Grandma’s Got A Brand New BAG

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You can see why I thought perhaps she was a grandma when I could only see the top of her head.
S.J.’s hair got noticeably lighter after washing.

The girl standing at the door was rather large. Even so, it was impossible to see her face beneath the pile of clothes she was carrying in her arms. Was she a girl? Or a little old lady? The hair peeking out from the top of the pile was decidedly gray…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 118, Sally Joy. We call her S.J. You can see her adoption page HERE.

This is only the second time I’ve had this particular doll model walk through my door. HERE’S the first. Her name was Felicity. She’s the one I gave the first legolectomy to. Luckily for me, S.J.’s legs were just fine.

One would think with all the clothes she arrived with I wouldn’t need to make her a thing! That I could simply clean her, do a few needed repairs to her composition, and send her on her way. AU CONTRAIRE!

First of all, S.J. arrived just as the hasn’t-happened-in-20-years Polar Vortex was ending, where temperatures were well below zero for both highs and lows, and the “feels like” temps were -50 degrees! All of S.J.’s clothes appeared to be more suited to summer.

The dress on the right is a little large, but I didn’t show it on her adoption page so I’m showing it here. Not shown is a beautiful, crisp white on white embroidered slip that’s much older than S.J. It too is too big, but it’s coming with her too!
Bless her heart, S.J. doesn’t have much in the way of hips (I’ll share mine!) so I made the top with a bit of a flare.

One of my inspiration images.

To go with her summery clothes, I made some white leather sandals and the floppy hat with the large white flower. They go with everything.

Perhaps I was longing for a little summer myself; the first thing I made for her was a 1920’s style bathing suit. I also made a simple “wrap” – basically, a square piece of cloth, selvage to selvage and hemmed on either side, that she could use as a towel or simply to lay upon the beach. The fabric came from an old cardboard suitcase that was filled with 1930’s fabric that I found in the house I bought behind me. One of my FAVORITE FINDS EVER.

Thanks, Jule!

Then I set about making her more wintry outfit. A kind fellow Rolfian we shall call Jule H. – not to be confused with me wee own sister – had been cleaning out her fabric supply and gifted me with a bag of fabric! I LOVE fresh meat! I also love fresh fabric…When S.J.’s wig became so noticeably lighter, I thought that the pretty cream checked fabric contained within that bag would make her sort of glow.

That’s a lot of stuff. Believe it or not, I still need to make some undies.

I then made her a very heavy, very 20’s style coat, a coordinating wool cloche-style hat, and a pair of brown leather shoes. And of course, a carpet bag to carry everything in so she could more easily make her way to her new home.

She comes with a LOT of stuff. At 23″ give or take, she’s a rather large girl. But like all large girls, she can sit with several smaller dolls on her lap so barely takes up any space at all when it comes right down to it. And she is oh so very kind.

Wee little Pendleton, my very first composition doll ever, went to…the lovely Linda L. of Portola Valley, California! California happens to be where I was living when I adopted her in the first place. Pendleton has gone full circle. Thank you, Linda!

And with that, I leave you! I think we’re on our last single digit weather day. Spring is in the air! And YOU are my favorite.

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Set Her Free

Reader, I could not believe my eyes when I opened a bin from a dark corner of the closet and saw her laying there. I checked her back just to make sure and saw the horrible strips of skin that confirmed her identity, but I already knew. I turned her back over and looked at the sweet face I’d first seen 20 years ago. There was no mistaking those features. After all, I’d painted them myself…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 117, Pendleton. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Thank goodness when I tried this method, I tried it on her back, poor thing.

There was a time when I didn’t know that composition dolls existed. I don’t know if I ever would have were it not for the popping of my childhood friend into my life for a brief moment. She showed me her collection of old dolls and I was entranced. WOW. There were bisques, hard plastics and composition dolls. For the next few years I would scour the antique stores for ones I could afford but never found any.

