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Thursday, May 31, 2012

100 American Craftsmen

No, not another weaving story. Yet.  I am off to help Linda again this weekend, this time at the Keenan Center in Lockport, New York.  The show is 100 American Craftsmen.  I think we’re staying at the motel where you call the front desk and order movies from a notebook of pages of movies.  They tell you what channel on the TV and turn it on in ten minutes.  Or, we may visit with Maybelle.  Frankly, I don’t know how Linda recovered from selling all those rugs two weeks ago.  I’d go help her weave, but I’ve never been strong enough to pull a creel.  Details next week.


I know I sold this rug in Indianapolis last week to a delightful young couple.  Sunday morning.  Three feet wide and over six feet long.  A lot of rug.  Linda came back to the booth and missed it right away.  Made quite the hole in the wall of rugs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Small town Memorial Day

There are two traffic lights in town, one on either side of the river.  The Town Hall is on the west side; churches, restaurants and shops on the east end.  The cemeteries are west of the river, so the Memorial Day observances and parades to the cemeteries begin at the Town Hall.  The road crew clears out the garage, steam cleans and seals the floor every May, in the run up to Memorial Day.  New flags are purchased for the flag pole. The fire department bring down the tanker, or a squad, or both, to display in the garage.  They pass out coffee and donuts inside the garage.  The people and the cars assemble in the lot; they’re marshaled into order by a remarkable cemetery trustee who has brought order from chaos for forty or fifty years, and off they go, for ceremonies first in one and then in the other cemetery.  About five hundred people went through the garage this weekend, ate donuts, looked at the fire trucks, got in order for a parade.


Our road super, the poster child for conservation, faced a dilemma.  A sunflower through the concrete.  I asked him what he would do.  The plant put itself square in the middle of a door that a fire truck would drive through and several hundred people would walk through.  “I’ll cone it off,” he said.

Friday, when I left work.

Tuesday morning.

Malvina Reynolds, remembered as one of folk music’s most inspirational writers, would be proud of the sunflower, the road super and the paraders.

God bless the grass that grows thru the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done.
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It's green and it's tender and it's easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the grass that's gentle and low,
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow.
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor,
And the wild grass growing at the poor man's door,
And God bless the grass.

Monday, May 28, 2012

With gratitude




My brother-in-law, Tom, a veteran.  One Memorial Day, 1948, we helped Dad pick the iris along the fence in the back yard and took them to the cemetery.  He called them flags and said they bloomed by Memorial Day to honor all the soldiers.  Remember our soldiers.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Long weekend


The unofficial start of summer is certainly hot enough to be official.  Some of us are taking it easy today in preparation for a family picnic here tomorrow.

The parents of all my grandchildren have to bring a completed six page Camper Health History Form to the picnic so I will have it in hand to drop three grandkids off for summer day camp in the National Park.   When they arrive at camp the children apparently will be given a packet of Camp Expectations, which they will read and then sign an agreement they understand and will follow the expectations or be sent home.  What have we come to.   Eight and ten year olds so jaded and incorrigible they aren’t in awe of uniformed park rangers, camp cabins, woodlands and trails.

It has been a twenty odd year tradition here to eat watermelon at the deck rail.  Seeds are spit over the edge and rinds sailed into the woods for critter snacks.  Earlier this spring the three youngest at the rail, an eight and two ten year olds, discovered the hole in the elm and began winging their rinds toward it.  They ate extra watermelon and didn’t stop until there were chunks in the hole.  I imagine the sport will continue tomorrow.

I finished little quilt top 200.  Jan dubbed it The Watermelon.

There seems to be trouble on Blogger Dashboard, and people are posting the problem so often the response seems to pop up automatically:  We are aware of the issue and are working on it.  So, I’m posting on faith.  Have a safe and happy holiday.  If you were rained out on Victoria Day, take tomorrow off.  We’d love to have you, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When I was a weaver

It’s leaked out I used to weave.  My sister and I were weavers, and began a successful business that still goes on, down another path.  That in part because she’s ten years younger and still working.  It’s always been an artsy little business and I wonder where it might wind up.  Mark Twain said, about writing, when you get tired of a character take him out in the back yard and put him down the well.  I’m sure we’ll be more elegant in our turn.

