Thursday, April 27, 2017

Art Show 2017

I teach art in a small private school.  I have kids from age 3 to the 5th grade that I see each week.  We have an annual spring spaghetti dinner fund raiser, spring concert. As part of the festivities, I fill the cafeteria with artwork from the school year with the help of parents, students and other folks from the school.  The kids do an amazing job with their artwork and l always love seeing the final products.  Everyone has success in art class but it is at varying levels.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Morning in the Yard

 First of the the roses are starting to bud. This is from my Ethan rose.  It is really a Knock Out but it is named after a boy who talked non stop in a third grade class.  His grandmother gave it to me as a gift.
 Spider Wort that my mother in law gave me.  Supposedly it came from her Aunt Beck.  Grandma is not always a reliable source of facts, but I will give Great Aunt Beck credit just in case she is the one who passed it down.  I just took a clump to my daughter in law last week.  When looking for genealogical evidence, an untapped source might be the plants that we have passed down from generation to generation.
 This fern came from a friend  Betty Jo.  They are perennials and come back every year.  I have passed these along to other folks as well.  I love them.
 Dutch iris are starting to bloom  These little iris are small and deeply colored.  It is really hard to get the true color of them in a photograph.

 I had long desired to have a clematis since I read the Henry and Mudge books to my son years ago.  There was a clematis vine on Henry's front porch.  I finally bought one and it has taken several years to produce these lovely big flowers.  I think it is about time to get another one.
 Apples blossoms
Bachelor Buttons

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Finding a Respite for Our Souls

Quilt made by my mother in law

Every old lady I knew growing up had some kind of handwork that she kept at the ready.  It could be picked up and laid down at any time.  But mostly handwork was picked up in the evenings after the dishes were washed and dried, the kitchen swept, and the dish towel laid out to dry.  The day's main work was finished and that handwork was the dessert for all of those industrious people of a bygone era. These women knitted, quilted, crocheted, tatted, or embroidered.  Put a needle in their hands and things got serious.  I stand amazed at our culture and its' obsession with video games and high scores.  I am not impressed, I grew up surrounded by fiber artists and when they finished they had beautiful pieces of work not a score.  Right in throwing distance of our house were three older ladies who were "masters of the needle".

Mrs. Lowder lived on a working farm that looked like it was a Norman Rockwell print.   Mr. and Mrs. Lowder were in their 80's and my sisters and I would often take their mail to them in the evenings.  We would step into a surreal scene of an aged man in overalls watching the news usually of war scenes from Vietnam, the man hired to help run the farm would be sitting quietly and stoically on a straight backed wooden chair by the heater and then there was  Mrs. Lowder in her rocker feverishly  crocheting away on some kind of beautiful cotton lace work.
Crochet by my mother in law

Mrs. Shuping lived up the road  on a slight rise.  She was an ancient old lady with white hair that she balled up at the nape of neck.  She kept the cleanest house I have ever stepped into.  Her floors were so gleaming that I was actually afraid that I would slip and fall. Her specialty was tatting.  She tatted the lace for pillowcases that she gave away for graduation and wedding presents.  She died before I graduated high school and it still feels like I was somehow cheated.

Mrs. Sutton lived across the road from us and she was a knitter.  The Sutton's army green house resembled a mountain cabin with screened in porches.  It seemed low built and nestled into the trees.  Everything inside was serviceable and in muted colors.  Mrs. Sutton had a round face with a double chin and salt and pepper hair.  She kinda of waddled back and forth when she walked.  She was a kind spoken lady who spent her time keeping house and  knitting in her rocking chair in the corner of the big open den that was the center of the house. Sometimes, my sister Gail and I would go and visit her. She rocked and knitted and we sat awkwardly on the couch chitchatting until we couldn't stand the awkwardness any more.

My grandma was a quilter and she continued to piece quilts way into her eighties.  Growing up, all of our beds were weighed down by homemade heavy ancient quilts that had been stuffed with real cotton. As her eyes and dexterity failed, Grandma pieced quilts with left over fabric scraps that came from her daughter's sewing job.  She would piece the quilt top and then add a blanket on the back and tie off each quilt square with a thick piece of bright thick cotton thread. I don't think she could handle the true quilting anymore.  The 1970's fabric patterns were uncharacteristic for Grandma's tastes but thrift came before taste.  Other kids went off to college with plain white blankets and floral bedspreads, but we were loaded down with Mod Squad  quilts that even Linc would have been proud to sleep under.

My own mom crocheted afghans as she aged.  She also like so many other young women had embroidered in her early years for her hope chest. An ancient treadle sewing machine was employed by both my mama and my grandma to make whatever struck their fancy. The treadle machine was simple, sturdy and only made the whirring noise that could be produced by a foot on the pedal. When I married I inherited a mother in law who was another true master of all kinds of handwork.  She crocheted, quilted and was a great seamstress.

Hand drills from Granddaddy

Women were not the only ones who worked with their hands. Many men of my childhood were world class whittlers and primitive furniture makers.  My grandpa made a rolling pin that I still use even though he passed away sixty years ago.   Grandpa made "what knot shelves" and small end tables that are still beautiful and unique pieces of  craftsmanship.  My dad used those same hand tools that had been his own dads. Those simple hand tools required the same focus and quietness as needle work.   An electric speed drill produces faster work but I am not sure it can bring the same calmness to the soul as rhythmic movement of a  hand drill.
Granddaddy's rolling pin

Coffee grinder that was passed down to our son.
It is useful tool in their home.  
 The old men and women from my childhood were not significantly different from the people that live now.  They had sickness, heartache and even stress in their lives. The world has always been an evil and cruel place. Many of them lived through World Wars 1 and 2, the Depression, the Korean Conflict, the chaos of the 1960's, the Cold War, Vietnam, and polio epidemics.  My neighbors also had personal heartache and dysfunction in their extended families just like we do.

 Their lives weren't perfect and carefree just because they lived in another generation.  But those folks from my childhood  found ways of focusing and coping in the world in which they lived.  I imagine that the things they did by hand they did out of necessity but discovered the soothing and calming effect that it had upon them.   I believe when we put our hands to work that it takes our minds to a different place that enables us to cast off our cares and worries.  If we can rest our minds then sometimes we can also right them.

"Putting a needle in her hand is like giving her a tranquilizer."
Granddaddy Dew (when speaking of my mother in law and her handwork) 
My latest project - piecing a baby quilt

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands.

I am not against progress and I appreciate modern convenience but I am not sure that we understand the value of using our hands to produce something. We are created beings and we have a Creator.  I think that deep in our DNA is the desire for beauty, for order and yes even for work.  I think there is even a deep desire to work with our hands.  Buying it on Amazon, pushing a button, or buying it at the farmer's market is just somehow not the same.  The "work of our hands" is connected to our souls.  In our effort to streamline and to circumvent having to work we have lost something important. We have lost something of ourselves.

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring in the Yard

 Yellow Finch

 Flat of flowers I picked up at the local Bargain's store.  I would rather have these than a nice arrangement from the florist.

 I hung a nyger thistle bag yesterday, the  finches showed up today.
 Sitting in the rain hanging out .

A whole flock of cedar waxwings were eating the red berries off the holly bushes that line our property.  It was neat to watch them swoop in and out to eat.
Mister Blue Jay in the tree 

 Yellow Finches