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.

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!

Advertisements
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

devine appointment4

 

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.

devine appointment2

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

 

Conversation with a stranger — September 10, 2017

Conversation with a stranger

Hinshaw House editedAs the sun set on the west side of our house, the lavender shadows crept over the east side of the front porch where the swing was hanging. That made it the perfect place to sit and sip iced lemonade, watch the hummingbirds attack the four o’clocks, and have a conversation with a stranger.

It wasn’t unusual for a stranger to stop on the highway that ran in front of our home and take a picture of our old Queen Anne house. It happened regularly. But for one to actually come up to the house and ask permission to snap a picture was definitely unusual. This man had done just that and I scampered into the house to get Mom.

When mom came to the porch so did all the other people in the house. My brother Louis laid aside the book he was reading and slouched out to the porch. John came barreling down the front steps and slid to a stop on the porch. Donald and Milton left the Chinese Checkers game and hustled out to find out what was going on.

The man politely asked mom about taking pictures of the house and told us his story and why his interest was so great.

He often passed by this house and had always been fascinated by it. He thought it was because of its location on top of a small hill, but at any rate, he felt a pull toward it each time he passed. It was at this time Mom noticed a woman still in the vehicle parked at the side of the highway and asked the man who he had with him.  He replied, “That’s my wife.”

Mom told him to bring his wife up to the porch for some lemonade and then we would hear the rest of his story. The man waved to his wife to come on up and she joined us on the porch.

conversation with stranger

When everyone was settled, the man looked mom right in the eye and said, “You are going to think I’m crazy when I tell you this, but I want you to know why I want to buy your house.”

He looked at his wife and got a tiny nod from her and then began his very short story.

“You see,” he said, “my wife and I have been married for 20 years and have no children. But for the last five years, I have had a recurring dream of a house on a hill and my wife and I live there and we have two small sons.”

The man then proceeded to tell us the exact floor plan of the house in his dreams and the exact location of the upstairs bedroom where his two sons slept. He could have had no idea that as he was telling this dream to us there were two little boys, exactly as described, lying asleep in the very room he dreamed of in this house. They were my sons, Kevin and Kent.

conversation with stranger2

Mom hated to tell him, but the house wasn’t for sale and wouldn’t be in the near future.  Then the man drew a handkerchief from a pocket, wiped his eyes and looked at his wife and quietly passed the hanky to her. He looked back at mom and said, “We are on vacation and just happened to see this house and my wife thought I was crazy when I stomped on the brakes and yelled, that’s it!  This is the house of my dreams. It seems to me that if we could live here we would get those boys we want. You see, my wife is 35 and I’m 42 so we don’t have a lot of time left to have children.”

Mom looked the man right in the eye and told him she understood why he might wish to own her house but it wasn’t going to happen.

After more visiting, the man left his contact information and went on his way. We never heard from him again and it would be another 18 years before my mom died and the house was put up for sale.

My grandmother used to tell me, “If wishes were fishes we could all have a fry.” And that is what I thought of as that man and woman walked away from the house that day.

Sometimes even yet as I remember those golden days of a lavender shaded porch, tall glasses of cool drink, and conversations with people passing by, I think of this stranger and wonder, did he and his wife ever get their children? Will I ever know the answer to that question?

conversation with stranger3

Are You a North Star Person? — September 3, 2017
Are You a North Star Person? —

Are You a North Star Person?

Whenever I’m going through a tough time, I try meditating, That’s the same thing as ignoring people except you do it while sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Recently, while meditating, but not sitting cross-legged on the floor, I was remembering – – – again, some of the special porch times we had living in a big old house on a hill with a porch that wrapped halfway around the house.

