Keeping the “Fair” Promise

A Proverb says if we don’t keep our promises we are like clouds without rain. When gardens are the children in our lives, those rain clouds are needed regularly for good growth. I made a fair promise to a five-year-old, and I let her down. I was a cloud without rain. Here is what happened.

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A Simple Promise?

Five-year-old girl stands beside her ceramic vase of pink, white, brown, aqua and yellow with an orange lid
A five-year-old finishes her masterpiece

It started out simple enough. The five-year-old, her seven-old sister, and I went to a ceramic store to paint. Looking at all the pottery on the shelves reminded me of ribbon-awarded crafts at the county fair years ago. Since the seven-year-old had just started guitar lessons, I thought the 5-year-old could use a boost of attention. Besides, she spent twice as much time on her ceramic project as her sister did on her masterpiece. It seemed fair.

“You know we could enter your vase in the county fair,” I told her. “You may or may not win a ribbon, but you never know until you try.”

“What colors are the ribbons?” she asked with bright eyes.

“Blue ribbons are for first place winners, red ribbons for second place, and white ribbons for third. Sometimes, a giant purple ribbon is given for best of show.”

She was hooked. In the months that transformed spring into summer she asked several times when I was going to enter her vase.

“The fair happens at harvest time,” I explained. “The rules aren’t up on the website yet. They will probably put something up in July.”

I Missed the Deadline!

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep checking the website until July when I discovered I missed the entry deadline by two days! Immediately, I left a voice message to see if the County Fair Powers had any mercy.

My plaintive call was never returned. I was devastated for breaking a promise.

When needing help, James 1:5 has rescued me numerous times: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” In faith, I asked for wisdom to handle this broken promise.

An Idea To Repair a Broken Promise

Entrance to Colorado State Fair includes a green sign with white letters that say, "State Fair," and a red and white sign above it that advertises Loaf 'N Jug in red and white. There is a couple leaving the brick entrance flanked by two ticket windows and a large old fashioned lamp post.
Entrance to the Colorado State Fair, Pueblo

I was surprised how quickly an idea came. Maybe the deadline had not passed for the Colorado State Fair craft exhibits. Of course, it would be more difficult to win, and I didn’t think every child received a ribbon, but just maybe….

I looked up the details on the Colorado State Fair website. Sure enough, the rules were the same—just send in $5 and bring or mail the item by a certain date.

“There’s bad news and good news,” I told the little girl who had just turned six. She was very forgiving and ran and got her vase for me to enter. She filled out the paper work with a little help.

“Will I still get a ribbon?” she asked.

“Maybe. We won’t know unless we try,” I said.

Judgment Day

As it turned out my granddaughter was in school the day the vase was judged. If there is such a thing as a helicopter grandma, I was one that day. I drove an hour to the fairgrounds and submitted the vase. Three hours later I returned to the exhibit hall to find out whether the little vase won any ribbon at all.

But, “I can’t find my granddaughter’s vase,” I moaned to the fair lady with a zillion keys jingling on her waistband as she halted me from going into the judging area.

“I just want to know if she won anything,” I said.

The lady with a zillion keys was compassionate to this crazy woman. She found the vase and held it up through a makeshift fence (to keep out thieves and grandmas).

There on the registration card was a blue dot!

A close up of a shiny polka dot vase of brown, purple, green, yellow and white with a speckled orange top. Taped underneath the vase is a string with a white label identifying vase. The label also has a blue dot sticker on it.
Blue dot says it all!

“Oh! Oh! All she wanted was to win any ribbon! This is wonderful!” I babbled to the fair judges, who have probably handed out a zillion ribbons in their careers and didn’t understand the magnitude of this blue dot.

Ribbon Finale

Blue ribbon now hangs on the vase. It is so big it covers up most of the vase and draped down the shelf. Gold letters are on the blue ribbon which say "Amateur Arts, Colorado State Fair."
Promise fulfilled!

Two weeks later, the vase was put on display and a blue ribbon hung around its neck. The extra good news was blue ribbon winners received $15, and all exhibitors could take five pounds of flour when they picked up their wares. My granddaughter got her ribbon and cash, but I kept the flour for making three trips to the Colorado State Fairgrounds—to enter the vase, to see the vase displayed, and to retrieve that blue ribbon beauty and put it into the hands of one happy child.

