Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring cleaning

Mom subjected us to spring cleaning every year.  Grandma came down to help. Dad disappeared to his workshop. Everything was washed.  I especially remember the walls and the ceiling.  The walls were washed from the bottom up.  From the top down would leave dribble marks in the dust on the walls that could never be eradicated.  That’s what the grown up’s said.

We washed the outside of everything.

It could involve standing on ladders.

We washed windows.

We had no fireplace.

Is this little girl out of her mind?

Empty all the cupboards and wash everything that is in them.

Wash the inside of the cupboards.

Stay out of the way.

More windows.

What was I thinking.

Then the regular cleaning.  You know.  Floors, dusting, bathrooms.  Laura said the best thing about spring cleaning is it must be spring.

Some things never change.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First coronet

Disclaimer:  post written by a tin eared grandma.

At the end of last semester Uncle Tom and I went to Laura’s band performance.  There are two bands in her elementary school, the Tuesday/Thursday and the Wednesday/Friday.  Each has sixty five or so members.  At the end of the performance the band teacher said we heard the group all playing the same note; next semester they will learn harmony.

Uncle Tom said that little girl plays a nice trumpet; with a little more direction she could be even better.  Now, Uncle Tom knows how music is made.  He played trumpet in his own high school band back in 1960-something and he never hesitated to send her back to replay the last ten minutes of her twenty minutes per evening of practice, or make a change in her breathing, or whatever one does to a trumpet.

For Christmas he gave her a music stand for practice.  “She sits on her bed, looking down at that music, and that’s no way to play a trumpet!”  So, every evening, after the dishes, we are treated to twenty minutes of trumpet notes floating down the stairs.  I enjoy it, and often can name the tune.  Sometimes Uncle Tom remarks on the music and goes up to make a correction.

Laura took some teasing at the supper table recently; apparently Emily and Hamilton, who also play musical instruments in the high school band, realized Laura has put in a lot of time on a single piece lately.  Uncle Tom cut off their teasing; even if Laura didn’t play a good little trumpet, she’s his favorite great niece. “Tell them what you’re doing, Laura.”

“I’m trying out for first coronet.”

Some time was spent explaining to grandma that a trumpet can play the coronet part.  Several little trumpet players were given the music and there will be a tryout soon.  The piece is called Snap, Crackle, Bop.

Hamilton teased Laura, she was challenging the other players.

“No I’m not; I’ll just play it the best.”

I told Laura it was admirable to strive to do her very best.

“Yes, Gramma.  I want to sit in first chair, too.”

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cabin Fever, yesterday

Glorious day, yesterday.  The Peninsula Chamber picked a fine Saturday for their annual Cabin Fever shop stroll. Jan and I started at ten, when the shops open.  I took my camera in hope of finding a more spring like picture for my header. We started at the west end of Main Street and worked our way east to Mill Street.

Jan has never been to Ohio Hardwood Furniture, and wanted a good look at the Adirondack chairs.  I was only window shopping, then located the perfect bench for our kitchen table, and ordered it.  She found the perfect Adirondack chair, in lime green.  I didn’t think to unholster my camera, but look at their web site and see beautiful furniture, made in Ohio.  You can get to it from Explore Peninsula, under the shopping tab.

Great start; we headed down the hill.

Next stop was Yellow Creek Trading Company.  The building has housed several shops in my twenty five year history with the village; the building’s history goes back to canal days.  The front window carries a Salada Tea logo; left from the general store days.  The original floors bear every sign of use; I love the tin repairs.

I completely forgot the turn into the Log Cabin Gallery (sorry Diane), but her eclectic collection of art and artists is on the Chamber web site.

Next LeSeraglio.  Currently a fair trade importer here; there have been any number of shops in the building.  Once it was a wonderful book store, but we know what happens to those.  In the summer there are tables and chairs on the patio, offset by their wonderful red door.

Next stop the Downtown Emporium, a collectables and antique haven.  I picked up one of the few remaining Blue Santas from the time they were recreated in Peninsula.  Long story.  If I could still dance the night away it might be in these slippers!

Around the corner to the Peninsula Art Academy, Elements Gallery and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station.  A fair amount of traffic at the station, so early in the day.

