wisdom and wisecracks

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Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

This song was originally written c. 1971 by Joe Raposo for Sesame Street, and sung many times since by muppets and humans. I grew up hearing the Karen Carpenter version sung to me by my mother.

It was, in a way, my private anthem. I was too shy and unconfident as a child to make it public. Today I sat at the piano with my little one on my lap and softly played through the piano accompaniment to this deceptively simple piece of music. And I thought that perhaps, in my old age, it’s time to sing out loud.


I’ve been working pretty hard on a rather important project for a while now. It’s more than halfway along but it will still be a few months before it’s finished. I don’t have much to show for it just yet but here’s a hint:

tie dye shirts and baby onesie

left to right: for Dad, big brother, little brother due 12/5.

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water drop tadpoles
squirm across the car window
swimming in the wind

rain drops on a car window


last remnants of snow in the shade
last patch of snow in the shade

bulb shoots poking up through the soil
bulb sprouts poking up through the soil

our neighbor’s cat lazing in the sun
cat lazing in the sun

newfallen and weathered pine cones brought home to grace our table
newfallen and weathered pine cones

two drakes chasing a hen on the river, not interested in our bread crumb offerings
two drakes chasing a hen ducks on the water

It’s too soon to say we’ll have no more snow this year but there are certainly signs of spring all around. The birds are noisier, the squirrels are running for fun, dogs are out with their people, deer have been spotted slipping through the neighborhood. We are spending more time outside, pretending that our bare hands are not too cold to throw the ball one more time before the sun goes down.

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drapes: finally had some uninterrupted daytime hours to do the math for the living room pinch pleat drapes. (Thank you God for MIL.) Even started cutting and seaming panels. It’s going to be tight but it will work. 21 yards of fabric. This is definitely my biggest project ever. Deadline approaching—delivery of new couch—March 15ish.

socks for me: off to a great start with a hand-dyed handspun that I really like and stalled big time on the heel. I’ve turned a short row heel several times now without incident. In fact I think I have turned this same heel as many times as I’ve made socks total. Not good. I really don’t know what the problem is. I’m about ready to give up and find a toe-up heel flap even though I don’t care for the look. Dissappointing because this is my Ravelympics project and otherwise I am confident I would have been done by now with both socks. three days left, I don’t think I’m going to make it.

mailing: I know this is ridiculous but I have three things here that need to be mailed, two of which have been sitting for more than a month. I just need to seal, label and get to the post office. We have a very nice post office here. I don’t know what my problem is. Same as Annie’s.

cleaning/organizing: yeah, lots of that. at times it seems hopeless but I think things are getting better. I’m still seriously considering borrowing a pick-up and just hauling everything to the dump. Okay, not really seriously. I can’t stand to waste anything someone could use. So I pick through at a turtle’s pace, giving away, freecycling, etc. This could be so much easier if I didn’t care!

I think that’s all I’m actively working on. There is a rather long list jumping around on the back burner of my brain as usual. It will all have to wait. I’m going to SPA Knit and Spin this Saturday and I intend to enjoy myself, meet up with some new friends and learn some new tricks.

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Production Artist wanted for tiny creative studio engaged in use of variety of media for various purposes. Ideal candidate will possess quiet enthusiasm for spontaneity and the ability to execute bizarre concepts with unswerving dedication using only materials at hand.

Must be proficient in organizing, knitting, crochet, machine sewing, hand sewing, pattern drafting and grading, copy editing, paper cutting, carpentry and general crafting. Familiarity with paper maché, traditional upholstery, polymer clay, jewelry making, soldering, screen-printing, shoe-making, welding, nalbinding, Romance languages, architectural periods, art movements, and musical styles helpful.

Must be discerning in the use of all types of glues; punctuation; threads; yarns; fibers, both animal and vegetable; acid and fiber-reactive dyes; papers, both commercial and cottage; wood; fabrics of all kinds; tin cans; fishing line and neoprene.

Ability to take brilliant product shots and short videos necessary.
Ability to illustrate will garner serious brownie points.

