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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Still pandering to birds

In an unexpected break in a week's forecast of storms, 


We put two hanging bird baths on last winter's feeder hooks.


And filled them.
(The royal "we" got much done!)



We put up a fruit feeder for the Orioles, and a syrup feeder, too.
I haven't seen or heard them yet, but best to be early
and let the Orioles know it's here, when they arrive.


Then we potted up three hanging baskets.


These two have two varieties of pinks, some grass and some ivy.


This one has a nice red carnation in the center
and those yellow flowers the gold finches love.


 A porch daisy. No common garden daisies here!


And, Hamilton is eighteen, today.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

The question was, what happens next to Bertha

Without apology, and with only slight permission
I have borrowed freely from two web sites to 
tell a weaving story about our friend, Linda.
Her studio had gone out of control.
This is what Linda saw:


Her looms were land locked.
A tiny island in a sea of shuttles and weft.
I'd been there and knew the tipping point was close.
The children were on semester break, Jan took the week off,
And the crew went to Columbiana.


This is what they saw:


My sister told the story of wresting order from chaos on her blog,


Laura sorting something


Hamilton on some clean up.


Linda's empty looms were dressed.


Emily tying onto a loaded beam,


Laura tying up another.


Linda weaves most rugs on two harness Union looms.
They're all antiques.
This one above is almost done having the warp pulled through and tied up to the breast beam apron.


Done; ready to weave.

Here are some rugs I borrowed from Linda's web site.
This is random. Anything she could reach in the aforementioned chaos.
What she could reach at arm's length.
That's what she named the rugs.


This is a wool rug, woven in the old rag rug style.
It's wider, close to four feet, I think.
Approaching Bertha sized.


This is a Pendleton wool rug.
These are Linda's favorites, woven from Pendleton's Navajo blanket selvedges.
Each blanket has a name; I'm sure Linda will chime in later with the name of this.
People walk into her booth and recognize them.


A Pendleton Navajo similar to the last rug is next up for Bertha.
Linda has an order for a seven by eight. Feet, that is.
It will be stunning.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bertha is fit to be tied

I spent yesterday at Linda's,
warping Bertha.



Bertha is the hundred inch loom.
We put warp on seven feet of warp beam.
Tying new warp ends onto the guide threads left in the tension box.
The tension box is on the back beam,
held in place by the very large C clamp.


I cranked fifty revolutions into each of forty three two inch sections.
I haven't dressed a loom for more than ten years.
("Dressed" is the proper term for putting on warp.)
One shoulder is sore today.


Linda watched that the warp went smoothly between the thread guides.
We warped from the middle to each end.
About half down the first half of the beam.


Half done, we went for a break.


Putting on a new set of spools of warp.
You can see the spool size left from the first half
won't get us through the second half.


Ready to rock and roll, second end.
Can you believe the amount of stuff Linda has stacked up between the back beam and the harnesses.
It will need a new home if there will be any weaving here.


This is Chappie, wanting in.


Please!


If I had opposable thumbs, I'd be in there!


The end!


No fooling, it's over, except for the clean up, and...


Counting, to be sure.


The equivalent of measure twice and cut once, if you're a fellow and have followed so far.



This is an old picture of Linda, tying a new warp onto the remnants of the last warp. The new warp will be pulled through all the heddles and tied to the take up beam's apron. Then the weaving can begin.
Linda hates this picture.
But, she did include it with a show application once, when a picture of the artist at work was required.
She titled it "You wonder what we do!"


Here are two more pictures of Bertha.
This is in New York, when Bertha arrived in boxes and needed assembled.
I can't even guess when this was taken. Mid nineties, perhaps.


Still New York.
Bertha originally had one inch sections. I could not convince Linda to pull every other pin and have two inch sections. I helped her warp the first time, into those tiny one inch sections.
My daughter Beth (yellow shirt) and Linda's niece Lynne were there for the second warp.
Beth is a weaver, too.
She told Lynn, these one inch sections have to go, and they did it.
Linda's mother was horrified at the audacity of the two girls!



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Whupped! Leaving three trails.


It has been a long and mentally draining two weeks at work.
When I am 77, when Laura is through school, 
I won't run for office one more time
And then I will spill the beans.
But until then, it's one more time through the electoral process.


