Thursday, April 30, 2009

On my desk and in my head . . .

Now that’s really a scary thought! Being in either place could keep you awake nights. But I’m used to it and right now it’s a rather exciting place to be – full of possibilities. I was reading something yesterday, which happened to be my son’s birthday (Happy Birthday, dear!). It said “our natural inclination is . . . to always try to forecast what will happen next – that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing.” He goes onto to say that “not knowing what tomorrow will bring . . . is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation.” With this in mind, I decided to embrace the adventure of an unknown future with this sort of breathless expectation. Wish me luck!

Speaking of the future, I announced the date of my Spring Internet show on Monday. Those who had signed up to be notified received an email with a few short details with more to come in the next few weeks. Since 2001, I have held two Internet shows each year, with a few exceptions – like weddings and such. It’s been a blast every single time. I’ve made some terrific friends through these shows and I look forward to offering my newest and best creations at these events. If you would like to join my list, it’s really easy. Just click here, fill out the form (first and last name please – I have lots and lots of duplicate first names) and then submit.

Back to my desk: I’ve just received some supplies (yea!) which have allowed me to complete 4 bears that were on hold. These little guys are patiently waiting for some buddies to join them. No telling what trouble they’ll get into when that happens. Right now, I can keep my eye on them while I work so being a nanny and a bear artist at the same time isn’t too difficult. The good problem I’m having is what to work on next now that these are finished – so many ideas. It’s like standing on a really high diving board above a pool of possibilities and I’m talking myself into pinching my nose shut and just jumping in –

About expectations: I came across this Mary Engelbreit illustration that is just so hilarious I had to share. The first thing that popped in to my mind for a subtitle was ‘Possibilities’! Scared and excited at the same time! Check out the mouse beside her on the floor.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Okay, so it really wasn't a vacation. It was just the weekend. And it really wasn't summer, although it felt like it. I guess I should call this post "What We Did on a Sunday Afternoon". I think these slides show better than I can tell.

Funds raised during the Race of Grace benefitted local food banks, food shuttles and food pantries.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Triumph Over the Boxes and Bins (for Now)

You may or may not remember my mentioning that last year I went through my entire house and identified things we no longer used or enjoyed, including my studio. I decided if I was going to be thorough, everything had to be subject to review. Afterwards, it felt really good to open drawers and boxes and easily be able to find what I was looking for.

Then while browsing in one of my favorite book stores, I casually opened a book about having too much stuff and thought it might be one worth reading. It took me a few days to realize I really wanted to read what the author had to say about clutter, so I returned (with a coupon) and purchased this book, Its All Too Much by Peter Walsh.

One point he made that hit home is that we don't need bigger places or more storage (an idea with which I've always agreed), but that we just have too much stuff. We hang on to things we no longer use and enjoy for many reasons. With that in mind, I revisited the decisions I had made about some of my stuff and realized there was still more I could dispense with and give myself even more room to create - either physically or mentally.

Then today as I was looking at the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Studios by Cloth Paper Scissors, I re-read Lesley Riley's article entitled Clutter Out, Creativity In.

She pointed out that "over the years I have come to know myself as an artist - the fabrics I favor, the colors, patterns and textures I turn to over and over again." She put into words what had crossed my mind as I sorted through my stash. I have bought many things with ideas of how to use them way back when, but eventually my inclinations and ideas changed and those items became space fillers. It's still good stuff. Some is even great stuff. It's just stuff I won't be using. I’ve gotten to a place where I pretty much know my current creative leanings.

Yet, I know there are a lot of lovely, inspired, imaginative and resourceful people out there who might appreciate some my treasures. Thus, I have wandered back over to my Etsy shop and begun to post some of the items I have for sale at terrific bargain prices. It's mostly about finding good homes and creative individuals who would put them to greater use than I. We'll see how it goes. If you're curious about what was lurking in my boxes and bins, go on over and check it out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Make Up Your Mind Already

Sometimes getting an idea isn’t necessarily the problem. Sometimes the problem is what to do once you’ve got an idea. One of my current projects is my next giveaway. Giveaway = Yea! Decisions, decisions = Eye roll . . .

