Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spelling on Ebay

Lauren loves to play with the needle felted animals when she comes over. She's got a whole Ark full, but she's always interested in the new ones that are being born. I say 'Sorry, I'm doing that one to sell on Ebay, so we can't play with it.'

Last week she was over & played with the Noah's Ark. A few days later, Jaime found a skunk in her washing machine, which must have got caught in Lauren's clothes. She set it out to bring back on their next visit. Later, Lauren found it and came running to her Mom with it, saying: 'Look Mom! Nan spelled this on Ebay and it came to OUR house!'

At four years old, she probably knows more about Ebay than most children. Last year, she and Scotty wanted to 'help' me when I was making eggs for my Easter creations. I let them each paint one, which I put in the piece that went on the auction. When they went home, they said to their Mom 'Can we paint Ebay Eggs?' She said 'You mean, Easter Eggs?' They said 'No... Ebay Eggs like at Nan's house.'

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AHAO Spring Challenge

The reason for the big long story about Maggi is to explain why I chose a pregnant donkey for my Spring Challenge for the American Holiday Artist Ornament group. This is the creation that came from that inspiration.

Spring Miracles

Maggi's biological dad ... Ransom.

Maggi now

Maggi - in 1989 with our Alyssa.

******************************************** In 1981, we got our first miniature donkey. He was like a dog - following us everywhere- even into the house. I was smitten with this gentle, loving long earred friend. When someone wanted to buy him as a husband for his jennet, I said "There isn't enough money in the world for me to sell Donkey Otie." So instead, he sold us his 'Molly'.

On September 26th, 1983, Otie had a terrible accident and died. I was heart broken and could not bear to even look at Molly. I took her to my Dad's barn and swore that I could never invest that much love in any animal again. We didn't know that Donkey Otie had left us a gift. In June, Molly gave birth to a beautiful jennet - 'Annie'. I was probably more excited that day than when my own children were born. I was beyond in love with this little Disney creature with the shaggy bangs and the big eyes. In June we got another little jack - 'Nugget' - who would be our herd sire - we were Donkey Farmers.

Nugget was the same age as Annie & liked her a lot. He didn't care for old Molly - he thought that she was old and overweight & perhaps he thought that the daughter would have issues if he had a relationship with her mother. At any rate, while Molly followed him around, begging him to make her a mother again, he would just ignore her. He did do his job once or twice, but it was real work on her part to get him to oblige.

We bought a farm in 1988, simply because our critter menagerie was expanding. The first thing we did was adopt two LARGE donkeys - 'Ransom & Erin' - more than twice the size of rest of the team.
The next spring, one morning I went out to find a gorgeous chocolate coloured donkey with the most beautiful eyes. I stopped in my store to share the news with my partner & some customers overheard my excitement. They followed me out to the farm to see, what I had described as the most sweet, adorable creation in the entire world. Sure enough they agreed and said that they wanted him. The reality of donkey farming is that you can only have one jack in the herd. I had not had a single female baby since the arrival of Annie, six years earlier. I agreed that these people could adopt him and home they went, to design and build a barn to house this sweet little jack.

About a week later, when I was playing with him, I noticed that him was a HER. I called the folks and apologized profusely, telling them that there was no way that I could give up my little girl, I had waited so long to get to keep one myself. She was a gift - I thought of 'The Gift of the Magi' and name her Maggi.

As Maggi grew, she got a little bigger than any of Nuggets babies and we noticed a striking resemblance to Ransom. It became quite apparent that Molly had been tired of being rejected by Nugget and had an affair with the new guy on the block.

Almost twenty years have passed. We have had the joy of having babies each spring - dozens of beautiful, wonderful, long earred friends that have filled our lives with pleasure and love. There is nothing that compares to snuggling those soft, sweet babies - the velvet ears, the doeful eyes. It is pure joy to watch their antics as they run and jump and play.

On April 11th last year, our dear sweet Nugget died unexpectedly. It was so hard to lose such a loyal and good friend. He had two babies born after his passing - Victoria's baby was born early and only survived a few days; Samantha had a little girl that I named 'Lannie'. Annie was our very first baby and she would be our Last. Our donkey farming days had come to an end. Spring would no longer bring new life. Life on our farm has changed so much - our own children are grown and gone, our animals are all geriatric, aging along with us. It's hard sometimes, not to grieve for what is lost when it has been such a rich and fulfilling time in life.

Donkey jennets have big 'barrels' from having babies, and look pretty fat at any time with their 'hay bellies'. Well, guess what. Maggie has more than hay in hers. Nugget left her with a surprise gift, just like Donkey Otie did with her mother, twenty five years ago. Just like Maggie was a gift to me.
As spring comes, we will once again get to experience the miracle of birth. We have one more welcome and unexpected chance to have a little piece of our Nugget. Any day now, I will get to wrap my arms around a soft & cuddly, big eyed, long earred darling.

And in May, I get to hold another sweet wee babe in my arms and gaze into the eyes of yet another miracle - my grandchild.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

True Confessions

Scotty tending goal last year at 5 years old.
I'm thinking that there is little chance that we're going to make it as finalists for the 'Grandparents of the Year Award'.

This weekend, we had the Grandbabes while their parents went to Toronto. At six and almost-four, they're great fun and entertainment & although they leave us totally worn out, we love to have them.

