Friday, May 30, 2014


Here is a picture of my blithe and bonnie big sister. It was taken in the mid-sixties and now SHE is in her mid-sixties.

There are so many things I love about this picture.
I love her smile.
It is an echo of my father's.
And it reveals a defining quality I admire so much; an optimism, a hopeful, happy way of viewing life.

Even if I didn't know when this picture was taken, the shift dress says sixties loud and clear.
She probably sewed it herself.
And the hair!
Piled high like lemon meringue pie.
Once, she even sprinkled it with glitter dust.
Be still my heart.
I would have been in grade three then and we had moved at last from the womb of Blue River to big city Kamloops.
Kamloops, where my older siblings had been boarding out and attending high school.
It was the first year all together as a family since I was two or three.
The togetherness only lasted one year.
And then we all moved at once it seems.
We were scattered to the four winds.
They had been forced into an early independence and gladly stretched their wings and flew.
And the rest of us, like homing pigeons, returned to a familiar valley....

I find that I tend to divide my childhood memories into before Kamloops and after Kamloops. Before has taken on the burnished glow of memories sorted and polished.
But the 'after' memories contain some of the bitterness that is an inescapable ingredient at life's table.
The thing about real life is that while we search for happy endings, life continues ever onward.
The present emerges out of the past.
Story is built upon chapter.
And it's a thick book with many chapters.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

dolls sleep a lot

I was going to make a doll dress.
Summery and short.
Full skirted and frilly sleeved.

I was upcycling a flowered onesie.
I snipped here and snipped there.
I folded and stitched and trimmed.

A very long, straight gown appeared.
Not quite a Maxie dress.
More lounge wear.
Oh alright, another nightie,
but dolls sleep a lot.

should be

My reading glasses should be considered essential equipment.
Not just a hairband.
Not just jewelry for the bridge of my nose.
In fact, they prevent me from performing delicate tasks by braille.
Prevent me from toiling by guess and by golly.
Good grief.
If I had been wearing my reading glasses I would have noticed that the baby shirt I was upcycling was not only worn looking, but had a hole.
I would have noticed this before I had snipped and sewn a tiny doll nightie.
Ahhh well.
Nighties often get a little worn around the edges.. They are most comfortable just before they fall to pieces from age.
A hole is not good though but that's what pockets and patches were invented for.

Rahel never takes her jewelry off. She's kind of funny that way.

A little nightie, or night dress. The fuzzy pink heart patch/pocket and lace hem mean that she can wear her fuzzy pink jacket/sweater/bedjacket.
Her feet look cold.
Maybe slippers.....
One thing leads to another.


They say that anticipation is half the pleasure.
Well, I have been anticipating spending the day playing with my granddaughter.
Playing with dolls.
Dolls and doll cloths and doll dishes.
Doll doctor visits.
Doll friends.
It has made me rush to my sewing cupboard.
It has turned me into an upcycling, doll cloths making maven.

I had saved a little bundle of random baby cloths from here and there with future doll clothes in mind.

My little granddaughter is on a first name basis with all of the dolls that live at my house, and Rahel is an 'especial' friend. Wouldn't doing a kindness for Rahel be one and the same with doing a kindness for my granddaughter? Isn't that how love works? 

A pink and white fleecy baby set seemed a good starting point.
I chopped out pants and a skirt. I snipped out the shapes to make a jacket and sleeves. I measured and planned a hat.

They sewed up as quick as a wink. A teeny tiny wintery wardrobe starter.

Oh my goodness!!!! It was SO much fun!!!! I'm thinking about boots now and a raincoat and dress..........

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Watercolor cards are the perfect size for quick sketches.
A winter Robin and a spring Robin.

make it happen

I'm going to tell you a story that could be considered a confession. Confession is good right?
If you are an organized and efficient soul this story will make you shake your head and thank your lucky stars that you are you and not me.
If instead, you find yourself in this story then we are two peas in a pod, kindred spirits stumbling along the rocky road of life together.
And if we are, please keep an eye out for my jewelry, I'm not sure where I put it.

