Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I, And 345 Or So Others, Are Escaped to Tell You.

The old life odometer tipped over to "44" this last weekend. How'd that happen? The big day got started at the auction where I bought some chipped Haviland china ($5 -for 4 dessert plates and a sugar bowl) and a great little collection of Jackie-Kennedy-Era hats in period hatbox from Bambergers Department Store ($22.50).

The box is black and decorated with little gold Fleurs de Lis. The lid is black and white stripes with "Bambergers" written in jaunty gold script. My long association with Quebec, and strange royalist tendencies, pull me toward anything decorated with Fleurs de Lis. I think the hats will look smashing on the Understudy. I forced her to model the best one just now by threatening to give Shackleton the entirety of the last Fruit Roll-Up unless she went up and got that hat and put - it - on! The crappy picture was predictable. We'll have to do better on some later occasion. Still, you get a notion of how fabulous this hat is and of the wonders of the hatbox from whence it emerged.

After the auction it was off to Stowe for the kids' ski lesson. There were ice sculptures everywhere. Fabulous. Cold and windy, but fabulous. Whusband made a pie. I bought myself flowers at Price Chopper left over from Chinese New Year. They are still on the table. My sister and nieces sent me a card that arrived on Saturday with a $50 Target gift card.

So, I am not complaining. How could I? Well, there is the fact that I have the sense that I am falling apart like a cheap suit these days. Mortality! The Center Cannot hold, and all that. But then I got to thinking...

This birthday coincided roughly with my receipt of a book put together by some stalwarts from my high school class on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of our graduation from High School. I didn't go to the reunion, which took place last summer, but I bought the book.

Does anything make more fascinating reading than the bios, 25 years on, of the people with whom you went to high school? And are any illustrations more interesting than the pictures of the same? I sent in a little self-serving item like around 20 percent of our class, which consisted of about 350 people.

We were each of us reared in a prosperous suburb of Schenectady, New York. Schenectady was, and is, a high tech kind of place, at least vestigially, because of the presence of GE. It's R&D center was located in our "town" (no town center, really, to speak of, mostly housing developments within striking distance of the lab).

Our High School was a bragging point for most of the adults in our lives. People moved to our town to send their kids to this great school. I didn't believe this propaganda then, but I guess I do now. Lots of bios seem to mention "Yale" and similar institutions. Funny, people I assumed were miserable in High School seem to be largely responsible for all this rounding up of and organizing of the alumni. Could it be that I still don't know everything?

Most of those who provided recent pictures, or who allowed photographs to be taken at the reunion, have held up pretty well. Some look astonishingly good - better than they did at 18. I am not in that group. Others look, well, like strange old people. I am closer to this group. Then there is a third group, memorialized on a single page, who are dead. Whew. That's what had me thinking along the lines of Job, from whose book I have paraphrased today's post title.

There are five altogether out of our class of 350 (or so) who didn't make it into their early 40s. One - and I remember this well - didn't even make it to the high school. She died in 7th grade in a car crash. She was too cool to be my friend but she had come to my birthday party in 6th grade. Her name is etched in memory. I had heard about two others who were dead before we got out of college. Two others are on that page whom I don't much remember and whose fates were unknown to me until I got the book.

In the last year or so my sister dredged a bunch of our high school stuff out of the house in which we used to live. It included a picture of me being handed my high school diploma by the assistant principal, Mr. Carangelo, on the stage at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady. I am grinning like an embarrassed idiot. It looks like my mortar board is a heartbeat from slipping off my head. I am wearing the gown in a shade of red no longer available in the United States and made of a petroleum based product, as I recall. I don't remember much about the ceremony, although I do remember sitting with all 350-whatever of us in the dark: jocks, nerds, drama fags (sorry but that was the affectionate sobriquet) we didn't have goths yet, all in alphabetical order, ready to be loosed on our lives and the world.

Pondering this I was glad that the Grim Reaper wasn't actually visible up on stage with Mr. Carangelo, letting us know the odds. Two of you will not make it out of your 20s, 2 more will not see 40. What news next? Always the same, I suppose. But in the meantime, there are adorable models for vintage hats,
and the hats and their boxes,
and skiing, and ice sculptures,
and discount Chinese New Year flowers ,
and apple pies,
and Target, and gift cards to Target!

And for that, and so many other things, let those of us who have escaped to tell be grateful.

Mom-ook of the Morth

Did you hear about the weather up here today? My kind neighbor drove my kids to school (the snow didn't come til around brunch time so school wasn't cancelled). I used an hour or two of the morning for a slow hike, befitting my semi-collapsed state - in my beloved woods at Jay Peak.

In all this snow, a creek rock becomes muffin-like, with strata of different snow falls clearly visible.

And here's the Family Conveyance, as it appeared today after my trip up Jay Peak then to the Pick & Shovel and RJ's Friendly Market in Newport.

