|Aspen Rug Hooking Company|
The Art of Living
She digs deep into her Halloween bag, a brown paper sack
decorated with crayon-drawn ghosts and Jack-o-lanterns. She
touches the crinkly-paper candy wrappers and searches
feverishly for the orange square package she wants. Her head
poking inside the dark bag to help speed up her search.
Ah, wait a minute; there it is. The little freckle-face girl
smiles with satisfaction. She pulls the small package out of
the bag and eagerly unwraps it. Mmmmmm, she now carefully un-
peels the brown pleated paper from the chocolate sides,
delighted as she hears the quiet rippling sounds it makes. She
loves the way the dark-brown wax paper feels between her
fingers as it is separated from the chocolate, one ridge at a
Now she holds the chocolate cup pressed between her finger and
thumb. One bite, another, and one more. Oh how delicious that
chocolate peanut butter cup tastes. She searches for more in
her brown paper bag. How many did she get this Halloween? She
eagerly digs and digs deep into the bag to pull out her
favorite treat. Then she decides it's better to dump her
treasure onto the floor and sort through the candies that way.
This year was a good year. She counts all of the peanut butter
cups; 12 in all. Now to hide them from her impish little
brother who is known to steal Halloween candy from her. Her
eyes scanning her bedroom for a perfect hiding place. Where to
hide her prized treats? Her eyes finally come to rest on one
of her favorite toys. Quickly, she stuffs all 12 chocolates
into her Barbie doll house. He would never think to look in
there. It would be beneath him to do so.
She gets up from the hardwood floor to stand in front of her
mirror. Better wash up and get ready for bed. After all, there
is school tomorrow.
She gazes at her image in the huge mirror. She loves the way
she looks. Her pink dress with tiny white dots made a nice
Halloween costume. It's a neighbor's dress she borrowed for
the day. How wonderful it must be to have a mother who sews.
She wouldn't know.
This dress made her feel especially beautiful. It's long full
hoop skirt reminiscent of a southern belle with its twirling
fullness and stiff crinoline. Her petticoats adding yet
another layer to her lace trimmed dress. Her neck bejeweled
with a sumptuous black velvet choker with sparkling
rhinestones and dime-store gems. An elaborately decorated
headband intertwined with flowing ribbons and fresh-cut
flowers from the backyard; asters, mums, and bachelor-buttons.
Her black hair, thick and wavy from the cold-damp Michigan
The awkward little freckle-face girl is a beauty and she is
filled with excitement over her Halloween candy stash. She
wants this day to last longer and not revert to the ordinary.
The ordinary day made up of school, homework, ordinary
clothes, and no sweet treats to collect. Halloween candy, her
treasure. Halloween costume, her imaginary day.
They meet nearly every morning, in the dark, while strolling
with their dogs. He actually is the 'stroller', while she has
a determined walk. She is usually in a rush, hurrying to get
back home, so she can head off to work a couple hours before
the sun rises.
They've been meeting like this since last summer, and now here
it is, nearly the end of October. Funny, how they come
together. It's never planned; they don't even know each
other's name. He knows where she lives, and she thinks she
knows where he lives.
The times they meet are always different. That's what makes
this so peculiar. Sometimes it's as much as a 30-minute
difference, and yet there they are, there they stand. He
looking at her. She only aware of his presence, but not
looking at him.
One time in the summer, around 5:30 a.m., she was locking up
the house, then walked toward the sidewalk, and was startled
by him. She wasn't expecting anyone to be out at this hour.
"I'm sorry." The first words he said.
Then, after months of these oddly silent encounters (I mean
who feels like talking at 5:30 a.m.?), he says, "good
morning." It seemed like the grown-up and polite thing to do.
She says "helllooo," but continues walking without missing a
What is her deal? Typically, she is a cheerful and talkative
social butterfly, greeting people with a sincere and warm
smile. But not with him. She doesn't know him at all, so how
could she dislike him? Fear? Is she afraid of him? Maybe she
is a complete introvert at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark,
in the city with dimly lit walkways? That could be it. Maybe,
just maybe, her puppy black lab is too difficult to manage
when another dog is in-sight, so she keeps her focus on moving
and not giving attention to the handsome, tall, slender, salt
& pepper-haired man. No, she never noticed him at all.
