Blogger Michelle Greysen is a professional writer/author 
and offers up this lifestyle glimpse from her side of the dock .

Posted By Michelle Greysen

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It has been a year of busy, so much so that I almost abandoned this blog altogether. Surprisingly the weather seems to wreak some havoc here and there so far this year to the point of life-interruption. Not in any major way on our home fronts but in an awestruck reality of much devastating loss in floods and hail throughout the southern Canadian Prairies. Hardest hit was Calgary with much loss and rebuild but sadder hit was the entire town of High River in a devastating flood that will take decades if not a century to recover from.
 
A hectic year on all fronts so far and it did not help that hail damage in our Alberta home left me vehicle shopping half the summer and dealing with house repairs. Funny how 10 minutes of Mother Nature can put you back months. Even though I had my car written-off, our truck just getting the last of the repairs awaiting body replacement parts for months, our new roof now on, the siding finally replaced, and the eaves and gutters on their way, our loss was manageable and minor compared to many who only an hour or so north of us lost everything.

The irony in all for me is that our little loved shack of a cottage-home, Landlocked, on the Saskatchewan prairie sits in a little town where life moves along at a slow comfortable pace and much goes unnoticed, in a good way. Not able to get away much to visit Landlocked these past few months it is always comforting to know that little changes there. The tarped roof awaiting new shingles still leaks when it rains, the temperature cooling has a floor of dead flies to greet us on arrival, the house chills off and the grass browns in the early frost, and life quietly carries on.

Getting to spend a few days there this past weekend had us readying it for winter. Although we do not close it off and will still visit often in the snow months to come we do check things a little closer on departing. We tucked the patio chairs into the garage, shored up a few draughty spots, check the plastic on the upstairs windows, turn off the ceiling fans, tilt the blinds a little to let the winter low sun warm the rooms, and then locked it up and tucked it in for winter.

The carefree summer days spent there are so different than those of the coming winter when we shovel our way in around the drifts and layer up shivering as the new furnace hums it back to warmth. We relax more, have less company and enjoy the isolation of feeling so far away from the big busy world. Spring planting is discussed, summer company and reno project ideas abound but we know when the time comes it may or may not happen as this is a relaxed place to be and that priority trumps fix-er-up-er work all summer long. It doesn’t seem to matter as the house has quietly stood the last century with little help from us and seems to happily carry on the same way. A new toilet here and some flooring there, maybe some fresh paint and a roof next year, maybe not.

The seasons ahead will bring what they will and we will enjoy the escape often and always.

Michelle

 


 
Posted By Michelle Greysen

manuelapic1
   There are as many reasons to be poking around thrift stores, tag sales and auction houses as there are great finds to discover. For me, who needs no excuse to be out thrifting as I can happily call it a job, I was challenged this week with a thought that has resonated to my core about why it is I love this thrifty lifestyle beyond a passion for discovering a treasure.
   I always have a sense of purpose and many times, as other dealers will attest, some items seem to ' talk' to you as you brush past or pick them up. There is an undeniable energy around many second hand cast offs and an equally eerie almost dead lack of energy around others. I have actually had occasion when I bought something zany because it seemed to speak to me and other times I have quickly set something back down or coudn't even touch it, based on a negative presence. A few great buys have stayed on the shelf because they, for me, had a weird vibe, but many many more things find their way home with me because they are calling out to be loved.
   The stories behind the discovery of a great find is half the fun but for me the better other half is the amazing stories when you take the time to discover where the item is headed. It is more often than not that I find something knowing full well I am only a pawn in the energy-scheme-of-things and that what seemed to call out to me from a dusty back shelf or the bottom of an auction box undiscovered, actually had a greater purpose and I simply the go between in that which was and that which will be. It is not always just about the great find, a good buying price and a great selling profit. More and more for me it has become about what I find and where it is going.
   I am at my treasure-hunting best when I step out with no expectations and stay in the moment and let the items find me. I never know when I head out what I will drag home, rescued from eventual obscurity. I do know, or have come to realize, that if I let the energy draw me to it and I bring it home, dust it off, take a photo or two, list it in my online shops giving it a new lease on life - that someone, somewhere shows up looking for exactly that item and not only purchases it from me but brings me amazing stories about why that item and what it means to them to add it into their life.
   Who does not warm inside at the sight of the exact Gramma's kitchen canisters on a shelf in an antique shop, or finding the very same book they loved as a child? Nostalgia is overwhelming when it takes you back to where life was simple and loving.
   It is not about buying and selling vintage junk for me, never has been, never will be. It is about the energy, the stories, the lost treasures, the memories, the nostalgia and the joy that comes from being the middle-man as the energy passes through me from the long lost item on its way to be rescued. A sweet way to share my love of vintage and to feel the love back many times over as the treasures eventually sell and go home.
   For a wonderful tale of a daughter's loss and filling that heartache with a few vintage finds to recreate her mother's amazing trans-atlantic journey back in the 60's to a new country and my role in finding her lost treasures visit my blog entry at ThriftyDiversions 
As always - happy thrifting! Michelle


