Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bear Parts

Penny Cooper has been given a gift. I think she's a Gemini*, so her birthday would be sometime around now. 
bink & Maura took me in the car to K-Mart to buy a new air conditioner this afternoon. It's plenty hot, but it's a pleasant evening to open presents on the shady porch.

Penny Cooper does not like to wear anything but her plaid dress because, she says, it is entirely correct for her--(unlike how Red Hair Girl and Baby Potato change clothes).  She does like a masquerade, however, especially if she can dress up as a bear. 

*From an old post about Geminis:
"I know a lot of Geminis. I am a huge fan of them as defenders of the fact that great ideas need great vehicles.
Hence, they champion the importance of kitchen implements (the right pan for the right tart), liturgical correctness (no plastic on the altar, please), the little black dress (or its intellectual equivalent), and library catalogs."

And then I couldn't join Facebook....

After I dropped my a/c unit out the window, I tried to re-join FB so I can post on the thrift store's site.
I couldn't join because I don't have a mobile phone to receive their text code-- and they don't offer to phone your landline instead.
Rather, their option is for you to send them a photo of your government-issued ID. 

For some odd reason I find myself reluctant to do that.

I just dropped the air-conditioner out my 2nd-story window.

I feel like NASA, dropping space junk from the sky.
Luckily the a/c unit fell harmlessly into the neighbor's yard. I mean, humans suffered no harm---the unit is squashed.

Not luckily, today we are going to reach body temperature (96ºF
/ 35.5ºC):

Friday, May 25, 2018

I Am a Sorting Hat

Taken with my fuzzy laptop yesterday--me sorting donations at the thrift store. (I'm working on my laptop in a corner of the break room.)

BELOW: A good example of what  I'm doing. Someone put this high-schooler's acrylic copy of a Frida Kahlo portrait in the Mountain of Valuables. It'd have more charm as a "thrift store find" (kitschy) if it were more poorly painted--it's just mediocre. I priced it 99¢.

I pulled this old gooseneck lamp with a cast-iron base from the trash (metal recycle bin). It has a light socket but needs cleaning and a cord. Even bunged up, these lamps sell on eBay for around $20. 
Also, it's cool in the way futuristic things of the past can be... I love the catch-all well in its base.
BELOW: A 45 record from Bobby Kennedy's funeral--the performance by Andy Williams at Bobby Kennedy's funeral. 
Not super valuable ($6), but an amazing bit of history, and we're coming up on the fiftieth anniversary of RFK's murder in a couple weeks (June 6, 1968).

BELOW: This "Royal Sno-Flake" stationery cracked me up, since "snowflake" now has somewhat replaced the term "bleeding heart liberal" to mean someone super-sensitive but ineffective. 
Originally from Fight Club:
"You are not special. You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else."
This is more Etsy (snowflake-y) than eBay (garage sale-y)--maybe I should set up an Etsy account for the thrift store too?

I have four days off now---to clean my own room! And to toy photography! I meet with the manager on Tuesday to get the details of my new job, then start working alongside the woman who's been sorting the donated books for the past couple years. 

It'll be her last week. She's 75 and says hauling books around has become too physically tiring. 
I feel it too! Once again, I didn't keep up with the gym and have been happy to get the naturally occurring exercise of moving stuff around.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Not So Slothful

This is a young sloth healing from a broken arm (in a sling).
Via "all things sloth"
I relate to slow animals, but lately I've been pretty darn zippy, volunteering at the SVDP thrift store. It brings together a bunch of things I enjoy and care about:
Chatting with people (staff & customers)

Participating in the corporal-works-of-mercy side of religion (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.); 
And, maybe especially researching stuff---its design and history and variable worth.

I've been going through the Mountain of Supposedly Valuable Donations in the managers' office. Most of the things I look up, I put out on the sales floor for a couple bucks. Half the time on my way to the floor, something in the shopping carts of donations ready to go out (priced by volunteers) catches my eye instead.

