Monday, June 30, 2014

Prayers and Well Wishes for Jon Katz

Little House is calling for all prayers and well wishes to be sent to Jon Katz this week. None of us never imagined the last time we saw Jon at he and Maria's Bedlam Farm Open House the weekend of June 21 and 22, that he would be hospitalized a week later and scheduled for major bypass surgery tomorrow, July 1st. I would refer all my readers to Maria's website where she is keeping us all posted on his progress. Jon refers to her as Nurse Ratched for she is working hard to keep him entertained and in-line with all he needs to do to get better!

Jon Katz is the heart behind all artists in our Common Thread Group, as he most generously shares his huge readership with us and supports blossoming writers and artists alike through his inspiration, writing workshops, interactive blog on facebook, personal friendships and he and Maria's Open Houses and Art Gallery.  As most of you know, he is a New York Times Best Selling author and many know him through his beloved stories about his and Maria's animals they have rescued, though his history in the journalism world is not to be dismissed!

Jon currently writes Bedlam Farm Journal that many of us follow as our choice of daily, alternative, good- news from their Bedlam Farm in upstate New York. In it Jon shares the wisdom of Simon, his donkey; dedicated hard work of Red, his sheep-herding/therapy dog along with the day to day happenings of their other dogs, cats, sheep, donkeys, and chickens on the farm. Many of his pictures and stories feature Maria, his dearest sweet, strong, country, farm/artist wife. His writings seem to glean what is most essential about life regardless where we live. Seeing the world through the lenses of Jon's camera and heart is to see and taste life anew. Jon doesn't believe that aging need curtail having a meaningful and on-going life well-connected to all that surrounds him including his interesting friends and passions. He supports everyone to make the most of their life by the example he sets as he takes each day and embraces the experiences that come his way.

We hope and pray that Jon's surgeons know just what to do to fix him, as those of us who know Jon know that he has lots more living to do! Take care Jon!  You are in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery and we are glad that Nurse Ratched is by your side to keep your energies directed on your healing! We hope that you are back at your computer soon, despite needing to carry a lighter weight camera for a while!

With love from us all at Little House, we are praying for and wishing you a speedy recovery!

P.S. You can leave your personal messages for Jon on Maria's website, at FullMoonFiberArt.  Maria will likely not be able to respond to them now, but know that she and Jon would appreciate your love and support at this time!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Little House is Getting Some Attention!

Although I have a house cleaner that comes for a few hours each month to vacuum, do a bit of scrubbing and change linens, there are areas that simply wait for me.  Likely you have noticed that house cleaning does wait for you, unless you have someone that does it all.

I have enjoyed taking a break from sewing as it takes me to the basement where it is cool when the rest of the house isn't. The basement is the infamous catch all. It is very frightening sometimes to go to this den of iniquity to deal with all has accumulated there. But every year there is a day of reckoning and it has been almost a week of it now. There is also a double car garage that is used for much the same purpose, but that will be a story for a different day...enough is enough and just busying myself with my basement studio and storage room behind it is quite enough!!

I have also showered my silk flower arrangements. Those of us that don't have green thumbs resort to such fake blooms that don't need watering and never die!! They do however start growing layers of dust, the remedy of which is to shower them to wash it away!

I only rarely polish silver and there are things that are too much of a bother to be dusted with my thimble collection. These special treasures can't be feather-dusted, and so I occasionally do the dirty deed and wash them all, polish the silver and brass ones and then clean their tiny compartmentalized printer tray display racks.  Now I can finally take their picture without announcing to the world that I would rather be sewing than cleaning!  I don't think that I am alone in having this attitude...there are more important things to be doing with our time, like cutting, sewing and quilting!! I don't do a lot of cooking either now if I can help it!!

And did I mention that Hannah's flower and vegetable gardens are looking good and for my birthday, she treated me to the lavender doors I have wanted for the past few years!!  Are they beautiful or what?!!

So this is what is happening at Little House. I will then put my feet up to rest for a day before going to The Vermont Quilt Festival in Essex, Vermont. We plan to go on Saturday and spend the whole day!! I hope to see you all there!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Testimonial--Little House Pincushions are "Beautiful and Delicious"

My pincushion: Beautiful and Delicious!
As I was writing my last blog, "Ode to My Father--Insanity Helps", I received an email followed by a phone call from one of my customers who is quickly becoming a dear friend, Emmett McCarthy.  He is familiar to many as a former contestant on Project Runway and is now a successful fashion designer in NYC.

