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STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS!

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You never know how a doll’s going to arrive at my doorstep. This particular girl came by way of a friend I haven’t met yet, who wrote to ask me if I could find a good home for her doll if she sent her to me. Of course I said yes! 

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Usually, however, there’s a lengthy bit of time before a doll gets chosen. But when I found my inspiration, and I looked at her little face so full of surprise and wonder, I knew she was the one, and her time was NOW.

Thus begins the description for Cherry and her sidekick Wills. You can see their adoption page HERE.

How cute is this?

It’s not like I have weeks and weeks to look for inspirations. Sometimes my sister Julie and I will yak on the phone and send each other Pinterest images. A few weeks ago we were doing just that; looking at vintage winter images of children. I don’t know who found the one I ended up using, but I instantly fell in love and Cherry was perfect for the job.

You can save it to a file then zoom to make it whatever size you want and trace it directly from your screen. You probably knew that, but just in case…

My next task was to find a pattern for an elephant. Namely because if I couldn’t make an elephant toy, then all was lost and I’d have to move on. The problem is I wanted the elephant to look vintage, and modern patterns just don’t quite do it.

I found the one below. How perfect is that? It came from a pack of cigarettes manufactured in England. Long ago they used to insert collectible cards with pretty images and useful information.

 

 

The elephant was part of the “Household Tips” series of 50, including instructions on how to make a jolly bedspread, a gingerbread castle, a simple weather-vane, how to properly fold a coat (what a gyp!) and more. Now, of course I don’t recommend smoking, but I love these little cards!

Cherry has embroidered Cherries on her scarf.

I modified the elephant just a little bit, slightly changing the shape of the ears to more match the illustration, making the trunk a little longer, and adding pads to the bottom of his feet so he could ride his contraption.

Wills the Elephant is firmly stuffed with sawdust and there are supporting sticks that are attached to the wheel base that go up into his legs. I didn’t have any gray wool, but I looked and nearly half of Steiff’s stuffed elephants were brown, so…Precedent! I worked as hard as I could to make him look as vintage as possible. After I got him together I regretted not dyeing the wool with tea and considered brushing some on him…but didn’t want to risk it.

Look at that! You can even make your own N, S, E & W letters!

I’d like to thank sweet Nancy B. of Millbrae, California, that friend that I haven’t met yet. She also sent some other treasures, doll shoes bits of clothing and accessories, wigs…An early, wonderful Christmas! THANK YOU, Nancy! Your timing was perfect and Cherry was meant to be.

Doris the Doughnut Dolly was adopted by Barbara E. of Diamondhead, Mississippi. This is her second Hazel Twigg! She also has No. 49, Andrea. So nice to see you again, Barbara!

And with that, I leave you! It’s my favorite time of year and know what? You’re my favorite.

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Hello, (Doughnut) Dolly!

I made the doughnuts with salt dough spiced up with cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Second uniform. The patches are hand embroidered. The Red Cross and flag pins are made from kidskin leather.

You never know where your next inspiration will come from. There you sit, watching one of your favorite series on the telly, in this case, “The Great British Baking Show,” when all of the sudden they segue away from the scrumptious baking going on in

the tent to do a piece on WWII Red Cross Doughnut Dollies! 

“I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before!” I exclaimed. “Ooh! And look at those hats with that BOW! How stinkin’ cute is that?”

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg No. 113, Doris the Doughnut Dolly. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Just like I’d never heard of Vivandiere’s and their service during war, I’d never heard of Doughnut Dollies!

I wanted to do the uniform with the skirt and that unique hat with the bow, but I also wanted to make a “Clubmobile” uniform, that more resembled an auto worker’s coveralls. I described both to Julie. She as always just wanted me to make one outfit. I was going to compromise and make the jacket with a skirt and pants. Alas, I didn’t have enough of the gunmetal blue/gray fabric. So I made BOTH uniforms! I WON. It all took awhile, though.

The apron and tray were based on what I saw in the mini documentary on “The Great British Baking Show.” I liked the bold colors.

Clubmobile uniform. Note the tiny wrench in her back pocket, also salt dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Doughnut Dolly” tradition was started by the Salvation Army in World War I as a way to bring a taste of home to U.S. soldiers overseas. The program was so popular, that the Red Cross made it a central part of their entertainment program for WWII.

At service clubs set up near U.S. Army bases, intelligent, attractive American women were hired to dance, flirt and socialize with soldiers and of course, serve up good ol’ American doughnuts. This earned these women the affectionate name of “Doughnut Dollies.”

See? Doughnuts on sticks! PRECEDENT.

