Here Piggy Piggy!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This little piggy showed up at our local haunt which has supplied us with a few other items over the past year or so. Most recently a rather splendid elephant bank I wrote about here. (A glorious reveal of another one pending for a near term future post!)

The other day without really meaning to, Kim and I wandered in on one of our trips to or from on that particular block. This block is on the path of our trips to a Vietnamese take-out place we favor, our pet food store and is the block we stroll up and down while waiting for our Mexican food to be prepared for pick up. I like to stop and look in the window and occasionally I breakdown and purchase something. The fact that they keep odd hours makes it easier not to resist actual purchases as our strolls seem to rarely matchup with their being open.

A fairly recent view of the store window.

However, a week or so ago we were out on a Saturday afternoon and they were open and we wandered from front window to being in the store. We had noticed this little fellow through the window a week or so before. He seemed rather singular and so he has joined the ranks here at Deitch Studio.

This piggy turns out to be very popular and widely available (currently examples are available on Etsy and other sites) and seems to have been produced over a long period of time starting in the teens, by the maker Hubley. (Another item from this shop is a great dog bank that was made by Hubley. You can find that post here. Seems like I am starting a de facto bank collection via these folks!)

On my version the sign he sports is easily read, The wise pig/ Save a penny yesterday another save today tomorrow save another to keep the wolf away. Below that, on his little stand, it proclaims Thrifty. I feel he is both smiling and yet has a concerned expression. Encouraging you to save and concerned for your future well-being. Other versions of the bank feature the pig with a big pink mouth – making me think of the phrase, lipstick on a pig.

The lipstick on a pig version of the bank. Not in Pictorama collection.

He is pleasantly chipped and handled. I alway wonder about these banks how many pennies, nickels and dimes you could realistically have fit in. The effort to loosen and remove the bolt at the back seems beyond a child – perhaps the whole point? Or maybe kids just jiggled the money out of the slot again. I would say none of my banks, for all their decades in existence, show any evidence that they were ever unscrewed and opened. Teaching children thrift indeed.

I wrote a bit about banks I had as a child in a post here. The one below is a reasonably close clone of my memory of the very traditional one that was beloved to me as a child. Mine may have been a model that was slightly older or newer. I don’t remember the one ear down, but it was a long time ago. This piggy had a cork holder in the bottom I believe. I may have kept coins in him (her?), but I think mostly I just liked it.

Perhaps the model of piggy bank I had as a child, for sale on Etsy. Not in Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

My “real” bank was a small safe someone gave me. Loren and I were each given one and I used mine for many years, tucking away both bills and coins. Later in life I adopted the habit of keeping bills in my dresser drawer – Loren was fond of the sticking it in old purses method of storage. We had proper savings accounts as kids too.

The exact toy safe I had as a kid – down to the red knob. Loren’s had a blue one.

I also remember Christmas Clubs – does anyone else? A small amount would be deducted throughout the calendar year and put into an interest bearing savings account. Those must have been an administrative nightmare for banks, but it got people into the bank and to create savings accounts I guess. A quick search tells me that there are still a few that do it, although of course now it is an automatic deduct from your account, not the charming little passbooks of years ago.

Edie’s and Other Jersey Delights: Part Two

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Yesterday, the first part of this tale was devoted largely to the downtown commercial area near the town I grew up in, Red Bank, New Jersey. Now close enough to mom’s house that I can run there, I toured it a bit the other morning, noting the changes since I lived there and also its nascent resurgence since the pandemic. (That post can be found here.)

Today I pick up my story on Friday morning, having been promised a trip to Edie’s Luncheonette for a breakfast post-run. A friend from high school was visiting from the west coast and staying with a friend. The three of us made a plan to have a late breakfast there.

The exterior of Edie’s in a photo found online.

Edie’s is notable to me because it was one of my father’s regular haunts post-retirement. (I touched on Edie’s in a previous post which can be found here.) For some reason Dad staked out Edie’s as his own and for years would eat there, usually breakfast sometimes lunch, several times a week. Weirdly, I had never set foot inside before this Friday morning. Timing was always wrong when I visited my parents back when Dad was still driving and also it seemed like his own hangout. It is close enough to Mom’s house now that I could run there, but that would mean walking home after eating and as someone who is always looking to maximize my running miles, running to breakfast generally doesn’t work for me. (It would be a short run or a long-ish walk.)

