Ornamental

My favorite Christmas tradition is decorating the tree, because years ago I banished all the generic sort of ornaments and went with only special and unique ornaments.

I remember buying this ornament at an after Christmas sale (surely the best time to acquire these). It must have been about 35 years ago, or more (that can’t possibly be true). I had gone to the St. Louis Zoo with my friend and his dad, and we went a little crazy buying things. There was something about this fox that spoke to me, so I bought it even though I did not need it.

I bought this one on vacation in Hawai’i and it is a Humahumanukunukuapua’a (spellcheck actually accepted that word) which is the state fish of Hawai’i.

M and I used to go to a couple of conferences every year, and while the men were busy, S and I would go in search of Christmas ornaments. She loved Christmas decorating but was a purist and would not buy anything made in China, which sometimes made it hard to shop. But we were in San Antonio and I found this lovely lizard which was made in Africa, so it came home with me. I can’t remember if she bought anything on that trip.

This elephant came from another conference trip. Me and S had gone to Macy’s in San Francisco and I got this beast, while she found some ornaments that were made in Germany (the former primary source of Christmas things).

I bought this one right here in town, I’m just including it because I love it. And I have had it for the past 32 years.

I’ve only had this one for two years, a friend gave it to me after Miss Dog died, so in many ways this is the most special ornament of my collection. But they all bear the weight of memories of times and places past, like Christmas itself.

Italian for a day

I finally noticed that it is quite close to being Christmas (that ubiquitous music was my first clue) and so I decided that I must drive south to obtain some tamales before it is too late. (If you don’t order them in time, there won’t be any for you). So I called up a friend and asked if she would like to go along, and she said “yes”. And she had other goodies in mind, so off we went.

And what she was in search of was Italian treats. So the first stop was a tiny old-fashioned corner store that has been there since 1921. I know that Dean Martin is an Italian icon, but I did not realize that this was also the case for Bing Crosby and Elvis.

I did stand in the long line to buy a few treats, but they had been sold out of her favorite since 9:00 am. But this was not the only game in town.

So off to the tamale place, only to find that they were sold out. Fortunately, there was another batch steaming away in the kitchen, so we paid for some to be picked up later and then it was off to yet another Italian store.

Eight miles out of town was this family-run farm stand (it’s actually a giant steel barn). It was loaded with everything one needs for a festive feast, freshly made cookies and confections of various sorts, locally produced jams and jellies, frozen ready to bake pies, and much, much more. This was definitely the place to be.

There were the bakers rolling out long strips of dough to make potitca (yes, spellcheck that is how it’s spelled). What is potitca? Well it’s some sort of yeast dough that is traditionally covered with finely chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, then rolled into a spiral and baked. And it is necessary for Christmas! We bought some (and a few other interesting things that they had) and it was back on the road to home. Mission accomplished.

Making crafts

Besides making the occasional piece of art, I make a lot of crafts. What is the difference between art and craft? That depends on who one asks, but in general if a piece is decorative, useful or made by a woman, then it’s craft. And here is what I have been up to.

I did not make this quilt top, but I did all the stitching that holds it together. I have a giant industrial sewing machine and I move it around (by hand) to sew the patterns. I used to do this for customers, but I rather lost interest when computers became common for quilting. I only quilt for myself and two others now. The owner of this top said that my name was in the “Navajo Times” for some quilting I did for her, so I guess I am famous for quilting. 😉

I always say “If you can wrestle an octopus, you can knit a sock,” because I use five needles for this sort of knitting. Some of my friends like to knit the sort of things that are art, but I stick to the practical and mundane.

So this is my most recent project, indigo dyeing bits of fabric. I have done lots of dyeing with chemical dyes, but this type of resist dyeing was a first. These bits are not exemplary, but I love them and can’t wait to make more and sew them into some sort of project.

And then there is this sort of craft, done using a machine (laser cutter). I’m not really sure if it counts as a craft, because I had to learn a computer program, and it was somewhat automatic from there. But this is unique, and I caused it into being, so I suppose I can include it.

This really had minimal input from me, it’s someone else’s program and I made no changes to it. What is it? Why it’s a 3-D printed DNA cookie cutter, but I did sit there and watch the machine do all the work. Perhaps that will be the way of the future, but I hope not. It is interesting to see a machine make something, but I have much more appreciation for items that show the maker’s hand.