My Girl, Your Boy

I was inspired to write the story below back in 1987. The images that flooded my mind as I pushed my baby daughter on a swing in the park were too vivid not to be developed into a short essay once I got home.

Over the years, my thoughts would return every so often to this story I’d written. I wondered about the very special boy who would someday steal my daughter’s heart. I would think about his mom, as well—and I just knew that she loved him as deeply as I love my girl. 

Yesterday, as I scrolled through my files, I stumbled upon “My Girl, Your Boy” again. And guess what? My story has become reality. That wonderful boy married my beautiful girl, and now, his mom and I are overjoyed to share twin grandbabies—a little boy and a little girl. 

My story has come full circle.

MY GIRL, YOUR BOY

I am pushing my baby girl in a swing at the park when you first enter my mind.

It’s a perfect spring day: watercolor blue sky, warbling Robins, a breeze as soft as a whisper carrying a hint of new blooms, mown grass, clean wash on the line. 

The park unfolds at the foot of our street, just a few steps from our front door. The ancient swing set, anchored between thick iron chains, has wide leather seats that have been worn smooth from use over the years. There is also a tiny basket seat, tailor-made for babies. This park is perfect for us.

My seven-month-old girl is strapped into the basket seat. This is her first time on a swing and her feelings are evident—downy head flung back, mouth gaping open in a grin that bares two tiny white crescents breaking through the top gum. Her dimpled, sausage-roll legs jerk about and she squeals with each gentle push that I give her. The purity of her joy causes my heart rise into my throat. Out of the blue, I think of you.

Perhaps you, too, are in a park right at this moment, as your mother pushes you on a swing… or chases behind you as you creep with surprising stealth through the grass. I can feel you. I also know how helplessly, hopelessly, heels-over-head-over-heels in love your mom is with you as her eyes capture these fleeting images and preserve them in her mind: the curve of your elbows, the creases behind your knees, your round eyes sparkling with mischief as you pause, mid-crawl, to glance back at her over your shoulder.

I hope that she will teach you all the things that are truly important: please and thank you, the value of honesty, respect for others, respect for yourself. I hope she will prepare her boy just as I am preparing my girl.

In my mind, I reach out to her and we share a smile. I know that someday, she and I will laugh joyfully together across a kitchen table set for tea, as we bounce the grandchildren we share on our knees. I know that you, baby boy, and my baby girl are destined to share a wonderful life together, pushing park swings of your own.

You’ve GOT to read “What Really Happened in Wuhan”

I urge every person on the planet who has had their life turned upside down over the past two years to read this new book by award-winning investigative journalist, Sharri Markson. 

The storytelling is captivating as Ms. Markson lays bare the down and dirty facts in an extremely well-researched exposé that presents the full extent of the cover-ups and sheer incompetence on so many levels that served to wreak irreversible havoc on our world and all of our lives.

The Covid 19 pandemic was no accident. 

The Chinese communist party, and their ruling president, is no less wicked than Hitler and his Nazi party was—in this day and age of advanced technology, they are far more dangerous than any of us can begin to realize. 

And our top-level government officials who we trust to make the crucial decisions that impact our lives have failed us miserably in so many ways.

If you have ever wondered what the truth is behind the hell that you and the rest of the world have endured since this pandemic exploded into our lives, read this book

It is the duty of every one of us to be better educated about the life-altering decisions that are made for us by powerful people who are far more concerned about protecting their egos and their retention of power than the interests of the human beings dependent on them.

You can borrow the book at your public library or purchase it online. I listened to the audio book, read by the author, and very much enjoyed listening to it as I went for long walks.

Below is the publisher’s description:

The origins of Covid-19 are shrouded in mystery. Scientists and government officials insisted, for a year and a half, that the virus had a natural origin, ridiculing anyone who dared contradict this view. Tech giants swept the internet, censoring and silencing debate in the most extreme fashion. Yet it is undeniable that a secretive facility in Wuhan was immersed in genetically manipulating bat-coronaviruses in perilous experiments. And as soon as the news of an outbreak in Wuhan leaked, the Chinese military took control and gagged all laboratory insiders. 

