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My Writer's Journal


The casual observer would think I was moving to a distant country--Patagonia maybe, or Bhutan, or to live on a river boat or in a yurt. My new home is only seven blocks away, but still it will be a complete change. I'm leaving a 100+-year-old Victorian house with lots of odd little spaces and a giant basement, and a big backyard with a Victorian doghouse, birdbath and feeders, and lots of plants that are still blooming.

But the new place is a brand new loft, built to our specifications, about half the size of our house. There's a drop-down ladder by which to crawl up to a tiny storage area for suitcases and Christmas decorations. My office is minuscule, but it has a huge window with views of the Sandia mountains and the Downtown cityscape, and it has a balcony!

We move next week, with lots of mixed feelings--excitement for the new place and a large dose of nostalgia at leaving the old. Read More 
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Stuff I Save

We're packing to move. For the next two weeks, maybe longer, I will not write. I will sort through the stuff I've saved for years. I'll get rid of some of it. A lot has already gone--to Goodwill, to the library, to consignment. I have vowed that I will be brutally efficient. I will not get bogged down in sentiment. But I have failed already.

There is a two-drawer chest on my desk into which I toss odds and ends: business cards of people I barely remember, stamps that cost 29 cents, dried-out markers and glu-stiks. There is also a little bowl in which I once tossed a couple of old bracelets, one with an award I won in high school, the other one a silver ID bracelet tarnished to black. I can make out the engraved initials: H.V.M. That was my father. On the reverse, with a flourish of leaves, L.B.

There is no date, but it must have been about 1930. Dad had gotten a job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was an engineer who should have been an actor, a writer, a singer. But he had done the practical thing, and now he was working for the phone company and acting in community theater--leading man roles. [His picture is on MY LIFE page.] His leading lady was Lavinia Buckwalter. I know, because I read the critics' reviews in his scrapbook. She was crazy about him. I know this, because I once found her letters. I don't know how he felt about her, but I do know that within a couple of years he left Harrisburg for Lewistown, where he met Sara Knepp. Her picture is on the MY LIFE page, too. And he kept the bracelet.

And now, some 90 years later, I sit here at my desk, wondering what to do with that bracelet. For now, I'll pack it. Read More 
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My First Book

I remember how excited I was when my first book, MISS PATCH'S LEARN-TO-SEW BOOK, was published more than 40 years ago. I've written more than fifty books since then, and I had nearly forgotten about Miss Patch, until I got this e-mail:

I'm so glad I found a site where I can contact you! My name is Yvonne and I'm a 46 year old mother to 4 year old girl. When I was about nine years old my school library in Los Angeles had a copy of your book, Miss Patch's Learn to Sew. I remember I was so excited to find your book at the school library. I was enthralled with the pictures and even though I'd 'officially' stopped playing with dolls, I could not wait to make the Barbie dresses, and doll quilt. I loved the book. I kept renewing the book, and even did my book report on it. I spent hours playing with my fabrics, reading my books and dreaming and imagining all the projects I wanted to make.

Then my arch enemy, Nancy, decided she wanted to check out the book. She complained I'd had it too long so I had to turn it over to her. I was so sad. I'd managed to make the Barbie dresses but never got to the quilt. Nancy kept the book the entire rest of the year.

Fast forward to adulthood. I finally have a daughter I want to sew for. But where to start? I remembered how much I'd loved my little Miss Patches book. I did ebay and Amazon searches and found a beautiful copy with the original cover still! I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have this darling book back in my hands again. I've had the book now for a couple of years, I'd bought it when Dahlia was still a baby.

Yesterday I picked up my mom's Kenmore sewing machine, and I am going to teach Dahlia how to sew. I can't wait. We have the book...and this time, I don't have to worry about returning it.

Thank you, Yvonne. You can't imagine what it's like to get a fan letter like yours! And I wonder whatever happened to she still grabbing other people's library books? Read More 
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