Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.

Oh the trees around our little cove have been in a very show-off kind of mood this fall. 

Everywhere you turn, you are surrounded by color.

We took advantage of the wonderful sunny, warm days we've been having and took a ride up M-22.  Stopped at the Sleeping Bear Dunes and took a long walk along Lake Michigan.
Such a sweet girl!
This picture is really for my sister and neice, who raise chickens.....

Now these chickens are living in style!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hooked Mats For Sale

When we went to Prince Edward Island, I expected to love the beautiful shoreline and the amazing farmland. 
What I did not expect, and what ended up being the best part of the trip was the people we met there.  I still can't get over their friendliness.  There whole time we were there, we never met anyone who didn't have time to talk for a while...from the guy who pumped our gas (yes, you read that right), to the man out walking his two Great Danes who was off to buy some fresh fish for his tea, to the wait staff who not only served our food, but would sit down at our table and help us plan out the things we wanted to see that day.
On one of our journeys around the island we saw this:
Of course, we had to stop.  And I had the great pleasure of meeting Margaret Campbell.
Margaret is 85 years old and has sold over 500 of her mats.  She works at this frame that was made by her husband.
She works in yarn on her "good" rugs.  She draws all her own designs and mostly hooks "by eye".  This is her current rug.  She is beginning with the border and then is going to put in some type of landscape....she really hadn't decided yet.
She has this rug hanging in her living room:
It is her homestead.  She was born and raised in the house on the right, married and raised her four children in the middle house and the her son now lives in the house on the left.  Her whole life is represented in this rug.
In addition to the rugs that she sells, Margaret also makes rag rugs.  The materials for the rag rugs come straight from her rag bag and are cut with the scissors you see laying on her frame.  (She is, in fact, a little dismissive of those fancy cutters we all seem to use now.)  These are two mats she had on the floor by her back door.  Before that, they were used in guest cottages that she used to run.  They are 30-40 years old.
Remember how we are always told that you have to use 100% wool--everything else will fade, wear out, fall apart?  Yeah.
I was honored to spend almost two hours talking with Margaret.  Oh, we talked about everything....rug hooking, family, life on the island, aging.  She would say, "Oh I just love to tell a good story on myself." and then she would be off.  It was just the best time and the highlight of my whole trip.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's October??

So you would think that someone who just retired would have loads of time on her hands...certainly enough time to update this poor, neglected blog once in a while.
But, after boxing up a 30 year career...selling the house....getting rid of so much stuff that I almost qualified for an episode of Hoarders... packing up the rest of it....and then moving....and then unpacking everything....
Well, let's just say that I ended up like this for the rest of the summer...
I read books, took naps, read more books, looked out at the lake, went for long walks.  And, did I mention I read books?  Lots and lots of books.
Of course, my loyal companion supported me in this...
And Jasper and Moses, being experts in nap-taking and all, helped also.
Then in August, we bought this:
And no, that is not Lucy sitting ON the table.  We would never allow that.
And we went here......
Prince Edward Island
and ate lots of this:
Then we stopped here:
Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy
And then we went here:

And yes, I do realize that I added a wool store to two beautiful natural wonders of the world.  Your point is.....?
Oh, and we also stopped here:
But that's a story for another post.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy....is it hot!  We have all been following Lucy's lead by just sitting in front of a fan, trying not to move too much.  We don't often feel the need for AC here in northern Michgian, but I have to tell you I have tempted more that once this year to run out, get a window unit, turn it on high, sit myself in front of it and not move until fall!
So while things have slowed down around here, they haven't stopped completely. 
I've finally gotten some time to organize my new studio.  When I started the room looked like this....

Not organized, but at least everything is in one corner and in a semi-neat pile.  After several days of work, the room now looks like this......

Don't even ask me what that cat carrier is doing in there. 
You know how you begin an organizational project and about half-way through it looks about a hundred times worse than when you started.  That's where I am right now.
If you will excuse me, I'm going to get a nice cold glass of  ice tea and then will join Lucy in front of the fan.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Hey Lucy,  Wanna go for a boat ride?

