Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I read more of Annie Dillard's book before falling asleep last night.

When I read Annie Dillard's writing I feel like I'm walking the in between world of waking up from a wonderful dream, floating in that first-awake moment. Consciousness begins for me as I stare deeply at the wrinkles of my sheets and at the freckles and tiny hairs on my arm while remembering those beautiful images that will fall into forgetfulness when I arise to dress and met the day. 

Her words go down to some place of wonder and joy in my heart, a place that often surprises me with emotion. Here is a quote from page 139 in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She is talking about the intricacies of this globe we inhabit:

"What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek."

I have been let in on a fractal made of spoons and cups and lighted windows, a dizzying fractal of three pretzels sitting on a white paper plate, a fractal where I look forward to the sight of two pines trees at the end of Old Furnace road every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 5:27. The smallest piece has been blessed, the tiny diamond on my ring finger, the slant of light glinting on my pillow, and the cracks on my splintered phone. I'm so full of life today, and so full of the ache to bring others into this texture of joy.

This morning I prayed again for all those displaced by war. They are the ones I really wanted to write about today, and I've tried again and again to write something that would express how I feel for them, but all my words come out like cardboard. So instead, I turn to Annie Dillard's words and the hope that in all this complexity of our crushed, organic, and beautiful world the misplaced will find a place for hope. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Writing in my Astrostar --QM

As I promised, I've been writing at least 5 minutes every day. My words haven't made it onto this blog yet, but they are sitting in pencil in my Chinese notebook and in my head.

For the last 24 hours the refugee situation has been almost constantly on my mind and heart. I have a vivid imagination and can easily put myself in their shoes. I can also imagine and understand the fear that drives much of the attitudes that I hear about second-hand (I've been staying away from Facebook and the news because I hardly know how to handle some of America's responses).

I want to operate out of love, not fear. I would love to have a refugee family at my dinner table, resting at my home, helping them to learn English, and learning from them how to cook their amazing dishes. Today I sat in my car after dropping off my children at school and, instead of writing, I prayed. I pray every day for those misplaced and homeless by this war, but today I begged God to let me somehow do something for them--to practically show love and compassion and kindness.
The inside of the Statue of Liberty

In the 17th century Edmund Burke said something like:

Evil Triumphs when Good Men do Nothing

Another famous quote has been reverberating in my head these days:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  
....
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25 NIV)

I know this issue isn't simple or easy, that there are reason for fear and that it is complicated. But let us do everything we can do to avoid getting to the place where we xenophobic Americans need to take down this plaque, or maybe the whole green lady, in order to accurately reflect where our heart and practices are toward those in need of refuge.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sitting in the Driver's Seat for 5 Extra Minutes on a Rainy Tuesday--QM

I have been bemoaning the small margins in my life--where has the white space to write, draw, read, study for my PRAXIS exam, and even keep up with my laundry and dishes gone? This morning I had Thoughts to Capture on my way home from taking the kids to school. As luck would have it, a friend gave me a notebook a week ago which has been stashed in the pocket by my drivers seat. I wrote this journal entry, and thought "I could do this Monday through Friday--I have a predictable quiet 5 minutes every day if I want, out in the driveway." So friends, hold me to this for a month--I will sit in my car for just a few moments before the rush of the day, and write.


     Driving through my sleepy small town, I pass by the blur of the familiar houses and tidy porches. The rain mists on mailboxes and sidewalks I never notice but recognise keenly with my subconciuos.
     Then I cross the railroad tracks and my own dear house peeks around the corner of the Methodist church. My once bright yellow mums are now black circles against the white of my home, the garden has turned brown except for a few valiant red zinnias (on whose account I keep the tiller away), and the formerly cheerful jack-o-lanterns are now macabre with sagging, oozing black faces.
     I love my messy, untidy life. Moss grows from the edges of my garage door, my laundry room fills more quickly than it empties, and my bathroom--well, lets not even talk about it.
     I'm not perfect, but for the most part I believe I'm choosing well in how I spend my time, though sometimes I tremble at all I might do, but don't. Now, however, its time to leave this van--the windows decorated with beads of rain, the smell of coffee newly spilled on the rug--to leave my pencil and notebook, pick one of those brave flowers for my kitchen window sill, slip a rainy day music CD into the computer, and do the dishes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Mind's Muddy River cannot be Dammed --post by QM

Annie Dillard's words from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek page 32-32 are in italics.
 
