Friday, November 30, 2018

From the Stew of Goo

I've been thinking a lot in recent months how weird it is that I (we) exist at all.

I picture individual existence arising from a stew of goo (in my handwriting in the picture below, it looks like "STEW OF GOD", which is pretty good too). 

In my picture, which is not scientifically approved, the goo is undifferentiated stuff, like the potato mush that fruit flies live on in a scientific laboratory (or behind the fridge...).

A blip arises out of this stew, and––boop! ––it separates.
Who knows?! 

There are lots of stories about this. 
Maybe just... because it does.

Somehow the blip becomes conscious of itself.
How weird is that?!?!

This morning I drew a picture.

The conscious stage doesn't last long.
didn't draw the final step---the blip soon returns to the stew.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Donut Frosting and Other Daffy Donations to the Thrift Store

I've been keeping track of some of the odd/interesting things that get donated to the thrift store
We take it all. In with the literal garbage there is (sometimes) treasure.

1. Below: "SARA wants this book"
...but not that much?

It's not uncommon that an item will come in with a tag noting that the item was supposed to go to someone––presumably on the death of the owner.
Who knows what the story behind each one is, but these notes make me a little sad.

2. Below: Like the donut frosting, this was another (I hope) accidental food donation: 
a used, blue paper plate & plastic spoon with cake crumbs, in with a box of quality woodworking magazines:

3. No accident here! Nicely noted, "IT WORKS FINE".
(If it doesn't catch on fire...)

4. Notes in books are not always this great. 
Stay high, Bean!

5.  What to do with old-timey racist/culturally imperialist stuff (e.g. Mammy salt & pepper shakers)?*
I don't usually put
out for sale stuff like this comic book about an English cricketer who became a missionary, but it feels too culturally significant to just throw out...

* UPDATE: The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris University, Michigan accepts donations of racist objects.

6. Some icky donations are obviously accidents---like the bakery bag that held only the frosting of a donut --I imagine someone cleaning up after a garage sale or move, and their bag accidentally getting in with the donations.
7. Other things are intentional--this headless sacred heart of Mary was mailed to the store. We have a religious articles ministry that accepts such objects, and we even say we'll repair them. 
But that means gluing heads on---but not manifesting the missing parts themselves.

8. And these boxes of instant pudding that expired three years ago, in 2015? They came in a carefully packed box of nice kitchenware, so they didn't seem to be accidental.
Who knows?

9. It is very sweet when people write little notes---here the person even sketched the outline of the missing puzzle piece! 
But the store gets waaay more than enough puzzles, and this one was nothing special, so into the trash it went.

10. It's common that people don't clean their shoes before donating them. Luckily the material in the treads of these hiking boots was just grass and mud.

11. This memorable entry from February 5, 1964, is the last entry in this donated daily journal.
After this, the journal is blank.

12. A shoe box of John D. MacDonald paperback thrillers from the 1970s was another donation that came with handwritten notes. In this case, the notes seem to be reminders to the owner him/herself, not to the future buyer. But who knows for sure?

These old pulp paperbacks were well worn and the high-acid paper yellowed. I saved a few with the best covers and put the rest on the 33¢ shelf.

13. This is the creepiest donation I've yet seen––
some kind of dead worm, a true computer bug, stuck under the screen of an MP3 player:

Doctor's Report: "Nothing but the best for you!"

I went for a doctor's check-up this morning, and all appears well. My blood sugar was even in the normal range, which amazes me, given the amount of sweets I eat.

I used to take the all-clear for granted, but I'm now the age at which a couple friends died. Nearing sixty... it's a different ballpark, eh? 

Working at the thrift store, I've had a couple old work injuries act up.
Some of the on-the-job physical stressors are avoidable: using one hand, for instance, to lift and carry a dozen National Geographic magazines (dense!). 
Some are not: the concrete floor is a concrete floor.
The doctor gave me referrals to O.T. (hands) and P.T. (Achilles tendon).
The MAIN thing I need & want to change is what I eat at work. The food there is terrible, plentiful, and free. 

A bad combo for me.
I'm like my father, a Depression kid who always loved a cheap deal. He never seemed happier to me than when he was making pronouncements such as, "I got ten dented packages of Nutter Butter cookies on sale at K-Mart!" 

