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It’s very rare that a boy doll walks into the Hideaway. This little fellow’s timing – and name – couldn’t be more fortuitous, as in my own personal life I too am bidding a fond farewell to a very rare man…
Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 82, Jefferson. You can see his adoption page HERE.
Now for the story of Jeff:
‘Tis the season for copious Hallmark romances. You know the kind: newly widowed or divorced single mother moves with her young son to a small town in the middle of nowhere, and there just so happens to be a handsome single cop, or a teacher, or some other perfectly-aged, oddly un-snatched up man just waiting in the wings. After a few stops and starts over the course of two hours (with commercials), he and the mysterious newcomer woman just so happen to fall in love. Amid Christmas lights and carols playing, their story ends with “…and they lived Happily Ever After.” Ah, if only real life could be like that!
Well, it (almost) was. First off, let me explain: in real life, most wonderful men are snatched up. Married. Happily so, with wonderful families. Or else the single men there are to be had are too young. Or too old. Or just plain not interested. In other words, very un-Hallmarkian.
Just over ten years ago, I moved to this little town right here in the middle of nowhere. Newly divorced, young son in tow. Wouldn’t you know it, there wasn’t a single, eligible man in sight. Fast forward a few years to Christmas time. Things were a little tight, and I was looking for ways to squeeze out a little extra money for a Christmas gift. I called my mortgage company to see if maybe they could tack a payment onto the end of my 30 year mortgage. After all, I’d been a very good customer…
“No.” the voice on the other end of the line said.
“Well, how about if you give me a little extra time and waive the late fee?” I persisted sweetly.
“We really hate doing that. Perhaps if you produced an eye of newt, some lizard teeth…” the voice droned on.
Okay, the demands weren’t quite like that, but there were several hoops this fellow – Jeff, his name was – wanted me to jump through that I felt were unreasonable. A few back and forth phone calls later I finally shouted, “I’LL PAY THE @#&$! LATE FEE! NEVER MIND!” and I hung up. I swore and hung up on the man at the bank.
“Wet behind the ears short-timer young punk! Thinks he owns the place!” I muttered to myself afterwards. It felt good to press that “end” button really, really hard, and yet I felt kind of bad. Jeff at the bank was probably a very nice young – if staid and unyielding – man.
So imagine my dismay when a few years later, my son having since moved to Massachusetts, I suffered three operations a few months apart, two of them requiring week long stays in the hospital. Needless to say I fell behind on my mortgage. And needless to say when I had to call the bank to plead I was alarmed that the wet-behind the ears whippersnapper Jeff wasn’t a short-timer after all.
“Maybe he won’t remember,” I fretted to my brothers.
“Oh no, they ALWAYS remember,” said Kenny, who works with bankers a lot.
“Just be nice,” my brothers counselled. So I was. Kinda. Mostly.
And what do you know? This Jeff banker guy was funny too, with a subtle and dry sense of humor. He was professional, but sympathetic and encouraging. He was charming. He was smart!
As any bonafide artist worth her salt will do, I continue to struggle paying my bills. I’ve therefore gotten to talk to Jeff a lot. We’ve become almost friend-like. So while the constant struggle has been just that, I confess I looked forward to the monthly back and forths with this mystery man on the other end of the line, the other side of those emails that danced *this close* to being flirtatious. Hmm…
But surely, he’s far too young.
“I’m slightly older than you,” he happened to drop in one of our conversations.
But surely, he’s married.
Nope! He has a “significant other.” Hah! One of the milquetoastiest things to have. Does that even count?
He’s probably a toad! Not that I would care. I truly wouldn’t. But once when he was out and about, he came by my house for a visit. He ate the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that I baked for him, his favorites. He declared them delicious! Even though they were burnt. And he was NOT a toad. Quite the opposite. Tall and handsome. In other words, VERY Hallmarkian.
Not two hours, but years in the making. Still! Cue the music! Cue the Christmas lights and carols! This is IT, world! It’s happened! It’s REAL.
Alas, it was not to be. Turns out, our world views are vastly different. And his Significant Other is more significant than first thought. Ah well, at least I still had him to work with in my continued struggles, and to spar with given our different views. That would have to do.
Turns out, no. A month or two ago he told me he was retiring. And suddenly Friday December 30th is his very last day. Why so young?! My only logical thought is that the much ballyhooed “Banker’s Hours” must also translate to “Banker’s Years.” Shorter than regular peoples. And so I shall miss him as he starts this new chapter in his life.
Goodbye, Jeff! Thank you! Thank you for all! You’ve made one of the constant struggles in my life a joy, and I shall never, ever forget you, you darling, darling man.
And that is the true story behind No. 82, Jefferson.
O.L.D. No. 81 Guinevere was adopted by…Olga of Russia! Our first Hazel Twigg international! That’s a long journey for such a fragile girl. I hope she arrives safely! Thank you, Olga.
And with that, I leave you! HAPPY NEW YEAR, you’re my favorite.
