Tuesday, April 28, 2020

TSII #457 Tree Assembly

When I signed up for International Model Tackmaking Month, which takes place during April, I had a specific piece in mind.
This wasn't it.
My reasons for joining were time-tested and true.  I was going to use it to work on a piece for myself.  IMTM is my birthday month; I like to make a piece for myself for my birthday.  Last year during the last days of IMTM I'd created the bridle and neckpieces for an Akhal Teke presentation set for my own horse, Brasenose.  I thought for sure I'd be able to finish the breastcollar this year.  Silver and gold and real emeralds!  What's not to love!?
As we all know, the best of intentions can fall by the wayside, given enough extenuating circumstances.
Man, have we had extenuating circumstances.

I've been setting records for them.  (I am positive I'm not alone.)  As April began, I found myself homing in on (and honing my skills on) the engraving of a different breastcollar, that of TSII #457.  This was my second Clyde Goehring saddle, a Mexican Silver Parade set.  This saddle has been under construction since September.  It thus cannot be counted in IMTM's "I Also Did This" album even though it's what I've spent April on.
Once #457's breastcollar was done, I swung into the next steps, namely the cantle plate and the stirrups.  Nobody but me can ever know how much time and effort went into them.  The saddle as a whole is well over the hundred-hour mark.  
It still has a ways to go: cinch and bridle remain, although much of the bridle is done.  The blanket, bless Lizzie K., is already made, and it may be seen below on the Straight Bet chestnut.  The last few days have gone to making the tiny conchos and long strings seen on the skirts.
Here's another pic of the real Clyde Goehring:
Note that the lower skirts will show more when the front cinch rings are made and installed.
No. 457 is a bespoke order for a very long-standing customer.
It is both strange and perfectly normal I should have channeled myself into this piece.  I was doing my best to listen to the Muse.
 As the month went on I realized more and more I'd never get to Brasenose's breastcollar in time.  Then, Anna Helt of IMTM kindly extended her awarding of finisher's certificates to those who could finish by the end of May.  I told her I was very grateful and that this gave me hope.

And then, on the 21st, I managed to damage my right hand and right foot, through loss of temper and attendant sheer stupidity.  A week later, the hand is healing well and the foot can be walked on, if carefully.  I can type and I can write.  I can play the piano (it's a bit like Frodo of the 9 fingers) and I can make most kinds of tack.  But engraving puts pressure on the palm and wrist of the right hand in a twisting way, and so the bridle needs to wait a while.
Stamping out ikandis will be much easier.
My husband calls this my "09th" birthday, which is perfect:  Just flip and flop those digits, as our lives have been, upside down and backwards!!

If there is any luck in the situation -- oh those extenuating  circumstances! --  it is that I could hardly pick a better time to be stuck at home.  I am greatly blessed in many things:  a healthy healing body, an understanding customer base, employment at home, a community I can connect to.  I have so many friends, including one who helped me get rare parts for my IMTM piece (thanks Paula!).  What an interesting and unique birthday, eh?!  And now, hopefully, without pressure -- when did the TSII ever pay attention to deadlines anyway!? -- Brasenose may finally get his breastcollar.
It will be a good model for future Teke ones.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Tribute to Ruth

Ruth White Young, my mother-in-law, after what can only be described as an extremely long literate and epistolary life, was finally gathered in April 20.  She went home to the Lord at the age of 100 years, 2 months and 18 days.
I have a feeling I'll be saying for the rest of my life, "It wasn't Covid19."  Ruth had been in Skilled Nursing for full six years six months.  Gradually over that time she reached stages where she could neither stand, walk, hear or talk.  Blessed with a very sound constitution, she was cursed with dementia.  A second round of hospice (the first was suspended after more than a year of steady state) failed to rekindle the spark.  This gallant and essentially unreachable soul had nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to.  I believe God took pity on her.
And on us.
I had known Ruth for longer than I've been married -- which is 32 years this June.  Yet I was unable to really be close to her.  I had a 2-week intimate chance when her husband passed away in 2002.  I failed to establish more than perfunctory connectedness.  We were never close friends as I define the term.  She was of a generation that stuck out their troubles alone.

A major difference from me was that she never learned to drive.  Such a reneging of power I could never understand.  I once asked her about it.  "Oh," she replied dismissively, "I don't need that kind of responsibility."  Yet this was one of the most practical and well-organized women I've ever known.