A favorite photo of Dad on Mom’s wall.

However, this little sliver of an establishment which has always piqued my interest is perched on an equally tiny smidge of property, hovering at the edge of a ferociously busy street. The tiny triangle of property it sits on merges with an equally busy street just below. It has three impossibly small parking spots in front which you may not use – there are multiple, dire towing declarations. As a result, cars tuck themselves creatively in all manners of illegal spots all around and can be found there all day most days. We parked in front of someone’s house a block away and made our way across the treacherous street.

Old cemetery in a small churchyard next to Edie’s.

The little one-room cottage restaurant has houses to one side and behind it, but on the other side is a church and a very old cemetery. A brick wall protects it from the traffic pounding around it – the cemetery is the tip of the V where traffic merges. It is all a very strange intersection of many things, which I have considered as I drove by over many decades. It would seem that the Edie’s building, one of the oldest in the town of Little Silver, dates back to 1849, starting life as a housing for a tenant farmer, but it is better known for its stint as a general store and post office starting in 1889. In 1928 it begins to morph into a grocery store and then a sandwich counter, and found its true calling as a restaurant in 1970 when it more or less arrived in its current incarnation. (An interesting detailed history of the building and restaurant can be read on their website here.)

Some original details can be found inside, such as a built in craftsman style sideboard in front of the kitchen which fascinated me. Edie’s has a long menu, mostly many variations on omelets, burgers and sandwiches – you can get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich there, or a cup or bowl of daily soup. The fact that you can order Pop-tarts made me laugh. Nothing fancy folks, just the basics.

Pop-tarts and cold cereal! Edie’s will make up a school lunch for you according to their menu.

Mom reminded me that Dad’s order included two eggs over medium and rye toast. I’m sure it also included bacon and knowing the man I suspect he wasn’t entirely a stranger to the french fries. I settled on the eggs, rye toast and cottage fries in his honor. I left the bacon to my friend Suzanne, despite sentiment I am a vegetarian. She had bacon with a “small” stack of three enormous pancakes that looked righteous indeed. Randy split the fries with me and ordered the same eggs. I will say, the simple order of eggs was done to perfection.

My breakfast!

We jammed ourselves into the small room and made our way to seats at the counter. There are only a few tables that can accommodate more than two people and since it was a holiday weekday the place was at close to full tilt. Our perch was a good one though and I got to view the action behind the counter and there was plenty of hustle. I worked a counter like this back in high school and it was a hard job that I remember fondly.

The full counter on display, tables tucked everywhere.

All too soon, breakfast had come to an end and Edie’s had emptied out until the lunch rush. I snapped a final picture and out the door to we went, to wind our way back across Rumson Road.

Mirrored sideboard way to the back. Edie’s ready for the next shift, lunch.

Edie’s and Other Jersey Delights; Part One

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This is a Joy of Jersey post. This week I headed down for my regular visit with mom a bit off schedule as we hosted a large dinner at the hall on Friday. We have Election Day off and, as Kim and I had discharged our civic duty over the weekend, I headed down to her on Tuesday afternoon.

Got my fall leaf fix while running in Jersey this week.

It was my last shot at seeing some beautiful changing leaves as I made my daily morning run. I was running shorter distances last year, and I realized I had also missed much of the changing leaves as mom was in the hospital this time last year. (A post about that time can be found here.) That was about the time I changed to a regular schedule of being in Jersey, generally every other week for several days. Anyway, the foliage did not disappoint and I had pretty runs each of the days I was there.

Preparing for our dinner at the hall Monday night.

A good friend, fellow Jersey-ite of my youth, was also going to be visiting while I was there this week. In honor of and in advance of Randy’s visit, I turned my first run to the south to and through the small downtown area nearby called Red Bank. A lovely small commercial area, it was where we kids went to feel grown up. It wasn’t really where we went to get into trouble – there is a beach town in the other direction called Sea Bright which was full of bars which was designated for that (posts about that town can be found here and here), Red Bank, on the other hand, is where you shopped and ate out.

Diner which I frequented, usually in the middle of the night, but occasionally in the morning. It is in a slightly new guise but is otherwise the same.

