diggingupbonesbratkin

This blog is just me, talking about whatever is flipping my switch on any given day. Sometimes that will mean I’ll be exhuming things better left alone.

Carnival Glass — June 7, 2018

Carnival Glass

She was 21 and he was a few days from his 31st birthday in 1929 as they strolled hand in hand around the county fair in the September heat.  There were plenty of chickens, cows, horses, sheep, and other animals at the fair and the building housing exhibits was full of canned goods and handmade craftsall displaying ribbons they had garnered – or not.  She led him to the crochet and embroidery section to show him the blue ribbons her work had earned and then they ambled out to take in the carnival that always came to town when there was a fair.

carnival pitcher

They rode the Ferris wheel, passing the shooting booth and the sword swallower who also swallowed fire. They discussed and wondered why anyone would want to swallow either of those things. And then there they were, right in front of a penny pitch. The stair-stepped display held such lovely dishes and all you had to do to get one was to toss a penny into it.  To show off his skill in throwing he stepped up to the line with five pennies in his hand. He asked her which dish she wanted and she pointed to a large shallow bowl on the lower shelf. It was marigold colored and iridescent and would look lovely on a dining table.

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After three tosses, he learned that pennies went into shallow dishes but they also slid out the other side. In trying to get a penny to stay in the bowl he elevated his pitch to try to get the coin to come straight down into the bowl. He over-compensated and the penny landed in a smaller basket weave bowl and stayed there. With great ceremony, he handed her the small carnival glass bowl and offered to keep trying for the larger one if she wanted him to.  No, she didn’t want him to spend more of his money trying to get a different bowl, he had already wasted four pennies to get the small one and she was just as glad to have it as a small one would be as good as the larger one as a good reminder of their day.

Three months later they married and began their family in the first year of marriage. It wasn’t until 13 years later I came along and called them mom and dad and became the last of their eight children.

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The little carnival glass bowl was kept by mom all of her life and came to me after she passed away. I have no daughters to pass it to so it is going to my niece, my sister’s daughter, and will, I hope, stay in the family and the story be told after I’m gone.

Yes, I still have the vase that held the dozen roses he sent her on their first anniversary, but that’s a story for another time.

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Southern Propriety — May 24, 2018

Southern Propriety

Where are you from?

Who are your people?

Where do you attend church?

All of these are considered polite conversation openers in the South. And it doesn’t matter whether it is a friend to friend conversation or a business conversation, people in the South like to know who they are talking with.

Hinshaw House edited

And as soon as one of these questions is answered the following conversation will be trying to fit your answer into what is known by the person asking the question.

If you say you are from Bay then immediately the person who asked will want to know if you are related to or if you know a person or persons in Bay that the questioner knows. If you say who your people are then you are going to be asked if they are related to other people of the same name or if you give out your church information they you are going to be regaled with stories of others who attend that church or you will be asked how some old person who attends that church is doing.  All of this is the polite way to converse and gives the other person an opportunity to decide if you are “their kind” of person.  If you are going to be accepted into the community or if you are going to do business with them, you best hope you are found to be “their kind.”

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Once you fit into the community, or tribe, then you are accepted and can make friends or do business, but the “fitting into” has to come first for Southerners.

If you are not from a local community, have no people in the area, have not attended a local church yet, then you begin to make your own tribe by attending a local church and participating in activities, sign up as a volunteer at the library or hospital, or go to a neighbor and ask to borrow a cup of sugar. Yes, you can actually meet your neighbors and connect with them by doing this, it is immaterial whether you need the sugar, just take a cup and knock on the door. It’s a time-honored tradition.

People who forget these rules and try to get along in the South will find their way very much like slogging through molasses. A lot of effort for very little progress.

Bless their pea-picking hearts.

Unity Baptist Church

Are All the Children In? — May 12, 2018

Are All the Children In?

As the youngest of Mom’s nine children, I remember very well how busy Mom stayed with the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, and all the stuff that went into raising a houseful of kids.

