Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learning to Thread a Needle

My mom, Harper, and I enjoying a
gorgeous day in Harrisonburg.
The past few of my days have been spent visiting with my mom, not working on guitars. But I figured I would write a little bit anyway. My mom has been riding horses for most of her life-and saw to it that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, as when she was pregnant, her water broke while she was riding her horse Hornpipe. I loved horses so much growing up, but haven't been riding for quite some time. Case in point: I remember in elementary school that I knew it was Thursday because I had my jodhpurs on in preparation for riding class in the afternoon. Definitely ran a couple timed miles in those bad boys too. 9:03 in 3rd grade. (My memory is odd, I think.) Anyway, heading out on an Akhal Teke named Can Do on Monday morning reminded me of spending time with my grandmother in Rugby many years ago.

The hills surrounding my grandmother's house are streaked with paths etched into the dirt from cows wandering their fenced area. It is interesting how cows make paths and only walk on those designated lines, but I used to use those paths to form a world of make believe. Many afternoons I would pretend I was riding the most amazing Arabian, or Morgan sometimes, often called Lightning or Starshine or something else equally ridiculous. I don't think I can accurately explain exactly what I was doing as I lept over logs and ducked under low-hanging branches, but just imagine Monty Python and the Holy Grail, only I wasn't clever enough to bang coconuts together as I 'galloped' down the cow paths. (I am for sure a winner if you haven't already noticed.)

A quilt hand-stitched by
my Granny circa 1930.
Another thing that I did while in my Granny's care was learn to sew. As awesome as my dad is at whittling anything he can imagine out of wood, and as my mom can draw or paint anything perfectly, Granny was just as gifted doing the same with cloth. When she passed away a few years ago I was given some quilts she pieced when she was, oh, around 16. By hand. The stitches were so perfect, as she once demonstrated to me when she taught me how to sew together quilt squares when I was about 6. Each stitch uniform and tiny. I was proud when I could get two pieces of fabric to stick somewhat evenly together much less with any uniformity. I think now that drive to work until I make something perfect is ingrained in me because of her and my parents. Because she can do it, and my dad can do it, and my mom can do it, so should I, right? Maybe...

I feel so privileged to have gotten to know my grandmother as I did, and learn this amazing skill that, once again, not everyone has the opportunity to glean. I am lucky to have the gifted parents I have, but my Granny is one in a million. Billion. I learned so many amazing things from her, just one of those being how to sew. There was only one thing I could do better than she, as my hand eye coordination improved with age and her eyesight worsened, which was to thread the needle.  She always made me feel so proud that I could do it on the first or second try and that I at least could sew marginally well. In her opinion anyway. I am sad that I don't have those quilt squares anymore, as when we were sending things to the Goodwill after her death those accidentally wound up in the 'go' pile. Maybe I will just have to start on some new ones.
Close up of my favorite of Granny's quilts. If you
look hard, you can find pieces of my dad's old shirts,
fruit, and people, among other things.

Tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner I can't wait to have some of Granny's potato salad, a Rugby delicacy that really only my dad, my aunt Shirleen, and I actually like. I think it is because it is called potato salad, but what you expect is not quite what you get, as mustard is substituted for mayonnaise, the potatoes are completely mashed, and sugar and vinegar round out the flavor palette. Thanks so much to Shirleen for making it for me on those rare family dinner occasions. I could honestly eat a tub of it if it were presented to me. The smells and tastes of Thanksgiving always bring memories of Granny back to me, and for that I am forever grateful.

 I hope you have a great Thanksgiving as well, and I will get back to work inlaying my name into the peghead of my guitar tomorrow. I have it all cut out I promise. (Does anyone else wish they had a shorter last name? Sometimes I do, like when I have to cut it out of Mother of Pearl in letters small enough to fit on a peghead.)I guess it all just depends on how much potato salad there is....

1 comment:

  1. Does Shirleen have a recipe? Probably just in hre head. Sounds good, though.

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