Ability to work in Photoshop, Freehand, InDesign and various social media preferred. Knowledge of Quark and Microsoft irrelevant. Ability to find and use information from printed books essential.

Compensation will be provided in the form of endless tea, warmly purring cats, giggling children and the occasional home-cooked meal. (Guess which one of the above is subject to availability?)

Interested parties should reply with the number and type of non-Altoid tins in their collection; a two page essay on favorite organizational methods and preferred storage containers categorized by brand, size, material and usage; tea preferences; favorite flavor of Star Trek and/or Law&Order; number and type of musical instruments played; and the answer to this question: Phineas or Ferb?

Have you noticed? I seem to have this mild obsession with lower life forms. Mushrooms, mosses, etc.

There is a tree on the back line of our lot that has probably been dead for some time. A storm last week brought down an upper branch, dry enough to crack into hundreds of pieces, shedding bark and twigs nearly to the street. But among those pieces I found an amazing world. Perfect tiny mushrooms only 2 or 3 millimeters across. Delicate, lightest green reindeer moss. Curling gray-green lichens, lush green mosses, creeping brown moss, things I don’t even know the name of. But all living—thriving on the dead wood.

reindeer moss on bark from a dead tree

lichens growing on fallen bark

moss, lichen and tiny mushrooms on tree bark


We interrupt this generally crafterly blog to bring you the feverish rantings of the author. Most of the family is down with this sickness so it’s been a bit odd here, I’m not even sure what day it is. Monday wasn’t so bad but that was just the beginning, mostly books in bed and keeping the energizer bunny occupied in quiet pursuits to allow her brother to sleep.

Tuesday will be known as the day of the bucket, I’ll spare you the details, poor kid. Rich and I juggled an appointment about the house, the girl’s dance lesson, and taking the boy into the doctor. Now that was surreal. When I talked to the nurse on the phone she told me to call when we arrived so that she could meet me outside with masks because of his symptoms. Masks! The boy took it in stride thankfully but I wondered what was going through the minds of the other patients as they saw us escorted up the back hall masked. Luckily we got to see the kids’ regular doctor, a nice guy with a laid back manner, curly brown hair and a comfortable smile, he reminds me of the piano-playing dog on the Muppets.


If you know him, absolutely do not tell him I said that. After checking the boy out he took off his own mask with a roll of his eyes, diagnosing strep throat. He explained that the government had mandated that masks be worn in suspected cases of H1N1, giving the poor nurses fits. Personally I think this is going a bit far, they don’t do that with regular influenza cases. This is just going to make people more afraid of H1N1. If you are a healthy person you have nothing more to fear than from an ordinary case of seasonal influenza. Down soapbox. By the time we arrived home, antibiotic in hand, Rich was going downhill fast. I still felt okay but it was going to catch up to me.

Wednesday morning I managed to make french toast and keep moving until about 10am whereupon I suddenly crashed. Fever, chills, aches, generally miserable and wimpy. The boy however was feeling a bit better. Two doses of antibiotics making a difference? Energizer bunny? Still going. Too many hours of Noggin (I really don’t like this switch to calling it Nick Jr., what was the motivation there?) The boy and I had an ongoing game to see who could throw more snotty tissues at the trashcan.

In the evening I crawled into bed unable to find a happy medium between cold sweats and raging inferno. My skin is crawling, I’m curled up under the comforter freezing, slowly blowing my brain out my nose. If you’re squeamish you might want to stop here. I’m going to tell you about my nightmare next.

