June 6, 2011

Childhood Toys

Melissa Kline asked me recently if I had any toys from my childhood. A few... and so we decided to each do a blog post today on this subject. Please visit Melissa's blog at: http://www.melissakline.blogspot.com/.

Above: Here is one of three plates my father gave to me during my teen years, along with the two remaining pieces from my childhood tea set.

As a small child, I spent time at my cousin, Wanda's, house. She was of my parents' generation, so I always called her Aunt Wanda. Wanda was a registered nurse, and years later (when I had children) we lived near each other in Florida; so my children also got to spend time with her.

I remember as a preschooler planting bulbs with my red-haired aunt and walking down the street, each of us holding one hand of my stuffed toy monkey. The two cast iron figures above always sat on Aunt Wanda's windowsill in her kitchen. If you look closely, you might be able to see the small marks, where the paint is gone...this is from my teething. Nowadays, a loving aunt, let alone a registered nurse, would probably not let her toddler charge put a painted, iron 2.5-inch figurine in her mouth. Then, I don't think we thought much of it at all!

Friends of my parents traveled to Australia in the 1960s and brought back this stuffed bear for me. I loved it, and imagined a land far, far away populated with lovable bears who smell, certainly, just like the wonderful smell of this bear. Its hard little body was not very cuddly, but I loved the exotic promise it held and, oddly, I never considered from what animal the real fur of this toy might have originated.

The only book I have from my childhood is one tiny book, part of a boxed set of books, by Maurice Sendak: "One Was Johnny." Another book in the series was about a boy named Pierre who always said "I Don't Care!" This book made a big impression on me, and I remember feeling as a child that it was wrong not to care about something. That it was better to have an opinion than be apathetic, and also that it was better to care what happened to you and your life, than be passive. Perhaps those feelings started from reading Sendak's little book!

By the time a woman has lived in 9 towns in two far-apart states, as well as raised two children with all of their things, and carted around a lifetime of art supplies and books, there isn't much room for toys. Here are two tiny things that reside in a small curio shelf in our home. The baby bracelet given to me in the hospital when I was born. By the time my sons came along beaded bracelets for infants were a no-no; but there is something so sweet to me about these little beads spelling out my name. How small my wrist was!

This little hanger was made by my grandfather. He made wooden doll furniture and a pastel blue toy kitchen cupboard for me, as well as a cast iron pancake pan that I used often on a hot plate when I was in college. I was skinny then, but often made pancakes on the weekends in my room at Engleman Hall at Kent State while an art student.

Toys I wish I still had: Liddle Kiddle dolls, a stuffed dog that sat on my bed, his name was "Morgan" (my older sisters still have theirs).

Thanks, Melissa, for the trip down memory lane. Folks, please pop over and see Melissa's childhood toys: http://www.melissakline.blogspot.com/. And, if you know a teenager who needs some good summer reading, consider My Beginning, Melissa's forthcoming debut YA novel. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

June 1, 2011

Daisy Mae, you were so very much loved...

My dear friend, Florence Clark, has shared with me that her beloved dog, Daisy, left earth in May. I wrote about Daisy on Appalachian Morning in 2009, you can see the article here. Since 2009, Flo has keep me posted on Daisy's wonderful antics and also her loving spirit as she has been such a support and help to Flo over the years. I've seen the photos, drawings, paintings, and sculptures Flo has done of Daisy and celebrated with her the transformation of the spirit of love into the visible form of works of art. And celebrated Daisy, who will be very much missed.
Here are some images and a poem from Flo.


I spend most of my time alone
alone..but not
WE are almost always

We know everything about
each other
WORDS are not necessary,
although I believe you understand

You and I understand
the meanings in:
The smallest
the softest sounds-
the daily routines-
of our other
that is the other half of

The one who
About me