Monday, November 11, 2013

I Love New York!

I love New York.  I love the constant assault to the senses. I do not love the smell of roasting (burning) chestnuts or old urine in the subway. I saw my first NYC rat yesterday, scurrying along the subway rails (far enough away from my feet to be interesting as opposed to frightening) and survived Macys Super Saturday with a smile on my face.

 I purchased a cookie sheet for my BFF and spent 45 minutes returning a top that I never bought.  (I purchased a top the day before, but when I looked in my bag later, I found a more expensive and conservative-yikes!-top in lieu of my intended purchase). I made a (successful) effort to be smiley and kind to everyone I met in Macys, even the young man in Housewares who did not know what, or where, a cookie sheet was. I swear this is true.  In each of the two lines i was part of, a customer was more helpful than an employee.  I am assuming Super Saturday was a dress rehearsal for new holiday workers.  I do not think they are ready for Broadway or Herald Square yet.

I also love being home with my cat in my lap.  I think he may smell the rat.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm Baaaack

Sometimes I’m afraid to make the first cut into a piece of fabric.  It only happens when I know exactly how I want it to cut it.  I find myself verging on a panic attack, sometimes it takes days to gird my loins and put blade to fabric.  Funny, because if I’m improvising in any way I never hesitate, not for a moment.  

  I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake.  It’s rare that I have a perfectly clear vision, and I have lots of experience making errant cuts when I am designing as I go.  Trial and error is the way I learn and create, so if that’s the plan, I have no problem.

  Here’s my point; I have a clear vision of where I want to go with my blogging, and that fear to make the first cut has kept me from starting.  Wait; I am not being completely honest, with myself and, by extension, with you.  My “clear vision” is for one direction this blog can take; towards the theological and spiritual.  

  Another direction is art-centric.  I  understand that the most popular blogs solve a problem.  I am not the most technically advanced or creative, but I am a good teacher of concepts.  I have been given the gift of explaining things. I have to know WHY before I can understand HOW, and that’s how I teach.  I want to help artists “find their voice” and I believe I can.

Yes, I did finish the piece I was working on IN JANUARY! I also had a successful show even tho I left my ironing board up as a performance piece! Proof:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Color is the Mississippi?

Just so you don’t think I’ve forgotten to keep you “in the loop,” here is my Sally (yes, I’ve decided to name her) as she is this evening. I’m actually much farther along than it looks; I’m struggling with how to do the river. When I built such big design walls, I never thought I’d be overlapping like this. It’s reminiscent of a handbag; no matter what size, it is always full.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Foraging for Food and Fabric T-62 days

Time to stop being so pleased with myself having the nerve to cut into the banquet cloth and get started finishing the piece. As I thought this thought, I realized I don’t know which direction to take. Our heroine, as yet 
unnamed, is standing on a widow’s walk looking out over the river.  
I’ve known that since my first sketch, but haven’t thought any more about 
it.  What time of day is it? What season is it?  Is she waiting for someone to 
come home or watching them leave?  After dealing with Saturday’s mail, 
I flipped an envelope over and came up with some of the answers.
 While that’s happening (have I mentioned that  when I moved here I stacked my full-sized washer and dryer in the kitchen? Love-love-love them there), I return to the stash to ferret out other fabric. Not so much luck this time. I have no green for treetops, and nothing for the river. My plan for the river is to pole-wrap and discharge or dye or some combination of both.  Now I have lots of water-colored fabric, because it’s my favorite, but none of them are close to any color I’ve seen in the Mississippi.  Aside to the reader: Every time I type the name of this river that is starring in several of my new works, I giggle to myself because it is proof that some things you learn in school are actually useful; M-I-crooked letter crooked letter- I…you get the idea, unless you're in a country where you dedn't have to learn to spell Mississippi, which I know some of you are. 

I put the blue in the dryer and head the 35 miles to JoAnn’s. I also need to go to the grocery and get other fabric for other works-in-the-works. Here’s part of what I got; the shiny silver stuff may become chain mail for St Joan.  I am tickled pink (pink I have a lot of!).
I think I'm ready for tomorrow and pine trees, deciduous trees, and that crazy river. Now I'm going to finish beading a barrette I've been working on for two evenings so I can put our heroine's hair back in a suitably beautiful way. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Rose by Any Other Name; T-65 Days

Time to settle on a title for THE SHOW. I thought I had one, but I was given a short lecture (in a good way) on naming a first solo exhibition. My first ideas were too wordy, and I'm glad someone was helpful enough to tell me.