"For crying out loud," I exclaimed feelingly.
I was staring down at my missing bracelet and it was staring reproachfully back.
I had been looking for it off and on as the afternoon wore thin right along with my patience.
I had tried to remember the last time I'd worn it.
I'm not sure how this would have helped me but it seems to be the first unanswerable question I plague myself with when something is missing.
There were several forces that had conspired against me. I say this as a sort of self defense, a smoke screen as most self defense is.
Firstly, my elderly mother lives with me and a combination of eccentricities cause her to wander at will, moving things, and removing things. This contributes to my own feelings of memory loss. I am certain I placed something just THERE and now it has wafted off, never to be seen again until I happen upon it in her sock drawer. Caring for someone with dementia is destined to make you feel at times like the blind leading the blind.
The second force arrayed against me is my own lack of organizational aptitude. If 'Keep like with like' is rule one, then 'Keep it all in one place,' must surely be a wise variation of the same.
Why then did I find myself searching with growing angst for my bracelet.

I thought I would write a funny story about my missing bracelet, how I gazed solemnly into drawers and cupboards and pitchers on the mantel. How I eventually found it in my jewelry box of all places, the last place I thought to look.
But I had one of those moments of startling clarity.
Why was the jewelry box the last place I thought to look?
And why was the bracelet there then, just as it should have been?

The bracelet was in my jewelry box because I had tried at some point in the past, to change.
To change the default settings of my life.
Many of them were put in place in childhood and reinforced by example.
Some have made me very unhappy.
Change isn't easy and one of the reasons is the ease with which we hand over the reigns of our life.
We are aware that we are unhappy, that there is a problem, but we fail to see our role in it. We fail to see that it lies within our power to change ourselves.

I am not going to let life happen to me. I am going to grab life by the lapels and make IT happen.
P.S. Just don't grab your lapels while wearing gardening gloves. Don't ask.

comfortably light

This is one of my favourite bracelets. It is not an original idea but it is an original none-the-less. A few years ago at an Arts Fair, I saw button bracelets for sale. I made one of those mental notes, the super size kind.
When I got home from the fair, I rushed to my sewing cupboard and plucked out a piece of wide black elastic. Then I rummaged about in my button stash for white and cream gems; Mother of pearl and vintage alike. I stitched them on with black thread to make a statement. The statement was, I will never fall off, I will never fall off.
It made for a comfortably heavy cuff bracelet that somehow lightens my mood whenever I slip it on.

sis boom bah

A blogpost a day would yield 365 posts by year end. It seems such a lofty goal. I've thought wistfully of it in the past but the math has usually stopped me in my tracks. Late in October or November is no time to think of making a sprint for the finish if it means writing twenty posts a day for the final month. Do I dare to go for it this year? December 31 is out of sight over the horizon. I would just need to write one a day plus an extra ten a month to stagger over the finish line. Then I could jump up and down and shake my gator aid all over the place. Should I make a dash for it?
Sis boom bah, rah rah rah.

almost there

Here is my new table runner having its picture taken surrounded by a joyful group of Petal Ware.
Years ago, I found these plates in a box at a garage sale. I seemed to notice them everywhere for a brief time after and then twenty years have roared by with nary a sighting. I love the colors of Petal Ware. Just as Fiesta Ware say 'party,' Petal Ware says, 'spring.' I love that. I love the pastel colors and the fluted edge. I have enough plates to set my table-for-eight in assorted colors, and salad plates all in blue, and a few small bowls and even a few cups and saucers.
I think it would be lovely to paint a home in Petal Ware colors. Actually, my hall is that color of green and my china cabinet is almost that blue and my kitchen is that yellow.
I'm almost there.

it is

There's something about a finished quilt, no matter the size that makes you want to grab your camera. "Stand here," you say to your quilt, "say cheese, oh stand here now, and here."
My charm pack project is having a photogenic moment. I love the colors together and I'm glad I made a runner. It'll be used all the time and I like that. The binding is a teeny, tiny red gingham that almost reads as pink. Who knew red could be a neutral. I like the backing fabric too. It had one toe out the door when I sorted my stash but I'm so glad I saved it now. The only shadow over my complete happiness is the quilting. Wavy lines seemed so inspired, a contrast to all of the straight stitching, but I wish now that I had done something else. But since I don't know for sure what that nebulous, perfect quilting idea would have been, I will smile and nod and imagine that this is exactly what the quilt wanted.
Maybe it is.
It is.

