Friday, January 14, 2022

If Only Quilts Could Talk...

Blessed are the piecemakers. -- anonymous

I organized the upstairs linen closet this week which is only remarkable in that our closets are never very organized (or don't stay that way for long.) This job was long overdue. When I would open the door, pillows would tumble out. You get the picture. 

I took everything out and started folding the quilts, tucking them neatly back into the closet.

All of a sudden, I was not alone. I was upstairs with three loving spirits: Ed's grandmother, Mama Fitts (Eliza Bristow Fitts); my paternal grandmother, Ree (Marie Hettiger Carpenter) and my maternal grandmother, Grandmommy (Mary Blacklock Rinehart), for these were the ladies who stitched together all the quilts that our family has found comfort in over the years. Forts have been built; children have been tucked in; fragile items have been wrapped; tables have been set; picnics have been laid; and Christmas trees have been skirted. If only quilts could talk...

Every one of Mama Fitts' quilts was used as a tablecloth for this engagement party.

Sister Sherry's birthday party, featuring Grandmommy's star quilts

Four little beds: all ready for grandchildren

Each treasured quilt is a work of art. I only wish the artist had stitched her monogram in the bottom corner. But even without initials, I can tell whose hand stitched each quilt.  

Mama Fitts' quilts are all tiny postage-stamp coverlets, patchworked together from outgrown or outworn clothes. Ed can even point to a tiny blue patch made from a shirt he wore as a young child. 

Mama Fitts

Many of Mama Fitts' quilts we inherited from Ed's mom; they are the ones Ed remembers growing up with. They are well loved (i.e. well worn) and in need of some repair. Others came from his Aunt Gladys, who never had children; those quilts are in much better condition. 

The quilts made by Ree are all appliquéd, most with orange and yellows poppies on a white background, with scolloped edges. She made quilts for each of her nine grandchildren, a gift to each upon their marriage. I remember having pretty intense conversations with her about when I might get my quilt if I chose to never marry. We settled on age 35. 

Ree (with Grandpoppy)

Grandmommy's quilts are geometric and of traditional design: mostly stars and rings. But my favorite is one she made for me when I was born: two lambs appliquéd in the softest cotton and palest of blue, pink and yellow fabrics, now faded nearly to white from 65 years of use. If I look hard enough, I can just make out my name: Debra Lynn Carpenter and my birth weight: seven pounds, eleven ounces, embroidered on the border. 

Grandmommy (with me)

These quilters were born more than a century ago; none of their children or grandchildren showed any interest in the craft of quilting. But I'm encouraged. Daughter Mary has taught herself how to quilt and has made a quilt for her nephew, Norbert. Amy, Sister Sherry's daughter, is an accomplished seamstress and perhaps quilting will be in her future. And Sister Julie's twin daughters, Katie and Molly, are both amazing and accomplished artists that love hand crafting.

Norbert, happily playing on Mary's quilt

So, who knows, perhaps quilts will once again be produced by the women (or men) of our family. I hope so.

On a related note...

Last spring Ed and I traveled to Paducah, KY and while there, spent an afternoon admiring the quilts at the National Quilt Museum. If you are ever in the area, you should go. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Do You Need New Year's Resolutions? (I Do)

Woke up this morning to a new year. Thought it was Sunday, so I posted my weekly "Sunday morning" photo to Instagram. Jack texted me to remind me that it was Saturday. How embarrassing!

But that's the problem I have been having of late. Because we are still hunkered down at Farm Dover, hiding from Covid, I lose track of the days. Church is no longer part of our Sunday mornings. Ed no longer goes to Rotary on Thursdays and I no longer can visit my Dad on those days (or, sadly, any day). Ed tapes any show we want to watch, so, if we like, we can watch CBS News Sunday Morning on Tuesday at noon.  

I've lost my daily structure. My lack of routine has made my internal clock go haywire. No wonder I'm confused. 

Four years ago I declared – with much confidence – that I no longer needed New Year's Resolutions. To quote myself: "I don't feel the need to dissect my life to that extent any more. I am who I am, and am mostly happy with that person and the life she leads." 

I take that declaration back. I'm finding that I do need some new routines with a defined schedule to anchor the days of my week. So I'll be working on resolutions that help me do that. 

In the meantime, I did stumble across a resolution that resounded with me: to grow/produce at least one food consumed each day throughout the year. I can do that, I thought. Easy peasy. A low-hanging fruit kind of a resolution. 

I probably already do it, without thinking. My freezer and pantry are well-stocked with Farm Dover products. From jams and jellies to pestos and soups, from elderberry gin to walnut wine, from gallon bags of frozen blackberries to jars of honey, from frozen squash and zucchini to pumpkin puree. Surely we can make it through the winter from this stock and then the meadows take over in early spring, offering up all kinds of foraged treasures. Asparagus and strawberries almost magically appear in late spring, followed by a multitude of garden summertime produce.

It did occur to me that if I made this a resolution, I might be more intentional about feeding us from our gardens and meadows -- and feel more gratitude for each of these gifts of nature. I'm even thinking of getting an old-fashioned calendar, hanging it in my pantry, and noting on it what we eat from Farm Dover every day. It would allow me to track my success with this resolution -- and confirm the day of the week as I write it down. Let's hope it works!

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year. May you always know the day of the week!