Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hurry! Hurry!

I always liked February.
Fury little creatures
Poking out of the ground
Looking for sun;
The quiet stillness in the air;
The sun shining
In spite of the cold;
Plants buried in the snow
All straining,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Quilt

The fabric in old quilts is different from that in new quilts. I don’t know if the weaving was done differently or if the fibers just get old. Maybe like my own hair they dry out and change texture. It’s sometimes hard to decide whether to combine the two when making a quilt. Should I be true to the quilt, or let impatience rule. Usually my goal was to finish a project quickly I wondered whether to just be picky and go with what I had each time.
I’ve really gotten excited about quilting. It’s something that has passed haphazardly down the generational line in our family. I have a quilt made by my grandparents and aunts, my mother, and several of my own. I have one that’s over a hundred and twenty years old made by my husband’s grandfather. I hope my children continue the love and tradition of making and collecting quilts.

But this quilt venture was different.
I drove into the driveway on 5th west. The old brick house held many memories for me. I wondered how many ghosts still roamed in the apple orchard. Grandma and Grandpa are long gone. Charlie and the sisters mostly, too. Only Lane and her husband live on the other side of town. The house was being torn down, sold to the Medical Center across the street for doctor’s offices.
The key was the old fashioned one I remembered from childhood. People, the cousins and grandchildren, had been through the house looking for treasures and memories from their own childhood. I remembered the little bedroom down stairs, next to the old coal bin. My mother and her three sisters shared it. They had one cupboard with four drawers, one for each of them. It had a place to hang their two dresses each; a winter one and a summer one. It makes my life look so cluttered in comparison.
Upstairs was the tiny bathroom my grandfather built. The girls were so excited when they no longer had to trot out to the back garden in the middle of the night. My grandfather locked the door at ten o’clock and once or twice Mom and her cousin had to sneak into the house through the bathroom window.

In my mind I could see the laundry that Grandma use to hang on the clotheslines between the apple trees, the sheets billowing in the breeze. The lines were also used to hang the rugs on to be beaten clean and the quilts to air on a warm sunny day.

In the kitchen the old range that had replaced my grandmothers black wood-burning cook stove, was cold and lonely looking. It seemed like I could still smell the pot roast with carrots and potatoes, fresh home made bread, and my favorite, chicken soup with hand made noodles.

I found the box in the closet of my grandmother’s dark bedroom. I remember being frightened of going into that room. Now I could see it was the dark wallpaper and furniture that gave it an oppressive air, not my sweet grandmother. How had everyone missed this treasure, I wondered. Inside a cabinet wrapped in an old white cotton sheet were the quilt blocks. There were twelve of them in the pineapple flower design. Grandmother had loved it when Bella, the oldest had taken them all to Hawaii, and wanted to make a quilt to remember the trip. They were white and the colorful fabrics of the 60’s. I stroked the fabric lovingly, sensing the soft powdery feeling of my grandmother’s cheeks in the vintage fabric. How should I finish this quilt, I wondered. I wanted to find vintage fabric to keep the integrity of the quilt this time.

Taking one last fond look around the house, I walked out to the large front porch. My brothers use to sit out on the wall surrounding the porch playing an identification game. “I see a 1952 Ford” said Jay, “There’s a 55 Chevy” jumped in Dale.“ “A 58 Pontiac”! Not wanting to be left out my sister and I chimed in. “I see a red one.”

Off to the right near the irrigation ditch was an old Jonathan apple tree. Many times Ann and I crawled up in that tree and ate the green apples, watching the ants climbing the branches and the bees darting through the leaves. Childhood! Sometimes I miss it.
As I drove home I thought about the quilt blocks I had found. Where would I get Vintage fabric to finish my treasure?

Looking on my computer for vintage fabric I happened on an EBay website. This might work. Surely someone had old fabric to sell. I had to laugh when I saw some of the fabric. This “vintage” fabric looked familiar. I had used some just like that to sew clothing in my college classes. I even still had some in my “fabric stash” (which every quilter collects.) How had I forgotten that? Well for one thing I never thought of myself as Vintage. I was off to the attic to explore.

For the next few days I sorted and chose, washed and cut. I was ready. I laid the blocks on the floor to arrange them. Usually with twelve blocks I would do three rows of four blocks, but this didn’t show the pineapple flower. Eventually I decided on an arrangement of two rows of six blocks, which made a nice table runner. I added a purple border and began to quilt. The ghosts of my grandmother and her children watched over my shoulder as I sewed. I could hear them laughing about the funny things they did on that trip, the good time they had.

I wrapped the finished quilt, carefully folding the ends in and mailed it to my niece Leigh. She would be the holder of my grandmother’s treasure. As I looked slowly around, I wondered if I would complete another circle. Would I return to my roots-- an apple orchard?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year

A car hit a motorcyclist trapping him under the car, which was burning. A group of passerby’s rushed to his rescue, tipping the car up while others pulled him out.

A driver lost control and went into a river. Many observers jumped into the icy river in Logan Utah to rescue the children trapped inside.

Just before Christmas there was a woman in West Jordan, Utah, who was pinned under a Utah transit bus. There was a news item about a young police officer that crawled under the bus to comfort her while rescue workers were trying to extract her. He held her hand, giving what comfort he could.

The reporter, in the Salt Lake tribune, wrote:
“We love such stories, because they reinforce that we are possessed of better angels who may be summoned in times of crisis. They offer a portrait of human nature that is not cynical. In short, they remind us that we are capable of great acts of charity.
The story of Officer Peck resonated in part because it occurred during this season of charity; a timely reminder that all of us — at any time — may find ourselves dependent upon the rest of us.
If there is single lesson to be embraced in the story of Officer Peck, it is this: Acts of charity need not be reserved to cases of emergency, or to a season of the year. Whenever we offer help to those in need, in the form of actions large or small, by donating money or needed items, when we give of our time to assist or volunteer, when we choose to help instead of walk away, we have summoned the same angels that led a police officer, on a cold December morning, to reach into the darkness to hold the hand of a stranger.”

Have you ever had the opportunity to offer that small comfort? I remember sitting on an airplane reading, waiting to take off on a flight to New Mexico. The woman sitting in the window seat (the center seat was vacant) was taking her first trip on an airplane. Without saying a word I reached over and took her hand and held it till we landed. Another time a sister, recently widowed, sitting next to me in church started weeping when a hymn touched her. We wept together holding hands through the whole hymn.
In the January 2012 Ensign, President Thomas S. Monson challenged us to undertake a “personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness and blessings. Just as we learned the ABC’in school, I offer my own ABCs to help us all gain the abundant life.” He goes on to say,
A refers to attitude The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. (William James A Toolbox for Humanity, 2003)”
B is for Believe—in yourself. “Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your potential.
C is for Challenges with Courage. “Have the determination to make the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenge that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’”
Happy New Year! Let’s make it a Great One!