Along with his artistic talents he has a great sense of humor and didn't want me to miss out on his artist friend, Lisa Zador's chuckle of the day, that Emmett had titled in an email to me, "Beautiful and Delicious".  He was speaking of my tomato biscornu pincushion that he had given to Lisa. She had it sitting in her windowsill in her studio when she experienced an intruder, one that had broken-in and entered through her window screen before.

This time her courtyard squirrel had stolen her favorite pincushion! Don't miss the rest of the story on her blog,  and while you are there don't miss going to her Etsy shops, Curious Portraits and The Curious Kitchen and check out her artwork. Lisa is an award winning artist, illustrator, and textile designer who lives and works in Manhattan's West Village. Explore her blog and take her apartment tour and kitchen tour while sitting at your computer, and get to know her and her work. Both are truly amazing!

In Emmett's phone call to me, he claimed that my pincushions and I are the talk of the squirrels in Lisa's courtyard!  I didn't find this so surprising. My last blog relates that bits of drama and craziness seem to follow me and what could be more special than to be recognized by this silly squirrel. It is not surprising that he is carrying on to his friends about the woman who makes pincushions with only crushed walnut shell filling and NO nuts!!

Lisa will receive a replacement pincushion as a reward for her pincushion testimonial story, though her next pincushion comes with a warning to keep it away from window sills when the windows are open, as they might be still be irresistible temptations for those seeking nuts.  It did cause me to wonder if I should put a lucky walnut in the middle of each pincushion, but then I would have to warn those with nut allergies to purchase only those with polyester filling!

Thank you Lisa and Emmett for this chuckle-of -the-day and wonderful story!  Don't forget to read Lisa's own account and how she dealt with such an intruder by clicking on her blog above!!I am so lucky to have my pincushions recognized by Emmett and his friend, Lisa and am grateful to this squirrel for bringing us together again!

About Emmett McCarthy : To talk to Emmett is like talking to your best friend that you have known all your life.  He is warm and fun, and as I told him, not at all intimidating, despite his awesome talent. Although "famous", he seems quite "normal" and "down to earth"! His fashion designs are pure class.  I admire and recognize such sewing and design talent despite me being a likely contestant for What Not to Wear.  I had no idea that he has more than a high-fashion dress shop in New York City. He actually has lines of bags, shoes, and clothing that you can view on your computer at Emmett McCarthy EMc2 Brand Book on Vimeo. Not to be missed is his story of how he became a well-known fashion designer in Our Pal Emmett! Emmett's sister lives in a nearby town and he has promised to pay me a visit.  I am honored and delighted and look forward to getting to know Emmett better. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Little House to be at Garden Time in Queensbury, New York this Saturday

Little House will be one of several artist/crafters to be featured at Garden Time in Queensbury, New York (652 Quaker Road) this Saturday, June 21st in their big tent from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Don't miss us! Introduce yourself and mention this post for 10% off your purchase.  See you there!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Tribute to My Late Father, or Insanity Helps?

I just wrote to a friend that I had spent Memorial Day Weekend accompanying the Pope on his trip to the Middle East and joined in his mission to bring peace to that part of the world.  I was so touched by his efforts to heal the great schism between the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches, and I hope he goes on to meet with the leaders of all the protestant churches as well? His peace making tour included embracing Jewish and Muslim, Israel and Palestine leaders, asking them and the world to quit fighting in God's name!

Taking two of his good friends with him that were Muslim and Jewish was beautiful too!  Nothing like demonstrating that we are all family under one God.  This Pope has become "a kindred spirit" and "personal friend", though to him, I am merely one of his huge flock, a Catholic convert who lives in Vermont. Nor does he know that I traveled with him as I sewed my fleece socks while sitting in my arm chair in my living room in my pajamas.
Pope Francis and Jane in the Holy Lands (note that I stay forever young!)

A block from my Comfort-Her.
I have many such dear friends, contemporary as well as those departed. Many are writers, like myself, and their books line my shelves along with my own unpublished journals. I am proud to say that they span all walks of life as well as beliefs and even historical times! Few know that there were really five Little Women in the Alcott family and I was one of them, but instead of competing for affection from Laurie, I dated Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and competed with Lizzy instead! I have many famous and not-so-famous TV actors and actresses that are my friends as well.
Lizzy with "my" Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

Only last week I watched alligator wrestling and River Monsters that showed fish that had swallowed people whole, though they didn't seem to make out as well as Jonah in his whale! I love wild adventures and am now glad to know how to wrestle alligators and crocs--in my dreams! I am also part gypsy and well aware of how the gypsies of England differ slightly from their counterparts in America. I love their bling and fancy dresses that take at least four to five people to lift the young girls who are wearing them into backs of trucks or carriages to be hauled to their glorious events. And every week I Say Yes to the Dress, and picture myself marching down the isle once again!