   Time out for an Old Testament reference. In Genesis, God names man,
                                                      and man is His.
   It’s a principle that is used frequently; you name it, you take    
   responsibility for it. God changed Abraham’s and Sarah’s names from 
   Abram and Sarai, and makes them his. Man gets to name the animals, 
   and takes dominion over them. 

You get the gist; I name the show, it’s mine. Have I put this off intentionally? No, but maybe subliminally.   Advice I have received includes: two words is best, have the title should clearly represent the works so potential visitors know what to expect, include my name in the title (as Alyson Stanfield writes, "Your name in the title screams Solo Show!")

Also, because this is my first full show in my new hometown, I should use it to not only introduce myself to the region, but particularly to local artists. WOW! That is really good advice that I had not considered.  After all, the arts community is one of the reasons I moved here. I am forming personal relationships, and some artists have seen some of my work, but this will be their first chance to see a professional presentation of my work. Noooo pressure.

Your help is requested (as in, PLEASE HELP!), help me brainstorm. My 
current plan is to show some really old and sort of old work that relates to 
my new work, to illustrate the progression. The really old (you know, 
35 years) I'm including I see as a prologue; it's important to the story, but 
not of the story. I will have lived here 6 months at the opening, so I can still consider myself a newlywed who can unashamedly share hew wedding 
photos, or in my case, the story of how I chose Sainte Genevieve from the 
whole world. So, the story is about how I came to be here and what I've done since my arrival (most have the river as an element) with a little 
background as an amuse bouche.
Your turn now. My best thought is,
Suzanne Thompson
Getting Here

Please share your ideas. Thanking you in advance...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

T-66, Another Good Day

Oh, the joy and rapture of a fresh blade in a rotary cutter!
Life is good.
Black cotton batting is also good.
This is the first time I've used it.
I washed it first, following the directions,
because I did not want it to shrink if I 
put steam to it. 
Ask me how I learned this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

T-68 I Obviously Miscounted Last Night

Today has been a really good day. I’m getting a routine going that I think will work. I do any paperwork, business, meetings, shopping, hunting and/or gathering, during the day.  Any work I do in the studio is accompanied by my Pandora Celtic Thunder channel.

I returned from my errands just before dark.  After dark I have the peace that comes when the pharmacy, doctors and insurance folk stop calling to tell me or ask me something.  This happens about 5:00 CST, and my adrenaline starts to work.  Celtic Thunder still in the background, and I get to work in the studio.  I know some of you like to work in the quiet; it makes me nervous. When I can sing along, my creative mind wanders around in its part of my skull as it likes, every now and then surfacing with the answer to a problem I wasn’t sure I had.

Today’s solution was about hair and how to represent it. What color should it be? I was about to rummage through my stash when, right there on my work table, was the perfect answer:
It's the perfect reddish brown, and will be glorious when I've embroidered and added coppery highlights. I really have no clue how it got on the table; it was probably on top of something I was looking for and I forgot to put it away. I sure don't remember buying it, but that is nothing new. I turned on my $6 "dry" iron, attached fusible web, and will be able to use it tomorrow.

I take a break, eat, and read my email. THANK YOU ALL for the kind notes of support.  I appreciate and treasure every syllable.  

I forgot to mention that about 8:00 the music gets changed to the Harry Connick, Jr channel. Right not Glenn Miller's orchestra is playing "In the Mood" - if I can sing it, I like it. Oh! Now Bing Crosby. Reminds my of my mother.  So, that's it for today. I hope to have more interesting posts, but it is what it is, some boring days, some exciting, some tragic. 

Oh! I forgot to share that last Thursday the city fathers (aldermen) approved my request for a special use permit (this involved all kinds of paperwork, public posting, Planning and Zoning) to open my studio to the public. It's because I'm in the residential part of the historic district. Anyway, this has been my plan ever since I decided to move here, so it's a very good thing that I've been approved. This also means I can get promotional help from the Downtown Development folks, and I'll let you know when I get more scoop. 