We lived in a small town in the middle of America and knew all of our neighbors as we were known. It was a time of making do with what one had and being very self-sufficient. Mom dosed us for all sorts of ailments and only sent us to the doctor for broken bones or stitches. She knew exactly how to cook the wild game my brothers brought home from the woods and however she fixed it we ate it and thought it delicious.

Our big old house was right in the middle of the little town and the hill it sat on was covered with playing children. Mom would come to the front porch and call us in when it was mealtime or if she wanted us for a particular reason.  And as we gathered around the table Mom might look around and ask where a particular child was if he was missing from the pack. Or she would look around and ask, “Are all the children in?” Sometimes one of us would remind her that one of the boys was staying overnight with a friend or that one of us was on the farm with our grandparents.

Hinshaw House

When bedtime came, Mom always checked to be sure all the children were in and accounted for. That is why I thought of her again today when I read this poem. We kids had this read at her funeral and then I read it at my brother Robert’s funeral and it was read at my brother John’s funeral and I hope will be read at mine. You see, I’m the last of Mom’s kids left in this world and when I’m gone all the children will really be in again. Mom is going to like that.

 

I think oft times as night draws nigh
Of the big old house on the hill,
Of a yard all wide and blossom-starred
Where the children played at will.
And when the night at last came down
Hushing the merry din,
Mother would look around and ask,
“Are all the children in?”

Tis many and many a year since then,
And the house on the hill
No longer echoes to children’s feet
And the yard is still, so still.
But I see it all, as the shadows creep,
And though many years have been
Since then, I can hear mother ask,
“Are all the children in?”

I wonder if when the shadows fall
On the last short, earthly day,
When we say good-by to the world outside
All tired with our childish play,
When we step out into that other land
Where mother so long has been,
Will we hear her ask, just as of old,
“Are all the children in?”

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all the mothers who read this.

Hinshaw House C 2015

My Home Town — April 29, 2018

My Home Town

porch swing

Imboden is “home.” Regardless of where I may live, it will always be “home,” a most beloved spot. When I think of Imboden, I think of friendly neighbors and the smell of Momma’s many lilacs intermingled with those of the fresh paint on the front porch in the springtime. The old front porch swing was a place for relaxing, reading, watching the world go by and in my later years there was used for “courting.” If more young couples spent time in a porch swing getting to know one another I’m firmly convinced there would be fewer divorces.

lilacs

Sounds also come to mind: the church bell that rang for every service at the First Baptist Church, the clucking and rustling sounds from the chicken brooder house behind the Hill’s house across the street, the muffled tones of company visiting with my parents on the front porch of our house during summer’s long evenings. And, I remember the soft, secure, and comforting sounds of our big dog Major and my personal dog, Trixie, who I loved so dearly. I remember the sound of the ice cream maker being cranked and the wonderful feel of bathing in the creek that ran beside the cemetery.

The people of the community – many gone, some still there – pass by my mind’s eye as if in a review. Imboden people are special. They are loving, kind, and supportive. A triumph or grief experienced by one is felt and shared by all. Is my old hometown still filled with people like this? In my mind it is.

The memories go on and on and they are precious. I am thankful for the experience of growing up there, and for the memories of the place, I shall always carry with me.

The name “Imboden” is derived from the fact that the Benjamin Imboden family settled at that location before others came to the area.

The old Sloan Hendrix Academy, a prep school for Hendrix College, was our main place of learning, society, and entertainment. We had a great auditorium and the junior and senior classes put on plays every year and the people in all the communities came to see them and were entertained.

On Saturdays, in the summertime, the local merchants had Trade Day Drawings and folks from miles around came to town on Saturday hoping their name would be drawn for a prize.

I’m so pleased I grew up where we all knew our neighbors and were congenial. It is a good memory.
Hinshaw House
 

Social Media in 1945 — April 26, 2018

Social Media in 1945

coffee grinder

In the 1940’s when I was a child, the local post office and mercantile store were not just places where we got our mail and our groceries. They were where we also got our local gossip, recommendations for a babysitter, a maid of all work, a handyman to fix stuff, a mechanic for the car, or an electrician to wire the house now that rural electrification had come to the hills of Arkansas.

