There  was never a moment in my life I wasn’t aware of  the story of Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz.     In that quiet time  when the evening becomes a silvery twilight, and I was very very young,  my Mother would read to me.   It was the children’s hour.  This slender  book.  This fairy tale of witches and wizard.  This story of a brave girl and her trio of unlikely saviours became an integral part of both my childhood  and my adult years.

My own copy of the book,  The Wizard of Oz,  was long lost.   For many  years I  searched for it.    I few weeks ago I discovered a copy of the book  waiting patiently for me on a Thrift Shop shelf.  Not just any book but but one published in l931. The book cover was a little worn.  The edges of the  pages  a little foxed.  But the coloured illustrations are as bright and vivid as I remembered them.

The movie The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939.  Up until that time our Saturday afternoons movies (generally Westerns)   were in  black and white.   To sit and watch the Oz movie turn from black and white to magical, brilliant colour was an experience I will never forget.   I really was in the land of Oz.  And all those years later Oz is still very much a part of me.

Nine years old and I would settle for nothing but red shoes.    I was obsessed with the ruby slippers Dorothy wore  in the movie.   In the 1940’s children’s shoes were special occasion black patent Mary- Jane’s  or  brown leather lace ups for school.  There was very little choice in  small town in Northern Saskatchewan.  I found red leather shoes in our only department store – Eaton’s.   Unfortunately a size to large.  I was  desperate for them.  My obliging Father had a shoemaker sew  a strap on  so I wouldn’t walk out of my  beautiful red shoes.

I still love red shoes ;  loafers,  sandals, pumps,high heels, court heels,  shoes with red beads, with gold buckles,  with velvet bows.   All a version of those famous ruby slippers

Then there was the Siamese cat.   In the last scene of the Wizard movie Dorothy holds a Siamese cat.  I wanted a cat with blue eyes .   That exotic breed did not exist in our northern town.   Twenty years later my first Siamese purred his way into my heart.  In the years that followed there was always one or two of these elegant creatures ruling my home.

Dorothy’s  journey to  the Great Oz takes her through a dangerous but glorious  field of fiery red poppies.   The image remained with me through the years until finally I was able to  grew my own field of poppies in our home in the country.

Finding one’s heart desire is not the easiest of tasks.   Finding a Wizard who can grant it is even harder.  L. Frank Baum wrote fairy tales that were also very much parables.  In these modern times it appears we need them more than ever.

“Home – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all.  And  – oh Auntie Emm,  There’s no place like home.”

Indeed.  There is no place like home.







The silver scissors cut her hair so she could fly away.

The owl had found his own true love.

He said good bye to the pussy-cat

And gave her a ten pound note.

Invest it wisely, but not in bonds.

She left the pea-green boat in tears.

The Golden Maiden and the Two-Timing owl

Sailed away for year and a day.

The romance couldn’t last.

He never cut his nails.

(Greeting card on card-stock with images gleaned from old masters and other  secret sources.)


This is the time of year when we believe in magic.    We sing about a  snowman who dances  and a reindeer whose red nose  saves Christmas.    We read fairy tales to our children and watch “once upon a time” movies.

I write about a gentleman rabbit called Oswald.    I came upon him quite unexpectedly in my garden.   He was enjoying sun and taking pleasure in the day.  I apologized for disturbing his peaceful moment and turned to walk away.    He raised a paw to stay me.  Introduced himself and told me this story.

Rabbits have the stewardship of all growing things .  This is an enormous responsibility for the rabbits.  It was made especially difficult  for many refused to believe our planet was in grave danger.    And that is how the tales  of Oswald began.    The story of Oswald’s celebration of the winter solstice has been told before, but like all good fairy takes it is lovely to revisit.


THE MANNEQUIN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY . . . a fairy tale for all sewers and unorthadox fashion mavens

  • Fairy tales are wonderful to tell and retell, especially at this time of year.  It seems now more than ever the world needs to believe in magic.   I have a mannequin I call Muriel.  She has been my alto ego for over fifty years.  We are very close.  I whisper secrets to her.  I regale her with stories as I  sew  my way through life.  And so the story begins:

The heavy cream parchment envelope was addressed  to  Muriel the Mannequin.

It hung from a scarlet  silk ribbon tied to the atelier  room door.

“You appear to have mail, Muriel.”  I said with great excitement.

” Would you like me to open it for you?”  I asked my mannequin.    Muriel really didn’t receive much mail.

Muriel has been my close companion as I have threaded needles and  welded my flashing silver scissors cutting out classic suits, little black dresses, evening gowns and once a wedding dress.   She has stood  uncomplainingly  as I have pinned fabric,  draped ruffles and adjusted collars and hems on her patient form.

“It’s your invitation to the annual mannequin’s holiday party. ”  I read when I opened the envelope.

“Miss Virginia, this year I must be  outrageously gorgeous.    May I carry the sparkling purse The Tin Man sent from The Emerald city?”


