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Friday, April 20, 2018

Giving is Receiving

One does not have to look far today to hear about the concept of "Swedish Death Cleaning." The Danes have a similar philosophy. If one is not using something, get rid of it. Downsize as much as possible so that one does not leave a jumbled mess for relatives to muddle through when "the time comes."

I started out simple. I went through old correspondence and discarded a lot of it although I'll admit that I kept about half of what I looked at. Next, I decided to find good museum homes for the textiles (pillow covers and other textiles) that I collected with book publication in mind.

World War I silk handkerchief


Today I shipped important, historical silk pillow covers and other items. The recipient is the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. About two weeks ago, I brought my entire collection of World War II textiles to the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. I mailed other textiles to the C.C.C. Legacy organization in Edinburg, Virginia. Most all of the textiles I donated appear in my book, Sweetheart & Mother Pillows. I collected a few more after the book was published. In all, I gave away about 240 items.

Was it difficult to part with these items? Yes, but I know that they will be cared for very well in their new homes and I no longer have to "worry" about what will happen to them. They are important objects and need to be treated with the respect they deserve.

My sister Barbara, in the 1940s, drawing at now antique chalk board


I have begun looking around the house and seeing other things that beg for a new owner. Today I also gave away an antique, free-standing, chalk board that had belonged to my mother. There are no small children in the immediate family who would enjoy using it and I found a very good caretaker for that "piece of the past."

Little by little, I'll see to it that my book collection finds new readers, clothes that are outgrown but still very serviceable go to charity, and other belongings get minimized. When one spends a lifetime collecting things, one spends the second half of life disposing of them. It's not a bad thing, actually.

Many people will potentially benefit from seeing the museum textiles, on exhibit, or online. I remember when my husband decided to take the shutters off of our house. He was lining them up by the fence when a truck pulled up and a man asked to take them all. He said, "Yes!" He had no further use for them, but to someone else they held possibilities! Giving away things is a liberating task. It makes me happy to give something that I know someone else will enjoy.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Downsizing: A Current Trend?

When I wonder why quilting is seemingly losing popularity at the moment, I have to look no further than to the current trend of people downsizing. In general, there are a lot of big, old, drafty houses on the market that are not moving while smaller more tidy homes are in high demand. Could it be that those of retirement age are seeking to get rid of many of their belongings and no longer need or want so much space? Quilting can take up a lot of space, that is for sure! And fabrics and finished quilts need a place to "live."

The Danes and Swedes have the right idea when it comes to making comfortable spaces in a home with only the things they truly love and want to keep in their lives. Swedes engage in a practice known as "death cleaning." That means disposing of items so that your relatives will not be burdened with the effort. It is a matter of being thoughtful. Really, who has time to go through tons of paperwork, books, and other items and decide what to keep and what to sell or simply throw away? It seems that a lot of treasures could be lost or overlooked.

When my mother suddenly went into a nursing home, the task of cleaning out her house and getting it ready for market fell to me. She had already put many items in an auction and sold pieces of furniture but had kept boxes of goods. Some things were easy to toss, like used egg cartons. Yes, she was a survivor of the Great Depression and a "hoarder." But, as I went through other things, I had to make split second decisions on what to keep. My cellar is now lined with shelves upon which sits boxes of mother's goods - all too good to throw away. We kept items that I wanted to further consider.

Mother collected ceramics and dishware. She had a real affection for china tea cups and little knickknacks. I have many of them now displayed in my kitchen along with the ones she gave me as a child. As far as collections go, I have some collections of my own, like pincushions, old quilts that I bought to write about, tons of quilt books, and lots of quilting fabrics. All of this takes up a lot of space. What to do to begin the painful task of downsizing?

One friend suggests giving books away. The local library will take novels if it is the season of their book sale. Books that can be considered "textbooks" are another matter. My books are mainly non-fiction and many are instructive in the art of quilting. I believe I collected all of the books listed on the suggested master craftsman in quilting reading list when I was busy earning that certification (completed in 2000). My books would appeal only to a select audience which makes it more difficult to properly pass them on.

I am also drowning in photos! For years we went to quilt shows and took pictures of quilts I liked best for inspiration. Not to mention all of the notebooks full of slides of quilts that we took for publication before the magazine accepted digital photos.

I wish I could wave a wand and easily place all of items in my life that I no longer need, would never use again, or would never re-read. One friend suggested making quilts for charity with unused fabric. I would not know where to start! I do have to put on my thinking cap and come up with some solutions, hopefully sooner than later.

If any of my readers have any good suggestions for how to downsize or the name of any good book on the subject, I would love to hear from you. I take comfort that some of my friends have successfully mainstreamed their lives a bit and have moved into smaller quarters.




Thursday, January 4, 2018

Two Years Already?

