Day 155

All suited up

Vintage Pucci Bathing suit

Vintage Pucci Bathing suit

This is a vintage Pucci bathing suit, I am so surprised that it has any elastic left in it at all, and as my husband said "It has more panels than Real Time with Bill Maher"  Yep, that's true, but hey I am a sucker for an artfully placed panel.  This is in the maybe pile, it's still in good enough shape  to trot out for photos, but certainly not ready for la playa.  Maybe with a cute with a jacket and a cute pair of pants? 

Day 154

Palazzo Pant ensemble

Years apart!

Years apart!

I truly love it when I can find old photos of my mom wearing something that I still have.  I know I am in a weird stance, but I was trying to show that this is no ordinary gown, this is a two piece palazzo pant silk ensemble, that's right these are pants.  Note to readers: I could barely zip these pants!  My mom must have weighed all of 98lbs soaking wet!  Another note, check out that wig she is rocking….the cutest!


Day 153

Terry Lilly

Terry Cloth Lilly Pullitzer Dress

Terry Cloth Lilly Pullitzer Dress

Aaaahh, nothing says summer more than a visit to the beautiful Lawrence beach Club.  It truly is a magical place, and I will be very sad when the time comes to say goodbye to those visits.   But as my husband so sweetly said to me:  "then we will go make new memories, in new places"  I know he is right, but It will still be a bitter pill to swallow.  Maybe we will have one more summer, maybe not.  In the meantime, I will take each day as it comes.   


Day 152

Best of times, worst of times…

32 year anniversary coin

32 year anniversary coin

This year we flew back to NY on July 23rd.  34 years to the day that my mother entered her final trip to rehab, the one that finally stuck.  I will never forget that day.  I am not going to go too deeply into the circumstances, because I believe it would hurt my mother.  She suffered so much regret about not being sober for the first 10 years of my life.  Now as a mother I truly understand her pain.  She was so deeply under the thumb of her addiction, which I also truly understand.  As a child it is hard not to think it is your fault, but there were bigger forces at work there.  Mom, I am so proud of that fact that you pulled yourself out of such a deep and painful hole, I feel so lucky for the many years we got to spend together with you sober.  I feel blessed that you survived on that day 34 years ago, I truly believe it was divine intervention.  I got to tell her this many times when she was alive, but it bears repeating. I have no regrets, I would not be the person I am today without going through the years of adversity.  And even in your darkest moments, I know you loved me. 

I am posting a photo below that is hard for me to look at sometimes, it was taken at the nadir of my mother's addiction, by her best friend Francis Cox.  We are both suffering in this photo, and I think only Francis could have captured this moment that clearly.  Mom is lost, and I am trying to reach her.

Day153Pittsburgh

In direct contrast, the photo below was taken (also by Frances) about a year or so into my mothers sobriety.  Sadly, there is damage to this photo, but I think the eyes say it all.

Day152Baltimore

Day 151

Wedded bliss

Mom's vintage Gay Boyer giraffe belt buckle

Mom's vintage Gay Boyer giraffe belt buckle

My apologies, because chronologically, this is one day out of order.  This is the outfit that I wore to to my sweet friend, Lizzy's wedding.  I have known her since she was a little girl, but the older she gets, the smaller the age gap gets.  I met Lizzy and her brother Alex because our mothers' great friendship, but as time marches on, we take over our own mantle of friendship.  I have been to many weddings-but this one was incredibly special, for so many reasons: namely, it was a gathering of some of my favorite people in the world, and clearly a wedding of two people that are absolutely perfect for each other.  That spirit was omnipresent in this storybook affair.  I thought about wearing a vintage dress, but decided against it in the end, because if there is one thing I LOVE about a wedding is dancing.  And devil be damned, I was not going to worry about tearing a seam. or ripping a chiffon overdress.  So I opted for a simple, yet pretty limited edition liberty print gown (for shhhh......Target!) embellished with one of my mom's fantastic animal belt buckles.  The one I chose was two giraffes, neck and neck on a linen belt strip.  She would have loved it.  My mom would have loved this wedding for so many reasons, and I felt so honored to be there.  Mom, I promise, i sent everyone love from you, and that I felt you right there by my side.

