Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peggy and the Begonia Stalks

I always water the begonias last, and not as often, because they sit on my old garden bench and I don't want water running out on it. It's plastic, it can't be damaged at this point, but it's a habit to conserve it and a habit to water them last.

As I slowly drip water into the pots, I have a chance to really look at them and they are showy indeed. There is a rex begonia so dark it's almost black, and an angelwing begonia that shines red on the back of it's speckled green leaves. The leaves are serrated and partially turn themselves over when the sun hits them.
4 feet tall and still growing

Angelwings were one of my first houseplants and good friends for many years. Then I didn't have houseplants for a few years, too much bother, I had a big garden outdoors.  I have no plants inside my home on Kauai. Many people do, but I find that they usually end up housing ants and the occasional centipede. I'd prefer to have those critters living outdoors where they belong, and there are plenty of plants right outside the screen door.

When the begonias sat on the ground, they were always being munched on by slugs and didn't thrive. Once I moved them to the bench, they put on a growth spurt that has gone on for months. Right plant, right place…

The center stalks grow so straight and tall, like Jack's beanstalk, reaching up and up through the filtered shade. They are full of potential, and hidden jewels.

Secret begonia world

When I look at them through the eyes of a professional gardener, I think "I should top these guys and then they'd bush out and have more flowers, and I could start the tops mixed together in the yellow pot." But then I hear them say quietly "Why? Why limit our upward growth? We have side shoots that will grow out naturally and make us bushier, we already have flower clusters. We are in balance."

Why indeed? Why limit our upward growth?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Combinations for Linda

photo courtesy of

 When I started cleaning Linda up, her drawers were stained and sad, bloomers that couldn't be salvaged. I have so many lovely books to choose from on just about any subject to do with dolls, embroidery, tassels, or beads. I went to my library and picked out "The Doll's Dressmaker: The Complete Pattern Book," by Venus A. Dodge.

I particularly like this collection of patterns because it includes both old-fashioned patterns for vintage dolls and simple, easily adaptable patterns that can be used with any doll. She also offers 3 sizes of the same patterns and clear instructions about how to make them. Many line drawings inspire variations with tucks, lace, ribbon, and embellishment.

No fine lawn combinations for Miss Linda! No, she wanted fancy gold printed cotton, and red ribbon facings.

What Miss Linda wants, Miss Linda gets! This is the inside-out view.

Finished close-up and beaded edges. I had to put some 24K somewhere!
Now if I can just get her to stop rolling up her skirt and showing off!

I like this casual still life with dish drainer in background and Linda leaning against a roll of paper towels. I simply must get a proper photo area set up. And one day I will! In the meantime, Linda loves her new combis and will not be embarrassed when my nosy friends lift up her skirt to see if she has panties on. They'd best be careful! Linda goes commando without notice.

Cheery New Blog Theme

I haven't spent much time wandering through the design features until tonight. I chose my last design because it reminded me of the wide open spaces of Eastern Washington, where I was born and grew up. I like this one because it reminds me of crisp spring skirting fabric, and our lovely tidy-bowl blue ocean that surrounds Kauai.

Desks on the Way

Custom-fit for my plastic tubs and file boxes

Matt has started the first of 3 desks for the beadio. Two will go along the far wall and one on the side under the blue shelves. The two on the far wall will be joined by an 8x3 foot sheet of plywood, forming a seamless top that will be big enough (and sturdy enough) to hold my single futon. They are all pine, so that will be a lot of pine in one room! I love the way they're put together in a honeycomb for stability, and all the cubbies measured to fit my tubs and office file boxes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fiddling with Dolls While Norway Burns

Lolana of Nanakuli
 A great disaster happened in Norway yesterday - a young man killed many innocent people, most of them teenagers who had been attending an island retreat just a few minutes by car from where one of my friends lives. The killing is believed to have been politically motivated.

When I first heard the news (on Facebook) I felt horror, shock, dismay, helpless. Then I remembered that we are NEVER helpless in the face of a disaster. We can always send healing energy to help those in need, and strengthen the helpers on the ground.

