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09 February 2016

Kleenex® and Kokeshi

I have a cold -- the sneezing, sniffling, aching, headachy, tired, and slightly miserable kind.  I'm not surprised; this crazy, bipolar weather can't make up its mind if we're to have winter or spring.  My husband firmly insists that, while the weather can aggravate sinuses and allergies, it cannot initiate a cold.  Colds are caused by viruses.  If you have the virus, you may catch cold.  If you don't, you won't.  As simple as that.  I recognize that he is factually correct; but his enthusiastic endorsement of the scientific fact always makes me smile, because it recalls a similar dialogue between my parents, which went on for years.

My mother, like mothers before her, believed that venturing into the elements required a substantial amount of preparation and bundling.  She likewise believed that anyone so foolish as to go bareheaded into the rain would end up on the couch with a cold, which could lead to further and more serious miseries.  My father, a man of science, argued on the side of Joseph Lister, holding fast to the viral approach and decrying the influence of wet hair upon the onset of illness.  The debate flared regularly in spring and fall, when cold mornings gave way to warm afternoons, and I rebelled against wearing a coat in the morning that I would have to carry home after school.  My mother would warn of the dangers of going forth unprepared, and my father would counter with the scientific facts of viral exposure.  Inevitably, my mother would look at my father (with a somewhat superior stare) and say,

"WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON."

William Henry Harrison, as I was to learn (at a very young age) from these conversations, was America's ninth president.  My mother's succinct version of his untimely end was thus:  President Harrison stood in the rain bareheaded and gave his inaugural address, then caught cold, which turned to pneumonia, and he died in a month. My father, knowing that further argument with my mother was useless, turned to me and said, "What your mother is forgetting is that President Harrison must have been exposed to the common cold virus, and died because medicine in that time had no antibiotics to treat pneumonia."

"What your father is forgetting," my mother would add (in that pleasant tone of voice that I knew wasn't really pleasant at all), "is that President Harrison might not have succumbed to the cold virus in the first place, had he not stood bareheaded in the rain. You'd think a man of his age would have known better."

In later years, when my mother would insist that I be burdened with weatherproof garments that would make Admiral Perry envious, my father would say, "Yes, make sure you cover every square inch of exposed skin, or else you'll end up like William Henry Harrison!"

(Side note: I personally found President Harrison's demise so fascinating, I recounted it to all my classmates at kindergarten.  Apparently, this triggered -- in some of them -- a fear that they would die if they caught cold, which resulted in a call from their mothers to our teacher, and from our teacher to my mother, and a long discussion with my parents about not telling everything I know.  But that's another story.)

If you follow me on Facebook, you will remember that last Friday, I was working on this heart pattern by Rene Grabie.  I have to confess, I didn't finish it, but I do have a good reason.  Youngest grandlittle came up to visit yesterday, and when she saw the partially-finished heart, she wanted to hold it, play with it ... and take it home.  So I let her take it home, even though it wasn't finished.  I suppose I could have said, "No, honey, let me finish it and then you can have it," but I didn't.  She liked it just as it was.  I think we adults sometimes become a bit ossified in how we view things.  To me, the heart was incomplete and imperfect, because I knew how it was supposed to look when finished.  To grandlittle #6, it was complete and perfect just as it was.  It's a simple pattern, and I can make another one (finished!) whenever I choose, and her day was made sunshiny by the pretty colorful heart from Lolo's house.

You'll have guessed by now that I like little things, and that I have a fondness for childish things as well.  The kokeshi dolls from Japan have always tickled my whimsical side.

Photo source:  Flickr® user Aimee Ray.  Noncommercial reuse permitted.
Wikipedia describes them as, "...originally from northern Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body has a floral design painted in red, black, and sometimes yellow, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs. The bottom is marked with the signature of the artist. They are exchanged amongst friends with written messages stored within them as tokens of friendship." I think they're adorable.  I found a pattern by Giodina on Ravelry that promises to be quick and easy, so that's what will occupy my hands today.  Grandlittle #4 has her birthday party on Saturday, and I'd like to take some kokeshi along for her and the other grandlassies to enjoy.  When I have some completed, I'll share photos with you!

So that's what's on my hook today.  What string-related goodness is happening in your world?  Leave me a comment and share your project -- and thanks for stopping by!  (And remember to dress warmly, or else...WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON.)

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