In the very early spring of 1967, the year Kay turned 10, her nuclear family – her mom and dad, her older brother, and her – moved away from St Joseph, Missouri, where Kay had been born and raised up to that point, to Durham, North Carolina, over a thousand miles away. They left behind a big extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins, friends from their neighborhood and friends from school, and, hardest of all for Kay, her paternal grandparents. The move was somewhat sudden, and the reasons for it were murky, mysterious, grown-up reasons, which to Kay meant they were not really reasons at all, but angry secrets involving raised voices, slammed doors, hidden tears, and strange silences.
Shortly after the move, and just in time to celebrate Kay’s 10th birthday, her grandparents made the journey to North Carolina to visit them in their new home, and for a full week the whole family did all kinds of fun, tourist-y things, a welcome respite for Kay from not just the painful homesickness and the strangeness of everything new, but also from the boring business of unpacking.
When they visited Duke Gardens in Durham, Kay and her brother posed with their Grandpa for a photograph in front of the famous terrace gardens. Kay’s Grandma and Grandpa had given Kay her first wristwatch for her 10th birthday gift, a very big deal back in the day, and you can see her proudly wearing it in the photo: a tangible sign of her double-digit, big-girl status, one foot still firmly planted in the childhood, the other tentatively stepping out towards that murky mysterious land of grown-ups.
This was our neighbor’s cat, Sammy, and I adored him. We had two Siamese cats who loathed small humans in my house, in spite of my persistent worshipful adoration, and we also suddenly (to me, anyway) had a brand-new baby, so I escaped next door as often as possible that summer.
Sammy, like most brown tabbies I’ve known, was sweet and cuddly and would fall over in a heartbeat for a brushing, a job which my lip-biting shows I took very seriously. Our elegant and aloof Siamese cats, on the other hand, never missed an opportunity to hiss, slash, and run, which I always took very personally.
I’ve had a couple of brown tabbies over the years, and they’ve all been similar in temperament to Sammy. This is Peanut, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge a few years ago (taken too early by coyotes, a sad story for another day) in his classic sleeping position, and I believe this series of photos is a clear indicator of his personality – Honey Badger, only super-sweet and maybe a few fries short of a happy meal.
This is me, at my grandma’s house, in 1959, and you may be wondering whether I’m laughing hysterically, or crying hysterically. The answer would be, well, yes.
Those fabulous slippers were a gift to me from my paternal grandma and grandpa on my first birthday. Do they kinda look like baby Goofy or baby Pluto, just a little bit? I don’t remember whether or not they were supposed to be any particular character, or just cute little puppy slippers, but they were crazy awesome. From the moment I first saw them, apparently, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry, and so I would do both. Loudly, dramatically, and with gusto, alternating rapidly between the two extremes.
And thus, I believe, my lifelong love affair with footwear was born. The shoes! The boots, the booties, the sandals, the heels, the flats, the *cute* sneakers, I love them all.
Yeah, yeah, the little red-headed kid’s super cute and all, and I know you remember having a stacking rings toy just like that one, but before you trip too far down your own memory lane, let me tell you the story of that end table there on the right.
Our kitchen table, where we ate all of our meals, was just around the corner from that part of the living room, you see, and once a week my mother served peas at supper. She not only served them, she actually expected me to eat them, never mind that I hated peas like nobody’s business. Despised the little smushy grayish-green soggy balls of ick – I mean, these were canned peas, early 1960s commercially canned peas, and they were gross. My mother would have none of my pea-hating ways, though, and there were always threats of forcing me to sit at the kitchen table all night until I ate them. I’d eventually gag my way dramatically through a spoonful, sobbing, and end up getting sent to bed in disgrace, but at least I’d gotten away from those damn peas… until next time. And I always knew there’d be a next time.
I don’t know how the plan came to me, but it was so simple and brilliant and beautiful, and it quickly became my routine when faced with the dreaded legumes. I’d be left sitting at the table by myself, pouting, with those nasty peas. Momma would take baby brother over to the sink for a wipe-down, and, with her back turned to me while she was attempting to clean a flailing toddler, would lecture me on the health benefits of all vegetables, especially green ones, peas in particular.
And that’s when I’d make my move. I’d grab my bowl of untouched peas, leap lightly from my chair and around the corner, lift the lid of the end table, dump the offending contents of the bowl, and be back in my chair before Momma was halfway done getting my little brother’s face clean. See? Brilliant. I felt mildly guilty while receiving praise for being a good girl and eating my peas, but the relief at having avoided having to taste those peas always outweighed the guilt – a little bit, anyway.
