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.
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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

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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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A Stitch in Time

Do you know the expression, “A stitch in time saves nine?” It’s a sewing metaphor, admonishing that if you don’t fix it now, you’ll have even more work down the line.

That’s no fun.

Instead I’m going with “A stitch in time is fine”…and lovely, and extraordinary and appreciated beyond measure. (Oh no, another sewing metaphor).

Check out  the lovely stitches from my dear friends Marlene and Marcia.

Marlene loves to sew and quilt. She’s also a master of machine embroidery. Look at this gorgeous piece.

Marlene's embroidery books and flowers

Embroidered Panel

I dropped a metaphorical stitch when I unwrapped it. Isn’t it lovely? She’s captured my passion for gardening and books, my love of color and flower-arranging and wrapped it all up with beautifully blended threads and the perfect quote:

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

I would add that if you have friends like Marlene, you are lucky indeed.

Marlene shares her generous talents far and wide. She quilts for a cause, makes beautiful gifts for friends and writes warm, caring and thoughtful comments throughout the blogosphere. If you haven’t had the pleasure, you can find her at In Search of it All.

This beautiful tea towel is also a gift from Marlene. When I was a girl, personalized items were all the rage, but I could never find anything with the name Alys. I still get a little boost from seeing my name embroidered on this towel.

Marlene's embroidery Alys' kitchen

Embroidered Tea Towel

This whimsical linen calendar is a gift from my friend, Marcia. We met over thirty years ago when we worked together in a costume shop in Santa Rosa. Marcia is a skilled pattern maker and a wonderful seamstress. Like Marlene, her hands are always busy sewing and crocheting lovely gifts. Last year she sent a hand-made apron, wrapped in a fabric remnant.

The linen calendar came wrapped in a pattern piece. Cool, eh?  She finished the top of the calendar  with seam-binding to allow for a dowel. The edges are a pretty zig-zag pattern. Again, all my favorite colors and themes: watering cans, flowers, birds and cats and the wonderful color palette.

The calendar is hanging in our guest room and it looks right at home.

All three of these pieces inspire me, and make me realize how much I miss sewing.

I’m going to turn Marlene’s embroidery into a cushion cover now, and will do the same with Marcia’s calendar when the year is over.

How about you? Have friends inspired you to creativity this year?

 

Marcia's calendar

Linen Calendar

While I Was Away

It was fun returning home from our blogging extravaganza to a garden bursting with new growth.

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My blooming garden

After a week on the chillier east coast, I learned a few things. According to my calendar, spring arrived on March 20th, but the east coast remained in a deep chill. Those east-coast daffodils know a thing or two and chose to remain warm and cozy in the ground.

Here in California our daffodils shot up in February along with the hyacinths and other spring bulbs. Their east-coast cousins waited till warmer temperatures prevailed. I got to experience the joy of smiling daffodils twice in the same year.

flowers blooming in Laurie's garden

Spring in Laurie’s garden: Forsythia, Daffodils, Dogwood and Redbud

What could be better than two springs in one year?

Just this: spending time with an extraordinary group of women, talking, laughing and preparing food, seeing the sites and sharing our stories and marveling at our good fortune. I spent over a week nestled in a cocoon of dear friends, all met through blogging. It’s difficult to convey an experience this profound, without succumbing to the treacle of sentimentality.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Georgetown collage

Georgetown: with Laurie, Boomdee, Pauline, (Yours Truly) and Julia. Julia of Defeat Despair graciously hosted us at her home and kept us updated on the status of the cherries coming into bloom

lunch at Clyde's in D.C.

More bloggers = more fun. Lunch at Clyde’s in Georgetown

North Garden

A brief stop in North Garden, Virginia, welcomed with open arms by Shelley who blogs at Peak Perspective.

time in radford

Time in Radford, Virginia hosted by Laurie of Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

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An afternoon at Draper Mercantile

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Washington D.C. with Lisa, Pauline and Boomdee

Note: Just for fun, I created a travelogue using the site Traveller’s Point. I included the destinations, who joined us and when, links to their blogs and more. WordPress does not support embedding, but you can view it at this link if interested.

