Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'Tis the Season

...for the 4H Fair! Wooo hooo! We entered fine art this year, which is really, really appropriate for us, since our entire house is papered with home-grown, fine art. Really. I finally convinced them that some of this needed to be displayed elsewhere. Last summer I walked them through the display hall saying, "See, you can do this. Yours is this good--you need to enter." I'm such a non-competitive, easy-going mom.

So when #1 exited her school building this spring with a spectacular 20x20 charcoal portrait, as soon as I could lift my jaw out of my lap I said, "There's your 4H fair exhibit!" It is a great, great picture.

Well, #2 is no slacker in the art department. She has a big fat notebook full of fashion drawings, no joke. This girl is Vera Wang in saddle shoes. So she draws a really sweet pencil drawing--on copy paper. Wouldn't have been my first choice, but she did it without my input and it's done. So, I head off to Michael's to find a frame for it. Fortunately she left a lot of blank space at the bottom, so I could trim it to fit an 8x10 frame. (Didn't know there was an aisle with 8.5x11" document frames--that comes later.)

So I trim the picture and we get it into Frame #1 (this will be important). The 4H handbook says all frames must have wire to hang them. But since I just give the book the cursory one-sweeping glance, I fail to note that the wire has to be screwed into the frame itself. This becomes critical...

My 85 year old grandma is here to visit and watch the dog shows. I don't talk to her much because she is always bent over sweeping up dog hair or loading the dishwasher...poor woman. She babysits, cleans up, teaches embroidery and expresses great interest in trampolining, garden beetles, chicken activity and evening foot scrubbing.

So, I load up 5 children (babysitting for the fireman down the street who lost his wife last year to BC). So I have them for 24 hrs. every third day. Sweet little boy and girl, between #2 and #3. We're all in the car, except Grandma, who is sweeping up dog hair. (I'm thinking she's looking forward to 1 hour of silence as we go to fairgrounds to drop off art.) #1 is in front seat putting wire on brackets of #2's picture frame.

#1 pulls just the wrong way on the wire of the frame and breaks glass as I am climbing into car with five children and two large framed artworks. (#1 did a watercolor at a class at the library as well as the charcoal.)

No problem! We can just hit Michael's on our way to 4H fairgrounds. We must be there by 7 pm to drop off and it's only 5 pm. So off we go. #1 stays in car with #3 and NB (neighbor boy), while I go in with #2 and NG (neighbor girl). I now find the aisle with the document frames (wouldn't have had to cut picture!!), which I now buy. #2 and NG convince me to buy $1 calendars for them all to color while we are driving...

Back into the car, #1 goes at the framing thing with vigor (a little less vigor perhaps, to protect glass in frame #2). Frame #2 is a document frame, MADE FOR 8.5x11, so now the picture has been trimmed a little too much. TOO BAD! It's going in. White space be darned!

Off we go. We arrive at the fairgrounds with the approximately 200,000 other county residents who are hauling in artwork, furniture, and any other non-living project you can imagine. I bring my five little chicks in with me and we proceed to fill out our little cards (Mom, how do you spell charcoal?)

4H Fine Art Steward approachs us almost immediately to let us know that our wire hangars are not correct on two of the three projects. Thankfully, they have provided a table with screw-eyes, wire and tools to correct such malformaties as must be pretty prevalent, since there is a waiting line for the work table.

#1 gets her watercolor frame re-rigged quickly. That girl is handy. Then we go to work on Frame #2 while the other chicks hit the water fountain. (Stay together little chicks. Don't hang on the ropes that divide the lines little chicks. Stand still you little cretins!)

We realize that Frame #2 is not made of wood. It's not even made of a natural material, unless compressed cardboard counts as a natural material. Our fingers begin to show the strain of twisting little bitty screw-eyes...we give up and whine for special treatment.

We are taken to the Matron of Fine Art, who shows a teensy bit of leniency in allowing us some extra time TO GO TO WAL-MART AND GET ANOTHER FRAME! She said it--GO TO WAL-MART AND GET A WOOD FRAME.

Little chicks, get your little hineys back in the car, no you cannot go through the tents, no you cannot have a snack, put your eyes on those calendars!!! True, Wal-mart is just around the corner, but it's Super Walmart, so that means the parking lot is akin to Disney World and I'll need a map to find picture frames.

This time I take #3 (the loose cannon with a piercing whine) with me and everyone else stays with #1 in the car. What would I do without #1??? We find the picture frames and I pick one that says in bold letters "Solid Wood". But we're in Wal-mart for cryin' out loud. What are the odds that I will leave with one, singular item in my hand???

We pass the back-to-school displays and there are crayons for 20 cents--now can anyone pass that up?! And they go with the $1 calendars I bought at Michaels, right? And we're trapped in the car for another drive--I wonder if Dave Ramsey sees it this way?? So four boxes of crayons go into the bag, forgive me #1, and we're off.

Back to the fairgrounds. The entire tribe piles out and I hand them off to #1 to take through all the empty fairground tents, while I head back to the dungeon, I mean fine art area to begin my labor for Rumplestiltskin...did I mention how helpful #1 is?

Back to the table, it is now 6:30. There are a paltry few little screw eyes left and still the parents surround the table, twisting and hammering. I begin on frame #3 in earnest and believing that since I am lawfully joined to the handiest man on the planet, this should be a breeze. After all, my proximity to him for almost two decades should have rubbed off a little.

Sure enough, the first screw eye is seated in a reasonable amount of time, what with having to share the one little hammer with three other sets of parents, on a plastic banquet table. I did take the precaution of removing the glass and the picture from the frame while I droned away.

Screw-eye #2 was not to be done. Indeed, I did not see one shred of evidence that frame #3 was made of anything different from frame #2 once we delved beneath the paint...it still looked like powdered something or other. I fussed. I spun the frame around the eye. I tapped the eye with the hammer. I pressed and turned and spat. Well, not really.

Finally, some kind soul at the other end of the table took pity on me--it must've been my hair--and came to my rescue. And she did use a teeny, weeny nail to make a starter hole for the stupid screw eye. (Handyman would have thought of this.) Let me say that the nail was so teeny that I had to hold it with needle-nose pliers while the other lady whacked at it. I kept expecting the glass to somehow slide off the table to the floor, but it held. And suddenly, she was finished. She did it.

Then I realized there was no wire left on the table, so I dispatched #2 (who had by this time come in to check on me) back to the car to retrieve the wire off frame #2. She returned with a wire barely long enough to make, but there was no stopping me now. I pulled the wire through and put those needle-nose pliers back to work pinching the wire around itself to close it.

Meanwhile, Frau Blucher the steward (not really--she was extremely patient and helpful), was bringing in some coated fence wire from her truck (I am not kidding about this) for the parents who were still there trying to get little Suzie's pictures corrected appointed.

Let me summarize: At this point I have paid about $20 to frame a pencil drawing on copy paper. This is one expensive little ribbon--she'd better win.

On to the dog show--bring your own baggies!


quiltarama said...

Hey, you posted! I was afraid you moved to Montana, to the village with no electricity, without me! ha ha. You must be having a busy summer. Don't forget your faithful readers out here, looking for updates about life on the hobby farm! (And who are melting in the Texas heat...I swear...one more summer is all I can take of this.)


Needa said...

It was so nice of you to post on my birthday! I didn't realize you had such drama surrounding the fair! And btw, where is your pic of Missy Coyote?