Part-thriller, part-expose, What Really Happened in Wuhan is a ground-breaking investigation from leading journalist Sharri Markson into the origins of Covid-19, the cover-ups, the conspiracies and the classified research. It features never-before-seen primary documents exposing China’s concealment of the virus, fresh interviews with whistleblower doctors in Wuhan and crucial eyewitness accounts that dismantle what we thought we knew about when the outbreak hit.

With unprecedented access to Washington insiders, Markson takes you inside the White House, with senior Trump lieutenants revealing first-hand accounts of fiery Oval Office clashes and new stories of compromised government advisors and censored scientists.

Bravely reported and chillingly laid out, Markson brings to light the stories of the pandemic from the people on the ground: the scientists and national security officials who raised uncomfortable truths and were labelled conspiracy theorists, until government agencies began to suspect they might have been right all along. These brave individuals persisted through bruising battles and played a crucial role in investigating the origins of Covid-19 to finally, in this book, bring us closer to the truth of what really happened in Wuhan.

Award-winning journalist, Sharri Markson is the Investigations Editor at The Australian and host of prime-time show Sharri on Sky News Australia.

Come visit me on Instagram

I’ve been very negligent with posting regularly over the past several months. I guess I’ve just been afflicted with summer laziness.

I finished a whole slew of crafty projects, though, so I plan to share them with you in the very near future.

I recently began posting photographs on Instagram and have discovered it to be a fun way to share my pics, so I invite you to come and take a look! Simply click on the link below, or copy and paste the link into your browser, which will take you directly to my Instagram page. Then just click on “Follow” and you’re good to go—you’ll be able to view photos from now on whenever I post them:

https://www.instagram.com/donnamarrin/

Until then, here are a few pics from my recent day at the Toronto Zoo…

Sleepy skunk
Snoozing lions
Prancing peacock
Hungry rhino
Lovely tiger
Baby giraffe
Colourful bird
Orangutang fishing with a tool

Finishing a creative project feels SO gratifying

In these trying times, there’s absolutely nothing better for the soul than having one or more beloved hobbies to lean on. When you have a creative passion to turn to, you reap a wealth of healthy benefits:

  • Working toward a goal that you’re passionate about gives you a sense of purpose, which makes you feel happy and content.
  • Working with your hands as you immerse yourself in a project of your choosing is beyond relaxing. It’s the next best thing to meditation!
  • When you complete a project, you feel new stirrings of excitement as you think about the next.
  • Seeking out and experimenting with fresh ideas and new challenges takes you on a learning journey that never ends—your mind is ever expanding onto new pathways to discovery.
  • Finishing a project gives you a deep feeling of accomplishment. It’s a confidence-builder.
  • You are never bored. Your hobby is always there, waiting for you to dive in.
  • You learn more about yourself. Hobbies help you to explore and discover new skills, as well as unearth hidden talents that you may never have realized you had. 
  • It’s this simple: not only is it FUN to create new things, the act of doing so fills you with pure JOY!

With that said, here are some projects I’ve finished over the past few months. I still have to write out the patterns for some of them, which I’ll post for you at a later date.

Happy hobbying to you!

Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap and booties for a special new baby
Little drawstring bag
Easter bunny headband
Lemon meringue slouchy hat
Grey & cream pocket scarf
Blue jeans blue crocheted hippie skirt
Teal tie top
Rose lace top
Pen & ink doodle drawing: The most priceless things are wild and free
Pen & ink doodle drawing: You already have what you’re looking for

Easy Crocheted Chunky Hoodie Cowl

Why fiddle around with a hat and a scarf when you can wrap up in an all-in-one hoodie cowl! This super-warm accessory is handy to have for outdoor winter walks. Best of all, it’s easy enough for a beginning crocheter to make.

