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Cover Photo by Janette Tansley
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Welcome to Planet Nilknarf
On January 25th, I took the Go Train into Toronto to see Gene Simmons at the SONY Centre for performing arts. His was the kickoff presentation for Toronto Star's Advertising week. When I arrived, aside from the presence of only one other person wearing a KISS T-shirt, and the style of lettering that spelled out “Welcome” on the marquee, there was little else to tell me that this was a KISS/Gene Simmons-related event. There seemed to be quite the assortment of people from all walks of life, many with the media and most of them entrepreneurs like myself. Gene spoke about his experience with KISS and the multitudes of endeavours he was involved in including a new life-insurance agency for multimillionaires. We saw video clips of the KISS empire, as well as his “I am Indy” advertising campaign and scenes from “My Dad the Rock Star”. I love it when Gene talks about his mom. He has such a great bond with her and she is such an amazing woman. When she was 14, she survived a Nazi concentration camp. She witnessed the rest of her family being annihilated, though. However, she never looks back. Her motto is “Every day above the ground is a good one.” I thought of those words of hers often when I lived in that last apartment of mine in Toronto before Dave and I were married. It was a prime example of God's sense of humour after all my years of living in that gronky old basement apartment at Ruth's. The new apartment, that last place I lived, above the falafel restaurant near the corner of Yonge and St. Clair, offered this amazing view outside my kitchen window, of a CEMETERY of all places. I was not bothered or creeped out by such a view. In fact I was strangely comforted, especially when I thought of Florence's words and how glad I was to be out of that miserable basement apartment! At the end of the presentation there was a time of discussion between Gene and several of us who stayed afterward.
One lady in particular caught my eye. She had a flamboyant, bright green Mohawk that made her look like an exotic, tropical bird. She was also an artist. She called her business “Sleeping with Famous People” and gave Gene a pillow with a picture of himself. Another woman presented him with her idea of a cartoon show called “The Farties”. They were a family of “gassy butts!” She even performed a brief rap song about these characters and mentioned wanting to do an episode with KISS butts. .....Hokay...! I had my hand up but never got the chance to speak with Gene. Just as well. At least one of the most important things he told us was that one of the best things you can do to market your product or service is use your OWN name and likeness! Sounds like I had the right idea all along by calling my business “Margaret Franklin Creations” and using this as my logo...
I may not have gotten to show Gene my doll or tell him about the carousel project, but at least I took her picture with his image on her dress to commemorate this event. I also want to thank Janette Tansley for her beautiful photography on this month's front cover! This picture was taken a couple years ago at the Metro Zoo. Her photography is exquisite, especially her underwater shots. Here are a couple pictures she took at Marineland:
Carousel of Friendship: Latest Updates
Since I started school, one thing I promised myself I'd do was incorporate multiplication tables into carousel horse designs to help myself remember them. My teacher thinks this is a wonderful idea and encourages the use of creativity to help ourselves learn. “Encrypting”, I believe, is the word she used to describe this technique. Here are the horses I've designed so far:
I think this would be a great idea for elementary school teachers to help kids of all ages with their subjects. Not just math, but history, geography or anything else that requires students to memorize facts. And they're still beautiful enough to be embroidered on quilts and someday even be carved as real carousel horses, each one with its own unique story to tell. If you look closely at the first one, it has some “Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy” references; Marvin the Robot, a Babel fish and a Pan Galactic Gargle-Blaster glass! I always associate the number 42 with that movie!
I am also working on my third quilt. Here are all my animals so far: Left to right: Looff jumper, Dentzel “top-knot” jumper, Dentzel jumping deer.
Dentzel “Listener”, Stein & Goldstein stander, PTC Armored stander
Looff jumping giraffe, E. Joy Morris Tiger, official logo
With the exception of the logo, the above pictures are all from Kathleen Bond's line drawings in past issues of Carousel News & Trader. My “Math” horses are from the unadorned horses in my colouring book. For more plain horses you can decorate you can find them here in my Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=176431&id=540799198&l=32686bbbad You can email your pictures to me at email@example.com
Or you can post them in my group “Carousel of Friendship” on Face Book! I enjoy the challenge of reproducing everyone's art on future quilts which will someday be raffled or auctioned to raise money for the carousel project and hopefully also become REAL full-sized wooden carousel horses someday. In the meantime, I would like to have an exhibit of my quilts and other artifacts on display somewhere for the public to admire and appreciate to raise awareness of this project.
