Monday, June 30, 2014

calico cuteness

Vintage calico cuteness for the girls of summer; A pink frock for one, and a fluttery top for the other.

one size fits all

Do you remember clothes you wore when you were a teenager? Or wished you wore? Or wished you hadn't worn?
I think clothes are a pretty big deal to most teenage girls.
I remember something that I wish I had worn.
Wish I had owned.
Still do.
It was a dress sewn by my sister.
I could sketch it in an instant.
I thought of it as The Granny Gown.
It had a peasant vibe.
Soft pink calico, with a scooped gathered neckline, an empire elastic gather and floor length.
It had a nightie vibe too I guess.
But isn't there something appealing about that?
The style of the dress, so softly gathered, was almost one size fits all.
And almost an any occasion style too.
It could be worn to school, to a party, to the beach, to church, shopping or to bed.
Now that is beyond versatile.
A wardrobe in one.

logo for life

Have you ever noticed that loving someone alters how you see everything around you. You are drawn like a magnet to all that reminds you of them. That is heady stuff if they are close and constant, but if they are far away it feels a lot like grief.
I remember when my daughter was away at school for a year. Far away. I couldn't bear to watch the TV shows she had loved. I couldn't cook her favorite meals.
There just seemed to be so much that reminded me of her, or the lack of her.
She has children of her own now, and I find myself just as smitten by them.
What they love becomes dear to me for their sake.
My little granddaughter loves hearts. Almost every art project is adorned with hearts, drawn in her own distinctive backwards loopy heart-ish way.
I've never been fond of hearts. Perhaps the heart happy eighties with country hearts stamped on walls and whittled out of wood are to blame.
It is strange then that I have felt a growing affection for heart shaped things. It is like recognizing my little granddaughter's signature, her logo for life.
Her love of hearts truly says something about her nature. She loves. Generously, with all her heart.

I love wooden things (because my Grandma did) and when I saw this necklace, wooden AND heart shaped, I happily pounced on it. I am imagining it restrung with gauzy pink ribbon.( my granddaughters favorite color)

Saturday, June 28, 2014


The souvenirs people wedge into their suitcases and cram into their take on luggage have a way of gravitating to the bottom of toy boxes or end their days languishing on dusty shelves in thrift shops. Treasures have a hard time holding their own it seems.
While foraging at MCC I saw amidst the seashell plaques and toothpick holders, a treasure from Timbuktu or somewhere else equally distant.
This tiny wooden trio.
They were glued with gusto onto a slice of three limb.
I loved the little house and the trees so Erzgebirge but not on the ugly bit of wood.
Too bad.
They seemed glued on pretty tight too.
Could they be pried off? 

"What do you think?" I asked my sister, handing it over for her appraisal.
There was a fumble and she promptly dropped it on the floor.
Off shot the house.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

big old

A big old baggy bruin. A brawny black bear.

seldom wise

Doesn't he look surprised. He stayed up way past his bedtime which is seldom a wise thing to do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

away in the woods

I love children's stories. I love the meter and cadence they are written in, so like poetry, and I love that illustrations are such a big part of the enjoyment. This story is for my grandchildren and the rhyme pattern was inspired by an Appalachian counting rhyme.
I'm not sure why I thought of writing a little story about bears but now that I have, another one seems very likely. Maybe one about a bear that didn't want to go to bed.....until it started to snow. But until then, here's Away In The Woods

Away in the woods while the snow swirled down
Slept old mother bear and her soft baby, brown
Sleep baby bear cub
Love’s all around
So he slept and he dreamed
While the snow swirled down

Away in the woods as the spring breeze blew
Woke old mother bear and her baby cub too
Eat, said the mother
Love’s fresh and new
So he nibbled and he lunched
As the spring breeze blew

Away in the woods as clouds chased the sun 
Roamed old mother bear and her little brown son
Play, said the mother
Love’s full of fun
So he capered and he climbed
As clouds chased the sun

Away in the woods through days golden bright
Away in the woods through silver summer night
Birds high above them
Love's taken flight
Mother and cub walk on
Through gold and silver light

Away in the woods as autumn leaves flew
Lived an old mother bear and her young one too
Follow, said the mother
Love’s meant for you
So he rambled and he roamed
As autumn leaves flew