Day 150...

Unveiling the cannon

Emerald green silk and velvet embroidered beaded evening gown.

Emerald green silk and velvet embroidered beaded evening gown.

This evening gown begins the archival process of documenting the cannon of inherited clothing, housewares and accesories that my husband and I photographed at my family's home in Lawrence Long Island over our summer vacation. This gown falls into the category of clothing that was passed onto my mother from her mother, and may very well have even been my great Aunt's.  Many of the gowns that are still in NY were passed on to my mother, and were most definitely hard for her to let go of due to their exquisite detailing and materials.  This gown is in extraordinary shape.  It is made from an emerald green velvet embroidered top with a heavy duty silk skirt.  One of the main criteria I have for saving these inherited items, is to make sure that not only are they beautiful, but that they can also stand the test of time.  This gown has check marks in both those columns.

Day 149...

"Lets get ready to rumble!......"  Michael Buffer champion boxing ring announcer

Vintage solid brass belt

Vintage solid brass belt

This belt is truly amazing.  It is solid brass, has a total of nine pieces, and is engraved with the single initial "C" for Carole, my mothers first name.  This is such a large scale, heavy duty belt, and I have always felt as such, it would have be worn with a cocktail dress or some other semi formal outfit as the ultimate accessory.   But then recently,  pouring through some old family photos, I find a picture of my mom, wearing the very same belt in the fall of 1971 (I was 3 at that time) with a white button down and a pair of lavender linen pants on the Bahamian Island of Cat Cay.  Wearing it like "what? this old thing?  I wear this to the market.."  Which now in retrospect, she may have.  She was really self assured when it came to fashion.  She was never afraid to stand out, to wear a statement piece.  When I was undecided wether or not to break out this belt  for the rehearsal dinner of our dear family friends, daughter, I emailed them both for quick approval. The answer was a resounding yes.  Thanks mom, for being "attached at the hip" with me that night, it was so nice to feel you there. xoxo


Day 148

Home is where the heart is

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Today I want to talk about blessings.  In my life I have been fortunate enough to have had not one, but two incredible fathers.  My father Ken, and my stepfather Mike.  My mom and Mike met when I was 12 years old, not long after we moved to New York.  Mom and Mike were a wonderful couple, and when they finally married, many years later, I was so incredibly happy.  Mike would always, (and still does) Introduce me as his daughter.  I have always been deeply touched by that. And as the years passed, I began calling him Dad.  I love him dearly, and when we go back to visit him in Long Island or Sanibel Florida, my children only know him as "Grampy."  The house that my Mom and Mike shared in Long Island has always felt like home to me.  And when we visit now, I must say that it is bittersweet.  It feels so different without my mom, and yet it still feels like home to me.  I know that this house is not where my stepfather wants to ultimately be and so I am faced with the specter that this will no longer be a place for me to come and share with my family.  

The things I love about this house are exactly what my mother loved.  It is is an old home, situated within walking distance to a beautiful inter-coastal waterway, surrounded by audoban protected marshes, across the street from a perfect field for soccer, fireflies, fairy tea parties and 5 minutes from the most beautiful beach on Long Island.  But there is one new addition that was not there when my mother was alive, a new gate.  A gate that my mother's dear friend Hanne  had put up as a memorial to my mom.  A beautiful, simple, circle gate placed directly across from our house at the entrance to the field.  There are many things that circles can mean to people but I believe that this one is perfectly symbolic of the circle of life.  I actually believe that if we no longer have this home to return to, it will probably be this gate that I will miss the most, this sweet, thoughtful tribute to my mom.  My mother did not wish to be buried, she actually wanted her ashes spread over the sea in California.  She did not like cemeteries, so this gate, this is her tribute, this is where I will visit.

Mom's Gate

Mom's Gate


Day 147...

Oh man...

