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.

39 thoughts on “The Blood, the Bones, and the Soul of Memory”

  1. I can’t get over how the Little Princess is no longer little… whoa… gorgeous young woman!… You and Piano Man have trouble ahead!… lol…… Love the creations u and Princess came up with..both adorable!. Ms. Francis is a very creative lady!. Love her finger art!.

  2. What a fabulous post my wickedest of witches 😀 I too love Ms Francie…and fear greatly for the deserted cuddlies in the local charity shops mwahahahaha 😀 XXX

  3. I love vibrant and unconventional women like this too! This post was a delight to read. Here’s my favourite line:

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

    And oh my, isn’t the Little Princess getting to be all grown up! Guess it’s been a while since I’ve seen a photo of her on your blog. And the Piano Man’s Blue Steel gaze — LOL!

    • There is something about these kind of individuals that make us want to dance close to them. We need more of her kind in the world.

      Yes, the Little Princess is sprouting into a young lady–we might have to update her title…

      And my Piano Man’s Blue Steel gaze always makes me roar, too. 😀

  4. Stories are the blood and the bones of memory,
    when we write them and read them we give them souls.

    So much fun and motivation with Ms Francine around. The stitching of various parts from different animals can lead to endless creations for the youngsters. Very innovative thoughts Magaly!


    • I’m glad it was good for you, too, Hedge. I’ve found myself drafting many of these posts these days–some in my head, lol. I think I’ve been reading too much news, and afterwards I need something to remind me that the entire world doesn’t suck.

  5. Oh, I adore your story about Ms. Francie! To use a worn-out cliché, it’s that old pebble thrown into the pond creating ripples that continue to move outwards… I’m sure anyone who reads this story will now be affected by the Francie Factor in some way too! 🙂

    And you just know I love Frogenstein and Polar Hiney!! 😀

  6. I want to go to this fair! What a fun post! I love Ms Francie! When I grow up, I want to be like her! Love her art! Love her words! She is amazing! I love the stuffed animals! That is such a great idea!! Great pictures! Your Piano Man is so cute! And, Little Princess has grown!! I really love Frogenstein and Polar Hiney! LOL 🙂 Hugs 🙂

  7. That must have been such a fun day!! What a great idea dismembering of stuffed animals! Do you think it would completely freak my daughter out if I give it a go at some of her toys with a big pair of scissors? Probably not the best image of mommy!! But sure fun to visualize! Happy September sweet girl!

  8. Wow! How cool is that. What a great day you all had. I love unusual finds like that be it people or other. Ms Francie seems like an interesting woman with a spirit for fun and adventure. Thanks for sharing that day with us 🙂

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