The Blood, the Bones, and the Soul of Memory

Have you ever met an older person who births smiles right out of your heart while making your soul say, “When I grow up, I want to be just like her?” I’ve met several of these wondrous human creatures (Yep, I’m that lucky). The latest one to guild my list is Ms. Francie—artist, retired teacher, professional smiler.

I didn’t talk to Ms. Francie for long, but one can learn wonders from spending the best part of an hour dismembering and re-stitching stuffed animals with the right kind of soul. Besides, the smile on her face and the ease with which she shares her hugs told me a world of tales that said she was awesome.

My Piano Man, my in-laws, the Little Princess and I met Ms. Francie at the San Juan County Fair (where my Mother-in-Law’s quilts won several ribbons… more on this topic later). Ms. Francie sat surrounded by scissors, needles, yarn, children, adults, and a menagerie of scissored stuffed animals.

“Would you like to turn them into something new?” Ms. Francie said to the Little Princess, presenting the head of a dog and the body of a bear.

The Little Princess grinned one of her mildly insane this-will-sure-rock grins, accepted a needle and a length of purple yarn, and sat down to stitch.

I was studying the scene, when Ms. Francie pointed at a small boy and said to me, “That material is really tough and his hands are too small for the scissors. Do you want to help him with that lamb?”

“Yes, ma’am!” I said, decapitating the lamb and handing the head to the happy boy.

“You should Frankenstein something too.” Ms. Francie grinned. My mind might be making up the next bit for effect, but I’m almost sure she rubbed her hands together. Or maybe, I just really loved that she used Frankenstein’s name as a verb. I mean, what’s not to love about that?

I, of course, accepted the kind offer. I already had the body of a lamb, so I needed a head. My Piano Man helped me find the head of a red-eyed frog. I stitched the frog’s head to the lamb’s body, dog paws served as ears, a wee headless body holding a mirror made the perfect tail. And then Frogenstein… “It’s alive!”

Like I said I the beginning of this post, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Ms. Francie… but I will never forget her… not after telling you the tale of our time together. Stories are the blood and the bones of memory, when we write them and read them we give them souls. Shared stories will live on…

Below is the visual tale:

Of Arts and SmilesMs. Francie and one of her paintings
“This was such fun,” she told me. “I painted with my fingers, with my elbows… such fun!”

Stitching Stuffed AnimalsMy Piano Man was the holder of heads

Stitching Stuffed Animals 2The Little Princess half-way through stitching the head of a dog to the body of a bear

Tinker TentThe Tinker Tent was one of my favorite spots in the fair

Tinkering ManA tinkering man

Grandma and GrandpaMy in-laws in the serious business of ghoul-sitting Frogenstein and Polar Hiney… Yes, that’s the name of the Little Princess’ ghoulish creation, since it has the head of a blindfolded Polar bear for a tail (My Piano Man might have helped with the naming… So complexly creative, my sweet love *cough, cough*).

Blue Steel PoseMy Piano Man (and his “Blue Steel” gone wild pose) modeling my purse (creative and sexy!)

Chewing HayI met two farmers while I was searching for frogs. They told me that their crops kept disappearing. I told them that they had to stop eating it. They made a face. Fine, so the bit about the vanishing crops is a lie. But the frog search, that is real… and I shall tell you all about it in my next trip to Friday Harbor post.

Skulls of Mint in Bloom

The piece below is a wild dance between a handful of Nature’s blooms and a stream of consciousness spell. It began to blossom in my mind, while I was delighting in some of the flowers I photographed this summer (all the pictures were taken by me… except the pennyroyal, which is the work of @luv_2_plant, an Instagram friend). This one was crafted out of comments from friends, out of the music playing while I wrote it, out of the promise of autumn, out of shapes and scents and words wanting to be born.

“Skulls of Mint in Bloom”

In summer, the night in a hat
gave her a horny crown.

The Green Man smiled…
thinking of Moonflowers
opening for him.

Lily—bright and wilted
before the fall—wondered not
about the Green Man’s touch.

He will love me, she thought,
or he will love me not…

Only Daisy knows these deep,
deep things. And she’s open

wide to all, like her sister
in petal and pink. She wants
every kiss and every caress,

before licking and swallowing
Pennyroyal, looking for death
in skulls of mint. She finds zilch,

for life tends to tendril
unpredictably wild, like Passion-

flowers in bloom.

the wee notes…
– The first stanza came from comments made by my friends, Nina and Laura, about a passionflower bud I posted on Facebook. The seventh stanza leaked into my mind because Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea” was playing while I was writing—Pennyroyal oil can cause abortion, hence the lines “I sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea / Distill the life that’s inside of me” in the Nirvana song.
– In many witchy traditions, the Green Man represents a male (and wildly spirited) side of Nature.
– Linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads – Tuesday Platform.

1. PassifloraPassionflower bud

2. MoonflowerMoonflower

3. LilyLily

4. White DaisyDaisy

5. ConeflowerConeflower

6. PennyroyalPennyroyal

7. PassifloraPassion flower