I am a gardener, textile junkie, beader and enthusiastic cook. The days are never long enough for me and I have never been able to understand where boredom comes from. That said, it is no wonder that I usually have an aching back, neck or hand, but I usually just keep on working through the inconvenience of it.
I live in Connecticut with my husband of 43 years, Arthur. Our son, Jordan, is grown with a family of his own and lives fairly nearby. We adore our beautiful daughter-in-law and love spending time with our two grandsons, who are bright, interesting and energetic little boys.
There has been a steady stream of furry creatures in our lives over these many years and the current two are fairly photogenic so you may see some pictures of them pop up from time to time. Both of them were rescues. Blue is a black Lab mix with an insatiable appetite and Buster was the kitty we thought was a stray until we found out he was pimping himself all over the neighborhood. He seems to have settled in with us on a permanent basis, which is a good thing since as we pay his vet bills. He has 7 toes on each foot, which just has to be lucky.
I’m not sure where my interest in gardening really took root, if you’ll pardon the pun. When I was a small child, we lived in a very rural part of Massachusetts, the heart of the boon-docks. We were lucky enough to live in a house on a small lake and I spent most of my early childhood outside. I vividly remember that all of the neighborhood kids played in the woods that surrounded the lake and that a lot of our time was spent constructing huts and raking pathways to create a sort of village under the pines. That is probably where I began to care about the way things looked.
When I wasn’t at home in those early summers, I was probably at Girl Scout camp. I loved making baskets and pounding copper discs into bowls, learning to lash poles and build lean-to’s and generally developing a healthy respect for the environment and a love of nature. As an adult, I am continually surprised by the skills I learned back in camp that I seem to suddenly pull out of thin air to use today. Camp was a wonderful learning place for me – very different from school and I looked forward to it every year. I started going to overnight camp at age 5 and spent my last summer at camp when I was 21 and a counselor.
I was fortunate that my mother was one of those women who had made her own way in the world and had enough confidence in me to think that I could do anything I set my mind to doing. She let me “play” with her sewing machine so I was sewing most of my own clothes by junior high school; she also let me use the typewriter, which, unfortunately, backfired because I never could learn touch typing and still use my own speedy version of hunt and peck –and I still mostly look at the keys. In short, she gave me the confidence to use tools, solve problems and be creative on many levels. Between girl Scout camp and Mom, early on I developed a can-do confidence in my own abilities.
The first house that Arthur and I bought after we were married was built in 1847 and had some established gardens, but I didn’t really start gardening in earnest until we purchased our second home, which was build in 1832 and had lots of established, though neglected, landscaping in place. It is amazing how landscaping – or the lack of it – reflects itself on any house, but especially true with antique homes. It can be the difference between just an old house or an antique treasure. My efforts were so rewarding that I just kept expanding beds, shaping the landscape and gradually gaining the confidence and knowledge to start from scratch when we built our new home six years ago.
The gardens that I tend today are the culmination of summer camp, clearing the woods by the lake, and tending other people’s visions in our first two homes – strengthened by my mom’s infusion of self -confidence and my love of crafts.
Over the years, I have been absorbed by spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting (by both hand and machine), crochet and macramé. Machine knitting has provided me with the opportunities to visit England, France, Norway, Japan, Australia and the state of Hawaii – in addition to most of the mainland US states. I’ve seen incredible places and met wonderful people and it has been an exciting journey. The two machine knit books I wrote have continued to be popular throughout the world and are available (along with two hand knit books) through Amazon.com or my web site (www.guagliumi.com).
The textile crafts led me into beading (30 years ago before it was today’s craft fad) and beading led me into some silver-smithing. I’ve dabbled in ceramics, which led me to working in cement and hypertufa and I continue to see one craft area connected to the next. Somehow, I just can’t stand not knowing how something is made or done so I continue to explore, sample and make my own way in various media.