big deal here, of little importance. Nothing here can compare with the life we have available later.

God never disappoints. My home here is less than perfect. When I come across some little detail that I know is a job poorly done, I smile at my answered prayer.

Finally, who on earth would purchase a greeting card for themselves? You are noticing a pattern. I did. While I never set out to do so, as I perused cards for a couple upcoming birthdays; I come across this one. Is it perfect for me or what? It is perfect for a lot of writers I know.

Here is the deal. I have never desired to write, not a blog, nor the book I am in the process of. Whether we realize it or not, everyone has a message to get out. Yes, I know everyone seems to be writing a book these days. Others planned it, I did not. My message to you is, God is alive, working 24/7 and would love very much to be more involved in your life. Will you let him?

I can tell you he will take you places you have never been and what a ride it will be!

Don’t Forget

Can you remember what took place twenty years ago?

We have wrapped up a week of remembering. The mantra of 9/11 was, “We will never forget.”

Atrocities have happened throughout the centuries. Generations have been impacted and stories documented. A high school teacher once told parents how difficult it is teaching history, “Events happen every day, adding to what has already occurred long ago. It’s too much to teach!”

A sad truth.

As a rule, I have trouble remembering what we had for dinner the night before. I may have gone to great pains in preparation, but our meals are never noteworthy enough to write about. It’s easier to do the opposite of remembering, and forget. As New Yorkers may say, “Fget about it!”

Another sad truth are the good things that happen and for whatever reason, the stories don’t get passed along. This is not a new or unique situation. Take a peek into the book of Exodus in the Good Book. It is a story like none other.

Jesus’ dad promised Abraham that a great nation would be founded through him; it was Israel. Only they were oppressed by another nation into slavery.  But God impressed upon a man, Moses, to lead the Israelites out to a promised land.  It took forty years!

Spoiler alert: Jesus’ dad made lots of promises that stand even today. In addition, he uses ordinary man to get his plan done.

You can’t make this stuff up; read it for yourself! Tragedy, disappointment, and miracles all took place in this one true story. Here is my point in mentioning it, people witnessed all these things happening around them.

They were warned, don’t forget what you experienced. Tell your children what you saw and how Jesus’ dad worked miracles into those difficult days. The kids are not going to realize the importance if you don’t let them know. It’s part of their history; they were too young to understand at the time.

I can’t help but think it is more important now than ever. There was a time when families all lived in the same community. Not so anymore.

No longer do grandparents have the opportunity to invest in the grandchildren, reinforcing what mom and dad strive to teach. There are times, whether baking cookies, or going fishing, whatever; they are teachable moments we can impress our young ones into becoming responsible adults.

This is close to my heart, because the little ones in our family are not close by. It’s not always children either. I recall teaching my brother how to sew on a button after his wife passed away.

People need people. People need Jesus and the miracles his dad can do to help make good things come from bad situations. 

Acknowledging a Need

© jb katke

Cut out from a magazine, this little sign was found in dad’s garage. It reads:

I want my own place.

A place where

I can’t be reached.

I want to be “Off Duty.”

I want to call a “Time Out.”

I want a mute button for reality.

I want to put the world on hold and tell it:

“I’ll get back to you.”

Why did dad feel the need of his own place, and does that resonate with you as much as it did him, and me?

My father lived a full life. Having a sister with mental issues, he grew up in a dysfunctional home. At the ripe old age of twelve, he was gainfully employed up until his retirement. During WWII dad served in the Navy and was stationed in Hawaii-post the Pearl Harbor attack. How tough could that have been?

He and Mom never had an overabundance of funds, but could identify those in need and addressed it to the best of their ability. They made their home open, sometimes to teens, another to an aging uncle. As my grandparents aged, Mom and Dad stepped up looking after them too. Not too long after his retirement, mom’s health took a turn and passed away.

And the Good Lord addressed their need. Before they were promoted to their eternal home, they did find that place of respite and initiated their own time out. It came in the form of a cinder block cabin smack in the middle of nothing. They reveled in their off-duty status of zero responsibilities.

Whatever era we born in, there are times we need a time out. Just as we begin to return to a normal life, pulling off our masks, we find a comeback and the mask becoming part of our wardrobe.

Have you found a place to just breathe and be? My son and his wife love the Northwoods, a niece loves the beach and sun, a friend yearns for the mountains. I have found a couple places, rolling hills bearing bales of hay that speak of a life of purpose. Another is the ocean, watching waves rise and fall, you don’t know where they come from or where they are going, but life goes on. Sometimes, just listening to leaves rustling in the breeze can be calming.

There is a place that can easily be overlooked. The words of the Good Book have so much to offer.

I will give you only one for now, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Life can be so heavy. Acknowledging a need for divine help can go a long way; the Lord has a supernatural way of making the unbearable bearable.

Marital Expiration Date

© jb katke

Question: Is there an expiration date on wedding rings? The date I got mine is indelibly stamped on mine and my husbands’ heart. But on my rings, nothing but the evidence of heavy wear.

I ask because lately I have been unable to wear mine 24/7. After fifty years of devotion! Thank goodness my husband, Dave, has not questioned my naked finger.

I tend to get occasional itching and the rings irritate my raw skin. The situation brings the memory of my childhood when I had dry, chapped and scratched up hands. Apparently when washing my hands, I wasn’t drying them enough. Me and water never have gotten along well.

Maybe I am in hot water too much. Not the trouble kind of hot water, the hand-washing dishes kind of hot water. I must be working too hard.  Those that know me will laugh. I don’t approach housework with gusto.

