Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I had a recent memory of being at my grandmother’s on a cold winter day.  I was about 11.  She was in the kitchen doing her thing:  preparing vegetables, polishing a brass candlestick, making tea, whatever was required.  I wandered in and out of her realm doing my thing:  sewing, coloring, reading, knitting, whatever.  The snow was piled up outside from a storm the day before, music wafted from the hi-fi, my grandfather was in the city working and wouldn't be home for hours.  Still, we knew we belonged right there; we didn't need to step out anywhere.  There were no cheap goods to buy.  If Nana needed something new whether it was a simple dishtowel or a new dress, she would wait to buy the best she could or make one.  There was no frantic foraging for things.  We knew we had enough, and most of the time we used what was in the house.  If we needed to wrap a gift, we found the perfect thing, an old map and a scrap of ribbon from last year’s Easter basket, or a piece of colored tissue paper we found in a bottom drawer.  We were both neatly dressed even though we were indoors all day:  Nana in a pretty winter dress and an apron she made herself.  Me, in cute slacks and matching top my mother probably bought at Arthur's , the first local designer outlet where they had free popcorn for kids while moms sifted through Pierre Cardin dresses, Villager poorboys, or real leather shoes. We didn't have noisy tinny sounding video games and never watched TV until after dinner.  Most likely I was crafting something such as scrapbook made of felt pages Nana bought, using her discarded sparkly Christmas cards to fill the book.  The glue came from a small glass bottle with a rubber applicator you pushed down on, no fancy super stuff.  Her pinking shears created all the embellishment those cards needed.  No fancy stickers, do-dads, printed matting, etc.  For we were very discerning back then.   In whom we spent time with, what we wore, what we didn’t buy, and how we lived our days.

I use to be a personal assistant to a psychologist who worked at home, a very nice woman.  One day, she had a friend over.  I thought they would leave the house, go shopping or to see a movie and I would be alone to work.  Instead my boss and her friend picked flowers from the garden and together made a spring bouquet, baked bread and made soup from scratch (and shared), and then played the piano together.  They hung out.  Goofed off.  I was flummoxed:  why weren't they doing something?  But they were.  They were just being.

A friend recently told me about her joy in crocheting again.  She’s making an afghan for her second daughter who lives away.  It’s creamy white with a rose in each square, symbolic of a rose in winter for the snowy December day her girl was born.  It is amazing to my friend that the spell of her computer has been broken while she becomes reacquainted with her crochet hook.  For now, she's making a forever gift for a loved one instead of being “plugged in”.  It’s discernment with a loving purpose.
(credit: Jesse Wilcox Smith) 


  1. Oh my. You've outdone yourself with this post and your depiction of a simpler time. How kind of you to conjure up such beautiful memories for me. You see....

    Some of the happiest days of my life were spent with my grandmother. We worked in her garden and small orchard. From both came delicious peach cobblers and string beans held in her apron to be "snapped" for dinner. Some days she would have friends over in the afternoon and the quilt held aloft on a frame would be lowered to the middle of the living room. I can still see the patterns of each square as I played house underneath. That was my magical roof you see. To this day, if I smell orange blossom I am transported back to early evening baths with fairy bubbles and lovely flannel pajamas she made for me.

    Thank you, Emily.

  2. So beautifully put! I love to be reminded that we all need to be present in our lives.

  3. I just love the word picture you've painted here,'s precious and I'm so glad you shared. Vintage Traveler is right...we can't touch the future, but we can draw from the past to enhance our present. Staying PRESENT in those moments is a gift...pun intended! Thanks for sharing these precious moments of yours! Love, K.

  4. Lovely writing. And now I wish I could stop looking at beautiful fabric on the internet and make something from the beautiful fabric I already own.