Goodbye, My Old Friend…

After graduating high school in May of 1979, I made plans to move out on my own right away. I was excited about having my own digs, so I applied for work as a bookkeeper for an accounting firm in a nearby city, just 16 miles away. Once I completed my interview and was offered the job, my Mom and I set out to look at apartments. We found one in the downtown area, located just a block from my employer, on the second floor of an electronics store. The apartment had only a few furnishings provided, but Mom said I could borrow an old couch that was in storage, and Β she was sure she could also help me with a few other necessities I would need to start up housekeeping on my own.

Me and my friend Sharilyn, in my apartment back in 1979.
Me and my friend Sharilyn, in my apartment back in 1979.

I was only 17 years old at that time and, since I had never been on my own before, had never given much thought to what all I might need to get by. When I did think about it, my focus was on personal items like clothes, toiletries, and makeup. Fortunately, Mom thought of the household, practical items I would need. Together, we shopped for cleaning supplies and basics, like paper towels and toilet paper. For dishes, Mom asked me to pick out which style of the popular Corelle dinnerware I wanted. I chose the green Spring Blossom pattern. Along with these dishes, Mom bought me some simple flatware and a set of green Anchor Hocking glassware.

To provide me with other necessary items, like pots, pans, and cooking utensils, Mom parted with extras from her own supply at home. I felt really special when Mom gave me a set of kitchen tea towels from her own hope chest that she had made as a young girl. I could never imagine how Mom managed to scrape up enough money to help me get started out. After all, she still had my four siblings at home to provide for and take care of, and money was always tight. I was overwhelmed by her love and giving, knowing she had probably shorted herself somehow, by helping me to get set up on my own.

IMG_7182Then, on the day she helped me move, I received even more gifts. These came in the form of some other “extra” things she had at home – blankets and sheets for the bed, bathroom towels, and a casserole dish. In one box, I was delighted to find a small set of kitchen knives and, in another, I discovered the prize of all prizes – a brand new Sunbeam Mix Master hand mixer! I think that was the moment when I burst into tears. I had been holding back all day that day as it was, but when I realized my Mom could have likely used a new mixer herself, I became quite emotional and humbled. I am sure Mom had no idea how much her caring and love meant to me that day. All of these things she did to help me get started on my own meant the world to me.

Over the years, I passed on some of the more-durable items Mom gave to me, back then, to my brother or sisters as each moved out on their own. Other, less long-lasting items, were tossed or put on garage sales along the way. Eventually, of the bounty I received from Mom back in 1979, only two things remained when I moved to Oklahoma in 1990: the now ratty-looking and slightly stained tea towels, and the Sunbeam Mix Master.

Image of the Courting Cats tea towels. (Courtesy ebay.com)
Image of the Courting Cats tea towels. (Courtesy ebay.com)

Oh, sure, I know I could have disposed of the tea towels long ago, but I still have them stuffed in a lower drawer in my kitchen. And we do use them, though mostly for wiping eyeglasses since they are soft from years of washing, and just right for drying delicate items. Somehow, I could never throw out the handiwork that my Mom so lovingly produced as a young girl. Each towel has a word inked on it that describes the gradual process of a couple in love.

And, I cannot begin to count how many meals and desserts the Sunbeam hand mixer had helped me produce over the years. Back then, electric appliances did not have all of the power speeds the mixers of today have. My Sunbeam simply had a “Burst of Power” button that offered a little extra “oomph” when needed. At some point, the power cord wore through and a friend spliced on a new one so it could continue to do its magic. Once, I even dropped the mixer, and it landed on one of the beaters, bending it terribly. Unfortunately, no replacement beaters could be found, but with a little hammering and prying, I managed to make it work alongside its mate again.

Then, last week, the unthinkable happened. My old friend of 34 years began to put off a funny odor while I was in the middle of whipping some mashed potatoes. Immediately, I flipped the toggle switch to OFF. At first, I blamed the potatoes for producing the odd smell. You know how it is with the first signs of illness – you blame it on something else. You are in denial. I first sniffed the potatoes. Hmm, seemed a lot like normal potato aroma. Next I inhaled near the vented area on the mixer and it did smell a bit hot, but it looked just fine. I flipped the toggle switch back on. WHAT?? Did I just see sparks? Surely not. I switched it off again, this time hollering across the house for FD to come have a look. By then, my worst fears were ebbing their way into my brain. I could feel my chest tighten and I almost wanted to cry. Just then, FD verbalized what I did not want to hear – Ms. Sunbeam was “fried”. I tried two more times, flipping the switch on, then off. As a result, more sparks, and a more intense burning smell, emitted from the vented area. Sadly, our mashed potatoes would remain a little lumpy this night.

