From the early spring, when most of the snow has melted, to the late fall, when it starts coming down again, the daughter (LadyRyl) is reasonably mobile. Whether with one crutch or two, she can catch a bus a hundred yards away, over on the main street. On bad days, she can call up the Transit Mobility van, and be taken in her power wheelchair, to places like the big mall at the edge of town. I’m even amazed at how far away she can get from home, with just the wheelchair’s battery-pack.
All this freedom quickly disappears when the ice and snow begin to pile up. Unshovelled sidewalks, and piles left by plows can be quite a challenge for the mobility-challenged. She’s been stuck a few times, outside, in the cold. Once, she thought a quartet of teen boys on foot might harass her, but they dug and pushed her out. Then, a quarter mile down the street, at the other mall entrance, she got stuck again, and had to call her son at his work, to leave and come over to get her out. No-one else helped.
Other than when I drive her somewhere, she spends a lot of time indoors over the winter. You can’t read or watch TV all the time, so this is when she stocks up on her crafts. She spins up lots of her raw fiber into skeins of beautiful artisanal yarns, then she knits and crochets some of it into shawls, scarves, hats, mitts and socks. She and a girlfriend turn wire and semi-precious stones into jewellery. It gets her through the winter, but by spring she’s got a lot of time, energy and money tied up in stuff for sale.
At about this time of year, along comes a line of festivals and opportunities to recoup investment through retail. This year, it started five weeks ago. On a Saturday, I took her 15 miles out, to a Mennonite village, to celebrate the Strawberry Festival. Aside from fervent thanks, and a few dollars for gas, I received a couple of pints of “picked-today” strawberries.
The wife washed and hulled them and put them on a cookie sheet. I put that into the freezer, later transferring the frozen fruit to a Zip-Loc bag. I will be able to thaw small bowlfuls, and add them to my cereal over the winter.
The next week I took her to her monthly BarterWorks congregation at the downtown Working Center. While it’s open to the public on a cash basis, it needs some promotion. Still, she made a few sales and trades, met some old friends, and had a nice day out.
The third week, the cherries were in season, (In Washington State, and Mexico) and I put her and her goods beneath a nylon-topped gazebo in her nearby Cherry Park. She and her friend sheltered from the blazing sun in the baseball outfield, and a bit more stock was exchanged for cash.
On the fourth Saturday, I set her up in the big park for the Anti-Violence Festival. While we set up the gazebo again, she was on a small island, and well protected from the sun by mature trees. She brought along her spinning wheel, to attract customers.
Here are some pics of the things that she and her friends make and sell, under the name Frog Pond Collective. Included are shots of her spinning wheel, first lonely, then, fully manned (Womanned?)
On the Friday night before, I had been there for the big Cruise Night. On the way out of the park, I again ran into these. I’m not sure if this is the city’s idea of a joke – or art. 😕
About 125 years ago, when the park was created, one of the buildings torn down had belonged to McBrine Luggage, on this exact spot. They’re still in business – just elsewhere in the city. These are made of concrete, and, like the warning on McDonald’s cups, not to juggle hot coffee with your crotch, there is a metal plaque on the grass next to them, across from the bus terminal, reminding the drunks and druggies not to try to steal them.
Last Sunday, I was to take her to a fest the Oxymorons call Open Street – when they close the main street to traffic. At the last minute – Wed.? Thur.? – it was decided to switch it to Saturday night, to meld with the Jazz Festival being held in front of the downtown mall.
It was overcast but dry all Sunday, but began drizzling as soon as we got set up Saturday evening. Even sitting on a thick, woven rug, the spinning wheel began to get damp. She called me to pick it up and take it home, but, by the time I got there, several vendors had had enough, so we packed it in.
The young city workers were supposed to have distributed a survey at the end of the evening, and were now desperately yelling in car windows to find what was good and what could be improved. Aside from the rain, being located two blocks from the Jazz Fest, the only people walking by, in the dark, were on their way to their cars – very disappointing.
This Saturday will be a small, indoor BarterWorks again, and the last Saturday in August will be another. The city wants to try Open Street again on the third Sunday. (Did I say Five??!) The daughter is considering the upcoming Word On The Street Festival, and is looking for other chances to unload the last of her stash for cash.