Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Crafting with Norma - Magazine Butterflies

One of my favourite things about Norma is that she loves crafting like I do.  You might or might not remember Denise's fuzzy flip flops made with eyelash yarn.  And Norma had coat hangers made just the same way my Grandma made them - it was like coming home seeing those on my first visit!

This year she was making butterflies out of magazine pages.  Talk about a woman after my own heart!  And they are dead simple to make. 

It seemed rather dark in the house, so I've gone to the front porch,
natural light being best for photos.  But of course, where there
is light, there are also shadows. 

What you need:

- patterns to trace for the top (a square, basically) and the bottom (sort of lip shaped - see below) 

This shows you the relative size of the 'lips' to the square

Except that the 'lips' go at the 'bottom' or what Norma has
labelled the 'buns' when it is assembled.

- a black felt tip marker (preferably one that dries pretty quick, else you'll have black fingers; ask me how I know)

- some black chenille pipe cleaners (I found them on ebay pretty easy)

- magazine pages without writing on them, just pictures, the colours don't really matter that much, so long as you think they go together in a butterfly sort of way

These lovely ladies were in the 2001 issue of Eve magazine.

So you might gather, correctly, that I still have quite a few
magazines hanging around here. 

What you do:

- trace the pattern on your magazine page with the black marker - this gives a nicely defined edge to the wings - and cut them out

- fold the top (square) in half on the diagonal
- pleat first one half of the top working from the first fold to the end and then pleat the second half the same way
- repeat for the bottom piece (the 'lips) - fold diagonally, pleating the top and bottom from the centre fold

This is the bottom section pleated first, but you get the idea.
 Folding in half and pleating half at a time matters, according to the sewing ladies
whose butterflies didn't work the first time.

- cut about a 3-3.5 inch length of black pipe cleaner for the antennae - possibly 4 inches if making a larger butterfly

These patterns Norma gave me have been traced and cut
so many times the square is no longer square and
the bottom piece is also off centre.  But they still work.

- with the curved bit at the bottom, put the middle of the two pleated pieces together and twist the pipe cleaner around the narrow centre

- turn the ends of the pipe cleaner at an angle for antennae

- spread the pleated bit a little to show the wings

Start to finish less than 10 minutes!

Dead easy, like I said.  Norma was making them as decorations for her son's wedding the following week.  She had attached a bunch to her wrought iron screen by the stair well and another bunch of small ones to each of the silk flowers in an arrangement on her coffee table.  It was amazing how effective they were, these simple little things made with old magazines.

The ladies at the sewing group all wanted to have patterns because they had nieces or grandchildren who would enjoy this.  Bill's eldest daughter, Helen, runs a Brownie group and she thought this would be good for them as well.

I hope at some point to share some photos with Norma to show her what she started!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Fridley Parade

You don't want to know how many hundreds of photos Bill and I took between us of this parade to celebrate the existence of Fridley, MN.

Bill absolutely adores parades. He thinks of them as being practically the life and soul of small town America though he does recognise that sometimes big cities have them as well. I'm not sure where we fit Fridley in, as I would call it a suburb of Minneapolis.

I think it's the way that small towns drag out every scrap of personality to display that really gets him.

I was amazed at the advertising opportunities, though I have deliberately not shown you the

The Police cars
The Boy Scouts
The 4-H banner
The Girl Scouts banner
The Shriners with their little cars and funny hats
The red and yellow fire trucks
VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars)
The Grand Marshal
The Mayor
The County Commissioner
The Historical Society (at least they had a brass band)
Candidates for State Representative
The 2011 Aquatennial Captain and Princess
An adverts for Dairy Queen, an insurance agent, Pet Taxi,
The Coon Rapids beauty queen, the K-9 police unit,
Fridley Community Theatre showing Anything Goes
The Lions Club
The Zurah Legion of Honor
Miss Robbinsdale
Beauty Queens from East Bethel
Maple River Marching Band, Fairmont High School Band, Fridley Dance Team,
or a bunch of really fat old men on fat motorcycles who enjoyed roaring back and forth and really held up the show. I'm jaded, I'll admit.