Jan is the right brain, I’m the left brain.  She’s always been artsy.  Drawing, painting, bead work.  She nails color.  Oozes design.  What can I say.  I’m an accountant.  I respect her talent.  I’m the one who makes costed bills of material and calculates gross margin.  So, how could I be a weaver?
Looms are little precision instruments.  You can love them because they weave great globs of color into beautiful objects or you can love them because they do the job you anticipate when all the preparation is proper.  There you have it.  The right brain and the left brain.  A couple of sisters who decided to move into a house with a studio in order to run a weaving business.

In the beginning Jan was weaving rugs.  She used four harness looms so she could weave pattern and texture.  When I joined we made the business full time and expanded with handwoven clothing.  Our niche was cotton and practical comfort.  Enough style to wear in public.  We never hit on loom shaped garments we liked, so we actually cut up our handwoven fabric and sewed it into clothing.  A couple of jacket styles, several shirt styles, dresses.  Lots of color.
Going from local festivals to regional shows was a big leap for us.  We had to have professional slides and be accepted by juries.  We even had a New York model.  No kidding.  I didn’t keep any slides when we quit; all the pictures I have are from our old web site.

Here’s a rug.

Here’s a cotton shirt. In natural cotton, no color.  Sorry.  On our New York model.  We defined our shirts by how many buttons they had.  This is a two button.  I sewed about a million button holes in our career.  This shirt has a great story.  I was at a show in North Carolina.  A customer I recognized from New York walked into my booth, dropped about a hundred packages on the floor, whipped out her phone and called her husband.
“Honey, that shirt your brother took and won’t give back?  I’m in her booth!  Yes, I found her at the North Carolina house!”  She outfitted her husband and several brothers with enough two button shirts to end squabbles for at least a decade.

We still get phone calls from people wanting a shirt or jacket “just like my friend has.”  We tell them to put their name on it so they can get it when their friend goes.  We did retire from weaving ten years ago.  No looms.  No thread.  No industrial sewing machines.  No more buttons.
One day the right brain quit weaving and began quilting.  No kidding.  Right brains are allowed to do that.  Weaving had a twenty year run and I needed a new hip, anyway.  We’re still using thirty year old handwoven dishtowels, and my bathroom door curtains are in great shape. 

If you’re a weaver, these are 20/2 Lilly cotton, in a balanced twill/plain weave threading.










Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Two old ladies sell rugs and pander to fowl

We got up at six Saturday morning and were at the show around seven.  All the other exhibitors were there, too, stocking shelves, arranging cash tables and the little things that get us through the day.  The coffee cup, the thermos, the cooler, the jackets we wore in, that kind of stuff. 

Ten o’clock, we were ready to go.  Here they come. 


A fair is so charming when you stand back and look at the booths and the bustle.  Here’s a peek behind the booths.   

It was a busy show.  The activity never let up.  Linda’s work has a couple of trademark features.  She signs every rug with a red “L” in the header.  She’s done that forever.  At seven years old her daughter Cara told a customer, “If if doesn’t have a red “L”, it’s just something to walk on.”  You can read all that on her web site.
The other signature is packaging.  The rugs are rolled up, just like a bedroll, and tied round at both ends, with the strap left in the middle, using scrap ends of rug weft.  The customer can sling the purchase over the shoulder, like a Continental soldier.   I tied rugs all weekend.  After the picture of the crowd coming onto the grounds I barely got up again for two days.  But plenty of rugs walked around, advertising.

A customer “came back” to buy a previously considered rug.  It was turquoise and had left not long before.  This husband jokingly said to his wife they could find that rug in five minutes and make an offer.  I sold a huge red, orange and yellow rug to a customer I was helping inside the booth while the woman Linda was talking to outside the booth was trying to make up her mind.  My customer and I both realized what was going on outside, but outside had no idea of the action inside.  My customer decided, I pulled down the rug and started “ringing” her up.  “But wait,” outside said. “I’m trying to decide.”  “I’ve already decided,” my customer said.


Linda mentioned we were never going to get a picture of the two of us in the booth, and a customer said she could do that, so here we are.  There are a few rugs left. 

Here I am, glassy eyed toward the end of Sunday afternoon.  There are not enough rugs left to even make the booth look attractive.  Yes, Olive, it was a very good show.  And fortunately Elaine, I did not wear my three inch heels.  The red dust turned my red sneakers pink.  Can’t believe I didn’t leave with pink hair.

There was so little left we were loaded out and left in an hour.  Thank you, Bruce.  Back at the motel, too tired to do much except watch the ducks and geese again, until bedtime.

