Today as the cobwebs clear

I woke fifteen minutes ago from a horrible dream.  Between crawling from the feathers and shuffling to make coffee, the facts of the dream are nearly gone.

The bits I remember: I was living in a country where I had to make horrible life-threatening choices.  Do I protect the little dark-haired girl with the gold star on her sleeve?  If I do will I die?

What remains in the part of my brain where the dream was only minutes ago is a visceral fear.  A fear of what our country may be becoming.  Somehow, in my sleep, my brain began to chatter about the grim realities here.

I’m astonished by my fear.  As a rule, I’m a smiling (head in the sand) optimist.

School kids are marching out of classes to demand our NRA controlled government make changes in gun laws.

Our leader, the man in the Oval, states, “There were good people on BOTH sides” following a Nazi-led demonstration that ended with horrible violence.

He bullies, name calls, and is ugly and divisive.  He calls on Americans to embrace their amoral ignoble selves.

Change needs to happen, and soon.  Children should feel safe in their classrooms.  Decorum should prevail in the Oval Office.  Kindness matters.

I’ve been pounding the keys creating and deleting sentences for the last five minutes.  The coffee is thank goodness, beginning to kick in.  I’ve got to find the “and that’s good because…” regarding these things.

Okay, Alice.  You can do this.

The part about the students marching out is easy.  And that’s good because this uprising may actually move Americans toward insisting gun laws change.

As for the “and that’s good because” about the tyrant in the Oval?  I’m working on that part.  If any of my gentle readers can help me out I’d appreciate it.  There may be readers who think he’s good for Americans.  If so, please don’t chime in.  Go read some other blog.

Now, more coffee and back to my sewing machine.  My mind seeks tranquility.

 

 

 

What I’ve been up to

You know how it is when you haven’t talked to someone for a long while? There is so much to say it’s impossible to cover all the bases, so you just don’t bother to call?  That’s how this blog is for me.  Too long away from it.

But once again my fan grumbled, so here I is.

Fun stuff: We had a visit from my darling daughter Mo, her handsome husband Stephen and ADORABLE two-year-old Tate.  We went to the Lowry Park zoo with them, and then to Disney World.  Fun to see that place again through the eyes of a child.

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Jim opted out of It’s a Small World.  Smart move.  The song has been stuck in my head for over a week.

They traveled to the East Coast, played golf and went to a Mets game with Stephen’s parents, John and Jane.

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Late in the week, they all came back here.  We enjoyed dinner on the patio and had an interesting time getting to know their friend Matt.  He’s a scout for the Yankees.  Fascinating listening to his experiences.

Did you know a first-year major league ballplayer makes $520,000 a year?  Shoulda’ played baseball.  But no.  Instead, I make purses.

Speaking of purses, I continue to be obsessed.  Every day packages arrive from Ebay–sweaters to shrink and chop.  Neighbors have begun to bring me buttons, brooches, bags of wool.  I opened my Etsy shop yesterday.  beatricebeevintage.  There are presently nine items listed.  I have two more to drop in today.

Then I’m sitting down to start another.  Not much else is getting done around here.  And that’s fine by me.

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Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 12.14.56 PM copy.jpgScreen Shot 2018-03-09 at 2.10.52 PM copy.jpgThis is half of the vintage jewelry I’ve got awaiting new life.  The other side of this bag is equally loaded.

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Since this photo was taken I’ve finished this little number. The black wool was neighbor Rosalies grannies “funeral” sweater.

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Now, back to the sewing machine.  My handy dandy little “Brother” brand.  Jim thought I’d never use it.  Ha!

 

 

 

Elvis. The Beach Boys. Valentines Day. And further adventures with wool.

We spent last week so far out of our comfort zone.  Our zone involves lots of evenings on the sofa watching Lorelai Gilmore and her Stars Hollow escapades.  Will she marry Luke?  Where will Rory end up? (Actually, I know the answers because I looked up a synopsis on Google.  My bad).

But this week we abandoned the Gilmores and–DRUM ROLL PLEASE–went out at night!

