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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The big enchilada

I had lunch with my grandson today. The one who is two weeks younger than Laura and has bicycled halfway across the country. According to my texts, he invited me to lunch “sometime”, at least a month ago.  He had the day off school today, so it was a date.

France wanted to plug his blog, Summit Venture, which has a couple new posts on his summer plans. He biked a hundred miles around Cleveland yesterday. He used the MetroParks and the Towpath Trail for much of the ride, but his route definitely took him through downtown Cleveland. “I guess your mom lets you ride on the roads now,” I said. He deigned no reply.

A few mouthfuls into his burger, he did get down to business. How are the DC plans coming? Over his spring break he plans on riding a 350 mile towpath trail from Pittsburgh to DC—solo. Perhaps he might cross paths with his sister, his cousin and me. And, do those girls even have a plan yet for what they want to visit? I see there was some sibling sparring at his house. “Well, I don’t care what you do. Grandma Joanne is taking Laura and me to Washington DC for spring break!”

The big brother superiority crown slipped a little when I turned to the part of the trip to Monticello, Montpelier and Mt. Vernon, none of which he has visited. France has apparently quizzed Caroline enough to know I intend to take a walker with a seat and fold down foot rest. I will spend much of the trip being pushed down the National Mall. He smirked more than a little at the thought of a porter on each side, propelling Grandma to the Lincoln Memorial.

Halfway through the second bottle of ketchup and the order of fries he wound up taking home, France did pull out his phone and quiz me closely on dates and the name and location of our motel.  I do cotton on, sometimes sooner than later. As I paid the bill I said, “Francis, it would be lovely to see you in DC. You can even push the chair.”

He didn’t think so.

We stopped at a coffee shop on the way to the train stop. He paid for his with his phone. I used my card. I don’t portray grandsons so well as granddaughters, but I’m sure you’re following my amusement here. I pulled to the curb to drop him at the University Circle RTA, to take him over to Ohio City and his part time job, which is being banked toward a Jaguar. Excepting his coffee budget.

Before he left the car, he did thank me for lunch, and then added, “Hope to see you in DC. I’ll even push the chair.”

I picked up Laura after school, and there was an envelope for her in the mail. ‘Nuff said.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Out of left overs

I am not the cookerer in this house, and that is a happy circumstance. I don’t care for cooking, and people don’t care for my cooking, so it works out all around.

The cook of record likes to eat, as does her grandmother, but the cook has discovered one does not become a chef overnight and learning to cook is the same process as any sort of education, not always interesting to achieve.

We would eat pasta in cheese sauce every night, if the grocery procurer would allow. Her second go to is soup, and we do have a lot of that. Soups are adequate; a box of broth, some diced meat, some ready at hand vegetables like spinach or broccoli, onions, carrots.

The opportunity for disaster occurs in the spice cupboard. The cookerer has most every spice known to men. She fancied herself the master of their use, but we ate so many spice disasters, she’s retreated to minimal seasoning.

I hoped to find her some cooking classes this summer. But, the national park is not offering cooking camp again. There are two cooking schools in the area, but the summer camps are geared to a much younger age, and guarantee perfect hot dogs or mac and cheese. Beth probably can rustle up some classes for the summer, and it’s only February, so I can let this one go for a bit.

There is a considerable absence of dishes I like. If the cookerer doesn’t like it, it doesn’t happen. But I can be persistent, and then amused when, months later, I find mushrooms, for instance, appearing regularly.  

We’re  open to anything that features bacon. I found a recipe for pasta with bacon and peas. Because I would not put bacon in the cart unless the peas came too, I am pleased to say not only did peas cross the threshold, they probably will continue to do so.

My sister made a little casserole I loved; cottage cheese and noodles. I’ve been promoting it for several weeks, but it hasn’t materialized, though the recipe languishes on the kitchen table. Today the cookerer is off with her mother, and I announced I would make cottage cheese and noodles for myself.  I asked if we had everything. “Probably,” on her way out the door.

Only noodles were in house. I went out for cottage cheese, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and tarragon in order to proceed. It’s in the oven now, and smells wonderful.

