In the Light of Day

Sunday after church, Handy and I went to pick up a piece of furniture I bought at an estate sale on Saturday.  It ended up being 5 pieces of furniture, actually, and once we were finished moving everything into the house, there was a lot more moving around.

Handy left and I moved things around a little bit more.  I’m not sure I like the new living room arrangement.

It was a weekend jam-packed with activity, including a fundraiser on Friday night and a harvest supper at the West Minot Grange on Saturday night.

in-the-light-of-dayThings will be clearer in the light of day.

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The Threads of Time

In the last few weeks, I’ve mentioned the feature I was writing on Museum L/A’s latest exhibition “Covering the Nation:  The Art of the Bates Bedspread.”  I interviewed the guest curator and the museum’s executive director; both of them provided me with a lot of information and a lot to think about as I was preparing my draft (which DID get to the editor at the promised day and time…phew!)

Although the exhibit focuses on only one of the products Bates Manufacturing created, the guest curator explained that the company actually produced “everything to do with beds” and bedrooms.

Sheets, mattress covers, blankets.  Oh, and curtains and tablecloths and napkins.  Innovators of the Jacquard looming process, Bates “did everything from the plainest…sheeting to the complex.  Like the matelassé bedspreads” guest curator Jacqueline Field told me.

Thinking about what a giant industrial powerhouse the mill had been, I interviewed my mother, hoping she would share a recollection of adding a bedspread to her wedding trousseau or buying a damask tablecloth at the local “company store” as a bridal shower gift for a friend.

She did not have such a recollection.

I was surprised, because I remembered the white summer Bates coverlet on my parents’ bed growing up.  It was cut down into a tablecloth at some point and then into pillow shams.  True to what Field had told me, no one ever threw out textiles back in “those days.”

I still have the pillow shams.

What my mother did tell me was it had been my Aunt Anna (Tante Anna) who had influenced her own decorating tastes when she (Helen) had been a fledgling housewife.  Then she said “Anna worked in the office at Bates before she got married.  I think that’s why she liked their products so much.”

That was some new information.  I picked up that thread and zipped out an e-mail to two of my cousins, asking them if they remembered their mother talking about her job at Bates.  Oddly enough, only one of my cousins affirmed that their mother had worked there while the other cousin refuted it.  Both reminded me, however ironically, that they had grown up on “Bates Street” in Lisbon Falls.

So what was the truth?  Had Tante Anna worked in the office of Bates Manufacturing prior to her marriage or had she not?

Both cousins did confirm “she certainly loved those Bates bedspreads.”  One cousin said “I think she had one for every bed in the house.”

I suppose I could interview Uncle Bob and maybe Aunt Rita, but as it turned out, I did not use that particular “angle” for my story.  I think I will do more research about Bates Manufacturing and their amazing output of beautiful and useful things.  They made practical cotton goods for every day as well as lovely things for high days and holidays.

This is not a Bates tablecloth.

preparing-order

Another stylish aunt left it behind when she died and it ended up with me.  Although blue is not the best match for my dining area, I love the order of the checks.  The dining table looks naked when it wears another cloth.

Bates Manufacturing promoted many of their higher-end bedspreads and woven goods with the slogan “loomed to be heirloomed” and it’s proven to be true by the vast number of vintage spreads that still exist.  Sadly, weaving through the threads of time and finding the truth in the midst of foggy memories is a little more difficult than finding a pristine “George Washington” on Ebay.

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The Last of the Glads

What’s your favorite procrastination technique?

Surely, you’re not one of those people who never indulge in the dreaded habit?  Congratulations if you are.  Me, I’ll do any other productive thing to avoid something daunting.  I’ll balance my checkbook to the penny, pay all my bills, scrub the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, and then weed the last blade of grass from the garden.

Fortunately, when the gladiolus are gone, I’ll have at least a month before the ground freezes and I dig up the corms from which they grew.

the-last-glad

No need to procrastinate digging them up today or use the task as a foil for something else.

My property taxes are paid and I’m writing out a check for the sewer bill.  There’s not much left to do before digging in to the ever more daunting task I’ve been doing in my head for two weeks.

Certain weather uncertainty arrived this weekend, with Sunday starting out dark and drizzly but then clearing off.  It was quiet on my street with the occasional interruption of a breeze trying to sweep out the muggy afternoon air.

It was a perfect afternoon for doing dauntless tasks like paying bills, balancing checkbooks, and thinking about next year’s garden.

No more interruptions.

