In Just-
spring           when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles             far              and wee
and eddieand bill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
-- e e cummings

When I was ten or eleven, I had a teacher who required us to memorize and recite poetry.  It seemed like a strange, old fashioned exercise, but as an adult, I'm glad to have memorized these poems (and continue to be amazed that I can still remember them).  So today, humming through my head are the first lines of the poem by ee cummings, "and it's spring when the world is puddle-wonderful..." (you can read the full poem HERE).

And what could possibly be more "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful" than frogs? Bean bag frogs from THIS pattern over at Purl Soho! I made these guys a few years ago; when they are not flopping around the house, they spend their time reclining languidly on book shelves.

How are you welcoming spring this year?



"I mean, what is an un-birthday present?"
"A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course."
Alice considered a little.  "I like birthday presents best," she said at last.
You don't know what you're talking about!" cried Humpty Dumpty.  "How many days are there in a year?"
"Three hundred and sixty-five," said Alice.
"And how many birthdays have you?"
-- Lewis Carroll

My birthday was last week. I made an ice cream cake (above), received cards, phone calls, emails + messages from near and far, a hug from one son, a hastily scrawled card from the other, and the most horrible bouquet of flowers from my husband. I adore flowers, but apparently the aroma of Stargazer lilies makes me nauseated (and in an odd twist, my sons felt sentimental about the flowers and became upset when I suggested that the best way to deal with the offending smell would be to send the flowers on a quick trip to the compost; so the flowers hung around the house, making me ill for several days).

On the heels of what shall heretofore and forever be known as "the horrible birthday bouquet," a magical parcel arrived on my doorstep from my dear friend Christine in France.

The first thing this parcel-of-marvels revealed was a birthday card; you can see the P.S. which Christine wrote at the bottom of the card. After reading this, I went through each item in the parcel, mystified.

After the card, next out of the box was not one but two(!) chocolate bars.  And no door to open.  Then, a pretty little paper packet of acorn caps came out of the box -- each variety of oak tree, across the world over, bears different shape acorns + caps, and I love receiving them. But there was no door here either.  I dug deeper into the box: a fancifully embroidered bag containing two ceramic feves for inserting into a galette des rois(!), plus two paper crowns (for setting atop a galette des rois)!  But no door.  And then...

The final little paper packet revealed... a door! Christine and I laugh when sharing peculiar vocabulary, and so, describing the little house as "biscornu," she asked what the translation might be. The best words I could come up with were lopsided, tumbledown, ramshackle, or simply crooked, which brings to my mind the traditional nursery rhyme, "There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile, He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked style; He bought a crooked cat which caught crooked mouse, And they all lived together in a little crooked house." Can you imagine a little crooked cat (and mouse) peering out of that tiny window beneath the roof-peak?

And then I did finally open the door to find a tiny bird, chirping a happy birthday message...

Detail upon detail... when I turned the bookmark over, there was a tiny apple tree.  The little crooked man, the little crooked cat, the little crooked mouse and the birthday bird, must surely feast well on tiny apple tarts, baked in a little crooked oven, of course.

And can you tell that Christine is part fairy?  Her stitches are so small, surely only a fairy could have sewn them. And surely only a fairy could have imagined such a bookmark...

Thank you, Christine, for this beautiful gift -- a perfect companion for my literary wanderings... xo



 Let's light the lanterns on the tiered stand,
Let's arrange the peach blossom branches.
Five court musicians are playing flutes & drums.
Today is a joyful Dolls' Festival.
-- Traditional Song

Hinamatsuri is celebrated in Japan on March 3rd. For this festival, families bring out a special set of dolls dressed in traditional court costumes of the Heian period, and modern doll designs are popular, too.  

This tradition inspired me to design a set of Hinamatsuri dolls for my first book (Making Peg Dolls, Hawthorn Press 2012), but this morning, I felt like updating my design and making a new set (see photo at top of the post).

photo courtesy of folkeshi

And my recent entree into the world of Instagram has sparked a renewed interest for me in kokeshi. Via Instagram, I've become acquainted with Laetitia Hebert who runs the shop Folkeshi where she carries a beautiful collection of vintage and modern dolls -- I've become especially enamored with the modern designs of Hiraga Teruyuki and Tayama Izumi.

Below are two videos of kokeshi artists at work.  They're mesmerizing.

Happy Hinamatusuri!