Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I made my bed with great care and attention to detail, which is a departure from the slapdash job I typically do.

I have a quilt from my grandmother on the top, having given up bedspreads ages ago.

The quilt is enormous and made up of blocks embroidered flowers, on a field of white. 

Each block was made during the war, by one of my grandmother's sisters, or sister-in-law, or aunt. 

There is a block for each member of the family, including the children, and I suspect it was made as a gift to my great-grandmother Anna.

In those days most women had some degree of handwork skills.

You can tell the ones that were not enthusiastic, or gifted.

The daisy people.

Then there are the strongly gifted like my grandmother, with more intricate designs, done in a traditional palette of color, deftly sewn, with fancy flourishes and French knots. 

On the other end of the spectrum there is my Aunt Alice, baby sister of the family, the sweet one, who elected to embroider pineapples and hibiscus, despite being in Idaho. 

And finally, the rebel, with garish burgundy, done in a sloppy hand.

In addition to the flowers and cones and occasional pineapple, there are names on each block.

My Aunt Mable cheated and did one block for both children, with a Tommy & Sherri, crowded into the corner.



I can imagine my grandmother sighing at both her eldest sister's burgundy rose, and her middle sister- the good looking one- and her double name block.

There would have been a certain resignation and vague disapproval. 

When I was a child I loved to hear my grandmother's stories. 

I sat upon her draped like a cat, around her neck and asked her 10,0000 questions. 

This was one of the few times you would find my grandmother inactive. 

She was a powerful woman that had many things to do, and limited leisure time, but we would sit and watch Perry Mason at noon and I would chatter in her ear and she would tell me stories of the farm, or her harsh, alien childhood, and her courtship with my grandfather.

All of the names, of the colorful cast of characters, where represented on the quilt, which would much later wind up on my bed.

At four I was scandalized by the block with the mysterious Viola embroidered in black, with a blue heart basket, filled with tiny forget me nots.

"Her name was VIOLA?!"  

Her name was Viola and she was Grandpa Jesse's first wife.

I was from an old fashioned family, where people had one wife, and one only, so this was doubly fascinating to me.

I would make my grandmother tell me how everyone died, and how many children they had, whether they were beautiful, ambitious, homely, or shiftless, who could bake a decent pie, who bought store brought bread, and never swept up properly.

I knew my grandmother's aunt Effie had eleven children, and was loving and kind to every, single, one (something her own mother was not.)

I knew that Alice was the pie baker, and my grandmother's specialty was cake, and that her mother would pull them out of school at harvest time, to cook for the threshing teams.

My grandparents lived in a sort of time capsule, with wood heat, and a wringer washing machine, and home grown vegetables.

While other children were charmed by shows like The Waltons, my family lived it.