Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer Sewing!

The sight of lupines dotting the countryside means summer is here! 

Though the majority of these lovelies have gone to seed, a few can be seen around the island and in my little perennial garden at this late date. These two photos were taken back in 2014 in French River, PEI where tourists pack into the side-of-the-road lookout area to take photos of this massive collection of lupines the latter part of June. Eye candy at its best!

It's such an amazing view! 

And since it's summer, the warmer weather invites me outdoors to ply my trade - sewing machine and all the necessary accouterments pertaining to such trade.

I'm thankful I have a room dedicated to sewing and a place to cut and stitch and store such things, along with my ironing board. Some don't have a choice and others probably prefer storing their sewing things away. I wouldn't enjoy stuffing everything in a clothes closet - out of sight and out of mind - because sewing would become drudgery. Every sewing session would then involve setting up the machine somewhere, digging through my supplies, finding table space - or the floor - to cut fabric and also drag out the ironing board.

OH! It would be so much work and - for me - it would take the joy out of creating. Even if your space were limited, isn't it nice to just sit down and stitch away? Even a tiny sewing corner can be made a delightful oasis with the right decorating - spools of thread, knick-knacks, and all things pretty.

When we were first married and living in an apartment, I found instructions to make one of those sewing tables that open up and out and that store your machine and equipment inside. When you are done, you stash everything inside and close it up. It even had a flip top with a special surface for cutting fabric on. There are a lot of those on the market today. I waited a whole year for this table to be made by a carpenter friend of ours as he made it in his spare time. It was quite beautiful - a dark stained wood, two sides opened out where I could store spools of thread and my machine. The opposite side had shelves for fabric. Sorry - no photos! It would take me forever to find where they are.

When we moved to my childhood home, this custom sewing table was set up in the tiny bedroom in our upstairs, which was about the same size as the sewing area you see below. My parents used to sleep in that room once - just big enough for a double bed and space to walk next to it! Well, my special sewing table did fit - just - but opening it up and gaining access to the storage got to be cumbersome over the years. There was not enough room for maneuvering around it comfortably and so I sold it! I'm not sorry, even now, as I much prefer to have things out in the open and not have to open and close a piece of furniture, however beautiful it may be. Some sewers probably like that - to stash everything out of sight.

Later on, I eventually moved my "sewing room" to the very small area at the top of the stairs. If you saw my post about my sewing room in my current home (see post here), it is "spacious" compared to the one I had in Burlington. I am still using the same "cutting/sewing" table that is covered in black floral fabric. That "table" spanned the width of my "sewing space" in front of two windows as you see in the photo below.  It's so nice when there is a view while you sew! 
My Burlington house sewing space upstairs.


I am still using the same wooden desk for my sewing machine now. In this photo, the desk sits very close to the top of the stairs, so you see my area was tight on space. At that time, I had two machines - my first sewing machine was a Singer Genie that I purchased in 1975 and in 2000 I purchased an Electronic Elna. When we moved to PEI, I gave my Genie to my sister, Heidi. And just last year, I sold my Elna to a lady on the island who needed it for a missionary sewing circle. I was glad she was able to get the reverse stitching fixed! Now I LOVE sewing on my Singer Featherweight. Am SO glad I found her two years ago!

Those little dolls you see above the windows - Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Fancy Ball Lady - I still have those dolls, but they are in poor shape - head-wise! I need to get new dolls. They are stored in a drawer right now. They are quite old. I've had them since a young girl. My Aunt Esther, who will be turning 92 (I think) next month, made the clothes for these dolls. And she sewed several outfits for my Barbie doll back then, too. But I digress! 😊

I love sewing outdoors! Several times I take advantage of the warmer weather and temporarily move my sewing project outdoors on our back deck. Only on these occasions do I put up with the "drudgery" of lugging things out of my comfortable sewing room, traipsing downstairs and out to the back deck. It's worth the view and feeling the warm air and sunshine!  Everything goes on the umbrella table. The heavy duty extension cord powers my machine and iron and I have a small portable ironing board that comes in handy for these outdoor sewing sessions.
The bugs are very minimal in our neighborhood - thankfully - and viewing the backyard is very calming, even while husband is mowing the lawn at the same time! But enjoying the outdoors depends on how hot the sun gets and if the wind is too windy. An open umbrella's life span can become precarious and fabric and thread flying through the breeze doesn't contribute to a successful sewing session. Sewing outdoors is not a regular habit, but it's nice to be able to do it when the conditions are right.

