Mannequin on the Move: Movie Castle

A piece of set decoration from Mannequin on the Move. It’s made of thin strips of lacquered balsa and is about 2′ high. There were several of these made as centerpieces for a scene in the movie.

My husband, who was in the industry at that time, worked on the film. When he got notice about the job, he called me at work. “I’m going to Philadelphia to make a film.”
I laughed, “Oh, really?”
“I leave tomorrow.”
“You’re kidding! For how long?”
“Six weeks.” Then, plaintively, “Can you come home and help me pack?”

Making movies is a grueling job, unless you’re the star. I got an occasional call and he was always exhausted. He’d tell me about a late night schedule change and how he was up until 3AM sliding the new schedules under actors’ hotel room doors. Or how difficult it was finding parking for the various trucks with equipment and the “honey wagon” – the bathrooms. Glamorous the job was not!

Since I had never been to Philly, we arranged that I would fly out for a few days when the show was wrapped and he’d had a night’s sleep. I got in late afternoon; he had just finished, after being up for 36 hours. We went to dinner and I swear, I thought his face was going to literally fall in the French Onion soup he ordered. My first evening in Philly was spent reading in the hotel bathroom so he could sleep.

He gave this castle to his nephews. We also had one, but it was fragile and when we moved, we sold it.

Thai Wall Hanging

Antique wall hangings from Thailand. Fake.

I was lucky to have a job with a global company. I got to travel to many countries, and although there was more work than play on those trips, I always got out and looked around. These little wall hangings were bought during my trip to Thailand, modern copies of antique forms.

I had three days after a conference in Bangkok and decided to travel up to Chiang Mai. With no reservations, I picked out a rather inexpensive hotel on the internet that had openings. Unrated, but my friend and I could afford it. Turned out to be wonderful. Big room, cool, with tile on the floor and a window that opened out onto a quiet street in a non-touristy part of town where kids who were going to go “hiking” in the Himalayas gathered.

The woman at the desk directed us to restaurant in a traditional Thai house, all teak and built on stilts. We had to take off our shoes to enter the dining area which was one big room — I think the kitchen was under the main floor. The interior was well-worn, beautifully aged wood; real antiques of musicians hung on the walls. We ordered coconut milk to drink, since no sodas were served. The waiter opened an ancient refrigerator hulking in the dining room, took out two coconuts, hacked off the tops with a big knife, added straws and served. Sweet and cool, perfect.

These little dolls remind me of a special place.

Thai Mask

A painted wooden mask. I bought this mask in Bangkok, on a hot day. (All the days in Thailand were hot…91 at 11:00pm I recall. Ok, not so different than this summer!) The shop was really just an outdoor stand near the giant Buddha.

The Buddha lies on his side, seemingly as long as a football field, and asleep. This is Thailand, so he is covered with gold. Impossible to get a full-length picture because he’s inside a long structure like a train station, but more decorative, with painted rafters. What I like best about him are the soles of his feet, decorated with swirls of mother of pearl. Makes me think he might have been ticklish.

A highlight of my 3 days in Thailand was an elephant ride. We were the last group of the day, just a few of us. Understand, you sit very high on an elephant, in a throne-like wooden chair. You climb a ladder to board, then off you go, single file. Green jungle all around and right beneath your feet, the “driver, who sits on the elephant’s head, wearing a bright blue saucer hat. The drivers are quite young. The story is that little boys are matched with baby elephants and they stay together all their lives, since elephants live so long.

I was riding last in line and it soon became obvious that my elephant would have rather been home, resting. We lagged. Then the elephant, let’s call her Phoebe, saw some delicious bush just off the path. She went for a snack, taking me along for the ride. The little driver gave Phoebe a prod. She shook her head and continued to munch. Another, sharper prod. Phoebe, annoyed, shook again. At the third prod, she began stamping her feet and swinging her body side to side. I hung on for dear life, laughing as if on a Disney ride. Don’t know what the driver said, but eventually we got back in line and contined our walk.

When we returned to their “home,” Phoebe and her friends had the treat of a bath. The boy drivers and the elephants in the river were like boys anywhere, frolicking with their dogs. Only these playmates were slightly larger.

Horse and Cart – Guest Post

Wooden horse and cart, made in Japan. Belonged to Mary’s grandmother.

This isn’t exactly a guest post, because Mary is my sister. On the other hand, the object isn’t in my house, so I decided to label her as a guest. (She’s welcome as my guest any time, with or without the horse and cart!)

This little tchotchke was in our Grandmother’s house. Mary loved it and was allowed to play with it, very special to her because from the time she was seven she wanted a pony. Every Christmas she knew this was the year – she’d check the carport and the backyard – but no. Finally my mother told her if she wanted a horse, she’d have to pay for it herself. By the time she was sixteen she’d saved 625 bucks and bought her first horse – Silky!

