Tag: keepsake writing

Keepsake Writing Tribes Forming, and You’re Cordially Invited

 

If you’ve ever promised yourself that One Day you’ll write and preserve your personal and family stories, good news: One Day is right around the corner on Monday, 09 March 2020. That’s when my new online life story writing course called Keepsake Writers begins.

Writing, telling, preserving your stories is powerful. Stories unite us, uplift us, give us the literal and metaphorical arm’s length distance to better understand ourselves, decisions we’ve made along the way, and how we came to be who we are. Stories connect us with ourselves and others, with our friends and family, and often, in explicable ways, with our ancestors. Stories make us laugh, make us cry, make us think and feel and remember. Stories can show us where we went right and where we may have strayed from our intended path (sometimes – perhaps often – a good, serendipitous thing). Preserving and sharing our stories can be cathartic. Your stories – which is to say your life – has value, and there are so many good reasons to capture and share your stories. I hope you’ll decide to read your way through to the registration button, then commit to joining in what will undoubtedly be a life changing, life-affirming experience.

And all proceeds go to The 70273 Project, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to commemorating history, good and bad, personal and global.

My Background

Where most of my friends wore necklaces, I wore a Brownie camera. If you don’t count all those diaries, I wrote my first personal history in 2000 when I conducted interviews, did contextual research, and wrote a book of my father-in-law’s stories on the occasion of his 80th birthday. That was in late July. When I woke up one morning a week after delivering a copy of the book into every family member’s hands, a little voice whispered “Write a book about your daddy, and do it NOW.”

”You must be crazy,” i countered. “It’s August, and there’s no way I can do all the work and have a book wrapped and under the tree by December.”

”Ahem,” The Voice said again through what sure sounded like clenched teeth, “Write a book about your daddy, and do it NOW.”

I learned a long time ago that I lose every time I argue with The Voice, so I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and got to work. The leather-bound books arrived on Saturday, 02 December 2000 while Daddy was in the hospital, suffering from complications from a fall he took a week before. I gathered the family around his bed to reveal the early Christmas present. We began reading the book to Daddy at 20 minutes till 1, finishing at 15 minutes till 5. Daddy took his last breath at 5 minutes till 5 p.m.

After that, I hung out my shingle, penning 22 more personal and family histories for clients and teaching workshops for the more do-it-yourself inclined.

Your Personal Elf

Even though it’s an act of love, I know how hard it is to writing your life in stories to an already full life. I know how overwhelming it can be to sit with a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen. I know how lonely it can be to write. I also know how joyful and well, cleansing it can be to spend time with your life stories. I know how exhilarating it is to hold a book of your stories in your hand and how rewarding it is to have other people smile and thank you with tears in their eyes when they’ve unwrapped their very own copy. That’s why in the monthly Keepsake Writing Tribe gathering, I’ll offer whatever support and encouragement you need or want. I will be . . .

  • The Trellis that provides the structure for you to grow and bloom
  • The Drill Instructor who elicits more from you than you may have ever thought yourself capable of
  • The  Fairy Godmother who whispers morsels of support and encouragement just when you really need it.

I won’t be writing for you, but I will make writing your stories fun, enjoyable, and do everything I can think of to help you create a lasting legacy that future generations will thank you for.

How It Works

Your investment of $107.00 USD per month ($26.75 per week or $3.82 per day, if you like that kind of math) includes . . .

