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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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“A-HAH!” I said out loud, pleased with my own ingenuity and inventiveness. I was trying to come up with a theme for the next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll). St. Patrick’s Day was coming, but for some reason I was in no mood for leprechauns.
I waited until I had my sister Julie’s full attention before continuing, “Who besides Leprechauns has a green theme and a shamrock logo?”
Julie could not guess.
“GIRL SCOUTS!” I crowed. Yessirree, I really am quite the clever girl to come up with this idea clear out of the blue…Julie’s question interrupted my preening.
“Are you going to use that Girl Scout tin I found for you TWO MONTHS AGO?!”
Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg No. 104, Georgy the Girl Scout. You can see her adoption page HERE.
It was Julie who guessed her name first. I was having a hard time figuring it out. It’s winter, and sometimes my ears get a little stuffy.
“Georgie!” Julie cried. We were on the phone at the time, but even so I could practically see her waving her tiny fists in joy this time.
“You’re RIGHT. It’s GEORGY!” I crowed a little too loudly, my ears being stuffed and all. “And it’s PERFECT, because she’s a GIRL scout!”
There was silence on the other end of the line, so I continued, “You know, like that song! ‘Hey There, Georgy Girl!”
STILL there was silence. Finally, Julie squeaked, “Huh?”
So I obligingly sang for her. I will obligingly sing at the drop of a hat. “Hey there, Georgy girl, swinging down the street so fancy free…” I then skipped to the chorus, “You’re always window shopping, but never stopping to buy…”
There was a pause. “Nope, never heard of it.”
IT HAS COME TO THIS. I knew I was getting older, but OY. No matter! I love the song, and the theme seemed to fit.
I wanted this to be an early Girl Scout, so I did a lot of research and based mine on a combination of the 1920’s and 30’s era. The main difference I noticed was that patches were worn on their sleeves rather than on a sash. And the hats were so cute!
When I was describing the uniform I was going to make for Georgy to my mother, she protested.
My mother rarely gives me directives, so I had to oblige – in my own way, for I art stubborn.
I made an orangey-red beret to go with the olive green coat I made for Georgy for those meetings when the weather was cold. To tie the hat more to the coat, I also made mittens and then a coordinating scarf.
AND NOW! For the uninitiated. This is the 1967 (before my pesky sister was born) song, “Georgy Girl” from an Australian group called The Seekers:
GREAT SONG. The whippersnappers of today just don’t know good music!
Speaking of great, Presley was adopted by the Great Michelle E. of Hudson, Colorado! Michelle’s about like family. As are so many of you. I hope you all know how much I appreciate you.
And with that, I leave you! Swinging down the street so fancy free. As soon as this ice melts…You’re my favorite.
It was a Saturday in May of 2011 in California. My parents were out doing something they dearly loved to do: garage sale shopping. It’s not as if it were early morning. The sale had been going for hours. And yet there on a table in a box in a bag was a voice calling out that only my mother could hear…THANK GOODNESS.
Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 103, Presley, who was discovered by my very own parental Valentines. You can see her adoption page HERE.
I confess, even *I* sometimes fail. No, no, it’s true! HERE IS MY CONFESSION:
The reason that No. 103 was named Presley is because I had this unique fabric I’d purchased years ago because it was excruciatingly cute. However, while cute, it wasn’t really the kind of fabric I would normally use. Yes, it was a print of vintage Valentines, but the fact that vintage Valentines were printed on fabric was too much of an in-your-face manifestation that it wasn’t vintage, not one bit. They would never have done that back in the day!
But every Valentine’s day I would look at it, and I decided that this year it was finally time to use it. Only ONE DOLL could pull it off. A doll that is indeed vintage, but that has been reproduced in recent years so she could easily bridge both old and new: PATSY.
Effanbee Patsy dolls were extremely popular back in their day from 1928 to 1946. They are distinctive with their molded hair in a bobbed style, their painted, side-glancing eyes, and their crooked right arm, perfect for holding things. In recent decades, they were reproduced in vinyl, and are popular to this day.
