Sunday, April 30, 2006

visions of quilts danced in my head

Enter this deserted house
But please walk softly as you do.
Frogs dwell here and crickets too.
Ain't no ceiling, only blue.
Jays dwell here and sunbeams too.
Floors are flowers - take a few
Ferns grow here and daisies too.
Swoosh, whoosh - too-whit, too-woo
Bats dwell here and hoot owls too.
Ha-ha-ha, hee-hee, hoo-hoooo,
Gnomes dwell here and goblins too.
And my child, I thought you knewI dwell here…
and so do you
-Sheldon Silverstein
I've been quiet. Quiet is hard to achieve around here. Hans always jokes that Ella doesn't have volume control...He's right; I've looked all over her for the magic volume button. We even asked the doctor at her 3 year checkup to test her hearing. Her hearing is fine, the doctor says, she's just trying to make you slowly insane.

But I've been quiet because I've been sewing. First, I finished a quilt that I started for Finn months ago. Great big blue and green squares with bubbles of fabric on some of them. Some of the bubble circles have an octopus swimming by. It's on his bed now, and I think he's kind of proud of it. You can see a wonderful skeleton doll that I got for him from an extremely talented girl on Etsy this past Christmas and his skeleton pillow that I made last year. Finn loves funny skulls, he draws them on everything. He even has Docs (shoes) that I painted green skulls and flames on for him and we all envy those shoes!

Next, I did a small quilt for Ella. Ella's quilt might look haphazard to some, but to us, it makes perfect sense! Any fabric that I pulled out of my fabric closet (yes, there is an entire closet just for my fabric, and yes, I do have a problem) that made Ella go, "OH! Mama! I just LOVE it!" got used for her quilt. So there are kitty cats, pillow ticking, polka dots and florals with all of her favorite colors.

Finally, her quilt is on her bed. This bed is very special... both of my brother's slept in this bed as toddlers, I slept in it until I was 8 and Finn slept in it until he got too tall.

We had a lovely matching armoire, with a bonnet top and big roomy drawer on the bottom. But when I was a teenager a man offered to fix something on the armoire for my Mother. He took it to his home and wouldn't return it to us. He finally told my mother that it sure would be a shame if something was to happen to her and her kids, seeing as how she was a single mother without anyone to protect us. His threat worked, and we never saw the beautiful armoire again. But the bed is more important. I heaped all of my stuffed animals on that bed and would burrow underneath them and felt safe and snug, but I never had a quilt as wonderful as Ella's!

This is a mini fabric picture that I'm working on. The background is a vintage linen placemat and I'm just at the stage where I'm sewing the images on.

But have no fear, Lumpling lovers, I've been working on the Lumps too! Tonight will be devoted to them. I just really wanted to get the kids some summer weight quilts done before they reach an age where they no longer want me to make things for them!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

~My mother loved it so she said
Sad eyed pearl and drop lips
Glancing pierce through writer man
Spoke hushed and frailing lips
Old eyes skim in creasing lids
A tear falls as she describes
Approaching death with a yearning heart
With pride and no despise~
-peter murphy-

On Friday I took the children to see my Granny. It's been way too long since I've been to see her because of my insane uncle living in her basement and I've been afraid of bringing the kids near him. It's all like a really bad old southern drama involving crazy people, expensive jewelry and a mansion on a hill.
Granny has always been glamorous. With red hair and flawless skin, she is the type of woman that makes other women squirm with shame about their years baking in the sun. She likes men and they've always liked her. When Granny walked into a room, the men took notice.
Granny always had exotic pets when I was growing up; there was an ocelot, foxes, squirrels and a monkey among the many.
My Granny has been a photographer, artist, model, actress, wife (three times over!), and mother.
Granny collects teddy bears and dolls. A few years ago she told me that she bought a teddy or doll whenever she felt sad. Her collection takes up about four small rooms.
She taught me the proper way to buy a teddy by looking at his face and finding the one with the most charm... because even if they are all the 'same' teddy, they will still all have different faces.
Granny read Beatrix Potter to me. She could sew and even has a little sewing room that was such a wonderful mystery to me as a child.

