I didn't think anything could beat the Leg Lamp that came in the mail a few weeks ago, but the package that arrived today had us feeling like it was Christmas at The Box House. Last week Jean at Renovation Therapy (previously I Love Upstate) celebrated her one-year blogging anniversary with a little poetry contest--and I won! The task was to somehow celebrate her blog in verse. The rules were simple: "write me a friggen poem about this here blog…or the Fiance…or Tal…or whatever so long as it’s I LOVE UPSTATE-ish. Post it in the comments and you’re entered. US residents only…please."
I selected some of her catch phrases, made sure to include references to the major players in her life, threw the whole mess into an online poem generator, and tinkered with the output a tad until it sounded right:
Upstate Mom fights stormy Jean.
Where is the freakin’ Fiance?
Why does the Fiance endure?
Tal remains silent.
(You'll have to read her blog to understand the references.) I was delighted to win, as I never win anything. (Okay, I did win a mountain bike, once, but it was stolen the same year. My fault completely for living in a college town and not keeping it locked.) So do you want to know what she sent? Let's take a peek inside the box:
Oh, fun! The first thing I took out was this trio of Vintage Kellogg's Snap! Crackle! Pop! PVC figurines. How could she possibly have known that I lived on Rice Krispies as a kid? So way cool!
Then there was a Hershey's Chocolate T-Shirt. I lived on these as a kid, too. One of these days I should make a pilgrimage to Hershey, PA to check out the birthplace of one of my favorite impulse grocery store purchases. (I'll take mine with almonds, thanks!)
Underneath the t-shirt I found the card she tucked in.
The card, and the next item in this wonderful goodie box, were published by Peaceable Kingdom Press. I met the founders of the company, Thacher and Olivia Hurd, years ago in Kathmandu, of all places. We had signed up for the same trek through the Himalayas with Wilderness Travel; it was a delight to share the trail with them. I had been backpacking solo through India for several weeks prior to the Nepal trek, and it was nice to hook up with fellow Americans for a while and trade travel stories. I had corresponded with them a few times afterwards, but lost touch long ago. Still, whenever I see Peaceable Kingdom products, I think of them.
The next item was this adorable notebook featuring Olivia, from the popular series by Ian Falconer. Mom was charmed by it, saying that there was now a line of quilt fabric featuring the little pig. I let her keep the notebook, and pass on her thanks!
But then Mom tried to take the other notebook in the goodie box, but this one is mine (hands off, Mom!) It has a lovely suede cover and you can even use your own photo for the cover.
I love this next item: Let's Paint the '90s! This paint book for adults features many famous and/or notorious nineties icons...
Such as the Olsen twins...
...and many, many more.
Then there was this very lovely picture frame. I think it will go in my office.
And here's a cute little key chain camera.
There was also an advertising magnet for I Love Upstate! But don't go there for new posts, go to Renovation Therapy instead. Ted snapped up this item. He collects advertising magnets. When I first met him, he had the kitchen refrigerator covered in them. When we moved in together, I thought a better place for the collection was on the stackable washer and dryer. In the closet. Out of sight. Now that we're at The Box House, we need to find a new home for the collection.
Rounding out my Major Award is this Comic Book Creator software:
My family has always been kinda geeky about comics. My mom's favorites were The House of Mystery, The House of Secrets, and Donald Duck. I still collect Vertigo comics, my all-time favorite being Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. (Shoot, I just noticed there is an "absolute" edition I may have to get.) My cousin Jason, who collected more comics than anyone else I knew as a kid, is a teacher and a comic book artist. Sirius/Dog Star published his comic Poe, based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe--well, with a few creative liberties. Edgar Poe discovers that the only way to save his lost Lenore (from the poem, "The Raven") is to confront twelve demons loose throughout the world. Along the way, he encounters all of the strange and wonderful happenings that inspired his world-famous stories and poems, complete with twists and turns that make the familiar wildly unfamiliar--even to the most devoted fan of Poe's work!
Although I could never compete with Jason's talent, do expect to see some nifty comic-book-like posts in the near future. And to show you just how geeky I am, here's Ted and I on our way to our last comic convention, a half dozen years ago and ten, erm, fifteen pounds lighter:
Marc Singer, who was The Beastmaster back in the eighties, was signing autographs at the convention and said to me, "Nice Boots." *Sigh* I shall never forget that moment.
Finally, and this is my favorite item of all, is this great little bag made from mud cloth, sold by Hallmark. Their description: "Bogolan (or mud cloth), a traditional fabric art form, is
handmade by artisans in Mali, West Africa. Cloth is handwoven into strips from unbleached 100% Malaian cotton, hand-tinted using clay from the Niger River and then laid out in the hot West African sun. By choosing this bag, you’re helping artisans provide for their families, carry on a centuries-old craft and boost Mali's developing economy."
The bag Jean sent features the Finkumba crossroads pattern, which "encourages us to become living crossroads, where people with different perspectives find common ground." Now, I am an absolute nut about crossroads references. Ted and I founded a small non-profit publishing company called Compass Rose Cultural Crossroads; the web site even includes a short section on crossroads mythology. The bag was perfect for me, and is definitely something I would have bought on my own.
So no, Mom, no matter how cute you think it is, you can't have it.
Thanks, Jean, for this great box of goodies--it was very generous. All of you out there reading this should definitely go to her Web site for some fun stories about life in Upstate New York as well as some Renovation Therapy.