Monday, March 17, 2014

An Irish Wish

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Shop

This treasure was unearthed from the deepest recesses of my attic today.  Because Ninja turtles, Transformers, and toy cars - the stuff of boys - would have filled it to the brim, the cradle sat gracefully in the dark for years, biding its time.

Its time has come.  Baby Granddaughter is beginning to play with dolls .She puts her babies to sleep, until now, on the sofa.  She adorns them with beads, after removing them from around her own neck.
She takes their little hands and attempts to teach them how to clap their hands as she sings her favorite song "If you're happy and you  know it . . ." in her 19 month old baby language.

This beautifully proportioned doll cradle was built by my dad for me over 50 years ago.  The simplicity of design, the workmanship, and its understated elegance speak loudly to me.

I remember the workshop where dad built the cradle.  It was called "The Shop", though it wasn't a business open to the public. "The Shop" sat on the south side of Scherer's Hollow, on land that had been in my Dad's family for generations.  Though just outside the city limits, it felt like being deep in the country. Towering hills surrounded "The Shop".  The sun shone only when it was highest in the sky.  A creek with steep sides ran along the hill to the south. The yellow clay earth was rocky.  Hundreds of trillium and jack in the pulpits bloomed high on the hills in the dappled shade each spring.

 The long tunnel-like white building, built by my Dad, had an old wooden lean to on its south side.  The shop itself was a concrete floored, unfinished room that held all of his woodworking tools.  Tall plywood work tables in the center of the room held various projects. Round green metal shop lights illuminated the space. Wide wooden doors swung open on each end.  Fragrant piles of sawdust littered the floor.  A push broom, always leaned up against the wall, was used to move the piles of sawdust around.  I think this cavernous room may have been Dad's favorite place in the whole wide world.  Hundreds of wood-working projects emerged from "The Shop".

My brothers and I spent many weekend afternoons playing there..  As Dad worked, we romped in the creek, climbed trees, hiked up the hill, played with sling shots, moved sawdust piles from one place to another, and tried, usually unsuccessfully, to stay out of his hair.  At least one hospital trip was required when an errant rock cut open one brother's nose.  I cannot imagine how he accomplished anything on those afternoons.

At some point, Dad and Mom built a house next to the shop. They hoped to move our family to the house.  They sold the house, though, when Dad took a job in the city. To work in the city, you had to live in the city.  Several years later, Dad set up a smaller workshop in the garage where we lived, and sold "The Shop".  I remember feeling very sad when it was gone.  I think I loved it about as much as Dad did.

After cleaning and polishing the cradle, I took it over to Mom and Dad's house.  I wanted him to see his handiwork after all these years.  He professed to not remember making it, but as we sat there talking, he kept examining it. He ran his hands gently over the edges. He acknowledged that he liked the design, the proportion, the finish, the wood.   He scoffed at the 4 knots in the wood used on the one side.  Though he may not remember standing in the workshop making the piece, it, nevertheless, spoke loudly to him.

Thanks, Dad, for the cradle, for your devotion to your craft and your family, and for the priceless memories.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


This happily jumbled mess in my workshop is a lot like life on the North Forty these days - 
lots of color, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and daily disarray, signalling a toddler is in the house.

Each day, at some point, Baby Granddaughter insists on a trip to the "B" (basement)  to my workshop where she will climb into my lap to play with the "buts" (buttons).  

She takes these hand shaped buttons into her little fingers and claps them together,
singing her version of  "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands . . ."

She has mastered the concept of "tiny" and the word "smiley face" while fingering
these buttons.  

She spends minutes spooning, spilling and dumping buttons into a container, 
only to pour them out and begin her work all over again.

This "boyee" (boy), a remnant from my boys 25 years ago, always figures into her play in some way.

Baby granddaughter knits her little brow in absolute concentration as she works hard to fit the screw into 
this old porcelain knob from a long ago discarded dresser.

As she plays and works, and when she is not chattering away, I, too, play with the buttons,
conjuring up color palates. This is my current favorite.  It reminds me of a winter field on a partly cloudy day.

During our play one day, I had a vivid recollection of having played with buttons as a child.  My grandmother and mother kept buttons in old tins and baskets.  They would let me rifle through them to my heart's content. I never tired of  fingering the beautiful old buttons, savoring the slightly musty smell, the colors, textures, and shapes.  While my button collection contains only a handful of exquisite old ones, the buttons, both old and new, hold the same sort of delight for Baby Granddaughter.  It's quite nice to share these moments with her, making memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Etsy Crescents Roll into Crescent City

These leggy beauties, freshly crafted croissants, from my little Etsy shop,
 the Felt Farm Market,
 will be winging their way toward New Orleans, Louisiana tomorrow.

When they arrive at their destination in the Crescent City,  the crescents will become part of the costume for 6 first grade girls, who will dress as bakers for a Mardi Gras parade late next week.
This is why I absolutely love the Etsy experience. 
When I opened the shop 54 weeks ago today, I didn't know what to expect.  I checked my shop daily, hoping someone in the world would find it.  10 days after opening, the Market sold its first item,
the Berry Collection, which has been its best seller.
Orders have been mailed to 25 different states and 2 Canadian provinces.  Over 12,000 people from around the world have viewed the shop online, from Australia to Russia, from China to Morocco, from Argentina to France.  Amazing!
It has been a broad learning experience - product design and crafting, material acquisition, composing product descriptions, photography, pricing, Paypal, invoicing, mail regulations  and customs, and satisfying Etsy merchant requirements. 
And, it has been fun!  The Etsy experience is a very personal one.  I have had contact with many of my customers regarding their purchases. One mom contacted me about her little girl whose only Christmas wish was for a blue bunny holding a blueberry and raspberry. Another Mom requested a monogrammed banana for her daughter's first Christmas to celebrate a grandparent's nickname for her. A mom from Canada persuaded me to begin international shipping, as there is not a good selection of felt food available for purchase there.  Another mom and dad crafted a play kitchen for their daughter for Christmas,  with each member of the family giving her felt food to stock the kitchen.
Etsy has made it possible for me to literally connect with the world, one customer at a time.  The experience is both joyful and satisfying.  I look forward to the next 54 weeks. 
If you have never visited, you can reach the Felt Farm Market here. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love . . . The Second Time Around

These boys are my perfect, adorable, never to be replicated urchins, about 25 years ago or so.  I thrill in the memory of it all.  How utterly, impossibly remarkable were those days, months and years!

Well, the dust has settled, it is Facebook official . . . Orion and The One are expecting their second baby at the end of August.   Baby Granddaughter will be taking on a new mantle, that of big sister.

And Mamaw will, one time more in her life, have the opportunity to experience the exuberance, the joy, and the wonder of two babies.

What good times await! Hurry August!!!