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During these winter days in retirement we spend much of our time in the Heritage Room at the back of the house where the wood stove cranks incredible warmth. Another form of warmth is here--our lovely silver cat Silvio, always cozy with the wood box, his girls or us. True coziness is prevalent in all shapes, sizes and colors. Everywhere dolls surround us. They aren't allergic to cats! They don't eat much.

They create no laundry. They don't talk back. On occasion, the Gossip Chair holds two girls, and given the opportunity, they launch into mischief and adventure and make good stories to write and illustrate like the one about Julie and Kimberly. But the truth is these dolls of gold simply give warm pleasure to people of all ages whether they are bed pals or room decorations. Given to the young, these soft loving treasures become friends forever and value of precious things is learned and remembered.

Check out this pile! Bet you are not able to count the bodies! Seven, yes seven girls and boys, waiting for their butts to be properly stitched and their wigs to be created and attached. Some of their clothes are back from the stitchers while I am making Olivia's dress and Owen's britches.

Lynn is knitting his blue sweater. The soccer sport doll needs her shirt and team number. Lew and I totally enjoy their presence. This room happens to house my favorite sewing machine and my sewing bench my girls all covet. Hanging on the wall are my three favorite girls in the world in watercolor--portraits done by our sweet friend Doadie. Candlesticks take the place of Kara's music box collection. Pussy willows, hydrangeas, statis, and palms. There are cat cards and pictures, one bearing the message: "Around here, the CATS are in charge." Two special girls lean on one another in the rocking chair, belonging to two daughters, reminding us that they may be in Arizona but they are here to surround us with love. Really, it is the dolls who rule!

The sunshine, like the dolls, fill the room and we can catch sunsets from one window. The wigger is waiting for a job. The threads of all colors are neatly on the spool board, one bought yesterday and others a couple decades old! One wall behind the "general store" that organizes our art and stationery supplies is decorated with a vintage doll wrapping paper. It reminds me that some of our best planning happens in this room, and maybe the wheat pasting mural event in June could mimic this. Mind you, this is only one room in this fifteen room stone palace. Dolls are everywhere you look, just waiting for you to come meet them. They grace four rooms--make it five. The Promise Room! We don't like to make it too difficult to choose, but too, we don't like empty nests.

My favorite lineup is on the deacon's bench in the dining room. Right now the flower girls are gracing it, waiting for spring to come. They will have to wait, like me, for the pansies although the daffodils are beginning to peek through the snow. Another favorite presentation is the old knitting cubby over the heat vent where my favorites a particular week are featured, grouped by color or theme of their eyes. Silvio (here sharing with friend Olive) loves this spot too; it might be the dolls but it is probably the furnace. Sometimes I actually forget where I put someone and I can almost hear him or her calling, "I'm here, silly."

We are building now, both doll inventory and marketing pieces. Our invitation to be in our Connections book is out in an e-card and printed to be mailed to other customers in snail mail, along with our events card. In anticipation of our May-June Yankee Magazine ad we created an 11 by 17 color catalog sheet featuring 18 favorite designs of the last decade. And this week we received our copy of Doll Castle News, which features our history in a perspective piece, and the pattern for Baby Leona, a doll's doll I created for the spring issue of the magazine. Open Studio and state tourism meetings are on the docket just after Easter. So adventures are ahead for the doll maker, web guy/inspiration and her "kids." In between, I've brought back the sport doll (one is an auction prize for Rotary for the Green Mountain scholarship fund), and there are new creations in the works. As the little mouse says, "There's always room for one more." Come visit the silver and the gold. It reminds me of a Girl Scout song. "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." And on your visit we'll share the warmth of the Heritage Room with tea and a couple home baked cookies!

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