His sister, my Auntie Vi, also a Depression kid, went the other way:
"Nothing but the best for me!"

She's 93 now. She lives in Wisconsin and texted me this morning that she'd shoveled light snow off her walk, like Red Hair Girl.

I'd like to adopt my auntie's attitude.
I'm try, try, trying again to buy good stuff to pack for lunch, so I don't end up eating pouches of Little Bites Blueberry Muffins.

I'm not picky about bakery goods, but Little Bites are actually horrible. They're both gluey and fluffy at the same time, even though they're past their due date (which is why they're given to the thrift store, to put out for free). 
The due date is a fiction anyway:
these things are going to outlast the human race!


Fluffy fresh snow this morning.

Atomic starburst ^ on a 1960s Lucite wastebasket I pulled from the Dumpster at work. It had a crack along the bottom, but held water. It sold pretty quickly for $6.

Below: Red Hair Girl volunteered to shovel the back steps––or some of them, anyway...
(The Reds don't need shoes--they are like hobbits that way.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

#2019 #moretocome

After all my resistance, I ended up being unexpectedly cheered by my fledgling efforts at fundraising yesterday.


People (mostly friends) donated $110, with FB doubling some (once they give $7 million, they stop doubling). That's about $200 we didn't have before, and need, and wouldn't have if we (I) hadn't asked.

My boss sent me a sweet email thanking me for my efforts.

"We have a long way to go on the fundraising road," he wrote. "We'll get there though! #2019 #moretocome"

I thought, that's right:
Things might (or might not) get better, but at any rate, for God's sake, look to the horizon!

He also told me that the board is setting up a Development Committee, to take on this sort of thing.


In the contrary way we humans have, however, I felt a small pang, as if I were losing out. I had to seriously ask myself, do I want to be on this committee?
100% no!

II. New Doll to Come

The other night when I ordered a Yellowstone bear on ebay, I also browsed the offerings of Orphan Reds (technically "Madeline" dolls), and saw this disheveled one:

The seller's photo of her made me laugh, pleased me with its composition, and disturbed me: 
why is that doll wearing a sock on her hand?
Is she in trouble?

Is she reaching out... to me?

I spoke sternly to myself. "This is just a plastic item. And three is a complete number of Orphan Reds, and three is the number that lives with me now."

But the disheveled doll stayed with me, so I showed her photos to Mz.
I thought she'd say, "Get over it."

She said, "You should get this doll."*

I ordered her immediately. Though the seller had photographed her on a fraying dingy bath towel, they weren't selling her cheap--she was $20, with shipping.
I don't care.

She is on her way to my work address. She will be my work doll.
I don't know if she'll even meet the other three Little Reds. 
(I suspect she will, because they are nosy buggers and want to know all.)

#moretocome, yes indeed.
This Sunday the Reds get dressed up as the Three Magi. 
I like to think that to reach the baby by Epiphany, the magi had to start traveling well before the baby was born.

I wonder,
What strange magic is walking toward us, already on its way?


* Mz also said, "What's the harm?" 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Toys Donate $1.36

I said I was not going to do any fundraising, yeah, but a while ago I'd alerted my thrift store boss to #GivingTuesday, when Facebook & Paypal double donations given on FB. 
That's today, and my boss wanted us to do that--and, due to complications (?), it boiled down to ME setting it up.

I was kind of rude when he asked me––I believe I exclaimed, "This store is soooo behind the curve!"––but I agreed. The store really does do good work, and it really does need $.

FB gives you lots of "recommended" images to choose from for your fundraiser--all very cutesy-corporate. (The best artists of our generation are designing for these guys.)
I decided to make it fun for me, and make my own. Which means, #toyphotography!

Of course the toys were EAGER to help. The dinosaur cared not one whit that holding a hot, plastic-melting quarter (heated up on the stove) destroyed its resale value.

The toys donated $1.36. I think they found the money in the couch cushions... You have to donate in round numbers, so I chipped in to bring it up to $5.

This is the link to the online fundraiser:

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mundane Restoration

I have added a blog to my blogroll (on sidebar)--Shadows & Light, the "more or less daily journal" of an American librarian, Steve, living in London with his "partner, Dave, and our dog, Olga." 