  • Once a week we’ll gather on a Zoom video chat for 1.5 hours. With Zoom you can opt in for video or choose to join with audio only, and you make these choices every week. I’ll send you a link to our gathering every week, and when you click on it – voila, you’re in the circle.
  • We’ll warm-up for a few minutes then I’ll toss out a prompt, and you’ll write.
  • When writing time ends, you’ll have the opportunity to share your writing with the group, if desired. It is totally up to you, and you will never be pressured to share.
  • To eliminate the inclination to write to please others, the only audible feedback given by other Tribe members after each sharing is a simply “Thank you.”
  • We’ll have a private Facebook group just for us. In this group, I will post inspirational quotes, writing tips, organizational suggestions, usable information, book recommendations and reviews, and more to keep you stimulated and writing between gatherings. It’s a good place to get to know, support, and encourage each other.
  • Maximum enrollment of 12 to allow time for sharing.
  • Keepsake Writing Tribe(s) begin in March 2020 and will continue through the end of the year. The curriculum is different every month, never repeating or building on itself, so feel free to join at the beginning of any month.
  • Each week’s gathering will be recorded for those who have to miss.
  • Once the Gatherings have started for each month, I can’t offer any refunds.
  • Once you’re enrolled, I will add you to our Facebook group and email you the link for our first Gathering. Each week’s link will be shared in the Facebook group.

Who Benefits

  • You and your loved ones. You will create something that will surely be cherished by current and future generations while reminding yourself and them that you are amazing.
  • The 70273 Project. All monies go directly to The 70273 Project to cover increasing expenses. The 70273 Project, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization. Contact your tax advisor for guidance in tax matters.
  • Me. I get to do something I love doing – helping you preserve your precious, unique, invaluable stories.

Register now so you don’t miss a single Tribe Gathering.

Imagine holding a book of stories about your mother and her first sewing machine. Or your dad and his first car. Or the special toys that favorite uncle once created. Or about that rickety old chair you remember sitting in the corner of the kitchen. Don’t let your stories and the information they hold be lost forever. Sign up today and let me help you create something of lasting value, something that will be treasured for generations to come.

Make the Big Decision and Register Now for March 2020

March 2020 Keepsake Writing Gatherings:
Mondays 12 noon to 1:30 pm, Eastern Time
March 9, 2020: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
March 16, 2020: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
March 23, 2020: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
March 30,  2020: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Find your time zone here: https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/
Register now and make sure you don’t miss a seat at this very special table.
Important note: Should you find that you have to miss one or more gatherings, you can still join us by way of the recordings. I record each gathering and will post them in our Facebook group for you to listen and re listen any time you want.



Questions? Just holler.

sometimes i think . . .

Apocrypha1e

that those who can’t drive a car
are the very ones we need to be asking for directions

Apocrypha1f

that those who can’t cook a meal
are the ones who nourish us most deeply

Apocrypha1a

that those who can’t tell their own story
are the ones with the stories we most need to hear

Apocrypha1g

that those who can’t add 2 + 2
are the wisest of us all.

Apocrypha1d

Apocrypha1b

i have reworked and renamed this quilt.
it is now titled Apocrypha 1.

[ :: ]

Stitching Nancy’s drawings since June 2012
and still loving and learning with every single stitch.

the engineer and the artist: obsessions, planning, devotion

BenFranklinsDaypage

Ben Franklin’s Daily Planning Page

I am a list-making, task-and-project oriented kind of girl who likes to get things done.

The Engineer likes to get things done, but not in the same way. He doesn’t make to do lists (though he does, I’m happy to say, check things off mine when I, in preparation for a big event, create the “kitchen sink” list and lay it out on the kitchen counter, along with a pen for marking through and checking off).

I sleep better if I’ve laid out my tomorrow before bedtime. He likes to get up and see where the day takes him.

I enjoy the feeling of announcing what I intend to do, giving myself a start date, clearing the decks, then devoting myself to the project. He is more of a get-up-one-morning-and-feel-like-building-that-shop-I’ve-bee-thinking-about-building-for-years kind of guy.

I like having deadlines. He prefers getting around to it eventually.

I still have the term papers I wrote in high school – even the math term paper I wrote in 7th grade. I LOVE the deadline, the planning, the gathering, the pulling together. I love the A+’s. Him? Not too big on term papers.