First to the Art Academy, scene of little kid art pandemonium last summer. I love this place from the front door to the back and back again.  I stopped for a good look at the glass man.

Across Mill Street to Elements Gallery.  Steve and Deb put together an entirely new interior to the gallery last summer.  Their daughter left a door for the resident mouse.

Home again, home again, for a very late lunch, but a stop at the golf course for a new picture of the lake and the tree.  The sun may have been shining, but the grass is not green enough or the lake blue enough to make a replacement grade picture.

Hoping to join us for lunch.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A day and a half trip

I went back to Coalmont, Pennsylvania (population 105) early in March; my so help me last trip up the long hill that is town, from the Dudley Methodist Cemetery.  I communed with the row of Lytle graves, the parents, the siblings and spouses—but not my grandfather.  Blanchard C. (Uncle Pete) and his wife Elizabeth, have the massive pink monument. Uncle Pete brought my grandfather home from Pueblo, Colorado in 1930, to be buried. It came to me with a smile: George Marion is there, somewhere.   No headstone, and too bad for him all the records were lost when the postmistress retired.

I drug Linda with me this time.  She needed a break from custom rugs, and was glad to get on board.  I booked a double in an old timey motel in Bedford.  My B&B from last year cancelled my reservation in anticipation of one of those blizzards.  My forecast was for the storm to go north to New England and south to Maryland, and it did exactly that.

Blue sky in Bedford

We ate lunch at the Bedford Diner, and set out to look at the town.  Downtown was short work, and Linda, turning around the walking map she took at the motel, found a notice for the National Museum of the American Coverlet.  

Go big or go home, we said, and worked our way two blocks over to Juliana Street.

The museum’s directors, Melinda and Laszlo Zonger, were off assaying a new coverlet find; we found the doors locked with a charming note announcing their return would be an hour or so earlier.  They did return before we gave over sitting on the steps; the rest of our afternoon was immediately engaged.

The opening scene was charming light comedy.  Mr. Zonger, whose name I did not know, returned eight dollars from my twenty, as we were senior citizens, like him.  He would let us in free if I could tell him his name, the most common in Hungary.  I failed.  His name is Laszlo.  Linda’s name had been spoken, Melinda said she is a Linda, also, and we had a famous beginning.

As I looked around the little office, waiting for Mr. Zonger to start his tour, Linda mentioned she grew up in Scipio, New York. It was said, when her parents bought the big 1800’rds farm house, it once housed a coverlet weaver. She once had an opportunity to buy a coverlet attributed to Scipio, but let it slip away.  However, she heard recently a Scipio coverlet is again available and probably going to the historical collection of a local church.

Such a discussion of the limited number of Scipio coverlets known followed! Melinda went off to the storage area to bring out the Scipio coverlets while Laszlo took us on the tour.  Melinda is a weaver.  I do not know Laszlo’s credentials.  He was extremely knowledgeable about home weaving and textile production from colonial times to the end of the Jacquard loom period in the mid nineteenth century. Like a textbook, he was.

Now, Linda and I both have knocked around the weaving world for some time.  I used up to eight harness looms, made and sold overshot coverlets.  Linda weaves art rugs to stand on.  We know a lotta stuff.  As Laszlo worked us through to the decline of the Jacquard as home industry in the mid-nineteenth century I ventured that as the Jaquard weaving heads moved west and the operating punch cards were worn and torn, the designs produced became more and more fantastical.  “Where?” Laszlo demanded.  “Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota,” I replied.  “There are no known Jacquard coverlets from Wisconsin and Minnesota!”  I shut up and listened to the tour.

In a room that featured Jacquard floor coverings Linda ventured that floor rugs originated as bed coverings in Europe. Laszlo immediately set her straight!  Bed coverings are bed coverings, floor coverings are rugs. Linda, too retreated.  We did need to get outside and enjoy our tour experience in the privacy of the car.

But then we reached the storage room and Melinda’s collection of Scipio coverlets.  It was worth the wait, and the Lindas exchanged information about the search for the missing Scipio coverlet. I liked seeing old coverlets in the overshot patterns I used.

This Scipio Jaquard weaver was a woman, one of perhaps two known women Jacquard weavers.  Charlotte Bryan inherited the business from her father.