Away in the woods while the snow swirled down
Slept old mother bear and her soft baby, brown
Sleep baby bear cub
Love’s all around
So he slept and he dreamed
While the snow swirled down

Monday, June 23, 2014

apple good

Muffins from a steaming oven.
Rhubarb muffins..
Rhubarb, applesauce, bran muffins.
With oatmeal and molasses. 
They baked up high and crisply golden.
Rhubarb, moistly tart.
Nutty oatmeal and bran.
Molasses sweet.
Apple good.

those songs

My grandson happily hums as he plays. He's always done this, always created his own sound track for play. I used to call it The Sound of Danger because of its epic quality, a theme song sort of sound, like Star Wars meeting Chariots of Fire. Those tunes accompanied Dinosaur Disasters and all sorts of Lego adventure. 
I've noticed of late, that the sound has changed. I recognize the tunes now I have even startled him by singing along.
Songs of praise and even worship.
It makes me feel so happy.
Those songs will be with him all of his life, just there at the edge of his memory to be called upon as needed.
'I have hidden your word in my heart.'

eyes locked

Sometimes the learning curve of life feels more like a traffic circle; me gripping the wheel, my eyes locked on a distant exit.

that way

Sometimes daily life can feel as relentless as incoming tide, sweeping you off of your feet and dragging you along. There is a lot of coughing and sputtering that way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

christmas jigsaw

As I am typing this, somewhere, someone is hunkered over their sewing machine, stitching like mad.
Later tonight, they will post a picture of a finished quilt on their blog, and tomorrow, there it will be for all to see.
And then, like lights going on in a town at dusk, here and there, people like you and me will be seized with a burning desire to make one too.
Inspiration is a heady thing.
Last week, ohfransson posted a picture of a little quilt she called Skeleton Key. 
I gasped.
I rushed to my stash and plucked out a charm pack. 
Skeleton Key was made using 30 five inch blocks, all wonderfully solid and fabulously colored. The result is a striking tessellation; a very modern quilt. 
I used 25 five inch blocks in very muted, somber shades of green and brown and cranberry. I decided to line up the seams rather than offset them as they are in Skeleton Key because they made me happier that way. It really is true that a quilt will help you if you let it. 
I was astonished when the quilt top was finished because I realized I had made a Christmas quilt. What? In June? Well, why not, we're half way there.
I decided to name my quilt Christmas Jigsaw in honor of the many jigsaw puzzles that have entertained us during the Christmas season.
I took my celebratory picture outside against a backdrop fresh and green. 
Ta Da. I mean, Fa La La La La

lots of pretty


What is so fine as a garden in June? The spring color is long gone but we are enjoying the first flush of summer. Lots of pretty, frilly pink things have arrived for the party.

easy bake cake

I like cake. It's not unusual for me to make one just to have with tea or for my husband's lunch bag. Something sweet, but not too sweet. Never with icing unless the grandchildren are perched on chairs with mixing spoons in their hands and icing sugar on their noses. For them, icing, but otherwise, our cakes are left au naturel.
One of my favorite cakes to make is so simple, and fast, and chocolatey that I feel inclined....nay, bound by duty to share it with you.

It has no eggs, nor milk, and doesn't even need a mixing bowl.
The cake is light and tender and chocolatey.

Sometimes I mix it in a bowl and sometimes I mix it right in the baking dish. When I do, I get a flash back to the Easy Bake Oven. I can still see those little tiny cake mix packets, and those little tiny cake tins. 'Just add water,' the packet said and so into the cake tin went the powder. Water was dutifully measured in with a little tiny cup and then was mixed with a little tiny spoon. Into the Easy Bake Oven it went, and emerged minutes later, cooked to perfection by a little tiny light bulb and of course, eaten by little tiny girls.