Steve takes nice photos, but it's more the blog's mundanity (oh, that could sound insulting--I don't mean "boring", I mean, a sprightly dailyness) that I enjoy: where he went on a day out (to see friends in Notting Hill); the ongoing treatments to get rid of moths in the apartment; can you get cranberry sauce in England? (yes).

I've looked at this blog off and on--somehow I found it among the 1,157 followers of Going Gently, a blog I keep stumbling upon. (Maybe you've stumbled upon it too? It's one of those Connector Centers––I can't pin down why.)

The way I enjoy Steve chatting about his everyday goings-on reminds me that I don't have to write about Important Things. In fact, browsing my old posts, I like the chatty ones I whipped off as much as (sometimes more than) more thoughtful ones that took more time. (Maybe I enjoy writing those more than rereading them--they help me sort my thinking out.)

Everyday Restorations

What tipped me into adding Shadows to my blogroll was this recent post about a "Quixotic Crusade", in which Steve picked up abandoned clothes strewn along the footpath where he walks Olga, and took them home to wash and fold and donate to the Oxfam thrift store.

That's something I would do.

Well, not with clothes (there would be no end, and I don't care about clothes), but, you know, with stuffed animals. 
Here's my latest rescue from the recycle bin at work, before and after a bath:

I don't love this bear--I don't much like quilted anything––but the maker, Jo Ellison, stitched her name on its right sole, and the bear has been repaired in spots––this always gets me.

I must add some more patches, as I tore its fragile fabric a bit in the process of opening bear up. (Toys have to be basically sound to survive the trauma of restoration.) 
Possibly when I'm finished I will love it.
Or, if not, I could put it out at the store for 99 cents.

Now that I've realized I don't want to be a Nonprofit Fundraiser (yay!) and  I've settled into my job of 6 months, I am back to working on SNARP (Stuffed Needy Animal Rescue Project).

Last night I went looking for stuffed Yellowstone bears on ebay.

I still have many to restore, but I bought the only good one I found.  >
($15, incl. shipping––I've never found one for less than $10.)

This bear is NOT from the 1930s, (as the tag on photo says). 

Many thousands of these bears were made in Japan in the 1960s as mass-market souvenirs. 
Yet each one is slightly different--eyes attached at different spots, noses sewn on at odd angles... different materials, even, including various kinds of red collars and metal-link leashes (which I always take off).
This one has a great face, in my estimation.

I almost bought another because the seller wrote about how her grandparents had bought it for her in Canada when she was little (so, not just Yellowstone)–-but I didn't like the bear itself.

Anyway, I have lots!

II. "You will be uncomfortable."

Working on my own stuff is important because my job has become harder, psychologically. I'm happy enough to drop fundraising, but I'm not happy that I dropped it largely because it felt hopeless. Trying to get anyone else on board was like dragging a load of wet woolen blankets.
Or trying to shape a mountain of marshmallows.

I've said before the store operates in a poverty mindset, and poverty is weirdly self-perpetuating. When basics are lacking, it takes so much bloody work just to supply those, over and over.

Let me pile on another simile:
It's like climbing a steep muddy hill,
always slipping back to the bottom, where you need to start all over.

And with no knowledge of or access to hill-climbing equipment either––ropes and cleats and whatever that would be.

That's how it feels to me, anyway. I may be missing something, but I started volunteering in February and have worked 4 days/week since June--I doubt I'm in for massive surprises.

The last slip-back was when I was about to sign us up for the MN Council of Nonprofits--I'd finally got the go-ahead! 
But the boss--
. . . OK, I'm not going to bore you with details--let me just say, the boss had not read any of the info I'd emailed him, so he screwed up the application, 
and then he said, "Why are we even doing this?"

And I thought, yeah, why am I pushing this? No one wants it, I would end up doing all the work--do I want to? (and for $10.25/hour––or, more likely, on my unpaid time?) 

And that was the end of that.

I keep saying this, but it's important to anchor myself in this:

I want to work with the books. And now the vintage stuff, too.

I love doing that, but the culture of the store has turned out to be more uncomfortable than I expected.

