Monday, April 29, 2019

What they do while I'm at work.

As I leave for work this morning, I see the Orphan Reds are listening to the Babars (Celeste and her baby, who is in her bag) tell stories.

I'm not sure if Low is listening or not.
She has been given a Science Officer's top and a tricorder and is in heaven testing all the minerals she can find. (These are rose quartz that were a surprise find in a bronze, lidded bowl I got from my father's house.)
Low pursues solitary pursuits, such as spelunking and Earth Sciences, but she likes to be near the others. Just, not too near.

P.S. One of these little reds is still looking for a new home, if you or anyone you know wants to adopt her.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Book Titles Speak

Another book pairing I set up at work.

Refreshed Bear

I'd posted this donated, old stuffed bear back in January after I'd removed its nasty plastic stuffing at work. 

I took it home and washed it. In the washing machine--it was that dirty.

The bear's remaining googly eye came off in the wash, and the bear has been lying around since, looking like a piece of fabric.

I thought about ditching it, but I'd told the woman who'd donated it, her childhood toy, with tears in her eyes that I'd take care of it. 

The other day I restuffed it and sewed on button eyes.
The last thing I need is another bear, so I intend to take it back to the store.  And yet...

Here's Refreshed Bear last night with Marz:

Speaking of refreshment, this Sunday morning on my back porch, a  robin is bathing in a Pyrex casserole dish I filled with water:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Outgoing, Incoming Books

Not much time to blog this morning-–it's  my day off, but I'm going into the store to mail out some ebay sales––including that signed copy of Trump's Art of the Deal I'd posted about:
It sold for $98 within 24 hours!

Also sold 23 back issues of Ballooning magazine to someone in Albuquerque, NM, "ballooning capital of the world"--that's the beauty of online sales, moving things to their right place.
And a vintage Catholic traveling "last rites" box.

Yesterday I showed the antique pantry box I'd pulled from the dumpster to one of our regulars, who buys a lot of the stuff I personally like. She offered to buy it, but I gave it to her as a gift. That's NOT store policy, but she spends a lot, and we had literally been throwing the box out as trash. She deserved a prize, and it deserved someone who loves it.

It's Independent Bookstore Day here in the Twin Cities, and if I'd thought about it, I might have done something for it... 
I unofficially call my BOOK's area "Vinnie's Books", and it is like an indie bookstore, just one that's dependent on donated books.

We've been getting some amazing donated books!
That copy of The Bell Jar (sold right away for $35), and this week, 1st eds. of Gerald Vizenor's collected tales and poems of the anishinabe people (Minneapolis: Nodin Press, 1970)––the local indigenous people who came to be known as the Chippewa or Ojibwe.

Unlike Ballooning, the anishinabe books should be of high interest locally. They're priced $30 online--I'll put them at $20 in our glass case, and see if they go...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Sprightening Up, with Vinnie & Fred

I. The Birthday Boys 

The saints of the thrift store––the inspiration, Vincent de Paul, and the founder, Frederic Ozanam––these guys, they are not your huggable saints like Saint Francis. 

(Not that the real Francis was exactly huggable, but he's been marketed that way. (He would weep in dismay.) You can buy crocheted amigurumi Francis, like this one.)

You wouldn't make plushies out of the thrift store guys:
Vincent tends to sound grim and duty-bound, 
and Frederic, a professor at the Sorbonne, intellectual and political. (Technically, Frederic is only "blessed", not a saint---is this because his writings sound Communist? or at least Socialist?)

OK, I was wrong.

There are lots and lot of results for a search for "plushie Saint Francis," and only one for "plushie St. Vincent de Paul".

 But there is that one!

 On Etsy, from someone who makes "Saint Softies": felt dolls of Catholic saints. They've even made Thomas Aquinas cute and cuddly.

It was the birthdays on April 24  of Vinnie and on the 23rd of Fred, so I gave them frolicsome birthday hats for the store's Facebook:

I thought this was adorable! but it got hardly any likes.
Do the store's FB friends think the guys are not for joking, or do most of the friends not even know who they are, and they're only there for the thrift? 
I suspect the latter.

II. A Sprightly Deal

I've felt so much more sprightly since I quit the Store Committee--tra la, tra la!
Because guidance from management is usually so lacking, (notwithstanding Big Boss telling me God wants me on the Store Committee––I couldn't take that seriously as store management), I've been free to wriggle around to experiment with where I fit best, how I work best.

