I have been asked many times if I like to quilt. My answer to this question has always been, "It is my passion." To another quilter, this statement is all encompassing. Quilters know this passion, feel this passion and experience it every single day. It had never occurred to me that others do not know how deep this passion runs. Cuddle up in your favorite chair, and get comfortable, for I am about to take you on a mystical and magical journey.
Let me take you back in time to when I was a little girl. When the world was a simple and uncomplicated place for me. One of my favorite places to visit was Grandma Hudson's house. Come with me now and I shall take you there. It has been over 20 years since I have been there, but my memories of this place and of this remarkable woman are vivid and clear as if it was only yesterday. Her yard is surrounded by bushes. See how they emcompass the yard, kind of creating a natural fence. Do you see that apple tree there? In the spring, it is covered with blossoms and their light fragrance fills the air. The sense of smell is truly one of the most vivid.
I can remember running into this house, and there would be Ben, sitting on the couch on the front porch. He would reach deep into his pocket and pull out a dime for me. Grinning ear to ear, I would run to the Tastee Freeze next door and buy me a soft vanilla ice-cream cone, and walk slowly back to the house, enjoying every single lick. Grandma's house is a house of total amazement to me. Everywhere you look, she has a collection of different things. Come, take my hand and I'll give you guided tour. In through the kitchen and to the left is the living room. Ah ... so many things here, but remember, you cannot touch,. Grandma collects lots of special things. Look there on the wall, do you see all the different birds on the shelves? The robins, chickadees, quails, finches, oh there are too many to mention them all by name. Notice below all the birds is her collection of white cat figurines. I always thought it was funny how they were sitting below the birds, like they were waiting for one of them to make a false move and fly low enough to be caught. Grandma always did have a nice sense of humor. This lady has been so kind to so many throughout her life. Everyone knows her by Grandma Hudson, and I'll tell you a little secret, it was years before I knew her first name. She is, and always will be, my Grandma Hudson.
Come, let's walk back into the kitchen. I see Grandma has a plate of date cookies out. It's okay if you sneak one, she won't care, in fact, she'll smile softly as we sneak one. She always has something good in here. Her date cookies are the best, I'm sure you will agree. Look there on the kitchen table, see the deck of cards there? I will never be able to walk into this kitchen without remembering those cards and the many hours I have spent here at this table. Come with me, into the other room, there is so much more I want to show you. This room has always been a true source of pleasure for me. For in it, are many wonderful things. She has bought a china cabinet or secretary for each one of her girls and an extra. Every single one of them is filled to the brim with treasures. Some, see this first one here. It is filled with butter pats. Bowl after bowl of butter pats. Ah, what a collection. I could stand here for hours with my nose pressed to the glass, looking , wondering, thinking. So many treasures to explore here. Come with me to the next one. When I look at everything in this curio cabinet, I think of magical and far away places, for it is filled with carnival glass. See how the light reflects off bringing out the many varied and brilliant colors. Oh my, to take each piece out and let the light reflect off it it .. such beautiful glass. Look to the bottom. Do you see her collection of red glass? It, too, is beautiful glass, but not as much fun as the carnival glass. Come, there is another cabinet waiting for us. Oh, this is much more fun than any candy store I have ever been in. This cabinet holds treasures from many places. It is her collection of toothpick holders. If I am not mistaken, there are over 150 different ones in here. Many, many different colors, sizes, and shapes. This collection is precious to me, for you see, she only used two holders out of her collection, and to this day, one of those two sits on my kitchen table. It is turning purple in age, and the bottom of it is no longer smooth, but I look at it and smile, remembering her as she would grab a toothpick out and use it to check her goodies in the oven. I shall always be thankful to her daughter as she was kind enough to give me this piece -- this special piece of her estate. It carries such fond memories for me. Come, there is another cabinet I would like to show you, for this one contains her collection of plates, plates of all different sizes and colors fill this cabinet. If you look on the upper shelves, you can see her collection of cut glass. What beautiful taste this woman has. I have taken each piece out, carefully put it back. Grandma trusts me, and I do not take this trust lightly. I could spend hours in here, but the room I really want to show you is just a little further back in the house. It is her room. It is filled with one of my favorite things, fabric. It is far different than my stash at home now, it is filled with scraps of fabric. This woman has collected, gathered, and searched out her fabric. From little things like recycling the school gym uniforms, to recycling her own clothes. I think that is why I admire her collection the most. For everything here has has come at a price, not one of dollars, mind you, but of time, that precious commodity called time.
This woman is rich far beyond measure. see the small stack of quilts there tucked in the corner. Here, let me pull them out carefully. There are a couple of them I think you would enjoy seeing. This first one here, this one is made entirely from old silk ties. Such care she must have used in creating this quilt, for working with silk is an art. The fabric runs so easily. Here I am getting into the technical aspect of things when I should let you enjoy the beauty of her creations. This next one here is also special in its own way. Look carefully as this one is made from Bull Durham sacks. She would carefully pull the strings and take the sacks apart. To think of the hours she spent painstakingly collecting these sacks. It must have taken her years to salvage enough to make this quilt. She has used Kool-Aid and tea to dye the fabrics to create the different colors. Such a creative lady she is. Ah... this next quilt, Sun Bonnet Sue. This quilt is one of my favorites. All of her dresses are made from flour sacks. This woman has taught me well the ability to create something absolutely wonderful from nothing. I guess you could say it was this grand lady who planted the quilting seed deep within me oh so many years ago. That seed has grown slowly through the years, never being dormant for long.
