Thursday, March 31, 2016


Ornamental cherry tree

Sometimes the muse just disappears for days at a time. Actually, it doesn’t take much to make the muse disappear. Sometimes the issues of life just seem stressful, and the muse is not inspired. In fact, I don’t really have anything to say right now.

After a week of cool temps, yesterday (Wednesday, March 30) was sunny and warm. In fact, it was such a lovely day that I traded my dark sweatshirt for a white one and went to town. About every third or fourth day I have to get out – not just out of the house but out of the neighborhood – and the little shopping area in Clarkston meets my need. I even went to Costco. I don’t buy much at Costco, but I was out of vanilla, and Costco is the ONLY place to buy vanilla.

In the afternoon, Mike and Ken took Bess and hiked into the Joseph Creek area (wherever that is). Nellie no longer goes on such outings and Pepper injured her hip and has orders to stay quiet, so Bess was the only canine to enjoy the hike. She was tired when she got home, but not too tired to get up and lick the proffered bowls.

Nellie after today's walk
Nellie has good days and bad. Of course, she and I went for the afternoon stroll since Mike and Bess were gone. You might think that walking Nellie would be easy, but it’s not. She wants to walk in the middle of the street, or she climbs a hill and disappears over the top, leaving me to wonder if I’ll ever see her again. Instead of walking beside us, she will often walk in front and then slow up or stop. Maddening! She also dawdles over whatever takes her fancy, and next she'll speed walk past me and I’m pressed to keep up. She doesn’t hear – or if she does, she pretends she doesn’t. And worst of all, she balks when we try to control her, often a matter of safety. I leash her frequently these days. She doesn’t seem to mind; in fact, we notice that she sometimes she prefers it. 

Addendum: Today I took both dogs for a walk and for the first time, Nellie truly didn’t want to go. She was so frisky two days ago, but today she balked to the point that we had to turn around and come home at the halfway point. Part of it is her arthritis and sore feet. The other part is the heat. We will have to walk earlier in the day.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


As I was growing up, the Disney cartoon characters were not my favorites. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I watched the Mickey Mouse Club, but I didn't identify with the Mouseketeers and felt I was on the outside looking in. While I was still a preschooler, folks were discussing the wonderful new Disneyland in California, but we wouldn’t go until I was an adult. To me, there was no difference between Disneyland and Fantasyland.

But recently, my imagination was sparked by the idea of Minnie Mouse as a theme for my doll display. “It needs a theme?” you ask. Well, yes – a theme adds color and focus. And Minnie spans the decades from the ‘30s to the present.
Mickey Mouse soap dish and Minnie purse in background
I became aware of the current "Minnie" trend in December when I saw a bin of “Minnie Mouse” purses at Walmart. Hmmmm – and just like that I tossed one in my cart. After that, I saw Minnie everywhere – crochet patterns, themed fabrics, costume patterns, machine embroidery designs, and even Minnie Mouse outfits and accessories for American Girls. And I was there! -- “there” being my Pinterest Board, “Fun with Minnie Mouse.” Nothing to show for it through my creative efforts, though – not yet. Maybe not ever. It’s still in the inspiration phase and you know how that goes . . .
Mason, Mickey, and Grandpa Mike, 2003

As I began to think about Mickey and Minnie more positively, I remembered more encounters I've had with them over the years. I have a hand-painted Mickey Mouse soap dish that I picked up at a mart years ago. I was attracted by the fun colors, and I think that's part of the appeal. Disney is "the wonderful world of color."

And then there was that time in Boise back in '03 when Mason brought out his big Mickey Mouse stuffed animal. As Mason sat on Grandpa Mike's knee, Mickey began to talk in his squeaky voice. “Don’t you want to play, Mason? Come on, Mason. Let’s go play.” And Mason thought it was so funny. A person just can’t have too many memories like that. KW

Monday, March 21, 2016


Mike bought a used Bowflex machine a couple of months ago, and he has been anxious to get it out of our garage and into its new location in his “barn gym” at the farm. Since Hallie is visiting for a few days, we decided to make a trip to the farm and take the Bowflex along. We had other things to take as well and a list of things to get and “first of the season” activities to perform.
Crown Imperials, daffodils, iris

Mike managed to load the Bowflex into the back of the old pick-up, and the three of us and two dogs loaded into the expanded cab. Nellie climbed onto Hallie’s lap and Bess crowded in. Hallie was ready to be at the farm by the time we got there.

Well, we never know what the first trip will bring. We found a mouse in every trap and plenty of fresh horse manure in the yard. We turned the water on without incident.

Then it was time to move the Bowflex to the barn. Mike anticipated no problems since the pick-up has 4-wheel drive, but it quickly became stuck in mud as he backed across the lower end of the yard – and it wouldn’t shift into 4-wheel drive. He was just beginning to deal with this unexpected turn of events when the horses – all five of them – showed up.

Bess was the first to spy them. “Arrrooooo! Bark-bark-bark-bark-bark!” As if caught red handed, the horses lined up and stared at us. I was a little alarmed when they began to prance toward me, but that was just a ruse so that they could turn and move to the other side of the pond. They were definitely agitated, though, as if we were invading THEIR territory. Finally, they galloped off toward the canyon with Hallie and the dogs running after them. 

Meanwhile, Mike’s concern was for freeing the pick-up. Long story short, he carried shovelfuls of gravel from the drive and put it under the back wheels. Then, he carried his weights from the barn gym and put those over the axle. Eventually we were able to free the pick-up from the mud, but I reckon it took an hour and a half. We later learned through online research that apparently this vehicle needs to be moving in order for it to slip into 4-wheel drive.

Relieved to see that we were going to go home after all, we certainly didn’t want to tempt fate by trying to drive to the barn again, so we balanced the Bowflex frame in the wheelbarrow and managed to get it to the “gym.” 