Wanting to make this program more widespread to reach more soldiers, old trucks were converted into “Clubmobiles,” which were basically rolling doughnut factories manned by women. The women had to learn to do truck repair and maintenance. From June 1944, when American forces were preparing to invade northern France, nearly a 100 Clubmobiles worked side by side with the armed forces all across Europe until May the 7th, 1945 when victory was secured.

A doughnut making machine in the back of a truck.

The doughnuts were hand cut, sometimes raw, sometimes burnt, “you were lucky to get a hole in the middle” but it was the heart of those doughnuts and the touch of home hey brought that meant the most.

The program continued into both the Korean and Viet Nam wars.

Serving doughnuts to soldiers, what a novel idea! THIS is why humans will never be totally replaced by robots…

If you’ve never watched “The Great British Baking Show” on PBS, keep an eye out for it. It’s a breath of drama free fresh air!

Whimsy the Witch was adopted by a new and friendly face, Traci B. of Summerville, Georgia! Thank you, Traci! It’s been an absolute pleasure and I’m so happy to have met you.

On this Thanksgiving eve I’m thankful to all the men and women who serve, sometimes in unique and novel ways. And I’m thankful for YOU. Truly.

With that, I leave you! Happy gobble extravaganza, you’re my favorite. 

A Handful of Miracles

No. 111, Whimsy.

Whimsy didn’t start out in this direction; she didn’t even start out with this name! But something happened of great significance in my life and it caused a little hitch in my step. My little buddy Teddy, that feisty, stubborn, cairn terrier companion of 12 years passed away. A creature named Whimsy was the source of two smaller creatures that are helping me to heal. Therefore, No. 111 is a Rainbow Bridge of sorts; named for Whimsy and dedicated to my little Teddy Bear.

Thus begins the description for Whimsy the Witch. You can see her page HERE.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but Teddy was such an important part of my life that I simply have to. Because how things went at the end of Teddy’s tale were nothing short of a handful of miracles.

Teddy came into my life less than a year after I moved here to Iowa. Being a newly single, newly working mom was tricky enough. Trickier still when school let out that first summer. Adam was still reeling from the divorce so there was no way I could leave him at home alone at barely a decade old for hours on end. Enter my friend Jennifer to the rescue. She had relatives with a farm just outside of Rolfe where several children, cousins all, would spend the days playing. Would Adam like to be part of that group? What, hours in the country, running through cornfields, helping with the garden, not to mention there was a pool? YES.

Teddy and Adam in the early days.

In addition to the children, it was a play group for all the pets of the cousins as well. I had long been trying – and failing – to get a dog for Adam. The two that we’d had were left behind with my ex. I felt their loss almost as keenly as I did the loss of my marriage. We’d searched for just the right dog everywhere with no success.

One morning as I was walking Adam to the front door of the farm, a passel of dogs came bounding up behind us. I only had eyes for one. The cutest little Cairn terrier I ever did see. Not too big, not too small. Just right.

“Now, THERE’S a dog!” I exclaimed.

This apparently set off an idea in his current owner’s head. Teddy was one of several dogs in this family, and though he was the smallest of them all, he wanted to be king. This was never going to happen. So she offered him to us. And for $10 and a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies, Teddy Bear was ours.

Being an old-fashioned, modern Witch, of course Whimsy rides a vacuum instead of a broom.

Years later, when Adam needed to stretch his wings and so moved to live with his father in Massachusetts, Teddy was mine alone. I work from home so we were together more than most. Through the good times and the bad, the feasts and the famines. The noisy days of his sitting by the window and barking at leaves, or the wind, apparently. And the quiet nights when it was just he and I alone in the dark. He was my confidante, someone to say “I love you” to, another heart beating in the house.

We grew old together. I found I could no longer simply leap off curbs when walking. Teddy, the dog that I used to walk for miles and he still wanted to play fetch when we got home, could barely make it around the block.

For several weeks he was on a few medications and didn’t want to walk at all. I was consumed with whether or not his quality of life was good. He wasn’t in pain, but was he having any joy?

Since Whimsy was an unconventional doll, that helped to distract me because she took some thinking. This vacuum for example, made from a plastic silver butter dish. It took some doing to get it to balance and stand on its own.

Needing a second opinion, I took him over to my sister Julie’s house. She knows him well. Julie and Scott’s dog Toby is Teddy’s best friend. For the first time in a long time I saw Teddy’s tail wag again, and he even barked! Julie thought he was doing fine. And he was still enjoying the treats I baked for him after all. Comforted, I took him home.

