A scrapbook of whatever I'm making, collecting, or just obsessing about
at the moment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Guntram G. Bischoff, 1927-1988

Because when you search for this man's name on the Internet, there should be at least one picture of him to find.

Dr. Guntram G. Bischoff

A professor of religion at Western Michigan University, Dr. Bischoff was a brilliant scholar, wonderful teacher, kind man, and a much-loved friend.

This photograph appeared in the front matter of his book, Letters to America: Translated, Edited, and Retold, published posthumously in 2001.

(Slightly altered from and so with apologies to e e cummings)

out of the mountain of his soul comes
a keen pure silence)such hands can
build a(who are like ocean patient)dream's

eternity(you feel behind this man
earth's first sunrise)and his voice
is green like growing(is miraculous like
tomorrow)all around the self of this

being are growing stones(neither awake
are goddesses nor sleeping)since he's young
with mysteries(each truly his more than
some sixty years through which that memory strolls)
and every ours for the mere worshipping

(as calmly as if guntram bischoffs
occurred with any ticking of a clock

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Present Ruth meets Past Ruth for lunch at the Dairy Queen

Today I was out shopping and I stopped at the Dairy Queen on Cork Street for lunch. It was starting to rain hard. Part of me wanted to drive straight home--I'm 60 and my knee was hurting--but my 23-year-old self was calling me inside.

I used to eat at this Dairy Queen once in a while for a treat, in 1980 when I worked as a bank teller in one of those little glass and brick kiosks for drive-through check-cashing. (The same glass and brick kiosk that my branch manager told me I was not allowed to leave the day the tornado went by it, but that's another story.) There were many businesses nearby, some very large ones, and on a triple-pay day with Social Security checks hitting, we might go through a quarter of a million dollars in one day.

It was hectic at the bank. You worked hard and you could not be back late from lunch--even if someone made you late leaving for it. But if I could leave my window exactly on time, if I could turn left on Sprinkle Road without much delay, if I could safely run any yellow lights, and if the service was prompt.... I could eat an almost-tranquil lunch at the Dairy Queen.

So I went on in and sat down with myself there. 1980 Ruth had ordered a hot dog with catsup and mustard and French fries--and a beautiful large frosty Tab, which I was jealous of. I stopped drinking cola ten years ago but still crave it sometimes. I ordered a chili dog and fries--hers were thicker than mine--and a glass of water. I slopped some catsup on my sweatshirt; she was wearing a white silk shirt and pale grey Levi Bendovers and was being careful of them. She had on pretty earrings, very pretty shoes. So I casually got out my Kindle and enjoyed her perplexity at how easily I carry one thousand books with me everywhere I go.

But it wasn't really a competition. She knew, silk blouse notwithstanding, I was feeling very sorry for her. I know she hates her job and that she never has much spending money. I know she misses college, she misses learning things that aren't accounting-related. I know she has seven more years before she finally gets to leave that soul-destroying bank, though she won't spend much more time in the teller window.  It will be a long while before she finds her dream job at the library--a library! I know she's jealous of that.

But she has advantages too. She's a newlywed. She gets to spend Christmas with our parents--her mom and dad are still alive. They come and visit her and our husband; they play poker and pedro; they go on vacations to the U.P. together. All that has sadly vanished for Present Ruth.

She asked me, trying not to be in too obvious a hurry, if I had any advice for her. I could see in her face she hoped I did, that she hoped I'd learned something.  And I have. I've learned everything I need to know. And one thing I know is, she doesn't need advice--she is doing everything exactly right, even though she doesn't know it. She is learning all the things I draw on every day, all the things I need her to learn so that I can be who I am right now, more comfortable with myself than she is with herself, but absolutely dependent on her. I smiled my most encouraging smile, hoping she hadn't noticed that our two front teeth have grown a little apart again after she was so proud that they had grown together.

She had to rush back to work. She ducked through the rain to her blue sedan as I strolled unperturbedly though the rain to my blue sedan. I saw her laughing at how deliberately I was taking my sweet time. She knew I was doing it for her.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Meet Rebecca Jane

Rebecca Jane is a Singer model 27 with the "Pheasant" gold decals and a serial number that points to a 1904 manufacturing date.  She is named for her first owner, the grandmother of a friend who sold her to me as part of his mother's estate. I am so happy to have her in my home and am looking forward to the adventure of restoring her and using her to sew many wonderful things.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Niles, Decatur, and South Bend--Best of the Antiques Haul

Yesterday, DH and I traveled southwest to explore the antique malls of three worthy cities near the south end of Lake Michigan. The weather was perfect, the countryside idyllic, and the antique stores well-curated, but not too suavely for our tastes.

Between Decatur and Dowagiac, we stopped for a hasty photo shoot of cranes in a horse pasture. Gosh, we get all excited when a single pair of cranes visits our field!

I could have spent all day in Michiana Antique Mall, a few miles south of Niles on M-51.

This is one of FOUR aisles, all this long length! Not surprising I found a treasure there.

