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CherryBlossomSurplus' Shop Announcement

♥ It is mid-term season... I will be answering your convos as quickly as possible !
♥ Changes for Canadian customers, Coupon Codes are here https://www.etsy.com/listing/230758924 ...
♥ You Asked ~ So, more Czech Glass, more Miyuki & Swarovski, more Gemstones, more Findings !



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Don't let a Beading Emergency ruin your day! Text me @ 778-708-0454
(outside of North America 011-778-708-0454)



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Welcome to CherryBlossomSurplus! I like to think of my little online places as being as warm and friendly as an old-time country "general store". And, just like that old-fashioned store, I will constantly be setting out all kinds of wonderful treasures for you to find.

Almost everything here is for making into something else and because not everything here is brand new (many things are vintage) not everything here is perfect. However, everything here is very much treasured and I hope that you will enjoy these wonderful beads and arts & crafts supplies as much as I have enjoyed collecting them. How much do I have to list? A good portion of my stash is how much! My personal stash is extensive and wonderful. I have been collecting craft supplies since I was a child... I am also adding to my stash with the wonderful treasures that Miyuki, Swarovski, Preciosa, JBB, TierraCast, Artistic, and many produce! I look forward to shopping just as much as I look forward to sending these lovely things to you.

I am also a collector of stories. Stories of people and places that are dear to me and that have become dear to me! As a collector I understand that it can be frustrating to be looking for something that just doesn't want to be found.... Please let me know what you are looking for and maybe I can help by keeping my eyes and ears open for you too. There are never any guarantees of finding things, but it can't hurt to have more people looking!

If you have any questions, please feel free to send an e-mail or a text or start up a conversation at any time. I love hearing from people and I really do look forward to hearing from you. Leslie



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Just a Tea Cup and Saucer...
a short story by Leslie


She walked into my aunt’s antique store with a presence which graced her approach and foretold of time I did not have to prepare to meet her. Mrs. Steinten was a small woman. At 42 inches, the solid oak display counter did not stand a chance at hiding the fact that this diminutive woman was someone who was used to being in charge.

Her voice was assured and her accent barely touched the edges of her words as she appraised me, the appraiser. "Do you purchase china?" The question arrived at the same instant she did. She imparted an awareness of time and necessity and at this moment, her business was of the utmost importance.

My smile was easy and ready, "yes, we do." My smile and my answer were standard and anticipated. This old woman was expecting the practiced and ready. She had caught me. I added, perhaps a little too quickly; "when we can. This is a small shop. We cannot always afford to buy large collections." My smile had lost a little of its readiness as we measured each other. “I am Leslie. Even if we cannot buy your china, I would love to know about it. Would you tell me about your china?”

She relaxed and smiled. “Gretchen Steinten. I am pleased to meet you. This is your family’s business?”

“It is my aunt’s shop.” I was being honest with her. We had the beginnings of a relationship. There are many ways of asking about something that a person is selling and as many reasons why people sell things. When an elderly person is selling something valuable, the reasons can be heartbreaking. I needed to know. I asked. She nodded.

“It is my wedding china. There are three complete sets. One set belonged to my grandmother. I brought all of it with me from Germany. The newest set is the china that my parents gave me. That was in the 30’s. Before the war…”

I felt my face fall. The lapse in my composure had lasted an instant and she caught it. Purchasing valuable possessions from the elderly, so that they can make ends meet, is not an uncommon event in an antique shop. “Nothing like that!” was Mrs. Steinten’s reaction to my momentary lapse of professional, dispassionate expression. All this china, it has been under the stairs in this house since we moved here in 1953. It is still in the packing crates! I don’t need it. I need the space. My mother will be moving in with us next month and I can’t ask her to sell her china.”

Now it was my turn to be surprised. My face lost the composure I had been working to regain. The woman standing in front of me was in her eighties and her mother was moving in with her? This little piece of information had turned business with this woman from providing a necessary service to a pleasure. Mrs. Steinten was not broke, she was not in dire straits, she was practical...

Now, to see the china.



The best thing to do, she suggested, was for her to bring it to the store. I learned, in less than a few minutes, that Mrs. Steinten’s suggestions were not to be argued with. Moving three sets of china was an undertaking! She was up to it! She needed a few days and that was fine with me. The store was crowded, things had been slow lately. New stock was always good but I needed to find room for her things.

The day of the china arrived cheerfully. The sun and the customers were out. It was a brilliant Saturday morning. No specific time had been set. I felt that Mrs. Steinten would be in before noon and the worktable was cleared in the back room. I only thought that I was prepared!

