Sunday, April 30, 2017


This past weekend was the annual Chapter BL, P.E.O, rummage sale. Sisters worked hard and had a good time, returning to their respective homes Saturday afternoon to put their feet up.

I always come home with junk – er, stuff – er, wonderful finds! This year I just had to have this basket. If it wasn’t a sewing basket before, it is now. And I also “bought” a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker, which son Milo deems the most superfluous appliance ever invented. Apparently a lot of folks agree with him because no one bought it, despite the fact it was new in the box. However, I’ve consistently used one for more than 20 years, and so when it was left over, it became mine.

And something at least mildly embarrassing happens to me every year. This time someone called my attention to a book of doll clothes patterns. “Oh!” I said, looking it over, “I have to have this.”
“But Kathy,” said my friend, “I thought this was in the stuff you brought.”
“Probably,” I said, trying to sound cool, “but I have to take it back. Things have changed.” And they have!

And then, “Mandy,” a Fisher Price “My Friend” doll from 1977, stood looking over the edge of a cardboard box full of old toys calling my name each time I passed by. “No,” I told her, “I just can’t take you home. I’m already sewing for American Girls and Toni, and I also have a ‘patient’ in my doll hospital.” Her smile never changed, but I knew she was crying.

Old dolls seem to come in three general categories:
·       Pristine, new in the box, never played with. Much sought after by collectors, they nevertheless lead dull lives, in my opinion.
·       Gently loved. These dolls have been carefully played with, like my “Shirley Anne, American Farm Girl,” aka AG Kit. (Shirley Anne is pictured here with another of my rummage sale finds, a ‘distressed’ wooden chair – just her style.)
·       Much loved. Into this broad category, my favorite, fall all dolls that have had really good lives as someone’s favorite companion.
So, at the end of the sale, Mandy was in my car with my other treasured finds. I figured if nothing else, she would provide an opportunity to practice doll cleaning skills. These dolls were designed to be washed in the washing machine, and while some might not have chanced it due to her age, I had nothing to lose. I sprayed her with Oxy, wrapped her in a laundry bag, and put her in the washing machine with a few towels. Mandy is/was in bad shape, her fabric body stained by liquid, her vinyl parts showing “ground in” dirt, her facial features faded.

Still dingy
After Zout treatment
Well, she was still smiling bravely – and still stained – when she came out of the washing machine, so my next step was to massage “Zout,” an enzyme cleaner, into her body and then let her soak in a solution of hot water, dish detergent, and white vinegar. With that we made progress! Then she went outside to sun herself. She’s looking better all the time. KW

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Do you see Bess?
Let a day or two go by, and I'm challenged to remember what happened when.

Daffodils bloom in cleaned grove
To review, the drywaller came Tuesday morning as scheduled and said he would return the next day to do the work, postponing the work that Mike had planned for that day. So, he was forced to “make” some work, but that’s easy enough at the farm. First, he worked out in his barn gym in order to energize. Then he did yard work, such as hauling branches from under the trees in the grove to a burn pile. Later in the afternoon he drug an old bed springs over the lane to even the gravel. Yeah, I felt kinda bad not going out to help him, but I decided I didn't want to work outside in the rain, and if he did, that was his business.

In the process of my indoor activities, I discovered the faucet in the laundry room was dripping and everything stored under the sink was wet. I cleared and dried the area, but basically it was another job for Mike. He turned off the water and removed the faucet, which was broken anyway. As I always say, the good news is that it’s now clean under the sink. However, I decided to wait to put the stuff back until the faucet is replaced.

Mike texturing ceiling repair
Wednesday, the drywaller returned as scheduled, arriving just after 7:00 and completing the work by 8:30. Then we had to wait for the mud to dry before we could texture it. I baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies to put extra heat into the kitchen. After lunch Mike deemed it dry enough to add the texturing compound, but he didn’t have enough, so he had to go to Orofino to buy more, leaving me behind with the dogs. When the texturing was completed, we checked our old paint supply to see if we had the correct color. Naturally, we didn’t, but it was an opportunity to toss a lot of old cans and containers. I was pleased that the paint we used in the dining room was still good enough for a small touch-up.

Rape slowly begins to bloom
Thursday morning we were up and packing for the return to town. It was 36 degrees (but felt like 29). We drove out in a light rain/snow mix. On our way to the town house, we stopped at Sherwin Williams and were pleased that they could supply our old off-white “Coconut Colada” produced by Columbia Paints (now owned by Sherwin Williams). We oldsters were amazed at the cost of a gallon of paint -- $37.00 -- and that was the sale price! Mike also bought a new faucet for the utility room, this time a plane faucet instead of the spray nozzle which doesn’t work well in that environment.
And this is the sight that greeted us as we drove into our town house yard. The excavator has dug the foundation for his house, directly behind ours, as you can see.