The bones of Red Bank have remained the same while the denizens have come and gone. Jack’s Record Shop lived on the opposite side of the street in my youth and had a head shop in back – in the days before I knew what that was. It now occupies a spot near where a huge hardware store called Prown’s was. I can still smell the specific dust and fertilizer odor of that store. (They are still in business, but have moved to another location. In fact, they just installed a new backdoor for our garage at Mom’s.) The Woolworth’s is gone as is the Newberry’s, and the Steinbach’s department store, but there is still a coffee shop on the edge of town which is either the most recent incarnation of one of my youth, or a newer version. (It sported wax fruit in the window and my mother used to say, Never eat in a place with wax fruit in the window. It was a good point, but I have frequently eaten in such establishments and lived to tell the tale.)

Another coffee shop – sans wax fruit – where I used to pick up breakfast on my way to see my dad in the hospital nearby.

There was a large photography shop called Dorn’s which lasted into my adulthood, but eventually fell prey to digital photography. I did find this new photo store below which is good news if I eventually start making early process photos again at mom’s. I wrote recently about another family business in time gone-by called Kislan’s – it took care of all of our athletic needs, which were admittedly less diverse in those days. (That post is here if you are interested in the full NJ roundup.) Randy and I spent many hours of our youth, together and separately, in the town of Red Bank. Whether it was pancakes at the diner in the middle of the night, running errands or wandering the small shops on the side streets.

I’d like to have a chance to make friends at this new camera and film shop!

Wednesday and Thursday passed in a blur of work this week, cramming five days of work into three. I staked out time to spend with mom over morning coffee, lunch and tried to end the work day at a reasonable time. Randy showed up in the evening on Thursday and mom got a kick out of seeing him for the first time in decades. Despite sporting a mask for her benefit, mom declared him unchanged.

Along with our friend Suzanne, we had dinner at a restaurant which probably deserves its own post, Tavolo Pronto. This epic establishment is, in my opinion, one of the best things to hit Monmouth County in years. Their sandwiches have carried my through long dark days spent in the hospital and hospice with dad, and now it is my favorite lunch spot during my stints there. Their singular fare will stay linked in my mind with these years of my life, the adult years spent visiting Jersey, and it has comforted me during some bleak times.

Tavolo’s in Fair Haven, NJ.

Friday, Veteran’s Day, was another day off and a plan was cooked up to have breakfast at Edie’s, another local eatery that morning. Suzanne and I are early risers, but Randy hoped to sleep in a bit. This meant I could get a run in, have a coffee with mom and head over for a rare treat. Edie’s was my dad’s territory and favorite breakfast locale. He adopted it late in life and somehow he and I never ate there. The plan was set! Tomorrow, in the second part of this Jersey tribute, I will take you to that surprisingly historic spot which also has great personal significance.

Madeleine – a Meow Bow-wow

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It’s a photo finish weekend here at Pictorama, kicking off with this card that wandered in the door just yesterday from Europe. The card seems to have been and sent in Belgium. It is hard to read the postmark, but it might read 1919 which seems about right.

Card verso.

This card was sent to Madeleine as written in fancy script shown on the back. It was sent to Mademoiselle Simoine (?) in Mons, Belgium. Oh, lucky Madeleine! What a wonderful card.

This cat and dog are perfectly matched in size if not spirit – the dog is sort of stealing this show. It’s a professionally produced photo card, with an early form of hand tinting – the pink cast to the bow and a lush green background play off each other nicely, perhaps happy accident as much as a deft hand and keen eye.

Kitty has a pretty white face and chest, lovely striped coat, but is a bit inanimate. Doggie, a little devilish, has a great collar with tiny bells attached. You will hear this boy coming! He is so very shiny with a nice black coat, although he blends almost entirely into the background at first, eyes glimmering, huge, pointy ears. These bon pals like each other at least enough to sit on this (Belgian) lace tablecloth long enough to be immortalized here.

Stormy, back in her early days when she would submit to petting and even brushing.

Kit here reminds me of the stray Mom adopted about a year ago, Stormy. Some of you followed her early story as she adjusted to indoor life at Mom’s house, amongst the other kitties. (You can find posts about Stormy’s early entry to the Jersey branch of the Butler clan here and here for starters.)

