Sunday, May 27, 2012

From Forgetting to Remembering

Memory is getting to be something I no longer take for granted as I scratch my head and wonder where I put my favorite pincushion pattern, used too often to get it back to the photo box marked Pincushions. And people wonder why I am so organized? It has become a way of compensating for my shortcomings of having memory difficulties. And in turn my shortcomings have made me realize my increasing dependence in a world that values independence. This isn’t as bad as it sounds actually.

 With my dependence comes frustration which in turn humbles me and with acquired humility comes gratitude.  Gratitude is about being thankful to and for others and I am realizing more and more that none of us are really that self-reliant.  We all are standing with the support of others: our parents, teachers, friends, relatives and the community in which we live.  So many are responsible for bringing us food, fuel, energy, shelter, needed commodities, protection and even the choices we have in meeting our own personal spiritual needs.

On Memorial Day, our local small-town parade acts to remind us to celebrate the beautiful network of the community that surrounds and supports each of us.
How fitting that the parade ends in the cemetery to commemorate and remember those upon whose shoulders we stand.  The qualities of our present life with all of the precious freedoms we enjoy were purchased with a price.

The price of lives that came before us investing in the values and freedoms that we enjoy today.  It is important that we take time to remember what is too easily forgotten!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

….”And I thought it was just me”…

On Saturday, I sat down at my demo table and spread out my penny rug lap throw, and shortly thereafter, chairs were pulled up beside me and there it was, a clutch of women talking and sharing stories of their crafts.  There was a common thread among us…passion for creating and hopping from one medium to the next to do it, along with different stories of our life’s journeys, many taking us far from the homes and mothers that we hold dear.  Dreams and griefs exposed with much laughter for we all seemed to connect for a moment in this refreshing pause.

The hostess of this sales event, Zaidee was no less than a perfect hostess and seeing the spirit of the event unfold she put her tea pot on, and there it was the joy of a tea-party “communion”.  My “little house image of tea, crafts and conversation uniting like-minded women” was spontaneously happening. I also had images of The Red Tent where a woman-to-woman-meeting-of-the-minds is truly a gathering of mother-sister spirits, and is a special event of extraordinary bonding.

Reference was made to what I thought was just my motto: “Why buy it when I can just make it”!?  Apparently I was not the only one to embrace this philosophy and we all broke into uproarious laughter.

Then a special secret was divulged as to how to hide sewing messes “behind a sofa” but came with the warning of the problem of downsizing to a smaller couch!  This too brought laughter and the issue that many of us struggle with, living amongst our craft messes.

I admitted that I often struggle with selling myself and my work, which I sometimes feel is better displayed and sold by someone else.  Another artist responded with reflection and thought, and I realize what she said hits home. We are sometimes too close to our work to really see it. Time and distance helps us to fully value our talent. As artists, we need to appreciate the unique gift of our own self in our process and work, and while this seems like a simple concept, it will remain a process and a goal to work towards.

Those who create, have so much in common with each other…and in this case, our brief coming together was no accident.  It was just what I needed to dispel the notion of thinking that “it is just me”.  We do indeed have common minds and hearts and how sweet it is to connect and receive affirmation from one another.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

One Mother’s Day a few years ago, our priest spoke about mothers.  His words were lovely, but my brain doesn’t seem to hold words as much as emotions, and he had us do a little exercise that I have never forgotten.  He had us all shut our eyes and for a moment listen for our mother’s voice.  He was right, I could still hear her voice, though she had been gone a few years at the time.  Needless to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the church!!

Can’t we all still hear our mother’s voice…sometimes nagging, sometimes comforting?  No matter how we hear her, we carry our mother in our minds and hearts.

My mother is with me now, more than ever….her voice, her sayings, her advice, and her ways.  I was blessed with a mother that taught me so much, including her love for needlework, and took the time to teach me the basics of sewing, knitting, crocheting and other crafts.  She also gave me the confidence to make what I couldn’t afford to buy, and how to make something pretty out of very little.

I learned her lessons well…so well, in fact that I will never forget when I walked in the door with scraps of carpet.  I couldn’t afford a rug for my dorm room in college and so I got free carpet scraps, some string, big circular needles and iron-on tape.  Was she ever shocked, along with my friend, and sure enough, after blistering our hands from poking and pulling needles and string and hand tying each stitch, we had made a beautiful carpet that looked much like a scrap quilt and it lasted for years!

Although my mother and I were such strong personalities that we would often clash, I was   privileged to be the one to care for her in her last years after my dad had passed.  Those were the years that I treasure most!  I learned so much about her childhood and faith, and witnessed her dignity as Parkinson’s diminished her health and independence.  She had a mind of her own and used it until her death! And I loved her all the more for it!  Her stubbornness that clashed with mine for years became her most endearing trait.  She didn’t complain, but faced all that she needed to with courage and “true grit”!

I hope that my children will remember me the way I remember my mother, cherishing and treasuring special shared moments in their minds and hearts, as I do with my mom.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Little House is Too Little

As you know my name is Jane and I am a fabricaholic!  I love all sorts of materials and all that goes with sewing.  My collection started small, but has grown from many “good buys” as well as from contributions of friends.  Collections can take over a closet, a room, a basement, and even a house.  How do I know?  Just ask me!

Did I mention that I now have two young adult, boomerang children that are back home?  Yes, the realities of an extra room or two and more space quickly dissolved and what expanded to fill them now has to be contracted and squeezed to fit back into my spaces that are too little!!
I have learned over the years that my great buys aren’t good buys at all if I can’t put my hands on what I need when I need it and have to shop all over again! Hence my constant need to organize and re-organize my ever-growing collections of fabric, sewing notions, threads, buttons, patterns, craft magazines, and even machines, two inherited and one fancy embroidery machine, and now a pleater for smocking darling clothes for grandchildren…. whoops, I am ahead of myself again for I don’t even have any grandchildren yet!

As sewers know, collections beget collections of containers, shelves, or cupboards. I even covered utility shelves to make my basement studio less visually distracting, hiding as much as I can. A wall of built in cupboards would have been ideal, but this was my less expensive way to achieve much the same effect. Adding a futon makes it such that my studio doubles as a guest room.

Then there are times when what was squeezed and hidden comes out for a show, like the one I am preparing for next Saturday on May 12, 2012,10-6, at 70 Main Street, Greenwich, NY. (call 1-518-692-7041 for more information). My intentions to get pictures of my favorite sewing space are dashed for now, though perhaps the reality of my recent pictures will make you feel good about your own sewing room or space?

Keeping organized is a forever process with crafts as nothing is more fun than pulling materials out and making a big mess! A professional housekeeper does a “clean sweep” three hours each month forcing me to return all things to their places, or it all gets out of control! I comfort myself with a thought I just read on a sewing website. Essentially it said that years from now, no one will ever know how I kept my house, but my heirloom quilts and creations will be treasured forever!