(The hands-off style is also what I rail against, you know:
it's why we run out of toilet paper and don't apply for grants. No one is tending to things! But I, personally, benefit from this generally benevolent neglect.)

I think I've found my place. Like Dorothy, it's where it's always been: among the BOOK's, and the people there.

And also in cool old things.
I've started listing on ebay again, after months away.  
Some donations are better suited to be sold online.

For instance, this week we got a copy of The Art of the Deal signed by Trump––it was a premium gift if you subscribed to his 2016 campaign at the $137 level. 

Here, I'll post it SMALL, because I don't want to scare the horses:
I was walking around the store showing it to various coworkers, who were all disgusted by it, and a customer I'd never met called out, "Burn it!" 

So, yeah, I don't think it's going to go in this store. 
Though I did ask one of our regulars, who collects signed books, if he would buy it. (If I notice a book is signed, I set it aside for him. No extra cost, usually.) 
The Trumps sell for $200 and up, but ours has a small rubber stamp from a personal library on the inscription page, so I priced it $98. A deal!

"I don't have a Trump," he said. "I'd give you, um... ten."

I told him if it didn't sell, I'd save it for him.

I have no idea if Trump has good ideas about finding your place in work-life and business, but there is an art to it.
I'm starting to finesse it--better than I used to, anyway.
For instance,  I'm ONLY working on ebay at work. Last year I was taking stuff home to research and photograph it. A bad deal: I started to feel resentful, even though it was only ever my choice.

I always try to follow the advice of St. Benedict:
If you are in a room and cannot maintain your compassion toward the people there, leave the room.

In other words, if you keep tripping on the rug, change the rug or take a different path.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Beautiful Box

People see things differently, that's for sure. 

The other day I pulled this antique pantry box out of the dumpster at work. I can imagine why someone threw it out, since it's missing a slat, but it's still a beautiful handmade piece--and it's stamped "Minn" (far right), adding local interest.
Individuals used these boxes the 1800s to store food stuffs in their pantries. This is a big one--that's a desk chair it's sitting on. Maybe it's from a manufacturer? A grain measure?
It's bentwood, with a straight seam down one side, fasted with tacks--metal ones, here.

I also pulled a sterling silver dish out of the dumpster (do I sound like a broken record?).
When I reminded the housewares volunteer to watch for anything stamped "sterling," she told me she'd thought it wasn't worth anything since it was engraved.

True, engraved dishes aren't worth much, but silver is hardly dumpster material.

"fragmentary parts"

Another couple vocabulary lists, found in donated books.
[an earlier one]
I wish I'd noted the books they were in--the first was in a book of Christian theology.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Not Playing with a Full Deck

Fourth in a Series: Curious Donations to the Thrift Store

1. "Why did you put out a deck of cards with one missing?" a customer asked one of the thrift store volunteers.

The volunteer replied that people use playing cards for art materials.
True, but we have dozens of decks of cards, some with cool card backs, and this was just a standard Bicycle deck.
I took it and put it in our little free box.

I didn't throw it out because I like that the donor had noted it had a missing card--the 3 of diamonds. They had also donated a full deck.

2. I pulled this audiocassette, Contraception: Why Not?, out of the dumpster––but only to photograph it. Then I returned it.
The organization One More Soul is online now. 
I understand why people oppose abortion––but contraception?
This is their stand on contraception:

"The joining of love and life in marital sexual intercourse—the marriage act—is a God-ordained joining not intended for Man to separate by contraception."
[Another sentence that's tempting to rewrite.]

3. It was I who donated these two books, with their silvery titles––atomic weapons and Oil in the Soviet Union. I'd bought them a month ago for 12¢ each at the books-per-pound university resale warehouse because I love the design of their spine titles. 
I'm surprised no one has bought them for their beauty, as well as their still relevant ominousity. 
[Update: I looked up atomic weapons and it sells for some $20 online, so I'll give listing it a go.]

4. And how 'bout a letter signed by J. Edgar Hoover? 
A young man bought this for $40 out of the glass case where I mostly put expensive books. 
He said it was cool. I didn't quiz him further about why he's want it, though I wanted to.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Price Point

Today was a crap donations day.
The nadir was a bag of old telephone books and Ikea catalogs:

Not as bad but hardly stellar was 4 grocery bags of pop thrillers--the usual James Patterson, Patricia Cornwall, Tom Clancy, et al.