Stormy is an odd cat. She came to the back door as a tiny, starved kitten. She waltzed happily into a carrier when we trapped her – sort of like, what took you guys so long? We tried to find her a home, but like many before her, she had come to stay with the Butlers. The first weeks were spent in a huge dog cage where she and the other cats could interact, but she could recover her strength. Stormy liked to be petted and even brushed, which made us think she had a home, however briefly. Her pointy face does make us think she was born feral however and these two warring factions, plus her period outside, make her a bit of a mystery.

Stormy, cat of mystery.

Over time she emerged from the cage and became part of the cat pack at Mom’s. I call her the ghost cat however as she only seems to emerge late at night. She and one of the other cats tussle and play hard – I sometimes wake to the sound of their tumbles and racing around – but I rarely catch sight of her.

Gus, Stormy’s buddy and partner in crime at night, visiting her former abode which has become another kitty hide out.

Stormy has figured out that Mom is largely immobile in her chair and evidently now has her evening nap in the chair next to her. Watching her with big gold eyes. Evidently, Stormy is the Queen of Cats late at night, having a late meal, chasing her tail and romping around. By day it is as if she does not exist. It isn’t a house with many hiding places so I have no idea where she goes. Occasionally she streaks across my path, but rarely. Updates on her have stalled as photos are minimal as are actual first hand interactions.

My outdoor buddy who I have christened Hobo – Mom’s next project.

Miss Stormy has favorites amongst Mom’s caregivers. Like everyone, she likes Winsome best and will perk up an occasionally make an entrance (briefly) when she hears her in the early evening. Despite Stormy’s early days with us, no one can get near her to pet her now – she melts away. Like all cats who chose us, mysteriously electing us as their people, we’ll never know the full tale behind her early life. However, like many before her, she lives with Mom now and is quietly in command of her nocturnal domain.

Tootsie

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It’s a family photo day today. This photo of my father’s mother, Gertrude (Gertie or most frequently Tootsie) Butler, turned up in a folder where I must have tucked it when retrieving things from my mom’s house. This is not a photo that I remember being around the house or in any albums, which we had aplenty and looked at frequently. Both the age of the photo and her appearance makes me think it is fairly early, maybe the 1950’s. Her face is fuller than I remember it being for the brief time I knew her when I was a small child. It is sealed in a plastic cover and not marked. If I had to guess I would say it was a wallet photo carried by my father.

She always wore her hair in this style, done several times a week at a local salon. By the time I knew her it was of course also carefully dyed. I don’t remember any stray bits of gray. (What would she have made of my all gray hair I wonder?) She was small of stature, about five foot, and the hair gave her several inches on that. By the time I knew her she did not wear high heels, although she was always shod in beautiful shoes. I assume however that heels were in her past as she was always very fashionable.

My Grandma Butler was always impeccably dressed, her clothes purchased when she bought for the store I am told. I am unable to imagine her in trousers; it was always a dress, usually of a beautiful brocade fabric. (My mother said she once ventured into red velvet trousers, but my grandfather vetoed them.) The bit of fur on her collar in this photo reminds me that she was no stranger to fur and wore a long mink in winter.

Our Sunday meal always concluded with marble cake.

She worked (hard) in the family store six days a week on that, her one day off, she would cook a large meal for us. The menu had very little variation and was somewhat exotic and therefore suspect to my tiny tot taste. It was generally made up of a roasted chicken, her split pea vegetable soup (hers made with chicken stock, I intend to recreate a vegetarian version for a future post) or maybe matzoh ball soup, and often something like a noodle kugel. (I hated even the smell of the noodle kugel which for those of you who don’t know is an eggy, sweet noodle dish. Hers was the only I have ever encountered, but looking at it I don’t think I have changed my mind in subsequent decades.) Bread was either what they would call Jewish rye or a black bread. Dessert was almost always a marble cake, pound cake with a swirl of chocolate.

Noodle kugel with raisons. No idea why this doesn’t work for me.

I cannot imagine she went to the store (Butler Dry Goods in Westchester, NY) less well assembled than she was for those Sunday lunches. She consistently wore bright red lipstick and some sort of eye and brow liner. Tootsie wore earrings, always clips, as her ears were not pierced and, as the person who inherited much of her (almost entirely costume and massive collection of) jewelry she did not favor screwbacks.