Yesterday, I plucked out a set of stainless steel refrigerator dishes (pre-Tupperware), by Revere Ware--the company that made (makes?) copper-bottom pans (nice ones, but there are zillions). 
These containers had a simple, elegant design,  and though they were made by a familiar company, I'd never seen them.

Sure enough, they are "elusive"--this set of three sold for $50 on eBay this month. Ours were priced 79¢ each.

The manager has suggested I help volunteers learn to identify valuable things, but that's elusive in itself.
How do I know?
My Spidey-sense for valuable items comes from a mix of things:
growing up with a mother who liked to go antique/junk-hunting; 
eye-training by working in an art & design library, having artist friends, and making visual art (including sewing) myself;
tracking down and blogging (27 posts) the mid-century design roots of items in Star Trek;
and couple years volunteering at Steeple People thrift store, a brief stint at Goodwill, and e-Baying this past winter... 

Plus, I have a general interest in everything.

Yesterday my co-volunteer who repairs computers told me, "It's wonderful having someone else here who cares about STUFF."

I laughed--I do care about stuff. A lot of the staff are not lovers of stuff--they're there for religious reasons, or because it's a job.

And now it will be MY job too!
Yesterday the manager asked me if I'd like to replace the paid part-time worker who processes book donations--as well as doing online sales.

I enthusiastically said yes.

We'll meet next week to talk about pay and hours and stuff.
I expect it's $10/hour, like GW, but I don't care. I can supplement it with my father's house money.

You may remember that when I started working at GW last summer, I thought I might stay there until I retired (at 75?). The management was so awful, I didn't make it through the summer.

SVDP is screwy in its own way, for sure! but I've already been there 3+ months and no red flags have popped up. 

I CAUTIOUSLY could imagine staying there a long time.
Especially if I actively pursue my plan for get better at tolerating uncomfortable/unpleasant emotions that arise from close contact with my species.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Penny Cooper at the Dentist

Penny Cooper went to the dentist with me this morning. She was fascinated, and now she wants to be a dentist.

I took this selfie (!) while lying in the chair. I had no idea I was glowing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Is Captain Kirk the great- (+ 80 greats) grandfather of Riddley Walker?

I've been blogging so long, I've forgotten or almost forgotten some of my past posts, buried in the mountain of posts.
Like this macro-narrative below.
It popped up on my stats this morning, so I went back and looked at it for the first time in a long while--which almost felt like the first time ever.

"This is terrific," I thought.
The made-up language works, and it's such a good match with the Star Trek images, I'm reposting it today.


I just read the novel Riddley Walker (1980), by Russell Hoban--a post-apocalyptic tale told by the boy Riddley in a future-language, of which Hoban says:

"Early on the language began to slide towards Riddleyspeak; I had a lot of fun letting words wear themselves down into new words and new meanings. ... One thing led to another, and the vernacular I ended up with seems entirely plausible to me; language doesn't stand still, and words often carry long-forgotten meanings. Riddleyspeak is only a breaking down and twisting of standard English, so the reader who sounds out the words and uses a little imagination ought to be able to understand it."
––From the author's notes, here, where you can actually read the entire novel online.

The people around Riddley want to discover the power of the previous society, which blew itself up in nuclear war two thousand+ years ago, and eventually they discover the secret of making gunpowder: 

sulfur, coal, and saltpeter.

Hey! I thought, reading it, that's what Captain Kirk puts together in the 1967 Star Trek episode "Arena"!

This called for the making of a macro.

All screencaps are from "Arena," thanks to
Trek, and all text is from Riddley Walker (mostly from chapters 16 and 17).

[I originally made this on June 24, 2013]

Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday: Mission & Meaning

Mission and meaning, mission and meaning?
Why did have such a familiar cadence?

Yesterday I was putting together a "content calendar" for the thrift store's social media plan--one theme for every day of the week, as a guide for daily posts---and I made Monday "mission and meaning."

This morning I woke up thinking "MUSIC AND MEANING"--from Howard's End! The movie version of EM Forster's novel.