I want to make a detour here – how she ever came to name the horse such a boring name is beyond me. Maybe it came with it. But when Mary named her cars (oh, we all name our cars – mine was the Wonder Bug, but that’s another story), she did so with elan. Roaring Judy, Babe Blue Ox, Hot Lips (red, of course), Moose the Mustang, Benson, and finally Harvey. I imagine you can guess the make and color of that one.

Anyway, horses were her big deal and my parents were happy. She was busy at the barn and riding in shows, no chance to get into trouble. But it backfired when it came time for her to go to college. Horses were all that mattered and she didn’t want anything more to do with school. She tells the following story:

Daddy was watering the flowers in the backyard. I told him I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to train horses.
Daddy said, “Will that afford you the lifestyle to which you are accustomed?”
“No.”
“Will it make you happy?”
“Yes.”
“Okay.”
I was always grateful he didn’t just turn the hose on me!

Mary went on to work in Hawaii and to be a trainer at Hope Ranch in Santa Barbara. Every once in a while she’d be thrown. A worker would run over and say, “Shall I call an ambulance?” Her answer was always no, until the last time she bit the dust. Her neck was fractured and she went to the hospital.

Now Mary is an extrovert and she was left alone a lot in the ICU unit. She says when she got so bored she couldn’t stand it, she’d pound on her own chest and make her heart go crazy so a nurse would run in. They finally put her into a private room with a TV. Wonder why? In any case, although there was no lasting damage from her fall, she decided it was time to move on.

Happy Anniversary

In soft focus: Husband, 5’11; Wife, 5’4. No weights divulged.

Although I already wrote about the wedding dress, today’s our anniversary, one that ends with a zero, so I wanted to honor it. If asked how long, hubby says, “Forever.” Typical male reaction in my experience.

If you think his hair looks a little odd, that’s because I cut it the day before. I’d been cutting it right along, seeing as we were very cash-strapped. But never with an audience. With his grandfather watching and commenting, I made some rather nervous snips and the hair got shorter and odder. Hubby has said the next time he gets married he’s going to the barber.

So after the wedding, the marriage began: Happy, happy, fight, happy, laugh, go on a trip, fight, happy, laugh, fix up a house, another trip, fix a bigger house, fight, lots of movies and dogs, laugh, laugh, laugh. That’s what it’s been like.

So excuse the short post. I’m off to make some celebratory salad.

ps. To see us in focus and laughing, go to the home page…

Turkish Whirling Dervish

A whirling dervish, or samazen. The whirling is part of a Sufi ritual begun by Rumi, famous poet and mystic. Evidently he heard some apprentices beating gold and speaking a dhikr – “there is no God but Allah” – and it made him so happy, he spread his arms and started twirling for joy. My understanding is that the hands are bent to receive God’s kindness and channel it to earth.

This doll is part of a small collection. When I’m travelling, I usually buy one as a memento; (the carved doll on the home page was my first). This one, which is about 5″ and made of plastic, I got in Turkey (see my other Turkish souvenir). It’s a fascinating country — lots of ancient ruins from Greek and Roman times, temples, statues, mosaic floors. At the remnants of Troy, which we visited on a rainy day, I remember a big, hulking stone ramp up to what was the main citadel. It certainly exuded the power and darkness of the old legends.

I had an experience in Istanbul that I will never forget. We were out in the evening, going to the main square – Taksim. Crowds everywhere. Many women in full length black dresses, heads covered, but faces revealed. Occasionally I would glimpse colorful socks above black shoes as they walked which made me smile – a flick of fashion mostly concealed. We came to a tiny girl at a street corner selling packets of tissue. She was crying and trying to leave but her older sister pushed her back out into the crowd. Something was said that made me understand she wouldn’t be allowed to go home until all the packets were sold. I immediately bought one from her. BUT, and here’s my ongoing regret, why didn’t I buy the remaining 2 packets? They were ridiculously cheap. It was late, the child was in tears; with all of her packets sold she could have gone home. My stomach turns even now as I write this. Why I didn’t do the kind thing? A real failure of compassion.

On a more cheerful note – Taksim was fascinating. A huge market. I saw piles of a nut honey concoction advertised as “Viagra”, fish lined up perfectly on ice with their fins all facing the same direction, and a man pushing a wheelbarrow full of dead goats destined for the ubiquitous shawarma stands, and women in windows of little restaurants demonstrating the making of pita bread, working with long wooden rolling pins. I want to write about my experience with the cotton pickers, but that will save for another post…