"god is in the details" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

"god is in the details" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

I know this is the second kitchen post in a row, but as we near completion, I feel that I really want to share the details.  Both good and bad.  If my mom was around I know she would have used one term to describe the kitchen.  I believe she would have called it a "jewel box" That was often how we referred to small spaces that paid attention to detail. With this remodel, I made a choice not to break through my dining room wall to make one large kitchen/dining space.  In doing that, I bucked the current trend of the open "Great Space" and opted to stay with my kitchen's original foot print, but to make it far more efficient, with better cabinetry, and shelving. In making the decision to stay with the same footprint, I also felt that it was important to incorporate some of the original molding details in the adjacent rooms.  that would have gone swimmingly, however, the moldings that were made for this house in 1936, are apparently not flying off the shelves these days, so in a fit of saying yes to everything to speed up the process, I quickly glanced at a crown molding that in a 4" segment looked just fine...ya, not so good in 50 lineal ft.  Here's the boring part, when you mitre a molding at 45 degrees, (unless it it super simple), it gets pretty bold, honestly, it was such a minute curve that I did not like, but it changed the whole profile. So on one fateful friday afternoon, I became my one worst client, and asked my very amenable and talented cabinet maker to demo all of the installed crown molding and find something less fussy.  You would think that as a designer, I would not make simple mistakes like that, but lo and behold, I did.  But in a jewel box, all the little details matter.  I thought my husband would be furious at me, and say it was not even noticeable, but god bless him, he felt the same way, and gave me his blessing to replace what had been installed.  Will post more pics soon, and to paraphrase the great Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, God surely is in the details.


Day 146

"How do I love thee"

Possible slabs

Possible slabs

Installed

Installed

There are many ways for a husband to express his love for his wife: flowers, cards, jewelry, or endless weekends spent with cranky children in tow at stone yards deep in North Hollywood.  That my friends is true love.  This kitchen has been many things but at it's core, it's a refuge for spending time with family and friends, sharing the recipes that my mother has given to me and that I hope in turn, to pass along to my children.  As I've mentioned before, with each decision I made, I wish I could have shared them with my mother as I know she would have shared my delight in the attention to all the details that really resonate with a cook.  My husband, graciously, stood by as I pained over what seemed to him to be minute differences in the tone of our countertops. (yes, those really are 8 different slabs.) But in the end, he was always supportive, and not afraid to poke fun at me. But as you can see from the pictures here, I think the counters turned out pretty damn well.  I know my mother would have felt the same way.

Day 145...

Wanna buy a watch?

I want to start this post by saying, this has been a much needed break, but that I am also ready  and thankful, to be back. Ready to be picking up the archive again.  My time in New York was filled with so many emotions.  The joy of being at a dear friend's wedding, of connecting with close friends and family, and of course, diving into the well of my mother's possessions.  There was a very visceral reaction for me to be in her home and surrounded by the belongings she loved so much.  The quality of light, the smells, the feel of the air, they are all so deeply evocative, and so, when I found myself faced with the task of sorting through clothing, photos, and ephemera, it was almost a given that at some point I would probably hit critical mass.  And then I did, I simply hit a wall.  I missed her so deeply, and felt that maybe I couldn't even continue to go on with this journey.  I was so sad and also burdened by the the fact that I had fallen behind in my daily posts.  I pretty much gave myself a pass to just give up on it if I wanted to...and then I took a moment,  and did something that my mother was actually SO much better than me at doing.  I allowed my self to take a break.  to rest up, to recharge, to really pause and reflect on this whole process.  I think it was probably the greatest thing that I could have done, because now I am ready to dive back in, to share the stories, to create the touchstone for her granddaughters, to keep our dialogue alive.  To celebrate, ruminate, communicate and document.  To remember while the mind still allows. It's good to be back.

