Hand-Thrown Pot

brad 1This is a piece of pottery made at the Arkansas Arts Center by my friend Brad.  He was a multi-talented fellow, potter and a good ballet dancer.  He and I danced together several times which was great fun, although I think we made a somewhat odd couple, he being long, tall and lanky, and me…well let’s just say I’m on the short side and willowy is not one of my attributes, despite the expectations for ballet. He was a considerate partner and I enjoyed dancing with him; I always knew he would catch me if I bobbled, important when wearing pointe shoes.

The Arts Center was a marvelous place to work.  I was first hired as an actress in the Tell-A-Tale children’s theater troupe. It was exhausting work – not only did we act (I had 5 cohorts), but we drove from school to school, set up the stage (or lunchroom, or gym or wherever we were assigned), made-up and got into costumes, performed, did a q&a with the students, then broke everything down, including untaping and rolling up the dance floor and DROVE TO ANOTHER SCHOOL. Rinse, repeat, as they say. A little known fact about Little Rock – it was a test case for the first ATMs, and those ATMs saved us actors. The bank was always closed when we were off work…

After Christmas, I was asked to head up a dance company – right up my alley. The Center had a very nice stage, full lighting capability, and ballet classes taught by Manolo Agullo, a Cuban charmer of the old school who was training some decent dancers. I had a blast. So why did I leave? As in many a story, love called in the form of my now-hubby who wanted to be in the movie business.

Manolo is dead. And I’ve lost track of Brad.  But I keep this little pot on the window sill above the sink. I love the delicate crazing, the shape and the reminder it is to me of a very happy time.

brad 2

Turkish Plate with Turbans

turban plate1Souvenir plate from Turkey

This is not actually mine; it was a gift to my sister-in-law.

Mother and I traveled to Turkey on a tour. Loved the country, such a variety of ancient and modern. In addition to Turkish wonders (Pamukkale, the beaches of Bodrum, the Blue Mosque), we were taken to many Greek sites, Epheusus, Troy, Didyma but my favorite site was not famous.

We went by bus to a tiny town on an estuary and from there hiked up a hill with our guide. When we reached the top, the view was spectacular – everywhere aqua sea sprinkled with sails. The guide took out a whisk broom and dusted away a layer of dirt to reveal a mosaic floor. He then showed us the outline of the house, well hidden by bushes. The reason for the concealment? Pirates (his word) came by sea, climbed the mountain searching for antique treasures. When found, they were dug up and taken away to be sold. They had lost quite a bit of their heritage this way.

220px-Grand-Bazaar_ShopThis was bought in the famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. A veritable warren of shops that goes on for miles. Research tells me that the shops within employ 26,000 people and visitors number from 200-400K daily. There are no restrooms, but there are ATMs!

I got lost there returning to an ATM. I couldn’t see the shop where I’d left Mother. I must have looked distressed; a man stopped to ask if he could help. When I told him the problem, he shrugged and said, “Good luck.” Fortunately I realized the way back as THRU a shop, not on the main path.

turban suspicious men1turban two men
I loved the colors and detail. I think the pair of men on the left look suspicious. Perhaps one has taken a bite of food from the other. But what a feast.

Hand-woven Tapestry from Peru

Tapestry allA fantastical Peruvian tapestry.
I’m going to say it’s in the style of “San Pedro de Cajas.” It is definitely padded and woven as tapestries from there are described, but the style looks different than those I found on the web.

As this is Mother’s day, the post is in memory of my fabulous mother, with a shout-out to my mother-in-law who is also fabulous-she raised my lovely husband.

My sisters and I bought the tapestry as a present for Mother’s 60th birthday. My Norwegian sister, Merete, had visited us (with her entire family) in Los Angeles and one day we all went to Olvera Street, which is full of Mexican stores/restaurants/color, where Mother admired one of these tapestries. Her birthday was coming up and Merete said that in Norway that particular milestone is celebrated with a special gift. So we four daughters bought this for Mother.

Mother wasn’t able to hang it right away. She stored it rolled and unfortunately, because it’s made of wool, there was a bit of moth damage. Still, it is beautiful. When Mother died, my husband and I took it and now it hangs in our house evoking terrific memories. Today I’m particularly thinking of Mother with rolled up pant legs strolling along the sand as Merete’s daughters frolic in the California ocean. A bit warmer than that of North sea. I’m also remembering another Norwegian cousin who arrived at our house for a visit, the color of the sun in the tapestry. Too much enjoyment on the beach! I always swore I’d learn Norwegian, but I got side-tracked. Maybe with so many family members there, I should try.
Now take a closer look at some of the details:

A bit about how this was made. It’s an unusual style of weaving, known as padding, in which dyed but unspun wool is stuffed into the warp of the loom, each colored piece arranged one by one, much like brush strokes in an oil painting. Whoever this artist was, he/she had an active imagination and a terrific eye.

