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Monday, May 13, 2013

Santa in Spring

 I am working on creating pieces for a craft  fair being held by a garden club that my sister Suzanne belongs to. It will be in July and is geared to somewhat of a  Christmas theme. My Santas were a big hit this past Christmas so I thought I might make a series of them in many colors.

 They look absolutely lovely as a grouping. I will be making a sign that will say that, after Christmas, Santa wears many colors. He also lets his beard grow long. It is softest beard in the whole wide world. When an Elf gets sick, he or she will sit on his lap and nestle into his beard to feel better. Mrs. Clause suspects that they are often faking it....

 This is how they begin and each one is different as I do not record exactly where the face will be nor the arms. This way, they each take on a character of their own.

 Last weekend, the Saturday before Mother's Day, George and I went to the NH Sheep and Wool festival to get the mohair locks that I use for the beards. I had bought some last year in small packages without knowing what I would do with them. Then Santa came along and it all came together. But you can't get them year 'round. And when you do find it, they are expensive. So we made our way to the festival hoping to buy whole shearings of it not even knowing what it was called.

 These women who clean, card, spin and convert the wool to fibers are wonderful. They knew exactly what I was talking about. They directed me to the right Sheppard. Not everyone raises Cotswold Sheep.

 I ended up buying two bags of raw mohair that I will be cleaning myself. They told me exactly how to do this and I don't mind doing this work if it means saving a few pennies. I have a feeling I will need it all when these Santas hit the market. I may have enough wool to make at least a couple of hundred.

 Once cleaned, I separate the locks into small manageable hanks.

 From there I separate this into really small hanks which is what I stitch onto Santa's face.

 After that, I paint on the eyes and cheeks. Then I give him a rough haircut. The curls are everything so I don't over cut.
I insert a round package made of batting filled with soft river rocks into the base of the body so you can play with him and have him lean in any direction. You can also curl the hat as well. Just a darling creature.

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's Spring at the Pond

This was the first tree to bloom out in the yard. It is not a tall tree. My height I think. Every day when I would go to my car, this is what greeted me. 

This is a view of the pond across from my back door. To the left is a swing that hangs from a tree. My mother will be thrilled to come out here and sit on it. She constantly talks about owning a swing. She always had one at our house next door. One morning last week as I was leaving for my mother's, there was a row boat out there on the pond with two people fishing. My heart was was rendered.

I have taken several views from the hill that we came down then jump into the pond to swim.

It is a very peaceful place. 

This is the dam that we would cross very carefully to get to the other side. I think it has been re-built as the walls surrounding it are different from when we were kids. I don't remember walls. And of course, the water is pretty strong because of the run-off from the spring thaw. As a child the boys would be on the other side goading us to come across telling us that if we slipped it would be all over. We were gonna die!! And we believed them but we would not give in. And we crossed it all the time knowing we might die but hey - it was all about the thrill.

This is the bottom of the dam. My memories are so different. As a child it looked more slimey. 

Across the way used to be a clearer beach I think. People could drive there from the road to swim. It was not a popular beach so it was not a crowded place. It was very small. And I remember there being leeches. You really had to be careful. One time, my sister Denise came running to get me to show me something she had found. So off we went across the dam, over to the far end of the beach. She up turned a rock and there it was. An orange salamander. We had never seen one before. She was always finding new things to show me. Usually creatures. Once, it was a cow....

I have wanted to take pictures of this pond for quite some time but I am lazy. Then I took these two weeks ago and had some difficulty loading them onto the blog. Come to find out that I just needed to put them up and walk away and give them time to come up. I need more patience.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Longine and Chris, my landlords, invited me to a party yesterday. I had a pork pie in my freezer that Linda had made them and I was going to cook it for them. But at the last minute, they postponed the party till today. Yesterday was not a good weather day. It was cold and windy and it was sleeting for a good part of the afternoon. It was not a problem. I was going to be with my mother today, but I would be back in plenty of time as the party would not begin till 6:00.

