Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Dream of Every Girl

This week has been rather exciting so far. I have just been on a roll getting things finished in my studio. Night before last I worked after supper instead of going for my walk. I was able to skip my walk because Jerry took time off work while all the kids were in school and we took the kayaks out on the lake. The water was the choppiest we've ever seen it. The day was really windy, due to the tropical storm and a cold front blowing in at the same time, and there were even white caps on the lake. We stayed in the cove, but the swells were still big enough to almost flip me over a couple times. We were out for an hour and spent about half that time going against the waves and wind, to the point that sometimes I just stayed in place no matter how hard I paddled! I will tell you, that was a seriously good workout. I could feel it immediately and still yesterday in pretty much every muscle in my body. Kayaking is a great upper body workout, of course, but it also really works your core, since you have to balance the boat with your body. I love stuff like that. I really hate lifting weights in the bonus room; it's so boring. I love to walk and run to music, but as you can attest if you read this blog long term, I tend to neglect my strength training and overdo the cardio and then I get injured. I wish I felt comfortable enough in the kayak to go out by myself; I think I would do it every day. I canoed a lot as a child, but kayaking is harder for me and so far I'm scared to go alone because I don't feel like I have the skill level yet.

So, not having to walk at night gave me time to finish Candy, by Deluxe Reading. Candy was a supermarket doll, a knock-off of Cissy and Dollikin. She came with a huge wardrobe of clothing on dress forms and had all sorts of accessories like shoes and bags and jewelry and hats and stuff. Her box said "The Dream of Every Girl" across the top, and I have to agree. It is the dream of pretty much every girl, and woman I know! First, as a girl to have a doll with all the accessories, to project your future self onto, and then as a woman, the dream of having the figure and money to afford fabulous clothes and the lifestyle to support wearing them.

As a fashion doll, Candy is infinitely more satisfying than most because you got the instant gratification of the doll and the clothes at once, instead of having to wait for your parents to recover from the sticker shock of buying the doll to get extra clothes for her. The dress forms add an element of retail to the play, too. It reminds me fondly of my Barbie Dream Store, one of my absolute favorite toys. I loved setting up all the counters and mannequins and putting the items in the little Barbie pink plastic bags. I always have dreamed of owning a store. As a child I used to have literal recurring dreams about this store I owned. I would spend my sleeping hours happily setting up displays and waiting on customers and then wake up disappointed to remember it wasn't real. When I started Body Shop at Home I was so excited the day my kit arrived with all the bags and order forms and sample jars. In just one year I made it to the top 5% of that company and stayed there until they closed it in 2009. Someday I hope to add an actual location to my eBay store and have my own bags and things printed up. Ah, dreams!

But anyway, I would have totally been pretending Candy was shopping in a store with those dress forms. Candy had such awesome convertible outfits, too. One outfit turns from a bathing suit to a business suit with the addition of a skirt and jacket. So you could get off work and head for the beach, I suppose! Because Candy was affordable and just such a fun concept, she was a true play doll. If you can find her unbroken with all her original clothing and accessories, expect to pay a premium!

This Candy doll was dirty when I got her, but she wasn't really damaged at all. I cleaned her up and made her a few accessories and she's ready to go. Candy needed a good scrubbing. I was able to remove most of the grime. The only remaining issues are slight greening to the ends of her fingers (where her hands were resting against her green dress) and a darkening of her arms. The green is so faint I'm having trouble getting it to show up in the photos, so not at all severe.

I treated Candy's hair with a mix of fabric softener and water to restore its shine and softness. I cleaned her dress with carpet spot cleaner. This is a good way to clean vintage clothing without damaging it, and it's especially good for fabrics that can't be put in water, like old satin or taffeta. Just spray a light mist on the dress, let it soak, and then dab with a clean lint free towel or rag. Test this method in an inconspicuous area first. For stubborn stains I treat multiple times and then sit the garment out to dry in the sun, which helps to bleach the spot. This dress just needed a light cleaning, however, and a good pressing. Now it's nice and stiff. The skirt is lined with interfacing which is starting to deteriorate. It doesn't show, of course, when the doll is on display.