IMG_7190After her meltdown, I left Ms. Sunbeam on the counter for almost a week, before photographing her one last time. I removed the beaters… and then the emotions just overcame me. Silly, I know. It was not so much my attachment to the mixer itself that had me in tears. It was that, for 34 years, I thought of my Mom’s gift every time I used that mixer. With remorse, I placed the old girl in the trash, along with other kitchen discards from the past couple of days’ meals. Fitting, I thought, the old gal would likely want to spend her final resting time with friends and ingredients she had spent decades blending, whipping, and beating into lovely creations.

As for the beaters I saved, I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to clean them during meal preparation, just to use them right away again on something else. So, I am stashing the old beaters back as a spare set, just in case I can locate another Sunbeam Mix Master of the same model. That way, I can simply toss the “dirty” set in the sink, grab the extra set, and whip up the next dish or ingredient that requires mixing without having to stop and clean a pair of beaters.

I love vintage items like my Sunbeam mixer and, after researching some of the newer, super speedy and mega-powerful units, and reading the poor reviews they get, I realize how happy I was, always having a reliable, old friend in my kitchen. I know my “new” vintage purchase will never have the same sentimental value my original Ms. Sunbeam had for me, but still, I will always remember my Mom’s wonderful gift of so many years ago, each time I flip the toggle switch and hear my new, old friend begin to hum!

Β© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


80 thoughts on “Goodbye, My Old Friend…

    1. Oh, it was very difficult to put my old mixer in the trash! It’s just silly to think we become attached to these material items. Thanks for your comment!

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  1. Wonderful story! I really liked those tea towels. It can be hard sometimes to let go of something you have for a very long time. The mixer made you think of your mother and the mixer gave you 34 years of service which is rare today.

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    1. You are right about that Nathan! Most appliances today do not last more than 5 years. I was reading customer reviews on some of the new hand mixers and many of them have a 2 to 3 year life. I am very impressed that my Sunbeam gave me 34 years! That’s pretty amazing!

      I always loved those tea towels too! Mine have holes in them but they’re soft and just right for polishing delicate items!

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    2. I’m with Nathan on the 34 years of service! But what I LOVE is that this was the exact same mixer I had …. I got it when I got married, it traveled the world with me, then settled for a while with my mom, then came back to me and 2 years ago it died! It had 26 years of service at the time so your’s out lasted mine. But I loved that mixer. So fun to come on here and see the same.

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      1. That’s amazing!! I can’t believe the feedback on this post. I am discovering so many people with the older mixers from the 60’s and 70’s that had a long life span. Isn’t it funny how we have these attachments to our dependable and hard-working friends?

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        1. Louis, I heard from a few people saying theirs were older too. I can’t speak for anyone else, but mine was used 3 or 4 times a week, most of my life. I either used it to blend desserts, whip mashed potatoes, or whisk sauces. Mine got a lot of use in all of those years. She was the best kitchen friend this girl ever had!

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  2. Ahh, gee. Mrs. Sunbeam. I do hope you find another mixer of which you might grow fond. I’m glad that you have kept the tea towels and maybe you might want to keep those for posterity.You can’t replace something that is handmade. I think those towels are a real treasure.

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    1. Those towels are to be treasured. I’m sure someday a niece or nephew will go through my things after I’m gone and wonder what kind of person I was to keep ratty, worn tea towels around! LOL I’m determined to find another Ms. Sunbeam out there… as Mom always said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”!

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  3. I worried when I saw the title of this post, thinking you’d lost a friend (a human or animal one). Then I sighed with relief when I realized it was “only” a mixer. But now I see how much meaning that piece of metal and plastic had for you, and I’m sorry for your loss. For what it’s worth, the mixer knew how much you loved her, and she had a long and happy life. πŸ™‚

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    1. You are cracking me up, Kim!! I did give Ms. Sunbeam a good life, keeping her clean and always handling her with care… well, except that time I dropped her.