Fast forward to 1999. I was standing in the living room in my little house in Napa, California talking to my sister Carol, when she handed the phone to her daughter Rhiannon. There was excitement and relish in her voice as she told me, “There’s this site. You’re going to absolutely love it. It’s called ‘Ebay’.”

I have no actual “Before” picture. This was back in the day of the One Hour Photo, or the scanner, if you were lucky. I removed her painted features with skilled photo editing. Ahem.

Ebay? What a strange name! I joined but worried about sending my money to some stranger. These were the days before Paypal, when you would pay by mail. It seemed like quite the risky gamble. But then I saw her. That goggly fish. She was filthy and had no hair or painted features, and she was cracked all over but she was also very affordable. I loved her instantly.

I found a nice little wig for her.

When it came time for her auction to finish, I waited anxiously by the computer, my heart pounding, my cheeks flushed. I put in a bid, but was it enough? There was no automatic countdown. You had to refresh the page each time. And when you did, it reloaded as slowly as the sun rising above the horizon, except backwards and line by line…by…line. GAH!!! I was almost too scared to look, but I HAD WON HER!!! And it hadn’t even been a contest! Apparently, no one wanted her but me. That suited me just fine.

Once she was finally into my anxious little hands, after my check traveled one way, and then she traveled the other, the next problem became how to fix her. I got a very well known doll repair book that mentioned “Formby’s” and how it magically re-creamed the composition together, kind of like a paint thinner. This didn’t seem right at all, but nothing ventured…

Seems legit. JUST KIDDING, DON’T DO THIS!!

I didn’t have any Formby’s or paint thinner on hand, but I had fingernail polish remover! It seems so silly now, but I was merely trying to be brave and doing what I could for this girl. I was horrified when I saw the results. WHAT TO DO?

Then a light bulb went on over my head. My friend Holly! She had mentioned doll repair while I was still trying to absorb the wonders of these creatures that weren’t in museums or antique stores behind glass. I contacted her. And she gave me that best tip I use to this day.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Pendleton clothes. My brother Kenny worked at the Pendleton store at Disneyland for a time.
This dress is made from a Pendleton suit a neighbor gave me. How fortuitous!

And now here she sat, poor little Pendleton. Lonely and forgotten. That sweet face that started everything for me now as neglected as the Once-Loved Dolls I vowed to try to save. Which is why as an act of love this Valentine season I’m letting her go. THANK YOU, PENDLETON!! I shall never, ever forget you.

As I mentioned on Pendleton’s adoption page, there’s a song from a movie that would move me to gulping, sobbing tears if I let it. Instead I control myself, genteelly biting my lips, silent tears flowing like diamonds down my rose petal cheeks. Also, my nose gets a little snotty. Can you guess it? Here it is:

“When She Loved Me” sung by Jessie in Toy Story 2. This song gets me every time! Julie just snorts, so I guess not everyone feels the same way. I’m sure Julie has many other good qualities. Sniff!

On a side note, I’d like to thank the wonderful people of Rolfe who attended or participated in any way in the breakfast and bake sale auction benefit for Julie and Scott. BEST TOWN EVER. This is one of the many reasons I love Iowa, and Rolfe in particular!

FRANK & SPOT were adopted by…Adele M. of Castroville, Texas! They will be in good company as this is the fifth O.L.D. for Adele, including a previous Kewpie, Jude the Mail Carrier. Thank you, sweet girl!

And thank YOU. Aren’t I lucky to have so many Valentines in my life? Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart! You know you’re my favorite.

Right Said Fred!

One never knows when one might need a rescue. During Valentine’s day for sure! Especially when it’s a Kewpie and his ever dotted dog…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 116, Fred the Firefighter and his Trusty Sidekick Spot. You can see their adoption page HERE.

There wasn’t much to do to Fred. The difference of “Before/After” is much more dramatic in person.

