Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween Therapy Dogs!

These sweet family pets are also working dogs! They are therapy dogs who help heal and entertain! These wonderful therapy dogs, along with their owners, a pumpkin girl and a happy clown, visited an assisted living home to entertain the residents. Everyone had a Happy Halloween time! No wonder! Aren't these dogs and their friends just too cute?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Artist Trading Cards!

Creating collage cards a.k.a. Artist Trading Cards or ATC’s is one of the most popular forms of mixed media collage art today. A basic card, in the most common size, is a 2-1/2” x 3-1/2” rectangle cut from paper, most often cardstock. Scrapbook papers are also fun to use as they offer so many bright and interesting patterns and designs. One sheet of 8 ½” x 11” will yield 10 cards as follows: cut two lengthwise strips 2-1/2” wide, leaving a strip 3-1/2” wide. Then, cut the strips crosswise so that the 2-1/2” strips will be 3-1/2” wide and the 3-1/2” strips will 2-1/2” wide.
Individual cards can be artistically embellished in a number of ways: watercolor markers, crayons, stickers, paints, rubber stamps and really just about any craft you love working with. Any unique idea is fine as long as you are having fun creating your artwork. Making collage cards is an excellent craft project for any age. Children as well as adults can enjoy creating and personalizing their cards.

For the collage cards in the photo, I scanned a few old black & white photos, colored them with watercolor markers, cut the figures out, and pasted them on to the cut cards. Stickers, cut out words, & rubber stamp accents added that extra sparkle!Trading collage cards with friends is great fun especially if you have a group of crafters who love to get together to “make and take” projects. There are also gatherings in various cities, maybe one near you—as well as online trading events open to the public; information is available on Google.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quilting: Paper Pieced Quilts of the 1940's!

Once in a long while I come across a true treasure while searching for old quilts, vintage fabrics and feed sacks from the 1940's. This scrap or string quilt (top), made from a combination of vintage cotton and feedsack cloth scraps, is an ideal example of the newspaper-piecing techniques used by quilters during the WWII era. In order to use the smallest of scraps saved from much-loved fabrics, quilters made “string quilts” by sewing scraps together using newspaper for a foundation.

It was particularly exciting to find that the newspaper in this quilt was still attached and intact when I discovered this unique piece of history. Look at the headlines: Single Bomb Wrecks Whole Greek Harbor, and Pepper Urges Military Action To Check Axis. The news piece includes the following WWII information: "President Roosevelt met for an hour and a half with his principal advisors on defense and was believed to have discussed the probability of speeding the production of bombing planes."

In the newspaper folds of this unique quilt, you may also be able to see the ad which states that girls' percale dresses sizes 7 - 14, regularly priced at $.66, are on sale for $.33. Now that was a bargain even for the times!

It's not every day I find a quilt quite as exciting and unusual as this one, but there's always the possibility of finding another true treasure. Surely that's what keeps me going back again and again to those wonderful antique malls in the midwest! Never know what I might find!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quilting Memories from the Past!

Through the years I’ve made many quilts for my children and grandchildren. One of my favorites was the quilt I made for my grandson Bryan when he was in high school. He was here for a visit from Upper Michigan when he asked me to make him a quilt. I was surprised but delighted when he came with me to the fabric store and carefully selected the fabrics he wanted me to use. Bright orange for one of his high school colors and blue/green/aqua watercolor batiks and plaids to go with it. I wondered how that would all work out. But it did and he continues to enjoy it today even though he’s away at college.

Another favorite quilt was the quilt I made for Bryan’s dad, my son Paul, when he was in college. The colors were in calico browns, tans, and oranges with strips made to look like arrows. I named it “Peace Treaty” and he loved it!

In the 1970’s my daughters Tamara and Carrie accompanied me to art fairs in Michigan where I sold my quilts, quilted pillows, and stuffed and puppet animals. On one particular art fair day, in Manchester, Michigan, we sold a whopping forty quilts. And all of the puppet dogs sold to teenagers who ran up and down the streets having fun playing with their new pets. What a day that was!
But of all the quilt memories that I cherish, the one that stands out among all others is the quilt my mother (who was NOT a quilter) made for my sister and me. She had "inherited" several old suits from my uncle which had been languishing in an old trunk. Winter was coming to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was getting mighty cold outside. So my mother cut those old brown and grey suits into squares, zipped them together on her sewing machine, added a blanket backing and tied them with red yarn. My sister and I cuddled under that woolen quilt and were warm as toast throughout the long winter!(L to R: Coralie, Mom, baby Connie.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Local Cider Mill!

