Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wah-Lee-Gee's Doodles and Painting

The Continued Anti-Anti-Clutter Campaign – The Stories Inside Of Things


    A civil engineer, my dad, Wally, in so many ways fit into the classic stereotype of all engineers -- a quiet, smart, mathematical, measured, and no-nonsense kind of guy. When I was little, every morning, he'd go off to work designing freeways for the California Department of Transportation wearing a dark suit, white button-down shirt, wing-tips, and a skinny dark tie, right out of the post-war Mad Men era.
     He was also a trickster -- a fun-loving, all-nonsense artist. He could doodle like nobody's business, creating margins full of critters and creatures that framed his planning meeting notes.
     "Draw me a giraffe," I'd ask, sitting at the dining room table with him or in a restaurant waiting for the waitress to deliver our meal.
     "Now a zebra." He'd pull the pencils from his shirt pocket and draw right on the scallop-edged white paper placemats at Pancake Heaven or at Los Delicious.
     "A Griffin!" Guiding the pencils to create a lion with the head and wings of an eagle, his thick hands and square fingers suggested a manual laborer, but their silky softness identified him as a man of arts and letters.
     He could create a menagerie with a few quick strokes of his mechanical pencils -- graphite and red and blue -- realistic renditions of actual animals or fanciful versions of mythical creatures straight out of stories.
     Every Christmas, Dad would recreate the family holiday card my mother had carefully chosen, enlarging it into a poster-sized door hanging. He'd shop for the perfect paper and cloth, ribbons and paints, measure and cut each piece precisely, then assemble the pieces with glue and pins, into a three-dimensional collage, finish it off with paint, a perfect enlargement of the Christmas message. I remember one year, around 1960, I was only five or six, when we lived in the Newton Street house in San Fernando, the Three Kings posed, dressed in rich fabrics and holding their golden, jewel-bedecked gift boxes, on our door. Another year, a colorful partridge, perching on a branch amidst golden pears, adorned the door.
     At the same time, he placed carefully cut pieces of red, green, blue, and gold tissue paper in the diamond-shaped windows of our garage. Switching on the garage lights at night, turned the windows into glowing stained glass windows for the holidays.
     During my teen years, in the mid to late sixties, Dad took up oil painting, for years going to weekly lessons at a studio in Chatsworth, while my sister and I swam laps at swim team workouts just down the street. The first painting he completed, a still-life of blue hydrangeas (or maybe they were chrysanthemums) in a blue glass vase, he gave to his mother, my Grandma Gladys, for her birthday on Valentine's Day. It hung prominently in her home for years; Grandpa kept it hanging long after her death.
      In 1984, in anticipation of the birth of my son, Dean, his only grandchild, my father painted a huge mural, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, in what was to be the nursery. Two yachts, brightly striped spinnakers round and full with wind, raced across a blue sea. Smaller boats dotted the scene, their white sails pale and dwarfed by the straining, round rainbows.
     Like Dad, who passed away in 2011 at 89, the doodles are long gone. So are the door posters. The new homeowners have long since painted over the nursery sailboats. But many of the framed oil paintings remain. The half-dozen of Dad's paintings that hang in my home, clustered on my walls, turn my parlor into a colorful and warm art gallery. Everyday, their presence brings my serious-playful, engineer-artist father to life. They invite you to sit, get comfortable, stay a while. 
     The orange-haired clown with arching black brows and painted scarlet smile catches your eye first, inviting you to smile in return. Dad went through a clown phase, painting this one, its complementary twin in blue-and-gold, and a pair of clown sweethearts for my mom. The other two paintings live in other homes.
     Two overalls-and-straw-hats-clad boys, brothers and/or best friends, sit side-by-side, backs-to-the-viewer, fishing off a dock. Were they meant to be "the boys", as my grandparents called their two oldest sons, Wally and Bob? Dad wouldn't say, but that's what Mom always believed.
     A sailboat waits, hauled out and stranded in drydock, water just out of reach of its newly painted red keel. Traditionally dressed workmen labor around a wagon in an Okinawan street, a place where my dad was stationed during The Big War.
     A quiet, early-morning street awakens. It could be exotic Havana or our hometown of San Fernando, with its small park and adobe-colored buildings with arched windows.
     Engineer Wallace Griffin carefully labeled all his business papers in a precise draftsman style printing, while the artist Wally Griffin playfully signed all his paintings with a squiggled Wah-Lee-Gee.

