Friday, November 22, 2013


Don't peek yet, Jon!

All the pieces have been carved and are ready to be sanded and painted. Yes, I nicked my fingers and three or four have blood on them, Well sanding and paint will take care of that. (It is rather amazing that when the doctor tries to get blood for a test, it takes three or four jabs to find any and a tiny little nick with the point of the stencil knife causes a flood)

All my life I have had a problem with numbers. For some reason, I cannot count past ten ... then I run out of fingers. I can't make phone calls because I get the numbers all out of order. The only way I can remember my own number is by the sentence it makes in Japanese. 

When I was in school, we learned about big numbers by adding small ones. At that time, we began with the ones column on the right and added to the left. For some reason I thought all big numbers were written right to left. When the teacher dictated numbers for a math test, I had to wait to hear the whole number before writing it down, and by then she was on the next number. Well, I always flunked those math tests anyway because even two-figure numbers got all mixed up in arrangement.

As a result, I didn't take any math past junior high. When I was accepted at college, I was told that I would have to make up credits missing because of all the college courses I did not take. Thus, every semester, besides the required college courses, I was burdened with taking make-up courses for those classes I had missed in High School, paying for extra credits, and running to those extra classes. 

By the end of my Junior year, I had made up all the classes but MATH. Well, If I couldn't do high school math, how was I ever going to take a college math course and survive? Luckily, I worked each summer at a girl's camp and one of the counselors was a high school math teacher. We worked out a deal that I would do geometry, every-other-problem in the book, and at the end of the summer, I would go in and take all the year's tests. 

At the end of the summer, as I was preparing to take the tests, my father came by as I was sitting at the dining room table, looked over my shoulder and said, "Why are you writing your numbers like that"? "Like what"?, I asked. "From right to left. You should be writing them from left to right". SO, at the ripe old age of nineteen, I am going to have to straighten up and fly right!

Well, I passed the tests and, as a result, I didn't have to make up any more courses during my senior year. . .  but did I ever learn how to do anything with numbers? Not at all. I have no confidence using numbers. Every time I count something I come up with a different number, and I am always re-counting.

OK, so how did I goof up? I bought three packs of hooks, Each pack was supposed to have 12 hooks and eyes. I took two packs and picked out the hooks. Then I took the third pack and took out one hook. That should be twenty five, right? I cut 25 little felt circles and arranged them on the tree and began sewing them on, leaving enough space for the decorations. Then I got out the wooden pieces and began to carve them. At the end of each day I counted what I had done and checked the ones that were left. Yep, twenty five. 

At last, all are carved and ready for sanding and painting. Just to check for size and arrangement, I lay them out on the ironing board... but what is this? One hook left empty! I count the ornaments. Yes, there are twenty five. Then I count the hooks ... and count the hooks again, and again. OOPS! where did that extra hook come from. Then I count the ornaments one more time. Oh no, I didn't make enough. But, how can that be? I count the hooks again. Whew, I  do NOT have too many and will not have to re-sew the hooks, but where is the missing ornament? 

Panic. I can't even remember at this point which one is missing.
But ... Whew, there is is, among the chips. 

No wonder I have come to count things over and over and over again. Sometimes, if you try long enough, you get the results you want. 

On to sanding and painting!


  1. Julie, that is a real treasure, and I do hope it is kept for may generations, hand whittled, beautiful stitchery, 25 numbers, and the colours. lovely all over. You are a true artist in so many ways. Greetings from Jean

  2. Having family from Arkansas (hillbilly's) we always joke about taking our shoes off so that we can count to 20. Gee, the most kids born into one family was 18, so, with 2 parents, no one had to count higher than that. I've always struggled with math. My kids gave up asking me for help, way back in early elementary school. Maybe it has something to do with left handed tendencies (I should have been a lefty, but, my father forced me to be a righty, now I can do many things with either hand).

  3. I showed David this advent calendar and he said "that is amazing- that is really cool!" You are so talented and creative, despite any troubles with numbers!

  4. looking at the wonderful work you constantly produce .. you are doing maths all the time x I think far too much emphasis is put on maths that we never use once we leave school x just keep doing it your way .. and let the rest go hang xx

  5. That is amazing that no one discovered that you were writing numbers that way. I have trouble with transposing numbers - instead of 90 I will write 09. That is not helpful in my profession as I was a bookkeeper - and owned my own company for 18 years. By that time though, computers did all the calculations. I knew that if something was off I could divide by 9 and if it came out even then it was a transposing someplace.

    I love the little carvings - I would love to see them close up. What a lovely project - and you carved so fast - I'd love to be able to carve.

  6. I LOVE your calendar and carving skills!! I have always loved numbers and been good at math but that doesn't help me at all sometimes. I constantly count and re-count and measure and re-measure - because I STILL come up short more often than I should. Maybe it's something in the air - ;))

  7. Your carving is amazing and join the crowd of math haters, lol.
    I cannot do math, cannot do problems and have no idea what I am doing, but when I took microbiology in college, I had no problem. I guess I have to have a reason to use it, lol.


  8. So you are a fellow member of the Odd Numbers Club! It is nice to know I am in good company!!!
    On the other hand you are so skilful at quilting, singing, carving and you have green fingers. The calendar is just beautiful and there is a little bit of love in every stitched number, every counted hook and every carved ornament.

  9. Whew, that was a close one! I love what you've done so far, you're very talented!

  10. It is fascinating to see the work you are doing with these little carved pieces. You have a wonderful talent.

  11. Julie my Bachelor's degree is in math - I love it and it loves me! But I have encountered others who feel just as you do, that it doesn't make sense and never will. Some of our brains just work differently. You actually use math when you graph your quilts. But I have very little color sense and have to rely on others to help me pick fabric or buy kits. :( I love your Advent pieces! blessings, marlene

  12. I love your math story because I HAVE THE EXACT SAME PROBLEM! I tire my friends out by explaining that I think I have math dyslexia or something (never been diagnosed). I still count on my fingers. I always have come up with a different number. I inevitably get telephone numbers, passwords, addresses, time schedules wrong. I'm good with names though...