The Daily Walk: Kitty's Blog - Castaways and Keepers
April 5, 2013
February 23, 2013
I wasn't very enthusiastic about learning to sew, but Mom talked me into signing up for a course at the Singer Sewing Machine Store in downtown Syracuse. I picked out an ugly shade of woolen material -- the same bland green as the machine itself, I realized when it was too late -- and bought a pattern for a pleated skirt. What was I thinking? Why didn't anybody tell me that making a pleated skirt is not exactly a stroll in the park? That it's more like an uphill slog through the mud wearing flip-flops? The Singer course taught me a little something about patterns, thread, bobbins, and the idiocy of hand-crafting things rather than buying them better and cheaper from a store. But the fact remains that the skirt made me look like a green walrus, and I refused to be seen in it in public.
My mother considered it quite spiffy, however, and I became the resident sewing expert. She commissioned me to make a couple of sofa pillows; that went pretty well. If something needed hemming, I hemmed it. Sack dresses were in vogue, and I made myself one from a Simplicity Sew 'n' Go pattern that I actually wore.
But though Mom's streak of Martha Stewartism was much stronger than mine, she refused to tackle the machine. When she got the urge to make a pin cushion or another apron or a pot holder, she made it by hand until her arthritis really began to bother her. One of her last projects was a big brown fuzzy rabbit for my daughter's third birthday. The bunny was deeply adored, and named Big Brown. In 2008 a horse of that name ran the Kentucky Derby. Despite the fact that, like most horses, he was indeed big and brown, he was apparently named after the UPS trucks. Still, I placed a nostalgic bet and won $22. (more…)
February 7, 2013
My father did PR for Pepsi in the ‘30s and ‘40s, until he was drafted into the Navy in WWII, but Grandpa worked for Pepsi most of his life, commuting to New York and coming home on weekends. He retired in 1955 as a company vice president. He liked his Canadian Club, but Pepsi was the official family drink, viewed as a cross between holy water and Veuve Clicquot. My cousins and I probably drank enough of it in our youth to float Grandpa’s motorboat (the Pepsi), and we had the cavities to prove it. (more…)
February 4, 2013
This one is a Dripolator coffee maker from the ‘40s. Mom liked Eight O’Clock Coffee from the A&P, and she liked it weak. She grazed on coffee all day. This pot was always on the stove -- this one or the 8-cup model that I’m sorry to say did not make the downsizing cut. (What was I thinking?)
The Dripolator that came to Amherst with me is about 8 inches tall. Its embossed markings allow a choice of 2 cups or 3, with the understanding that these are the kind of dainty, saucered, flower-bedecked china cups my mother liked. (Her favorite, with violets [violets always reminded her of my father] got broken shortly before she died. She took it calmly [Mom took most things calmly] and switched to another, painted with roses.) In our highly caffeinated world of grandes, ventis, and supersizes in general, a 3-cup Dripolator fills one substantial mug, with a bit left over for a small refill. (more…)
January 26, 2013
However, instead of a post, I'm happy to supply another image from the alarmingly huge collection of strange animal photographs that my friend Rich has inflicted on me. Whoever wrote the caption on this photograph must have been as befuddled as I've felt lately. Dogs? Cats? Hamsters? Who knows? Here are Lyman, Fannie, and Laurence Lyke, with their pets, call them what you will. The photograph is fascinating, as all old photographs are. Why was it taken? Where? By whom? And why include the cats? Then again, why not?
I'll get back on schedule when things calm down. (more…)
January 15, 2013
It was clear that she loved it because the dress, those earrings, and her white "spectator" pumps appear in several photographs of her in the early '40s.(See previous post.)
What fascinates me about this particular photograph is that when it was taken, in August 1942, my parents' life was about to be completely, unexpectedly transformed.
They had eloped in 1933, when they were both 23 years old, and were married in Joplin, Missouri, by a Justice of the Peace on their way to California in search of work. (He gave them a silver dollar, which I still have.) Neither had ever been out of Syracuse before. They hitched a ride with a similarly optimistic friend whose little boy rode beside her in the front. My parents got the rumble seat, in back. They drove south, and my mother remembered that the magnolias in Missouri were in full bloom. It must have been wildly romantic: they were embarking on a mad adventure, escaping the chilly Syracuse spring, the Depression, and the disapproval of my father's parents. (more…)
January 13, 2013
January 2, 2013
This morning on my walk with Freddie, half a dozen crows landed noisily in the low branches of a tree near us: stark tree skeleton with a pattern of black birds against a bright blue sky. I thought it was beautiful.
Fred thought it was terrifying! (more…)
January 1, 2013
I’d forgotten -- though it may have been at work subliminally when I named him -- that E.B. White had a series of dachshunds, and that his first one was named Fred. (more…)
December 20, 2012
It's hard to see, but the little squarish ornament at the top right is a mirror, painted on both sides with holiday scenes (that's Santa Claus in his sleigh). They were once very common, and date from the '30s. I'm sure my parents hung them on the tree pictured in the previous post. I used to have half a dozen, and am delighted to have even one left. The tapered gold-and-white ornament in front is even more fragile than mirrors, but has somehow survived all these years. One of the Space Age-y '50s ones hangs below and to the right of the mirror. The various bell-shaped ornaments are my favorites. Some are glass, but the red one at the top left, painted with stylized white flowers, is made of some kind of metal and should last forever. The tiny blue-green teapot that was my father's last contribution to the collection hangs diagonally down to the right of the metal bell -- almost impossible to see in this photo, but very sweet in real life. (more…)
Why the blog?
Well, it had to happen. Probably most writers are tempted at some point -- simply because, if you need to write, a blog is one more place to do it. And, despite the fact that there are something like 200 million blogs out there already, people keep telling you that you should have a blog. And so gradually, slowly, almost imperceptibly, your attitude changes from "That's a ridiculous idea" to "I have nothing to say" to "Oh, what the heck." (I'm surprised there's no blog called whattheheck.com.)
So here's mine.
About that title: I do take a long walk every day, but this will not be a blog about going for walks. What I'm pretty sure I mean is that I'll be thinking about what to write in my blog while I'm taking my daily walk. As Nietzsche said (and I discovered this not by reading Nietzsche, which I have never done, but by a quick Google search for some profound quote about walking), "All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking." I'm hoping that's true for the other kind too.