We have friends who do cool stuff.  They haul us along.  It’s great.  The first experience was to see an Elvis impersonator.  Brandon Bennett.  He was terrific!  Now that I’m mostly deaf music doesn’t hold too much appeal.  However, if it’s music I recognize from my youth, I can fill in the blanks.  We were by far the youngest in the audience.  Pretty funny.

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Then two nights later we went to see The Beach Boys.  Only two of the original “boys” were in the group.  Mike Love and Al Jardine.  They were joined by John Stamos who was fantastic on drums.  Mike Love must be in his late seventies, but he was up there rocking for over two hours.  Again, the crowd was old. But not as ancient as the Elvis fans.

Valentine’s day began with the hunt for cards.  We hide the cards in plain sight.  Mine were by the sink, on the computer, and next to the coffee pot. In our house, it’s always three cards per person.  Jim goes big and pays full freight at the grocery store.  I shop Dollar Tree.  Bronson even got a card for Jimmy, so Jim got four cards.  Whoo Hooo.

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Then, at about ten a.m. the doorbell rang.  There was neighbor Rusty with a dozen yellow roses for me!

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Cards and roses?  What could make the day better?  Here’s what–Lynda invited us to come for dinner!  She’s a great cook.  Delicious food, excellent company.  We sat on their patio and gabbed long after dinner was done.

We were out after dark on three school nights.  Very adventurous of us.

My days continue to be consumed with sewing.  A few images of the latest creations.

 

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The front 

 

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The back.  Reversible!  Fancy, eh?

 

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Lined with leopard print. Edgy.

 

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The pink waffle weave wool used to be a Nicole Miller coat.  I’m a cannibal.  Shrinking and slicing and dicing.

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This is the project I should be doing.  I’ve been asked to paint six tiles to give as small gifts for the home-owners who are generous enough to open their homes for the annual Anna Maria Island house-walk.  The image I’ve chosen is the City Pier.  It’s a local landmark.  Sadly, the pier got destroyed by Irma.

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I keep procrastinating because I can’t stop sewing.  OCD prevails.

My second little bag is almost done!

I just need to attach a shoulder strap.  Even managed to line this bag with black cotton, which is WAY above my pay grade.  The first lining was far too small, but I figured it out.

 

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Front of purse

 

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The back.  I’ve ordered tags that say “Crafted by Beatrice Bee.”  They will get ironed into each item.

 

 

Yesterday I went to the thrift shop and bought scads of 100% wool coats at half price.  A Nicole Miller pale pink waffle weave.  A gorgeous winter white cashmere.  Black, red, camel hair, bright green.  They have all been boiled and are now drying on chairs by the pool.  Next step to chop them apart.  The black wool one will provide a shoulder strap for this pink, black and yellow bag.  I’ve saved all the linings to use for inside my purses.

I also shrunk the doll hair. Kind of a failure.

 

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Neighbor Lynda saw these and thought they looked like dog doo.  I guess they kinda’ do.

 

The shrunken heads are now pincushions.

 

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Voodoo dolls!

Today I went to Walmart and purchased a couple of sets of plastic drawers for all the wool I’ve collected.  Now, back to the sewing room to complete my third piece.  Also lined!  Under that button is a pocket to fit a cell phone.  Tomorrow, when the black wool is dry, this will get a shoulder strap.

 

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This used to be a man’s vest.

 

 

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The back.

 

 

 

Adventures with wool continue.

Today I’ll be working on my second kooky purse. It is a commission piece. I was asked for black with bright funky colors. Since I have not a clue what I’m doing, I priced it right.

I spent much of yesterday making little roses out of hot pink cashmere sweater seams. Today the process continues. I’ve decided to decorate both front and back. Yay, a “reversible-versatile-pursible.”

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But before I resume, I have a mad scientist experiment in the works. You may remember that last year, for twenty minutes, I decided to reinvent myself as a doll maker? So, I chose to buy art- supplies-I didn’t-need-with-money-I didn’t-have. I hopped online and purchased cool fibers for doll hair. Mohair, Alpaca, Tibetan wool.

 

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This little lady has Tibetan wool tresses.  I named her “Mariposa”.  She was adopted out. Now she spends her days sitting in a hair salon, watching women pay big bucks for locks her color.