I actually love all this snow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Man Lifts 4000 Pounds With Tongue and Other 2008 World Records You May Have Missed

DISCLAIMER: I know that other people's children being adorable and clever can be tedious, but this had, what? a certain élan. Hold on till you get to the World's Fattest Man, at least. I have found that it pays to study the illustrations carefully.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm Doing You a Favor

I know, I know, it's the internet and this is blog, for cryin' out loud. Keep it moving. Keep it light. Posting a five minute Youtube video is like asking people to sit through Berlin Alexanderplatz . Plus it is too easy. Copy, paste.

OK. I know.

But this song is on the rotation of my favorite Vermont radio station and it has been haunting me lately. I finally got it off iTunes tonight and I have been listening to it, over and over, for the last hour. I am sharing because I care about you all and want you to have the good things in life. This song isn't exactly obscure, featuring Robert Plant, who was once in a famous rock band, and Allison Krauss, who sings and plays the fiddle and is also somewhat well known, so maybe you've heard this. Well, here you can hear and see them for free. Enjoy.

Also, my friend Barb, over at Basically Unemployable (see the sidebar), posted an Eels video ("It's a MotherF****") on her blog a few months ago and in that way I met the Eels. I thanked Barb.


Stay Warm. Here are Robert and Allison.

Oh, and after you click on the arrow that makes the video start, be sure to move the little white hand that appears away from the center of the screen. Otherwise it will look like the finger on the white hand is going up Robert's and then Allison's nose and they don't deserve that. (Even if they both look strained to the brink to appear moody in this abandoned house and its yard full of Greek (Roman?) gods and a metal lawn chair. I am sure it was not their idea).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend Update, or, Speaking of Snow and a Little 10th-Grade-English Refresher

Several commenters recently have taken a position on snow. Mine varies. This weekend, the snow was definitely a good thing. I was up at my Holy Mountain, Jay Peak, first thing Saturday morning. Beautiful, no? Unfortunately, fluffy, pristine snow, and clear days in January around here often also portend brutal cold. It was -15 F with a stiffish breeze when I got out to take my mountain walk at 7:30 AM. I spent a minute or two actually worried that I might have done some disfiguring damage to my nose and cheeks as I headed into that breeze to get to this:

Fortunately, as ever, once I got going the woods cut the wind and my blood got flowing and no body parts were permanently damaged. It was so beautiful, it reminded me of poetry; specifically, the figures of speech we were supposed to learn in English 10A. Do you remember "synechdoche?" I recalled that it involved using a part of something as a stand-in for the whole: as in "all hands on deck." So, if I were writing a poem about people (of both sexes) suffering a freezing walk in the woods, I might say "every pair was frozen." Sorry. That's crude, but perhaps partially redeemed by educational value? I was also reminded of the poetic device known as assonance. This is, as per the Wikipedia definition (if you don't want to click through), "repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse." The Wikipedia example was "Do you like blue?" (The "oo" sound is assonant). The assonant phrase that kept recurring to me was: "chapped ass." (Note the assonant short "a" sound here). Sorry, also crude, but when you turn your back to the freezing wind in the beautiful woods it's hard not to resort to poetry.

Later in the day, things warmed slightly and the kids and their friends went slding here at the farm in a beautiful afternoon glow.

Stowe Mountain Resort

Sunday was the opening day of the kids' school ski program down at Stowe Mountain Resort. It was my first time at that most famous of Vermont ski areas and I have to say it was astonishingly nice. They have just finished a huge new luxury lodge at Spruce Peak and every thing has been done to a very high standard completely atypical of the uncercapitalized ventures we generally have in poor northern New England. This is Vail in Vermont. To their credit, the mountain basically lets the local school kids and their instructors ski for free. The kids had a great time skiing while I hung out with some other Moms in the fabulous "great room" of the new cafeteria - although it was not like any cafeteria I had ever been in. I stupidly forgot my camera. More on this anon.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Jam-Packed 200th Post - Plate Mysteries Revealed!

We'll get to the picture of the dog, and why she appears so content, in just a minute.

I have information for you about those plates! From no less a personage than the president of the Transferware Collectors Club. (I am adding a link to the Blog Roll on the sidebar). But, and I know the suspense has got to be nearly unbearable, first here are some pictures I took today with my NEW CAMERA. This is like your relatives making you flip through their snaps of their vacation before they will give you dinner.

A word about this camera and its origins.

Whusband was informed (by me, of course) that I wanted a new camera for Christmas. Christmas morning, when he was embarrassed by the fact that he had no present for me to open (my Dad and stepmom were here so there was an audience for his badness) he said he had bought "us" a camera "to share." This is code for, "I bought myself a camera and I am pretending in the presence of your family that I got it for you." Well, the joke was on him because it came while he was away and I promptly popped in a memory card and took it up to Jay Peak for a hike, but not before I took pictures of Maisy sitting in the forbidden chair. (She's not even supposed to be in the living room, but, as I say, Whusband was away. Oh, and I turned up the heat too).

So, our first photo today is Maisy in a mellow mood in a comfy chair in a warm house.

Below we have, again, (sorry) the woods at Jay Peak, as they appeared at around 3 PM today. Cold and snowy again here today. In fact, it was so cold that the MP3 player that was pumping out aerobically motivating music stopped working about halfway through my walk, frozen apparently. The camera kept on, however.