According to my mother, Grandma Butler really ran the store and kept the books. Like my grandfather she was a Russian immigrant arriving here even younger than him, right after WWI. She came with her sisters, Jennie and Lily. Jennie was the oldest and my grandmother the youngest – their mother died in childbirth with my grandmother. There were two boys also somewhere in the middle, Moe and Saul. My grandmother had been raised by a wet nurse and did even not know her father when he came to pick her up with a new stepmother, and take her to the United States. Rosensweig was their maiden name. I don’t know what her father did, but that side of the family dealt first in junk and antiques and eventually art.

My mother was very fond of her and I believe the feeling was mutual, despite the fact that my green-eyed and freckled mother, was of an ethnic mix that did not include Eastern Europe or being Jewish, which caused some initial consternation.

It is a bit odd to me that her nickname was Tootsie. In retrospect the idea of calling this formidable woman Toots or Tootsie amazes me. As I child I wasn’t familiar with the nickname and the name had an odd gravitas in my young mind. Meanwhile, my sister and I were Lori and Pammy to her (and no one else) and my father Ellie – mom was already Betty so no change there. I cannot remember what she called my brother who was very young when she died, but I will gamble on Eddie.

I share her love of clothing, jewelry and most of all of antiques. My father often said she would have gotten a kick out of my collecting habits (which have grown exponentially even since he knew it). She haunted the auction houses and their house in Westchester was chock full of oriental rugs (huge ones that were meant for hotel lobbies), silver, tables, cabinets, couches and chairs. Some inherited remnants of the furniture are in my room in the New Jersey house, a tapestry rolled up in the room I work in, along with a black japanned bookcase. One of the immense carpets is also stored in an upstairs bedroom.

Gertie died from an infection as a result of a cataract operation – hard to believe now that it is a procedure done in a doctor’s office which requires a commitment of a few hours, but at the time required a hospital stay. She was relatively young, in her early seventies, and still very vital.

In general I resemble my mother’s side of the family more, but one day in my twenties I caught my father unawares sporting bright red lipstick and I guess for a moment looked just like her. At five feet nine inches and with my hair shorn short at the time I couldn’t see it, but it was a lovely compliment from him I have never forgotten.

It’s Back

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I’m realizing that one of the signs of being back in the office and our hall more often is my aching back. Immediately preceding lockdown in March of ’20 I was routinely seeing an acupuncturist to relieve the lower back pain which was climbing down my leg and I was attributing to long hours in concert hall seats, airplanes and office chairs.

Over time at home, with a lousy “temporary” office, the back pain grew worse until I finally analyzed my computer set up and chair, added an external keyboard and a lift to the monitor as well as a carefully chosen chair, which I purchased after much reading and consideration. In addition, instead of my weight lifting regime as my only exercise, I began running and that made a dramatic difference too.

Cookie taking advantage of a light warmed space on my home desk.

My father’s back pain was a part of family life so I am no stranger to the concept. Dad was about 6’4″ and his career as a news cameraman meant he spent hours with heavy equipment on his shoulder (one ending up considerably lower than the other later in life) and straining his back. In addition, he drove for hours on end for domestic stories, and of course airplane travel when they went that route wasn’t much kinder. As a result my father’s mercurial back would go out reaching for a salt shaker at dinner or even sneezing, leaving him in bed or on one dreadful occasion, on the bedroom floor.

According to Blackie, the home desk is good for napping too.

There was the summer he was on the rigging of a tall ship in Newport for work (perhaps in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial) when his back went out. It was evidently a painful and prolonged trip getting both him and his equipment down in one piece. His colleagues then packed him in a car with pillows all around to enable him to drive the straight five hours or so back home in New Jersey. He spent the rest of the summer recovering, mostly in an ancient rocker which now sits in my apartment. At the time it seemed like the longest period he had ever been home with us which was probably true.

So I am no stranger to back pain, although I suppose if it came right down to it mine is a bit different than his which seemed to have been linked to discs that were being crushed by weight slowly over time. I have touched on my own psoriatic arthritis and exercise (a post can be found here) and at least some of my back pain is attributable to the inexorable advance of that disease, which expressed itself first in my lower back. And a recent hiccup with my longstanding meds (no one needs to hear an insurance company rant from me) has also exacerbated the problem again.

Cookie on the old desk chair which was killing my back. She still enjoys it however.