I did work hard at obtaining my Mrs. degree though, and equally hard to maintain that status ever after. For two people to join forces having been raised in differing homes is no small challenge. Overlooking the cute traits while dating, that now drive you nuts can require daily patience. The flame that used to burn so bright, now needs a little fanning.

My heart goes out to those who seem unwilling to keep their marriage alive. A relationship that turns dry and scratched up is begging for relief. We are living in a disposable society. From house plants and razors, to cars, and even marriage. If it becomes worn out, replace it with something new. I beg you, don’t let the good thing you have die.

New flash! Relationships don’t operate in the same manner. People thrive in an environment of love and acceptance. Our pets may get more affirmative strokes than our spouse or children. The golden rule applies here, do unto others what you would have done for you. It requires a willing heart and effort.  The things worth having are worth working for.

I once heard a quip that people never change. They become more of what they were in their younger years. I can testify that Dave and I are not the same people we were in our early years of marriage. With shared experiences comes a better understanding of not only our weaknesses, but our strengths as well. Joining forces makes for a stronger union.

Additionally, I would not recommend leaving the Lord out of the equation. He comes with a track record of making all things right.

Recently I had a conversation with a fellow budding author. Our subject was nothing about marriage, but all about books. We spoke of our love of them and how vital they are in child-raising. Another world would open up each night as we read to our little ones at bedtime. We shared in their excitement of selecting books to add to their home library collection from the Scholastic Book Club. It involved intentionally entering their world of make believe.

That’s it right there! Intentionally entering in a relationship of another world. Just as Jesus allows things in our little life on earth, prompting us to give him time and thought of his world. Daily he pours love into us to share and spread wherever we can. Sometimes he stops us dead in our tracks to notice what he is doing. A relationship takes time to nurture, but carry on. It is worth it.


 © jb katke

Stick with me, there is a story here.

Well, maybe more like a memory. Who does not have memories? They can hit you between the eyes when you are least expecting them. It happened to me this morning when we were singing a hymn in church. One I had not heard in a long time.

It took me back to my childhood, when the Methodist congregation would sing, Blessed Assurance, written by Fanny Crosby.

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God…

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long…

All Sunday afternoon, Dad would whistle that hymn. He passed away and now resides in the presence of God. Were you aware that you have been purchased? I will not go into the gory details, and they are gory. Suffice it to say, Jesus, God’s son at one time walked this earth. He lived a perfect life and died on a cross in the most horrific of ways; bleeding to death paying for all the wrong things humans do; for no other reason than for us to have a relationship with him & his dad.

Most of the time, I do not dwell on memories. But when shopping I came across this little toddler toy. A quacking duck. Memories came back of my mom purchasing a toy much like this one for our son, only it was a clucking chicken. It has long since gotten discarded.

I had to purchase this little guy for my soon-to-be forth great-grandchild. It was meant to be!  For no other reason than to honor Mom and her quirky gifts. I have already earned the badge of a grandma with foresight, buying clothes the little ones will grow into years from now. What have I got to lose with this gift? It is unique and one-of-a-king, just like our God.

Despite Appearances

© jb katke

“Wow, you folks must read a lot of books.”

“No ,we really don’t.”

Have you ever met someone whose words did not match their lifestyle? During our travels, we had the pleasure of catching up with the Skrogans. These friends from the past have the most amazing bookshelf I have ever seen in a private home.

Greeting us at the door, Kyle and Suzanne gave us the warmest welcome ever. Stepping inside It was the next thing luring us in. Seeing the books put me at immediate ease, and felt right at home.

Not obvious to the naked eye, Suzanne explained, “They are all categorized. These here are my manuals for my work, Over here are the ones that Kyle has used in his studies and ministry work. The ones at eye level are where we keep the children’s books when the grandchildren come by. This lower shelf holds paper, anytime we need something to write on, it comes in handy.”

They say they don’t read much? I beg to differ.

The four of us come from a generation to know books as an information highway. Clearly, they were available before things like internet. What we didn’t have at home, the public library made accessible.

Today the internet is certainly more available, but sometimes I question the accuracy. Plus, books can always be referred back to. I have discovered what I see on the internet could get lost in cyberspace, never to be found again. To my knowledge, the internet doesn’t read to children either.

I am a bookaholic. Does it show?

Recently, Dave and I found a reality television show concerning an overabundance of…pretty much everything. Not to say the Skrogans home is like that, it was neat as a pin. Nor am I alluding that we identify with excess either.

But we do have books. Some high school textbooks that are no longer applicable to today. Yearbooks of course. Souvenir books from places we have lived or visited. Then there are those books from family members. The ones that meant something to them only. Some are worth keeping, others not so much.

As we have seen on television, some things carry a heavy emotional value. I have found that to be true with many of my home items. Admittedly, I have even thought so far as to purchase in three’s, so that my kids would have this wonderful whatever I was buying too.

Your can’t imagine my shock and amazement that they are not interested.  The television show aired a daughter explaining to her mom, “Your ties to this are yours, not mine. You knew my uncle, I never met him. I don’t have your memories Mom; I have different ones.”

Oh. My. Goodness. My daughter shared those same words with me some time ago. The truth can hurt, but it also is freeing. I now have the ability to let go of an object I’m not taking into eternity with me anyway. Furthermore, I won’t be burdening the kids with stuff.

This letting go stuff is a process. It takes time.

By the same token, I am extremely grateful that God still finds value me and hasn’t disposed of me like an outdated book.