A bevy of faux timepieces

A bevy of faux timepieces

So the irony in this picture, is that I probably purchased most of these for my mom.  For many years, this was in the wheelhouse of what I could afford to give her as a gift. Many of them are from Canal St. in NY or from Sante Alley in LA.  These were the kind of things my mom loved.  A nice looking faux timepiece that would jazz up an outfit without breaking the bank.  I have talked a bit about how if anyone could rock a knockoff, it would be my mom.  What I find interesting is that all of these had completely stopped working, and honestly, none are worth repairing, yet, they they all were.  All that was missing was a trench coat to pin them to to make a goofy throwback Halloween costume....Hey wait, maybe that would be cool?  


Choices

On my last post, I spoke candidly about taking a break and re-charging, re-upping etc. and in the days since then I have been doggedly photographing as many items as I could in order to have abundant material to continue this archive, and to be able to keep an open dialogue about the process that I am going through. About what it means to have all this "stuff" and how to deal with it. That has been a major arc in this project, that, and the fact that I wanted to create a tome that would carry my mothers memory into my daughter's consciousness.  

Tonight I hit an unexpected bump in the road. Up until now, I have been for the most part, dealing with all the "good stuff" the things that made their way into my home either long before or right after my moms passing. On this trip however, I have been confronted by a much larger cannon.  All that was left behind.  Either because I felt it was too much too deal with at the time, or not important enough.  Well here's something interesting that happens when you go back to a dearly loved deceased parents house and make it a marathon to have yourself photographed in as many of their things as humanly possible for posterity- you will eventually lose your mind. It can come in a few different ways, when you realize that there is no way you can keep it all, and your heart breaks because now you have to part with the beautiful dress she wore to your wedding that will never fit you, or the fact that you finally have to unpack that suitcase she took to the hospital for the last time, and see the hopefulness in its contents, that she did not pack for the end, that she thought she was coming home. And how you so desperately wish she had.

How the clothes in her house still smell like her, and how being home without her will never feel like home again, now that she is not here.  At the moment, I feel no joy in these clothes, I feel like I want to curl up inside them and will her back. I miss her with every cell of my body, and I am so angry she left me with this load. I know I am just tired, and I hope tommorow I will feel a different way, but tonight, I feel like I am in the first days of mourning again.  How did I get back to this?

Mom, if you are near please send me a sign. Please help me figure out what to do with all of this. Please tell me you love me know matter what I decide. Please let me feel your love one more time. Tonight I am not the strong mom, or wife or daughter.  I am your sad little girl, and I miss you and need you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image.jpg

Maybe rack

 

Pardon the interruption...

I apologize for the unscheduled hiatus in posting, even the most commited archivists need a minute to re-group, re-up and re-stock the coffers. Visiting my mom's house in NY has been very bittersweet. Even though I have cleared so many of her belongings over the past year and a half, there are still so many special things of hers here. I saved all of the pieces I was not ready to part with at the time. I am actually so glad I did that, because as much as it can be overwhelming to deal with it all, I don't think I could have handled walking into her house with nothing of hers left in it. 

So thank you for the patience, I promise it will be worth the wait, and that I will keep my 365 day promise. 

xo

Day 144

The perfect storm

The only remaining decorative piece from my mom's old kitchen

The only remaining decorative piece from my mom's old kitchen

I will never forget October 29th.  It was the night Super-storm Sandy hit NY.  One of the hardest hit areas was the southern shore of Long Island, and in particular, the area near my parents home.  My mother was supposed to fly to Florida to be with my father (Grampy Mike) in Florida, but due to weather, all flights were cancelled, and my mother was caught in Long Island.  Friends that chose to stay in our neighborhood begged her to go to higher ground or locations that had generators, but she refused.  She wanted to stay in her home.  At that point, her cancer was taking over, and wether I want to admit it or not, she was tired.  She had been fighting so hard for so long, and I think she was truly exhausted.  She was on oxygen at this point, and could not bear the thought of packing up a bag and traveling anywhere.  And so she stayed.  She stayed in her home as the storm raged and destroyed the home that she loved so much.  Several feet of water poured into the house, trapping my mother on the second floor, without food or running water.  When the waters receded, my mother was able to go downstairs and access the damage.  It was as bad as you would expect.  My mother was able to get a flight out not long after that.  And then something amazing happened, a family friend named Hanne, and her incredible family, without our even asking, came to the house and moved every stick of furniture that they could to higher ground, packed up all of my families special treasures (art, family photos etc.) and moved them to safety.  