The following day was beautiful. I put Teddy outside so he could enjoy the Autumn weather. But I knew he was an old man, and I noticed he wasn’t sleeping. He seemed to be spending all his energy on simply breathing. Finally in the early afternoon I could stand it no longer. I took him to the vet to see if they could help him breathe.

Because it was harvest, our vet, who is also a farmer, was out in the fields. Cheryl called him and told him what was going on and he recommended some shots. I carried Teddy into the little room and placed him on the high table and wrapped my arms around him in preparation for the treatment. Cheryl was rummaging through the cupboards looking for the medication, so it was just Teddy and I alone for that moment.

I kissed his head and Teddy looked up at me and into my eyes in a way that he hadn’t for a very long time. It was such a direct, thorough look. Then his whole body relaxed, and the heavy panting that had become the soundtrack of my life, ceased.

I thought he was slowly going to sleep. Cheryl took one look and knew what was happening and told me. Teddy was dying. As he took his last breaths, with me still not believing that this was the end, I thanked him for everything and told him how much I loved him, just in case. And then he was gone. Just like that.

I included a little picture of Teddy on Whimsy’s adoption page. I’m not one to take a lot of pictures, so this is just about the only one I have.

Reader, I knew the time was coming and I hadn’t planned to be there when it did because it would have been too hard. But because of how things unfolded the choice was taken out of my hands. It was, in it’s way, a small miracle; one of many. A miracle I happened to take Teddy to the vet at that moment so I wasn’t alone when it happened. A miracle he got that last visit with Toby the night before. A miracle that I didn’t know he was going to die, so I was there to hold him and say goodbye. I’m so grateful for that last look from Teddy. As painful as this has been, I wouldn’t have changed a thing

Gracie and George. It’s impossible not to smile with two kittens afoot.

Finding the right dog can take awhile but I needed another heart – or two – beating in this house. Enter once again Jennifer, who let me know of a friend whose cat had just had kittens. She and I connected, and now George and Gracie are helping me to heal. Their mother’s name is Whimsy. So, thank you Whimsy! Thank you Melody! Thank you Jennifer! And thank you Teddy. I’ll see you again, little buddy.

No. 110 Blossom the Geisha was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California. Linda’s becoming quite the O.L.D. friend! Thank you, Linda. And thank you truly for all of you.

And with that, I leave you! On this Halloween eve, you’re my favorite!

If you haven’t read the poem “Rainbow Bridge” and you’ve ever lost a pet, I highly recommend it.

One Fond *Yosuru

I confess, I’ve been wanting to do a Geisha for a long time. So when this girl arrived, and her name was Blossom, which is kind of Geisha-ish, and she didn’t mind removing her wig – as long as I sent it along with her (which I will) – then she was absolutely game… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 111, Blossom the Geisha. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I’ve had an affinity for all things Japanese since childhood. Growing up in Hawaii, there’s a huge oriental influence. Talking with my Mom last night, here are two stories in particular. They were such a part of our family history that Julie’s the one that mentioned them to me when I told her my next O.LD.’s theme – and she wasn’t even born when they occurred!

Left to Right, Dad, Kenny, Mom, Dennis, January, Me, and Carol.

They happened 50 odd years ago. We lived on the less inhabited north shore of Oahu, which back then was rather primitive. My parents had learned of a professional photographer who lived on our side of the island. Most things were in Honolulu, and it was hard to get all the way there for a more formal photo and still keep five kids looking fresh, what with the heat and winding roads and frequent barfing that would take place en route.

It looked a lot like this.

So my parents marked this much closer find on a trusty map, dressed us all in our Sunday best, and off we went.

“We kept driving and driving, farther into the jungle and I wondered, ‘How on earth can there be anything out here?'” my mother recounted. “Finally we came to this little shack in the middle of nowhere…”

The Foundling.

The photographer, a tiny man of Japanese descent, “didn’t even pose us, and I think he only took one shot. When we finally got the photo weeks later, he proudly announced that Kenny, currently the youngest, had his eyes closed, but not to worry! He, the photographer, had painted them in…”

Thus this picture became not only a piece of glossy card stock, one of many photographs dotting our scrapbooks over the years, but a memory that gave us laughs back then and still does to this day.

The family, sans their kids. They spoke little English, and we no Japanese, but somehow we communicated very well.

Another very strong memory from our childhood is when we sponsored a family from Japan. I remember them very well, and in talking to my mom was surprised to hear that they only came to our house two times for dinner on two separate visits from Japan with the meals very far apart, because they made such a very strong and warm impression on me. They were so kind and generous and I felt such an affinity for them and from them.

