Light in Winter

January 21, 2011

A light in winter

You know how Ithaca is like the third cloudiest city in the country or something, and it’s the everlasting grayness that makes winter feel so long?  (Actually, I think that’s a myth… at least, my extensive 10 minute search of cyberspace has turned up no credible evidence to back up the claim.)  True or not, the annual Light in Winter Festival is a shining beacon hope in this endless season.  With this month’s Gallery Night coinciding with the Festival, Mimi’s Attic and several other local businesses have decided to celebrate.

Mimi’s Attic will be staying open until 8 pm tonight (Friday!)  Mimi’s will be illuminating the evening with a 10% off sale on all lamps, light fixtures, candle holders and votives, plus double top trader points on all purchases.

Ithacamade will be open until 8 pm as well, marking the occasion with new artist vendors and lines of merchandise.  Silk Oak will be having an “Out With the Old, In with the New” sale.

The Kitchen Theatre’s Gallery Night events include an art show from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and a preview performance of their new show Bed and Sofa at 8:00 pm.

Finally, Felicia’s Atomic Lounge will be mixing up a special Gallery Night cocktail to go with the evening’s live music.

Come on — spend tonight in the West End.  It’ll light up your winter.

-Meryl at the Goose.

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Johanna van der Sterre, children's book illustrator and Mama Goose customer

You know how sometimes kids tell you what they want to be when they grow up, and then they name something so clearly out of reach that you just want to gently pat their hands and say, “Oh, honey, let’s maybe think about a back up plan.”  Or maybe you don’t react like that —- maybe I’m just naturally a pessimistic crusher of dreams, but that’s how I respond whenever a kid wants to be a professional basketball player, or a ballerina, or a rapper.  Until recently, children’s book illustrator was on that list too — the kind of job that some people somewhere get to do, but nobody you actually know, so it doesn’t seem like a realistic option.

Johanna van der Sterre, real live children’s book illustrator, has changed that for me.  Johanna went from a kid who liked to draw to a student of fine art to a grown-up honest-t0-goodness published children’s book illustrator.  Her work includes Mendel’s Accordion by Heidi Smith Hyde, The First Christmas Present by Marilyn Sommerer, Fievel’s Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde, and, most recently, Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? by Wade Bradford (due to be released next month!)  When she’s not working on a book, Johanna spends time with her husband and two children, and fits in some shopping at Mama Goose whenever she can!

Johanna’s illustrations are whimsical and engaging — grown-up art for a child-friendly environment, and are currently on display as framed prints for sale in the back hallway Goose Gallery.  If you’re interested in purchasing one of Johanna’s original pieces,visit her Etsy shop. Check out some of her illustrations below, and then stop by the Goose to see our entire selection.  (Look for “The Goddess” — it’s my favorite.)

"Little Flower"

From "Fievel's Flying Horses"

From "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed?"

-Meryl at the Goose

You know how every so often you hear from someone you know about an eye-opening life experience that, in one fell swoop, revealed all that is true about that person and her life?  You know, like, “When I was 18 I spent the summer in Belgium and it was there amidst centuries-old ruins that I found myself” or the night Clarence spends with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life?

For Mama Goose, that epiphanic event is our yearly Coat Sale, an event during which goslings and customers band together to prepare the children of the Finger Lakes region for winter, saving gobs of money and having oodles of fun in the process.  This year’s Coat Sale revealed (or reiterated) the following truths:

1) Mama Goose customers are inherently good.

One woman, having clearly failed to budget her Coat Sale time appropriately, found herself in line and panicked, realizing that she would never get to the register in time to make it to the wedding she was scheduled to attend in 30 minutes.  The customers in front of her graciously stepped aside, allowing her to check out and fly off to the special occasion.  With all that Goose goodwill behind their special day, we’re sure that newly-married couple has a magical life ahead of them.

2)  The Goose is a well-oiled machine, even when some parts of that machine malfunction.

This was our 5th Annual Coat Sale (and yes, a very happy wood anniversary to us.)  After five years, we’ve got things working pretty smoothly — not smoothly in the sense that things never go wrong, but in the sense that when things do go horribly wrong, we adapt.  For example, when I arrived yesterday around 5pm to take “after” pictures to supplement the photos I took in the morning, I was sorely disappointed.  Where was the disarray?  The chaos?  Larkin spotted me and said, “Oh, you’re too late — you missed the disaster.  We were on top of that.”

