Mar 12, 2018

Mar 9, 2018

How to be Obnoxious in 25 Easy Lessons

I laugh every time I tell someone I wrote a book when I was 9 years old entitled How to be Obnoxious in 25 Easy Lessons.

I had no writer’s aspirations at 9. Not really. I was more interested in my little shoe box full of paper dolls and the Littlest Angel Doll that came with a trunk full of tiny clothes.

On this day, in my brother Mark’s words, I was “pestering” him and my mother while they stripped paint off furniture meant for my French Provincial bedroom. I am not sure what “pestering” actually meant. I do not remember myself as the pestering type. Perhaps I asked too many questions. Or wanted to help. But, this is what I looked like. Would you trust me with paint stripper? (although I have just carved out a pumpkin here and am still holding a sharp knife.)

The one of a kind book is long gone, but my recollection goes something like this:

1. Stand close enough to your brother to breathe down his neck while he slathers paint stripper on a piece of furniture.

2. Put a frog in his bed.

3. Blame him for everything.

And so on…

But this story is not so much about being obnoxious as it is about books in general.

Luckily, my childrens’ book collection survived several moves and throwing out of things: Little Golden Books like Mary Poppins and The Poky Little Puppy and my first ever chapter book, Elmer and the Dragon, who flies Elmer everywhere and eats skunk cabbages when he can find them.

My parents read to us every night, and soon I knew The Little Red Hen by heart. When my father was in Korea, he sent home a 45 recording of himself reading The Little Red Hen, so we wouldn’t forget him or the sound of his voice. He paused after saying, “Who will help me plant the wheat?” etc., to give us time to chime in with, “Not I,” said the pig, the duck, the cow…

Our house was filled with books: art, music, novels, biographies. Our father was our Google, our Wiki, our arbiter of grammar and the Chicago Manual of Style. If he didn’t know the answer, he could usually find it in his impressive library full of now out of print reference books and encyclopedias. The big dictionary on the oak swivel stand was one of the few items we three siblings seriously discussed at the time of his death.   

“Who gets the dictionary?”


Mar 2, 2018

Afghan Stitch Sampler

A book called Pick Your Stitch, Build a Blanket by Doreen L.Marquart inspired me to make this lap robe above. The photo on the left is of the 36 squares stacked and ready to be sewn. The book has 80 different stitch patterns designed to make the same size squares. Very handy. Excellent instructions.

Mar 1, 2018

A Simple Scarf Project

This scarf is a great project for a beginner. It is done with a garter stitch all the way (knit, knit, knit forever) except for a little bit of checkerboard (knit four, purl four) until the right length. Just add on whatever colors you like. I used Merino Extra Superfine washable wool with size 7 needles. I  cast on thirty stitches and made it just long enough to lay comfortably across the chest, by request. It’s a soft, cozy beauty.

GB's Love Notes

Writing notes is an art lost to the generations after boomers. It's quicker to send an email, or even a text. Or, perhaps a wave and a "Thanks!" on the way out the door is enough.

My mother was a perfectly imperfect human in many ways, and I have forgiven her, in absentia of course, for all the weird things she did, like make me wear tunics to school in the 7th grade to cover up my well developed you know whats.

But she was a class act. I say it that way because it was one of her pet peeves. She thought that if you had to mention it, you weren't. But, she was.

She drilled mega doses of manners and niceties into me that I cannot ever discard or let go. I thank her for things I take for granted:

knowing how to set a table
chewing with my mouth closed
opening doors for others
honoring elders
leaving a place better than when I found it
the art of the thank you note.
I supppose I have to thank the Dominican Nuns
for teaching me cursive writing, even if they did try to make me right handed.

I'll thank my father, while we're at it, for teaching me the art of inquisitiveness and a love of words.

In an earlier post, I mention the Studio in a Shoe Box of my childhood, filled with paper dolls, valentines and tiny plastic scissors. The box is bigger today, but the idea is the same: be prepared.

 These envelopes were made from a 4x6 template from old books, magazine and songbooks.