Serge Kahili King has written about this on

"Each time you become aware again of what happened and/or what's being done about it, here are some specific suggestions of what to do:
1. Pray to a higher power to help the helpers (which includes healers and peacemakers).
2. Imagine the helpers being surrounded by healing light and/or being assisted by angels or other spirit helpers.
3. If you know how, do an inner symbolic journey to help the helpers.
4. To the best of your ability, take the time to bring your own spirit to a state of peace by meditating on the beauty and goodness in the world, and practice positive expectation no matter what happens that the work of the helpers will be successful, in this world or another. This may be the most difficult thing of all to do ... and the most beneficial." (bolding mine)

Does suspending our own joy in life help others in any way? No, I don't believe so. Does our joy and happiness increase the "happiness quotient" of the world? I think it does. If we can truly achieve #4 above, then we are free to go about our daily business with joy. My spirit comes to peace most readily when I play with dolls or garden, so that's what I've been doing.

Bless Our Happy Big Island Home

Linda's Make-Over

Yesterday I went on a "play date" over to another doll-maker's house. I haven't really hooked up with other doll-makers that much in person, but I'd like to. We didn't play dolls as it turned out. I helped her understand her new Mac computer a little better and we got to know each other better, too.

I've been so busy that it was stressful to even figure out what to take to play with. Doll-related? Too complicated. Beading? Always an option, but I didn't think Helen was too interested in beading. I finally picked up Linda, my tried and true friend since I was 5 years old, a cleaning toothbrush, a big book of doll clothes patterns, and my paint pens and sketchbook, just in case.

And then I hauled it all back home and put it away. Except Linda, who got a thorough bath and a bob.

Linda ready for her bath
I got Linda when I was 5 years old. We were visiting relatives in Texas, a world away from the little town in eastern Washington where I grew up. What a beautiful doll she was! Long BLONDE hair, which I cut off almost immediately. Oh my goodness, was my mom ever mad! She told me that now Linda would be bald for the rest of her life, and it was my fault. I'm amazed I wasn't scarred for life, but in fact, I wasn't even that upset. It was worth it, I loved cutting hair.

She was bald for 5 years.The Christmas I was 10, my mom and grandma gave her an entire make-over, including a waist-length brown wig and a new wardrobe. They did this without my knowing a thing in advance, which is pretty incredible. Unfortunately, Linda went through the same fire we did, about 5 years ago.

Waist-length dreadlocks and dirty dirty shoes
Linda's truly bad hair day
She got smoked and superheated and her eyes clouded over. I did give her a washing, but she certainly needed another. Her hair was really nasty, all gummed together.

53 years old, cataracts forming
 Her eyes still open and close, but she's lost eyelashes on her left eye, probably because of stress                 
I took her entirely apart. Her head is stuffed with cotton batting. I did not take it out, I was afraid of disturbing her eye mechanism. I found a salad dressing cap that exactly fit the opening, and then put her head on the bottle out of the way while I washed her limbs. I read on a doll hospital website that Formula 409 works well to clean up old vinyl dolls. It sure does! It strips the gunge right off and doesn't take the paint off.

First they took my legs off and they threw them over there...
Then they pulled my head off and stuck it on a salad dressing bottle
There was no combing out those long dreads, no matter how carefully I went at it with the cat flea comb. She simply had to have a hair cut. Even short, it took almost 2 hours to comb out and trim her hair. And then there was the matter of that bald spot...

Linda's new bob

So happy to be clean
These are her original shoes

Even her eyes came clearer after being swabbed gently with 409.

No longer just a dirty doll
Do all my posts have an underlying Huna moral? Well, maybe so, because Huna is the spiritual philosophy that underlies my daily life. I try to live an intentional life. What does that mean? It means doing things with an intention in mind, holding that intention firmly during whatever it is I'm doing, and believing the energy of that intention will manifest in my life.

