Monday, September 30, 2013

A dolly blanket

On another book run to the library last week, 
(the kids are addicted to books!),
the director handed me a bag of colorful blocks.
He found them among his mother's things.
Could I do something?

I showed them to Jan.
They are turn of the 20th century fabrics.
The dark blues are mourning fabrics.
They are quite fragile.
But not to late to save.
The director said his grandmother must have sewn the little blocks.

I pressed all their scrunched up faces quite flat.
Look at the blocks made of even littler bits.
I volunteered to set them together.
Not one was square; the job would be very fiddly.
But my sewing machine is put away in favor of two young ladies who love to sew.
Jan put them together.

I went into the studio just in time on Saturday.
The quilt is on the frame and ready for quilting.
Time for the big Gamill and the artist to go to work.
"It's like drawing with a needle," Jan says.

She's sewing freehand, and called the little design her modern Baptist Fan.
Baptist Fan is an old, traditional quilting pattern.
Jan said she was sewing more closely than she normally would in order to add stability to the fabrics.

The back of the quilt.  A lot of movement.

The little quilt is about three feet on each side.
I attempted to sneak it into the library this morning,
but the director caught me.

He has no idea what transpired between the little bag and the item on his desk.
But he knew what it was.
His Grandmother was making a dolly's blanket.
Who for?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

They do clean up well

Emily, heading out.  She loves that dress; "it looks like ocean and coral."

Notice that although we turned every inch of that little garden and removed more than four hundred colchium bulbs, we missed two.

Hamilton, get down here for a picture with your sister.
"Wait, I need my tie and jacket."
Now, Emily is leaving!

He did jump into his sneakers.  
Emily "did" his hair.

Laura, I need a picture of you with your brother.
She's so proud.
She takes her stocking feet outside.

Smile with your teeth!

Hamilton says smiling with his teeth makes his eyes look squinty. So that's why he dismissed every one of the toothy senior pictures.

What's in it for us?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Run up to winter

Hamilton hands off to Uncle Tom

Who positions the log and calls

"Hit it" to the girl at the control.

Uncle Tom throws the split log into the cart

And so the pile grows.  

This year on the left, next year accumulating on the right.

Emily is at work at the farm
Both she and Hamilton are going to the Homecoming Dance tonight.
Emily has a 45 minute window to get home, shower and dress.
She's already texted me the exact location to pick her up from work.

There will be pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Buttoning up

Brilliant sunshine Sunday, and just plain cold.  Perfect day to see what my garden crew is made of.  We are short Emily these weekends; she got herself a job on a real farm.

Hamilton and Laura selected more flat rocks from pile we unearthed last May, and Hamilton laid another stone path into the garden.  My hope for a cairn continues to diminish.

I’ve told Hamilton my dad would be proud of him.  No matter what else he sets his hand to in life, he can go out back and plant a garden.  He handles the shovel well and understands important stuff like setting a river stone firmly into the ground. How to loosen roots.  How deep to plant.

Laura and I made a plant run, to the nursery across the road.  I knew there was a sale and we loaded up on succulents.  All the tags are in the recycle bin, so I have a good excuse for not remembering, except all require full sun and I’m stretching that a bit under the oak tree.

Grandma put the pots here and there and the crew planted.  The royal “we” then spread the last dozen bags of mulch.  We discussed whether we should have mulched first, planted later, as I occupied my garden stool and they pushed mulch around the crocus and the succulents, and the last aster from our not too successful wildflower garden. “We” decided plant first probably was the best idea.

It looks lovely, all those little lavender flowers poking up.  More come up every day.  A few were unearthed in laying the stone path, and had thick root beards hanging from their bottoms.  With apologies we reset them.

Today I saw the first honey bees of the season, working away at this perennial we added earlier in the year.  It spent all summer with dark green leaves and recently burst into bloom.  Of course I don’t recall its name.  I know most everyone will say “It’s …..”, and that’s as much fun as knowing to begin with.  Some ring a bell, like the Solomon’s Seal, and I can point and say its name.  But the rest are still in that vast reservoir of lost nouns, and come and go like pleasant memories.

