Visiting Santa Rosa: Friendship and Memories

In what feels like a lifetime ago, I spent three consecutive summers in Santa Rosa, about 100 miles north of San Jose. I graduated from San Jose State in 1982 with a degree in Theatre Arts. Summer Repertory Theatre known as SRT hired professional designers and directors, but the actors and technical positions went to current or recently graduated students like me.
SRT bio alys 1983-002

We received a stipend of $900 for the entire summer, with $300 of that going to shared-housing. In the first four weeks, before all six shows opened, we worked ten and half hour days, six days a week with an hour off for lunch, and a two-hour break for dinner. The hours were long and grueling and emotions ran high as they usually do when artists surround you.

In short: I loved it!

I worked with talented costume designers all three summers, learning techniques in pattern making, costume building and diplomacy. I look back on those summers with a profound fondness. I met incredible people along the way. Those years were among the most memorable of my youth.

Several of us came from around the state each summer, but the rest lived in Santa Rosa. In my second year doing summer stock, I met Marcia Ford. She’s a talented pattern maker and kindred spirit. We kindled our friendship in 1983, and have stayed in touch through marriages and children. Her son is 31, an accomplished artist and linguist, living in Spain. He married a poet and scholar when they met in Egypt, and they’re now raising Marcia’s grandson in Madrid. I have a beloved snapshot of her son holding my son we he was three-months old. My boys are now 16 and 19.

I spent a couple of days with Marcia in Santa Rosa this week, helping her organize her sewing room and catching up on life. Marcia is recovering from a year spent abroad helping with her grandson, her father’s recent death and breast cancer.

Alys and Marcia

With Marcia this week

costume shope SRT 1984

In the SRT Costume, 1984 Marcia, back left, Alys, back right

She recently celebrated a milestone birthday, so I wanted to mark the occasion with a unique and special gift.

I made a set of greeting cards and a small folio using vintage seam binding and scrap-booking paper with a vintage sewing theme. Isn’t the paper fun?

I also purchased the most gorgeous sewing box from Lynn at Tialys. She sells ready-made sewing boxes in her Etsy shop or you can buy her pattern and make one yourself. I opted for the former and I’m so glad I did. Isn’t it stunning?

Tialys sewing box

Marcia poses with her new sewing box

The third part of the gift had us both in stitches (seamstress pun). About a year ago I shared a picture of a yarn bowl on Facebook and she commented that she would love one. I ordered it online via Darn Good Yarn. As it turns out, she ordered the same bowl herself.

I had such a good time. I miss Santa Rosa and all it represents. It’s a beautiful place. They average three times the rain that we do so things are lush and green. It’s less crowded with a slighter slower pace, and open spaces still prevail. I fell in love with it all over again.

Marcia’s sister Alice invited us to dinner at her home along with several of her life-long friends. We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal, laughter and an evening’s walk to a field of irises. Alice has a lush garden and, be still my heart, she keeps bees! What a treat it was to spend time in her garden. What a shame, too, that I was too busy enjoying myself to take a single photo while we were there.

Picture instead curving paths, verdant green plants, a majestic tree and a quiet corner with happy, humming bees.

Gardens and friendships remain my “drug” of choice.

On the subject of friendships, I’m just days away from reconnecting with Kelly from Kelly’s Korner and Boombeeadda, Laurie from Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things and Julia of Defeat Despair. We’ll also reconnect with Lisa of ArlingWords and Stacy, a street photographer and sometime blogger, who can be found on Instagram.  We’ll be missing Pauline of The Contented Crafter, but plans are under way to connect with her in New Zealand in 2018. We’re gathering in Virginia and Washington, DC for a few days, than Kelly and I head to New York. There we’ll meet two more bloggers for the first time, Joe at The Visual Chronicle and Patti at Nylon Daze.

I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl. Meanwhile my flight to Atlanta has been delayed three times due to weather. It’s not all fun and games. 😉

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Something Old, Something New

You’ve heard the Olde English wedding rhyme “something old, something new”. How about “something new from something old”?