Do you remember, when I talked to my Russian job coach about my fears of working with people after 15 years of freelance, and how I dislike conflict, she had said,
"Knowing this is half the battle. You must persevere. You will be uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable."
I am not "very" uncomfortable, but it is uncomfortable to be the alien--the one, for instance, who's always pulling antiques out of the dumpster.
You know, that can trigger class resentment, so I try not to make a lot of noise about it... (Not now that I've done it so often.)

And yet being an older white lady who knows what sterling silver is also grants me privileges:

A while ago I said to a coworker who's got a criminal record that it's nice to have a flexible schedule--I can move days around, as long as I get in 20 hours/week.

"YOU have a flexible schedule," he said. "I don't."

I did not know that.
It's weird & icky to realize the bosses give me unearned special treatment.
One of them said recently, "I trust you."

There's no ACTUAL reason the bosses should trust me more than my coworkers.  I mean, there is a "hidden brain"* reason--perception is reality, eh?
Knowing what sterling silver is doesn't mean I'm more trustworthy.
In fact, it equips me to know better what to steal.
(I don't, but I could.)

So--I also said when I started that I would try to view this workplace as a spiritual psych laboratory---a place to practice patience (not my strong card).
I am working on that.

When stressed, back off and breathe. 
Think of the bears waiting at home for repairs.

*Hidden Brain from NPR is my favorite, favorite podcast:
"Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships."

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Firefly, Restored

Days off have been great:
I finished restoring Firefly the bear--brown, with remnants of golden mohair.  (Entries on Firefly, a
hundred year old mohair bear, like Tulip). Firefly had arrived last December ($8 on ebay)––so smelly I was afraid she had bugs.

I ended up taking her apart (didn't want to) and replacing all five rusted metal joints (held with cotter pins of death) with plastic joints. Hours of work, and worth it. Now Firefly can be touched and held.

Several others are in the wings--including this terrier and Dark Bear (from a Minnesota farm auction--complete with farm dirt caked in its wool). Both have been bathed and are ready for their final mends.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

How 'bout them apples?

I got up at 7 a.m. this morning, went into the kitchen to make coffee, and there were the Orphan Reds, those scamps, already getting into the apples I'd baked last night for Thanksgiving dessert.
(They had been given forks this week by a coworker of mine.)

Happy Thanksgiving, Blogland!!!

*My father used to say, "How bout them apples?
I just looked it up. 
Supposedly the phrase has its roots in World War I, where Allied troops  referred to a mortar with a round shell as a “toffee apple”. 
In the film Rio Bravo (1959––my father would have been 28, so that could be where he got it), a character fires one of these round mortars at the enemy and exclaims, “How do you like them apples?”

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Break, for Braking

Good morning! (Or, good whenever-you-read-this!)
I've been making an effort to get out of bed at 7 a.m., so I see more daylight, to keep my spirits up. 
I didn't quite hit the mark this morning, but did get up at 7:30, even though I was so snuggly and warm and I could tell it's a gray day (easier to hop out of bed in the sunshine). 

We've been having a cold fall--the temps went right from 90º to 30º (and lower--it was 14º when I biked to work yesterday morning).

The other day I thought, "It's never nice anymore." 
Wouldn't that make a good opening line for a short story? Though my idea was to write a chipper story about avoiding the climate apocalypse, that just isn't coming to me. Crazy, huh?

I. Holiday Break!

Weather notwithstanding, I am happy, happy, happy:
I decided last-minute to take off work today and this Friday & Saturday, and we're closed Thursday (for Thanksgiving), so I have almost a week's vacation!

Lucky timing, it's warmed up a bit outside: supposed to be 40º for Thanksgiving...

I've been working at the thrift store for 6 months without a stretch of time off, so this is VERY welcome. . .

even though I had to sort of talk myself into it: 
Brake! Brake!
This morning I woke up thinking of things I could do, and want to do, at work.
But of course it's endless, the things you can work on at a thrift store that gets piles of donations daily--they will be there, and more, when I return. And there are so many things I want to catch up with at home. Several bears, washed and dried, are patiently waiting for new stuffing...

At work, the main thing I have to do--and WANT to do--is go through the rest of the boxes of books (& a few other things) from a doll collector (donated, I think, by a surviving relative).

I'm enjoying going through them, though I'm more interested in stuffed animals than dolls---still, they are related.