On this particular outdoor sewing session I was making a zippered panel for one of my blue corduroy carpet bags for a potential customer. She wanted the bag to have a more secure closure than just cinching up the cords. I never heard back from her but at least I now know how to put a zippered panel in a carpet bag, if the need ever arises. I didn't fully finish attaching it to the bag so the bag is still available without the zippered panel. In fact, I have two in my Etsy shop (here).

How and where do you spend your hours sewing, stitching, or knitting in the summer? Maybe you have an enclosed porch with screens. That would make a lovely spot to while away the hours creating wonderful things without the worry of bugs or heavy breezes thwarting your creativity. If my enclosed front porch were a back porch, I might have considered that a perfect place for a sunny sewing station, but as it is a front porch, it serves as our front entry and sitting area. 

Have you set up a special place in your home for sewing and creativity or a temporary summer spot? What are you creating this summer that brings delight to your soul?
"Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."  Ecclesiastes 11:7

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Inspiration from The Great British Sewing Bee



Hello!


Today, I'm showcasing two garments I made in May for The Charlottetown Legion Choir spring concerts, which I am pianist for. The ladies' attire consists of white tops and black bottoms (skirt or pants). For the men  - white shirts, black pants, and the Legion striped tie of gold and blue. For this past spring concert series, the choir voted on two choices of attire - black and black - white and black. I voted black and black, as I prefer to wear black on top. I don't particularly care to wear white on top as there's an obvious lack of color, you know, and I think black goes with everyone and is elegant. I just feel washed out. But....the majority overruled and we went with white and black for now.

As we island people have been without a regular fabric store since last November - Fabricville was forced out of their leased space downtown and couldn't find another spot to set up shop yet - I was forced to shop around for a warm-weather white blouse/top to wear for choir. It's not very convenient, to say the least, that we sewers who want to make clothing have no fabric store to shop in locally. All there is left on the island is one home decor fabric shop and the rest are quilt shops. If a person needs fabric for clothing, the options are to go off island and drive two hours to Fabricville in Moncton, or three hours to St. John, and don't forget the bridge toll! Shopping online for fabric is not for me. Seeing and touching fabric is a must.

I did go off-island but AFTER the concerts were over! I had an appointment in St. John, NB and I took advantage of the opportunity to shop at Fabricville for a few pieces of fabric for future garments and carpet bag.

Okay...back to my white outfit. Since I didn't want to spend the gas money and toll to go off island for fabric to make a white blouse, I spent some time perusing the shops downtown for a suitable blouse to wear. Not finding anything that looked good on me, I ended up at Value Village and found - to my surprise - a perfectly fitting white t-shirt for $7! In the back of my mind, I had a plan to embellish it. Plus, make a vest to go along with it. And that's where the Great British Sewing Bee came in to play. It gave me inspiration!
Photos taken from the Great British Sewing Bee Facebook Page

For a great number of weeks, this program has been airing on TV (on the MAKEFUL channel), and I've been loving it! Each Sunday evening at 10 p.m. they air another episode. They start out with 10 contestants and the ages are all different AND a number of men have participated! The contestants come from all walks of life. Even a young man in his teens!

There was a policeman who regularly sewed garments for his wife and daughters. Another man sewed for his family. His wife didn't! Another man was an exercise/fitness instructor. And then there was the stylish 81-year old lady with her white hair all done up nicely who's known to have sewn almost every day of her life for 75 years! The first time I watched the program was the semi-final of the contest she participated in, and she won!

The two judges.

Some of the challenges the contestants were faced with sewing were a boned corset and a Scottish pleated kilt! Another time, the made-to-measure challenge had to be a dress-up three-dimensional outfit, which included two peacock style garments and an elephant!

One of the peacock outfits modeled by a young girl.
And the elephant costume, of course!