Painting By Alexandra Ross


My heart burned, unexpectedly.
Isn't that always the nature of a burning heart,
Those two dense men traveling to Emmaus, 
they remembered the ache after the fact.

The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise.

I had spent the day in a stupor, just sick enough to be lazy without feeling guilty 
and not so sick that I couldn't enjoy my laziness. 

I was enjoying a solitary lunch--
Sunday's Vietnamese Chicken soup,
Ginger Honey Lemon tea
And a piece of Lindt Chocolate.
Of course a book needed to be a part of this repast,
The calm before I stormed the needs of my chaotic laundry room.
I propped Annie Dillard's 'Pilgrim at Tinker Creek' in front of my steaming bowl.

The world's spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally
that the mind's muddy river,
this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash,
cannot be dammed, and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. 

I felt the minute details of my life swirling by, 
the detritus of 'ought' and 'should' that keeps me always occupied.
Suddenly I couldn't see. I smelled the sharpness of fishsauce and ginger, 
and the sweetness of the chocolate still lingered in my mouth, 
but the Emmaus Ache stole my vision with tears. 

"Launch into the deep," says Jacques Ellul, "and you shall see."
 
Today a friend wrote a peppy and thought-provoking little message on Facebook that went something like this:
Why limit yourself??? ...Why do we sometimes think..."My dream is dead...that's no longer for me"? That's a lie. Many times we are better positioned when we are older to take on that dream and realize it!! So dream big! 


I have been thinking about my dreams ever since. I want to 
paint,
write,
speak, 
get my master's in teaching English as a Second Language,
welcome people of all backgrounds into the church,
help immigrants and refugees learn how to communicate with Americans, 
keep a well organized house,
continue to love on my kids and husband,
be hospitable, and
make more meals like that Vietnamese Chicken Soup.

Another, final dream: to learn the Secret of Seeing and to draw other into that joy.
To return from one walk knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms. And to return from the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name.

Litanies
hum in my ears;
my tongue 
flaps in my mouth
Ailinon, alleluia!
I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Saw Death Today --QM

For weeks I've wanted to write about my Grandma Alene and share here the words I spoke at her funeral. I might someday, but today I write about a stranger's passing.

I saw death today.

If I could just imagine away
the twisted car,
the men in orange vests holding the traffic at bay, and
the fierce lights flashing red and blue.

I wanted to replace them all with the sand and surf,
and walk nonchalantly by that strong young man,
his chiseled arms golden brown in the hot noon sunshine,
reclining in his beach chair, arms limp in sun-sleep,
with a white towel over his face
to keep away the sand flies.

I saw his form for only a second, on my way home from an ordinary shopping trip.
The white cloth on his face made me long to surrender my day—
to give up my to-do list in favor of prayer for all those hurling about in cars.
Instead I busied myself with the duties of my home—
chicken and rice to put in the oven, garden vegetables to chop and roast.
I picked too-ripe tomatoes from our chaotic but robust plant.
Bending down, searching through tightly twisted vines,
my quest for food crushed out the sharp smell of green leaves.
I’ve always hated that bitter smell.
Deep in the dark middle of those vines lay the fallen ones,
a pile of red potential wasted on ants,
and a few bloated yellow cucumbers.

I cannot reach them all.

 

Monday, May 25, 2015

A dress rinsed, a life washed--QM and the Book of Common Prayer

A dress flaps outside, dripping water over the roses. I've worn this TJ Maxx find to almost every wedding I've attended since the long-ago hitching of my brother and sister-in-law. After the violence done to it this Sunday, however, I was afraid it might be time to retire my favorite outfit.

