Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lunch with Ruth

Ruth, my daughter's trophy mother-in-law, and I went to lunch at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens last Friday. I stopped to admire Melvin's jade tree. I thought I would have to look carefully to find it, and it's right in the lobby!

Then I joined Ruth in line for tickets to the orchid exhibit.
Look what was in front of me!

The whole front entry was islands of orchids.
Ruth says, when the exhibit ends in a month, she will have that most purple orchid.
(So would Laura if she saw it.)

A display down a hall way. The theme is "Cuba". 
Ruth said the unnaturally colored orchids have been fed colored water. A long discussion of watering orchids ensued among all the visitors.

This island of orchids also included dresses from a Cuba/orchid themed contest. Ruth reaches for the "keeper" from among the dresses.

Now, the fun.
We went into the glass room, to look at tropical plants, birds, butterflies, ants, ecosystem in a glass room.
I lifted my camera to take a picture of glass and mist and a tall plant. The view was foggy.

I tried again. I seemed to have on the lens cap.
I looked. The lens was totally fogged.

Why not. I took many pictures through the steamed lens, and blew a lot of light through them after I downloaded.
Three butterflies.


Orange butterfly.

An astounding blossom.

Back at floor level, I dried the lens and shot normally.
The glass house is small paths through an overwhelming amount of tropical growth.

Three frogs. 

Phew. The desert, and prickly things.

Two tortoise.

A lizard, with an attendant.
The previous lizard was stolen! Ruth said the thieves were taped, but not caught.

Now a docent is by its side at all time.
It sees us!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

In the Linda way

My friend Linda called me last night.
In the Linda way, she wants to put pictures on my blog.
"No, no, Linda; that's Facebook. What would you want to put up, anyway?'

"That one of us in Louisville; we were young and healthy."
"I hate that picture."
"Tell me one you like."

"Maybe that one in Indianapolis, your cousin Bruce took. The first year I helped you at Broadripple, and he set up your tent because I couldn't lift the other side any more."

Linda sent me the three pictures she wants posted on my blog.
She has this titled 'Two almost seventy year olds do a show."

She sent this one, too. It was four in the afternoon of St. James Court Artfest in Lousiville. The show closes at five, but it was my last day; I was retired. I sold the canopy, the display, every last piece of hand weaving except a red dish towel, which we still use. My daughter Beth, and Bill, left champagne in a cooler behind the booth before they had to leave for Cleveland.

Ann, my dear friend and right hand support the last couple of years I exhibited, is in the middle. Yes, that's a hand woven shirt she has on. Me, too.

"Ann won't like that picture going up," I said.
"Ann doesn't read your blog."

A picture of Linda getting juiced.
I think she took a look and decided her hair had to be red, purple and orange, too.

And a little side bar.
At least fifteen years ago my daughter Beth was given a pin to wear at work. It said 'Attitude.' I commandeered one and it hung on my bulletin board.

Before the Arts 'n' Apples show where we froze for three days, I snatched that pin off the wall and took it to Linda. 
"It's all about attitude," said the person who was not facing six months of chemo. What arrogance. 
"Put this on and kick butt."

Linda put it on and wore it everywhere for weeks. In the middle of the show, it was gone. Fell off.
She turned her booth over, retraced her steps.
It was gone.

I told her it wasn't necessary any more. But she thought it was. Nevertheless, you can see she made it to month six, with attitude.

Beth got on EBay and found a new attitude pin. Linda can wear it to meet with the oncologist.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Take a peek, Mel....

Five years ago I wrote about Mel's jade tree.
Mel is our brother who died when he was twenty-eight. Long time ago.

He started this from a cutting--the world must be full of jade trees folks just wanted to grow.
I don't know how old it was when Jan rescued it from Mel's kitchen sink, back in 1976.

When she and Tom, Mom and I set up housekeeping, the jade tree came here, of course, and did what happy jade trees do. It grew.

It was not happy enough to bloom more than once, in 2005.

But it did grow, and was moved to a bigger pot several times.
When it went to this pot it took three of us, and we did it in the foyer, not outdoors.
It was obvious the plant had a small window of opportunity to get through the front door.

I wrote the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and offered them a jade tree, approximately three and a half feet by three and a half feet square. They had only to move it.
They did, in 2011.
I said one day I would take a look at the Melvin Lytle Memorial Jade at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

Today Ruth and I went.
There it is, in the foyer.
Look what professional pruning will do.

Jade trees can live five hundred years or more.
This one is just shy of fifty.
Now you know where it is, kiddo.
Keep an eye on it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I planned posts for all this stuff

I got the key to the locked room on the second floor,
and took a picture of the hummingbird nest, from,
more or less, eye level. Can you find it?