Currently, I am in the process of making up my mind. Yes! That’s it! I am making up my mind. Perhaps the dilemma lies in too many choices. Perhaps among these bits, pieces, and doodahs there is actually more than one teddy. Perhaps there’s thousands . . . okay, so maybe not thousands, certainly not by me, but perhaps there’s hundreds. Well, I guess that’s still stretching it, but certainly more than one. Why I can think of at least two, or three, or . . .

See this is where it gets sticky – of all these lovely things that have come to reside in my studio for the moment, which ones will actually be a part of the giveaway and which will become a part of idea #’s 2, 3, and 4 or so?

For the time being, while I AM making up my mind, I submit these photos for your perusal.

One day, there will be something more.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I confess that I find travelling exciting. New horizons. New people. Different weather. Different time zones. Varying cultures, customs and routines. When we have the opportunity, I enjoy visiting historical (and sometimes not so historical) homes. Once when we were visiting Kansas City, we took the time to tour former President Harry Truman’s home. The best part was discovering how unpretentious a life he lived. Considering that at one time he had been one of the most important governmental figures, he lived a remarkably simple life. The thing that stood out to me was a little detail that some might not consider nearly as important as the books he read or the White House memorabilia. Harry Truman would rise in the morning before daylight, get his newspaper and sit at the kitchen table. On the wall next to the table was a lamp that could be turned on by pulling a chain. Because it was dark when he got up, he’d always turn on the light so he could read his paper. He did this routinely for years as evidenced by the worn place on the wallpaper. You could almost picture him there just an ordinary person reading his newspaper. It’s those little things that make a house a home.

When my travels are over and I've gone where my heart desires, I get back into my car and follow the familiar roads that lead back to where I live. Where the bear sentinel stands guard as we come and go . . .

and the flowers we planted bloom . . .

and I can push my old reliable key into the familiar lock . . .

and turn it as I’ve done thousands of times before . . .

and it opens to the place where I can see the dent in the wall from moving a desk and the marks on the doorframe that note how children have grown. Where the stairs have a familiar creak and there’s a knob that will never tighten on the cabinet. Where I can find the light switch in the dark and know the number of steps by heart. Where I am happily home again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Assumed Names & Secret Identities

Several days ago I discovered quite by accident that my husband has a twitter account. He’s not an avid poster, but he does follow a few friends and tweets the occasional comment. For some reason, this took me quite by surprise. After all this time, there’s hardly anything we don’t know about each other. There are so very few secrets – that I know of. I even find it difficult to obtain a birthday gift or Christmas gift for him without some inkling of it getting back to him. Not only was it amusing that he had this account but that he had had it, albeit inactive, for several months. The opportunity to razz him about his secret identity was much too rich to let pass by. Now and then his cell phone goes off and before this I could most likely guess that it was either our son or our daughter with some interesting tidbit of information for us.

Then last night, we (me, him and our daughter) were having dinner at a nearby deli and his phone buzzed. Immediately, I’m thinking to myself, “I wonder what our son has to share.” I knew it wouldn’t be our daughter, because even though stranger things have happened in her texting, I didn’t think she would sit right in front of us and send us a message. I asked, “What’s our son up to?” and he replied that it wasn’t him. It was an update from one of his twitter pals. Then my daughter says with much shock and surprise, “YOU have a twitter account?! How am I ever going to keep up? Blogs, twitters, facebook!” Then I told her, “Your dad has a secret identity!” Now the two of us can torment him together. Thankfully, he’s quite used to it after all this time.

But, he’s not the only one living a double life. I, too, have a secret identity. No, it’s not twitter; at least, not yet. I learned a short time ago that after being in business these twenty-five years that some of things that I took for granted at my bank have now changed and I needed to catch up. No longer could I coast along, putting in deposits, credit card charges, and so forth unless I was operating under an ‘assumed name’. The guy at the bank and I laughed about it – especially after all this time. My task, “should I choose to accept it”, was to go forth and acquire an assumed name. Through legal governmental channels and paperwork, which was actually quite painless (another surprise), I am now operating under an assumed name. Please don’t tell anyone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What $2.00 Will Buy You

If you read my post about the children’s book, Varmints you might be interested to learn that the illustrator has made a short movie based on the book. My tastes are a bit eclectic, but if you enjoy a story about perserverance, you might like it too. Both the book and the movie are a bit dark in the middle but that’s just part of the tale. I love the main character – so sweet, so full of hope and determination. I wasn’t expecting any dialogue and it has none, but there are some sound effects provided by some endangered animals- an ocelot, a margay, a red panda, and a lynx. Their contributions are acknowledged in the credits.