I don't know if there will be more new episodes but I don't tire of watching repeats of most any movie or program. That's me. And watching reruns of this sewing bee is still fun for me. I enjoy watching the participants select their fabrics, struggle with sewing procedures they've never dealt with before, and stressing along with them with the time constraints they are given.

The contest runs several weeks. Each week consists of two days of sewing. The first day they make two garments. The first one is a pattern challenge and the second project an alteration challenge where they're given a garment - such as a large oversized t-shirt - and they need to make something totally different with it. The second day consists of  a made-to-measure challenge - such as a long evening gown or leather jacket - and the participants get to choose their own pattern and fabrics. They also get to do a practice garment at home with measurements from an unknown model. On the day of this third challenge, they meet their models at the sewing bee work room. Sometimes the contestants are surprised because family members/friends/spouses have been invited to be their models!

81 year-old winner!

Of course, at the end of two days and three garment challenges, the two judges make their determinations on who will be sent home. And each week, the group of contestants are whittled down to the semi-final and three contestants vie for the grand prize.

And another winner! He made clothes for his wife and daughters.

I've included a clip from one episode here for your viewing pleasure!


http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x130bwl_s1e1-the-great-british-sewing-bee_lifestyle

Back again to my white top....

For my white choir top to have some pizazz and become dressier, I had some left over lace from when I made my daughter's wedding gown back in 2007. Worked out perfectly! Here is the t-shirt with the lace added to the sleeves. My model here is "Dolly" whom you've met in a previous post. 😊

And here is a side view and close-up of the lace.

To complete the outfit, I added a vest with fabric from my stash. I had some left over white lace that I used to make cafe curtains for my kitchen and front porch several years ago. And a white striped fabric for the lining.  That particular fabric was used to make a deck awning several years ago (I will post about that later). Here are photos of the vest. I also added some lace trim on the shoulder seams.

And here is the inside of the vest showing the white striped fabric.

For this spring concert, we ladies got to wear new scarves. Our choir president, Colleen, ordered yellow and blue fabric and secured some volunteers to sew up these simple scarves - one blue and one yellow - that we could wear around our necks in whatever fashion we wanted.

I did receive several compliments on my outfit. One choir member liked the long lace on the sleeves. She said it was very fitting for the pianist to wear sleeves like that!

For the sewers out there, I hope I've inspired you to keep on stitching or to take it up again if you haven't created anything in a long while. And for those who haven't stitched at all, perhaps you've gotten the itch now to stitch! Even in little ways!

We all need and receive inspiration in our lives - even on a daily basis - from people, things, places - in all sorts of ways - to get us motivated and be more productive in our daily lives. Responsibilities keep us motivated. And wouldn't you include reading and meditating on scripture to be inspirational and the most important way of all to lead a more productive Christian life? Inspiration in the form of exhortation, admonition, and instruction.

For..."who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies....She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple...Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come....Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:10, 22, 25, 30

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An All-Night Sewing Dilemma but a Delightful Day to Remember

A good weekend to you dear friends and lovely creatures!

This weekend - Friday - was a special day 10 years ago - June 30.

Before I get to the story, here is some background. I have a reputation - in the past - and a little in the not too distant past - of staying up ALL night working on a garment or other sewing project till the sun comes up!

I've had several of these all-nighter sewing sprees - mostly during my daughter's teenage years when she needed a special formal dress for our church's youth group's annual spring banquet. Since I was working full-time during her school years, sewing projects were delegated to the evenings and weekends. When it was deemed necessary to go through the night, I would usually take my sewing paraphernalia downstairs so I wouldn't bother my husband or daughter while they slept. I had a tiny sewing area at the top of the stairs. That would have been our house in Burlington, MA.

I am a night person, so sewing through the dark hours of the night and into dawn's early light doesn't phase me. But this time, I planned ahead for my daughter's wedding!  I finished my dress and I finished her wedding gown and veil a week ahead of time! So there was no excuse to sew through the night at the last minute.

Okay....so you're wondering now. Did something happen out of the ordinary?  Yes! And here is what transpired! Photos will follow after the story.

Friday, 10:30 p.m.  Time for bed. Postpone that thought! Groom's mother (Martha) called to use my machine for some last minute sewing. They were from out-of-state and staying nearby. I told her it was not a problem.