Some of the books are so specialized, though, I want to advertise them (Craiglist, FB), because most likely only another serious doll collector would want them--maybe even be excited to get them.
Of course there are doll collectors in town---I should start locally, and if they don't sell, try ebay.

My philosophy has evolved: 

keep things affordable and local.
Ebay has become my LAST resort, instead of my first, which it was when I started. The boss had set the stage for my initial p.o.v., though he agrees with me now that putting out unique things keeps customers coming back, so he's OK with my plan.

I'm finding there are enough walk-in sales of odd/vintage things--no need to do the extra work of listing things online, mostly, even if we could get a few more dollars for them.

II. Vanity, Oh, Vanity

Here are a couple of the Cool Old Books & Things shelves as I left them yesterday. Those two pretty books on display up top are Hebrew (or Yiddish?).

On the bottom shelf are old Celluloid or Bakelite faux-ivory pieces from vanity sets, c. 1930s. 

My mother's mother had a set of them, and I was horrified that the ladies who sort housewares had thrown them in the trash.
I'd though they'd be expensive, but there must be zillions of them because online each piece only sells for a few dollars.

To me, they are glamorous and I priced them two to five dollars each.
Here's a young (I barely recognize her) Barbara Stanwyck at her dressing table: 
Earlier, I'd put out another faux-ivory hand mirror. I happened to be near the cashier when a guy bought it, so I commented on it to him––he said he's going to use it to see the back of his head when he cuts his hair!
I was so happy it's going to be USED.

The doll collector gave us vintage linens too, a huge box worth (almost the size of half a refrigerator box). I set out some of those here. 

* * * If any of you out there want dresser linens, doilies, and the like, let me know!

This shelf won't stay nicely arranged for long: 

people either buy the nice things all up (I almost hate to see that... "Put those back!"), or they pull displays apart leave them a mess.

II. "Where Apes Swing To and Fro"

I want to catch up with all sorts of things here!
Like the question of what to do with old-timey-racist books––the White Father paternalistic kind, not the KKK kind. (No one has donated viciously racist books, though what is vicious is debatable.) 

UPDATE: The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris University, Michigan accepts donations of racist objects.

In frustration (the frustration of being deluged by Too Much Stuff to Even Think Properly), I've thrown out two or three, but am glad I saved this comic-book one. It's about a cricketer who becomes a missionary, and it presents mission work in a similar light as sport: a boy's grand adventure.
This week I sent this photo of the cover art ^ to my art-historian friend Allan, who wrote back saying he might know a teacher who could use it:
"Potentially useful as subject of analysis for anyone studying perceptions of cultural one-upmanship:
Euros = wearing clothes, as civilized people should; "natives" = almost naked, hence inferior.
Euros = standing (higher position), moving forward; "natives" = crouching (inferior position), static.
Euros = faces illuminated (intelligence, knowledge, truth; "natives" = faces shadowed (ignorance, superstition).
Then there's the "primitive" architecture, not to mention the skull prominently displayed (oooh, savagery, weird beliefs like ancestor worship?, maybe even head-hunting or cannibalism (the ultimate non-Christian practice)?

Ooga-booga, ugh-ugh.   (To be followed by pidgin English statements such as "You Jesus-men?")"
Allan also sent me these hymn lyrics (1929):
Remember all the people
Who live in far off lands
Where children wade through rice fields
And watch the camel trains.
Some work in sultry forests
Where apes swing to and fro,

Remember all God’s children,
Who yet have never heard
The truth that comes from Jesus,
The glory of His Word.

And so on...

IV. Camel Train Coming 

Where in world geography camel trains pass rice fields, I can't picture.
BUT, I do have a picture of a camel!

I got this camel, below, yesterday at work--along with three other Italian creche pieces. I brought it to my monthly happy hour with my friend John--we meet at a nearby restaurant that specializes in Old Fashioneds:

John asked if he could buy the camel. 
He can, but not until after the first Sunday in Advent, December 2:
that's the next Orphan Red Costume Day. Sister, bink & I will be making Three Magi costumes for the little reds, and I am starting my Advent Calendar project:
a photo a day of the Reds opening something.