Art came down on his riding mower to avoid walking very far. Apparently this is the second year he's done this and he got all the usual comments asking if he was going to cut their grass.

I must admit that running slightly late Bill, Norma and I piled into the car to drive part of the way before walking down to find a spot.

It began with a 5k race. Bill was sad not to have known else he would have joined in. I suspect he would have done's called 'pothunting'.

Their son Spike had been invovled in some way with one of the bands' costumes or flag routine

or something but beyond that I'm pretty certain Art and Norma

sat through practically the entire parade for Bill's benefit.

We were well impressed with the Twin Cities Unicycle Club.

That's not a skill that's very common any more.

I doubt it ever was.

I have to admit to being the first to say 'uncle'.

I was getting cold and I'd decided Fridley had more politicians and business people

than I wanted to know about. Also all the neighbouring areas seemed to have sent their bands, so I just didn't see an end to it. Still, after all this, we practically had to drag Bill back to the car. Isn't he cute?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Year of Style - August

The theme for August is 'relax'.  Over here in Europe, most offices practically shut down in August but we retirees seem to be busier than ever this month!  I don't see 'relax' as being on the cards, but never mind, at least we're having fun.  Anyhow, my favourite ideas that Frederic presented for August were:

Think lavender.  Pick fistfuls from your garden, or buy bunches from your florist to arrange in ceramic vases, terracotta flowerpots, old jam jars - anything.  Being frugal, of course, I don't normally buy flowers and as I haven't figure out yet how to make lavender grow in our garden, I just enjoy the smell of others' plants as I pass.  But one day...

Sunny yellows, emerald greens, bright blues are stunning with white clothes.  Glad to know that, as white is my colour for August.  That said, I tend to put it together with navy.  Boring, perhaps, but I like it.

Learn to knit.  It's hip and you can do it almost anywhere.  I'm always a bit weirded out when someone uses the word 'hip' - it was definitely not a good word back when I thought I was an authority on such things, you know, about 40 years ago.  Anyhow, I love knitting, though I'm not particularly good at it.  Our next WI session is going to be about knitting, so I'm looking forward to it!

Smile when picking up the phone.  The caller will hear it in your voice.  I always try to remember this, if not when I pick up the phone at least before I hang up. 

"I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch."  - Gilda Radner  I think that's brilliant advice and I follow it faithfully.  I also took a few minutes to watch a few Gilda videos on YouTube.  For some reason (because I'm always late to the party) I never got into Saturday Night Live and I'm sure my life was poorer for it.

Friday, 26 August 2011

August in Retrospect

Much like we are generally on holiday somewhere in July, I'm generally still telling you about those travel experiences in August.  Sadly predictable, I'm afraid.  Never mind, the most important thing about August (to me) is that it's the month in which my Mom was born.

In 2008 we were still seeing Bill's 60th Birthday Tour which included
In 2009 we visited Minnesota and Wisconsin where my Dad grew up, the first time I've ever been except for a short business trip to Minneapolis back in 1983.  Little did I know I'd be back two years later!

In 2010, we had a shorter holiday in Italy.




Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Result

This is the last of a series of posts about Owatonna State School Museum (starting here), within a series of posts about our three week holiday in the US in June, which starts here.


I'm thinking after about two weeks here in the State School you're ready to leave.  I wouldn't want to stay much longer myself, perhaps.

On the plus side the buildings were capacious, even if they were filled with beds.

The grounds began with a few plantings that eventually grew into lush trees. 

I just stopped myself from taking photos of all the views from the bare windows.

There was mention of gardens and rock gardens.   I've no idea if the children would notice whether they lived in pretty surroundings.

