Life in Iowa
now browsing by category
Who says, “blondes can’t hula!”? Not me! Having been raised for a significant part of my childhood in Hawaii, I know whereof I speak. My mother told me that all the Hoale (pron. “How-lee,” meaning non-Hawaiian, namely white) women who gave birth to little girls over there would name them “Leilani.” In fact, my wee sister Julie was almost given that name when she was born, but with all the Leilanis running around, my mother just couldn’t do it. However! The little mother of this little girl saw fit to do so….
Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 50, Leilani. You can see her adoption page HERE.
No way could I let a significant number like 50 pass without a love note to the place where I spent half my childhood: Hawaii, the 50th state! We grew up on the north shore of Oahu in a little town called Laie (Lah-EE-ah). The beach was just down the street. I was baptized in the ocean! We had a breadfruit tree in our backyard, coconut trees and plumeria trees in our front, and wearing shoes to school was an option. Our own future Mayor was born there!
So when this little girl sashayed her way in and told me that her name was Leilani, I didn’t bat an eye. Of course it was! Perfect.
There was a lot of hula-ing going on these past few weeks as I hand-knotted Leilani’s grass skirt with raffia from The Dollar Tree. Her lei and headdress are felt flowers. It took some doing to get her lei to hang. I had to add little weights just so.
You may have noticed I’ve been missing for awhile. I have! Things are humming along, and not just with my dog walking gigs. A month or so ago I was giving a presentation to the children’s summer reading program about Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway. We met down the hall in the community center as the library was occupied by a ladies meeting. I talked about the three things I love that are in this story: old dolls, magic, and my own tiny town in the middle-of-nowhere, Iowa.
Well, wouldn’t you know? That very day a Media Specialist for the Education Service Units (ESU) in Nebraska happened to be passing through Rolfe and was hanging out at the library to use the internet. She heard the ladies and the librarian at the meeting talking about me and my book, and now I’m going to be a keynote speaker at a workshop for school and public libraries in Nebraska on September 30th! KISMET.
This is exactly the kind of thing we need. What better way to spread the word about a book than librarians? How nifty that things came together the way they did!
In the meantime, I have a lot of catching up to do with doll adoptions.
In addition to Leilani, I put a new girl up for adoption last night and there is still so much to do for her. Not only that, I’m going to attempt to turn right around and get another doll up for adoption this Sunday. I’ll be burning the midnight oil! This is what happens when you stop to do other things. Orphans start piling up, clamoring for attention!
Now for some more catching up: No. 48, Cassie, was adopted by Michelle E. of Colorado! Yes, THAT Michelle!
And No. 49, Andrea, was adopted by Barbara E. of Mississippi! A new face!
Thank you so much, Michelle and Barbara! This is belated, but you are very much appreciated and cheers to you both.
And with that, I leave you! ALOHA and happy Thursday, you’re my favorite.
My sister Julie The Mayor has given me permission to tell her story.
As I posted awhile back, my brother-in-law Scott’s son recently had a rare and early stroke. After three weeks of ups and downs, he passed away. Evan was only thirty years old.
One month later to the day Julie received a most unusual phone call. When my family was living in England, Julie had a baby. Because of her young age, she put him up for adoption. She was never able to have children after that. I happened to call Julie just after she’d hung up from this unusual phone call and she was sobbing as I have never heard her sob before.
“I just got the strangest call,” she managed to say.
You must understand: I always wish Julie a Happy Mother’s day in May because she is a mother. She gave birth to a child and did the very best thing that she could for him by giving him up. We would talk about her son every now and then and calculate what age he must be at various times in our lives. When his 18th birthday came and had long since passed we went about our business, me wishing her “Happy Mother’s Day” over the years and her wistful “Thank you”s in return.
Back to that phone call. At first Julie thought it was a scam. It most gloriously was not. A few days later Julie was on the phone with her very British-sounding offspring. Her joy knows no bounds. “For the first time in my life I feel whole. I now know what was missing.”
Andy will soon be flying all the way from England to meet the mother that has always held him in her heart.