Did I ever look in at the old peas while I was dumping subsequent bowls? Heavens, no, no time for that, and I honestly can’t say if it even crossed my mind, but I doubt it. I don’t think I gave a single thought to the fate of those peas once they left my possession.
I’m not sure how much time actually went by – linear time has never been one of my strong suits – but at some point my mother began sniffing at the air strangely when she’d walk through the living room, and it wasn’t too long after that that she found them. I was playing in the back yard when I heard the screams, and I knew instantly what had happened, although at that point I was unaware that quantities of margarine-soaked cooked peas, when placed in a covered warmish area and left to their own devices, will, over time, grow huge amounts of hairy mold resembling nothing more than a huge dead rodent, with an accompanying dead rodent smell.
I was headed at full speed towards our big forsythia bush that was in glorious yellow bloom and that I knew made a terrific hiding place when my mother hit the back porch, yelling my full name at the top of her lungs. To say that my blood ran cold in that moment is one of the great understatements of all time.
Of course I did the only logical thing: I blamed my little brother. The fact that he was just learning to walk seemed completely inconsequential – perhaps I was channeling the spirit of Kellyanne Conway-Future and her alternative facts, I do not know – and I went with my story hard.
Sadly, and much to my astonishment, my story did not fly with my mother – not even embellished with much waving of arms, eyewitness accounts of the many times I’d seen my baby brother do superhuman and evil things, ugly sobbing, tears, and big puppy eyes. I do remember my mother’s face and mouth shaking strangely after she spanked me, though, as she was sending me to my room, and her voice sounding funny, like she was choking or something. It wasn’t until many years later, when I had kids of my own, that I realized she was doing her absolute best not to give in to hysterical laughter.
Happy 2017! To help celebrate the new year and usher it in properly, we’re clearing out space to make room for new listings in our etsy shops by having a 50% off sale on over 150 selected items in both Gypsum Moon Vintage and Gypsum Moon Rocks, and a 30% off everything sale (why yes, I said everything!) in Gypsum Moon Style, for one full week, beginning today.
We’ll be adding items to the sales daily, so check back often. If you see something in one of the shops that isn’t on sale, and you’d like it added to the sale, drop us a note or leave a comment here, and we’ll see what we can do to make that happen for you.
As always, we combine shipping charges, and we do our best to charge you our cost for shipping. Always feel free to send us your zip code or country ahead of time to be sure you’re getting the best price on shipping at checkout, or to ask us after the sale if you’re due a shipping overage refund. More money to spend on stuff, yay!
These are my parents in 1956, engaged to be married, both poly sci majors at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, taking a break from studies.
My mom was 5’10”, and my dad was 6’2″. He played high school and college football, and she played softball from the time she could pick up a bat until 1958, when I was born. I inherited her gorilla arms and his chin dimple, but sadly not their athletic abilities nor their height.
We’ve been going through lots of old family photos, both sides of our family, many of which neither of us has ever seen before – so do stay tuned.
How amazingly amazing is this raw cedar woodburned and painted wall hanging? I will tell you: it is AMAZING. Umm-AAAA-zing.
I tried to get a really good closeup of the owl, but the reflections were crazy. Trust me – the owl is amazing, too.
It’s Kay’s most recent woodburned piece. She made it from a big raw cedar plank that she sanded on one side until she could see what she wanted to do – the owl was looking right out at her. So she got out her woodburning tools, and her paints, and she went to work – just disappeared for a few hours. The finished piece she finally emerged with is almost two feet tall, weighs three full pounds, and it smells SOOOOOOO good, because, cedar. It’s going to make any room it hangs in smell lovely.
Kay’s been woodburning off and on since she was a teen, starting in the mid 1970s, and her fabulous style has remained pretty much the same over the years. You can easily see who two of the biggest influences on her as a young artist were – her art has a very cool Peter Max psychedelic vibe combined with lots of Georgia O’Keeffe-style lusciously sexy lady flowers.
You can see more of her woodburned art pieces by clicking here, and don’t forget she loves to do custom work.
Last week, I had a conversation that started off pretty much just like most other routine conversations with etsy customers who are shopping around. This lady was asking about two separate listings we had for pieces of Sculptured Grape, an iconic mid century modern pattern produced by Metlox Pottery beginning in the mid 1930s, when they created the Poppytrail dinnerware line.