I only had one Patsy, and she had a major issue: She had been in a fire, and had suffered smoke damage. Now, she didn’t smell! But parts of her were discolored and she had severe chipping and flaking.
“No matter!” I confidently said to myself. “I can do this! This is her year!” A theme even came to mind! BURNING for your LOVE. Perfect! I went to YouTube and typed in “Burning Love” for inspiration for a name for this girl. Of course, Elvis Presley’s song of the same name came up (“…a hunk a hunk of Burning Love….”). Presley! PERFECT.
This, Reader, is part of the reason for the longer than normal gap between this doll and the last. My struggles with Patsy, the Super Bowl, and also, my dog got sick. I know, sounds fake, right? That’s what my mortgage guy thought when I told him that. But it’s true! Thankfully, he got better. My dog, not my mortgage guy. But that’s a story for another day…
I digress! Anyway, it’s all fun and games to tap your way into smaller repairs with your fingertips rather than an airbrush. But to tap an entire doll? DIFFICULT. I tried, went to bed, tried again and again, but NOPE. This just wasn’t going to work! Did I have anybody else that would do?
Luckily, with great success comes great competition. This is true now, and it was true back in the day. Enter the Madame Hendren doll company and PEACHES. She also has the molded bobbed hairdo and the crooked arm.
Now, don’t you worry about a thing! Patsy will get her turn some day, she will! For now, she’s happily content to at least have two eyes she can see her many friends with.
It turns out, Peaches – now PRESLEY – was meant to be. I LOVE that she was discovered by my parents. What a perfect girl for Valentines Day, a celebration of love! My parents were married for 60 years before my father passed away about a year and a half after this garage sale. I miss him so much.
You never saw such a grateful girl! Dancing as well as her broken foot (since rebuilt) would allow her, so excited to finally get her turn! She helped me with Teddy when he was sick (bad dog food! It took me some trial and error and a good scare or two to discover this) and has an absolute heart of gold.
So now you know. Because of the delays, Presley won’t actually end until AFTER Valentines day. But Valentine’s day will come again! There’s always next year…
JUDE was adopted by…Adele M. of Castroville, Texas! If my count is correct, this is O.L.D. number THREE for her. Thank you, Adele!
And with that, I leave you! YOU ARE MY VALENTINE and YOU are my FAVORITE.
It’s said that waitresses are the best tippers. Having been a waitress myself many moons ago, I can tell you this is true! You understand how frantic it is when you get swamped, or the delicate line you have to toe when you have a very picky customer and a very grumpy cook.
I guess it’s another way of saying, “Before you criticize, walk a mile in another man’s shoes.”
Mail carriers and the post office in general are easily maligned. I confess myself to laughingly snipping to my sister Julie, who besides being the mayor of this here small town also works at the post office in our sister town of Pokey, that my mail was wet one day. Well, with one carrier out for maternity leave, and another out for an operation, Julie had to fill in during the busiest month of the year, December, with record breaking cold…in IOWA…
Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 102, Jude the Mail Carrier and his little friend Zippy. You can see their adoption page HERE.
Jude is a 13″ composition Kewpie doll. That must have been one happy factory. So many times as I was working on him, trying on his hats and coats as I adjusted and sized, I would catch a glimpse of his smiling face and it was impossible not to smile myself. What a worthy soldier for this trying job of his!
You might look outside on a beautiful spring or fall day, when the temperatures are perfect, not to hot or too cold, and there’s a slight breeze, and the sun is shining, and here comes your mail carrier outside when you’re stuck inside at an office or in your sewing room. “Lucky carrier!’ you might think to yourself. “I wish it were my job to simply walk about!”
Oh sure, it’s all fun and games when the weather’s nice. But in the searing heat of summer! In the frigid cold of winter! Not so. Especially this last December when warnings would scroll along the bottom of the screen of your TV. “STAY INDOORS” the warning warns, “DANGER OF FROSTBITE AFTER 30 MINUTES TO EXPOSED SKIN.” And below that a flashing list of school and church closings.