Granny has always been a demanding diva bitch who has held beauty above all. She would moan and tell me that I looked like a plucked chicken or worse when I was a teenager who had a penchant for shaving my head and coloring my hair every color possible. She would sigh and shake her head when she saw my sad finger nails and I would feel so embarrassed that I hid my hands whenever I saw her. I thought that because I wasn't beautiful like her that she couldn't possibly love me.

I didn't recognize Granny when I walked into her bedroom. She has alzheimer's now and broke her back last year falling down the stairs. She can't do anything for herself her hair that she has always kept a vibrant red is white... she didn't have on her cherished makeup, but her skin is still flawless. She moans and says how she need help, please help me, she says, I hurt so badly. But she had on a beautiful silk blouse for our visit... Granny loves beautiful clothes.

She said that Ella was "Goddamn cutest little girl". And I laughed through my tears because Granny loves to say 'Goddamn' because of the shock value that it has always had on people in the South to hear such a beautiful woman say such a thing. So she's still in there, you know?

Granny stopped moaning and looked at me quietly for a few moments and said, "you have the most beautiful hair that I have ever beautiful". Damn it you know what I would have given to hear her say that when I was a child? But it takes her this frail and sad to tell me that. I was suddenly bashful, but I can't hide all of this hair that I have. I've stopped shaving it and coloring it for a few years now and it's long, thick and deep brown. I thought that it was boring, but now Granny has me feeling that it's almost glamorous.

Before I left, I kissed Granny on the cheek and promised that I would bring the children back soon. She looked at me with her very clear green eyes and told me that I get prettier every time that she sees me. And it's not too late for me to hear her praise. I just wish that we could have been more to each other my entire life.

But my kids are so lucky to know three of their great-grandparents. So lucky.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

See Rock City!

Yesterday, we had a spontaneous trip to Chattanooga to see Rock City!
Hans, Finn and Ella right before we entered the 'fat man's squeeze' where the rocks almost touch. The kids didn't want to go through that part and Ella said, as we entered, "I'm gonna have a freak out!".
After Rock City, we went to a park that Hans and I went to before we started dating. I was 16, he was 18 and I had the biggest crush on him. On that day, way too many years ago, was the first time that Hans held my hand. Really, he was just keeping me from tumbling down a steep hill, but still...he held my hand and my heart stopped.
Yesterday, as we walked through the massive stone gates into the park, Hans reached over and took my hand. And you know, my heart still skips a few beats. Our kids were skipping in front of us down the path and I was struck by how far we've come. All those years ago, I could not have imagined everything that we've been through... the loved ones that we have lost and loved ones that have joined us...and that we would have our very own mini-me's running in front of us.

Here was the star of our day, the tiny green inchworm that Hans found.

They just don't get much cuter than this.

Rock city has an entire underground area with fairy tale creatures. There are gnomes climbing all over and vignettes from all of the famous tales.

Above is a Kewpie doll fairy resting above a small water fall. I lOVE kewpie dolls. We always called Ella "Kewpie" when she was teeny.

One of the Three Little Kittens who lost their Mittens getting her soap scrub on.

Monday, April 17, 2006

~and i'll be perfect in my own way
when you cry i'll be there
i'll sing to you and comb your hair
all your troubles i will share~
-Everything but the Girl

Ella woke first on Easter and came to our bedroom, as she always does. As she climbed on my head, she demanded to know just why did the Easter Bunny leave such a "BIG MESS" of jelly beans down the hall. I'm pretty sure that I just sighed for an answer. A few minutes later, long legged Finn came bounding down the hall, shouting that the Easter Bunny left a trail of glorious jelly beans down the hall, leading to his Easter Basket! Ella glowered at him.
Ella was soon in a candy daze and the children plucked out and examined every bit of candy.
They each got a new Lumpling from us, along with the candy and silly putty.
And last night, before going to bed, I looked out the front door just in time to see THE Easter Bunny in the front lawn. He was brown and not as sparkly as I thought he would be, but adorable. And if I find out that he was eating my flowers... he'll be in deep dooky.