Look! I'm done for the day and it just became tomorrow. Last night it was 4 am. You know, if I'm not going to come to work until dark, I'll have to make a few adjustments. In case you're keeping track, Frank Sinatra is singing "Witchcraft"

Goodnight and Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Here We Go; T-72 If You Count Yesterday

I am counting yesterday because I just realized that today (1:10 am) is not still yesterday.  So, big official news, I have a solo show scheduled to open 3/22/2013-aren’t-you-glad-someone-mis-understood-the-Mayan-calendar at The Hayloft Gallery in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri.  This is my first solo, so I am, quite understandably, freaked and pumped at simultaneously.

I thought it might be fun to share with others, those who have many solo’s under their belt, and those looking forward to their first, the “bumps” I am sure to have in my road. I also hope anyone between St Louis, Cape Girardeau, Columbia and anyone in Illinois that can make it will “save the date” and try to come to the opening. You come, I will give you wine.  It will also be an “Art Walk” night, so if you get bored, or we run out of wine (not happening), there will be other great art to see and artists to visit. I will even provide a map.

First, let me say, I have the entire gallery (about 50x25 I think) filled in my head, mostly with new work. Unfortunately, I am having trouble translating my sketches (see, I am doing something) into , you know, actual artwork. I considered, briefly, filling the space with the sketches, saying, look, this is what I wanted to show you! I am, however, not DaVinci, so I’m sure next to “lead balloon” in the thesaurus, would be a link to my website. 

Every morning, as I structure my day from my horizontal thinking position, I make a plan, and proceed to do a tiny bit of it and piddle away the rest of the day. This evening I told a friend I thought I might be turning into a vampire because I don’t seem to accomplish anything before dark. In my defense, that is before 5:00 pm here, but it means I’m still up until almost dawn. On the other hand, who really cares what time I go to bed? I am a grown woman, hear me roar.

In addition to this wonderful exhibit opportunity, I also have several juried shows I want to enter, each having a looming deadline. I know I am not alone here; this happens to me every January. Since I have all these pieces in my head I think, logically, I should complete the ones I want to enter in other shows (it’s a local venue, so I think I’ll still be legal to enter some of the more strict shows).  Good thinking, right? Yes, but I can’t seem to do what is smart. BIG surprise. This morning, I decided to work start a piece that has no deadline, except March 22. I did it! I have worked most of the day and still have a grin on my face.

I have been saving an heirloom banquet cloth for years, waiting for the spirit to move me in some way. Throughout the centuries, it has not been cared for properly, so I gave myself permission, the last time I packed it, to use it in my work. Today was the day.

Here is the cloth and my wonderful new pinking shears and a close up:

 Pretty, right? And scary; really scary. I mean, once I cut into it it will no longer be a banquet cloth. On the other hand, I have no children to give it to and admonish about not leaving it folded in the same way all the time. So, deep breath, and's fate is decided. It's going to be a beautiful dressing gown for a heroine on a widow's walk.  

All's good until I realize how fragile the fabric is. My first clue was that it was already damaged before I touched it. Oh yeah, that's why I gave myself permission to use is. Duh. Good news! You know how sometimes you buy something, get it home, and it's not what you thought it was? I found some featherweight interfacing in my stash and it was perfect to back the lace.
 I had a few stupid setbacks, like putting the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric (will I never learn?), but the skirt turned out great.
Yes, I need to work on the bottom, but I didn't back the edging, and I need to. And...drum roll, please, here are all the cut pieces ready to assemble. You'll just have to come to Ste Gen to see it complete. She is going to be beautiful.
Now you know why I still have the big grin on my face. Inertia enabled. YEA!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Quiz for Fiber Folk

What is this?
 Here's a Hint:

And the answer, in the form of a question, is:
What do you get when you wash (to get rid of
a stinky smell) 10 pounds of jute?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In the News - Literally!

   OMG! My picture is on the front page 
(below the fold) of the Sainte Genevieve Herald
    I'm going back to read the article

    Sorry about the OMG-thing; it seemed appropriate.

Friday, December 7, 2012

My 108-year-old Ste Genevieve Home

Now that I can actually see the surface of my work table, I am going to post the photos I have been getting requests for.  My plan is to show a “before” and “after” picture of each area so there will be a frame of reference.  This will also help when people ask me what I’ve done to the house.  So, make sure you have your ticket where you can reach it because a conductor may be around soon to punch it.  Here we go…
This is the before picture of
my amazingly cute Queen Anne house.
The after picture has a few adjustments, like 
the shrubs I planted and the leaves, hanging
plants and realtors' sign are gone.
And there are more places to sit.
This is what was left from the previous
owner.  It’s okay, I just kept adding
to the pile until someone removed it.