I love chickadees. So cheeky.
I was off to run another errand and stopped short to watch this one.
"Oh, it's her again."
Back to cracking seeds.



The background greenery is the fall crocus and Aunt Laura's iris.
The four hundred plus crocus that we removed last fall
Obviously did not include the rear guard.


Some of them may join some of Aunt Laura's iris
Over the ravine. The ravine lilies are in rare form,
But I'm too tired to go take a picture.

Spending the day at Linda's tomorrow.
Warping the ten foot loom.

Gas is up twenty cents a gallon!
Must I work until I'm 83?


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Imagine yourself someone else


I've thought recently about people who write books with characters. How they can live in the lives of all those people, start to finish, until done with them. Or actors, moving from character to character, not letting go of the persona until “it’s a wrap,” or however a film ends.

This isn't like walking a mile in someone’s shoes. I can do that, mentally. I've lost loved ones, some so young. I know gut wrenching, mindless wailing grief. I've stood at the finish line, cheering a marathon runner on to the end. I've listened to old folks relive their lives. Slipping into a character isn't walking a mile in their shoes. A mile or so and I can leave.

I cannot imagine a soldier. I've never been terrified. I cannot imagine myself a refugee; I've never been hungry enough, or seen my children in want of life’s necessities. I cannot imagine living in a patriarchal society. I cannot imagine accomplishing heroic feats of strength or daring. I cannot even imagine myself accomplishing a feat.

I cannot imagine having a screaming fit, or throwing things. I cannot imagine assembling or preparing a gourmet meal; setting a table for eighteen; having a dining room big enough. I can imagine cleaning up afterwards.

I am too literal. I am more corner German greengrocer than shape shifter. I cannot imagine how a writer moves through a piece of fiction, hanging all the facts in their precise places, characters saying the right things, arriving in the proper place, at their time.

When I was very young I wrote stories in my head. Once I had such a complex bit of conversation forging on in my head I began reciting it out loud, to keep everything straight. “Who the hell are you talking to,” my cousin asked me, from up in his apple tree. That was so daring, to hear my three year older cousin swear, I made up a story about that, too. In my head, of course.

I am so literal, my stories all are about me, and the characters in my life. I can write about them, but only as I see them.  My world of flat Stanley’s. Take my cousin Bob, there in the apple tree. I loved his mother, my Aunt Laura, but never understood Bob. I once met a man who knew Bob for years. He mused a moment and said “Strange couple, Bob and his wife.” I nodded. “Live like the lilies of the field,” he added.


Lilies of the field, a lovely image. Living that close to the moment, not. So, Bob hasn't been in my stories. Because when all is said, I’m of the corner German greengrocer stock; he got all the Irish dreams to live on. I cannot imagine that.


1943, the greengrocer's son and me
My Grandfather Rolf

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The helmet

This is not a nice story; it ends in two deaths. Stop here if you wish. 

I was surprised I found The Helmet on EBay. So surprised I said I knew what happened to my helmet. That was not necessary; it did not move the story along, but the helmet on the desk was something I remembered from that night.

When we bought the motorcycle that helmet was the only one of its kind. All the others were sparkly red or blue or black. That glitter was popular. Riding, I saw only one other, and that was somewhere in Missouri. We were going opposite directions through a large intersection. Each waved and pointed to our heads.

I said we were down to one car, and I used my motorcycle. I even picked Beth up from school, took her to day care and went back to work. Rain or shine. Come fall I knew I would not be riding the bike in winter. We sold it; Jim bought me a ten year old Chevy Corvair. The biggest mystery--how it became ten years old.

The helmet sat on a hall closet shelf. We divorced. The helmet sat on the shelf. My oldest and best friend, Carol, divorced not too long after I did. She had just come to work at my company as a temp; a few weeks in I told the president of the company he should hire her full time. He did. That was 1972; my divorce 1973. Hers, probably 1974.

Carol met a fellow somewhere. His name was Carl. They were together at least a year. Carl was a biker; I believe that's all the transportation he owned. He admired the helmet sitting on the shelf, I sold it to him. Carol and Carl eventually broke up. He had more women on his string than her. She was crushed.