As I carefully cleaned her, I held the healing intention of graceful rebirth and positive change for myself and all who need this energy. Linda is a happy dolly today!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Changing Gracefully into Peggy in Paradise

Change is inevitable - will we go kicking and screaming, or laughing and dancing?

Several months ago I was notified that my long-term position was being terminated. They gave me a lot of notice, and it allowed me the time I needed to process the event and decide what I wanted to do. I'd been working as an employee for 5 years, and gotten many benefits from it - a reasonable salary, community, paid sick and vacation leave, great insurance benefits, an opportunity to learn many new things.

At first, I felt a little miffed and hurt. Did they not appreciate me? Had I somehow not measured up? Ego attachment is often the sticking point that keeps us from getting the full benefit of a prospective change.

Another sticking point is being very comfortable in a path that no longer fits who you are. It was no longer what I truly wanted to do, but I was used to it and the perceived benefits still outweighed the negatives.

Ponytail palm in its new pot
About the same time I started thinking about activating the changes I wanted to make I discovered that one of my favorite plants had completely broken its pot. The roots were so compacted and hard and put so much pressure on the container that it finally broke apart at the back and the roots headed toward the ground, for dirt and nutrients. It had been stressed, its lower leaves browning off, but if we hadn't moved it, we wouldn't have known the pot was broken.

Why would someone (read: me) want to stay in a pot that is too tight for them? Fear is a common reason. Making a leap into the unknown can be frightening, if I imagine that I will suffer in some way as a result. I can create all kinds of really scary scenarios, and then the tight space seems more comfortable and I'll just deal with the stress, thank you. If I choose instead to look at all the positive aspects of a change, and focus on the benefits, then the picture begins to look quite different. 

At first I looked for a similar job, one that would pay well and cover all the benefits bases. I interviewed several times and found it stressful (will they like me?) and fun (meeting a lot of new people and getting to see the "insider" areas). It helped the process of figuring out what I wanted to do. Even though focusing on the negative is not usually positive, I first thought about what I didn't want to do and then flipped it around to the positive opposite.

I did not want to get up at 5:30 a.m. and drive through morning traffic, running my aged car every day and using now-expensive gasoline. I did not want to have to buy or wear professional work clothes and eat lunch on someone else's schedule. I did not want constant interruptions. I was really tired of being sick all the time.

I wanted to get up on my own schedule and work from home, or nearby. I wanted to wear whatever I like and take breaks when I need to. I wanted a flexible schedule that allows me to work when I am at my best. I wanted to help people, be well-paid and learn a lot of new things. I wanted to think well of myself and be well in myself.

The ponytail palm responded to being re-potted by putting out 20 new leaves in a bundle at the top. The old leaves at the bottom will eventually brown completely and fall off. This is a natural process.

All I had to do was have faith in myself and Peggy in Paradise and go for what I truly wanted, to expand my own business and work from home. Once I did that, gave notice at the day job and made that commitment, everything started to fall into place. I took the month of March to get completely organized, order a new computer, move my office out to the beadio, and get oriented to my new clients.

There is work to do! I have operated as an independent contractor for the last 12 years, including during the time I was an employee. I offer a full range of business services from start-up to accounting and human resource management. I'm currently focusing on Social Media Marketing and self-publishing.

Like the ponytail palm, I am growing and expanding every day, laughing and dancing towards change.

Intentional Healing Dolls

Throughout this time of great change, I've still been making intentional healing dolls. Doing healing work and making dolls combines the best of all of my worlds and keeps me grounded and present.

What makes a doll (or anything) intentional? There are 2 layers of intention involved.

Holding a healing intention while making the doll - really focusing on the recipient and what they want to manifest - puts an energetic wave into the universal energy pool that starts or amplifies that manifestation. A thought, or a prayer, is only as strong as the focus you put on it. One thought in passing won't influence your world that much. That thought or desire, focused on many times with enthusiasm, and acted upon as well, is much more likely to make a difference.