 Above: Samuel West as Leonard Bast and Helena Bonham Carter as Helen Schlegel

It's mocked---a public talk on "Music and Meaning"--I don't quite get the social implications behind the mockery of the [lower-] middle classes pursuing culture. 
Was it sort of like mocking self-help? 

(Self-help is easy to mock, of course, with its "no-bake recipes" approach to psychology, and the people who go deep into it, easier. But it's also a great idea to do practically anything, so far as I'm concerned, to try almost anything to get some insight into one's interior workings.) 

Anyway, my brother used to go around saying "Music and Meaning" in a plummy voice, and I'm sure that's why I used a variation on it for my social media plan.

I spend 12 hours writing it yesterday--and I made an example post for each day. 

For Monday, I made an online poster >
of a quote from the founder of the Society of SVDP, Frederic Ozanam (French, 1813-1853):

"To become better, do a little good."

I easily fall prey to Big Picture Paralysis, so I love exhortations to do just some LITTLE thing--and reassurance that that's all I HAVE to do.

Which is often the case--grand gestures are rarely called for.
"I can't make a tapestry, but I can sew a stitch" --that sort of thing.

Anyway--my proposal is that they hire me to oversee a social media presence, piggybacking on how I'm already starting online sales for them on eBay and Craigslist.

I'm still a volunteer at this point, but they've said they'll put me on the payroll in the next quarter. All very vague--
I don't know if this will be a job-job, or pocket change. 

I'm happy to do it--if I didn't need money, I'd do it for free--(I did the social media plan for free--entirely under my own steam)--that's a good sort of job to have...

I'm also taking on Conflict Management for myself.
I realized that my fear of conflict and some past disasters with bad managers have made me want to avoid situations where conflict is possible---
and that's EVERY situation that involves humans!

As my job coach said, when I talked to her about it,
"There are no 'difficult people.' People are difficult."

(I kind of love her.)

And she suggested I join an EBT (emotional behavioral therapy)  group for dealing with dealing with people.

 "It's hard to change patterns of 50 years," she said, "but knowing that this is a problem, you are halfway there. You need commitment and perseverance.
And you will feel very uncomfortable."

Ha. Yes. I already feel very uncomfortable!
Learning to tolerate feeling uncomfortable---that's the real key for me.

Looking up conflict management, I realize I DO know how to handle conflict, generally, fairly well.
It's the emotional kickback afterwards that I try my hardest to avoid---the tossing and turning all night, agonizing over how it could have gone differently, feeling embarrassed or afraid of fallout... 
Ugh. Hate that.

But how to work with humans and avoid it?
Not possible.

If I can't get rid of them, at least I want to learn to withstand those icky feelings better.
One little step at a time.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"In Loving Memory"

This is a paving brick, in a nearby public garden, in memory of my mother; the Orphan Reds are offering a flower for all.

Penny Cooper, the most official of the dolls, lays the tulip down.

"Glory be… for dappled things" is from "Pied Beauty", by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

I was going to save this for Memorial Day, but today seems fitting.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Reds and Orange

The Orphan Red Dolls––Red Hair Girl, Penny Cooper, and Baby (Red) Potato (the name Spring Green now goes by)––peel and eat an orange.

Not shown: sticky clean-up

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Exit, pursued by a sehlat."

The story so far.
Dr. McCoy has long thought Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk to be dead. McCoy last saw his shipmates on a planet of violent storms. From a sheltering cave, he witnessed Spock, in a futile attempt to pull the captain to safety, sucked into the abyss and Kirk ripped to pieces by the wind.  
McCoy escaped on a rescue ship.

Years later, still mourning his friends, McCoy returned to the planet as part of an expeditionary force and discovered Spock had survived, minus a left arm and leg and the tip of his nose.

Without Kirk to spark jealousy between them, Spock and McCoy get along well. The two friends decide to leave Starfleet and join a traveling theater troupe in space.

Here they perform Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, with a Vulcan bear-like animal called a sehlat.

Act III, Scene 3: Exit, pursued by a bear.