There was a pond behind our motel, full of wildlife.  Linda always stays at this motel, in the same room, for her Indy shows, just to keep an eye on things.  She had to tell Cara there is no sign of Ratty this year.  We watched for four nights and no muskrat.  Very sad. 

But the mallard adventures were worth staying up for.  We had one childless pair who went about their business and settled down near our balcony each night.  Out in the pond, two mama mallards.  One had a brood of eleven in her wake.  The other had five much smaller ducklings in her charge.  Watching them be mothers was worth the price of admission.  Their husbands must have been among the males milling about on shore; these two didn’t need dad close at hand, but we assume the dads were in the thick of altercations among the males on shore.

We watched ducks diving for fish out on the pond and bottoms up feeding closer to shore.  The fishing was mighty fine; people fished along the bank and said small mouth bass were abundant and the carp were huge.
Way across the pond we could see Canadian geese each night, but they didn’t come round to our edge where the two mamas sheltered the kids for the night.  That all changed Sunday night.   A pair with several goslings took their evening stroll around our end, right through the male congregation.  No muss, no fuss. 


We rooted around for scraps and came up with two pieces of bread to entice ducks and geese.  I made it go a long way.  The big Canadians and their goslings made such a fuss we soon had the mama mallard with the bigger ducklings up on the bank. 


The little ducks walked right through the holes in the wire fence.  The Mallards hopped the fence.  The Canadian’s stepped over the fence.  The little Canadian goslings were too big to slip through the fence, too short to step over and had wings too undeveloped to assist a hop.  So, they stayed on the grass and hoped for long throws.


When the bread was gone, everyone left.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two old ladies at the fair

Broad Ripple Art Fair was another success.  The Indianapolis Art Center has put on this fair for more than forty years, with over two hundred artists from the United States and Canada.  Exhibitors work hard, but the festival committee just as hard to pull it all together, and this committee has it all together.  

Linda’s on a Farewell Tour this year.  I think she’s doing twelve shows, instead of the twenty odd she’s done the last several years with Cara helping.  Next year she wants to do only the six she likes best, and hopes the juries still accept her.  So, if she’s accepted to Broad Ripple next year, you’ll find her there.

Broad Ripple was Linda’s first outdoor show this year, and the test of doing shows without her daughter, Cara.  I was only along for the ride, and picking me up was the first potty break on the way to Indianapolis. 

Here are some wildflowers at another rest area along Indiana’s interstate 70.  I think some intense soil improvement could help, but the flowers are a good start.

We reached the motel in time to go to bed and be ready for set up the next day.  We got up bright and early, because we could.  Sunrise on the pond out back of the motel.  That lower right mallard will figure heavily in our evening diversion the next several days.

The real grunt work of setting up the booth and display requires someone much younger and stronger than Linda and me, even together.  My runty self no longer raises tent poles seven feet off the ground.

Linda has a plan for her outdoor shows this year.  This weekends' plan called for her cousin, Bruce.  He’s young and strong and an available stay at home dad who rolled in at 10 am sharp Friday morning and regaled us with father stories while I sat in a chair and he and Linda built the booth.

That sucker is HEAVY.  More than I could have handled, even in my heyday.  It’s a Craft Hut.  I’ll show you a nice Lite Dome like I used later on.

Other exhibitors rolled in and got to work building the weekend’s art festival grounds.    The part you might wonder about when you come to the show on Saturday morning. Look at the little city that grew up here overnight.  What a lot of work.  Does someone come in and put these tents up for you?  Do you have a home, or just drive around?  Well, those are a couple of questions I remember from the day.

Bruce and Linda built the display and I shifted a few rugs.  Then Linda and I made the executive decision to finish in the morning and head to a brew pub for lunch and lager with Bruce. 

That’s when my camera quit working, so you’ll have to wait for the rest until Linda sends me the good stuff I shot with her camera on Saturday and Sunday.

A Lite Dome, just like the one I sold when I retired.  A great canopy and I could handle it.  The artist  is a weaver, too, Sandy Duffy, Flying Shuttle Fibers.

And, here’s a link to all the artists at the festival.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Broadripple


There's a seat on Linda's bus to Broadripple this weekend.  That means her original helper couldn’t make it for unexpected circumstances, and Linda is exhibiting at Broadripple.  So, I’m off to help set up a show and stock shelves with her fantastical rugs, and talk to all the people again.  It will be beautiful in Indianapolis this weekend.  I hope you all have a good weekend, too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Age resistant

Had I been able, I would have grown old wearing three inch heels.  I love seeing grey haired women in crisp trousers and jackets.  And heels.  I don’t even have grey hair.  The last time I wore heels was at my daughter’s wedding.  That was twelve years ago and they were the only pair I had saved, my beautiful Victorian boots with two inch heels.