Here is a picture of a corner on the patio. Hans and I have taken to filling this corner with things that we love and it has taken on both of our personalities. The pillows, birdcage, tree lights, and wire furniture is all me and all of the pots full of spiky bromeliads are all Hans. The table that we made on Easter is a mix of us.

The kids have been with Hans' parents all day long. I always feel kind of lost and confused if they aren't by my side and I miss them. I did a few errands and came home to work on Lumplings. Tomorrow, I will put up for adoption the little guys that I made. It's a set of three tiny Lumps in tiny vintage cups. I'm in love with these cups, but maybe there is someone out there who will love it even more when stuffed with Lumplings.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Burned Bunny

This is one bunny that will sleep well tonight.
This morning, Hans and I made a table for the patio out of a metal shelf and pipes. Sounds bizarre, but it's cute in an thrifty industrial sort of way.
Next, we all went to a neighbor's house for the the grand Easter Egg Hunt. I get burned every Easter included. We asked what sort of food could we bring and they only wanted condiments. Poor Hans was like, "wait...I'm the guy that was on Food Network and you only want me to bring the condiments?"
Finn and Ella had a blast gathering up eggs and then spent the rest of the day begging me to let them eat all of the candy. I try to be all responsible and not let them eat it all at once, but that's just what I did as a kid. Ate the whole damn thing in one sitting.
Ella wore one of her pretty dresses and when someone complimented her on it, she said, "I know! Mama got it for me on Ebay!". You know you have an Ebay problem when your three year old knows what it is!
We came home and made jello beans, jello eggs and colored our Easter eggs. Earlier in the week, Finn, Ella and I painted eggs, covered them in glitter and tied them to our Easter Tree. Every year we gather branches, put them in a pretty vase and call it our Easter Tree.
The rest of the day was mainly spent outside. Ella put on her new bathing suit and I rubbed her down with soap and hosed her off in the backyard. She was pretty tickled by our white trash display, and giggled and shimmied all over. Finn gave himself a fat lip by flipping his skateboard into his face (yeah..we do keep telling him that you aren't supposed to ride with your face) and I whipped out the "Boo Boo Bunny" from the freezer for him. He was slightly mortified to be holding a baby blue bunny on his face for the next half hour.
And now the Easter bunny has filled their baskets and they each have a new Lumpling waiting for them. All that has to be done now is a trail of jelly beans from their rooms to the baskets. And I will drop on my face.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My mind wanders endlessly
On paths where she's leading me
With games that she likes to play
And words that she doesn't say
-depeche mode
Today, on our way to Target, Ella was very quiet in the backseat. Now, maybe with other children this isn't odd, but with our little chatterbox, it's very weird and unsettling, really.
We were soon to find out just what was on her mind...
"Mama? When I'm a big girl can I say Bad words?"
"uh...yeah, sweety. When you are all grown up, you can"
"Huh. Mama? When I grow up, can I drive the car?"
"mmm hmm...sure can. In fact, you'll be able to drive the car and say bad words at the same time, just like mama"
Hans gave us a treat by taking us down to Target and Ikea. How lucky is that!?
Target was full of women, mostly pregnant, attacking the Easter section. Which is the exact spot that I needed to be, so I had to fight my way to the chocolate bunnies. First I tried the "pardon me" method, but that didn't work... the women were transfixed and standing like cattle in the aisle. Then I had to pull out the Glare, and that worked like a charm. I have a great mean look that I spent many years perfecting and now I see Ella practicing her mean look in the mirror and I crack up.
My adirondack chairs that I ordered five weeks ago finally arrived today and I put them together this evening. Tomorrow, I will get a can of cobalt blue paint and go crazy on them.
There are some new Lumplings being born. But tonight I took a break and tried to make a bunny from a pattern that I got from one of my books, and this poor bunny is so sad. He really doesn't look like a very smart bunny. I think that I won't quit my Lumpling day job any time soon!

