April 21, 2009

The Saturday Evening Girls

The Saturday Evening Girls got their start during the late 19th century -- due to the convergence of three movements. The Settlement House movement began in London as a way to help the poor -- to give them food, shelter, and a way to make a living. In the US, the name most associated with this movement is Chicago's Jane Addams.

The women's movement focused more attention on women's economic and social needs. The Arts and Crafts movement was also getting its start. It emphasized pride in craftsmanship as people searched for an antidote to the mass produced goods of the Industrial Revolution.

The Saturday Evening Girls started in 1899 as a club through the Boston Public Library that provided education and social activities for young immigrant girls. Local philanthropists hoped their contribution would keep girls off the streets. Many girls had to work to provide an income for their families, which meant no time for school.

Under the guidance of Edith Brown and Edith Guerrier, with assistance from Helen Storrow, the group eventually turned to making and selling pottery as a way to pay for the organization's summer camps.

The small business was called Paul Revere Pottery for the group's proximity to the historic location in the North End where Paul Revere worked his silver one hundred years earlier.

The club helped young women develop not only the skills of decorating pottery, but also business skills to go along with it. Local department stores and other retail ventures bought the girls' lovely pieces..

According to the Museum of Fine Arts, volunteers read to the girls as they worked. One mug is inscribed "In the forest must always be a nightingale & in the soul a faith so faithful that it comes back even after it has been slain," a verse from the 1910 play Chantecler by Edmond Rostand."

The MFA provides this review from writer Margaret Pendleton in 1910: "The glaze is dull, soft in color and texture…The colors are pure yellow, soft green, old blue and a tan. Their success in color scheme is wonderful." The girls decorated children's pottery and kitchen sets.

The most accomplished of the SEG was Sara Galner.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a collection of Saturday Evening Girls' pottery, and has this to say about Sara:

"The vast majority of works in the collection were decorated by one of the Pottery's best artists, Sara Galner, the mother of the collection's donor. Galner, a Jewish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the reading club as a young girl and later worked at the Pottery until her marriage. Objects bearing her signature span at least ten years, including some of the earliest years of the Pottery's production and the height of their artistic achievement and success in the mid-1910s. Examples of her work show the Pottery's efforts to refine both materials and technique, as well as Galner's own refinement and maturity as an artist."

Paul Revere Pottery operated until the 1940s.

You can read more about the Saturday Night Girls at the MFA by clicking here

When you get to the page, click on the Interactive Exhibition Preview near the top of the page.

This same post appears at The Write Sisters' blog.

April 20, 2009

Happy Birthday! Today, It's All About Me and Birthdays

It's my birthday, and I've been waiting until today to share a very cool website called The Birthday Calculator. Thanks, Ed!

Here are some of the things you can find out about yourself (maybe a little more than you want to know):

Your date of your conception and the day of your birth. For me, both happened on a Sunday.

Your special year according to other cultures:

The Chinese say I was was born in the year of the Dragon.
My native American zodiac sign is the Beaver.
My plant is the wild clover.

The Egytpians say I was born in the month of Paony.

The moon was a waning crescent on the day I was born.

My birth flower is the daisy.

My birth tree is the Maple.

My birthstone is the diamond.

You can find out who shares your birthday by going to Wikipedia. Enter the date in Wikipedia's search engine.

I share a birthday with my good friends, Liz Tentarelli and Kathleen Tancrede, and also these folks:

Edna Ruth Parker, supercentenarian
George Takei, aka Hikaru Sulu, helmsman for the USS Enterprise
Jessica Lange, American actress
Napoleon III, Emperor
Harold Lloyd, silent film comedian
Joan Miro, one of my favorite artists
Gordon Smiley, race car driver
Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli, professional wrestler

You can also find out the events that happened on the auspicious occasion of your birth:

On April 20, in 1916 the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park, which would eventually become Wrigley Field.

1972 -- Apollo 16 landed on the moon.

2008 -- Danica Patrick won the Japan 300 -- the first woman to do so.

