Thursday, June 1, 2017

This Little Book

I know I have bigger and more important things to write about since we just got back from the most wonderful trip, but when I was looking for a notebook to take some notes this morning, I found this.

From the looks of the first entries, I bought it for my heirloom/smocking classes in Meridian.  I think the year or so I spent in the company of this group of ladies was one of the happiest times of my life.

I had no grandchildren at the time and none expected any time soon, but I had always loved smocked clothing and embroidered and delicate heirloom baby clothing.  When we moved to Meridian, I was working in the afternoons and evenings, and Mike worked too far away to come home for lunch, so I had every morning to get into whatever mischief I could find.

The first thing I did was take a course in tatting.  A local community college offered classes, and I had always wanted to learn.  My grandmother had done beautiful tatting, but by the time I was ready to learn, she was too shaky to teach me the intricate stitches.

We had a sweet funny lady to teach us.  She was well into her 80s (at least) and had the strange first name of Fritz.  We all sat around a table and followed her directions - and she was not one for giggling or messing around.  She was serious!  I think I was the worst pupil in the class and thought I would never get that final little satisfying knot that told me I could tat!

Once I did though, it was so much fun.  Before I finished the class, Daddy had a fall that he never recovered from, and I packed up and went to Andalusia to help take care of him his final few weeks.  He knew very little but had to be watched constantly to make sure he didn't try to get up, so I would sit beside him and talk to him and practice my new hobby - hour after hour, day after day - until he finally passed away.  You would think I would have gotten to be a master tatter with all that practice, but I never really did much more with it after that - because I found out about the Meridian Senior Center from Fritz.

She taught there, and even though I wasn't a senior yet, I could pay $10 a month and enjoy everything the seniors enjoyed.  I went a few more times for tatting but wandered around and discovered the heirloom smocking class.  Teresa Anders, a retired classroom teacher, was our instructor, and she was GOOD.  Fun but a stickler for doing it the right way.  I remember showing her a facing I had tacked down with some stitch, and she kind of cocked her head and said, "I think you can make it look better."  I knew then not to take any shortcuts.  We had at most 4 or 5 people on a given day, and what fun we had.  I would take that day off and drag my sewing machine and all my "stuff" to the center, work and play all morning, then eat lunch and go into the afternoon.  That night, I would sit in the sunroom and smock and sew to my heart's content.  Happy days for sure.

I am amazed when I look back at pictures and see all the things I created during that time.  This is the first thing I made.  We had such a laugh over the fact that I made some mistake with the neck, and it was big enough to go over my head.  With help, I managed to make it presentable.

I don't think I could do it now, but under the watchful eye of Teresa, it seemed all things were possible.  I looked at a dress in a magazine and asked her, "Could I do this?"  She said, "I don't know why not." and she was right.  I could do it and did.

I have pages of detailed settings for my machine and measurements and even color combinations that I liked for smocking.  But flipping through the pages, I saw I had used this little notebook for other things - all of them evoking some memory..

There are a couple of pages of furniture measurements to see how they would fit in the new house in Greensboro.   That move was exciting but bittersweet, leaving our good neighborhood friends and the house we loved, not to mention my smocking friends.   I had finally bought furniture I loved, and I have very few pieces of it now.  The list and measurements of all those pieces makes me have tears in my eyes, even though I'm enjoying not having so many things and so much furniture.  That sunroom couch that I spent so many happy sewing hours is now my living room sofa - not ideal, but I can't part with it!

Next are some directions and addresses and a list of supplies.  This was one of several classes Sherry and I took, all just good memories and lots of fun.  I hope we have another chance to do that one day, meet and quilt and laugh and make grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron in the hotel room.    Just looking at the lists, I could remember what we worked on and how much fun we had, especially in the Jenny Neimeyer class.  Crazy quilters on the back row laughing at our mistakes.  Our last class together, we had just found out we were going to be grandmothers for the first time.  We had our ultrasounds to compare, and I don't think anyone could have been happier than we were at that time.

There are a couple of grocery lists in the book - one looking like a Weight Watchers menu from the class I took with my neighbor Kay.  Never has losing weight been so much fun - except for the 6 a.m. walks I had to take with another neighbor Nancy and a neighbor dog - the extremely overweight cocker spaniel who gamely met us every morning and trudged along with us.  I wish I could remember her name - Molly, I think.  We would cross a road and walk on a high school track, and one morning Molly flushed out an armadillo that sounded more like a bear thrashing around and caused us to burn a few more calories that morning running away.  These ladies were hard to leave.  Kay and Jerry moved to Florida, and she died a few years ago, and I lost touch with Nancy, but I still have those good memories.

The next pages are filled with instructions for a "tote and mini-tote."  That was the class where I met my friend Barbara in Montgomery at the Kudzu Blossom quilt shop.  She had a new sewing machine and was having trouble figuring out which was her quarter-inch foot, and I followed the wrong directions and ended up with the mini tote which thankfully Mama loved, so all was not lost.  Barbara and I bonded over our problems and have had a lot of quilting fun since then.  I treasure her friendship, and we're doing the best we can to keep in touch with 2000 miles separating us.  We met on my last trip to Georgia and had lunch and lots of conversation plus getting to see some of her work - I know another person who actually gets things done!

I have a page with my medications listed, so this little notebook went to the doctor with me, I guess.

Then the rest of the book is devoted to Baby Graysen.  Once I found out there was going to be a baby, I started making lists.  I have instructions for a crib sheet, the giraffe pillow, and the shadow stitch pillow for her nursery.  Burp pads and changing pads, smocked dresses and playsuits.  I did things then and followed through.  I wish I could do that now!

The last section I have is labeled BOOKS and is 5 pages of books I guess I wanted to buy or borrow to read to the new baby.

Looking through the list, many of them have been read to the girls over and over, and it gives me a nice list now for the next trip to the library.

I wonder what these next blank pages will hold.

Hopefully a list of ALL the projects I have waiting for me in the sewing room.  I'm glad I wrote down these details because otherwise I would have forgotten a lot of these happy times.

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