Hatcher Hinshaw House

My oldest brother, Robert, had been in Alaska for two years serving in the Air Force. He was home on leave and we had finished supper and moved to the front porch to see who would pass by or who might stop and visit for a spell. As we sat on the front steps, Robert told about some of the survival training he had been through while in Alaska.  He had spent hours in the freezing waters of the Bering Strait testing cold water survival gear. He had also been taught how to live off the land and in Alaska that meant learning, among other things, to find and eat ice worms without cooking them.

ice worm

But as the stars began to come out, Robert pointed out the Big Dipper, he showed me how to use the two stars in the ladle to locate Polaris. “It’s the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper,” he told me. “I suppose I always expect it to be brighter,” I said. The way I hear it talked about, it seems it should outshine every other star in the sky.”

north star

“It’s not valuable for its magnitude,” Robert said, “but for its steadiness”. He told me if I could locate the North Star I should always be able to find my way home. Then he explained how sailors and others have, through centuries, been able to navigate by the stars. It was reliable. The other stars changed position in the sky but the North Star was steady and dependable to always be where it was supposed to be and so could be depended on. Steadiness was better than brightness. Being dependable was better than being shiny.

That lesson stayed with me all my life. When I was an employee for someone else, I was dependable. I may not have been the brightest employee but there were none more dependable than I was.

As a married woman, I’ve been dependable and steady. My husband always could and still can, depend on me not to just be faithful but to be steadfast and dependable when he needs a helper.

As a church member, I have striven to be a faithful and steady church member. I’ve never been one of the shining lights of the church but you could always depend on me to be in my pew when it was service time.

As a friend, I’ve striven to be a steady friend to those who would let me be their friend. You know some folks just won’t let you be close to them but I’ve been a friend to those who will let me.

images

As a mother, I did the best and steadiest job I could to feed, clothe, teach, and love my children so they could grow into the person they were destined to be. I tried to show by example that one needs to be faithful to fill whatever role is theirs for that time.

As a volunteer, I’ve taken my volunteer duties seriously and tried to be where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there and do what was expected of me.

Time is like the Mississippi River, it only flows one way. No one can go backward in time but in my memory, those times sittin’ on the front porch with family are some of the best.

And yes, I’ve tried to be steadfast in reading the words of the Lord each day and there is much in His word about being faithful, about being steadfast, about being like that North Star.

Will I eventually hear from the Lord these words? Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Matthew 25:23

images (1)

 

Tender Mercy — August 14, 2017

Tender Mercy

tender mercy2

It was one of those lovely summer days we get in August in Arkansas. Even the air seemed to be filled with joy as the sun shone warmly on the front porch of the old Queen Anne house. The summer rain had come and cooled things down quite a lot and now the sun warmed the little girl who sat spraddle-legged playing jacks in the sunshine. Her big brother came along and told her to pull her dress down, her undies were showing. With a quick jerk, the five-year-old girl yanked down the front of her dress to hide her undies because her big brother knew a lot of stuff she didn’t know. After all, she was only five and he was eight!

Looking back on my life, I see God’s tender mercies to me in allowing me to grow up in a family of people who cared for one another and taught one another because of that caring.

tender mercy

My wonderful grandmother used to say, “Every path has its puddle.”  And I didn’t know what she meant because I traveled a path down the backside of our hill almost daily to go to the post office and store and there were absolutely no puddles on that path. Then one day when I was ten, I was accosted by an older boy who tried to do things to me that my big brothers had told me to guard against. I managed to run away but that is when Grandmother taught me that a puddle is not necessarily a spot of water.  Again, God’s tender mercies saved me from a bad experience.

tender mercy4

My faith in God’s tender mercy means I also have faith in his timing. Why else would my friend and I have gone to the Dairy Freeze on Sunday afternoon for a Coke at the same time my unknown to me future husband was there?  Not an accident, it was all part of God’s plan for my life and another of his tender mercies to me.

Looking back on 75 years I see too many mercies to count, but that strengthens my faith that what happens now is also more of his care for me. Yes, even when I cannot see it at the moment, His tender mercies are over me.

And what prompted my mind to wander down this path? Because the love of my life has had some bad test results lately and more tests are coming this month to find out what is happening to his body and brain. It would ordinarily be a time of anxiety and wondering. Does he have Parkinson”s Disease? Is it the onset of dementia? Things at the moment are in flux but when I think about it I have a calm come stealing over my spirit that I can only attribute to God’s tender mercy toward me. In my soul, I know that all will be well because God’s tender mercies never fail.