We do a few things conservatively at GMC, and communion is one of them--traditionally celebrated bi-yearly. The time had come around again, but on this occasion the congregation was encouraged to think outside the box a bit, to break the bread together as families (or not), to take the feast up front (or not), and to generally be creative and spontaneous. This isn't easy for many conservatives to accomplish.

Ethan and I are, by nature, creative and spontaneous, but we found ourselves following the crowd, taking the elements in a line like everyone else. Once we were at our seat, however, I felt that I just MUST do something unique. Then I remembered the Wesleyans.

"Intinction!" I  thought--now there is a great example of creativity in a Mennonite, to borrow from another denomination! I took my chunk of homemade bread, and dunked it in the small cup of Welches' grape juice.
I'd forgotten some simple science that may (or may not) be called displacement theory.
Purple juice puddled into my well-dressed lap.
The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen
I look down at the dripping bread in my hand, and quickly ate.
The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation. Amen
Suddenly I didn't care if my dress was forever ruined. Hang tidiness! I understood anew the mess of myself and the paradoxical mess of the cross. As I stared at my lap it was as if the purple turned red and the drops grew into a flood. The blood spilled, the stains removed--the shame taken away for good.

I lost it.

I wasn't crying politely, I sobbed out with gratitude for who I am--who we are!--because the Eternal God:
graciously accepted us as living members and
fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood 

This is the reality of my life--the kindness and love I have for people, the desire I have to live for others and not myself, any excellence of wifedom and motherhood I may have, and the holiness and purity I pursue do not come by some artificial striving on my part. The good qualities I posses spring up within me because I'm a soul surrendered to Jesus.
Let us go forth into the world,
rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Thanks be to God.



Sunday, April 26, 2015

Not Goodbye, but See You Later--QM

After church today Dorie asked if we could visit Arie's grave together. Its been a year and a day since her home-going.
My sister and I held hands for a few moments while walking to her grave, our touch achingly tangible, but soon dropped, unsustainable.  We rarely hold hands for long.

Holly and I talked about shoes, mixing bowls, generous friends,
      and then we fell silent, looking out across the muddy field.
Tiny droplets fell on my cheeks, and lightly misted the scripted stone.

We remembered together our visions of the little lion girl, weak in body but fierce in joy.
In our hearts we had seen her whole, dancing, twirling in her grandparent's living room--neurons and muscles connected, body beautified.

My sister and I had a faith that wasn't conjured but had spun itself almost unbidden.
Of course this beautiful child would live and thrive.
I looked out across the field, and stared at the yellow school bus, the empty playground with the wet slides and swings. I could feel--almost see--the little hole in the scene where she should be,
           swinging,
          laughing,
          learning to read,
          smiling that million-dollar smile.

Instead that Arie-shaped hole was a little chasm at my feet, the grass already green and marked with a pink-toned stone.

My sister and I slowly walked back toward the lights of the church and Holly said "I want to love deeply-to take every moment to get to know my family and friends so that there is an emptiness when they are gone."

The moment after she spoke those words a shower plunged down from the sky, the biggest drops of rain I've ever seen, and we ran for cover.

The Real is in the rain, in the solid earth that can be dug up, and in the touch of two hands joined for a moment.

The Real is also in the vision of a little girl named Ariel, learning to dance with Jesus, in a place somewhere that is even more solid than here. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

32 reasons to be glad after my 31st year--QM


The best peanut butter pie I've ever had, available at Ronda's
I'm 32 today.
Yesterday Ethan said, "Well honey, after today, you'll never get your 31st year back again,"
and I replied rather caustically "Thank goodness."
But later my heart was pricked with the attitude behind my "good riddance to my 31st year" comment.
You see--

I've been listening to Exodus while I do dishes.

Those Israelites,
that ragtag crowd of slaves, they
ate roasted lamb
      with bitter herbs.
They knew 400 years of bitter treatment.
I have compassion for newly-freed slaves
      with scars cut deep into their strong backs,
       memories cut even deeper of
wet newborns silenced in the river
hearts and breasts sore from un-drunk milk,

I understand how they tripped up on trust, that their desert-thirst was bigger than their memory of the miracle of the Red Sea.