It was a doll similar to this. She made the clothes for her herself!

They wanted to experience an American meal, so my mother and Auntie Anne, who was also living in Hawaii at that time, set out to make the most American meal possible, which of course included Jello. Jello was hard to make in Hawaii, as it was “so darn hot” that it wouldn’t properly set.

They put out silverware, but the children from the family weren’t able to eat with forks and spoons. So my mother found some chopsticks, and they ate everything, including the unstable Jello, with ease.

We exchanged Christmas cards with this family for years to come, and the wife sent my mother and Auntie Anne Japanese dolls in full dress as a thank you gift, along with an assortment of seaweed wrapped crackers that I adored.

Kankashi flowers, made with an open flame, petal by petal.

We’ve always had oriental art and trinkets dotted throughout our house, as much a part of the decor as any throw pillow or bookend, even beyond the Hawaii years. And little Japanese lanterns were a family favorite tradition on our Christmas tree. So of course a Japanese doll was somewhere in my future!

It was finally the time. I learned a lot in my research, like how a kimono is always worn left over right unless you’re in mourning, as well as how to make Kansashi flowers in the traditional Japanese way. And that the wooden shoes are called “Geta” and the socks with the split toe are called “Tabi.”

I used balsa and wood with red velvet cording to make these Geta shoes.

Since we don’t have massive fabric stores, and for once I didn’t have on hand the kind of fabric I wanted, searched the fabric section at the craft store, worried I wouldn’t find anything that would work. Christmas to the rescue! Freshly arrived for the coming holiday this red with metallic gold was just the thing. I heaved a dainty sigh of relief when I found it.

Speaking of my mother and talking to her last night, guess who won the last doll, No. 110 Mona? My mother! When I see her occasionally bidding I say, “Aw, Mom!” beneath my breath and actually right to her. When she gets outbid I tell her, “OKAY MOM!! STAHHHP!!!” This woman has a MIND OF HER OWN. I think I come by my stubbornness honestly!

But she rarely bids, and only on dolls she likes. She knows me so well, and knows how hard that first doll back after a long period away was and how nervous making it was to get back in the saddle. Her reaction via email SAVED ME. She LOVED this girl and said I hadn’t lost my touch! PHEW. My mother is one to say what she thinks, so this meant a lot to me. And now she finally has an O.L.D.! Thanks Mom! YOU’RE MY FAVORITE MOM EVAH and one of the best human beings I know.

You know who else is my favorite human, as we get our first flurries of snow? YOU. You’re my favorite.

*Yosuru means “embrace” in Japanese.

Mona Shines

I love back to school! I’m so rusty, I almost missed it! But I didn’t, and THAT is the important thing…

Thus begins the description of O.L.D. No. 110 Mona, she who brings the Hazel Twigg line ROARING Back (to School!). You can see her adoption page HERE.

Mona! That’s not a name you hear very often, is it? But it’s one I’ve wanted to use for quite some time. This Mona is in honor of our very own Mona of Rolfe.

Mona was truly gifted. Here she is surrounded by her work at the Iowa State Fair.

As you may know, this town is on the shy side of 600, but we’re very proud of all that’s available here, especially for so small a town! There’s a bank, a grocery store, a hardware store, a gas station…..and our own bona fide art gallery! “Wild Faces Gallery,” run by a very talented artist named Mona. Not only was she an accomplished wildlife artist, she was also a warm and wonderful soul. Always happy, an instant friend, and she was even a member of sorts of the Hazel Twigg family!

Thank you, Mona!

When I first started doing presentations for my book, “Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway,” I would take the original artwork with me for display. These things were hectic events, and keeping the prints safe and crease and smudge free was nigh on impossible.

Luckily, we had right here in town someone who was able to make large prints because she made them for her own beautiful works! So Mona generously made prints for me, both large and small, of our artist Nina Khalova’s work.

Mona was a definite fixture here in town. Here colorful fingerprints are still everywhere.

Mona and Luna Lovegood. “Wild Faces” indeed.

Last January, Mona, who was relatively young, passed away from complications from that flu that was going around. One person in Iowa, and it was her! I still cannot believe she is gone. When I think of her I can’t help but smile, even as there’s a little catch in my heart. So of course, there had to be a Mona O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll), and this is her.

Mona also comes with a more traditional Lion coat with removable tail, a sweater with a letter “R” for Reliance, a pleated wool skirt and more!

 

Our Mona happens to be from the fictional town in my book called “Reliance,” which is of based on Rolfe. The mascot for the town school is the lion. That’s the theme I wanted for my 2018 Back-to-School girl.