The Traveling Bloggers:

Boomdeeadda

The Contented Crafter

Defeat Despair

Gardening Nirvana

Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

The Blog Connections:

Arlingwords

Displaced Beachbums

Peak Perspective

Visual Venturing

Bavarian Nirvana

I’m in Bavarian-Crochet-Knee-Rug-winning nirvana. (Try saying that fast three times).

Yours truly is the lucky winner of the Teddy and Tottie blog giveaway.

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What did I win?

I won this breathtakingly beautiful, amazingly crafted Bavarian Knee Rug.

Bavarian Crochet Knee Rug

Bavarian Crochet Knee Rug

goargeous detail

Gorgeous detail

two sided pattern

The pattern has two distinct sides

I got the news two weeks ago at Teddy and Tottie land.  The package arrived today, all the way from Australia.  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.  I ran for the camera so I could document its arrival.  A certain feline wondered if it was for him.  After whispering in his ear that I was happy to share, he climbed off the box and I whisked it inside.

Cat-on-a-box

Cat-on-a-box

Getting a package in the mail is high on my list of joyous occasions.  I like to imagine it traveling from place to place before arriving at my door.  Pretty postage, custom forms and hand-stamps add to the thrill.

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While scrutinizing all the details, I had to do a double take. I thought one of the custom stamps read “Security Screamed”.  Well of course they did. I mean, who wouldn’t scream when they saw what was inside?  The blurred ink actually read “Security Screened.” Ha!

The day I read the news that I’d won, I tried hard to temper my enthusiasm. My lucky win meant a lot of sad faces in the blogging community. Further, just a few months early, I won another lovely prize from The Contented Crafter.  All this goodness after years of never winning a thing.

Thank you, Dani, from the bottom of my heart, for this lovely treasure, and for all the extra goodies you tucked inside.  I love them all!

Please check out the goings on at Teddy and Tottie where Dani blogs about crochet, vintage home decor, pets, garden and home life in south-eastern Australia. You’ll fall in love immediately.

Dani also has an Etsy shop where you can buy her beautiful crochet work for your very own. She also offers vintage treasures.

 

You’re Invited

This is a personal invitation to the 109 entrants who did not win the prize. Please come visit any time. I’ll fluff up the pillows and put the kettle on and you can sit with the Bavarian knee rug across your lap. Feline companionship almost 100% guaranteed.

Generous Spirits, Caring Hearts

The goodness of bloggers abounds.

Bloggers near and far filled my mailbox these past several weeks with treasures of hand-made goodness. I’ve never  met the bloggers at In Search of it All or Garden Sunshine. Before blogging, I’d never meet Boomdeeadda either. Yet they all have one thing in common: a generous spirit and a sharing heart.

Once upon a time there were pen pals. You mailed letters to someone you didn’t know who  lived on the other side of the world. If you were lucky, they wrote back.  Now we blog.

Gardening Nirvana came to life as a place to write about the things I love.  I never dreamed of the community that would gather around it.  Who could imagine the connections, the learning, the support and the fun that blogging had in store? I came for the writing and stayed for the friends.

If you blog with regularity, you know what I mean.  If you’re new to the medium, you have wonderful things to look forward to. Finally, if you’ve never blogged, start today.  You’ll be glad you did.

In Search of it All

The lovely, lace embroidery, below was a ‘just because’ gift from Marlene Herself at In Search of It All. Isn’t it beautiful? Marlene blogs from the northern state of Oregon. She describes herself as “a young at heart senior citizen that still has more questions than answers.”  She enjoys reading, sewing, quilting and of course writing. Pop on over to her blog to read her unique perspectives of the world. You’ll be glad you did.

Embroidered lace snowflake

Embroidered lace snowflake by Marlene Herself

embroidered lace

More embroidered lace from Marlene

Garden Sunshine

Diane blogs from Ontario, Canada. She shares her gardening progress on  7+ acres of land at Garden Sunshine. Her photos and projects are stunning. Garden Sunshine sent the blue heart pin, cotton square and calendar, lovingly crafted while she waits for the sun to shine again. Apparently I’m her top commenter. Who knew? Thank you for the shower of gifts.