Materials
2 balls Bernat Roving yarn (100 g/3.5 oz/109 m/120 yds), Colour: Lichen / 10 mm hook / 3 medium-sized buttons to blend with yarn colour / Finished piece is 38” L x 11” W before blocking or finishing.

Instructions
Ch 48

Row 1: (sc, hdc, dc) in third ch from hook; *skip next 2 chs; (sc, hdc, dc) in next ch; repeat from * to last 3 chs; sk next 2 chs, hdc in last ch, turn.

Row 2: ch 2; *(sc, hdc, dc) in next dc; repeat from * to end; hdc in top of turning ch-2, turn.

Repeat Row 2 until piece is approx. 11” deep.Finishing: Block first, then fold in half lengthwise and seam approx. 10” down from fold. Sew on 3 buttons (spaced as shown) and use spaces between stitches to fasten over buttons.

Make a Mug Hug!

This is an ideal project for using up scrap yarn! These Mug Hugs make great gifts for coffee/tea lovers, and they’re useful for protecting hands from a hot cup. So easy to make—they’re perfect for beginner crocheters.

Hook: 6 mm hook for ceramic coffee mug; 5 mm hook for disposable takeout coffee cup
Yarn: Your yarn of choice (can use either worsted weight or Bernat handicrafter cotton)
Other: Yarn needle, scissors

Larger Mug Hug for a ceramic mug: 
Ch 32.

Row 1: hdc in third ch from hook and in each across, turn.

Row 2: ch 1, hdc in same space and in each across, turn.

Repeat Row 2 until piece is approximately 3.5” deep.

Using your yarn needle, sew short sides together for about ½” from the top and bottom, leaving approximately a 2-1/2” opening for the mug handle. Can just leave this part open, or sew a small button at one edge of the handle opening, and use one of the spaces on the opposite side as the button hole (as shown in photo). 

Smaller Mug Hug to fit disposable cup
Ch 25, slip stitch into first chain to make a ring, taking care not to twist.

Round 1: sc in each chain around, slip stitch into first sc to join.

Round 2-4: ch 3, dc in each sc around, slip stitch into top of ch-3 to join.

Round 5: sc in each dc around, slip stitch into first sc to join. Fasten off and weave in end.

Embellish using your favourite pattern of crocheted flowers, hearts or any other applique-type embellishment. Or use felt embellishments. Or use embroidery—the sky’s the limit!

Looking for a craft to work on that’s uncomplicated, totally relaxing, and highly rewarding?

You’ll find all of that and more with the fun craft of cross-stitch.

The art of cross-stitch was so popular when I was a young mother in my 20s. I remember getting hooked on it as a relaxing way of spending “me” time while my toddler napped in the afternoon. 

This was a lot of fun to work on, with all the different colours.

It was easy to learn, simple to do, and always produced the most rewarding results. A finished cross-stitch looks a lot like a painting—but instead of paint, you use different colours of embroidery floss (thread) and follow the very clear pattern instructions by simply stitching X’s onto the little squares in the cloth.

For all the gardeners out there!

Over the years, my love affair with cross-stitch fell by the wayside as I experimented with other pursuits such as quilting and sewing, painting and drawing, and crochet. But every time I caught sight of one of my finished cross-stitch pieces, I felt a strong yearning to get back to it. 

This comes out of storage every Christmas.

And didn’t it take a pandemic to reset my focus on cross-stitch again after all these years! I have some storage bins filled with cross-stitch supplies that I’d had been keeping in the cellar for the past 15+ years. As I sorted through them, I rediscovered a beautiful kit that I’d bought eons ago, that I’d put away to work on “someday.” 

Still have to frame this one. Would look lovely in a child’s bedroom.

Well, “someday” had finally arrived. 

Last summer every time we went out on our boat for the day, I took my cross-stitch project along. Talk about relaxing. Cross-stitching while lounging in the middle of a lake, listening to the gentle sounds of water lapping against the side of your boat is stress relief on steroids!

This takes centre stage on my fireplace mantel.

