Friday, July 24, 2015

Sweetheart soap and other pleasant things

I took Emily and Laura to work with me this morning because no one would be home. Laura slipped into the front seat. As we were backing out of the garage, I sniffed a couple of times and finally said, “You smell nice.” This is not like “You look nice,” which would have elicited a smile. It embarrassed her and she looked away.

As I turned the car around and the nice smell wafted on the breezes from the open windows, it struck me. “You smell like Sweetheart soap.” I stopped the car to for a minute for a couple more inhales. Laura was so embarrassed, she looked away. All the way up our street I rhapsodized about Sweetheart soap at my great grandma’s house. She did not look at me all the way to work.

Look at that bar of soap. That’s exactly how my great grandma’s bathroom looked. The bathroom was huge, converted from a bedroom when indoor plumbing came along at the turn of the previous century. Big claw foot tub with a wire soap hanger over the edge. A porcelain sink big enough to bathe a baby. Nickle plated fixtures, the hot and cold handles with little ceramic labels inside captain wheel taps. The rubber sink stopper on a chain. And, the Sweetheart soap, there on the right, in another wire holder.

Grandma's Cox's sink was a huge oval. I couldn't find one, so think big on this.

From the time I could step on the stool and wash my own hands, I knew that soap was the smell of goodness. It smelled like Grandma Cox, and I could take it away on my hands. Not like that brown stuff, Camay, my mom had at home. I boarded with Grandma Cox the first year I was in college, so I have a long history with that soap. I have no idea what Laura uses in the shower, but I may track down a bar of Sweetheart soap for her for Christmas.

In other nice things, Laura, Emily and I are all leaving town next week. Emily is going to band camp, Laura is going to horse camp with Cousin Caroline, who is an old hand at horse camp and champing to show Laura what it’s all about. And, I’m taking my camera and going to Wisconsin. After an extremely intense and unhappy executive session at the township this week, the trustees wished me a good trip, and one trustee wistfully said, “I’ve always wanted one of those cheese head hats.” We all looked and he mumbled, “I just think they’re cool.”

He is the director of our library and runs a great children's program. He came to another very important board meeting this week in his best batman tee shirt. It was the children’s talent program day at the library. We just let all the VIP’s in the meeting conclude for themselves this trustee knows his township business, too. I’ll bring him the hat, and he will say, “Holy cheese head hat, Robin.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Glads they are

July 20

July 21

July 22

I have inquiries out to people who gifted the garden.
We need to know the origin of gladiola bulbs that survived last winter in the ground.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Framing the moth and the butterfly

 My sister called my attention to a swallowtail in the garden.
My first sighting of the year. She's seen several.

 Completely oblivious, I'm sure, a hummingbird moth is mining the same flowers.
Of course I had to try to photograph them together.

Neither one was interested in my objective.
But, not too bad.

The best I got.

Now here is a real mystery.
These can only be glads.
Where did I get them?
More to the point, why did we plant them last fall?
My biggest recollection of glads is my dad digging them up every fall and storing them to spring.
That doesn't happen in this garden.

Emily thinks they came home in a bag of bulbs from a very old garden in Peninsula.
Perhaps they have become accustomed to our winters.
Perhaps I was to save them to plant in spring.
Perhaps all the snow last winter protected them.
We'll see if they come up again next summer.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Emily narrowed her college choices to Ohio Northern, Wooster, Heidelberg and Hiram, all in Ohio. All offer the degree she wants, and were recommended by her programming teacher. We have a window of opportunity in August to visit, and I began looking at how to get to the first three. Hiram I know.

Looking at the maps, I saw I could easily narrow my choices, too. Emily was booking a tour reservation with Heidelberg while I continued searching for Ohio Northern, in Ada. I called her to come look. Route 30 runs straight through Ohio, about a quarter of the way down. Demographically, it separates the blues and the reds. Ada is south of Route 30.