A day passes, and yet another chance encounter for the two
silent dog-walkers. He greets her, "good morning." This time,
she stops and says a friendly "hi." She even smiled, a little.
Since last year, the rug hooking movement has really grown in
greater numbers, and it is totally trending the home
decorating scene. I see stores carrying (ugh -- *sigh* --
sadly machine-made hooked rugs and pillows - NOOOO!). This
means that we as artisans have, shall we say, influenced the
textile industry. Compared to five years ago, the number of
rug-hooking and punch-needle artists has leaped right off the
dock. Social media has brought this artisan community together
with the HUGE help from rug-hooking artists who established
Facebook Groups, their own Blogs, or websites. Kudos to
y'all!!! Us rug-hookers love you!
It's a great time to be a rug hooking artist. The online
experience brings hooking resources right into our homes. The
world of wool is ours! Sing it out; "the world of wool is
ours!" Ordering rug hooking materials, fabrics, resources, is
easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. And, gosh-golly, signing up for
classes to help keep us current with techniques is ugh-hem, a
click away (I know ban the cliche).
Social media gives people the opportunity to start a small
business and grow it! I mean isn't that awesome?! Most artists
dream of having their own little business to show and sell
And, hey, let's not leave this out - Inspiring conversations
take place on Facebook, Ning, and blogs. Sharing ideas,
resolving issues, learning, and having a feeling of
connectedness are all by-products of online interactions.
Artists use videos and still images to teach their skills.
Five-years ago, most of us were still trying to figure out how
to navigate Facebook and realize it's benefits. Some cursed
it, even denied its existence (ugh, me). Many of us didn't
even have a FB account (again, me).
With the many super rug-hooking and punch-needle groups out
there, we now connect with other artists who share our passion
for this artform. That connection really helps keep the
hooking mojo alive to do more, learn more, and hook more!
If you are stumped for ideas, just hop online, check out
groups and websites, maybe chat with a friend, and then off
you go, creating something new. Need to learn about dyeing
techniques? No problem; that's covered too. Videos that teach
us different dyeing techniques, hooking methods, or finishing
a rug's edges are all available for FREE! And if you want to
boost your hooking techniques even further, sign up for an
online class with any of the talented rug hooking artists.
trust me, it's money well invested. Yes invested!
So here's to you ladies and gentlemen; especially the baby
boomers, who have had to struggle with software and hardware
technology changes over the years. Y'all have WON and
EXCELLED! If I could reach out through my computer monitor, I
would hand each and everyone of you a medal! You are the
champion rug-hookers, punch-needle artisans, and "HURRAY"
online surfers! Look at how far you have come since the
1980's! Gen Xers and Yers, and millennials may not get quite as
enthusiastic, "jumping for joy joy," as us boomers do about
technology evolving over 40-plus years, but even you have
reason to "Wahoo!" because you too are contributing to the
change within and outside of the rug hooking world.
See for yourself, by picking up a rug hooking magazine or book
published 10-years ago, then go online and search for recently
hooked-rugs (by design or artist name). Or do the whole
research thing online. The fact is, you will see the trend
moving away from traditional hooking toward a liberating
hooking using a myriad of textures and haberdashery including,
Sari, ribbons, and buttons. And notice the designs! There are
so MANY designs! It's amazing!
I know I get pumped when I have the opportunity to ask
questions of a well-known artist who has artistic knowledge
that I wish I had. I am like a woolly little sponge, humbly
soaking up all the wisdom I can. To watch, listen, do; it is
like a water for my body; I need it to stay sane! That is
social media, that is connecting, and that is rug hooking
Aspen Life loves the autumn season. Being a word aficionado
and sentimentalist, it is fun to refer to quotes about this
brilliant season made by famous authors. Here are a few of my
“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
Henry David Thoreau
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when
everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been
saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Lauren DeStefano, Wither
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in
one autumnal face."
[The Autumnal]” John Donne, The Complete Poetry and
“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
[Indian Summer]” William Cullen Bryant
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal
sunshine by staying in the house."
[Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842]” Nathaniel Hawthorne, The
“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the
day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the
tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to
herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant
of autumn--that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence
on the mind of taste and tenderness--that season which has
drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at
description, or some lines of feeling.”
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Free-spirited and creative types know what I mean. Rules get
in the way of creativity and getting things done [Hell, there
are no rules here, we are trying to accomplish something. --
Thomas A. Edison].
When too many rules are in place, progress halts. It also
prohibits us from listening to the quiet whispers from our
heart. The best ideas come from the soul; no-holds barred,
just creativity and imagination that spawn amazing things.
A rule is made and it's bound to be broken, have a flaw that
makes it ineffective, thus birthing yet another rule. And so
on and so on.
You might be thinking, "Hey, hold on! Don't you have rules for
Lily to live by? How can you raise Lily without rules?" I have
SOME rules. The thing is, I don't 'over-rule' our household.
The key to our successful household is character building, not
rules. When you build a child's character, you teach
consideration, respect, integrity, morals, empathy ("put
yourself in their shoes", "do unto others, as you should want
them to do unto you"). There is a big difference between a
rule and a character virtue. I have also found that by
developing character traits, Lily leads from her heart and her
decisions have to pass the character traits' test before
coming to a resolution.
A rule is, "don't wear your shoes in the house", when
driving a car, stay on the right side on the road (or left
side if in the UK, Australia, or Europe), and show your badge
to security when entering the facility. These are human-made
Fewer rules are needed, when character traits are developed;
and that's why, in our household, we have few rules. We know
if we live with consideration for the other, most of the time
family life moves along quite cohesively. This by the way,
does not have to be due to religious beliefs. Although it does
help a great deal to believe in a God, a higher power, so that
your virtues stand on a firm foundation of morals rather than
standing on shifting sand of no belief, hence no basis for
virtues. For our home, the Bible is the source and 'verifier'
of character trait disciplines.
Yesterday, I decided to drive my daughter to school, and
because I threw off her morning schedule by doing so, she left
her purse containing the housekeys and cell phone at home.
Later on, I dropped off her purse at school, and boom there it
was a new school RULE; "Students are not allowed to be
interrupted while in class."
I made my case. It didn't matter, the woman behind the desk
was not listening, she was reciting the script she was given
by the principle, "The RULE is that all deliveries (in this
case my daughter's purse) is placed on a shelf, and you
(that's me) write the student's name on the board outside of
the cafeteria, and when she comes down for lunch, she will see
her name and know to come to the office to pick up her
delivery." She ended her speech and finally took a breath.
I, on the other hand, continued to be stunned; "HUH? Are you
serious? That is not a brilliant rule," I jaded.
I couldn't believe my ears because I know the attention span
of a tween/teen is about 3-seconds, not to even mention the
inability to multi-task (scientifically proven). At lunchtime,
the only focus my 12-year old has, is food and friends; she
won't be looking for her name on a board. She is looking for
her friends to socialize with while inhaling her lunch in the
20-short-minutes she is given. Why would she look on the board
when she normally doesn't get deliveries? And after finding
out later that evening, she didn't even know her purse was
missing!!! She would have found that out at dismissal when she
was on the bus (all too late then), and then gone into a
frantic-spin. Heck, I was in frantic-spin after learning about
the not so brilliant rule!
What's worse; I left a message for the principle and he
wouldn't even talk with me. He had the assistant principal
call me. Too good for the parents, are you? Can't address a
parent's logical safety concern for their child? Remind me
again why I contribute toward your salary?
End result, I called the school 30-minutes before dismissal to
confirm Lily did, in fact, pick-up her purse. No she did not
see her name on the board; just as I figured. At lunchtime,
Lily's friend told her that she had a delivery.
People establish rules thinking it will solve problems. More
time spent developing character, would bring about the
realization that rules are for fools; you know how sheep
follow without thinking [Any fool can make a rule, and every
fool will mind it. -- Henry David Thoreau].