By September, I had completed the adorable “Beach Babies.” Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of being out on my boat during the summer of 2020—it’s proof that beautiful things can still come out of the bleakest of times.  

“Beach Babies”, summer of 2020

Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery, practiced as far back as the middle ages. Here’s a link with some fun facts about the art of cross-stitch: https://crossstitchacademy.com/fun-facts-history-of-cross-stitching/

Loved working on “The Toy Box”.

I would love to see cross-stitch taught in elementary schools to both boys and girls—needlework skills offer so many benefits to kids: improved fine motor skills, patience, self-confidence, improved math skills, and stoking imagination and creativity, to name a few.

As a writer and editor by trade, I couldn’t pass this one up!

Think you might want to learn how to cross-stitch? You’ll find lots of instruction on the web, but here’s a good YouTube instructional video for beginners offered by Bucilla, a popular needlework supply manufacturer:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kiuy4ZwIDI

I made this cross-stitch into a cushion for my dad for Father’s Day. He loved it.

It’s easy to find cross-stitch supplies online at your local craft store sites. Beginners can buy a kit that contains everything you need: the pattern, Aida cloth, floss, and cross-stitch needle. 

Worked on this while sitting in the stands during my daughter’s baseball games.

Try it. I guarantee you’ll love it!

This is a tribute to my good buddy, Otis.

Here are some of my finished projects from the past. I have good memories of working on every one of them.

Alone

Immobile, 
I stand watch 
over my surroundings. 

My eyes never close.
My stance never changes. 
I am always aware. 

I cannot speak, yet I can hear and see. 
I cannot touch, yet I can feel.

I yearn to scream, 
to reach out, 
to be heard. 

I yearn in vain, 
for I will never be free of 
the binds that confine me 
to this fate.

I long to touch, 
to trail a fingertip along 
the surface of a leaf 
on the plant that sits beside me. 
So delicate in appearance, yet 
such strength, 
such tenacity in its growth. 
I have memorized 
the intricate web of veins 
etched into each leaf, 
the curling vines, 
the blend of jade and olive 
stippled with shadows and light. 

I feel the powerful resonance of your music 
as it seeps its way 
into my being. 
I want to move, to sway, to leap 
with the vibrations.

I smell the enticing aromas 
of your kitchen;
they drift and curl around me—
such agonizing wisps 
of temptation. 
I watch you partake. 
My hunger 
is my anguish.

So weary am I of observing, 
of studying, 
of longing. 

How eager I am to live as you do, 
to experience all 
that I watch you take 
for granted.

Yet, remain here I will, 
for as long as you will have me; 
standing still and silent 
until the day you grow tired of me,
and throw me 
to my final death.

Can you see the tears in my eyes? 
Of course not, 
for I cannot cry. 

I am just an ornament—
a decorative figure to
embellish your mantle.

As you pause to study me, 
to admire me, 
I invite you to look a little closer. 

Try to see the invisible tears 
of one who lives 
dormant and lonely.

The Halstead Shawl…Like a warm hug

This is a good choice for beginners who have mastered the basic stitches and now want to expand their skills by trying their hand at making a shawl. The entire shawl is made with simple double crochet stitches, and the pattern is very easy to follow. 

Get the free pattern at the Berroco website
You can find the pattern at the Berroco yarn website (along with lots of other free crochet and knit patterns). Here’s the link: https://www.berroco.com/patterns/halstead

To make the shawl pictured, I used:
– 2 balls Red Heart super saver Stripes (5 oz/141 g/236 yds/215 m) Colour: Sutherland Stripe
– 1 ball denim blue yarn for edging (I just matched a blue yarn I already had on my shelves to the shade of blue that was in the Stripes yarn—feel free to use any colour of preference that will match one of the colours in the striping)
– 6 mm hook 

With the Red Heart yarn, my shawl is more of a chunky look, and I’ll use it as a warm shawl/scarf under my coat. I would definitely like to try the same pattern again with a fine, lace-weight yarn that would give it more of a slinky/drapey appearance—more of a dressy result. The type of yarn that you use makes a big difference to the look you’re trying to achieve.

