Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Storytelling, Booths, Canning, and Loss: A Many-Colored Life

I have been rolling so fast lately, with so many projects that needed to be completed, that I didn't slow down to blog.

The biggest thing on my agenda was the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair. This has been the flagship fair for the state arts community for 55 years. Last year they made some big changes--from being a more traditional setup with tents full of vendors, a few demonstrations and music here and there, last year the structure was changed to "villages." These villages represent five of the cultures that settled here in West Virginia, with foods, crafts, music and storytelling along with demonstrations and vendors representing each culture.
 This year I was there to tell stories in three of the five villages: the Americas, Celtic and German. Now the Americas was easy, and the Celtic was the same but the German pushed me to learn new stories and folklore about a culture I'd not really ever focused on before. I was in that tent for an hour each day for the three days of the fair, so I needed enough that I could add new stories to mix and match with the ones I'd told the day before. It was really fun! I learned a lot and added a lot of new stories to my storybag.

I also explored folktales and legends from the part of England where my mother grew up, for the Celtic tent. I had plenty of material for my three hours there, but why not add something fresh? I was fascinated by the lore I uncovered as I dug through my collection of books and online. The buried moon, Black Shuck, the mysterious tunnel...not to mention all the superstitions about the eerie fenlands.

It was energizing to be telling new stories, and challenging to be in an environment where there was much going on as I was telling. There were good audiences for each set, and those in the vendors' stalls could listen too. I loved it.

We are slowly finishing up our canning for the year, a good thing because I am almost out of jars. Yesterday I canned chili, using our frozen ground venison, to clear some space in the freezer. The freezer was so full--and so frosted up--that yesterday we decided we needed to clean it out and defrost it. It was not nearly as hard as we thought it would be. We had empty totes to put the frozen food in and heavy quilts to cover them and keep the food from thawing while we worked on getting the ice out of the freezer. We tossed a garbage bag full of questionable stuff, but even so the freezer is still almost full.

We went to our Ravenswood booth to tidy up and restock a little. I finished up this stool last week,

found the Pyrex casseroles at a thrift store, and cleaned out some of my glass Pyrex bakeware from my own cabinets. I swear it multiplied in the dark!

Another stool completed last week,

and a scale found for a good price on eBay. It was missing the chains, but I had exactly what was needed in my workroom.

I was happy to see this:

There's nothing like a sold sign on a big piece to make your day! This one was an easy one too--we bought it and moved it directly to the booth without ever unloading it, it was in such good condition. I cleared it off so that it would be easier for the mall staff when the buyer comes to pick it up. (The mirror doesn't go with it, but it will hang on the wall in the space when the buffet is moved.

I am also finishing up our plans for our upcoming trip to Ireland. Excited? You bet! I've been before and blogged about it extensively, but Larry was only there once with me for 2-3 days, so he's not seen a lot. Our itinerary will take us to counties Sligo, Clare, Kerry and Galway.

Part of the reason we decided to go--after saying we weren't going overseas this year--is that this has been a tough year emotionally and I'm feeling the effect of it. The election and subsequent political changes have been depressing; then there have been friends diagnosed with cancer, and the loss of loved ones like my Aunt Flo in England,

When we visited Aunt Flo in 2013, it was the first time I'd seen her in 35 years--she visited here back then

and just yesterday my longtime friend Lindsay succumbed to cancer. My tribute to her on Facebook:

"Our friendship spanned over 40 years, as we passed in and out of each other's lives. I remember when you were pregnant with your first child, and your little house in Cottageville where we had so many good visits. I was your mail route sub long ago, and the huge maple trees in my yard came from a seedling you gave me. I am so very grateful for the time we had together in January when we went to the Women's March together. It was a gift, it really was, to be with you again and to find the old ways of friendship still fit like a favorite old shirt. Rest well, dear Lindsay, and light the way for the rest of us."

There have been good things too, like my youngest son's marriage and the surprising find of cousins in Canada that my English cousin discovered through her genealogy research. One of them is only 7 1/2 hours away from me in Ontario, and I hope to drive up to meet her in the coming year. Storytelling has been busy and I've done some good writing, with two stories published this year. Like all of life, it all gets mixed up together, the good, the sad, the bad and the happy. And sometimes we need a break from all of it to refresh our hearts and minds.