Our neighbor across the road has hives and I’m sure the bees are from her hives. I’m sorry they ignored our flowers all summer.  Next year I’ll try to select for them, as well as for the bumblebees.  Or, perhaps they spent their summer in the clover we planted by the barn.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Removed to a secure location

"Where Are the Pumpkins?!"

I asked the road super this morning.

"Removed to a secure location," he replied with a grin,

as he tested the mower arm, then left to attend to township ditches.

I walked the vine

Only the littlest fellow, not even previously mentioned, remains.

With four weeks to seriously catch up.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Inordinately pleased

I suppose the rain this morning (and all night) is good; however, I had the car washed two days ago.  Just back from taking Emily to work for the morning, and I chose not to take the outside steps and get a little too wet.

I did step out to take a picture of the colchium that I mention often. My dad's "air blooming lilies" that actually are fall blooming crocus. These are the progeny of the three bulbs he purchased in 1945, for ten percent of one week's pay.  Obviously his children heard the story over and over.

In two sweltering evenings last summer Hamilton dug up more than four hundred bulbs from their two by three foot confine; Emily, Laura and I cleaned off the clay and stored them in one, two, three buckets. It was so hot and the gnats so bad, I believe it was the only night we were testy.

Back on the porch with the camera, there the little guys are. Laura and I planted probably two hundred.  We bagged the rest, ten to a bag, and gave them away.  I hope all those folks are enjoying their blue haze surprise.

When she was senseless with finding places to dig crocus holes, Laura went down the sidewalk.  Next year there may be a crowd, a host--of crocus. Surely by the year after.

The cheeky chickadee.  There are several.  He may be thinking I should go in out of the rain, and dry off the telephoto lens before I put away the camera.

Or, he doesn't care what I do.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The red star

I know exactly when I signed up for EBay; 1997.  Mom died in March and we had all her treasures  to deal with.  The family glass!  Cut, leaded, crystal… We had boxes of it.

By summer we made all the grandchildren look it over and not one of them wanted it.  A mighty elegant house would be required to flaunt it, not to mention the responsibility.  We had it appraised, we donated it to a public mansion, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

So easily done.  What about that row of Grandma Rolf’s Roseville pottery, lined up atop a kitchen cupboard. This was less easily done.  I had two resources to learn value.  The fledgling dial up internet search engines,  Dogpile, WebCrawler, HotBot. And Nina, the mistress of an antique barn.  Not a shop, a barn. She was my go to when I was stumped.

The Roseville sold for a fair price, and arrived at its destinations intact, in spite of my ignorance of proper packaging. I received four fine feedbacks.  Heady stuff. Nina asked me to move some Roseville that had gathered dust too long at The Barn.  We came to some agreement and I sold it for a decent price. 

My lack of shipping skill caught up with me; a piece broke in shipping. I formulated my returns policy:  Full refund; simply tell me what happened.  I didn’t need pictures, don’t return it.  My brother would like that one (if it breaks in half, you get to keep both pieces). More positive feedback, and a quantum leap in shipping carefully, still with recycled boxes from the dumpsters of the shops in town.

My friend Carol asked me to sell some of her antiques and collectables she was tired of.  We made a deal, I think fifteen percent of the sales price.  Another eye opener.  A small return for researching, photos, listing fees, packing, schlepping to the post office.  It was a favor, not a money maker.

By the end of the second year EBay and I were close buddies, especially in the two or three months each year I did no shows.  Thrift store finds kept me supplied, on the whole, and I had my turquoise star for over a hundred positive feedbacks.  All positive!

