My mother wasn't particularly crafty though she did go through a long period of making covered coat hangers. She would put 2 wire coat hangers together and then weave two colors of yarn over them to make a sturdy coat hanger that nothing ever slipped off of. She'd give a few as gifts and everybody loved them. After she died when we were cleaning out her closets all five of her daughters were hoarding her hand-covered coat hangers and we even started squabbling about who had the most. I started laughing because the thought of all five of us – grown women – bickering over who had the most of Mom's clothes hangers cracked me up. I still have a lot of them in my closets.
My Gram Werner was a wonderful seamstress who could also crochet and embroider and a lot of other things. I've been doing needlework since I was old enough to hold a needle. I can remember spending much more time making clothes for my dolls than actually playing with my dolls. All of my sisters sew or knit or crochet or quilt. All of my brothers can build about anything. It's just how we were raised.
Consequently I have been thrilled and delighted by the resurgence of knitting, sewing, etc. Every time I go into a yarn or fabric shop I love seeing how enthusiastic all the shoppers are. Every time I attend a needlework group I'm dazzled by the variety of projects people are working on. It just feels good to make things.
Years ago a woman was telling me about how she and her husband had bought a baby grand piano for their daughter who decided she didn't want to take it with her when she married and moved in with her husband. “What happened to the piano?” I asked. The woman said she was sad to say it was in the basement of a friend's house where it was never used. I had taken piano lessons for a few years and the idea of a baby grand going to waste depressed me so we worked out a deal for it. My brother Wayne and some of his friends picked it up and delivered it to me. It was in a sad state – the keys were fine (no one ever opened the lid on the keyboard) but it was banged up, chipped, stained and had huge white rings on the lid where beer kegs had sat during parties. I decided to refinish it. It took nearly a year to do everything that needed doing – taking it apart, sanding it, staining, repairing, oiling, polishing, even polishing up the harp inside. But when it was finished it was beautiful. I had it tuned and it was a very lovely instrument. That was one of the most satisfying things I've ever worked on. You can see it in the picture below – that's my niece Emily and my nephew Adam in the picture, both of whom are grown, married and raising families of their own now.
There is something so soul-satisfying about using your hands to make things. Through all the tumult of the last few years I have focused on four things: getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, eating locally-grown produce as close to its natural state as possible, and keeping my hands busy. It is a good way to live – it helps keep the boogeymen at bay.
Thanks for reading.