This and That July 28, ‘14


Cast iron Parrot with pink wings

For the past few weeks I’ve been filling bags with things to donate to a Thrift Store. Creating piles of books and other things to go to friends. I’m in the Process of Down-sizing, of Letting Go….
Many years ago I helped a woman when she felt she needed to down-size. It made her sad to let things go that had meaning to her and that she’d carried with her through her long life. In some ways, my scaling-down the number of things I’m carrying with me is making me sad, as well.
In other ways, having less stuff is free-ing and I’m enjoying the freedom of less things.
One of the things we did to ease my friends letting-go-pain was to photograph some of her dearest treasures so she’d have the photos to look at after the things were gone. Keeping that time in mind, I’ve followed my own advice and have photographed this dear treasure of mine. I’ve decided to give it away – to someone dear — and it’s hard for me to let it go.

This is a cast-iron Parrot. When I first met it, it was green with pink wings. In my mind, it’s still green with pink wings and I don’t really see that the paint is thin and worn with rust is creeping in.

The Parrot is a paper weight and was a constant fixture for many years on my grandfather’s desk in his office in a small room on the 1st floor of my grandmother’s house. My grandfather was the managing editor of a local daily newspaper as well as a feature writer for the Sunday magazine. He also reviewed books for a variety of publishers as well as writing advertising copy for local businesses. He was a busy man, always writing. He was given this paper-weight/Parrot as a small gift from a local Foundry where he’d free-lanced, writing advertising copy.

I was small when I was first allowed to play with this parrot. Apparently I’d played with it when I have no memory because one thing I recall is that most every time it was rewarded to me to play with I was always admonished “Don’t throw it!”

For a little guy, he’s kind of heavy.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was little. I was the first grand-child and they were willing baby-sitters which also helped-out my parents who were having more babies.
I spent a lot of time with my grandfather in his study. He’d set paper and pencils down on the floor for me and I’d spend hours drawing pictures and making up stories about what it was I was drawing. At some point, I’d be rewarded for my being so good by being allowed to play with the parrot. I loved playing with the parrot and the memory of the drawings and the stories and the fond attention of my grandfather.

There came a day when my grandparent’s made the decision to down-size, to sell their house and move South. That was a time filled with the bitter-sweet of nostalgia and an enormous amount of the pain of Letting Go. When all was done and all my grandparent’s had to do was put their suitcases in the car, hand over the keys to the Realtor and go, I went to see them one last time in the old familiar house – which was empty and filled with strange echoes — and to see them off to their new life. My grandfather told me he had something he wanted me to have, reached into his pocket and handed me the Parrot, advising “Don’t throw it.” I still remember the lump in my throat and the sting of tears in my eyes as well as the familiar comfort and warmth of his all-encompassing hug.

To me, the Parrot is a tactile and visual memory-bank of my grandfather in his study; his warmth and caring – of all he was and is to me. It’s also a memory bank of the decades it’s been in my life since the day my grandfather entrusted it to me and moved South.

Fare forward, little Parrot and fare well….

A First….


The First Zucchini from my garden. I’m hoping it’s the first of many. It was absolutely perfect in every way. Great texture, great flavor, no GMO’s, not too big or small – just right! It’s been a pleasure to grow the plant from a tiny seed and come up with this result. I’m hoping to have plenty to freeze and eat later this winter. I’ve also had my first cucumber and pepper. Now, I’m anxiously awaiting my first Tomato!

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8 Responses to This and That July 28, ‘14

  1. beetleypete says:

    I have to say, I might have kept that parrot. I still have a garage full of things that probably need to go to charity shops, as well stuff from my deceased Mum, that I find it hard to part with. Humans are natural collectors, but we all come to that day when they have to find a new home.
    Take care Gretchen, best wishes from England, Pete. x

  2. chris ludke says:

    The parrot is a great piece! I’m getting ready to move (again) and every time I do it I’m RUTHLESS with my stuff. Giving it away, throwing it out etc. It’s kind of liberating in a way if you can do it.

  3. candidkay says:

    Downsizing is painful in the moment–freeing afterward. At least, that’s how I find it. I rarely miss anything I part with–except for a pair of black boots from about five years ago:). And that mistake I can live with! As can my overcrowded closet. Best of luck to you.

  4. You have really captured all the emotions and sadness of lost echoes of the downsizing trauma. I call it “reducing portfolio” so I sound important or something. As I grow older I can’t remember even the echoes of the once tangible items. Three decades ago at divorce I had to downsize to the point of then owning what would fit into my car along with my dog, a yellow lab. My parents left all when the moved in with me 13 years ago and mother passed and father and I are looking to downsize again. Most things I thought I never could live without I would not have needed or used since they were gone. But I will never part with my brushes and paints and carving knives, my small roll top desk or my Franklin Roosevelt clock collection from 1933, about 18 of them. It really is a heart felt post to read and you did is so well.

    I’ve often had a little back yard or side of an apartment garden. Don’t plant tomatoes with the rest of your vegetables. They are magnets for every pest insect in existence and will destroy the rest of your garden which would probably not be as near as infested without the tomatoes.

  5. Kathy says:

    I am glad you listened to your heart and passed along Parrot when it was time to let him go. Now someone else may gain from your grandfather’s spirit. And yours, as well.

  6. suej says:

    Hello! I’ve come to your blog via a comment you left on Beetley Pete’s blog…This post has chimed with me because I am in the process of getting rid of years of ‘stuff’ and it’s heart-wrenching. But your comment about photographing things (why didn’t I think of that?) has very slightly cheered me up…..

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