small talkers

My extended family has scattered to the wind so gathering around the table, or tables is something that almost never happens. My husband is luckier than I and has a whole crowd of family close enough to be on one Google Earth map.
In fact, we recently flocked like homing pigeons to a nephews home for an impromptu lunch.
Tables were set up outside just an elbow from each other and we happily chatted and chomped our corn on the cob.
I overheard my husband talking about seating arrangements at family gatherings when he was a boy.
He and his younger sister were the tail end of a large family. Not only the younger of eight, a vast gulf of time separated them from the older six. My husbands oldest brother was born with a head start of twenty years. The others arrived like popping corn, one after the other. They were married with children of their own by the time my husband was old enough to remember much but he does remember being seated at The Kids Table. Even though he and his sister were fellow heirs to the throne, they were sent to eat with the peasants. This vast social divide clung to the younger two well into their thirties when at last a subtle shift began to take place. My husband and his sister were at last admitted into the secret society of siblings.
 I think they have the advantage of standing astride two generations. The advantage of feeling a kinship with sisters and brothers who are the aunts and uncles of their nieces and nephews who are also cousins of their children. Ahhhh, family.
I can identify with many of the perils and perks of being a youngest. And The Kids Table was a part of many childhood gatherings for me as well. My grandmother had a built-in wooden chopping board that pulled out like a giant tongue and my cousin and I pulled up stools and happily hunkered down. I never felt banished when I was seated away from the adult table. Rather, it felt more like being part of a secret society. We had our own conversation, glad and giddy and our own version of manners. Small talk really was small talk. The best kind too.
I suppose it is just anther example of the ever evolving nature of life. Of our social self. Set the table and gather some small talkers. You might be able to form your own secret society.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

at every turn

Today I saw a man living on the edge of danger.
He was smoking,
while wielding a gas weedeater,
as he leveled a patch of tall dry grass....

Today I saw a young mother making time stand still
as she crouched beside her baby in a stoller.
A little flock of Bantam beauty pecked and fluttered just beyond the fence.....

Today I saw row upon green row of bedding plants.
Infant flowers.
A thousand summer gardens all in a row.....

Today I drove down unfamiliar streets.
I let the car choose the path home.
I was surprised at every turn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the line

Oh dear. I think I have crossed an invisible line.
No warning lights flashed and no gong sounded so I wandered into the danger zone and stepped over the line.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that the line is so far behind me now that I can actually act as a warning device myself. You know what they say, 'If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning.'
Well here I am, horrible but happy.

It started with a simple first step.
It always does of course.
I was given a nativity set by my sister as a Christmas gift.
She painted it herself in ceramics class back when that was the craft of the year.
I've had it almost as long as I've been married.
When my girls hit their teens, I bought them a nativity set each year for several years.
I didn't realize then that this was a second step, skidding me perilously close to the line.
I was given a second nativity and eventually a third and my fate was sealed.
If you have one nativity, you are just observing Christmas.
If you have two, you are just getting into the spirit of the seaon.
But if you have three, it becomes official. You have a collection.
And of course, once you achieve that status, it is important to maintain it by collecting.
But there is a line.
It always seemed way out there somewhere in the blue until recently.
And now I have crossed it.
I am no longer just a casual collector of Nativity sets.
I am drawn to them and they to me.
I would be wise to avoid the Seasonal area of thrift shops or as my husband would urge, thrift shops in general.
Perhaps it is not too late.
I can just barely see the line still and if I double back, I might be able to cross to the other side again.
The sensible side.
The sane and safe side.
Or not.

Made in Japan, and vintage just like me.

 Very tiny plastic set made in Hong Kong long ago.

