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
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
David Jeremiah's words are better remembered here, with busy hands, than if I had been in a pew.

My aunt that writes quilts:

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
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.


  1. Oh Queena. You have said it all so very well. It's so nice to have you here too.

  2. Hey, Queena, you haven't met me, but I am a friend of your mom and your aunts. I LOVED this blog about the sewing retreat! It makes me feel like I am right there!

  3. Tell Julia I LOVE all the mentions of "the Valley." Longing for home...Marleen

  4. perfectly written…you have a beautiful mind :)

  5. Queena girl, this is a wonderfully written post. Your words stiched a lovely quilted scene. Made me right misty-eyed. You have great talent.

  6. So neat to catch a glimpse into the day. You really captured your aunties.

  7. You are a very talented writer. I am thinking talent runs rich in the veins of this family. :)

  8. Enjoyed reading your post and thanking God for all the beauties you have mentioned, from relationships to colorful fabric.