A six-year-old girl has gape-tooth smile with her large blue ribbon pinned on her sleeveless blue, purple and white shirt, and her one hand touching her vase.
Winning smile on the blue ribbon winner
A five-pound bag of Hungarian Flour
The possessor of this free fair flour is on a mountain air high.

“A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain”(Proverbs 25:14 NIV).

Photos of other winners at the 2016 Colorado State Fair and a photo of the impressive Chainsaw Mama!

Chainsaw Mama works on horse.
Chainsaw Mama at Colorado State Fair

Award Winning Quilts

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Bald Eagles border and take center stage in this red, white and blue quilt with a star pattern around edge. The center is three ferocious bald eagle heads with two flags flying behind them in a cloudy blue scene.

 

Blue ribbon quilt is done in browns and treys and whites with adorable African animal heads in each of the 12 squares.img_4585

A white ribbon hangs on this baby quilt of light green and white border with farm animals appliquéd in pastel colors on each of the nine squares.
One of my favorites–a baby quilt

Children Chefs Can Bake

Blue ribbon is beside David Jordan's tag and his chocolate cake with white frosting set on a silver foil circle. A slice has been cut out so the judges could see the even two layered cake.
Good for Baker David!
These both look good to me, but I guess the white ribbon one needs high altitude flour.
These both look good to me, but I guess the white ribbon one needs high altitude flour.

A row of four plates of muffins and cookies sit on a shelve with three red ribbons and one blue ribbon behind them.

Fair Livestock

White rooster with red comb in cage with a blue ribbon on cage.
My cocka-doodle do is exhausted. Do you have throat lozenges?
It takes practice to milk a cow.
Oops, missed the milk bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

Black-faced sheep is tied up in pen, wearing a pink halter and a white canvas coat.
The flies aren’t so bad with this coat.
A black steer with white face and hooves looks at camera from his pen. Above him is a sign that says "Reserve Champion Steer."
Sorry, fine fellow!
A pink and black spotted pig lies in corner of cage, spread out and sleeping.
Where’s Charlotte?
Two boys and two girls in blue jeans and western shirts stand in a row holding their sheep heads as a judge evaluates the animals in a barn ring.
Future ranchers learn how to compete.

 

Take me home! I will be your BFF!
Take me home! I will be your BFF!

Santa Fe, New Mexico–Olé!

"In case of fire, freak out and run like hell."An Arizona fire last week prevented us from visiting in-laws, who evacuated their mountain cabin and retreated to Phoenix under record-breaking temperatures. My faithful companion and I decided to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico. Olé!

Here is an armchair glimpse of a delightful southwestern city and more art galleries than you could ever count!

First on the tour is a snapshot of the forest leading into Santa Fe, followed by photos of desert plants, lovingly tended by gardeners at Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill. I don’t know the plants’ official names– they’re just beautiful pokies. Using a camera lens, one can appreciate why so many artists love the lighting and colors of Santa Fe and the Southwest.

Hyde Memorial State Park in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Hyde Memorial State Park in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Prickly plant with many pokies. Do not know the name.

A bush has blossoms that are fuzzy puffs of pink with a blue sky and green scrub trees behind it.  Pink cactus at Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill

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Visiting the New Mexico History Museum offered us a good account of the state’s past 500 years. It’s a mix of several people groups: Spanish

Mi compadre stands by the Palace of the Governors, which was built in the early 1600s and is the oldest public building in the U.S.
Mi compadre stands by the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, which was built in the early 1600s and is the oldest public building in the U.S.

settlers, who founded Santa Fe in 1607; various Indian tribes; countless adventurers; farmers; tourists and artists. Many pushed westward with donkeys and horses, and later with trains and motorcars.

Regrettably, we didn’t learn as much about the more ancient citizens. Nor did we visit the Taos Pueblo, an ancient community belonging to the Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people and considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the U.S.

I was intrigued by one story of nine-year-old

Illustration of peasant girl on donkey with colt next to her. Done in pen and ink.
Illustration by José Cisneros (1910-2009)

Josefa Antonia de Pas Bustillos Ontiveros. The museum plaque states Ontiveros arrived in Santa Fe in 1694 after a 1500-mile trip from Mexico City.

