Category Archives: Art

Dangly

Pre-pandemic I used to go to two craft shows a year in the Twin Cities – one on the State Fair grounds and one out at the Shakopee race track.  Hard to believe but with 40 vendors or so each, there wasn’t much duplication.  Except for Craft Fantastic.  They sell the makings for jewelry and they always have an inexpensive “make `n take” at each show. You start by choosing a piece of artwork, then you glue a glass tile on top of it.  After the glue dries, you trim off the excess and stick your tile onto a tray.  Then if you want a necklace on which to hang your goodie, they’ll give you one and if you want more components for other jewelry, they certainly have those as well.  I’m sure at some point I signed up for their emails but I don’t remember seeing them before pandemic. 

I have at least 10 of these necklaces from over the years although I don’t wear them often.  I like rings and I adore earrings, not as big a fan of necklaces and bracelets.

The emails started to seep into my consciousness a few months into pandemic.  Every month or so, they offer a “weekend designer” kit.  It is all the items you need to make a variety of things – usually in a theme.  I’m having a hard time keeping away from these, especially the earring collections.  They must be assuming that folks are making and selling these items because each kit makes WAY more than anyone needs.  I have given away quite a few pairs of earrings, necklaces and bracelets but that still leaves me with at least 30 more pairs of earrings than I had at the beginning of pandemic (and believe me when I say, I already had way too many earrings at the beginning of pandemic).  All dangly.  Chinese New Year earrings, Fourth of July earrings, Valentine earrings, Winter/Christmas earrings, Halloween earrings and then a large assortment of floral patterns.  Did I mention that they are all dangly?

I’m trying to cut back – most of the emails get deleted without being opened – but every now and then I spot a kit that is a little different than a kit I’ve had before.  I’m hoping that now I’ve made earrings for all the major holidays, I won’t be tempted.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

What would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?

Feeling Needed

Our son and daughter-in-law are moving into their first home this Friday. We won’t be able to get to see them until October, over the long weekend for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. As usual, my job when we get there will be to hang the pictures and other decorative things on the walls.

I don’t know why they always want me to do this. They say I know how to center things so they look good. I just make a point of measuring and marking where the hangers should go. It isn’t that hard, but they appreciate it.

Husband is the family go to guy for landscaping advice. Son and his wife have a huge yard at the new house with no plants or trees or flowers. Son has been asking for landscaping advice already, and Husband has some ideas for him. We plan to bring all our flower and seed catalogs. It should be a fun visit.

What makes you feel needed? What skills do you want to teach others so they aren’t lost? How do you go about hanging things on the walls?

Fair Joy

I know we talked about joy the other day, but… I want to talk about it again.

At the State Fair yesterday, a woman with two kids sat down next to me on the curb, waiting for the parade to begin.  The son was about 8 or so, the daughter was maybe 3.  She was adorable with bright blonde hair that curled around her face and the back of her neck.  She also had quite a dirty face – a combination of what looked like chocolate and something berry-ish. The berry stain had found a home on the front of her shirt as well.

The most interesting thing about this little girl was the fact that she was completely suffused with joy.  Everything about the parade was fascinating to her.  She couldn’t sit down, swaying and dancing as each band went by.  She ooh’ed and aaah’ed over the stilt walkers, the art cars, the waving princesses and especially the big bovines.  As each attraction reached us, she would turn to her mother, her face alight with pleasure, pointing out this newest discovery.

No matter how you measure it, nobody enjoyed the fair more yesterday than this toddler. 

When was the last time you got dirty (and enjoyed the process)?

Stylistic Differences

I was looking through a magazine the other day, and I ran across an ad for a Swedish Women’s clothing company. The styles were fanciful, with skirts, tunics, dresses, pants, and sweaters in wild prints and vivid colors that are worn in layers with leggings. The clothes looked really comfortable. I like wearing layers. Wearing such clothes, though, would be a real stylistic change for me.

In the winter I dress pretty low key, in pull over sweaters and cardigans with corduroy pants and sensible shoes. Nothing fancy. I want to be warm and comfortable. In the summer, I just switch to Capri pants and shirts. The only time I dress up is when I have to testify in court. My coworkers always notice and comment “You must be going to court today!”