 We spent another pleasant hour examining the museum’s collection.  It was past closing time; we started off to the diner for supper.  Two blocks and we went back to retrieve Linda’s coffee cup. We met the Zonger’s at the door, on their way to our motel to drop it off.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My problem with Catcher in the Rye

I finished reading the book last night.  It took me three nights; I couldn’t just skim it.  I started reading the words, looking for clues.

I last read Catcher in the Rye in the early sixties, early on in college.  I was so naïve in those days whole concepts were explained to me.  “Stoned,” for instance, on the release of one of Bob Dylan’s songs.  Holden Caulfield’s ideas are straightforwardly complex; I know I didn’t need any code words explained.  I read the book, probably wrote a required composition on adolescent issues, probably concluding Holden would join the adult world and be no different than the rest of us. 

Remembering only a kid who was affluent enough to live on his own in New York City for two days, I started in again.  I ploughed two thirds through before I could begin to engage with the book.  An alert here; Holden had a brother who died at a young age, and I also have a brother who died too young.  Holden’s Allie died of leukemia around eleven years of age, I believe.  My brother Melvin took his own life at age twenty nine.  The book began having parallels for me.

Holden was troubled about Allie almost from the beginning, and as his state of mind became more obvious, I thought about my brother troubled over his beautiful daughter becoming deaf at six months.  One of Holden’s escapes was alcohol, my brother’s was street drugs.  Probably a drug added to marijuana, PCP, triggered my brother’s paranoia and mania.

When Holden walked from the bar, too drunk to be functioning, asking Allie to get him across the streets and down the blocks, the book finally engaged me as a treatise on mental illness.  I remembered my brother’s despair at the treatment of bi-polar disorder in the 1970’s.  The drugs that made him “sane” kept him asleep day and night.  Without them he could be violent.  And, he was a big man, over six feet, broad shoulders, curly blond hair, cornflower blue eyes that twinkled, an impish smile.
Mel sat at my kitchen table one day that spring of 1976.  We were drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and talking about his illness.  “I’ll never be Melvin again, will I?” he asked.   I knew he wouldn’t, but, of course, I lied.  I figured he’d be someone, and Mel trying to be Mel was OK with me
It didn’t work out any way.  He closed his garage door, started the car, put all his music on and laid back and listened to the end. 

I was grateful Holden’s planned withdrawal from the world would be as a deaf mute, a plan so unworkable I had to smile at teen age angst.  And that Holden felt enough responsibility for Phoebe not to draw her into his eight dollar plan of running away.  We still end with Holden sitting in the California sanitarium finishing out J.D. Salinger’s cliff hanger:  will he go over the edge or not?  All these years later, I don’t know.  I’ll be interested in my grandson’s take on this one.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What do Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird have in common?

They are assigned reading for the high school students in the house.  Emily is writing about To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamilton is finishing The Great Gatsby, and I am re-reading Catcher in the Rye because it is the next book assigned.

These books were assigned to me in college, so I suppose I’m looking forward to The Brothers Karamazov or the Gulag Archipelago when these children get there.

The assignments came up in the midst of our set-to that restricted access to the world wide web.  Our friend Mr. Google is available to them, but Emily apparently is in a snit and Hamilton does not study, as you may recall.

Passing the kitchen table study hall recently, Emily asked me what I knew about To Kill a Mockingbird.  My dear, your grandma has two literature degrees.  She was answering a list of forty questions, due in several days, so I asked leave until the next night to re-read the book.  It has been forty years.

I finished it by midnight, then Googled what was available.  What a shocker.  Her list of forty questions was from a common study guide and answered by everybody and their brother.   Perhaps she was forbidden to go to the web.

We had a good time discussing hypocritical behavior, children crying when they left the court room, and on and on and on.  I love the continuing controversy over Bob Ewell’s killer.  Perhaps that keeps teachers teaching the book for twenty years.  It was Boo Radley, of course.  Unless you have a different theory.

Apparently Hamilton was paying attention; a few days later he asked me to review his Great Gatsby work.  It was sixty questions, a lot tougher.  Fortunately for him, only half a dozen or so were due the next day.  His answers impressed me, dampened by the knowledge he had completed the work because I took away his new library book, The Devil in the White City.  I had no fault except telling him to find and correct all his incomplete sentences.  Even if the teacher didn’t bust him for them, I would.