 

 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Porcelain Flowers and China Figurines


The Continued Anti-Anti-Clutter Campaign – The Stories Inside Of Things


            Auntie Muz was a huggy-kissy lady, and that didn’t always go over well in our rather undemonstrative, stiff-upper-lip kind of a household. She was also a very generous Godmother to my sister, Diane, and me. Her real name was Mary Helen, and she’d been a chum of my mother’s since high school, back in the 30’s and 40’s. She doted on us girls, taking her assigned role most seriously, remembering us with little treats on each and every holiday, major, minor, or dreamed-up. Auntie Muz would pop by with little packages all wrapped up in bright paper and ribbons, hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for Saint Patrick’s Day, Easter, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and of course birthdays and Christmas. She even brought a “consolation” gift to me on my sister’s birthday, and vice versa.
            I still have a Twelve Days of Christmas necklace and a silver heart-shaped box, a tiny handmade ceramic bowl and an even tinier enameled box. But my two favorite "Fairy Godmother" treasures sit safely behind glass in my china cupboard, a delicate and dainty china figurine labeled on the bottom “Sunday Best 2251”, a little girl bundled in her best winter clothes, complete with muff and hat, and a pair of bone china nosegays of spring flowers. Gifts from Auntie Muz were always chosen to appeal to my “grown up” side, never toys or games, always “young lady” gifts even when I was a little girl, which is probably why I still possess so many of them all these years later.
            Auntie Muz was a collector. Her home was filled to bursting with dolls and teddy bears she bought and sold at doll shows, a veritable dolly-and-teddy museum. I think she wanted one of us to follow her in her collecting footsteps.
            The Fairy Godmother was also a kisser, and my family, with Mom as the example, weren’t even huggers, so greetings and farewells at the door were often rather clumsy. Auntie Muz would exclaim her love and then reach out to wrap her arms around each of us in a sweeping embrace and plant a red-lipstick kiss firmly on each cheek. When we were little, Mom said we had to be polite and “take it”, but I watched her stiffen at the indignity of such an emotional display. For years, I followed her lead, stiffening and tolerating. But at some point in my adolescence, after observing most of my friends indulging in the fine art of the hug, I realized that hugging was sweet and could be comfortable, so I spent years teaching myself to be something of a hugger, using Mary Helen as my model. 
             My mom and sister continue to this day to shy away from demonstrations of affection, but as an adult, I have adopted the ways of Auntie Muz, greeting friends with a warm embrace, and sometimes even a peck on the cheek! Mary Helen, aka The Fairy Godmother, passed away a few years ago, but her legacy lives on at my house and in each one of my hugs!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Clowns, Crowns, and Pink Jeeps


More Of My Anti-Anti-Clutter Campaign

            On April 1, 1987, my family (my former husband, Tom, my son, Dean, and I) played an April Fools Day joke on the world by departing on what would grow to a three-and-a-half-month road trip through thirty-eight states and two Canadian provinces. Among other momentous events, Dean would turn three-years-old during the trip, as we wound around the country in a giant terrestrial loop in our cute little motorhome named Barney (which predates the purple TV Barney, so no relation).
            One of the first stops we made after leaving the safety of California was in Sedona, Arizona, half sleepy little artists enclave, half resort spa. (I understand that Sedona has changed drastically over the decades, but back then, it was a sweet little place that reminded us of Ojai or La Jolla before their own tourist invasions.) We camped among red rocks and evergreen trees along a little creek that had carved a path through the red sandstone, and bundled ourselves against the cold to explore trails headed into rocky wilderness.
            A highlight of our stay in Sedona, was our Pink Jeep Adventure, a wild ride in the back of a brightly painted Jeep that carried us bouncing and sliding and whooping and laughing for several hours out into remote canyons and creek beds. Dean, at two-and-a-half, was wildly excited and could not stop smiling. I do not know if he still remembers that adventure first hand, or just remembers the event from its hundreds of re-tellings and scrapbook viewings.
            Wandering through the artsy stores in town post-adventure, Dean picked out a gift for me. He labeled it an early Mother’s Day gift, but I was allowed to open it in April, more than a month early. He chose a music box decorated with a picture of a little boy dressed as a happy clown. The box plays “Send in the Clowns” when its lid is raised. Dean was so excited to find the box, so excited to be able to select it just for Mom, and giddy when later, back at the motorhome, he watched me unwrap it from its brown paper bag and exclaim over it.
            The music box, a favorite piece of my clutter collection, sits today on my dresser next to a photo of Dean I took just before we departed on our "grand tour" in 1987. He loved to play dress up, and that day he was wearing a golden crown and looks so much like the little clown on the box, giant blue eyes, serious expression of confidence, sincere happiness. Dean is now thirty-something and probably has few occasions to wear a crown or otherwise dress up (except at Hallowe’en), and I hope he doesn't mind a bit of nostalgia posted here.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Anti-Anti-Clutter Crusade