Psalms 40:11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

tender mercy3

Why I Sew — July 30, 2017

Why I Sew

Panty2Growing up the only girl who sewed in our family, I learned to use a needle early and often. It was as easy for me as using the broom to sweep. My sister would press seams however I asked her to press them but she did not want to sew. She also did not want anything made at home on a sewing machine.  She wanted “store bought” clothes.

To me, sewing was a duty but it was also a comfort and a mode of self-expression. To my sister, it meant we were poor.

Panty

The first project of any magnitude I took on was the making of a quilt for the bed I shared with my sister. I was eight years old and my sister was seventeen.

By the time I finished that quilt top my mom decided I was experienced enough to begin making clothes.  I made a pair of pajamas for myself and felt so proud as I wore those “baby doll” pj’s for sleeping.  From that time on, there was no holding me back. I chose patterns and fabrics and created my own dresses, blouses, skirts, and yes sleeping outfits.  I had fun doing it then and still enjoy the process of creating. Where my sister looked on it as “home made” I always saw it as custom made just for me.

In the summertime, I sat on the front porch to hem a skirt or sew the binding on the edge of a quilt. Lots of hand work was finished while porch sittin’ and visiting with family or friends.

In all the things I’ve made in my lifetime I never have felt that I was “showing off” by showing my sewing projects to others but like I’m making a statement about myself, about my skill, my patience, my ability to endure endless days of hard work and tedium for the sake of the pattern and of the whole project. In a way, I feel that it ultimately shows a sense of my value as a human being.  I will leave behind things that others enjoy having and using. That gives me a sense of accomplishment.

And it is FUN to sew and create things. Yes, the panties you see on this page were made by me. You may be wondering by this time what my sewing machine and I are working on now and I have to say I’ve just created this mermaid quilt top!  When you are tired of being a mommy or a teenager or a kid or a whatever you’re tired of being, then just sit down, throw this little quilt over you and be a mermaid.

Isn’t sewing, and imagination, fun?mermaid top edited

Granddad’s Wisdom — July 24, 2017

Granddad’s Wisdom

Granddads wisdom7

Some of the most fun I had in the summer while school was out was the time Mom would allow me to go home with Grandmother and Granddad.  They lived on a farm and there was always something to do. There was a lovely spring at the foot of the hillside and of course the small creek that ran from it.  The spring house was cool and that is where Grandmother kept the extra milk and cream until time to take it to the train station in the closest town.

Granddads wisdom6

That is where we lived and Grandmother usually came to town with Granddad when he came to bring the cream cans. She would come up to the house to visit and after Granddad unloaded the cream cans he would come up too and after lunch they would start back to the farm after getting any supplies needed from the store. It was a “top button day” for me if Mom said I could go home with them. That meant I had a whole week of fun because that wagon wouldn’t be coming back to town until next week at the same time.

Granddads wisdom5

Granddad raised feed for his cattle and some cane to make sorghum molasses with in the fall.  When he would come to the house for lunch he would often bring short pieces of cane for me to chew on in the afternoon. Oh, my! Those were as good as an all-day lollipop.  I would chew and suck on that piece of cane for hours until every drop of the sweet juice in it was consumed. That made a “top button day” for me every day.

It was from Granddad that I learned what a top button day was. He talked a lot about what he called “top-button truth.” If you get the top button on your shirt right, Granddaddy used to tell me, then all the rest of the buttons will fall into place behind it. But get the top button wrong, and no matter how hard you try, nothing will ever line up like it’s supposed to. And oftentimes our days are like that. When it starts off going well it usually progresses like that. But if you get the first thing wrong, it gets you grumpy and frustrated and this usually causes you to make more mistakes as the day goes along.

Granddads wisdom4

There were also “top button people” according to Granddad. He would tell me there are some people you like immediately, some who you think you might learn to like in the fullness of time, and some that you simply want to push away from you with a sharp stick. But he and Grandmother were quick to tell me that those people need love too. Just because someone wasn’t a top button person didn’t mean you weren’t to be kind to them and courteous to them and, of course, you helped them if they needed help. You just didn’t have to become bosom buddies with them.

Yes, I miss Granddad’s wisdom.

Granddads wisdom2