Refashioned Blue Jeans… My salute to late 60s/early 70s Hippie Fashion

I believe in trying to recycle rather than just trashing—especially when it comes to a lovingly worn and torn pair of blue jeans. After spending some time thinking about what to do with them, I came up with the idea to fashion them into a tribute to the late 60s/early 70s—transforming them into a replica of hippie style from back in the day.

As a child of the 60s and 70s, what better way to memorialize a simpler time—a time when we didn’t need social media to communicate with each other, when TV shows and movies were truly entertaining, when some of the hands-down best music in history was produced.

If you grew up during the 60s/70s, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Here’s a step-by-step pictorial of how I transformed an old pair of denims.

I saw this picture in a fabric applique book and thought it would be perfect for covering up the big hole just above the knee. From there, a leafy vine growing up toward the pocket would cover up a couple more tears.

I drew a rough sketch of what I wanted to achieve, then I chose the colours of fabric that I wanted to use. I also turned the pants to the wrong side, used some iron-on patching fabric to strengthen where I would be appliqueing over the holes, then turned them back out to the right side.

Using the templates in the book, I cut out the flower parts and leaves, and pinned them into position, starting with the flower that would cover up the largest hole on the right leg. 

Then I began placement on the left leg. I used lace edging to make the vine. I also found a piece of fabric I had with a similar colour of floral print on it, so I cut those flowers out and incorporated them. When I work on a project, I might start out following a set pattern, but I rarely stick with it—I like to shake things up as the project moves along, so I can never really predict how something will turn out. I guess that’s my way of challenging myself. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it absolutely tanks. It’s all a learning experience.

I used one of the flower cutouts from the printed fabric to decorate a front pocket.

Once each piece was pinned down, I used white thread to temporarily baste everything into place.

Then I used thread that matched the flowers and leaves to hand sew each piece down permanently, using a blanket stitch. Talk about time-intensive! It wasn’t long before I got fed up with the hand sewing (I am a VERY impatient person), so I pulled apart the leg seam along the inside of each leg, and used the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to sew the flowers and leaves down. A much quicker choice.

Once the main parts were secure, I began to embellish using hand-stitching, starting with the left leg. I used copper metallic thread (in an embroidery chain stitch) to embellish certain flowers and leaves. The flower on the pocket was one. It’s hard to really see it in the picture, but it adds a pretty glitter around each petal.

I also used some old broken jewelry as embellishments. I used one brooch as a flower center, hand-stitching it on securely. (I knew I’d kept that in my junk cupboard for a reason!)

I used another old brooch as a leaf on the vine, again, hand-stitching it onto the jeans securely. That brooch once belonged to somebody who was special to me, so I was glad I could incorporate it into the design.

Of course, I can’t have a vine without a ladybug!

Or a beautiful butterfly.

Next, I began on the right leg, using metallic thread to stitch around the berries. I added a sparkly button too—because, why not?

Another broken brooch used as a flower center (instead of landfill).

Once I’d finished both legs, I decided that the back pocket couldn’t remain bare. So I stitched on a ribbon rose, then decided to incorporate a saying in hand embroidery. First, I sketched out the saying on tissue paper, then I pinned the tissue paper into place on the pocket. (I wanted to transfer the saying onto the pocket using a transfer pen and an iron, but my transfer pen had run out of ink.) Instead, I just stitched over top of the paper, then picked the paper off afterward. More of a hassle, but works just as well. (Re the saying I chose: everything I make is perfectly imperfect… but, hey, it’s perfect enough for me!)

And it worked! Using a chain stitch and embroidery floss, I stitched over it a couple of times, and it turned out perfect enough for me.

Last, I went back to my sewing machine, turned the pants inside out, and re-stitched the inside seams together. Voila! Bring on the Pink Floyd… Deep Purple… Led Zeppelin… 

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