Then Chris calls me at 4:00 to tell me that she let herself in to get the pie as the party was starting at 4:00. She forgot to tell me. Oh well. So I went home and had a salad and thought I might not go. There were a lot of people there and most of them, practically all of them, I did not know. But Christine would have none of that. She came to my door and nudged me into going. I couldn't say no.

I brought my coffee and after a few minutes, found myself sitting at the table next to a man who looked rather familiar and I don't know why. We started asking each other questions. He was short, grey haired with a diamond in his left ear. I was sure I didn't know him, but there was something about him.

This is the chorus from St. Theresa's Grammar School. He had this picture on his phone. I am the second one in on the left in the second row. Raymond Pare is in the front row to the right of the short boy.

We were in the same class with the same nuns, knew the same kids. Had the same outcast problems. He now pronounces his last name as Pa-ray. But back then he was Pareee. It is like our last name. We were the Messiers. You may be messy but we're messier.  now it is messy-ay. We change our last names to be what? - more presentable? I don't know.

So we talked and compared our lives. He ended up having a band in the seventies and eighties with the white pants and shoes and loud shirts with the girl singer. I will keep his email address so I can get more information from him.

It is a strange world indeed. I have not seen him since 1963. Fifty years. And now this picture. I just love this.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

In 63 Years!!!

In 63 years I have never had a flat tire. Well, not that I have driven an automobile all those years. When I think of it, I don't really remember being in a car that had a flat tire. So this has been an unusual day. I watch my tires all the time because the one in the front driver's side has a slow leak and I know I have to get that fixed at some point. I was told I should have the leak sealed. It is supposed to be expensive. Over $50. But well worth it, I have been advised. What do I know. It's an old car. Fix it. For me, $25 is expensive. Over $50 is a week's pay.

So anyway, I left my Mother's house at 3:30 this afternoon and was making my way to Robin's office. It was Sydney's birthday a few days ago and I wanted to bring her her birthday present and it is my usual day to get an adjustment. I cross over the Amoskeag Bridge turning left to head to the West Side when BAM!! this crazy noise and my car is careening all over the place.  The traffic is heavy. I find a little spot where I can pull off the road. I get out thinking that something has fallen off from under the car. I have to admit that I was relieved when I saw that it was the tire. I group for a few seconds and call AAA. I didn't know the name of the road I was on. I have driven that road for years. It has no name. It is the road between Eddy road and McGregor St. There are two gas stations and a Dunkin Donuts. I am across the street from the Shell Station. What type of car do I have? Oh my god. For a second, I couldn't remember. I was so discombobulated. After many questions, he said it would be about 45 minutes..... OOOOOKAY.

I was blessed. He came in fifteen? Maybe twenty?? He was wonderful. He propped up the car and tried to put air in the tire so I could cross the road into the Shell station as there was too much traffic for him to work on the car in the road. But he was not successful at getting air in the tire. So the traffic was going to have to make its way around us. He was a lovely man.

I opened the trunk and he lifted the carpeting and commented that he didn't think that this had never been done as old as this car was. When he pulled out this little spare tire, it had never been used. It was a tiny thing. He then removed the flat tire and there it was :::::

A 6 inch wood boring spade bit also occasionally called a paddle bit. It went in by the small end and the spade was sticking out of the flat side of the tire. It was piercing the tire like a knife used to stab someone in the neck on one of the crime dramas on TV. It was so strange. How could this happen. I was not even driving alone on the road! I was following behind three other cars. Not trucks. Cars. I'm on a smooth road. How does such a thing happen? He put the tire in the trunk and told me to get a new tire soon as these little tires are not meant to really be driven on for a long time. Especially, they are not meant for the highway.

OK. Just down the street is the tire place that I was told to go to by my most excellent garage. So I just went and got a new tire. Not in my budget. They were just closing but the young man took one look at me and saw desperation. It took him all of ten minutes to put a new tire on. It is good for 70,000 to 80,000 miles. The car didn't even have that many miles on it when I bought it. So it is OK.