But I also understand the thundering of their-God-my-God, whom they drove to the brink of silencing forever their grumbling and complaining. I've never liked whining, even my own.

So, on this Ninth of March, I come to the Thundering Mountain, not trembling, but as a daughter—a grateful daughter, shoes off. I’m not necessarily forgetting the bitter salad of this past year, but I chose to focus instead on the feast of lamb with this list of 32 blessings. Most of these gifts would never have happened if I had been in the country and place of my choosing.

2014’s Spring
1  Meeting my beautiful niece Ariel and saying goodbye to her too, a hard gift
2     Driving through the misty flats of Delaware, the understated and under-appreciated beauty of home
3     Spur-of-the-moment meal invitations accepted by my sister
4     Dishwashers and stovetops with four burners instead of two
5     Story time at the Greenwood Public Library
6     Thrift Stores
2014’s Summer
7     Sweltering afternoons cooling off in the JAARS’ pool (James learning to swim!)
8     The surprise of working and loving the job as a JAARS Tour Guide
9   Cups of tea in the Wycliffe Counseling office and their compassionate conversations
10   Small pots made out of red North Carolina clay by Dorie, James, and their pack of neighborhood friends
11   Waxhaw Elementary School and a fantastic start to Dorie’s education
12  Stash tea, vinyl records, and deep friendship with the Sleeps
 13 Cavities missed or ignored by previous dentists, but found and filled here
14  A dozen delightful new friendships—John and Kristy Craig, to name one
2014’s Fall
15  Love shown in Orange: a table of sympathy full of orange flowers, orange lip balm & bath gel, and orange tissues on the hardest day of my year
16   A family vacation to Tennessee at the peak of the fall colors, and just when my heart needed time to gasp, to process the death of so many dreams, to gather strength, and to remember that the death of the chlorophyll is what brings out the beauty of Autumn.
17  Forever memories for Dorie and James of their GGma and GGpa (Ethan’s grandparents), a short two hour drive from our NC home
2014/2015’s Winter
18   Huddling up against the cold and enjoying Ethan’s family for two wonderful months—uncles, aunts, cousins, Omi and Opi, and lots of snow for James and Dorie to play with
19   Deepening friendships with Faith Bible Church, the Alianellos, and others
20   Meeting for a reunion with my RBC freshman-year girlfriends and our ever expanding brood—the good old days haven’t died
21   An easy transition back to Greenwood, Delaware—daily reminders of the rich community we enjoy
22   Sending Dorie to my old elementary playground, Greenwood Mennonite School
23   Saying hello to old friends—boxes and boxes of books packed away when we moved to Texas in 2011…we must claim the label ‘bibliophiles!’
24   Settling long enough to purchase a piece of furniture—a family sized bean bag!
25   Monday Game Night with my family
26   Landing a job doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do since high school—helping ESL students and their teachers
27   Reading time with Grandma Alene, a two minute walk away for James and Dorie
28   The joy of caring for elderly again: soapy washcloths, pureed food, answered bells, and wrinkled smiles
29   Attending Sewing Retreat
31.   A new job for Ethan (first day today!)
32.   Eating a Birthday Lunch with ‘the Yoder gals’ at Rondas (One of my favorite restaurants anywhere)

Here is to the changing seasons of life; to spring-green, verdant grass, Tennessee orange, and winter's white. This has been a year of change, but I'd be foolish to only grumble.
 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Lament and A Psalm of Praise --QM

Taken on 2.10.13 by
Wind Chimes at Auroville
Under the instruction of Mary Oliver I've taken out a real pencil and paper several times this past week to see if some Notable Words will emerge on my notebook. I'm not much of a journaler; I like to write to an audience larger than one. Every time I wrote, however, (the dentist office, the minutes between brushed teeth and lights out, a stolen moment before work) only raw, teary words came out, the kind that might be better kept in the dark of a drawer, hidden in a diary. 
I'm going to bring one entry to the light of this blinking computer screen, with the condition that you also read the lighter notes of the second one. My life isn't all heaviness.