My favorite poem with circus train cars that hauled circus animals.
When I was a child I dreamt of running away and joining the circus. In fact The Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus came to Denver each year and set up their tent in an industrial area of town only a city block from my father's business. My brother and I would go with neighbor friends from down the street to take in this glorious annual affair! We would buy little pet chameleons that we pinned to our shirts and would watch them turn colors to match what we were wearing. Our neighbor friend, Tommy told us that his had died as he pinned it to his plaid shirt and it didn't know which color to turn! Ours didn't last a lot longer despite wearing monochromatic shirts. Perhaps turning white wasn't a good color for them? They didn't have animal protection programs then, and you could buy tiny painted turtles as well, that lived in our special turtle bowls under a plastic palm tree, though sadly they didn't live long either!

A circus block from my Comfort-her.
My dad worked very hard to raise me to adulthood, as my dreams never seemed to get more realistic! Joining the circus was only the beginning. From there I decided to become a missionary and go to Africa and feed the poor starving babies, though I wasn't raised connected to any church where such things really did happen. I watched Tarzan movies on TV and practiced hanging by my knees in my back yard, trying to get in shape to swing on vines or better yet prepare to take that swan dive into Tarzan's arms.
"Tarzan and me, Jane"

I even went with my best friend and our brothers out to a ravine in the country where the boys strung up a tree swing that required climbing into the tree and then sliding out of the tree and onto the tire to sail high in the air over what seemed to be a huge gorge. It took them hours to get me to slide out of the tree, as my adventurous side comes with a strong "chicken side" as well!

John Wayne, my hero with the baby elephant in Hatari film.
And I can't talk about my childhood without mentioning that my cousin, Susan and I got to see John Wayne when he visited Monkey Island at the Denver Zoo. He was there to promote his newly released movie, Hatari and came to have his picture taken with the baby elephant that co-starred with him. Reality ever blurring with my fantasies in my head, I thought he had come just to see me and it was a hallmark event in my life, though I didn't see him again until we were reunited in a wax museum in San Francisco many years later! Sadly, he seemed a little stiff and rather waxy!

First nursing, then teaching, and at last, writing and art.

My dad seemed to know this imaginative side of me and worked hard to help me grow into an independent adult.  He programmed me to be a nurse by telling me that no doubt nurses were needed in circuses as well as in Africa helping the poor. He struggled when I would become discouraged in my nursing program and would try to encourage me by telling me that there are many different kinds of nurses and perhaps I just hadn't gotten to the sort that I would like to be.  I remember there being a public health rotation, but never a circus one and my senior year of nursing school, I began to sicken at the site of blood!

I continued to try to please my ever practical dad,  and went on for a Master's Degree in special education after a school psychiatrist had pointed out to me that nurses didn't need to be artistic when bandaging a wound, though I loved to create wonderful caste-like bandages for minor cuts! I turned my thoughts from nursing to special education,where my nursing knowledge wouldn't go to waste, only pausing between these careers long enough to take a Shakespeare, art and quilting class! I always excelled in home-ec sewing classes as well as art, but my dad thought I needed to be a secretary, nurse or teacher to insure that I could always make a living on the side of being "a homemaker"?  He seemed to have a rather limited view of careers for women! Art was considered only fun and he used to tease us kids, that crayons should be outlawed, though my mother loved to color with us, and he spent much of his hard-earned salary supporting our love of crayons as well as paying for the art that my mother both created and bought to make his home his castle! He didn't seem to know that I wasn't really required to have the biggest box of crayons, nor a crayon sharpener every year!

Teaching was the most creative thing that I could imagine to do with my repressed artistic desires. It was a career that would keep me grounded in my dad's world of "the practical", ever postponing what I really wanted to do all my life--to sew and create and later write the stories that I lived in all my life! He thought he had tamed the creative monster within me, but little did he know it was only to be tamed for a few more years!

My Dad, the executive of house and business, right up close to God!
My father was right up there next to God himself and he even had God-like abilities and I thought he knew what was best for me.  In fact, I was certain about that! When I was in grade school, I had to take my glasses to him to fix. I was very embarrassed but I had managed to pop out both lenses from my glass frames without breaking either the lenses or their frame.  I had been in my room practicing my circus acrobatic act and was going to perfect standing on my head. Mind you, I was not the slightest bit athletic or coordinated. I had a tall trundle bed and I figured if I formed a triangle with my hands and head in front of my bed, I could balance my body against my bed to master this feat! I did manage to stand on my head but it didn't last long and my knees came right down on my glasses which had slid off and laid in-wait for their inevitable destruction! I was blind without glasses and couldn't get by so much as a day without them and had no choice but to take them straight-way to my dad, and the first thing out of his mouth, besides his expletives (I was after all, supposed to be in bed already), was to say, "I suppose you were standing on your head!" I was convinced right then and there that not only could he could see through walls but he even had eyes in the back of his head??!!