Until she was unable to communicate, the bond between the mother and her only child was strong.  How many wives can say of their husbands: He wrote his mother a letter every week of her life?!?  And she answered (at least up to 2013)!  This went on from the mid 1970s until her death.  (By the end we were addressing to her caretakers.)  Do the math:  that's around 2,250 letters.  Thank heavens I was just as much of a writer, and understood.

Ruth's excellence as a teacher manifested in one of the finest professors I know.  In her eighties she tackled learning to use a computer, and they emailed each other nearly every day until 2013, more than a decade.  Even now he continues this with his own mother-in-law.  :)

Ruth was a flower person, and George inherited her green thumb.  She loved birds, something he took and ran with.  The family story is that a Red Tailed Hawk spiraling up from a boyhood field inspired his meteorological career.  Ruth was a needleworker of no mean ability; we have 2 full size quilts by her.  One is a fantastic crazy quilt and the other is "Larimer County by Air."

I gained several pieces of embroidery and needlework from her.
She was a lover of books, especially biographies and on theology.  Probably my favorite book gift from her was Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Suess.  That spunky, scrappy spirit was one of the best features of this woman.

Above all Ruth loved children.  Kids age 4 to 7 were her comfort zone.  In 1999 we helped move her to a Senior residence with Assisted Living, Overland Park Place of KC.  It was not long before she discovered there was a day care center right across the back street.  A longtime friend recalls going to the rescue for her "emergency trips to the library" for children's books.  I well remember kids' graduation ceremonies -- performances! --  staged in the cavernous atrium, attended by Grandma Ruth.  My own generation knew no such thing.
That's her handwriting.
After a child was age 7 or so, Ruth's brightest attention started to dim, and by 12 or thereabouts her son was learning habits of social distancing which had nothing to do with any virus.  Looking back on his relationship to his parents, compared to my own, I am always struck with grateful amazement that he turned out as good as he did.  Despite the letter-writing, there was a limit to how deep one could go with Ruth.  Although she wore the pants of the family (my husband once described his father as the Ultimate Southern Gentleman Collie Dog, completely harmless), Ruth just didn't support deep emotional analysis or far-ranging personal conversation.  I did try.  She once told me, after I had begged (this was after 9/11), "I don't have access to those emotions."  My own theory was that growing up during the Great Depression must have done something strongly restrictive to her soul.  Ruth went on to marry a postal clerk, raise 1 son (she said she wanted 6, but Ross demurred), volunteer in the community and keep a raft of charities and friends.  "That lady sure could pick a good charity."  I wrote my first letter to her in 1985, and she answered right away.

This is my much-polished pair of memorial paragraphs, followed by the official obit:

originally written 1305.12 in the middle of the night
typed up 1409.10
Obit draft 1410.01
Updated 1509.17
Final update 2004.20

For OPP and Children's Cottage:

For 15 years, 1999-2013, Ruthie was part of OPP [Overland Park Place].  In that time she grew into the hearts of all who knew her.  She's been a spunky friend with an infectious grin, who always had something to say in her schoolmarm style.  She was interested in many things:  flowers, gardens, birds, worthy causes, the Kansas State School for the Blind where she volunteered for 30 years, and the doings and welfare of friends.  But I think I touch the core of these interests when I mention Children's Cottage, the nearby daycare center.  It is because of Ruth's enthusiasm and love for these children that OPP rang so frequently with their happy voices.  Grandma Ruth, as she was known, loved nothing better than picking out the perfect book to read to them.  She was always a much-hugged guest of honor at their graduation ceremonies.  Nothing brought her greater pleasure than helping young minds find the joy of learning.  On May 9 2013 the children's laughter echoed for Ruth one last time.  This session she merely watched while her son read to the children.

Ruth's spirit was characterized by a love of books, flowers, birds and children.  She delighted in teaching the little ones, and this spirit of guidance and mentorship was passed down to her son.  She knew how to encourage and reassure the inquisitive spirit of a questing child.  Ruth was deeply religious and amassed a large collection of theological books, and an even larger collection of questions.  Her belief in good works was lifelong and far reaching.  Unlike many persons of her generation, she mastered computers in her eighties and emailed friends every day.  Ruth made lasting friendships, trading correspondence with college friends and former students into her 90s.  She enjoyed correspondence once a week with her son from his college years to her extreme old age, and I am sure that when she reaches heaven, she'll get right back to writing letters from there.

