The heavy drapes in the sewing room have been replaced with sheers for the summer - a perfect back drop for playing with the gorgeous silk batik scarves from my neighbors, Hatai and Sue!
Most of the scarves are geometric patterns but there are a few one-of-a-kind batiks featuring animals and landscapes. They are all such special treasures and I will be very thoughtful in how I use them in future projects.
From May 18, 2014
On the morning of the race, I felt well prepared. I had purchased my hat for the Preakness weeks before the race at the Downton Abbey exhibit at Winterthur in Delaware. I waited until the day of the race to purchase the flowers to decorate it, hoping for them to be as fresh as possible. The Black-Eyed Susan is the state flower of Maryland, as well as the official flower of the Preakness, so I was certain that local florists and farmer's markets would be abundant with fresh blossoms to adorn my hat for the day's race,. There wasn't a Black-Eyed Susan to be found. Well, at least not of the floral variety.
There weren't even any silks available. I purchased a garland of daisies and hurried home to paint the centers with acrylics, thankful that it was a quick drying paint. Next year I'll be prepared, and may even try to force some blossoms for the event.
Even California Chrome, the winning horse, was deprived of the thrill of wearing an authentic garland of the official flower. Instead his 10 foot long, 4,200 bloom blanket was made of golden yellow chrysanthemums with black in the center.
Numerous people, including a local florist, told me as recently as the day of this year's race, May 17, 2014, "the flowers used for the race and the blanket that covers the winning horse are daisies with the centers painted with black lacquer or shoe polish." However, more reliable sources state they haven't used that technique for over fifteen years.
Susan Reimer, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, noted that the archives of the Sun first mentioned the Black Eyed Susan taking the place of the rose blanket for the Maryland Preakness race in the late 1930s. "In 1939 the Sun described what it said was a blanket of black-eyed Susans gracing the neck of Preakness winner Challedon. Racing writer Jesse Linthicum said the change gave the race 'a real Maryland flavor'."
As far as the origin of the daisies with the centers painted black, Reimer reveals the beginning and the end of the mystery. The Black-Eyed Susan, a wild flower too delicate to hold up to the technique of being woven into a blanket and remaining fresh and hardy for a couple of days, doesn't even bloom until late June. "It was Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Price Day, writing in The Sun in 1946, who revealed that florist and devoted horse lover George Cook had been painting the center of yellow daisies with shoe black for years. He'd made every blanket from 1928 to 1953, and he died just days before the 1954 race."
The choice of the Black-Eyed Susan is in honor of it's position as the official flower. The state legislature of Maryland officially endorsed the Black Eyed Susan as the Maryland state flower in 1918. There are thirteen petals, as there were thirteen original colonies which included Maryland, and the black and yellow beautifully represent the colors in the Maryland flag. Admittedly, other than its untimely debut and fragile nature, it is a worthy choice for the official Preakness flower!
In February a dear friend's mother died. I created a comfort journal to help her process her loss and give her comfort while remembering her loved one. Since then I have made several more but this is my favorite - probably because her mother's favorite flower was the rose. The comfort journal provides quotes, writing prompts, and a list of ideas for self care. I asked her a few questions about her mother so I could customize it - her favorite color, flower, song, etc. If you have a loved one who has lost someone dear to them and likes to journal, you might want to make a comfort journal for them.
A friend asked where I find my information on herbal legends and lore. I'be been collecting for decades, following my grandmother's example. Her journals are filled with articles, recipes, and notes. She was born in 1900 and there are pages dated from 1918 forward. Many of her notes are stained from use and the journals are falling apart, but they are priceless treasures to me!
She also gathered cards, booklets, etc, including give aways from stores. One of my favorites is a 50th anniversary edition from the Valley Rural Electric Co-op, Inc., celebrating President Franklin's Rural Electrification Order 7050.
I started collecting longer ago than I care to admit, and have 3 ring binders and journals filled with hundreds of articles, notes, and sketches. And now the internet is brimming with information, though a lot of what I've collected isn't on line - yet! I'm continuing to sketch almost every day and so on it goes!
This comes from Merry Christmas from Valley Rural Electric Co-op, Inc., a 32 page booklet celebrating the Golden Anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt's introduction of the signing of executive order 7057. The booklet is filled with crafts, decorations, recipes, stories and gift ideas.
The Legend of the Spider
Once upon a time, long ago on Christmas Eve, a mother and her children prepared their home for the visit of the Christ Child. Everything was scrubbed and cleaned, and when the tree was beautifully decorated, the family went to bed. While they were sleeping, the spiders, who had been chased from their favorite nooks and crannies, crept back to view the lovely preparations. They were filled with wonder at the tree's glittering beauty and crawled on every branch to see each shining ornament, but alas, after their inspection, the tree was shrouded with cobwebs.
When the Christ Child came and saw what had happened, he smiled at the thought of the spider's wanting to see his tree and he blessed it as he touched each web to turn it into gold and the tree glistened with beauty even greater than before.
This is how it happened that in so many parts of the world, it is a custom to have a spider web on every tree.
2 silver tinsel pipe cleaners
1 inch styrofoam balls
black pipe cleaner
black chenille bumps (small)
eyes (wiggle eyes or silver sequins
Cut the tinsel pipe cleaners in half and space three of the pieces evenly apart to make the frame of the web. Tie with silver thread at the center to keep them in place. Then, using the silver thread, circle around the spokes, wrapping around each stem and tie at the last connection. About three or four concentric circles make it look like a spider web.
Cut the styrofoam ball in half, cover with black bumps and glue on eyes. Cut the black pipe cleaner into eight sec ions, insert into flat side of the spider's body, and bend feet to fasten to the spider web.