Guinevere could hardly contain her excitement. Christmas eve was finally here! She had asked her woodland friends to meet her by their favorite tree at midnight because she had a surprise for them. She made her way through the forest, clutching her basket of presents. There were carrots for Rabbit, acorns for Squirrel, a birdseed cake for Redbird, wild blueberries for Owl, and mealworms for Hedgehog.
The moonlight peeked through the trees. Guinevere’s lantern provided the rest of the necessary light, although she knew this forest like the back of her hand, even in the dark. She was almost there! Just a few more yards…
She entered the clearing and gasped. There her woodland friends were, gathered around their tree.
“Surprise!” they all shouted. “Merry Christmas!” they cheered.
Guinevere thought that she would be the one playing Santa and giving gifts, but the animals had given her one too; they had decorated the tree with garland and ornaments and a shiny gold star on top. It was a night none of them would ever forget…
Don’t worry! No mealworms were harmed in the making of this story. It was RICE.
As mentioned in my last post, Guinevere arrived with a chopped up wig. I searched through my stash, and the human hair wig I found that suited her best was the right age, but was in pretty rough shape, made for a larger doll, and styled for braids or pigtails (the seam runs all the way down the back of the head). It was also very stiff, as if someone had set it with spray glue!
I washed it, reinforced that hand-wefting with fine sewing machine stitches, and rotated one half so it would flow down her back. I then set it in rag curls. Technically, paper towel curlers so I can control the size, but set in a rag-curl method.
Her appearance with the new-to-her wig inspired her clothing. I channeled Guinevere from the 1967 movie musical Camelot, starring Vanessa Redgrave. The title of this post is a play on Guinevere’s song, “The Lusty Month of May.”
Guinevere is older than my usual composition dolls. She’s a bisque head doll from Germany with a composition body. I love that she has pierced ears. My research team (my friend Brenda of Rochester, New York who is very good at such things), couldn’t find her maker based on her markings, but she has the look of a Kestner doll. “A what?” you may ask. Well, we doll people know. She’s a pretty little thing. I hope she and her woodland friends find a good home. I have no doubt they will.
And with that, I leave you! Have a Very Merry Christmas, my love to you all! You’re my favorite.
So there I was, happily working away on the next O.L.D. several days ago. I had been working on her for over a week, had planned on putting her up for adoption this very evening. There was still much to do. She is small, which is good, because the piece of old green velvet I was using for her cloak was very small too.
I was holding the freshly cut cape up to this delightful girl, already dressed in her (stunning!) new outfit, when “Plop!” something fell into my lap. My heart sank. I don’t know how, but I wasn’t one bit mystified. I knew EXACTLY what it was. And I was right! Even worse, it was worser than I thought!
It was her lower leg. And it hadn’t just dislocated itself, it had broken off completely at the knee!
Reader, I have worked on hundreds of dolls. This current doll is O.L.D. No. 81, but I’ve been toiling over dolls long before Hazel Twigg. That said, this doll is something new. A type that I have never, ever restrung or repaired.
During this time, there was a lot of back and forth with a dear friend who has restrung this kind of doll, and who held my hand during this whole ordeal. When I finally tackled it, it was a lot harder than I thought; the stringing elastic from the body meets the hook from the lower knee halfway up through the thigh. The tunnel running through the thigh is smaller than a pencil. I had to make a special hook to get up there to pull the elastic down, at the same time, grasping the end of the leg hook with needle nose pliers and blindly fishing up that tiny tunnel as I pulled, hoping to get lucky. Not only that, this doll is old and all this pulling causes EXTREME pressure, especially on her fragile head!
I finally managed to get her back together, but the whole thing shook me a little. As I wrote to my friend, “Brenda” we shall call her, for that is her name, it was like “trying to defuse a bomb with a nitroglycerin switch.”
“Nobody will care about the knee!!!!” she helpfully responded. THIS is why I love her. She figuratively slaps me from afar (we’ve never actually met) when I get virtually hysterical.
This next O.L.D. will finally make her debut this Sunday. I don’t know her name yet, as luckily she’s been dormant this entire time, and doesn’t know the maladies that have befallen her. Thanks to this tragedy of errors, she is the only Hazel Twigg doll that will be available to arrive before Christmas. My bill collectors are THRILLED.
In the meantime, O.L.D. No. 80 slipped through the cracks! She quietly went up for adoption with nary a mention here! So without further ado:
A miracle occurred! The Cubs won! I may be a little late to the party, but I wanted to do a baseball girl…
Her name is Geena. She’s a small version of Arranbee’s Nanette, a mold I’ve used before, most notably on the Outlander dolls. Her clothing was based on the Geena Davis character from A League of Their Own.
Geena’s hat was made from red wool, I sewed red and blue thread stripes to create her baseball outfit fabric, and her pitcher’s gear was all made from leather.
In addition, she has street clothes. Life is not made up of baseball alone!
Geena was adopted by…..Carmen Z. of Toledo, Ohio. A new face! Thank you, Carmen!
And with that, I leave you! Happy BEST time of the year and I hope your Thanksgiving was delightful, as mine was. You’re my favorite!