Back on Friday by Maria Wulf
What can I say
Were going Away
To be grateful in Vermont
over the holiday.
We’re leaving later today
because of the snowstorm
rush rush rush
to get it all done
So we can have
three days of
fun fun fun…..
These are the potholders that inspired me to make my Autumn Oak Leaf Quilt. I had this old patchwork pillow sham and cut it apart to make these potholders. The tiny squares that made up the pillow sham have some great colors and patterns on them. They’re beautifully faded with age, making them soft and muted. I also used the fabric that was on the back of the patchwork ( the pale blue with red flowers and swirls, a piece of it inspired my Hibernation Quilt) and a blue and white checkered piece of fabric that was between the front and back. The hot pinks come from Jonne, scraps she had from a trip to….(oh now I can’t remember where, but someplace exotic). The rest of the fabric, I pulled from my collection.
These are my Peace and Flower Potholders. Some of them have peace signs and they all have flowers. The fabric comes from Mrs Pam (Remember Mrs. Pam’s Quilt, made from fabric that Mrs Pam, the preschool teacher, sent me. She makes dresses for girls who need them and I got her scarps, thank you Mrs. Pam) and from some of Lenore’s bandana’s, and a few pieces from my stash (their history, long forgotten). Bright and cheery, juxtaposed by winters dark days.
All these potholders are $15 each + $5 shipping for 1 or 2 and $7 shipping for 3 or more in the US. Shipping is slightly higher outside the US. I take checks or can email a paypal invoice. So if you see something you like, just email me at email@example.com.
Oohhh Delicious….. I said out loud in my studio, squinting my eyes, and scrunching up my shoulders. I had just placed the two pieces of fabric together (the ones in the photo above). Something about those colors and patterns together make my mouth water. I often have a visceral reaction to colors and textures, it comes in handy when I’m making a quilt.
I was working on my “Hibernation Quilt”. It’s the piece I thought would be a part of my last quilt, Autumn Oak Leaf, but then decided they were really two different quilts.
Cozy and dark, like a long winters sleep under the fallen leaves of the oak tree. But this block of fabrics seemed to cute, too much like a folksy decoration you might buy in the Dollar Store. I wanted to move away from that feeling. So I cut off the big piece of maroon corduroy from the right side and…….warm and rich, contrasting patterns, the dark forest floor and something grand for something so small…..
We put our sheep, Ma, down this morning. I asked Jon if he would shoot her, we both agreed that it didn’t feel right to call the vet. We weren’t looking to prolong Ma’s life at this point. So much of our decision to put Ma down was based on feeling, although there was a practical side to it too.
For some time Ma’s been declining. And I’m a bit surprised that I even know what a sheep looks like when something isn’t right. Mostly it comes down to unusual behavior. Which also makes me realize how well I know my sheep, just by observing them everyday. So when we first put hay out last month and Ma, instead of running to it an gobbling it up, like the rest of the sheep, would go off on her own to graze, I knew something was wrong. At first, Deb, her lamb would follow Ma into the pasture. But lately, Deb has been running to the feeder with the rest of the sheep and Ma sometimes wouldn’t even graze, but just stand inside the pole barn. Eventually she would eat some hay.
Then, yesterday morning I saw she had green mucus oozing from her nose. By the afternoon it was gone but this morning it was back. She stood in the pole barn apart from the flock, her neck hanging low from her shoulders and her legs pulled in towards each other. I wasn’t sure what the unusual posture meant, just that it wasn’t normal. She seemed disoriented and uncomfortable.
It was like when our white hen wandered away from the other hens, and mostly sat around all day, we know it was just a matter of time before she would die. Ma is old and almost died this summer giving birth to Jake and Deb. Since then I had the feeling she didn’t have much time left.
So, this morning, I squatted in front of Ma and tried to empty my mind. I was expecting some words like “I’m done” or “not yet” or something like that, then realized I had expectations and truly emptied my mind. I was looking at the front of her face and my eyes blurred, my vision filled with the black of her wool. And I got the feeling of wisdom emanating from that space in the center of her forehead. As if Ma was really very wise. Then I heard the words, It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all one. And I knew the words were referring to the transition from life to death. And transition is really the wrong word because the words meant there is no transition. That for Ma, right then life and death were the same, one continuous forever.
I had no doubt it was time for us to put Ma down. We decided to do it after breakfast, but when we went back outside, Ma was grazing with the other sheep. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. Just an hour ago she looked like she could die at any moment, now she was acting like she was fine.
And this is where the practical part came in. We knew that Ma was dying. And we knew we would eventually be euthanizing her, unless she died naturally first. So it was now a decision of when to do it. She seemed fine at the moment, but the rest of her life would be a series of ups and downs, and with the winter here, it would be even more difficult for her. We could wait a few days and see how she was doing, but we’re going to be away from home tomorrow and three days next week for Thanksgiving so the responsibility for Ma would fall on our farm sitter Deb. This was not something either Jon or I were comfortable with. And the other, very practical issue that comes when euthanizing any large animal is what to do with the body. Our friend Jack was available to help us this morning. He could bring her to the woods in his truck.
We could do it now, or we could put it off. I thought of the words I heard coming from Ma and Jon and I agreed it made no sense to put it off.
I was glad we didn’t call a vet to put Ma down. It wasn’t about the money, although that’s always a consideration. Jon shooting her was much quicker and less traumatic for Ma. We didn’t have to catch her and hold her down while the vet shaved her and found a vein. She fell down with Jon’s first shot to the back of her head. Continuing on, from life to death as if they were the same.
