Sunday, May 08, 2011

M is for the Many Things She Gave Me

A while back Debbie, of Ann Medd fame, asked me about my mother. You know so much about her mother after all. And it's much more logical to include my mother on a craft blog, given how she actually crafts! Even though I have been thinking about this post for a while, I wasn't able to find as much photo documentation as I was seeking.

This is my lovely mother when she was in her early twenties. See that gleam in her eye? That's me. 

Taken at the New England Aquarium in Boston in 1974. Look at our stylish coats. (Sissy was a tomboy at that age and always wore that jacket.) I can remember the trip to Boston to buy that coat with my mother, aunt, and Maggie. I wanted a plaid duffel coat with toggle buttons. But the women with the dosh chose the orange corduroy with a white zipper with a large circle pull. Could it be more 70s? I grew fond of the coat, mostly because of that hat that they bought me to wear with it. Two big pompoms on the side. (It was so Rhoda Morgenstern!)

This is the first evidence of my mother's craftiness that I could find. Although she used to make my clothes, I haven't found those photos. Take my word for it, I went off to kindergarten with a set of jumpers with matching pants. I'm one of the originators of dresses over pants, you know. The jumpers were reversible, and the pants matched both sides. I think I had three or four sets. (Don't feel bad you aren't a supermom like her. This is the period when she was seeing a diet doctor and was on amphetamines.) She made this butterfly costume. She tie-dyed chiffon scarves and  attached them to the arms of the leotard. She also made the jack o'lantern my sister is cuddling. He is wearing a turban squash for a hat, has gourds for eyes and nose and a long red pepper for a tongue. Ingenious! 

Just what mother's day gift did my mother receive during our childhood? My dad would take us up to Pittsburg, NH (up where New Hampshire meets Canada, bienvenue!) to fish just as the ice was coming off Back Lake. We'd always stop at the 45th parallel* for this traditional photo**. My mom would have a few days to herself. My mom wasn't making our clothes any more but she was still crafting. She did all sorts of things--sewing, wreath making, embroidery, crewel, flower craft, shellacking bread for centerpieces***, home decor mostly. Around the time of this photo, she started quilting.
My mother is the sort of person who goes all in when she discovers something she enjoys. She wanted to get back into playing the piano, for instance, so had a private tutor twice a week. She started riding horses, and the started taking horse riding vacations with her gal pals. So naturally, a little quilting would lead to her and my aunt owning a quilt store. (She also went to quilting camp.) Here's a photo of her (white sweater, dark hair) pinning her quilt in preparation for quilting. (This quilt now belongs to Lee, and mom and I couldn't be happier!)

This is a photo of Sissy (r), my cousin (center), and Shaunda Kennedy Wegner (l), author of the Book Lover's Cookbook and a couple of children's books+. That was our Catholic girls' school uniform before Sissy got my mother nominated to the uniform committee. (It got seriously cute, but I was long gone by then, having lived in navy blue polyester for four years.) To return to the quilt store, sure it's a picture of their first day of school but it's also a pretty good shot of the fabric wall and some of the class samples. 

I know I've shown you some of my mother's masterpieces (if you missed them go here, here, here, here, and here) but this is the quilt she sent me off to college with. I helped pick out the fabrics because I wanted rainbow. (My life was all rainbows and unicorns back then.) You can see how little choice there was in cotton fabric in those days; everything has a tiny print.

Abraham Lincoln famously said, "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." Well my mother's no angel, and I'm pretty sure my father had some influence++, but when it comes to crafting--right down to the starting many projects and finishing few...and late, at that--truer words were never spoken. 

*Note, the sign has changed since the old days
**That boy is my dad's friend's son.  
***There's a craft we don't need to revive.
+I didn't predict that when I was driving her home after school.
++It's true. Just the other day I said something crude, and she said, "Oh! Yore ya fathah's daughtah."


Denise said...

Here's to Mom!

Andrea said...

Great post, SB. I loved all of the photos. My mother is where I got my love of stitching/crafting. We did lots of latch hooking, macrame, candlewicking, candle making, crewel embroidery, etc.
She also taught me every curse word I know. During my lifetime, whenever people say "where did you learn to curse like that" or "does your Mama know those kind of words come out of your mouth"...I have to smirk and say, well, she taught me all of them.
Yeah, not the kind of legacy one wants to leave, but oh well.
She's crazier than a bed bug now.
Although, come to think of it, I think she's always been a bit whacked out.

Happy Mother's Day!

Joy said...

What lovely memories of your mother! My mother did not craft...where and how did I get it?

Miriam said...

You've inspired me to find photo documentation of my mom's sewing projects for me ... which are unfortunately probably buried in her garage.

Your footnoting cracks me up.

Alice said...

What a lovely tribute to your mom.

Donna said...

Great post.

I'm surprised I don't have a similar 45th parallel photo. I know I've got one of my sister and me in front of the Isles of Shoals marker.

Jenna said...

My mother made all of our clothes for many years when we were little, as well. Her motivation was more from a lack of money to buy clothes from a store, but the results were the same, nonetheless. I don't think she was nearly as hard-core crafty as your mother, though. Holy cow! What a great tribute to her and her craftiness! Does she still craft?

Deb said...

I'm so glad that you finally posted about your mother. She sounds like the greatest person. Isn't it too bad that when you go back to look for pictures of things that your mom made or that remind you of her, you can't find pictures. I would have loved to have seen your matching jumpers and pants. I can imagine that they were so stylish! Anything matching has to be!
I did crack up at her going through the period of amphetamines - I think that my mom did that too - at least they get a lot accomplished during that time. My mom didn't craft too much - she baked, which made no sense because she was dieting - rather self defeatest. Oh well, I never understood the woman sometimes!

Do you still have your college quilt?

Katrina said...

What a sweet post about your mom!!!

Casa Pearl said...

Great photos and memories. Those school uniforms - did you go to BG?? Have your parents come up here yet? If you visit, let's try and have a drink together or something!

Siobhan said...

Great post! I think I had a coat just like your sister's in the photo from '74. My mother was all into one stop shopping, so my older brother (and then younger brothers) and I tended to get the same thing. I can still remember my brother's friends seeing me from a distance & yelling his name, sure it was him. Oh, and deciding before our trip to Kenney's what color stripe we'd get on our matching sneakers...

Lee said...

I did a double take when I saw the Irish chain quilt! My progress is achingly slow, but it'll get done one of these days.

My first job was to find all threaded and parked needles!