The Reds are still wearing their Halloween costumes.
Here's Penny Cooper, keeper of the wintertime health elixirs, in the dress sister made for her. She is also Keeper of the Coffee (in tin behind her):

Speaking of Halloween, I never posted my own costume here!
I was going to be Mr. Spock but ended up feeling happier being the Enterprise librarian.

Here I am at work--that's my big boss behind me, as Batman, and the assistant boss in her pink p.j.s next to me, and a couple coworkers (most of the guys didn't dress up at all--some Baptists because they said it's the devil's holiday)--we posted this on FB:

And here, below, after work:

Julia, you can see, is Pippi Longstocking, and Marz is "Christmas on Mars":

One more--a historic one, from Halloween 2011:
Marz is Tintin,
bink as Snowy, and me as Captain Haddock:

V. A Seventies Thanksgiving

This table with four Naugahyde chairs in pristine shape came into the store---the chairs are stamped 1975 underneath. I had fun setting the table yesterday, and posted this on the store's FB (and mine):

I've been the store's FB valet for 6 months, and the page has livened up a bit---I mean, people have just started to leave fun comments--such as the little exchange on this one:

And now I am going to clean up and eat breakfast and go downtown FOR NO REASON! Just for fun! Maybe go see a movie? I hear the Queen movie (Bohemian Rhapsody) isn't great, but a fan said they loved it anyway, and I think I might too.

Happy Thanksgiving, blog friends:
I am thankful for you!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

An Early Advent Story

Advent is a couple Sundays away, but the toys are in the mood. 
Here, a toy interpretation of the magi 
+ Isaiah's plowshares and lions and fatlings. 
(I am short on toy fatlings, alas.)

--By me (of course, right?)

Friday, November 16, 2018

What I'm Reading

I realize now that years ago, when I got rid of most of my books, I pruned too much. 
I need to have piles of many unread books around (Michael blogged a Japanese word for this, which I've forgotten), to dip into. 
I haven't started The Information yet, but I've read (or skimmed) some or all of most of these books now.

The Clock of the Long Now, by Stewart Brand (1999)--about the philosophy behind an attempt to build a 10,000-year clock--meant to inspire people to think long, in deep time. Agriculture/civilization started 10,000 years ago, and we have artifacts from those times, what artifacts will we leave for the future?

Cornel West is too much about Cornel West.

Ditto P.J. O'Rourke-- people trying to be amusing is bad enough in person--it's embarrassing printed on paper. 

With God in Russia--really? You remember what you had for breakfast the day after the KGB arrested you..twenty-five years ago? I don't like fictionalized nonfiction (, which this doesn't even admit it is).

Healthy Aging! Yes! 
Try, try again to eat brightly colored food. FRESH food, NOT Skittles!

What I'm Not Reading

Hooray, I took the books about nonprofit management back to the library yesterday!
I did read (or skim) several of them--enough to see that I am right that the thrift store could be doing more good, better ––but some books also mention the pitfalls of trying to do so, and we've got all of them too––ego, burn out, the death of key players, etc.
(Not to mention universal human limitations, ignorance, incompetence.)

I'd say our store is, as my boss says, "doing OK." I mean, aside from seeing systemic injustices that exist everywhere, I don't see flagrant injustice or abuse at work–– neglect, yes, but more benign than criminal, and I've even come to see the neglect as a kind of blessing.

People laugh a lot at work--something's going right. I'm leaving it, unless I can add something to what's already there (or missing). Like bookmarks! 

"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method."
--Herman Melville, Moby Dick

In that stack above, I very much enjoyed David Thomson's Moments That Made the Movies---reminds me of how I used to blog Movie Moments (23 of them, I see!).

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian (2011), by Avi Steinberg was good---reminded me of my work, since I work with a lot of guys who did prison time---and like Ari and his prison-library patrons, we don't share a lot of common cultural references, but we do share being human.

The Infernal Library sounded great: it's about books written by dictators––verbosity seems to go with the territory––but it was mostly description and almost no insight. Meh.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

My father, Daniele, mid-1960s, speaking at an anti–Vietnam War rally, at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he taught political science. (He always wore a suit and tie to teach, and never  after he retired.)

