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 (and posing as hats).

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!