 A Lament: Wind-chimes

Outside my mother's house,
like tuneful broken glass,
they tinkle.
The day is cold, the house empty.
The cat meows at the closed door,
the wind pulls at my thin brocaded coat and
I can hardly hear their cheery notes.

The music in my life has been quiet this year,
minor keys.
The wind has shook out each note.
I want to play a different song,
and hear a fiddler's lilting song-and-dance.

But my favorite songs are never ditties,
twitching feet.
I like the harmonies 
that swell and 
Fall.

This season of loss, this confusing year--
Is only the wind
       the bass notes
and soon my song will richer, fuller ring.


My Children
 A Psalm of Praise: Blankets over a Table

The scraps of Sunday's dinner lie strewn over my counters--
The mess of rest.

Strainers
  Beans drying on Plates 
   White-rimed Spaghetti Pot 
      Pungent Garlic Press 
       Syrupy Peach Juice
    
 But the table is cleared,
       cleaned,
            wiped for a ROOK game, already won.
Now the little people of this house have confiscated the space.
Blankets thrown over and under,
A pillow for a secret book
a whispered reading.
The are surprised when I 'find' them, 
When I try to enter their world, I knock my head, adult-like,
on the underbelly of the table.

I'm a clumsy child, 
almost an onlooker,
but not too old to experience 
Thanksgiving at the Table.

Monday, February 9, 2015

It was Evening and it was Morning--at Sewing Retreat -QM

My namesake, Queena Kauffman. She grew up with this bunch.
It's evening now.
I hear one lone machine upstairs, humming across the blue and pink fabrics of my cousin's quilt.
My mom and aunts declared their bedtime long ago, but I hear them still, in their room, talking about their sewing projects
and their old lives
and updates about their friends in the Valley, the Lives that have moved on,
like the water in the river that flows by their childhood home.
The North River still has the same curves, the same banks.
This moment seems like an evening I've known before, a time when I listened to Sisters talking longer than my ability to stay awake.

My couch is cozy and I'm a child again, falling asleep to the rise and fall of my mother and aunt's southern accents.

It's morning now.
I wake to my mom telling me its nine and daylight's 'a wasting.
One of the photo opportunities--a quilt for my nephew.
I was sleeping during their rising but I can smell the hairspray and imagine the bustle. This is not a group that wants to start their day's sewing in pajamas and sweats. They sit at their machines with carefully combed hair, neatly arranged prayer coverings, colorful dresses, and cups of hot coffee next to their Berninas.
Scissors cut,
Machines whirl,
Women whistle quiet tunes,
Circular blades slice efficient piles,
Soon the quilts go from half-formed to
fully done.


It's breakfast now.
We read a verse, sing a song, harmonies weave
Gratitude.  
For egg casserole and fruit and family.
My Grandmother has painted all her life--in oils and on china.
The day moves on, Grandmother talks,
tells stories of Grandfather and
"You know I had nose surgery."
No, I didn't, but we laugh to think of our Grandmother trimming the size of her 'honker.'

It's nap time now.
Some of us venture out to the ocean, dragging quilts along for a photo opportunity.
A long sandy talk with my favorite cousin,
Sea shells for my children,
A break from industry. The coffee pot empties, fills, empties again.

Efficiency is so prized by these women, their speed takes my breath away.
An aunt mentions that "It is Sunday."
They put on a sermon,
Loud enough for the machines to keep humming, and
somehow
David Jeremiah's words are better remembered here, with busy hands, than if I had been in a pew.

My aunt that writes quilts: http://www.delightfulpiecing.com/

It's suppertime now.
We sing and eat and get back to work.
My Mississippi aunt designs a string quilt made of Grandfather's shirts,
The one from Dallas gets ready for bed,
The aunt who writes quilt books places fabric stars on a flannel-graph blanket,
And I enjoy the neglected hot tub.