It was on a day such as this, with the actual temperature at -10, with the wind chill making the “feels like” three plus times that, that Julie had to leave the office job for which she was hired and deliver mail herself.
“I hope I don’t quit, I hope I don’t quit,” Julie muttered to herself as she tried to grasp little envelopes with gloved hands and avoid falling on ice while peering for obscure house numbers in a town with which she’s not familiar.
Hours later she was shouting to the heavens through frozen lips, ‘I HOPE THEY FIRE ME! I HOPE THEY FIRE ME!”
Well, she didn’t quit, and she wasn’t fired. She continued trudging on delivering mail into the dark hours, sometimes through occasional tears. This is not a job for sissies. THIS is why she’s my hero. As are ALL those who deliver mail. THANK YOU, brave carriers! Jude is a tribute to YOU.
The reason this post is called “The Essentials” is because of a comment our own local carrier here in this wee town made. Several roads and highways were closed, there were dire warnings for travel and a lot of cars going into ditches. “Only the essentials are supposed to be out,” he said. “So I’ll be there…”
Bless him. You need that kind of spirit to do what mail carriers do.
I called Jude “Jude” after the Beatles song, “Hey Jude” and my mangling of the lyrics: So letter out and letter in and Letter into your heart and so forth. It seemed a worthy name.
Speaking of worthy, Louella De Nice was adopted by the VERY worthy Hillary P. of New York, NY! This makes EIGHT O.L.D.’s (and their occasional companions) for Hillary, if my count is correct. THANK YOU, Hillary!
And with that, I leave you! Be kind to each other, and to your local mail carrier! I know you already are – and that’s why you’re my favorite.
I confess, I have over 100 Once-Loved Dolls already at my house, just waiting their turn. In the lulls between when a fresh face comes to my door (which are frequent), I’ll peek inside the bins where they raucously play as they wait their turn.
This time there was an unusual hush when I lifted the lid. All the O.L.D.’s contained therein looked at me with shining eyes and pointed their fingers downward. Curious, I set them aside one by one to see what – or WHO – they were pointing to.
“Hello!” I said to the naked little girl. “I remember you! I repaired your lip! That was a long time ago…” I could feel the eyes of the rest of the girls upon me. I glanced around before I looked back at that naked little girl, to the cheers of all the other dolls. “Would you like to be next?”
Thus begins the description of Louella De NICE, also known as O.L.D. No. 101. You can see her adoption page HERE. Our Louella is SO nice, the other dolls – who just as desperately would like their turn – spoke up on her behalf. Or at the very least, pointed.
And lucky for Louella, every time I happen upon fabric that is mainly black and white, I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a doll entirely in black and white. And what better time to do it than on the number 101, as in “101 Dalmatians”?
And isn’t it lucky for me that just like black and white are opposites, Louella’s personality is the opposite of Cruella De Vil’s?
Not to mention how much I love these little 13″ composition dolls, and it’s been so long since I’ve had one. Why, in the first 20 dolls alone there were THREE of these girls!
So I’m glad that this sweet little girl is finally getting her turn.
I confess, I had to make the second outfit in secret, because JULIE.
It’s no secret that I’m very, very slow. And I have unrealistic expectations of what I can accomplish in any given time. Julie helps to keep me in line by trying to sprinkle reality into my world. But she gave me a bunch of vintage wool sweaters that she’d purchased at thrift stores over the years, and I desperately wanted to give Louella a second outfit with a vintage cream one, complete with a little embroidery! So I DID IT. Without telling Julie! But you know what? Julie likes the second outfit best!
I have a new plan of attack to try and battle my slowness. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I like to watch movies over and over as I sew, kind of a background music for me. I’ll watch the same movie for months on end. Well, now I have a unit of measure for the hours I work! I’m currently watching “Misery.”
No, no! I’m not some dark and evil person, who enjoys watching innocent authors hobbled in the middle of the night! I’m just a fan of dark humor and Kathy Bates excellent portrayal of this well written character.
