Mark drove out to Kansas City a few weeks ago to visit his Uncle Jim, who is in his 90’s, and has made the decision to sell his home (and farm) and move into an Independent Living facility. Jim’s wife, Therese, passed away last year, and Jim is just plain lonely. I didn’t go this time, but have very fond memories of my visit to a family reunion for Mark’s dad’s side of the family, at the farm in 2010.
Anyway, Mark returned with a treasure! Jim was kind enough to give him a steamer trunk that had belonged to his grandmother. With a gleam in his eye, Mark explained that he had brought it home for me – for my quilts- and I was so touched. He researched the trunk and found that it dates back to the early 1900’s.
Another “find” – this time from Mark’s mother’s side of the family, was a beautiful vintage print of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by C. Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964). I can just imagine it hanging in a special place in a cape cod on the east coast, where his mother’s side of the family was from. I didn’t photograph the back of the frame, but it has a newspaper backing on it from a Montgomery Ward sale ad. Refrigerators were going for $175.
Late this afternoon a storm blew through with high winds and heavy rains, but now it is over, and the sky is pink as the sun sets. The older I get, it seems I find it easier and easier to understand what’s most important in this world and this life.
Well, I’ve just completed my first actual quilt on the long arm! I’ve been practicing on inexpensive sheets, and finally got my nerve up to quilt a small baby quilt top that I pieced earlier. Ta daa! This one will go to Wee Care, a ministry at my church that supplies baby blankets to newborns at one of our local hospitals.
There is something to be said for quiet and routine daily life. Not that we’re not busy – far from it, in fact – with housecleaning, grocery shopping, oil changes, lawn mowing, cooking, and laundry – all of which can appear to be boring and humdrum. But these kinds of days allow me to breathe, and savor the blessings of my life. Our very extra-ordinary God is in the most ordinary of days.
Here is the latest from Longsmith Cottage!
You know, even though school starts this coming week, it’s still summer. The days are hot and our gardens look pretty shabby. (which means there’s been very little weeding going on) When we get to this place each year, it’s difficult sometimes to find joy in God’s creation – at least outside. But find it I did, in two new Paper Stitches notecards. Our butterfly bush and day lilies are both summer fare, and they have been especially beautiful this year. I’m so glad I can share them with you!
I was in the 9th grade, and taking my first year of Algebra. And although I had been a straight-A student for most of my school life, I really struggled with the X+Y=Z thing. I can remember breaking down in tears one evening as I was trying to do my homework. Big sister Ann called one of her friends – a teacher – who tried to walk me through it over the phone. My nerdy friends kept patiently helping. And I didn’t give up. One day, one moment, it clicked. I got it, and I actually still have much of that algebraic knowledge today. However, the next semester I went into Geometry. Oh dear. Angles, degrees, relationships – I guess I was too worn out from the Algebra trial to care much about Geometry. I made a C. To me, it was like failing. And it was the end of my mathematical track in school.
Did I mention that piecing quilts uses a lot of Geometry? There are squares, and rectangles of course, but there are also a lot of half-square triangles to contend with, as well as flying geese and other blocks that require some geometric trouble-shooting. My current project is a sampler of quilt blocks from the 1920’s, taken from the book The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt, by Laurie Aaron Hird. She has given a CD along with the book that has templates for piecing 6″ blocks. Easy enough, right? Oh noooo – I made the quick decision to make my blocks 8″, and to dissect the pictures of the blocks to make my own patterns. I’m hoping that this time, I’ll make an A in this self-imposed Geometry lesson!
Here are the blocks I’ve completed so far!
Oh yes, talking about completing – my long arm is assembled and anxiously awaiting a quilt to practice on! Here we go!
I wish I had some new quilts to post about, but truth be told, I haven’t had a chance to sew or quilt for several weeks. I’ve been busy, nonetheless! Since daughter Brittany and grandson Damien have moved out on their own and vacated their attic bedroom, we decided it was time to expand Longsmith Cottage Quilts with a long-arm quilting machine and dedicated space for it!
