April, 2013

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I don't know what this has to do with anything either, but you write what your muse TELLS you to write...for the most part.

I don’t know what this has to do with anything either, but you write what your muse TELLS you to write…for the most part.

Dear Follower (aka “Mom”): Alas and alack, thar’ be no show today!

My brilliant brothers – who did fart on my candy after all, let’s not mince words – are going to solve my camera problem so that I can be free to move about in the wilds of my sewing room and house! It shall be a combination Les Stroud (‘Survivorman’) meets Martha Stewart meets ‘The Mamas and The Papas.’  So until further notice, but coming soon!

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Whiter Shade of Pale

WHAT WERE MY BROTHERS THINKING?! Of course, these were the same brothers that when we were kids kindly offered their sister a piece of candy, which was highly out of character. “Wow! I can’t believe they’re being so sweet to me!” I said to myself as I took the candy and popped it into my unsuspecting mouth to their guffaws of laughter.

What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong?

Not so much. They had done something to the candy. I won’t be indelicate here, but it involved bodily gas. YOU do the math.

THOSE brothers. I see. And now they want me to do live broadcasts every day. No problem!

I am an actress and have been somewhat successful in the past. Why, in Sebastopol, California I could hardly walk the streets! But this. THIS. Turns out performing in a play where you have lines and a character is a LOT easier than being frazzled with a stye on your eye and technical difficulties (blonde indeed!) that give you less than 10 minutes to put on make-up before curtain.

And the morning started out with so much promise, too! “Hmm…” I wondered after the making of my eye patch went so smoothly. “Whatever shall I do whilst I wait for 11:00 to roll around? Mayhaps I’ll have time to exercise my trusty sidekick Teddy. Should I have flowing curls in my hair or go for a more saucy, tousled look? The possibilities are endless. All I need to do is set up this here camera and I’m free for a few hours…”


Behold! The RAY. It’s the skinny thing just to the right of the door. One takes what one can…

Ooh! That’s right! NOT a technical genius! I thought my worst problem of the morning would be my messy sewing room, which I’d decided to embrace. Instead I was toiling (and failing!) with the camera with minutes to go and barely had time to slather some lipstick on! And a fifteen minute broadcast. It’s a LOT longer than you’d think. Good heavens for all that is mighty, I think I even sang the alphabet for the last few moments just to make it to my goal. The alphabet!

But I did it! Ish. However, the thought of doing it again today and the next day and the day after that filled me with dread. ANYTHING seemed better than doing that again! Anything!

Then I saw a ray of light.

It was coming from my attic door. Hah! I would still rather do a broadcast than face a bat in the dark of night. Note the pencil in the keyhole. As I’ve been told countless times, “Bats can fit through a hole the size of a pencil eraser.”

So attractive! But better than bat! ANYTHING is better than bat! I think.

So attractive! But better than bat! ANYTHING is better than bat! I think.

Along the top of the door is one of those draft thingys that usually go beneath, but the gap’s above! I had it up last year and STILL had bats. Hopefully that pencil will do the trick.

So I’ll try again today. There’s no place to go but up – although knowing me I can find a place to dig.

Fifty-One Shades of Blonde Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

While I love to write and have written dozens and dozens of books – in my HEAD! I’ve never before actually sat down and written a book. My brothers gave me that opportunity.

“Write a book,” they said.

“Okay, how?” It turns out that writing in one’s head and picking out a cover and a title are a far cry from actually putting something on paper.

“Just write it,” they said.

“Okay…hmm….how’s this?”

“Nope, that’s not it. Try again,” they said.

“Okay, how ’bout this?”

“Better, but not quite.”

There really have been 27 or so versions of this book, with Dennis and Kenny guiding me and challenging me along the way. They even sent me a book I call the “How to Write Good” book, and it helped too.

A year and a half goes by.

“How’s this?” I asked.

“That’s it,” they said.

Hazel Twigg & The Hollyhock Hideaway is in its final editing stages. I thought that perhaps now I could coast a little bit, but no! Now my brothers want me to tackle a NEW frontier: Live Streaming Video.


There ARE pockets of orderliness...here and there...

There ARE pockets of orderliness…here and there…

They wanted me to start last Monday and they told me the Friday before. I was going to use the weekend to tidy up my sewing room, since that’s where the broadcast would take place. I pictured a pristine Martha Stewart-type setting and me with my hair and makeup just so, charmingly witty and well-rehearsed. And thin.