If you could not rely on the grocer or postmaster to give you a fair recommendation, you might as well pack up and move on because no one would use you for whatever service you provided.

The conversation might go something like this; “Good morning, Mrs. Hinshaw. How did your driveway hold up after all the rain last night?”

Mom would reply, “Pretty good though I think we are going to have to have someone come along with a grader pretty soon and knock the tops off some of the rocks.”

As the postmaster handed out the mail he would say, “Just let me know when you’re ready and I’ll give you the name of a reliable worker.”

That would be that until mom needed the grading done and then a name would be supplied, the worker would come, mom would let the postmaster know the good or bad of the transaction and then the next time the postmaster passed along the referral he would add in whatever mom thought of the man’s work.

postoffice boxes

After visiting the postoffice, we would amble next door to the mercantile and look at dress goods, our favorites were “dress lengths” packaged up by the Dan River mill, and maybe some blue jeans for the boys and those were pretty much always Levi Strauss brand because back in those days there were no “designer” jeans.

We might get a few nails from the nail keg for a home project and they were sold by the pound and put into a small brown paper bag. Of course, I loved the smell of the coffee beans that you could request be ground for you or buy them whole. Then finally mom would hand over her grocery list and the merchant would gather up the groceries for her, bag them up or wrap them up in paper and tie with string, depending on what was being bought. All the while this was happening, we would be casually visiting with whoever happened to be in the store at the time. We might find out that the feed store had baby chicks in, spring onion sets were also in, someone out on one of the farms had delivered her baby and it was another girl. Another neighbor had broken a bone or someone was sick enough to have called the doctor. It was serious if the doctor had to be called in because most of us treated ourselves at home.

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Then we would amble back to our house only stopping at one neighbor’s house on the way to relay all we had gleaned from our trip.

This was our version of “social media” when I was growing up.

store shelves

Memories, Tucked Away — December 18, 2017

Memories, Tucked Away

Memories are sometimes scary but mostly it is the good memories that stay with us. It always pleases me when one of those memories sneaks out of my mind and brings a smile to my face. And sometimes it is the strangest things that trigger the memories.

My granddad used to call me his little kinky head because my hair has some natural curl and when it is humid, as it is most of the year in Arkansas, my hair kinks. Today I was reminded of that “kinky hair” remark for more reasons than one.

Today I opened a drawer and found tucked away three precious memories.  For those of you who, like I, worked in the old Indian Mall in town you may recall the first one. To encourage folks to spend money at the mall during the Christmas shopping season, the mall management offered beautiful blown glass ornaments to anyone who brought receipts totaling more than $100 or it may have been two or three or whatever. But when your purchase totaled that amount you could take the receipts to the customer service desk and show them and they would give you an ornament. I found one of those ornaments today tucked away in a drawer. This is what it looks like. And instantly I was back at work in the old Indian Mall and remembering people from that time.

Memories tucked away Mall ornament

Also tucked away in the drawer was this very old bird ornament. This bird was actually part of a string of Christmas lights we used on our Christmas tree back in the 1940’s. The entire string was made up of glass birds and glass fruit. Each light clamped onto a branch. The clamp is still on this one but you can see part of his tail seems to be missing. That is because the tiny light bulb was inserted there and the wiring was attached to the socket the bulb fit into. When mom threw away the string after it no longer burned, I asked for this bird and mom gave it to me to play with and I’ve kept it ever since and it always got put onto our tree at Christmas. It brings back so many good memories of decorating our Christmas tree with my siblings and parents.

Memories tucked away bird

Ah, yes! The third memory tucked away with the other two ornaments was this precious angel. Yes, I know it is made of pasta and spray painted with gold but what you don’t realize is that it was made by my first-born son and was the very first gift he ever gave his momma. His first-grade teacher helped him, and all of his classmates, make a Christmas ornament. When Kevin brought his ornament home, holding it so carefully in a tissue, he said, “I made this for you, Mom.”

Then I opened it and my heart was glad that my child had made something for me. An angel made entirely from pasta! The arms are elbow macaroni (how appropriate) and the hair is made of alphabet pasta. Then he said, “It looks like you.” And my heart did a little flutter and a purr because my sweet child thought I look like an angel.