Just for a bit of context I heard a snippet of a song from Oliver! the musical the other day and ended up reading the plot summary on Wikipedia. We’ve also been watching a few two many reruns of crime drama CSI:NY.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens CSI_NY

In the chill pre-dawn light, dark bluish black rough rock walls close in about the crumpled body of Nancy, late girlfriend of the evil Bill Sykes, from Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. A voice in the background is taking note of the injuries, “numerous contusions of varying age indicate blunt force trauma to the head and torso previous to the crime as well as during the crime.” The shadowy figures of crime scene investigators reach in here and there to point out details, bag evidence and express their opinions. “She came here willingly; there are no defensive wounds.” In typical CSI:NY fashion, the crime scene investigation is punctuated with flashbacks to the actual crime. Nancy screams and pleads with Bill to let her go. But his selfish twisted soul cannot comprehend her unconditional love for him and is further angered to raging jealousy by her motherly affection for the boy, Oliver. She crumples into a ball under the blows of his heavy black boots. In his animal anger, he continues to beat her long after she has stopped moving.

Despite the fact that a significant part of my brain was quite aware that this was only a dream, I was unable to rouse myself which set me into an increasing panic. Rich eventually heard me and woke me up enough to snap out of it. Yikes, dreams on fever, not so fun.

So here I am feeding my fever with soup, ice pops, etc. That’s right isn’t it? Starve a cold, feed a fever? And blabbering in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep anyway. Time for more cough syrup possibly. I really should be keeping a chart of who got which med when.

Now into Thursday I think? Kind of a blur. The boy seems much better although still has a touch of fever. I still feel like a pin-pricked rickety old wind-blown skeleton? You see? I still have a fever, can’t quite ditch it. Energizer bunny now has a fever but you wouldn’t know it. She’s still running around, singing her songs, flitting about like normal. I made the mistake of drinking Pepsi. For some reason my addled brain thought that since it was flat, the caffeine had gone out of it? No really, I do remember thinking something along those lines, I can drink this because it’s flat. Bwahaha, what was I thinking? That’s why I’m up again at 2:45.

I can’t believe we are going to blow this whole week on a microscopic germ! Do you think the germ is thinking . . . The bigger they are, the harder they fall? Of course not, germs can’t think. I’m not that feverish. But still, it is a good lesson. “Best laid plans . . .” “Don’t count your chickens . . .” “Tomorrow . . . God willing . . . “

Most of the time when I get out the polymer clay, I use it to make things for the kids or to help them make things, usually animals or creatures of some kind. A few months ago I made this little pink Cape Cod style house. I think the girl must have asked for a house and wanted it to be ALL pink. I thought that would be strange without any other color for definition so I used thick pieces for the simple windows and doors and used the knife to give a little texture without overwhelming the small size. It might be an inch tall or so. After I made it I really liked it.

tiny light pink polymer clay Cape Cod style house

Today I decided I wanted to try making a few more. A light yellow ranch and a light green Cape joined the pink house—the colors of buttermints in a candy tin at my Aunt Ruth’s house around the holidays. I’m sure we had them at home too but for some reason I associate those candies with her house. I also made a gingerbread colored house modeled after the house across the street for our sweet neighbor, E. The kids were excited to give it to her this evening.

light yellow polymer clay ranch house light green polymer clay house with chimney detail gingerbread or terra cotta polymer clay Cape Cod style house miniature

And a picture of the whole neighborhood.

miniature polymer clay houses

I like to think this bears a certain resemblance to our own neighborhood. Not in colors particularly but in the simplicity and neatness of the little houses on our street. And perhaps a bit of the storybook quality of knowing all your neighbors, young and old, and having the children in and out of each others houses. I think with a little cultivation our little street will continue to grow in friendship through the years. I hope yours will too.

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. . . or something like that.

When I lived up in Iceland as a kid, “rain, drizzle and fog” was a common weather forecast. My dad was stationed at the now decommissioned NAS Keflavik which I guess ran a local TV channel which included a news program with a weather reporter who tripped over her words.

Somehow it seems appropriate to the weather we’ve been having lately. It seems like it’s been weeks of rain with a few rare hours of sun here and there. It’s pouring buckets right now. My kids are acting like caged animals, I’ve run out of rainy day activities, my nose is runny and I just want to crawl into bed.