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  4. Oh, Lori, do I feel your pain! I had the same feelings for my old Oster Kitchen Center. I even bought another one on EBay so I would have spare parts. When it finally broke beyond repair I’d had it for over 25 years. Nothing made today will ever hold a candle to the old stuff we had. Do you know, that I still have Bob’s Mother’s hand mixer from 1942? And it still works! I use it to make Bob a real B-Day cake (with real flour) each year, and it works like a champ! πŸ˜‰

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    1. Lynda, I remember us talking about the Oster Kitchen Center! Those were awesome – I didn’t have one but a friend of mine did. I did find the same model of Sunbeam hand mixer on ebay and one on Etsy, so we’ll see what happens. I know for sure I don’t want one of the newer models that boast mega-power. I am all about giving an old gal a new home!

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      1. And here is the cool trick:

        Look online for how to repair your model, and you will probably find a link for a Youtube video that will show you how to do it! You may have to watch a few duds to find one you like and is sincerely helpful. Once you have your new one from Etsy or Ebay, you will now have spare parts for when something else breaks. πŸ˜€

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        1. Great idea… but I already tossed out the old one. I thought about keeping it for spare parts, but I figured the motor burning up was major. The old units were built fairly simplistic, and there wasn’t much else to keep for parts. But you are right about that for many vintage electrics. I noticed on ebay that one could purchase a hand mixer for parts only. Of course then there is the part I struggle with… where to store all of these things for spare parts! Egad!!

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          1. Now that you are moving, you will have a lot to weed through. I was thinking of you the other day when I was getting a few things in a pile for a garage sale later in the summer. You will have a lot of downsizing to do. I don’t envy you that! FD has a lot of “stuff” he’s saved over the years, just in case he needs it. Our 40 x 60 metal building has been a lifesaver. There is plenty of room for storage… especially those “someday” projects for when he’s retired!

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          2. I can well imagine, Lynda. I’m not sure how you’ll do it! Bob seems like the sort who will be good at helping sort through everything. I may just have to drive Big Green (my crew cab, long bed Ford) and haul a utility trailer over there and take some of those “extras” off your hands! LOL just kidding. I hope you can take all of your beautiful memories and mementos with you!

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          3. Absolutely! But, it’s the 5 cookie sheets, two sets of bake ware, extra utensils, boxes of old curtains (I might use them again some day), clothes older than 30 years (yes really) that no longer fit, the mug collection that has grown to about 50 pieces, bric-a-brac from the family (ex: old diplomas on 100 year old paper, ticket stubs, etc now meaningless to us) old puzzles I may try again, old books I may read again, etc. etc. etc. … HA!

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  5. Oh, you made me cry! Over the years I’ve managed to end up with some of my parent’s yard tools. The little shovels, the claw things with prongs, the old shears. My newer little shovel met up with the root of a weed and bent almost in half. The old one kicked the weed out of the garden. I have the old hammer and a few screwdrivers. I have their old set of china – the really old set – from the 1950s. I have their living room end tables in my family room – blond wood with black legs, open design – they are older than I am. Best of all, I have the knife my dad made in shop class. The handle is really fancy, with different kinds of wood in it with some sort of glaze over it. I cried as I thought about all of these things, and your Sunbeam mixer. Old friends are the best kind to have.

    Thank you for a wonderful post.

    Sue

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    1. Oh, Sue! What lovely memories, and how wonderful about the tools! I too, have a few old farm tools that my Grandparents used. FD and I both love antiques and vintage stuff. It’s not about value or a certain look… it’s about giving something a new home, a second life… and of course some are just cherished for the sentimental thoughts. I have my Dad’s old 1953 Chevy Deluxe car. It’s the one they brought me home from the hospital in 1961. I remember it as our family car until the early 1970’s. It needs a new gas tank, and I imagine a few parts need replacing simply from age, but I plan to drive it again someday.

      You’re right, old friends are the best kind to have!

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  6. Like Kim, I too was worried when I read the title, and saw the picture of you and Sharilyn. My first thought was, “Oh no, it couldn’t be; I just worked with her in the snack shack at the softball games.” I must say I was quite relieved to hear it was Ms Sunbeam instead, LOL.