            The most recent anti-clutter, get-organized-by-throwing-stuff-out, Twenty-first Century minimalist adaptations of feng shui, guilt-inducing, how-to handbooks are best sellers, but I do not subscribe to their message. On the other hand, I am not a shop-til-you-drop consumer who hangs out at the mall or online lusting after the latest and greatest must-haves-of-the-month.
            I don’t like a mess, but I rather enjoy meaningful clutter. I like gee-gaws, knick-knacks, tchotchkes. I like souvenirs, mementoes, keepsakes, and the stories they contain. I love heirlooms and hand-me-downs and collections; I really love collections.
            My home is filled with stories – short stories and epic novels – manifested in the physical forms of all the little (and big) treasures I’ve collected, gathered, accumulated over a lifetime. I have souvenirs from vacations and adventures, some purchased, some merely picked up off the ground and stuck in a pocket. I have hand-me-downs from old friends and deceased relatives. And I have mementoes chosen for their symbolic meaning at a significant moment in my life. I have ticket stubs, playbills, postcards, and handcrafted goodies.
            My treasures are arrayed, assembled, displayed all around my little home – in bookcases, on walls, in bowls, behind glass, on bulletinboards, in scrapbooks -- bringing me comfort, reflecting smiles, and reminding me of the great adventure stories of my existence and the dear friends who are characters alongside me in those tales.
            In a Grand Anti-Anti-Clutter Gesture, I intend to spotlight, one at a time, some of the gee-gaws and keepsakes from my trove.

Grandma Gladys’ Turkey   


            This large autumn-colored serving dish, in the shape of a proud tom turkey, sat center-stage at every Griffin Thanksgiving gathering of my childhood. Grandma Gladys was an extraordinary cook, having been raised on a Quaker farm, who produced vast spreads at each holiday, Thanksgiving being perhaps her finest.
            Succulent turkey, savory dressing, cranberries, potatoes, both sweet and mashed, gravy, three vegetables, and fresh rolls and colorful garnishes down the center of the large dining table, china and silver place settings around its edge, with several pies rested on the sideboard. Grandpa sat in his place at the head of the table, carving the turkey. Grandma sat at the foot of the table, nearest the kitchen, so she could bounce up and down to fetch more and more food. My parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my sister and I, we surrounded the food with soft laughter and quiet conversation.
            “More turkey meat! More turkey meat!” That’s the excited line I repeated over and over from my telephone-book-booster-seated chair when learning to talk at my second Thanksgiving, in a story I’ve heard repeated every November for sixty years!  
             I am the second oldest of the nine cousins, so I watched as we squeezed more and more chairs around the table, until it could hold no more. Then, the Kids' Table was created in the den, and we older cousins had our own little party at our own private table!
Gladys Miles Griffin - My Grandma
            One year, my cousins and I began the tradition of sneaking into the dining room to snatch pitted black olives from their crystal serving dishes, handfuls each, to mount on our fingertips. Then we’d chase one another out of the dining room, Grandma behind us shaking a wooden spoon in our direction and laughing. She out-smarted us by holding back extra bowls of olives for dinnertime.
            My grandma passed away long ago, back when I was in high school. Griffin family holiday feasts continued, moving from one son-and-daughter-in-law’s house to the next, for decades. My cousins and I have grown, married, had children of our own, and spread out across the country.
Only on rare occasion do we gather as family, but each of us has created our own Thanksgiving traditions that carry on those Grandma nurtured in us so many years ago. Being a vegetarian, I no longer eat “turkey meat”, but still love the rest of the fixings. I still gather with my family and friends who have become family around an extended table to share our gratitudes and break bread. I’ve even been known to put black olives on my fingers and wiggle them, just like we did as kids.
            I am grateful to be the keeper of Grandma Gladys’ Turkey. Throughout the year, he sits atop a high shelf in my dining room, looking down on all the gatherings that take place there. I can glance up and look him in the eye when I’m eating my morning cereal and sipping my coffee and remember all those Thanksgivings Past. Today, on the first of November, he moved down to the coffee table, where, as the regal centerpiece, he is also the central character in one of my life stories.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Following the Lincoln Highway