Plate News

Thanks to all those visitors from the Transferware Collectors Club who dropped by to take my plate identification challenge (see the last post). I know from my stats that we had lots of people come and look at the last post, which set forth the challenge, but only one answer came. Fortunately it was a really good answer and it is from Loren Zeller who identifies himself as president of the TCC.

Hi Susan (he meant "Kim"), I tried posting this comment on your blogger site, but it didn't take. As an old New Englander transplanted to Arizona, your lovely winter woods pix makes me nostalgic, not enough to move back, but to wish for a short visit!
I am responding to your transferware posting on our TCC site. The patterns on your pieces are what we refer to as Romantic patterns and would have been made during the mid 1800's. Many of them were made for export to the US and Canada. It's not my area of collecting focus, but a quick pass through some of my reference books has helped me to identify all but the last platter. So, here is what I can tell you:
Plate # 1 is "Carrara" made by John Holland, Clay Hills Pottery, Tunstall, c. 1852-54.
Plate # 2 is "Pagoda", by Enoch Wood and Sons.
Platter # 1 is "Friburg" by William Davenport, although the pattern was also made by G. Phillips.
Platter #2 is "Isola Bella" by William Adams & Son.
These were all "series" patterns meaning that the central pattern would usually be different for every different shape (platter versus plate versus veg. bowl, etc.) What is consistent in series TW is the border and often the border is the easiest way to identify these patterns as they are often similar to others.
Enjoy your auction purchase! Do join our club and enjoy all its benefits like the pattern database and the bulletin! And, stay warm.
Best, Loren Zeller, TCC President.

Thanks Loren. Send me your email address and I will send you the PRIZE. Which will be this:

Just a teacup - maybe a coffee cup? Perhaps Loren knows. The pattern is "Minuet" by WM Adams & Son England. I think it is very fetching and since it has now served as a prize it can be known as the first Woolfoot Transferware Identification Cup.

If anyone knows what that last platter is, weigh in and maybe there's teacup in it for you too.

Here it is again:

Show the Dog Again!

OK, OK. Here she is.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hello From the Snow. May I Show You Some Plates?

Oooooh but it was cold and windy on Saturday morning here on the US side of the Canadian border! I, nontheless, got up and out of the Last House and out onto the trails at dear old Jay Peak just as the sun was coming up. The wind had scoured a lower, exposed section of the trail clean down the grass and it was blowing so hard in my face that I almost turned back. Intrepid middle-aged broad that I am, however, I knew if I got into the woods it would be OK, and so it was. As you can see, I didn't have the benefit of a matched pair of gloves on this hike. I combined a pair from the dollar store on one hand and used the superior single glove on the other. When I got to the highest point on my walk I was nice and warm and stopped to snap this picture for myself and you all. Thanks for stopping by.

About the Plates

Shackleton and I spent a happy New Year's Day at the "high end" auction at my beloved Degre Auction House in Westfield. (See the link on the side bar). Shackleton got two wooden boxes(we both liked them) and I bought all manner of things. We were there for hours! My very favorite items were two groups of some old, very old, plates and platters. I am going to ask at the experts Transferware Collectors Club to swing by here and help me to identify some of the patterns (their website says posting a URL is the best was to ask for this info. and I happen to have one). So, if you are bored by old plates, I guess you can go now.

I am just in love with this item. I would really like to know more about it (which is where those hoped-for experts come in). There are no maker's marks whatever on the back. It's about 10 and half inches in diameter and is some kind of vegetable bowl. It's about an inch and a half or two inches deep. Lovely, no? Here's a bit more detail. I don't think we're in England here - Greece or Rome?

Urns repeat around the edge:

I want to look at this all the time. I like it that much. I put it in my bedroom, for cripes sake. Taking these pictures, however, did reveal what, to my eye, is the, what shall I say, "slightly unfortunate" appearance of the young girl figure. Perhaps she and her dog are going to her mother, or Athena or whomever that lady is supposed to be, for some sympathy?

I also got this, clearly marked "Pagoda" by EW&S (which I know is "Enoch Woods and Sons"). The mark was in use, I learned at the website (link in the sidebar) between 1818 and 1846. Also nice. Is it a dinner plate? It's about 10 and a half inches in diameter so I think it may be, but perhaps it a serving plate?

Pattern Identification Challenge

In another lot, I picked up these three lovely old platters. How about a little quiz for you experts? Non experts, feel free to admire these (or not) and then go read someone else's more amusing or informative blog. All remaining, consider yourselves put to to the test.

Two of these are marked by their makers and have a pattern name. One has no makers mark at all. If anyone gets the two marked ones right, I'll certainly be happy to believe you about the third one. Any information would be gratefully received, of course. Really helpful people might even be rewarded with a little treasure from my store house. Do you hear that! Prizes! Here are the pictures. Ready, steady, GO!

Here's Number 1:



Sorry the pictures aren't better. I had to use a flash. Write if you need more (or better pictures). Thanks for sharing.