Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February Notes

Well, it has been a long, gloomy month in my neck of the woods. A few weeks ago, I broke down and invested in a SAD lamp for my winter blues, and either it really works or I'm highly suggestible. Okay, I am highly suggestible, but that doesn't mean the lamp doesn't work. Could be both.

Whatever's going on, I've only had one or two days of feeling lackluster and sort of "Oh, what's the use?" I think one of those days was because I hadn't been sleeping well, and the other was because I live with an adolescent who believes himself to be God or one of His close associates. You'd have to sit in front of a SAD lamp for days at a time, maybe years, to not feel depressed after dealing with a cranky teenager.


One of the great things about being a writer is that you can go down all sorts of rabbit holes in the name of "research." Recently, I've gotten very interested in quilting in the 1930s. It all started when I watched a wonderful PBS documentary called "A Century of Quilts: America in Cloth." Quilting took off like a house on fire after the Great Depression because it was something a woman could do that didn't necessarily cost a lot of money. Newpapers printed patterns and ran columns such as "Nancy Page's Quilting Club"* (Nancy Page being the nom de plume of Florence LaGanke). There were quilting bees and lots of contests, and you could buy yourself a copy of Needlecraft magazine for a dime.

Domestic history has always been one of my favorite areas of study. I like learning about how families lived throughout history, and what women's lives were like. I especially like reading about what women cooked and what they made. Last week I bought a couple of books about quilting in the 1930s, and both of them are chock full of amazing, beautiful lively quilts. Hard times, yes, but sometimes I think the greatest art is made when life is less than easy.


I'm about ready for spring, aren't you? Do you have any spring dreams? I think my spring will revolve around writing and quilt making. My mom and I are going to the big quilt show in Cincinnati in April, and I'm set to make quilts for the school director and the administrative assistant for Our Fine Lower School. 
This is our last year at Our Fine Lower School, and I'm feeling sort of sad about it. I went to a lunch at the lower school library last week for a visiting writer, and all the teachers there told me funny stories about Will and wanted to know how Jack was doing. It's such a loving, nurturing place, unlike Our Fine Middle School, which is a jungle. Okay, not a jungle. Maybe more like a big city where no one knows your name.

Anyway, I'm going to make springlike quilts and plant some flowers in my garden and look forward to May, when I can go strawberry picking. These thoughts, I hope, will carry me through the next few gloomy weeks. What will help you make it over to the other side of winter (or summer, for those of you suffering through the heat down under)?

*for an interesting video about Nancy Page, go here: http://vimeo.com/28386634


debbie bailey said...

I am in total agreement about living with moody, cranky teenagers. They are so full of themselves. I get extremely irritated at my daughter. At 57, our outlooks on life are SO different. I keep reminding myself that it'll pass soon, but in the meantime, I just wish she'd get over herself already!

I've already started gardening in earnest this month. We can do that here in Georgia. I have a list of plants to buy that's a mile long. Lots of pruning and moving of plants going on now. The worst of winter is over here. Everything will be blooming in March, it's our prettiest month.

Heather said...

I agree, Middle schools are like jungles. No wonder our kids get so grumpy and big-headed as they get older. It's almost like a survival mechanism. Too bad they don't grow out of it until they go off to college and the working world and get a taste of real life.

Heather said...

I went to a quilt show once and was fascinated (as well as overwhelmed) by the quiet history and humble artistry. Looking forward to reading your observations from the April trip.

Spring! Can't wait. Teenagers? Can wait.

wayside wanderer said...

So thankful teens grow up! I've had one or more teens living in my house for the past 10 years. Only 4 more years to go. What a cheery thought.
The video does not want to cooperate but I like the lady with the wrap and hat. How cute. I'm reading the letters of Flannery O'Conner (The Habit of Being). Very interesting stuff. It almost makes me want to write, but I am meant to read, not write. But that is just how good her letters are. She smuggled ducks on an airplane to take to the children of a friend. How could I not like her????

Pom Pom said...

I'll go back to the Nancy Page video. Thanks!
I am going to enjoy the Easter aisle at the grocery store. I am going to hug the big bunnies and lambs that wait there for someone to purchase them. I'm going to knit a bunny, I hope.

I shall buy seeds and draw flowers.

I'm glad your happy light works. That's funny: "What's the use?" YOU are such an awesome writer, my dear Frances.

Gumbo Lily said...

A funny thing...I just picked up a bowl of popcorn, a glass of lime water and came into the office to read blogs on the computer. I thought to myself, "No babies to tuck in or teens to admonish. Just me and whatever I want to do." That sounds selfish, I know, but it is nice now that the kids are all grown up. Your day is coming (and sooner than you think).

I'm so glad to hear that your Happy Light is working! That is cool.

I have lots of outdoor chores and things to do lately that keep me on the sunny side. I am thinking about making grandbaby Ruth an Eye Spy quilt.


Tracy said...

I gave my girls the year of being 14 to be moody and then they had to cut it out. And they have pretty much done that. Mr Busy will get his year in the gloom and then he'll have to cut it out too. If you send Jack over the three of us can sort him out for you if you like. ;o)

We only have Primary and Secondary sections in our school and there is still just one class at each year level. Mr Busy is loving Yr7 - his first year in Secondary. Of course, having his favourite aunt as his class teacher and having been in the school since Prep goes a long way towards having a great time.

I'm looking forward to the coming of Autumn over here - pretty coloured leaves and cooler days are something I hang out for. I'm tired of being hot. Tomorrow we have a small reprieve and then I think we're back to summer heat...even tho it wouldn't be summer anymore :o(

Enjoy your quilt show when it comes 'round. Drool over a couple of them for me will you?

Jo said...

Dearest Frances, I am so glad you are feeling better after your winter blues. And how wonderful for you to be living with one of God's closest associates. That makes you a saint, doesn't it?

Ali said...

I am so so ready for it to be Spring. And my newly minted 9 year old has enough of a superiority complex now - heaven help me when he hits his teenage stride.

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magsmcc said...

Hi Frances, it's taken me ages to comment, though I've been back to read a few times quietly. I was so discouraged by your discouragement! Sons are a pain!! Hope by now March will be established and filled with light, real, produced or inner. I'm making a granny square lanket through Lent. I keep hoping it will take on some spiritual meaning, but actually it's a just a growing collection of increasingly tasteless squares. It makes me smile!

The dB family said...

Once we get through March Break here I will think about spring. I need to figure out what I'm putting in the vegetable garden this year and whether I should start more of my plants from seed.

I am always in awe of the women of the earlier days. How did they get so much done?!? Oh yeah, they certainly didn't have technology to distract them :o).

Hang in there, my friend! Spring IS coming!