Well, here is a recipe that is a tribute to the Easy Bake days of yore.
I guess I'll call it Easy Bake Chocolate Cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Take a glass pie plate or small casserole dish or 8 or 9 inch cake tin..
It doesn't need to be greased.
Measure in one and a half cups of flour.
And three quarters of a cup of sugar or a smidge more if you have a sweet tooth.
And three or four tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, depending on how chocolatey you want it.  Baking cocoa powder.
And one teaspoon of baking soda.
Stir this around to blend.
Now make three wells in the dry ingredients.
Into one, add three tablespoons of oil.
Into the second one add one tablespoon of vinegar.(you need an acid to activate the baking soda)
Into the third, add a splash of vanilla. About a teaspoon or so.
Then pour one cup of water over the works and stir until everything is moistened and mixed thoroughly.
Bake for 30 minutes, more or less.
I did add an egg once because my grandson loves to crack eggs and it turned out fine.
I have added a dixie cup of applesauce and that didn't seem to cause a problem either.

This is such a lovely cake. Truly an easy bake cake.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Solving Sudoku puzzles works like a wide tooth comb on the tangles in my mind, slowly straightening and smoothing them out again.
It works like magic.

Unless I let my mind wander off like a child in a field of daisies.
Unless my pencil continues to work alone without the help of my brain.

An engaged mind happily whirrs and buzzes and delights in solving things.
A wandering mind just tends to get lost.

Friday, June 13, 2014

on his sleeve

My Dad was friendly and funny.
I think he wore his heart on his sleeve.(and that sleeve would have been plaid)
Sometimes his passion for people and his passion for fishing would collide.
What’s mine is yours seemed his motto.
That generosity may have been good for the soul, but it wreaked havoc on his fishing tackle. He could have outfitted a bus load of boy scouts with what was lost or broken by others over the years but he considered it an investment, part of the math of friendship. 
Love times generosity equals happiness.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

top drawer

I read somewhere once that you can tell a lot about a woman by the state of her top dresser drawer.
They didn't really elaborate.
Just hinted darkly.
Well, if there are Dresser Police, I suppose I may as well step out of the shadows and confess.
There's plenty of evidence to convict me.

My top dresser drawer has always been my lingerie drawer.
Sort of.
The trouble is, lots of things fit that category.
And they aren't the sorts of things you fold either.
You just pull open the drawer and wedge them in.
Kind of like a junk drawer in a kitchen, but in the bedroom instead.
(I'm pleased to report that I don't have a kitchen junk drawer and feel quite virtuous about it.)
Sadly, the virtue is not universally applied in each room of my house.
And that is why I fail the top dresser drawer test.
If there is one.
Lingerie, random socks, the odd scarf, important paper, piece of jewelry, a rock??, loose change, mitten, and the list goes on.
I have improved.
My top dresser really does have only lingerie in it these days.
Because now I have a sock drawer.
It is similar to a lingerie drawer.
Sinisterly similar.
Mine has a pair of mini-gloves rolled in a ball just like a pair of socks that I pluck from the drawer optimistically but misguidedly on dimly lit mornings.
And a piece of jewelry, the odd scarf, an important paper........

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

mutual admiration

"Look," I say, holding a small toy up for my granddaughters entertainment. "It's Curious George."
"Curious George is for babies," my granddaughter says disdainfully.
There isn't even a flicker in George's smile. He obviously has a superb sense of self.
"But look what he can DO," I enthuse, moving his arms in tiny Karate chops.
"Grandma......" my granddaughter reproves.
"See, see," and I move his arms and mine, a sort of hasty version of YMCA.
My granddaughter gives me THE look.
But the next day her little sister comes to visit.
"It's George," I say.
Her eyes light up.
So do George's.
Mutual admiration.

Monday, June 9, 2014

what in the world

This is a cropped detail of a larger picture.
Not much larger, but I wanted you to see the pencil lines around the figures.
I should erase them.
It's just that I thought of this picture as a practice sketch and haven't given it much respect.
It does capture a feeling of evening light though.
Warm summer evening light and love too.
But, what in the world is the woman wearing?

mind's eye

I wasn't pleased with this cat when it was finished. Looking at it now, it doesn't seem so bad. It is a strange phenomenon that when you work closely on a painting, your eyes become so focused on the picture in your mind, that any error in the picture on paper becomes a glaring defect.
I have quit painting in disgust, only to come back a few days later to wonder what all the fuss was about.
I kind of like this little cat now. Even if it falls short of the cat in my mind's eye.