We get a million of these. 
I price them at 49-cents each, hard- or paperback, and even at that, they don't fly off the shelves.

I decided to offload all four bags on a volunteer who'd asked me for books for her church's spring rummage sale.

I barely bothered to look through all the books, but . . . What's this?

One of these things is not like the others:

A first U.S. ed. (though not first printing) of Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar?
How did that end up among these modern bestsellers?

This edition sells for $20 and up. 
I priced it $35 and put it in our glass case.
I've been trying to hit a balance where cool things are within reach of people who want to own them, and are also expensive enough to put off the people who buy to resell. 

I used to shop at thrift stores to resell on ebay, so I'm somewhat sympathetic to re-sellers, but I'd rather the store get the money because we use it to fund our food bank and other programs that help a lot of people fulfill basic needs--things I care about.
Also the store is something of a community resource---there really are a lot of regulars, and I want to keep that lively.

It's taken me a while to decide what to do about resellers. 
I finally figured that since they're a fact of life, it's the job of thrift stores (me) to know the merchandise well enough to price it fairly. 
So, this weekend I finally downloaded a free app (which resellers use) that scans barcodes and tells you how much money different big online companies, like Amazon or Powell's, will pay for them.

If a reseller pays the thrift store a dollar––our standard price for a paperback––and resells it to Amazon for three dollars, I don't care. They're welcome to it, and it saves me the trouble. 
But now I'll know if some books are worth a whole lot more, and I'll price them higher--again, oddly, pricing them higher so they stay on the shelves for local readers.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Red I: A New Home for a Red

Ode to joy! We have been eastered.

The other evening, my neighbor's niece was visiting downstairs. She is a grown up person, but because her nickname is Maddy, on a whim I asked if she would like one of the Madeline dolls. 
(I'd realized eight (8!) little reds were too many, you know, and I'd put all but the Original Three away, but I'd done nothing much about finding them new homes.)

Would she?

She might.

She came up to meet them, . . . and she did!
And one of them especially liked her too--the one holding an orange bird. I never knew this Red's real name.*

They look like twins, eh? 
Seeing them go off together, I was very happy.

* "The Naming of Dolls is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games..."

["The Naming of Cats", T. S. Eliot]

Easter Red II: Red Hair Girl, Cat Burglar

Red Hair Girl went with bink to the Basilica on the morning of Good Friday, as I mentioned, to help haul rose petals up for that evening. (bink & poodletail drop them from on high at the end of the service.)
bink & RHG went up on the catwalk in the dome high above the altar.

It's waaaay up high: that's a 9-foot statue of Mary that RHG is looking down upon.
I don't like heights, and it makes me dizzy to look at this photo. Is RHG's carabiner even clipped on?  BINK ? ? ?

To get into this interior space, you have to go out on the roof of the Basilica, then go in a secret little door...
Here's RHG on the roof with the Minneapolis skyline behind her.

The glass skyscraper with the black band is the city's tallest: The IDS. It gets my vote for Most Boring Building, though if you have an office on the inside, I admit you have a pretty spectacular view. 
But I've seen that view exactly once––it's not open to the public––when I visited a friend who'd become a lawyer. (She has since quit lawyering and gone back to librarianing.)

Anyway, RHG was so inspired, she has declared would like to take up breaking and entering tall things.
Maybe she could be like the man who walked on a tightrope between the World Trade towers. (Except not die.) 

Easter Red III: SweePo, Lamb of God

SweePo was mighty taken with this little ceramic lamb, so I took their picture yesterday.
This afternoon I was sorting antique Catholic holy cards (for work) and there was, could it be, . . . an ancestor of SweePo's?

Easter Red IV: Penny Cooper, Martyr

I got this bunny-with-teeth (à la Monty Python) pulling an Easter cart from the thrift store for bink. But when I gave it to her at coffee yesterday in the presence of the Orphan Reds, Penny Cooper declared it was a tumbrel from the French Revolution.*
And she?
She would be Sydney Carton!

Oh, noble Penny Cooper! Ever triumphant, even facing death.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done."