Monday, April 10, 2006

~You know I even think that she smiled like you, She used to just stand there and smile,
And her eyes would go all sort of far away, and stay like that for quite a while~
-the cure
Lakewood was wonderful, and we all came away with treasure. My son, Finn, found a penny and some lovely crushed bottle caps on the ground, and those were gently tucked in his pockets. We purchased three outstanding little marbles from a vendor for him and a comic book at another. He said to me, with a great big sigh, that this was his Best Day Ever.
And then about thirty minutes later he wanted to know just when I'd be done so that he could go home. My finicky Finn.
My daughter, Ella, was busy showing off her pretty dress and haircut to the
'Ladies Who Like to Coo'. Ella can always find these ladies, no matter where we go. Ella also purchased three marbles and a tiny tin cup with a kitten on it. Actually, I really wanted that cup to stick a Lumpling in it, but Ella has claimed it. I was lucky to even get the picture of it!

I found this great bunny with his egg cart from a nice lady for only a couple of dollars. The ribbons were so lovely that I couldn't leave them! The velvet one is vintage and hand dyed.

This is Ella's adorable cup. She'll have to watch her mama's sneaky ways with this one. I really like this.

Here is a picture of almost all of our loot. The picture is missing the comic books, marbles and a group of antique glass head pins from Germany that I scored.
That bowl is gorgeous! It's huge and full of crazing and now I have it all washed on on our German Easter tablecloth in the dining room. I really wanted to purchase something from the guy who had it. He was all scruffy with a pipe hanging out of his face and he had jazz playing. When you walked up to peer in his boxes, he would grumble out around the pipe, telling you to start digging and find something. Hell yeah, I'll dig for a bowl like this!
The tin cups make me smile with their age worn look. There was another tin cup in the bunch that was very nice, a little bit heavier than these, but the man running the booth looked slightly alarmed when I asked him how much he wanted for it. He gingerly took it from my hands and said, "well now...I think that I need to keep this one" I smiled, and assured him that I understood, because I feel the same way with the Lumplings... I don't quite want to part with them. He hurriedly offered us a deal on the group of four matching tin cups, I think to appease what he must have seen as a crazy family ravaging his table.
We had corn dogs and IBC root beers in the brown bottles for lunch, followed by a sinful funnel cake. My poor children had never had funnel cake before! Hans has been paying for eating that corn dog. With all of his surgeries to remove the cancer and put him back together again his digestion is totally different and we just never know what will hurt him. Note to us: Corn dogs are not a good idea when you only have half a stomach.
I've shipped out all of the Lumps thatI worked on this weekend and they were so cute that I felt a pang while packing them up. But I know they will make someone (and maybe lots of someones) smile.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Go out and play!

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it. -Mae West
In the morning we are going to Lakewood Antiques Fest in Atlanta!
Lakewood happens only one weekend a month and it's huge, filled with vendors indoors and out. I like the vendors outside; they are usually less expensive and have more of the junk treasure that I enjoy.
I have a list, and oh, how I love lists, of things that I want to find. I need more tiny buttons for Lumpling eyes, more vintage fabrics for Lumplings dresses, a shallow drawer to make into a ribbon organizer, a table for my patio, and it goes on and on. There are many times that Hans and I leave Lakewood with nothing in our greedy paws, and that's ok too because I just like to experience it.
It takes a special breed to run these antique booths. I like the button ladies, with their millions of both shiny and dull buttons all organized in little boxes and old jars. They always have one big bin of buttons that haven't been organized yet and you can buy scoops of these for cheap!
Some of my buttons become faux flowers and live at the kitchen window:

My kitchen window holds many of our tiny treasures. Here is a wee metal dish with snail shells and glass critters nestled with other memories.