I was looking for some kind of lion-inspired hat, and 90% of what I found was Luna Lovegood, one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter, wearing a lion hat! Since it’s close to Halloween (it’ll be here before you know it!), I decided to make Mona a Luna Lovegood Halloween costume.

The story of how I made that lion hat is a teensy bit dark, in a Disneyesque “Cruella DeVille” sort of way. You’ll never believe what I used! I made a video about it. Wanna see it? Here it goes:

 

It’s also literally a little dark because I broke my light bulb from my fancy umbrella light.

So there you have it! Mona for our Mona. Two lovely, lively creatures I’ll never forget.

A long time ago there was an police officer named Ernie. He was adopted by…Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! This is Gwen’s lucky third! THANK YOU, Gwen, and sorry this particular thank you took so long!

And with that, I leave you! Happy early Fall. It feels like it, doesn’t it? You’re my favorite!

 

First Dude Vs. SHARK

No, I’m not doing a shark doll! BUT, the next Hazel Twigg doll is in the works and will be coming very soon! FINALLY.

In the meantime, it’s been a dicey (har! (you’ll see why)) few weeks here in Iowa. 

Let’s start at the beginning: several years ago the First Dude, aka my sister Julie the Mayor’s husband, aka the heretofore shall be known as SCOTT was diagnosed with something called “Shark-O.” That’s how I heard it. But for some reason I could never quite remember that word, so I called it something I COULD remember: “Sharknado.”

That’s what I called it when writing my dear friend Brenda, who wisely realized that could not possibly be the correct name. She did a search for “Shark Foot,” and there it was with the correct spelling! CHARCOT. Named for a French person, so the “T” on the end is silent. Those pesky French change EVERYTHING.

The best way I can describe Charcot is, it’s like the worst kind of diabetes of the limbs without the diabetes itself.

About two weeks ago the battle with this vicious creature came to a head. Or in this case, a foot. The Shark won. It won the battle, but not the war! When it was a choice between certain death or having his leg amputated, Scott wisely chose the latter.

You can see a glimpse of the ramp in this shot here.

There have been a whirlwind of emotions going on. Such a fast learning curve, so many things you don’t think of, so many dark humors swirling about, because you have to laugh at such things and of course there have been tears.

During this time I have come to admire anew the team the Scott and Julie are. Since becoming disabled a few years ago, he did what he could: he’s been to every one of Julie’s council meetings, kept their lawns looking pristine and did the grocery shopping and much of the laundry. AND he squires me around when my car doesn’t work, which is 95% of the time. We’ve become quite the errand buddies!

This is one of the dark humors I was talking about. Julie found this image online, and sent it to me, laughing.

And that Julie! Though she be but little, she is FIERCE. She is 5’2″ to Scott’s 6’4″, and she’s been a dynamo. Taking time off work at the post office to tend to Scott, then working at the post office and still tending to Scott, picking up and dropping off equipment as they try to figure out what will work best, keeping track of his meds, taking him to appointments, and in her down time she lists on ebay to try and make ends meet. She does this all with a smile on her face, even as her cheeks are rosy with fatigue.

There are so many things you never think of that come up with a challenge like this. Things that less than two weeks ago weren’t a consideration because we didn’t know THIS was going to happen! The ramp, the higher commode, the shower bar, the gas to get back and forth to aaallll the appointments. They have good insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything and they have a high deductible.

My dear friend Jennifer came up with the idea to do a Go Fund Me page if there’s anyone out there interested in helping, even a little bit. You can find it HERE.

Scott married the right sister. I don’t think I would have made a very good nurse.

If you’re a novice like me, the way it works is this: you go there, follow the simple instructions, it’s very secure, and the tip is optional.

Or if you would rather send a check, we’ve set up an account at our local bank. Here’s the info:

Scott Lancaster Benefit

c/o Rolfe State Bank

P.O. Box 101

Rolfe, IA 50581

Any amount, large or small, would help. Julie never asks for help and Scott is a man of few words, so I’m doing it for them.

Lastly, Julie is quite the talented girl. Yessiree, the apple doesn’t fall far from the other apple! She’s been making these little treasures for awhile, and has now started putting them up on ebay. Wanna see ’em? HERE THEY ARE. The most dazzling things EVER. I’ve seen them in person and I want them ALL.

Every day in every way, things are getting better! And know what else? You’re STILL my FAVORITE.

Back to the sewing room I go, hi-ho! CAN’T WAIT.

But How Do You Thank Someone..?

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you might already know that I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. A town so small that we have no police officer (don’t tell the bad guys!). But I do see what’s going on, and I want to somehow reach out and thank those brave men and women who put their lives on that thin blue line to keep us safe.