 

However, since I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I moved on. I exiled the fibers to a box in the corner of my shoe closet. For months they lived there next to a small styrofoam bowl containing three incomplete scary shrunken doll heads.

 

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The blue-eyed head used be atop Mariposa’s neck.  But it was so tiny she looked like a pitiful Zika baby.  I decapitated her and started over.

 

This morning I fished out the hair wool, stuffed it into knee-high pantyhose and tossed it into the washer on “steam cycle” along with the brown wool sweater I scored yesterday.

Prior to Super Bowl Jim tried on that rarely used pullover. It’s a Nordstrom purchase from his days as a regular customer there. Back then, each time Jim walked into the men’s department, Louis Salesguy vaulted across the service counter to wait on him. Jim loved him some Nordstrom’s. Louis loved him some Jim.

Sadly for Jim, the sweater was too small. When he stepped into the kitchen and saw the gleam in my eye, he knew that pullover was going to be way tinier before the week was over.

“Into the washer with you,” I howled!

I also tossed in two random wool squares I worked on during Super Bowl. While (sort of) watching the game, Erika, Lynda’s darling German mom, taught me a new more efficient way to knit. Last night when I woke at 3 a.m. I practiced until finally, happily, sleep overcame me.

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Ah! The steam cycle just ended. Time to shove the wool research experiment into the dryer. Then off to play in my “studio,” aka mixed-use-messy-guestroom.

For your viewing pleasure here are a few more shrunken heads.  I didn’t craft these.

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Another day, another strange purse.

The second purse completed!

I’ve been sending “What do I do now?” thoughts into the Universe, and as always the Universe delivered!  I have been invited to show/sell my funky little handbags at the Anna Maria Island Community Center during their annual Housewalk.  So between now and March of 2019 I’ll be chopping up shrunken woolies and combining them with all the random junk I’ve collected over the years.

This little purse is a combination of a navy Nordstrom wool sweater Jim donated to my cause. The blue denim bits are pieces of a scarf I began fourteen years ago for my son. But I screwed up the casting off part (my knitting skills leave something to be desired). It’s been living in a plastic baggie all this time.

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The yellow parts came from a thrift store cashmere sweater. $2.99 and dammit I’m worth it.  It used to be an extra large; now it would fit an American Girl doll. Beads are part of my stash from when I decided to make jewelry. Buttons are my passion. These three lived with the navy blues in my button drawers.

All my items get a bumblebee, as I stated before. Next, I plan to purchase tags the say handcrafted by Alice Jay Tate. I’m off and running, again! New year, new Alice.

Money from this little venture is ear-marked: twenty-five percent to a cause near and dear to my heart, twenty-five percent for my grandson’s college fund, and the rest for greedy Alice. Yay! I’ll probably spend it on more thrift store junk to shrinky dink.

I learned that every other Wednesday the Dunedin Main Street Thrift store sells all clothing half price.  You know where I’ll be twice a month.

 

What’s on my drawing board

New Year, new creative passion. I am having a blast buying wool sweaters, skirts, and coats then tossing them into a hot washer and dryer and turning them into wee-teeny shrunken doll size clothing.

I plan to chop them apart and turn them into wacky purses. This is a great thing because I can incorporate the mountains of other art supplies I’ve accumulated over the years. I have jars of beads, piles of fabric, an ocean of buttons, and an extremely patient husband who supports whatever wild imaginative flight of fancy that strikes my interest.

Yesterdays finds–

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The first weird purse includes a vintage handkerchief that was part of my former Etsy inventory, a wool scarf I began years ago for my son but screwed up casting off, random blue beads dug outta’ my bead hoard, a navy wool sweater Jim donated to the cause, and a silver bumblebee charm because all my artwork gets a bumblebee.

 

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You can kinda’ sorta’ see the bee on the upper right near the strap.

 

Why the bee? Because I once read scientists cannot explain how a fat fuzzy bumblebee can keep itself aloft with such small wings. It’s impossible. Every time I complete a creative venture I feel as if I’ve overcome my own impossible odds.

