Friday, December 10, 2010

Tribute to My Grandmother's Handiwork

Today is Emily Dickinson's birthday--you probably expected a meditation on her, didn't you? But I don't want to steal Dave Bonta's thunder. He's preparing a really cool podcast, where some of us modern poets talk about what Emily Dickinson means to us. Will he keep the snippet of me singing "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas"? Will he decide that my voice was too creaky after a day of meetings and an evening of teaching? You'll have to tune in at his blog to find out--but it won't be ready until later today, late afternoon or early evening.

If you absolutely can't wait that long, Garrison Keillor has devoted much of today's The Writer's Almanac to Emily Dickinson; I love the poem on the site, which imagines Dickinson's to-do list.

My blog posting today comes to praise my Grandmother's Christmas crafting. My grandmother was always working on some kind of handicraft: hooking rugs, embroidery, and of course, sewing all her own clothes, and clothes for my mom, my sister, and me.

As her eyesight dimmed and her fingers got stiffer, she found she could still work with plastic canvas. She made more Kleenex box covers than anyone will ever use. I'm partial to her Christmas crafts. Above, you see a tree she made. It now hangs on my office door, and I'm hoping it doesn't offend anyone. To me, a Christmas tree is a secular symbol by now. I'd be cautious about bringing a creche into the office and putting it up where everyone could see it. But a tree seems innocuous. I realize, of course, that I'm biased.

Here you see one of the plastic canvas ornaments, hanging next to a White House ornament. There's a new White House ornament every year, and they're fairly pricey, as ornaments go. I like the juxtaposition. I also like it, because it makes me remember an earlier time, a time when my Grandmother could travel by plane, and we all travelled to be with my folks and to do Christmasy things in the D.C. area. I remember a time when air travel was easier.

This is a bell pull, made out of some kind of burlap type cloth, but more tightly woven. Even in the days when my Grandmother worked with it, that kind of fabric wasn't widely available. I took these pictures and was somewhat shocked to see how badly the inside front door needs a coat or two of paint!

And below, two more ornaments. My grandmother made a few special ornaments out of 3 plastic panels, not the two.

She used to make more ornaments than she could possibly use, and one year, I told her that I'd love a collection of them. She'd always scoff: "Why would you want these old things? It's just something I do to pass the time." Now I'm glad I insisted.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I came back to admire your grandmother's handicrafts and am delighted to find you celebrating Emily D's b-day. Looking forward to your "Yellow Rose." Also, we both mention Kleenex boxes today in our blogs...though in different crafty contexts!!