P.S. Penny Cooper wanted to build a toy guillotine, but I just haven't gotten around to it, and I sort of think I never will.
PC's head remains on her shoulders, as such such a winning head should.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Red Hair Girl, on Good-to-Go Friday

Marz wrote this poem (in 1 minute) for the Orphan Reds:
Their plasticity is no descent
from which a return will be marked,
nor a fine capture like air in water
but triumph in all three forms:
wild, lawful, and true.
This is the wild one: Red Hair Girl, waiting (eagerly) for bink to come pick her up this morning. 

RHG is wearing a carabiner & harness, because she's going to the Basilica with bink, where they'll climb up onto a catwalk way above the altar:
bink will be hauling up bags of rose petals she will drop onto the altar this evening for the Tenebrae ("shadows") Good Friday Service.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Everything Is Transitional

I. Greens & Oranges

I stopped off the bus at the nearby Kmart yesterday, in the rain, to buy greens to cook for a potluck work lunch today.
Kmart carries some basic fruit and veg, but, turns out, they don't carry greens.

I bought four navel oranges, priced 50¢ each.

At the check-out, the cashier had no code for single oranges.
(Almost every time I go to this Kmart there's some screw-up at the register. It's the worst store I've ever been to. Mr. Furniture would laugh at me and say, "What do you expect? It's the ghetto Kmart.")

The very young cashier solved the problem by ringing the oranges up as limes--only 33¢ each.

Thirty-three! That's how old Jesus is this Holy Week!
Could it be a sign? Of what?

(I don't believe in signs, but I love spotting them.)

And here's another sign of who-knows-what:

I sent Art Sparker a box of tiny things, as thanks for making signs for the store, 

and also because it's hugely fun to get together a box of tiny things.

I included a tiny flocked giraffe (from West Germany). 

Sparker wrote back that she already had one! 

 She sent me a photo of the pair.

And she posted photos on her Instagram of some of the other Tiny Things. 

Aaah! And another this morning--an assemblage of three items I sent, which she left on a telephone pole. 
Too dear! I have to share this! 

Walking home from Kmart, I passed an out-of-business grocery store (they would have had greens!), where street people hang out in the wide, protected vestibule––they've even dragged in old chairs to sit on.
Only one guy was there yesterday. 
I offered him an orange.

"Thanks," he said, "I just got out of the hospital a couple days ago for pneumonia".

"Well, then you need the vitamin C!" I said. "Looks like you need a raincoat too," and took off my plastic rain poncho. "Take this--I have another one at home."

II. White & Reds

I've noticed that if you give people money, generally they accept it without hesitation; 
but if you give a thing that clearly will leave you without––like mittens or a rain poncho, or, once, a muffin––often people are reluctant to inconvenience you by accepting.

"But you'll have to walk home in the rain," this guy said.

"Naw, it's just a couple blocks. If you've had pneumonia, you should have rain protection."

"I shouldn't be smoking and drinking beer," he said, which he was.

"Well," I said, "you've gotta have a life..." I hung the rain poncho on the chair.

He smiled. "You should be a psychologist," he said.

As I walked away, he called after me, "My name is Julius!"

"Fresca!" I called back.

I tell ya. This city I live in is rich, but you could give away necessities all day, every day. 
Once when I told someone about one of these exchanges, she said, "Doesn't that leave you feeling good!"

Well, but it doesn't.
It leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the need out there.

And yet, yes, it does.
Almost always, these are pleasant, human exchanges that leave me feeling warmed by the kindness of others. 
Last week during our spring-snow storm, I gave my bus transfer to a guy wearing a plastic bag at the bus stop.
He was carrying a beat-up bag, bulging with items.

I walked on and he came after me, holding out something he'd dug out of his bag.

"Here! I don't know what it is, but it's new! Some kind of face cream."

It was a little sealed pot of M&D Pharmacy Photo White, Brightening Face Cream, SPF 50.
Expired 12/2017. 
I looked it up--the brand is Italian (!), and this pot costs  €15.00.

Darn. Mayo Clinic says sunscreen does expire, and since this is two years past, I won't use it. 

I gave it to the Orphan Reds to play with.
They love it!
(Red Hair Girl has changed into her warm-weather wraps.)

