Being Exposed to the World: One Shard at a Time

March 9, 2011
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The marshmallow white snow covered the town lawn like icing on a cake; and then cold temperatures created perfect weather for an exquisite flurry storm. Our big tan wrapped Denali XL drove through the town while residents stayed away from being frozen by sitting next to their fireplaces, fully aflame. The snow crunched as our tires slowly trundled over it, heading towards 10 Terrace View, Norfolk, CT; population 2,500.

Residing in the upper left corner of Connecticut, Norfolk was known as the Ice Box of New England. The constant cold weather of the winter did not stop the citizens from carrying out their chores and normal habits. Fords’ and Chevrolets’ presence in Norfolk and the surroundings towns was evident; almost every man and some women owned a truck.

The upper left corner of Connecticut is like a judging-by-its-cover, people think there is nothing to do, but the opportunities to do new things are never ending. There are the arts, the nature, and then the “chain” activities (like chain restaurants). Bowling, shopping, and arcades; but when my family goes to visit my grandparents, my grandmother takes us to do the unique and original crafts. In past years we have made pillows by needlepoint; this summer in Michigan we painted canvas carpets, and recently we created paperweights out of glass.

My grandmother introduced us to glass blowing, a fine Italian art, and we were about to learn in Riverdale, CT, a neighboring town to Norfolk. My grandmother had been learning to blow glass for a couple of months, prior to when we came, and as my grandfather would say, “Your grandma thinks she is an Italian Master Glass Blower now since she has made a paper weight, a mutated shot glass, an ornament, and a ring holder for your mother! I have never heard of a woman glass blower!” He always likes to make “women” jokes (stereotypical or sexist, but he is just kidding), just like Mr. Stephens; they would be like two peas in a pod, both full of knowledge and dislike for women’s opinion and deeds. Of course they are joking, but they both make me laugh.

My grandmother’s GMC Acadia traveled over the unreliable icy roads, over hills with amazing views, past meadows with the deer scavenging for food, and the Broadway classics blasting to the speaker’s maximum. The blasting of Broadway classics reoccurs every time we visit, and we all enjoy them as if they were cookies to the cookie monster. The car full of Broadway Junkies entered Riverdale, and immediately we turned into the church parking lot.

I thought my grandmother was kidding. I mean seriously, who has a glass blowing shop in a church. As we approached the entrance, a tired, gray haired dog had parked itself by a tree in a place where snow was not present. My grandmother had informed me that the dog belonged to the artisan and that he had two dogs.

The heat sizzled off the walls as if it were a skillet cooking some pancakes and bacon for a heard of hungry people at breakfast. The monstrous ovens and other glass blowing vats emitted its heat the minute we walked through the doors. Upstairs was the glassblower’s work showcased; and the intricate details and the hard work were clear through the inquisitive designs and pieces. He sold tables, glasses, jewelry, lamps, bowls, and much more. My mom, like a kid in a candy store, wanted everything and she knew where she would put it.

A thin man, average height, with keen perception of people, appeared from around a corner, ready to teach. My grandmother’s interest in learning this craft was evident, since she had been to his studio a number of times to learn more. We were to make paperweights today, and I was bubbling with both joy and fear. Joy was swirling through the air since I was about to roll glass, but I feared of making a mistake, due to my heredity for perfectionism (my moms side).

As any gentleman does, I let my sister go first. Though being a man requires you to push this idea, I think it is a big excuse for the woman to experience it first, and make the mistake so the man does not look inept or messes up first. As I watched my sister and listened to the glass blower, I was mesmerized by all of this, just like the latest and greatest toy mesmerizes a kid.

As I approached the first checkpoint, butterflies fluttered and flocked throughout my stomach as if a tornado were whirling them around. I listened and did exactly what he told me to do and I learned the technique of how to do it. The experience of turning the glass in the hot vat, seeing the glass turn different colors and become thicker or more fluid filled a spot in my “safe” of life memories.

Learning about glass blowing, the cost, the patience, the skill, the enthusiasm, and the determination all amazed me. I really enjoyed this experience, and being exposed to these experiences and these wonderful people separate myself from others.

What I admire about my grandmother the most is that she really takes in life, and all the cultures and experiences. Instead of just sitting at home watching TV all day, she adventures out like a mother bird ventures out, in search of worms for her babies. In this case, my grandmother is venturing out to learn new crafts, and then to share them with her kids, grandkids, family, and friends. She thrives to learn new things, meet new people, and she is always welcoming to everyone. I would totally advise her to write a book of her experiences, and I bet you that it would be at least five hundred pages. I love her and so does everyone who knows her!

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