On yesterday's agenda, was taking Scotty to his hockey game. Brian hasn't been able to make it to any previous games, but I've been telling him about great he's been doing. He's so focused and works his little heart out - as Lauren likes to say 'Scotty wooks hawd'.

Brian helped him get dressed while Lauren & I waited on the bench. When our little #16 came out, we watched his every move like a hawk - especially vigilant as we were the Responsible-Adults-On-Hand in lieu of The Parents. Both teams wore red - one a just a little darker burgundy so it took particular focus to keep our eyes glued right on him.

He wasn't his usual little bulldog self - getting in there with great determination & skating with surprising agility for the fact that only a year ago he skated like he was riding a scooter. I was thinking that maybe Brian didn't have his skates tied up properly, or perhaps he liked to impress his parents more than us, or that he was just having an off day as he seemed to be falling more than usual & just not 'in there' as he normally is. I asked Brian if the position that he was playing was one where he was supposed to hang back more. But, we cheered him on and celebrated all seven goals the team got.

At supper we were telling him how much we enjoyed his game and how well he played. He explained that if 'so & so, and so & so' was on his team, that they would have won. 'But you did win', we told him. 'No ... we lost', he replied. 'Oh no ... you WON', we countered - 'Seven to Two'. 'We had the two', he said. 'No ... you had SEVEN', we insisted. 'No, two.' he replied calmly, without even a trace of impatience with his doddering old grandparents. 'No Scotty... really - you WON', we said again. 'Nah ... we only got two goals, the Little Cullitons are gooder than us.', he stated factually. The thought came to us both at the same time, but we soldiered on. 'Aren't you the Little Cullitons?' we asked. 'No, we're the other Red shirts that are a different Red from their Red shirts'. We still wouldn't accept it. 'Are you sure?' we asked. I said to Brian, 'Go out to his hockey bag and read the back of his shirt'. He shook his head 'That won't work - they keep them there.'. We tried again, determined that there was no possible way that we had spent the entire game watching the wrong child. 'Which end did your goalie stand in? 'The end far down.' he replied, still so intent on eating his dinner that he wasn't watching the look of horror, embarassment & disbelief that we were sharing back and forth. 'You played really well.' we assured him, while looking at each other, shaking our heads at our incompetence & trying to keep from laughing.
Hopefully we can redeem ourselves during soccer season - as long as they don't wear hats.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gone to the Dogs

I don't know why I've never needle felted a dog before this. I love dogs. I love needle felting animals. With doing this fella, I've determined that I loved needle felting dogs.

He's supposed to be a St. Bernard, but he kind of looks like a Mega Hound. Regardless, he's the first canine creation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Frosty Day in March

There's not too much that will get me out of the house before I have my coffee. Hoar frost on a sunny day will. Or a 'crystal day', when the ice is thick on the branches and glitters in the sunshine as if the trees are made of glass. Even here in the heart of the snow belt, those days are few and far between.

There are so many factors that are in play in the magical moment of a day like today. Sunshine. Brilliant blue, cloudless sky. No breeze. Stillness - like the world has been frozen in a hush. The sun just abit warmer, an ever-so-gentle breeze, the sky clouding over - the magic can be lost in a moment. It won't wait til you have your coffee.

Off I went this morning, camera in hand - to enjoy the gift of this day. For two hours, I drove around in awe, stopped here and there to catch a couple shots & savour this last fresh breath of winter. And later, while I reviewed the 130 photos that I took - I had TWO coffees.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Winter Creations

There's a suggestion that I post my work - so I'll do that. This is what I've been working away at this winter, so far. I keep the woodstove stoked & just poke away the hours. These (other than the children) are needle felted.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Old Dog, New Tricks

It's really cool to get to do new things at 'My Age', which if truth be told, is slipping past middle, even if I intend to live to 100. Things that there really is no excuse that I have waited til now to do.
Last week I got to have two new adventures. I went cross country skiing. The fact that I live in the heart of the snowbelt and have never once in my life, done that - is almost downright strange. It may have had something to do with my mistrust of skiis. The one and only time that I had them on, I broke my leg. That was 35 years ago. Since I never did grow any more athletic or graceful over the years, it just seemed the wise choice to stay away from trying to balance on two narrow, slippery pieces of wood. Actually, when I even think 'ski', I can feel the break I had & draw the exact spot on my leg that snapped. It would take considerably longer to heal at 'My Age'.
But I got passed all that, took a chance and did it. And I LOVED it. Granted, I fell within the first six feet & it was like trying to hoist a big ol' bag of grain up and set it upright. I didn't break my leg though and enjoyed it immensely. Enough that I wish that I had started it earlier in the season. Almost enough to wish that winter would last a few more weeks so I could get out again. But if that gets out, I'll be run out of town as everyone here is pretty well tired of cold and snow, right about now.
The other thing that I did that was great fun - and that I can NOT believe that I have never done before, was to go to a cottage on the lake in the winter. We're fortunate to live within an hour of Lake Huron & never once have I ventured up that way to even see what the lake looks like in winter. It was heaven - quiet, peaceful, beautiful. Four of us from our creative group stayed at our friend, Kathy's family cottage. We had to take our things down a hill on toboggans, carry water from the community tap and keep the woodstove going for heat. It was an adventure- there wasn't another soul around. We cozied up around the fire and spent the entire time talking and needle felting - from morning to the next morning. It was like a spa for the soul.
Everyone else is whining about winter, going on trips down South but this old dog found some pleasure and fun in some new winter tricks. And I broke no legs.