Memories tucked away pasta

Then Kevin said, “It has kinky hair too.”

Merry Christmas to each of you my friends, and may you and yours make many wonderful memories together this year. Sometimes all it takes is a few pieces of pasta.

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Christmas Quilty Pleasures — November 19, 2017

Christmas Quilty Pleasures

When a grandmother asks can you make her grandchildren quilts for Christmas and it is only August, it just seems reasonable to say, “Sure!” After all, there is plenty of time, isn’t there?
Next question is what kind, color, and size are the quilts to be. She sent me a couple of pictures her granddaughters had chosen for the colors they liked and the grandmother asked if we could make a couple of twin sized quilts in these colors. Check!

Sandy Craig Whitmire's granddaughter color choiceSandy Craig Whitmire's gdaughter colors - Copy

Her grandson is sports mad with an emphasis on tennis so could we do a twin size for him with sports fabrics? Check!

And then there is the grandchild who likes and collects owls. Could we do a snuggle size quilt with an owl on it? Check!

I began pulling fabrics from my collection and matching them to the colors in the pictures. As I located fabrics with sports prints on them they came out to play also.
With so many different colors in the sports fabrics, I wanted a pattern that would set them off but let them play well together. I could just imagine the young man imagining himself as a superhero in his chosen sport and that nudged me into making all those sports fabrics become what he would see through the windows of his mind. One done!

Through the Windows of My Mind2

Then, because I love to work with yellow and pretty, bright, colors, I started next on this one. Sunset does bring sweet dreams! Especially a sunset over water. Two done!

Sunsets bring Dreams
When I sent the sunset picture to the client she said she wanted the other girl’s quilt made from the same pattern. Three done!

Turquoise Trail
Next I pulled the different shades of brown one might see in an owl. And, of course, I needed a beak and feet and then there needed to be those fabrics to surround her so she looks like she is perched on a limb at night. She became Hilda Hooter to me and I talked to her as she was assembled. Then I gave her some moons to surround her and the whole thing is quilted with stars and moons, thanks to Tina at Granny’s Quilts and Fabrics.

Meet Hilda Hooter.

Hilda Hooter2
I hope the kids receiving these quilts enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.
Then I finished off this frenzy of quilt making by making this USA quilt. Someone, not the grandmother, asked me if I could make one of these. Quite cockily I replied, “Sure!”
Obviously, God thought it was time to bring me down a peg or two. So, this is what the finished map of the U.S.A. looked like. Yes, I see all the errors. No, I do not feel led to correct them. No, I do not want to make another one. But God bless the young woman who asked for it because she took it anyway, errors and all!

USA quilt
You may notice that I learned to do binding the Pat Sloan way. Her tutorial is here: http://patsloan.typepad.com/quiltershome/pat-sloan-machine-binding-tutorial.html
There is no way I thought it would take this long to get these quilts done. But sometimes life just gets in the way, doesn’t it? I had no way to know my youngest son would spend days in ICU and then need a heart ablation nor that I would have what appeared to be a small cancer taken from my face only to find out it was larger than it appeared and would need twelve stitches to close the incision nor that the doctor would schedule a colonoscopy for me. As I said, life gets in the way.
What’s next? I’m creating a monster quilt. Monster truck, that is. Stay tuned!

Fall Window Cleaning — October 21, 2017

Fall Window Cleaning

Hinshaw House C 2015

In the spring, usually around the first of May, Mom brought out the slipcovers for all the upholstered furniture and we got busy covering all the furniture with slipcovers made from blue and white striped ticking. Think of old-time pillow and mattress covers. She did this because she had a houseful of sweaty kids all summer long and this was a way to keep the furniture clean.

When cool days began to creep into our fall weather it meant Mom would take the slipcovers off the furniture and wash and put them away. After all, the sweaty kids were all back in school by then. The lace curtains would all come down and be washed. That meant dragging the curtain stretchers from the attic to the front porch and it was my job to stretch the curtains onto the stretchers. Why? So they didn’t have to be ironed!