Instruments and Easels
Friday, January 28th was the first annual “Instruments and Easels” show at the Community Health Centre located at 115 Grassmere Avenue here in Oshawa. There was everything from knitting to anime! The ladies at the table next to me had a variety of hand-knitted hats and scarves in just about every colour combination you could imagine. As usual, despite the fact that I only packed enough stuff to fit in one suitcase, there wasn't enough room to display it all so half my carousel horses had to remain in the bag, under the table as I scurried around frantically trying to think of inventive ways to diplay them. I hung them from chains of safety pins, first trying to stick them on the wall but the tape wouldn't stick as the horses got too heavy. Finally my neighbours suggested I just pin all my horses to the front of my cloth around the edge of the table. FOLKS, MY HORSES ARE BREEDING AND MULTIPLYING UNCONTROLLABLY!! PLEASE DO ME A FAVOR AND BUY SOME!! No wonder I sometimes even throw in the occasional complimentary horse or two when people order stuff from me in the mail! Here are a couple pictures of my display, complete with vintage hippie bed sheet used as a table cloth!
Even if I hadn't sold anything, I still enjoyed the live music that played most of the evening. The first was a Bluegrass band who performed many songs including Johnny Cash's “Ring of Fire”. The second was a young soloist who sounded a lot like Neil Young, but he also did one or two songs that reminded me more of Paul Simon. Then the third performer sang and played bluesy steel guitar, accompanied by a percussionist who played an instrument that appeared to be a large wooden box with a pair of hand-prints on which he sat, drumming with his hands. For something so simple-looking, it had a high-tech sound to it. I'd like to know more about this gadget if anyone has any information.
I had one bid on my gift basket and throughout the evening all I sold was one green “Ewetopia” T-shirt and just as I was packing up, a kitty-cat puppet. Still that's better than nothing. I probably would have sold more if I had more “Ewetopia” shirts available in more sizes. Oh well, live and learn. If only I'd had more time to prepare, as I'd only found out about this show about a week and a half beforehand! One thing's for sure, I absolutely HAD to take a picture of this gorgeous rocking horse!
I just wish I'd brought my doll to pose on its saddle. She just loves stuff like this! ;) I've just received an email and here are several of the photos that were taken. I don't see a specific shot of my own booth, but you can see me standing in the corner with my clown puppets, wearing my yellow sheep T-shirt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glennmcknight/sets/72157625804918671 “Mountain Dew” is the name one of the bands that played that night: http://www.archive.org/details/MountainDewAndMore Here's that rollicking Bluegrass band who played first: http://www.archive.org/details/MountainDewAndMore There's supposed to be a FaceBook link about this event but when I tried to click it on I got “Content Not Found”!!! X-# Hello? What up wi' dat?
Carousel of the Month Boulder River, Montana
This carousel was built in the late 1950's. It was a community project. Although it is aluminum rather than wood, as much love and dedication went into the building of this carousel as any other. In fact, townspeople gladly donated their pots and pans to be melted for the making of all these beautiful horses. Three different moulds were used; a Parker, a Herschell-Spillman and an Allan Herschell. The latter is the biggest of the three. Although the horses are a bit on the small side, the mechanism is a sturdy one. In Canada it would be absolutely UNTHINKABLE to allow adults on a carousel this size!
Above: (left) The pink horse is cast from the Allan Herschel mold and the two orange ones are Herschell-Spillman. (Right) The yellow horse is cast from a Parker mold. Horses similar to him can be found on the 1950's Theel carousel at the Bowmanville zoo here in Ontario. Below: Black Jack is no ordinary appaloosa!
Above: “Sunflower” and “Navajo” chariots. Below: Me enjoying a ride on the purple horse, and my Travelling Doll on the pink one.
And now it's time to play...
The Lucky Penny Ice-Breaker Game
This is where I create an article based on the random change I find in my pockets!! Let's see, the other day on my way to school I found a nickel, a dime and a penny. I put them in my pocket without looking but I also had another penny, another nickel and two more dimes. The idea is for me to create a couple stories based on what years are on these coins
and what happened in those years: Okay, the dimes are as follows: two 2008 and one2009. The nickels are 1996 and 1999 The pennies are 1984 and 1992. I'll start with the earliest year. 1984. It was the year I flunked out of college. It was also the year that Della and her friend Lisa came to visit from England! I was still living with my parents in Bobcaygeon and Janette was there too and the four of us all put on KISS makeup!