My dad knew everyone on a first name basis, including the optometrist and called him on the phone that night and I didn't miss so much as a day of school!  I never admitted to standing on my head, but I was very careful after that to hide in my closet when I was doing something he might think silly--perhaps he couldn't see through multiple walls, I'd hoped? It wasn't until much later that I realized that he really couldn't see through any walls, nor could he tame my dreams, though he did get my glasses fixed!

Jane, the young and aspiring ballerina!
Try as I might to get serious about being a professional acrobat, actress, artist, baker, beauty queen, ballerina, librarian, musician, nurse, opera singer, quilter, student, secretary, spy, teacher or writer (in alphabetical order, no less!), I have been hopelessly imaginative and insane. Only recently have I come to realize that these are my greatest qualities, not faults and that they have really helped me to survive a life that might have otherwise been quite boring, besides which, entertainment comes cheap. All I need to do is go inside my head, ever full of fantasies!! Did I mention that Walter Middy and I are blood relatives?

My dad proudly "dressed up" for a Halloween party.
(About my father, George L. Campen: he was, I think, the only dad who solved little girl emotional problems on his slide rule. Ever logical and unimaginative, except how to stretch the limited allowance he paid out, he was, nonetheless, responsible for some of my "insanity genes". Respected by our local community for his civic works as well as his executive position with Ceco Corporation, he was loved by his family, no matter how much he embarrassed his children.  That, too, is what dads are for, aren't they?  He was a unique and one-of-a-kind Dad and I will love him forever!)

Credit be given to websites regarding Pope Francis's visit to the Holy Lands, the movie production of Pride and Prejudice, Hatari, and Tarzan films.  My daughter, who would prefer to remain nameless, is responsible for the picture of the Pope blessing me. All other pictures are personal photos. I have only a few pictures of my dad, and this is the one I most treasure! He did his serious thinking with a slide rule, but this proves he had another less serious side as well!  I can still hear him laugh.  He enjoyed his life and didn't take himself too seriously, except in getting me raised and educated with both feet firmly planted on the ground, and my mind ever practical, focused and rational, or so he thought!

Happy Father's Day!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

An Invitation to My Pollyanna Party

"Life is what happens while you are making other plans". I don't know who originally penned these words, but they are certainly true! "Need is also the mother of invention" and what sparks problem-solving that can be exceed creativity beyond my artwork, though to be sure my creative work goes hand-in-hand with life challenges.  This quilt block will soon be added to my Comfort-Her.  Living itself  is an art and hopefully by the time I reach the end of my life, I hope that it will be said that although my life isn't perfect, I faced it head-on with faith and lived it to the fullest?  

I know that God has promised that he will never give us more than what we can handle but sometimes I want to call His Complaint Department and let Him know that He has likely confused me with another far stronger.  Perhaps I got someone else's share of aggravation this month in addition to my own? Then I pause and reflect and remember that some people live in huts that don't keep out the rain, have little to eat and are perfectly content that they are so blessed and I feel guilty for being such a wimp!  

About one and a half years ago I wrote that my husband had been suddenly laid off his twenty-two year position in the executive office of a well-known, established international retail store. It has been a life-changing event, and one that keeps on giving us challenges, especially with my husband being so close to retirement age! Our location isn't helping, when it comes to employment opportunities. Jobs that seem to be most readily available have been the sort that don't pay, are seasonal, or part-time without adequate salaries or benefits.  I know that he is not alone in having to piece together multiple jobs to replace what he had before. Maintaining confidence during this struggling economy is added to the list of challenges that face him as well as others.

Despite my inability to work outside of our home right now, and my husband's various jobs,  we have managed through a year and a half of diminished income and are inching toward full retirement benefits, with no intent to fully retire. Should everyone be as fortunate as us! Perhaps we are at last sharing just a sliver of the hardship of the world that is so unevenly distributed!

Though I dream of  a life with a little less stress in the future, with much creative problem solving, brainstorming, information gathering, manipulating figures and stitching-away my worries, we will "make it"! Perhaps this will be my testimonial for my Great Feet for Great Feats Fleece Socks, proving yet another great feat performed while wearing them?