Yesterday afternoon we went over the rest of the work, due in a couple of days.  He was working out Great Gatsby symbolism.  When he thought he was done I got to lean back in my chair and say “What about all those European names?  What about Wolfsheim?”  Fun!

I went half through Catcher in the Rye last night.  I still can’t love that book.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17th

Growing up I had only one grandparent, for all practical purposes, my Grandma Rolf.  My father’s mother died before I was five; I never knew, and scarcely knew of his father.  It took the great folk revival of the sixties to learn I was Irish.

I pressed my father once about nationality.  “I’m American.” I pressed my luck a little further. “What about your parents?” “They were Americans, too.”  He went back to his Scientific American. I asked my mother, and learned my dad was Irish.  Her grandmother called him shanty Irish, and he did not go back into that house until after her grandmother’s death.

In fact my father’s mother was all Irish, his father all Scots-Irish.

My great grandfather, John William Lytle, was born in 1832, in Pennsylvania.  He worked as a tailor, then a clerk, then took up teaching.  That career was interrupted by the Civil War.  He fought and was wounded at second Bull Run; his brother was killed at Spotsylvania.  He soldiered on, and was wounded so severely at Antietam he was discharged.  A short biography I found of him said his wounds hindered him all his life.  He resumed teaching, married Annie Crum, was the town clerk of Coalmont, Pennsylvania.  He held lodge and G.A.R. offices.  In short, a solid citizen, excepting, as the biography said, he had renounced religious affiliation.  “He believes that religion does not consist in form or mode of baptism, but in character and act.”

John William and Annie had several children; all became school teachers except George Marion, my father’s father.  George was a coal mining engineer.  He brought Mary Emma Hogue, his bride, back to Coalmont to live.  She did live there for seven years, through the birth of my father, John Lindsey, his brother and two of his sisters.  Mamie Hogue Lytle left Coalmont for her childhood home, Akron, Ohio, pregnant with her fifth child in seven years.  George Marion posted bond to assure his appearance in court, presumably on a child support charge.  He skipped, went west, lived under an assumed name, and died fifteen years later.  He abandoned his children.

Mamie Lytle, my grandmother, was the daughter of a stereotypical hard drinking Irishman, James Lindsey Hogue, and devoutly Catholic wife, Mary Cecelia Maley.  James was in the building trade, and together with his business partner, Frank Bisson, built the homes on Bisson Avenue, a steep hill in Akron. Grandma Lytle and her five small children lived first in the attic of the Hogue home on Bisson Avenue.  Mamie’s eight living siblings, her parents, her children burst its seams.  Mamie and the five children lived in a series of rented homes in the area, leaving when the rent was due.  The children lived on and off with relatives and in the Akron Children’s Home.

Alcoholism and Catholicism were the genes predominately infused in the Hogue line. My father was bitter about each.  His grandfather Hogue was a mean drunk, his grandmother a strict Catholic.  His mother being the oldest sibling, he grew up with some of his aunts and uncles as contemporaries.  As adults he saw some fall to alcohol. He was equally bitter about, as he considered it, the sacrifice of a cousin and his sister Ruth, to the church as priest and  nun.  When I asked her, Aunt Ruth never believed she was forced to be a nun; I have no idea what his cousin thought.

My father left the church at age twelve.  His lot was miserable.  He was generally in charge of his band of siblings; his mother absent.  There was not enough food.  Housing was iffy.  His Catholic education was supervised by his grandmother, until his epiphany: his mother was devout but the institution that led to five children in seven years was not housing the children or feeding them, no matter what the reason his mother had left his father. The Hogue clan never forgave him.
I grew up on the North Hill of Akron, Ohio, with a large contingent of red headed Hogue descendents living on the other end of the parish that was St. Martha’s.  The rift was so complete, in spite of my mother’s best effort, we never knew them.  My cousins, children of my father’s sisters, do not know them.  Apparently there is no grudge like an Irish grudge.

My father was aptly named for his grandfather, the Scots Irish who soldiered on.  The father who abandoned the children was brought home by his brother to be buried, but apparently in an unmarked grave.  There is no stone marking George Marion in the line of Lytle’s beginning with John William and Annie Crum Lytle.
My own Grandma Lytle lay in an unmarked grave for fifty years, until my mother said enough is enough.  Her children did not mark her grave, I will.  And so my Grandma Lytle has a stone, in All Soul’s, where her non Catholic children chose to bury her.