What treasure did I find? The snappy little fashion doll case from the 60s, shown below. I love the happy design and that mod poppy orange color--and the inside is all a lovely carnation pink.

The accessories box needs a little easy repair work, but that's no problem--I'm just thrilled that the pretty matching case-handle is still intact, as these old cases have broken handles more often than not.

I think I am going to upholster the doll-section of the case with mod pink and orange fabric, to make it even nicer inside.

Very quickly, the rest of the day's haul:

I love samples from the golden age of women's magazine publishing! My favorite years are 1967-1971. This is the February 1969 McCalls, which contains the startling information that Jessamyn West, the author of Cress Delahanty was the cousin of President Richard Nixon and used to babysit for him.

Two piano books turned up for $1 each--I bought these because I really like David Carr Glover's compositions and arrangements. These are levels three and five; though I'm at level four I can still get lots of fun and practice from these.

Mail-order catalogs are such a joy to look through, especially ones from my favorite years. This one is Spring and Summer '68 and contains many lovely dresses I can use for doll costuming.

 My bargain of the day was this nice 12" Ideal Shirley Temple. Last summer at the Brooklyn Flea I bought a 10 1/2" high-heel doll who just happened to be dressed in a slip that was tagged for a 12" Shirley Temple. I thought, well, maybe someday I'll acquire a Shirley to wear it, and before the year was out, here she is! Now I have to remember where I put that slip!

 I seldom buy old books any more, but this treasure was going for a song. The Book of Live Dolls contains three of Josephine Scribner Gates' "The Live Doll" stories: The Story of, More About, and The Secret of. Same thing happens in all of them: all the little girls in a certain neighborhood are visited by the Queen of Dolls, who makes their dolls come alive for a time.

The library of my elementary school, where my mother was the "Library Lady," had them on the shelf and I read and loved them. They are very old books, published in the early 1900s, and they have the kind of flaws you'd expect from that time. But they teach, without being too teachy, the importance of careful house-keeping and child-care, and most of all, of treating others with respect. Because when the dolls come alive, they become real people, and you can't make them do just anything you want to anymore. They are persons, not objects. And that is a truth that may be very old, but never antique.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Medallion quilt top finished!

This morning before work I put the last borders of my medallion quilt on. This is the 2016 Crafsy block of the month quilt designed and taught by Lynette Jensen of Thimbleberries. I have admired her style of quilt design since the first ones appeared, and this one has been so much fun to work on.

At this chapter in my quilting story, I had really pretty much stopped making any quilts. I had been knitting and making doll clothes and even starting to sew garments for myself again, which I hadn't done much since high school. But this design was obviously such a good design to use up my scraps and stash, and the monthly presentation seemed so do-able, I just couldn't resist.

And while I was working on it, I slowly started becoming interested in quilting again. I fished out all my rulers and templates, went through my books, watched a few more Craftsy classes, started listening to a quilting podcast....got fired up again.

I'm learning about machine quilting on a home-sewing machine, but I think this one is too big for me to handle as a beginner. So I'm hoping to send it out to be quilted on a long-arm machine--we'll see! Either that happens, or it will remain just a top for a long time!

Monday, August 15, 2016

My very own book display!

The library where I work is doing a series of displays of various staffers' favorite book picks--and this week is my week! I can't describe what a great feeling it is to walk through the lobby and see so many of my favorite books all together!

Here is the list of titles--for me to remember always and for anyone else who is curious.

Baker, Nicholson              The everlasting story of Nory
Burns, Olive Ann              Cold Sassy Tree
Bynum, Sarah                   Ms. Hempel Chronicles
Dallas, Sandra                   The Persian Pickle Club
Gaskell, Elizabeth             Cranford
White, Bailey                    Quite a year for plums


Book Lust to Go: recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers  / Pearl
Why do clocks run clockwise? An Imponderables Book / Feldman
Why don’t cats like to swim? An Imponderables Book / Feldman

On Looking: eleven walks with expert eyes / Horowitz
Find the Good: unexpected life lessons from a small town obituary writer  / Lende

Tasting and touring Michigan’s homegrown food / Beeler
The Hundred Dresses: The most iconic styles of our time / McKean
How the Post Office created America / Gallagher

The Story of English in 100 words / Crystal
Etymologicon / Forsyth
Founding Grammars / Ostler

Dawn light: Dancing with Cranes and other ways to start the day /  Ackerman
Hunt for Vulcan / Levinson 
The Cloud book: how to understand the skies / Hamblyn
Collecting rocks and crystals: Hold the treasures of the earth in the palm of your hand / Farndon
Last Chance to See / Adams [author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy]

Attracting butterflies to your garden / Tampion
Mend it Better / Roach
Hand mending made easy: save time and money / Ides
Alice, Let’s Eat / Trillin

Art before breakfast / Gregory                
Microcrafts / McGuire
The stick book / Schofield
Yellow Owl’s Little Prints / Schmidt
Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique / Title main entry 

