Hello darlings! Happy New Year! Did you celebrate in style? Dearly Beloved and I certainly did — we had martinis in the gazebo, watched part of a movie, and went to bed well before midnight. Which is pretty much how we celebrate most nights. We’re such party animals.

Do you love or hate January? I absolutely love it. After all the joyful chaos and clutter of the holidays, I always find January to be a peaceful month, a time for renewal and fresh starts. During the last week of the year I usually do a lot of tidying up and clearing out, so that when dawn breaks on New Years Day everything feels clean and ready to begin again.

I’m sure my fondness for January is considerably influenced by the fact that the winter weather here in central Virginia is usually quite tolerable — inconvenient at worst. The temperature can drop to below freezing, but doesn’t usually stay there very long, and snow is infrequent and brief enough to be more or less an excuse for a holiday for a lot of people. And oh, gloomy weather makes me feel sooooo happy to be warm and safe, all tucked up in my cozy studio!

(TJ likes it too.)

So ……. in my last post I promised that next time I would show you two pieces I’ve recently completed. Surprise! I’ve changed my mind. Each one is going to have its own post. (Sorry, I know you’ve been simply holding your collective breath, darlings. But you’re just going to have to wait. I’m such a tease …….)

Anyway, here’s the first one. Everyone, meet Joanie:

One of my favorite Mother Goose rhymes when I was little was, ‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse. With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes.’ I’m not sure why I liked it so much. Perhaps it was the fact that when I recited it, the rhythm made me feel the way I imagined riding a real horse would feel. Anyway, the illustration in my picture book showed a little boy on his hobby horse, looking up in awe at lady riding side-saddle on a prancing white horse. Of course she was a beautiful, pampered, richly-dressed aristocrat and, being a prissy little thing, I desperately wanted to be the fine lady. (I always wanted to be the princess — the beautiful lady — in every scenario!) But when I set out to make a piece inspired by that rhyme, I decided to turn it around.

Instead of a little boy, I decided the narrator needed to be a little girl. And while she would, like me, be imagining herself as the fine lady on the white horse, she would have a much more creative interpretation of what that might mean.

Joanie isn’t about to be constrained by traditional definitions of what makes a fine lady! She’s dreaming of riding off to war and making a difference in the world!

She’s got her cock-horse and her wooden sword, and she’s swiped her mama’s soup pot for a helmet and a lid for a shield. Can’t you just hear her whoops of joy?

I’ll bet there’s a really big, scary dragon nearby. And it’s up to Joanie to rescue the prince!

So I think the rhyme ought to be re-written, don’t you? How about this: ‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse. No rings on her fingers, nor bells on her toes; this girl’s a warrior, see how she goes!’

So that’s it for today, darlings. I hope you love Joanie as much as I do. Next time, another doughty little girl who’s writing her own version of a classic children’s tale. I can’t wait to share! Ta-ta until then!