The movie is about 24 minutes long and you can purchase it on iTunes for a mere $2.00. I think about all the work that went into animating this piece, the number of people who participated in bringing it to fruition, and how long it must have taken to put it together and I am amazed that it is available for such a pittance. It was shown at some film festivals, but I wasn’t likely to get to any of those. Being able to download it is a benefit that wouldn’t have been available just a few short years ago. If you are so inclined, you can find it by searching the movies section of iTunes. If you decide to give it a viewing, let me know what you think.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Good Day to Dye

With apologies to Chief Low Dog and the Klingons of Star Trek, it was a good day to dye. There are some tasks that spark that creative gusto in me and dyeing fabric is one of them. Endless possibilities wait in a pot full of hot water and some colored powder.

I began with these white pieces – so clean, so pure, so ready for transformation. So long.

I looked at my choices - so many from which to choose. In the end, it’s just a matter of jumping in.

The first results are in: A few pieces in traditional teddy bear colors that the manufacturer doesn’t supply in this fabric.

Next: a little wild, a little hairy, a little more flair. These may be faeries one day. I can’t wait to get started.

As I said it was a good day to dye – and my husband and daughter plunged right in with their own project.

The stove had eggs in one pot, fabric dye in another. The counter had mohair on one side, egg dye on the other. The kitchen table had two canvases with paint drying. The dog stayed out of sight. He must have heard a rumor somewhere a long time ago someone in our family painted a dog. He wasn’t taking any chances.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bits

Wishing you a . . .

with a vintage postcard for you (click to enlarge)

and the kids in all of us this Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For Cryin’ Out Loud!

When my husband visits his family, conversation often turns to reminiscing about the things he and his brothers did as children, how the town has changed and so forth. Someone inevitably says something to the effect of “I yusta cood or you yusta cood” buy gum for a nickel or stand on your head or whatever. And afterwards, he and I inevitably have the following exchange.

“Yusta cood. Where does that come from?”
“Well, my guess is something like ‘used to be able to’.”
“So how do you spell ‘yusta cood’?”
He thinks it might be usta and as you can see I put a y on the front end. Since it isn’t actually a word in the dictionary, I don’t guess we’ll ever know.

Words like that are so much a part of our conversation, it’s only lately that we’ve begun to think back on some of the sayings and phrases we grew up with as children. We didn’t live that far apart so we actually speak the same language. I don’t know if there’s an official name for it, but I guess you could call it Southern English. If you have ever watched The Andy Griffith Show, they speak it and do a great job of it! That show was set in North Carolina and at the time I watched it as a child, the lingo wasn’t unusual to me.

Then I started to thinking about phrases used in the South and wondered if you would be able to understand a blog post in written with a bit of Southern English or if you would need a translation. How strange is this language to you?

Here’s one side of an imaginary, exaggerated Southern conversation:

For cryin’ out loud, it’s over yonder. If you can’t find it, ah’m fixin’ ta come over there to help you get all gussied up and I’ll show you where it is. Now don’t go and have a hissy fit, I reckon it’ll turn up sometime. You just go and have a good ‘un and don’t be wild as all get out. When you get back, it’ll be time to hit the hay.

Now I can’t say that I normally use all these phrases together like that, but they do crop up from time to time when I’m talking. So, did you understand any of it? Goodness gracious! If so, you just might qualify as an honorary Southerner!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Trails!

I’ve been terribly remiss! In an ideal website world I would post photos of all my recently adopted teddies as soon as they’ve found new homes so they would know I’ve not forgotten them. Alas, other tasks have waylaid my plans. In order to make things right by some of these teds, I’m posting a small handful of their pictures here and wishing them a happy life and happy trails. Have fun you guys!