She belonged to one of  hundreds of Spanish families that recolonized New Mexico after an earlier Indian war drove out the Spanish to Mexico. Though Josefa never married she bore at least six children and cared for many more. She owned property, fought land disputes in court, and made her own way in colonial New Mexico. Her descendants still reside in Santa Fe.  Do you think Josefa Antonia had true grit?

Another Sante Fe person who blew me away was Sculptor Allan Houser (1914-1994 ). Allan’s parents, Sam and Blossom Haozous were members of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, who were held as prisoners of war for 27 years. Allan’s father was with the small band of Warm Springs Chiricahuas when their leader Geronimo left the reservation and later surrendered to the U.S. Army in 1886 in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.

After release from the U.S. government, Houser’s parents raised the family on farmland in Oklahoma. Houser eventually settled in Santa Fe after extensive art training. Below are several of his pieces that we discovered as we wandered Canyon Road and “the museums on the hill.”

Homeward Bound bronze statue by Allan Houser (1914-1994)
“Homeward Bound” bronze statue by Allan Houser (1914-1994)
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Homeward Bound, front close up
A 49"x42"x42" bronze head of an Apache man, sober, shoulder-length hair topped with a head scarf
Allan Houser’s “Warm Springs Apache Man”
Bronze statue, 107"x44"x39"
“Morning Prayer,” Allan Houser

 

Canyon Road and the International Museum of Folk Art are two Santa Fe sites bursting with art. Canyon Road is populated with a half mile of galleries. We were quite content to view the sculptures on the patios, although in one gallery we longingly admired a $5500 bronze of a shepherd, dog and sheep.

Veryl Goodnight's "Shepherds of the High Plains"
Veryl Goodnight’s “Shepherds of the High Plains”

 

"Out of the Park"
“Out of the Park” by Walt Horton, Sage Creek Gallery

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Flight of Folds, powder coated cast and fabricated stainless steel, by Kevin Box and Robert J. Lang
Flight of Folds, powder coated cast and fabricated stainless steel, by Kevin Box and Robert J. Lang

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A statue on Canyon Road

 

Bronze sculpture of cowboy on horseback

A centerpiece at Museum Hill is this fellow below, who reminded me of Goliath:

 

Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer, by Craig Dan Goseyun
Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer, by Craig Dan Goseyun

 

The Museum of International Folk Art is the largest collection of miniature folk art in the world. I couldn’t photograph all the museum’s 130,000 objects from 100 nations! We particularly liked the dioramas that showed figures of different sizes, which created a lengthy 3-D perspective. Below are a few of the art pieces we saw.

Small clay figures inside the open doors of a church show parents holding a baby with the priest by the Baptismal and godparents standing around them. Through the open doors, one can see many figurines of people looking in from outside.
An infant baptism–clay figures are smaller in scale the farther back they are positioned in the display
Hundreds of little clay people sit in bleachers in an arena. The bull fighter and bull with two Spaniards on horse back are in the front.
All of these people watching a bull fight are individual clay figures.
Eight little dolls sit on chairs at a table ladened with goodies for Victorian tea.
Miniature dolls at tea
Asian child, dressed only in cloth that looks like a swimming suit on her chunky body, holds a butterfly net.
Butterfly Catcher

A primitive wood tableau of mother, daughter, son

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Performers in the circus

 

Mothers and children
Mothers and children

 

Pudgy boy and girl in swimming suits, his red, hers' white with red polka dot bikini and swim cap, stand in a box of sand. They are wind-up toys.
Wind up toys

Santa Fe is definitely a visual feast. I hope you will get to travel there and experience it for yourself. But try to go when the temperature isn’t 95 degrees!

 

Thanks for browsing
Thanks for reading “There’s a Blog in My Eye”! Happy summer!

 

Ukrainian Eggs: Simple or Not!

A black Ukrainian egg with a green cross and red heart sits next to pysanky tools: a square of beeswax, a kistka, and a candle. A kistka is a small stick of wood with a metal funnel with a point as a pencil. It is wrapped at one end of the stick with copper wiring.
Simple tools for a beginning pysanky decorator

I was proud of my first Ukrainian eggs and thought these works of art should be shared with others. Joyfully, I gave pysanky–a symbol of life–to my mom, aunt, and two sisters-in-law.