Now, on to iron my miniature cashmere sweaters, hack them apart and begin making more whimsical handbags.

And I have to give this house a lick and promise in preparation for book club tonight.  We are discussing Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers. Good read. I have to skim it again today. I’ve read several other books since then. My gray matter can only retain teaspoons of information these days. The joys of getting old.

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Elderly is good because people expect weird and sketchy from the aged.  I’ve got heaps of weird and sketchy.

Somewhat related blog posts:

Knit Wit

I’m Back!

Wonderful to be Weird

The War of Art

I’m Back!

I’ve been MIA since Thanksgiving. My fan complained and demanded a new blog post. So fan (you know who you are) this one’s for you.

Christmas was lovely.  We spent it with our sweet neighbors, Rusty and Lynda and their extended family. Then on New Year’s Eve, we took a short cruise with other friends. Following that, I got sick. Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze. Headache. I finally broke down and took myself to the doctor.

We had to get on an airplane. I didn’t want my head to explode.

He diagnosed me with a sinus infection, prescribed antibiotics, and off we went to Southern California to check out step-daughter Amy’s new home and life.

She took us to the Chapman University, in Orange, California.  She works there as Assistant to the Dean of the Law School. I fell in love with the town of Orange. Small, quaint, charming stores and restaurants. If it weren’t so far away and expensive I’d want to relocate there.

I also fell in love with Magna Tiles! Amy’s kids, Deven and Mishri, have vast quantities of the creative magnetic shapes.  Magna Tiles are the next gift I’m buying for my cute grandson, Tate.  Mo and Stephen, don’t tell him. I want them to be a surprise.

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When we got home from California we headed to Anna Maria Island to pick up Bronson the Wonder Dog.  He was staying with his surrogate parents, Brookie and Earl.  While there I saw colorful felted scarves used as a wall hanging. I immediately decided my next creative endeavor would be knitting wool and then felting it.  I would reinvent myself as felter extraordinaire.

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This is a felted scarf I found on Etsy.

 

What’s felting, you ask?  If you’ve ever accidentally thrown a 100% wool sweater in the wash and shrunk it, you have felted.

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The following day I drove to JoAnn’s Fabrics, plunked down thirty-five big ones on six skeins of Paton’s Wool yarn and set out to knit my first felting project.

First I made a small test patch. I boiled it on the stove top until our kitchen smelled like a barnyard. The wool shrunk.  A lot. That’s when I realized I do not have the patience to create a super long scarf only to have it turn into half its original size.

But what to do with my yarn?  I couldn’t return it, I’d already ripped the labels off and tossed the receipt.  Therefore, I made dryer balls. Easy as pie. (Which isn’t that easy, therefore the expression is dumb.)

I made twelve in total. Here’s how. I wound the yarn into balls, stuffed them into knee-high stockings and tied the sections between with string.

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Looks like this artist used socks.

 

I dumped them into the washer on the steam setting. Then thru the dryer at the hottest temperature.

Voila! Wool dryer balls. Supposedly they make your clothing dry faster, eliminate static, soften clothes and are earth-friendlier than fabric softeners.

Now I just hope our clothes don’t come out of the dryer stinking of wet sheep.

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The books that have been on my nightstand.

I just finished reading Susan Vreeland’s Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Before that, I devoured Walter Isaacson’s, Leonardo da Vinci.

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The former was about artist Clara Driscoll’s relationship with Louis Comfort Tiffany and his corporation. She was likely the creative force behind Tiffany getting into the lamp business. It was a fascinating look at what went into designing and manufacturing those amazing jewel-like windows and lights. The book also gave a glimpse of women’s lives in the early twentieth century.

Now I’m hoping to take a field trip to Winter Park Florida and visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. It houses the most comprehensive collection of the works by Louis Comfort Tiffany found anywhere.

The latter book was a 550 page, three and a half pound tome (yes, I weighed it) about the life, art, and genius of da Vinci. I learned so much. Did you know he only completed sixteen paintings in his long career as an artist?