But one of the culprits is a byproduct of our return to the office (hybrid, three days a week) and sitting in lousy chairs. I realize now that my desk set up there is also a bit jerry-rigged, the chair (even with a back cushion added) is less than desirable and my feet at an odd angle. Add to that conference room chairs which seem to be down a notch from the one in my office and we have the recipe for worsening if not instigating said back pain. A long Board meeting on Zoom from there on Wednesday seems to have pushed me over the edge this week. Ironically now the home office is the better set up.

There’s always a certain amount of fighting over the new desk chair, regardless of whether I am in it or not…

I have always felt that the weird part of back pain is that there is a subconscious preference for maintaining the postures that in reality make it worse and perhaps helped to cause it. Back pain does not make me want to be at a standing desk for example. It makes me want to sit on my couch or curl up on the bed – neither exactly great for back pain. It makes me want to not move, when exercise and movement is the best thing to alleviate it.

So I will start to fight back today. It is a sunny crisp fall morning and I will be out for a run shortly and perhaps that and stretching before and after will start me on the path to recovery. (The stiffness and pain has dampened my desire to run this week, although I was out on Monday.) Meanwhile, I will see what I can do about improving my work office with some implements to arrange me in a better position. Not much I can do about the conference room or concert hall seats, but I will hope that this combined with a resolution around my meds and that issue, will tip the scales back in my favor. I will let you know.

Felix Sewn Up?

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This odd item came to me via a collector and reader who sold me a cache of items recently. Neither of us knows exactly what this is or how it worked, but the piece on the end appears to be a pin cushion. Therefore I think it was some sort of sewing implement which probably held a spool of thread on the other side.

Felix himself has leather ears. There are small holes on each side which I assume held spindly arms. In addition there are tiny metal loops below those holes which held something too. I have guessed this and that, but really don’t know what those may have been for. The other logical piece I can think of would be something to help you thread a needle (I use those gizmos on the rare occasions I sew a button, and did even before my eyes became middle aged), but no idea how that would have worked. As I contemplate it, I cannot vouch for the practicality of using it, but as a non-sewer it is hard for me to say.

This item is made of wood and has no makers mark, but to me it looks commercially made. It is without question old. I can cheerfully attest to never having seen anything like it despite looking at (literally) thousands of Felix items over time. A dedicated search did not turn up anything. Now that I own it perhaps they will start to show up – that happens sometimes.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

As a companion piece I offer an items one sees often, a Felix yarn winder that wandered into the house about a year ago. I see these frequently and although the Felix head seems a bit off model it does bear an official Pathe emblem in the middle. (I believe this came to me via my friends in Texas @curiositiesantique and a shout out to them!) I assume that wool winding on such an item is somehow better than just using it as it comes in those long lumpy skeins. Felix Keeps on Knitting we are informed.

Although I have written about sewing (I have a small collection of old needle packages and I wrote about them here and here) once or twice before I don’t seem to have documented my generally ham handedness for sewing. My mother had a sewing machine, a very substantial and insanely heavy, 1960’s table model, which I swear I never saw her use. (It seems that my sewing disability was passed to me via my mother who, to my knowledge, has sewn nary a button that I can remember.) My sister Loren took it over and produced some very credible items, although in somewhat typical fashion she wandered away from it once conquered.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I personally never met a bobbin that I didn’t snarl and often destroy which was hard on me in the Home Ec of my junior high days. (I’m assuming Home Economics is one of those things that disappeared or at least has been renamed over time. It sounded dated even to my young 1970’s ears. Still, as I consider this I would encourage everyone to be taught the basics of cooking, rudimentary nutrition and maybe how to sew on a button. Useful life skills.) I mean, me and ten minutes trying to fill one of those things and it was a solid web of disaster. Whole machines were out of commission after me; amazing how fast it could all go wrong. I was also known to freakishly break a needle for landing directly on a pin.

I can only volunteer that I was only marginally better in Shop class which I migrated to once I had the opportunity, hoping to get away from the world of sewing machines. It’s amazing that I paint, draw, cook and lead a generally useful life despite all this. The attempts to teach me these allied skills having failed miserably.

I did do a bit of hand sewing while still very young. I achieved adequately well on cross stitch samplers, but tended toward large looping and uneven stitches for actual sewing. Despite multiple efforts and instructors knitting utterly confuses me and my brain refuses to accept whatever pattern is required to turn yarn into sweaters and scarves. I have never sewn a hem.