“Of course, darling Muriel.  I am sure Tinny would want you to look outrageously beautiful.”

“And your feather boa.  I ‘ll fling it over my shoulders and it will drift around me when I dance?”


“Dear Muriel the feather boa is absolutely you.” I exclaimed.  ” It’s very flirty and more than a touch romantic.”

“I want to sparkle like the stars in the winter sky.  Do you think  your crystal necklace  would light up my night?”


“The crystals will shimmer and shine and light up the night.” I replied.

“Last week when you were visiting your little house in Paris you brought me back a  red silk rose.  I would like to wear that too.”


From deep within my closet of happy memories I took out a scarlet silk tunic I had worn  to a Diwali party and buttoned  it on her.  Again I reached into my closet for a sapphire silk jacket.  You can never have too much silk or two many jewel like colours when you dress outrageously beautiful.  I draped the jacket over her shoulders.  Adjusted the feather boa and pinned the single rose to my sweet Muriel.

“You are ready for your party, Muriel.”


Muriel twirled and danced around the room.  The feather boa floated.  The crystal necklace sparkled.  The Tin Man’s purse glittered.  She was outrageously beautiful.

“Miss Virginia, do you this is all too much?”

“No my wondrous Muriel.  You look perfect!”




SEND A POST CARD FROM MR. NOBODY . . . To Froggy Pad Daycare

There is an enchanted house  on the top of a very long hill.  Tall trees sway and sigh and stand guard.   The garden has a small wooden house and a small wooden bridge.   The children have delicious adventures,  play games, sing songs and listen to stories read from a magic book.  The enchanted house is called Froggy Pad.  It is a happy place where children stay while their Mummies and Daddies go to a place called Work.

Everyone is very polite, and so very well behaved at Froggy Pad.  Occasionally a hat goes missing.  The crayons are tossed out of boxes.  Milk is spilt.    Who did it?  Nobody.  It was Mr. Nobody.  A mischievous sprite.   Lately it has been very quiet at Froggy Pad.   No one looses their mittens.   Books have not gone missing.    In fact it has been absolutely boring at Froggy Pad.  That is until the other day a card came in the mail.  It was from Mr. Nobody.  He had gone walkabout.  Traveling.  Visiting friends far away.  Mr. Nobody had taken his mischief and disappeared.

The children missed his games. They were just a little sad until the post card arrive.  Now each day they watch with great anticipation for the mailman.    If you would like to play Mr. Nobody send a card to:  Froggy Pad Group Daycare,   4367 Ruth Crescent,     North Vancouver, B.C. Canada  V7K 2N1



BEL O’CCHIO   …   the beautiful eye




Listen to the music.

To the words.

Listen to Leonard Cohen celebrating 80 Years today.

“Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women

There’s a shoulder where Death comes to cry

There’s  a lobby with nine hundred windows

There’s a tree where the doves go to die

There is a piece that was torn from the morning

And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost.


There’s  a concert hall in Vienna

Where your mouth had a thousand reviews

There’s a bar where the boys have stopped talking

They’re been sentenced to death by the blues

Ah,but who is it climbs to your picture

With a garland of freshly cut tears?

Take this waltz, take this waltz

Take this waltz it’s been dying for years


There’s an attic where children are playing

Where I’ve got to lie down with you soon

In a dream of Hungarian lanterns

In the mist of some sweet afternoon


And I’ll dance with you in Vienna

I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise

The hyacinth wild on my shoulder,

My mouth on the dew of your thighs


And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook,

With the photographs there, and the moss

And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty

My cheap violin and my cross

And you’ll carry me down on your dancing

To the pools that you lift on your wrist

Oh my love, Oh my love

Take this waltz, take this waltz

It’s yours now.  It’s all that there is.

(Words and music by Leonard Cohen

 View how this Art dress was created  and the  fairy tale that describes its adventure  by Resa McConaghy  ARTGOWNS)


I’m rather fond of bunnies.

They are charming.

They are whimsical.

They make me smile.

Living in the country bunnies are frequent visitors to my garden.  At first I constructed rabbit proof fences around my flowers.   Bunny-like hopping back and forth over them created a hazard for me.   My  daughter suggested “don’t fight them, invite them into your garden and enjoy them”.  So the chicken wire fences came down, and I found I had plants enough for myself and the resident bunnies.

Remembering the book The Adventures of Peter Rabbit I always keep camomile tea in the cupboard  just in case a rabbit comes by for tea.  It hasn’t happened yet, but one must always be prepared.

Every so often I experience the thrill of lifting a large leaf and discovering the tiniest of baby bunnies quivering beneath it.  I have yet to find Peter Rabbit’s blue velvet jacket with gold buttons.


Then we come to the most important rabbit in my life  –    OSWALD, GENTLEMAN RABBIT.    This most unusual rabbit leads a fascinating and adventurous life.