That’s exactly what arrived in the mail last week: a charmingly attired wire dress form, an unexpected gift from Marlene Herself.  The attached tag reads: “A Gift of Something New from Something Old” hand crafted from vintage linen by That’s My Sisters Donna and Colleen. I love it!

full apron in garden

Something new from something old

Marlene, who blogs at In Search Of It All, is a wonderful seamstress and quilter in her own right. She knows how much I like dressmaking forms; I bought one in my size for the first time last year. This little charmer is about a foot tall and arrived wearing a crisp apron, hand-crafted from vintage linen. It’s pictured here in my garden between a begonia and a geranium, but only to show it off. Begonia’s and geraniums have their own vintage vibe, too, don’t you think? The darling dress form holds court on my bedroom dresser below, but I never have much luck with indoor shots. You can see how pretty it looks against the blue wall, but I could only capture the details when I took photos in the garden.

vintage apron dress form details

Vintage Apron Details

Marlene said she made “two women happy” when she bought this gift, but I suspect she’s been making many of us happy for years.

Thank you, Marlene, for this treasure and for a daily reminder of your kindness and friendship.

apron bodice in garden

Bodice Detail

Word(s) of the Year

Serendipity was my 2014 word of the year. This year’s word is connections. Here’s a bit of both. I recently connected with Kerry through blogging. I followed a link to her Etsy shop and fell in love with one of her vintage, hand-embroidered linens. In the same week I ordered the beautiful tablecloth pictured below, Marlene’s delightful package arrived in the mail. Serendipitous worldly connections, I love you so, and I love your hand-embroidered linens, too. ♥ ♥ ♥

kerry can table cloth vintage

Vintage Linen from Kerry Can’s Etsy Shop

Vintage Tablecloth Detail

Vintage Tablecloth Detail

Sharon’s Way

When we re-landscaped our front garden a few years ago, we added a deck and a ramp. Our criteria was simple: my sister Sharon’s MS limits her mobility.  We wanted a ramp that didn’t look like a ramp, but that enabled her to move from curb to threshold. The amazingly talented JP Bergez came up with this:

ramp collage

Friends seeing this for the first time can’t believe it’s a ramp and not just a walkway. It’s a beautiful example of form follows function, coined by architect Louis Sullivan.

At some point we decided to call it Sharon’s Way with plans to make a sign.  It’s not so much that I procrastinated for (cough, cough) four years (cough, cough). I just couldn’t find anything that I liked. At one point I bought a plastic garage sale sign with stakes thinking I would use that as a base and make my own.  Not knowing where to start, the sign gathered dust.

Then about a month ago it hit me: try Etsy!  For the uninitiated, Etsy is an e-commerce website specializing in vintage and hand-made goodies. The site will hold you captive if you’re not careful, much like Pinterest or Facebook.  Within a few clicks, I found a vendor that makes light-weight, metal signs and will customize your order.  Bingo!

sharon's way ramp

Sharon’s Way

Dot 2 Dot Designs

Dot 2 Dot Designs

sign closeup

Close-up Details

You order and pay for the sign, then she sends you a design based on your parameters. I wanted something simple using our favorite colors of purple and green. Sharon also loves dragonflies. The sign arrives in two pieces, then links together with binder rings. I attached our sign to an old miniature flag post and staked it along the garden path.

You can see Wendy’s other creations in her Etsy shop at Dot 2 Dot Designs.

Etsy Love

A number of my friends and fellow bloggers sell art and wares on Etsy.  Please consider showing them some love by checking out their site.

TeddyandTottie:
Gorgeous Handmade Crochet and Vintage Home-wares

TheContentedCrafter:
Whimsical Art, Hand-Crafted Cards and Sparkly Things

MamaLoveHealing:
Organic Flower Essence Aromatherapy & Consultation

anne4bags:
Feathers, nests and other original drawings

I’ve Been Framed

framed

Framed!

I hope you weren’t here looking for an espionage post.  What I meant was, my art’s been framed…and I love it.

Last month I won a blog giveaway from The Contented Crafter. The prize was an art print of my choosing from her Etsy shop. Be still my crafty heart.