So up came the old carpet, and out came all of our DIY painting gear. I’ve painted the studio space a bright white, since I’ll need all the light I can get, but the real change is what we did with the floor. Due to budgetary constraints (always present, I’m afraid), we decided to paint the plywood sub-floor and call it a day. I did some research on Google, Pinterest, etc., and there are some really cool ways to finish a sub-floor with different techniques like stencils and such. Some folks even cut the plywood up to resemble wood planks! We settled, however, for a simple gray floor paint – after 2 coats of a good primer/sealer -and – drum roll please – we love it!
I’ve been working on the studio to meet the deadline of the delivery of the new long-arm. It came in this past week! And although it’s still in boxes, I can just envision it set up, and after a good deal of practice, all of the lovely quilts I will be able to make and offer!
More to come!
I miss my daughter and my grandson. Brittany and Damien have lived with us for three and a half years, but just this month, they have moved into their own home. It was time, for all of us, since our house is small to begin with and Damien just turned 3 and Brittany certainly needed her own (and more) space. So I’m very proud of her, but still – I miss them. Now before you get too teary-eyed over all of this, you should also know that they have moved just up the street, within walking distance! But even so, there is a big difference in sharing daily life with someone, rather than just seeing them occassionally (even if occassionally is actually every other day or so). Dami seems to learn a dozen new things each day. He now talks about his home and Nana and Papa’s home. So very bittersweet.
We love to feed the birds here at Longsmith Cottage. That’s what I call it. Mark refers to feeding the squirrels, because they seem to get the lion’s portion of the sunflower seeds meant for our cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, and anyone else coming in on wing.
Growing squirrels has been going on for a few years, but now, it looks like we are also catering to a little (relatively speaking) Downy Woodpecker. Right after a rain, I caught this little guy at the hummingbird feeder, helping himself to the sugary water. Occasionally, we’ll see him perched at the feeder, pecking up any ants that were unfortunate enough to make it past the “moat” on top. But he has also learned how to sip nectar, just like our tiny little hummers.
At first, we tried to scare the woodpecker away from the feeder, with little lasting success. So just as we’ve become resigned to sharing birdseed with the squirrels, we are also quite delighted when this supersized “hummingbird” comes to visit.
It’s all about living and loving. Everyone is welcome at Longsmith Cottage!
This week, as I was stitching up the last of a Paper Stitches notecard order, the lyrics of “Putting It Together”, sung by Barbra Streisand on her Broadway album (back in 1985) kept playing in my mind. I used to have the actual vinyl album, when I had a record player to play it on. But sometime between 1985 and now, I’m afraid that record player and the album have gone bye-bye, as my 3 year old grandson would say.
The song is all about creating art. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. Putting it together. Amidst and in spite of naysayers who don’t get it. It’s also about being true to yourself and being willing to put yourself out there – in your art – for all to see.
So much of the work that we do here at Longsmith Cottage is about creating – if not art, then at least our vision of it. We invest a lot of ourselves into it. Paper Stitches encompasses photographs and poetry, and stitches that put it all together. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. The art of making art.
I’ve just completed our first order of My Comforter weighted blankets! These comforters will be used by counselors in their sessions with very special adopted children. I had such a great time making them, keeping these important kiddos in mind while I sewed away. I’m saying prayers for their peace and well-being, and I hope they’ll feel comforted and loved as they wrap up in their comforters.
The other day, Mark mentioned that he was going to make more of an effort to tell people that he loves them. This is coming from a man who long ago said to me “You know I love you – I shouldn’t have to tell you over and over.” It turns out that he does tell me, countless times, just how much he loves me. But I think he realized that there are lots of folks in the world who need to know that they are loved. And that this is a need that he, in his own small way, can do something about.
My Comforter weighted blankets are just another way to offer comfort and love to those who need it most. – Katie
And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever. John 14:16