Probably about 2000 we painted some walls in the house and I had to take down the Indian “tray” that had been nailed up for years.  Oh, what about all this stuff from our grandparent’s great trip west in 1936. I started with that “tray” and some pottery.  What a week.  Consecutive emails from bidders who would be “out of town” or otherwise unable to attend the end of the auction, could they make an offer now?

Our turn of the other century Apache winnowing basket sold for a lot of money.  The buyers were so excited, we included the tape we’d made of the movies of “The great trip west.”  I stopped short, trying to make a large enough carton from recycled boxes.  These folks paid a lot of money for this, Joanne.  Have some class, buy a decent carton.

I methodically sold off the rest of the rugs, baskets, pottery.  I can still see one email that came for the listing of a big basket we’d used all through my girls childhoods for wet mittens and caps.  It was used more carelessly here, the rim was disintegrating, the rows separating.  “I can’t believe your family used an Olla water basket for family junk for more than a century!”  Ah, well.  I figured it was all travelling to homes that would understand and appreciate it.

Very similar Olla basket
I retired weaving in 2003 and took up township business in 2004.  I still dabbled in EBay a bit, but had nothing significant to sell, except for Bob’s train.  Bob was a dealer at Nina’s barn, and had a train he’d picked up at a garage sale. I think it was the Lionel Western Pacific.  Played with, then put away in it boxes.  He thought he had something, could we try EBay.  A new lesson.  Learn more than you ever want to know about some things, like scarce trains. 

All those train guys were livid at my inadequate description and knowledge.  I did my best.  I revised my description to cover every square inch.  I overlooked one missing step, for which the buyer forgave me, after another tongue lashing.  He paid more than three thousand dollars, of which I got one third, less expense, which included a hundred dollar refund for the damn step.  I played the dumb grandma card a lot to get through that one.

Then Nina decided to retire and close down the barn.  Would I help? I’d see what I could do. We turned out to be one helluva team.  Nina knew her merchandise and knew how to give out crash antique knowledge.  She also staged beautifully.  About every ten days I’d go by the barn and load up my van with some category, learn enough to write thorough descriptions.  Like clockwork, she staged, I listed, answered questions, banked the money, packed and shipped.  And, kept immaculate records, because Nina still had to settle with folks who let her close down their space in the barn.

It probably took us four months to clear that barn down to cobwebs.  We just kept on keeping on.  I think once her husband asked her when we would settle up and Nina said let her alone, she was busy.  “What if Joanne dies?” “I know her sister.”  This deal was fifty fifty after all expenses, which did not include refunds I made for my stupidity, and never told Nina about.  I paid my taxes for the next year from my half.

I pretty much quit EBay after that.  The fees always escalated and the rules changed weekly.  EBay instituted a secondary rating system; the buyer could rank the seller one to five stars for various performance areas, including speed of delivery.  That one did it for me.  I’m not in charge of the postal system.  I personally earned a red star for over 1,000 positive feedbacks (and no negatives!); I printed it out, hung it on the wall and said The End.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Some dirty savage,

to grease his white cabbage,
Most wantonly murdered Nell Flaherty's drake.

An Irish folk song of protest and rebellion.

Pumpkin one

Pumpkin Three

Pumpkin Two
Its throat cut by a knife.

The Road Super thought about bringing in the last two, to save until Halloween.
Seven weeks away!

I thought, and then named a suspect.

He thought about it.
After lunch I learned he'd asked.

Yes, it was wanted for a grandchild.
No please, thank you, or by your leave.

I asked the Road Super to humor me.

Don't bring in the two left.  Let them grow.
I'll wager no one else will feel entitled.

There will be two pumpkins left to be Jack-O-Lanterns
for ALL the children 
on Beggars Night.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Side trip

Grandma's bus runs a tight schedule on Sunday. Get Hamilton to church by nine, come back to take Emily to work by ten.  Back for Hamilton at noon and back for Emily at five.

I dropped Emily at Heritage Farm on one end of Riverview Road and decided to go north to the little park in Boston. This is the last weekend the Nickel Plate 765 steam engine is running. From the reports I knew the last two weekends had been shoulder to shoulder people, but I wanted to see the behemoth myself.