I know I am a blessed woman. I have my share of sadness and sometimes it feels like a large load, but then I have a large circle of family and friends, and the odds increase with each person added to that circle. But I would not make that circle smaller to reduce the pain of loss; the risk is so worth what each and every one gives to me--and what I can give to them.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Marietta Booth Update

So here are a few photos from our work the other day at our booth at the Antique Mall of Marietta (Ohio).

Tins seem to be ever-popular. They sell pretty quickly, especially the pretty ones made in England.

 Top shelf--70's fondue pot, 50's beanpot with warmer, 70's hotpot and vintage juicer--not sure of the date on that one, but it works great.

We added the shop stool, globe and small wood dasher churn to this area.

I like to display milk glass from time to time--it's not popular with collectors right now but it can make a striking statement.

I love this aluminum drinks set. The cups have crochet covers on the base, a little hard to see in this photo. These were a thing in the 50's--aluminum glasses sweat, as you might know, so ladies made these covers to deal with the problem. I have had these for years, and finally last month someone in a Facebook group mentioned them and showed a photo. Aha! Pretty clever.

We added the chair, bag of blocks and a baby quilt to this area.

Glass, glass, glass. I added the pink globe lamp upper right, and a few other things, then rearranged a lot of this to give it a bit of a change.

I painted this teal shelf last week. It had been in the booth for a year in its original oak finish, with no interest at all. Maybe color will spark some interest.

Added the  framed quilt piece here, and put the two ice buckets I have together with the cocktail shaker.

Picket fence pieces sell well. This is our last one, I believe, out of the stacks and stacks of fence we started with.

Isn't this a cute shelf? It was dark wood color, so it got some paint to jazz it up.

Additions in this area include the green chair on the right, the picnic basket, and the Griswold gas burners unit on top of the table. And the copper kettles, I think.

I am surprised this cabinet hasn't sold yet. These usually walk out pretty quickly. It is such a pretty one, with those stenciled windows.

I painted this one a few weeks ago, along with the little mirrors beside it.

That's a quick look; there are a lot of other new small items like mugs, plates, kitchenware, and so on. I hope to get to Ravenswood next week and will post photos of what we change there.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back to Something Like Normal

One tired man, after so much driving
and stress. But back home!
Hurricane Irma passed, did her damage and is now part of weather history. My son and his family returned home, a grueling 15 hour drive with a lot of time in there searching for gas. But they are home, and all is well at their condo. So praises be! They saw much damage along the way, more than he has ever seen in his life, he said. He is going back to work today. What a week.

Sorry for the blurry photo!
 Here at home, we stayed busy. We cleaned up the cellar top, getting rid of a lot of junk in the process. I continue to sort out totes that are stored in the garage and taking a lot of things to the thrifts.I also went through the canned food in the cellar, tossing anything too old and moving older stuff to the front to be used first. Come spring, I will do it again; any green beans left over from any year except this one will be fed to the chickens. I love those little recyclers!

Larry managed an "Appalachian repair" on his riding mower--the steering shaft broke but he was able to modify one on the parts mower he keeps for replacement parts, and now the mower is fine again. He also finished rebuilding a motor for it so he will have a replacement when the current one gives out.

I finally got around to making some jam from the berries we froze over the summer when I had no time to use them. So we have 16 pints of Cherry Berry in the cellar now. Larry made cider and continues to give the old cider to his honeybees--more recycling at work.

Yesterday we worked on our Marietta booth, adding new items and doing a little rearranging. Sales are slowing down again unfortunately, but still the booth pays its way and then some. I think the hurricanes have impacted some buying as people are giving to charities and helping family. Even eBay has slowed to a complete stop for me right now. Part of that was because I had no computer so I put my store on vacation; but since I restarted the store sales have been zero. Which is okay in a way since I am covered up with other work.

And storytelling--I have a full weekend coming up that I need to prepare for, Celtic, German and American stories at the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair this weekend. So my head is in the books, researching and planning what to tell. I've also added several performances in October, two that happen almost as soon as we get off the plane from Ireland.

We have been making time each evening, though, for the firepit. That is our relax time, time to hang out with the pets and enjoy this beautiful fall weather. The calendar might not say it's fall yet, but tell that to our trees and temperatures! It's been cool and low humidity for quite a while and I am loving it.

That's a little bit of what's going on here. How about you? Were you or your family/friends impacted by the hurricanes? What have you been up to?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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