When I was a child, my father was a working musician. He had been playing music since childhood, as had his father (who was a longtime member of the Italian American Musicians Association in Chicago, and let me just tell you, if you were looking for an incredible summer barbecue to go to in the 70s, this annual party was the best -- Italian food and accordion players and old Italian ladies in black shoes and men in suspenders, dancing -- what I wouldn't give to have one of those Saturdays back!). My dad's band, UFO (not to be confused with the more famous UFO, who later, according to Dad, bought the name from my dad's band) was the house band at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago during the 60s and 70s, and my dad was away most weekend nights, playing there and later at various venues all over Chicago. He did this for years, from before I was born until I nine or so. I was babysitting at my sister's this past weekend and they were playing the only original album my dad's band had recorded in 1964, a demo, made when my dad was only 19. It was the first time I'd heard it, and I could not believe how cool it was. I need to ask my mom more about this, and see if I can find a picture of those guys, wearing their space-suit sort of outfits, surrounded by their go-go girls.
But at the Palmer House in the 60s was a woman named Dr. Nakutis who was very good friends with my parents. When I was born, they asked her to be my godmother. I really never knew her; she was much older than my parents and she died when I was pretty little. But I do remember one really magical thing that happened. One snowy night I was at my next door neighbors'. My parents called and told me to come home. When I walked in, the front room was filled, and I mean filled with presents, covering the floor, almost to the front door. Dr. Nakutis had brought me some things for my birthday! It blew my mind then, and I still remember it. Everyone was so excited. I believe Dr. Nakutis was Lithuanian, and her presents were of the expensive, European variety: Steiff teddy bears and Hummel music boxes and smocked, Polly Flinders dresses. I still have a lot of them, and they are even better now.
When these lovely things come to me in the mail, I am reminded of Dr. Nakutis and the presents every time. In the past couple of weeks, these pretty things have arrived, and I've wanted to wait until I had a sunny day to photograph them. At the top, a package of dreamy, dreamy, dreamy vintage wallpaper pieces from my original, most-sweet ever-humble fairy-blog-godmother, Pam. She might not like being outed like this, but if you remember this box of wonders, you'll see what I know: This girl has got my number sooooo bad. I had to put these with my vintage tissue bells, they matched so well. See the door behind the mannequin in the post below? About to be patchworked in vintage wallpaper. I'm actually terrified of wallpaper in general, and have never actually put it on a wall, but there is no way this stuff is not going up. My tendency would normally be to hoard such a collection, but I'd rather look at it every single day. Man, I hope I don't mess it up.
Then there is the sweetest little flannel calico bunny from Beki. She is so so so happy in our guest room, and I know one little guest who is going to adore having her company when she sleeps over. Beki told me that her daughter had named her kitty "Alicia" but then changed it to "Keisha" -- she is quite specific in her names, apparently. (Maybe she could help all of us business namers, eh?. . .) I forgot to ask Beki is she had asked her daughter the name of the bunny again. I know that my niece will want to know. Beki is about to have a baby in about five minutes so how she has time to make stuffies is amazing to me.
The wonderful necklace is from Maize. She makes this amazing jewelry from silver recycled from film. She says that it is extracted, ground down, mixed with a binder, then fired in a kiln, and is the purest silver you can get. The back of this charm says "Cherish." It's just lovely. And I don't think we've ever had anything with our names on it before.
The covered box of treasures is from the illustrious Cally, who just said today that in her first month of blogging she has written 73 posts. Cally makes me laugh just about every day. I'm completely charmed by her, and this photo of my Cally-caramel box really does not do justice to how sweet and special every single thing in it. The girl likes little, little things. The bird pin is felted, the cards are stitched, the birdcages and teacups -- I don't know how she does these. They're beautiful. And there is an annotated list of everything in this little box, which is probably five inches in diameter. Beautiful.
Lastly but not leastly, a mix CD from Leslie, who asks, "Is there a moment quite as keen/Or memory as bright/As light and fire and music sweet/To warm the winter's night?" And, I can tell you, it sounds just as wonderful in spring. Take it from a musician's kid.
Thank you, everyone. Wow. Thank you!