Anyway, “Misery” is 1 hour and 47 minutes and 29 seconds long. So if I work four “Misery”s a day, that’s about eight hours! Another favorite, “Phantom of the Opera” with GERARD BUTLER is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Three Phantoms would about do it! So far so good. Not that I was slacking off before, but now I can think to myself, “I’d like to get these buttons sewn on before Annie Wilkes spills the soup and loses her cool for the first time.” GENIUS. Har.
Three cheers for the alumni of the Rolfe Community School! They got together and almost, almost won Mary Lou the vintage Cheerleader. I imagine there will be another Rolfe-themed doll in the future.
However! The person who won her is a faithful Hazel Twigg-er that we haven’t seen in a little while…Michelle E. of Hudson, Colorado! THANK YOU, Michelle!
And with that, I leave you! Pick GOOD when you can – unless there’s a little dark humor involved….You’re my favorite!
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time working when there are repair guys at my house. So while Resolution patiently waited a week or so ago, instead of working on her, I sorted through jewelry. I also contemplated What To Do for our 100th doll. 100! That is nothing to sneeze at…
“Are they done yet?” I murmured as I sorted.
“Doesn’t sound like it,” Resolution whispered.
Suddenly I came across something that WASN’T jewelry. “1963 Rolfe, Iowa Centennial” the wooden nickel, pin and token cried.
“Centennial! That’s 100 years! 100! I’ve always wanted to do something Rolfe related! Now, where did I put that charm bracelet…?”
Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 100! Her name is Mary Lou, and you can see her adoption page HERE.
You may wonder why I was in possession of things from Rolfe, Iowa’s Centennial celebration back in 1963, when I’ve only lived here 11 or so years. The reason is the generosity of people. I use a lot of things for my creations, and when people have things they don’t need, they frequently think of me. Aren’t I lucky? But I don’t consider these things mine to keep; my intention is to use them in my quest to help these lost dolls find new homes and new loves.
One of the bags that appeared at my door contained an old charm bracelet in a tangle of chains. It was red and gold, and it spelled out the words, “ROLFE HIGH” – with the exception of a missing “R”. No matter, I loved it! I knew I would use it for some special doll some day.
The Rolfe Community School has long been demolished. Only the gym remains, and I’ve spent many a good time there. I can only imagine what the school must have been like!
Once Resolution was ready to go, I knew one of the the first things I had to do was to find that bracelet. Reader, I spent a DAY hunting every single place I could think of two or three times. NO LUCK. I was still going to do a Rolfe school doll (“Make her a cheerleader!” my wee sister demanded), but it would have to be without that bracelet.
The other thing I did – in between hunting – was I went to the Rolfe Community School Facebook page to find out particulars. “What were the school colors?” I ask. “Red and gold,” I got back. Hey! Same as my high school back in Cedar City, Utah! But there are different shades of red. “Maroon or rust or red red?” I asked. “RED-RED,” was the reply.
I thought the mascot was a Lion. Turns out it’s a Ram! “And the girl’s teams are called “The Rammettes,” I was helpfully told.
I learned so much! I also asked for good luck wishes in finding that lost bracelet. The following day I wrote that I’d failed in my search.
“Do you mean the Rolfe Ram bracelet?” a kind woman asked. “Yep! No matter, I’m doing the doll anyway.”
HERE’S WHAT SHE RESPONDED: “If you’ll pm me your address, I’ll mail (mine) to you. ” I told her I would be giving it away, and she said, “That’s great. If it would give a little joy to someone, I don’t need to have it lying around in a drawer here.” Isn’t that wonderful? This woman’s name was Mary Lou. How fortuitous that doll No. 100 should have THE VERY SAME NAME. What a koinkidink!
That bracelet made all the difference. I mean, I still would have done my best by Mary Lou, and those perspective adopters out there wouldn’t have known, but it would have bothered me not to include it!
But how to actually use it with the doll? I was reminded of those large fur coats that used to be all the rage with college boys back in the day. YES. That would do it. That with the beanie, and the pennant and the megaphone I’d already planned on making. The coat would be large enough that the bracelet would fit nicely. I sewed hooks on either side, just beneath the large collar.