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Sixteen?  Why so few? It seems he loved the thrill of conception. But long before the painting was finished his endless wonder had moved him to other projects, completion being something of a chore. Plus he was a perfectionist unwilling to let go. He lugged Mona Lisa around for years, adding one bit of glaze over another repeatedly. Hence the depth of color and nuanced shading.

He dissected thirty cadavers to understand the skeleton, muscles, and tendons under the skin.

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He was endlessly fascinated by everything, making long “to do” lists of things to investigate. (One example: describe a woodpeckers tongue. Have you ever given thought to the tongue of a woodpecker? I haven’t.)

Da Vinci’s brilliance spanned many disciplines. His curiosity drove him to seek to understand all of creation and how we fit into it.

In the book’s conclusion, Isaacson made of a list of things we can learn from Leonardo da Vinci. A few are as follows:

Be relentlessly curious.

Seek knowledge for its own sake.

Retain a childlike sense of wonder.

Get distracted. (This one baffled me until the author pointed out that Leonardo’s willingness to pursue any shiny subject that caught his eye made his mind richer and filled with more connections.)

Indulge fantasy.

See things unseen.

Let your reach exceed your grasp.

Observe.

Start with the details.  After all, God is in the details.  Whether the phrase originated with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Aby Warburg, Gustave Flaubert, or someone else entirely, the point still remains – more often than not, when something goes screwy it’s because we forgot to pay attention to the details.

Create for yourself, not just for patrons. (This is one I struggle with due to many years of creating for clients, not for myself.)
Collaborate. Clara Driscoll did. DaVinci did. His most fun work came from collaborations on theatrical productions. Innovation is a team sport. I sure loved the collaborative endeavor of designing statuary and fountains with Mary Beth and, prior to that, the CJV team.  I co-wrote a picture book with friend Judy.  It was far superior to what I would have created by myself.  In fact, I wish I had someone to collaborate with now.

 

Make lists, take notes.

And finally: Be open to mystery.  

As for the description of the tongue of a woodpecker, author Isaacson investigated.  The tongue of a woodpecker can extend more than three times the length of its bill. When not in use it retracts into the skull.  In addition to digging out grubs, it winds around the bird’s head and protects the woodpecker’s brain. Smashing his beak into tree bark exerts a force on the head ten times what would kill a human.  The strange tongue acts as a cushion, shielding the brain from shock.

Leonardo da Vinci had no need for this information.  He just wanted to know.  Out of pure and fabulous curiosity.

Eating, Drinking and Merry Making

Four and a half years ago we moved to Florida. I was nervous about how we’d make friends. After all, we were old. No kids to pave the way to other parents. And we were NOT willing to adopt, thank you very much.

We moved, and I hoped a friend or two would turn up. YAY! Friendships abounded. But be careful what you wish for.
We got so many fun friends I am exhausted. And at risk of becoming fat.

Parties galore! Game night and we stayed up until midnight. Cookie exchange and I nibbled through a dozen Gluten Free delights. Christmas party at the neighbors. Lots of laughs and way too late into the night for decrepit me.

And there was the holiday housewalk in St. Pete. Wandered well over 10,000 steps all through the Historic Old Northeast with great friends–also transplants from Barrington, IL.

Wait wait…don’t tell me. There’s more.

I just unfolded my tired body and crept gingerly to our orange day-runner book. I think my joints cracked. I’m deaf so didn’t hear them popping. But I bet they did.

Calendar revealed the Bunco Christmas exchange. As well as another Christmas gift swap with nearly fifty women. Yes! Fifty warm bodies. Remember, I didn’t know ANYONE five years ago. Now I’m going to festivities for the masses. (Fifty is massive to me)

Yet to come? Another game night with surf and turf on the menu. Plus caroling with the neighbors, a Christmas Eve party and Christmas day festivities.  And a New Year’s Eve cruise with party animals.

A plethora of delights. A bounty of buddies.

Jim and I have lots to be thankful for each and every day. When he and Bronson finally crawl out of the feathers, I’ll remind them how lucky we are. (Those two do retirement well)

As for me? Maybe it’s time for a nap.  Just recounting all the merrymaking wore me out.

I’ll go lie down on the sofa and say my gratitude prayers.  With luck, I’ll snooze.  Life is very good indeed.