This whole week plus while I was working on this little fellow, the first line from the chorus from the song “To Sir With Love” from the 1967 movie of the same name was playing in my mind. Anybody know what that line is…?

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 109, Ernie the beat cop. You can see his adoption page HERE.

 

Ernie is a 13″ composition Kewpie doll. It is my intention to do a series of “Hero” Kewpie dolls. The first was the mail carrier. Perhaps not an obvious choice – unless you live somewhere with extreme heat, or extreme cold, or if there are dogs on the loose. Or sometimes, mail carriers are the ones who alert others when something is amiss at someone’s house. So maybe it’s not so much of a stretch after all!

The next, whenever another Kewpie comes to my door, will be a firefighter. But for today, and always in my heart, we focus on police officers.

For those who don’t know, the first line of the chorus of “To Sir With Love” is the title of this post! I’m always assuming everybody has the same musical references as myself, but Julie (who is nine years my junior) didn’t instantly know the song I was referring to, so maybe not!

My heart goes out to these brave men and women who, for very little pay, go out into the streets and put their lives on the line for all of us. And like you, my heart breaks when I see them under attack.

I was once held up at gun point walking home from a grocery store in the early evening hours. I was in my early 20’s, and two teen girls were trailing me. I thought nothing of it. They called out and asked for directions. When I turned around to help them, they pulled out a gun.

Ernie’s hat badge is glass beads and metallic trim stitched onto leather and painted silver.

It’s one to thing to IMAGINE what you might do when faced with such a situation, another thing when it actually happens. I previously pictured myself shoving someone’s nose up into their brains with one swift, ninja-like action. Or saying, with my vast acting skills, “Look! What’s that over there?!” and snatching their gun away when they were distracted. Or perhaps some jujitsu. I’d seen movies! How hard could it be?

Here he is with his white gloves, directing traffic.

But when you’re actually looking into the barrel of a gun, all bets are off. All thinking is off. All I felt was absolute, abject fear like nothing I ever imagined. I let them take my purse.

When I got home, I sputtered to my roommate, “I was r-r-r….”

“What? What?!” she cried, horrified.

Ernie’s chest badge sports his O.L.D. number, 109.

“I was r-r-r…” I tried to get out. I took a deep breath and finally managed to gasp, “I WAS ROBBED!”

The police arrived at our apartment moments later. They caught the two girls that night. They are the superheroes walking amongst us.

Police officers around the country do this sort of thing every day. They say goodbye to their spouses, who themselves are brave for sending their wives and husbands into the fray, not knowing if they’ll come home safe.

Since there are no local police officers I can thank, Ernie here is saying it for me. If YOU encounter a police officer, can you thank them for me?

“Who?” they will say. No matter. I am grateful all the same. Here’s the song if you’re not familiar with it, or just want to hear it again:

This song also means a lot to me because every year the graduating drama students from my high school would sing it to our much beloved theater arts teacher, DJ. From the comments on the video, a lot of other students from other high schools had the same brilliant idea. It’s a great song!

Billy and Bingo were adopted by Karen L. of Oakton, Virginia. A new face! I love new faces! I love old faces! I LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU ALL. Thank you, Karen, it’s been a pleasure and I hope to see you again.

And with that, I leave you! Happy last day of April, you’re my favorite.

Rock-a-bye Billie

“Nice hat!” Dot laughingly said to our new arrival.

“Dot, be nice to Shirley.” 

Then I had to laugh too. Shirley was trying to see her own “hat,” which was an overly thick acrylic replacement wig. She was flipping her head heavenward and trying to catch a glimpse. Somehow, her eyes could just never get there in time. I lifted her to look at herself in the hall tree mirror.

“Oh, goodness!” she exclaimed. “This isn’t right at all! Well, I s’pose I’ll need a new one. I can’t wait to meet my new human!”

Reader, my heart sank. I knew that there wasn’t a Shirley Temple wig in my stash, and heaven knows when I’d ever get one! But this Shirley – whose first little human had named Billie – was so eager to go. I would have to come up with something…

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 108, our little Billie and her hobby horse Bingo. You can see their adoption page HERE.

I was so excited to get to work on a little cowgirl as soon as the idea came to me from a little voice with equally tiny fists. Especially when I saw images like these:

What great spirit! Ten gallon hats! Fur chaps! FRINGE! But then I remembered: in 1936, the Ideal Toy Company, manufacturers of Shirley Temple dolls, had come out with a Shirley Temple cowgirl for the Texas Centennial.

OH.