An old, rather non-descript and slightly battered car parked in front of the shop – in the bus stop… People did that when they were looking for parking spaces, on this busy street that bus stop could be a temporary place to get your bearings, at least until the bus arrived!

As I walked past the front window, moving a tea cup here, straightening a painting there, I began to realize what was happening outside. The car blocking the bus stop was loaded with boxes! There were boxes tied to the roof. The trunk was so full it had been tied shut. The rope keeping everything from escaping wound its way through every available opening on the car. The rope had been worked into windows and back out again. Tendrils of rope wound through and between, over and under, criss-crossing the car and the boxes with the knowledge that everything was secure.

I could see from behind the window that the interior of the car was just as full as the trunk and roof. Moving to help, I only managed to stand in the doorway and gape as I watched a very small man walk busily around the car with a length of rope in his hands. He untied a knot that was through the front passenger door of the car and the made his way around the front -- coiling the rope around his arm as he walked...

Slowly, as if a pendulum was swinging towards me, I realized that this was the china. Mr. Steinten had arrived. I rushed to the back to clear more space!

Boxes began to appear on the floor inside the front door. There were more boxes at the bus stop. I picked up boxes and moved them into the back. Boxes appeared on the front counter. I moved those! I glanced outside to see Mrs. Steinten handing a box out of the front seat of the car. She had been underneath boxes for the drive! I checked the weight on the one I was carrying. Not too heavy – the first aid attendant in me needed to take a look at her, talk with her, check her colour – make certain that she was alright…

Mr. Steinten slowly ran out of more boxes to bring in. I moved more the boxes to the back and Mrs. Steinten nodded her approval. Her china was safe. I looked at what had been delivered. There were a lot of boxes!



At my elbow, a small voice sighed, paused and quietly stated, “you will be upset with me.”



Startled, I looked down at Mrs. Steinten and asked what happened. “Well,” she paused. Whether for effect or to gather her thoughts I wasn’t certain but my reaction came out as an “Oh, dear…”

It was Mrs. Steinten’s turn to be startled! “Nothing happened!” She exclaimed. It was the voice again! She had used it when I assumed she was in need of money, and now when I reached an assumption that something had been broken I was brought back to a reality which I had not realized I had departed from! Assumptions were not to be made in reference to Mrs. Steinten.

“I decided that I wanted to keep a cup and a saucer and now there is an incomplete set.”

“Ahhh…” I smiled. “I am glad that you decided to keep a bit.” Taking turns at surprising one another was unique to both of us. “Please, tell me more.”

She frowned a bit. “Hmmm…” She began to open a box. I helped. The boxes were not large and none were heavy. “This set has twelve place settings. It is only a tea set and it belonged to my grandmother.” Mrs. Steinten was quiet and thoughtful. I had the feeling that the women in this family were rarely at a loss for words.

The plate she was holding was lovely. An unmarked German porcelain in a Dresden-style pattern with a brilliant pink sponged behind a floral bouquet. The gold was perfect. The plate looked unused. “Is this the set you kept the cup and saucer from?”

“No,” was all the answer she had for me.

Now we were both rummaging around in the boxes. With Mrs. Steinten helping, there were now several open boxes and I had found a box with a tea cup and saucer in the same Dresden-style as the plates which were in the first box. I had also found a box containing Paragon china. “How many place settings are in this set?” I asked.

“There are twelve place settings in each of the sets,” she paused and added “that is the proper number!” If I didn’t start being careful I would be getting a lesson about china rather than a history of her china. I quickly interjected with another question, “is this the set you kept the tea cup and saucer from?”

“No, not this set. This set is my wedding china. It has never been used.” I looked at the pieces I was holding. They were perfect! “

One more set of china to discover. It was already necessary to collect the loose pieces of china into piles, with just a few pieces kept separate. The last set of china was a 1930’s luncheon set. This third set was a collection of German porcelain which had been put together by her friends and given to her at her bridal shower. There were cups and saucers, plates, bowls and platters. This was more china and porcelain than the shop had seen in a long time…

After opening a few more boxes, I had the pieces I needed. Mrs. Steinten had begun to talk, to reminisce about friends and family, about her childhood in Germany. The rush to leave in 1937. She still felt anxious about those who had been left behind. Survivor guilt... Her husband sat quietly on a chair in the corner. He held today’s newspaper but he had not turned a page in a long time.