Changing my clothing style so drastically would excite rather a lot of comment at my work. No one who I know of in town wears anything like the Swedish clothing I saw in the magazine. People might think I was having a crisis in identity. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I think I could possibly venture out with maybe one new, wild, Swedish ensemble. We will see.

How would you describe your style? What is the most outrageous outfit you have ever worn? If you could, how would you change the style of clothing you wear?

Double Take

Last weekend when I was in Madison, my girlfriend and I got a huge cinnamon roll to take back to her place to share.  She cut it in half and put each half on a plate.  Admittedly I don’t think I’ve ever cut a cinnamon roll in half – I’m not much on sharing when it comes to cinnamon rolls.  But since we’d already shared a big doughnut at the market, I was acquiescent. 

When I looked at my half, I saw Stonehenge.  Well, not exactly Stonehenge as it looks now, but the stones that make up the henge.  I mentioned it to my friend, who said she could “kind of” see it.  She thought it looked more like Legos.  Since I’m the traveler and she’s the grandmother, I suppose that makes sense.  We see the world through our own filters.

What filter do you look at the world through?

Summer Camps

Today’s post comes to us from Steve, who is at the extreme left above, petting the dog.

The pattern of sending kids off to summer camp is much stronger in the East than in the Midwest, but summer camps seem increasingly popular here. Kids from cities like New York or Boston might be shipped out to spend the whole summer in one or more camps. The Midwestern pattern is more likely to let kids live at home, perhaps attending one or more camps in the summer.

Camps used to be very traditional and outdoorsy, much like Boy Scout camps everywhere. Kids would play outdoors, swim, do crafts and have bonfire picnics. Modern summer camps are increasingly educational, perhaps teaching computer skills or a foreign language. My daughter has fond memories of Artward Bound, a camp that encouraged kids to engage with the visual arts. Alas, it no longer exists.

My first camp was Camp Matigwa, a Boy Scout operation. I was at an awkward age, shy and reclusive. They taught me to make a lanyard, which later made the Billy Collins poem all the funnier. We were supposed to swim once a day, but the water was cold and I was delighted to learn I could spend that hour at the camp’s “canteen” eating Baby Ruth bars instead.

I wore shorts on the day we took our first hike. I contacted some stinging nettle, which hurt like liquid fire until one of the counselors found some jewel weed, a plant whose sap canceled the nettle’s poison. The obvious lesson was that we should learn all about plants. I now suspect that our counselors staged the whole thing. They obviously knew where the nettle and the jewel weed grew, so I was the dupe they maneuvered to blunder into the nettles so they could showcase their expertise.

My favorite camp experience came in the summer of 1956 when I spent two delightful weeks riding horses at the Larry-Jo Dude Ranch near Boone, Iowa. We camped out, sang around a bonfire, groomed horses and took two trail rides each day. On my faithful horse, Margarita, I twice won the water relay event at our end-of-camp rodeo.

But the big event from that summer was when we played hide-and-seek on horseback. Pardon me for telling a story I’ve told before. We rode south of the ranch to a patch of woods. I had been assigned to ride Diablo, a large white mare that was the fastest horse in camp. But Diablo was lame that afternoon. When we divided up to go hide ourselves, I was stuck riding the largest, whitest, slowest horse in camp. I dismounted and led Diablo into a little gully where we could hide under some overhanging shrubs.

It was so exciting my heart still races when I remember it. Horses thundered all over the woods, kids screaming and tagging each other. I knew enough about psychology to know that time passes slowly when you are hiding like that, so I kept squelching the impulse to come out. Then the noises stopped. After what seemed an eternity, I ventured out of the gully. The woods were empty. Everyone had gone back to the ranch house, obviously unaware they were one buckaroo short.

As a courtesy to my lame horse, I held Diablo’s reins and walked her for half an hour back to the ranch. When I got to a hill overlooking camp, I saw three cop cars near the corral, their red and blue gumball lights madly spinning. And I understood: the town’s cops had been called in to find me.