Photo by J Gilson

Obit  as published in the Kansas City Star:

Ruth White Young, 100, of Overland Park, KS, passed away April 20, 2020 at The Forum in Overland Park.  Ruth was born February 2, 1920, in Waukesha WI, to Eugene A. and Aimee Bushman White, the 2nd eldest of four siblings.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in pharmacy and from the University of Minnesota with a degree in nursing.  She worked for Milwaukee Hospital as a pharmacist, then joined Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky during a time when patients often arrived on foot and emergency personnel were sometimes dispatched on muleback.  She never did learn to drive a car.  Her later career included teaching and nursing at Bethany Hospital and the University of Kansas Medical Center.  In 1954 she married Ross Sinnett Young and they began their married life in Kansas City, Kansas where they resided together for the next 48 years.  During this time Ruth led a Girl Scout troop and served as a volunteer Braille teacher at the Kansas State School for the Blind for over 30 years.  Ross served in the Pacific Theatre of World War II and spent the remainder of his career as a postal clerk.  Ruth was preceded in death by her husband and her three siblings.  Ruth is survived by her son George Young and his wife Susan Bensema Young of State College, PA.  Her church was Colonial Church of Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS.  Burial in Leavenworth National Cemetery, Leavenworth KS.  Condolences at:
Dignity Memorial Kansas City Ruth Young

She's with the angels now.


Editor's Note From the Future (May 2):
Colonial Church of Prairie Village created a lovely online memorial service for Ruth.  It aired today on YouTube and on FaceBook.  (Below is the YouTube link.)  It's half an hour long and features Pastor Aaron Roberts (and organist Joseph Kern).  There are pictures from this blog, hymns and prayers as well as stories of Ruth.  We were very pleased with this pioneering effort and feel sure that Ruth would have approved.
Colonial Church of Prairie Village Ruth Young Memorial Service

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Room 610

This post is a test bed for my Not Going to BreyerFest "Clarion" album on the FaceBook group.  I've accumulated many pictures of this most special of all my model horse locations; everything shown was shot in 2019.  I wanted to put them all in one place.  I even took movies of the halls, when I heard they were going to be torn down.  The movies were taken before almost anyone had moved in, so I'm afraid they're on the bland side.

First, Room 610 as it was set up last year, right before the inundation of sales ponies (the black shelves).  I've been in 610 for the last decade or so - I don't have exact records at the moment.  I've stayed at the Holiday Inn/Clarion for BreyerFest since the early 2000s, when I became too involved (or too old) to be sleeping in the back of the pickup at the campground.  The 1999 heat wave probably helped with that decision.

Below:  the ironing board is set up to the left.  By my tradition, everything on it is free.
View out the window, July 10, 2019, about 10 in the morning.  The white utility trailer is Heather Wells'.
The bed features my trademark serapes and sheepskin.  This is before everything gets covered over by all the stuff my roommate/partner-in-crime/fellow seller-of-horses brings in.
This is the view in the hall.  Even with the new paint on the walls, the lighting is not exactly great for this room.
This is a movie of the parking lot view, from the window of Room 610.  July 10, Wednesday of BreyerFest week, 2019, about 10 in the morning.

This is a movie of the 600 hall of Clarion, taken the morning of July 10, 2019.  That's Kelly Korber Weimar hanging stuff on her door.  No, she didn't know she was being shot--!!
Apologies for the awful sound.

This is a movie of the highest, farthest-away hall of the Clarion, the upper 600s.  I linger on a small group of posters because, of course, one of them is mine!  (It's the same one as on the 610 door.)  Later I sweep over the empty walls of the upper stairwell because I can remember so well how they were once covered with posters -- even here at the end of the world.  July 10, 2019, about 9 in the morning.

Now for some photos from the depths of excitement in Room 610.  This captures it.   Eleanor Jones Harvey (right) and Colette Robertson (left) are doing business with me.  I'm in my favorite position, ensconced on the sheepskin.  I do not know the identity of the dark haired girls in the background, so if someone will let me know, I will gladly update this--!!
Another view of the action.  You can see the Saddlebred in front of the flatscreen, and behind him my tack display case (more orange stickers).  July 10, Wednesday, about 4 in the afternoon.
More action.  Colette naturally hated having her picture taken, but this so captures her persona...

 One of the Clarion tricks I learned early was to bring my own lamps.  Setting up one's display, arranging the lighting cords, finding the right drop cloths (I've always used serapes, gotten originally in Nogales and later in Tucson) and labelling one's wares (I use orange stickers on the horses) are individual behaviours evolved and refined over the years.
I've been to all but two BreyerFests.  I went to the Pennsylvania one of the four held in 1991.  I was 'medically prevented' during 2010 and again in 2014.  Come to think of it, 'medically prevented' is pretty close to what's happening this year.