While the curtains were down, out came the can of pink window wax and yes, it was also my job to wipe it on the windows. That wasn’t a hard job. But after it turned from pink to white it was time to wipe it off and that was also my job. Mom would tell one of the boys to clean the outside of the windows while I cleaned the inside but that was pretty hopeless. We could never make them see the advantage of wiping up and down while I wiped left and right on the inside. That way, if there were any streaks we would know which side of the window the streak was on.  Pretty important when you were cleaning more than 30 windows!

glass wax

Do they even make window wax anymore?  I haven’t a clue as I’ve used Windex for years. Not all the things in the “good old days” were so good. But other things were. We could be sure of some fresh molasses cookies and cold milk when we stopped our cleaning and took a break. This was definitely part of the good from the good old days.

When the windows were clean the curtains came off of the stretchers and were hung back up, the window wax was put away until spring, and we all settled down to some serious Monopoly play. After all, with eight of us kids around there was always someone to play board games with. This was definitely part of the good from the good old days.

I miss my siblings.Hatcher Hinshaw House

Christmas is coming, the quilts are getting made . . . — October 1, 2017

Christmas is coming, the quilts are getting made . . .

When someone contacted me about a quilt I had made with a flamingo on it, I was pretty happy. She wanted one like it only bigger. The one I had made was crib size and she needed one big enough to snuggle under while watching television, taking a nap, or reading a good book.  Yes, I can make this snuggle size and yes, I can make two of them but you must realize they won’t be exactly alike because my quilts are made from scraps and while the colors may be the same the fabrics will not necessarily be the same.  She was pleased with that and I was pleased with how they finished. You might consider this a hit.

flamingo finishedflamingo finished 2

That same lady also asked if I could make a pineapple quilt and I said that I surely could. And I did. If the flamingo quilts were a home run, the pineapple quilt was an error. But I fixed the error. The first picture shows the error and the second picture shows it fixed.

And to finish off the Christmas quilts for this same lady she wanted to know if I could make a mermaid and, heck, why not, so I said yes to that project too.

To continue the baseball theme of a homerun and an error, I’ll have to say the mermaid quilt was a hit!

And what was I thinking while making these four quilts? I was thinking of the next quilts I would also make for someone for Christmas.  Three twin size quilts, but that’s for another blog.

Something tells me there will be some really happy young folks this Christmas when they get their very own quilt to snuggle under while dreaming of the future.

A Divine Appointment — September 15, 2017

A Divine Appointment

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One sunny Sunday in May of 1965, Bob and I both stopped by Walker’s Dairy Bar in Trumann, Arkansas at the same time for a cool afternoon drink. Some would say we got there at the same time by accident, some would say by coincidence, some would say we were put together at the right moment in time for both of us. We call that meeting a divine appointment.

As of today, we have been married for 52 years. This marriage has been a ride that was much like a roller coaster. Many highs, some lows, a few squeals, a little coasting through even spots, and a whole lot of fun.

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Bob and I have tried to provide what the other needs—comfort in times of sorrow, a glad heart to rejoice with each other on occasions of happiness, a clear vision for each other when one of us is going through darkness, and strength to uphold each other in moments of weakness. There were a few times the boat seemed to rock a bit but neither of us ever thought of jumping out.  We know that it is important that a couple be a mighty sword and unbreakable shield against the other’s enemies and we’ve surely done this.  I have to say that grace and peace have filled our home always. We each pray to be a warm sun for the other so that if one of us falls into a cold situation the other will always be full of warmth. We’ve striven to be a full moon giving light when the other is traveling in darkness, and a faithful star like Polaris for the other. (See my North Star blog here: https://diggingupbonesbratkin.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/are-you-a-north-star-person/) And, after our love of the Almighty, our shared love is the foremost part of all our days.

devine appointment3

One definition of divine appointment is a meeting with another person that has been specifically and unmistakably ordered by God. It is now clear to me what wasn’t so clear on the second Sunday of May fifty-two years ago. Bob and I had a divine appointment, we just didn’t know it at the time.  But we are ever grateful to our merciful Lord for his myriad blessings, not the least of which was putting the two of us at the dairy bar at the same time.

devine appointment