11:00 p.m. She and her daughter Amy (bridesmaid) arrived with a sewing nightmare that transcended my comprehension. My mouth gaped open. There were no words to describe what I was looking at! I needed more help. I telephoned my sister, Cindy, who had just gotten into bed. She and her family were staying with friends nearby as they had moved to SC and were up for the wedding. For some reason, she had decided to bring her serger on this trip. She brought it to my house.

11:30 p.m.  The bridesmaid's top - the fabric, a beautiful silvery blue brocade - was sewn by a friend of the groom's family. Cap sleeves they were not and neither "sleeve" was the same size! One armhole was larger than the other, allowing wonderful views of the wearer's underclothes. A scalloped hem on the front was missing and the button holes down the back were irregularly spaced. Add these elements together and you have a skewed and non-fitting top. Bad sewing job, indeed! I felt sorry for the seamstress.

I called my friend, Monica, next door whose daughter (Heidi) was a bridesmaid and asked if we could borrow her top (to use as a guide) and the pattern and any extra fabric. Now, this bridesmaid was not the same size as Amy, but we were desperate to fix this sewing dilemma.

I dug into my pattern stash for something to help the situation. Maybe a sleeve pattern that would fit Amy's top. That didn't work. I kept looking at the clock. Maybe by one o'clock we'll be done, I thought. That turned into two o'clock. And time ticked away as we all tried to figure out what to do with this ill-fitting and lop-sided top.

Poor Amy! While we three women wracked our brains to make her top fit and look respectable, she dozed in the living room, exhausted from her plane trip fraught with cancelled and rebooked flights. She had slept overnight on the floor in a New York airport, only arriving in Boston that afternoon.

Fortunately (thank the LORD!), she decided to try on her outfit after the rehearsal - not the morning of the wedding! Incidentally, she only got possession of her top that day, it being hand-delivered by other wedding guests arriving from out-of-state!

3:00 a.m.  Martha desired coffee. Soon the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafted upstairs and a sleepy husband wandered down to see what was going on. Seeing the bright lights and the wearied and strained looks of the women in the kitchen, he retreated back to bed, not wanting to get involved. I wanted to join him!

4:00 a.m. I heard the birds outside and thought about breakfast. But I really wanted to crawl into bed.

5:00 a.m. After multiple fitting sessions, we removed the lining and all the darts, and basically started from scratch. Fabric was added to the sides and we closed up the armhole gaps. Darts were added in places you wouldn't normally put them. We ignored the irregularly spaced button holes because we couldn't do anything about them. We ignored the lack of a scalloped front hem and the misshapen "cap" sleeves. Since we couldn't remake the lining, all the edges of the top were serged, and a narrow hem was sewn. Thank the LORD Cindy brought her serger with her from SC because I didn't have one!

6:00 a.m.  We were done! The top fit with no gaps and almost looked like what it should have looked like! We did a quick check of the skirt and decided that even though the bad invisible zipper job on the skirt wasn't invisible, no one would notice it. This was one outfit that would never grace a body again. It was a sorry situation, to say the least.

My sewing helpers left and I trudged wearily to bed to catch a couple hours of sleep passing my husband on the stairs as he had just gotten up to get ready for the big day! 
Heidi/neighbor friend - we borrowed her top for help in fixing Amy's top.

Amy with Holly, my niece, behind her. You can see Amy's top is slightly different than Holly's. We did what we had to do with what we had!

My niece, Abigail - flower girl, with her wings. All the girls/women in the wedding party had dresses that were hand crafted, not purchased.

My daughter, Melody, and husband, Bill

Kim/neighbor friend and my niece, Audra - they were candle lighters.

Melody & Adam - the beautiful bride and handsome groom!

If you didn't know the story, you may not have even noticed that Amy's dress was slightly different than the others.
I've included a few more photos of the rest of the wedding party, the groom's family and our family. Sorry - not everyone. Some photos I don't have digital copies of right now.

Me and my honey.

The groomsmen and groom.  From left to right - Ben/neighbor friend, David/friend, Adam/groom, Dean - Adam's dad and Best Man, Keith/neighbor friend, and Tim/our nephew.