Left to right: Lisa as Eric Carr, Della as Paul Stanley, Janette as Vinnie Vincent and me as Gene Simmons! Janette and I were also crazy about Boy George and spent many hours in my room listening to Culture Club. We went to see Culture Club in concert in November of that year. My dad drove me all the way to Toronto and I stood in line for hours only to find nothing but gray tickets left and I didn't want to sit all the way up there. I knew that there would be a second show added so when it was I managed to order tickets over the phone. Green. Better but still not great. Janette surprised me when her uncle got us GOLD seats! The row right behind the FAN CLUB! It was an awesome concert, but I had my camera confiscated until the end of the show! :( All these better cameras flashing all around me and I was forced to turn in my gronky little Agfa-126! It was around November of 1984 when I also started working at Fenelon Falls Public School as a teacher's assistant as part of their OCAP program. I enjoyed being a teacher's assistant. The kids loved me and we got along great. Part of my duties included making them flash cards, board games and all kinds of other cool stuff. I remember one board game I made in particular that had pictures of celebrities driving around in little racing cars. Boy George,
Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and Mr. T! I also remember the grade 4 class studying animals in Africa. One thing they drill into our heads is the fact that there are NO TIGERS in Africa. Tigers are in INDIA! Lions yes, but tigers no. The kids were working in the kitchen with this recipe for something called “Tiger Pie” which was butterscotch with chocolate stripes. One of the teachers suggested calling it “Lion Pie”. “Uh, lions have no stripes.” I said and suggested we make it with vanilla pudding and call it “Zebra Pie” instead. I even wrote out the recipe with a cartoon drawing of a zebra wearing a chef's hat. The class also wrote their own stories about how different animals got their various characteristics. This inspired me to write my own little poem: The Zebra The Zebra used to be a horse Because it had no stripes of course. Some were black and some were white Until the day they got into a fight The chimpanzees, baboons and gibbons watched them slash each other to ribbons! A witch doctor sewed them back together And since then they'll be striped forever! Here's how Janette and I looked back in 1984 at the height of the Neon craze!
Okay, 1992...what was so special about 1992. I have a feeling I've talked about that year before but it's possible I may or may not have missed anything. Perhaps the two most memorable things about 1992 have been my visit to the New England region on my second National Carousel Association convention and the wedding of my friends Mike and Bonnie Allison. I was living in Lindsay at the time and working at Victoria laundry. I remember running into my boss at the airport when I was waiting to get on the plane to Boston! Back in those days airline travel seemed a lot more peaceful and exciting. Not the stressful ordeal that it is nowadays.
1996 will always be remembered as the year Janette and I took our second Niagara trip. We'd just been for a day trip in 1995 so this time we decided to stay an entire weekend. That was the time that it rained all day Saturday. We were huddled together under one measly umbrella trying to watch the Blossom Festival parade. The parade was heading east, so shortly after the Oscar Mayer weeniemobile went by we decided we'd march west, hamming it up with our umbrellas along the way until we took shelter in the Niagara Museum (now the bird aviary) gift shop.
Above: Left: the Oscar Mayer Weeniemobile, Right: Janette warming up with a free coffee in the gift shop at the Niagara museum. Below: Left: Silly picture of me with triceratops outside museum. Right: Us at the Minolta Tower!
We appear to be sitting on the base of one of those coin-operated telescopes. Those aren’t there anymore and the floor has since been carpeted, as well as comfy chairs and couches added to the premises. That was the weekend we went to the States side and we were in this mall where there was a huge greenhouse and weddings EVERYWHERE we looked. When we saw all these weddings we were feeling really depressed, like when's OUR turn ever going to happen? Where are the right men for US??? While we were there, that was the evening we ate at Tommy Ryan's, bought ourselves a
bottle of wine and got piss-roaring DRUNK!!! Janette was kind of dozy and catatonic while I was loud, hyper and obnoxious. In fact I was laughing and talking so much I almost forgot to eat my dinner and Janette was actually finished before me! “GORDON BENNET!! YOU'RE FINISHED ALREADY???!!” I exclaimed. I don't know how we made it back across the bridge but we were both pretty cranky when our buzz wore off and I turned on the TV to watch “City Slickers”. The next most memorable thing about 1996 was the KISS REUNION TOUR!!! When I heard that the four original members of KISS were touring again in full makeup, this was just something I HAD to see! So I got tickets for Janette and I to see them at the Sky Dome on August 6th! Before the show we both put on makeup. I was Gene, as usual and she was Ace! It was an AWESOME show!!! 1999 was, of course, the last year of the previous millennium and the year “Detroit Rock City” came to the movie theatres. I had been an extra in KISS big movie the year before and my friends and I waited in line for free tickets and we had a party at my house complete with a KISS cake before we left for the movie! Once again, as I had done for several nights while we'd been extras in the show the year before, I donned the Gene Simmons makeup. However, on New Year's Eve I wore Ace Frehley makeup. Mark, Janette and I went to First Night at Harbor Front and then we rang in the new year at my place!
