Mandy’s Silver Lining

Mandy’s Silver Lining

If you were to go up to my kids and ask them to draw clouds – they might do the regular cotton ball clouds that all kids draw. But there’s a good chance that they’ll draw clouds that look like this:

They are flat on the bottom and cottony on top.  If you asked them if those clouds have a name, they would say, “Mandy clouds.”

And that makes me smile.

When I was a kid I used to fantasize that someday our doorbell would ring and a celebrity would come in. A rock star, or a famous artist, or a movie star.

Usually, though, when the back door rang it was someone from Dad’s work. They weren’t stars. They were construction people. Often immigrants with rough hands and interesting accents. Richard Weiss was a legend in our house – a big, German immigrant who “had shoulders like Gordie Howe.” Dad said that a lot. “He has shoulders like Gordie Howe!” Which was funny because I had no idea what Gordie Howe’s shoulders looked like. Probably like Richard’s.

All of the Richard stories were about how strong he was. “Richard could throw four bags of plaster on his shoulders and carry them around like they were pillows!” That man was strong.

When Richard shook your hand, you would need to sit down afterwards just to give your bones time to reorient themselves.

But I dreamt that someday the back doorbell would ring and some movie star or rock star or artist would be there and they would come in and we’d talk and eat and laugh. I wasn’t quite sure what we’d feed them. I hoped they’d come on lasagna night.  Mom made a pretty good lasagna. If they showed up when she had a frying pan full of ground beef and canned tomatoes, I don’t know.

But that day never came. At least not then…

Now, I get to do Dave Kelly Live, a show with The Flat Whites, one of Canada’s great bands. I get to sit with Jim Button, a guy WHO MAKES BEER FOR A LIVING. And just to my left, in her own magical table, covered in paints – is Mandy Stobo.

When she finishes our Valentine’s Day show – she’s getting on a plane to go to Amsterdam to give a keynote address at a design conference that also features people from Marvel, people from “Saturday Night Live”, people from Google. Next fall, she’s working with RuPaul’s team to do life-sized art in New York and Los Angeles. She’s doing art direction on a multi-million dollar video game.  

My kids have been to her house and played with her kids. Whenever she comes over to my house, I laugh a little.

And they know Mandy Clouds – they draw them themselves, because she showed them.

I tell John and Tess how lucky they are to know Mandy. I hope they realize how lucky they are. But then again, maybe they’re thinking, “Yeah – but Grandpa knew a guy who could carry four bags of plaster AT ONE TIME!”