Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse VII: Home-Grown Art

My brother, the artist. He fired the famous Frank & Beans wall hanging at my mother's window, and he penned this gorgeous India-ink rendering of a heavily-veined leaf.

What does he draw these days, I wonder?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse VI: Vinegar Man

I don't think it was just me. I think the leering eyes and psychotic grin of this guy would frequent the nightmares of any little kid who saw them.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse V: Mom's Window

Mom has turned the window over the kitchen sink into a sort of altar with knick-knacks commemorating places she's been and people she knows.

Everyone who stops by enters the house through the breezeway, so they have to pass through the kitchen, and they all seem to stop at the altar to view the knick-knacks, trying to spot the new additions, or guess if any have gone or been demoted to another part of the house.

When a new knick-knack appears, visitors point and comment, try to guess what it is, or pick it up and marvel at it if they already know.

I don't think she'll mind too much if we take a closer look:

One of my distant relatives on my mother's side was a cobbler, and the little wooden form that looks like a shoe is one of the tools he used in his shop.

Our immediate family once owned a small-town newspaper and, when we bought it, we came into posession of a staggering amount of type. Most of it was the tiny lead type used in setting newsprint, but we also ended up with a few boxes of very large type cut from wood. Mom saved a few pieces and spelled her name.

I have no idea where the chicken or the rose came from or what they're about.

Say hello to Vinegar Man. Both he and the tiny wash tub both belonged to my mother's mother at one time. I think. I'm sure Vinegar Man did because his bug eyes and psycho smile scared the bejeezus out of me when I was little and made quite an impression on me. He usually sat on grandma's countertop, or maybe on her windowsill.

If my memory's not playing tricks on me and the little wash basket was grandma's too, I think it sat on the edge of the sink and she used it to hold brillo pads or soap bars or something like that. It also gave me the willies because it's got a bunch of eye-like things that stared down at me.

Grandma used to scare me all the time with eyes, now that I think about it. For my birthday she gave me one of those clocks with eyes that flicked back and forth as it went tick-tock. The damn thing gave me nightmares after just one or two days hanging over my bed, and had to be returned.

I still don't like to look at the wash basket, but Vinegar Man's like an old friend.

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse IV: Grandma Lana's Dresser

Many moons ago, my mother dragged this dresser into the front entrance of the apartment we rented in Marquette. She slapped gallons of gelatinous "Zip-Strip" on it, peeling away layer after layer of paint and varnish, until she found this: A hand-carved pattern that she hadn't even been aware of. After cleaning it up the rest of the piece, she re-varnished it and it's been in the front room of our house ever since.

I've long assumed that this chest was just something she picked up at a garage sale, but I found out during our visit that it belonged to her grandmother Lana.