III. Dreams of Paris

Speaking of the Reds, who were originally "Madeline" dolls---
I was so happy I'd been saving a plushy Madeline & her original book at my desk at work, so I could include her in a "Dreams of Paris" display I set up at work yesterday, around a Notre Dame tourist plate, which I was also happy (and amazed) that we had in the store.

Dreams of Paris is the name of the book to the far right, with the red "paris". It's a photo book from the 1960s.

I was distraught when I heard Notre Dame was burning [photos in the Guardian]––my mother had loved the cathedral––but that night I picked up Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I'd gotten from the library only the day before the fire because, honest, the library had a paperback copy of that title and the only hardback of Les Misérables––the book I'd wanted––was too heavy to hold. (A sign! A sign!)

I was heartened to read Victor Hugo pointing out that the cathedral "is not what may be called a complete monument... It is a transitional edifice", which has weathered "the wounds of Time; brutal violence from revolutions; and . . . a host of architects"!

Now it will have another story.

And now I must go to the Asian market to buy greens. I didn't go yesterday because I didn't have rain gear...

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

"Les Misérables" and My Work

I expect many (most?) of my coworkers and fellow Vincentians don't know it, but the Society of SVDP was founded because of the poverty and injustice that Victor Hugo wrote about in Les Misérables.

I just posted this on the thrift store's FB, which I manage by default––i.e. no one else wants to (... and I do).
"THIS––the world of Les Misérables"––led to the founding of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul ! ! ! 😯
Nineteen-year-old Frederic Ozanam was in Paris during the story's [real!] events of 1832, & the poverty & injustice led him to start our Society.

📺 New mini-series "Les Mis" starts TONIGHT, Sunday 4/14, @ 8/9 PM  on MASTERPIECE, free on PBS television stations. (* * * OR * you can pay for "Passport" to stream it anytime online...)"

(I don't have a TV and I don't want to pay to stream it, so I won't be watching, but I'm excited to share it with my colleagues.)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Orphan Reds at the Museum

A friend has a floral display at the nearby art museum's annual "Art in Bloom" event this week, and she invited the Reds to help refresh her flowers––against museum rules prohibiting plastic in the display.

Penny Cooper, who knows everything, rolled her eyes. "We are not plastic."

Luckily, this time, unlike last week at the Conservatory, no one was caught in the act of touching flowers.

Free Throw

I. Basket

I'd thought all the week Big Boss was gone about how to reply to his contention that God wants me to stay on the Store Committee.

BB had said we'd talk when he got back from vacation. All this week I waited for him to ask to meet . . . and I thought some more about what to say. 
Only a couple days ago did I ditch my theological, political, and autobiographical explanations.

Big Boss never asked to talk, so yesterday I did.

It's like basketball, I said.

The store workers are like players: they follow a leader, but they improvise on the spot, on the floor.
The store managers and board members are like coaches: 
they have to plan the larger picture, develop strategic goals, coordinate with other organizations.

"I have always never wanted to be a coach," I said. "I'm better as a player." 

It worked! Big Boss told me, sympathetically, that Magic Johnson had just quit management because he didn't like what the job entailed.

"Call me Magic," I said. "Not all players are cut out to be good managers."

Here's where I learned everything I know about basketball:

 II. Spring Is Reading Weather 
We've had a snow storm over the past couple days, but it's a spring snow---heavy, wet, and soon to melt, taking with it  the remaining winter's sludge of salt and sand.

 Time to put out the new season's bookmark by Art Sparker (Susan Sanford)!

Friday, April 12, 2019

AO3 Hugo: Play is the wellspring of creativity.

I'm thrilled that the dear-to-my-heart online archive of fan-created works, Archive of Our Own (AO3) has been nominated for a Hugo, the mothership of sci-fi & fantasty literary awards! 

I'm quite romantic about AO3.
Whether or not you care about fan-fiction, AO3 is a sign of hope for humanity: it is an example of the best the Internet can unleash--a platform for people to express themselves freely:

And the fan writers and creators are mostly female and are (or were) often quite young––people whose work would not have normally been published in the past.
In the past, small groups of fans shared their work in groups and mailings, which could be hard for others to find––but this network is huge (1 million+ users!), and open to any and all.
Fans started AO3 to get away from commercial sites that dictated what stories, art, and other fan-created works could be posted.