One hard aspect to deal with is Julie’s extreme happiness at gaining a son in the face of Scott’s recent loss. Scott looks at it another way: Perhaps Evan had a hand in putting all this together and timing it just so. Because thirty years ago just a few months apart two baby boys were born. Thirty years later and a few weeks apart the baton has been passed. I’m so very happy for you, Julie. And thank you Scott for being so gracious. Andy, we can’t wait to meet you and welcome you to our family!
AND NOW FOR A SWIFT CHANGE OF SUBJECT: I lost a day yesterday. Know why? Because of BAT. I had a BAT in my house! After two years of being bat free.
It was almost midnight when I spotted him flitting about in my room. I grabbed my wee dog Teddy and escaped to Julie’s so I could not sleep there (instead of not sleeping at my own house). The following morning I bravely went home alone. Scott was going to be coming by in just a half hour or so to try and find the bat and it was daylight. Everybody knows that
vampires bats don’t fly in daylight. WRONG!
The little critter flew at and around me in my sunny kitchen. I tried to see where he was going so I could point his whereabouts out to Scott. Turns out, it’s hard to see when your eyes are clamped shut and you’re screaming like a little girl! The bat couldn’t be found so I spent the day out of doors, mowing my lawn and watching “Outlander” (ooh-la-la!) with Julie instead.
It wasn’t until later in the day that my hero Julie found the bat after an exhaustive search and plenty of fervent prayers. Hero Scott got him out of the house. In the meantime, I lost an entire day of sewing and toil. O.L.D. Andrea still needs half her clothes, and the next O.L.D. will be No. 00050! Which is a significant number and I simply can’t rush her to get her done by this Sunday. She’s going to have a theme. I’ll give you 50 guesses as to what that might be, and the first 49 don’t count. It’s a place near and dear to my heart.
Since I also have the final, final edits to do before the book goes to print, the next O.L.D. won’t be up for adoption until the following Sunday August 8th. Which also happens to be my parents anniversary.
These last edits are based on a professional editor suggestions. Reader, I am heartened and excited! She is a tough cookie and she really loves the book. FINGERS CROSSED! And back to work…
With that, I leave you! Andrea’s post will be coming soon! In the meantime, Happy Thursday, you’re my favorite.
Oh sure, she may look like an ordinary O.L.D. going about her business, walking her dogs. But look out! Because when she dons her cape and grabs her spyglass, it’s certain that there’s a mystery afoot, and she is going to SOLVE IT.
Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 00044. You can see her adoption page HERE.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, my sister Julie, aka The Mayor and I are frequently confused one for the other.
A few weeks ago she and I met at the train tracks near her house for a short visit walking our dogs. We parted ways, she and her dog Toby heading for her house, me and my dog Teddy heading for mine. In the distance coming towards me, I could see a friend named Karen. When we finally met, she said, “I knew it was you! Because of the white bag!”
She was absolutely right. I’m always carrying a white grocery bag, and it is usually filled with, well. You can guess. Bless my heart. Julie carries a much more elegant and non-see-through black bag.
I’ve also mentioned that I have other odd jobs besides sewing for these dolls that I love so much: I’m a dog walker. More white bags. More…you know. So when I had a busy week full of various dog walkings, I decided to combine two of my loves: dolls and dogs.
My original plan was to create three dogs and to have said doll be a dog walker like myself. The week was a busy one, and after making two dogs I could see the writing on the wall. There would be no time to make a third and to make her clothing. I wouldn’t be caught naked walking around town, and I didn’t want the next O.L.D. to be either!
Another friend who works at the vet’s office (KISMET! The vet! Where dogs go) had recently given me a lovely bag of different plaid wools plus other treasures. I was going to make the next girl’s clothing and then try and go back and make an additional dog. By Friday, I could tell it wouldn’t fly. I had the coat and a pink dress made, but I still had a hat, a second dress and another odd job still to do and Sunday was flying towards me.
But that fabric! That fabric looked like….Sherlock Holmes to me. That was the only way I could possibly be satisfied with just two dogs. To call them “Watson” (<free pattern!) and “Holmes,” and to make the girl into a sleuth. I didn’t want to call her Shirley Holmes. Was there a girl associated with Sherlock himself? Yes, there was! A sometimes girlfriend named Irene. Which also happens to be my middle name! And I’m a dog walker! Full circle.