Tentatively, they took these “gifts” and asked, “Ah, what happens if they break? Isn’t the inside rotten?”

I reassured, “It will be fine. This is authentic art; just display them. The eggs are sealed in polyurethane, and their insides shrivel with time.”

My mom and aunt were skeptical and threw their “gifts” away after Easter. But one dear sister-in-law displayed her egg in the china cabinet. She ran a daycare center out of her home, with many children under the age of six. That July, I heard her yelling all the way from North Dakota to Cincinnati. Yes, the egg exploded one hot day, and its sulfur foulness sent the day care gaggle outside for a long time.

Two junior high girls hold their eggs, one smiling and one sticking out her tongue. There are lit candles on the table, pysanky tools and bottled water.
Egg decorating and red velvet cupcakes are a good combination. Bottles of water help in case of fire!

“Pooey!” my sister-in-law declared, when I jokingly offered to replace the egg.

Simple geometric black and white figures on brown paper show: ladder symbolizing prayer or prosperity; pine needles--health, stamina, eternal youth; deer, horses and/or rams--wealth and prosperity; fish--Christianity; triangles--Father, Son and Holy Spirit, heaven or in pagan culture--air, fire and water; and a zig zag line for a saw--representing fire, life-giving heat, also known as Wolves' teeth symbolizing loyalty and wisdom.
Common pysanky symbols

The folk art of pysanky has been around for over 1000 years–that is, at least in Christian expression since Ukraine officially embraced the faith in 988. If you see pysanky art you may marvel at the intricate patterns, the shiny colors, the folk symbolism. Traditional Ukrainian symbols have Christian themes, and each color represents certain characteristics. The decorating

color wheel: White--purity, innocence and birth; Yellow--light, purity, youth, happiness, hospitality; Brown--strength, endurance, the eternal sun; Black--eternity, darkest time before the dawn; Blue--the sky, with its life-giving air, good health; Green--spring, new growth and hope; Red--happiness in life, hope, passion, the sun.
Basic colors and their meanings in egg decorating

 

process sounds complicated, but it’s not. For a beginner, however, the batik work may take a couple of hours for one egg. First, one draws a design on the egg (the verb pysaty means “to write”). Then the crafter takes the kistka and presses bee’s wax into the tool’s tiny funnel. Next, she holds the tool over a flame until the wax melts. Carefully, evenly, and quickly, the wax is applied to the egg. Starting with a white egg, whatever areas the artist covers in wax will remain white. Then the egg is dipped in a dye (for example yellow) and more wax is added. Whatever area is covered in wax will now remain yellow. Then, the artist dips the egg in a darker color and repeats the process.

At first, I pressed too hard when applying wax, resulting in yellow goop andFullSizeRender broken Humpty Dumptys. This was disheartening, but it built patience. And with patience came perseverance, which brought joy when I carefully removed the wax on the completed egg. Wax removal is done by holding the egg to a candle and wiping off the melting wax with lots of tissues. Multicolored beauty lies below the gunk! I think a Ukrainian egg is symbolic of us—smoky wax covers our souls and then is removed with a gentle hand to reveal the beautiful art underneath—eventually and after all. Similar to many aspects of life, what we presently see is not the entire story.

My first attempt with Ukrainian egg decorating was to battle winter’s gloom andFullSizeRender overcome a difficult situation. Pysanky was good mental therapy.  After the exploding sulfur incident,  I learned my lesson. A loving friend and her sons blew out dozens of eggs to supply me with enough cartons for three decorating parties. We had a lot of fun–working, talking, and eating together.

Of course, if one does Ukrainian egg decorating with children the decorated eggs are quickly manufactured. I’ve seen a lot of polka dotted eggs and still keep a few around.Here is a bowl full of Pysanky eggs done by children. Several are polka dots and x's and o's.

If you are interested in the adventure of pysanky, here is a good resource: http://www.ukrainiangiftshop.com/. This is a Minnesota, family-run business, and the staff has always been helpful. If pysanky is too much bother, you can still order a few wonderful dyes and have the best looking hard-boiled Easter eggs. Or, try pysanky anytime. A little perseverance with joy is a valuable gift.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. —C. S. Lewis