Considering my heritage on this St. Patrick’s Day, although I like to consider myself Irish, I pull up Grandma Rolf’s corset strings and follow Mom’s conscience when there’s work to be done.

And since I’m still Irish, Erin go bragh. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16th

March 16th is my grandma’s birthday. Ethel Lenore Cox Rolf, March 16th, 1894 to February 1st, 1989. Middle child of Melvin Cox and Lenore Smith Cox.  Born in Austinburg, Ohio, the home of all her farming grandparents, but grew up in Cleveland where her father was a house painter and her mother kept boarders.  Her mother’s congenital heart defect meant my grandma did much of the heavy housework. 

At sixteen she joined the other pretty girls in shirtwaists, getting on the street car, going to jobs.  Grandma was a cashier at the May Company from the time she was sixteen until she married Walter Rolf in August, 1915.  Perhaps she worked there until my mother was born, three years later.  My grandma worked all her life.

My grandfather was of solid German heritage, son of the greengrocers on the corner.  He was an only child who left school at an early age to work in the grocery.  When he and my grandma married he worked several manual jobs, but soon left to apprentice himself to a jeweler.  In 1923 he struck out on his own; was able to secure a mortgage on a house on West 23rd Street, and set up as a watch maker in the front bedroom.

Mother said Grandma Rolf worked alongside Grandpa Rolf, and was a driving force in his success.  “She never let him get discouraged.”  She delivered fixed watches and clocks to the jewelry stores around Cleveland.  Grandpa Rolf, however, was in charge of the grandfather clocks; the movements had to be reset in the cabinets that were not taken to the shop.

My Grandma Rolf was a widow at the age of 51.  I was a year and a half old.  I was the first grandchild, a mighty fine position to hold in a family. After Grandpa Rolf’s death my Grandma took a job again, as cashier at a Hough Bakery.  A very lucky grandchild to have a grandma so employed.  I spent many weekends at her house.  She made the trip from Cleveland to Akron in her green standard transmission Ford, license plate ER 64, to collect or deliver me.  We were a one car family in the 1940’s and much of the 1950’s.  My grandma had the freedom to travel.

I stuck to my grandma like glue.  I know she didn’t spoil me, she grandmothered me.  When my brother was born she tried to sweep him into the group.  The first weekend she had both of us she woke me in the middle of midnight, put both of us in the car and delivered Walter back home, where mom soothed his hysterics.  Grandma and I went back to Cleveland and to bed. 

My grandma had friends all over the country, and took me on jaunts to visit them.  I remember sleeping in a two storey shotgun house with a railroad in the back yard.  The house shook when trains passed.  My grandma stopped and bought a beautiful steak and some other groceries.  The woman we visited fried the steak in a pan.  “I knew she would do that!” grandma sniffed the next day, when we were back on the road.

In our trips we visited the Blue Hole in Castile, Ohio.  The Henry Ford Museum. The tulips in Holland, Michigan.  I always sat in the front seat beside her. I learned family secrets!  “Your father intended to build all their furniture when he married Lenore!  If it weren’t for our family and friends they would have sat on the steps!”  Oh, the secrets I know.  “Henry should have married Iris Mielke! Florence set her hat for him, and snatched him away!”

I never let go of my grandma. She lived forever, until she was 95 and long tired of living.  Until she went into a wheel chair I travelled from Mentor to Cleveland to take her to Akron, to bring her to Mentor, to be part of the family gatherings.  She sat in the front seat and we kept up the conversations.  Grandma’s always began, “I remember….”.  She rests beside Walter Rolf in the Acacia Memorial Cemetery.

I remember my Grandma.  Happy Birthday.

Out the front window

Monday, March 11, 2013

A plethora of yard art

Over the years we bought a lot of yard art at shows.  Our first shows were small, local.  Size and weight did not matter. Poured concrete pigs and lambs came to live in the garden.  We found some poured resin and pebble pots, too, that still flank the front steps.  The best piece was the barn stone watering dish, with the heart depression chiseled into the stone.

