Pensacola is once again our home; we have returned to the South for good! As we settle into our new place, I am finding pieces that just don't fit. It could be that they physically do not fit in the space. Another problem is that they clash with the style of a one-story brick ranch. You've heard the expression, "She has champagne taste but beer money"? In my case I have too many Victorian/vintage items trying to coexist and shine against a ranch backdrop. A prime example is my beloved Victorian era hall tree. This piece is a show stopper, but not in this home. It does not fit by size, shape, look or feel, and "feel" can be a strong point of contention.
The hall tree in question belonged to my mom. She passed away in 2009 and in 2020, the hall tree became mine. I've loved this piece for years, probably the same number of years that my Dad has spent hating this hall tree. Why? Because it didn't fit in their 1920s Tudor home either. Coupled with the fact that my Dad always butted heads with this piece (literally) I'm surprised that he held on to it as long as he did. If you've never run your head into a wrought iron hat hook then I would say that it is an experience worth living without.
The hall tree did not fit into our new foyer. After using it for a while in the living room to hold the antennae a little closer to the ceiling, I finally decided that this beautiful piece needed a new home.
Enter Facebook Marketplace.
If you haven't used Marketplace before, it is a wonderful place to find just about anything. Some pieces sell quickly and others may take a little while. This particular piece I would have loved to keep forever, so holding out for the right buyer was not an issue.
That buyer was Kimberly. She messaged me an offer and we discussed the possibilities. My biggest problem was my mom's voice playing inside my head, "If you sell any of the items I've collected over the years, I'll haunt you." Though she said this years before she was even ill, I have no doubt that she never changed her mind on that subject. Mom told me to sell my things so that I could make room for her items in my home! She had worked too hard gathering them together for me to sell them.
So here it was, the first piece that I was going to part with from Mom's collection. Yikes! It was even worse since I wanted to keep it. I mean really, who "needs" a hall tree? It's a want item. Even though I listed it, I don't think I ever thought it would actually leave!
Kimberly made an offer, I made a counter offer. She went up and I felt sick. Was I really ready to sell my mom's hall tree? I was about to walk away from the deal but my husband, eldest daughter and my auto shop changed my mind. Yes, you're offer works Kimberly. When can you pick it up?
She came the same day. I felt the need to apologize for having struggled with agreeing on a price. Any buyer would wonder why someone was selling something if they had such separation anxiety. I decided to tell her of my mom's threat to haunt me. This was the first significant piece that would be leaving Mom's collection. Kimberly smiled and said, "Your mom is welcome to come visit her hall tree in my foyer any time she wants."
Now this was a woman that understood me to the core! Her place was going to be the perfect home after all! We hauled the piece outside to her waiting vehicle, a convertible powder blue VW bug! To put the photo into perspective, this piece is six feet tall and two feet wide. Kimberly was not concerned. It fit, barely, and as she drove off, I flashed back to two trees that I had recently hauled in my own convertible.
This seems to be a logical end to the story. A beloved piece was listed, sold, picked up and gone. In this particular case, we are only just beginning.
Kimberly messaged me to let me know she had arrived home. She attached three photos of the foyer that she had recently updated and the piece is going to be a striking addition. Mom was welcome there so her Victorian hall tree was in fact home! I told her about my tree escapade and how her car with the hall tree had looked like my car with the two trees. I sent her a photo which she returned with her own.
Dogs, funny...we just adopted one. Kimberly and I were kindred spirits: we used convertibles to haul stuff, adopted rescue dog. The conversation continued. Kimberly asked me to keep my eyes open for an antique armoire. In asking for the desired style, I took a quick photo of one of mine/Mom's. I use it to hold fabric. That is important because Kimberly wanted an armoire TO HOLD HER FABRIC! "Oh, you sew," I stated. "Then you might appreciate this."
I sent her the wall of vintage samplers that were another part of Mom's collection and highlighted my favorite that is dated 1743! Kimberly quickly returned, "Oh, were these done by people in your family?"
I pointed out the date, being almost 300 years ago and replied, "No, these are from a collection that my mom put together." My mom and a girlfriend started Just CrossStitch magazine many years ago and that gave her an interest in and deep knowledge of vintage samplers. Girls completed these samplers to show a potential suitor that they could read and write and it also gave them a way to demonstrate their artistic and sewing skills to a possible suitor.