Took this picture of the pileated practice tree I pass.
I've seen a pileated woodpecker on this tree twice.
A couple of years ago, going to work, a big woodpecker was working the tree.
"Please be there when I come back with my camera," I said to him.
Turned around, back up the hill to home. Woodpecker still there.
Returned in ten minutes with camera.

Spring still hovers.

A new shirt for the gallery.
Actually, this is embarrassing.
I finished making up the white fabric on Tuesday evening,
took pictures,
Delivered to the gallery on Wednesday.
Looking at the pictures today, I see I missed the last job; 
give everything a quick press.

At the gallery.

I planned posts for the weeks' pictures,
And now it's Thursday.
Week in review.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Once more, with attitude

I spent last Friday with Linda, my friend of three decades and change.  The crazy rug weaver I occasionally accompany to shows. Friday I showed up for lunch, and since I won’t eat chipped beef on toast, we went to a breakfast all day diner, and took a booth for the afternoon. We stayed so long the pie delivery came, and I had coconut cream.

Last July, while I was at Ann’s house, I found a missed call message from Linda. “Be in touch.” She’s cryptic at the best and worst of times, so I dismissed it. When I returned, several attempts to get together, including a trip to buy weaving supplies, fell through. In August she called me. “I really wanted to tell you this in person, but it seems that’s not to be, so...”

That was six months ago. Friday I leaned back in the diner booth and said “Can I tell Blogland about you, now?” This from the blogger who has spilled it about everyone she knows, generally without their previous knowledge. I figure by now everyone knows it could be their turn any day. “Cannot believe you even asked,” Linda replied.

Linda and I were friends long before she became a widow. It often turned out she and Dick were staying in the same motel as I was in, and she would come over to “talk shows.” Actually, we smoked the air blue and talked every subject on the face of the earth. I know she went back and blamed the aroma on me. I doubt her former smoker husband believed it.

You could not imagine two more unlike people than Linda and me. Politically, she is right of conservative, believes in guns, but not in taxes or welfare. In her defense, she came by it honestly. She grew up on a farm, where her parents worked hard for their living and put their faith in themselves and friends, not the government. The only person I know who solved an offensive street light problem by shooting it. So, for thirty odd years, we simply agree to disagree. We even don’t talk about it anymore.

That phone call six months ago…Linda has lymphoma. Stage four this, Stage three that. It was discovered during another routine exam. The good news, lymphoma aside, she is a very healthy woman. Her only symptom was tiredness. Her oncologist said that though her insides were a cloud of encroaching disease, she was healthy enough to be aggressive in treatment; he felt he could put her in remission, probably for another ten years.

Linda, formerly a nurse, married many years to a physician, now an artist who works the colors she always heard and smelled and tasted…would you believe is a skeptic. Side effect of rabid Republicanism, but I’ve never told her that. “It’s ATTITUDE!” I preached. Get your attitude on!

She embarked on six months, six rounds of lymphoma kicking chemo attitude. Three or four days one week pumped full of drugs the rest of us hope we never encounter, or never encounter again, then one week of never waking up, except to be sick, then a week of feeling reasonably social, then a good week, then back again to week one.

At the end of the third month Linda had a CAT scan that showed every little lymphoma bastid half its previous size, or smaller. “Woo-Hoo,” from friend Joanne, who announced it half gone. Think about that—within weeks of its final assault to over half gone.

She’s down to the last treatment, in another two weeks, then a PET scan to survey the bodies all over the field of battle. I see all those little dead grey lymp lumps, expired. They used to be big grey balloons, squeezing the bejammers out of her insides, and now they are little expired, pea sized lumps. Ha. Take that.

Linda doesn’t have that confidence. Maybe because she sees everything in color, and cannot imagine grey lumps. Maybe it’s the chemo. “Poison,” she says. Five months on, it’s taken a toll on her body. Worse, on her brain. The stuff banishes color, she says.  She has not made a wild and crazy rug in months, but she has a full show schedule this year to stock for.  What will she do with a full inventory of boring rugs?

Her daughter has been her main support all these months, there that evil first week and checking in the next three weeks. In truth, Linda has a small army moving her down the road. But a few more cheers will certainly help. Linda reads my blog, and frequently comments. You know, the one with the opinion. It would be nice to see thirty comments: One More Time, Linda, with Attitude.

I could not see how to weave in these pictures coherently, so here they are, the attitude sidebar:

Linda, her daughter, Cara and me, thirteen years ago. Linda was month one of defeating breast cancer.

Now, this is the kind of attitude that kicks breast cancer in the butt, wouldn't you agree. It will work on lymphoma, too.

Remember last fall, when we nearly froze to death in our Dollar Store hoodies at Art 'n' Apples. It was the next to last show before chemo began. The oncologist was not pleased, but that didn't stop Linda. I had a long list of possibilities; if any one occurred, I was to shove her in her van and drive straight back to Cleveland. My personal plan was to hire an airplane.