But surrounded by the chaos that is my sewing room I quickly became overwhelmed. Monday rolled around as it always does and I didn’t say a thing. I certainly didn’t turn on any camera. And I hoped my brothers wouldn’t notice.

They’re a lot smarter than they look.

I was going to do a post on my sewing room before any of this came about, purposely making the picture blurry, never imagining it would one day be seen. YIKES. This ain't no sissy mess!

I was going to do a post making fun of my sewing room before any of this came about, purposely making the picture blurry, never imagining the room itself would one day be seen. YIKES. This ain’t no sissy mess! Good thing my mother loves me.

So I’m starting TODAY at noon eastern on Ustream with a WYSIWYG approach. My sewing room looks like a bomb went off in it. And, oh joy! My right eye has an infection. YESS. Challenge accepted, my public awaits! Or at least my mom.

So for the mess that is my sewing room: “This must be how geniuses work,” I shall tell myself. And my eye: I’ve thought of something fun for that too.

Once more into the breach!


The breach can be found here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hazel-twigg-and-vintage-dolls-by-ruth

Hush(ed) Sweet Charlotte


Frozen Charlotte



‘Tis unseasonably cold this spring in Iowa! There’s still frost upon the grass. Ta-dah! SEGUE:

Most collectors of antique dolls have heard of “Frozen Charlottes.”  They were first created in the 1800s, and I knew them as small dolls with unjointed limbs that were baked into cakes as prizes, or used to cool tea or to people dollhouses. What I didn’t know was the story behind them.

The following is a (shortened version) of a cautionary poem:

A Corpse Going to a Ball

by Seba Smith, 1792-1868

Based on a true story of a young woman named Charlotte J. who died in 1830.

Now, Charlotte lived on the mountainside,
In a bleak and dreary spot;
There was no house for miles around,
Except her father’s cot.

In a village fifteen miles away,
Was to be a ball that night;
And though the air was heavy and cold,
Her heart was warm and light.

“O, daughter dear,” her mother cried,
“This blanket ’round you fold;
It is a dreadful night tonight,
You’ll catch your death of cold.”

“O, nay! O, nay!” young Charlotte cried,
And she laughed like a gypsy queen;
“To ride in blankets muffled up,
I never would be seen.

With muffled face and silent lips,
Five miles at length were passed;
When Charles with few and shivering words,
The silence broke at last.

“Such a dreadful night I never saw,
The reins I scarce can hold.”
Fair Charlotte shivering faintly said,
“I am exceeding cold.”

Said Charles, “How fast the shivering ice
Is gathering on my brow.”
And Charlotte still more faintly said,
“I’m growing warmer now.”

They reached the dance and Charles sprang out,
He reached his hand for her;
She sat there like a monument,
That has no power to stir.

He took her hand in his – O, God!
‘Twas cold and hard as stone;
He tore the mantle from her face,
Cold stars upon it shone.

Her parents mourned for many a year,
And Charles wept in the gloom;
Till at last her lover died of grief,
And they both lie in one tomb.

I made this for a dear friend one Christmas. A

I made this for a dear friend one Christmas. I did a little silk ribbon embroidery on top.

It was a paper mache book. I painted a wintry scene on the inside with lots of glitter.

It was a paper mache book. I painted a wintry scene on the inside lid and sprinkled it with lots of glitter. Everything looks better with glitter! Except food.

I fortuitously had a horse-and-carriage pin cushion.

I fortuitously had a horse-and-carriage pin cushion.

...because nothing says "Christmas" like a cautionary poem! Look closely at what "Charlotte" says.

Nothing says “Christmas” like a cautionary poem! Look closely at what “Charlotte” says.

Holidays! Christmas! BIRTHDAYS! SECOND SEGUE BOOM! Happy Birthday, Adam! I love you!

Adam at five.

Adam at five. I shan’t say anything, lest I gush(!)


Adam at 17 with his friend Chrysanthe. Well, a few days before...

Adam at 17 with his friend Chrysanthe. Well, a few days before…but he’s 17 now! Happy Birthday, my love!



