I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Note: my post for the Vintage Halloween Party at Anything Goes is the post before this one, if the link doesn't take you there....it's October 29 post. Enjoy!
I LOVE making my jack-o-lantern every year. It's just so fun, such a simple pleasure...

I'm no Martha Stewart though in the carving department. I can't seem to get the hang of whittling out a masterpiece! And I'm a bit of a traditionalist here too....see the classic face?

And my turquoise baby was HARD to carve, very thick rind....cute though?

The pumpkin-y fun begins with the trip to the pumpkin patch!

In this case a large garden center. In recent years I've gone alone, but my son decided he'd come with me this year. Boy, was I ever thrilled.

Aren't these pumpkins amazing?

Biggest whitest pumpkin [below] I have ever seen. I mean SNOWY white and bushel basket sized. Huge.

And of course I loved these grey blue fellows, they were yelling Take us home! in my imagination.... One even has pink freckles, adorable.

But no. We had other plans....

Used to be my kids would draw the pumpkin face with markers and then I 'd be the carver. This year the plan was to make a TIKI jack-o-lantern. So cool.

I drew a simplified face...

My son carved him. Awesome!

We used the new-to-me little battery tea lights that revolve with different colors. Also cool.

Had to buy some Baby Boos and Baby Jacks too....this pretty bowl can last til Thanksgiving I think. 

Did you carve a pumpkin this year? Did you take a picture? I hope you have fun and a lot of trick-or-treaters darken your door. Do you give out candy or healthy treats? Save me all the Reese's Cups!



gone to the beach....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Beach

Hello, everyone!

Despite the warm and balmy weather, it is Halloween.

Anyone who ever waxed poetic about crisp fall nights and frost on the pumpkin did not live near here. I for one am still wearing shorts...

This doesn't stop me from having Halloween fun though. [Slip me a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and I'm happy til Christmas!]

Tomorrow we are carving our real pumpkins...but for now I have beachcombed ancient wooden nail keg-lid jack-o-lanterns...

papier mache funny faces...

black cats...

orange cats...

Many cats...

and more cheddar quilts...

Plus special "treats" for grown-up girls.....

Lavender-cinnamon hearts....


and another gorgeous sunset!



gone to the beach....

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Rag Dolly

Here is my latest doll...and her story. She is available on Ebay and etsy.

 I love thinking, What if?

I sit and cut and sew; I search out just the tiniest perfect bit of antique fabric...

I hover over the button jars...because once the eyes are sewed on, the dolls are real. Alive. (They have souls...?)

And I waffle about their hair!

I cut the dresses freehand usually, or snip out a quick pattern from a paper towel.

And while my mind is busy my imagination wanders. And I write the dolls' stories in my head...

Nan's Treasures

Eight-year-old Nan longed for a real doll, like the china ones she saw in the emporiums in St.Louis where her family loaded their covered wagon for the journey west. Or even a peg doll like the peddler sold from his cart back home in Wisconsin.

Nan tried to be a very good girl that first year in the sod house on the desolate western prairie. She picked beans and churned butter, carried water in a little bucket from the well Papa dug out back. She did her sums and learned her primer lessons without complaint. And late afternoons she held the new baby while Mama cooked for Papa.

Nan's efforts were rewarded that first snowy Christmas. Santa Claus finally brought her a DOLL!

Nan named the doll Amanda and she loved Amanda with all her heart. Amanda's pretty dress was made with pink calico, just like Nan's own new pinafore! The sash was a tiny bit of cheddar yellow from mama's quilt scrap bag, her petticoat a bit a tattered white cotton pillowcase edged with fragile, beautiful lace from when Mama was a little girl back in Boston. Amanda had button eyes and brown hair too just like Nan's. And best of all, Amanda had a dolly of her own!

Nan was amazed that Santa sewed so nicely and used materials from Nan's own Mama's scrapbag.

When Nan asked her Mama about this, Jeannie Petersen just smiled. She told Nan that after Christmas they would make the tiny dolly a dress just like Amanda's. And after that, during the long snowbound months of 1896 she would teach Nan to sew a quilt. They would make a quilt for Amanda and Dolly.