The groom's family:  Amy, Adam & Melody, Martha & Dean; Front row left to right: Rachel, Heidi, Emily

And my mom, siblings, and relatives on my side. Cindy is standing in front of me.

Unless it's for someone else's wedding, I certainly hope this doesn't happen again. I was a little tipsy that day from the lack of sleep, but the rest of my daughter's wedding day moved along without mishap! It was beautiful!

And I was very thankful I had planned ahead for my own sewing projects. You couldn't have dreamt up this sewing nightmare. It was surely a NIGHT and a day to remember!

A Happy Anniversary to our dear daughter, Melody and her wonderful husband, Adam! 
TEN YEARS!



Saturday, June 17, 2017

God's Little Creatures and "Audra's Secret"


photo from Pinterest.com
A Happy Father's Day Weekend to you and yours, and to all little creatures, young and old.....

Today I'll be sharing my love of foxes and something else that I dug up from my computer archives. You'll get to read that after the fox photo gallery!

Yesterday morning I was delighted to see a fox strolling through our back yard that paused to have a sunny snooze. The photos are not the best quality as my phone camera can only zoom in so far. Opening the back door to get a closer photo would cause the fox to run off.

The small barn you see in the far back is owned by our neighbor. It sits "just" over our property line. In the few years we've been here, I think there've been three litters of foxes living under that dilapidated barn. They only stay there until the babies grow up. I think it's been three summers since we've had foxes living in our back yard. The first one had eight kits, and boy, were they fun to watch! Jumping, running, pouncing all over the place - on each other and on the mom or the dad fox!

The first time they were there, I was really nervous for the safety of our kitty, Ebony. But when I called the Wildlife office on the island, I was assured that the foxes would only want to play with cats. Only curious. And that was true, because, the last time the foxes were here, Ebony met one of the parents face-to-face! I watched it all happen.

Between our property and the neighbors beside us are a line of trees and shrubs, etc. which is where Ebony liked to go and sit, especially under the rusty, broken down truck that our neighbor still has in his yard and the piles of junk. Well, this adult fox saw Ebony wander through the trees and shrubs in the neighbor's yard and the fox came from his den towards him. I kept watch. Ebony had no clue that a fox was there and that he was going towards him until they were face to face! Oh my! They just stared at each other.

Then Ebony started slowly backing up and then turned around and made his way - not in a hurry though - back through the bushes and grass over to our yard with the fox watching him. The fox came out of the wooded area onto our lawn a bit back from where Ebony came out  - near where I was. Approximately the same area where the fox is in the photos you see below. When the fox saw me, he took off! I was very glad nothing happened! Just curiosity!  And no, curiosity didn't kill the cat! HA!

In the photos below, the area to the left of the photo is where Ebony and the fox met up. They were probably 20 to 30 feet into the neighbor's property - from the edge of our lawn. All's well that ends well!

Some fox trivia for you. One summer, one of the young ones couldn't walk! His front legs were fine, but he would walk around dragging his hips and back legs! It was distressing to watch all the others run and jump, but this one couldn't do it. What had happened to this little baby fox? I felt like we needed to do something about it, but what could we do? It so happened that one day Bill saw a program about foxes on TV. AND DO YOU KNOW?  It is normal for a baby fox to be born and not have the use of his back legs! Not all of them, but sometimes one or two....BUT....in a short time their hips and muscles recover and strengthen and they are running and jumping around like the others! Amazing! Wouldn't you know....shortly after that we didn't see that little one dragging its legs anymore. What a relief to gain that information!

Here are the two photos I took yesterday morning.
Getting ready to relax!
Taking a snooze!
After he got up from his nap, he came towards our house and I was hoping to get a good close-up photo, but didn't get the chance. He trotted through our driveway, across the street and into our neighbor's yard and kept going. Maybe another time I'll be lucky to get a better photo of him. I just love these animals!

If you were to visit my house, you'd quickly see that I DO love foxes! Here is my collection.