It was fun to see all the reminiscing my questions sparked, which in turn sparked some of my own memories. There’s nothing like high school! It’s something we all share. I’d like to thank all the former Rams and Rammettes who helped me in my quest to complete this very special girl. You do Iowa proud!
Resolution was adopted by…Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! A new face! Thank you, Gwen.
And with that I leave you, oh wonderful people of the world! You’re my favorite.
P.S. A “ewe” is a female ram/sheep. See what I did there?
Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 99. Ninety-Nine! The LAST of the double digit O.L.D.s! Her name is RESOLUTION. You can see her adoption page HERE.
Several months ago my dear friend Brenda posted a picture on my Facebook page of some dolls she thought were cute. I LOVED them! One of them even had one of my favorite things: A pointy hat. YESS!
I kept trying to get a doll based on that image into the mix, but other things and themes came up. I’m kind of glad now. Being No. 99 seems a very good place for her.
I of course have to work with the materials I have on hand, so it’s not an *exact* copy. “Do the dress from the one on the right, and the hat from the one on the left!” my little sister cried. I of course listened to her, as I always do.
Resolution, or “Lucy,” as she likes to be called, is a 21″ Arranbee Nanette. I think this particular mold is the prettiest of all the compositions. TELL NO ONE. I’ve used it previously, although these may look a little different to you. Sometimes the smaller sizes are slightly different, or it can be amazing what a difference hair and eye color can make:
And of course, our Resolution needed some “street clothes” as well.
The brooch on her coat was discovered tucked away in the treadle sewing machine found in the house behind me that I purchased. That house had all kinds of treasures in it!
You can’t really see them, but besides the brooch, the coat also sports Victorian-era jet black glass buttons. Here’s a better view;
These buttons are treasures in themselves. The back loops are brass. You can tell the buttons are glass by tapping them against your teeth. Always a good time…
It’s taken me nearly four years to get from 1 – 99. I need to work so much faster! I have so many ideas just brimming over in my brain. So many dolls clamoring for their turn.
Which brings us back to Clara, who was adopted by…Linda L. of Portola Valley. Thank you again, Linda! That’s number FIVE.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! There are SO MANY things I want to accomplish. I have a feeling, and I’ll say it now, 2018 is going to be my year! I shall share it with you.
Know why? Because you’re my favorite.
We were in the midst of decorating our Christmas tree when there was a knock at the door. We all raced to see who could get there first. Not that it mattered; only Hazel and I could reach the knob, us being the only humans. The rest of the dolls certainly couldn’t. Even Elizabeth, who at 21″ was the tallest. No matter. We raced all the same.
“Come in! Come in!” we all cried. We ushered our newest arrival towards the fireplace – not too close, seeing as how she was made of wood.
“What’s your name?” I asked, once we had settled her comfortably in a chair with a blanket and hot cocoa.
“Let me guess: Ruth!” Dot said, giggling.
I couldn’t help laughing myself. It’s no secret: I always wear black.
“My name is Clara,” our new little girl said softly. “And I know exactly what I want to be…”
Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved doll) No. 98, She of the Nutcracker Dreams. You can see her adoption page HERE.
This girl comes with a LOT of stuff. A nightgown, two dresses, a coat and hat…
But Reader! If you could know what I originally wanted to include with her! The MORE that I wanted to do! It is only the powerful waving fists of my wee little sister, the reasonable chidings of my patient mother, and TIME that keep me contained.
When I put my dolls that I love so much up for adoption at 6:33 Central time on a Wednesday or a Sunday, it’s by the skin of my teeth that I get them done. And the last minute furious flurry that takes place is something to behold. Nothing’s sacred at the end! I throw things searching for a shoe that might have fallen off, barrel through piles looking for a missing hair ribbon. You get the idea. In fact, the other day I was laughing to myself. When I’m done with a doll, my sewing room resembles the setting of Charles Dickens “Ghost of Christmas Present” in A Christmas Carol:
Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch…
Which brings me to the mouse of the title of this post. In the Nutcracker ballet, the Nutcracker that Clara receives for Christmas comes to life, defeats the evil Mouse King in battle, and whisks Clara away to a magical land. So of course I wanted a Mouse King for my Clara too! I was going to make one, but then in the desperation of time, I was going to use the one I had on hand and just give him a crown and a sword. But then I ran out of time to do even THAT.
