I find joy in making things whether it's helping a plant
grow or baking a cake or piecing a quilt or writing.
When my mother died I felt empty. A few days later I got
sick and I felt exhausted. I wandered through the house
looking for something to do, something to occupy my hands
and my heart and my thoughts. I'd cleaned my sewing room at
the beginning of the new year so all my half-finished
projects were out of sight and when I went in that room it
seemed bare. I didn't want to pull out one of those projects
and I didn't want to start something big and new that would
probably remain unfinished.
Then I saw a box of manilla shipping tags on my desk. I'd
made some tags to use as Christmas ornaments in December.
I'd aged them by dipping them into coffee and baking them.
I'd stamped "peace" on them and tacked a piece of old quilt
cut into a triangle to represent a tree, and added a small
twig to represent a trunk and a rusted star on top. I liked
these. They were simple and easy to do and fast.
I looked at Yahoo groups and found that there is something
called "tag art". People put all kinds of things on tags.
Charms and broken jewelry and old keys and scraps of old
lace. They stamp them and paint them, add glitter and
ribbons and rick rack and buttons and yarn oh, just about
My Dad gave me boxes of family photographs after my
mother died and in the days and weeks that followed I spent
hours looking through them. I began scanning some and then
printing them out and then realized I could make them into
tags. I have a favorite photo of me and my Mom. I haven't
made a tag with it yet; I'm waiting for it to tell me what
it needs. But I've made oh, maybe 40 or 50 tags. Some are
generic and others are intensely personal. I found it
comforting. Making things does that for me. It comforts me.
If you like you can see some of them on my webshots page
I'm beginning to feel better. I planted some primroses in
the pots on the front porch last week and thought of my
mther who loved flowers so. I baked an applesauce/raisin
cake yesterday. And today I pulled out a quilt top that's
just needs appliqued borders. It's called Liberty Eagle.
A friend of mine lost someone recently too. Her son. A
soldier. He died in Iraq. She is angry , bitter and sad.
I know a little how she feels. She rages against the war
and the President and then she cries, saying she knows
people have to die for freedom. But why him? she asks me.
Why did it have to be someone I love? I don't know the
answers. I said and asked the same things more than 30 years
ago when my first husband died in Vietnam. I went to her
son's funeral and to the memorial service the community had
in the high school gym a week later. I sit with her at
the kitchen table and hold her hand and let her scream and
yell when she wants to. She cries and I cry with her.
Sometimes we just sit across from each other, thinking our
own thoughts, silent together.
I think of her son, Travis, and of my first husband, Steven,
as I work on the Liberty Eagle borders. This afternoon I
began appliquing the red, red roses and I remembered a poem
I'd memorized oh, so many years ago.
Dirge without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in
the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go;
but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses.
Elegant and curled is the blossom.
Fragrant is the blossom.
I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses
in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.