I suppose every generation lives through some great cultural or technological change. I think the most significant change I’ve seen has been the advent of personal computers and how their presence in every home has changed so many aspects of how we communicate with each other and how we store our thoughts and memories as well. I am just old enough to remember the first Apple computers coming into elementary schools. Although we were one of the first families I knew to get a personal computer at home, it was not until I was in high school. Most of my school papers were written out by hand or typed on a typewriter. Letters were written out by hand and sent by postal mail. I didn’t have e-mail until I was several years into college, and that was mostly because my husband and I started our own advertising design business, not for personal use. Throughout college and even afterwards I kept notebooks full of clothing designs, occasional poetry, sometimes house plans, ideas for Sunday school lessons and kids crafts, recipes, etc.

I was talking with an elderly neighbor the other day and she asked if I kept a journal. It was sort of out of the blue and I said no and we went on to talk of other things. Later I realized that I do sort of keep a journal, it’s this blog! But it’s not really the same as having a book that one can thumb through and share with someone who doesn’t have internet. There is something quite pleasing to me about the printed page, whether typed or handwritten.

Just before the boy was born we purchased our first digital camera and I had high hopes of carefully scrapbooking and journalling those early days. Ha! I’m not sure when but I realized that those things were going to have to wait, probably until the kids are in school and I can have uninterrupted time to sort pictures and memorabilia and force myself to glue them down for posterity. Meanwhile we enjoy looking at the pictures and little movies on the computer every so often.

So about the blog . . . I do have it set up to email me each post so I have a copy on my hard drive as well as on the server. But it’s not necessarily the same as having a paper copy. Someday, I’ll be doing something else and this blog will end (not soon). Since I like to try so many new things I often find myself going back to my own blog to see how I did something before. So I think that it might be nice to have it printed out in a notebook format that could sit on the shelf in my sewing/crafting room. And I can’t imagine not ever having a sewing/crafting space. Of course the photographs are all sized for viewing on the web so they won’t print very nicely. But still I’d have the words and the ideas. Hmmm . . .

pinchworm (as used by the boy)

  1. an inchworm
  2. inchworm

  3. a chenille stem inchworm with pony bead eyes as seen below
  4. chenille stem inchworms

I hadn’t seen a picture of an inchworm recently when the boy asked me to make some. We were not at home so I grabbed what I could find which happened to be chenille stems and pony beads. Notice that the real inchworm has six legs on the front segment and four legs on the rear segment, and no neck or tail as well. He pointed out to me the discrepancy in the number of legs immediately although he also graciously said that it was okay and that he liked what I had made. Fast foward a week when a real inchworm happened to catch our attention on the back of someone’s shirt. I picked it up to show the kids and you know what was the first thing the boy said, don’t you? Attention to detail, that’s my boy.

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I was so excited to finish spinning the golden silk that I foolishly decided to go ahead and ply it as well. Disaster, complete and utter disaster to the point there is no picture because I am hoping that maybe I will wake up tomorrow and it will have magically fixed itself. Apparently plying singles is one of the things you are not supposed to do while under the influence of cold medicine. No driving, operating heavy machinery, or plying singles into yarn. Now you know . . . don’t let it happen to you.


Smaoush (rhymes with mouse) as used frequently by the girl

to smash, mash, smush or generally destroy

As in, “Mommy! I’m going to smaoush the castle!”

smashing the pink snow castle


old pin cushion

A few years ago an older friend of ours passed away. She left behind a house full of memories. I inherited a few of her sewing things, including this old pincushion with the heart shaped stickpin and the pearl headed corsage pins. Nothing special about it, you’ve seen them everywhere right? I decided to use it because Anne wouldn’t want anything of hers to go to waste. So the last few years I’ve used it with the increasing realization that it was just falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it. I had some idea of taking it apart to see how it was made so that maybe I could make my own out of a cheery print.

As I opened it up and made an incredible mess, all of these old needles spilled out with the dusty sawdust filling. I was struck with the thought of how Anne had used every one of these needles on some project, for herself or her children. Maybe for the house or for a neighbor, for a grandchild or a friend.

A lifetime of projects sewn with love. Sewn with these needles. A lifetime of needles.

empty old pincushion and needles


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