 
Posted By Michelle Greysen


     Is it just me or have you noticed a trend of late on the new man? For those who also follow my antique & collecting blog Thrifty Diversions you already know that thrifty is “IN” in a big way! But for those who get a more subtle message eventually and enjoy the slow dance you may have picked up on a gentle shift in all that is circling your history channel viewing pleasure of late. 
     It turns out the men of the much watched History Channel shows, the Pawn Stars, American Pickers, American Restoration, Cajun Pawn Stars, are the new sexy! Yes ladies you are not only looking for mister right – you are now hoping for mister into-great-junk! Women of a certain love-for-vintage age are wanting a man that will go picking and troll thrift stores and yard sales on a weekend. No elegant late Saturday morning yuppie coffee shop dates anymore, we just want a man who pulls up with two paper cups of no-name steaming coffees and an empty truck bed ready for some weekend action – auction action! A man who travels with a little be-prepared essentials rolling around under the seat of his pick-up next to his fishing gear – ropes, big garbage bags, gloves, multi-head screwdriver, hammer, crowbar, shrink wrap, an old-furniture blanket and the likes as you never know when you might come across an old abandoned barn door to liberate or have to dismantle a century old armoire at an auction to get it in the truck.
     Yes ladies we want a man who loves long back road drives in the country at dawn’s first light … looking for good junk! How do I know that to be true? I’m marrying one of those guys this coming weekend! Not only did he come to love the thrifty collecting lifestyle I exposed him to early on he has become a great picker himself, even worked the front counter of my antique store to great success on his weekends off the day job, and an expert tie-down man who can make anything fit in the back of a truck. As I am writing this he just texted me pics of a typewriter he is standing in front of at a thrift store he popped into while he is on the road to see a client – “works $8?”- like sexting to a collector – we call it thrift-porn.
     Our wedding is as simple as our love of a thrifty vintage lifestyle, all happening in a small prairie town at our shack of a cottage with no frills, but surrounded by family and fun.  Saturday afternoon ceremony in the town park gazebo, my minister brother marrying us, and a few blocks back at home we will be swinging open the old double carriage house doors to expose the tacky man-cave garage bar surrounded by vintage chrome stools. The yard will be full of guest campers, reception on patio tables covered in vintage linens surrounded by lawn chairs on the dirt driveway. Food will be plentiful simple family fare off the grill, fresh cut garden flowers all around in mismatched vases and stuffed into cream can urns, wine and beer out of iced topped galvanized pails, vintage mismatched dishes, and even the traditional, almost tacky vintage bride & groom cake topper on a simple real get-eaten white cake. There will be fire pit sing-a-longs, crib tournaments, lawn croquet  and best of all a celebration of a perfect match.
     If these auction loving, junk-hunting, pickup truck driving, rugged haulers are the new man – can the up and coming round of Mountain Men, Shark Wranglers and Swamp People filling up airways be the next great man to snag? Move over American Pickers – trends don’t lie.

Thanks for all the wedding wishes everyone!


 
Posted By Michelle Greysen

 The news was not good this past week for those of us who cling to the past and curse technology. The Easy Bake Oven, an icon since 1963, has had to get into the new millennium of change due to the ban on 100-watt incandescent light bulbs in 2012. Hasbro, with a promise of being on the edge of the hottest trends for today have launched the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven.
The announcement prompted me to resurrect an article I wrote back in the 90’s on life and the impact of the easy bake oven. A sort of tongue-in-cheek comparison to modern women and stereotype limitations and so appropriate that it was originally printed in Modern Woman Magazine in the fall of 1997. I was going to update the references to the ‘90s but decided to leave it intact. The message is as relevant today as it was when I wrote this piece over a decade ago – enjoy!