Yesterday was an autumn day so gorgeous that it should almost have been required to take a drive in the country! And that is exactly what we did. A leisurely ride in the country, going nowhere, going anywhere, going somewhere special. Who knew where we might end up? I wasn't sure; I didn't care. The sky cast a bright blue radiance overhead; the fields golden, stretched out as far as the eye could see; the trees costumed in burnt orange, crimson and scarlet glowed like jewels in the sun-filled air! Enough beauty to make your heart burst!

I don't know how my husband Jim found this wonderful cider mill out in the vastly uninhabited farmlands but he did. He does have a knack for such things, still what a surprise it was to travel down several connecting back roads to suddenly find this wonderful farm, orchard and mill. Pumpkin heaven! The smells of apples, cider and donuts filled the air along with the sweet strains of fiddlers' Appalachian tunes. A day to be cherished and remembered long into the future.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ginger! Ginger! Pumpkin Eater!

I don’t know why I love pumpkins so much; I just do! A field of glowing pumpkins in fall is a glorious sight! I become smitten with the shades of orange and ginger, carroty colors against bleached cornstalks and fading greens of summer. We cannot pass a pumpkin stand without stopping to buy one or two.

When Ginger, one of my three shelties, was still a pup, we came home with two brilliantly bright orange pumpkins to decorate our back deck. How striking they looked…until…until I was shocked to see a huge raw spot on one of the pumpkins! What—who—could have caused this? Did some wild animal crawl up on to my deck and eat my beautiful pumpkin? Was it a squirrel or maybe an opossum? Or a very large blue jay? Hmmm! Who do you think ate my pumpkin?

Arts & Crafts Fun With Logan!

Grandson Logan, who recently turned three years old, came to visit the other day and we had a fun-filled afternoon of playing trucks. The shelties Ginger, Carrie, & Bonnie Lass barked in time and in tune to the whirring of the cars, trucks, & bulldozers, all the while circling the action.

Then it was time for arts & crafts fun so I opened my treasure box of stickers, some very cute scrapbook paper, plus scissors and photos of two of the dogs. After I cut out the photos, Logan glued them to his paper and began to decorate his art piece with pumpkins, trees, and birthday cakes.

His final project is awesome as you can see! Then, as all good times do eventually come to a close, it was time to say, "so long" but we promised we'd get back together again very very soon! Can't wait!

Bonnie the Sheltie Princess!

Here she is! The same little Bonnie Lass in the story "Bonnie Lass, the Story of a Sheltie Rescue."

She's our youngest of three shelties and just turned ten years old. But you'd never know it. She's still the baby of the family and loves to cuddle. Oh yes, and bark too. Still barking after all these years. And we wouldn't trade her for anything!

Do you have a pooch who thinks she's a princess?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Queen of Hearts!

This is our dear beautiful Carrie who came to us eight years ago when she was almost three years old. She had been returned to her breeder because of a divorce situation. She was timid, shy and pretty terrified the first week here but each day she’d make her way closer and closer to me. It took only a week and then one day she came to where I was sitting and looked up at me, questioning. I took her in my arms and told her, “I’ll never let you go! I promise! I love you and I’ll keep you safe! I promise.” I felt the fear leave her body in one big breath of relief.

Each of our three shelties has a completely different personality and Carrie is the “calm and patient one” which for anyone who knows shelties is not only amazing but also nearly impossible. She is what her breeder refers to as a “plain-faced sheltie” which means she has no markings on her velvety brown nose. We have to laugh whenever we refer to her as our plain-faced dog since her face is so expressive, loving and beautiful. She’s the queen of our home, the alpha dog who quietly rules the others and who, from the very beginning, has ruled our hearts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ginger Our Sweet Sunshine Sheltie!

Ginger was the only pup of her litter to survive in December 1996. She was first named Rejoice since she arrived at Christmastime but, by the time we met her at 7 months old, she was being called RJ. Still this little sunshine sheltie seemed way too sweet to be called RJ so we changed her name to something that sounded similar and really matched her beautiful coloring and nature—Ginger! Sweet sunshine Ginger!