Did you know you have a Life Path? the Birthday Calculator tells me mine is number 5, and seems to be pretty accurate. It includes this:

The Life Path 5 suggests that you entered this plane with a highly progressive mindset, with the attitude and skills to make the world a better place. The key word for your Life Path is freedom. In the pursuit of freedom, you are naturally versatile, adventurous, and advanced in your thinking. You are one of those people who is always striving to find answers to the many questions that life poses. The byword for the positive Life Path 5 is constant change and improvement. You want to be totally unrestrained, as this is the number most often associated with the productive use of freedom.

Apparently if you're a Life Pather 1, 5 or 7, we'll get along just great!

I won't tell you how old I am in dog years.

April 14, 2009

Here Lies The Body Of . . .

As a writer, I've come to like pithy, tight writing. No better place to find tight writing than in an epitaph.

Here lies old Rastus Sominy

Died a-eating hominy

In 1859 anno domini

Savannah, Georgia

Blown upward

out of sight:

He sought the leak

by candlelight

Wiltshire, England

Harry Edsel Smith

Born 1903 - Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft

to see if the car

was on the way down.

It was.

near Albany, New York

The dust of

Melantha Gribbling

Swept up at last

by the Great Housekeeper

Woodville, England

On a hypochondriac's grave:

See. I told you

I was SICK!

Littleton, Colorado

Here lies the body of

Jane Gordon

With mouth almighty

and teeth accordin!

Marblehead, Massachusetts

Some atheist's claim to fame.

Here lies

an Atheist

All dressed up

And no place to go.

Thurmont, Maryland

Here lies the body of poor Aunt Charlotte.

Born a virgin, died a harlot.

For 16 years she kept her virginity

A damn'd long time for this vicinity.

Death Valley, California

I put my wife beneath this stone

For her repose and for my own.

Middlebury, Vermont

And, one of the favorites I heard in childhood:

Here lies Lester Moore.

Four slugs

From a forty-four.

No Les

No More.

Boot Hill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona

For more epitaphs, check out this cool website.

April 9, 2009

Poetry Friday: Keeping Secrets and The Old Irish Cemetery

This poem, which a friend shared with me many, many years ago
is one I find very clever and so very true --

Keeping Secrets

First I put it gently in an envelope in my back pocket,
but it grew bulky, and sitting on it was uncomfortable for both of us.
So I got a bag, one of those that kee
ps a quart of ice cream cold,
and kept it there until it st
arted to swell and leak,
and the bottom fell out of the bag.
Next I tried a freezer bag with a twist tie,
but they're transparent.
I knew I needed something bigger and stronger,
so I got a shopping bag, with handles,
and carried it around with me.
That was ok, but my friends all asked me what w
as in the bag and got angry when I wouldn't tell them.
So I got a carton at the
liquor store and stuck it behind the door of my office.
That worked for a while, but it got obstreperous,
complained all day, insisted on atte
ntion when I was trying to work.
I took to leaving it in the back seat of the car,
but it didn't think much of that either, sulked and chewed up the upholstery.
One afternoon on the way home it mooned a state trooper
out of spite I suppose.
Christ! I could have been arrested.
I built a room onto the garage and brought it breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
plumped its pillows and let it do the Sunday crossword puzzle.
You think it
appreciated that?
Fat chance.
The last straw came when it kicked in the wall,
occupied the garage,
refused to let me put the car away,
and picked me up and put me
gently in an envelope in its
back pocket.

-- Bruce Petersen

* * * * *

I'm thinking about secrets today, because of an incident at the Old Irish Cemetery -- St. Joseph's -- where I usually walk Cooper.

We were there today near the little hill where the winter mortuary used to be. Cooper ran over to greet a man we were just about to pass -- the guy had pulled up near where we were walking at the back part of the cemetery.

