Monday, January 24, 2011
Our mother was born on May 31, 1920-so you don't have to calculate, she will be 91 years old. In that 91 years there have been poverty, disappointment, sorrow but there was a little girl determined to get an education to create success for herself and her family and she did it honorably and in God's way. In her God-determination she lifted others as she climbed.
One of the successes she was blessed to see in 2010 was the retirement of my youngest brother, Jim, as the mayor read the many accomplishments achieved in his tenure along with his degrees and awards. They seemed to go on forever. Her buttons were just popping as people honored her by thanking her for loaning Jim to the city for his service. How great is it for a 90 year old mother to see her 66 year old son retire with such recognition?
Mom's mother [Granny] is written about in my blog, "My Hero". Granny's story will give some insight into the world that Mom was born into. Mom's father died of pneumonia when she was just a few months old leaving a young widow with no skills and no income with 2 children to raise. In the 1920's there was no welfare, no food stamps, no life insurance and no Social Security.
My grandfather's sister, Sarah, along with her husband stepped in to help Granny raise Mom and her brother, George. One thing Mom and George were always sure of- being greatly loved by these three people who did everything they could to keep body and soul together.
George, Aunt Sarah, Mom-Little Christine
Mom played on the floor of the kitchen of the "poor farm" as Granny worked as the cook. She carried water to the adults as they worked in the field. She helped churn butter from the milk they got from their cow, helped feed the chickens they kept for meat and eggs and she wore dresses made from feed sacks. Mom started making quilts when she retired. I couldn't figure why she wouldn't put calicoes in her quilts which was all the rage at the time. She said that all she ever had to wear when she was a little girl was feed sack dresses and she hated calicoes. She couldn't be talked into calicoes, no how, no way.
We think we may donate Mom's brain to science-she learned to read when she was three from George's "primer" that he brought home when he started school . No one taught her. She just picked it up on her own. Her walls are lined with shelves filled with books, the desk and bedside tables are also piled with books. Even at almost 91, she keeps notebooks filled with her notes and is still learning, still studying, still sharing and teaching.
It took a tremendous drive to go to school. She tells of walking to school when she was so cold she could cry because she had no stockings or socks or a good, warm coat. She would have had nothing for breakfast and when she came in from school, the house would still be cold because there was no fire in the stove and nothing to eat for dinner either. Even in these circumstances she went on to graduate high school at age 16 in a borrowed dress and shoes with cardboard to cover the holes in the soles. She was at the top of her class and was told much, much later that she was supposed to be the valedictorian of her class but that was taken from her and given to a daughter of one of the more prominent families in town.
Mom always wanted to be a teacher. That didn't change as she continued into college to graduate at age 18 and was teaching school before age 19.
Halloween night, 1936 Mom met the most gorgeous man she had ever seen and it was love at first sight. That love is still alive even though my dad has been gone now since 1988. He was her first and only love and she worshiped the ground he walked on.
Dad was in the CCC's in the 1930's which was formed to help provide work but when that was over, there was no work in Kentucky and Mom's salary as a teacher could not support us. By this time, we were a family of four. My brother, Larry, was born 16 months after me so they decided to come to Ohio for Dad to find work.
In just a few months it was decided to bring my grandmother from Kentucky to Ohio to live with us. By this time she was in her 50's, there were still no job opportunities for her-no way for her to make a living, she was miserable without her daughter that she had never been away from and now her 2 grandchildren that she had actually helped birth into this world. Granny lived with us for the rest of her life. Mom and Dad honored her and took care of her and made sure she never did without.
Granny was still very able bodied and used to being busy so she encouraged Mom to go to work to help Dad make a living. She would stay home and take care of us kids-and she did. My sister, Shirley, brother, Jim and sister, Jackie came along to join Larry and me.
Even working and raising five children, Mom still wanted to get back to teaching. She would have to go back to school to finish getting her degree, however, and she couldn't afford to quit work to do that. Finally, with the five of us raised, married, grandchildren coming along, Mom went back to college taking evening courses but continued to work. That little girl who had determined to finish high school, now a grandmother, was still determined to get her degree to get back to her love of teaching.
She did get her degree and taught for several years but had to take an early retirement in order to care for Dad who had emphysema and then cancer. They enjoyed their retirement traveling and reminscing about their past travels-Dad had loved to hunt and fish so Mom made sure they took trips with family to Canada and traveled over many states. Mom's happiness was making Dad happy. They also made quilts together for the family. Dad helped tie the quilts after she got them sewn.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I just love carrousels. People have given me several figurines through the years along with a couple of collector books that I cruise through on occasion and I have made some from children's hobby horses because I love creating and couldn't find the larger more striking figures that catch my eye.
What I really, really wanted was a full size, authentic carrousel horse but try as I may, my husband just would not agree to get one for me.
Some of them were only priced at $60,000. A amusement park was closing in our area and had an auction but I couldn't attend. I called the next week to see if by some chance there might be some not purchased that I could get at a steal. I told the man answering the phone "You have got to be kidding" when he said that some outlandish people had actually thought that they could get one for a few hundred dollars-did I believe that? I, of course, was one of those outlandish people!
Since my cheapo husband would not see fit to buy a carousel for me, I would have to make one for myself and I knew how to make papier mache and I had lots of newspaper, some scrap wood, an old coffee table, a 5 gallon water bottle, a wood pole that been a banister, flour for paste and lots of imagination. Maybe I could scratch together enough to get the other stuff I would need like chicken wire.