        It was a wonderful scavenger hunt, as I traveled back and forth across the West from my home in California to Colorado, by way of the remnants of the Historic Lincoln Highway. Off the Interstates as much as possible, I searched small towns for Lincoln Highway signs and markers and landmarks.

        The Lincoln Highway, America's Main Street Across America, is 100 years old in 2013. A century ago, the highway stretched from New York City to San Francisco. It wasn't a straight line on the map, like today's superhighways or interstates. Instead, it was a line that connected the dots that were the cities, small towns, forts, and even ranches across even the emptiest spaces in the West and Midwest.

        Towns prospered during the highway's heyday. Motels and motor courts, gas stations and repair garages popped up along the gravel, then asphalt, highway. Thousands of American families took on the challenge of the road, answered the call of the wild, and created the unique American vacation, the road-trip. Over time, the highway was straightened and straightened again, and finally replaced by the numbered interstate highway system, which left all those little towns and their gas stations and motels behind.
 
        Celebrating the highway's 100th birthday, the Lincoln Highway Association has organized a pair of caravans, one departing from San Francisco and the other from New York City on June 23, 2013, that will follow the course of the old highway whenever possible before meeting in the middle at Nebraska. Inspired, I am taking my own road-trip from my home in Colfax, California, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and back. (An article appeared in the Auburn Journal describing the passing of the caravan through town.)

I left California on Sunday, June 16, and arrived in Cheyenne four days later on Wednesday the 19th. After a side trip to Longmont, Colorado, for Meghann Adams and Josh Vela's wedding (the original inspiration for planning the road trip), I made the return journey, leaving from Cheyenne on Sunday, June 23, arriving home on Thursday, June 27.

        Using a variety of sources, including the Lincoln Highway Association website, wikipedia, and James Lin's Lincoln Highway site, as well as two tourist flyers I picked up along the way in Utah and Wyoming, I chose a "blue highways" route that left Interstates 80, 50, and 93 whenever the Lincoln Highway
route was available to follow instead.

        In the olden days, the length of America's Main Street was marked in a variety of ways. The Boy Scouts placed 3000 concrete posts with the highway's red-white-and-blue logo, it's large L, directional arrows, and brass medals that sported Lincoln's profile. Towns posted signs in the same colors and a large L on fence posts and lampposts. Farmers' fence posts were painted with red-white-and-blue horizontal stripes.
Today, only a very few of these markers remain in place. Some streets in some towns still hold the name Lincoln Way. Some businesses still carry the Lincoln name, too. But in large part, it's hard to follow and requires some trial and error meandering.

        The goal of my trip was to follow the trail of the Lincoln Highway as much as possible. To that end, I found myself wandering back and forth and up and down through towns and in the shadows of the Union Pacific railroad tracks and Interstate 80. I experienced frustration when I couldn't find a marker or a landmark listed in one of my sources, and I experienced joy and jubilation when I was surprised by signs and markers where I hadn't expected them. Along the way, I took a gazillion photos of what I saw: signs and markers, gas stations and motor courts, monuments and statues, and even stretches of the road itself. A few of those photos are shared here; others can be seen at my flickr page.
       
      


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Greetings 2012



Dearest Friends and Family,

A book-on-CD is reading me a story while I putter in the kitchen. I am surrounded by an autumn plenty of newly harvested, fresh-from-the-earth goodies. Apples, once red, green, and yellow, now lay peeled and chopped in heaps and mounds on the cutting board, waiting to be transformed into applesauce in the slow-cooker. In the oven, butternut squash halves roast one rack below sizzling pans of cubed and sliced eggplant, carrots, beets, onions, and peppers, all destined for soup pots already bubbling with kale, chard, and other greens whose names I have forgotten. 