It's evening now.
The house is dark, the machines are still.
I hear the sound of the ocean, and think of that river in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley,
and these amazing women,
those seven little girls,
working, and swimming, and growing and
Sewing
Together.
30-minute sketches, I doubt I'll ever polish them up for hanging on a wall. The oldest and youngest quilters.
I'm notorious for not finishing pictures--the colorful one is my 'finger-painting' project, to just give me a break from detail work.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Sewing a quiet seam, stiching together a new life. --QM

We have been in Greenwood, DE for two weeks now, and the sheet has been hung in a retirement cottage, just a stone's throw from the Country Rest Home. Here is a picture, for proof:
We've settled in quickly, pulled all our boxes out from the attic (James and Dorie positively squealed when reacquainted with their forgotten toys), made many short trips to see Grandma Polly and Grandma Alene, looked into possible education options for Ethan, and I was hired for a part-time position as a para-professional, working with an adult education program. What a whirl-wind of a beginning! I've been excited and thankful for this chance to be here with my family and Delaware friends, but when I have a still moment, and look inward, I feel the faint catch in my throat of disappointment. In my mind's eye I see us a few years ago, the last time we were living in Greenwood, full of purpose and certainty about what we were doing and where we were going--calling our friends and family to get excited with us. And now we are looking for work, to feed our family, to find a second car, a house, to perhaps even go back to school for something completely different.

At this point of my musings, I'd like to paste into this blog excerpts from a sewing poem. Yes, a Sewing Poem. First, a word about how I found it! Next week my mother and her sisters have their yearly sewing retreat, a week and a half long extravaganza of fabric and thread, scissors and Bernina sewing machines, mothers and daughters and granddaughters all gathered in bonds of industrious creativity. Well, I get to join them for three days! One drawback is that I have a strong dislike of sewing. So, I'm bringing my paints and sketchbook instead, and to prepare, I've been doing Google image searches relating to quilts and sewing. Tucked in a distant webpage I found this little poem that hit my heart. (Click here for the complete poem)

I Sit and Sew

By Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
...

I sit and sew—my heart aches with desire—

That pageant terrible, that fiercely pouring fire

On wasted fields, and writhing grotesque things

Once men...
...
You need me, Christ! It is no roseate dream

That beckons me—this pretty futile seam,

It stifles me—God, must I sit and sew?
 
Its not that I don't enjoy Greenwood, in fact I'm thrilled to be in the ESL field, its a life-long dream. But as I read this poem, I see Alice, the poet, sitting in her home, frustrated that she isn't involved in more than just the quiet things in life. I see a temptation in myself to do the same--to chafe instead of bloom.
Dear Alice, you think Christ needs you, but he doesn't, and you don't know how he values humble service. I've determined to live as his expendable crewman, and if that means to sew at something small, I'll trust that in his hands it will become an everlasting quilt, a masterpiece to be unveiled in heaven's economy. Goodness knows I've wanted and tried to be on the front lines where "writhing grotesque things/once men" wished for rescuing. I believe though, that the greatest front line is the one in my heart, where I fight pride and selfishness, and that goes with me wherever my address.

  We shall see what sort of quilts and paintings and laughter will come from next week's sewing retreat. I believe strongly that creativity has an eternal quality, that in some way the beauty we start on here on earth will be taken up again in Heaven. I'm proud of the way my mother has given herself to her great quilting talent, and she always makes me wish I would paint more (For a glimpse of her work, visit her blog).

I found another little piece in my web-hunt, with quite a different attitude toward sewing than Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, and I'll close with this quote from the fictional 'Aunt Jane of Kentucky' by Eliza Calvert Hall (Here's her book):

"I've been a hard worker all my life, but 'most all my work has been the kind that 'perishes with the usin',' as the Bible says. That's the discouragin' thing about a woman's work. If a woman was to see all the dishes that she had to wash before she died piled up before her in one pile, she'd lie down and die right then and there. I've always had the name o' bein' a good housekeeper, but when I'm dead and gone there ain't anybody goin' to think o' the floors I've swept, and the tables I've scrubbed, and the old clothes I've patched, and the stockin's I've darned, but when one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren sees one o' these quilts, they'll think about Aunt Jane, and, wherever I am then, I'll know I ain't forgotten."

Here's to the small things in life, to living in Delaware, to sewing a quiet seam.