Not that fans don't fight among themselves about what is acceptable––do they ever! But the site itself does not censor postings--though it does allow for posting warnings [e.g., warning: character death, noncon sex, etc.] and, I think, even requires them on certain works.

From Slate:
"Why Archive of Our Own’s Surprise Hugo Nomination Is Such a Big Deal:

The fan fiction site—built, run, and written primarily by and for women—deserves your respect.
"Fan works, and the community that surrounds them, often don’t get the respect they deserve. So AO3’s nomination for the prestigious award—both for the platform itself and for the platform as a proxy for the very concept of fan fiction—is a big deal.
Many, both inside and outside the sci-fi and fantasy community, deride fan fiction as mostly clumsy amateur works of sexual fantasy—critiques that, as those who have looked at them closely have pointed out, have a glaringly gendered component."
I can attest, some of the work is excellent, professional level work that flourishes in a gift economy.

But , yeah, much of fan fiction is "clumsy amateur works of sexual fantasy". So what? That's a place to start, or,  what the hell––it's sufficient unto itself: it's fun! 
It's for PLAY!
Play is the wellspring of creativity.

AO3 is up for a "Best Related Work" award. Results are in August.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Exercise Day!

I go to see the personal trainer for my first full hour at the YM later this morning.
I'm not sure she's the right one for me––she's rather chilly––but she said I can switch trainers if I want.
I'll give this my best effort.

I love these exercise illustrations from The Weigh of All Flesh, Handy Aid Book, 1953 (from the store). This cutey looks like Baymax, "your personal healthcare companion" in
 Big Hero 6.
This book is a weird mix of common sense and outdated advice:
"Success in the management of weight demands your intelligent cooperation." 

Intelligent cooperation. I like that.

 But "Appetite depressants prescribed by your  physician are helpful..."?
Well, yeah, amphetamines do suppress appetite, and OxyContin is helpful for pain.

Anyway, I'm not thinking about weight--the topic is too emotionally loaded. It was a weapon of shame and control used against me, NOT in service of health, and I try to forget about it.

It pisses me off to have to admit it's been one of the most painful topics in my life.
And it extra–pisses me off to know that I am far, far from alone in this. Feeling crazy and bad about your body is practically normal in my culture.

Like, isn't this a creepy ad? (From a pharmaceutical company––surprise, surprise.) The young woman in her underwear is faceless, and the self-satisfied old man in a scientist outfit looks like someone who'd design a Stepford wife.
Helps you keep your patient on your diet? YOUR diet?

Huh--I looked up amphetamines and see that since 2015, some doctors again prescribe them for weight loss--just for 12 weeks, under supervision.
Maybe they are less drastic than weight-loss surgery?

I don't know, but I do know this bottom exercise will blow-out your knees.
Anyway, as I said, I'm not thinking about weight--
I'm thinking about getting stronger again
that makes me nothing but happy!

Even after two light work-outs last week, I feel stronger.
To some extent, it doesn't matter if I love this trainer or not, so long as she helps me get going and stay going.

My related goal: not getting injured!. I've been moving with more intention at work, keeping body mechanics more in mind. I've been pretty slack about that and am lucky I haven't hurt myself.
I want my job to build me up, not wear me down.

I kind of want this T-shirt to wear to the gym:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Front Loader & Fruit Baskets

I. Fully Loaded

There's no time before work to take the Orphan Reds outside with their new construction truck (a front loader--I had to look that up), but they're getting into it on the kitchen table.
I'm chuffed that the truck fits all three.

From the back, Red Hair Girl makes the truck noises. 
It is very noisy.

II. How to Thank Someone for a Fruit Basket

The truck is from work, of course, and on Michael's suggestion, I also brought home The Bantam Book of Correct Letter Writing, a 1958 abridgement of a 1948 book.

I learned: 
"Often when people leave for foreign shores, their relatives and friends send bon voyage gifts to the ship or plane."

And here's the sample thank-you:
(Isn't that a bit effusive for a basket of fruit, even a most magnificent one? Maybe it's code?)

Next time a friend goes on a trip, I'm sending a fruit basket to their airplane.

"Move Upstairs"

I'm crazy about this a capella gospel song "Move Upstairs", sung by Della Daniels and Ester Mae Smith--
 --and it's the kind of movable song I'm thinking about when I think about how music survives. 
The lyrics are about that too--what helps you survive. (Preparing for release from this world...)