Several years in we met a couple of women welders from Kentucky.  Their forms were big and graceful, and we just had to have a wisteria trellis that was a wisteria.  It’s beautiful.  When the wisteria attacked the house we tore it out and substituted clematis.  That project is only a few years old and the clematis has covered some of the seven foot trellis.

One year in Michigan my booth was across the aisle from a phenomenal artist from Minnesota.  He welded fantastical flights of imagination.  At the end of the show he had one piece left, which I can only describe as an elderflower.  It sways in any breeze at the end of its seven foot stalk.  He kindly sold it to me for a pittance.  I tried to contact him only a few months later, intent on purchasing more, but mail was returned, no such number, no such name.  Artists can be like that.

So, the wisteria and the elderflower grace opposite ends of the front garden.  That is a very loose term; in twenty five years it is scarcely improved from the backfill pit that occurred when the addition was built.  We’ve occasionally discussed digging out the rubble and putting in dirt.  Right.  The few plants we’ve established are saved by the weed eater a few times each year.

Last Christmas we attended a local show and I found some copper cattails to go with my elderflower, by an artist from Wisconsin.  We even planted them before the ground froze.  Then, a few weeks ago, I found another Wisconsinite at another local show.  This metal yard art is now so common it is mass produced and the “artist” is merely a reseller.  But I liked this fellow’s assembly work.   We figured out how to get all I bought into the back seat of Jan’s car.

All my new sculptures stayed in the garage until yesterday.  The sun shone.  The temperature climbed to near sixty.  We went out and planted the new metal.

New stuff on the left; my elderflower on the right

To the pet store for bird seed

Filling the feeder flower

There were chickadees and nuthatches all morning...until the rain started at noon today.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Another soul in the universe

We have a friend who is a seer.  She is Jan’s friend; I’m the sister on the periphery. She is homeless more often than not. She has lived with her many brothers and sisters on and off, until they part ways.  She lived with us almost an entire year before the girls came.  She couldn’t come to terms with her several employment opportunities. Cousin Camp came around, we had no more beds, she left in the middle of the night.  I think of her more often than not, and mention to the universe I wish we would hear from Dee.  She chooses not, yet.

Dee came into our lives twenty five years ago; we hired her as a weaver.  She could not weave.  We made her a sewer.  She could not concentrate on sewing.  She could concentrate on very little; but talked constantly.  When I understood more about Dee I decided she talked all the time to drown the voices in her head.  All these years Jan has been steadfast in listening to Dee.

A seer’s burden is tremendous.  I doubt they can stop the chaos that comes into their lives.  Dee could not stop strangers and tell them to go to the doctor, marry their sweetheart, take the trip, get in touch with family.  But the scenarios flooded her head as she passed people on the street.

I never discussed a seer’s lot with Dee; she knew I didn’t want to know.  One time I decided to ask her a question about a friend, and went into the room for that purpose.  But, I couldn’t bring myself to approach her, and set about another task.  Dee looked at me and said “What do you want to ask me.”  We both laughed.

Several years ago I was in the midst of a tough audit at work, an audit of work previous to me.  Sometimes I just wanted to smack sense into those young whippersnapper auditors; I could not answer for the past; only show them it was being done properly in the present.

Dee was visiting during that time.  As I passed her she said “Your guardian angel says tell those auditors to lighten up or you will throw all the papers in the air and let them pick them up.”

“Who?  What?”
“Your guardian angel.  June Bug.  Don’t you know”

My very first job. 1964. The woman at the desk in front of me.  Older than my mother.  Her name was June, but I called her June Bug.  A light hearted little lady I had not thought of in more than forty years.

It’s nice to have a guardian angel, but June Bug? She talked all the time, too.  Perhaps that’s why she told Dee about the auditors.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cat Rules

There are two evening laps in the family.  One belongs to Janice, one to me.  On winter evenings cats sit on laps, and these two laps also feature flannel quilts.

Jan’s lap belongs first to Purrl.  Because he never acknowledged Toby, Purrl remains the superior cat.  Purl is Toby’s mystery cat, who goes outside occasionally in the winter, most of the time in the summer, and comes in bringing exquisite smells that almost overpower Toby.

