Monthly Archives: January 2011

Quote of the Week – may be only fidgets

I haven’t kept up with my plan for a weekly quote, but it’s a practice worth reviving, especially for those ever-more-frequent periods when I have nothing to say. Today, from C.S. Lewis:

“Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him.’ Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing’s sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern: so that three veils may divide you from the correct view! There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance. As MacDonald says, ‘In holy things may be unholy greed!’ And by doing what ‘one’s station and its duties’ does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice. Just you give Mary a chance as well as Martha!”

C.S. Lewis, Letters to An American Lady

Doll Clothes 2010

Brainstorming session

This story began around the end of October, and now that some pictures of the dolly modeling her togs have become available, I am giving the whole rundown. To begin at the beginning:

Back in the fall I heard that Littlest Granddaughter could use some clothes for her 18″ doll Lucy, and that the craft store carries that sort of thing. It would be a welcome Christmas present. 

Coat lining from leftover dress fabric

But Lucy is a fancy doll, and it pained me to think of her wearing cheap clothes bought at the craft store, so what could I do, now that I have an organized sewing room (that’s another post) where I can actually find the materials needed, but dive in and put scraps and patterns together and come up with some outfits.

I wanted to use scraps not just to save money, but because the constraint made it easier, somehow, to come up with ideas for outfits. If I had started out at the fabric store I’d still be wandering the aisles, overwhelmed with too many choices.

I didn’t dream I would spend an impossible number of hours before I was through. But even now that I know, I would do it again. I learned a few lessons this go ’round, which should speed things up next time. I expect several more Next Times, because I absolutely loved doing it.

Would an aspiring painter count the hours he worked on one canvas, in order to calculate how much he might make per hour? If that were all there was to it, he might go into another line of business. Or if he needed a painting for his wall, he could look in galleries to find one. But there is joy in the creating, in the details that satisfy when they are done “right.”

I did run across some handmade doll clothes online, while I was looking for a glossary of decorative braids. One would have to greatly streamline and simplify a doll dress in order to make any amount of money on it. One cute dress was $18; I hope there was no hand sewing involved in that one.

When sewing a collar or a sleeve cuff for a little blouse, sometimes it was easier for me to sew the whole seam by hand, rather than to risk bunching the edge of the fabric under the presser foot and having to take out messy stitches.

Attaching the two types of braid took forever; I won’t ever used twisted cord again, and the Chinese braid I would sew by machine. My clever use of scrap fabric for the coat necessitated sewing the braid by hand so as not to spoil the lovely lining with contrasting thread. Now I know to plan that kind of thing more thoroughly.

Even though her mama likes to put her blouses on backwards, it appears that Lucy is very happy with her new clothes. And to complete the wardrobe, she got a new pair of black shoes from the craft store.

Vacation with Bread and Water

clumps of aloes in background

California’s Central Coast was our vacation spot last weekend. We spent time with Soldier and Doll and with our friends whom I will nickname Mr. and Mrs. Bread. Their friendship is so nourishing on many levels, body and soul, that it demonstrates just how crucial phileo is to us humans.

Loaves of grain are humble and plain in a way, but throughout history people have often lived by this kind of food and little else. Thank God for friends who also lavish us with agape, ministering to us of the One who is our Bread of Life.

All six of us had a refreshing walk along the shore in Pacific Grove, where we saw the oldest active lighthouse on the West Coast. The light on Point Piños has never missed a night since 1855.

Mr. Bread played his mandolin as we strolled along under blue skies that reflected in the ocean, and we shared our discoveries of egrets and flowers and succulents. Doll found a rare black abalone shell, which was actually a beautiful blue-green. Some red-flowering aloes had long ago been planted along the path and grown into giant clumps.

We ate our picnic lunch in the courtyard of one of the many historic buildings in Monterey. This city was the capital of California under Spain and Mexico, not long after it was founded in 1700.I always enjoy visiting gardens that I have no responsibility to care for, especially if they are modeled on the historic, as was this one above. But I didn’t get to examine everything in great depth. I was always falling behind the group when trying to get the perfect picture of an aloe flower or a grove of cypresses.


fava beans

A good vacation, especially at our age, must include physical rest. We had a that in good measure, being lulled and comforted by hearing the waves crashing on the rocks below our bedroom window. And watching the waves — I think I would never get tired of it. It seems healthy to have in one’s field of vision the things that are obviously not man-made; compare that to a busy city with traffic, stores and offices. The ocean stretching away as far as I can see, or the stars and constellations that glittered above us all weekend, fill my conscious mind with the reminder that there is Something Bigger Than I Am going on here. And it’s been going on longer than men have been remembering.

Today I was lucky to be able to stay home and rest mentally from the excitement of traveling. This quiet day, combined with the nurturing gifts I received on the weekend, have given me some energy to get out of my January slump –just in time to look up with some hope at what February has to offer.

Four Storybook Friends

Who are my “fictional best friends”? This meme was going around some time back, and got me thinking about “The Top Ten Characters I’d Like to Be Friends With.” I don’t aspire to be Best Friends — that’s too big an idea — but to be A Friend is something I would consider. You see, not being a People Person, I don’t really feel like taking on ten more friends with problems, which book characters always must have, preferably a few of them in order for it to be a good book.

But these characters came to mind:

1. Harold of the Harold and the Purple Crayon because he is so creative and resourceful in his solutions for all the predicaments he gets into, and I’d like to go with him on his adventures. I would never tire of watching him draw whatever he wants, so quickly and easily. When he goes to bed he even draws the moon out the window so I know we think alike.

2. Natty Bumpo of the Leatherstocking Tales. He is a real gentleman, but not a fussy one. He would have wonderful tales to tell and philosophizing to do as we took long walks in the woods, and I’d be perfectly safe with him, as he is pretty much king of the forest and could protect me from any Indians or wild animals, and trap or hunt for all the meat we could want.

3. Kristin of Kristin Lavransdatter only because she seems to badly need a good woman friend. Besides her mother, who isn’t even nearby to have a chat with, I can’t see that she has one female friend in the whole three novels about her life. I wonder, if I were her friend, if I could make any positive difference in the drama? I know it would be a lot of work, but in her world I think I could do it. Back then I wouldn’t have all the stresses pulling me away from home so I would have more emotional resources to give to Kristin.

4. Winnie-the-Pooh would be a good friend to have for the times when you just wanted to throw sticks over the bridge or sit around eating condensed milk and thinking deeply about thoughts that other people don’t even bother having. He and I would understand each other.

I haven’t given a lot of thought to this, maybe because I have so many real friends whom I’m already neglecting enough that I somewhat begrudge the time looking for imaginary others. And when I do bring to mind the sort of characters I have met in books, for the most part I’m quite content to let them live their lives without me, as I have more enjoyable ones right here.