Home  | Contact Me


Part VI

SUNDAY, April 18, 2010

A few days before we left for Chicago, I exchanged emails with Jackie Williams from Georgia, a quarter scaler, and she invited me to join her and several others for breakfast Sunday morning.

Sure enough, we got together, and what a fun way to begin our last day in Chicago.

From left, Elaine from NZ, Mavis from the UK (can't recall last name), and Kathryn Gray from the UK, Helen Palenski from NZ (whose tiny knitted mouse I bought), Rita Boyle from the UK, Jackie's arm pouring coffee, and me.

Here is a good picture of both Rita and Jackie, who has obviously made me laugh about something. Dana was up and down, bless her heart, taking more pictures.

Mavis was telling us about her frustration at the refrigerator/ice bucket situation (I think she had a whole row of icebuckets for their snacks and her medication) and Dana offered her our foam ice chest when we checked out, as she was going to be stuck there a few days longer because of the Icelandic volcano eruption. She was happy to have it, she said.

Jackie sent me these pictures. Here is Dana with Alan Gray, Kathryn's husband, teasing and giving Elaine a nice shoulder rub. He's probably asking if Dana wants to be next.

Another vantage point.

Rita Boyle, Kathryn Gray, Helen Palinski, Jackie Williams, Elaine Bailey.

Thanks for sending these, Jackie.

Well, the show was to last until 4:00 Sunday, and our plane didn't leave until 8, so we had plenty of time to enjoy that leisurely breakfast. Also, the show didn't open until 11, which was our check out time.

I had packed the night before, removing everything from my carry-on bag except my purchases and the workshop cottage. That way, I could add my new purchases so that none had to go in my checked luggage. Heck, I can always replace clothes, but not my minis!

We returned our room keys and checked our luggage downstairs and then I moseyed into the show with my little totebag for any further purchases, while Dana went off to the train once more, planning to stop off to explore various neighborhoods that she had spotted previously.

Oh, lordy, don't you love this place?

And wouldn't I like to take a walk on this street!

I believe this was the stop for the above neighborhoods that were so neat.

How cool is this fountain picture that she took at some point during our stay?

Interesting juxtaposition of old and new, typical of many cities.

Dana has many more pictures than I can show here, and as soon as her blog is ready, I will link to it.

Sunday afternoon was not nearly so frenetic as the previous few days. By that point, I was so tired and practically brain dead that I had to take frequent breaks. And invariably I got into more conversations, often about my minis and especially my stories. So many asked, How do you get your ideas? Where do these characters and stories come from? Which comes first, the setting or the story?

It's not easy to answer those questions. Sometimes the setting comes first, sometimes the story. And the stories themselves ...?

I come from a long line of storytellers, have always been curious by nature, and am a very sensory person with a good memory of places, sounds and smells. I remember people's voices, and sense changes in the atmosphere when people's moods change. I read widely, am a student of history, and taught English and writing for many years. I am a people watcher and a good listener and always enjoy hearing about other people's lives and experiences and keep a notepad in my purse or pocket and jot things down wherever I go. I have always been a clipper and have voluminous files of newspaper and magazine articles that intrigued me and suggested the possibility of a story.

I have an innate sense of the absurd and can almost always find humor in even the most difficult situations; and from childhood I have always been a lover of words and wordplay. Plus, I am married to a man with an offbeat sense of humor, too, who sits beside me at his computer while I am mulling over things and allows me to bounce ideas off him as I write. He can ALWAYS be counted on to come up with something I hadn't thought of, and some of my best stories have resulted from bantering back and forth at the breakfast table or wherever with him. And I dream entire stories, too ... and frankly, I don't know ....

I appreciate that people ask these questions, and those conversations in the aisles of the shows, the hallways, the elevator, the lobby, the sales rooms, the restaurants, the shuttles, even the restrooms, were as much fun as the shows. Everyone was so enthusiastic and complimentary, and how gratifying to know that they were having about as much fun with my work and storytelling as I do! I just wish I could have answered their questions better - and remember all their names.

At some point Sunday afternoon I bought myself a cup of Starbucks coffee and a pastry in the gift shop and leaned back against the comfy cushions of a sofa in the lobby to relax. A man, probably in his late 40s, came to sit beside me, looking much like one of those guys from the Country Club in the movies of the 50s, with his navy blue sweater hanging down his back and the sleeves looped loosely together in front of his white shirt. To my right in a chair was a woman, probably in her late 30s. He started bantering with her, and I remember thinking, Gee, he's hitting on her. The conversation was mostly one-sided, coming from him. "Where are you from?" he asked.

