I used to be afraid of spiders, but now, living in the country, I look at them as friends. Well, mostly. I certainly wouldn’t want to meet the wrong spider at an inopportune moment, and some relationships work best with a little distance. But I find the ones that set up shop around our property to be largely unintrusive, and interesting, and honestly, sort of beautiful. And it helps that their webs keep the other bugs and pests away.
Now that we’re coming into fall, I’ve seen several.
Mostly writing spiders, which as a writer myself, I can’t help but feel a certain kinship with.
That’s strange, isn’t it? But we women have stories in us, and deep down, I think we’re all weavers and makers.
And I figure, outside in the fields and trees and such, I’m really in their territory, not the other way around. So, as long as they keep to themselves, I’ll do the same.
Graham and I stopped into my favorite antique and vintage shop over the weekend, and these little cups caught my eye:
I bought them and brought them home, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out what they’re meant to be used for. Are they sake cups? Maybe they’re for sugar? I don’t know! They’re Nippon, based on the maker’s mark.
But a quick Google search doesn’t turn up this pattern, so who knows? Regardless, I just think they’re neat. And different, given their shape, pattern, and colors, than anything else I have in my china collection. So, overall, a pretty cool find.
I haven’t written a Found Friday in a while, but I picked up a few vintage and antique items over the holidays, and I wanted to share one of them today.
So, I mentioned in a previous Found Friday post that I seem to have accidentally started a collection of antique and vintage ashtrays. Now, I am not a smoker. I never have been. But you know what ashtrays are good for these days? Holding crystals.
Or jewelry, or dried petals, or other various and sundries. Which, honestly, I’ve got a lot of. And I figure it’s much better to repurpose an old ashtray than to see it thrown out, if it’s generally sturdy, nice-looking, and worth a few extra dollars. I like the idea of taking something associated with a bad habit and giving it a better purpose. I’m really not fond of this new culture of quick construction and disposability that we’ve found ourselves in lately, and I love a piece with a story.
Cut to a random Thursday in December, just before Christmas, and I came across this little curiosity in a shop run by a friend of mine:
It’s cheeky, right? With the cigarette holder in the middle, and the leaf and vine embellishments. It was sitting on a shelf, sort of hidden, and I just happened to spot it. So of course I bought it and brought it home.
The friend who owns the shop suggested that it could be a good paintbrush holder, which I can definitely see. But unfortunately, I don’t paint, so I’m not quite sure yet what it’s use will be. That’s okay, though. I’m not quite sure what my use is some days, either.
Can I be certain? Well, no, but I’d like to think I’m right, because it’s a pretty cool connection. See, this house is just a few minutes away on the outskirts of our village, and Graham and I drive by it frequently. Of all the gin joints, right?
I’ve always been a fan of both ghost stories and old houses. I love walking into a space knowing that it has a history, that others have come and gone and loved it and built their lives there before me. And honestly, I think it’s just a fundamentally, very human thing to love ghost stories. Something in our primal makeup, in our DNA and our bones and the very oldest part of our brains tells us to be afraid of things that go bump in the night, and to ponder what happens to us when we die. I grew up in a town full of ghosts and legends, and I live in an area rife with them now, too. And this house is just one small piece of that larger puzzle.
Or, it was. Which is to say, it still is, but for how long is anyone’s guess. It was a ruin last year. It’s in worse shape now.
Graham stopped by yesterday and snapped this picture. Sad, isn’t it? Soon enough, the house will be gone, and the stories will be all that’s left. Then one day, they’ll be forgotten, too. But for now, the house is still here, crumbling away on the roadside, taking its secrets with it.
P.S. As I did last year, I’ll add this disclaimer: This house is on private property, and there are no trespassing signs posted, so please don’t go poking around where you’re not welcome. It’s easy enough to take a picture from the road.
September is the month of gold – the leaves, the light, the hours. And there’s nothing quite like a September night, when the magic of the harvest moon makes lovers and poets of both the young and the old.