Having sewing in common was one thing, but when Kimberly sent the next image and statement that this was the piece that she was working on, I just about flipped!
She does cross-stitch?! Not only is it surprising that we both cross-stitch, but this piece is Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss." Time for another image to go off to Kimberly.
"Kimberly, my daughter saw this painting in person and brought me this postcard from Europe," The painting hangs in what was the Belvedere palace in Vienna, Austria and happens to be one of my favorites! What was Kimberly's response? "Are you sure we are not related?" I too was beginning to wonder. "If you tell me that you're into genealogy and photo restoration/photography, then I'm going to have to wonder," I replied.
"Yes!! My father is a photographer so I have his craft. I am the keeper of our family history from farrrrrrr back. I am sure somewhere we are," she stated. Now this was a crazy response! My mom was a photographer and I've always been thankful that I developed her "eye" for a good photo. Also, it isn't possible that Kimberly is the 'keeper of her family history' because that is MY TITLE! I sent her a photo of the edge of six or seven photo albums from the 1920s and told her that these represented 1/100th of my collection. Her response now? "We should have tea."
Things were certainly moving onto a whole new level. "Out of curiosity, where is your family from?" I asked. "Mine is Alabama and Virginia and my husband's is Wisconsin."
"In the states we are from Rhode Island and Michigan. Virginia too," she responded.
Michigan, now that's interesting. Though my family is not from Michigan, I happen to have been BORN THERE! "I was born in Detroit in the 60s and lived in Oak Park," I shared.
Kimberly's response came in fast, "I too was born in Detroit in the 60s, and lived in Highland Park!" Given the fact that we both live in Florida now, this is ridiculous!
My first thought was, 'Shut the front door,' but then I realized that this cool statement is no longer used today so I responded, "Cut it out!"
"I just said the same thing," Kimberly returned.
At this point you have to know that we had been chatting solely via messenger and every bit of this conversation took place over 15 minutes, max! I had to stop messaging her before she thought I was weird. I mean she was at work after all. She sent me a friend request on Facebook. We agreed to continue the conversation over lunch in the near future.
A few days went by and I shared a photo of a pelican that another new friend had posted.
My post read, "I think pelicans are my spirit animals! A GREAT shot by Jil that I just had to share!" The post was made at 4:19PM. By 4:39 I had a comment from none other than Kimberly, "This is so funny. I swear we are related somewhere, somehow. I collect pelican artwork and photos." Kimberly attached a photo that I do not have permission to place here, since it was not her photo. Then she added that she 'painted this on her office window.'
So she loves pelicans, collects them, paints them. Two can play that game.
Kimberly, "I painted this one for Paul, recalling a great anniversary we spent watching the Blue Angels from Fort Pickens!"
In case you're losing your place at this point, we both were: born in Detroit, live in Florida, have an armoire full of fabric, cross-stitch, love Klimt's The Kiss, enjoy photography, are family historians, love pelicans, photograph pelicans and we PAINT PELICANS! Oh, AND we haul oversized items around town in our small convertibles! At this point we've seen each other in person for a whopping 15 minutes and known that each other existed in this world for one whole week.
Fast forward five more days. Kimberly shared a post about Bonne Maman Preserves. Sounds innocent enough. What could we possibly have in common with a jar of preserves?
I ran to the dishwasher and removed the jar of preserves that I had just finished that morning. I had this jar for a long time, not wanting to finish it because then I wouldn't have any (Does anyone else do that?). My comment on Kimberly's post was, "STOOOOOOOPPPPPPP! I finished this jar TODAY!!!"
She responded quickly, "I think we need lunch."
We did finally have lunch and as expected, it was a blast! She wants to build a greenhouse to which I said, "I'm just throwing this out there...I've always wanted to build a greenhouse out of old windows." We both hollered after she replied, "I'm saving old windows now!
I gave her a copy of my book. The biggest problem is that now she'll know most of my stories and I won't have any to share with her as this friendship develops further. Somehow it seems like it will be alright. She texted me the other day, "I have to tell you...I'm nearly done with your book. I have laughed, cried, and gasped. However, I have resorted to using a red pencil for everything we have in common!"
I'll leave this story here. I reserve the right to add to the story as it develops in the future. Though we aren't twins, that part I'm sure of, I'm equally assured of the fact that we are certainly kindred spirits.