Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Cried on Columbus


This little sad tale is the prelude to a happy announcement about a beautiful little craft show that I will be doing this coming Sunday, right here in lovely Lunenburg, NS.
Every year at this time I am asked if I will be doing any big craft shows and my answer is always the same.  Uhhh, no, sorry, but please come visit me in my studio or at our local farmers' market or you can order online.  It's just that I have a bit of a history with large craft shows  (as do most crafts people) and at some point I had to admit defeat and come up with a new business plan.

My story begins with this beautiful display booth, built for me by my husband, Tony, who was not yet my husband.  The sort of  booth constructed out of  new love, with no hope for ever being repaid for the effort.
I remember when Tony built this booth, he stated that his goal was to make its assembly so simple that I would be able to put it together all by myself.  He later went on to call this booth the biggest failure of his life.  He had not accounted for my ineptitude with a screw gun.  I'm sorry all you competent, power tool yielding lady friends of mine.    I am not one of you.  I tried.  I swear I did.   In the end, Tony had to come to every craft show with me.  Not once was this accomplished without a fight.  And this one particular fight will forever be etched in my memory.

At the time, we lived in Marblehead, MA and the craft show in question was in New York City.  A mere 4 1/2 hour drive away.  The show is called Crafts on Columbus.  It is an outdoor show that takes over a few blocks of Columbus ave.  It takes place on Columbus day weekend in October.  Now, some of you that live in the North east of the United States may already be cluing in to the first hurdle.  Holiday weekend traffic out of Boston.  I had no idea.  Hurdle number two was "that car".  You know the one.  The lemon.  The vehicle that vacuumed up your life savings, or worse, put you into ridiculous credit card debt.  Every replaced part accompanied by a small prayer that this would be the last one.  But it never was.  It just went on and on.  It was a Chevy GMC Van.  Front wheel drive for the suckiest of winter driving.  To this day I can not look at one of those vans without crying.

We hit the road around noon.  The clouds above were ominous and angry.  Tony and I had already had a few preliminary warm up fights under our belts to set the mood.  As I hinted at already, traffic was insane.  I could of strolled out of Boston in better time.  It took us two hours to just pass the city line.  And then the skies opened.  Torrential down pour.  Zero visibility.  Faded yellow lines, faded signage and the windshield wipers stopped working.  I kid you not.  Thirty more miles and two hours later, the passenger seat belt broke.  I awaited my death.  No concern or pity from the driver side of the car only contempt and brooding resentment.

Nine hours into our four hour journey we came to a roadside diner in Yonkers.
After hours of stony silence, Tony turned to me, eyes narrowed, and said, "Go inside and ask for a potato."
Hands trembling, heart pounding (not from fear of my future husband, but from having been sure for several hours that I was about to die) I replied in a quiet voice, "A potato?"
" Yes", he said, "I heard it on NPR's Car Talk.  If the windshield wipers stop working, rub a potato on the windshield and the starch will lessen the rain drops."
I knew this was no time to argue and despite my embarrassing mission, I was relieved to have an excuse to leave the car.

I walked into the diner and was met by one of those sweet looking older NY Diner waitresses that make you want to put your head on their shoulder and call them, Mom.
"What can I do for you, Sweetie,"  she said in her raspy voice.
"Umm, I know this is a strange request, but do you happen to have a potato that I could buy from you?"
  After a quizzical moment of silence, I told her about our arduous journey and she insisted I call Tony in from the car.  I knew this woman would make everything better, so I did as I was told.
Tony came inside.  She sat us down and  put two pieces of blueberry pie and a potato in front of us.  Amazing what blueberry pie can do for a man.  The things we can learn from an older generation. We paid our bill, the waitress gave me a wink and we returned to the Van.

Tony was not yet speaking, but the smoke was no longer coming out of his ears.  He rubbed the potato on the windshield and we continued on our less than merry way.  The potato thing doesn't work, just to save you the trouble, but the last leg of our journey was easier than the first.

We arrived at our hotel at 2a.m.  We awoke at 6 a.m to set up the show.  The rain had not let up. We set up the tent and the booth.  I put out the hats.  After an hour or so, I began to notice little rain drops leaking through the tent.  The rain was coming down so quickly that it was gathering in pools on top of the tent.  Every few minutes Tony would take a stick and lift up the top of the tent from the inside, and we would watch gallons of water hit the sidewalk.  Still, not a word had passed between us.
I stood on Columbus ave. sopping wet and exhausted and I started to cry.  I cried on Columbus.  I let loose and let it go.  Tony came over, hugged me and slowly my tears turned into laughter.  We both laughed uncontrollably.

An amazing thing happened then.  Many women had run under my tent to escape the down pour.  As they huddled close, they looked around and noticed the hats.  They began to try them on.  In typical NY fashion, they found the sunshine on a rainy day.  I was swamped, both literally and figuratively.  I sold a lot of hats that day.  I could never call that show a financial success, but I covered my costs and a little more and we lived to tell the tale.  We always refer to this memory as the time I cried on Columbus.

So here we are in Lunenburg, NS, almost fifteen years later and I am about to do a tiny, beautiful, manageable little craft show this coming Sunday.  It's called the Old town Craft Show and it will be at The Lunenburg School of the Arts this Sunday from 1-5.  You can check it out here. No death defying car ride, no stress, no potatoes.  I'll post more photos tomorrow.




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Unsung Heroes

Last night we went to a beautiful tribute to veterans who had been unrecognized by the Canadian Government: Aboriginals, African Nova Scotians, Acadians, Canadian Merchant Marines. It was called Unsung Heroes.
I had no idea what I was in for, but it was very beautiful.   Music, traditional dances and story telling at the beautiful St. John's Anglican Church.

The highlight for me was when an ancient aboriginal man who had served in the second world war stepped up to the microphone, with the help of two people, and recited a traditional prayer.
 I'm going to have to paraphrase what he said.: We ask the creator to give us strength to enjoy each day and to always be grateful. 

I think that's the only prayer I will ever need.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

For The Love of Colour

I have a little obsession with colour.  If I look back on my life I can see that it's always been this way.  I remember sitting on a subway in New York City and using all my powers of restraint to not take a little cutting from the skirt of the woman standing in front of me.

It's no wonder then that one little photo of Lunenburg's waterfront viewed from my computer screen in my former home in upstate NY caused me to make the proclamation to Tony that we would be moving to Nova Scotia.  Two years later we landed in Lunenburg and there is not a day that goes by that I am not overwhelmed by its beauty.
But paint is just paint.  It's the true colours of Lunenburg that steal my heart.  My daily walks through the graveyard, the back harbour trail and  the colours of the sky and the plants.  Even if every house in Lunenburg was painted grey (God forbid) I would still be in love with this town.
But the most vivid colours of all come from the colourful people.  This is John.  For the life of me I can't remember his last name, but we just call him Johnny Knot.  John can be found most beautiful days sitting by the waterfront, selling knots.  Every knot comes with a story and a sales pitch that will have you in stitches.  One woman stopped to look and then said she had to go check with her husband who was waiting in the car.  John yelled after her, "Tell him I'll lend him the money!"  And he probably would, too.  If there's a sunny weekend before winter hits us, be sure to walk by and see if he's there.  Stop for a chat and be prepared to have the money charmed out of your wallet.  It'll be worth it.  I promise.