Fred, as you may have guessed by now because you are fast becoming an expert, is a 12″ composition Kewpie doll. He is the third Kewpie to have passed through the Hideaway’s doors. Can you sense a theme with me and Kewpies? That’s right, they’re all daily heroes!

FRED & SPOT on the left, ERNIE in the center, and JUDE on the right.

That’s right! They’re all HEROES.

I tried to get him to do a calendar-like post as firefighters are known for their calendars that are sold to raise money for good and charitable causes, frequently with rippling muscles and “Come hither” gazes. Fred was shy at first. I showed him some examples. “See? They pose with their dogs. You can pose with Spot!”

We came close!

Behold the rippling muscles of his biceps! Some might call them mold flaws from factory, but we know better! Clearly, Fred has been working out.

Spot was made with a former stuffed rabbit toy. The fur was rather thick and had to be trimmed. For awhile I looked like a stuff toy myself, so covered in fur was I.

Fred’s helmet was made from leather with a chipboard frame. I studied a lot of fire helmets old and new to figure out how I wanted mine to look.

The ridges on vintage fire helmets are very pronounced, so I did reverse French seams. These things take a lot of pondering…

Because it is so close to Valentine’s day, Fred will not come empty handed! It would never even occur to him! Hopefully, he will send someone’s heart a-flutter…

Nicholas was adopted by Adele M. of Castroville, Texas. She has three previous O.L.D.’s, including Jude the Mail Carrier himself! THANK YOU, Adele, you are much appreciated!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Playoff day and may the games be GOOD. But whether good or bad, you’re my favorite.

Fearlessly Facing the NEW YEAR

We mortals sometimes have a hard time not judging a book by its cover. I have learned that this is most unfair when it comes to those whose features are painted on, especially when done against their will.

“I am NOT afraid!” Nicholas protested when I told him my thoughts. “I am BRAVE. Can you help?”

Hoo. This was going to be a tall order. But if Nicholas could be brave with eyebrows like that, then so could I. “Why, YES I CAN…”

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. 114, Nicholas the Toy Soldier. You can see his adoption page HERE.

His mustache and rosy cheeks string on like an old fashioned fake beard – with elastic.

Refilling and repainting Nicholas’ face was daunting. The top layer of paint is very thick – too thick to be filled in with mere paint, and a lot more “skin” flaked off with cleaning. Including one of Nick’s “fraidy cat” brows. The other I had to remove with the tip of a pin. I used epoxy, sandpaper, paint and prayers..

Nick is a 15″ Schoenhut doll. Their wigs are originall nailed onto their heads, as was Nick’s. I didn’t want to remove it for washing, so I spritzed it with Windex and blotted it dry.

He was now ready to MARCH! And march he did. His outfit is trimmed with gold braid of various kinds sent to me by the lovely Janey J. of Oakland, California, along with his red plume. The visor and strap on his hat is made from black patent leather.

For his “civilian” outfit when he’s not marching, I channeled Christopher Robin from A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” books, because he often wore boots and shorts.

Nick is the last doll of 2018 and adoption ends this Sunday. Then his new adventures with a brand new (to him) human BEGIN.

As do all of ours! Speaking of new adventures, I have a feeling 2019 is going to be our year. To begin with, I’m slowly updating “The O.L.D. Registry.” You can see the little link way above at the top of this page on the right. So far I’m up to O.L.D. No. 60 with the help of my brother Dennis. Little by little I’ll get to No. 115 and add each lost doll as their new journey begins. There are a few tweaks to be made to the first 20, but there you’ll see which doll was number what, who adopted her, and what her adoption fee ended up being. Always interesting to see, I think! What would I change with these dolls of the past? NOTHING. I do my best with each and every one.

By the way, WordPress has changed its format and I’m still trying to figure things out. Hope this looks normal, we’ll see!

Cherry and Wills were adopted by Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas. This is magical number 4 for her! THANK YOU, Gwen.

And with that, I leave you! HAPPY NEW YEAR, the best is yet to come, and you’re my favorite.

STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS!

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.

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.