The camp’s managers were delighted to find me perfectly alive and unharmed, but they infuriated me over and over. They kept calling me “the lost camper.” That was outlandish. I knew exactly where I was every minute of that day. They saw me as the lost camper although I saw myself as the hide-and-seek champion of all time.

Do you have any summer camp memories to share?

Tableau

The following link will take you to a fascinating photography event that happened just 90 miles east of us, in Bismarck. It involves a collaboration of many people to recreate, with some twists, a painting by Peter Breughel the Elder, and is influenced by the pandemic. A friend of ours, a costumer and retired drama coach and choir director, sewed a costume for the collaboration, and participated in the event. It involved using wet plate photography, something I don’t quite understand, but seems to be an old technique.

https://www.inforum.com/entertainment/art/7116663-Bismarcks-Shane-Balkowitsch-makes-photographic-history-with-wet-plate-collaboration

What painting would you like to recreate in real life? What would you like to set out to photograph? What are your favorite paintings?

The List

I’m not going to bore you with my love of lists – this has been catalogued many times on the Trail. 

As I was straightening up in the breakfast room after my return from St. Louis, I found a folded piece of paper on the table.  Having been burned more than once by tossing out something that is needed, I opened it up to see what it was.  I found a list of various foods sorted by whether they were to be picked up at Target or Trader Joe’s. 

It took me a minute to realize that this was not a list I had put together (although it could have been) but something that YA had done in my absence.  And not just a list jotted down on a post-it note, but clearly a computerized list.  With a title!   I’ll admit I got a little teary.

Do you have a trait that you’d like to pass on – either to offspring or acquaintance?

Luna’s Great Leap

I have written before about our cat’s fascination with my Julbocken, the Scandinavian straw goats popular at Christmas. She loves to chew on the wheat berries at the end of the straw sprigs that make up the beards. Last Christmas I left them out in the living room instead of putting them back in the closet in January. I had repaired the beard of the largest Julbock and festooned him with a lovely beard and wanted to show him off.

I had three Julbocken and an Austrian straw girl on top of a curio cabinet that I thought was out of the cat’s range for leaping. The figures were at an awkward angle to jump to from the love seat (or so I thought). I thought the angle and the narrowness of the surfaces would dissuade her from leaping. I would sometimes see Luna, the cat, stare intently up at the figures from the floor, as if calculating what she needed to do to get up there. The other evening I heard a strange yowling, and I entered the living room to see her on top of the curio cabinet feasting on the repaired beard of the largest julbock. I got Luna down and put the goats back in the closet. I left the girl, since she had no berries to chew on.

A few days later I took this photo, that I think captures Luna calculating how to make another leap.

She hasn’t, to my knowledge, leapt again to the top of the curio cabinet. The girl has been left undisturbed. Luna isn’t a very active cat, but she is far more calculating than I would have imagined.

When have you taken a calculated risk? Did it work out for you? Who are the most successful risk takers you know?

RIP Eric Carle

Sad news in the world today.  Eric Carle, the prolific and colorful children’s author has passed away at the age of 91.  He was born in 1929 in Syracuse but moved to Germany when he was six; his mother was German and missed her homeland.  He eventually returned to the States as a young man and his first job was graphic designer for The New York Times. 

In 1967 Bill Martin, a children’s author, noticed Carle’s illustration of a red lobster and suggested that they work together. Brown Bear, Brown Bear became and instant and runaway best-seller and Carle’s career as a childrens book author and illustrator was on its way.

Even if you’re not very familiar with his many books, you might recognize his very distinctive style.  Using hand-painted paper, he did collages in startlingly bright colors and his favorite themes involved animals and nature.

I’m too old to have had Eric Carle books when I was a kid but I discovered him when I was working at the bookstore and I was happy to add some of his titles to YA’s collection when she was little.  Like many children, her favorite was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Carle wrote this in 1969 and it’s been his most popular title every since.  It has sold almost 50 million copies worldwide and has been translated into at least 40 languages.   YA also liked Brown Bear, Brown Bear – it’s very lyrical and the repetitions made it easy to memorize.

Of course, MY favorite is Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  I still have it in my collection.

Did you have any books memorized when you were a kid?