I looked at Mrs. Steinten and made certain she was watching me as I packed a box with two more cups and saucers and three dessert plates. Eight pieces gathered from the three sets of china. There were no tea pots, or at least, none that I had found. Those, I assumed, had found their way into use over the many years that this china had sat under the steps between the kitchen and the living room. The boxes had waited quietly under the carpeted stairs, under the footsteps of her new family and friends for more than half a century. This small box of mismatched china held memories which had waited patiently under the stairs until the time was right to remember the old stories.

“It might be nice to have a few pieces from each of the sets. You and your husband, and your mother, is there enough here for you? To use? If you would like more, it is still your china.”

She smiled and took the box from me. Her husband took the box from her. She put her tiny hand through his arm and they left the stop together.


~~~

It had been almost two weeks since Mr. and Mrs. Steinten had brought the three sets of china to the shop. It was now laid out for the world to see – carefully displayed in two china cabinets and on one dining table. China and porcelain, crystal and silver, gazed out together at the passersby. The world inside the antique shop was stately and quiet amid roses and gold trim. Outside, another busy weekend was awaiting the opening of my aunt’s shop door.

A young woman was waiting for me when the bell at the top of the door rang busily and announced the opening of my shop. I had seen this woman earlier in the week. “Good morning!” She smiled and we shared satisfaction with the weather as she walked, without hesitation, over to the large display cabinet. “Do you have the key?” she asked.

“It isn’t locked.”

We both smiled as she tugged gently at the tiny latch on the door. The doors on those old English cabinets are always just a little bit sticky. Just enough that they don’t quite fall open every time someone walks by…

“I looked at this set last week. I have been trying to find a set of china. My mother-in-law-to-be has promised to buy me a proper set of English china.”

I think my heart might have actually skipped a beat. This young bride-to-be was looking at the Paragon china. A fine blue pattern of cherry blossoms traced branches and flowers across the pieces. We chatted and began studying the contents of the cabinet. First a plate, then bowl… The tea cups were held up to the lights to see how transparent they were. We discussed the origin. A set of English china: a wedding gift for a young German couple in the 1930’s.

And then, I told her about the missing pieces. “There are twelve place settings, however, this set is not complete.”

She chewed on her lower lip for a moment. “Well, things happen. The set is old.”

I smiled. This woman’s first thoughts were the same as mine had been, an assumption had been made. If pieces were missing they must have been broken. “Actually, the set was complete when the owner brought it in to the store. There are three sets of china here that belonged to the same woman. Each of these three sets is missing three pieces…

Then I told the story of the tea cup and saucer -- of how all the memories had come flooding out in a torrent of stories. Wisps of thought which Mrs. Steinten had woven together to form a history of friends and family. Friends and family who had made journeys to England and to Canada; and those who had been left behind in Germany. One tea cup and one saucer had not been brought to the store. Two tea cups, two saucers, and three small plates had returned to the house where they had been stored for more than 50 years. This time those pieces would not be hidden away, they would be used. It was not a sales pitch. It was the story that went with the china.

We chatted. We returned the blue and white cherry blossoms to the cabinet. The future bride left the shop without asking how much the set was or if we had a lay-a-way plan. The day passed. The bell jingled a quiet goodnight to a quiet street as I gently pulled the door closed behind me.

The next morning she was back. She wasn’t smiling, but she was back. A tall, blond woman walked in front of her. Standing in front of the cabinet she stated, in a much too loud voice: “this is the incomplete set of china you want me to purchase for you? You do not want a new set of china. You have decided that you want a used set of china.”

The young woman did not smile, she did not say anything. She nodded and stood her ground. Her future mother-in-law opened the cabinet door. There was no fumbling at the latch or careful attention to a fragile antique. Her movements were precise and her aim was to discredit the choice which had been made. “You are certain you want used china?” The hand picked up a plate. The eyes examined the gold trim. Another plate was selected. The second door was opened. The inspection was finding only a beautiful, yet incomplete, collection of china. There was nothing else to find.

The young bride-to-be was chewing on her lip again. I was keeping myself near, ready. The decision was approaching and it did not seem a good time to interrupt. The mother-in-law turned to me and asked, simply and without hesitation, “do you accept cheques?”

Later, talking to the young woman who had been given this twice-given wedding china, I learned that the three missing pieces had become a bridge between generations. The memories which had been shared by Mrs. Steinten had stirred the memories of the woman who had purchased the china for her. The tea cup and saucer had become a legacy. Memories and voices from the past had added the value of emotion and experience to a pretty set of blue and white china.

We do not actually need to keep everything we obtain during our lives. Much of what we have is too much. Homes can easily become cluttered and memories and overwhelm. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder of where it was we came from.

Copyright, Leslie Gordon, 2011

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