I hope that our kids are as excited about the outing as I am. Hans and I have been talking it up all day. Hans, of course, keeps telling them about a man who makes donuts fresh there. Usually, Hans and I make it a date day and go without the munchkins, but tomorrow will be special. Lately, the kids have really been having a good time pointing out things when we go to the local antique stores or thrifting, so I think that they are ready for a longer treasure hunt.

My foot is still swollen and very painful to walk on, but dammit, I'll just have to take breaks. Well, breaks and pain killers. Mm, those painkillers might make me a bit looser with my money. I'm usually pretty thrifty!

I'm up to my eyeballs in Lumpling fluff as I'm trying to finish a special project to go out by Monday. Then I can round up a new herd for the site. I love hearing from people when they get their new Lumplings. It takes a special kind of person to like Lumplings and to adopt them. A person has to be a bit off kilter, like me. And since I've grown up feeling isolated from a lot of people because of my likes and offbeat humor, it's amazing to realize that there are so many people out there who actually get it. I definitely receive a lot of blank stares when people see the Lumplings for the first time too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

And there are posies, round and sweet...

Her mind lives in a quiet room,
A narrow room, and tall,
with pretty lamps to quench the gloom
and mottoes on the wall.
-Dorothy Parker
Tiggy Foxtrot having a yowl
Tiggy is our crazy roly poly cat. She enjoys eating, meowing loudly and giving dirty looks.

Today, Hans received his new painting (I'm pretty sure that he's posting pictures of it on his blog...See the Hans link on the side there!) to add to our collection. Over the years Hans and I have proven to be dangerous collectors and we tend to go overboard. This is a picture of some of my old glass ball floats that I collect... if it's glass and a ball, then you can assume that I covet it.

I also collect sheep. Below is a picture of a glittery sheep...I'm pretty sure that I gasped when I saw him on a shelf a few years back. Glittery things do that to me. Hans likes to give sheep painting and drawings to me on special occasions and I now have the most beautiful collection which gives my heart a thrill!

Our Akebia vine is in bloom! The Akebia has to be one of the best plants that we've ever come across. Prolific and hardy, she rewards us with these beautiful little blooms every spring. They are supposed to smell like chocolate, but I've never picked it up...maybe my sniffer is broken.

Speaking of chocolate! Our friend, Kasra, just returned home from France and sent a beautiful package to us with mustards for Hans and chocolate for me. Kasra knows my soft points all too well. For my birthday, he gave me sheep figures and textiles from morocco that I admire every day. And now I will admire them as I stuff my face with fancy chocolate!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
And twists one in his fingers while she talks.
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
What life is, you who hold it in your hands”;
(Slowly twisting the lilac stalks)
“You let it flow from you, you let it flow,
And youth is cruel, and has no remorse
And smiles at situations which it cannot see.”
I smile, of course,
And go on drinking tea.
“Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall
My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,
I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world
To be wonderful and youthful, after all.”
-t.s. eliot
Overnight the wisteria vines have pushed out their heavy racemes. Every year I'm caught off guard when I see the first bloom. For me, it's a punch in the gut of memory. The house that I grew up in had wisteria vines tearing away at it from every angle and I loved the destructive beauty. My first and best friend, Tracey, would gather armloads of wisteria and drape them around her room...across her curtain rod...on her bedside table. She has been gone, her life cut so very short for over eleven years now and I think of her every single day, but I still feel that punch of remembrance on the first day of wisteria's bloom.

My egg cup obsession is still holding strong and they are now popping up as pin cushions around the Lumpling studio.

My little guys arrived from Loloko!

For right now they are sitting on the papier mache bunny that I've been working on, but one day they'll have to move if I ever get back to work on finishing the bunny. His ears are a sweet hand dyed flannel that I like to pet.

