Another Birthday Season

May 1, 2021 – A gift to self

I learned how to type on an old black manual typewriter using a self-instruction guide given to me by my Great Aunt Jean (yes, one and the same).

That didn’t work out too well, so I took a typing class in high school (where we had manual typewriters, which dates me for sure). But I got pretty good at touch typing … to the extent that I typed up all my mom’s recipes on crisp new index cards as a gift one year. I wonder what ever became of them … hmmmm.

Anyway, by the time I was a senior in high school, I had graduated to a Smith-Corona electric. I have less-than-fond memories of chalked correction paper for erasing typos … and then the innovative Liquid Paper that got me through college (although I have often said I was a science major for the express purpose of not having to write papers).

Then there was my first “real” job, as a library assistant at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. That introduced me to the wonders of IBM Selectrics, with their single use ribbons and self-correction cartridges. Which in turn became digital dinosaurs with the dawn of the computer age.

Somewhere along the way, my old Smith-Corona was given away to a charity that sent it to someone who could use it. I never missed its clacking racket and pulsing hum as my fingers flew on new-style keyboards, then laptops, and ultimately iPhones, where I now finger-swipe to form words.

More recently, though, I’ve been thinking it would be fun to have a manual typewriter again. A thought that became more insistent when we went shopping for Logan’s 17th birthday present and I spotted one at the local antique mall …

But a surreptitious trial revealed the keys were pretty sticky. Besides which, we were shopping for Logan, not for me.

However, that got me started looking around to see if anyone in the area sold rehabilitated typewriters. Sure enough, there was a business machine repair shop in a sketchy part of north Austin, which I talked Don into visiting when we had another errand nearby.

My reservations turned out to be overwrought … the gentleman selling the vintage typewriters was most helpful. But at $250 each, I took a pass and decided to see if I could find one to rehab myself.

My first stop was back at the Buda Antique Mall. And sure enough, the typewriter I saw several months ago was still there … along with half a dozen others. The “others” were in truly poor condition, making the portable Royal Aristocrat look pretty good by comparison. With the shop owner’s blessing, I tried every key and decided it was worth trying to make it work …

It took an entire day and a box of Q-tips, but it cleaned up pretty well …

Now all I need to do is get the keys oiled and wait for Don paint the outside of the case (it’s great having a painter in the house) …

Last, but not least, I decided to do a little research (of course), to see how vintage the Aristocrat is. In a perfect bit of synchronicity, I looked up the serial number and discovered it was made in 1956 … just right for celebrating my 65th birthday next month!

Process notes:

Finding the right color cloth to match the typewriter was a bear. Brown made the typewriter look gray, gray made it look green, and green made it look brown again. Ugh!

I tried every cloth I could think of, no luck. Then I remembered an old pair of gardening pants, which I still use occasionally. They were the perfect color, so I harvested a pocket patch …

Looks like I’ve got some mending to do.

Note-icing

April 5, 2021 – The “face” on Great Aunt Jean’s jar

My mom’s Aunt Jean, who never married, lived with her sister Jessie and brother-in-law Jack, my grandparents. She helped raise my mom and her siblings … and she likewise was a constant presence in my childhood.

Great Aunt Jean was a phenomenal knitter, known to be able to knit and nap at the same time. My all-time favorite of hers was a blue sweater she knitted for my brother that featured a white angora bunny. It tickles my nose just to think of it.

She and my grandparents lived at 63 Shellbank Place in Rockville Centre …

about half an hour drive from my childhood home in Mineola. We visited often and I have fond memories of doing projects with my Pop Pop and baking with my Grandma and Aunt Jean.

My mom and dad (who met on a blind date) used to say that Aunt Jean would look out her window overlooking the front walk when they came home from the movies or rendezvous at the Wonder Bar.

Dad was drafted by the army and posted overseas in France, after which he and Mom married and had their wedding reception on the wrap-around front porch at Shellbank Place.

I loved running on that porch, not to mention rolling down the “hill” in the front yard. But my favorite spot in the house was the front parlor, which had an upright piano, a miniature pipe organ (which didn’t work), and a tv (which did work and was the main attraction as we didn’t have one at our house until I was school age).

I still have the desk from that front parlor, a wedding gift from Pop Pop to Grandma …

As it did when I was little, it holds puzzles, toys and games for visiting grandchildren. Sadly, the scent of tobacco that also was kept in the desk is long gone.

All this by way of saying I also have a sweet ceramic jar that used to be in Aunt Jean’s room, complete with a post-it note written by my mom, who gifted it to me many years ago …

It does indeed have a place on my bookshelf …

and yep, it always looked like a face to me, too.

Process photos:

The rainbow connection

February 14, 2021 – Valentine’s … I mean, Melissa Day (revised 4/20/21)
February 14, 2021 – Valentine’s … I mean, Melissa Day

Melissa Reid (aka MR, Meliss, Mom, and Aunt Liss) was born 35 years ago on a snowy Valentine’s Day …

It didn’t take long before she began to proclaim it her day. And while Baskin Robbins took care of baking her early birthday cakes …

eventually Strawberry Trifle became her most-requested birthday “cake,” up to and including five years ago, when we celebrated together in St Louis …

In the many years when we haven’t made it up to St. Louis, we’ve made it a point to celebrate remotely. But when I spotted this recipe a couple of weeks ago …

I thought it looked like a good alternative to making a trifle…

It also proved to be a great jumping off point for today’s patch, which was made with a Spoonflower cotton sateen sample …

and a sprinkling of variegated floss (from P’s coverlet project) tacking down a bit of harem cloth.

Nota bene: I struggled over how to document the previous five days of Senate impeachment trial in patches. A solution made itself known last night at 2 am, so watch this space …