This morning I posted to Facebook that it had been a year since I made a quilt for Hillary Clinton. Then I got to thinking. Just to be certain, I looked it up in my diary and yes, two years have already passed. The new person in the White House has been in place for one year!

My tribute quilt for Hillary Clinton in red, black and white finished in August 2016
 and given to her in person in January 2016.


I heard on the news last night that there was a fire at Hillary Clinton's home in New York. As it turns out, the fire was contained to an outbuilding, thank goodness. I hope the quilt is still safe. She sent me a very nice thank you note for the quilt and for the copy of my book Sweetheart & Mother Pillows.

This coming year I hope to do a lot more quilting than I did in 2017. I would also like to re-visit some embroidery techniques. Currently, I am still hand quilting on a queen size, all-white, wholecloth quilt. I listen to a music CD while quilting or sometimes two CDs. It is coming along. I have several other projects in progress that I have not touched in awhile. Of course, I am making a special quilt for my son that is taking longer than anticipated.

Hope you all are enjoying 2018! We are under heavy snow conditions today and it is very cold and has been for days now. It helps that I am married to an optimist who has already planned out his garden for next year and has even ordered the seeds! Think green and flowers. It may help you to get through these long days and nights of being housebound because of the weather. I speak for myself!

Happy Quilting!

Patricia Cummings
January 4, 2018



Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas: A Time for Celebration

Christmas is a special time of the year when we bring in a tree from outdoors and in lighting it bring joy to the season at a time when it is dark by 4 p.m. In grammar school, the Christmas season would begin with the Advent Calendar. I do not recall how the calendar was constructed and I have since seen many variations but it is a way to count down the 25 days leading up to the Big Day.

"Patti" in 1955 with tea set, Jill the doll, and a Chimpanzee


Our house was always bustling with activity and guests in December. My godfather would stop by with his daughters to bring me a gift, often a "society" doll that wasn't meant to be played with. My aunts and their families frequently visited. The brunt of the work in preparing a holiday for six family members fell on my mother. She would be busy making fruitcake, Stollen, and Christmas cookies. Somehow, she also knew that Santa preferred Coconut Layer Cake with jelly or jam between the layers, frosted with white icing.

We always had a turkey on the holiday and loads of pies: Custard, Mincemeat, Apple, Pumpkin, and Chocolate Cream Pie. You can see that Mother was busy in the kitchen, in addition to all the holiday shopping she did for our family and extended relatives.

Santa cross-stitch that I made years ago


My oldest brother "Jack" listened for the hooves of Santa's reindeer on the roof and would lay bug-eyed until that happened. Then he would wake up his younger brother who shared the same bedroom and together they would go downstairs to see what Santa had left. Somehow, they never managed to catch "Santa" leaving the presents under the tree!

Our tree was a "real" one. I am not even sure if artificial trees were manufactured at that time (1950s). We would load it down with garlands and tinsel that looked like icicles and lots of shiny ornaments and old tin ones that my mother had had for ages. Under the tree would be a ceramic manger scene and on the fireplace our stockings were hung.

Santa ceramic Christmas card holder made by me in 1973


All sorts of small items would appear in our stockings. I always enjoyed finding a new finger puzzle, a piece of jewelry, candy bars and candy canes, chewing gum, and an orange in the toe of the stocking. Santa was very imaginative but also practical. He left a new toothbrush every year.

Growing up, I had no idea of how other people celebrated the holiday or whether or not they celebrated at all. It has been fascinating to learn how the day is celebrated in other countries. Rick Steeve's European videos give a good idea of some of the festivities, especially in Austria.  When I lived in Spain, I learned that most people there do not celebrate Christmas with gifts. They wait until January 6, the Epiphany or Feast of the Three Kings, to exchange presents. In 1972, I celebrated Christmas by traveling around Granada by myself, a college student on winter break.

However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are happy days for you. Music certainly adds to the merriment as do your own special traditions.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Origin of "The Weaver" poem

I recently received a Sympathy card that has lines that have been rearranged and is presented as a poem called "The Plan of the Master Weaver." In copying the lines of the original poem, the name of the author has been lost and even a Google search could not come up with his name. I have a book that he wrote. Here is the original poem he wrote.

"The Weaver”: A Poem

A contemporary of Ellen Emeline Hardy Webster (1867-1950) was Rev. Grant Colfax Tuller (1869-1950), a minister in New Jersey. Her was born two years after Mrs. Webster and died the same year. Like her, he was religious and the following poem is written from that point of view.

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between the Lord and me
I may not choose the colors;
He knows what they should be;
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While I can see it only,
on this, the underside.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
Which seems strange to me;
But I will trust His judgment
And work on faithfully
'Tis He who fills the shuttle;
He knows just what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest
And leave Him the rest.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reasons why
the dark threads are as needful,
In the weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

From the look of the images seen online, there have been a number of Sympathy cards produced that feature lines from this poem. Just goes to show that what is old is new again!

Patricia Cummings