Watercolor cards are pretty addictive to paint. Such instant gratification.

specialty and delight

My mother is a walking Kleenex box. That revelation came to me this morning as I sorted her clothes for washing. Kleenex were liberally sprinkled inside shirts and pant waistbands and even acting as limp shoulder pads. Pockets bulged. As I peered down sleeves, removing rogue Kleenex it occurred to me that my mother is so well padded with tissue that its probably a safety feature. A fragile, little old woman, packed carefully in tissue. Just like a treasure.
I'm not sure when hankies were replaced by Kleenex. I can remember my mother seeing me with startled eyes, as though for the first time just as we were about to enter church.
Out came the hankie.
Up to her mouth it flew.
Spit and scrub.
Spit and scrub.
I find myself wrinkling my face now in recollection.
But it was just something mothers did.
Their specialty.
That hasty once over.
To make us presentable.
Church and outward appearances seem at home in the same sentence, but they are an object lesson of an eternal truth.
When it comes to God, we just have to show up.
We don't have to clean up.
That is His specialty and His delight.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

me too

"Who walks the stairs without a care
It shoots so high in the sky.
Bounce up and down
just like a clown
Everyone knows its Slinky.
The best present yet
to give or get
The kids will all want to try.
The hit of the day
when you're ready to play
Everyone knows it’s Slinky.
It’s Slinky, It’s Slinky
for fun,
the best of the toys.
It’s Slinky, It’s Slinky
the favorite of girls and boys."

Just so you know, I can still sing that jingle.
I got my slinky when I was in grade three in 1964 or 65 and it still walks the stairs without a care.
So do I, thank goodness.
It can still bounce up and down just like a clown.
Me too.
And I'm ready to play.....

as well

Now here is a souvenir of an event that really did happen. The Royal Visit to Canada of King George VI and Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of York. This couple were the parents of our current Queen. Queen Elizabeth. I never realized until today that the Queen Mom, as she was affectionately known, was actually an Elizabeth too.
I was at a baby shower once and we were asked to tell how we got our name. More than half the group had been named after someone.
We bring something of our unique self to our name, but I think our name brings something to us as well.
As Dr. Seuss would say, "You are you. Now isn't that pleasant?"

honorable substitution

 You know you are a collector when you have a souvenir from an event that never even happened.
Queen Elizabeth II had an Uncle Edward. He was christened Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David but everyone just called him Prince Edward.
He would have been King when his father died.
People expected him to be King when his father died.
And he was King ever so briefly.
So briefly that his coronation never took place.
If it had, this mug was ready.
It would have been a lovely souvenir of an important royal event.
Instead, Edward abdicated and moved to France. His politics and his romance were at odds.
His younger brother Albert became the King. He didn't have as many names as his big brother. Just Albert Frederick Arthur George. But then, no one had expected him to be King. He chose to be known as King George VI and was a very loved monarch.
When I was a girl, children still sang God Save the Queen every morning in school after raising the flag, but our song books were so old that they still had God Save the King printed out and we had to make the necessary substitution. The respectful and honorable substitution.
Just like King George VI had to do.

bits and pieces

The size of a quilt has no bearing on the size of your joy upon completion. Maybe on the size of your relief, or even on the size of your pride, but not the joy.
This little quiltlet will sit atop a table or be pressed into service as a doll blanket.(my granddaughter has already asked)
It was made with the left over bits and pieces of a much larger project. I will show you that one soon. That quilt will give you such a jolt, seeing the colors elbow to elbow that you may have to go and lie down for a while and contemplate something quieter, like fireworks.
This little quilt is made entirely of half square triangles which are strangely addictive to work with. They are sort of like a cross between a jigsaw and a sudoku puzzle. Very satisfying.
I decided this would be the perfect project to practice free motion quilting on. A nice bite size piece that I could quilt within an inch of its life.
I chose to heed two bits of advice- practice on something that matters and if you can't see it, why do it.
With that in mind, I chose yellow thread and set to work.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

quiet courage

He seems to be gazing straight out of the photo.
My handsome father.
I wish you could see his hair but the army barber got to him first.
He had such dark, thick curly hair.
Doesn't he look brave?
He wasn't even twenty yet.
He volunteered.
He was trained at Esquimalt, on Vancouver Island.
My mother thought he might stay there. Might be stationed there on the coast.
Might ride out the war...
and then she received a letter from my father.
It was on Active Duty stationary.
He had volunteered for the Defense of Britian.
He was heading overseas.
A train ride all the way across Canada to Halifax.
Then the Queen Mary to England.
Anti-aircraft guns.
And then, the Liberation of Holland.
He was gone for weeks, and months and years.
My young father.
And then home at last to Canada.
He volunteered for the Pacific too but the war ended while he was home on leave.
There is something about this photo that I cherish.
My young father.
His eyes.
HIs level gaze.
His quiet courage.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