Hand carved and very small. Does small count?

lagging behind

On a long ago holiday, I sketched a Canada Goose with her flotilla of goslings on watercolor paper. It remained between the pages of a book until I happened upon it this week.
Since my watercolor palette was on the table and the brushes were damp, I seized the moment and painted it up. There really should be five or six or a dozen babies but the rest must be lagging behind in the lily pads.


Isn't doodle a great word?
It sounds exactly like it is, drawing both carefree and unassuming.
I doodle.
As far back as I can remember gripping a pencil, I doodled.
My elementary scribblers were aptly named.
Actually, back then, I tended to doodle mostly on scraps of paper, or blank pages at the back of notebooks, leaving my schoolwork respectfully unsullied.
By high school though, my focus had either shifted, or I was happily able to multi-task and Duotangs and Hilroy notebooks filled slowly but surely with doodles; school girl graffiti. 
What I doodled changed right along with my adolescent self, reaching its peak of self-expression in college where I doodled my boyfriends name, mingling it with my own until we were married on paper.
I love coming upon old doodles. It is sort of like seeing an old sketch of my younger self.
Most of my doodles are destined for the trash bin though, lying for a time beside the phone where they were absentmindedly composed.
Last week, I was startled to see a robin emerge out of the scribble and decided to paint a spring card. I believe I will do a few more from various angles and then move on to a small quiltish portrait of that messenger of spring.


Is it possible to have one foot on dry land and the other in the rocking boat of sleep?
Some mornings sure feel that way. Instead of rising and shining, I stand uncertainly, my morning self surrounded by clouds, like marine air cold and thick.
I was dreaming just before I woke this morning and in my dream I was running to greet people. I can't recall much now, dreams being mist, but I remember seeing my brother, strong and young, glowing with a fierce joy and I ran into his eager outstretched arms.
Yet I found I couldn't speak.
We only clung to each other, wordless.
I sat for a while this morning in front of the window watching morning climb over the eastern mountains. I tried to hold onto my dream but it had sailed on without me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

just sew

I've had a restless feeling lately, a feeling that is easily put to rights by creating something and so I seized the moment and a charm pack, Pezzy Print by Moda.
It is an unusual pack, being entirely one print. Just different colors with multiples of each color.
Isn't that odd?
Most charm packs are a scrap lovers dream come true, each little square a tantalizingly unique sample.
This one came as part of a gift basket and that is partly why I love it.
It is also colors that I would not have been likely to shop for and that is another reason I love it.
And, it contains almost limitless project possibilities.
I should love that too, but sometimes choice grinds the wheels of motion to a complete halt.
As I pondered quilts large and small I suddenly realized that it didn't matter.
I could just sew.
I could just sew and cut and press and see what happened.
I'd seen a picture online of a block called The Disappearing Four Patch.
We are surrounded by clever souls aren't we?
Inspired as I was, I randomly sewed the entire pack into fourpatches.
Then, wielding my ruler and rotary cutter, I ruthlessly diced them up.
And reshuffled them like a deck of cards in Vegas.
I love the transformation.

I'm at a cross road again.
Table runner or small quilt,
sashed or unsashed,
medallion or border?
It worked before, so I am just going to sew.
Just sew and press and see what happens.
Of course then I'll be at another cross road.
How to quilt.
I'm going to just sew then too.
It's a fun way to travel.

things unexplainable

"Would you like a story?" I ask, clutching a little bundle of books.
My granddaughter pauses in her play to examine the goods.
"That one," she pronounces, pointing to a very tattered volumn.

"Once upon a time," I begin happily.
"You can be the wicked stepmother Gramma," my little granddaughter offers.
"Sure," I say, agreeably.
"Once upon a time there was a girl named Cinderella.... "
My granddaughter strikes a pose and the story unfolds.
Action...Take one...
She is such an earnest little Cinderella, dutifully and optimistically cleaning everything in sight.
I, the cold hearted stepmother and somehow, two nasty stepsisters at once.
I read on.
When I get to the part where the stepsisters tear Cinderella's dress, her little shoulders droop with dejection.
But the Fairy Godmother never fails to appear.
Hooray, I'm finally a good guy.
I'm magically transformed.
My face takes on the light of love.
A few waves of my wand and my granddaughter is transformed as well.
I am in the presence of joy.
And beauty.
And hope.