Candy's panties are rather loose, which may be the result of stretched elastic, or may be because they aren't original. I don't know what kind of underwear this doll had originally, so I'm not sure. Her gold shoes are definitely not original, but they fit fairly well. The frames are a bit small, but the elastic is large enough and you don't notice the frames when the doll is standing in a case.

I made Candy new seamed stockings and a wool felt hat trimmed with green ribbon, guinea feather, and a vintage-look floral spray. Then I found a Mommy-made skirt in my stash of clothing. This elastic-waist skirt fits Candy perfectly and slips over her dress. It coordinates well. I love the retro peasant pattern. It's appropriate, a peasant skirt in a peasant pattern! This is the height of 50s lounging chic. I can just see Candy inviting her friends over for a game of Bridge, serving coffee and pastries wearing her "at home" skirt!

Getting so much work done was exciting enough, but I have been so inspired the past few days. I have more ideas for projects in my brain than I can handle. Jerry makes fun of me when I get like this, but Cherre always says, "At least you have ideas!" There's nothing as wonderful as a friend who supports you no matter what. I do have a tendency to go off in all different directions rather than finishing one thing at a time. Yesterday during my walk I saw the lake was still really choppy. The weather was extremely windy and sunny and the ruffled surface of the water caught the light all over so I could see the lake shimmering through the trees when I was still a block away.

I immediately got an idea for a mixed media painting. I could cut a silhouette of the trees out of dark paper of maybe even slightly transparent plastic and lay it over a sheet of glittered paper and I think it would actually look pretty accurate. Then I could go back with oil paint and add highlights in a transparent wash. I took a photo with my cell phone, but of course it doesn't really capture the beauty of the day. Now I want to paint that and I haven't even done my Munch's moon painting I thought of in January yet!

Then, this morning I was sitting out in the porch swing waiting for the bus. I can see the bus stop from there, so our daughter can go to the stop by herself but I can still watch her. The bus driver is new and the bus arrives all different times, so sometimes we're out there waiting for quite a while. Usually I read the paper, but it was so chilly today I couldn't concentrate. In fact, yesterday and today I caught such a chill sitting out there I got back in bed after the bus came and piled blankets on, but I just couldn't get warm. Yesterday I even had the fire on for a while. It really feels like autumn now.

But anyway, today when the bus pulled up I suddenly heard my grandmother's voice as clear as if she were sitting with me. She was telling a story she used to often relate, about how a neighbor of hers who rode the bus would complain about them. Grandma was one of 10 children and her neighbor said the "bus", which was actually a covered wagon like a giant horse-drawn box, with benches lining the sides and heated bricks in straw covering the floor for warmth, had to wait at their house forever because they would come out one at a time. I could hear her saying, "one at a time". Grandma always said she is sure that's true, because she still had dreams right up until her death that the bus was outside and she couldn't find one of her shoes!

That made me think of something else and all of a sudden a book I've been struggling to write for years just came into my head. The entire first chapter just appeared, already written, in my mind. After I dropped my pre-school kid off I sat down and wrote the whole thing: 700 words! Now I just have to figure out what is going to happen next. Jerry has been sending me ideas all day, which has me a little confused. I told him, the story wrote itself, so I have to just listen to hear the next chapter. I almost feel like maybe Grandma is writing this story and just transmitting it to me. Grandma wrote books and self-published them all the time. Looking Back is my favorite, and I use her 56 Zucchini Recipes book all the time.

My aunt did send me home from Ohio this summer with a huge stack of Grandma's books, all from the 1940s to the 1960s, and I just finished the last one. I guess she's in my head. One of the books is Scapegoat, by Daphne Du Maurier. I've read that one before but it's so good it was worth reading again. I love her House on the Strand as well.

So, I am feeling pretty successful with my first chapter under my belt. I've started this book probably a hundred times over the past decade and just never could get it started. Now the beginning came out with no effort at all! I will let you know if I ever actually manage to finish the whole thing. Right now I have to go start the bread for supper. I am cooking Pasta e Ceci, a sort of Italian bean and bacon soup made with chick peas. I like to serve it with homemade Italian bread. Usually I make it in the bread machine but dust the top with cornmeal. It really comes out tasting like Pane Tipo Toscano with the cornmeal!

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