That’s the thing … the Goose is on top of it all.  Already, we’ve got plans in place for next year to correct for things that went awry this time around.  For example, with a longer opening line and easier access to the coats with the opening of our parking lot, we wound up with a bit of a mosh pit waiting to pay.  So, next year’s Coat Sale will feature … wait for it…. a THIRD REGISTER IN THE PARKING LOT.  You’re tempted to start lining up right now, aren’t you?

3)  Mama Goose Goslings are indeed freakishly attractive, no matter what you do to them.

Just as I was expecting to see the store torn apart on my afternoon visit to the Coat Sale, so was I expecting to see goslings battered and bruised, hair out of place and clothing unkempt and yet again, I was wrong.  As you can see from the pictures below, nothing phases a gosling, not even hundreds of coats and snowsuits and snow boots and customers, and then end of the day crew looked just as sunny and cheerful as the early morning one.  We must put something in the water.

With that, I leave you to the pictorial below, Coat Sale 2010:  If You Missed It, You Must Be Kicking Yourself.  See you next year!

-Meryl at the Goose

The pre-opening line stretched all the way from the State Street parking lot around the corner onto Corn Street.

The line leaders waited cheerfully for the sale to open, having arrived at 9:00 am to secure their spots.

Poor coats, blissfully unaware of the amount of frantic pawing awaiting them.

Alita prepares the Wheel of Savings.

Larkin awaits the cash and store credit only crowd.

Sandy and Julie on register: BRING IT ON.

9:59 am .... here we go!

At last, the line moves...

and a new line forms.

Joanna Cornell of Locke made it to the register first. Mad props, Joanna.

Mamas like Asha look for practical things like mittens and gloves.

Kids know that costumes are the real highlight of the Coat Sale. This one even came with a watch -- SCORE!

A little bumblee ponders whether her parents will let her wear this costume instead of a winter coat.

Somehow, six o'clock came.

End-of-day register goslings Erianna and Violet looking inexplicably cheery.

Louise disassembles the racks, because even the best of days must end.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Kelly quipped as closing time came.

Even if you didn't make it into the Goose yesterday, never fear. Just check out Megan above, hauling one of many loads of cute stuff that will be out on the floor starting Monday. Next year, though, you better get in here --- there's always room for one more at the Coat Sale.

You know when you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for a long time  and then all of a sudden a big moving truck pulls up next to a house that’s been vacant for a while and everyone sort of wanders out to their front yards to get a glimpse of the folks on the block?  Well, this week, Mama and Mimi are getting new neighbors, and you can do more than peer out of your curtains.

Jan Rhodes Norman and Alice Muhlback are certainly not new in town.  They’ve been making Ithaca a more beautiful place as local artists for years… Jan is the woman behind Silk Oak, which was most recently located in the old Little Goose space, and Alice has long made her artistic home at Spirit at Kitsch. Together, they’ve decided to launch ITHACAmade, a collaboration of local artists designed not only to make local work available to our community, but to provide a sort of Ithaca-in-a-box for those who have left the area but could use a creative taste of home.

These are exactly the kind of neighbors Mama Goose has always wanted, and apparently the feeling is mutual.   “I’ve had my eye on that area [the West End flats, as Kelly likes to call the neighborhood] for quite some time,” said Jan. “We’re just so excited and thrilled to be there.”

ITHACAMade is having its grand opening tonight, from 5pm to 8pm, as part of Gallery Night.  In a show of neighborly love, Mama and Mimi will be open as well.  After that ITHACAMade will be open from Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am to 6pm, with hours eventually expanding to mirror those of Mimi’s Attic.

Welcome to the ‘hood, Jan and Alice!  We think you’re going to like it here.

-Meryl at the Goose

Over a month ago, we announced our SUPERFAN Contest on Facebook to try and reach some nice, big round numbers on that all-important social media website.  Our goal is to reach 1000 “likes” for Mama Goose and 500 for Mimi’s Attic, and we’re getting pretty close, at least on the Goose side… as of this writing, we’re only 33 “likes” away from the big 1-0-0-0 on the Mama Goose FB page, and we’ve got a clear front-runner for the winner.

