Friday, February 27, 2009

Farewell, Home Companion

Okay, I get that the economy is bad. Detroit is losing money; the GDP has plunged; Wall Street is manned by a bunch of wimps. But I was totally bummed that Mary Englebreit's Home Companion Magazine is no long being published.

I remember when it first came out--I gave my sister a subscription for her birthday. Eventually I gave myself a subscription since I like to support school fund-raisers (who am I fooling--I subscribed to brighten my life). I've renewed it for years and years. My magazine piles grew and grew. I finally began tearing out my favorite decorating articles, the monthly paper doll and Mary's artwork to whittle the pile down to manageable levels.

Re-reading the magazine was almost as fun as sitting down with it fresh from my mailbox. There are creative, individual homes that sometime strike a chord. Their owners created something unforgettable. Colors popped off the page. Holidays came alive with ingenuity. Inspiration struck in every issue.

I suspect I'm not alone in enjoying most the peeks into Mary's home(s) and art studio(s). The woman is a serial homemaker! Each home was wonderful and very Mary, and I thought each time they'd moved into their forever home. I loved dots painted on lampshades and rooms created for her grand-daughter. I loved black and white checks and cherry reds. I got acquainted with inglenooks perfect for curling up with Jane Austen. Watching Mary put her stamp on succeeding homes was like an intensive course in home decoration. I loved it.

Alas, plentiful subscribers couldn't make up for falling ad revenues. If you just took a six percent cut in pay or your company's downsizing and you don't know how secure your job is. Or if your house just lost thirty-one percent of its value compared to two years ago or your retirement fund shrunk. Well, then you don't exactly rush out to buy new furniture or renovate your kitchen or even pick up some new lamps on sale. The consumer doesn't buy, the advertisers' funds dry up, and the publisher decides to close up shop.

The good news? Well, ME and her company still own the magazine name and most probably it will be resurrected (like Victoria) sometime in the future.

Even worse than Home Companion closing shop? All those subscribers who still have time on their subscription are now finding Martha Stewart Living in their mailboxes. That's classic adding insult to injury. Those two magazines have nothing in common, nothing!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I know it's still winter. Someone forgot to tell the flowers though.
Who can blame them--they got a couple weeks of nice warm fifty degree temperatures accompanied by lots of sun and they took advantage of the Spring-like weather and began to bloom. First the sweet violets, then the mini-iris, then the miniature daffodils. Today I noticed the crocus are not only in bud, but beginning to show color. Even the robins must have gotten the memo--they're everywhere!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Current Events

Walked the scenic route to work--through the pasture, past the barb wire, through the park.

Optimistically wore my light jacket this morning which wasn't quite enough to block the wind, so grabbed my reliable Lands End Therma Chek Fleece at lunch and was very happy to have it on the hike back to work.

Zelda (the Golden Retriever pup) somehow got a bacterial infection and her antibiotics are enclosed in giant capsules. We've been mashing cheese around them, but realized she bolts her food so fast that we could probably just give her an unadorned pill and she'd look at us for more.

I think I figured out how to teach Kharma to bow (finally)!

The rainshadow is in full effect. The Sierra snowpack has added moisture, but all we see here are clouds boiling along the crest and never reaching us.

Feels like Spring--brisk winds, mild temperatures and flowers popping up here and there.

Since my sweetie is helping out his parents this week, I've had lots of computer time. I'm whittling down my pile of magazine clippings (gardening tips, recipes, travel ideas, craft patterns) on the scanner.

Every day a new Abba song from Mamma Mia! runs through my head. Today's is Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight).

I'm loving've had my Abba playlist cheering me on while I've been surfing the web (did you know Home Companion and Cottage Living were ceasing publication?!), keeping the scanner busy, keeping an ear out for the pups and talking on the phone. Talk about multi-tasking!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


No, I haven't been on a remote tropical isle. Nor have I been abducted by aliens. I'm just hibernating. Hibernating right through the sixty degree plus days we enjoyed briefly while the rest of the country froze their tushes off and right through the snow flurries that followed.

Hibernating is a good thing. If you're drowsing sleepily, you can avoid all sorts of things. Like pink slips, life without health insurance, neighbors whose company closed down, retired friends who had to go back to work, a 401k that tanked, etc. You get the idea.

My sweetie has been living on our sole remaining computer since the company reclaimed his work laptop. And I really didn't have the heart to stomp my little feet, throw a hissy fit and demand computer time to post on my little blog.

We've known since the Christmas party (known among co-workers as The Last Supper) in early December that cuts in the workforce would be made, so we were conservative in our spending during the holidays. I found myself planning what I'd remodel around the house and what classes I'd take and what luxury items (in my lexicon, luxury and anything bought exclusively for my use are synonymous) if the news was good, but never really contemplated the changes that would be necessary if the news came accompanied by a pink slip.

I can live without digital cable for the TV, although life without HBO just seems a bit less fun. There's no remodelling being planned until the missing salary is replaced, but I suspect we will survive not having a granite counter in the guest bath just fine. My mad money will go for groceries rather than a kayak and roof carrier. There will be no dog agility classes for the forseeable future. They are all small sacrifices. We don't have a mortgage or a car payment or credit card debt. We have money saved. We're in a relatively good place, all things considered, and we certainly have company.

Our best silver lining: we dodged a major bullet in not moving when the office here closed a couple years ago. There was stress and uncertainty about how long the company would let us get away with air travel and motel expenses for a four hundred mile commute. Turns out it didn't matter at all. We're feeling pretty bad for the laid off co-workers that did transfer and are now stuck with homes and mortgages. We're feeling even worse for the ones that also lost their work permits for the States.

Anyone in my sweetie's line of work has been unemployed, and we've been blessed by twenty-some years on continuous job security. We've experienced being unemployed previously when the boys were small, and it taught us that money doesn't bring happiness. Not like a baby's smile or a cute hand-me-down shirt for a little boy or a walks to the park with a friend or a monthly Game Night with the neighbors brings joy.

Hibernation doesn't last forever (I'm not sure if that's good or bad) ,but it served its purpose and brought some clarity and some peace of mind:

  • Game Night is making a comeback.
  • Cleaning up might make more of a difference than remodelling.
  • I really prefer garage sale-ing to mall crawling.
  • I'd rather go on a hike with Kharma than a vacation in Hawaii without her.

It was nice having some extra money, but we'll be okay without it. We still have only one computer though, so blogging might be a might sparse until his consulting business begins to bring in some positive cashflow, or until he finds he needs a laptop again.

Be patient with me and keep checking back. I'll post whenever I can. I have about a zillion different ideas to write about and I know I won't be able to hold them in for long before I burst!