A liberal arts college is not necessarily liberal. If ON leaned right, it could be an uphill slog for a young woman with liberal views. I zoomed in on the town and the college. The latter is bigger than the town, several square miles in size, looking like a separate county, filled with parking lots, probably surrounded by cornfields. And a football stadium and sports complex consuming one third the campus. She fell in with my prejudices, and Ohio Northern may never be visited, except possibly for a visual illustration of my prejudice.

While she went back to fix a visit to Hiram, I looked up the College of Wooster. I’ve lived in Ohio all my life, have visited every part of the state many times, and must admit I’ve always had a slight prejudice against Wooster. Not because Route 30 slices neatly through the bottom of the city, leaving the college on the north side. No, I questioned the mindset of the town after they hired a dynamo friend to integrate the IT systems of all the schools, and after she had them humming like a top they “downsized” her in favor of a person half her age and half her salary.

To be fair, though, I looked at the city website. The first thing I saw scrolling through the side bar: Weekly Community Prayer Services. Finding Emily’s grandma too liberal to be pleased with that, in spite of a lovely little campus in the heart of the city, we sent it down to right above Ohio Northern. We may never visit.

Heidelberg and Hiram both are in charming old Connecticut Western Reserve towns. I know several Heidelberg graduates who think Emily would fit right in there, and one Hiram drop out who dropped out of even the University of California at LA. She won’t care where Emily goes. We’re off to Heidelberg as soon as Emily comes back from band camp, and the Hiram date will be settled on Monday.

I hope Emily takes a great liking to one or both of them, and then we can begin the funding process. And, dear universe, please keep us north of route 30.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Many years ago, when I was a working weaver, I did a Michigan Guild show in Greektown, Detroit. One of those arrive at 4 am Saturday morning shows, wait for the committee to come by, marking off booths. Set up, vans off the street by nine, show runs from ten to seven. 

I stood beside my van, waiting, and a small woman came by with a broom, sweeping the dirt and pebbles away from the curb, into the middle of the road. “That’s very nice,” I said, thinking perhaps the Guild had hired her to do this. Soft southern tones came back, “I did where I think I’ll be and I thought you all could use a clean place, too.” That’s where I met Lucy.

She came back toward the end of the first day and asked if I’d booked a motel room. She always trusted to luck the first night, she told me, hoping to find a friend to bunk with. I took her back to my motel, and my long friendship with Lucy was begun.

Lucy was a retired math teacher. The height of her career covered a time when schools were meant for learning, and she had “what for” for the young ‘uns who were not so dumb as they wanted her to believe. Her husband was a retired college professor; she had three grown children, two sons and a daughter, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, grandsons a granddaughter.

Lucy also had a knack for designing and making hand puppets and bringing stories about them to life. Actually, she was good at several crafts, including weaving, but it was the puppets, and later the plush toys that became a business. Eventually her sons quit their jobs to buy the plush fabrics, manage her little shop and three sewers and provide enough inventory to keep Lucy on the road several months a year, at fairs.

Everything about Lucy was a marvel. She was ten years older than me, drove a van as big as mine, and pulled a trailer. With the trailer and van packed full she’d leave Anniston, Alabama for three months at a time. She did shows I barely knew of, in Texas, Oklahoma, St. Louis. She’d head on up into the Midwest, where I met her in Michigan. We did shows together, and roomed together, in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, the Carolina's…..

In those days before phones were common, if Lucy ever would have used one, when I’d check into a show the next thing I’d ask, “Is Lucy here?” Soon, they just told me Lucy already was there.  She set up a ten by twenty foot booth, constructed of two foot by six foot metal frames, gridded two by two inches. They were heavy. After she had all the uprights together, she and her two foot step stool constructed a ceiling of more frames, where extra big chair sized toys were stored.

When she was done setting up Lucy would appear, saying “Honey, I am so grateful I don’t have to unhitch that trailer to get to bed tonight.”

Lucy’s sons did all the booking of her shows, Lucy did all the selling. As the years went on, and Lucy’s hair turned from grey to white, her sons developed a probably well placed apprehension of the sorts of motels I booked. They were cheap, and Lucy didn’t care. 

