Her hobby is hard work

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Keeping busy has turned into a full-time occupation for Nova Reed. And her work is attracting attention.

Her neighbor, Georgia Kramer, wants everyone to know about Reed and her arts and crafts creations. But Reed feels differently.

"She's a dear. She wanted to get involved when she saw me get out all my Christmas decorations and hobby projects. Georgia thought I should have a news write-up. But I don't think so. I don't do anything that hundreds of other women don't do," demurred artisan Reed. "I just want to keep busy."

"Busy" is an apt description of the twinkle-eyed octogenarian. At 85 years young, she works at her art eight hours a day, every day, and transforms her log house in Ernie's Grove with arts and crafts projects that correspond with every season and holiday.

"Hobbies are the most important thing in my life right now. When I get up in the morning, I think, 'It's going to be a great day.' I'm a morning person, and a positive thinker. I like to see the day break," she said.

Reed's husband, Ed, never wanted her to work outside the home until their children were grown. They moved from Kelso to the Snoqualmie Valley in the early 1960s, when Ed got a job in Weyerhaeuser's new plywood mill. And that's when Nova started her "hobby work," as she calls it. After his retirement, they moved into the log house in Ernie's Grove, across the street from Kramer.

At first, Reed participated in bazaars with her unique line of original arts, which include hand-sewn textiles, puppets, ornaments for every holiday and, most especially, her welding slag and concretion rock-art pictures.

Concretions are found in Northwest riverbeds. They are clay deposits that after exposure to the air form hardened globs.

"I tumble them in my rock tumbler with sand and water to remove the excess clay, but I never alter them in any way. Their natural forms and shapes are always and forever amazing to me," Reed said.

A member of the Washington Mineralogical Society, she has displayed her unique concretion designs in events around the country. "Rock hounds are just the friendliest people on earth, if you ask me," Reed said.

She works to a plan. Her annual schedule includes at least two months of sewing, two months of painting and two months of creating rock art. The rest of the year is devoted to all the other crafts she makes and dreaming up new and frequently humorous folk art concepts that carry important social messages for today's world.

"How do you like this one?" she asked. It was a small, round pillbox with a label on its top that read, "Three Piece Chicken Dinner." After popping open the top, one discovers three pieces of corn.

Then there was the "Original Jingle Bell Rock" - a smooth round rock, festooned with colorful ribbon, a jingle bell and the written promise that, "It'll rock, it'll roll and put a jingle in your soul." It was accompanied with zany suggestions on "How to Use and Enjoy your Personal Jingle Bell Rock," such as, "Next time you have a party, have your friends bring their rock and you can form your own rock group."

So, how did Reed start her artistic creations? "I was a collector from way back," she said. "We were so poor. I grew up with the idea that everything has its place and there's a place for everything. We didn't get presents for Christmas, we had to make do with what we had, like we cut catalogs up to make paper dolls."

She is surprised that she has lived this long, but Reed said she never gets bored, and she will not let anyone use the "b" word in her home.

"If my great-grandkids say, 'I'm bored, Grandma,' I just tell them, 'It's your own darned fault because there's all kinds of things to do if you just use your imagination.' In fact, I always say that I just keep my hands busy so my brain doesn't have to work so hard," she said.

How about the "c" (computer) word? "I'm a 'solitaire' person, and a crossword person, and I'm a jigsaw person. I like to play computer games on it," she said with a giggle. Reed is also penning her memoirs and would like to get them published.

* Reed's house is located at 44641 S.E. 71st St. in Ernie's Grove in Snoqualmie, or call her at (425) 888-2333.

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