In college a roommate taught me how to sew a button on properly and I remain in her debt as it is a skill called for on a regular basis really. I don’t know what bit of hand-eye coordination so eludes me, but I have learned to accept it much as I accept my brown eyes and prematurely gray hair, and over time I have made the acquaintance of a good tailor.

Onward and Upward

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I purchased this pin back in August and it arrived during an especially hectic period while I was traveling and Blackie was in the kitty hospital. (He is slowly returning to his handsome, suave, feline self. I have promised him I will not post any photos of him until he is back to his full glory however.) I have written about my occasional dysmorphia when buying online – slightly enormous and smaller than anticipated toys show up all the time. (A post addressing that can be found here.) There is, for example, a huge wax cloth Uncle Walt doll on our shelf that I have not found a proper spot for yet. (Future post, I assure you.) Most famously, there is a beloved Mickey Mouse by Dean’s Rag that was a store display which is the size of a six year old in our bedroom. I have taken to measuring more often, which lead to my not buying a rather splendid Felix decorated drum that came my way. Alas, life in a small apartment.

I had my heart set on this sterling silver Victorian arrow as soon as I saw it posted in a coming attraction reel with some other items posted by one of my go-to’s, @marsh.and.meadow (Heather, one of these days I will be in Ohio with the band and say hello!) and I set my cap for it. I was admittedly rushed when it came up for sale. All this to say, I had not really stopped to consider that it’s three and a half inches is about an inch longer than expected. But it is a solidly beautiful item and frankly, it has sat on my desk where I have just delighted in it over recent weeks.

We all want to be Excellent! Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Although it is silver there is something vaguely more industrial looking about it, like steel. It is wonderfully solid looking. It was clearly meant for a scarf, shawl, hat or bulky knit sweater. While I had originally envisioned securing it, pointing upward of course, to the lapel of a blazer it is too thick for that and I am now thinking winter coat or hat – which assumes I will leave recent years of nothing but an outer attire of an old down storm coat and watch cap behind and resume wearing a nicer wool coat and with some attitude. (This also assumes that the moth farm I have inadvertently cultivated has left me a shred of wool to wear.)

Back of the pin. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

There are certain symbols that appeal repeatedly to me in jewelry. Although my recent fascination with insects confounds me somewhat (posts on those can be found here and here), I have collected a few old school medals which provide unabashed encouragement – Improvement! Excellence! – and a post on those can be found here. I like the idea of a sly advertisement or hopefulness, a horseshoe perhaps, and a bit of encouragement for myself to be found in my pins.

A favorite insect pin, also coincidentally from Marsh.and.Meadow.

I am far from the first person to wander down this path and for example it has been done much more intelligently by the likes of Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, as she famously signaled her diplomatic intentions with her pins. I like arrows and have been looking for one for awhile. Somewhere I have a nice rhinestone one I acquired all the way back in high school, but I cannot find it and as a friend of Kim’s says, if you can’t find it you don’t own it. (It has become a mantra in this house!) I have made a few attempts to purchase pins that depict Haley’s Comet (yes, those are a thing) which is more like an arrow shooting out of a star.

While piercing is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about arrow, the symbolism of the arrow goes beyond being a badass. They represent triumph over struggle, strength and perseverance. And of course optimism, upward, let’s go this way. I think it is always good to acknowledge triumph over struggles, both large and small, and also a good reminder to be pointed on the path upward and ahead.

Love From Aunt Lisa

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This cyanotype postcard caught my eye the other day. I have a special soft spot for cats sporting a mustache and it has given me an excuse for a very all #Caturday sort of Pictorama post today. My cat Otto was my only mustachioed cat and had a perfect little Chaplin (Hitler?) mustache on her tuxedo face. Our Cookie, below, has a sloppy half one which is more like a painted smile on one side. She is not a symmetrical cat.

Cookie in her asymmetrical glory.

The Japanese, a cat loving culture as a whole, seem to have a special yen for white cats with black mustaches, which do look remarkably like early Japanese prints. Instagram is full of them. Some are rescues with one ear clipped while others look quite posh. For some reason they look like the cat equivalent of used car salesmen to me. I cannot seem to find any particular reason why the Japanese are especially fond of the look, but I do love finding them in my cat filled feed. (My Instagram feed is an almost perfect cat, antique and jewelry filled delight. I fight attempts of the algorithm to lead me astray.)