On my fireplace mantel.
In front of the fireplace.
A tiny one on my what-not shelf.
A knitted one. He's wearing a scarf!
Another one sitting in front of the oil painting my mom did for me. This photo was in a previous post about my mother's art.
And still another painting my mom did that you've seen in a previous post.

And yes, a duplicate fox figure. He will be placed outside shortly by the front door for the summer months.
Salt and pepper shakers that I purchased in a cooking store in Reading, Massachusetts.
I've had this for many years. Purchased it from a company in England. It holds a ball of string which is fed through the fox's mouth. His "eyeglasses" that appear to be sitting on his nose are a pair of scissors -  for when you need to cut some string!
And a "napping fox" metal dish sits in the kitchen window.
Other than a fleece blanket with a fox figure on each side, this is the extent of my collection at the moment!

Quite a number of years ago I took a writing correspondence course from the Institute of Children's Literature. It was an 18-month long course and I enjoyed it immensely. I received my diploma in April 2003. I dug out this writing assignment yesterday and doctored it up a bit. I haven't read this in years. Not sure if I'll add to the adventure with more chapters, rework the title, or put it back into hibernation. Yes, it may sound like something you've heard before, but it is different.😉 I apologize for the weird formatting in places. Copying and pasting into Blogger does funny things and try as I might, I can't always fix it.

Perhaps you'd like to make a nice cuppa tea before you keep reading. Herbal, orange pekoe, London Fog latte? 😊

AUDRA'S SECRET

Audra pulled the puffy goose down comforter up to her nose and sighed. She stared at the ceiling, the tree branches casting shadows from the light of the moon. She couldn’t sleep. Thoughts and conversations with herself churned inside her head.
It=s not fair! Holly gets to sleep over Sara=s house all the time. I never get asked. She always has more fun than me. And I have to sleep alone again. I was bored all night and I’ll be bored tomorrow. Mom is having some ladies over for lunch and there won=t be anyone to play with.

Audra turned over on her right side and slipped her hand out from under the covers. “Pussy, Pussy, come here, my little gray kitty,” she called softly, snapping her fingers.

"Meow,” Pussy replied from inside the closet. She meowed again and scratched the wall.
“What=s the matter, Pussy? Come to bed with me.” Audra snapped her fingers again.

When Pussy failed to appear, Audra slipped out of bed, her white nightgown trailing the floor. Quietly and slowly she stepped into the closet to see what Pussy was doing.

“Pussy?” Audra whispered. She knelt down and pushed aside the clothes.

Pussy sat behind the clothes and shoes. A bright light shown through a long crack in the wall. A breath of damp air ruffled Audra’s hair and a faint odor of pine caused her to pause and wonder. Pussy squeezed through the opening and disappeared.

“Pussy, come back!” The crack in the wall grew larger as Audra pushed on the wall boards. Crawling through the opening she emerged onto a moss covered floor inside a large hollow tree trunk. Sunshine shone brightly into the trunk through another opening. Audra crawled out into the sunshine and stood up, her eyes darting here and there, taking in the scenery.

“Ooh! What=s this place?” she wondered. A forest full of oak, maple, spruce and birch trees surrounded her. The sweet scent of apple blossoms filled the air warmed by the sun. Chickadees, blue jays and countless other birds chirped and twittered among the trees. A soft, brown bunny hopped through the lush green ferns and wild flowers that covered the forest floor. Pussy sat a few feet away, washing her face in a fastidious manner with her paws.
“Pussy!” Audra exclaimed, running over to her. Pussy stopped washing and looked up. Her eyes gleamed and her sweet kitty face appeared to break into a smile, if that were possible for a cat to do.

“Hello, Audra,” Pussy said. Audra abruptly stopped and stared at Pussy. A look of bewilderment and shock covered her face at hearing her cat speak and say her name.

“Did you say something, Pussy?” Audra whispered, not believing what she heard coming from the furry mouth of her little gray kitty.

"Of course,” Pussy answered. “Animals can speak, you know, but you can only understand us in Fern Forest.”

“Oh! Fern Forest? Where is this place? What do you do here?” Audra asked. “Is this where you come when I can=t find you?”

“Yes,” Pussy said. She started walking down the moss covered path in a methodical manner. “I have lots of friends here. Come and meet them.”