     “Even though it’s the ‘90’s Christmas season remains pretty much the same, year after year, with a few subtle differences. We now eat lighter food and some even cook the stuffing butter-free in the crock-pot instead of the bird. We drink lite, enjoy our scotch with bottled water and might even pass on dessert. We hope we are a more socially conscious generation, not just at Christmas but year round, all aspiring for better times ahead for our children. When we were kids, we were given sketchbooks, toboggans, board games, building sets and models. The trend has now switched to gifts that entertain our children – video games, movies, CDs, gifts that entertain instead of stimulate curious minds.
I was party to an interesting gift discussion this holiday season. It seemed to be a simple open and shut decision for the mother denying the request, but it spoke volumes about the family of the ‘90’s. The mother was in a dilemma over her six-year-old daughter who wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have her very own Easy Bake Oven – every very young girl’s dream! For the mother, this girly kitchen gift went totally against the modern-woman daughter she was trying to raise. The implication being the Easy Bake Oven somehow represented years of women’s oppression.
 The whole discussion really came to a head during a holiday gathering of friends at her home. The women were all in the kitchen, as usual, and the heated debate was over the pros and cons of the Easy Bake Oven. To me, the bottom line was the little girl just wanted a play oven, not unlike a young boy who wants tools. Would the ‘90s father worry about his son’s future if he bought him workshop toy tools, troubling that his son may become a tradesman instead of a lawyer?
The culturally oppressing oven concept and the heated debate continued until thankfully it came to an end as dinner was ready. As I was slicing the homemade bread, fresh from the unconvinced mother’s new bread-maker, the discussion around the kitchen quickly took on a new light. The topic went from whole-grains to self-timers as the women in the room were now excitedly comparing their various bread-makers and recipes. How ironic that these ‘90s women were raised by mothers who did everything they could to change the world for their daughters, yet they really hadn’t changed things that much after all.

Are you one of those women who secretly wished you had had an Easy Bake Oven when you were a young girl? Or are you one of the ‘90s mothers who couldn’t bring yourself to buy one for your young daughter? It’s not too late! Go out today and buy yourself, and your daughter, a bread maker. It’s the same feeling – those secret repressed desires will at last be fulfilled. The wanting will finally go away! Even better, the bread-maker, unlike the Easy Bake Oven, doesn’t require any light bulbs to be changed, other than the one in your way of thinking!”

 
Posted By Michelle Greysen


 prairiedrive

I have once again this past week driven the open prairie between my city life in southern Alberta and my cottage life in southern rural Saskatchewan. The journey never fails to amaze me. It is four hours of some of the best scenery this side of heaven.
There is, for me, something very real about driving the open prairie. The scenery never gets old. The insignificance of daily woes becomes so miniscule in the vastness of the open prairie. I never fail to notice that at times during the solitude of the drive I have a keen sense of feeling that I am the only soul on the universe in any direction as far as I can see. In those fleeting seconds I am both stunned and energizing.
Back in reality in the city one is never alone. We might think we are alone as we take a walk, or spend a quiet day in the house, but the reality is another person, soul, body is a mere glance away. Alone, and not a sole in sight, are not the same thing. Truly when you can look out in every direction and not even see any sign of human life, you will know what I am talking about.
No one. Nothing. Not a car, not a building, not a structure, not a being. Open rolling prairie fields of waving grasses, the biggest blue sky you can imagine, and nothing in the way of either of those meeting each other except the ribbon winding road and only you in the middle of an amazing scene. As if you are in a gallery staring, lost, in the most incredible painting you have ever seen and suddenly you find yourself plunked into the middle of your new favourite work of art. Looking forward and back, side to side while seeing, feeling, sensing, no one but you in this incredible work of art.
To me that is a prairie drive on a quiet early morning before the day gets too hot and too busy. It is a gift. A gift of the universe, of a connection, of a window to your soul. A time and place where one can truly take a long deep breath and feel ready to do what you came here to do. Energized to be the soul inside. A gift I am thankful for every time I drive alone in the early hours from the city to the cottage, but especially grateful for when on the return and arriving back to the city from the perspective of the cottage feeling far more ready and relaxed to take it all in. Open to the gift of soul and the spectacular reminder of my very own unique connection and place in the universe.

 


 
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