Friday, December 26, 2008

A Quilter's Wisdom



That's the same as with living. The Lord sends us the pieces, but we can cut them out and put them together pretty much to suit ourselves, and there's a heap more in the cutting out and the sewing than there is in the calico. The same sort of things comes into all lives, just as the Apostle says. 'There hath no trouble taken you but is common to all men.'

The same trouble's come into two peoples lives, and one'll take it and make one thing out of it, and the other'll make something entirely different.


*******Sage advice from Aunt Jane of Kentucky (1907)********




Let's be honest about it, readers, the holidays are stressful. First there are the additional tasks that must be done in preparation for the big event. Then there is the emotional pressure coming at us from all directions. The nostalgic memory of Christmases gone by brings with it the attendant memories of those who have left us through perhaps a parting of the ways or through death. In the first case, you may want the comfort of your childhood family but sometimes they prefer the old you, this person you've become is too troublesome. It may be that they are too difficult to be around or too critical. Then there are the soul mate type friends with whom you've lost touch. When the effort to reconnect fails, you feel silly and wonder if the relationship was really authentic after all. Did it only exist in your mind? And then, the big one, if you have lost a parent, or another powerfully significant intimate, you feel tremendous pressure brought on by holiday absence, and these feelings are spiced with holiday regret and yearning. It's true. It does not matter if you are religious or not, the holidays are difficult. Why do some people seem to be filled with light and magic during these trying days while others cocoon themselves away (or wish they could) until the season passes? It's a question of survival strategies; some people, drink a little too much during the holidays, others obsess over food, decorations, present selection -or blogging? I think the most successful holiday survivors are those who take all of that emotional pressure and redirect it to some creative task.


It is my wish for you that you take all that is stirred up in your life during this holiday season and make something beautiful out of it. How about Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt? No? You think of something more appropriate then; I think I'll just keep writing.

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If this quilt were blue it would look exactly like the gift my dear friend C from the UK made more than twenty years ago for the birth of my son. We had weekly 'craft nights' that were devoted to artistic expression (she would sew and I would crochet); the evening topics invaribly focused on all that life had given us and all that we still wanted from life!



If you love quilts as I do, take a look at a brief history of my favorite quilting pattern, Grandmother's Flower Garden.

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Check out the pattern to the updated version of grandmother's flower garden quilt
(displayed above).



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baby crib photo Larkspur on flickr

7 comments:

  1. This is a wonderfully thoughtful topic. I feel like an observer at this time of year, and have a certain amount of difficulty wondering why we just can't all be full of light and wonder at any moment of calendar. I think the amount of pressure that people put themselves under at the holidays is extraordinary. Your suggestion to create something artistic is wonderful. The experience of creating something is both healing and joyful.

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  2. tangobaby, that creation of beauty is exactly what you did with your "morning after the rain walk; with photo detail" a beautiful landscape of one creative person's life.

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  3. With the loss of my mother last March, I thought this would be the saddest of Christmasses. It has not been such. I do deeply feel the loss but I have accepted the paradox of human existence. We live in a universe that is both hidden and revealed. These two principles co-exist, they are of the same substance, it is only our human senses that often deceive ourselves. The other day I was in the mall and a group of children were singing Silent Night. As soon as ever my mind thought of Mami and tears came down my cheeks. Five seconds before I was not even thinking about her. At that moment her hidden memory was revealed to me even if for only the duration of the song. You might say that for me at that moment my mom dwelled in the song.
    Even though I am from the Caribbean I have reverence for the tradition of quiltmaking. It is a joyous gift. Getting together to make or build confort and safety for another human being. As you know they were used on the Underground Railroad of Harriet Tubman to show the way to freedom for escapee slaves from the South. A message was encoded in the fabric that only the fugitives knew how to read. I also remember the Aids quilt project that made me cry so much when I saw it. There, in those clothes panels was the history of so many gay people that died of the disease. People that lived and laughed and danced in this world. I have never received a quilt as a gift but I do think it would be an honor to have one, a treasure, a human caress, a community of threads and patchworks akin to the rich tapestry of humanity.

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  4. TPC, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I do feel it is an honor to receive a quilt as a gift, especially so when you know the care and detail that it involves. Have you read Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"? Two sisters have a struggle over ownership of a family quilt. One sister wants the quilt to hang on the wall and the other will both treasure and use the quilt. It is the defining moment of the story when the sister who stayed home is given the quilt by her mother. I had forgotten about the other two examples you shared but both bring a richly textured feeling to quilt making. Have you seen the movie, "An American Quilt?" The story is fine but the metaphor of the quilt as it is woven into the characters' personal narratives makes the movie worth watching.

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  5. TPC, I've been seeing you commenting on some of the same blog sites I visit. It's great to feel that we're in the same blog world and ,...THANK YOU for signing the guest book. I was feeling all alone there in the virtual guest book space.

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  6. Dear Cynthia, thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I have so enjoyed reading your posts and will definitely visit again. I so identified with what you say about the "festive season". I always find it an emotional roller-coaster with my children living in a different hemisphere and not being able to spend time with them. Creative pursuits are incredibly theraputic and I lifted my spirits by spending my time with my paints and canvas.
    Love Dianne x

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  7. Dianne, You are a genuine creative spirit. How much emotional insight you must have to do the type of intiutive art that you do. When people chose to live in a new place or different location than their family so many feelings are stirred up. It seems that we are always in a decision making mode. Welcome to OWL blog!

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