Okay, 2008 was the year Planet Nilknarf was born!!! But before that it will always be the year best remembered for the 2008 National Carousel Association convention in Memphis! It was my first convention since 2005 and I was proud of the fact that I had a job and was able to save the money for that trip all by myself. I was especially excited about the fact that I'd be going to Little Rock Arkansas to ride the “Over the Jumps” carousel at the War Memorial Park Zoo.
It was also the year I did my second Geneva Autism Symposium. I didn't make as much money as I did at the first one, but it was still one of my better events and I made even more money at the most recent one! 2009 will always be remembered as a year of major wish fulfillment. That was the year I actually went to TWO National Carousel Association conventions, starting with their technical conference in May in Sandusky, Ohio! I knew I just HAD to go to that one, especially because of Cedar Point! I love that place! Especially the Racing Derby! Here I am showing some of my sketches at our meeting, and here's a group of us having our roundtable discussion at the Sandusky Merry-Go-Round museum.
Between then and the regular convention in September I had the WORST SUMMER OF MY LIFE! On the day that Michael Jackson died, Mother Nature suddenly decided I was her favorite person and decided to perpetually bombard me with her over-abundant gift for two months non-stop. If that wasn't bad enough, a week after it finally stopped I had to have
surgery to remove something that turned out to be called a Bartholin cyst! I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was the absolute WORST pain I've EVER experienced in my life!! At least surgery itself was not an unpleasant experience. It had to be the first decent sleep I'd had all week. I must have conked out before the gas kicked in and I enjoyed dreaming that I was peacefully floating. I can see why Michael Jackson was so desperate to be anesthetized to try to cure his insomnia. And the 2009 NCA concentration was a delight in every way! Especially Hershey Park and Dorney Park. It was also nice to see my friend Richard again after so many years.
The Penultimate Chapter...!!!
Friday, February 4th was my pre-op at North York General Hospital. I am happy to say that I'm finally coming to the close of what has been a frustrating chapter in my life but also a humbling, healing and hopeful experience. Dr. Kristin Smith explained to me what would be
done but the important stuff had yet to be taken care of. .All in all this was a pleasant and positive experience for me. It was good to meet so many nice people who will be working with me on this situation. I'd like to thank Dave's Aunt Kathy for driving me there that day. Kathy was also the name of the pleasant nurse who weighed and measured me and took down most of my information. Folks, never assume that a pre-op is only going to take about 20 minutes and all they're going to do is as questions. I went around to several people that day for different things including blood work and a cardiogram. I was very pleased with the woman who did my blood test. I didn't feel a thing! Needles used to terrify me when I was a kid. They don't bother me so much now. I think the IDEA of the needle is a lot scarier than the needle itself. I was glad to tell her she did a great job. I was also perfectly relaxed and peaceful during my cardiogram. George, my anesthetist, is the spitting image of Matthew Broderick! When he first walked into the room I did a double-take!! I even said so. “I get that all the time, “ he said “Ferris Bueller. Maybe not as much as I used to since he hasn't done any movies lately.” When it was time to leave, Aunt Kathy and I went for a coffee at the Starbucks kiosk in the foyer and ended up buying several bags of their popcorn! It is SO addictive!!! We also made a stop in the gift shop where I bought Dave and I pens that look like hypodermic needles. Imagine bringing one to school on Monday and freaking out my class! I'll look like I'm about to shoot up and then write on my arm “HA-HA!” The pharmacist told me which of my meds I should and shouldn't take on the day of the procedure. No food after midnight and no fluids after 6 that morning. Ironically, most people still had the old date written down on their files even though my procedure as been postponed from the 15th until the 25th. All in all I'll be glad when Ernie and Bert are finally evicted from their premises. Yeah, I'm that pathetic! I name my fibroids! Why not? After all, I'm NOT having any babies so I might as well name these other unwelcome guests being evacuated from my womb!