Nan could hardly wait! Food was scarce that first winter and the hearth barely warm enough to keep the frost from entering their little home. Only the brief daytime hours had enough light for sewing. On windless days, Papa would open the board shuttering their only window, and weak sunlight would creep through the waxed paper. Mama rocked the baby's cradle with one foot and patiently showed Nan how to sew a fine seam. Fabric was scarce and treasured---Nan was given old bits from quilts and aprons long worn out into shreds. She didn't mind. Dolly's double pink dress was at least as lovely as Amanda's! And the old brown quilt cottons had tiny pretty rosebuds if Nan looked closely.

The farm survived. And prospered. The corn grew tall and green. When she was sixteen, Nan married a man from a nearby farm. On the night before her wedding, she kissed Amanda and Dolly goodbye, tucked their quilt around them one last time, and put away her childhood in the bottom of the hope chest Papa made for her, for her future.

This is perhaps the doll that Nan's mama made for that first Christmas in barren, frozen Nebraska...



...gone to the beach

Friday, October 22, 2010

Autumn Migrations

The brisk, clear October winds have brought the songbirds to the Beach. My holly bushes are busy with activity! Gangs of tiny warblers, mostly "Yellow-Rumped"---sparrow-like, each with big yellow coin dot on its back. More rare are the kinglets, the flycatchers, the black and white warblers. The skies over the marshes are filled with clouds of blackbirds and starlings and the egrets huddle together like mournful ghosts among the phragmite reeds. If I look up high I see Vs of geese, migratory Canada geese and a rare sighting now and then of snow geese or huge white swans. And perhaps a hawk or tow will pass by, enticed by bountiful fish and game. The small mallard flock has returned to the swale. It's pretty dry, slim snacking for my ducks this year....

The piping plovers leave as soon as their babies can fly. They are gone by late July. The first flocks of shorebirds to gather and go are the assorted terns, in mid-September. Good riddance as they are aggressive fighters, scary when they attack the innocent beachgoers, including me!

One evening, mid-September, we had a huge flock of migrating gulls fly through. They passed by the Beach at sunset, following a dragonfly migration, it seemed.

The gulls were not our local gulls; they were smaller and very white with black heads and grey wings.

Possibly Bonaparte gulls, because the black head caps were small-ish; or the more common, though rare here, laughing gull. Thousands of them filled the sky!

My beloved oystercatchers slip away by October first, leaving in pairs and threesomes...just as they arrived on St Patrick's Day in March.

The first group of Black Skimmers leaves at the same time.

They surely number in the thousands, tens of thousands?

A second group, whose babies were still unfledged by Oct 2 (I accidentally invaded their nesting ground while beachcombing! So sad, the big babies scurry away, cannot yet fly!)---that group lingers until later in October, but they have now gone too.

This was a small busy batch of Wilson's plovers [below]. They stayed a week or so, then moved on.

And the incredible flocks of sanderlings come and go, feeding and fattening for their  flight to the Antarctic!

I believe they fly the farthest of almost any birds, nesting in the Arctic North, wintering in the Antarctic. I always wonder what makes them move on? Why fly so far, when there is plenty of food here (tiny sea creatures in the surf) and the winters cannot be any colder than their own?

And last, the butterflies and dragonflies. Amazing that they to go so far.
The monarchs arrive as soon as the goldenrod begins to bloom on the dunes.

I know they lay their eggs on only milkweed and that their caterpillars feed on the milkweed. But the migrating adults seem very happy to stop and sun on the Beach,

...then slowly flutter up to the dunes to rest and refresh, to fill themselves with goldenrod nectar.

They always seem so tired, poor things....Mexico must seem very far to a creature so tiny.

My parents in Cape Cod used to see tiny flocks of hummingbirds pass through! How I'd love to see them! I grew a special red-flowering vine for them [mandevillea]...but, no. Not yet.

Late fall and winter will bring more shorebirds, different types: pipers and plovers; sea ducks, loons and geese. Even some seals? A whale? And it seems my little friend here will stay on, waiting for someone! anyone! to bring him a meal.



......gone to the beach

PS: a rare autumn rainbow....promising good times ahead?