The more I looked at that picture of the original Shirley Temple cowgirl doll, the more intimidated I became. She had been so well done! Any idea of mine on how she would look paled in comparison.

“One word,” that helpful little voice said when I called her in despair.

“What word is that?” I asked.

“ROCKABILLY.” Julie stated. “Look up ‘Vintage Rockabilly Cowboy’.”

Which, and I’m no mathematician, is actually THREE words, but no matter! PHEW. I was inspired! And SAVED. And about to get a lot of holes in my fingernails. Embroidering leather is NOT for sissies!

Not to mention that this girl’s name is Billie. Get it?! RockaBILLIE…? So many levels!

“Rockabilly” is hard to define, but when I looked up images for that three worded phrase, up popped a definite style. Lots of embroidered flowers and the exact kind of free spirit of those black and white cowgirl images above.

And it’s a good thing this Shirley is only 13″ tall! I of course didn’t have small leather fringe laying around, so I had to cut it all. It was a little bit nerve racking: one false move, and your fringe would be missing a “tooth”!

Billie needed a companion with which to ride the wild range (try saying that three times fast!), so I created Bingo with wool, cotton, and leather ears and harness.

The non-Shirley wig I found for Billie in my stash is a vintage human hair wig in braids. It was a little large for her and had to be adjusted, but I liked what the warm tone of it did for her.

So there you have her! I’d like to thank my sister Julie for giving me that boost, and my mom for sending me a care package that contained those snippy scissors. I LOVE those things! Thank you, Mom! And thank you all for being here. Truly.

HOLLY was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California! Lucky number six for her! THANK YOU, Linda! From my old stomping grounds…Well, my stomping state, anyway.

And with that, I leave you! Happy “Spring,” we’ve been recently clobbered by snow and ice!

Hot or cold, you’re my favorite!

 

TUG O’ WAR(drobe)

My heart went through a plethora of emotions upon seeing this little girl at my door. First, of course, was EXCITEMENT. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day when an American Child would come strolling into my house! AT LAST!!

The next emotion was dismay. Honestly, 83% of the O.L.D.s (Once-Loved Dolls) that come here are naked and bald. But this one was different: Someone had loved this girl enough to remold nearly all her fingers, and then inexplicably put her away, most likely in an attic judging by the fly dirt. Without even a rag to protect her! All those years…

The final emotion was determination. To misquote Shakespeare, “If you prick me, am I not sawdust and glue?” 

This girl, special and forlorn, deserved to be loved again no matter how daunting the task. So without further adieu…

Hazel Twigg No. 107 is an Effanbee American Child doll, and her name is Holly. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Left to right, 1.) Before. Those aren’t freckles all over her face, that’s all I’m saying about THAT. 2.) After cleaning I picked this wig for her from my stash. It too was filthy and tattered. 3.) Wig washed and mended and paint touch up done. 4.) “Before” arm showing the worst of the chipping paint and the previously repaired fingers. All in all, these repairs and cleaning took nearly three days to complete.

Upper right corner in the orange.

“American Child” dolls were manufactured in the 1930’s for about four years by the Effanbee doll company, who would later manufacture Anne Shirley dolls which were produced for 20 years, making the American Child doll’s much more rare.

There were six different face shapes in all. That combined with different hair and eye colors meant that little girls could have dolls that looked just like themselves!

They were also one of 17 dolls chosen for the “Classic American Dolls” postage stamps that came out in 1997. It had taken nearly 10 years to decide which dolls would make the cut, so you know they’re something special.

Segue alert! WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE.

As you may know, my sister Julie who is The Mayor also works at yon post office in Pokey, and I love old dolls! She tries to keep me realistic, bless her heart. I told her my plans for Holly.

“She does NOT need THREE DRESSES!”

This was the first time in months I had seen Julie for any length of time. Cold weather makes hermits of us all. I vaguely noted as I followed her tiny waving fists that her knuckles were almost as chappy as mine. It’s been a long winter here in Iowa.

“HEY!”

Julie, sensing that my mind was elsewhere, jumped as high as she could, stretching her arms upwards as she tried to regain my attention. It worked.

“Huh,” I responded as I took in her rosy cheeks and snapping blue eyes. “I would’ve thought you’d be more upset by the two coats.”

“I AM!” This time she both waved her fists and stomped her feet. It was good to see her again. I’d forgotten how very cute and little she is.

She’s been right a lot in the past, but maybe this time she was wrong! I was determined to TRY. There was so much I wanted to do for this rare and unusual little girl.

There was a LOT. That red, white and blue dress was trickier than it looks.