The earrings were wonderful.  Corkscrew, ear specific.  I gave them to Shelly during the reception.  It had been so long since I wore earrings, even gold, they hurt.  The ring is my Grandma Rolf’s engagement ring.  A bloodstone cabochon, our birthstone. It’s put by for Caroline.

No, when I left the corner office (actually, a hallway passed my office in two directions) in 1988, my three inch heels were idled.  Can’t weave in them, could drive eight hours in them, but would have to change to sneakers to offload hundreds of pounds from my van and set up a show.  They just weren’t practical.  I did wear nice sneakers or nice Mary Jane’s at my shows.

Probably the fall I retired.  With Linda and her daughter Cara, right after Linda’s mastectomy.  Cotton was all she could stand to wear.  Fortunately, I wove cotton.  My Mary Jane’s were toward the end of their road.

I retired to get a new hip.  I stood right up against the wall and the technician measured me at 5’6”.  Which I was. That was to leave my leg the correct length on the operating table.  I remained 5’6” for another couple of years.  Then I started limping.  I was down to 5’5”, except where I had a titanium hip and thigh bone.  I put a quarter inch lift in my right shoe.

A couple years after that I fractured my back.  It involved a lot of stupidity on my part.  Now I ask those nice clerks to lift a carton of copy paper into my cart.  That was like getting on the down escalator for height. 

So, I’m 5’4”, and definitely in the vertically challenged group.  Adding the stroke to that, well…as they reminded me when they discharged me from physical therapy, I’m not a stable woman.  Give me a cane and I can get through Ikea with Beth and Caroline any day.  As long as my current pair of sneakers have gone to the shoemaker to have the sole sliced apart and a half inch rise inserted.  Actually, that’s pretty cool.  He just slices through the sole, glues on a half inch piece the same color, glues the sliced off piece back on and hey presto, both my legs reach the ground simultaneously.

I’m still fussy about shoes.  I like suede sneakers in the winter; far warmer.  Right now I’m wearing red canvas sneakers and have black and white plaid sneakers in my closet.  Oh, and a beautiful pair of oxfords for weddings and funerals and meetings.

But, my winter New Balance suede sneakers are pretty disreputable after several winters of snow and slush in the parking lot.  I went looking for a new pair.  They’re called Retro.  They haven’t been to my shoemaker, yet.

So, I’ll be seventy next March, and still have three inch heels.  Made in the USA.  Me and the shoes.  Thank you New Balance.


Now, about the grey hair...




Monday, May 14, 2012

That lady’s place

I came home from work one night, back in the late eighties.  Both my kids were out of high school and gone; it was me and three cats—Otis, Frankie and Scotty.  As soon as I came through the front door I saw something was wrong.  Items on the front hall table were scattered and on the floor.  A burglar?  My hand was still on the door knob; I was about to back out and go for help when the broken plant, dirt and pot shards tumbling down the stairs from the living room arrested me.  What kind of burglar would be kicking my plants around.  Plants in macramé hangers, suspended from the ceiling.

I looked up the stairs into the living room.  More chaos.  An upended table.  Dirt all over the carpet.  Window curtains down. Sofa cushions on the floor.  Three cats on high alert.

“Who started this?” I demanded.  No one looked at me. They didn’t look at each other, either.

“Who did this?”  Not a muscle moved. 

I followed the trail of damage into the dining room and found the focus of cat attention.  Clinging to my lovely macramé Roman shade:  a Starling.  The biggest Starling in Lake County.  With the big, brave cat leading the way the other three trailed behind me. The Starling flew straight through the pass through into the kitchen and landed on top of a cupboard. 

I called the police.  “There’s a Starling in my house, come get it out.”  The Mentor police didn’t do that.  I assured them I would not be hanging up.  They gave me Fish and Wildlife’s number.  No answer there, so I called back to the police, who told me it was after working hours.  No kidding.  I was in my kitchen at six pm, wanting out of my suit and three inch heels and into a pot of coffee and supper.  Once again I was not hanging up until someone came for the Starling.  They offered me the “after hours” number for Fish and Wildlife emergencies, but cautioned me a fish and wildlife emergency was defined as a rabid raccoon or a deer that ran into a car.