He was out of the car and stretching -- 6'2", about 38 years old or so, and handsome in that windblown way some preppy lawyers cultivate --longish dark hair streaked with a little gray, suit pants, but not jacket and a rumpled (but not too rumpled) chambray button-down shirt. There was a combination of charm and good looks about him that most intelligent women recognize and avoid just because you know there's going to be trouble down the road.

Cooper ran over to greet him, and just as he
reached down to pat him, I saw the heavy gold wedding ring.

I knew right away he was there for a tryst.

Sure enough, not ten steps after I passed him,
a blue Toyota pulled past us driven by an extraordinary woman -- long brown hair, flawless skin, and an open, smiling face -- absolutely beautiful. She smiled at me and Cooper as she passed, but it was clear she only had eyes for this blueblood. She must have been all of 26 years old.

Cooper and I kept walking. For a while they were out of the car -- that's about all I could tell without wal
king backward and staring. Eventually I heard a car door close, and I could see they were now both in the Toyota.

I usually do a couple of turns around the cemetery, and I considered not walking my usual route past them, but I then I thought -- what the hell? Why should I change my plans? It wasn't like I'd be staring through the car window at them -- my path was taking me about 30 feet away.

As a general rule, you don't see married couples canoodling in cemeteries. Trust me. I know these things. I've walked this cemetery just about every day for the past two years, and it's about the sixth illicit liaison I've happened upon. These two were making out like teenagers.

Generally, these things don't bother me because I'm not particularly judgmental. Cheating to me is not a moral issue --it's a fairness issue.
I was bothered by this, however. I wanted to dope slap them both.

Instead, other little imaginings presented themselves. Maybe I'd tap on the car window and tell them -- in no uncertain terms, of course -- to leave the holy ground. That made me laugh -- that's what eighty-five year old women do.

Then I though about how fun it would be to just stand five feet away from the drivers' side. And just stare. That made me laugh, too. That's what crazy people do.

I wondered ho
w long it would have taken them to notice me standing there claiming to not be passing judgment.

In the end, I just kept walking. They left when they saw me making my way past their parking spot for the third time.

Ha! At least I got in my 10,000 steps for today.

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Carol over at her corner

April 2, 2009

Poetry Friday: Pangur Ban

Myself and Pangur, cat and sage
Go each about our business;

I harass my beloved page,

He his mouse.

Fame comes second to the peace
Of study, a still day
Unenvying, Pangur's choice
Is child's play.

Neither bored, both hone
At home a separate skill
Moving after hours alone
To the kill

When at last his net wraps
After a sly fight
Around a mouse; mine traps
Sudden insight.

On my cell wall here,
His sight fixes, burning,
Searching; my old eyes peer
At new learning,

And his delight when his claws
Close on his prey
Equals mine when sudden clues
Light my way.

So we find by degrees
Peace in solitude,
Both of us, solitaries,
Have each the trade

He loves: Pangur, never idle
Day or night

Hunts mic
e; I hunt each riddle
From dark to light.

-- Unknown 9th Century Irish Monk
translated from Irish by Eavan Boland

There are many translations of this poem, written by an Irish Monk in the Monastery of St Paul, Carinthia, Austria. It was written in the margins of an illuminated manuscript. You can find the original Irish version here.

Pangur Ban means white cat.

Another monk,
Bartolomaeus Anglicus (Bartholomew the Englishman), a 13th c. Franciscan monk and encyclopedist who wrote this entry describing, in part, the cat.

And hath a great mouth and saw teeth and sharp and long tongue and pliant, thin, and subtle.

And lappeth therewith when he drinketh... And he is a full lecherous in youth, swift, pliant and merry, and leapeth and rusheth on everything that is before him and is led by a straw, and playeth therewith;

and is a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy, and lieth slyly in wait for mice and is aware where they be mor
e by smell than by sight, and hunteth and rusheth on them in privy places.

And when he taketh a mouse, he playeth therewith, and eateth him after the play.

The illustrations pictured above are not from that manuscript as far as I know, but you can read more about Pangur Ban's
history here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Amy over at Ayuddha