August 2007


When I was young I spent 3 weeks each summer with my grandparents in rural Kentucky just west of the Appalachian Mountains. Mamaw and Papaw raised 5 children with meager means, discipline and lots of love. Their dinner table always included someone extra from the neighborhood or extended family.Today their family has grown to include 14 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren. Papaw passed away this past December at the age of 94 and Mamaw turns 91 this weekend and is far from that age in her mind or abilities. She makes ME feel tired.

Mamaw is here visiting with my mom, her daughter, for about a month. I wanted her to spend some time at our house and also wanted her to teach me to piece a quilt. So, this past weekend, we spent cutting over 400 strips of fabric and piecing together a quilt to fit our king size bed.

Quilting is her passion. While she spent years raising children and working for others, she has always found time to quilt. Even today she continues to quilt, free of charge, for anyone she cares for. Scratch that, just anyone who wants her to. She said of the hundreds of quilts she’s made over the years she’s kept only 3 which are worn out from wear and undoubtedly love.

On one of those summer stays Mamaw taught me to do quilting stitches when I was about 10 or 11 on a throw pillow. Like many things I’ve learned along the way, once I got the hang of it I was done and on to the next thing. However, Mamaw made me finish that pillow and that is the last thing I’ve quilted. My problem wasn’t that it was hard it’s that it wasn’t perfect.

You see, I like my lines in order. Everything in its place and balanced on the page. The pictures straight and the lines consistent. I don’t admit it, but I had to stop scrapbooking because I couldn’t get it perfect enough. I love to create and get inspired by the free flowing-ness of nature, however my process-excellence side…okay the OCD side, says that it all needs to be neat and orderly and tidy and well, perfect.

Quilting with your 91 year old grandmother who can only see with one eye and has a shaky hand can only be imperfect. The pieces aren’t uniform and the seams aren’t straight. The blocks must be trimmed and the rows aren’t level. I fought that perfectionist voice inside and I won.

When we finished and laid the whole thing out it was beautiful. It’s colorful and crooked, but it’s something that we made. Something I’ll cherish forever and more so because she taught me to press on and not worry about the order. Not care if it was perfect because in getting it done it is perfect just how it ends up to be.

quilting

In the effort of sharing what I’ve learned, I will post the instructions on how to piece the quilt we made here this week.

I don’t think we’ve been so busy with things to do and places to be in a very long time. I had set out to fill our social calendar this summer, but I hadn’t realized how exhausting it can be! I’m not complaining by any means, but for folks who are pretty mellow and uneventful we have broken our mold big time. Here’s an update of what’s going on here:
Our puppy Gus is growing quickly and is over 40 pounds now and just 4 months old. He’s a good dog, but like all puppies, is into everything.

My mother-in-law came and went.

I visited the bay area for work. Missing it terribly.

After the MIL left we spent 2 nights away from the kiddo on a grown-up weekend. I had purchased tickets to the police concert in Philadelphia back in the spring and we ventured up with some friends. I have to say that it was the BEST time ever. Yes, EVER. My friend Christina worked some crazy magic and got us some new seats in the 23rd row. I could see Sting’s belly when his shirt would go up. It was so awesome to be so close and enjoy such a wonderful concert. It was also a good break without the kiddo. We certainly missed her, but it was nice not to have to negotiate with someone to eat their dinner.

My cousin got married in July and we went to Pennsylvania for that as well. It was a small beautiful wedding just outside of Philadelphia. All of my family stayed at a hotel that claimed they had suites but were not suite-like in the slightest. The pool was a good distraction on a rainy morning and we got some good produce at a farmers stand and a traveling gnome for the garden.

This past weekend our good friends came down on the train from New York to visit us. We had a great time just catching up, watching the kids play and relaxing.

That brings us to today. My mamaw (yes, mamaw) is visiting with my parents for a few weeks. She will be 91 on the 18th and is very active, lively and funny. She came over to our house last week and was admiring the tomato trellises. When I told her Dave had built them, she said “well, isn’t he as handy as a pocket in a shirt”

Now isn’t that just the funniest thing you’ve heard.