Still in my yellow silk suit and three inch heels, with three cats sitting at my feet, staring at a Starling that stared back, I called Fish and Wildlife emergency.  A lovely lady.  Her husband, the Ranger, was down at the Chagrin River, releasing Coho salmon.  No idea when he would be back, but she would let him know.

I left the kitchen, but the cats didn’t, so I hustled them outside.  Sweatpants and a raggedy T shirt were all I could manage.  I wanted a cup of coffee, but the starling was right above the coffee maker.  I wanted something to eat, too, but the starling was in my kitchen.  I cleaned up the mess in the other two rooms and the hallway.  That Starling did not budge for the vacuum, just glared at me whenever a new load went in the trash can.  The cats kept slamming the garage door.  They could open the screen door, but the interior door was shut and they were not pleased.

I sat on the couch.  At eight o’clock I called the lovely wife again.  Oh, yes, she’d radioed him and he knew.  He was still releasing fish.  I turned on the TV and pretended there was no Starling in my kitchen and my cats weren’t slamming the garage door. 

At nine o’clock my TV shouted “I’m at that lady’s place.  Over.”  I ran to the front door, let the Ranger in and took him to the kitchen, babbling about the starling, the mess, the cats.    He took off his jacket and swung a sleeve up at the Starling.  The bird sailed to the ground.  The Ranger dropped his jacket over the bird, scooped him up and went to the front door, which I opened for him.  He opened his jacket and the Starling flew away. 

The Ranger got back in his Fish and Wildlife car, picked up his radio and said “I’m leaving that lady’s place. Over.” I made a pot of coffee and went to bed.  I had to get back up and let the cats in because they wouldn’t stop slamming the door.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hummers are fascinating

Elaine's question about leaving feeders up late made me go looking for more about hummingbirds.  Instead of writing a report,  look at this. Just fascinating.  I may never know why a dozen arrived at my feeder at the same time, and behaved courtesly to a fellow in distress.  I do know now that all the flowers and feeders are just fuel to go after bugs.  Yea, hummers, eat those mosquitoes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hummers

        
The hummingbirds have been back for several weeks now.  We have two groups come through, the migratory Rufous, stopping over on their way to somewhere, and a couple of weeks later, the ruby throated hummers, who stay all summer.  It reverses in fall;  the ruby throated are gone one day, and a week or so later the migrants stop over for a day.  Then the feeders come down for another year.

Both breeds have the same attitude toward the feeders:  they better be full and fresh.  The feeders don’t go up in April until we actually see a hummer, which has led to finding a little fellow hovering at the front door, looking in.  Then retreating to the phone wire and watching until the feeder is hung.  Tom once had a Rufous hover at his ears all across the porch over to the feeder pole.

For attitude, nothing beats a ruby throated hummingbird.  Not even a bluejay screeching at a cat and dive bombing it to a new location.  We have two feeders, one front and one back.  They seem to be used by two different groups.  The back of the house group seem to take the feeder as they find it.  A full feeder, great, a good meal.  Needs replenished, well, we’ll try again later.  The front of the house group expect feeder service on demand.

I was sitting on the porch one summer, chatting with my brother.  Suddenly I could not focus on some buzzing creature literally tapping on my glasses.  I could not brush it away.  Walt was doubled over with laughter.  A hummingbird not pleased with the freshness of the feeder.  When it backed off I could get up to look, and it was possibly correct in its assessment.  The bird stayed inches away as I took down the feeder, and it did not leave the porch.  I whipped up a replacement order in the kitchen and hung it up.  The hummer didn’t say Thank You.

Hummingbirds live five or six years.  That’s about how long we enjoyed the antics of one bombastic little hummer.  We had to call him little Hitler.  Male hummers spend a deal of time driving other hummers from the feeder.  Then, they don’t eat themselves; they retreat to a bare twig of a tree and wait for a new intruder. 

Little Hitler claimed both the front and back feeder as his own.  He spent countless hours in flight over the roof of the house in reconnaissance and offense.  When confident neither feeder was in imminent danger he sat on the phone wire in the front of the house, periodically rising straight up for a view of the back feeder, then settling back down to the wire.  We miss his antics.

