Friday, July 10, 2015

Blame it on Barry

This morning Fannie King stopped by Twin Rocks Trading Post with a beautiful basket, one might rightly say another beautiful basket. Fannie was born and raised in Monument Valley, a member of the Bitsinnie clan. Early on, however, she married a Paiute man and moved to Navajo Mountain to live among his people. Likely due to her relocation, she weaves in the Paiute style, rounded coils, flat bottom, interesting shapes, tight stitching and such. Barry, Priscilla and I unanimously admire her work. Indeed, Jana and I have some of her pieces in our own home, and I recommend Fanny's work to all serious collectors of contemporary Navajo basketry.

Fanny’s baskets are traditional by nature, which is a departure from the innovative geometric and pictorial Navajo baskets Twin Rocks has become known for. For several years Barry and I have speculated just how many traditional ceremonial baskets one might collect before discovering he or she had an adequate supply. One, two, three, maybe as many as five we estimated. After wondering for such a long time, we finally decided to stop questioning and take action Accepting the challenge, we began encouraging local Navajo weavers to make what are commonly referred to as ceremonial basket variations. It wasn’t long before the artists began flooding in with their creations. Our goal was to fill the space above the trading post’s large picture windows, which, depending on their size, we estimated would require 60 to 80 baskets. We believed the project might take at least five years to complete. Two years and almost 100 specimens later, however, we already have more than enough baskets to satisfy our original ambitions and are wondering, “What do we do now?"
Feather Modified Ceremonial-Part of Twin Rocks Basket Collection

We have kitty baskets, goat baskets, eclipse baskets, sunflower baskets, positive baskets, negative baskets, positive-negative baskets, kinaalda baskets, old baskets, new baskets, placing the stars baskets, feather baskets, needlepoint baskets, emergence baskets, and some we cannot even describe. The creativity shown by the weavers has been, well, revolutionary. Fannie’s latest was an old style ceremonial, so I decided it should be added to the evolving collection. As I rummaged around the store for a hammer to nail our new acquisition to the wall, a habit that drives museum curators absolutely crazy, I could not locate the necessary implement. Priscilla, who is usually in charge of such tools, had no insight into the hammer's whereabouts, so I was stumped. “Probably Barry’s fault”, I muttered, echoing my common refrain when something goes haywire at the trading post. “Barry has been gone almost two months”, Priscilla reminded me, “maybe it was you this time."

When Rose and Duke recently decided it was time to retire from Blue Mountain Trading Post and RV Park, they shanghaied Barry and me into taking over their holdings. Consequently, Barry was reassigned to Blanding and given the title, “Tyrant of Turquoise Trading and Top Man of Travel Trailers”. Although he received an impressive title, and argued he should receive combat pay for having to survive Duke and Rose, there was no raise in salary associated with his new responsibilities. He now lords over that entire empire and only consults Priscilla and me when there is a crisis. That of course means we are in constant contact. That also means Priscilla and I are forever in the stew, since we only have each other to blame when things go wrong.

For all too long, when we couldn't find the loupe to scrutinize a turquoise specimen, we knew Barry must have misplaced it. If the checkbook was empty, we were sure Barry had spent the cash. If reports were not timely filed, that was probably Barry. Tools gone missing, surely Barry. The door left open overnight, likely Barry. Anything else Priscilla and I did not want to accept responsibility for, Barry was fingered. Now don’t get me wrong, Priscilla is astute enough to play both sides of this game, so when I was gone or out of earshot, all those things became my fault and Barry readily agreed. Correspondingly, when Priscilla was out of sight . . . well you get the picture. At the end of the day, everyone got his or her turn in the barrel and nobody felt left out, except Danny.

Now that Priscilla and I only have each other to blame for the infinite number of things that go wrong around this joint, we are in desperate need of a scapegoat. Our trading post tapestry has come unraveled. Not knowing exactly what to do, we have begun soliciting applications for a full-time patsy. Since there is no shortage of blame to assign, the pay is pretty good. Necessary skills include, broad shoulders, forgiving nature, easy-going character and patience, lots of patience.

With warm regards Steve Simpson and the team;
Barry, Priscilla and Danny.

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