“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sweet Autumn Clematis . . . Light and Shadow

The Sweet Autumn Clematis is one of my favorite blooming vines.  Just as the leaves on the trees and shrubs start to show their glowing colors, this gorgeous bloomer steals the show.  Its profuse cloud of heavenly white blossoms and intense perfume attracts the bees for one last meal of nectar before the cold temperatures set in.  I started thinking about how different this clematis is from many of my other large flowering clematis vines.

Well, then one thing led to another --- and if you read this, you will probably find a completely different subject, than what you thought this would be about.

A close up view reveals that this clematis has only four petals and some lovely long stamens in the center of the flower. When you group hundreds of them together they put on a very united and significant display. In the photo above, I noticed how well the dark background set off the white flowers. 

For various reasons, some unknown to us, plants devise different ways to attract pollinators to ensure that their species continue.  To make sure the flowers got proper attention, the plant also came up with a tantalizing fragrance that no one can ignore. This beautiful plant has determined that it is in its best interests to have many small flowers instead of a few large ones. Some might say it has compromised for the benefit of the whole plant and its success.

Plants in their DNA somehow understand the benefits of cooperation, compromise and diversity.  If only more humans understood the same---- (sigh) ---- what a perfect world it would be.

I think it is sometimes the same with individuals. If we are one person standing alone, we may seem weak and inconsequential, but together through cooperation and yes, even compromise, we can be strong and have immense power.

Cooperation and compromise seem to be dirty words in our country these days. This is something I just find hard to understand.

I looked up the word compromise and here is what it says:
1. agreement: a settlement of a dispute in which two or more sides agree to accept less than they originally wanted
2. something accepted rather than wanted: something that somebody accepts because what was wanted is unattainable
3. potential danger or disgrace: exposure to danger or disgrace 

Why does it seem that most of us jump to the third definition before considering the other two? Always looking for the worst scenario or the darkest meaning does not seem to be very productive. However, we always must have the dark with the light.  That is simply how things are. There are lessons to be learned from this and they are not that complicated.  If a plant can somehow comprehend these things, why can't we?

In art, as in life, there are shadows and light.  As in the photo above, if we did not have the contrast of the dark, the flowers would not stand out, but would fade into the background. With life I think the same holds true, if we never had dark moments, all the light moments might seem to fade into the background.

I guess what I am trying to say, is do not despair when life seems dark and gloomy, but rejoice and bask in the light and joyful moments we also receive. The dark makes the light seem brighter.  The reverse also holds true, sometimes until the glaring light of day is shown on something, we don't realize how really dark and disturbing it is.

So what am I saying and are you completely confused?  I am simply setting out some ideas for you to think about.  Things in life are not just black and white or dark and light, they are filled with shadows and variations that make up the whole.  Without the light and the shadow, there is no way to see the whole picture clearly.

We must consider the whole of the people, as the Sweet Autumn Clematis has considered the whole of itself.  What is best for one of us, should also be the best for all of us. We need to try and accept the shadows with the light.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Fairy Went A-Marketing

That is the name of the poem and illustration I am sharing with you today. Have you heard this poem before? Well I had not and now I am in love with it. I love the gentle, caring ways of this beautiful little fairy.  As an adult I read this poem and I wonder what I would have thought of it as a child, because reading it now it has a very deep and profound message for me and for all of us.
I think if I had to choose one word to express my thoughts about this poem, 
I would choose the word Compassion.

The name of the book is Poems for Boys and Girls compiled by Marjorie Barrows and illustrated by Lois Maloy.  I am sure you will be seeing many more excerpts from this book in the future, but for now here is the poem. I am including the text in case some of you have trouble reading the print on the image.

A Fairy Went A-Marketing
Rose Fyleman

A Fairy went a-marketing--
She bought a little fish;
She put it in a crystal bowl
Upon a golden dish.
An hour she sat in wonderment
And watched its silver gleam,
And then she gently took it up
And slipped it in a stream.

A fairy went a-marketing--
She bought a colored bird;
It sang the sweetest, shrillest song
That ever she had heard.
She sat beside its painted cage 
And listened half the day,
And then she opened wide the door
And let it fly away.

A fairy went a-marketing--
She bought a winter gown
All stitched about with gossamer
And lined with thistledown.
She wore it all the afternoon
With prancing and delight,
Then gave it to a little frog
To keep him warm at night.