Several years ago the feeders stayed up late in September.  We hadn’t seen a Rufous for a few days, but no one had taken down the feeders.  One night I heard a rustling on the porch and looked out at something I’ve not seen since.  A  flock encircling the perch on the round feeder.  There are four feeding holes on the feeder, but easily room for about twelve humming birds and that seemed to be the count.  They were feeding then rising up and changing places so another bird could feed.  Except the hole nearest me, where the bird had her beak immersed, and she never raised her head.  Her feathers were tousled and a couple stuck out from her body, as if plucking had failed.  It had been a rough trip for her.  Her beak stayed down in the hole like a third leg supporting her.

The others kept changing positions at the feeder, but no one bothered this bird.  I watched them for ten minutes, until they left in the dusk and settled on twigs for the night.  I stayed until they left because I wondered if the beat up bird could lift her head and leave.  She did.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I think he’s right


Several young men were in a heated discussion at the gym.  The subject was concussions, long term effects and how to protect the brain from damage when it makes contact.  I listened over my headphones, back and forth between the fellows and Jacqueline Kennedy’s recorded discussions with Arthur Schlesinger. Mrs. Kennedy was a thoughtful woman, her discussion insightful and difficult to ignore.

I hate my little MP3 device.  It must come out of its carrying pouch, taken off hold and paused with a delicate touch.  Touch the wrong spot and it gratuitously returns to the beginning of the track or goes to the next book.  I don’t mind re-listening to Jacqueline for half an hour, but it’s very annoying on most recorded books.  So, I paid attention to the concussion argument with one ear while I worked through chest presses, pecs and delts, biceps and triceps.  Somewhere around abdominals, which was so far away from the concussion/helmet discussion that my attention was back on the second Cuba crisis, a loud and sharp clicking came from the front.

The last comment I heard about concussions concerned football players of the past who might have been protected from concussion with modern helmets.  Now the clicking had everyone’s attention.  The young fellow who is the shift manager held his drink bottle up high.  They’re always mixing powder and drinking fountain water into drinks.  He shook the drink bottle quickly from side to side. The mixing ball clattered. 

“This cup is your skull.  The drink mix is the padding.  The crack, crack crack is  your brain bouncing against your skull, because it’s not attached to anything.”  In his opinion, there isn’t a lot of protection in a helmet.  The little group dispersed and I went back to Mrs. Kennedy.  She was just saying the President and his team went nose to nose with the Kremlin over the missile crisis, and they didn’t crack.  Caroline Kennedy’s early release of the tapes is a commendable gift.

As for contact sport, I’ve never seen much point. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Caroline’s new quilt



My youngest grandba…oops, child.  She’s eight, eats susi, orders at restaurants, rides horseback and carries her own backpack on the trail.  And, sleeps with a bed full of animals.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris; she wonders where the beaches is

With apologies to Annonymous.

I saw this on E-Bay.  I confess, I went looking.  As she said, Linda has not spent a penny outfitting Goose.  I called her and tried to describe Goose’s new outfit.  It would be her outfit—I made sure I would not be outbid.  But, I couldn’t describe it.  I was laughing so hard I had to hold the phone far away and attempt composure.  I started again:  visualize Maxine.  No luck.  I was, as they tweet, ROFLMAO.  Think I got that right.  Well, Goose’s box arrived Saturday, but I couldn’t go until today.

I met such a pristine and sparkly Goose in the drive.  Her feathers are crisp, white, and all in place.

We had to help her into the new, itsy, bitsy, teeny weeny.  She had to shimmy and shake like your sister Sue, and hop ever so delicately inside the swim tube, but was it worth it?  After the hat and sunglasses for protection, absolutely YES!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Goose proliferation

I met a concrete goose back in the 1990’s, at my friend Linda’s home in New York.  I’d seen a lot of them on front stoops, but never met one face to face.  These were geese of substance back then.  Concrete, as I’ve mentioned; they moved about on hand trucks.  They were part of a silly wave of decorating that involved lots of cutesy and even more fussy. 

Yard ornaments go tastefully back in history as statuary, but in the Midwest escalated to pink flamingos, yard jockeys and bath tub shrines.  I’ve lived next door to a yard jockey for more than twenty years.  Concrete statuary is a relatively inexpensive substitute for granite or marble, whimsical to garish and available along country roadsides.  I’ve lived up the road for more than twenty years to a family that pours concrete figures and has them for sale.  I’ve even shopped there with Ann for a tasteful bench and bird bath to memorialize one of their memorable dogs.   She’s still looking for the naked cherub filling the pond.  That may be one step up from concrete.