Pauline is a mixed-media artist,  blogging from New Zealand. Her art is full of optimism and joy. It makes me happy.

When Pauline first opened her Etsy shop, I snapped up the original of this print as a gift for my friend, Elizabeth. Elizabeth loves butterflies, original art and I felt certain she would love this too (and of course she did). The original piece arrived with plenty of time before gifting so I got to enjoy it for a few weeks. Then I wrapped it and sent it to its new home.

Then, serendipity: another blogger offered to sponsor a giveaway on Pauline’s blog, I won, and the rest, as they say, is history!

I’m the proud caretaker of the Butterfly Sprite print which arrived in the mail post-haste. She’s now framed and ready for viewing.

framed print

Framed and ready for the perfect spot

Here is where I could use your help.

When we remodeled nine years ago, we went from white walls to color in every room in the house. I love it, but it’s another element to consider when hanging art. Please take a look and let me know what you think by voting in the poll that follows. I’ll share the results later this week.

mermaid wall

(A) Bedroom “mermaid” wall

entry wall

(B) Bedroom entry wall

hallway

(C) Hallway

hallway long view

Hallway, long view

The Contented Crafter sells her work on Etsy.

Craft it Forward: Did I Say Five?

I never was good at math.  What I meant was, five seven of my fellow readers can take part in Craft it Forward.  Since Catja was nice enough to let me in on her pay it forward, even though I was number six, I decided to pay forward her generosity as well.  Without further ado, the following readers win the Gardening Nirvana craft-it-forward prize.

  1. Laura
  2. Sheila
  3. Boomdeeadda
  4. Greenhouse Starter
  5. Betsy
  6. The Pyjama Gardener
  7. Where the journey takes me

You can read more about the Pay it Forward (Craft it Forward) concept in my February 1, 2013 post.  In return, please pay it forward by offering the same deal to five other people, via your blog, Facebook or Google +.  I created a ‘Craft it Forward’ button, below.  Feel free to use it on your own post.

I’ll be in touch privately if I don’t already have your snail-mail address.  Thank you for your wonderful comments. I’m already having so much fun.

craft it forward button

Craft it Forward button

Organic Flower Essence Therapy: Soothe Your Cares Away

My friend Sheryl is a talented artist and the creator of Mama Love, a line of organic flower essence aromatherapy.  Anyone who’s walked through the garden on a warm spring day can appreciate the power of the flower. Lavender calms the mind and relieves stress and tension. It’s a favorite among midwives and birth doulas. Rose oil is frequently recommended by aromatherapists for its antidepressant and mood-boosting properties. I think nature provides what we need and has done so throughout time. We’ve lost site of that in recent years. It’s good to see a trend toward the basics.

Using the Flower Essence

I like adding a few drops of Mama Love oil to a hot bath, along with a cup of Epsom salts. The combination soothes and relaxes. You can dab them on like perfume as well.  They’re subtle so they don’t overwhelm the people around you. Have you ever had to politely hold your breath in an elevator to keep from being overwhelmed by someone’s cologne?  No fun.

Mama Love Flower Essence Aromatherapy

Mama Love Flower Essence Aromatherapy

What is Flower Essence Therapy?

According to Sheryl’s site, it’s “a system of healing developed by well-respected immunologist and homeopathic medical doctor Edward Bach. Working with a wide variety of patients just after World War I he came to the conclusion that a person’s emotional well-being and mental attitude had more to do with health and healing than any medicine he could offer. He eventually left his thriving London practice to move to the country to develop safe herbal homeopathics that addressed the most common emotional problems and their symptoms. His now world-famous Bach Flower Remedies were the result.”

Check out Sheryl’s shop on Etsy, where she also sells flower-inspired art work and greeting cards. She’s a cat person (like me!) This is her darling and opinionated cat, Chloe.**

Sheryl's Cat Chloe

Sheryl’s Cat Chloe

**To be honest, I think most cats are darling and opinionated.

Earth laughs in flowers. -Ralph Waldo Emerson