I find that I have become a prince
We dance and twirl and dip.

I am a clock, bonging the hours.
And she, no longer a princess-in-waiting, but a tattered girl, clutching a worn, pink, sparkly shoe.

I bet you know the ending of the story.
The matching shoe is produced and Cinderella is swept away to her happily ever after.
But, my granddaughter wants to know why the shoes didn't disappear like all the other borrowed finery.
Children are wise and logical.
The truth is very simple.
There are mysteries and miracles and things unexplainable.
Especially where hope and love reign.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


This picture was probably taken in the spring of 1959.
I think spring because the snow has a deflated look. It's lost its splendor.
Snow doesn't always melt. Sometimes it just shrinks away as the earth inhales the warmer air of springtime.
The fact that my sister and her doll have been sent to stand in the slush for a Kodak moment, suggests the optimism or perhaps cabin fever of the photographer.
Neither the doll nor my sister are really dressed for a long stay outside on a snow chilled day. The doll doesn't even have boots on. Well, actually, neither does my sister. Tights though. Snug tights, and a woolie looking jumper. The doll does have a hat on so that may be helping make up for the fact that her bare feet are in the snowbank. She is staring fixedly at the photographer whilst my sister is gazing at something else entirely, a family photographic trait.
Hand in hand.
A little girl and her adventurous doll stand just so and freeze that moment. (no pun intended)
That moment in springtime.
Before the heat of summer came and turned the world to autumn.

Monday, May 5, 2014

serene note

I awoke to an off key kitchen. It actually looked much worse than it was. In fact, a few minutes last night would have taken care of it all, would have made my morning begin on a lovely serene note. Perhaps a middle C or something equally harmonious and mellow.
I have a feeling that my kitchen is a sort of primitive barometer.
I never really thought of it that way before.
The kitchen of my childhood was all clashing symbols and odd note combinations.
It was a tune that was hard to get out of my head.
As a young wife and mother, I came to realize that I craved an entirely different song.
I just wasn't sure how to play it.
I wasn't sure I had the discipline to learn it.
I felt at times like I was the only one it town who hadn't joined the orchestra.
It makes me think of a scene from the old movie, The Music Man.
The children take up instruments and just play them.
Badly at first, but no matter.
The joy was in the trying.
And there was no where to go but up.
Greatness hung in the balance.
It always does.

I have found that just 'doing' it is the answer.
It isn't about time or energy at all.
It is about self care.
Really it is.
At least for me.
And when I am ambivalent about my self, or slip out of tune it inevitably shows up in my kitchen.
I never realized that until this morning.
There are pressure systems that sweep over my soul.
But when the barometer shows a drop or spike, for whatever reason, I can choose to change how I see my place in the universe.
I can sing.
And singing while you do the dishes at night makes for beautiful morning music, note blending with note.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

sailors delight

There was a red sky tonight. What does that mean?
I've always wondered about that little jingle; Red sky at night, sailors delight.
Would a sailor be delighted with wind?
I suppose, but more than likely it just means fair weather.
Fair weather and a white sail against the blue, blue sky.
Waves and salt spray and gulls.

clasping hands

A crow drank from our rain barrel in desperation today. That should have been the big tip off. The temperature climbed up out of spring and straight into summer. I felt as desperate as the crow.
My grandchildren plied the garden hose and turned our flower beds into prehistoric swamps. Dinosaurs were swept away by mighty currents and buried by mud. The children got damp and then wet and then muddy. Very muddy. Wonderfully muddy.
They headed home just in time for supper, freshly bathed and wearing strange ensembles of borrowed cloths.
I think that makes it official. We've turned a corner.
Spring and Summer are clasping hands.

marvelously philosophical

If you are traveling forward, should you be looking backward?
I asked myself this marvelously philosophical question last night as I drove home, my back to the setting sun. It was impossible not to glance in the rear view mirror. The sky was splashed with brilliant color, every crayola orange and pink. Ahead, a gray road stretched toward dark mountains and a faded sky, but behind me the evening sky was afire.