As I'm writing this post, young people all over the country are organizing for March for Our Lives. The Kuwait America Foundation's wish for our young people through Do the Write Thing is an interesting parallel. We knew then that young people had the answers, but it seems like they are finally recognizing and organizing. I am in such awe of the leadership that it emerging. Ok. Here's Justin!
Yesterday, in a very off the cuff comment about Justin Bieber (in reference to what might bring an arts and crafts class of middle school aged girls in Haiti to a 'screaming halt' ), I suggested a snake, a spider, a hurricane, or Justin Bieber. Unlike most people, I don't think of Justin often, but it reminded me of a video my friend Special K, one of the Harlem Globetrotters had sent me years ago.
Kevin "Special K" Daley was a guest speaker at a dinner in Washington D.C., speaking to the young people at the Do the Write Thing (DTWT) conference. I had heard the globetrotters were there and Kevin was in a suit so I wasn't sure, but judging by his height, I thought the odds were good he might be one! I introduced myself as one of the youth chaperones, said I had heard the globetrotters were there, thought he might be one but if not, he was tall enough to look over the crowd and help me find them. He laughed and our friendship began!
DTWT originated from the Kuwait America Foundation as an expression of gratitude. The citizens of Kuwait wanted to extend appreciations to the United States because we made Kuwait a safer place for their children. Their hope was that youth in communities throughout the United States would be safer through the reflection and suggestions initiated by the Do the Write Thing Challenge. The ultimate goal was that young people would be empowered to make the changes that would break the cycle of violence in their homes, schools and communities. This was the first year Harrisburg Area youth participated.
Judge Jeannine Turgeon, from Dauphin County, PA, brought the program to the Harrisburg area. Communities across the country participated in their local communities and each chose two ambassadors to attend the summer event. There was a week long event where students met their representative, attended an event at the Kuwait embassy, and a ceremony at the Library of Congress where their essays were submitted.
Students discussed the problem of youth violence with their teachers in a classroom setting and then wrote their own reflections to three questions:
1) How has youth violence affected my life?
2) What are the causes of youth violence?
3) What can I do to reduce youth violence?
Judge Turgeon's courtroom was filled with students who participated in the Do the Write Thing Challenge. JT feels that acedemic pursuits should be given the same respect as those in sports so she ensures that the students have trophies and certificates. Parents and teachers looked on proudly as middle schools students were honored for their efforts.
The guidelines for 2018 Do the Write Thing are up on their website. i strongly advise anyone who has middle school students to encourage their student's teacher to get involved, These are exciting times as young people discover they do have a voice and what they are saying is important.. http://www.dtwt.org/the-challenge/instructions
“As kids, we don’t always have a voice, so having a person there listening to us, then it would make us feel more important. Since adolescents are the future, we need a positive presence to lead us into a positive future. Learning to help kids would be beneficial tomorrow and in the generations to come.” ~ student from Do the Write Thing
" . . . for all the beauty you add to the world, and to my life especially . . . "
I can't imagine a better way to describe Carrie's gift to me than the sentiment she included (above) in the gorgeous card she created. Just look at the way she has packaged these treasures! The attention to detail and the intricate laces are pure delight.
A few weeks ago I was painting roses and there was a photograph of the vase Nancy gave me in one of the pictures. Carrie mentioned that she had the tray to match it. It never occurred to me that she would pack it up and send it! She included a card, an embroidered linen doily, a crabapple candle that smells good enough to eat, and a candle holder adorned with stars and berries!
Mycenea brought me a gorgeous bouquet of roses!
"Orange roses - a literal mixture of yellow and red, orange roses were seen as a bridge between friendship symbolized by yellow roses and love represented by red roses. They can be an expression of fascination, or a gift to say 'I'm proud of you." Aw! Hope so!
Mycenea, Nancy and I met for dinner at Rockbass and shared appetizers and desserts as well as lively conversation. The food and view were divine. It's one of my favorite restaurants in Harrisburg.
The Millennium Music Conference featured almost 400 artists and bands through the Harrisburg area. Mycenea's band, Pleiades, with Ross Kennedy and Chuck Kembring, was featured at 10:00 p.m. at the Coliseum on my birthday! A once in a lifetime gift and a memories I cherish!
Our trip was overflowing with fun that ended much too soon! Thank you to Nancy for planning weeks ahead to ensure that my birthday would be filled with memorable moments!
The festivities continues when I returned home! Mycala took me to the Melting Pot for a full course fondue experience! We had cheddar cheese fondue with veggies, breads and applies followed by the house garden salad. Next came surf and turf with a variety of vegetables and six sauces. The meal ended with Pure Chocolate fondue with cookies, cakes, marshmallows, strawberries, pineapple and bananas. Bliss!
This morning I journaled on my new couch, enjoying my roses! One of the best parts about going away is coming home!
Today I decided to paint roses on the journal I made before giving it as a gift. The rose on the cover also has the recipient's name so I'm not going to share it because I don't want to take the chance that she might see it. She has no idea it's coming!
But I will show you the rose I painted on the first page of the journal next to the lace pocket. I love the way it turned out. It has a raised effect. I was delighted that it didn't seep through the hand made papers. The paper has such a delicate look but will be perfect for journaling, and I can be assured that pens and paints won't seep through!
Also painted and sent out a few cards today - one to a friend whose mother just passed, a get well card, a birthday card and one to send congratulations. It seems there are reasons to send them as quickly as the paint meets the paper. Roses are appropriate for so many occasions.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!