Nemurimushi is a favorite I follow.

In the postcard kitty is perched in a wheel barrel which appears to be homemade from an old half barrel. Although this is a very fluffy feline and I would say there are a few years on this kit too, living an active farm life. For me there is just something wonderful about how this card comes together, sideways writing and all however.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Somewhat annoyingly Aunt Lisa completely ignores the presence of Mr. or Ms. Kitty on this card as she writes a rather mundane note, albeit in a lovely if occasionally illegible hand. To the best of my reading ability it appears to say, Dear Willie, Tell your brother that I had a personal…with a Lundberg today and he assured me that all would be satisfactory concerning the rubber heel. Hoping that…and is interesting and that papa’s cold is better. Love from Aunt Lisa. It was mailed on September 1, 1906 at 2:00 PM from Seattle, Washington to Master Willie Bailey, Port Townsend, Washington, Buf 244. The one cent stamp has gone missing. Alas, we are never to know kit’s name or any info.

Although cyanotypes appeal to me, they do not make up a significant portion of my collection. I have written once or twice about them (posts can be found here and here) and I have never had a chance to experiment with making them, although I gather that as early process photography goes they are pretty simple. (Iron compounds appear to be the active metal.) They were an inexpensive method of photography, invented in 1842 according to the internet, so the method was old hat by the time this one was produced in 1906.

Happy Hooligan from the 2014 post of the same name. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I will close with a non-cat note that there is a gem of a little book I stumbled on years ago called Ipswich Days which is the reproduction of 41 cyanotypes made by Arthur Wesley Dow in 1899 and which I mentioned in one of the earlier posts. It is available inexpensively on Amazon (here at time of posting) and is an amazing reproduction of a slice of life and stroll through a small waterfront town at the time. Enjoy!

Opening

Pam’s Pictorama Post: As most of our readers know, I work for a well known performing arts organization and you may remember that last year I missed our opening weekend, pushed late into November to avoid inevitably Covid related early fall issues. My mom landed in the hospital and needing to be with her trumped even our long-awaited post pandemic opening. So for me, although I attended concerts later in the season last year, this was my first opening weekend since the fall of 2019. While it lacked the heavy emotion of last year, last night was more than suitably festive and, despite masks still dotting our landscape, came close to feeling like at least the return to a new normal. There was a real joy in the room.

For me it also marked the launching of many colleagues who joined the organization recently and wonderful to see them each fully assume their new roles. (I have written some about the interview process and the overall state of the office here and here.) Like the slow forward movement of a mighty ship, the gears slowly turned and it was something close to full speed ahead by the end of the evening. For my folks the weeks and months of getting to know the organization and about our supporters was like the musicians and their hours or practice and rehearsal.

Birthday cake for mom earlier this week. I started the week working from New Jersey so I could be there for a small, but festive birthday celebration. Being able to work from there periodically is a post-pandemic blessing.

An evening like this is marked with a certain expected stress and mishap as is the nature of our business. Tickets gone missing (and a supply chain issue with ticket stock having made us crazy), introductions needing to be organized and executed, catering issues. (Last night a vegan sandwich made with beets appeared – which oddly looked remarkably like corn beef. They were enormous – and well, made with beets. Ultimately we had them quartered which made them more approachable and in the end they were surprisingly good.)

I was endlessly pleased to see my folks embrace their new roles, talking with guests, moving the reception along seamlessly. Our fundraising work bounces back and forth between the administrative and in person, a delicate dance really between the two. It is a a miracle when it all meshes into a successful evening like last night and fascinating to see the new people embrace their roles, each in a different and singular way. The trained singer who came to us to be back in this milieu taking obvious pleasure in the music and in meeting the musicians, the talented and personable young man who has taken a flyer on working for an arts organization for a totally different experience finding his voice. Our events manager fully in charge and in his glory after a few spring trail runs.

Mixed in of course remains a core group of hard working and great long-standing colleagues who have stayed through it all and helped introduce the new people to their roles while continuing to keep things afloat, as we have for months and really years now. It was a moment to glimpse the future and how a new team will work together and for all the bumpy starts see how the road ahead will shape up. It is just the start of the season, but I return with a new sense of swing to my step.