A highlight of my summer and fall has been my weekly CSA box of produce from a small local farm, Bakbraken Acres. Each large box, filled to overflowing with a seasonal treasure trove of colorful edibles, some familiar to my kitchen, some new or strange to me. I have delighted in the just-picked, fresh flavors, as well as the numerous opportunities to expand my cooking and eating repertoire. I learned to cook and eat beets, turnips, butternut squash, eggplant, persimmons, kale, and chard. I also thoroughly enjoyed summertime favorites like tomatoes and watermelon. Though this past Monday marked the last box of the year, and I’m feeling a bit sad, my freezer is stuffed with homemade pesto, applesauce, and a winter’s worth of savory, hearty soups! 

The year 2012 is chasing its predecessors at a rate so fast as to actually catch them; no year has sped faster than this one! It has been a full year, too; events seem to have stacked up on top of one another in my memory. I hope my annual holiday letter finds you healthy, happy, and surrounded by loved ones. I also hope that you will find time during this holiday season to find peace and inspiration in the annual traditions and rituals of your celebrations.
(Wally @ Big Game - We Miss You!)
This year has been marked by a number of transitions. We have celebrated milestones that mark accomplishments and new beginnings, and others that visit us with pangs of sweet nostalgia. Mom and I took two trips to Southern California. We drove to the San Fernando Valley in the spring to celebrate the long life of my Aunt Darlene, who passed away less than a year after my father. We communed with three generations of Griffins and took a driving tour of “old San Fernando,” prompting the telling of wonderful stories set in “the Valley” and in “the War” in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. A few months later, Mom and I returned for a reunion of former students and families of Christian Day School, the tiny K-6 elementary school I attended in San Fernando so long ago. So many people attended, people I hadn’t seen in 20 years, and we told our own generation’s stories about life in that sweet small town in the 50s and 60s.
(Class of 1966!)


In March, I moved from Lake of the Pines, where I had lived since we migrated north 23 years ago, to the small town of Colfax. I am now five minutes from work in a cute and roomy condo/apartment under the pines. I keep wondering why I didn’t do this a long time ago. The move itself was an arduous event, but well worth the effort. 

I continue to teach English/language arts to seventh and eighth graders at Colfax Elementary. I can hardly believe that I have been a teacher for 23 years! The children still inspire me and make me laugh, and despite the dire state of the educational environment at large, I continue to love what I do and cannot imagine anything more personally rewarding or valuable. (Thank you to everyone who voted yes on Prop 30.)

(Thanks, Tom, for the photo of us at Dean's Graduation!)
Dean has had a big year. In June, “Dr. Dean” graduated from Stanford with his PhD in Communication and an MS in Statistics. Dean has been at the university for nine of the last ten years, working, studying, researching, and teaching, so this event marks a major milestone for him. The last year was really intense, and ultimately extremely rewarding. Mom and I, along with Dean’s dad, Tom, and Dean’s bestfriend-since-second-grade, Chris, enjoyed watching as Dean presented his dissertation in May. How proud we all were! Tom and I returned for the graduation ceremony in June. Dean immediately began work as a scientist with Facebook at their new campus in Menlo Park, where he studies the impacts of social networking and peer influence.
(Thanks, Chris, for the photo of Dean in Nepal.)
Dean recently returned from a most excellent adventure abroad. Along with four friends (Chris, Amy, Wenzhe, and Russ), he traveled to Cambodia and Nepal. The short trip to Cambodia included a visit to see the many temples near Siem Reap. More time was spent in Nepal, where they went trekking through the Himalayas for over a week, before returning to Katmandu, where they enjoyed participating in a national festival celebration. The photos are stunning, but do little justice to the breathtaking scenery and the exciting experiences.
Dean also moved recently. Since May, he has been living in a large and beautifully refurbished old Victorian in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, which he shares with three roommates. Since graduation, with his workload and stress levels radically reduced, he is enjoying having time to socialize and take part in the myriad of cultural events the Bay Area has to offer.