A fairy went a-marketing
She bought a gentle mouse
To take her tiny messages,
To keep her tiny house.
All day she kept its busy feet
Pit-patting to and fro,
And then she kissed its silken ears,
Thanked it, and let it go.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Feel of Fleece

Yes the season I knew was soon to arrive is here.  No not the season of Autumn, but the season of Fleece. I have joked before about the use of summer fleece here in Minnesota, but since our summer had over 30 days of 90 degree or above temperatures, I didn't have much need for my summer fleece. Here we are though, beginning the onset of official Fall and Winter fleece weather.

We had two cold nights in a row last week and on the second night I woke up and had to pull another blanket onto the bed.  I knew it was time to turn on the furnace and find my fleece. The cats have demanded their fleece as well and have been snuggling down into their blankies and dreaming about things cats dream about. Since we humans do not have fur, or real fleece or big fluffy squirrel tails, we need fake fleece.

Glass Squirrel Candy/Nut Container

This morning our low temperature was 35 and when I got out of bed I felt that coolness in the room before the furnace kicked into its warm up setting.  So I felt that little chill and I knew it was time, time to break out the fleece. This morning I pulled a large plastic bin down from my closet shelf and began rummaging for something warm to wear today. I found my favorite berber fleece tunic. Oooh the cozy comfort of fleece! 

Red Wing Pottery Maple Leaf Dish 1950's
Grabbing a cup of coffee and gazing out the window at the falling leaves, I'm thinking about other cozy things today.  My husband found this pretty Red Wing dish a few weeks ago and I am imagining a bunch of maple pecan cookies or some Butterscotch Pumpkin Cookies heaped inside. Baking always makes me feel cozy and sharing with friends even more so!

Evans Enameled Tray 1950's

The gorgeous tray above was made for use as an ash tray and was sold in sets that included cigarette lighters. I love the fact that it now will be used for holding something more benign, like change or mail.  The color and texture of the enamel and the leaves in antique brass, just shouts fall to me.  The glorious show that mother nature puts on for us with the changing leaf colors is just another reminder to unpack the fleece.

As I watch the sun shining through the golden tinged leaves I am thinking cozy thoughts. My kitten Guy jumps onto my lap and starts kneading on my fleece covered arm.  His purr makes me feel that all is right with the world, especially while wrapped in fleece.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Falling Leaves...

Today it really feels like fall.  The leaves are starting to turn bright yellow on the birch tree and leaves from the ash and maples are starting to drop. We are in a mild drought here and the weather watchers have told us the tree color will be less than spectacular this year.  Nonetheless, I can see a neighbors maple tree that is glowing red across the lake; I am grateful for that.

Little Guy Noir is recovering from his neutering operation.  He acts as if nothing has happened. We have been giving him his pain medication and he is doing really well.  The girls could smell the Vets office on him when he got home, but are quickly back in their routines of napping, eating and playing.

We are still harvesting our tomatoes and should have another dozen or so, but there is a chance of frost in parts of town tonight.  An advantage of our little lake is that it moderates our temperatures and we don't get nipped by the early frosts, but that time is coming soon.  Now is our chance to clean up the yard and take care of all of those garden chores that are pleasant at 60 degrees but down right uncomfortable at 50 when the wind is blowing!

For those of you who enjoy the music on my blog, I have added some new titles and if you scroll down to the bottom you will find the MixPod gadget. If you click on the picture it will expand and there are some nice autumn themed pictures that accompany the music.  One of my favorite new musicians is Shane Walsh. I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Autumn Fires...

Autumn Fires
From Child's Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
     And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
     See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
     And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
     The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
     Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
     Fires in the fall!

For more about this sweet book visit my shop CraveCute on Etsy.

I love that poem, it is so simple yet full of joy and optimism!

Before we head out of summer into fall, I have a few more pictures of our local Arboretum to share.

                    Goodbye summer, we'll see you next year! 

     Hope you are enjoying your last week of summer too!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Marcella - A Raggedy Ann Story

This is a charming book titled Marcella - A Raggedy Ann Story by Johnny Gruelle. It was published by the P.F. Volland Company in 1929. This book is a First Edition hardcover. Illustrated by Johnny Gruelle. The book is in very good condition despite its age. The Volland Co. is the original publisher of this book, later books were printed by the Donohue Company.

