Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Apple House

My Aunt Nan listens to her inner voice and creates teddy bears that have a history. It wasn’t always so.

Nine years ago, she walked into the back yard and it was like a voice said, “you’re going to need a place to go when you retire.” Although she wasn’t ready to retire for a number of years, the idea of a “place to go” became a project for her husband, Harlan. “There was an old apple tree in the corner of the yard and, on that spot; he built a studio for her. Their daughter named it “The Apple House”. It has all the comforts of home…lovely to work there even when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. She is as “snug as a bug in a rug”!

In the beginning she had no idea what she was going to do in The Apple House, but she knew she was going to do something. So, she moved her forty year old sewing machine to her new studio, added some shelves and rugs and a comfy chair and foot stool and sat down to think about what to do next. She recalls my grandmother asking her what she was going to do…having absolutely no idea, she told her she was going to make critters! She was unaware that her words would come true, but not for some time. For three days my aunt sat in The Apple House feeling bad because her husband had spent the money to build her a wonderful “retirement home” and still she had no idea what to create. Finally she decided to make a child’s corduroy summer hat, just to be certain she remembered how to read a pattern. Then, she began to make designer pillows and consigned them to three shops and they started to sell.

One day she was watching a television program of a woman making a teddy bear. She thought, “I bet I could do that”!

She stopped making pillows and started making bears. The bears are cut from scratch and come in all sorts of personalities. My aunt says, “The bears tell me what their names are going to be and what they’re going to wear… whether they need a hat or a ribbon. They come with their own history and, at first; I would just tell people a story about their background. Then the bears began “telling” me poems. Now, when a new bear is ordered, it is with the understanding that a poem is included.”

News of the bears spread by word of mouth. Soon, she had orders for 18 bears and was still working full time. Her bears live all over the country now and on Halloween 2004 she retired, knowing full well what she would be doing in her cozy studio.

Bear and Poem
by Karen Dixon

When I was in the 7th grade,
I thought I’d play some music,

I had a great instructor,
His name was Mr. Usnick.

With instruments to choose from,
I knew I had my pick,

I wanted something jazzy…
Something with a little kick!

I ruled out the cello,
Couldn’t get it on the bus,

I ruled out the shiny flute,
All those holes just too much fuss.

I ruled out the guitar,
The sound just not my speed,

I ruled out the obo,
Didn’t care much for the reed.

But when I saw the French horn,
I knew I’d found my match,

It was loud,
And it was shiny…

I thought it had panache!

Unbridled joy,
I took it home,
I was anxious to get started,

And after two days practice,
My French horn and I parted.

It seems my father took offense,
He just couldn’t stand the noise,

He said he liked it better,
When I played with quieter toys.

My music plan was put on hold,
For too long it would seem,

The time has come to start again…
And this time I’ll try string!

Karen J. Dixon
December 17, 2003

This Christmas the lights in The Apple House are on most evenings, a yellow glow shines through the window on to the walk way leading to the front door and if you listen, you just might be the first to hear a new verse or two being whispered to my Aunt Nan. Don’t worry, she won’t keep it to herself…she loves to share!

Tell us about your hand made Christmas!

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