Hollyhock Dolls

When I think of Hollyhocks, I picture in my mind a cottage garden in England with all kinds of old-fashioned flowers crowding together. The Hollyhocks with their long flower stalks stand out from the mounds of lower-growing flowers.

Gail’s sister, CJ thinks of her childhood. “When I was a youngster, I made “dolls” with the flowers for skirts.” She said that the hollyhocks were there when she moved into her home in Kansas. Her niece, that she rents from and who lived there first must have planted them.
CJ says, “I totally ignore them, and they seem to thrive! They’re extremely self-sufficient. I do nothing to or for them; they come up every year, and this year (like a lot of other flowers) are more bountiful with flowers. My local horticulturist says it is due to the weird & long winter we had. Even the maple tree had way more “spinning” seeds than usual.”
Cj-Garriott pics of hollyhocks

Photos of the hollyhocks by C.J. Garriott

Her friend commented, “I only know Hollyhocks from the song, “English Country Garden.” So good to finally know what they actually look like! They’re beautiful.”

Browsing online, I found some pictures of children making the flower dollies. They put a toothpick through the center of the flower base and use a bud for the head. Some put a toothpick sideways through the base of the flower to serve as arms.

The Last Wagon Wheel Rug

Leaning in a forlorn way against the wall, the final wagon wheel rug remained unfinished. It would have been a beautiful rug with the subtle shades of gray, taupe and cream blended together.

Unfortunately, health problems followed by the death of Clyde and a year later of Gail meant the unique rug was never completed. Few people knew the skills needed for this kind of rug-making.

2007-01-10 mom's camera 009

Still pinned to the wheel, it was relegated to the dusty garage where it rested on the cracked, concrete floor. When the estate sale was held, someone purchased the partly woven rug on its wheel.

I hope they had an interest in learning the craft and went ahead to finish the weaving. I hope they had the vision to see what a beautiful rug it would be.

Learn more about the wagon wheel rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin.

More recently, a Wagon Wheel Weaving Facebook group has organized and the members are helping each other master the making of these rugs. The folks would be delighted to know that it has over 250 members.

Self-Publish a Book of Your Poems

If you’re a poet wanting to share your poems with friends and family, think about turning them into a book. Here’s my experience with this.

My sister writes great poems, but she wanted a way to showcase them. I assembled them into a self-published book that she loves. It is available for her friends and family to order a copy online without excessive cost to her.

Collect and Sort the Poems

If you’re an organized poet, maybe you already have all of them in one place. If not, then gather your scraps of paper and get the poems typed into the computer and saved in a word processing program.

Edit and Polish the Poems

Look the poems over to be sure you’re happy with the wording of each one. Read them out loud to check the flow of the words and the resonance of each. Have a friend, whose judgment you value, review the poems and query you on unclear wordings.

Cover for Ride a Stick Horse

Cynthia Ross – The cover for her first book of poetry.

Paste the Poems into the Book Software

I recommend Blurb.com where you can download their BookSmart software for free. You can also use any of the photo book programs out there that you might like such as Shutterfly. Get the poems into the publishing program that is going to turn it into a book.

Match the Poems to Pictures

You don’t have to have photos or artwork with the poems, but I think it makes a visually appealing book with them. Make sure the photos and artwork are your own or that you have permission to use them.

We used my photos with her poems. Being in color, it did make the book cost more. You could use black and white photos or smaller photos if you want to keep the book more affordable.

Blurb Books inside prairie woman poems cindy book

Two pages of Cynthia Ross’ book, Prairie Woman Poems

Rearrange and Check and Publish

Read through the book in draft form to see that the topics of the poems flow in the way you want. With my sister’s poems, I grouped pages of poems on topics like childhood, writing, relationships, etc.

Spell-check and get several people to look for typos, design mistakes, and other errors. Upload the book to the publisher. Order a copy for yourself and tell all your friends where they can order a copy.

Prairie Woman Poems by Cynthia Jo Ross Blurb Books

Self-published poetry book by Cynthia Ross (tips for how to do this)

What to Say in a Sympathy Card

Sadly, I’ve been writing sympathy cards nonstop for the past week. Fortunately, I keep a pretty good stock on hand. The losses seem to keep on coming. I may have to restock my selection of cards.

Put the right words on paper - Writing a sympathy card.

Put the right words on paper – Writing a sympathy card.

I used to get tongue-tied trying to express my sympathy but am getting more fluent these days. Perhaps practice helps or else I’ve absorbed the words from Hallmark and other greeting card providers and that’s what flows from my pen.

Here’s an example of what you can write:

  • “Our hearts are sad for you and your family at this time of great loss. (insert name) was so special and loved by many who will miss him/her very much.”
  • Tell a story of a good time or memory of that person.
  • “Try to find solace in your many memories of the good times you shared. Sending hugs across the miles.”