Convenient and expeditious,
Like Powdermilk Biscuits.

And overnight, some weeks later, 
 the leaves turned.

The first thing we did…wait, I said “we” and it was.  I had the awesome help of woodworker extraordinaire, Masterful Mark “the Magnificent” Grither.  After I closed on the house I placed my new baby into the hands of Mark.  Because he is so kind and respected in the community, I was able to move into the house in two weeks! Yes, that’s another “M” word; miracle.  He continued to organize and work (including replacing the main beam under the house) after I moved in.  When he was not shaking his head at my questions, requests and suggestions, this was the look he most often directed at me:
Thank you, Mark, for lightening the load.
I know Mark didn't do it alone, but he's the only 
one I have a picture of.  I intend to have 
everyone over for adult beverages after Christmas
and will get a group photo.
Plasterers, Electrician, Plumber,
Painters, sundry helpers, and 
Terri and Logan Grither,

Before anyone chastises me for 
covering fireplaces, don’t. 
Neither was a real.
One was electric and the other 
was made from a 9’ door that 
Mark had to, um, adapt 
another door so all my nice, 
warm air would not escape
to the attic.

Ooooo! Pretty folded fabric
where an electric fireplace
used to be.

Living Room…ahh!

STUDIO! What’s wrong with this
picture? I know…I’m not in it
working. So, tata for now;
Keep those cards and letters
coming, and thank you for all the
positive energy you’ve sent this way.
I feel it and it feels warm and fuzzy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Promise You a Smile

If you can spare 18 minutes to watch this, I promise you a big grin...or your money back!  We must celebrate our generation's accomplishments and keep them fresh. I believe we can still change the world. This video, like us, gets better as it goes along.  I am now returning to the blog I was writing...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Have Learned the Hard Way This Week

Today, I give advice. (snort!) I have always given advice, requested or not.  I usually give it hoping to save someone else the pain of learning something the hard way.  For the first fifty years of my life, I insisted on learning things the hard way.  With age comes wisdom, right? (double snort!) After much "learning" I have been considering advice. No, I did not say I was always accepting advice.  Sorry, I'm off on another tangent. Back to the advice, given with love, to everyone as they mature (remember, I have learned this through trial and errorerrorerror)...
After all, in what I thought at the time was a political statement, Lily Tomlin wore a lanyard with a notepad attached in the movie 9 to 5.  I now conclude it was not a political statement, but a life lesson I was not yet ready to learn.  If you have too many plates to juggle at one time, write them all down.  I promise, it will be quite satisfying to mark them as complete with your favorite highlighter. You will also avoid the I-know-I-came-in-here-for-a-reason syndrome.  I could not find an image of the fabulous Ms Tomlin wearing the lanyard, but I have found the lanyard.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Rest of the Story (So Far)

I knew when I found my new home. There have been way too many coincidences to ignore; as a matter of fact, a few too many to believe, but I suppose sometimes those omnipotent beings need to hit us upside the head before we accept what's staring us in the face, you know?
I visited all four of my finalist cities twice, looking at houses each time. I had ruled out the Pennsylvania towns and was concentrating on Hannibal and Ste Genevieve, Missouri. I let my head lead my heart and had decided to settle in Hannibal because the arts community there was, by far, the most organized, progressive and successful of all that I had researched. So, off I drove to Hannibal again to find a house (I had only seen one on my first visit, and it was haunted, but not in a bad way). I revisited the haunted house (the ghost only showed herself on major holidays and then just as vision coming down the stairs as if to join the festivities) and a few others. They were all over my $100,000 limit, and I wasn't loving any of them. Honestly, the haunted one came closest...what does that tell you. It was 107 degrees when I got back to my motel room. I looked around at the shabby room in a town that was touching my head but not my heart and said out loud, "I HATE Hannibal." What a relief to admit it. I got back in my car and drove 3 hours south to Ste Genevieve, calling on the way to make an appointment to see "my" house again Sunday morning.