I added a cape and made a deer stalker hat, and wonder of wonders I had a doll-sized spyglass on hand. Perfect! Irene the dog-walking sleuth was born.
This has been a tough few weeks for our little circle here in Iowa. Julie’s husband Scott, aka “The First Dude,” headed to California when he learned his thirty year old son from a previous marriage had a stroke. I’d met Evan a couple of years ago when he came to Iowa for a visit. He was extremely likeable.
Things were looking up. Evan recognized Scott and that he was there and they spoke to each other. For awhile it looked as if Evan would pull through, albeit with a lengthy recovery time. Scott was almost ready to head home with plans to visit frequently in the future. But then Evan took a turn for the worse.
There have been varying times given for the time of death, which we have determined to be Sunday June 14 at 9:30 am California time. The reason for that is because as in life, Evan is a giver and because of him three people now have a second chance. We’ve learned a lot about the sacrifices that come with being a donor. It’s worth it! So worth it. But it’s very, very hard. Julie is flying out to be with Scott at this difficult time. My heart and prayers and love go with them. I don’t think there’s anything harder a parent can face than the loss of a child. Know you are loved! Come home safe! And know that while you are gone, Toby will be in very good hands. He’ll be walked by someone carrying a white bag. And confusion will reign.
Meanwhile, are there rocks in Colorado and do they stand? Because that’s where Claire is headed! To Michelle E. house! I’ll bet Jamie can find her there. I bet Jamie can find her anywhere, from what I’ve been told. Thank you, Michelle!
And with that, I leave you! Happy Thursday! Hug those you love! You’re my favorite.
Did you feel any magic in the air last Saturday, say around 8:07 in the morning Central time? I did! Know why? Because I finished the book. And it’s exactly 78,000 words. A SIGN. It took way longer than I thought, and no wonder: I’ve added five new chapters! And the story is much better for it.
I was going to hurry and try and get the doll I’d been working on finished and put up for adoption the next day. I was having the same battle with The Mayor as always. This doll is somewhat specific and I really, really wanted to make two outfits for her, especially as the first outfit was so unusual and “off the beaten path,” as they say. The Mayor just wanted me to get her up for adoption as is, with just the one dress so she wouldn’t have to watch me stress all weekend. Then she had a bit of a family emergency herself, so we both decided to stop everything and smell the roses and I took a second week in a row “off” (still toiling away, and those storm windows aren’t going to put themselves up in the attic!).
Plus, this way I get to make that second and more traditional outfit. We’ll see if you think it was worth the extra time. Coming soon!
Also, I couldn’t let this day pass without expressing how very much I love my son and how proud I am of him.
Look at him! You can see it in his face: He was a great boy who has turned into a Good Man. Adam is funny and charming and smart and has such a strong sense of right and wrong. He was an absolute joy to raise, my little mini-me who is now so much taller than I.
Today he graduates from high school and soon he’ll be going to college. I’m so excited for him and for all the adventures he has ahead! Of course I’m a little weepy as I type this. I’m a mom! A very proud mom. I love you, Adam and I am so very fortunate that you are my son.
Next week, back to normal! With blog posts and weekly dolls and battles with The Mayor and the like. You’ll never guess who won the last O.L.D.! You won’t! Until then…
Happy Friday! You’re my favorite.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, then you’ll know that I believe in fairies. And lucky me, I’ve been blessed with a lot of fairies in my life. So many out there! So many too choose from! But on this particular day, we shall be focusing on Fairy Jennifer, who is one of the fairest fairies that I know, and at random times when I’ve needed a fairy the most.
For example, once when I was laid up from an operation and happened to mention that I was craving a diet Coke, Abracadabra! (which is as you know the magical word that fairies say), a 12 pack of diet Coke appeared at my doorstep!