The base was prepared by removing the legs and adding castors to the 5' long coffee table top so the carousel could be moved easily. The 5 gallon water jug was attached to the middle of the base and filled with sand with the pole inserted to hold the horse.
Scrap wood was nailed together to give the general shape of the horse for the infrastructure then chicken wire shaped around that form.
Gallons of flour paste and months of saved newspaper later, the horse began to take shape.
Some children and grandchildren come home after school to normal parents and grandparents but not mine. For weeks, they came home to a wild haired grandmother with strips of newspaper and glue clinging all over her, determined to finish this crazy project. Is it any wonder they may be scarred for life.
Around this time, my sister, Shirley, came in. When she saw the behemoth being built in the family room, she made the remark that it looked more like a Clydesdale rather than a carousel horse and thus "Clyde" got his name. I had just started nailing slats of wood together to form him without taking into consideration the final result.
Another person concerned with Clyde's size was husband dear. He kept telling me that if Clyde was to reside in the living room upstairs, he would not go up the steps in our tri-level. I would grab my handy, dandy scale that had not been used when starting the project, go over and measure the door to prove that yes, when Clyde was done, he would make it up the steps.
Clyde was quite handsome, I thought, when he was done and I was pretty pleased with him. He even had a light at the top of his pole. He was 8' long, nose to tip of tail and 8' tall to the top of the light.
Moving day was a big day for Clyde and for me. We had to have help. Not that Clyde was so heavy-he was cumbersome, unwieldy. Bill, a friend of my daughter's, had been recruited to help and the first thing he said when he saw my gorgeous creation was "Well, Golllllly" and I don't think he was admiring my atistic ability.
We rolled Clyde to the steps and lo, and behold-he didn't fit-with all my planning. Bill summed up the whole situation with "Wella, he doesn't benda". He wouldn't fit out the patio doors either to be carried around the house to the living room so it was decided to force him up the steps. Clyde was tilted over on his side and pushed, pulled up the steps.
Moving day was kind of hard on Clyde. He was damaged a little getting up the steps but not so anyone else would notice. I loved having him. I loved being able to create him. No, he wasn't as sleek as the hand carved masterpieces I admired but that was alright. He wore poinsettias at Christmases and gave Santa a ride and I have been thinking about trying another project like him for a while, I'll just have to check my newspaper supply.
HERE IS CLYDE WITH HIS CHRISTMAS RIDER
HERE IS CLYDE WITH HIS CHRISTMAS RIDER
HERE IS HIS BEGINNING
Here are some other things that my family has had to put up with me while I am in my creating phase. When completion is near, work is near fever pitch til the project is done to my satisfaction.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Marie Osmond showed her solace room today on Oprah as she told the heartbreaking story of her son's death. The room, she said, is where she goes for comfort and peace, to read and do her crafts. The walls are covered with memorabilia she has saved and made. There were quilts all around.
My quilts and other crafts have been my therapy and expression through the years in many situations. Creating has been a retreat that has smoothed the coiled nerves in my shoulders, decreased the knot in my stomach, help me even for a moment lessen the ache in my heart or forget the raging headache.
My 1990 physical showed nothing but my gynecologist insisted on me getting a mammogram. Suspicious spots came to light in the test and I was scheduled for surgery. A spot that could not be detected by the gynecologist a month or so earlier now could be felt by the surgeon and it was near my lymph nodes.
Not knowing how invasive the surgery would be, how long the recuperation or if follow up therapy would be required called for preparing some handwork I could do in that time. Just sitting, doing nothing drives me crazy.
So, "El Tigre" walked off the pages onto my fabrics to become a queen size quilt. I had imagined walking through a steamy jungle, pushing aside foliage to see a stalking tiger. At some point, the stalking tiger drawings gave way to a resting, peaceful one in a clearing as I became at peace with having cancer and leaving the outcome in God's hands.
A lot of preparation had to be done before surgery on "El Tigre". The back of the quilt was to be a tiger stripe so it was tie dyed orange and black to coordinate with the front. Each piece of foliage, tree trunk, flower had to be cut and ready for applique. The large foliage foregound was to be three dimensional to give the effect of peaking through it. The tiger, herself, was prepared to be reverse appliqued. I needed to get as much done as possible.
The surgery went well. The surgeon told my husband he was sure that he had gotten all the cancer.
A few days after going home, I was back at work on my cancer quilt. A month later my oncologist sent me back to surgery to have more tissue removed. She felt this would keep me from having to go through further treatment. The quilt was no where near being done so now I would have more down time. A few days after the second surgery, quilting continued and continued and continued.
I usually have to have a deadline in order to get a project finished so "El Tigre" was entered into a quilt show to make myself complete it. My husband worked nights so most nights were spent quilting til 3 or 4 in the morning, then catch a few hours sleep and back up to quilt some more. The cancer was forgotten and this is the only quilt that I have completely hand quilted.
I thank God that I have been cancer free for almost 20 years now. There have been other quilts-other situations, other inspirations. That big tiger on the center of the quilt, I have come to realize is me, peaceful, knowing that God is in control.
El Tigre has been called a piece of soft sculpture and has received honorable mention for its quilting and coordinating back.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.