Audra=s bare feet sunk into the soft, thick moss. It felt deliciously cool and calming. Along the path, wet leaves glistened in the sunlight. The light, cool breeze she had first felt when she crawled into the tree trunk from her bedroom closet had turned warm and inviting. In a few minutes they reached a small clearing. A tiny, gray stone house with a thatch roof was nestled among the ferns and flowers and surrounded by tall fir trees. A wisp of smoke curled from the red brick chimney. The smells of the forest along with the smoke created an ethereal atmosphere. It was if she had stepped into a fairy tale setting. A stout gray mouse wearing a white ruffled cap and apron was busy sweeping the front steps.

“Hello, Pussy!” The mouse called out in a tiny high-pitched singing voice. “I see you brought Audra with you today.”

Audra stared at the mouse, her mouth wide open. “How did you know my name?” She asked.

“Oh, Pussy told me all about you,” said the mouse in her sweet singing voice. “My name is Pixie. Will you stay for tea? I just made some delicious blackberry tarts. Warm and sweet – right out of the oven.”

Audra and Pussy settled down on the soft moss carpet sprinkled with needles from the fir trees while Pixie brought out her tea set of white china decorated with tiny pink polka dots. Tiny silver spoons and pink cloth napkins completed the tea time ensemble. The blackberry tarts were served on a matching plate and set on the white tablecloth. They sipped on peppermint tea and munched on the blackberry tarts while Pixie chattered on. Audra just listened and ate. She was mesmerized by the whole experience. The deliciousness of the tea and treats and sitting next to Pussy who was also indulging in tea and tarts, kept her speechless.

“Audra, you must meet our other friends,” Pixie said. “There=s Piper the Bear, and Basil... Oh, here comes Piper now.”

Audra set her tea cup down on its saucer and turned around. A large brown bear lumbered down the path on all fours. Audra sat still and held her breath as she didn’t quite know what to expect or if she should get up and run. In a normal situation, seeing a bear in the woods would put fear and trembling inside her. With Pussy and Pixie sitting by her side, she somehow sensed that everything was going to be alright. It must be alright, she thought, as a chickadee sat on the bear’s shoulders and chirped a silly song. The bird finished her song and flittered onto the white tablecloth in front of Audra and Pussy.

"Hi, Audra,” chirped the chickadee, spreading her wings outward and taking a bow. “I=m Dee-Dee and this is Piper. We’re getting ready to have a country fair tomorrow on the other side of Fern Forest. We were looking for Basil. He’s in charge of the games.”

Audra sat up on her knees and adjusted her nightgown. Her eyes grew wider as she stared and looked from one animal to the other. She was still amazed that she could converse with them.

“It’s very nice to meet you both. What kind of games are you having, and who is Basil?” she asked.

“Basil is a red fox,” said Piper in a heavy bass-like voice. “He always plans the games. There will be tart eating contests, races, scavenger hunts and prizes. It=s lots of fun.”

“You can come, Audra, if you=d like,” chirped Dee-Dee. “Pussy and Pixie will be coming, as well as our other forest friends.”

“This is so exciting!” exclaimed Audra, as she sipped the last of her peppermint tea and brushed the crumbs off her nightgown. “But I must get back home now. It’s very late. My mother may be checking on me and I won=t be in bed if she does. Thank you for the tea and tarts. They were so delicious. Come on, Pussy. We need to go home.”

Audra and Pussy said their good-byes and skipped back to the hollow tree trunk. Audra pushed through the opening in the closet wall and quietly stole into bed, pulling the covers over her. Pussy jumped up and snuggled next to her. Her purring got louder as she relaxed and curled up to sleep.

“Oh, Pussy,” she whispered, putting her arm around her. “That was so much fun. I can=t believe there is a place like that and I can talk to animals. No one would ever believe me. I can=t wait to go back to Fern Forest. It will be our little secret. We can=t tell anyone. Well, you won=t be able to tell anyone, that=s for sure!”
Pussy twitched her tail and purred louder.
by Linda L. Shukri
(no part of this story can be copied) 
 Have a great rest of the weekend and a wonderful Father's Day!

 "He (God) hath made every thing beautiful in its time; also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11