My mother needed to return to NY a couple of months later for treatments and follow up.  At that point, our house was stripped to the studs with no heat or water, and so Hanne generously let us stay at her home nearby.  I went to NY to be with her during that session of treatment and progress diagnosis, and when we all went  and saw the house stripped to the studs, I believe that something in my mother gave up. Construction is hard for even the most hale and hearty among us, but imagine that you are threadbare, and exhausted, and sick, and you have the looming Spector of months of upheaval, and mess and decision making...So with that in my mind, I decided that we all needed to try and put this house back together, and to make a light at the end of the tunnel, to give my mom something to look forward to. It was a family affair.  My stepsister Cynthia, who is an amazing kitchen designer, hand drafted an incredible kitchen layout, and we tried to incorporate all the things my mom loved in a kitchen.   As I have mentioned before, my mother loved the kitchen, it was truly the heart of the home for her, and I desperately  wanted her to have something to look forward to when she was so sick, so In addition to the kitchen, I worked on all kinds of mood boards for the house, anything that would giver her a reason to look forward, and not give up.  

My mother was able to see the beginnings, to see the images, and to look forward, but I think there was really no way to sweep away all of the sadness.  My mother passed away 5 months later.  She never did see the house put back together.

Remodeling my own kitchen takes me right back to working on hers.  After the storm, so may things in my mom's kitchen were destroyed.  One silly, simple thing that remained was the sweet little desk chair above.  The lemon pattern above happened to work perfectly with the sage colored cabinets. I am so glad that that chair and cushion are still there, it is the last decorative touch of hers in the kitchen.  

Below is a picture of the fabric that will be the decorative element in my new kitchen. (banquette cushion and cornice boxes)  I wish I could show this all to my mom, but truly, I believe she is seeing it all.  

Fabric for my kitchen

Fabric for my kitchen


Day 143

It's all black & white

Vintage leather and zebra hair handbag

Vintage leather and zebra hair handbag

This is another early acquisition from my mom.  I used to rock this bag in the reckless mid 90's, when I lined in NYC's  Lower East Side, when it was scary, like my landlord wanted rent paid in cash kind of scary…..You get the picture.  Anyhoo, this was my go to bag, fun and funky.  And great when I used to wear a black Betty Paige wig and 8" platform heels.  Man, I have to find those pictures!!!  


Day 142

Think Pink

Pale Pink Quartz pendant

Pale Pink Quartz pendant

This is a rose quartz pendant that I found in my mom's belongings.  I don't really know anything about it, but I think that it may have been given as a gift for healing.  It is simple and delicate, and I hope it brought her some healing and happiness.  


Day 141…

Set her down!!

The two most important sink in my life right now...

The two most important sink in my life right now...

The two most important sinks in my life right now are the 117lb behemoth on the left, that was actually set today! And the powder room sink on the right, with a basin the width and depth of a mid sized mixing bowl, you know the one, the one that also does not have hot running water? Ya, that one! I love my new sink, it is a big ol' artisnal, handmade in the English Country side, kiln fired to over 2000 degrees alright, alright, alright...but this little powder room sink has become our little MVP, our little southern lady, that all the sudden, when the Civil War broke out, strapped on some boots and learned how to hog farm.  Don't get me wrong, I NEVER want to see my dishes in that close proximity to my toilet paper EVER again. but, hey, who am I to complain?  At least we have running water, and a toaster oven and a makeshift triage mode kitchen set up in our dining room.  Because the reality is, these are all princess problems, I am getting a new kitchen, and I am so thankful and excited, and I cannot wait to celebrate in it, to cook my mothers food, and new recipes she would have loved.

Stay tuned for more developments.... 


Day 140..

