Archive for February, 2013

THE DAYS BEFORE GPS

There are some of my tee shirts that I just can’t get rid of–Go Lakers!, Hawaii, and especially one that says “Miss-Direction” on the front. My son gave it to me when he was a teenager; by that time, he had been with me on several trips when I got lost.

Just let me get a bite of my chocolate chocolate-chip cookie and a sip of my apple spice tea and then I’ll tell you the first story. (Pause.) Thanks. Well, it happened when my son was small enough to fit into the handy deep hole behind the back seat of my Volkswagen Bug. This was before the days of seat belts and child seats.

My mother’s best friend was visiting me and I took her to Venice Beach in California. We hadn’t seen each other for quite a while, so we chattered non-stop and paid no attention to the small child trapped in a hole too deep to ascend. He was having a grand ole time as we found out when we removed him. There was box of facial tissues in the hole with him and not one square of paper remained in its original box. It was a blizzard in California.

This is not all of the story. You need to know that this was in 1966 and Venice beach was a wild place and a favorite of the Flower Children (or Hippies) so the wide sidewalks were filled with pedestrians on foot and on bikes and roller skates. My car had joined the throng; I was driving along at two miles an hour dodging people. I wasn’t there long when a police car approached in front of me. The authority told me it was against the law to drive on that stretch, and asked me how I got there. I said it was easy. I had just driven between two permanent metal stanchions with my little car. The lady with me was hysterical with laughter. It was the best part of her trip. I was not given a ticket as the policeman could see that the problem was–I was an idiot. He told me to turn around and go back because there was no way out ahead of me. Many spectators were entertained!

Then there was the time, after my son was in his teens, that I drove down a street that was reserved for only streetcars and busses. We were somewhere in Canada. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even stopped before I found my error and hurried out.

The next “I’m lost.” event occurred somewhere in Vermont. My son and husband were with me and I was driving. I’d planned the trip and they just got into the car and rode along. Suddenly, there was a sign that indicated we were in Vermont. I pulled over and said, “We are not suppose to be in Vermont.” As it turned out, we had to backtrack about thirty miles to a place where I had erred in a turn. Much laughter ensued after that mistake, but not by me.

These little events have had a long after-life in my family, but they don’t know about some of my blind wanderings when they weren’t around. After all, a gal has to have some secrets. Guess that’s over now since I’ve shared with you.

COMING NEXT: An Uplifting Story of Women’s Bras

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FOUR FAMOUS WOMEN ARTISTS

I’m looking at a picture and article in my Sunday paper today of a very accomplished eighty-four year old woman who is an artist, among other talents. As I munch on my chocolate chip cookie and enjoy my cinnamon tea, I’m thinking about another very famous artist, Grandma Moses, who died on December 14, 1961. She was 101 years old.

On the day of her death, The New York Times ran a charming, long article about her life. They described her as being “cheerful as a cricket.” Her art was, stated the Times, “Gay color, action and humor enlivened her portrayals of such simple farm activities as maple sugaring, soap-making, candle-making, haying, berrying and making of apple butter.” I’m not sure what “berrying” was beyond the picking, but maybe that is what was meant. Anyway, her art is charming.

Grandma Moses had art training but another artist who worked in the “primitive” genre had no training at all, yet she is almost as famous. Clementine Hunter was born December 1886 in Louisiana, and died at the age of 100. When she began painting, she was living on the Melrose Plantation, bordering on the Cane river. She was a cotton picker when she first moved there but soon began as a cook in the mansion. The African and Creole cultures were strong in the area, and also it attracted many artists and writers such as William Faulkner and John Steinbeck. My husband and I were fortunate to own two of her paintings which cost about $75 each when we purchased them in the 1960’s. They now run in the many thousands. We were forced to sell ours a few years ago. We miss them.

Agnes Martin and Georgia O’Keeffe were friends and both lived in New Mexico a good part of their lives. Martin died in Taos at the age of 92 and O’Keeffe left us at the age of 98 while living in Santa Fe in a home that is about a minute away
from me. Martin was doing realistic art until her 40’s when she switched to abstract. O’Keeffe is probably best known for her lush, lovely renderings of flowers, but she did many other subjects and styles. If you come to Santa Fe, don’t miss a visit to the beautiful O’Keeffe Museum.

Even if you are not interested in art or art history, if you are interested in the history of women, these four women are very important. They lived during a time when women really struggled to overcome being in the place of second fiddle to men. And, these were people who continued to use their talents clear into their
90th year.

