Tuesday, June 22, 2010


When I was a child these were called “pillow slips.” They were line-dried, sun-bleached a dazzling white, starched and pressed to a smooth, fragrant finish before slipping on feather pillows when the bed was changed.

This set of slips belonged to my mother and were made for her by my twin sister. That makes them very special, wouldn’t you say? They are on their way to a new home. They are going to someone very special: the lovely young lady who, Lord willing, on July 11, will become my third granddaughter-in-law. It just so happens that her wedding colors are yellow and blue, so it’s a perfect fit for the precious bride. We’re not given much to “in-laws” around here, though. Just as we have four children born to us and their spouses who became our own when gifted by marriage; we do and will think of her as a welcome new granddaughter.

It’s summer and family reunion time. The crocheted collar will go to the family reunion auction. A couple years back I made one for a cousin who seemed very pleased to receive it…perhaps another cousin will consider picking it up as a reunion remembrance.

Family traditions and remembrances are often the simplest of things tied to small items that generate deep affection with their connections. Very often our dear treasures began as a wisp of thought or action. Family love is precious … pass it on!

Friday, June 11, 2010


Nearly all of my sewing/piecing gets sandwiched in between the sundry items that appear on my Barnside to-do list. I’m thankful that the list is rarely so heavy or lengthy that there’s no room for at least a few seams…between times.

About the quilt top: the squares (back to those old-faithful HST stars) were done some weeks ago, so today I worked out starry sashes between loads of laundry. Just as I was about to join the rows, DH brings in a few gallons of strawberries. Guess it was time for a strawberry break.

Our “big as peaches” strawberries from Gurney’s are something of a disappointment. In size, they are more like radishes than peaches, and small radishes at that. DH sent a note off this afternoon telling Gurneys the only thing whopper about these strawberries is the story the salesman wrote when he was trying to sell them. [Can’t blame DH for wanting a refund…he’s put a lot of time, work and expense tending that patch for such little return.] On the up side, the berries are nice and red on the inside and make lovely juice with just a little sweetening. Without any sweetener, it's close your eyes and try to guess the flavor. I know, ‘cause I tried a few as I was capping them. (Like the man said, it’s no sin to taste test a few as you go.) They get capped – and tested – and sent off to the freezer or refrigerator for eating sooner or later. I’m thinking they’d make very good ice cream….

Back to the quilt…it will take its place (third) in my “baby quilt stash.” The grandchildren are getting married and it’s reasonable to suppose there will one day be great- grandchildren. (We still like to do things in that order in this family:). It may be some time yet before they come along, but with seventeen grand-angels in line, I figure I need a head start on the great-angels’ baby blankets. (Pity the daughters and granddaughters who will be stuck with the task quilting the stack.) Don’t know how many I’ll get to pass along personally, but that doesn’t matter to me so much. The Lord knows…and I can work with a full heart toward whatever future is in store.

This quilt’s name is: “Catch a Falling Star - and put it in your pocket.” It is unlikely that its beneficiary will ever know Perry Como’s whimsical tune of the same title; but that precious one will know that I loved him/her long before birth. Every child should know they were loved long before they were born!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Sometimes a girl just needs a little bit of fun. You know what I mean - something that seems productive, but doesn't take break the energy or time bank. This "Li'l Bits" wall quilt qualifies.

It took not too much energy; but a whole lot of patience (for a novice). Still, I'm glad I kept plugging along to the finish line for a completed project - that's always a lot of fun. This done, I have a second pattern (thanks Sandy) and am more confident about approaching it.

Next time I will NOT use the paper copy (I made in case I messed up a block) but the tissue paper copy. Getting all those tiny computer paper scraps loose from the back was very time intensive! That's what surgical snips and tweezers do pretty well, though.

Since it's a little bit of a quilt, will I be brave enough to quilt it myself? Hm.m.m.m.m.m. That's a novel idea.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


• GREW UP A COUNTRY BOY – he knew barefoot summers with frequent swims in Elk River. He shared a single bedroom with all of his siblings, where the cracks in the board walls allowed snow to blow in atop their covers (of quilts and coats) on stormy winter nights.

• HAS ALWAYS KNOWN THE WORTH OF CLOSE FAMILY TIES - next to youngest among seven children of a coal miner and his young wife (I say young because his dad was 30 years his mother’s senior – born in 1885, the same age as my granddad). By all indications his parents were devoted to each other and to their children; a family tradition that remains to this day. Could be why preserving even greater closeness in his own family is paramount to him.

• WAS SHYER THAN SHY AS A YOUNGSTER – he would not ask his Aunt Margaret for a drink of water when his mama’s hands were busy at other things. He pretended to sleep in the car so he wouldn’t have to eat with cousins who were strangers to him.


• WAS LIKELY THE CUTEST TEEN YOU CAN IMAGINE – big dimple in his chin, slightly crooked smile, amazing blue eyes, an irresistible wink and well groomed crew cut.

• WAS A YOUNG MAN OF UNCOMMON VISION – who soberly set his sights on higher ground early on, knowing where he wanted his life to lead and knowing he could trust the Lord to point in the right direction. Where his shyness held him back; his vision and faith broke the barrier. He could not live for God and be a hermit (or build a life with me). I’m awfully glad he thought beyond being a hermit…

• HAS A BRILLIANT MIND – that seeks to learn more, always interested in every detail; ever searching the nooks and crannies of knowledge that most of us pass over. If activity will keep a brain young, he should never lose use of his; for it never stops.