Guest Post: Travel Charm Bracelet

charm bracelet denise Silver Travel Charm Bracelet. Inspired by posts of my own charm bracelet, Denise has shared hers with us. It’s much fuller than mine – she’s a great traveler. Plus she has personal charms on it commemorating big occasions in her life. The first two charms were for her 10th birthday and then for her first concert. (She played cello for many years.) If you look carefully you can see the Space Needle from a family trip to the Seattle World’s fair. She says in addition to the Fair, they visited tuna cannery, a cheese factory and a lumber mill; in fact most of her memories are of the trip, not the Fair itself!
DavidCharm steinArticulated cuckoo charm






The charms above are also from a family trip to Europe – a whirlwind, if-it’s-Tuesday-it-must-be-Belgium type tour. There’s Michelangelo’s David in Florence, a miniature stein from Germany and an articulated cuckoo clock. If you look at the entire bracelet carefully, you can see charms from Holland and Austria.

Denise’s family also traveled in the U.S. The tiny pinecone is from Carmel, CA and the Conestoga Wagon is from St. Louis where she went up in the Arch. She remembers feeling the arch swaying in the wind; makes my stomach clench to imagine! The one from Watkins Glen is from the car races; her father-in-law raced. Denise, not a connoisseur, describes them as long cigarettes with bars across the back; her husband says they were Grand Prix cars.

Denise, like me, doesn’t wear her bracelet often. It’s too jingly. Impossible to wear and type at the same time! But it’s treasured for the memories.

Stuffed Scooby Doo

Stuffed Scooby Doo.

This little doggy is about 3 feet tall and was won by my hubby, Brian, at Universal Park in Orlando. We were there for a conference and our group had the park all to ourselves, all rides free (although not all rides were running) and free tickets for the arcade games. We were at a ball toss – three balls. I went first and missed. Badly. Embarrassingly. Never played softball and it showed.

Brian did just as badly on his first two balls and the macho guys behind us in line were ragging on him. So…third ball right down the middle and voila, he was the proud owner of this overgrown stuffed toy.

After hauling it around the rest of the night, the question was how to get it home on the airplane. Maybe we could just donate it to some child. Ha, no way. He was keeping it. Could we ship it? Too expensive and where’d we get a box that big? In the end, Scooby Doo flew home in black trash bag, crammed into the overhead bins. He now lives in Hubby’s office and has been coveted by many a child visitor.

Even though it’s been around since 1969, I’ve never seen the cartoon, but recently I met and petted real Great Danes when a couple of sisters on our street got themselves a pair. The older dog’s head went up to my chest and although I’m on the short side, that’s one big dog. I’d like to note that they aren’t quite as cuddly in real life. An interesting fact about those Great Danes is that they are the first dogs the sisters had ever owned. Imagine starting with a giant!

West African Bronze Skewers

Bronze skewers, some of animals, some of people. Hubby got these at a garage sale while I was out of town. When I asked him about them, he couldn’t remember much except that they came from Africa. There are 24, 12 animal heads, 12 people. I decided to display them in a windowsill planter, sticking them into styrofoam covered with little pebbles. I have been so involved with writing, I’d quite forgotten how much I love to do little projects like this.

I began doing creative tidbits as a little girl. Mother insisted that we make our Christmas presents. One year it was placemats, which my sister and I fringed by pulling out threads — horribly boring and the threads tangled so easily. We decorated the mats with paint by stamping designs onto the fabric with various utensils; I remember using a potato masher. Another year we spent hours pushing cloves into oranges which were hung on velvet ribbon for pomades in closets. Then there were the cork earrings; tiny pins threaded onto a bead, then a sequin and pushed into cork balls. Oh, so glamorous. I know one of the Aunts actually wore hers!

Projects changed as I grew. Since I’ve been an adult I have stripped a fireplace mantel and faux painted the surround, stenciled many a border, sewed a prom dress and curtains for various houses and apartments, assembled 45 gingerbread houses, designed and made ballet tutus, tiled a bathroom, crocheted a lampshade, planned and stitched a landscape quilt, and embroidered a throw. I used to knit but I don’t wallpaper. Mother was the ace at that; she once wallpapered our bathroom and managed to eke out enough paper to also do the linen closet. She was also a master cake decorator for children’s birthday parties; no roses or frou-frou, instead clowns, circus tents, merry-go-rounds.

Over the years there have been some disasters. Mother washed and shrank my newly sewn skirt to doll-size. There was a purple bedroom. And just today, right after I took the picture below, I knocked over my new masterpiece. Jingle, jingle — the stones poured out onto the floor, wet glue and all. After a good laugh, Hubby helped me wash the stones, the floor and table. So I have my next project all lined up…