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Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday

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Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday. My mother always referred to me as her mother’s birthday present since I was born just after midnight on June 2. I always thought that was a complement. Now I wonder if that was just another way to distance me as her changeling. Another thing she called me when I was little or her fairy child.

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I’m a lot like my grandmother and my mom greatly disliked her mother. Grandma was adventurous, curious and always learning new things, all the things my mother wasn’t. Grandma and my Uncle Winn were the only ones in the family that wasn’t always judging me for something. My eye disability, or because they considered me homely, my lack of athletic ability, something, and I was well aware of it early on by their tone of voice. I still react to people’s tone of voice when they speak to me, not what I see.
But Grandma saw me and not just as a mini me of her. Her gift to me after my eye surgery was not a stuffed animal or a toy but a beautifully illustrated version of Grimm’s fairy tales and not the Disney versions either, the original gruesome ones. I adored it and I still have it and one of the few times I outright tried to kill my little brother was when he coloured in it. A homicidal 7 year old is not a pretty thing.

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I spent most summers with her in their house in Leimert Park where I was the only white kid on the block and to be truthful I never noticed I was, until someone pointed it out. My grandparents never said anything to me. They were just my friends. But most days I spent lying on the wide front porch watching ants or we took drives and we went places like Marineland to talk to the whales or one of the many piers in LA or we went to see all the buildings my grandfather had designed for Hunt and Chambers. We went to the San Diego Zoo where she talked the bird keeper into letting me hold and feed the toucan. She taught me to talk to trees and to listen to nature and we took walks around the neighborhood every summer evening. She taught me divination with her gypsy deck and told me family history stories. She taught me to embroider and cross stitch on gingham and hoe to make clothes for my collection of troll dolls. She taught me chants to do when I was learning to weave paper. She taught me Scottish fairy stories, all our clans and Scottish folk songs.

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She taught me to be curious and to always keep learning. She had gone to the Alaska Gold Rush in 1906 when she was 16 by steamer with her best friend. She gave me a bracelet of wolf teeth on gold wire that she had brought back. It’s way to small for me to wear and it was way before conservation so she wouldn’t have thought about killing the wolf but it sits in my drawer and is one of my treasures. She was a member of one of the first women’s groups in the US called the Friday morning club.

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She taught me to listen and try to make good decisions based on information and logic and to always want to know WHY? unlike most of the other adults I had contact with. She taught me what other people thought of me didn’t matter, what mattered was how I felt about me. She was really my best friend and when she died when I was 17, I was totally bereft. Even though I had lost a lot of my great aunts and uncles and my great grandmother, it was the first time I knew what grief really was. I still miss her.

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She was born in Ontario Canada near Hamilton in 1890 and came to Los Angeles at the age of 11 on January 1, 1901. Her parents were born in Scotland and Northern Ireland and they went by train across Canada and down the West Coast, evidently they wanted to go cross country but couldn’t because trains were being attacked at the time going through the Southwest. She married my grandpa who was 5 years younger which I guess was a huge scandal at the time and graduated from what is now UCLA with a teaching degree in 1910.

She was an expert silver smith and leather worker and I have a trash can she made of wood and then covered in worked copper covered in woodland scenes and a table with a leather table top.She was taking Japanese cooking lessons when she died.  I just hope I measure up to her someday.

Jesse Alexandra Cumming Sjoberg, my great grandmother didn’t want a kid and was busy making jam when my grandmother decided it was time and when my great-grandfather wanted to know what to name her, she said name her after yourself, so he did.

 

Hecate puppet urges

These are the ones I’ve already made:

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This is Lady Olivia – one of the founders of the Fellowship of Isis, she couldn’t be at one of our Heirophant consecrations so she came and read the Manifesto.

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This is my Brighid puppet

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I’m getting the urge to make puppets again. This time it’s Hecate and I’ve ordered beads from Oriental Trading Company’s bead store because they have good hand blown glass beads for what I want to do.

Now I just need to get some black material and some felt and go from there. I already have mixed gray yarn for hair and I need to make her dogs out of felt. Then I will see what I need to do from there.

I used to make hand puppets all the time when I was at camp and I have no images of those but they are fun and easy and only need basic embroidery skills so kids can do them.

Arts and Crafts fun stuff

I’ve been colouring for years so it amuses me when all of a sudden it is the new “In” thing to do. So I thought I would give some advice from an old Arts and Crafts Director.

Buy good coloured pencils, they will last longer and in adult colouring books are much easier to colour with in small spaces. Crayons just do not work in small spaces much as we love the back to school scent of a box of new crayons. Markers do not last as long and can dry up especially if the humidity in your area is very low or some helpful child leaves the cap off.