Thirty-three years ago this very Christmas I was gifted a book from my mom and dad called, “The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book.” It was for these excruciatingly cute mice.
“A-HAH!” I said to myself in my musical, lilting voice. “I want to do the same thing with RODENTS.”
Of course I wanted my rodents to be appealing, and the patterns in this book would fit the bill. So I came up these characters: RAT Butler, ScarRAT O’Hara, RODENT Valentino and MozRAT. This couldn’t fail!
I never gave up on this idea, even though I only got as far as Mozrat. And through all the moves in my life, and there have been plenty, Mozrat and this book have come along with me. Even the move when all I owned fit into my dearly loved Volkswagen bug. But I get so determined to get what I want when I finish a doll, that almost NOTHING will stand in my way! Except the finality and peskiness of time.
No. 97 Heidi was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California, a name that is becoming more and more familiar! This is number 4 for her. Thank you, Linda!
“Haven’t you already been through here?” I asked suspiciously as I relieved her of her burden and ushered her inside. I was secretly alarmed. Had she been rejected…?!
“I knew it!” she said triumphantly. “I KNEW you’d forgotten about us! I’m part of the Sewickley crew. You’ve kept us separate from the others, tucked away in a box in the shipping room…”
Reader, it was MY turn to be red-faced. I’d forgotten they were there…
My description for this particular girl is pretty lengthy. I always figure if someone doesn’t want to read the flotsam and jetsam, they don’t have to as long as the pertinent points are easy to find.
Truthfully, I could have written pages and pages about this girl, and the memories she evokes! But here in this place, I’ll just write about one.
Both Holly and my’s dads worked at the same place; The Church College of Hawaii, aka C.C.H., as it was known back then. It’s currently BYU, Hawaii. My father was in the college administration, her father was in maintenance. Both had perks to their positions: my dad would bring home reams of scratch paper. During church, I would kneel between the rows of pews, facing the back of the chapel, using the bench as my desk, and I would sketch the people behind me. At least I was quiet! Or Holly and I would make countless, countless paper dolls with an infinite number of outfits for each that we would design our very own selves.
The perks from Holly’s dad was movies. Laie, Hawaii where C.C.H. was located was a very small town on the north shore of Oahu. There were no movie theaters and this was long before the luxuries of Blockbuster (who?) and VHS. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to watch whatever was on the three whole channels of TV, and that was IT.
Enter Herb, Holly’s dad. The college would occasionally show movies in the auditorium. For .25 you could go see an old movie, like “The Wizard of Oz,” or “Pollyanna.” Besides being a character, Herb was a very resourceful fellow; he was able to get a projector and movies and bring them home for Holly and I to watch. Just we two! It’s hard to remember a time before instant streaming and downloads. Back then, getting to watch a movie at a time of your own choosing in the comfort of your own home was HUGE. HUGE.
One of my favorites was “Heidi” with Shirley Temple. For some reason, a scene stuck out in my mind that I’ve always been taken with: on her way to meet her mean old grandfather for the first time, Heidi doesn’t have a suitcase. So not only are her arms full of clothes, but she’s wearing lots of outfits layered one on top of the other. She gets hot and drops her pile in the middle of the street and starts pulling off sweaters and endless skirts. I just thought it was the niftiest thing.
Enter O.L.D. No. 97! When the Sewickley crew arrived, not only were there the nine dolls, there were tons of doll clothes and some fabric and trims. One wonderful Sunday I got to sit in bed surrounded by these recent arrivals and go through the clothes and see who fit what. Heidi made out like a bandit.
I have a soft spot for the name “Heidi.” Not just because of the movie, but also because my best friend Holly has a sister named Heidi. Our O.L.D. Heidi has Holly’s unusual coloring of brown eyes and blonde hair. And she has a lot of clothes and a place to go and no suitcase to put them in.
