Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pictures and histories

A picture is worth a thousand words, says the old saying.
And they are - but pictures with the words and the story behind them preserved are beyond value.

In part of my moving into my new office at the Ozark Folk Center, I went down to the storage/archives to look for office furniture. While looking for comfortable chairs, I found stacks and stacks of old photographs.

There were pictures of Folk Center crafters from the 1970's, 80' and 90's. There are many wall-sized mounted black and white photos of broom makers, weavers and coopers. A few dozen labeled and framed photos of current crafters. Several color photos with names, or just a craft, some of those mis-labeled, a weaver is labeled "Quilter".
And there are 4 nice water color paintings of crafters - 3 in a series and one unique and beautiful one.

A box contains about 30 small, oak framed black and white photos from the late 1800's to the mid-1900's. These are labeled with information - stuck to the frames with scotch tape.

These pictures drew me, called to me, fascinated me. I had to bring them up out of the archives. They needed to be seen, shared and labeled - while the people who knew these people, crafts and events are still at the Folk Center. The stories behind the photos needs telling, keeping, sharing.

I lined the pictures up in the office hallway Friday afternoon. The hallway is a blank slate, empty walls needing focus. The few people in the office flipped through them, sharing bits of tales. The pictures looked a bit tattered, edges loose, dusty, faded in places. I stacked them in an order and left them to sort themselves out.

The box of little pics I took into my office. Some of the hard-faced people from the early 1900's were almost frightening in their scowling seriousness - and yet - one picture from that time showed a family that was round and soft. City folk, I decided.

I sorted several of the old black and whites that I thought might fit in my office and set them next to my worktable. I also found 3 colored photos from the 1980's of women fiber artists at the Folk Center. They would make an artistic display next to my 7-foot triloom, which already takes up a big chunk of one wall.

But suddenly, it didn't seem right. These pictures weren't part of my story, they aren't my history. They didn't belong in my office. I felt like an outsider. I don't know the stories behind these pictures, the people, the lives, the hopes and the dreams. I don't know where they fit, how I fit in, how it all goes together.

So I took them all out into the hall. I lined them up and left them all sitting together, a century of history of the people of this land. I hope, over the next week, people will help me sort these photos, hang them up, tell their stories. And in the sharing, we can write a new chapter of the history together.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Finally, after waiting "for-eeeeever!" we had our first kid today.
Dudley - called Dudders - is much cuter than his name would make you think. He is a purebred black angora, so he will be a fiber wether. His mum, Bramble is a first time mommy, but she obviously studied the book very well and is doing great. He is the cleanest baby goat on the planet.

In other news - my human kid - who is now 23-years-old (how did that happen?) was here visiting last week from Albuquerque. We had a great visit through the record flood. Even with houses floating down the river and bridges washing out. On the back page of our county newspaper, a small headline said "Governor Beebee Declares Stone County Disaster Area" I think they left off the word "Again". If I hadn't lived through the tornado/blizzard/flood I would have a hard time believing it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Growing through testing

The weather here is such a drama queen - all tantrums and flowers!

My parents arrived for a visit from Colorado last week - just in time to be snowed under by a tree and record breaking blizzard. Fourteen inches in Fox and maybe just a wee bit less here in Meadowcreek Valley. Trees down everywhere and power out again, for two days this time. A friend said, "It would have been romantic, if we'd had time to put the generators away from the six-day power outage after the tornado!"
There's still a spotting of snow in the dark sections of the hills, but it is mostly all water now. Lots of glistening, gurgling, rolling, sweet water. I just love it.

It was such a busy week, Monday we juried in the the Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour. The whole jury committee came out to our studios. It was intense - but we passed muster. I'm really excited. Such a wonderful opportunity to connect with people.
Then, with my parents help, we fenced a horse pastured, screened in the porch, cleaned workshop and so much more...
Finally, on Friday, I had my final interview for the job of my dreams. It was another intense interview - I'll find out next week how well I did. During the interview I was asked if I was a good leader. I replied, "Yes." Then he asked if my employees would say that I am. They do, have and hopefully will.

I almost got teary-eyed at that one though. Earlier this week, a long-awaited book had arrived. During the week, everybody in the family read it and loved it. It was written by the best writer I have the privilege to call a friend, one of the best writers I have ever read and one of my nearest and dearest friends. And my name was listed in the dedications.

Sherry Lynn Allen was a talented young writer when she began working for me at the Ag Journal. A bit rough around the edges - but that's where a lot of her humor comes from! I'm not sure who mentored or nurtured who more. I am grateful to her for the things she has taught me, too. And I would highly recommend her book to anyone - those living the country life to realize that others share your ups and downs or those living in the city and wanting a humorous picture of the trials and travails of living outside the mainstream.

The book is "Life out Here, the best of Riding Fence" and it is full of more laughs, smiles and points to provoke thought than any book I've read in a long time. Sherry isn't just a great writer, she is a talented business woman, too. Visit her Cheraw Publishing site to find out about other writers she is working with.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Seed swap & Lena's new heifer

The biggest news today, is that Lena finally got her cow!
She's wanted her own cow since she was big enough to hold up a calf bottle. She was about 15 when her grandma told her that if she could find a good cow, she would buy it for her.
Well it took 6 years and a cross country move - but Lena and my mom now have their cow. This little sweetie doesn't have a name yet.
She is a two-year-old Dexter heifer, due to freshen with her first calf in May.
She's not tame yet, but Lena will have her settled very soon. She has a good, confident attitude. She and Muppet, the goat's guard llama are not sure what to think of each other. They are both sure they rank above the other. The heifer is a bit afraid of the horses, but she'll get used to them.

In other news, I went to the most wonderful event yesterday - a seed swap. It was the perfect day for it. The sun gods smiled on the day and the daffy dills were open and just about jumping as they turned their faces to the sun.
The seed swap was open to anyone. It was held at the Ozark Folk Center and sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas Sociology Department and Humanities and World Cultures Institute (that's a mouthful!). The swap was scheduled to begin at noon and go to three. People began showing up for the swap about 10:30. The mix of people was astounding. There were college kids, working folks, retirees, elders and wee tykes toddling around. Musical instruments were as evident as baskets of seed. It was disorganized, delightful chaos.

Some people were giving away seed, others were trying to deal to get the special thing they wanted. Everybody wanted to trade. Many people brought things other than seed to trade. One glowing young man gave me a crystal he had harvested near Hot Springs.
Nobody wanted to miss out on getting the seeds they needed to complete their garden, or the rare heritage plant that was only passed from hand to hand. Soon the conference room was so jammed with people you couldn't move. Everybody was talking seeds and plants and heritage. The stories were flowing. It was like being at a party where everyone wants to be in the kitchen.
When I left at 3:30, people were still sharing ideas and history and bits of nature.