And, really, the only thing dumb rules bring about is,
FRUSTRATION, which comes on full speed. Look at all the rules
around us because of people who, lack the character virtues,
have spoiled it for those of us who DO have virtues. I know
what some of you (rule-makers) are thinking. We need safety
rules. Yep, I get it and agree that certain things like hazmat
attire and airport security are needed. That is not what I am
referring to here.
If you know about a rule that really serves no purpose other
than to frustrate you; is that rule REALLY needed? I mean, if
more people had character traits like consideration, respect,
integrity, morals, and empathy would the rule even need to
In a world that seems to have so much despair and sorrow, I
believe it revives the soul to share good news, spend time
with good people, and make people happy. I think more of this
is needed in our culture today instead of chasing pop
culture's obsession with disturbing media.
Call me an idealistic person, and I would say you are right.
Being genuine and sincere down to the core are also character
traits I exhibit. It is the idealism and hope that helps my
happy on. And there is another person, a woman, who I would
say shares these virtues.
I know a lady from Ohio; a Lady of the Club. I have never met
her in person. Yet in many ways, I feel like I know her as a
sister. We've exchanged messages on Facebook and email. She
has even sent me "Birch/Aspen" wool gratis. Why? She said,
just because I am nice. I purchased a pattern from her this
past summer that is a copy of her grandmother's rug. She
fondly calls the pattern, Grandma Bertha's Rug. Soon, I will
begin hooking the rug that will rest near my bed and be
cherished as long as I live.
Lynne G. lives about 1,300 miles from me; near my old stomping
grounds of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Waterloo, Ontario
Canada. Both of us midwestern women who are known to be warm-
hearted, nurturing, and giving and who welcome friends like
they are family members. I can see that Lynne's character is
one who genuinely enjoys helping others, and is known for
hosting many gatherings. How do I know? My heart tells me so,
and I read her posts about the many events she shares on
The fact that we never met in person (or chatted on the phone)
may make some believe that I (or we) are too idealistic. I, of
course, would disagree. The fact is, we are two intuitive
women who trust our hearts; and yes both of us are trusting.
This dear lady of the club has boundless energy and an
attitude of "getting it done" to match. I know a few people
who could learn from Lynne, just by observing her and the
manner in which she accomplishes her tasks.
She started her Ohio rug hooking business called, "A Lady of
the Club." Her works are cute, whimsical, and adorable; a
reflection of her. She enthusiastically dyes wool to sell and
for her own rug creations. Her intention is deliberate when
assisting Lady of the Club artisans who ask questions or share
comments; Lynne is uplifting, positive, and polite.
Without social media, we would never have met. Facebook
introduced us and helps us to stay in touch with each other. I
like to think of it as being pen pals, and both of us relying
on the shared written prose and photographs about the other
who is more than a thousand miles away.
I know there is a world of uncertainty and brokenness out
there. For me, it is deeply gratifying to have meaningful
relationships and develop new friendships; even when the
relationship starts out with the help of social media.
Best wishes to Lynne and her business, A Lady of the Club. May
it be a source of happiness, prosperity, and fullfillment!
The first day of October means Halloween decorations are soon
to be pulled out from storage, dusted off, and displayed. It
is a fun time for us with the whimsical vintage decorations
dotted here and there throughout our house.
Hallow's Eve gives me an excuse to release my zaniness, get
dressed up as something unusual, bake goodies, drink spiced
apple cider while dancing to the Monster Mash song. So much
It's a busy time in our household. My dearest sprite, Lily was
born on Hallow's Eve under a blue moon (10:20 p.m.); that only
happens once every 40 years! WOW! Whatta blessing for us both!
So every October, we plan parties; there are three altogether.
Lily's girly-girl birthday celebration with just the two of
us, Lily's birthday party with her friends, and Lily's
birthday celebration actually ON Halloween where we trick-or-
treat and afterward have a birthday dinner.
There have been many costume designs throughout the years, and
this year will be no exception. She doesn't know yet what I
have brewing -- Smile.
Every year I make the costumes especially for her and it is a
part of motherhood I enjoy very much because of the creative
release. Not to mention the fun memories that come with it!
Looking for some inspiration? Martha Stewart won't disppoint.
The Art of Living is ...
Inspiration from nature's beauty, simple living, love, and peace.