Oswald, his friend Edward Bun and various other rabbits are dear to my heart.   They lead unusual lives filled with adventure, good deeds and extraordinary social gatherings.


Pop down the rabbit hole ,and join these very fine rabbits on their journey through world above and below their burrows.   You’ll find Oswald  by clicking on CHRONICLES OF OSWALD, GENTLEMAN RABBIT – in the right hand column.


Very, very early this Sunday morning.  So early the sun hadn’t colored the mountains or swept the dew from the grass Ratty sat at my  breakfast table.

Last night, cradled in my Brother’s arms, I was introduced to Ratty.  Discarded and forlorn he had been donated to a fund-raising garage sale.  He never made it to the sale table for my Brother saw him and Ratty became his.

Ratty was in need of a little first aid.  Knowing my ability to sew magic coats for rabbits Brother of Mine entrusted Ratty to me. Now he was eating corn flakes.  He wanted to go to the river.  I insisted a good breakfast is the way to start your day, no matter how early it is.

The river was calling to Ratty.  The river bank and the hopes of finding a boat.  For Ratty there is nothing so wonderful as messing about in boats.

(With great admiration and sincere apologies to Kenneth Grahame  for borrowing from one of my favorite books  “Wind in the Willows”.


My Mother was an amazing woman.  She taught me some outrageous things.  Most of her one-liners were common sense but she had a wicked wit and everything really had a point.

Things my Mother said:

Believe in fairies.  Goblins she wasn’t sure about.

Never buy a house that doesn’t have a fireplace.

Only drink champagne.  You’ll never have a hang-over

Have many picnics and always use a tablecloth.  The best picnics are moonlight picnics with plenty of champagne.

Always make your tea in a proper tea-pot.  A good cup of tea solves a lot of problems.  If that doesn’t work use your Visa.

Don’t wear your outdoor shoes in the house.  Dirty old men spit in the street.

Younger men appreciate older woman.   Older woman really appreciate  younger men.

Never wear pastel lingerie only black, red  or white.

Never ever think of wearing nude stockings.

It’s better to conceal than reveal.

If you got it flaunt it.

The Legs are the last to go.

Every woman looks better by candlelight.  Buy lots of candles.

Black is so forgiving (advice given me on my Mother’s 90th Birthday.  She wore elegant black silk suit.)

Don’t keep wire hangers in the house.  They breed in closets and you’ll NEVER get rid of them.

You can never have too many pairs of red shoes.  The higher the heels the better.  You don’t really plan to walk in them, do you?

Never let your hair go gray.

Never ever even think of getting a tattoo.

Never refuse something someone offers to give to you.   You can always find someone who needs what you don’t want.

Use only butter when making shortbread.

If you only know one dance let it be the tango.

Play the Gypsy Kings for background music.  Fado music for a romantic evening.

Frogs seldom turn into princes no matter how often you kiss them.

Never buy cheap.   Cheap is alway cheap.  It never gets better.  Good is always good even when it starts to wear.

Always have a touch of black in your room; black high heels, black stockings and so on.

Never put a hat on a table. It’s unlucky.

Have at least two unread books waiting in the wings.

Keep beer in the fridge and vodka in the freezer and champagne in a bucket of ice.

It’s difficult to make just a single pie crust recipe.  Make a double and freeze the other.

Shop high but buy low.

You can never have too much art on your walls, or books in your bookcases.

Auction sales are the best places to buy furniture, jewelery, art, and meet men.

Never wear mauve.  It makes your skin look yellow.

When you are stressed don’t take a pill – bake, but don’t eat it.

Old tarnished silver is better than no silver.

Sing your children to sleep.

Read your children to sleep.

Let your children have adventures.

Don’t tell your children what to do, especially as they grow older.

If you don’t say it you don’t have to take it back.

Don’t cry poor – ever.

If you spill salt, toss a pinch over your shoulder.

If you drop a knife a man is coming to the door.  You may have to drop a lot of knives.

Never open an umbrella inside.

Marry for love.  If you don’t and he loses his money you’ll be sorry.

If  I’ve told you  once I’ve told you a million times – don’t exaggerate

Be loyal to your family.

Be kind to yourself.

Believe in fairy tales.



Hard work never did anyone any harm. If’s not worth crying over split milk.  The early bird gets  the worm.  Live for today for tomorrow never comes.  One good turn deserves another.  The pen is mightier than the sword.  Two heads are better than one.  Youth is wasted on the young.  There’s no place like home.  No smoke without fire.  There is no time like the present.  A rolling stone gathers no moss.  Once bitten twice shy.  Knife on the floor man to the door.  Money on the floor money to the door.

My Mother was a very interesting woman.  She was extremely well read.  And, she made up her own bedtime stories for us.  We loved them so much even when we were grown up we would beg her to tell us a story.   My Mother  had a saying for almost everything.  If  she didn’t she would make one up.  Mother was very inventive.  She created fairy-tale worlds for us.  To this day I look on empty egg shells as possible fairy homes.