How to read literature like a professor / Foster
The Ode Less Travelled / Fry
Art and Love  / Title main entry
Ink Trails: Michigan’s famous and forgotten authors / Dempsey [When Ray and I worked at the Western Herald, Dave Dempsey was our  editor-in-chief.]
The story of Charlotte’s Web / Sims
The Egg and I / MacDonald
What matters in Jane Austen? / Mullan    

My life in France / Child
Something incredibly wonderful happens  [Oppenheimer]
Hometown appetites: The story of Clementine Paddleford, the forgotton food writer who chronicled how America ate [Paddleford]

Encyclopedia of an ordinary life / Rosenthal
Names on the land / Stewart
How the states got their shapes / Stein
Little Heathens / Kalish

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One of my best bargain dolls...plus some cleaning tips

When I went out to take this picture, she had shoes on, but one fell off  and was lost in the grass on the way to the fence. I hunted all over, retracing mysteps ten times or more, but never found it... Until my husband joined the search, and found it almost right away. Yep, I lost my slipper, and my Prince Charming brought it back to me! 

I am so tickled about this Barbie I bought yesterday--what a treasure! She was lying there, unlovely and unnoticed, in a roomful of collectors' dolls at an estate sale, while the pristine Sashas and Madame Alexanders and antique porcelain dolls were all cooed over and snatched up for purchase.

She was the only Barbie there, a mod-era Twist 'n' Turn girl with bendable legs and a pretty "flip" hairstyle. She was wearing a light blue dress that a child must have made--just a piece of lace-trimmed double knit loosely wrapped around her and held together with a few snaps in back. Her legs were filthy, but her hair was holding up well, her coloring still very nice, all of her eyelashes present, and no face-rubs or bites to fingers or toes,

Her price tag said "$4"--but it was half-price day! That's how she became mine.

There's a couple of interesting points about her. First, her hair. The first TNT dolls had straight hair, then in 1969, this model came out with the same face but flip hair in blonde or a reddish-brown. The style must certainly have been inspired by Marlo Thomas and her very popular, family-friendly "That Girl" television show, which ran 1966-1971 and made famous her trademark flip.

Marlo, of course, had a "fringe," while Barbie has only a little spit-curl near the part of her hair. My girl's spit-curl had disappeared, but with magnifying glass and a needle, I managed to find and separate it and then style it with a little clear mascara.

Marlo's character, Ann Marie, was arguably Barbie-like--her theme song says "she's everything that every girl should be."  She played a single girl working as a waitress and a model but hoping to be discovered as an actress and doing well enough at it to dress exquisitely all. the. time.

And that was another reason "That Girl" was fertile inspiration for a Barbie--she's about clothes too, and so are many of the girls who play with her.

I loved to watch "That Girl," too, more for the fashion than the plot. Later on when I was older, in high school and beyond, I could actually sew her clothes for myself! McCalls introduced a line of "Marlo's Corner" sewing patterns that kept her look updated for us young girls to copy.

One leg cleaned and one not cleaned.
If Flip Hair Barbie isn't enough like Marlo Thomas to suit you, you could always treat yourself to the "That Girl" Barbie that Mattel released--I wouldn't mind one of those myself!

Second interesting point: How does it happen that a vintage doll is found with tidy hair, fresh-looking face, clean arms and body--but absolutely grimy legs?  Barbies with bendable legs are especially prone to it, as dirt likes to stick to them, but I have a Madame Alexander "Marybel: the doll who gets well" whose legs were filthier still.

The answer is, girls use doll legs for handles. Once you've dressed your Barbie and are ready to play, how will she move about if you don't help her? And how else do you move her about except by grasping her by the legs? Little girls who were made to wash their hands before touching the piano weren't made to wash them before playing with their own dolls. Even girls who were exceedingly careful with the hair and clothes, and kept the doll safely stored in her case, could still dirty up the legs with no special effort.

And I am glad of it, because other collectors look right past a grimy doll, never seeing her possibilities, and then I come along and scoop her up. With a little cleaning and combing, she is as beautiful as ever, and I have a glorious new addition to my Barbie Colony.

What is the best way to clean the legs? Plain bar of soap and a toothbrush. You don't need any magic cleaning power--soap has micelles that make dirt slippery. Slippery dirt slides off when you wash it. In theory, you can use any cleaner that comes in a plastic bottle instead of a glass bottle (because it wouldn't come in a glass bottle if it didn't damage plastic) but even then, I am cautious. I start with the mildest soap first, and if something stronger is needed I never use anything out of a bottle without testing it first.

For hair-styling, eyebrow/eyelash combs and brows are handy, as they can accomplish Barbie-size 'dos with their tiny, closely spaced teeth. I just tried clear mascara for the first time as a sculpting agent--seems to be working fine, but I'm just saying what I use--it's important to test products yourself.

I love to buy a perfect, mint doll once in a while, but there's just nothing like the joy of finding a bargain doll and then restoring her to something close to her original perfect, mint beauty.