Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...






 One of the first things I do when Christmas draws near is to take the Father Christmas dolls out of their boxes.  It's a happy reunion, for  I seem to forget each year  how much I love them.  I really can't believe that I made them (What has happened to my creativity?)  This one is my favorite.  His name is Zeke.  He is dressed all in fur from his head to his feet.











The little trees, one rather tallish and the other not so tall, are tucked into a tiny space in the sewing room. Why, it's becoming more and more like a lovely little forest in this room.  It would be such a happy thing to sew in a forest, don't you think? (When I was a kid, I used to take needle and thread into the woods and sew leaves together for garlands to pretty up my playhouse.)  Maybe, if I just left these little trees up all year round, I would be inspired to get more sewing done. At the very least, if it doesn't snow this year (but, I really think it will), there would still be snow inside to enjoy!

I really love the face on the blue-eyed Santa below.  He looks a lot like my Scotch-Irish relatives on my mother's side of the family.  Most of my dolls have brown eyes like my dark-eyed husband and daughter.  I named this Father Christmas doll, Raphael.  He would never even think about taking a bundle of switches to a child on Christmas.
  

"Raphael" ~ A Father Christmas Doll










"Legend" ~ A Father Christmas Doll


Now, I am off to sew on the Christmas dolls' dresses.  Hopefully,  the little trees will work their magic and I will be able to finish the sewing soon.  I hope all of your Christmas plans are going well, and that you have a little magic to help you along too.  Take care!


                                                                                            Mary





Thursday, November 28, 2019

I Go Out Walkin' After Midnight...








"I Go Out Walkin' After Midnight" (an old Patsy Cline song).  And, that's just about what we did very early this morning.  With rain on the way and a Thanksgiving meal to get on the table, I was in a tizzy to get going early.

It was a quiet and peaceful walk until we approached a little grove of hackberries where a oh-so-precious family of raccoons were having an early breakfast, or perhaps, a late dinner.  They stared down at us, and we stared up at them.  I had the feeling that they and Millie might be old acquaintances for neither party seemed especially surprised to see the other.  Millie was loathe to leave until I promised her a "cookie" when we got home.

So, Thanksgiving 2019 is in the history books.  It was a lovely day even though it was wet and dreary outside.  All of our children and grandchildren were here.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Around the Next Bend...




This has been a week for cleaning.  Next week will be a week for cooking.
  I had rather be cleaning!   Actually, I can think of a couple of things 
I had rather be doing other  than cooking or cleaning!  But, it is always
 great fun when the kids all gather round for Thanksgiving Day. 
 We have all been blessed and are truly thankful for all those blessings.    

It was such a beautiful, warm and sunny, week that I could hardly
 stand to stay inside.  I kept wanting to just bolt out the door and forget 
all about the dusting and mopping.  Millie didn't help matters any, either,
 when she kept going from window to window staring at me through
 the glass.  I know what she would have said if she could talk.  In the
 end, she would win, the cleaning would lose, and away we would go.  



One never knows what might be waiting just around the next bend.  We are good with whatever it might be as long as it is friend and not foe.  The calves sometimes want to play with Millie, but I have trained her not to participate in their play.



And, around the next bend there was the buck we had been seeing
 quite often.  He wasn't afraid of us at all and allowed me to take a
 dozen pictures.  He may have just wanted to show off that nice rack.
  He is definitely a nice eight-point buck, and would be a nice trophy
for some hunter to take home.  




These were the same girls that we had encountered 
a little earlier.  It hadn't taken them long to make their
way over to fresh hay that had been rolled out.  (Say, 
that hay looks mighty good, even if I do say so myself,
almost as good as shredded wheat.) 
  




From every book I read there is usually something that is 
especially meaningful to me.  From O Rugged Land of Gold 
written by Martha Martin (and recommended by bogger 
friend, Rose), it was this passage, which seems so 
appropriate at this time of year.

"I was raised in a religious home, but I had to live in the wilderness to
 experience the meaning of faith.  In the States, I accepted what my
 people believed, conformed to what was prescribed, and bothered my
  head no further.  Here the slate is wiped clean of all creeds and doctrines;
faith is stripped down to the fundamentals; and it becomes clear that 
 all religion is no more and no less than the human soul reaching out to
 the Creator; that the individual, alone, of his own free will and accord,
 must do the reaching.  For me contact with God comes through his creation;
 the forests and the hills, the winds and the tides, the birds of the air, the
 creeping things upon the earth and the fishes in the sea, the starry heavens,
 the loyalty of a friend, love and devotion, faith and work, honor and awe."
devotion, faith and work, honor and awe."

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving..

Until next time,

Mary



Thursday, November 14, 2019

"Gave the luster of midday to objects below..."