She told him she was from Kentucky (or was it Tennessee?) and asked, "And you?"

"I'm from Grand Rapids (or was it Cedar Rapids?), a big fish in a little pond," he said, deadpan. She looked at me and raised an eyebrow as if to ask, Is he for real?

He rambled on to both of us as if we were old friends, about this and that, without waiting for comments, and then, "Do you like bald headed men?"

We sat there for a minute, wondering where he was going, as he had a full head of hair, then I offered, "Well, my son-in-law is bald and I think he looks terrific," and the other woman said something to the effect that she liked several men who were bald.

Then he asked, clicking his ballpoint pen, "Do you know the difference between Helen Keller and Helen Hayes?"

At this point she said, eyes wide, "How in the world did you get from 'Do we like bald-headed men' to Helen Keller and Helen Hayes?"

"Well, bald made me think of Yul, couldn't remember his last name, was it Keller? But Keller was Helen, though, and then I thought of Helen Hayes..."

"It was Yul Brynner. You are talking stream-of-consciousness," I offered.

"Probably," he opined. Then, "I've read the entire King James version of the Bible. And the New Testament, and now I'm on the Book of Common Prayer, and I take notes," he ended, holding up his book and a small notebook with one hand and clicking his ballpoint again with the other.

"Ummhmm," I said, "Well, that's very nice. If you will excuse me, I want to go look for something in the miniature show."

"And I need to talk to somebody, too," the woman said. As we hurried down the hall, shaking our heads at each other, he was behind us on the sofa intently reading, legs crossed, clicking his pen. Now I'm wondering if that full head of hair was maybe a toupee covering a bald head ...


Well, let's see what I bought at the Chicago International.

Already I can see somebody in the shadows of my imagination, standing in front of this corn. Actually, I wish I had had this corn when I was writing about my friend Taylor Hamm, who lived for a while in a cornfield outside El Paso under the Pigness Protection Program.

LATER NOTE: Actually, this corn wound up in a setting. Go To Sleep Little Baby, based on a haunting song that I heard in George Clooney's O Brother Where Art Thu?


This is what Dana called me back to the hallway to get. "Mama!" she said. "Can't you just see this on Grandaddy Watford's counter in The Tetley Tea roombox?" And of course, I could, and will add it soon.

She also called me to see this table, which was a very good buy, perfect for anything from a food prep table to a dollhouse maker's table, or ....

A wee sea captain for one of my bookcase shelves or a very tiny scene, two baskets for my halfscale house, and a jointed Raggedy Ann. I am working on a quarter scale Raggedy house and she will join the collection when I get her dressed.

I also found these canes, which I plan to use as furniture trims or whatever.

Two more canes, one with leaf shapes and the other a horse head. I can see the leaf shapes for several uses, and I have a large collection of rocking horses of all kinds for some kind of setting one day, and will use this cane in one fashion or another.

And a gingerbread man, a teeny carrot and a wee Santa. So sorry for the poor quality of my photos; the canes are very tiny and well-made, but at this point, frankly, I am TIRED of taking and fooling with pictures!

This tiny poseable art figure will go on the dollmaker's table that I am working on as part of a doll list Posse group project. The fountain pen will go in a family history roombox, I think, in connection with a story from my childhood.

And every storyteller needs an alligator.

This Reutter clock looks much like the painting on the porcelain lamps in our real-life living room. I will put it close to the Time Traveler's Parlor roombox among all my full-size clocks in the corner of the living room display cabinet, although I am not sure how yet.

This picture does not do justice to this little turned wood bowl, which I plan to use in my halfscale house.

I loved this very small pottery from an Italian dealer; it will also go in my halfscale house.

I got these two tiny plates from the same dealer. The sun plate will perhaps go in Senora Gomez' kitchen; the one on the right will go in one of my half scale settings somewhere.

This Oxydol soap box will go in a small family history roombox connected with an incident from my childhood.

These will work in either half- or quarter-scale.

I have taken many flower workshops, which makes me fully appreciate those who make flowers and do it so well. I prefer to buy from them.