However, we almost didn’t get the chance to name her at all! When we went to see the puppy, my husband Jim held back his attention because he knew I would make the final decision on if we would take her home or not. Because of this, the breeder called me the day after our visit and said she was having misgivings about selling us the puppy. What? I couldn’t believe my ears. But she went on to explain that she didn’t think Jim was really interested in RJ and that meant (to her) that we might not cherish the pup.

“This is so crazy,” I told my husband. “I already love that sweet little sheltie and now she (the breeder) might not let us have her. “We’re going back again tonight and you had better make that dog like you! I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but you’d just better!”

That evening we returned to see the little dog and it was amazing to see how much she liked my husband. In fact, she sort of ignored me most of the visit and kept going back again and again to Jim.

Next day, the breeder called and said she’d been mistaken about Jim and that he obviously DID like the pup. So she would bring the pup to us the next day.

When I told Jim the good news, he smiled from ear to ear—the grin of The Cheshire Cat came to mind. “I guess my plan worked!” he said. “Did you know that if you rub chicken grease all over your hands, any pup will become your fast and true friend?”

Sweet Ginger came to live with us the very next day and has been our sunshine girl ever since! We—both of us—couldn’t love or cherish her more!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bonnie Lass, The Story of a Rescued Sheltie!

This adventure started with an email from our friend Bob who had received an email from his friend Judy who worked in a veterinary office. An elderly couple, both in ill health, needed a home for their tiny two year-old Shetland sheepdog. My friend wanted to know if I knew of anyone who wanted a very nice very small female sheltie.

Heart pounding, I wrote back, “I want her!” What was I thinking? Jim just shook his head. We already had two shelties. Two were a couple; three would be a crowd!

A few days later, we traveled an hour away to the elderly couple’s condo to “interview” the pup. Invited in, we were met with a frenzy of barking and circling. “She’s a real sweetheart,” the husband told us. “Our neighbors won’t even talk to us anymore, she makes so much noise,” his wife said, shaking her head.

Maybe that should have been a clue for us to leave, but we didn’t.

“Maybe she’ll sit with me, “ I said.

“Oh, she doesn’t like people,” the couple chimed in together.


“Well, let’s just see about that,” I said. “How about if you pick her up and set her over here next to me?” I sat down on the sofa. He picked up the terrorizer and placed her next to me. The sheltie settled down at once. “Well, well,” I said to her. “How about that?”

The dog had been purchased by their son who feared they were too lonely in their retirement and needed company. This little live wire was the last thing these folks needed; they could barely get a leash snapped onto the kid’s collar.

“What’s her name?” I asked.

“I named her Bonnie Lass,” the husband said. “You know, like ‘my bonnie lies over the ocean’!” It was obvious he loved the little kid a lot.

“We’ll give her a good home,” I promised.

We’d barely left the condo when little sable and white Bonnie Lass—predictably—became extremely anxious. Outside of a scary ride as a tiny pup in a plane from her breeder in Kansas to her condo home in Michigan, she had not been inside a vehicle. Here she was in a strange vehicle with two strange people. I tried to comfort her, holding her in my lap, but she just couldn’t be still. The hour-long ride felt like an all-day event. But, finally, we made it back home.

Our two shelties at home, Ginger and Carrie, were just happy to have us back. Another mouth to feed? No problem. They could see we’d brought in yet another crate for the new kid. They nosed her gently, sort of looked at each other and figured out she was no big threat to the pecking order. This little pooch was no Alpha Dog! (So they thought…)

We’d managed to eat up most of the day with our adventure, so it was TV time and then to bed for everyone. But what about Bonnie? They—the condo couple—told us she was used to a crate so sleeping should be no problem. Hmmm…one wouldn’t think elderly folks would fib, would they?

It was only a few hours after we’d all gone to bed that she started. I wouldn’t call it howling exactly. Whining maybe? No, more like barking. Yes, that was it! Barking. All night long!

We had purchased a nice big crate just for her and set it in the dining room where there seemed to be the most available open space. The other two shelties had their individual crates in the kitchen, but there just didn’t seem to be enough room for a third crate. On day two, however, when push came to shove, we pushed and shoved until we could finally add in a third crate. Surely now Bonnie would feel better being side by side with her new “siblings.” Wrong!

“I don’t know what you’re going to do,” Jim said, “but three dogs are just too many!” This, after a week of all-night hullabalooing from the kitchen.

Ginger and Carrie just looked at me with sad eyes and kind of slunk off to quiet corners where they could lie down in peace…get some rest. Forget trying to get any shut-eye once the sun went down and the night terrors began again!