From The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Tasha Tudor


What a spectacular week it has been for viewing November's full moon.  We really got a big bonus this month for the moon appeared full for about three days, putting on quite a show, I thought.  I just couldn't seem to get enough of it, and kept the curtains wide open, even in the bedroom.  I kept thinking it must have been such a night that inspired Clement Clark Moore to write, "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below."  Of course we had no snow.  Lucky those of you who did!  

Of course, we all must be realizing, once again, how quickly the holidays are approaching.  It's definitely time to make plans and get busy.  I always think, along about now,  of  the book, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham that my daughter gave me a few years ago.  

It has been almost a year since I finished the dolls for the granddaughter's Christmas.  One of the girls told me that it was "the best Christmas ever."  I would liked to have made them another this year, but I am afraid it is not going to happen.   I am thinking a new dress for last year's dolls will have to do.



I have been making arms/hands for dolls this week.  These are made from a very lightweight fabric which makes turning the small hands easier.  It also reduces bulk and makes the fingers more
defined.  I double stitched the seams, then trimmed the allowance very close to the stitching.  I cringed a bit as I trimmed, but so far, so good.  There are four of these dolls almost ready for clay.  That might be a good job for January. 



Kate  ~  2018 Christmas doll


Mae  ~  2018 Christmas Doll



Until next time,
Mary




Thursday, November 7, 2019

Legendary Hats...






This morning, when I looked out the kitchen window, I proclaimed aloud for all to hear, "It's not a fit day outside for man or beast."   Rain was coming down and strong winds were sending leaves  scurrying  along the ground and away into the fields where the cattle were seeking shelter under every limb and leaf.   Winter was certainly knocking on our door this morning.






One of my favorite John Wayne quotes is, "We're burning daylight."  Well, there's definitely not as much daylight to burn these days as there was awhile back.  Actually, I can't help but enjoy this time of year when we can spend long evenings by the fire, perhaps watching some old movie.  We like the old Westerns best.

A couple of evenings ago, we watched The Virginian, a really old movie made in 1929, starring a very young, tall and handsome Gary Cooper.  The film is well-known for Cooper's line, "If you
wanna call me that --smile," in response to a cuss by the antagonist.
       







Sometimes I get so caught up in studying the movie props of these old movies that I almost forget to follow the plot.  But, what I really like most, besides the horses and the leather saddles, is the clothing  the cowboys and the ladies are wearing.  There were definitely some talented seamstresses working behind the scenes of these old movies.

And what about those hats?  From screen cowboys such as Tom Mix and John Wayne to presidents like Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan to country singers like Hank Williams and Garth Brooks, a Stetson has long been the go-to-hat for both the celebrity and the true cowboy.




According to Cowboys and Indians Magazine, "It has been that way practically since John B. Stetson handcrafted his first hat in the early 1860s in a battle with the wilderness.  What originally began as an attempt to weatherproof himself with a big brimmed hat on the Western Plains has become a great American success story and a potent symbol of Americana."

John Batterson Stetson, born in New Jersey in 1830, learned hat making from his father.  When he got tuberculosis in his 20s, he went west both to improve his health and to mine for gold.  It was on an expedition on Pikes Peak that Stetson made himself,, for warmth and shelter, a broad-brimmed  hat from felted fur shavings.  Later, in his travels, a cowboy bought that same hat right off his head for a $5 gold piece.

In 1865, he moved to Philadelphia, borrowed money from his sister to get set up, and launched his own hat making company.  In 1869, he recreated the hat he sold to the cowboy and started marketing the newly minted "Boss of the Plains" for $5 retail.

And, the rest is cowboy history.  John Wayne once proclaimed Stetson "the hat that won the West."



Gary Cooper and Molly Brian in The Virginian, 1929


Not long ago, when I was cleaning and rearranging, I moved the Cowboys and Indians cupboard into my closet.  I cleaned the shelves after having taken each doll out to gently brush away any dust that might have collected on it.

I sometimes almost laughed at my attempts, but at other times I quietly wondered how I had ever found the time to make these dolls and their costumes.

The hats were probably the most challenging, for I had no molds except for the doll's head itself.  Each hat was made from stiffened wool felt and trimmed with bits of leather, beads and feathers.



Thanksgiving in the doll cupboard....



If you have ever read Lynne Reid Banks' book, The Indian in the Cupboard, you won't be surprised that I sometimes wonder what goes on inside that cupboard where cowboys and Indians live, side by side.  Why there may be wars going on there while I sleep.  Sometimes I do find things slightly awry -- a doll tipped over or a hat slightly askew.

I hope your November is off to a great start, and that your plans for Thanksgiving are taking shape just as you have planned.


Until next time,
       
        Mary