I loved these zinnias; they are such cheery flowers. They remind me of my grandmother who threw out seeds each year onto the hard packed Oklahoma dirt just to see if any would grow.

I have bought things from Pierluigi at each show. His laser metal pieces are wonderful. The tiny item on the left is intended as a soap basket, I think, but I may use it as a dish drainer in either half- or quarter scale, depending on which looks better. The wristwatch will go with the fountain pen, I think, and the cheese grater will go in some future cooking scene.

I just had to buy this hat from Deb Laue. It reminds me of my witch, Bertha Besom, who is described in Bonerella's Millinery: "She's a rather somber soul, and loves working with woods and other natural materials. She is famous for her hand-crafted brooms and wooden mortar and pestle sets. Bertha is just like everybody's favorite grandmother, except a bit more earthy."

Deb had a little gift of a tiny kewpie for Campers who came by her booth.

This tiny Christmas mouse is eating a gingerbread man. I have had a Gingerbread Man setting in progress for YEARS. Maybe this will be the impetus for getting it finished.

And I had to get one of Mel Koplin's orrerys for my in-progress-forever wizard's setting. This one is non-working, I think.

LATER NOTE: I am so glad I purchased this from Mel. I used it in my setting for Anachronon the Alchemist , and every time I see it, I think of Mel, who passed away not too long after this show. He was such a fun person, and is sorely missed by all who knew him and enjoyed his posts in CAMP.

This tiny knitted mouse by Helen Palinski of NZ will become a toy belonging to a little girl mouse who resides in my halfscale wallhanger house. (That thing sticking up is not part of her tail; it holds her to the card backing.)

I just realized I have spelled Helen's last name two different ways in this report; now I don't know which is correct. Sorry, Helen; somebody let me know ....

And I will DEFINITELY have to get a better picture of Ludwina's wonderful carpet, my prize. Until I have a better place for it, it will go in one of my display lamps.

Surprisingly enough, even though Dana is not a miniaturist and said she wasn't going to buy anything, she did - a cross stitch kit, mini ornaments for her miniature Christmas tree, flower pots to go in the garden dome setting I made for her, and a tiny plant in a conch shell. She also bought one of Volker Arnold's - or is it Arnold Volker's- tiny nativity scenes (she has an extensive real life nativity scene collection, all sizes and materials).

About an hour before the show ended I said goodbye to Alice and Lorraine and other friends, old and new, left for the lobby one more time to relax for a while, look through my last purchases and wait for Dana.

I chatted with two guys, also waiting with their carts and luggage. Turns out they were dealers and brothers, potters from Arkansas. I volunteered that my parents had lived in Springdale, Arkansas, and they both lit up. "That's where we live, but we always say so-and-so (I forget what city) because nobody knows where Springdale is."

"Oh yes," I commented, "My folks lived on a lake there; so beautiful."

They nodded vigorously, "Yep," and then they named it. And good grief, now I have forgotten the lake - well, it is beautiful there anyway. lol

Somehow everyone expects that since I live in Texas, I'll be going to the Dallas Show. But where I live, it's always easier, it seems, to go to Tucson or Phoenix or Albuquerque - if I ever go. However, one of these days I DO plan to go to the Dallas Show; I hear it's a great show and know so many people who are dealers or happy customers there, including Sandra from Spring, whose flowers and plants I just love. Unfortunately, it comes right after the Chicago experience this year and my pocketbook won't be recuperated yet for another trip. There are also shows in Salado and other places in Texas, but once again, they're so far from El Paso ....

I have a terrible feeling I am leaving out too many names of people whom I really enjoyed visiting with, but since I don't have their pictures, I can't recall now. If you were one of those, let me know, and I will add you to this account. I loved the opportunity to meet up with so many really special online acquaintances, as well as those I've known in person for years. Miniaturists are great people!

When Dana came in, we headed for the restaurant for our last meal in Chicago, and then it was time to get our luggage. I took a minute to pack my latest purchases in my carry-on bag, then we caught the shuttle for the airport. Fortunately, our flight home was uneventful and pleasant.

I will always treasure that special trip with my wonderful daughter. Thank you, dear Dana, for sharing it and your photos with me, and now with so many others, as well.

And this concludes Wanna and Dana's Great Chicago Experience of 2010.

NEXT: >>


Copyright Marknetgroup.com 2005. All rights reserved.