This weekend I'm participating in my P.E.O. chapter’s annual rummage sale. More about that later. KW

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


A view to the south at evening

The drywaller called Sunday night and said he’d be at the farmhouse at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday. Since we were still in town, we were relieved that we didn’t have to be at the farm by 7:00 Monday morning. We were at the farm by 10:00. It was 44 outside and 55 in the house, but we had too much to do to worry about the temperature.

When it comes to set-up, Mike is my hero. First, he installed the new pump on the fridge, another casualty of the cold winter. Seems like the new part didn’t fit as well as the previous one, but he fiddled with it and got it to work. The fridge is now cold and making ice. Besides unloading the Dakota and taking care of the 4-wheeler and trailer, he worked through a plethora of tasks, including re-attaching the ceiling light in the kitchen. The internet is up and running (obviously) and so is satellite tv – all thanks to Mike.

Another southern evening view
Cleaning was the order of the day for me, and I have a hard time staying on task. Nothing new there – I’ve always been that way. “Can I go play now?” I would ask Mother. “Can I call Christine now?” As I worked away this morning, I would ask myself, “What would Hallie do next” because she’s better at it than I am. I remembered that Hallie would disinfect the table and the counters, so I did that. I also washed many things that sit on the counter, and they needed it. And I “Swiffered” away. I don’t know what a purist would think of those dusters, but they’re easy to use and good enough for a place that isn’t going to stay dust-free for long. It’s just that they get dirty  fast. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

It’s really wet here. Water stands in the fields and it’s too wet to plant. Remember it was also wet last spring (2016), and our land was fallow all season. However, our fields were planted in rapeseed last August, and we're glad to see something growing. Mike says the grass will be a foot high before he can mow. Despite the wet ground we planted our baby trees, and I also planted a dozen raspberry starts that Ken gave us. I think it was too wet, but we had to go for it.

Last night we watched five whitetail deer in the lane at the apple trees. Four of them crossed the road into June’s field where they proceeded to enjoy a hearty meal of rapeseed greens. The fifth headed on down the lane into the burned pines. They were undisturbed by our presence in the yard.

So – the drywaller appeared this morning shortly after 7:00 as agreed. I admit we expected he was coming to do the work today, but he looked it over and said he’d be back tomorrow with drywall. After he left, Mike said, “Well, maybe someday it will be fixed.” KW

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Kathy & Mary with Toni, 2015
In October 2015, my P.E.O. sister Mary gave me her mid-century 14-inch Toni doll (Ideal P-90). These dolls were named for the “Toni Home Permanent” and came with a “permanent solution” so that little girls could perm the doll’s hair. Unfortunately, the solution was sugar water, with the result that we find surviving Toni dolls today with ruined hair. Mary's Toni suffered the same plight. Mary said her mother was so mad at her for perming Toni's hair, but I say the manufacturer set her up. Mary loved the doll, a special Christmas gift from her parents when she was ten, but today her daughters and granddaughters couldn’t see beyond the matted hair. So, that’s why her Toni came to live at my house. When she gave me the doll, Mary commented that she was anxious to see what I would do with her.

Well, initially I restrung the doll (tough work and she’s still loosey-goosey) and bought her a new wig. The wig made her beautiful again, but at that I got stopped – until recently when I decided I wanted the doll to have a “party dress” and attend our Chapter BL P.E.O. 50th birthday party. 

The great thing about the Toni doll is that she was popular in her day and many patterns to sew for her were published. Now in the public domain, those patterns are still available today from private collectors in various formats. Thinking to maximize options, I bought a CD collection of various patterns from which I selected and printed a dress from vintage Butterick pattern 7973. Somehow I had vague misgivings which I didn’t confront. 

Chris made the same basic dress for Betsy
Through discussion with my friend Chris, who is sewing for her 14-inch Betsy McCall, I was reminded to check my fat quarter collection where I found a reproduction “feed sack” print with balloons. I deemed it perfect and set out to make the dress.

Cut, cut, stitch, stitch, gather, gather, baste. Several days went by when I didn’t sew for whatever reason. On Monday, the day before the party, I vowed that I would finish that little dress. Then the time came for a fitting.

Oh no! The dress was too big for Toni – falling off her shoulders. “Take it easy,” I said to myself; “don’t throw anything.” Mike was napping on the sofa in my sewing studio, so I quietly turned off the sewing machine, the iron, and the light, and left the room. Keeping calm, I soon realized what had happened. The patterns on CD were copied unprofessionally and did not provide a scale on the page. And that was the vague question in my mind as I printed the pattern: was the scale correct?

Kathy & Toni head to the party
But – still thinking calmly, I realized all was not lost. The skirt was fine, and I still had enough fabric to re-cut the bodice. This time I used an updated pattern from the same envelope (Butterick 7973) available through a doll clothes designer I follow (here). I was still sewing away Tuesday morning (the day of the birthday luncheon), but I finished the dress. Toni and I were only a little late to the party. 

Mary was delighted to see her doll in a new dress. My plan had been to also make panties and slip, but that didn’t happen in time for the party. No one noticed – or if they did, they politely didn’t say. KW