Lucy loved to tell stories, and probably repeated a couple too many back in Anniston. Like the morning she faced down a desk clerk telling an obviously pregnant and poorly dressed young woman to leave his lobby; he knew she hadn’t booked a room the night before and was not entitled to breakfast.  After Lucy quietly and thoroughly shamed the clerk, we paid a night’s lodging for the girl. Lucy wept for her, as we went to the show.

Her sons took over booking Lucy’s motels, and holy, moly, did we stay in some swank places. Dinner bars, sit down breakfasts, constant coffee, concierge, bell boys. Business hotels. The first time I stood at the counter with her, paying up to leave and the bill we split was sixty dollars for two nights she was grinning like the Cheshire cat. Hotels dot com, she explained. I never could make it work, but her sons could.

The last couple of years I worked my standard was being able to lift the hand truck up into my van. If I could do it in the spring, I was good for the season. My gold standard was Lucy. She was ten years older than me, drove a van just a long and hauled a trailer. I visited a couple of shows after I retired, just to hug Lucy. I wrote her a couple of emails, which her sons answered. “Lucy says hello, and she loves you. She just isn’t a letter writer.”

Linda met Lucy a couple of years ago, still doing shows, but now with her daughter or grandchildren. Linda emailed me, “She is such a pleasant lady and everyone knows and respects her. She told my neighbor that she needs to keep doing it as quitting means she will fail quickly. She lifted as many grids as her grandson. Said to tell you that she loves you.

Last month, at Crosby Festival of the Arts, Linda pointed out to Emily a trailer with Alabama plates being backed around a sidewalk curve, with two inches to spare either side of the tires. As soon as everyone was settled, Linda sent Emily over to introduce herself. Lucy is still ten years older than me, drives a van as big as the one I used to drive and still hauls a trailer. She gave Emily a big hug and sent me her love.

 Linda's picture of Lucy and her grandson Drew
at Crosby Festival of the Arts.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

This is not funny

Tuesday last my nice Tonia drove through an intersection on her green light.

The sweet young thing who should have stopped at the red light at her intersection
Was texting.
She turned left in front of Tonia

Tonia's right tibia and fibula are shattered.
You're looking at a lot of rods holding her leg together.

The police cited the sweet young thing.
Her daddy's insurance will pay for Tonia's surgeries and months of rehabilitation.
Not Tonia's daddy--Tonia is an orphan.

We wonder if daddy put sweet young things phone in a vise,
or if she's just texting all her friends, OMG, can you believe what happened.

If you use your phone for any purpose while you drive,
you are a fucking idiot.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ladies night out

Laura and I have an unblemished record of eating out when we're on our own.
Not that Laura isn't a good cook.

Laura hasn't been to this restaurant in years.
It's in Cleveland, three quarters of an hour away.

Nice little restaurant in a working class neighborhood.
Flower bed in the tree lawn.

It's Aunt Beth's restaurant, the Grovewood Tavern.

We took Beth totally by surprise; the reservation taker spelled my name wrong.
Beth, checking us in.

Pursuing the menu in her new glasses.

And I forgot to take pictures of dinner and desert.

Check it out:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Another inch in the world's coolest rain gauge, and it's only Thursday

Laura and I are baching it for a few days. Emily's off at a show with Linda, Tom and Jan are away, just the two of us.
I dropped Laura at the library and went to work. I looked up at the splatter of rain to see the kid barreling down the steep drive from the upper level.
It was an ass over teacup moment, and with the skill and agility of a thirteen year old in prized Converse high tops, Laura took the corners and came through the door. 

I dropped her at a friend's house for the afternoon, and set out on an errand run.

Some pictures, too.
All the horses seemed impervious to the persistent drizzle.

The vegetation appreciates the rain; it looks like early June outdoors.

To the Board of Elections to file my petitions to be on the ballot in the General Election in November.

The BOE is in an old, ethnic, German part of town, two or three blocks from the official University of Akron campus, with its huge stadium, shiny new buildings and dorms.
Of course there must be a low rent district.
Home Cooked Lunches!