Toby begins most evenings at the bottom of Jan’s lap and her flannel quilt.  This is merely to let Purrl know Toby exists and may challenge him for top of the lap some day.  But not tonight.  The bottom is not very comfortable and Toby leaves, generally sooner than later.  He just had a point to make.

Toby moves to the lap he can occupy for the rest of the evening.  My lap.  It generally also contains knitting, but I accommodate him. 

 He cannot resist wool yarn.  He is very polite if I am attached to the other end of the ball; he feels it move under his paws or through his mouth.  Rather like a little kid.  Which he is.  If I leave knitting unattended overnight or during the day, stand aside.  He tears into it, chasing the ball around chair legs, through the living room, down the kitchen, over and under until he runs out of action.  I’ve spent a few evenings untangling his work to turn it into my work.

At last he falls asleep.  He sleeps hard, like a little kid.  I can work my knitting in my lap for the rest of the evening, not held close to my chest.

I occasionally lean over to admire his whiskers.  They are magnificent.  But I have a high regard for this little charmer.

Are you looking at me?  I’m outta here, too.  And he moves to the top of the chair.  He doesn’t care how lucky he was to be found in a parking lot.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meteorological spring

As mentioned by every blogger north of the Mason Dixon line, and many south of that marker, it continues to snow on us.  All over us.  Except last weekend, February 24th, when I took the girls to the park for a winter snow festival.

Our local meteorologist said, in his teaser at the beginning of the six o’clock news one night last week, it is meteorological spring and he would explain it to us in his weather segment. And, he did.

Meteorologists prefer clean divisions; for them the seasons commence March 1st, June 1st , September 1st, December 1st.  For crying out loud.  This is as unrealistic as a teenager in love.

Accountants like clean quarters, too, but ours really work.  They are recognized in the real world.  Businesses report their quarterly returns, the stock market responds, 401K’s go up or down.  Our quarters are the real deal.

I believe meteorologists are deceiving themselves. The seasons change with the equinoxes, and those are three quarters of the way into their respective months.  Daylight and dark does not balance itself on June 1st, to accommodate meteorologists. 

March 3, 2013, 10 am, NE Ohio.  The white specks are falling snow.

Does this look like spring?  My hopes are on March 20th.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ten years

My friend Linda and I had lunch last week or the week before.  We went to Doug’s Dinner Bucket, up the street.  It’s where Carol and I go for breakfast.  We sit in the booth for two hours, catching up.  Pam, the owner, doesn’t care.    All the breakfast traffic is gone by eight in the morning.  Much of the lunch business is take out.  The phone just keeps ringing while Carol and I sit in our far corner.  It’s that kind of a diner, open from six in the morning until two in the afternoon.

Linda picked me up for lunch and we hung out in the studio for a bit before we went to Doug’s. Jan was working away on a custom quilt that was taking all week. As our lunch date was a Wednesday, there was a lot of quilting done and plenty of admiring to do before we left.

At lunch Linda told me about the shows she would do this year, and who would help her.  Her schedule is scaled way down; the first show is Broad Ripple in Indianapolis in May.  I helped her there last year and had fun selling rugs and feeding the ducks at the motel.  Her cousin will help set up and tear down.  I’m thinking of getting on the bus, but haven’t told her yet.  It’s fun, but it’s a hard four days for two old ladies.

Suddenly Linda said “It’s the ten years!  Ten years between Janice and us and there she is putting in another concentrated quilting day.”  Linda was absolutely right.  Ten years ago we were sixty.  Still on the road alone, although it was my last year.  We could handle our gear, build and stock our displays, sell with a smile for the two or three days of the show, tear down, pack up, stow it away and drive home.

Linda is still out there, but only selecting shows where she can find the muscle power to unload her van, set up her display; come back in two days and do it in reverse.  She’s out of stamina and I’m out of that and balance.  My cane and I simply stand back while the heavy lifting is occurring.

It’s all about something to do.  Work.  I’m going to talk to Linda about doing more with the internet and her magnificent customer base.  Change is not one of her favorite occurrences, but I’m going to present her with some internet ideas I’ve researched starting with a new, selling friendly web site.  My favorite so far is a platform/template called Shopify.  If any of you know of or use internet selling venues, feel free to hop in.  I would especially like to hear any opinion on Etsy vs. a dedicated internet shop.

Could be the plan for the next ten years.