Or another time when my son was coming for Christmas, and I lamented that fact that the Scentsy bar fragrance “Festival of Trees” had been discontinued. My son balked at the fact that I was using a vintage aluminum tree in place of a “real” one. The scent of a Christmas tree can go a long way in creating the illusion, and that particular Scentsy scent is the Christmasiest of all! Apparently I’m not the only one who thought this, because when I searched on ebay, and they were selling for $30 each, which is five or six times the going rate. I asked Jennifer if she happened to have any (she’s me and The Mayor’s Scentsy dealer) and Abracadabra! There it was! Festival of Trees. A Christmas miracle!
Or one time she brought me a nifty and fun bag of costume jewelry she’d found at a garage sale. When she saw it, she thought of me and figured it looked like something I could use, and Voila! (sometimes fairies like to mix it up with their magical incantations). She presented it to me and it was chock FULL of treasures. Lots of little cameos and other things perfect for my little O.L.D.s.
There are many, many other examples, but the one I’m focusing on today is Jennifer’s nifty online sleuthing abilities. The person in the title refers to me, not her. Because Jennifer can Google and Facebook like nobody’s business! She reads this blog (hi Jennifer!) and therefore knows that I have been lamenting the fact that I was out of “Made Especially for You by Ruth” labels. I’d searched high and low and off and on without success. Guess what? Jennifer found the exact labels in just a couple of minutes! They still make them today!
Last Friday they arrived. I’m going to finish up with the “Ann” labels and then! New “Ruth” labels! For Antiques Roadshow purposes, the font on “Ruth” is different. Excellent! I therefore want to say, THANK YOU JENNIFER!! You’re one of my FAVORITE FAIRIES!!
(which is saying a LOT, because I am very Fairy-rich)
Happy Tuesday and my love to you all!
You know, you hear of things like this. But you never think it will happen to you. Not at this ripe age. The magic, the excitement, the butterflies. The FIREWORKS. Reader! I finally had them!
As you may or may not recall, woman does not live by dolls alone and I was looking for love in the only place one can find it whilst living in the booniest of boonies: Online. And I found it! I FOUND LOVE. I’ve been walking around last week with a Mona Lisa smile on my face, because I Had A Secret. I told very few about it, because I wanted that secret to be mine and it seemed almost too good to be true.
He was a magic man. A charmer with a lilting voice, from Canada – although he was becoming a U.S. citizen on the 20th of this month, and he was very proud and excited. He even quizzed me with some of the questions during one of our many hours of conversation by phone.
His own parents had met one day when they were very young, and married the next. They are celebrating their 70th anniversary this November. So really, it didn’t sound strange that he felt strongly drawn to me, and that he insisted that we would be married by Christmas and that he loved everything about me.
Of course! OF COURSE. This is why I’ve been having all this bad luck of late! The operations…well, pretty much just that. And the occasional bruised heart. And the whole poverty soiree I have going on. I seem to have lost my mojo with dolls. But now I know why! For this! For him. He even said he prayed about us. A God-fearing man! Who was handy to boot and not afraid of bats! I of course asked to make sure.
I wanted to shout it to the heavens! I wanted to post about it on my blog! But I didn’t. Because he did sound too good to be true. No matter, I was going to meet him last Saturday at 4:00. I spent my week singing every love song I could think about it as I worked and thought about how nice it would be to wear a wedding ring again…
I was joking to him that he was too good to be true, and that I would be careful. That if he ever tried to get me to sign life insurance papers after we married, I wouldn’t do it! Now, I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but after that conversation, I never heard from him again and 4:00 on Saturday came and went with no pizza meeting at Wes’ Place and no hand in hand stroll about town. I have to say, that smarted for a bit.
The good news is, I think I have my mojo back. AND! I’ve made a very important decision about the last chapter I have to write to finish my book. Also, my house is clean. I even picked up litter around town for this guy’s visit, fer cryin’ out loud!
You hear of such things, but you never think it will happen to you. Or if it does, you’d like to think you wouldn’t be pulled in. I have no idea what his motivation was. I almost hope it was for the life insurance money he would receive upon my murder. In a funny sort of way, that would kind of be nicer than if he was just doing it to be mean.
At least I didn’t do a blog post about him, declaring my love! Because THAT would have been embarrassing, having everyone know what a fool I was!