• HAS ALWAYS KNOWN PHYSICAL ADVERSITY – from early childhood to teenage years to adulthood a series of serious conditions and surgeries have been his lot to overcome. And overcome he does; with quiet courage, pressing beyond pain and limitations. Perhaps, as they say, such vicissitudes build character. I believe he brings character to each challenge and through faith allows that character to grow.

• GREW TO BE AN EXCEPTIONAL PARENT – he is unfailingly strict in principle; and unabashedly abundant in affection. Eternally faithful to his offspring, his charge, he loves deeply, cries tenderly, and prays unceasingly for their welfare. When his head hits the pillow at night, he lifts the name of each child and each grandchild toward heaven in supplication on their behalf. I hope they know that!

• A MAN OF INTEGRITY – he sometimes tells the story of how, in childhood, he told his mama a lie. She taught him the error of that way and it undoubtedly was a lesson very well learned. I cannot imagine him dissimulating in the slightest - any where, any time, any way. As good as his word, his face set like flint for what is true; indeed, for truth. His most difficult struggle in life is awareness of others who have no regard for or allegiance to truth. Truth is his bulwark - an anchor to revere, yet along with devotion, a heartbreaking one. (Psalm 119:136)

• A MAN OF INDUSTRY – his children will tell you their father taught them how to love work. Perhaps (with diminished health) this love borders on obsession. But who can say – it may be that very drive that has kept him out of a wheelchair and in a productive mode so long. This is where brilliance, vision and industry converge. We live in an idyllic home that began as a sketch on notebook paper. He labors to produce ... in countless ways EVERY day. It sometimes bothers me that I cannot keep pace with him -- and then I remember, I never could.:)

• A MAN WHO WILL SANCTION NO “FOOLISHNESS” – his quintessential concept of “foolishness” may be charmingly homespun at times. It could be summarized just so: anything displeasing to the Lord, lacking in faith or counterproductive in practice is foolish. Like all of us, he has known his own foolish moments through life; but I’m thinking he’s grown far and away beyond their pull or influence.

• A MAN OF WISDOM - whose practice and counsel are worthy of attention.

• A MAN OF TENDER COMPASSION – I have often seen him greet beloved men with an embrace and a kiss on the neck. Those good men treasure his regard and are encouraged by his love, no doubt; and I thrill to see his kindness so revealed. His eyes brim often with anguish of others; if you need a sympathetic hand he will provide it with gentle sincerity.

• THE MAN THAT I MARRIED is the man that (over the last fifty years) I’ve come to ADMIRE GREATLY and TRUST IMPLICITLY and LOVE FULLY … I’m sure I always will.

Saturday, June 05, 2010



It’s early June and the weather is already very summery. The sun is up; the cock is crowing, the birds are singing, the church building waits all fair and holy down the road. I’m just a kid and have far to go in this life …but I think this just may be one of the most memorable dawns of a lifetime.

Fifty-plus years later, it seems clearly so still. Certainly that memory has revisited as often as any from my childhood, or since. Have you ever known a space when time stood motionless? When some unknown awe brought eternity almost near enough to touch? Where all about the present was suspended; you feel, if you cannot see, the Hand that created the vision before you? Yeah, it was that kind of moment. Perhaps these days it would be called an epiphany.

And so it is - perhaps every child thinks their time at “Grandma’s House” is magical beyond definition. But this well remembered prospect is simply too down-to-earth to be mere magic. I could not, in a lifetime, describe that Sunday morning image from the upstairs window, because remembering is itself a baptism that stirs countless ripples all the way through the years and through my heart. Allow me to connect a few dots…

Ah, the excitement of a weekend on Tanner; staying at Grandma and Grandpa Miller’s, visiting with aunts, uncles, cousins; looking forward to unannounced kin dropping by. What wonderful people live in my family tree! What we all knew first – humble, genuine living. Easy – never; faithful – ever! It is doubtful our relatives ever thought or imagined at the time how unique and special they were. Maybe I couldn’t guess either, but I loved them all dearly even in my ignorance.

How natural to begin by peering out the upstairs window and then review the ripples swirling all around.

Look down that road! Close your eyes and see:
• Grandpa’s hands and Grandma’s hair
• Aunt Minnie’s smile, when she first brought her boys to visit
• The uncles’ tall shadows across the grass
• Cars slowing down for holes/puddles as they drive the road
• Haystacks in the meadows and on the hillsides
• Folks walking to church in pretty weather

Stand still and call back the sounds:
• Grandpa’s foot tapping out time as he sang on the porch
• Grandma’s laughter
• The neighbor’s friendly “har-ree.”
• The dasher’s clap when butter was a-churning.
• Fresh milk hitting an empty pail and kittens mewing for their share
• The back door banging and potato peelings landing in the slop bucket
• Chairs scooting under the table when the hands came in for dinner

Breathe deeply; absorb the home-bred aromas:
• Breakfast biscuits and supper cornbread
• Sizzling pork chops or fried chicken
• New-mown hay
• Wisteria and lilacs
• The woods after a rain.

And (for the very brave) set your taste buds back on:
• Black walnuts
• Creamed tomatoes
• New potatoes
• Corn on the cob
• Pickled beans
• Real molasses and just pulled taffy

A stroll down memory lane may begin with a single snapshot of mind. I do remember most of these things…or remember my Mom’s memory. The rest we will just chalk up to dreamy imagination; for I think Tanner is a place that lends itself to most pleasant dreams and remembrances.