I have to admit, if I were the cook, it wouldn’t happen. My fingers fumble to open anything, spoons fly from my hands, and by the time I was through standing for twenty minutes, my back was screaming. Time to knit and watch TV.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Such a Charles

In another lifetime, when I exhibited at art shows, there was a show at Lincoln Center. I applied for it on the proviso that Ann would accompany me, and Beth, if she could. I navigated some big cities in my time, and I mastered Long Island, but NYC was out of my league, alone. Without them, and Charles, I would know nothing about NYC except the GW and Throg’s Neck.

Booths ringed the perimeter of Lincoln Center, and were on the mall. These had to tear down every night, to accommodate patrons, so I chose a booth on the east side. To load in and out, I had to park the van on a road I think was called just Lincoln Center. We had a window of time to unload, then the van had to be moved. At that time I carried all the garments on wheeled garment racks, reducing the dolly loads to two or three.

But, at Lincoln Center, everything went down a long sidewalk, up several sets of shallow steps, and more long sidewalks to the booth. We took the booth structure first, and as I set it up, Ann and Beth began transporting the balance. I saw both garment racks coming down the walk, one propelled by Ann and Beth, and one by a tall man, expertly guiding his from the middle. It was Charles. He helped us load out, too. He would take no money for his work. He told us the best route back to the Hudson River parking lot, and to give panhandlers cigarettes, but no money.

Charles appeared at the show, with customers in tow. They shopped, but Charles was disappointed none of my shirts fit him. He was at least 6’6”, and his shoulders approached fifty inches. I knew I could custom make a shirt, with a flat fell seam up the back, using two lengths my forty inch wide fabric for the front and for the back, instead of two widths. It should have cost twice as much, but instead I gave him my “good friend” discount from the regular price.

At Lincoln Center

Thus repeated my time at the Lincoln Center show. I realized Charles was attracted to weavers as if weaving had been a profession in a previous life. He couldn’t collect enough of it, and that on a living as a bookseller, abiding in a NYC apartment. Between the shows, I often received little parcels from him. There were books, bits of fiber art, all sorts of weaving. Once a beautiful pine needle basket, from an indigenous weaver in Georgia came out of the box, and I had to chide Charles on his extravagance. How valuable did he consider a “good friend” shirt every year, with some towels for ballast.

When I retired the Lincoln show, Charles ordered fifteen towels, which he divvied out to friends, according to his erratic letters. Then came 9/11, and I lost track of him for a bit. Finally, my “don’t make me come find you” letter had a response, and in his very Charles way, he was completely consumed with volunteerism.

As happens, we did lose track over the next ten or so years. Last fall, though, Charles was out of towels. He sent a chatty letter to me, at the old house. It languished on the Hoosier; K forgot to give me the accumulating mail. When she did, I read six pages of Charles’ interesting handwriting, on sheets of handmade paper. I wonder what he doesn’t collect.

I answered him in January, with the crushing news. My towels are over, gone. If he had saved any for himself, he’d still be using them. (I might send him a twenty year old specimen from the towel drawer!) I recommended a good weaver to him, who makes towels for sale, using my favorite ring spun 8/2 cottons. I wonder where that weaver buys it. Stop it, Joanne. Too late now.

Yesterday, a package came from Charles. He is “downsizing.” Yea, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn. He has retired the bookstore, is writing his books and plays, and travelling all over the world. The same eclectic collection, tied up by two bits of ribbon, also saved from years ago, I’m sure, packed in the box. Such a Charles.

Charles does not want the other weaver’s towels, he says. So, I contacted the other weaver, and selected six towels to go to Charles, NYC via Peninsula. I do want to see them first, to be sure they are what I think they are.  I think I need to get the Shaker Towel pattern back from Praxis, and commission a few. Think of it! Paying for towels.

A book, Wisdom Weaver. Postcards from his Russo/Asian travels. A continuous strap, from an indigenous weaver in Brazil. Probably to hold a baby or a jug. Some blue scraps pieced neatly to a damask napkin. I recognize the initials as an old friend of his. She died one of the last times we corresponded. Charles was very distraught.

The big towel fish that got away! Love it.