It's not an exaggeration to say that some of the happiest hours of my life happened in Room 610.  Year after year, friends and hobbyists would wander in and out.  Prizes were found, scrapbooks shared, sales and swaps started, sustained and concluded (or not), tackmaking tricks passed on and new friendships forged.  Once a year a week of my life happened here.  NANs were accomplished, and I ran in the 5K race.  One year I was dreadfully sick (2018); I was so glad I didn't have a roommate then.

BreyerFest is my Olympics, Christmas, Mecca and Piccadilly Circus all rolled into one.

A month later, these shots were taken in August of 2019 after the Covered Bridge/Model Meet Up day, described in  A Driving Adventure.  They were taken in my own back yard.  What a great way to see not just me but the same pink serape for a tablecloth and the same orange stickers on the horses.  The two horses on the table not for sale --  Emerson/Palatlakaha and Dundee/Barbahamia -- are personal models, accompanying me as friends and examples of what happens to a horse that falls into my hands to stay.

For more information on sales of the Guide, visit my website:  Guide to Making Model Horse Tack
For more information on sales of Compact Discs of the Guide and the Draft Collar Tutorial, visit my website's page on them:  Tack Sales Info.
For more information on sales of the horses, medallions and leather lace spools shown, email me at sbytsii@verizon.net.
Sorry, the Roman is not available/gone. 

Here's hoping that such fellowship, and such a gathering as BreyerFest in its natural habitat, can happen again in the years to come.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Books for the Journey

There are hundreds of books I could present as appropriate favorites for the times, but I had to start somewhere.  This first dozen represents a combination of what I've recently read and what sprang to mind when the hammer fell (for me, March 11).

I was in my mid-thirties before I realized I was amassing a collection of survival epics along with everything else.  My book collection, like my model horse collection, is very very broad:  it's a collection of collections.  I was actually surprised.  These epics seemed to form a core of unshakeable interest -- I could not leave those books alone.  In some fashion, almost every book is a survival story; but some are more epic (topical in one case here!) than others.  This post discusses those shown, along with others, starting at the bottom of the stack.

But first:  Is that a horse's nose?!  Yes, that's Rogallo, my carousel horse, in his present position as backdrop to the dinner table.  Bear with me, left to right:  The plastic mug is from Mt Nittany hospital (my surgery and treatments in 2010 & 2014).  The daffodils are from the lawn (my husband loves flowers).  Rogallo, purchased in 1991 and still in primer, wears prayer flags that came in the mail as solicitations.  A Penn State towel is on the chair (we can say we sat on the lion).  The start of the immense bookshelves is at right.  You can see the full set in this 2013 post:  NAN cookies: Of a different color.

To start with here, I recommend The Architect of Desire, by Suzannah Lessard (1996).  While this is the one of these 12 that deals least with plague, it has great relevance and good answers for a large university troubled with sexual abuse issues, which alas is one of Penn State's claims to fame (er, infamy).  She relates a family chronicle spanning 4 generations, largely set in the ragtime era (insert grin) and writes in lovely descriptive prose.  Only an architectural critic could so capture the beauty and relevance of surroundings both interior and exterior: she traces the landscape as self.  I first encountered this author in Architectural Digest.  In a year's worth of issues her article was the only one that stayed with me.

People of the Deer (1952) is by Farley Mowat, one of my favorite authors and a world expert on the Eskimo or Inuit as they are named today.  I include it here solely on my memory of his discovery of an Inuit village after its total destruction by smallpox.  Long after I'd forgotten the rest of the book I remembered that.

I have long enjoyed this pair of heart-lifting classics.  Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter (1940) is just about my favorite survival epic and my clear choice amoungst her canon.  The Hiding Place (1971), by Corrie Ten Boom, needs no introduction from me.  We are at war now, and so was she, swept up by forces beyond her control.  Her courage has inspired millions.  Somehow I have not read Anne Frank.

Other favorite authors of mine include Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Joseph Wharton Lippincott, Marguerite Henry, Thomas C. Hinkle, Walter Farley, Ernest Thompson Seton aka Seton Thompson, Mary Stewart, J. K. Rowling and Dorothy Sayers.  That's the tip of the iceberg...