A couple months ago Linda put the color on her head. Whatever works.

By last Friday it was fading. To everyone who wonders what Linda will do next, you heard it here first: red, purple and orange won't be on top of her head, they will be all over. But, will it be back to front or side to side? 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A good person

Perhaps you’ve met a person who radiates goodness, but has no idea that is the persona the world sees. I’ve known one such.

Eventually our weaving business needed two sewers to make enough stuff to sell, but  the people we interviewed were not a good fit for our laid back little studio. Eventually I went around to fabric stores and dress shops and asked if they could recommend a sewer. I came up with one name, and called her.

Linda lived barely a mile from us and was very interested, but was just about to begin her last round of chemo for breast cancer.  A sweet voice said she just couldn’t take on a job now, but if it were available after the new year, she would like to know.

And so we left it, and she was still the only person I knew of come the next year, so I called again. “Oh,” the sweet voice exclaimed; “I didn’t think you would call me again.”

She came to the studio, and had my standard interview of let’s chat while you sew this shirt. We chatted about her family as I watched her put together a shirt after asking if it had side vents and knowing the sleeve front from back without a word from me. I had mentioned the starting pay before she began, and raised it by the time she was sewing down the facing.

“Wait until I tell my mother I got a raise before I even started!”

Linda was an artist. In her more healthy days she sewed fabulous costumes for a children’s theater, putting together mad hatters and Cap’n Hooks from a scrap of this, a swatch of that. When I saw her costumes displayed I was awestruck, and wondered how she ever came to work in our little studio.

She came in with a smile, she left with a smile, she worked with a smile. She paid little attention to her machines, they performed light and floaty just like Linda. Others cleaned them when Linda was gone, and grumbled, but I couldn’t reprimand her. Everyone was paid by the hour; what difference did it really make.

We had liberals and conservatives, old people and young in the studio. Linda was sweet and kind, ethereal. Her views were liberal, on the sunshine side. The only people she ever judged were those who sent Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba.

Linda must have been a wonderful mother; she lived for her boys and her husband and chatted about them endlessly. The rest of us felt they undervalued her, but knew that thought never crossed her mind. She saved every paycheck, and every bonus to buy something for her boys. One secret purchase was a computer, for Christmas, complete with AOL internet.

This computer purchase was in 2000 or 2001. She came in one day and said she felt so silly. “A man in California was helping me install the internet. He told me several times to click on ‘My Computer,’ and I was so confused I couldn’t answer. Finally he asked if I was still there, and I blurted out ‘But your computer is in California!’”

Linda worked for us for four years. In the middle of that time she said her cancer was recurring, but she was going to go through another round of chemo. We now knew the round before she came to us was the second. She was staying around for her boys, one in college and the youngest, an artist like herself, still in high school.

The jackets became too heavy for Linda to lift, so we hired another sewer, and kept the very light jobs for her, when she came in, for work she would. I cannot recall how she compensated when her legs hurt badly, but compensate she did, lightly saying “My doctor says if I would just stop sitting on my legs, like a school girl….”

Linda missed a few days and called to say she was in the hospital. I went to see her, sporting a big, unwieldy neck brace, for I had just had vertebrae fused. I went into her room, and she shooed everyone away from her bed so she could sympathize with my surgery. She was so tiny, and so gracious about my coming unannounced, with all her family visiting. She was tired, and I stayed just a few minutes, to tell her I loved her and would see her soon.

Linda died that night. A bright full moon lit my room and woke me, and Linda stopped over my bed and said goodbye.

I knew Linda’s sewing. When I hung up the last jacket Linda made, I thought how I would feel selling it. When the time came, I felt compelled to tell the woman of the Linda who made it.  She hugged the jacket to herself and told me her name was Linda, too.

A silly anecdote I read tonight reminded me of Linda and the computer in California, and so you have it. Several years ago I asked the mayor of her small village for news of her boys and her husband. “Quite the bachelor pad over there, now, without Linda,” he replied, and I finally drove by her house, and wondered if the bachelors knew the gift she was.

John Campbell, piper in NSW.
At her memorial service, we were piped out with
The Campbell's are Coming.
Linda loved it, I know.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The first 5:15 phone call this winter. A.M., that is

No school today.

One day I will get the top of the oak tree into the frame.

My road is not plowed; I'm home until it is.

Snow ball fight.

Today they will bake cookies for the road crew.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

More reality

 Ten below this morning.

But, the overnight snowfall had to go.

"Me, too."

"Me, too."

Pictures up in the bedroom.

"I thought you had more."
"I put them back in the closet."

Fat brown headed cowbird on the suet. Another on the ground.

My sister quilting one of her scrappy quilts.

Laura, prepping more scraps to be cut into little bits.