Life of a Basket Maker as a Romance Novel?

After I started this blog, my husband did a search for the Basket Maker’s Wife online to find it (he couldn’t remember the web address for the blog — I know, I’m the one married to him, so I know!)

During this online search of his, he came across a writer of romance novels who wrote a book titled The Basket Maker’s Wife. After he told me about this, I jumped online to find it as well. Sure enough, he was right (and ladies, we all know that’s such a rare occurrence).

The author’s name is Lois Kleinsasser but she writes under different names. For The Basket Maker’s Wife, she wrote under the pen name Cait London. (Not sure why she writes under so many different names but that’s beside the point). If I may go on a tangent, is it written ‘besides the point’ or ‘beside the point’?

Back to the point. To give you an idea of where I’m going with today’s post, let me share with you some of her other book titles: A Stranger’s Touch, With Her Last Breath, For Her Eyes Only, Rugged Glory, The Seduction of Fiona Tallchief, Wild Dawn and Night Fire.

Now, let me set the record straight before we go any further. I am sure all of these titles are well-written and I am not knocking the author in any way. But there is nothing wild, passionate, seductive or romantic about being a basketmaker’s wife! Well, one could probably find a touch of romance somewhere, but I highly doubt, by the names of her other book titles, that it’s at the level needed to be on a Harlequin’s list (which many of her books are on). You know, that romantic lust type stuff.

Instead, since I am the reality basketmaker’s wife, in the flesh, I will share with you my first-hand knowledge. My life involves losing power because of the planer running while the sander’s still on (there goes the show I was watching), stopping at smelly rest areas and eating junk food while on the road, hunting down receipts for the taxes because my craftsman husband likes to empty his pockets in no specific area, and, my favorite, having the house covered in sawdust 24/7. Dust is not in any way romantic!

I contacted the author to get a copy of The Basket Maker’s Wife to see what it was all about but she said it is currently unavailable since she is doing a rewrite. Hmmmm… I wonder if other basketmakers set her straight? This was back in October. Since then we have periodically checked her site and a few weeks ago, we saw the title under another pen name of hers, but when I looked for it today, it was no longer on her site.

So I’ll continue to look for it and will let all you basket lovers out there know when this steamy novel is available again. In the meantime, I’m going downstairs to give my dust-covered husband a kiss. (Awwwwww).

The image above is the cover of Cait London’s book.
You can find her at her blog here

Eric’s Grandmother, Stephen Zeh and the Blizzard of ’93.

This is a short tale about Eric’s grandmother, a cruise and a basket. When Eric’s grandmother, Dorothy Taylor, passed away, she left him a basket that he treasures. Dorothy, who was not a basket maker, accompanied Eric’s father and his partner Martha, who were teaching basketry, on a basketmaking cruise in the winter of 1993. Also along for the ride was basketmaker Stephen Zeh and his wife. At that time, it was early in Stephen Zeh’s career and Dorothy was happy to purchase one of Zeh’s baskets on this cruise. I might add that this cruise was almost a disaster since it occurred during the Blizzard of ’93. Many people were having a hard time arriving at the port before the ship left, including all of the people I mentioned above. Luckily, they all made it.

But that is not what makes this basket interesting and special to Eric. Nor is it because she purchased it on this cruise from Zeh. Instead, it has a story etched in it, like so many baskets do. And this one involves a man.

Dorothy’s husband died in the late 70’s. She never remarried and was never seen with another man until this very cruise. After almost twenty years, she found herself a gentleman-friend and invited him to go on this trip with her. A brave woman. Now we’ll get to the basket. On the bottom, Stephen Zeh’s signature and #20 are burned in. Also on the bottom, Zeh wrote “Made for (gentleman’s name) and Dorothy Taylor.” Why do I not have the man’s name you ask?

Well, as it turned out, Dorothy’s gentleman-friend ended up being a total loser! Which I found a little depressing. I was single and dating for quite awhile before I met Eric and I sure had my share of numerous losers! I was becoming immune since I didn’t recognize they were losers even when they were sitting right in front of me! Not to mention after dating them for a few months as well. (I’m eternally grateful to my friend Karen who came to my rescue for many of these blind-moments and helped me clear the fog.) I now question, disappointingly and with disbelief, you can still attract losers in your 70’s? And Dorothy was a smart, wise woman! I better ensure that Eric outlives me.

Okay, enough about me and my old ‘loser-magnet habit’ and back to Dorothy. She had a problem because she really liked this basket but did not want to be reminded of this guy. Especially a loser of a guy. So she did what any of us foolish girls would do. She simply scratched out the man’s name on the bottom with a burning pen! So we could not read it. As the story goes, Eric learned (and what he remembers) is that this old-loser-friend disrespected her the whole cruise and started to show his mean-spirited side. Being the self-respecting woman that Dorothy was, there was no way she would put up with that! So upon returning home, she ended their friendship. And Eric gets a kick out of telling this story when anyone asks, “Why does that basket say the Blizzard of ’93”?

Harvesting Black Ash Splints for Basketry.

During Eric’s workshops, many of his students ask him about the process of harvesting Black Ash basket materials. However, Eric only has time for a quick verbal explanation. Then I remembered that he mentioned he saw a video online about this subject. So I sent him an official inter-office request (a pink powerpuff girl post-it note left on his workstation) to email me the link to this video to post on my blog. It was created by basketry artist, and Abenaki Indian, Jesse Larocque in the summer of 2010. Viewing the process, rather than hearing about it, definitely gives you a better idea of what is involved in obtaining the materials to make a Black Ash basket. This short video thoroughly displays the steps in removing the ash splints from the tree — specifically the pounding of wood. In one part, the artist is demonstrating the “Splitting to Satin” (it looks like one strip of wood being split in two with one half pulled to the left and one half pulled to the right) which I have tried in Eric’s workshop. I can attest that it’s harder than it looks and if you do it long enough, it’s very good for the biceps! I lasted about two minutes before I began whining that my arms were hurting. It’s clear that Jesse is highly experienced because the whole process looks easy for him, but we all know otherwise. So if you have not seen this video before, it is below. You can find more info about Jesse Larocque and his Black Ash basket making at his website: www.abenakibaskets.com

**For many of my email subscribers: If you do not see a video above, your browser or email service does not allow videos to be sent. Simply click on the header/title and it will bring you to the blog where you can see the video for this post.