Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quilting Memories For A Snowy Day

Old Lady Clanahan 1984 clay 3 inches tall
       (I sold this piece to a woman in San Francisco, Ca for $45 at a time when I needed the money)
     Old lady McClanahan lived to the left of my parents' house in a shack.( That is what my brother and I thought) The house was layered with grey roof shingles, front, sides, back and roof. A puff of smoke shot straight up from the middle with a little front porch where she would sit in the hot summers, a pan of ice and a white wash cloth to cool her face and arms. I never knew anyone as fat as old lady McClanahan. Her skin was pinkish and her underarms shook like jello when she'd yell to my baby sister, "hey Rosie gal! come to old Clanahan!"clapping her hands together. She definitely had her favorites and I was not one of them. Once, I was invited inside her house that smelled like perfumy face powder, and a potpourri of questionable scents. There wasn't a toilet to use other than the outhouse in the backyard or a flowered pan that she kept under the bed. Her living room was cramped and hotter than anything I had experienced with an air that was humid and hard to breathe.

  The coke she offered me sat untouched next to her shoe boxes. One by one, she opened the lids, displaying hundreds of small bits of fabric from her dead husband's clothes. I was supposed to put the thread through a needle and she would watch me sew two pieces of fabric squares together. When she had enough, the fabric would be sandwiched between layers of old towels and more fabric on the back. It seemed like the biggest waste of time and the thought of sleeping with a dead man's clothes creeped me out enough to stay away from her. When you're nine, time flies and details are lost so I don't remember what happened to old lady McClanahan. She called me an old maid when I came home from high school and that was probably the last time I ever spoke to her.

  Eventually, my interest in quilting consumed my art. It was fun sewing memories together from old pieces of clothing. Last night it snowed eight inches and I turned to my quilts for comfort. All are hand stitched, some took twenty years to become finished. My house is cozy warm, an apple pie sits on the counter mingling scents with the nag champa incense that burns in my studio space. Before I tackle another project, I need to call my sons. Geesh, if they'd only get married, I wouldn't worry so much! I'm sounding more and more like an old lady.
              "I don't like that man much, guess I'd better get to know him." ~Abraham Lincoln

1 comment:

  1. OMG!!! I remember that smell!!! Perfumy face powder... My grandmother's house had that smell. Wow...what a memory you triggered...