I have a set of over 100 Prismacolour coloured pencils that are usually on sale at this time of year for back to school. I’m a coloured pencil/crayon fiend and the more colours I have the better. I also have a set that if they are wetted become water colours. Very fun. You will need a good sharpener. Several years ago I took illustration classes from a woman that used them for illustrations for books at a graphic arts convention. She had a lot of techniques that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Check out the local Adult Ed center at your community college. There really is an art to using them well.

To find oodles of inexpensive colouring books log on to Amazon. Dover has a whole line of colouring books that they are just starting to label adult but I’ve been getting Dover colouring books for over 30 years. Most are under $5 and are on so many different subjects that you ought to be able to find something interesting. I have several of their stained glass ones and nature ones and I just got one on Goddesses. There are 40 pages on Amazon. This doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. You can be all set up for under $10.

http://smile.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=dover+adult+coloring+books&sprefix=Dover+adult+co%2Caps%2C182

They are great for airports and layovers. Because the books are thin and box of coloured pencils don’t take up much room. I love the tarot deck I coloured I just wish Fiona still made them.

Whheee! I did a search and the deck is back in print for $21. I heartily recommend them. I really got into the meaning of the cards by choosing the colours and delving deeper into how they interacted with me. http://www.daughtersofthemoon.com/cards.htm.

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I’m going to help teach A&C at our reunion this year. I’m bringing things mostly for the adults as well as volunteering to buy the dye for tie dye. The last few years I wasn’t really interested to doing anything with A&C I still had a certain amount of burn out. This time I’m bringing seed beads and fishing line so we can do some friendship bracelets and some special silk dyes for painting silk scarves. The mailman is going to hate me because I’m ordering all on Amazon. It’s really hard now to get pretty colours of RIt dye. It used to be in every supermarket now they have black if you are lucky. I’m ordering rainbow colours and some Hanes tshirts. You can get silk scarves from Michaels and Amazon. A lot of the art supply places have gone out of business the last few years.

I’m going to have fun ordering on payday.

Things to do when the power goes out

Things to do with children when the power goes out in a storm.

I know some people are about to be trapped with small children and no technology to entertain them so how about some ideas from my childhood.

1) Hie yourself to the nearest bookstore and toy shop if you don’t already own these:
a) Some Madlibs books.
b) Crossword puzzles
c) Jigsaw puzzles

Depending on the age of the children
i) Battleship – On graph paper if you still have some, that’s how I learned to play
ii) CandyLand
iii) Do the still make Green Ghost that glowed in the dark?
iv) Mouse trap
v) Dominoes or Mahjong
vi) Sorry
vii) Parcheesi
viii) Chinese Checkers or checkers

e) Books to read aloud by flashlight or Coleman lanterns
f) Paper mache or felt crafts – time for finger puppet theater – build a theater too
g) Teach them to knit or crochet –even the boys can make a scarf or cool hat
h) Organize collections and label them in cigar boxes – trip to the local smoke shop
i) Teach them to embroider
j) Beginning baking like biscuits or an easy cookie. See the recipe key word on blogs assuming you don’t have electric stoves. You can make cookies and even bread on a Coleman stove but not without ventilation for the stove.
k) Visit Michaels or your local craft store – Pick up a make your own moccasin kit, some plaster to paint, beads and fishing line for friendship bracelets, origami paper and a book on how to fold them, make plaster of paris masks of the strips for making casts.
l) Plan a scavenger hunt in the house.
m) Play I Spy
n) Hide and seek
o) Make a journal and write the story of the storm or make a newspaper telling the story
p) Write the story of the storm from the point of view of your pet or an animal outside
q) Make a fort in the living room
r) Set up a store with earned credits for good behaviour during the storm for things like not whining, helping do things, being creative. The store should have special treats that are not normally in the everyday. You can use the stocking stuffers you’ve been stockpiling for Yule.
s) Play Kim’s Game
t) Play a hidden object game – have the kids go out of the room. Change 10 things – they have to be able to name all 10 things that were changed.
u) Learn the different kinds of clouds and what they do, learn what winds from the different directions do or bring. Does rain come from the north or south in your area.
v) Learn the colours of leaves that go with the deciduous trees such as Gingko’s turn yellow and persimmons turn orange in fall. Just because you are stuck inside doesn’t mean you can’t learn about nature.
w) Take a shoe box and write down animal names, draw an animal’s name and be that animal for an hour. Might want to go easy on the ones like Howler Monkeys.
x) Design a new house that could be under the sea, in a cave, in a tree, etc