Are you kidding me?  Let's go!
Oh.....maybe I should have thought about this a little more.  This is kind of scary.
Wait a minute!  Are those fishies down there?
Yep, the life at sea is the life for me!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rug Love

One last post on the Manistee Rug School.
As I said, I took a class from Susan Feller. The purpose of this class was to design our own folk art rug. At first I was a little nervous, because drawing and I are strongly linked by an eraser and I am more that a little intimitated by it.
Susan, however, made it very easy by providing templates of different fraktur designs.
Here is the table of all the designs.  So the scary drawing part wasn't even in the picture and we could all get right down to the fun desing part.  Some of us made smaller mats; others large rugs with many different designs.  A couple of students came in with their own designs and worked on those during the week.
Here I am in the background hard at work....
Susan's rugs are beautiful and photos just do not do them justice.  Here are three just to give you an idea of the work she does...
This is part of a long runner.  The colors in the actual rug are much deeper and richer.
Another runner.  I love the clamshell border on this one.
Another favorite of mine.  I love the cheerful flowers and bird.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Catch Up Day

Or as we called it, back in my Kindergarten Teaching Days--Catsup and Mustard Day. Oh yes, we so hearted ourselves with our cleverness.
Anyway, SO MUCH has been happening around here, I don't even know where to begin. So I think I will just do the nerdy thing and bullet everything. And add a picture of some rugs from the Manistee Rug School, just to keep your interest.
*First, I retired--oh yes I did.

And you're right if you detect a little giddiness there. Because I am--giddy, that is. And a little.....apprehensive is the word I think I'm looking for. What will my life look like now? What will I do? Will we have enough money? Oh the questions! With no real answers, of course. Like most things in life, things will just have to evolve.

Love, love, love this chicken.

*Next, after firmly telling family and friends that I did not want any retirement foolery--did not want a dinner--did not want a party--did not want, nor need closure--the people who love me just ignored my crabby self and gave me a wonderful surprise dinner. And it was a surprise! I had no idea anything was going on. And if that wasn't enough, those crazy fools got so tired hearing me whine about how much I wanted--no needed--an IPad, that they bought me one.
Yes, you read that right.
Gave. Me. An. IPad.
I'm not sure if it is an indication of how happy they were to get rid of me, but my take on this whole craziness is that I have wonderful, amazing family and friends who can ignore my crabbiness and general Eeyore attitude toward life.

*And then, to make life even more interesting, I turned sixty. Hmmmmmm........I've never been one to do the whole birthday/growing older thing. Life, so far, has truly been an adventure; and while I can't say I've enjoyed every aspect of it, it all has been a learning experience and has brought to the place where I am now.
But sixty......really? Anne Morrow Lindbergh calls sixty "the youth of old age." Let's just say it's giving me an opportunity to think about things.

This was my favorite rug in the rug show and this photo DOES NOT do it justice. The colors and the design....the whole rug just glowed. Let's blame this on my crappy camera and my even crappier photo skills.

*Oh yeah....the house is gone and we bought a very small (720 square feet) condo. We still have the lake house and I think we may end up spending most of our time up here. I'm used to spending summers here, but that's not really being part of the community. So I'm on the look out for rug hooking groups, knitting and/or quilting groups, churches--things that will help me become part of this wonderful area.

I don't want to give up my ties downstate. After all, my life has been there the past sixty years and my friends and family are there. But making this my main home is another new adventure.

This is my friend Susan's rug. It is a self-portrait and the first she has ever done. She tries something new every year at rug school and always does an amazing job.

So I think that's about it. Oh, my husband found me a very cool bike at a garage sale and fixed it up for me. Learning to ride it will be another post!

Monday, July 4, 2011


So much to talk about.....last days of work......packing.....moving.......
In the middle of all this, I did take a week to go to the Manistee Rug School.  I probably should have used the week to continue packing, but-hey-sometimes you just need to feed your soul. 
I took a class from Susan Feller.  She works with you on designing a folk rug based on fraktur designs.  She has templates you can use to help you in this process.
If you go to Susan's website you can see pictures of some of her rugs.  I can only tell you that you MUST see them in person to get the true feeling of depth and color in her rugs.  They are beautiful!