Hair Day From HELL!!!
Tuesday, February 15th. I was sitting in class at school and happened to rub the back of my head and noticed that it felt really weird! So I asked my teacher if she saw anything unusual. And when I got home I asked my husband the same question. Here's what they saw:
Needless to say, I was horrified! The first phone call I made was to my doctor's office, which had conveniently closed for the day already and my doctor was conveniently away on vacation until the 22nd!!! The next person I phoned was my mom, but she doesn’t know very much about this sort of thing so there was little she could say or do to help. So I called Cherry from my Bible study group. She said it sounded like something called alpecia. I posted this picture in my Facebook and that's what several other people thought too. And of course I did a Google search to look at as many links as possible on this subject. There are many symptoms and many causes and of course no case is ever quite the same. Here I am with this friggin' hole in my head bigger than a toonie, staring back from my picture like a third eye and it is not known whether or not it will get any bigger or go away. I know it can be connected with a number of things; Stress, which I've had in spades, thanks to my circumstances within this last year or two, hormonal imbalance, also related to my situation, and iron deficiency. Who wouldn't be deficient in iron after two consecutive 2-3 month annual bleed-a-thons!
No wonder I'm so pissed off!!! I do SO NOT need this!!! I wonder what Maggie would have said if such a thing had happened if I were still working for her. She'd probably think of some way to blame it on anything to do with sex or food! If stress is such a triggering factor, I can't help but wonder why I didn't go bald during those turbulent years when I used to work for HER!!! At least all's right with the world. My doctor's office was able to squeeze me in for an appointment the day my doctor returns!!!! :)
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, Back 3 Weeks Later?
Okay. Now we all know what alopecia is. Like “Bartholin Cyst”, it's yet another word I wish I didn't have to learn, because only from actually experiencing these things do you find out what they are and learn them by name. I had my doctor's appointment on Tuesday, February 22nd and spent ages in the waiting room. My appointment was scheduled for 12:15 but she didn't get around to seeing me until at least 1:00. And when I showed it to her, she recognized it immediately as Alopecia Areata. She prescribed a cortisone cream and said if it doesn't start working within three weeks to come back. She'll either have to give me cortisone injections in the scalp and/or refer me to a dermatologist. She also told me to avoid sleeping on my back and try to sleep on my side instead. I wish I could just sleep hanging upside-down like a BAT!!! On my way home the first thing I did was go to the drug store and get my prescription filled. One f the first things I did when I get home was rub some of this stuff on my head! BETAMETHASONE!!! We HAVE this stuff around the house! We bought this stuff years ago for rashes and other skin irritations. However, my previous jar was purchased in 2005 so it might not be as good. Maybe I'm imagining things because I want my hair back so badly but I can swear I already feel the slightest brush of stubble starting to fill in the gap. I don't care if it's red, green blue or purple, as long as my hair GROWS BACK SOON!! I don't want this to become another convoluted Rube-Goldberesque merry-go-round ride, pardon the expression, like my other situation! Now that I'm finally getting the help I need for THAT I was kind of hoping it would be the END of all these stupid trials and tribulations!!!!!
T'was the Night Before Surgery...
Well, this is it, Thursday, February the 24th. Tomorrow's the day. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. It's only natural to be even a little nervous. At least I know I'm in good hands. All the people I've met at North York General have been super nice so far. I will likely publish this issue a little early once again so that I may have time to recover before I finish working on the one for April. This Day Before Surgery has not been without its share of drama. On my way to school this morning I slipped on the ice and fell and couldn't get up. I would have to land on the CONCAVE side of my butt. At least I wasn't actually hurt, just more shaken up and irritated than anything and I'd like to thank the two ladies who helped me get back on my feet. One of them just happened to be with me at the bus stop on my way home and asked if I was okay. Even though it looks like the ice has cleared since this morning, I wasn't taking anymore chances. I was feeling pretty tired by the time school ended today. I hope I'll be feeling strong enough to go back to school on Monday but I won't be surprised if I'm still feeling weak from my surgery. We have been working on an exciting project in class and I can't wait to get back to work on it! We've been studying something called “Tessellation”, Using an equilateral triangle, we've been creating all kinds of interesting designs. I hope to share some of our art in next month's issue. Meanwhile, I won't be allowed to eat anything from midnight until well after I have awakened from my surgery, so I think I'm going to jolly well treat myself to Swiss Chalet and charge it on my Visa!
See you next month!!! Margaret Franklin
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