    This post was a lovely tribute to Mom, and I would be tearful as well if I had to part with something so sentimental to me. I remember when you moved into that apartment. I also remember staying there overnight a time or two, and once we went to see the movie, “Herbie, The Love Bug.” Do you remember that? It was probably the same time that photo was taken with someone’s white bird perched nicely upon my blonde hair :-). Love you!

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    1. Yes, and I also remember the bird pooping in your blonde hair too! I think the movie was “Herbie Goes Bananas” and if I remember correctly, it was only the 2nd movie I’d ever been to in my life. Saturday Night Fever was the first! You’ll have to tell Sharilyn about the blog post. She and I had some wonderful times that first year living on our own. LOL What memories!

      There are many things in our home, that both FD and I cherish. I think FD is even more sentimental than I am. That is one of the things I love about your home, Baby Sister – the family history, keepsakes given in love, and the daily use of some of those items. I think our Grandparents would smile, knowing what they loved, was still being utilized. And I know Dad would be proud too. He got a little emotional going through things when his mother passed.

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    1. I remember that pea green color… oh well, at least you don’t have matching carpet or counter tops!! LOL It makes me a bit disgusted that our world is so “disposable”, where kitchen electrics only last a year or two. I’m impressed that a mixer could last 48 years. That’s why I’m tempted to buy a vintage mixer. It’s so good to hear from folks in these comments, that there are actually many old electrics being used today. Bravo to you!

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  7. Perfect little story…and good luck finding a new Sunbeam.
    I love the tea towels!
    Took me back to my second year at college in Edinburgh 1979, aged 20 and living in a shared flat with other college girls on campus, Queen Margaret College…I can not remember cooking much, (although I was doing Home Economics Bachelor of Arts Degree; think I still ate in hall)…but I do remember the horror of one of the older girls boiling up her knickers in a big pot in the communal kitchen, the same pot I had made Pease Pudding in…and arguments over who used all the sugar, thankfully something I never used, and all the girls sneaking onto the flat roof to sunbathe.
    …Happy Days x

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    1. Ha ha!! I could have been one of those sneaky sunbathing girls! I have always felt best with a little color to my skin. How funny about your college days! Good memories, eh? I have already located a couple of prospects online, so we’ll see what happens. I do a lot of cooking, and I admit, my Sunbeam and the tea towels got a lot of use over their lifetime.

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  8. Nooo bye Ms Sunbeam! It’s weird how we link emotions to items sometimes. I have such trouble throwing out clothes because they just went everywhere with me, much like your mixer! They become a bundle of experiences!

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  9. Just as Kim said above, the first thing that I thought was “oh no, a close friend or a family member has passed.” I am sentimental in much the same way you are Sundog. When Kristen and I married in 1973, her mother gave us an old mixer also. That thing was old and still is as there is NO plastic on that thing at all. Like yours, the cord was dry-rotted so I replaced that immediately and it is still in use today. Kris’ mom passed away in 2003 and it is even more meaningful to her now.

    My father died in 2001 and I inherited all of his hand tools and electric tools (saws, drills, etc.) and as mine wear out I replace them with dad’s that still work. Mine were mostly purchased in the 70s, his in the 50s through the early 60s and, of course, the old ones last longer. I even have a few tools from my mom’s father that died young and I have no memory of. One of these is an old brace & bit and a wood plane. Those are so old that they are like museum pieces and I fear using them.

    Like you, it’s not so much the stuff as it is the memories associated with said stuff along with my amazement at the long life these better made products of old have. Things these days are built with “planned obsolescence” and last a few years. What a shame that is when the older stuff was definitely built to last. This story is another wonderful story from you that has really hit home!!!! I am so glad I ran into you, FD, Daisy, and now her young’uns. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tales!!!! So often, they remind me of my loving family and Kris’ as well and how fortunate we both were to have been raised by such wonderful, loving parents. It is appreciated more and more these days when I see out of control kids and out of control parents that hit their children. The children do not know how to act because they have not been taught – it isn’t their fault. Having had such wonderful models of what love and marriage should be like has made a VERY BIG influence on Kristen and I and our happy 40 year marriage thus far.

