Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~ Edyth O'Neill

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dressing Old Beds for My Red Cape

That was the title of a book I was working on when we had a house fire ten years back which was a life changer.  At the time, I knew a number of collectors with great early beds dressed with fine old textiles. I am thinking of Betsy with wonderful homespun and Trish and Helen with bedrugs they had hooked themselves, and Jeanie who loved best the bed coverings we called patch work linsey woolseys.  Now the term is frowned upon and whole cloth quilt is in, but these were pieced ones, not whole cloth at all and very very few and far between. Any that Jack and I found on our trips always went to Jeanie. In addition to the bedrug, Trish had an outstanding collection of early coverlets.   It was my plan to gather pictures of beds dressed by these collector/decorators extraordinaire and also include for extra interest a few old doll beds well turned out.
 I had part of the text and a number of the photos in hand.  In our cape I had an exceptional set of bed hangings of red toile from the estate of Clark Garrett, prominent collector and dealer, of Fairhaven, Ohio. I had also several thickly quilted whole cloth quilts in home woven and home dyed indigo and rust and butternut.  All went up in smoke.  The  project was  abandoned.  I think it would have made a colorful and interesting book for collectors of early Americana.

Early beds were not standard sizes and some were oversized and many were smaller than we use today.  Coverlets and hand woven ticks and blankets came in all sizes.  In addition, some pieces have been cut down because of wear.  A common issue for today's collector is how to use these often shorter textiles  in attractive ways to give a coordinated whole.   Bolsters covered in a different textile offer one solution.  I love to layer these pieces to show off several on a bed.  

Now some of the few early textiles I have acquired in spite of my self since moving into a modern home really need to be resettled in the hands of younger collectors better able to care for them. I was packing some today to send a friend and had to spread them out to enjoy again first. So I will share them here. 

Here is a patchwork linsey woolsey, in bars of indigo and tan. The back is very deep brown.

What a folky woven bird!  A beautiful full size coverlet in strong condition.

This one is huge, both long and wide enough for a queen bed, in great condition and having a lot of the original fringe on the bottom almost 5 inches long. Look at the close up of the indigo bar on the underlying linsey woolsey.  Glorious!  e

Post script, 6 am:     I go outside in the night sometimes to look at moons and meteors and such, this morning the Perseids Meteor shower is beautiful! I stayed out long enough to count eleven of what we called shooting stars as children. Can you remember laying out on a quilt on a summer night watching the sky? e

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gardening and ungardening

The last 10 days have been very hard for me, I am sore and limping and exhausted and grinning anyway.  Looking back at changes in my yard two years ago, here is how it was as I had a perfect front lawn dug out completely.
When laying out big curves in a yard for planting beds or such, I use a garden hose, pushing it back and forth till I get a shape I like. Then the hose makes an outline for laying the edging.


Now the front yard is like this with a shady glider, two little tables and three metal chairs. The mostly native Texas plants are blooming with very little else out there but a crepe myrtle and some phlox both of which were already established when I started this in 2013.

In 2014 I had planting done on the side yard and a large brick patio built with space left open for a kitchen garden.  This had also been nice grass.  I was working against a drought of historic proportions. 

With many aches and so little success, I have decided my farming days are over. Vegies will have to come from the market except a few cherry tomatoes in pots.
I called my workers back and have had more brick laid, as well as major brush trimming behind a back fence.

This modern little house is an ugly duckling to me, made more pleasant by having a lot of greenery around it at all seasons. So digging up the lawn might sound counter productive.

The bare bricks look a little stark right now but pot plants and pretty yard furniture plus growing some size on a few large shrubs will make it more appealing.  The back of the lot is shady and the small trees planted there are doing very well.   There is still plenty of garden on my tiny lot.  I hand water and weed it myself more or less continuously, and have good helpers in to do trimming and pickup about once a month.  No lawn to mow and edge.  It is a yard made for relaxing. Sounds good if I can just overcome the mosquitos.  e

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July in my little town

Waiting for the parade to start takes a long time.
Macy loves her tiny sister Ramsey.

 Watching the children enjoy the parade is much of the fun for the rest of us.  There were 4 old prop planes buzzing main street at the start of the parade.
Most of the crowd of several thousand  had flags to wave. It was a friendly happy crowd.  A number of floats had bands.  

A brave man on top of this.

 In the afternoon two friends gave a painting demo at Fredericksburg Art Gallery.  Besides being Fourth of July, this was also Art Walk weekend.  I went for two hours and enjoyed it.


At seven we met in Lady Bird park for a large picnic, serving hot dogs and potato salad to just over 20, along with Beth's cake, shown here by Bailey.