The Burkhardt Brewing Company was a big brewery in Akron continuously from the 1860's on. During Prohibition it branched into soft drinks, and back to beer the minute it could.

It still brewed in Akron in the fifties, when I lived there, and has returned as a micro brewery, I understand.

Back to Hudson to retrieve Laura and take her to her art class.
Returning at 7:30 to pick her up (see the clock tower reflected in the window?),
I stopped to take a picture of the green fabric. It reminds me of my mother's VanRaalte nightgowns--
sweeping the floor and sleeveless, summer and winter, in the unheated upstairs.

Mrs. P and Laura, through the studio door. Like two little pixies.
The instant I touched the door to open it, whoosh, the drawings were flipped and I was admonished for trying to peek. So much for what the budding fashion designer may be up to.

On the way back to the car Laura stopped to admire the dress on the left.

It definitely has my vote, too.

Home again, home again, smell the delicious damp and empty the rain gauge.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two old weavers meet the new generation, going to the fair (With apologies to Mother Goose and Simple Simon)

Life has been in the way the last month, and I never reported on the debut of my square at the P Flea, the first weekend of June. It was a good day with satisfactory sales for an inaugural event. Taking every advantage we could, Linda and I and two strong young women unloaded the entire booth—set up and contents—into my office the night before.

Unloading the night before the June Flea
Linda left her van far, far away the morning of the Flea, and I, anxious nothing go wrong, had us on the site at 7 am. Of course Emily and Laura had us set up by 8 am, and we toured the other vendors and generally twiddled our thumbs until 10 am opening.

Linda sold some stuff, I sold some stuff. Linda decided she wanted to return for the Flea yesterday, first Saturday in July. I told her it would be an even better day than the previous month, for the reason the world renown Boston Mills ArtFest was on, too.

In Linda's "real booth" all the area behind me is shelves of rugs!
She’s been in the business long enough to be skeptical of that remark, but as the road super explained when he stopped by for a look, “there is only one way to get to Boston Mills and it is right through town. The traffic creeps along, turns the corner, sees the tents, smells the brats and hamburgers and pulls right into our drive.” It took him five traffic light changes to get past the one light.

Linda did her usual business, including one gentleman who came back to be sure Linda could also do special orders for “the kids’ apartments in the city.” I took nothing this time; the previous Flea convinced me I no longer have the stamina to put in a day on the sales floor, while never lifting a finger to set up or tear down.

Before the first Flea, wanting to understand modern credit devices, I called an old friend who manages a gallery that holds quarterly events. Pop-up’s, these youngsters call them. She really wanted my “stuff” for a gallery she is opening in the old Wood Store, which I have mentioned from time to time. It currently is under renovation. She hoped for an opening this past weekend, but the work is proceeding slowly. Grrr….

The opening will be end of this month. I am sorry she could not dovetail with Boston Mills; I know from twenty five years ago what a lucrative weekend it is. However, I am pleased to be part of her new effort. I have sold at various galleries in the Wood Store since 1990; it is a good location and a good venue, and my sole obligation is to take things in, ready to sell. What more could a weaver ask for.

I signed us up for one more Flea this year, the first Saturday in September. I know from experience that is a good weekend in town, too. Emily and Laura will set Linda up and tear her down, I’ll keep her company, and tell customers they need to take a peek at the new River Light Gallery in the old Wood Store.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A non-fatal overdose of superlative

When I came to work this morning the road super had a big ole knife on his desk,

Watermelons on the lunch table,

And a picnic in the road garage.

The firemen brought the tanker,

and the squad.

They came on the train, then their buses brought them up the hill to the road garage.

The super poured drinks.

And now, if you're afraid of overdosing, look away.

Five years old.

Good little eaters.

Trash on the left, recycle on the right.

The fire engine, the fire engine!

Everyone hit the mud puddle on the way.

And I mean everyone!

The universal "form a line." Works every time.

I wonder if Mr. Blue Shoes is left handed?

Big step.

Then they went up to the museum, and went back down the hill to catch the train back.