I always feel a little melancholy seeing September come to an end. And yes, I know we’re not quite there yet. I’m thoroughly enjoying the slant of the light, the slightly cooler temperatures, the way the leaves have just started to turn… I love it all. And I just had to share this moment.
This is the sunset today, on the (small) mountain behind my house. I can’t get enough of it. And I know that soon enough, it will be dark at this time of day. But with the winter comes the stars, so I’m not complaining. I always have loved winter best. But for now, I’m soaking up this special September magic.
Well, I suppose I spoke too soon about checking in on her, because my new writing spider buddy has already moved on. I read that they tend to stick close to the same area throughout their lifetimes, so I hope she’s somewhere nearby, safe and sound and spinning a beautiful web.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not particularly squeamish about bugs and other creepy crawlies. (Except snakes.) I find them pretty fascinating, actually. (Except snakes.) So when Graham snapped a shot of this colorful lady while he was out doing some work on the house yesterday, my first thought was, “What a pretty spider!”
And she is, isn’t she?
I did some research today, and it turns out, this giantess is an Argiope aurantia, sometimes called the writing spider. They’re known for the patterns they weave into their webs, which often look like X’s and Z’s. They’re not aggressive, but they will bite if provoked, and they tend to stay in one place throughout their lifetimes. And an interesting bit of folklore: It’s been said that if you tear down a writing spider’s web or try to harm it, the spider will build a new web the next day with your name written in silk, thereby cursing you with bad luck.
So, I’ll leave her alone, then. Which is my general rule of thumb anyway, when it comes to spiders.
But it does feel sort of appropriate to have a writing spider close by. I certainly don’t plan to bother her, but I think it’s pretty likely that I’ll check on her every now and again, if only to see what new patterns she’s created.
I more or less inherited these little decorative plates after my grandmother died. My dad’s mom, that is.
I don’t remember a time when these weren’t hanging over the stove in her kitchen, and I always liked them. Graham had to be convinced to hang them in our house, but I put my foot down. Fond memories make a house a home.
I hadn’t really thought much about them for years until I saw a post over on Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles, talking about her fondness for fruit motifs and small town variety. Yet another thing we share, it seems.
I don’t really know much about these plates. There’s no maker’s label on them, other than a sticker that they were made in Japan, and I don’t know where my grandmother picked them up or how long she had them. But they certainly have a place in my house.
Funny, how little things can become beloved heirlooms, isn’t it?
It’s been a really busy year so far. I’ve not had a lot of time to just sit and do nothing, and neither has Graham. We’ve both been working hard, trying to balance our own goals and personal projects, time with friends, volunteer work, actual work, taking care of Annie and Gatsby, house stuff… It’s been a lot.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m fulfilled, and very happy, and I generally enjoy being busy. But sometimes, it’s just nice to take an afternoon and slow down.
Graham hasn’t had the chance yet, but I took advantage of my small to-do list today and used this afternoon to just relax.
I took a long nap, watched some TV, did a face mask, and ate snacks. It was amazing.
I’m feeling sort of guilty about it now, because there are certainly things I could have been working on, but I think it’s so important to give yourself time. It’s a gift many of us struggle to allow ourselves, though we tend to dole it out freely to other people, to work, to things that make us unhappy or stressed.
But our time is finite and valuable, and we deserve to have some of it just for ourselves.
My to-do list will be there tomorrow. Until then, I’m taking it easy.
I try not to stop into antique shops very often. Very much like bookstores, I can’t seem to leave them without an arm full of stuff and with a much lighter wallet. But, I made an exception over the weekend. And I’m proud of myself! I only came home with two things.
This darling little glass jar with a monogrammed lid:
(I wonder who it belonged to, what they used it for, and how it came to be in a shop for sale…)
Yes, I know it’s an ashtray, and no I don’t smoke, but I love the floral pattern and the colors. And it goes nicely with another cut glass ashtray I got as a gift many years ago. (And I’ve just realized that it seems I’ve accidentally started an ashtray collection…)
I love collecting old things. I love the stories they tell, and their little chips and imperfections. They remind me of people, I think. Imperfect, but valuable and beautiful nonetheless.