Mama Marsh Creations, aka Kristen Marsh, has been racking up SUPERFAN points by commenting on/liking FB posts and referring her friends to our pages.  If she keeps up the pace, she’s on her way to a $25 Mama Goose gift certificate.

However, there are still some contenders nipping at her heels who could surge ahead at any moment.  Laura Love and Asia Bonacci may not have as may referrals under their surely-adorable belts, but they rack up points by commenting on blog posts in addition to FB updates.  Either one could overtake Mama Marsh in an upset at any time.

Plus, with 33 likes to go, there’s still room for a dark horse … I’m talking to you, closeted Mama Goose lover who wants to devote the next 48 hours to doing nothing but engaging in online Mama Goose-related pursuits… Tweeting, FBing, blogging … those are all ways to rack up the SUPERFAN points.

Plus, once we get to 1000 on the MG page, there’s still the matter of building the love for Mimi’s.  We’re thinking there could be some additional rewards on the way to meeting that goal, so get out there, SUPERFANS.  Share the love, earn some prizes.  Fun for all!

-Meryl at the Goose

A sample of the beautiful artwork currently on display at the Goose

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hostessing an art exhibit for members of the Northern Lights Learning Center, a homeschooling resource cooperative serving Tompkins County.  This past spring, one of the cooperative member parents taught a class in which she and some young artists wandered through our local wooded areas, building natural artscapes among the various natural resources they found there.  She documented the projects with a camera, and the resulting photographs are now on display at the Goose.

The young artists and their families and friends officially celebrated the exhibit with an opening reception, complete with ribbon cutting ceremony.

Not all of the young artists were able to attend, but those who did showed off their cooperative learning skills by sharing the ribbon cutting duties

One of the young artists gleefully points out his pieces on display

A young patron of the arts ponders the meaning of the work

For these little artists, in the Goose for now, but the Guggenheim, someday

If you haven’t seen it yet, come check out the beautiful artwork displayed in the Mama Goose exhibit space (aka our back hallway.)  If you know some little artists who would like to be slated for an exhibit, stop by or call Larkin or Kelly.  We’re always looking for new talent!

-Meryl at the Goose

The Goose Gives Back

June 26, 2010

Babywearing is an international phenomenon.

It seems to me, though some of you better balanced people out there may not have this problem, that one of the dangers of motherhood is how small it makes your world.  The smallness isn’t always bad — I often consider how wonderful it is that all the people I love the most live under the same roof and, as much as I complain about dealing with all of their agita on a daily basis, having them within arm’s reach is what makes me feel whole.  The downside, though, is that sometimes it takes me a little too long to realize that the Gulf Coast is suffering yet again, or to notice that our state government can’t get its act together.    I’m too caught up in whether the baby’s fever has gone down, whether the middle one needs another change of clothes in his cubby, and whether the oldest is currently a full-blow teenaged emotional monstrosity or just moderately angsty.

This extreme self-involvement has also damaged my ability to keep things in perspective.  When I can see the big picture, I can remember that my small world here is a golden one.  We have shelter, and food, and clothing.  My children have schools and access to health care.  My life is a privilege, and even having the chance to forget that is a luxury.

Living in Ithaca has not done much to break me out of my mom bubble.  You’ve seen the slogan — 10 square miles surrounded by reality?  It’s not untrue, but it’s also not ideal.  The bridge between local and global is essential, and remaining mindful of our place in the world community is part of being a responsible citizen.

Educate the Children, International is a non-profit organization that perfectly balances worlds small and big.  With an office located here in Ithaca and another in Kathmandu, ETC betters the lives of women and children on a worldwide scale, and we here at the Goose would like to help them out a bit.

For the month of July, if you spend $100 on diapers or buy an Ergo, we’ll donate 10% of your total purchase to Educate the Children.  You can help us all keep things in perspective.

ETC helps rural Nepalese children, especially girls, obtain educations through direct scholarshpi programs as well as aid to teachers, schools, and other local programs.

-The Geese at the Goose