6 days ago 2:50pm EST Message: Hi, interested in purchasing the set of 5 small plates, and also the pepper shaker, but not the saucer that is with it. Could you discount the shaker/saucer and combine shipping fees? Thank you, Mary Ruth
6 days ago 3:16pm EST Message: Hi, Mary Ruth – sure! What’s your zip? I’ll pull the pieces, weigh them for shipping for your zip (we charge you our cost only), and give you a total price. Did you see the oval serving bowl we have listed in this same pattern?
When Mary Ruth answered, the conversation went instantly from being routine to being a bombshell reminder for us: how truly loving and amazing we as human beings can be to each other, and how truly lucky Kay and I are to be in a business where we get to see stories like this one.
6 days ago 3:38pm EST Message: Thank you. My zip is 3xxxx. Yes, I did see that other piece, but it’s not in my budget at this time. I am purchasing this set for my aunt who lost this china due to a fire. It was her wedding china and will be given to her, a complete set, at her 50th wedding anniversary. Can’t wait to see the look on her face! I’ve been collecting the pieces for 6 years now and I’m down to just needing a couple more. While all four of my mother’s sisters are wonderful, this aunt is extra special – she chose my name when I was born, and my middle name is her first name. My mom, her little sister, died when I was 14, and my aunt more than stepped up to the plate! She taught me to cook, and to can, and to sew – she’s taught me so much over the years. She even gave me my grandmother, her mother’s, engagement ring, over her own two daughters. I really wanted to do something special for her 50th anniversary – she’s going to be so surprised! Thanks again, Mary Ruth
I combined the listings for the set of plates and the shaker and adjusted the price, and Mary Ruth made the purchase. Later that evening, as Kay and I were packing up that box, we took great delight in including not only the saucer (hey, everybody needs extra saucers, yes?) but that oval serving bowl as well. Those pieces are gifts to Mary Ruth’s aunt from us: two people whose lives were made immeasurably richer by the simple sharing of Mary Ruth’s story.
And that, my friends, is why we’re sharing it with you. Be kind to each other, now more than ever, and remember that love always, always trumps hate.
I finally found my very first piece of jadeite in the wild, and it’s a beauty – a covered candy dish in the Old Cafe pattern from Anchor Hocking, part of their Fire-King Jadeite brand that they produced from the 1940s to the mid 1970s.Okay, technically, Kay spotted it first, but hey, that counts, right?
I really regret that we didn’t get pics right away, because it was so covered in layers and layers of caked on grease coated with caked on grime that it resembled a sickly brown plastic version of itself. It was gross – notonly merely gross, but really most sincerely gross. I can’t help but wonder how many people passed it by with only the briefest of glances. The thrift shop where we found it, normally pretty darn savvy about what’s collectible and what’s not, had put it in their huge, jumbled, totally fun to rummage in back room, where things are usually inexpensive. I had to try really hard to not pee on myself act super casual when the nice lady at the register was pricing the things in our cart. The fact that it was so filthy that you couldn’t even take the lid off – seriously, it looked like a piece of dirty cheap plastic crap – really worked in our favor, because I could tell she didn’t even want to touch it, and she didn’t pick it up – so she didn’t feel the glorious weight of the glass.
Got it home, washed it up, and behold, the glory of the green opaque milk glass so lovely that someone at the Jeannette Glass Company in the 1930s was inspired to name it after the gemstone jade, or more specifically, the green form of jade, jadeite. Several companies besides Anchor Hocking and Jeannette have made their own versions of jadeite, including McKee, Fenton, and New Martinsville.
The Old Cafe covered candy dish is fairly easy to find in clear glass, and a few other pretty colors, but a jadeite one is pretty darn rare- particularly one in such good condition, like this one.
This necklace, a 1980s costume piece, an art nouveau inspired butterfly with a body made from a gorgeous green and white agate cabochon, was waiting on a table outside on our porch where Kay was taking photographs for Gypsum Moon Style. When she turned to pick the necklace up, this equally gorgeous moth had posed for the camera. It waited until just after Kay had taken one picture to flutter away.
We both love vintage butterfly things, and we have some really pretty pieces listed right now – click here for a peek at some truly beautiful 1970s gemstone and sterling silver butterfly rings, and click here to see some great vintage home decor pieces with butterflies – like this dainty little heart shaped porcelain trinket box, embellished with butterflies and flowers and holding a surprise inside: a rose-scented candle.
We love to hear from you, so feel free to comment or drop us a line.
CJ & Kay