I mean look at that tool. I'm flabbergasted~~~~

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Long or Short

I went grey several years ago while working at Fabric Depot in Portland Oregon. I had been dying my hair since I was maybe eighteen years old? Then I decided I would see if I had my father's hair. He had really beautiful grey hair mixed in with his gently brown hair. And that is what I have. Then I decided to cut it short. Everyone loved it. And so did I. It was a no fuss cut. Same length all around. No tapering,  No boy-cut. Two inches all around. That way I could wash it, fluff it with my fingers and go.

When I returned to New Hampshire I decided to let it grow out. I have always loved the look of women with long grey hair. Women who were not intimidated by age. They were proud to show their age and be young at the same time. I decided I wanted to be this type of woman. So I grew it. But it wasn't working for me. My hair was too thin and limp. It just hung there and I was always putting clips in it to put it back from my face. At one point I even pulled it back and cut it off. It was awful.

When I told my sisters that I had a job interview this Friday, my little sister Linda decided I needed to get my hair cut again. It was a good look for me and it was time to do this.

I didn't realize my glasses were so big. they didn't look this big when I had all my hair. Of course the hairdresser blow dried my hair which I don't do mainly in part because I don't have a blow dried and also because I am just not that type of person.

I took these pictures of myself which is awkward. But this is the color of my Father's hair. You can see the streak of pure grey above my ears. And when it is short it actually has some curl to it. Some life. She didn't put the part in the right place. I did this morning. My hair looks even better today. And I started using goat's milk cream on my face and chin and the wrinkles have disappeared a bit. Do I look like I am going on 64 years old? I will put on earrings for the interview.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Santas

How many did I make this year?  I am not sure. I should keep records. The concept came from an old catalog. I thought this would be very different for me. I usually do a lot of embellishment with beads and threads. But this little guy had its challenges too. I wanted something to touch this year. I wanted something you could hold and it would make you feel warm on a cold day.

I ordered wool felt. The poly-felt just did not have the feel to it that I wanted. And the colors were not rich. Then I found this green. 

Of course the challenge is always in pattern making. I wanted each one to be different yet still cut from a pattern. I found that in stuffing them they grew differently. Each one had a personality well defined to itself.

But I could not  get them to stand well. So I created a disc of polished stones which I inserted in the base that you could even move around to give it a stance if you wanted.

And then there were the beards. I had been to the Sheep and Wool festival and bought some raw wool. Uncarded, which means it had not been pulled and cleaned. I stitched it on in tiny clumps and then trimmed it a bit. Not too much. Santa has spent all year resting up for the "Big Day". I don't believe he spent much time fussing over the hair. And when you look closely at it, you will still see little bits of hay. I tell people that it is from the barn where he goes to be with the reindeer.....

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I was writing to my sister Denise about the things I have in storage when all of a sudden I got a craving for chocolate. I rarely eat chocolate anymore so I don't even have chocolate chips in the house.

A little flour, eggs, cocoa, butter, and a pretty bundt pan - voila! The wonderful thing about having great landlords is it will be lovely to bring them some tomorrow. Everyone loves chocolate cake, especially when it is this pretty. Yes?

Winter at last

When I first arrived last winter I was excited about being in the snow again. Snow does not fall in Portland Oregon. Well, we got snow on Halloween, and then nothing the rest of the season. But look at this year. See that snow plow? That is Longine's idea of snow removal. And he quite diligent  about clearing it out. This is one of those tractors that actually pick up the snow and puts it somewhere else. It is incredible. So we move our cars and when we put them back we are clear to move around. He is constantly doing snow control.

This is the back porch looking over towards the hill in back of the house where I grew up. I should put pants on and venture out to take more pictures, but the wind has been whipping about and as much as I love winter, I love to be inside, warm, looking out at it all.