It happens every Autumn: the black walnut trees so fortuitously planted in front of my house will drop their fruit, day and night. The fruit will fall all by their lonesome, or assisted by some very crafty and very particular squirrels. Why two squirrels feel the need to fight over one nut, I’ll never know. There are hundreds of these tasty gems, nay thousands to choose from.
Last night I found my little dog Teddy hiding between the staircase and the entryway window seat, cowering. I can only imagine that he must have thought the loud explosions that occasionally rock our house (and all the houses close by) must have been fireworks, or thunder, or…walnuts popping beneath the tires of a passing car. Pop! Pop-pop-pop!
I cannot blame him. The sound seems especially loud this year. I even had a neighbor ask me if I thought the walnuts might hurt car tires. “Nope!” I confidently replied.
I mean, I’m pretty sure they don’t. It’s not like I’m a walnut expert, or anything. One thing I am sure of: I bet those squirrels give each other high fives every time a nut is cracked. Free walnut meat! Less work for them…
My home is currently the scourge of the neighborhood. Everyone else’s sidewalks are pristine cement. Mine are littered with the carcasses of walnut shells, dropped by careless squirrels in their rush to get ready for winter. The first year or two or three living here, I would rush out at the sight of the first shell, and sweep and sweep and sweep, only to come out seemingly fleeting moments later, and the sidewalk would be completely littered again. Those squirrels are fast.
But far worse than those bits and pieces are the walnuts that fall whole. They are large things, about the size of a billiard ball. Mother nature has cleverly designed them to fall at the same time as the leaves from the same tree. So you have these hard little balls wrapped in somewhat slimy, slippery covers buried beneath pretty little leaves. I pray for our mail carrier every day not to roll their ankle! You have to watch every step you take and dither and dance and waltz your way across my lawn.
Not to mention what it does to my mower. It’s amazing that I have any windows left unbroken once that mower spins them in and flips them out, I tell you…Flip! Zing! THWACK!
Still, I’m grateful for the shade, and I would never, ever consider getting rid of them. Ever. I hope they live for years to come. I hope they outlive me. And know this, fellow Rolfians: every time you snap, crackle and pop by my house, I smile.
Also, FREE WALNUTS!! FREE WALNUTS ON PINE STREET!! All’s you have to do is pluck them from the ground. All the while avoiding angry squirrels, of course…
Meet Patty! Doll No. 14 in the Hazel Twigg series and KISMET to boot! Lately I’ve had a vegetable fairy in my life who brings me lovely produce from her garden (my thumb is black). Her name is Patty, and she recently brought me several eggplants. She doesn’t eat them herself, she simply grows them because they are beautiful…
Thus begins my description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 14, Patty. Now, I love Iowa and Iowans as much as the next person. MORE. But one thing I’ve noticed is that Iowans are Very Practical People. That doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate beauty, and simple pleasures for pleasure’s sake, but practicality seems to be their driving force.
So when this local fairy whose last name rhymes with Trenary presented me with yet another batch of gorgeous produce that included eggplants grown simply for the pleasure of gazing upon them, and when this poor little lost girl arrived on my doorstep, and her name happened to be Patty too, I had to pay homage.
I picked out the only fabric I had on hand in that particular eggplant shade for her dress. The fiddliest fabric imaginable! So sheer, somewhat fragile, and very vintage. When I saw it at “*Crazy Lady’s Store,” I had to have it, although I couldn’t imagine where I’d ever use it. THIS is why you follow your instincts and grab things when they call out to you!
You can see Patty’s adoption page HERE.
Eggplant, Easy, Good & Tasty from allrecipes:
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/3 large eggplant 1 tomato, chopped
1 egg 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon water 1/4 cup Italian-style salad dressing
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with olive oil.
- Slice the eggplant into 8 round slices, each 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Trim the skin, maintaining the round shape of the slices. In a small bowl, whip together the egg and water. Place the breadcrumbs in a separate small bowl.
- Dip the eggplant slices one at a time into the egg and water mixture, then into the breadcrumbs. One by one, place the coated slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet or pizza pan. Top the slices with equal amounts of tomato, Parmesan cheese and Italian-style salad dressing.