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    1. Hey Louis, I agree with you on the shoddy materials used on appliances and tools today. It’s wonderful to acquire historical and family-treasured goods, that continue to serve. With them, comes a legacy of sorts… carrying on tradition.

      I’m glad you enjoy Day by Day the Farm Girl way… I think everyone probably has stories to tell. It’s mostly about paying attention to what’s going on around us and finding the good in it.

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  10. I am constantly amazed at how I manage to form attachments to “things” like bowls and mugs that seem so much more rewarding than attachments to people ;). Sorry you lost your old friend. Familiarity and memories give a real personal bond with inanimate objects that defies reason. Your mother went out on a limb so that you could have something that she knew would matter to you for years. Every time you baked or used that mixer you would be a little bit closer to her :). Kudos on going hunting for a “new” vintage mixer. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one in our throw-away society. Old things were built to last, there isn’t any resale value in making things that will last now so vintage is the way to go πŸ™‚

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    1. You will be happy to know I found a hand mixer on Etsy.com and it was the same model as my old one, just a different color. The lady who I purchased it from was kind enough to put it in today’s mail, so I should have it by the weekend! How wonderful is that? It’s a sign it was meant to be!!!

      I’m with you on attachments to “things” often being more rewarding than attachments to people. I think that might be because we are often let down by people… even those we love and who love us. But these things we give each other or acquire as a token of some kind, are reminders of the moment when they were given. A memory. We have no expectation of an object – it just IS.

      I have an attachment to a certain wooden spoon and heart that I shall cherish all of my life! That kind of gift is forever held in my heart!

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      1. As much as you love Earl I PROMISE not to send him over. I don’t think that Daisy would handle it well πŸ˜‰ So glad you managed to find a new friend so quickly, sometimes you have to hunt around a bit to get quality πŸ™‚

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        1. Ha ha ha!! I’m quite sure I would never allow Earl to take a beating from those sharp hooves of Daisy’s!! Daisy doesn’t mind our dogs because she was raised with them. She’s especially fond of Zoe, the smallest of our chin. Poor Earl would be considered an intruder!

          Yes, I’m thinking I hit the jackpot with my blogger friends… what a great bunch you all are (or as they say here in Oklahoma, Y’ALL or ALL Y’ALL). And I was lucky on my new mixer friend too… I really only searched a couple of days before finding just the right kitchen mate!

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    1. Thanks Lynn!! Great to see you here! I think by the time we get to our “mature” age, we have had the experience of letting go of old friends, many times over! Ah well, fortunately this time I found a replacement of the same era! This old girl will be avocado in color and I’m assured she’s in great health!!

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  11. At first, I was just captivated by the story of your Mom. Some of us are so fortunate to have amazing parents. I am and clearly, so are you! Lovely story! Then you got to the Sunbeam Mixer!! I have my parent’s old blender, mixing bowls, and original dishes, and use them regularly. This post really resonated with me and made me smile.

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    1. Oh, LB, what a nice comment! Mostly I have vintage and antique items from my Grandparents, and I cherish them. It’s one thing to have these items, but quite another to utilize them and give them a second or third life! Isn’t it wonderful to use these gifts, bringing back great memories of our younger days? I think sometimes knowing what our parents did for us, and gave up for us means the most to me. I’ve tried to pass that along – pay it forward. And, for myself, I call my mom when I remember something she taught me or thank her for a gift she gave me, whenever I use it. It’s nice to let people know you still remember the love they gave.

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  12. Great post! I understand… my hand mixer is almost useless, Only one beater works! But I keep it because my daughter gave it to me when she was 12. She was 34 two days ago. ha ha!

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    1. It has been interesting with the comments on this post. I’m discovering that many of us have difficulty parting with items we have emotional ties to. I wonder what you will do when that last beater expires? It’s crazy how important these silly things are to us, eh?

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      1. My Dad offered me his just yesterday, it was my mother’s. She passed away last December… guess I’ll take it, then I’ll have 3 beaters I can’t ever throw away. ha ha!

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        1. Oh, sorry about the loss of your mom. That’s when it’s even harder to let go of a gift. I don’t really have anything much of my Dad’s after he passed away, but I do have about 20 handwritten envelopes with little notes inside that he wrote when he gave us a little Christmas money. I’ll never part with those. I rarely get them out – each one says about the same thing, but it’s just having a little something in his handwriting. Glad you now have a collection of beater’s and I HOPE they all fit the new mixer!! Ha!!