(Thanks, Dean, for the photo of your Grandma Louise!)
At this time last year, my mom, Louise, was quite ill with her second bout of Endocarditis, an infection in the heart. She ended up staying in the recovery wing at the local hospital for a couple of months, finally coming home two days before Christmas. Since then, she has been on the mend, a slow and sometimes frustrating path towards renewed health. My sister, Diane, lives with and cares for Mom in her home in Eskaton Retirement Village in Grass Valley. Mom recently “graduated” to a new-fangled walker, complete with handbrakes and a cushioned seat, which, by allowing her to be both safe and mobile, also encourages her to get out and about more. Mom and I dine at the Eskaton lodge dining room one evening a week and try for an “outing” most weekends.

The events of this challenging year have heightened my appreciation for the loving people who populate my world, and I am blessed to number you among those beloved souls. By being a part of my life, you enrich it, and I am deeply grateful. I am looking forward to a healthy and peaceful 2013 and wishing you the same.

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings love and feel loved.
May all beings enjoy beauty and be at peace.
Namaste’ and XOXO
Joan

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happily Ever After with Coursera

On July 23, along with thousands of other students from all around the world, I began the online Coursera class "Fantasy and Science Fiction". Reading the first posts by participants during the first three Introductory days was like being magically transported into a fantasy world, a "flat world", where everyone can talk with everyone else. The age range I witnessed was from 11 to 81. Name a country, there was a participant from there in the threaded introductions. It is inspiring to be a part of this incredible movement, begun only a few months ago by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller of Stanford, to bring free high quality education to everyone, literally, everyone.

On July 28, together with hundreds of Coursera participants from around Northern California, I attended a Meetup at Flood Park in Menlo Park, where we were treated to a lunch of burgers and great conversation with other students AND Ng and Koller and other professors. Again, it felt magical to be a part of this inspiring movement. I met two other women taking the same class I'm enrolled in and many other friendly and eager scholars who are enrolled in a variety of other courses.

If you are even the slightest bit intrigued and/or if you love learning, check out the Coursera website.

"Fantasy and Science Fiction" is a ten-week course that begins with Grimms' Fairytales (Lucy Crane Translation) and works its way through familiar stories like Adventures in Wonderland, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, and The Martian Chronicles, along with a number of less common titles I look forward to discovering. Each week focuses on a different book or group of stories and culminates with a brief (read VERY pithy) essay. The assignment for the essay (and I LOVE this) is to "enhance the reading of a hypothetical intelligent and attentive fellow student."

My essay for the Grimm's Fairytale week focused on the irony found in "The Three Spinsters" which actually turned the common fairytale pattern on its head, by giving the "happily ever after" reward to a laggard. In the class, all essays are shared with peers anonymously, but for this venue, I offer my essay below.
 
Irony Reverses the Pattern

Many fairytales are cautionary stories that deliver fatal endings to characters who act out their greed, gluttony, envy, or disloyalty. Other stories hand happily-ever-after treasure or royal weddings to those who demonstrate loyalty, selflessness, or generosity.

“The Three Spinsters,” an entertaining and humorous story, appears to make fun of the fairytale pattern itself, when irony is used to unexpectedly award a happily-ever-after ending to a lazy maiden,

We know the maiden is lazy from the first scene, when her mother beats her for shirking her spinning duties. The irony begins with the serendipitous arrival of the queen, a great admirer of the virtue of industry. To avoid embarrassment, the mother tells the queen the exact opposite of the truth, that she is beating her daughter because the maiden constantly works too arduously.

The hand of the prince is offered, unbeknownst to the prince himself, to the maiden, not for her beauty, as is the fairytale custom, but for her industry. The maid, of course, must pass a three-fold test requiring her to spin into thread the mountains of flax filling three rooms in the castle. Also, of course, she is magically rescued by three very ugly, but very accomplished, spinsters.

At the wedding feast, the prince bridegroom, upon meeting the spinsters and espying their ugliness, asks and is informed that the features of their ugliness are both the power behind and the result of, their spinning prowess: large foot (for peddling), large lip (for moistening), and large thumb (for spinning).

Instantly, to preserve the beauty of his bride, known for her love of spinning, the prince proclaims she shall be forever forbidden from spinning. Ironically, the lazy maid is rewarded with a handsome prince AND a spinning-free life of leisure. This ironic twist causes the reader to laugh at the expense of the fairytale pattern itself.