I had done a little more research and found an Episcopal mission (meaning no full time priest). Turns out there is a full time congregation and they meet in the cutest historic building that had been moved from somewhere to the grounds of Chaumette Winery. You gotta love the Episcopalians, we will get as close to alcohol as possible! So...

9:00 am: I walk in this house and all I can think is, why have I been looking anywhere else? Truly, I felt as if I could breathe for the first time in a month. It was as if the house, like a puppy, jumped up and said, "Where have you been? I have missed you!" Well crap! Just typing that has brought tears to my eyes. I still didn't write a contract because I still needed to be hit over the head, remember?

11:00: I drive out in the beautiful rolling hills to the sweetest little church.

Sidebar***I don't think I told you, but my realtor (another coincidental story for another day) on my first trip had arranged for me to have lunch with several of the local artists. It was perfect! Four vibrant, interesting, well spoken and welcoming women.*** Well, back to church; the service was nice and I decided I was going to have to go to coffee hour. I'm shy in that particular situation for some reason (maybe someone dropped a coffeepot on my head as a child?), but this was important, so off I the WINE TASTING ROOM! Hot diggity dog (refer to the previous note about Episcopalians and alcohol)! Wait, there's more. Lunch is served, prepared by the winery's fantastic chef. Wait, there's more (do you hear the pounding on my head yet?)...At this communal meal, everyone is as pleasant and welcoming as can be and they tell me I must talk to Barbara, who knows everything about Ste Gen's historic district. So, I wander around to find Barbara. Also a lovely lady. A woman joined our conversation, asking where I was from. "Kentucky," I said. Barbara asks, "Are you an artist?" "Yes, why?" I've heard all about you; you had lunch with my good friend Lulu a few weeks ago!"

Let's go back to that first checklist: 1. Community (Arts...check; church...check...small town...double check!) 

I know, this is long, but I'm on a roll. Sooo...wait, there's just a little more...When I returned home, I cranked up the computer and turned on Pandora. The first song I heard was by a group, Son Volt (never heard of them before I started this quest), singing a song titled "Tear Stained Eye" - here are some of the lyrics:

We'll hit the road, never looking behind
Can you deny, there's nothing greater
Nothing more than the traveling hands of time?
Sainte Genevieve can hold back the water
But saints don't bother with a tear stained eye

Cross my heart, it's true. Spooky and blessed at the same time, right?

“Coincidences” like these are why I know that if you open yourself up to the improbable, and listen to that "still, small voice" or, in my case, the bullhorn blaring in my ear, the answers do come. You just have to listen and believe what you think you hear. 

Okay, that's my story. I hope there weren't so many typos that this rambling story didn't make sense. It's the story of my little miracle. Since I've moved, every day holds another and when I go to bed at night all I can think is, Thank You.

And, oh yeah, thank you for these pictures because they're just so darn funny!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Good Elf is Hard to Find or What I Did This Morning