(I'm sure people have written wonderfully about this––how music travels through hardness––I'm not much of a music person, and it's kind of new to me...)

Marz introduced me to it.
It's from the album Como Now: The Voices of Panola County, Mississippi (2008):
"Deep in the heart of Panola County, Mississippi lies Como, a small rural town where children and grown folks alike have been living and breathing gospel for as long as they can remember.
In the summer of 2006, Daptone Records placed a small ad in local papers and on the radio inviting singers to come down to Mt. Mariah Church to record their songs.
The result is COMO NOW, a stirring collection of traditional and original a cappella gospel from the voices of Panola County’s own families."

Saturday, April 6, 2019


While eating veggie burgers at my local White Castle, I hear a man and a woman yelling at each other in one of the single-toilet bathrooms. 
Crew members ^ come and unlock the door.

The woman inside says, "It's OK--we're just having a Jerry Springer moment." 

On my way out I see the couple eating together––still arguing, but quietly.

Why does the crews' FAMILY T-shirt look like the POLICE ICE design?
Surely this is more than a coincidence?

Googled it!
And--wow, yeah--I didn't find mention of ICE, but it's gotta be conscious--the designer of White Castle's uniform is the black-owned, streetware-inspired,
avant-garde line Telfar.
From Interview magazine (9/2017)

"[Since 1991] the White Castle in LeFrak City, Queens, was designer Telfar Clemens’ local haunt —
where he passed countless hours in his youth before carving out his immutable, genderless approach to dressing, a return to brandless style and a generic 'normality.'
It’s undisputed that through his democratic, tongue-in-cheek garms, Telfar has leveled-out fashion’s playing field." 
Garms = clothes, from "garments"

Meanwhile, across the street in the K-Mart parking lot, a male pigeon flashes his finery. His friend appears unimpressed.

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Day at the Conservatory, and a Magic Octopus

It's the dirtiest, ugliest time of year, with melted snow revealing all of winter's garbage, and no plants growing yet. bink took me and the Orphan Reds in the car to the Conservatory to see some green this afternoon.

"I don't know if I have a doll in my bag, or what."

What was your wish, Penny Cooper?
An elderly man came up to me at the fountain and told me that his daughter "in her fifties" travels with a Raggedy Ann doll that she photographs wherever she goes. 
"I kind of look forward to seeing it in her photos," he said.

I thanked him for telling me––I'm not alone!––and asked him to pass along my greetings to his daughter. Theresa, her name is.

Red Hair Girl, no respecter of posted signs, was approached by a conservator and told to refrain from touching the plants, please.

SweePo wanted to touch the koi, but today they weren't hungry enough to nibble fingers. 

Afterward we went for tea at Rose Street Bakery, where the Orphans unwrapped a double-chocolate macaron for bink.

It's spring break for public schools, and lots of families were at the conservatory this afternoon. 

In the gift shop, I witnessed a young man telling a little boy, who looked about five, that the boy couldn't have a light-up rubber octopus.

The man seemed sad as he  tried to explain, "I don't have the money, buddy!"  
He took the toy away from the boy and put it in a sales bin. Whereupon the crying little boy, with lightning speed, grabbed the octopus and darted away into the forest of hanging T-shirts.

That's just what Red Hair Girl would do!

I went up to the man. "Sir, can I buy that octopus for your little boy? He loves it so much, it would make me happy..."

"No, really?" I could see how mixed the man felt--hope mixed with polite refusal. "It's too expensive!" 

"How much is it?"

"Eight ninety-nine!"

Gulp. I'd guessed five.

But I had a ten, luckily. "It would make my day if you'd accept this," I said.
I could see the man was hesitant but wanted to accept, so I pushed it in his hand.

bink told me afterward she heard him say to the boy, "A nice lady wants to buy that toy for you", and that he looked around for me. 

But it's not a magic gift if you have to say thank-you to some stranger, so I had quietly sneaked away.

P.S. Speaking of  sneaking away--I googled "how to resign from a nonprofit committee" and was heartened and amused to see I am FAR from alone in this too.
The anguished cries of "my organization is a dysfunctional mess" and the loads of detailed examples were a balm.
The humans.

It is easier to do good deeds by stealth than to sit on committees.