Eleven stories are included: "The Train Ride," "The Picnic," "Moving Day," "Squeakie," "Hairy Puppydog," Shipwrecked," "Fishing," "Through The Door," "Little Rags, " "The Lovely New Doll," and "The Cheepy Birds".

 Someone felt the book needed an index and wrote the story titles in ink.

This is a first edition book and printed by the original publisher P.F. Volland. Later printings were done by the Donohue Company.

Johnny Gruelle was born December 24, 1880 in Arcola, Illinois. He won a cartooning contest sponsored by the New York Herald in 1911.  His cartoon Mr. Twee Deedle  ran in print from 1911 to 1914. He moved on from cartoons to children's books and is the known creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. He often created his final works in ink without first preparing a sketch in pencil! He lived most of his life in Connecticut where the Raggedy Ann dolls were mass produced.  He died in 1938. Raggedy Ann dolls are still in production today.

Johnny had a daughter named Marcella.  While visiting her Grandma she found a faceless rag doll in the attic, Johnny drew a simple face on the doll and called her Raggedy Ann.  Marcella played with the doll so much that  Gruelle thought other children would also enjoy the doll.  So confident was he, that he took out a patent on the doll in 1915.  The PF Volland Company published his first Raggedy Ann book in 1918. He went on to produce a series of books and dolls.

This book was created several years after a tragic event occurred that would forever change Johnny's life. After a smallpox vaccination at her school, his daughter Marcella became ill and to keep her entertained he made up stories about the rag doll to lift her spirits. Sadly she died at the age of 13 in 1915. Friends said that the only reminder of Marcella that he could bear to have around was her Raggedy Ann doll.

Perhaps to mend his broken heart, Johnny began immersing himself in his work and started putting in written form the many stories he had told Marcella. Thus began the process of bringing Raggedy Ann to life in the marketplace. Years after her death, Gruelle wrote this book to honor his beloved daughter.

Before I found this book, I had never seen any original Raggedy Ann material. When I saw the book, I knew that it was special. Gruelle's romantic, dreamlike artistic style drew me in to his fantasy world that includes fairies, dolls, dwarfs and mortals. His ability to communicate with children is obvious and it is no wonder that his stories and art have fascinated millions for over 85 years.

For more information on Marcella, visit my shop CraveCute at Etsy.
Update: Marcella has been sold and was carefully packed and sent to her new home.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Time to Gather

September is the time to gather the things you will need to 
make it through the winter.

So when you are squirreling things away, you might want to check out your winter apparel to see what you need for the cold months ahead. Maybe a  pair of sweet mittens or a cozy for your coffee?


Check out my Ad Swapper friend Ada's new Etsy shop called Yes Sir, Yes Sir! She has some wicked good hand-knit items to get you through those cold winter months. When she's not knitting she's writing and also has a great blog called Of Woods and Words.

To get you in that fallish mood, I found a nice little poem for you to read by Nancy Crossland.


You've slumbered
'Neath cool velvet moss;
Summer's footsteps now fade,

Your cheeks kissed now
By September's glow,
Arise now
From summer's shade,

Wipe your eyes
Smooth your amber hair;
Look now!
Leaves falling
You must be aware;
A change there is
Now in the air,

Roses of summer now close
Gaze at chrysanthemums budding
Bursting in gold
Gather them now
On fleeting toes,

Prepare the way
For your sister, Fall
You are the maiden of September;
Dutiful sister,
Who must remember.

Nancy Ellen Crossland

Welcome September!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What a Week....

Sorry I haven't been around for a few days.  I have a good excuse, really I do! Someone down the street cut through our internet fiber optic cable while putting in a sprinkler system.  It took half a dozen calls to our internet provider to figure out what was wrong.  I can't complain too much, we have had no problems for the past four years.  It did take them five days to figure out what the problem was though. Hmmmm....guess when your customer service department is in another country it takes awhile.  They never bother telling you these things when you sign up  of course!

I will be back to a more normal routine soon and have a lot of catching up to do.  In the mean time I want to tell you about a monthly post I will be doing for the Eco Etsy Team blog.  Fortunately I completed my post last week, the day before they cut the cable!  It was waiting for its post date which is today. The title is The Joy of Native Plants.  I will try and get around to visit all of your blogs as soon as I can, I know I have missed out on some fabulous posts!

If you stop by the Eco Etsy blog, please leave a comment.  Have a great day!  ~~Diane~~