This week marks the anniversary of my friend Ryan's suicide. He was young, troubled and had a penchant for violence, but he was also a sweet punk rock boy and I wonder who he could have been if flesh and steel would have never met that night.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Puppy Fluff and pearly whites

Our neighbor, Susan, bless her golden heart, has rescued five puppies and the mama dog. Our town is pretty teeny and we don't have a humane society so I think that she's going to be the foster doggy mom until homes can be found.
But the puppies keep escaping!
Yesterday, I saw what I was sure was a tiny ewok running through the backyard. I get outside and corner the puppy feeling pretty proud of my wild animal rustling skills when Susan comes and tells me that there are five pups and not just the one that I was terrorizing! So she patiently caught them all yesterday and bathed them. But I just saw a furrball outside the window, so I'm pretty sure they have flown the coop again. Puppies are darling, but I'm just at a stage right now where I don't want to deal with poop.
When Hans and I first started dating I had five dogs and thirteen cats. My cats would all follow behind me if I took a walk and I just loved that. But now I have two cats and it feels like the right number.
My three year old had her first dentist visit yesterday and didn't flip out once! You never know with her...she can be fine one second and then the next you have to duck to avoid flying objects.
Our six year old is a pro at the dentist now and knows how to be calm and sweet until the end when they let him get a toy out of a basket. And now everyone has pretty shiny teeth!
I messed with the amyrue site today some with the header image and 'about' pages. I should be sewing Lumplings for the next herd, but there is always this evening!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Baby, it's spring outside

One must wonder if this is a 'yick' or a 'yum' face that my wee girl had when presented with the idea of an apple and rhubarb tarte tatin today.
We had glorious spring weather and Hans cooked sweet potatoes, corn, bread and garlic out on the grill. I limped (something wrong with my dang foot..long story with no ending in sight) into the kitchen and made a rhubarb and granny smith apple tarte tatin had just the right bit of tart for Spring.

Today was a perfect day for visiting friends and we saw our friends Laura, Kevin and their darling baby girl, Sadie. My daughter, Ella, gets all greedy and tries to keep all of her toys from Sadie. But now, Sadie is older and can talk, which means she can tell Ella just what she thinks about that kind of behavior. By the end of the visit Ella was hand feeding Sadie fortune cookies. And Sadie, I'm sure, felt the power and knew that she had tamed the Ella.

Our neighbors, Ms. Pat, Jackson and Nate came up for a spell and My son and Jackson rode their bikes in a billion circles on the driveway. I watch them until I feel too dizzy and must look up at the sky.

And finally, Hans' mother came to have dinner with us and chase the kids around the backyard. Hans' father has been in the hospital for four weeks now with an infection, so Hans wanted to cook his mama some dinner.

And tomorrow the children visit the dentist. So I'm going to start crossing my fingers now and hope that we don't have any fits (me or them!).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Lumplings have all found new homes! Adoption day is always hopping around here. I get very nervous, of course it can be said that I'm a nervous person already, and my organizational skills get tested. There is a flurry of typing and making notes on my graph paper that I keep near the computer. But it is most exciting and now we print out the adoption certificates and pack them up safely with lots of tissue paper and a sturdy little box.

Earlier in the day we hit a local show of Arts & Antiques in the Garden, where I was hoping to score some unique plants or vintage items, but unfortunately, it seemed smaller than last year and didn't have a thing that we wanted. I left, sighing and empty handed.
A local antique store did have a few treasures for me in the form of three tiny tea cups.
Here is one of the tiny pin Lumplings in the larger tea cup.
Yesterday, Ella and I made a sock bunny out of one of her baby socks and it is the cutest damn thing. If I can wrestle it from her, I will get a picture and post it. I'm thinking that I need to make more, call them Sockling Bunnies and stick them all over the house. They are a good size to stuff with catnip and see if it can entice my fat cats into playing too.
For now I get to sit back with my sweet tea and some Lloyd Cole playing and finally relax.