I parked at the ski resort and started the hike to the station.  I knew all the police on duty, and got a hug from Priscilla, right in the middle of Riverview, as she stopped traffic for me to cross.

Oh, the smell of it and the noise of it.  I inhaled deeply of coal and steam.  I didn't need a ticket for that.

I did need a ticket to get past this old man.  Until an old railroad comrade hailed...

I hope you have smelled a coal fired steam engine in your life. The steam billowing, the sunlight shafting through... And the size of it. Massive.  Yes, those wheels are as tall as a man.

The little park in Boston is just across the road.  Pictures in the papers the last two week ends showed the park full of people, jostling for a view of old 765.  Not too bad today.  Then it was time to go  for Hamilton.

As we left the parking lot of his church I asked if he was interested in the long way home; there were two awesome things to look at. Of course he was.

We stopped along Riverview, under the Ohio Turnpike bridge that spans the valley.  I've wanted to do that for some time, too. Hamilton was suitably impressed. "But why are there people down by the tracks?"  They were waiting for the train to pass.  "What train?" I had something else to show him!

The train, back for another run.  Sadly for the folks under the bridge a little south, the Boston station was today's southern terminus; Hamilton and I got there in time to inhale deeply and then watch 765's wheels revolve backwards and start the northbound trip.

Probably all the folks over here on the south, in the little park, didn't know the train would not pass them by. But two little boys playing tag on the sandstone walks made me smile.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Advice from Nina

When I moved here almost thirty years ago, I fell in with a community stalwart of whom I may write chapters.  We are good friends to this day.  Nina is a few years older than I am, living on the same track, but half a dozen steps ahead of me.  I doubt I ever will be on the cover of Life magazine, as she once was, but otherwise we tic off similar life boxes.

Nina’s granddaughters came to live with her when they were ten and twelve.  That was just about ten years ago.  The oldest graduated college a year ago, the youngest is still in college.  They both are red heads.  I never got a red headed grandchild.

Heaven, her oldest granddaughter, came home from high school and announced, six weeks in, she was dropping out of band, but the band teacher wouldn't let her drop without a note from Nina.  Nina agreed to write the note, but told Heaven she must try and settle her problems with the teacher first, before using Nina’s note excusing her from band.

The next night Heaven was able to announce that although she would not play any instrument available in the band room she was staying in the band because the music teacher had brought her personal instrument in and introduced it to Heaven.  Heaven loved it and would be playing the mellophone. 

The music teacher’s return note thanked Nina for writing that Heaven had to solve her own problem, which the teacher said, was a case of the young lady being so critical of every instrument in the band room that even the saxophone tickled her lips.  The mellophone was worth a shot, and it worked.  The notes, of course, a ploy to buy time.

Heaven attended West Virginia University and went with the band to bowl games in more states than she could ever visit on her own. Now she’s playing the mellophone in the United States Air Force, and marches in great parades from time to time, not a little due to the wisdom of the old fogies. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Featuring squash

There were many, many truck gardens when I was a kid. The produce raised for sale at market, the roadside market, the farmer's market.

I always loved that word, truck garden.  Come August and September, I smile and think we are certainly eating a lot of truck.

We've eaten a lot of truck this summer.  Sadly the tomatoes and the cucumbers are nearly done.  But that damn squash...

Whatever we're having for supper features squash.  This week squash has been featured in the chicken and rice, accompanying hamburgers, and on pizza.  I understand it will be cut small, like corn kernels, for tomorrow night's tortilla filling.

Squash is featured in a couple layers of tonight's quiche.  The vegetable?  Beans.  They're up to a peck a day.

And the lovely flowers were for my sister, who is sixty today.

I remember the year our mother was fifty nine again.  I did that once, myself.  It's neat to get back a year.  Better than a truck garden.