Instead of a pity party I think I will host a "Pollyanna Party" and all who come will need to be truly "glad" about something.  I will be glad to have my year's supply of fleece socks all sewn , tagged and ready for my holiday craft shows, as well as some rather brilliant, (if I do say so myself), financial planning ready to set in motion. It continues to amaze me that God seems to give us what we need, as we need it...thanks be to God!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Winner of June's Common Thread Give-Away is....

Congratulations to Judy Booth, the winner of this month's give-away! Do come back to sign up for July's give away.  Sign up usually starts the first Monday of each month and the winner announced on the first Thursday.  Thank you all for visiting our websites (and my Etsy shop. Simply click onto each site on the right hand side of my blog to go directly to those sites).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jon Katz- June's Common Thread Artist of the Month

Her is Jon Katz's "Timeless-Fanny" photo that he is signing and giving away.  Don't forget to register to win. Just read the beginning of my last blog as to how to register. You may be the lucky winner!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June's Common Thread Give-Away Artist is Jon Katz, A Brave American

June's Common Thread Give-Away Artist is Jon Katz. He is giving away a personally signed 5" x 7" photo of "Timeless Fanny"  printed on digital paper by George Forss (NOT pictured here). Simply go to his wife, Maria Wulf's website to leave a comment for Jon, and perhaps you will be the winner.

In my last blog I addressed the need for brave citizens to speak up and support individual rights whenever they are violated. Jon Katz is busy doing just that. With his photographs, books and blog he defends what is most dear to him: the rights of all animals to be cared for and treated with dignity and respect! His recent defense of the rights of carriage horses and their drivers to work in New York City's Central Park is a fitting extension of Jon's heart and passion. He is voicing loud and clear that to usurp their rights and "put them out to pasture" is a gross injustice to both the horses and their drivers.

I respond to this debate, as I would to any other threat to individual rights, by supporting Jon and the rights of these carriage horses and their drivers to live and work in NYC. I do believe that this is still "the land of the free" and that no one has the right to take away another's rights. This country is defined by our constitutional rights, whether or not they represent our own individual preferences. Power and might should not rule. Individual rights are the very heart and principle that our country was founded upon, and toleration for each other's rights is a cherished and protected value of this country.  Laws protect them, but sometimes they are not enough when others attempt to squelch them. Individual rights need to be protected at all costs, for where another's rights are violated, indirectly so are ours!

In reading Jon's blogs, I am blown away by those that think it is somehow cruel and unjust for horses to work. Horses have been used for transportation and work for generations.  Pulling carriages, wagons, and plows has never constituted "abuse".  Doesn't the word horsepower come from their history of being used to provide the strength that their bodies have by their inherent design?  What is abusive about horses using their long lean muscles that were designed for that very purpose? It seems to me that not having them use their muscles would in fact be robbing them of their health, as well as their life purpose.

Horses have been domesticated for generations and have proved to not only be of service, but also demonstrate their ability to form lasting and affectionate relationships with human beings who care for them. Both horse and owners thrive in their mutually pleasing service to each other. It seems that rendering them to "pastures of unemployment" would be no less harmful than it is to human beings to be robbed of their purpose and contribution to society. Such loss of purpose is totally demoralizing to both people and animals alike!

So what is the problem with letting horses continue doing what they do? Safety would be the only reason to not allow this trade, but this has been found to be an unwarranted concern. Jon has pointed out in his articles, the risks to these horses is not unlike the risks to ourselves. Horses' have health issues like our own and pulling a carriage is not what causes them.  Using their large muscles to move carriages about is within their power, and doesn't harm them anymore than walking does for humans.  Our bodies and their's are designed to move about as well as perform activities that strengthen them. It seems to me that restraining them from such function would be to restrict them from what is in fact healthy for them to do. Replacing them with motor cars might be some peoples' dream, though I would have to ask, "Don't we have enough motor cars in New York City already?" Bike drawn seats are also an alternative.  I will let you view this option and compare it to a horse drawn carriage ride and let you decide which you would prefer!

Is this the way you would prefer to travel?
Or would you prefer this ride?
So hats off to Jon Katz and others like him who speak up loudly and fight for the individual rights that we all cherish. We all need to "live and let live" and be tolerant of the rights of others, for within that tolerance is the very tolerance for our own personal rights as well. Guarding against precedents of inappropriate personal power is a job for all citizens and we thank you Jon, for being one of the brave Americans that is courageously speaking up loud and clear regarding an issue, the basis of which affects us all!  We are so proud of you and the work that you are doing!

(I likely don't have to tell you that these are Jon's photo's.  He makes a compelling case to save the rights of these horses and their drivers to continue this wonderful service to those in New York City! To support The Famous Horse Drawn Carriages of New York City's Central Par let your voice be heard.