I don't remember seeing this photo until my sister recently posted it recently on FB--she said she'd found it in our father's house after he died last year, but it had never been on display or in the family scrapbooks.
And yet I think it's one of the best of our father I've ever seen.
The way he's pushing the podium forward!

I recognize me, here.
He was more likely to express disapproval than approval of me, and not surprisingly, I wasn't close to him. But looking at this photo, I admire how he got there: he mostly did it himself, by reading.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"The Matador's New Friend"

This velvet painting originally had a charging wounded bull, and no mountains, in the background. (Wish I had a "before" photo––I'd cut the bull out last year.) 
I recently got a scrap of mountains from a ripped-up painting in the trash at the thrift store. Last night I sat down with scissors, glue, and thread...
Et voila!

I'd pinned the duckling on the original painting last year, unsure if it was too incongruous. It has since blended in, at least in my eyes, and the matador's, so I stitched it on.

This is something of a self-portrait, it occurs to me this morning.
I am both of these characters---the chatty cutey and the dark soul.
I think people mostly see the former––that's what's on display in public.
When I was going to study funeral directing twenty years ago (!), a woman at my work said, "But you're so cheerful!"

Monday, November 12, 2018

SweePo's Sunday Service Project

SweePo helped bink stencil "DO NOT ENTER" on the floor of the thrift store yesterday (closed on Sundays). 
SweePo pushed the Wolfman mask she'd worn since Halloween to the top of her head, so she wouldn't get paint on it. 

Sewing Notions

Sorting an old sewing box––one of my favorite things.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

"The Souls of White Folk", WWI & Today

"I will not believe ... that all the shameful drama of the past must be done again today "

I just read this essay for the first time ever:
"The Souls of White Folk", by W. E. B. DuBois. 

Published in 1920, it's about the causes of World War I, which ended 100 years ago (tomorrow!)––but it is fitting for our times too--of course:
History doesn't stop and start, but keeps rolling on.

Though, with DuBois I would say,
I will not believe that all that was must be, that all the shameful drama of the past must be done again today before the sunlight sweeps the silver seas."

A few choice excerpts:
"It is curious to see America, the United States, looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peacemaker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible time.
No nation is less fitted for this rôle.
For two or more centuries America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred,—making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike,—rather a great religion, a world war-cry:

Up white, down black; to your tents, O white folk, and world war with black and parti-colored mongrel beasts!"
"Let me say this again and emphasize it and leave no room for mistaken meaning: The World War was primarily the jealous and avaricious struggle for the largest share in exploiting darker races.

"Each nation felt its deep interests involved. But how? Not, surely, in the death of Ferdinand the Warlike; not, surely, in the old, half-forgotten revanche for Alsace-Lorraine; not even in the neutrality of Belgium.
No! But in the possession of land overseas, in the right to colonies, the chance to levy endless tribute on the darker world,—on coolies in China, on starving peasants in India, on black savages in Africa, on dying South Sea Islanders, on Indians of the Amazon—all this and nothing more.

"All this I see and hear up in my tower, above the thunder of the seven seas. From my narrowed windows I stare into the night that looms beneath the cloud-swept stars. Eastward and westward storms are breaking,—great, ugly whirlwinds of hatred and blood and cruelty.
I will not believe them inevitable. I will not believe that all that was must be, that all the shameful drama of the past must be done again today before the sunlight sweeps the silver seas.

"If I cry amid this roar of elemental forces, must my cry be in vain, because it is but a cry,—a small and human cry amid Promethean gloom?
"Back beyond the world and swept by these wild, white faces of the awful dead, why will this Soul of White Folk,—this modern Prometheus,—hang bound by his own binding, tethered by a fable of the past?
I hear his mighty cry reverberating through the world, "I am white!"
Well and good, O Prometheus, divine thief! Is not the world wide enough for two colors, for many little shinings of the sun? Why, then, devour your own vitals if I answer even as proudly, "I am black!"
--W. E. B. DuBois, "The Souls of White Folk", chapter two in Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (1920), at Gutenberg Books:

Pair with The Guardian's LONG READ (from Nov. 2017): 
"How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war"

(Thanks to GZ at "ook?!" who posted the link to this article on her FB!) 

^Senegalese soldiers serving in the French army on the western front in June 1917. Photograph: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images