Thursday, June 22, 2017

Silliness on Star Island

So, here on Star Island, where I'm spending the week teaching The Felted Landscape for Star Arts week,, there are lots of other activities going on besides arts.

The other night there was a storytelling hour.  One of the craziest was told by one of a pair of sisters who lived together in an apartment when they were both young and starting out.  One day one of them presented the other with a penis-shaped candle for a gift.  The other, thereupon, finding an abandoned pair of men's underpants in a laundromat, brought it home and made a display of the underpants and the candle on the other sister's bed.  Soon the two developed a running joke of passing the underpants back and forth between them, with stealth in delivery as one of their goals.  The more sneaky the delivery, the better.  The sister who won the prize for the best transfer of the underpants rolled them up into a tight package,  wrapped them in foil, and baked them into a treat she knew her sister loved and craved. a loaf of Irish bread.

Then there was the story of the thumb.  This story was about an elderly mother who, with her children's help, went to live in an assisted living place.  The children asked her which of her things from her home she wanted to take with her to her new home, and they gathered and took those things.
But after the mom got to the new place, she continually thought of items she wished she had taken with her.  Her kids would try to track down these precious items in whatever thrift shop they had ended up in.  Sometimes they were forced to resort to E-Bay, in the hope that the mom wouldn't realize that she was only receiving a look-alike, not the real thing. Mostly that worked, until the mom asked for a certain little decorative box.  The kids went back to the thrift store where it had been taken, and the box wasn't to be found.  So they went and asked the mom why the box was so important to her.

The mom said that one Sunday, when all the family except the mom had gone out, she decided to saw some wood.  In the process of sawing the wood, she sawed off her thumb, and it flew off yonder, never to be seen again...until a few months later, that is, when she found her mummified thumb in the wood pile.  She put it in the little box as a memento.  And that's the box that her children couldn't find.  Don't know if they ever did find it.

So that's why, after the story hour had ended, one of the other Star Arts conferees came up and asked me on the sly if I could give her enough wool roving to make a three-dimensional thumb.  She made the thumb--I haven't seen it yet--and deposited it in a decorative box that was for sale here as part of the silent auction.  Heh heh.  We hope the buyer gets the joke when s/he opens that box.

Then there's Eileen Frigon.  When we first met each other, she said, "I'm Eileen. I lean."  She's a wild and crazy lady, a former elementary school teacher, who likes to talk about having to warn her students not to make jokes about her last name.  She told them, "It's 'free-gone.'  When you get out of school, you're free, and you're gone."  She tells lots of stories like that with lots of friggin' craziness.  I love her.  Here she is taking her felting out to the porch of an afternoon.

Then there's the wake-up chorus.  Every morning between 7 and 7:40, a group of women goes around to all the rooms in the hotel and in the outlying cottages, singing a wake up song.  The first morning I was here, they sang "Coffee, coffee, coffee," in harmony, to the tune of "Holy, holy, holy,"  On another morning they sang, "We gather together to call you to breakfast," to the tune of the Thanksgiving song, "We Gather Together."  Then they announce the air temperature, the forecast, the menu for breakfast, and the word for the day.  Today the word was "joy."

Good word for this place.  You know what we do instead of applause, in the chapel, when someone has played a particularly lovely song on the violin or the hammered dulcimer?  Instead of clapping, we rub our hands together.  They sound like a chorus of gently rustling leaves.  Gentle and joyful.

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