Reader, I worked day and night. When I told Julie a few days before Holly’s adoption date what was left to be done, she said, “There will be other dolls!” (Meaning, “You can make those other things for THEM.”)

THE CURSE OF JULIE

It was 3:00 Easter Sunday afternoon and adoption time is 6:33. I’d been working since 5:00 in the morning, frantically finishing allll the little touches. I won’t tell you all the things I attempted and failed at, either due to lack of skill or time, but bless my heart, I tried! I touched base with Julie.

“I have to finish NOW. It’s not like taking pictures takes no time at all! All those outfits to change in and out of…”

“Another reason to whittle things down!” she replied.

HMPF.

I was giving the coat one last ironing. That lowest button would have to be lowered just a bit more – later. Where was that hat…?

Suddenly the smell of something burning accosted my nostrils. “Whatever could that be?” I wondered to myself. NoooOOooOOOoooo!!! IT WAS THE COAT. I had singed that beautiful wool! It wasn’t a mirage, it was there. PERMANENT. On the one panel that I’d done my first hand sewn buttonholes on!

“That’s okay, it goes well with my eyes!” sweet Holly cheered me.

“Plus, it matches the buttons!” kind Betty chimed in.

Well, there was nothing for it. I gathered the smoldering coat, found the hat that was laying nearby, as well as all of Holly’s clothes and my camera, and went into my photography/shipping room. I made that 6:33 adoption time by the skin of my teeth.

Maybe next time I’ll listen to Julie. Maybe…

Little Navy and smaller Bean were adopted by Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! This is Gwen’s second O.L.D. Thank you so much, Gwen, it’s nice to see you again (POET)!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Wednesday, You’re my favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Know JACKS

The atmosphere at the Hideaway was a teeny bit gloomy. It’s a tricky time of year. It had been a long winter, and now it was as beautiful as anything with the sun beaming and the birds happily chirping. But the dolls couldn’t go outside. It was far too soggy with melting snow for little girls made of sawdust and glue to go and out play.

“I have just the thing,” our newest arrival said.

There was instant anticipation in the air. We don’t like to pry too much into what a lost doll – and in this case, her companion too – bring with them. But there was no denying it: we were curious as to what was in the worn red bag that made strange clanking sounds they had been dragging behind them wherever they went.

Navy – that was the lost doll’s name – nodded to her friend Bean to open the bag. It was almost as tall as he was. He upended the bag and after several vigorous shakes the contents spilled out.

“Jacks!” Navy said happily. “Jacks solve ALL.”

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No’s 106 and 106 1/2, Navy and Bean. You can see their adoption page HERE.

It’s hard to believe, but some of us grew up in a world without the internet. Before mere peasants could watch pert near any movie at any time in the comfort of your own home. Before you could be reached by phone wherever you happened to be. Before video games. Before even Pong!

Why, whatever did we do…?

I’ll tell you what we did! We played JACKS! We played Pick-up Stix! We copied the funnies – the color Sunday ones were the best – with Silly Putty! Mother May I! Red Light/Green Light!

I’m not around kids much these days. Do they still play any of these? I know here in little ol’ Rolfe, Iowa there’s still a lot of bike riding going on. Helmetless, even!

Those of us who grew up in the dark ages did get to experience the thrill of new things. I remember when answering machines were a new thing. Before if you weren’t home your phone would just ring and ring. Oh, the THOUGHT that went into what your outgoing message would be!

Or the first time we got our computer up and running and signed into the internet. The absolute THRILL I felt when in a little corner in the upper right hand corner of the computer screen I watched what I thought was a live shot of a plane flying over trees from the viewpoint of the pilot. I realize now it was probably just a video, but my heart was thrilled all the same.

Or when cordless phones first came out, and everyone would nonchalantly hang out on their porches, handset in hand, yakking. Their body language would shout, “Oh, no big deal. I’m just out here WITH MY CORDLESS PHONE!” Ah, the excitement of new things!

But with all this excitement, I hope we don’t lose the classics of our past! I feel like a toothless old woman, standing on my porch and shaking my cane at the world. That said, I bet there was some old woman out there when I was little, lamenting that with the invention of the T.V. and portable radios that kids of MY generation losing out!

Moderation, I guess! Moderation in modernization.

Speaking of folks of long ago, historical “Outlander” James was adopted by Cecilia S. of Fostoria, Ohio! One of the two sisters that suggested Jamie to me in the first place! I see what you did there. This is Cecilia’s second O.L.D. Thank you, Cecilia!

And with that, I leave you! Spring has arrived, and with it, a clobbering of snow! No matter: You’re my favorite.