Stars and hearts pin

Stars and hearts pin crafted by Garden Sunshine

Hand-knit cotton square

Hand-knit cotton square by Garden Sunshine

flower calendar

Garden Sunshine photo calendar and notebook

Boomdeeadda

For those of you familiar with the “Boom Room”, it will come as no surprise that this little treasure arrived from Edmonton, Canada via Boomdeeadda. Kelly describes herself as “living the dream with Mr Right and two rescue cats, Petals & Blossum. Life and Love is enhanced by the many on going projects.  This is a Journal of these and other bits along the way.”

Through blogging we’ve formed a close friendship. We celebrate our kindred spirit, which extended beyond blogging into texting, phone calls, Skype sessions and in-person visits. Next stop, the Ellen Show.  😉

layered card and envelope

Hand made goodness from Boomdeeadda

Virtual Gifts

versatile_bloggerSpecial thanks (and apologies for not acknowledging this sooner) to Pauline at The Contented Crafter. I appreciate your kindness and support.

sunshine blogger awardA warm thank you to Val at Nikitaland for passing on a bit of sunshine. Much appreciated.

Final Score: Pumpkins, 8, Squash Bugs, 2

Things got a bit dicey in the pumpkin patch last month.  Nearly a dozen pumpkins grew happily on the vine until disaster struck.  A rapidly producing colony of squash bugs moved in and things turned ugly.  If you have any doubt, take a look:

This pumpkin never had a chance

This pumpkin never stood a chance

Instead of leaving the orange pumpkins on the vine to harden, I harvested all but two and set them on the patio thinking I would wipe them off before bringing them indoors.  The next day, the squash bugs found the harvest!  Eek!

I brought the pumpkins inside one by one, wiping them down with the first thing I could get my hands on: my son’s lip balm. (Desperate times call for desperate measures).  I didn’t want to bring garden pests indoors, so I figured the coating would put an end to anything I missed.

polished pumpkins

Polished pumpkins

We’re big on pumpkins around here: we grow, harvest, decorate and carve them. It’s been a family tradition for a decade.  I also enjoy saving  seeds for the next season. This year I gave a few starters to friends, and passed on some seeds to an adorable pair of three-year-old twins that walk by the house with their dad. They planted the seeds and grew pumpkins of their own. I’m delighted.

The pumpkins hung out in the living room for several weeks, but as October approaches, it’s time to bring them center stage. I created a display on my iron bench combining an eclectic mix of drying lavender, three pumpkins and a refurbished fairy garden. Check back next week for the fall upgrade.
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I love October. It starts with my birthday, ends with Halloween with plenty of goodness in between.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, this Boo season brings a special visit from Boooooomdee. She told me to expect her on the whisper of a dandelion, but I think she was teasing. I’ll go to the airport to fetch her just in case.

Boo season, here we come!

 

Sunflowers From Boomtown

sunflower postcard

Special Delivery from Edmonton

My dear friend Boomdee is coming to town. She’ll be here in a matter of days. When we’re not sharing via our blogs, Facebook or Skype, we fill in the gaps with tiny treasures via snail-mail. When you have a kindred spirit, it’s a bit like having a twin. You find yourselves doing the same thing at the same time without  realizing it until later. You fall into patterns as if you’ve known each other your entire life. The most incredible part of all is finding your kindred spirit through blogging.

Here is the latest from Boomtown aka Edmonton, Canada: a cheerful sunflower postcard with the glittery “Boomdee Touch.”

cat with postcard

“The older I get, the more I realize how rare it is to meet a kindred spirit.” – Ethan Hawke

Beijing and sunflower

Practicing her best sunflower smile.

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“True friends are always together in spirit.” – L.M. Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables

oranges and postcards

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Do you have a kindred spirit? Tell me more in the comments below.