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The Wedgwood Weave

Did I ever write about the time I passed out at work?  No, I don’t think so.  It was a long time ago, either 2006 or 2007.  One morning, I was standing outside a counterpart’s cubicle and she was talking on and on about a project we were working on.  I felt light-headed and I may have said “I think I’m going to pass out.”  I don’t remember anything that immediately followed.  Fortunately, there was a doctor in the house, although he was an orthopedic surgeon.  Nevertheless, what I’ve been told is that I was guided to a chair and I was “out” for a few seconds.  I did not lose bowel or bladder control.

The office director called 9-1-1 (standard protocol) and I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of a local hospital.  One of the nurses from my office went with me, kind soul.  I was discharged with a preliminary diagnosis of “syncope.”  I did not return to work that day.

Following this incident, I had the usual “workup” after such an event which included a “tilt table test.”  The results of this test confirmed my “fainting spell” had most likely been a “vasovagal response.” 

It’s never happened again, in spite of the fact that I sometimes work hammer and tong on projects early in the morning and late at night.

Maybe I just had the vapors.

That’s the musical group, The Vapors, a British power pop band; they were musical “cousins” to The Jam.

Speaking of power pop, I’m writing a feature on Museum L/A’s latest exhibition called “Covering the Nation:  The Art of the Bates Bedspread.”  If you’re anywhere near Lewiston, Maine from now until April, 2017, you should visit the museum and view this marvelous display of American ingenuity and creativity.  Guest-curated by textile historian Jacqueline Field, it features pristine examples of five of the former Bates Manufacturing’s major fabrications, including this beautiful 1962 matelasse bedspread called “Wedgwood Cameo.”

bates-wedgwood

I got a little light-headed when I was walking through the exhibit with the museum’s executive director.  Her father had worked in the mill for most of his life and she had an appreciation for the work and the workers who had once toiled in the long-gone textile plant.  The selections on display live on as a testament to quality and beauty.  And not only can you still buy original Bates bedspreads on Etsy and eBay, you can buy new creations crafted by Maine Heritage Weavers in the Bates tradition.

You’ll have to read my feature once it’s published.  I’ve got to finish it first, though, and make my way through this pile of notes and recordings and bedspreads.  Handy says he’s making dinner tonight, Chicken a la King or some such old timey dinner that’s perfect for keeping me focused on the past.

Powering through!

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The Order of Things

Like most Americans, I remember where I was on September 11, 2001.  I remember the drive to work, the clear blue skies, and the order of things.  I had just finished facilitating a conference call and one of the participants casually mentioned a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Her name was Diana; she said “it was probably just a prop plane.”

Earlier in 2001, before September, I had become a “provisional” member of the Junior League of Boston.  In retrospect, it was a strange intersection of people, places, and things for me.

Sometimes, it seems like none of it ever happened.

orderLate last week, humidity moved in and made it seem quite warm.  A fog settled over this part of Maine on Saturday night; Handy and I noticed it on our drive home from Rockland.  We stopped at Moody’s Diner and shared a piece of pie like it was 1949.

The fog and damp hung on through the night and during church on Sunday, the sky grew dark.  After the congregation finished the old Protestant classic “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” sounding as powerful as it must have sounded almost 500 years ago, it began to rain.

It rained steadily until noon, but by 3:00 p.m., the sky had cleared and the humidity’s oppression vanished.  It was good weather for moonflowers and morning glories and deep red tomatoes on the vine.

That was the order of things fifteen years later.

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This is How the Story Ended

As some blog readers might recall, I started some moonflowers from seed in April.  I tried to grow them last year but they didn’t amount to anything.

Interestingly enough, I grew them one summer, in pots on my chicken coop-sized condominium deck.  That must have been the summer I made a firm resolve to leave “The Coop” after a member of the condominium association board of directors told me to take the climbing vines down because they were against regulations.  That was a dark summer, indeed.

moonflower

They were so beautiful; how could anyone object?  Ugliness of heart can lead to a rejection of beauty.

I’d like to tarry longer on the topic of regulations, hearts, and flowers, but the sun is on the rise and I’ve got miles to go today.  Feel free to linger a moment and contemplate the moonflower.  What a creation!  I only planted the seed.

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Heavenly Blue

This spring, along the back wall of my fenced-in garden, I planted sunflowers, scarlet runner beans, and morning glories.  I didn’t read the “Heavenly Blue” package closely and watched the dense green foliage cover the fence with nary the sight of a flower.

The Green

Then one day last week it happened.

Heavenly BlueI am still waiting for the moonflowers; you’ll be the first to know when they arrive.

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