I’ll miss Ma’s lumbering presence in the pasture, her hay covered face and her distinctive baa which always sounded like a burp. And I’m sad to lose her, but grateful to have been able to be there for her and do the best I could for her.
I finished tacking my quilt Autumn Oak Leaf yesterday. It’s already sold, going to writer and artist, Rachel Barlow, one of our Common Thread Give-a-way artists. (Click here to see one of Rachel’s really funny cartoons, but only if you want to laugh). She told me if she were to make a quilt for herself, it would look like this one. That pretty much tells me that it belongs to her.
This is a close up of the back of the quilt. I had a big piece of the horse fabric and cut it into three pieces to design the back. I added the two other pieces of fabric picking up the colors and breaking out of the grid on the horse fabric.
This is how the quilt began, with the blue square on the tea-stained hankie which has one of Lenore’s bandana’s under it. (same as the red, brown and white flowers in the bottom left corner). For just this piece, I tied my tacking yarn in the front to make the knots. I was thinking of my dream of the small oak tree and the leaves going in the four directions.
I know the sound of it now. First a loud thump!, almost more of a vibration than a sound, then the screech of tires. The deer have a tail that crosses Route 22 just south of the farm. And it’s the first week of Hunting Season, when it seems to me the deer are always on the move. Luckily the times someone has hit a deer in front of our house the only injuries have been to the deer. And, again luckily, each time they’ve died instantly.
I grew up in the suburbs and never ran over an animal till I moved upstate. The first time I killed a chipmunk I was devastated. But driving around upstate is like living on a farm when it comes to animals dying. It happens so often, I’ve learned to accept it.
The first time I hit a deer, it rolled over my windshield and ran off into the woods. There was no damage to the car or me, but I called the police wanting them to look out for the deer, so they could shoot it, if it was injured and suffering. They all but laughed at me, but also tried to be kind and reassure me that if the deer ran off it was probably fine. I had no sense at the time that how often this kind of thing happens whether by cars or hunters.
So this morning when I heard the thump and screech I went out to look for the car and make sure no one was hurt. The dead deer was in the ditch across the from the house and the people were already on the phone to the police. I have some bones on the alter in my studio from a deer who was hit last year by the farm. And sometimes, when I look out my window I see deer grazing in the pasture across the street. Sometimes, Frieda even still barks at them. As I walked back to my studio I said a silent blessing for the deer, wishing it a gentle passage. Maybe the coyote will come for it tonight, or the crows in the morning.
I was just experimenting using the water-soluble stabilizer. That’s the stuff that allows me to stitch drawings on a piece of fabric without using batting so the piece isn’t stiff. I got it so I could make scarves with drawings on them. So, I was experimenting with it and put up a picture of this simple drawing I did on a linen napkin, on instagram. Almost immediately, I got a message from Nancy Gallimore. She said she had a picture in her head when she was writing a poem that morning. Then she saw the photo of my drawing and said it was the same as the picture she saw when writing her poem.
I’m not sure how this happens, but similar things have happened before. As I’ve said, I think some ideas are in the air, just waiting to be plucked. This one seems to have been plucked by both Nancy and myself. And I should say that Nancy lives in Oklahoma and we only know each other online (Nancy has the blog Tales You Win ) except for meeting in person, once, at the last Bedlam Farm Open House.
Nancy wanted to buy my practice piece, not that I was planning on selling it. I was planning on putting it in a pile of other practice pieces and mistakes in the corner of my studio. But a story like this is hard to resist. I mean, here we are thinking of the same thing at the same time and both of us making it real, me in pictures and her in words. So I asked to read her poem and if there was a part of it that she would like me to write on the piece around the drawing.
I found Nancy’s poem powerful and affirming and loved the way it went with my drawing. So I wrote the three sentences from it that she chose, put a backing on the piece and sent it off to her.
I’m not sure what kind of mojo was going on to make this all come together but it seemed so natural and easy, like it was meant to happen.
Out of the Woods By Nancy Gallimore
Determined roots find purchase,
Defying ever-shifting soil and rock.
Branches reaching, constantly reaching
Though brush and thicket strive to thwart.
Not the tallest in the forest,
Perhaps not the most glorious crown,
But I am strong, I am supple.
I am tenacious,
I can bend without breaking.
I will dance in the wind.
I will offer shelter through the storm.
I will find my path to the sun.
It was only for a 24 hours, but boy did I miss my computer. It was having some issues, so I took it to a local Apple repair shop and they worked their magic on it. I used Jon’s computer to blog that first night, but it wasn’t the same as working on my computer which is all set up for me. I don’t have any computer savvy, (never even used a computer until about six or seven years ago) I only know what I need to know to do my work. But I was surprised how dependent I am on having my own computer to work on. And how lost I felt without it. So welcome back computer, you are as dear to me as my sewing machine.
I just can’t stop making these trees. I have ten now and I know I have more in me. Now I’m starting to really look at the trees around me. Noticing not just the feeling I get from them, but how the branches come off the trunk. This can only help me to capture their feelings even more. Someone commented that each of my trees seems to have a different personality. They are all individuals for sure.
I bought a big box of cheap black tea so I can tea stain more hankies. Many of the hankies frame the trees perfectly. I’ll drop these off with Kim tomorrow so she can sew them into potholders and have them for sale next week. They are $20 + $5 shipping. If you see one you like and want to buy it, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. These are the five I made today….
I sat at my sewing machine knowing I wanted to do something different this morning. I thought of making some potholders and looked at the pile of tea-stained hankies on my table. Something about the gray day outside made them appealing to me. So I cut one to potholder size and placed it on my sewing machine and closed my eyes. I emptied my mind to see what would come. Then I started to sew.
It was the trees that spoke to me. Each telling a different story…