Though closets, etc., look primitive now, that is the style of closets in the 1920s and 30s when most people didn't more clothes than they could wear.

Every Wednesday was movie night.

The children had toys and they had each other. 

They were clothed warmly - long underwear was prominent in the displays.  If one got a kind and loving matron, it would make life much easier, but institutions aren't always noted for finding such people. 

Perhaps they just don't make as sensational stories for the press.

Bill kept remarking how during this same time in England middle and upper class families spent huge sums of money to send their sons to boarding schools no more luxurious than this.

They won't have done the manual labour, but the rules will have been just as stiff and peer pressure was enormous.  Children bullied each other to a criminal extent.

Beatings were also common, though perhaps not always administered by staff and perhaps using a different implement than the radiator brush used at Owatonna.

The emotional deprivation will have been much the same, particularly for young men boarded from the age of 6 or 8 as was common in Britain in upper class families.  Great way to raise the people who would later run the country...

Bill has also remarked how these rooms compare with the officers' quarters aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, senior staff on a prestige posting.  Interesting idea, but of course the men on the Britannia were there by choice.

Some of the children weren't adopted, but were actually indentured, which I found shocking.  The range of experiences those children later related are predictably diverse:  some found good homes with kind people, other found the abuse and neglect from which they were supposed to have been saved.

The result of growing up in an orphanage was that one didn't speak much about it to family members.  It was mentioned that joining the military was dead easy!  Hardly any noticable change in lifestyle.  Those who were able to form relationships sometimes found family attachment stifling and others' expression of emotions excessive and uncomfortable.

So, what we knew at the start, not a great place to grow up.  I came away dizzy with impressions about the scale of this place and the life led by the people involved with it.  Also about how much better a life my Dad had with my Grandparents, who spoiled him with so much love - and me as well - and we never even knew he was adopted. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Dining Room

This is a series of posts about Owatonna State School Museum (starting here), within a series of posts about our three week holiday in the US in June, which starts here.

As usual, I've chopped and changed the order of what we saw to make my own arrangement. 

The Museum housed not only the archives for the state school, but various offices and an art gallery.

Now, the dining room appears to be a sort of function hall for large gatherings, which given its size is very sensible. 

It was also incredibly beautiful. 

The old pictures I've copied are all the more poignant because of of the stark nature of black and white photos. 

Adding colour changes the mood altogether.

Of course, the stained glass screens weren't present when this was a school. 

They had recently been rescued from a Methodist church that was being demolished. 

I doubt that the window screens were there and of course the room was filled with tables, chairs and children.

The shape of the windows and the grand size would be the same.

I was even fascinated with the neat way in which these stacking chairs fit together. 

Not sure how comfortable they would be but I thought they were lovely.

After soaking up so much sadness, it was a relief to see something that lifted the spirit

Neither Bill nor I could get enough of this room. 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Basement

This is a series of posts about Owatonna State School Museum (starting here), within a series of posts about our three week holiday in the US in June, which starts here.

One of the prevalent comments made by State Schoolers in their stories was about scrubbing and polishing the floors in the main rooms of their cottages. 

They hated this work not just because it was hard but because it was all to the benefit of the staff. 

The children didn't live on the main floors, the children - when not working or at school - lived in the basement!

Each child had their own chair, which was recognised as a tool for order and accountability.  I suppose a vacant chair would immediately identify if anyone was missing. 

The floor of the basement was concrete, so the boys could 'roughouse' without worrying about hurting anything (other than themselves). 

To be fair, it looks as though the Matron spent a good deal of time in
the basement as well.

They played games, shot baskets and generally hung around.  They entered and exited the building via the basement door, walking two by two.

"At bedtime, Miss Morgan would dismiss us one at a time. Some nights, she required each of us to sing a song, recite a poem or do an act before leaving. Then it was up the stairs to brush our teeth and go to bed."

If I had to live in a basement, I know just what I would have been doing.