Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Gifts

Okay, I know that it is never as bad as I make it out to be. I'm just not a Christmas person. I may have said that in another post - I don't remember. I am the kind of person that wants to give gifts when I feel like it, gifts I make or find that I feel will be just right for that person. This year as always I gave my mom a gift pertaining to Christmas on her birthday - November 22 when she turned 87. I usually give a gift pertaining to Christmas so she can enjoy them for the season not just on Christmas day. Her gift this year was tree ornaments - including a little rooster. She used to raise chickens when she was younger and able to get out there to feed and water and collect eggs. 

This year I made dolls for my grown children and their families. They are replicas of outfits worn by the Iroquois women that I've seen when we go to ceremonies. I add a lot more beads and decorations to the dolls. These dolls are called stump dolls because they have no legs. It takes me about three months to make one of these dolls because I don't work at them every day. There is an underskirt and then the dress over top. If she had legs she would also be wearing decorated leggings.

I can now share those pictures with you.
Tim and his wife Fina received my gift on the Friday before Christmas when my sister and I went into Toronto to view the Chagall works at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Their doll is called Butterfly Woman - for obvious reasons. Her dress is made out of a black background piece of material that my friend had left over from making her husband a ribbon shirt. I thought the colours were wonderful and found the beads and ribbon and other materials to compliment. This doll doesn't look like she is dancing - she may be resting.

The next doll was given to Mike and Tuesday on Christmas Eve when I go and visit them. I enjoy my time with them and this year I gave them a doll called  Turquoise Woman again for obvious reasons. I found the material and really liked the colours but found it hard to select the ribbons and beads to match. The fabric stores don't always have ribbon that will coordinate with the materials and the sales people get frustrated with me sometimes. The bead store near my home is a little more helpful - well a lot helpful. I bring in the swatch of material and ribbons I've selected and we find the beads that will go with the selections. This doll has some fine wire in her cape to help her look like she is dancing.

The last doll I made was for Monica and Harv and she is called Bear Woman because I don't have a different name for her. She might have told me her name but I forgot and for now we will just call her Bear Woman. She has a skirt and blouse on over the underskirt. That is a different design for me. I've seen one or two women wearing something like this when we go to ceremonies. She has a heavier wire in her cape to make it look like she is dancing hard. Her right arm is to her waist and the left arm is holding her shawl out to the wind. This doll has a lot of bear charms or as we used to call them fetishes. Monica chose the colour of the fabric from my stash one day when she was here and I just made up the rest. I took the fat quarter to Fabric Land and the lady there helped me find the right colour material for the shawl. It was a darker colour than the turquoise of the flowers in the material but it worked. I also found the same shade of ribbon as the silk for the shawl and that was a bonus.

I really enjoy making them - it's the costuming that is the most fun. So now you know the part I enjoy. Making the dolls, costuming and especially giving them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Season