In retrospect, I cannot remember Carol ever being a passenger on that bike. I may ask her, though the fact also doesn't advance the story. Or the Corvair, or the divorce, or Beth and day care. They're all just padding to avoid the end. Carol came rushing into the house one night, hysterical. There was an accident; Carl and his passenger were dead. A picture in the paper included that helmet, shattered in many pieces.




Monday, April 21, 2014

Teaching moments


Long, long ago I taught evening English classes. These were not youngsters there on daddy’s money. Evening students have already put in a full day on the job; they come back at night to get their money’s worth toward a degree to advance themselves in the working world. I had a smattering of eighteen year olds, but on the whole my classes were people of my age. I thought I related to them.

I carried away two profound experiences from one class. We were reading The Enormous Room. My thesis for the semester was Picasso, “Art is a lie that makes us see the truth.” It was the early seventies, the war in Vietnam was full blown, and I was a rather shallow twenty something.  I cannot remember what I said, but I know it was mildly anti-war. A few words in passing, on to the next…..

A young man toward the end of the first row erupted. He stood up. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I have killed men with piano wire, or they would kill me….” He threw the book at my head and started to the door. I was first, and stood in front. “I am so sorry. I am abjectly sorry!” and I was.  He shoved me aside, and was gone.

I apologized to the class. In retrospect, that was another textbook psychological moment. On the whole they assured me I’d done nothing wrong, he threw a book at you, he might have knocked you down, and so on. I called the dean that night and saw her the next day. Her take was, “These things happen, don’t be concerned.” He never came back to class. I gave him an A. I remain humiliated when the incident crosses my mind, and it doesn’t matter that we know about PTSD these days. My arrogance remains bitter.

Another student left that class, too. It was freshman English, and I was supposed to be reinforcing their grammar. I also rode my motorcycle. My husband was between jobs, we were down to one car, so I  rode my motorcycle. I rode it to my day job, too. I’d say I drew the short straw, except he also had a motorcycle. But, I digress.

I was teaching grammar, and I said that sentence structure is another kind of engineering; if they could diagram the sentence they understood grammar. It was toward the end of the class, the exam was right around the corner. It was the school’s exam, not mine, so the evening was a last review.

I rode the motorcycle, of course. My Captain America helmet was sitting on the desk, and so was I, the easier to return to the board and put another word or phrase into the diagram. We were stuck on gerunds and participles. “Listen,” I said, “there’s a trick to telling them apart.”

A fellow in the first row leaned back, legs extended way out. “The only trick in this room is the teacher,” he said. I didn’t skip a beat. “Those are failing words, son.” He never came back, either. And, I did fail him.



Cannot believe I found this on EBay, sold as a vintage sixties or seventies helmet. It's the one I had, although not mine, as I know what happened to mine.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

We're readly

Rain barrel, check.
Anemones, check.
Pay attention to Laura's neat rows of fall blooming crocus,
From the more than 400 we dug up and moved last fall.


Lettuce tower, check.


Little to do yet except notice what's growing.
Coral bells.
Hyacinth! They're everywhere.
We must have planted a lot of them.


Lots of anemone. 
They will be striking next year and next.


Pansies. Anyone can have pansies.
Look at all the crocus in the bed we completely cleared!


Three with one shot!
A brown headed cowbird, still in winter garb.
Two goldfinch.


The cowbird, wishing I would leave, no doubt.


A downy woodpecker.
The birds aren't so overwhelming as in the winter.
They're working off the last pail of seed, then
Finis until fall.


Tulips and our solitary crocus.
The two beds beside the stairs are pitiful.
They will get a makeover this year.


No sense in boring you with the rest of what's growing.
Especially as I cannot remember their names.
When folks tell me this year I will put their name on a stake and drive it into the ground. I do have:
giant bearded iris. Regular iris. Flags, my dad called them.
All the little ground cover plant-a-ma-whosies Laura and I picked out last fall.
They're happy.
Brown eyed Susans are up.
Clematis, too.
The pinks, and all the rest of Nina's plants last spring.


This is just a chunk of winter detritus.
I cannot imagine how it obtained the coloration.


And, of course!