One of my probable-top-ten books is Gone With The Wind.  Along with Ben Hur (by Lew Wallace, 1890) and Sybil (1973) by Flora Rheta Schreiber, this great classic saw me through college and developed my mind.  I discussed the story endlessly with my roommates.  My copy was given to me by my grandmother.  The book saw me through my marriage.

The story has the almost unknown power of a book to inspire its own illustrations, in the minds of its readers, totally independently of any movie.  I have a lot to say about movies versus books...!  May I mention I did not see the famous movie, Gone With The Wind, until after I'd read the book many times and even drawn pictures --- ?!?
As for Scarlett herself, the first time I read the book I identified totally with her.  The second reading and every time thereafter I realized what a selfish, childish creature she was...  But how perfectly balanced the story's conclusion, to the point where I simply refuse to read any sequel.

So when the pandemic swirled into notice, two books rang like bells in my mind, one fiction and the other, umm, most definitely not.  This is the blessing and the curse of having read so widely.  I haven't read deeply about the Bubonic Plague (apparently I have limits) but I had read John Barry's The Great Influenza (2004), and...  just reread it.
As I told a friend, parts are truly terrible, but there are very clear and understandable descriptions of the actions of viruses in the body, as well as the life stories of some of America's greatest germ hunters and the founders of Johns Hopkins and the Rockefeller Institute, amoung others.  There is a memorable essay from a survivor of the 1918 flu.  At this time, what sticks in my mind is a brief description of how a doctor experimented with gauze masks for his patients and how it was so successful he dropped everything and just started mass-producing them and mass prescribing!
This a day after Gov. Wolf of PA has requested all wear masks when in business... (April 3)

The other bell-wether book I had read in 1980 (I think; it has 2 publication dates, 1978 and 1980, and I don't remember exactly).  Of course this is the greatest worst classic, Stephen King's The Stand.
 I hesitate in recommending King; he is very often too much to stand, pun intended.  Yet while his subject matter -- horror -- can be execrable and beyond vulgar, his style was so true and powerful that it has influenced my whole writing  life.
When first I encountered The Stand I was still a teenager, and well I remember how warped I felt for days -- how twisted out of true the whole world felt, how powerful his spell was in describing most of the population falling to shifting-antigen flu.  Looking back it is a wonder I kept reading him!  (I did in fact stop reading King after Eyes of the Dragon; he had finally gone bad for me, been out of the fridge too long.  I resumed with The Dark Tower series, which is a magnificent survival epic of its own.) 

I'm adding Salem's Lot (1975) to my list on the strength of one sentence, so eerily true now.  It's a quote quoted within the book, originally by Bob Dylan.  You'll notice a lot of these books are from the 70s.  That was my teenage decade, and somehow books really got 'set in' during those years.  I was strongly dissuaded from watching TV by my Mom, something for which I'm now grateful.

              "Tell you now that the whole town is empty."

A genuine classic of the survivor literature and one of my great favorites is Steve Callahan's Adrift (1986).  I have found this book almost impossible to put down.  The author is also the illustrator.  Marine themes are strong favorites for me and this one is even better than Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum (1900), another survival epic and a great journey story.   I stole my copy of Sailing from my now-ex-brother-in-law (it is the only thing I have from him).

Watership Down (1972), by Richard Adams, belongs in the survivor canon both for plague and general survival.  (Note that I have not read his followup, The Plague Dogs.  Or rather, I started to, but got turned off.)  I have always loved Watership Down's bucolic setting and adventurous, innovative characters.  There is the additional charm of seeing small things writ large, a perspective familiar to the miniaturist.  My copy is a gift from my brother.

To top off this list, I am moving back into the realm of horror, yet Clive Barker is a totally different writer than Stephen King.  Weaveworld (1987) is ultimately about saving the world with a book, and I find that a very valuable message.  Barker's imagination is unparalleled, and if you can lift over the vulgarities and see the theme -- the Scourge repelled -- you will find why I am so attracted.  Another book of his, Imajica (1991), deals with parallel alternate worlds, which I also find very, very appropriate these days.
(I'm hoping I don't have to explain the placement of that price sticker.)  Like so many of my bargain books, this one came from the American Association of University Women's annual spring sale.  Known in my family as the Used Library Book Sale, it is one of State College's most recognizable and favorite events.  I've had to miss it for years because it happens after we'd leave for our summer trip!  This year the AAUW is "postponing" the sale.  Like so much else, my family will just have to wait and see when we can next bury ourselves in seas of boxes of books.  On the last Saturday you can buy an all-you-can-carry sack of them for $3...
read a good book.