Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yet Another Poem!

Once again, my Muse has directed me to wax poetic. This one has a story behind it. Well, first of all, as one might guess, it touches on the subject of a long-term relationship--not one that's gone bad, but rather has a firmly entrenched communication gap that is likely neither unusual when it comes down to it, but is certainly not intolerable. It is, as they say, what it is. The really cool "rest of the story" has to do with a workshop I attended several years ago conducted by Oregon's own (at the time) poet laureate, Lawson Inada. His poetry and writings are more than worth the read, if anyone has time, but this incredible man in one hour generated a level of enthusiasm and love for poetry I had not before experienced. When I registered for the workshop, the write-up about it said that Lawson welcomed participants to bring their poetry to share. Now--I'm no poet, as this piece doubtless confirms, but to my amazement, Lawson asked me to share my piece, and lo and behold, he decided we would read it together. Talk about a moment etched forever in my mind, one that never fails to bring a sense of joy and awe whenever it is recalled. Lawson read one line, I read the next, and while he did not pronounce it the best poem he'd ever read and declare I was the next Sylvia Plath (not a bad thing considering her life), I shall be forever honored to have shared that brief time "on stage" with him as together we read my words. So--that's it, folks. Nothing earth-stopping and certainly not a pivotal event in the history of mankind, but for me...well, it sorta was! So here it is, for your wondering eyes to feast upon:

Failure to Communicate

I've heard I'm from Venus
And you are from Mars
And while I'd love to think we're soaring
Out among the stars
I have this notion, for better or worse,
That more likely you and I live in a different universe.
While I aim for Andromeda
You plant your feet on Terra Firma.
I talk
You don't listen
I listen
You don't talk
Some days I think I'll just a long walk
Off this short pier we've danced on for 40 some years,
Put an end to all the frustration and tears.
It sounds appealing, release from the turmoil,
But I confess for me it's mostly internal.
It's been so long-standing, perhaps it's too late
To change it now, our failure to communicate.
So I'll plant my feet on Earth's solid ground
Keep my eyes on the future, the place where I'm bound
And maybe some day, out among the stars,
Our souls might just meet
On Venus or Mars.

Anita Lanning

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Aunt Hattie's Sucrier

For several generations, what we’ve always called Aunt Hattie’s Sugar Bowl has been in my family. Aunt Hattie was my father’s aunt, his mother’s (my grandmother’s) sister. I have no clue as to how or when she obtained the bowl, or for that matter, how my parents came to possess it. At any rate, it languished, well-wrapped and seldom used, for many years. It is quite lovely, Aunt Hattie’s sugar bowl, with an attractive design and a lovely contour marked by two curved handles. The best way to describe it is exquisite. When I hosted my mother and father’s 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries, Aunt Hattie’s Sugar Bowl graced the reception table. A few years ago, a friend who is an antique dealer agreed to check out its history. The only identifier were the words on the bottom of the sugar bowl: “T&R Boote Waterloo Potteries Burslem Staffordshire England Makers to Queen Victoria”. My friend learned that T&R Boote’s Waterloo Potteries had closed in 1906, after which they made only ceramic tiles, so the piece may have dated back to around 1900, perhaps even earlier.

Awhile back I came across a website of a company which, for a nominal fee, appraises antiques online. I decided to go for it, and e-mailed a photo of the sugar bowl along with the written information. Before long, I had my answer:

"Aunt Hattie’s Sugar Bowl" is actually a T&R Boote Limited Waterloo Pottery Sucrier. Its date is Circa 1900. It seems T&R Boote Ltd was founded in Burslem, Staffordshire in the 1840s and this is a typical example of their wares from around 1900. This type of tea ware was produced in large quantities and so individual pieces are inexpensive at auction.

Its value? $10-$20

So—part of the mystery is solved! I still have no idea where or when my great-aunt, who I remember as being very kind to me when I was young, came to own the sucrier. But at least I know that it was one of probably a million such pieces, and therefore of little monetary value. I could shrug and say “it figures”, but value aside, this sucrier remains a family treasure I don’t intend to part with, and probably wouldn’t have even if its worth were considerably higher. I’ll keep it safe, and who knows? Perhaps one day my children will use it at their parents’ 50th anniversary. I’m glad I had the appraisal done, because it clarified what I think I’ve always known--the real value of Aunt Hattie’s Sugar Bowl is far more than monetary!