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  13. As far as i can read on your page, everyone is attached to an object whiche means a lot for him. For me, it’s difficult too, getting rid of old things. I wish you a great summer my friend with your family and close to the nature. The school year is finished in France. It’s time for me to have a little vacation.
    See you soon. Big hugs!

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    1. Thank you, my beautiful friend!! I hope you have a lovely time on vacation and get some much-needed rest and relaxation! It is vacation time here for folks too, although for me it is a busy time in the yard, flower beds and gardens. Oh, and let’s not forget I’m busy following Daisy and the granddeer around with the camera! Much love to you!

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  14. My mother’s mixer died earlier than yours. I think because Daddy used to make fruitcake with it. I do have 6 or so of those lovely white bowls that came with them. Perfect for mixing with the hand mixer my husband bought me after the one we got as a wedding present 47 years ago quit and I do mean quit. Most of my things are pass alongs. They all have memories and I wish I could hear the stories they could tell. I always enjoy reading your stories and I’m glad I found you..

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    1. Thank you, Margaret! I’m glad this post could evoke some wonderful memories for you! I always love to hear the funny stories connected with material items. We humans can be very sentimental about things to a fault! And, there isn’t a thing wrong with fond memories or latching onto a special gift. There are reasons for every attachment! Thanks for commenting.

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      1. Since replies are still being generated by this post, I have learned a couple of things:

        Many have attachments to simple material things not because of their value but for reasons of sentiment such as memories of loved ones, family, and friends. Secondly, I have learned that a lot of people have “old mixers,” LOL!

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        1. LOL You are cracking me up Louis! That part about the old mixers has intrigued me as well. I feel the old mixers were probably built to last… today’s mixers (sadly) are cheaply made and very expensive! Thanks for your “guy” input! It’s always appreciated! πŸ™‚

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      2. this is so much later but I have been given the white glass bowls that went with my mom’s mixer. I have an extra set that I would love to send you if you will cover the shipping costs. I don’t have a picture but they are the old white with the ribs on the side and the ridge on the bottom.

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        1. Why thank you, Margaret! I would love to have them, and what an honor! What is your Mom’s name? I recently acquired an old cast iron claw bathtub for decoration in the yard. A neighbor lady who is moving to a smaller home offered it to me. It was her mother’s tub. So, I asked what her mom’s name was. I told her I plan to have FD make me a little sign to hang above the tub faucet that indicates it’s “Zelma’s Bath” or spa… or something like that. My neighbor was elated. It’s nice to remember people… even when you didn’t know them!

          I’ll contact you via email about cost. I’ll be glad to pay shipping! ~ Lori

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  15. Great story, I had to smile a little, the old mixer also brings back so many memories of my childhood, my mom giving me and my sister each a tong to lick the icing from.
    Newer isn’t always better! I’m glad I stumbled across your blog. πŸ™‚

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    1. Tina, thanks for commenting! I’m so happy to have you here.There were 5 of us kids and always a fight over the beaters! Mom had to keep track of whose “turn” it was to lick the beaters.

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  16. Take your last picture of your old friend, frame it and hang it in the kitchen and you’ll always have the reminder looking back at you as you work in the kitchen. πŸ™‚ Great story as always.

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    1. Ha ha!! That’s actually an excellent idea. I have a wall in the kitchen that I haven’t done any decorating with… perhaps this is a sign! Thanks for a great idea!

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    1. LOL Well, a person has to have a little fun with writing sometimes. I’m afraid with all of the sadness over Daisy deer losing one of her fawns, plus battling her own wounds from a bobcat attack, I haven’t tapped into my funny bone. I’m getting back to it soon. Thanks for visiting… I’ve just started following your blog as well!

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  17. Wodara.org said:
    “I love it! You’re writing is THAT good,” and I am in agreement. Is the book started yet? L. Sundog, this wonderful story is still generating comments at three weeks out – AMAZING!!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Louis… and yes, I’m scratching around gathering material. If I didn’t have so many darned summer activities keeping me busy I might actually get something done!

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