MOSES at the New York Times on Dec. 14, 1961archive
HUNTER showing at the Gilleys Gallery in Louisiana
MARTIN at the Washington Post Dec. 17, 2004 archive
O’KEEFFE at http://www.okeeffemuseum.org

COMING NEXT: The Days Before GPS

STEP RIGHT UP

I’m celebrating today with my tea and a double chocolate chip cookie. The reason is that I now have two bannisters going down my steep thirteen stairs to the garage.(I know you must be thinking I’m losing it when I’m excited over bannisters.) Our indispensable hammer-nail-paint man was here off and on all week. The problem was what color to paint the railings as one had been here all along and the new one’s wood had a different grain. Staining did not do the trick. Finally we decided to just paint them the color of the wall, and voila, that was the solution. It even made the staircase look wider.

We almost didn’t buy our house because the stairs looked a bit scary. They are quite steep. We also have extremely wide, brick steps that go up to the front of our house. I think they’re dramatic. Two female real estate people came here once to see about selling our house, and they said, “Houses with steps are really hard to sell.” Then they proceeded to underestimate the value of the house. I researched their assertion and then I laughed. How many two story houses are sold in this country? A zillion!

Staircases can certainly be dramatic or at least invite scenes of drama. How about the staircase in “Gone With The Wind”? Old movies used them a lot to show off the actor, especially a beautiful woman or women. Remember the Zeigfeld Follies? The stunning women always came on stage down steep, wide steps.

People love to climb the steps of the Pyramids. Thousands climb the narrow, winding steps inside the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, including me. However, I nearly fainted halfway up from claustrophobia. Of course, that climb was not done because of the climb, but because of the spectacular view, from which I almost fainted from acrophobia. (So, I need a shrink.)

Wanting to climb is pretty much built into our DNA, or at least it seems that way because you know that kids love to climb on everything. No little kid can walk along on a sidewalk if there is a wall running along side. They must walk on the wall.

I’ve never figured out why people want to scale the face of a mountain, unless it is just what some people say, “because it’s there.” It can’t be always for the view as many times the top of a mountain is closed in by clouds or fog.

By the way, we put our house on the market, just before the big financial crisis, with a male broker. One of the women, who said it was hard to show the house because of the stairs, showed our house to a client. Think she wanted us to reduce the asking price when she had come for the listing? You don’t say such a thing to someone who had been a real estate broker in Los Angeles for seven years. Me.

So, step right up and tell me some good real estate, bannister or steps stories with the comment button below. Love to hear from you.

COMING NEXT: Four Famous Women Artists–Moses, Hunter, Martin, O’Keeffe

SOME YARNS ABOUT KNITTING

A friend of mine recently finished knitting a gorgeous cape in purple, being her favorite color. It took her quite a while to do it because it involved a lot of knitting. So, I was just sitting here reminiscing (which I spelled without looking it up) about my knitting history. I don’t knit. But I did knit, long ago.

Let me get a sip of tea and a bite of chocolate chip cookie and I’ll relate some amusing, or maybe not so amusing, yarns, which are also tales or stories.

Being old enough during World War II to knit, I helped my mother make sweaters for soldiers. The government gave out yarn, in sick green/grey, to use in making the sweaters. Mom and I both worked on the same sweater each time. Mom used very tight stitches and mine were quite loose. These had to be the ugliest sweaters ever created, but the point was to keep our men warm.

Around this same time, I knit a scarf for my grandpa to give him at Christmas. This was the world’s longest scarf. It was a silvery grey. Nice. However, my dear Gramps had to wind that scarf around and around to keep from tripping on it.

During college, I knit my boyfriend (now my husband) argyle socks. Now, these are not easy to make, and I have no memory of how I did it. Anyway, he loved them. He still had them when we got married, so for our first Christmas, I used a pair as you would use a Santa stocking. I tucked a large orange into the toe. Now, if you have already read “Ticked Off And Tickled About It,” you know that my husband likes fashionable clothing. He does not like stretched socks. Well, a Santa stocking was not in our extremely limited budget. Our Christmas tree was just like Charlie Brown’s and our decorations were cut out of white paper by me.

My best memories about knitting were the many beautiful sweaters that my mother knit for me. The first year I was in college, she made me six sweaters and gave them to me for Christmas. Each one was in a different color.

One of the sweaters was a rusty orange and at the time I was a redhead. When I walked around the small campus, it was like a spotlight moving. One time, my boyfriend and I cut out of a meeting we were suppose to attend every week. The next day, the Dean of Women said to me, “If you are going to cut, don’t wear your orange sweater.”

So as for my knitting history, it would probably best be described as “pearl, one…nit wit, two.”

COMING UP: Step Right Up