Things I Have Done Today
aka the "To-Done List"
1.     Made coffee for the first time in my new house; drank and added a 200-calorie    donut.  Yum.
2.     Watched a new, dark green, waste receptacle delivered
3.     Rolled receptacle to rear of house, put it next to bright blue receptacle.
4.     Called Republic Services for a how-come-why re: 2 (above)
5.     While listening to the Republic phone rep researching the surprising addition of a second trash bin, I attempted to open my email.  I have been experiencing a connectivity problem that seems to be with my router.  The Elf Geek Squad did not fix the problem last night, so I re-diagnose the problem and begin to reboot modem and router.
6.     Rolled my bright blue receptacle to curb.  No answer available for 4 (above), so I was allowed to choose which to return.  I kept the green in deference to my neighbors as it is camouflaged in the dark green back yard.  The blue? Not so much.
7.     During the last (very noisy) rolling, I decided to start this list so, at the end of the day, I’ll know how another day slipped through my fingers.
8.     Plugged modem in.  Waited for all the lights to start. I will now plug router in.
9.     Hung a few things on my peg board.
10.  Found laundry essentials brought from KY that I have not been able to locate. Needing to do laundry, I replaced the essentials last night.  Say it together, “Of course you did!”
11.  Dealt with email. Was sidetracked by email from the Met, watched their video, downloaded an app about altering photographs. HEY! It’s my job; I’m a visual artist!
12.  Spent 5 minutes with the app, which is cool and free.  It’s called “Faking It” and I recommend it for fascinating reading (after you take the quiz which, of course, is the hook), it’s the other photos and the how and why they were retouched is the most interesting part.  I had to stop myself of I would have read about each of them and frittered away more of the day.
13.  Opened snail mail.  YIKES!!!!! There is a letter from my insurance agent the Travelers has inspected (I haven’t seen any inspectors) my house and re-appraised the replacement value from $233,000 to $403,000, which will be an annual increase of about $700.  Let me say this again, YIKES!!!!! I called the  agency and reminded them that I paid $75,000 for  the house and it is not logical for my insurance premium to be higher than my  mortgage.  My representative was out, but she had already questioned the inspection.  I spoke with the head dudette and she agrees that $403,000 is too high.  She will request a copy of the inspection and get back to me.  I may canvass the neighborhood for comps. Someone must have told Travelers' that my house now looks like this:
I give!  It’s 10:00 am and I’m worn out from keeping this log.  Can we just concede that I am busy but not doing what I had intended to do.  This is why I am not unpacked. Phew! I’m glad I can show this to all the guys that have been working on the house and rolling their eyes every darn day at the unpacked boxes.  Oh! Here comes the FedEx man with another box!  Woo-diddly-hoo.  I’m back.  I asked if FedEx had gotten the Amazon contract and Mr FedEx said they had.  I am glad I solved that mystery.  Now, on to the mysterious MIA geek elves…AHA! Another mystery solved!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the words of Robert Hunter,

Sometimes the lights all shining on me,
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been

Marketing Your City/Company/Organization

Because of my recent experiences researching many locations, at this point I’m going to make a few suggestions for this kind of marketing in general.  Tailor the information AND its presentation to your audience.  In the case of artists and engineers, if anything has a date on it, keep the date current.  A letter dated 2008 will be noticed, and you will be judged for “uncraftsman-like” behavior.  Also, if you are promoting opportunities, don’t include a brochure touting an annual event that is not current.  It makes one wonder.  One more thing: answer the questions you are asked.  If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification.  If asked the same question again, assume you did not answer sufficiently the first time, do not sigh and repeat the original answer.  Yes, this happened to me, several times.  As you can imagine, it is very frustrating to need information and not be able to get it.  Here’s an over-simplified example:

          A: Why is the sky blue?
          B: We often have rainbows here.
          A: Cool; why is the sky blue?
          B: Not that it rains here that much.

So, the arts group is not the best (YMMV), but the town and its residents are pretty darn cool.   Oil City lost most of its major industry in a very short time, so there are lots of buildings and houses available.  I started thinking that I might buy a storefront and make an apartment to go with it.  To cut to the chase, I put in an offer on a two-storey brick house that had been zoned commercial/residential.  It had a fantastic florida-type room facing the street and a huge adjacent dining area that could be combined as a studio/gallery/store.  The house needed a little work, but the asking price was $59,000.  I ended up withdrawing my offer for various reasons; it didn’t meet all of my listed needs.
Serendipity Raises its Hand
I drove to Oil City; it was about 6 hours, so it seemed reasonable.  The last town you pass through before Oil City is Franklin.  OMG! It is one of the cutest towns you have ever seen.  It is a little like the Truman Show town, but not creepy at all. 
The first person I planned to meet there was with the Chamber of Commerce.  As I walked up the steps to her office, she was escorting a visitor out.  I was introduced to the visitor who just happened to be the realtor, Dawn Beith-Caiarelli, I had an appointment with later in the day.  Dawn was a veritable fountain of information; she had grown up in Franklin and moved away to recently return, so she saw both sides of the town and, as almost everyone I met, was a grand supporter of Franklin.  BIG rivalry between Oil City and Franklin.  Huge.  We toured the town and a few houses I was interested in and she walked be a few blocks to City Hall to meet the one-woman force of nature that is Ronnie Beith.  Did I mention that Franklin is known as “a small town with great festivals?”
From what I understand, that is a result of the efforts of Ronnie and her late husband and their support of the arts.  Everyone I spoke with in the county (yes, even in Oil City) asked me if I’d met Ronnie Beith yet.  So, back to my check list; community? Check!
AND, the Episcopal churches in both cities have Tiffany windows.
Next, I research a few other places, just in case I might have missed something…