Look there, in the small box lid by her machine. What a rainbow of colors I see. She must be working on a Trip Around the World quilt, for her 2" squares are stacked in neat piles. It is a sure delight to watch her assemble a quilt. She never glances at the box, it is as if her hands have eyes of their own. Silently reaching over, pulling out a square and quickly adding it to the continual strips of squares. My heart shall be in the envy of the person who shall be the recipient of this quilt. I see she is busy, and we will not disturb her, but before we leave, take note of her glass boot collection on the wall there. So many treasures fill this house. Every nook and cranny is filled with something exciting just waiting to be explored.
As we leave the house, let me pause here in the kitchen one more time. Over the years, I have been in this kitchen many times. My heart is filled with wonderful memories of banana nut bread, sugar cookies, penuche .. ah .. so many wonderful things. Her daughter tells of the times growing up on Whistle Creek. She tells of the hard times they had and how money was short. They always had a milk cow and Grandma always had chickens. Consequently, she became an expert at making things to eat rich with cream, butter, and eggs. She tells of the times when Grandma would save her pennies and buy a box of jello. As they could not afford a fridge, she would make a pan of jello and carefully lower it down the well so it would get cool enough to set. The neighbor kids would come for a visit and always ask if she had any jello to share. Can you imagine the sheer delight in a child's face as they discover the joys of jello for the first time. Imagining the thought of a child's playful giggles makes my heart smile at the joy and wonderment as seen through the eyes of a child.
Come with me now and we shall leave this place as quietly as we came. Let me pull the door shut behind us, but before I go, I want to give Grandma a hug and tell her thank you for letting me bring a guest to her house. I think I'll sneak in a hug and then leave quickly before the tears start to cloud my memories.
Come, there is another grand lady I would like you to meet. It is her daughter, my aunt, Vernie. She is much more than my aunt, she is my best friend. Every day from 1974 until 1994, with the exception of my college years, I have had the distinct pleasure of eating lunch with this lady. She and I have seen many things go by as as we've shared this special hour together. She has enduring listening to me as I have gone through many heartbreaks of my life, from the nasty breakup of an even nastier relationship, through my father's first heart attack, through his surgeries, through the discovery of his cancer. Looking back, I, too, have sat here and listened to her as I watched fifth husband slowly die of a brain tumor, through her son's two failed marriages, through the birth of her grandchildren, through the first fragile month of her great-grandson. She and I have shared many things as this kitchen table of hers. When she told me she was going to sell her house because it had become too much of a burden to her, I cried out deep within me until I realized it was not the house I loved, it was this lady who has shared so much of her life with me. It is through her words that I have come to know Grandma Hudson, Ben, and all of her sisters. Not all of her stories have been pleasant. It has been here at her kitchen table that I have watched the nasty hand of Red Wolf Disease slowly eat away at this lady. Her courage to battle this disease has been a constant strength to me. She has never given in to this ugly disease. It is slowly taking her strength and stamina and gradually eating away at her vision. There are burdens that each of us must bear. I truly believe that each one of us has been given a burden to carry through this life, and how we each deal with it stands as a true measurement of our own worth.
As I stand here and look around this house, I see many things that belonged to her mother, many things, I truly have grown very fond of. I must be very careful here with what I saw and what I look at, for you see, if there is an object I express an interest in, for my birthday or for Christmas, I shall find it lovingly wrapped and given to me. Truly these gifts I deeply treasure and each one brings a river of memories back to me. In reality, I know that my aunt is giving me these things because she knows of my love for them and she also knows that her time left on this earth is not long. It is her way of ensuring that the special things of her world go exactly to the person she would like to have get them.
Come with me to the back of her house, to her sewing room. One bedroom is filled with her stash and the other with her machine. Her stash is so very much different from mine. Her fabrics are sorted and very carefully pressed and stored in meticulously labeled fruit boxes. Much of her fabric came from her mother's collection. I can look at a piece of her fabric and tell you if it came from Grandma Hudson. She had such a distinctive taste in fabric - a style all her own. Through the years, I have been lucky enough to receive a few pieces that once belonged to Grandma and to Vernie. For the longest time, I never touched them. They would sit in a box and once in awhile I would take them out, gently run my hands over them, letting the wonders of this special fabric take over my mind for awhile Then one day, it was as if Grandma had spoken to me through the fabric. This fabric was not made to sit, stored away in a box, it was intended to be used. This has now become my goal, to sew up all my fabric and make wonderful , loving quilts for others. Some quilts take a lot of time, and others not really as much time, but each one of them is special to me. I have photographed all of the them, with the exception of one. It is in Africa and long out of my reach, but I remember it clearly. Such pleasure making my quilts has brought to me and hopefully to others. I have been on a mission during the past few years. It is my goal to make the world better, one quilt at a time, and maybe when my time to leave this earthly planet has come, it will be a much nicer place than it once was.
So, there you have it. Perhaps through
words you have learned something of this thing called my passion, and
you have learned much about a lady called Quiltie.
Wilson & Quiltie (Deb) - taken in 2005
Wilson and I are a
certified Pet Therapy Team.
loving memory of Brutus who died
suddenly in 2004.