In a burst of American entrepreneurism, sales of concrete geese moved from back country roads to streets around art shows.  A secondary industry sprang up, making clothing for the concrete geese.  With little fanfare the geese waddled east and west, north and south, followed by the garment sewers.  Only in America could there be a market for a cottage industry sewing goose clothes. Then I met Linda’s Goose.  Goose clothes went on my radar and I could send Ann or Beth twenty blocks out, to the craft show, to bring home goose clothes.  And giant bubble makers for my grandchildren.  

I’ve told a couple amusing stories about Linda’s Goose, and she called me and told me the rest of the story.  Actually, there is another Goose.  Maybelle’s Goose.  Maybelle is Linda’s BFF.  Maybelle changed her name from Mabel so her mother, Mabel, wouldn’t open her mail.  Oh, what I know about Maybelle.  But it’s enough for you to know she must be Linda’s BFF.

Linda lived in central New York State between living in Ohio twice, not too far from Maybelle.  Linda and her husband were driving to a show and just before arriving, there were the geese.  Linda decided Maybelle needed one of those for the cottage at the lake.  So, they stopped and bought Maybelle a big concrete goose.  Because it was the lake, they added some rain gear.

The next weekend Linda was so envious of Maybelle’s goose, she stopped for another one for her back stoop in New York.  The impetus for this industry should now be obvious; it feeds on itself.  You can just hear the men in the back room:  Pour more geese, Jack.  We need to keep up with the demand.  And, when they go home at night:  Make more goose clothes, dear.  There’s quite a market.

When Maybelle’s son was married at the cottage at the lake, Maybelle’s goose wore a rose with her lace.




Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little boys lost

Dad took us to Temple Square after supper one night, Christmas shopping.  Three kids, ages eight, six and three.  About three miles from home, Temple Square actually is a triangular section at the intersection of Cuyahoga Falls Avenue and Main Street, housing a flatiron building with no majesty as it is only two or three stories tall.  There must have been quite a few shops in the building; the two I remember are the dime store and the hardware store.

We went to the five and dime first, to buy Mom’s Christmas Present.  Then we would go to the hardware store.  My dad and my brother Walt, even at age six, were no strangers to hardware stores.  The smell of a hardware store made their eyes glassy.  At age three, Mel could see over enough counters and into enough glass cases to be mesmerized himself. 

At the counter, as I paid for the gift, Walt asked if he and Mel could start for the hardware store.  Dad said yes, and they went off, steps ahead of us.  Dad and I left the dime store and went next door to the hardware store.  Dad looked around briefly.  No boys.  He took my hand and we commenced an aisle by aisle search.  No boys.  Back to the dime store.  Ask all the clerks.  Other shoppers alerted. Up and down the sidewalks.   I was hustled into the car and dad went home for help.  Neighbors set out in cars to search.  Neighbors came to stay at the house.

A couple of hours later, two little boys came in the back door.  Very tired and very cold.  Especially the three year old.  As the searching neighbors checked in they were given the good news, and by midnight the cold, dark adventure was over.  To be recalled in later years as the night the boys walked home from Temple Square.

The next summer we spent a weekend in St. Louis.  Dad was at a convention there and mom drove the family down for the weekend and to bring dad home.  We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel.  We went to the St. Louis Zoo.

You know what happened.  We walked for miles and looked at everything.  We were watching a sea lion performance when they went missing.  First parents scan the near horizon.  Then the far horizon.  They snatch the hand of the remaining child and go into full search mode.  Park authorities are notified.  Mothers cannot remember if they put red T shirts or blue ones on children that morning.  And, why has every mother in the park dressed her little boy in a colorful, striped T shirt!  We walked more miles, accompanied by a zoo ranger. 

Suddenly, in the sea of little boys, mom saw them!  Sitting on an amphitheater bench, watching an elephant performance.  They thanked the ranger and hauled me down the aisle.  The boys looked up, then back at the elephants.  We sat down behind them and waited for the show to end.  At least, Mom said, they didn’t walk home.

 1952.  Mom and Dad.  Me.  Walt and Mel, who walked home last Christmas, but not this summer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You don’t say

The days are long past when I reviewed my kids’ essays, striking out extraneous apostrophes and adjectives. I also recall using mispronounced words correctly in a return sentence to see if they “got it.”  I wince internally when a perfectly lovely young person says “Me and Jane went there”.