Here is another example:

“Thinking of you at this sad time and wishing you comfort in the days ahead. Keeping you close in our hearts and in our prayers.”

(Article first published on Niume by Virginia Allain)

Decorating for Thanksgiving

Nature celebrates the harvest season and cooler weather with a burst of color. Bring some of that color inside your home to enjoy. Here are ways to do that.

thanksgiving fall bouquet

Oranges and yellows – perfect for fall or Thanksgiving decorating.

Pick up a few pieces each year after Halloween and Thanksgiving when autumn leaves, pumpkins, gourds, chrysanthemums, and other traditional fall decor goes on sale. Even jack-o’-lanterns can be used beyond Halloween if the back view is a plain pumpkin. Just turn it around. Over the years you’ll build up a good-sized selection to fit your seasonal decorating needs.

Store the items in a large bin with heavier items on the bottom and more fragile items like silk flowers and leaves on the top. Bring out the bin when it’s time to decorate for fall.

Look around for areas to enhance with the fall items. Fill the traditional places like mantels and tabletops. Add a swag or wreath to the front door. Don’t be shy with the groupings and colors. Put enough pieces together to catch the eye.

Thanksgiving display

The cardboard pilgrim figures are easy to store for next Thanksgiving.

I like to change the feel of my entertainment unit with the seasons. By creating autumn vignettes on each shelf, it makes a colorful wall in the living room.

As Thanksgiving draws near, add some pieces that relate to that holiday’s traditions. Think turkeys, pilgrims, and cornucopias.

Decorate outside the home too with corn shocks, pumpkins, and scarecrows.

Tips & Warnings If you use candles, be sure they are set apart from anything that could catch fire (silk flowers, leaves, etc.).

Post by Virginia Allain

Forgotten Heritage

forgotten heritage pixabay

Forgotten Heritage – a poem by Gail Lee Martin

Old abandoned school houses
left to rack and ruin.
windows broken, porches sagging,
surrounded with trash and tall weeds.

Built so long ago by our ancestors.
now no one cares that they once sheltered
the children of sturdy pioneers
who labored to learn from McGuffy readers.

We’ve flown to the moon,
talked across the seas and
can fly faster than sound and this
knowledge came from those humble beginnings.

All those old schoolhouses should be
shrines to our ancestors whose
thirst for knowledge of a better life
led us to fame and prosperity.

comments on the poem pixabay

  • Posted 02/11/2007 by Carol J Garriott – Very nice, Big Sis! It’s always a treat, in my ramblings, to come across a still-standing school house, abandoned and crumbling tho it may be. As I stand here fiddling with the camera, I wonder if what I hear is the wind in the tall grass or echoes of children’s voices.
  • Posted 02/07/2007 by Virginia Allain – Oh, I like this! It’s always so sad to see buildings like an old school, a railway station or church allowed to fall into ruins. They would have so many stories to tell if they could talk.
  • Posted 02/07/2007 by K. L. Farnum – I agree, I think, what I hate or dislike the most is to see forgotten farms, and barns falling in. I loved it when the family farms were the place to go for fresh eggs, and veggies.
  • Posted 02/09/2007 by Susan Hammett Poole – From the advantage of time, I agree with you that the “old ways” held many, many good things and should not be tossed out with the trash. We are products of all that existed before us. Even if the old buildings are no longer there, it is well to remember and to tell their stories. ~ Susan
  • Posted 02/13/2007 by Karen Kolavalli – I love the story you tell with this poem. Like you and Carol, I’m drawn to abandoned buildings from our past and wonder what stories they could tell us. I’m a big fan of “If Walls Could Talk” which airs on HGTV–these are stories about what folks learn about their houses when they restore them and find out their history.

(Originally published by Gail Martin on the Our Echo website)

November Memory Prompts

November Memories
Think back through the Novembers of your life. What did your parents have to do to prepare for winter when you were a kid? Describe the November weather in your area.

Memory prompts for November

Think back to November days from your early life. Write about those times.

What type of heat did you have? What activities changed with the weather? Baseball to basketball or snowballs. What were the roads like when you were young?

Of course, the best of November is Thanksgiving Day! I would like everybody to timeline their Thanksgiving Days. Maybe remember one every ten years, starting at the age of ten.

The children's table at Thanksgiving Nov. 1975

The children’s table at Thanksgiving Nov. 1975 (Gail Lee Martin’s grandchildren)

I described my memories around the age of ten in “We Gave Thanks Prairie Style” but need to add to them as my family life has changed through the years. Try to include the menu, cooks, the carver and the guests. What else did you do besides eat fabulous food?

(This is part of a monthly series of memory prompts created by Gail Lee Martin for the Our Echo website)