- Bake in the preheated oven approximately 15 minutes. Change oven setting to broil, and continue cooking 3 to 5 minutes. Check the slices frequently while broiling to avoid burning.
YUM. Of course, if local Patty sees this and likes it, I may never receive an eggplant again…THANK YOU, PATTY! One of the many wonderful fairies that seem to reside right here in our little town.
Cassandra was adopted by the once again LOVELY Michelle E. of Colorado. Corner on the market! Michelle is now the mother of FOUR O.L.D.s. And speaking of adopters, the First Pilgrimage to the Hideaway is afoot! The ALSO LOVELY Lois S. of New Hampshire, second only to Michelle in number of adoptions at three, will be coming to visit Rolfe this weekend on her way to Colorado. Coincidence? I think not!
Lois wants to see my sewing room. Heh. Even the voices in my head are chuckling at that one…
Happy Monday! You’re my favorite!
*Said with complete affection.
As I sew, I frequently play movies in the background over and over, “watching” the same movie several times in a day. It of course has to be a good movie that I enjoy, because I’ll watch it that several times a day for several weeks in a row. And, yet! Lucky me, I have no retention. “Come on, Titanic! TURN!”
My current movie of choice is “The Hunger Games.” Love it! Wish I’d thought of the story! It’s well acted!
There’s this one part that always makes me giggle because of something my sister The Mayor said. She’s a funny girl! So without further ado, here is Julie’s Joke in pictures:
Lastly, in the very last chapter I wanted to have Comedy/Tragedy masks. I was just going to use some I found on Google but my brother Dennis suggested we have Nina do ours so there would be no copyright issue. I’m so glad we did!
Aren’t they beautiful? With that, happy Tuesday! You’re my favorite.
frit·ter [frit-er] VERB 1. to squander or disperse.
There’s an old wives tale, or perhaps it’s a folk story, of acquaintances cleaning out a recently deceased woman’s home. On her dressing table were pretty bottles of perfume, filled to the brim. In her kitchen, collecting dust there was an old unpopped bottle of champagne and in her closet there were several pretty dresses with the tags still on. I don’t recall all the details, but the moral of the tale is: Don’t wait for a special occasion to use your precious things. The special occasion is the Here and the Now.
For some reason, this story really stuck with me.
I find myself struggling with that concept daily. When I work on sewing for dolls, I am frequently working with vintage fabrics. Sometimes the pieces I find have just enough for a single dress or coat.
Or, ooh! Look at these nifty buttons! What a miracle that I have four of them! FOUR!! And I look at the little girl who is next and think, “She’s nice, but I should save this fabric (or those buttons) for someone more worthy.” It’s my natural instinct.
It will be a nightmare enough when I die. I certainly don’t want people going through my things, finding really cool fabrics and trims that I never got around to using, waiting for that perfect worthy doll.
So I use! I FRITTER! And I do it with JOY.
Take this dress that I made for Savannah. It is a mild example of what I mean, but it fits nonetheless. I based her dress on an original from the same model of doll in a smaller size and I used this very vintage green fabric that I have less than a yard of and these cute red buttons.
Her coat was made from the lining of a “London Fog” coat given to me by a friend for just such a purpose. The slithering interior sleeves were used as lining. You can’t see it in this photo, but her coat has a pretty trim encircling it which also matches the trim on her muff. The trim was a recent find from the place I affectionately call “The Crazy Lady’s Store.” I love that place! There was less than a yard and *Poof* now there are only inches of it left!
But I’ve learned that the most important doll is the one that I’m working on right that moment and no matter what their state, they are all worthy.
And in life the most important occasion is the very day that you’re in.
You can see Savannah’s adoption page HERE. I need to hire an efficiency expert to see what takes me so long, because she’s not quite finished. I have her onesie to make and more photos to take.
If I were really really good, I would have also used the cute Santa pin from the original dress and added it to my own creation. I used a sweet old Red Cross pin given to me by the Mayor of Rolfe instead.
I love that Santa pin. Clearly I haven’t mastered the concept completely yet. Room to grow!