It’s been a pleasure and a series of wonderful flashbacks working on this doll. Of two little girls who got to eat popcorn or homemade anise candy or lime slush in the formal living room and watch flickering scenes of magic whenever our hearts desired. Royalty couldn’t have had it better. Thank you, Heidi! Thank you, Holly! Thank you, Herb!
And thank you to a new face, Carmen Z. of Toledo, Ohio who gave Mary Ellen a home! Turns out, there’s a doll club in Toledo, and they recently had a Hazel Twigg program where those that had ’em, brought ’em for the others to see! How nifty is that? I tell you, it tickles me pink.
As do YOU. Know why? ‘Cause you’re my favorite!
“Name?” Hazel said with a friendly smile, getting ready to scribble down information in her notebook.
“Mary Ellen,” the sweet new arrival replied.
I said, “Good night, Mary Ellen!” Only to find Hazel and the other dolls looking at me quizzically, which was understandable. It was full daylight outside.
“It’s from an old TV show. Before your time, I guess” I said, looking at Hazel. I laughed as I looked at the dolls, “and AFTER yours…”
“You’re going to make her a nightgown for nighttime, and then a dress for day!” Hazel exclaimed. She likes to try to figure out what I’m going to do for each doll. Good night. Nightgown. And of course Mary Ellen would need something for daytime. I could see where Hazel was coming from. But I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to do a different sort of extreme…
Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 96, Mary Ellen. You can see her adoption page HERE.
This girl has so many levels! First of all, her initials are M.E., and as her clothing morphed, I realized I was making a summer outfit and a winter outfit! See where I’m going here? Yeah, Julie didn’t either. Well, a song from my favorite album of all time is “Summer Me, Winter Me”!
And with your kisses morning me, evening me
And as the world sleeps far away, star away
Forever me with love…
I LOVE that song! I love that album! I guess at this point in time, it’s a little obscure…But come to think of it, I’m positive I would put this record on when Julie and I would bake cookies together growing up.
The dress Mary Ellen’s wearing for summer was initially going to be the dress she wore with the gray coat, but it just wasn’t fitting in its style. So I decided to use it for a more summery look, and make a second dress to go with the winter coat.
As I worked on the winter outfit and kept adding and adding, it occurred to me that not only would Coco Chanel not approve of my styling’s for M.E.’s winter look, with her velvet muff hanging from a chain, the beaded necklace, the deep red stockings…but also that the contrast between summer and winter were a lot like my sister Julie – freshly minted third term mayor, thankyouverymuch – and myself.
That summer dress is absolutely Julie’s favorite colors, green and blue on a predominately white background. The outfit itself: simplicity.
Whereas the winter outfit is more like me: a somewhat gaudy, gypsy style. “Take one thing off,” Ms. Chanel? I THINK NOT. What can I add?
Not only that, but if I had to pick a single season, it would be winter. Julie likes summer best. Which is nice, because as long as one of us is happy, we’re both happy.
I often marvel at the way things work; the wonderful way the world functions.
Witness the seasons: Winter solstice takes place a few days before Christmas. That’s when it’s the shortest daylight of the year. After that, the days get longer and longer. This makes BOTH Julie and me happy: me because I know there’s still a lot of winter left and Christmas is almost here, Julie because the days are getting longer. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Also, Christmas is almost here.
I don’t know what I’d do without Julie. She’s my brain and helps me keep track of the practical things when my mind is off on some odd tangent. She has troubles of her own, yet patiently helps me deal with mine. We’ve made a pact to give each other unconditional love, which we do. It’s good to have that in your life. Thank you, Julie! Summer, Winter, simple, gaudy, I’m glad you were born!
I’ll wrap you up and ribbon you, rainbow you
And shower you with shine…
…Always be mine
Flying Ace J.P. was adopted by…Martha B. of Chantilly, Virginia. A new face! J.P. arrived there safely after a long flight, and is happy in his new home. Thank you, Martha!
And with that, I leave you! Next to Julie, you’re my favorite. And THAT is saying something.