Not only was my husband looking groggy, but so were the resident shelties, Ginger and Carrie. I wasn’t feeling too chipper myself. And, Bonnie? Well, Bonnie was happy as a lark…once morning came! Smiling! Sleeping! Settling in!

“What in the world am I going to do?” I agonized…not wanting to face the inevitable.

Not only was the whole family—except Bonnie—tired, they were also getting ornery. Not getting enough sleep will do that, we all quickly learned. Jim’s long face was nothing compared with the long-nosed stares I kept getting from the resident shelties, Ginger and Carrie.

I was beside myself. Finding a new home for Bonnie Lass started to creep into my thoughts. But even as the second week of all-night barking came to a close, I knew that I just couldn’t do that. I’d promised the condo couple I’d take good care of her, didn’t I? And, besides, she was only two years old…and so so sweet…during the day!

That’s when she bit me!

I’d discovered her on the sofa in the living room, shredding a piece of tissue she’s obviously “found” in the bathroom trash.

“No, you don’t!” I said, taking the tissue away from her.

Snap! Ouch! What?

We had a brief stare-down contest and, since she was winning, I decided to just forget the whole thing.

Rationalizing the situation, I told myself that Bonnie and I barely knew each. We could easily part, couldn’t we? If I found a good home for her, everyone would get back to normal. Everyone would be happier, wouldn’t they?

Against that inner voice that kept telling me not to, I called my friend Carol who had sadly lost her 14 year-old dog two weeks earlier.

“She’s a wonderful little dog,” I told my friend. “And you need a new pet around the house.” I was such a scammer. (Well Bonnie was a wonderful little dog and my friend did need a new pet. Still, I felt my nose growing long and fast as I left out the part about the all-night barking.)

But Carol wasn’t ready for a new dog. However, she had a friend—Mary from work—who already had an eight year-old sheltie, who might be willing to take Bonnie.

After a phone call to Carol’s friend Mary, I learned the following:

1) Mary already knew my daughter since her son and my daughter had been in a musical theater production together.

2) She’d even brought my daughter flowers on opening night!

3) Whew!

4) Mary was not some stranger off the street!

5) And, best of all, she knew shelties!

6) She would provide the perfect home for my little Bonnie.

When Mary arrived to pick up little Bonnie Lass, the little sheltie was delighted to see her. I must admit I felt a little jealous about that. But I had to remember that Bonnie would soon be Mary’s dog—not mine anymore. I’d picked the perfect home.

“Remember,” Mary said as she was leading little Bonnie to the door on her leash, “you can have her back, if you need her.”

“Oh, I don’t think that will happen,” I said, my heart starting to break just a little. “Everyone around here needs a good rest.” (I’d been a good person. I’d told the truth about the night barking and Mary wanted her anyway. She was a good woman!)

“Well, you never know,” Mary said. “I once gave a cat away and had to go back and get her a week later.”

“Thanks, Mary,” I said, sadly watching the two of them prance out my door. “I appreciate that.”

“You did the right thing,” Jim said.

“Sure…” I sat silently watching the news on TV. The local Stop and Go’s were being bought by some big grocery chain. A 3-car pile-up had occurred out on 94. A cat had been rescued from a tree by a fire-fighting team. An airport official reported another strike could raise costs even higher. The Humane Society was having a walkathon for people and their dogs.

My little dog was gone!

I kept telling myself it was for the best. She would be better off. We would be better off. Jim and the “big dogs” would get some rest. We would all get some sleep!

I crawled into bed and listened to the silence.

Bonnie was gone!

I didn’t sleep a wink all night.

Tired and sad the next day, I tried to keep busy, think of other things—anything but Bonnie Lass. But that was impossible. No matter how hard I tried, my thoughts kept going back again and again to the little pooch that so recently pranced into—and out of—my life.

The second day was the same. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I picked up the phone and called Mary.

“How’s Bonnie doing?” I asked.

“Oh, she doing fine,” Mary responded. “She’s a real sweetheart!”

What was I hoping to hear? Of course, I wanted to hear she was doing fine. Then, why did that bother me?

“Yes, she is,” I answered. “What about at night?” I asked. (That would tell the tale!)

“Oh she sleeps like a log,” Mary laughed. (What?)

“She doesn’t bark all night?” I was astonished.