Like the concentric circles of a stone tossed in a pond, my problem extends way beyond myself.  There are place names with either incorrect spelling or incorrect pronunciation.  But instead of saying “listen to yourself,” I mentally roll my eyes and suck it up.

There is a lovely town in southwestern Ohio, Bellfontaine.  Pronounced Bell-fountain.  They claim it’s “Americanized.”  That’s fifty percent accurate.  The spelling hasn’t been touched.  A Bellfonte, in Pennsylvania, completely disregards the e. 

Back in Ohio, again in the southwest, is a town called LaFeet.  One wonders how the citizens can write LaFayette as their return address. Over in Fort Lar-me,  Laramie goes in the return address.

Then in central Ohio, in Holmes county, we have Berlin, named both for Germany’s Berlin and for Berlin, Pennsylvania, the other former home of founding settlers.  If you ask directions to the Ber-LIN hardware store, you may be immediately corrected: BER-lin, or told BER-lin hardware is two blocks down.  To their credit, there is a local story given out the pronunciation changed during World War II.  Be that as it may, there are probably only 5,000 people responding BER-lin when a million visitors a year to Amish country say Ber-LIN.  When do you give it up?

It’s quite understandable that brand new local newscasters twist their tongues around some local names.  We know the next time they have to say Tuscarawas, someone will have set them straight.   I actually applaud the newbie who goes straight for the French in Portage.

And, speaking of those sadly mangled French and Indian names, I had the wonderful idea to look up my Harry Potter house in Versailles, Indiana on Google Earth and get a screen shot to show you.  A little house of turrets.  Maybe they made it of an old silo.

I was there only ten years ago.  And now it’s the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning and Development Offices.  At least they built a reasonably non-governmental looking building.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Private ambulance


Mom said if kids got in accidents, the worst happened the first week of summer vacation, or the last.  That was mom psychology about the excitement of leaving school and the excitement of returning.  There were major kid accidents in my family, except for Jan.  She tells me that was because she watched and learned.  Being the last child saved her broken bones and stitches, according to her theory.  It did save her lickings. 

Walt was seven or eight when he broke his leg.  It got him a pair of crutches and a ride to and from school every day.  Walt fell from a neighbor’s tree; a reasonably acceptable excuse for breaking a leg. 

Mel broke his arm, which didn’t get him rides to school because it was summer.  It also cost him a two mile walk home holding his broken arm and then extra visits to the doctor to keep getting new casts as the swelling went down.  It swelled badly because he had been somewhere he shouldn’t, doing something he shouldn’t, and would only confess to a sore arm for a day or two, for which mom gave him a hot water bottle.

To anyone younger than sixty, this must sound rather primitive.  There was no 911 back then and I never remember seeing an ambulance anywhere as a child.  Parents took injured children to the doctor, to set broken bones, and to the emergency room for stitches.  I suppose to get an ambulance you dialed 0 for operator.

My two trips were for stitches.  I cleverly sliced an artery in the back of my hand doing supper dishes.  Blood spurted to the ceiling.  My dad came around the corner, took the dishtowel out of my brother’s hands, applied a tourniquet, wound it tight with a wooden spoon, called a neighbor to mind my brothers and took me to the emergency room.  The forty stitches in my leg (fell out of a tree) were equally low key.

My brother Mel should have received the award for childhood injuries.  As the doctor picked the shrapnel out of his left buttock he could only say he hadn’t seen an injury like that since World War II.  The details are fairly hazy as I don’t understand bombs.  Apparently all the neighborhood boys, my brothers included, pooled their caps, stuffed them into a length of pipe, did whatever is required to make it shoot straight ahead and gathered one afternoon to give it a go.  All the little heads bent over the cast iron pipe as it was ignited for its trip across two fields. It went nowhere, except around and around, shooting increasing numbers of sparks.

Run!  Everybody ran.  Mel ran the wrong way, not fast enough and the little device exploded, against his left buttock.  With the support of most of the crew he limped home, where he and Walt invented a fantastical tale of running and falling down that fell to pieces when he had to drop his drawers for a mother exam.  Leading to our wonderful old family doctor remarking on his luck and the extent of the injury as the poor kid lay on his belly and had shrapnel picked from his rear end.  Mel was eleven that summer.

The shrapnel incident closed the book on mom and dad as the ambulance, but only because all further escapades didn’t involve blood or bones.
Left to right:  crutches, stitches, ambulance driver, shrapnel
Foreground:  never had a licking