The Christmas Season brings many different emotions and questions for me. What was it like for the people before television and commercials? What was it like before? Always before? I ask those questions when I get stressed around Christmas.
When I lived in the United States the best and my most favourite holiday was the American Thanksgiving. That was way before Black Friday. American Thanksgiving was family, food, and no need for presents. My mom and dad came to visit from Canada and I made dad his favourite pecan pie. There was no need to run out and go shopping after the day of food and family.
Right around Christmas I sound like Scrooge and I grumble about not liking Christmas. It happens every year since 2007. That year my brother had a really bad car accident and a massive heart attack. He's recovered but I guess I got scared. I also moved from my home where I raised my children after their father died and we moved back to Canada. I moved into a little one bedroom apartment the week after my brother's accident. My boys helped me and joked that they would only have to push me down the hall when I got older because the apartment building is attached to an old age home - really it is the Alzheimer's home I think. I told them when I got old I was moving where it was warm.
I worked so hard setting up my apartment and trying to get things for my family for Christmas I got sick. I spent the entire week of the holidays in bed except for taking the dog out for his walk. It was the flu and strep throat so I was down for the count. I missed Christmas but I didn't. There was no hustle, bustle, disappointment, excitement, or anything except a visit from my friends Deb and Don who brought me Christmas dinner in a take out and my sister Ginny and her son Burt who also brought me Christmas Dinner in a take out. The food stayed in the refrigerator for a few days til I could swallow.
What am I saying? I like the quiet and yet I like being around family. I like making my presents for people. I want to see everyone but I like seeing them in little bunches not the whole bunch at the same time. There are nine of us and I'm the oldest. My siblings go to mom's in groups because her house isn't big enough.
I go in the morning to help her with some of the little things, vegetables to be cooked, table to set, making sure that she has all things that she wants and likes for the family meal. And then I leave. My sister has already been over to mom's about four in the morning to put the turkey on to cook.
This year I will go and spend time with my aunt who lives in the retirement home. I've been looking after her and my uncle for the past number of years - about ten I think and this past March he passed away in the long term care side of that place. I want to be there for her and I because it is hard that first year of grieving especially during the holidays.
This weekend we went to Church on Saturday night for Carols and Lessons and to hear the bells that had been given to that special church by the Queen. And yesterday I drove her into Toronto to have dinner with her son Ron and her sister who is younger - 84. Those are different memories to add to my collection. Maybe this time next year I won't be asking what was it like before the commercialism - maybe it will be back to how it is supposed to be. Family and fun and food - along with the friends and their celebrations in their different ways.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Choices

Well, this has been an interesting week. After much deliberation I quit the clarinet lessons. I did well for the first three months reading music and learning how not to make the clarinet squeak too much but then we got into the notes where I had to use my right hand for more than holding the clarinet. My right hand is a bit ill-formed, unformed, or deformed and I couldn't make the hand hold the clarinet and stretch to reach the holes and cover them completely. You need to cover the holes completely or the instrument will not make clear sounds no matter how much you blow into the mouth piece. My right hand works perfectly well for most things. It is a tiny bit smaller than the left hand, and it has that fleshy piece at the base of the thumb missing. Otherwise you wouldn't notice it - if I didn't tell you. So, I can make art and I can write and I probably could play the baritone if I wanted to but - I don't want to. It was my choice to resign or quit or leave or whatever you want to call it. I know that after I turned in the music books and chose not to learn the baritone I left with sort of a relief and a lot of tears. I really had wanted to learn to play the clarinet since it was given to me. I can play certain notes but not all of them. I, however, did not think of myself as a failure because I did learn a lot and I did accomplish a lot and I tried for three months. I believe you are not a failure if you try. The tears, I'm not sure what they were. Maybe it was because it had always been my favourite instrument and the music from the Big Band Era is still my favourite music and I'd dreamed of playing that kind of music. Oh well, I tried.

So that all said and done we move on to the middle of the week. I was able to take my aunt shopping and go to do a few errands but every once in a while my car would not start. I'd planned to go and take a beading class on Saturday and when I went out to the car it would not start at all. I got a hold of my daughter and she and my son-in-law and grand-daughter came and he proceeded to fix it. (His passion is cars and repairing them). Well, he got the part off and then almost finished putting the new part on when he noticed that something was wrong. The part store gave him the wrong starter. The package says it was for my car. He had all the information from my motor and car year and make and still the wrong part was delivered. He phoned and long story short there is apparently two types of starters for my car and the wrong one was sent. He cannot get the new part until Tuesday. Good thing I live in the city and good thing that I'd gotten all the fresh vegetables that I needed.

After they left yesterday, I came back in and took a nap. Then instead of getting up and making or finishing my wall doll, I laid down and rested - tired from the hard work of taking a nap I guess. My body said to lay down so I did and listened to the body for most of the evening (except for preparing a salad and making dinner.) Often I didn't do that. I kept right on going no matter if I was tired or not feeling good.

I'm all set now to see if I can decorate my living-room/studio/kitchen/dining-room for Christmas. I will have to find out if the tree will fit and if not will there be any other things that can decorate the room. Or I can move things on the book shelf to make room for my paint brushes and paints but that means cleaning this area and moving my gnome and tree spirit seen here.

Or I can just repeat yesterday's afternoon and lie down again.