“Well, no she doesn’t,” Mary answered. (What was going on here?)

“Does she sleep in her crate?” I asked. (The detective in me was getting close to the truth and I knew it!)

“Nope,” Mary announced. “She sleeps in bed with me.”

“Oh…” What else could I say? Bonnie belonged to Mary now. It wasn’t up to me where she slept. “Well, I’m glad everything’s okay,” I managed to get out.

“Coralie, are you missing her?” Mary asked suddenly.

“Oh, I guess I am, but I’ll get over it,” I answered, not so sure this was true.

“Well, just remember what I said. If you need her back, you just have to say so,” Mary offered.

“Thanks,” I hung up, knowing I had to stop this nonsense.

“Mary said we could have Bonnie back, if we need to,” I told Jim that evening.

“Well, I don’t think that’s a good idea, do you?” he answered. He was finally getting some rest!

“No, I suppose not,” I said glumly. No one cared if my dog was gone…no one, but me.

I promised myself I would not call Mary again, at least for a while. But, after a few days, I just had to know how Bonnie Lass was doing.

“Hi Mary,” I said into the phone. “How’s she doing?”

“Oh, she’s just wonderful!” Mary answered. “She’s an absolute sweetheart.”

“How about at night?” I hated to ask, but I couldn’t help myself.

“Sleeps all night,” Mary answered.

“That’s good…sorry to keep bothering you,” I said lamely.

“Oh, it’s no bother at all!” Mary laughed. Sure, she was happy. Why wouldn’t she be happy! She had my dog!

My dog…

“Are you crying,” Jim asked. “You’re not crying about this are you?” We were watching some ridiculous Dr. Phil segment about what not to say and do on your first date.

“No, of course not!” That he would even ask such a silly question was way too funny, but I was in no mood for funny.

“Well, what, then?” he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I miss Bonnie!” I wailed.

“You hardly know that dog,” he said.

“I know everything about her! And I miss her!” I couldn’t stop crying. “I can’t help it!”

Jim took a deep breath. “Well, maybe you’d better give Mary another call.”

“I can’t take her away from Mary!” I cried even harder.

I held off calling for two more days. Bonnie had been gone a whole week. Then, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to know how she was.

“How is she?” I asked sheepishly, knowing all too well I was being a pest.

“She’s fine, Coralie,” Mary answered. “But I think we both know what has to happen.”

“Oh, Mary…” I said, relief flooding in, “I’m sorry…”

“It’s okay. I’ll bring her by tomorrow evening,” Mary said.

They were barely in the door, when Bonnie bounded across the room, leaped into my lap and started licking my face. But before I could even get my arms around her, she was gone! She had bounced up into Jim’s lap and was burrowing her head under his arm with her snoot and rolling over while wagging her tail the whole time.

“I guess we know whose dog she really is.” Mary couldn’t help but laugh.

I didn’t care whose dog she thought she was! She was mine and she was home!

Garage Sale Fun!

The weather was perfect, cool but sunny, autumn leaves dancing in the morning light. The Garage Sale signs were posted and calling. How could we resist a venture out to find recycled treasures? We couldn’t! And the hunt was on!

I have to laugh whenever a garage sale seller asks, “Looking for anything special?” Yes, of course, I’m looking for something special and I’ll know it when I see it. When my heart starts to thump and I start to feel kind of tingly all over, then I know I’ve found what I’m looking for. Treasure! I like to think of it as recycling—someone else’s trash becomes my treasure—and just look what I found yesterday:

One wooden handpainted bird key holder (should be sweet in the kitchen, if I can find a wall that’s not already taken). $.50!

One “they hated to spread gossip” Chronicle Books address book by Anne Taintor (great art prints of 1950’s women, ideal for a women’s studies teacher like me…lots of possibilities for discussions). $.25!

One “The Quilter” an infatuations notebook by Quilters’ Resource of Chicago in association with Museum Quilts, London (a quilter’s personal journal, idea and inspiration notebook—perfect for my quilter self). $.25!

One “Flowers” Golden Press, 1950 (a guide to familiar American wildflowers with 134 paintings in full color—no nature lover could pass this one up). $.25!

Total expenditures for the day: $1.25! A morning outing in autumn with enough magic to make my heart sing: priceless!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fruit Flavor Farms

Here are two sunny autumn photos of our favorite orchard, Flavor Fruit Farms in Somerset, Michigan, which we enjoy visiting each season.