Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smoki has a festival

I had planned a post about all the water birds I saw on my southern sojourn. But: a quick change in plans to persuade you to visit the SW Indian Art Festival at the Smoki Museum grounds tomorrow. It's a good show, well worth your time. As you can see below, I spent some time enjoying myself. And, of course, taking pictures; fortunately, most of the artists were quite happy to let me photograph their work.

There were few scuptures; this horse is by Beje Whitethorne Sr.

I found the paintings excellent -- and great fun, many of them; others were quite mysterious.

One artist exhibited a big collection of very small Hopi katsinas.

Hopi glassware (above) and ceramics, including the traditional Mudhead (below). This katsina is a clown who may be seen in most Hopi ceremonies. Mudhead Katsinas drum, dance, play games with the audience, and may act as announcers for events.

A jangle of bells announced that a troupe of dancers was ready to perform. Unfortunately, I was present only for one of the five different performances today. More are scheduled for tomorrow, beginning at 11 A.M.

Don't those great coats look comfy and wonderful for next year's winter? They are made from classic Indian blankets.

As with almost every show, some artists also offered Tshirts, great for cheapskates like me who would love to buy several of the paintings on display but frankly can't afford them. For further info, go to NDN Gear (above) or Ryan Singer (below) to check out the lines.

Because I had already bought the official Tshirt, I didn't have room to carry any more. However, now I have a piece of art by the director of the Smoki Museum, Ryan Huna Smith. If you would like to look at more Indian artwork, here are some web sites of artists who exhibited: Baje Whitethorne Sr ... Kevin Quannie ... Landis Bahe ... Ryan Singer ... Virgil Nez

Friday, May 30, 2008

A patriotic season

I would like to have attended Memorial Day services at the Citizens Cemetery on Monday or at the VA facility today, but it was not to be. I recall that Mom called the holiday Decoration Day in the past, which was not uncommon. According to the U.S. Memorial Day Organization, the observance was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 and first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890 the holiday was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead.

In many ways, the significance of the day -- to honor our war dead -- has been confused by moving the date hither and yon to give Americans their three-day weekend and, I would guess, by the unpopularity of our most recent wars with many. Memorial Day continues to carry a patriotic theme into public life, however, and the six week period between it and July 4 constitutes what you might consider a patriotic season, during which many houses fly flags or decorate with bunting. Businesses also carry out the theme, as these pictures from one restaurant demonstrate.

Thematic flags.

Small touches, such as a vest for Granny Goose and a special wrapping for the bread basket.

Even a special seasonal liner for the pie display.

But this eagle is hard to take seriously; in fact, he looks to be in agony.

Serious Local Bloggers: Most of the Prescott area bloggers that I read regularly (and there are quite a few, BTW) post on a fairly light-hearted basis about their doings, their creations, their interests, their photography and their activities. However, a small group posts on much more serious topics. In As Your World Changes, a self-admitted long-time computer geek tells of her own gradual vision loss and how she is working to harness computer technology to assist the partially sighted. Another local, Robert Heiny, focuses on the use of portable computers in eduction at The Tablet PC Education Blog. The Mom and Me Journals describes in great detail Gail Rae's life caring for her aged mother, not as a patient, but as a companion in her declining years. I also have a reader, Digital Karen, down in Scottsdale who, though she usually posts with a light heart, periodically gives insight into living life in a wheelchair. If you know of other area bloggers with a serious message, please add to the list.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the polka dotted line

I suppose that these boots were made for walking, but I'm really not very sure about it. I should think that they would be distracting. Not that I could imagine doing a polka while wearing either the pink or the black. That might be why they were languishing on a shelf at Tuesday Morning, the boutique remainder store.

That day was my day to be struck by polka dots here, polka dots there, polka dots everywhere. Well, almost.

Even bowls for your morning Flakey Frosties or Ultra Oaties, bedecked with colorful dots. I found myself wondering 1) where the term polka dots originated and 2) why had they gone out of fashion -- and suddenly reappeared to tease my eyes that particular day at Tuesday Morning
For, you see, I was about to fly to Louisiana and Memphis to visit friends and relations and I needed a new suitcase. Need I say more? It was R.E.D. Not very likely to get lost on the baggage carousel and the size was perfect for two weeks' worth of clothes. Oh yes, I did indeed gift myself with that bright red, polka dotted bag.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pearls from Tennessee?

And, no, I am not talking about Minnie Pearl, the Southern debutante who entertained Grand Ole Opry fans for so many years. I'm talking about the jewelry kind. Yup, cultured pearls are produced in the waters of Birdsong Creek, about a mile from the Tennessee River; in fact, this is the only freshwater pearl operation in North America. The Other Niece from Memphis and I headed out from Memphis on I-40 one day to visit Birdsong .

The pearl farm began operations in 1979, using the indigenous washboard mussel which seldom produces a stone in the wild, but does secret a lustrous nacre. Here in front of the museum and marina store is an old scow used to place cages of treated mussels in the water.

Seeded shellfish in cages are attached to the chains (above) and lowered to the creek bed where they sit for five years, depositing the iridescent material which creates pearls of various shapes and sizes.

Not much to look at, the floats which hold the chains, tho I'm sure my SSon would love seeing all those happy turtles basking in the sun.

TONFM and I did not arrive in time to take the water tour, but we did enjoy the museum.

No grains of sand here! In the right tray are forms, made from shell, which are inserted into the mussels to form the base for the pearls. The owner of the farm and marina said that Tennessee exports up to 25 million pounds of shells annually, primarily for pearl aquaculture in the Far East.

In earlier days, river mussels were harvested for the handsome mother of pearl used for knives...

...not to mention the most important use of all -- buttons. Surely some of you are old enough to remember when white shirt buttons were fashioned from mother of pearl, not plastic! Or you saw them in your grandmother's wonderful old button box that she let you play with. The old buttons were a lot prettier than today's mass produced fastener; at least, that's what I think.

Of course, there were standard tourist items for sale -- above, pearls grown directly on the shells, and below, a hokey Valentine sort of package.

But there were also strings of pearls, from Tennessee and from abroad, as well as unusual pearl-bearing cabochons cut directly from the shell.

Here is the beautiful necklace that TONFM gave me at the end of our tour. It was a great day! Other adventures, coming up Real Soon Now.
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