This is Susan holding the rug she made that will be part of the Celebration exhibit at Sauder Village this year.
This is one of my personal favorites:
which inspired me to do something a little different in the rug that I designed.  I'll tell you more about that next time.  Now off to unpack more boxes!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Desire to Create

During our spring break this year a teacher friend and I headed off to Washington DC.  We spent our time doing the usual teacher stuff--wandering around museums, visiting the Ford Theatre and the Library of Congress.  And, of course, eating and trying new wines.  If you know any teachers, you know that the last one is probably the most important. 
The museums were fun, probably because we weren't there with a bunch of antsy school kids who all needed to use the bathroom at the same time and no one was spilling their box of juice all over a very important national display.
 No, this time we were by ourselves and could wander about having only to keep track of each other.  This is no small thing for a teacher.
One of my favorite museums was the American Art Museum.  And my favorite part of that was their folk art collection. 
 I know that if you have been to any of the Smithsonian museums that there are signs all over the place saying "No Picture Taking Allowed."  But before I SAW the signs, I asked the guard if I could take pictures and he said to go ahead.  It is also very important for teachers to follow the rules. 
I love folk art.  I especially love folk art done by people with no art training.  People who have a burning desire to make their lives more beautiful.....who are driven to create using the things they have at hand.  I love the quote from this artist:

 And the carved animals that he created:

 This one especially touched my heart.  The artist was a woman who was confined to a state hospital.  Her desire to create beauty led her to embroider this state-issued hospital gown

As you can see, she covered every square inch of the gown.  I can only wish that it brought her joy and hope in what had to be horrible circumstances.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today's Nap is Brought to You By.....

No one takes a better nap than Moses.....

As you can see we take our naps very seriously around here!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something Fishy

On June 20, I am off to the Manistee Rug Camp. I've gone for the last several years and, since it always begins the Monday after the last day of school, it is always a wonderful and creative way to begin the summer.
This year I am taking a class from Susan Feller, who is known for her Fraktur designs. The purpose of the class is to design a folk art rug based on Fraktur images. Up until now I've only hooked the designs of others, but am interested in designing my own rugs.
I've had one in mind that I would like to make for my husband. He is a avid fisherman and collects fish decoys.
Don't worry if you've never heard of fish decoys because unless you live somewhere like Michigan or Minnesota where ice fishing is a popular winter sport, you would probably have never heard of fish decoys.
Actually, I've lived in Michigan all my life and never heard of fish decoys until I met myhusband. But I have to say since that time that I've become quite an expert on them.
For the uninitiated, fish decoys are used to attract fish while ice fishing. They are hung from a length of fishing line, dropped in the water where curious fish come up and to investigate and then--BLAMO--they are speared with an ice fishing spear.
Sadly I am not making this up.
Anyhoo, as I said, we have quite a collection of fish decoys which, all kidding aside, are a really neat form of American Folk art. I've been wanting to make a rug for him with his decoys as a model.
This is what I've come up with:

The border will be a planned hit or miss--kind of wavy like the water. I wanted it bright and I wanted it fun. So, I'm not sure, in fact I'm pretty positive, that fish are not among the fraktur designs that Susan will be showing us--but hey, gotta start somewhere!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Well, the world did not end last night. At least I'm still here and am assuming others are also. Perhaps I should take Lucy out for her walk and check to make sure.

Anyway, the mad packing continues. Another few weeks of this madness and then we will be back to normal. Or I guess I should say, our new normal as I will be retired. It is a little strange as I have been looking forward to this for a long time, but as of yet I just can't get a feel of what this new stage of life is going to look like. Guess we will have to make it up as we go along. We're pretty good at that.

In the midst of all this moving chaos, I've had to pack away my rug hooking and in its place I picked up a different kind of hook--crochet! I haven't crocheted in at least 30 years and here it is coming back in vogue again. We won't even discuss what that says about my age.
I made these two pretty scarves. Don't they look like pretty roses all rolled up like this?

Here they are unrolled. I think the stitch is "Queen Anne's Lace."