Each stitch, each action in making an intentional doll, is taken while holding the focus on the intention for it as a symbolic object. Each stitch is like a little drum beat, "heal, heal, heal" or "love, love, love." A certain amount of that energy is transferred to the doll itself and continues to radiate out to the field around it.

The second layer of intention comes from the recipient, who uses the doll as a symbol of the intention they expressed in the beginning. They have homework to do with the doll when it arrives. The first assignment is to find out the name of the doll, by going into focused meditation and asking the name. In this way they establish a relationship and connection with the symbol, and often gain a life-long spirit friend in the process. These dolls are alive!

The new friend serves as a symbol constantly bringing the intention to focus, but no symbol is enough by itself. The next step is to take action toward the goal. No manifestation happens without movement!

Take Gracie the Love Fairy as an example. You can sit on the sofa eating bonbons and reading trashy novels, with your hair up in curlers and goo all over your face, staring at your love fairy - and the perfect lover will probably not show up at the door with the pizza you ordered. Or if he does, the sight of you is not likely to be magnetic.

In addition to holding your focus, you must think carefully about the qualities you want in a mate. What is really important? Why do you want it now? What do you have to give? You must make a space in your heart, and a big space in your calendar, and tell all your friends you're ready, and go out where the men (or women) are.

And then expect the best!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Emily!

You are such a lovely woman, and I feel so lucky to have inherited you as a daughter. 26!

Here is Em's birthday fairy, inspired by the exquisite black glitter paper backing the wings.

Em's Birthday Fairy
The back, with awesome black glitter paper

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fairy Clutter

More fairy faces
At what point do fairy faces become clutter? When they spill out of the sour cream container I've stuffed them in? I actually threw one away the other day. It just didn't even remotely work. But each one is a little personality, they really become alive.

Change a-comin' - Time to De-Clutter

Change is inevitable... we can go kicking and screaming or laughing and dancing! I aspire to laughing and dancing, although I'm not immune to the FUDS - fear, unhappiness, doubt, and stress - acronym and concept thanks to Serge Kahili King. What to do, what to do, minge minge minge, whimper. There is always SOMETHING we can do. Some small thing, some action towards change, can make the turning difference.

If nothing else, you probably have a spot on your desk, an area in your purse, maybe even a whole shelf or a ROOM full of stuff that could be sorted out, cleaned up, filed, thrown away, or recycled. Robin Atkins has been writing about this over on Words Paint. and her thoughtful analysis of her resistance has me thinking about my own.

Grey polka dot fairy face, highly brightened. Paper was fragile and dark. Brighter orange spots on eyebrows are soggy and paper dissolved to white.

We all have our own reasons to hold on to stuff. I was the "keeper" in our family and kept a lot of our family treasures and memories. I loved having my grannie's manicure set after she died. She had the most beautiful nails, always beautifully polished and buffed. (I don't have beautiful nails.) I always kept every letter and most greeting cards, almost every gift given me, unless it was so ugly it broke itself immediately. It symbolized family and continuity for me.

At 23, I thought I might be staying in France for a while, maybe permanently, and one of the things I took with me in my carry-on was a specially made (by my brother Mark) wooden box holding a big porcelain darning egg, swaddled in excelsior. It was my great-grandmother's and I can remember my mom actually using it when I was a small kid, to darn my father's huge wool socks. I brought it home 6 weeks later. 23 years later I moved that same wooden box in my carry-on, and 5,000 pounds of other stuff in a big ship, across the ocean to Kaua'i.

I was leaving everyone and everything I knew and loved. Again. For the 2nd time in 2 years. After I'd just furnished a big apartment and had a more or less coordinated "theme" and furniture that actually matched, thanks to my sister Lola and Ikea. I wasn't being dramatic about it, or anything (not ME), but I really felt like I needed a nest I knew.