This is my bathroom window. The whole top half of it had a snow overhang. there are bird feeders everywhere.

Today I went out to my car to brush the snow off so I could go see Robin only to find that Chris, Longine's wife had already cleared my car of snow earlier in the day. Can you believe it? She said that my car is so small she just couldn't help herself. It only took a couple of minutes. I am making bread on Friday. I will give them a loaf.

I want to go out to see if the pond is frozen. I keep promising to do that. And I will. I promise.

Family Christmas

This was my little tree. It was all of three feet high and I didn't put lights on it because I don't pay for electricity here. My dear landlord is a little sensitive about wasting energy. Maybe next Christmas I will be bolder. I did buy one package of ornaments. then I made bows from wired ribbons and it really came out quite beautiful. I didn't take it down till the second week of January and it had been so fresh that even after having been up nearly two months, there were few pine needles that had fallen off. And of course, the smells were wonderful. I can't remember the last time I had a tree. This was tiny and perfect.

We celebrated Christmas eve with family. This is PJ, Philip's son. All grown up. And I think he looks just like Phil. He even dresses like him. Phil is my second brother, a year older than I. Just a lovely charming young man. We received the news a couple of weeks ago that PJ has proposed and my brother Phil is overwhelmed with emotion and cannot be a happier man at this point in his life. Very very nice.

This is Linda's tree. I took maybe twenty pictures of this thing and this is the best i could get. It was big and full of ornaments. Whenever I would go over to spend time with Mom, she would get up and click the switch to turn it on. Mom loves her trees.

Linda always prepares a lot of munchies. We also had pork pies. We grew up on pork pies for the holidays. Linda made the filling and Mom and I put the pies together. I would love to say that I made the pie crusts. Had I done them at home I probably would have. But there were I think nine pies and six or eight little individual pies and we used pre-made crusts. Hey - I wonder if my grandmother would have used these if she had the option in order to save time???

This is Suzanne demonstrating another modern electronic something or other that I know nothing about. She and Linda are quite into gadgets. So is Melanie and Hyrum. I listen and watch fascinated. but it all goes over my head. How I love my four sewing machines.

This is my baby sister Linda who is a mere whisper of the woman I hugged when I returned from Oregon at the end of 2011. The young girl next to her is Chelsea who, the lst time I saw her, was what - twelve years old? All grown up. Everyone is all grown up. It was great to see her.

Next Christmas will be a little different as we have decided that gift giving should be not so important anymore. I of course will always make my yearly ornaments. So I will always be giving. For me it is a peaceful time. But the world is getting a bit crazy-overboard with the whole shopping thing.

That is what was nice this year and mentoring Sydney. We had enough time before Christmas that I got to teach her enough techniques so that she was able to make presents for everyone. She was a favorite in her family. And she does have a rather large extended family. She was very proud of her accomplishments and so was everyone else. That is why I always loved Christmas and always will.

I am beginning work on the new holiday. This is going to be a good one, but then, I say that every year.

So Much About Christmas

With the green and red had, this is Sydney, Robin's daughter. I have been spending time with her these past months. Every Wednesday after school, we get together to work with beads, fabric. I have become a teacher again. Nothing better. These are Sydney's friends that came to her house for a Christmas party. I was asked to be a part of it. Yeah!!

We made cookies. One batch was with flour. Sydney is wheat intolerant so the other batch was flourless. I have to find a cookbook and learn how to cook in this form. It was a long process making the doughs and rolling them out, cutting shapes, baking then painting with frostings. The four girls were so intent in this. It was amazing. 


This is my ice cream maker. I brought the ingredients and they each had things to add. Not difficult this process. Watching the cream get colder and colder fascinated them. Then at the end they added the chocolate chips and each of them got to add a few drops of food coloring.

Suddenly everyone came out of the walls to eat this treasure. Doesn't take long for a batch of ice cream to disappear.

The end of the evening and now to contemplate. Four little girls and More fun than can be imagined.