Stuff Happens

Just a few delays…

Just a few delays…

Wanted to give a few updates on the kitchen.  Even as an interior designer, with a great contractor and the best subs around, even than;  S!*t happens.  There are "woopsies!" and delays and "ruh roh's."  And you know what?  It's all going to be ok, and I wish I could sometimes straight up tell clients this: Nobody is perfect, life happens, human beings are fallible, we make mistakes, miscalculations, misread things.  We make errors.  The honor lies in fixing your mistakes, standing tall and making things right.  The sink installation was delayed as the weight (117lbs!) was not read on the spec before cabinet that houses it was built, therefore it required modification and buttressing after the fact, and lights were installed where upper cabinets would be placed, necessitating some location shifting post drywall installation.  In the end this delayed us about one week, but in the end, It will not seems like that long.  


Day 139...

Moondance

July's "Super Moon"

July's "Super Moon"

This Saturday night, we had a full moon so big and bright it is called a "super moon"  When my mother was alive, she always lit a green candle under the light of the full moon, and prayed. She prayed for prosperity, for the health of her loved ones, for God's blessing.  In turn, I picked up the habit.  When she was sick, we used to try and do it over the phone together. She was three hours ahead and used to call me and ask "did you light your green candle yet?"  I would always forget, and then we would do it together. During those times, I would pray for her healing.  I promised my mom that I would always think of her whenever I saw the full moon. I had not lit a green candle in quite some time.  I think it was just too much.  But this past Saturday, on the 'super moon' I remembered.  And mom, I did think of you. And I always will.  I miss you.



Day 138...

Ghost Story

Neighborhood tag sale

Neighborhood tag sale

The purchases

The purchases

Today I walked into an estate sale at home in my neigborhood. Normally, the word 'Estate' is bandied about pretty indiscriminately at these sales. But this was truly an estate, a beautiful, but incredibly run down residence on a hilltop, with 5 bedrooms, a pool, and a sweeping view that spanned from downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean.  This house held room upon room of every imaginable type of furniture, clothing, dinnerware, cookbooks, house-wares, cookware, rugs, craft supplies, toys, art, fine linens, etc., etc, etc...I had never seen anything like it before, except I had.  I had lived through and sorted through all of this before.  It was a carbon copy of my mother's treasured items, but on steroids.  This was not old to-go cups, or decades of old newspapers that you would except to see in a hoarder's house, these were all pristine, beautiful, items, but there was just SO much of it.  More than anyone person could ever use: 23 sets of Laguiolle steak knives....3 exquisite dollhouses, you get the idea from the pictures.  As I walked through each room, I felt a hitch in my chest, each room looked so much like a room I had seen before in my mother's house. And then it hit me, the cacophony of judgmental voices swirling around me; "who was this woman?"  "how could one person have this much stuff"  There were people grabbing at the goods like starving carrion.  And my heart began to break.  I felt a fierce protectiveness of this woman.  No one could understand her like I did in that moment.  I wanted to yell out " Don't judge her, you don't know why she had all of this, what need she had to fill, what emptiness there may have been in her, or maybe she grew up without, and felt the need to acquire things to feel like she finally had something, and would never again do without."  I will never know this woman's reasons, nor will I ever know my mother's.  I could never have bared having her belongings pawed over, her life's accumulation snickered at.  And so I chose to handle it myself, with only a select few loving friends, that I knew would never judge her.

I am now the caretaker of the accumulation, the scribe, the historian.  As I wandered around this treasure trove, I managed to walk away with only one pair of silk embroidered slippers (because I needed a new pair of slippers) and a small bell to use for meditation.  And then left very proud of myself for my restraint, thinking my mom would have never been able to do that.  But Alas, I woke up  bright and early the next morning, and rushed back to buy a never been worn, pair of hot pink Swarovksi encrusted peau de soie silk Manolo Blahnik sandals, and an antique, hand embroidered South American skirt and top. Just like my mother would have done.  

The apple never falls too near or far from the tree.  Sometimes, it falls exactly where it needs too.  Here's to finding balance.