Note: Sehlats have fangs, famously [see episode "Journey to Babel"]. This one was de-fanged and kept as part of a space zoo before the theater troupe rescued it. It is very happy in its new life as an actor and can play all sorts of animals.

P.S. The damaged Spock belongs to Marz, who told me how he came to be injured.

"victims of our enormous appreciation of it all"

I read the essay "For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business" by Seymour Krim (1922–1989) many years ago and thought nothing of it. 

I just came across it again this morning. It reads differently at mid-life when, like Krim, who was fifty-one when he wrote it, I realize my life hasn't solidified into one particular form--and isn't likely to now. 

I was never as ambitious as he was, so I don't feel the same sense of failure, but I do share the realization that "later" has already come and gone. (I'm only ("only") fifty-seven, but that's beyond the "later" and its deliverance that my teenage self was expecting.) 

More than that, Krim's description of America [written in 1972-3] struck me differently this time around---it fits so well what I see in fandom:

"Young kids today shoot movies in their heads with themselves as the leading character..."

Is that something to be cautious of? ...becoming, as Krim says, "victims of our enormous appreciation"? 
Fandom can be a trap and/or a chute: you can stay in someone else's Marvel-ous world, or you may end up making your own wonderful & crummy movie--I mean simply breaking through the inertia to make it would be wonderful--a real marvel.

This is a wonderfully slippery essay: 
it's genuinely bitter about the author's failure to do one big thing (a bitterness I discounted when I was younger, thinking, "If you can write like this, you aren't a failure," which is not the point), and yet it doesn't want to throw out the American dream that you can scoop up all 32 flavors of identity either.

It's also fun to read.
From "For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business" [PDF], by Seymour Krim

 . . .

This essay is included in The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, 1995, edited by Phillip Lopate.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Dr. McCoy in the Operating Theater

This didn't turn out at all like what I had in mind. It's as if the dolls have their own stories to tell...

(The soldier I got at the thrift store yesterday.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"generating collage material"

Yesterday I saw a friend, Gregg, who I've barely seen since we worked together at the art college library. (I left in 2001). Gregg had told me years ago about a found-materials collage artist who became one of my favorite artists, Kurt Schwitters
And yesterday Gregg told me about collage artist Anne Ryan (1889–1954).

I looked up her work, loved it, and noticed that while the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounted an exhibit of her art in 2010, The Prismatic Eye, Ryan includes threads and fabric in her collage--a little unusual for the fine-arty collage genre.

I looked further, and read:
"Anne Ryan didn’t start making collages until she was 58 . . . in 1948. Her components were often recycled, showing signs of their original use.
[Her daughter] McFadden said that her mother saved old dish towels to use in collages. “When something in the house got old, acquired by wear a ‘feel,’ and to the usual person was ready for the trash can, we would say,
 ‘Now it‘s getting to the collage stage.’”
That reminds me of something an art student told me that I've always cherished:
this student, a print maker, told me that when people asked him what he was working on, he always said,

"I'm generating collage material."

That covered every contingency: 

if he didn't like what he made, he cut it up to re-use.

Many of Ryan's piece are quite small, which makes them more intriguing and inviting to me---this one is about 6 in. x 5 in.:

Monday, May 14, 2018

Found Toy-Photography


I found this photo in an eBay listing for a Madeline doll (like my Orphan Reds)--she is wearing a handmade ballerina outfit. 

I've seen a lot of photos–– terrible, serviceable, and very good –– on eBay, but few before that are interesting as photos.

Monday Morning Catch-up

Home from house sitting---catching up with myself.
My place is a mess, but a good kind of mess----cloth and thread and wires and toys, the box of kapok stuffing in the middle of the room...
(The Orphan Reds are still in their little bed, catching up on sleep.)

Lots going on lately, by my standards. 
Besides toy photography () and seeing the job coach, who tells me interesting stories from her life and recommends novels (I'm halfway through Moonglow, by Michael Chabon--good call on her part), I've been working (unpaid) practically half-time at the thrift store.