Never a dull moment. KW

Saturday, March 19, 2016



Does the time on the clock seem later than it should be? That’s Daylight Savings for you. Doesn’t seem to bother Bess and Nellie. We don’t know what the triggers are in their sense of time, but the fact is, they segued from standard to daylight time without a blink.

As soon as Mike is around in the morning, he lets the dogs out of their kennel. Nellie heads straight for the pillow on the living room floor, while Bess pesters for the morning walk. (Bess is a vocal dog.) Both dogs are supposed to go for the morning constitutional, but sometimes Nellie comes right back.

Next, it’s breakfast time for the dogs. We give Nellie fish oil now, and she likes the oil but not the gel tab, so I squeeze the contents over her breakfast. She reminds me if I forget. She then settles down for a long morning nap, but Bess anticipates activity with Mike. She loves to go wherever Mike goes. Sometimes Nellie goes, too.

Both dogs are hunting dogs, hence they love the outdoors. Now that Nellie’s old, though, she loves the pillow more and more. Bess naps outside in the sun, or sometimes she goes out and comes back in as though the slider is a revolving door.

But when it’s time for the afternoon exercise walk/constitutional, both Nellie and Bess are insistent. Once the school bus passes the house at 2:45, they get restless. “You ask her,” says Nellie, and Bess comes over and gets in my face. Then Bess gets back on the pillow and Nellie takes her turn at pestering, stretching, yawning, and staring at the door.

It’s not easy to walk a young dog and an old dog at the same time. I’ve discovered the best time to go is after 3:00. The school kids have been picked up and all is quiet at the county shop, which we pass on our route. Bess runs up ahead while Nellie dawdles behind. Once we’re beyond the shop, the chance of vehicles on the road greatly decreases and I can relax a bit. The walk takes 30 to 45 minutes.

Then they expect their supper. They might not devour it at that time, but they want to see it in their bowls. If Mike doesn’t feed them, they pester me for it. There’s no explaining to them that it’s too early. They live in the “now,” you know.

About 5:30, if I’ve made no move to get supper, Nellie reminds me that it’s getting late. She moves with me into the kitchen to become my assistant. Bess has discovered that she need not stand around in the kitchen. Attuned to the sound of Nell’s munching or licking, she only joins the party when she discerns the need.

Once the humans have eaten, the dishes are done, and the dogs have had their teeth brushed, then it’s time to settle down for an evening of napping. Bess likes to cuddle up on the sofa with Mike while Nellie stretches out on the pillow. They expect – and prefer – to sleep in the kennel, and if Mike hasn’t taken them out by 10:00, they are quietly restless.

And that’s life when dogs are in control. KW

[The reason I took more pictures of Nellie than Bess is simple: Nellie stands still more often and for longer periods.]

Sunday, March 13, 2016


I recently shopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics where I picked up some wide eyelet trim for doll clothes. Two associates worked behind the cutting counter. As I stood there, one asked me what I was making. (They ask everybody.)

“Oh, I make doll clothes,” I said. And then suffering a twinge of guilt for saying something that wasn’t quite true, I added, “Well, I think I do.”

Both staff members burst into laughter. “Everyone here does that,” said one. “Do we do it – or do we just think we do?” It was reassuring to hear that others have trouble translating the goods into actual finished products. I left the store feeling a little better about myself, and that’s why I go there.

Even though I thought I was mentally in a good place to make progress with my sewing during the winter months, actual accomplishment has been disappointing. I made a list of unfinished projects (called “UFOs” by crafters) and held myself to the resolve that I mustn’t start anything new until I’ve finished some things. Disciplined approach aside, it hasn’t made me happy. Some days I actually fear that I will never sew again. I'll just continue to go through life collecting inspiration.

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t just cut my losses when I get into a project that doesn’t work for me. Inspiration has a lot to do with the ability to follow a project from inception to completion, and perhaps something just isn’t right. For example, about five years ago I had just finished the cutting process for a vintage doll when the realization swept over me that it wasn’t the right project for the intended recipient. It was like a pin pricked my balloon. It remains in storage today. It’s on my UFO list, but maybe it shouldn’t be.

Or, there’s that big shirt I cut out. At the time I was flying on the wings of someone else’s inspiration. However, just the thought of making buttonholes was enough to bring the whole thing to a standstill. I should really finish it, though. I could use it. It’s on my UFO list.

Ruth's doll
I just can't relate . . .
Both my mother and her mother left unfinished projects. Perhaps it’s an inherited tendency. My mother told me that I was not to feel obligated to finish her UFOs. However, before she left us, she would say plaintively, “I didn’t finish the dress for Ruth’s doll," an heirloom from my dad's family. I reassured her that I would take care of it. 

Ruth's doll & smaller friend
Oh, I’m taking care of it all right! “Dress Ruth’s doll” is on my UFO list. But there’s a problem here. Mother loved “antique dolls,” the kind with china heads and leather bodies. She researched and made beautiful period dresses using heirloom sewing techniques. It’s not within the scope of my interest -- and maybe not my ability -- to do that. I prefer to make cute clothes for dolls that little girls play with. Do you think it would be okay if I just made Ruth’s doll a nightgown? (Maybe it would be okay if I found this beautiful doll a new home.)

A beautiful patchwork doll quilt
In the box with Ruth’s doll is another that Mother came by. She’s wrapped in this wonderful old patchwork doll quilt now in a state of deterioration. Note the beautiful embellishment on this quilt. Today for the first time I noticed that one piece is stamped with the words “Fred Kauffmann, The American Tailor, Fall and Winter, Chicago, 1898-1899.” Researching Fred Kauffmann online, I found a series of newspaper and magazine ads for this clothier. KW