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Yard of Lace

My mother saved many and various things,
some from newspapers and magazines.

Others written in her fine pen
while quite a few were sent by kin.

We’ve discovered cards, letters and notes,
sayings, mottos and multiple quotes.

A copied recipe sent from a friend.
A missive of thanks someone had penned.

“Add two eggs, not just one
And bake until it’s thoroughly done.”

“Thank you for the lovely dress.
Mere words cannot amply express . . .”

“Come and visit when you get a chance
And let’s remember to hem those pants.”

“Please get groceries for the week.”
“Remind me to call about the leak.”

A postcard with no return address
claims “London is a rainy mess.”

Camping lists and children’s sizes
window lengths and birthday prizes.

A friend who is sick needs to be cheered.
The wedding cake should be tiered.

Say a prayer for those in need.
Don’t forget to do a good deed.

Keep a smile upon your face.
Add to list one yard of lace.

Places we stayed and trips we took.
All these things would fill five books.

My mother saved many and various things,
some from newspapers and magazines.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Robin Knows It

Since returning from our trip, I have cleaned and sorted three closets and one cabinet – things I somehow missed (or avoided) in my late December post-holiday clean-up. I wonder how I managed that??!! It was just enough work to put me back in the mood to sew again. A few cleared out spaces and a new outlook –

This picture is from an old learning to read book that belongs to my sister. (Click to enlarge.) I think the story was about Spring’s arrival. As you can see Robin is making an enthusiastic announcement! That’s how I feel today. At 7am this morning I drew back the curtains and the sky was overcast and not very encouraging. An hour and a half later, the sky was a bright and beautiful blue with fluffy (or so they appeared) white clouds. It was just right for a fresh start with some new ideas for bears, bunnies, fairies and the like.

I ventured into the sun and took a look around our yard overlooking the fact that our lawn most definitely needs mowing. I took this photo . . .

and this photo . . .

and then had lunch at a friend’s house where I took this photo . . .

Now, it’s time to sew. I'm not sure it gets much better than this.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nancy Drew Meets Barnabas Collins

Long ago in my youth, I can remember summer days with no place to go, no one to play with and nothing better to do than run my finger across all the spines of the books on our shelves trying to determine which one to read next. Often, Nancy Drew would lure me with the thrill of yet another mystery to solve. I would stretch out on the sofa, pillow behind my head, book in the air, and spend all afternoon helping Nancy figure out The Mystery of the Hidden Staircase or The Secret of the Old Clock. When I had gone through all of our books, I would climb the steps of the bookmobile when it stopped in front of our house and find another mystery to solve. Nancy and I solved quite a few puzzles those summers.

My taste wasn’t limited to Nancy’s adventures and soon Barnabas Collins stepped into my library and I met a whole new group of people some of whom only came out at night. Collinwood, the mansion, was frequented by various related people who had their own quirks – full moons, sunlight, mysterious pasts, and nefarious connections. For a mere 50 cents, I could venture into their world and come out safely on the other side having figured out how to survive a visit to Collinwood. (The secret seems to be that you’re pretty much safe in the daytime.) Poor ol’ Barnabas never could keep a girlfriend.

My youthful reading pursuits also included a selection of books about dogs – heroic dogs, kidnapped dogs, funny dogs, and how to get your dog to do tricks. For a while, I read about handwriting analysis and writing in secret code. A few classics made their way into my bookish pursuits, probably due to a school assignment, but some of them I came to love.

Nowadays, most of the time, I have a book that lies marked beside my chair or on the kitchen counter or under the fur on my desk or in the car or some other place where I have laid it down when I had to stop reading to do something infinitely more important. I try desperately not to get too involved in a book when I have a show coming up and there’s work to be done, but I do like to take them with me when we go. It makes the ride shorter and sometimes, traffic bearable. I finished one on our trip to Baltimore and now I’m ready to welcome summer reading weather. For me, that means an almost perfect combination of warm days, a light breeze, and a bit of sunshine. My front porch is waiting.

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