your table

Have you ever been talking to someone and had a startling moment of clarity.
I love when that happens.
My friend had emailed me a link to marvelous meal suggestions.
Aren't meal suggestions worth their weight in gold?
Somedays it seems as though I have forgotten food.
It is as though all the meals of my life have swirled out of focus and I can't think what to make for supper.
I wonder what it is I have been eating all these years.
I wonder what it is I want to eat now.
I wonder.
It's not that I'm not hungry.
Or that I have forgotten the joy of cooking.
It's just that I have no idea at all what to make.
I just need a suggestion to jolt me into action.
A suggestion is sort of like a challenge I suppose and I love challenges.
On your mark, get set, go.
Go make this, or that, with these, or those and I am off to the kitchen, gratefully chopping and slicing.
I know what to do.
I know now what to make.

And that makes me think of default meals.
Those meals we tend to default to when all else fails.
They are also worth their weight in gold.
They are our true comfort food.
And they tend to shift and change over time.
When I was a new wife and a new cook, I made lasagne frequently. It was a default meal.
Stir fry and pizza have both been default meals over the years as has macaroni and cheese and sweet and sour meat balls.
I was telling my friend, that my default meal now is likely roast chicken for supper and soup for lunch when I had one of those startling moments of clarity,
Wow, thanks grandma. I can almost feel my self sitting at your table.


"Oh, I remember that," my daughter exclaimed, her voice warm.
There are still some fragments of the past, languishing in my garage (wow, what an understatement) and I have been determined to get to the bottom of them.
To unpack them.
To unearth them.
To free them.
And me.

The blue jean bag slouching on the bench was made by my teen age self in the seventies.
I lined it with a very funky print and painted the apple on the flap. I happily used it for a block of time.
Teen age time.

Days danced onward and my own daughter happily used the bag for a block of time.
Teen age time.
Maybe one of my granddaughters will find it is just the thing to sling over her shoulder and stride off into the morning.

Monday, June 2, 2014

x meets y

My grandchildren and I were bushwhacking.
Isn't that a wonderfully descriptive word?
Actually, we were just prowling through the woods, taking note of fungus and flower,
climbing over branches and ducking under branches and peering through branches.

We thought we were alone, but we weren't.
I should have known better.
You're never truly alone in the woods.
As we toiled north, a hornet sped south.
There was a collision.
My eyebrow and the hornets met with a thunk.
I meant to wave him on, no harm no foul, but universal language does not extend to gestures I guess.

Do you remember math class and turning word problems into equations?

A woman is traveling direction X and a hornet is traveling direction y. What will happen when x meets y?
I think the answer is Z.
Lesson learned.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

hover near

While making grilled cheese sandwiches, avoid wandering off to ponder the mysteries of the universe.
Sure, the first side browns slowly, deceptively slowly, and evenly too,
but the other side toasts in a trice,
finishes in a flash,
burns in a blink.
Hover near.

blue is green

I love to make things.
I love to take what I have, and make what I need.
I needed a gift bag.
And a little card.
Brown lunch bags are a boon to mankind.
When I pulled one out of the corner cupboard, I could almost see the blue baby footprints stamped all over it.
I mixed up a smidge of blue and white paint.
I curled my hand into a fist and stamped away.
I took a second bag and stamped again.
The tiny wrinkled footprints I wanted looked strangely like Hobbit feet.
Who knew making baby footprints would be so tricky.
I've made dozens of them over the years in window condensation in the car......
My third try was OK.
I wisely stopped at one.
I folded a small piece of water color paper in half and stamped a foot on it too.
I had not improved with practice.
Still, I was pleased with the finished set.
They have a certain charm......
An ancient paper punch was pressed into service. ( no pun intended)
A small piece of ribbon salvaged from a forgotten balloon tied everything together.
It's a green, green world.