“Mom! Dad! Iowa is so UNIFORMLY CHARMING! You’ll never believe it, I’m being infested by…ladybugs! Isn’t that sweet? What next, are singing birds going to sew dresses for me?”


Ah, the innocence of that first harvest season. Cute little ladybugs! I can think of worse creatures to have in one’s house.

But… these weren’t ladybugs. I found that out the first time I attempted to pick one up. Or did it accidentally land on me for some reason? I forget. What I DO remember is The Sting.

The polka-dotted bugs that were polka-dotting my walls were actually some sort of Japanese beetle brought in to do something or other for crops. You can see my mistake:

Sweet, innocent Ladybug

Sweet, innocent Ladybug

Evil Beetle

Evil Beetle










Even worse was when I found out what was causing all the stinging. Pee! The little goobers were peeing on me!

But as with everything, you learn to live and adjust. I secretly wouldn’t want birds sewing for me either.


(I’m not going to mention that when the evil imposter ladybugs die they look like popcorn kernel duds, which I happen to adore. They do NOT taste good!..Or so I’ve been told…)

Not To Be Outdone

city traffic1

It’s probably because I’m a transplant, but I think the stress of big city highways got nuttin’ on Iowa and the Midwest!





Every. Single. Time.

The Lost Weekend

Tomorrow is the start of the weekend. I love weekends! But there is one that I would almost rather forget. You see, my son had this special homework assignment…


Everything's finally PERFECT.

Everything’s finally PERFECT.

This weekend Adam had this in depth homework assignment on South America that was due on Monday. Meanwhile, I had been working feverishly trying to get chores and errands out of the way so that we could have Sunday completely, gloriously free for the Super Bowl. Saturday morning bright and early, we decided to tackle Adam’s report.

We toiled for nearly three hours and barely made a dent. It didn’t help that he’d left his book at school. I was getting mad at how the details of the homework were trickling out of Adam one by one, as if they were coming to him in some kind of vision.

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Into Each Life

When raising a teenager, there can be a few rough bumps along the way. Adam and I had been arguing a lot and I was running out of ideas of how fix things.

Fortunately, a dead cat brought us back together.

Early one morning I was taking Teddy, our Cairn terrier out for a potty break.  After he’d done his business, I was walking him back across our lawn and was startled to discover a dead cat just lying there in the rain, right in front of my flower bed! Dead as a doornail! Out of nowhere! I was deep in thought and just BARELY saw him in time! How did he even get there?*

I am not a fan of dead things. In the past, Adam has saved me by taking care of dead birds and mice, but could he handle something this big? For this was no small kitten, this was a CAT, bedraggled and wet. Adam said he could and he’d do it the next day.



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Cat Lady of Reliance

‘Tis a fine line between being a Person With Pets and becoming The Cat Lady of Reliance, which is why I always limit myself to two cats, no matter WHAT the temptation! But even with such limits, it’s important to take care of one’s own.

The following is a Cat Tale:

This morning as I was minding my own business I heard the ominous sounds of two cats readying for battle and I knew my own sweet Elsie was outside. No! Not on my watch! I immediately ran out of the house this morning sans shoes to rescue her, and I fell down my jagged cement front stairs!

Funny how fast thoughts can flash through your mind in an instant. As I was flying I thought, “Well, that was stupid!” and “This is going to hurt” and “I hope no one is watching” and “I should have worn a cape,” but I must have blocked out what actually happened because I don’t recall.  Perhaps I’m getting too old to be a Superhero to a cat – Nah – NEVER!


How will I shave my legs? A river of scabs surrounded by a forest of stubble trees! It’s amazing that SOME man hasn’t snatched me up by now…

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April Fifteenth

Every April 15 a tragedy occurs. No, no, not taxes! Although those are no fun either. In this case, I mean the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I am a huge Titanic buff and have been ever since I discovered the condensed story in a Reader’s Digest magazine when I was a little girl.

When I first saw my home, I was struck by how some of its features looked as if they were from the same era of the Titanic. I confess to being disappointed to discover it had been built in 1913, one year after the sinking. I would have liked to have been living in something as old as the Titanic itself.

This is my fireplace, an upgrade from the standard offered in the Sears catalog of Sears House Kits from whence it came.

This is my fireplace, an upgrade from the standard offered in the catalog of Sears House Kits from whence it came (see my Sears House in an earlier post).

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