Going to the job coach made me realize I'd like to work at the store (as paid staff)––the place is chaotic, it'd be a big pain of a job, and getting it would be a long shot anyway, because they have no budget––
store profits go to run their perishable-food bank (since 2015 they've been distributing fresh food to 22 food shelves––all sorts of stuff: one day they got 50,000-dozen eggs), not to staffing
––but I fit the place and believe in its mission (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.), so I went ahead anyway and told the manager I'd like to work there. 

He said he'd love to hire me but, right, there's no budget at this time. He'd like to see that happen in the future, he said, and for now, if I want to sell stuff for them on eBay, they'd look into giving me a commission.

That'd barely be worth my time financially, but SVDP needs the money, and I like the research, so I said I'd start right away (still as a volunteer) and see how it goes.

I've been going through the mountain of stuff that donation sorters put in the managers' office as Valuable Things to Be Sold Online. Turns out, when I look the stuff up, hardly any of it is worth the trouble of selling on eBay.  

People seem to think if they've heard of something and it cost a lot new, it's valuable. But if they've heard of it, it's probably common and often not particularly valuable. Beanie Babies you can't give away; Noritake, Pyrex, and the like have some value, but since we have a store, it's not worth the time it takes to list, pack, and ship it, even if we'd get a few more bucks that way.

I've put 90 percent of what I've looked up out on the floor. 

An American Girl Doll, for instance, with a note attached "Worth $200". Looked her up: she'd be worth maybe $50, if she didn't have that rip on her tummy. 
I put her out for $20.

I had good luck listing stuff on Craigslist last week though. (So much easier than eBay, since the customer comes and takes the thing away. Plus, no fees.)
A 1935 Singer sewing machine ($200) and a cabinet Victrola from the 1920s ($150)––both working––sold within hours of listing.

I found one supercool thing--not in the mountain, but in a sewing basket: 
A tin litho kid's ring, one of a set of comic character rings that came as premium prizes in Post Raisin Bran in the late 1940s (date on back of ring: 1948).
I'd never heard of the comic character Harold Teen, but here he is:
These sell online for $10-20, so not hugely valuable, but the sort of thing that gets overlooked or even thrown out. 
It's that stuff that's worth keeping an eye out for---even the half-naked Dr. McCoy doll I rescued for myself could sell for $20 instead of being one of a dozen toys in a $1.99 grab bag. 

I'm enjoying all this. And luckily I have some money from the sale of my father's house, since, while none of this is costing me anything (except a few bucks here & there for toy makings ––praise be for digital photography!––& the job coaching is free for over-50s), none of it pays anything either...

Anything Dolls Can Do, Bears Can Do (Better)

I've been wanting to make bears bendable, so they can play like action dolls do. And the other day at the thrift store––voilà:  I salvaged a bendy skeleton from a nonrepairable bendy bear sold by IKEA  to support UNICEF’s "Children’s Right to Play" (Article 31 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child).

More here: The International Play Association (IPA)

I had no idea these wonderful bendy structures existed. 
Ah--here--it's a "ball socket flexible tube armature" (for dolls)
--or "modular hose" (for all sorts of hardware and tech use). 

While house sitting, I put it into an old bear undergoing restoration.

Penny Cooper, Friend of Bears, helped Bear get acclimated, while Astro (dog I'm sitting) pointedly did not look on.

"Anything you can do, I can do better; 
I can do anything better than you."
--(on youtube), from Annie Get Your Gun

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Rescue

The Orphan Reds and I are house sitting. From how heavily armed the residents are (well, one), we gather it is a dangerous land. *

Sure enough, Red Hair Girl soon sees signs of a struggle. 

“It's humiliating to be dependent,
but it's still a poorer pass to have no one to depend on.”
The Day of the Triffids [PDF of whole book], by John Wyndham

* We are at bink's. The doll Red Hair Girl rescued (from . . . was it a triffid?) is Daryl Dixon, from The Walking Dead.