It all just kind of got out of hand when the shipper guys said I should make an inventory of my stuff and its value. If I couldn't replace it all for $5,000, then it was worth it to ship as much as I wanted, since it would still cost about $3,000 to insure, custom-crate and ship the art and framed tapestry and art supplies and books that I definitely wasn't leaving behind. For another $2,000 I could ship furniture and pretty much anything else I wanted to keep. Not only that, they'd pack it in Seattle, hold it on the dock for 3 weeks, ship it, and unpack it and take away the rubbish afterward in Hawaii.

That would give me the time I needed to find a place to live. I called it "The Princess Plan." I so loved my mover guys on both sides of the water.

My books - just the plum 300 of the 800 I had - valued out at $15,000. The art supplies, about $5,000 on their own, and I'd just spent almost $2,000 on furniture. You see the economics of it. It was grand. I shipped cases of my mom's home-made jelly, each jar bubble-wrapped individually. I may still have some of those jars! There was a lot of wheeling and dealing and giving away. I winnowed it down to 5,000 pounds - $1 per pound! - and arrived with enough furniture and linens to furnish a 2-bedroom condo on the beach, and enough art supplies to last for years.

I just didn't know how smart the whole thing was until I'd lived here for a while. Smart because there are limited shopping options on a small island in the middle of the sea, and sometimes the quality is poor. There is no Ikea. Repeat, there is no Ikea. Everything has to be shipped in, freight added, which is sometimes the same amount as the item. You have to really want something to pay twice the price for it.

There's another tall one like the one on the left, just around the corner in the hallway. The big one has been reinforced with a plywood back and some interior shelves, thanks to Matt. I'm sure this extended its life by many years.
I've been very grateful to have had my big Ikea bookshelves. We are still using them, 12 years later. We sold off many of them after the big fire, and I'm sure they are still in someone's garage in Wailua, doing yoeman duty. I still have about 150 books, and I married a man with books of his own. ("Must read" was an important requirement in a husband, but somehow I forgot to translate that in my mind into "Will have hundreds of books of his own. And papers, too.") We are always trying to winnow them down to "essentials."

Books are our friends, colleagues, and tools. I've always regarded them as such, and felt secure in them. People friends come and go, books endure. In the tropics, they also mold if you don't open them and enjoy their company.

Furniture moves around the island. I've had 3 sofas since I've been here, none of them more than $300 and all in good condition, and re-sold later after we'd used them for a while. I've had several big wooden tables - our current one cost $10 and we got it 2 houses down the street and walked it home.

Home is where the books are. The tall brown shelf on the right was new then, a gift from a client. Empty shelves, what a fleeting luxury.
I don't have a lot of the stuff I came with, including the giant tapestry or my parent's metal bed frame. I do still have a dresser my dad built. And more art supplies than ever, shipped in at great expense, or purchased on the mainland and brought back in luggage.

I like "little things." I live and work in a very small space, and it will never be Zen-like or probably even very clean. I just try to keep the clutter to a minimum, or at least well-organized. I work at little areas of it at a time. I don't judge myself when I just need to play dolls, or bead, instead.

And I ready myself for change when I do it, because making small changes creates ripples that make bigger changes. Clearing the clutter opens the way.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fairy Faces

Happy New Year!

I've been drawing fairy faces.

Freshly inspired by the prospect of Elinor Peace Bailey coming to Kauai in March, I ordered a bunch of patterns off her website, including a couple of fairy patterns. They were lovely, but I didn't like the head so much, so I made my own. Then I got out "Creative Cloth Doll Faces," by Patti Medaris Culea and gave myself a little drawing tutorial. This is such an inspirational book. She really details the eyes out, but mine are so small it's difficult to get that much detail. The heads are only 2 inches high by 1.5 inches wide from ear to ear.

I like drawing every day. I think I've improved a bit, although some of these earliest ones still had a lot of personality, big crooked mouths and all. Miss Pink, in the upper left corner is the culmination of a lot of drawing. Her eyes are fairly level, more or less the same size, and her mouth doesn't take up 30% of her head.

I'm having so much fun!

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