There was a long twilight of watching little children run and chase before we all sat still to watch a great display of fireworks. Happy Birthday USA. 
Red White and Blue Kids

Ramsey is 4 months old now.   They grow so fast! 
This is the height of Peach Season and the  Lorings are in. In addition to so much else going on, this is one of the Weekends we have horse racing here, one of only 4 a year. The town is packed with tourists and out of town family to enjoy one of our biggest summer weekends.  e

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Enchanted morning

One of the pretty natural areas near Fredericksburg is Enchanted Rock. The park is well run by the state park department, with a nice balance between plenty of amenities for visitors and scenic trails with a minimum of invasive elements to spoil the experience. There are parking and camping in the front of the park and then well maintained hiking trails in the rest with no bikes let along cars allowed. You can choose between camping sites close to the parking or primitive camping areas where you pack in your tent and supplies by foot.  One spot I wanted to see is Moss lake but it can only be accessed by 2 miles of hiking which I cannot do.

This morning the weather was perfect, cool, bright, breezy, and fabulous for July 1st here!  Because of the nice rains we have had, the countryside is green beyond my remembering for July.



I was in search of pretty spots to paint plein air for an upcoming workshop, and I found many! Every where you look is a painting. I took over 50 photos. 

Fredericksburg is intensely patriotic. We do up the 4th celebration in a style to make Norman Rockwell proud.  Our parade on Main St lasts over an hour.  I hope to be there Saturday morning.  Happy forth of July.  e

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My thoughts about Painting

“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it,
because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need.” —Jerry Gillies 

When I was growing up the only two paths I ever recognized as worth pursuing for my life work were writing and painting. So much intervened and there would still be times when I touched on painting, but I never focused on it as the central thing it must be. More than one lifetime is needed.

Certainly art has been part of my life always, textile designing, decorating a period house, and creating and selling truly hundreds of decorative art pieces, such as fraktur and oil paintings of make believe children in a "primitive: style.  I enjoyed them greatly and they were well received.

But the study of fine art as my mind sees it, (my brother reminds me of how wide a field this can be)  and the creation of paintings in a contemporary impressionistic realism had always been kicked down the road with other cans until about 10 years back.  In March of 2005 I felt all my ducks were in a row and that I could begin to paint. The house was done, the doll collection was in good order with almost all dressed well, and the rug retreats were set up to happen several times a year, and the rug pattern business was going smoothly. Jack and I were easing into a slower pace.

I bought a French easel for outdoor work and made my first three efforts at plein air painting.  I still have two, do not remember what the second one was.  The first one is framed and in my library as a keepsake, simple but it shows where this journey began. The third one I painted sitting outside our red cape and the  bright sun messed up my colors a lot, but I said "that's ok, I will paint it many more times". When we drove away to New England a few days later that was the last time I would ever see it before lightening struck it and started the fire that changed our lives. 

We flew home to chaos as our son flew to Maine to retrieve our little van partly filled with antiques from the trip.  Our way of life, the business, the farm, all were lost one way or another. 

I was so shaken by it that I slept on washed but fire stained sheets for six weeks before I could gather myself to go to Walmart and buy fresh sheets and towels.  Jack began radiation treatments in two weeks time for what was known to be a battle he could not win, but would fight for almost eight years. Sweet friend Sylvia brought us a few things to wear from her church because we could not seem to gather ourselves to go buy simple needful things. A daughter fed us for 30 days from her kitchen, as we found a house  to rent and began the move to town.  I was 74 and trying to find new bearings and hang on someway as my world spun out of control.  And then Katrina happened.   My friend Virginia  urgently requested supplies to help Katrina victims, about 28 hard luck cases her church had taken on. Virginia is a little bit my senior and she was working and cooking for them till 8 o'clock at night!  As I responded by gathering wheel chairs and walkers and crutches and other things needed, I made the first steps toward healing inside. Katrina helped take me back to reality.

There have been three moves and much effort to recover the house hold in a fashion. New linens and rugs and kitchen things are used alongside the furniture and accessories saved first by the firemen and then by friends who helped mightily to scrub it all.  Since the fire, over a hundred antique dolls have been purchased and years of work have been done on them as I have tried to replace in some fashion that part of my collection.   Curtains are made and hung and a new yard has been established.  Maybe enough ducks are in a row again to make a fresh commitment to painting.  For the last several years I have showed up in front of my easel more and more.

I am enjoying it so much and feel blessed to have this time. As with so much in life it is not the destination but the journey.  Regardless of the merit of one's output, painting makes everything one sees more vivid and meaningful. It adds a wonderful other dimension to daily existence.  How great is that!?
House On Schubert Street,  Sold, thank you,   e

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tag sales are Fun

Especially if held by an antique collecting friend.  Ultimately I went to this one three times and Linda went twice. Wish I had pictured the nice Navajo pattern hooked rug she bought. 

I am ever and always attracted to textiles, even just pieces of hand woven things.
The soft blue runner is linen and wool.  The deep color of the old book backs attracted me.
The large format book was printed in 1888. Nice red to go with Christmas arrangements.
There were bits of Old Christmas  to bring home even if it is June! 
 A hand knit  stocking holds toy tidbits. I will add a small antique doll.
Two forlorn fragments of tiny Christmas trees are projects and a nice little fence needs a tree to fit.
Best of all is a deep blue Staffordshire plate now a glowing lovely sapphire in my red cupboard. 

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