The Engineer is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. Standing next to him, I can look for all the world like a short do-whack oddball. I can’t help it – I just love having a project I can lose myself in. Once upon a decade, it was my life. Now, it’s a way of life I want to recapture and reclaim. I want to put the blinders back on and focus. Back Then, it was the way I lived. Life went around a bend, though, and it became harder and harder and harder to devote myself to any project bigger than cleaning the toilet. (Somehow the world opens way for that, you know? But writing a book? That’s different. That’s harder to claim uninterrupted time for.)

Back Then, my brain could handle and hold Big Projects in the context of my life, but now . . . now my brain feels scattered, like it’s turned into a bag of birdseed somebody just opened and dumped into my skull. Like I told the Engineer late last year, I miss that feeling of (and the end result of) devotion, that immersion, that focus. I miss that satisfying, exhilarating sense of accomplishment.

So you know what I’m gonna’ do? I’m gonna’ get it back.

I have a Big Project that’s held a sizable chunk of real estate on my heart for eons, and before I can push up my sleeves in dedication to it, before I can immerse myself like I need to and long to do, I need to devote myself to a few other projects first so they won’t bang around in the background distracting (and guilting) me:

  • put the spit-polish on two books that have been languishing in the corner for several years
  • write the third book of the trilogy
  • as always, stitch Hymns of Cloth
  • and

  • offer that online Keepsake Writing Trellis I’ve wanted to do for who knows how long.

“What are you really doing when you devote yourself to a month of productive obsessing? You are learning how to extinguish distractions so that you can concentrate; you are accepting the hard existential fact that if you intend to matter, you must act as if you matter; you are retraining your brain and asking it to stop its pursuit of fluff and worry and to embrace its own potential. In addition, you are announcing that you prefer grand pursuits to ordinary ones; you are standing in solidarity with other members of your species who have opted for big thinking and big doing; and you are turning yourself over, even to the point of threat and exhaustion, to your own loves and interests.” Eric Maisel writes.

This is just what I’m talking about, and I tell you what: this really revs my juices and gets me going. So I’m sitting with my calendar this very day, plugging things in, scheduling my productive obsessions. The Keepsake Writing Tribe (you’re the Tribe, I’m the Trellis) is a series of three monthly productive obsessions that I’m gonna’ lead . . . The first month, we write about self; the second month, we write about others; and the third month, we write about things. So if you’re the kind of person who has always wanted to capture and preserve your stories and if you’re the kind of person who longs for the satisfaction of dedicating yourself to a productive project, perhaps you want to join us. Or maybe you just need the structure (the trellis, I call it) for three months of productive obsessive writing. That’s fine, too, cause really, whatever you write is your story, right?

Now I’ve had some very good questions asked by some folks who are already signed up and ready to go, so I’m going to share them here in case they’re questions you have, too. Should you have other questions, just drop me a line in the comment section or shoot me an email by tapping that cute little envelope in the upper right-hand corner and if all goes according to plan, it will magically open up a SASE email.

If you’re not interested in Keepsake Writing and just want to talk about productive obsessions, that’s fantastic, too. Tell me how you work best, what kind of planning and creative/work style keeps you going forward. I’m all ears.

[ ::: ]

Keepsake Writing questions asked and answered:

Q: Will there be daily writing prompts?
A: No. There will be kindling, though, that you can draw from if you run dry. If you’ve already registered, thank you and maybe you want to go ahead and start jotting down notes of stories when something triggers a memory.

Q: How will we know what to write about during the second month when we write others?
A: About midway through the first month, I’ll start sending you information – specific information about equipment to use should you desire to interview people; questions you can ask; how to keep the interview going; etc. BUT you don’t have to interview anybody to write about others. You might write preserve family lore that’s been handed down orally. You might write about pets. You might write stories about your children (I’ll tell you how you can turn these into treasured gifts.) You might write about teachers, good and bad, and how they shaped and influenced your life. What I’m saying is that writing others does not mean you have to interview somebody. You can, but you don’t have to. I have a whole bunch of tricks up my sleeve . . .

Q: What if I already have some stories written – can I use them?
A: Of course. We’ll just add to those stories. Maybe you feel like taking one out from your stash to polish instead of writing something from scratch. Or maybe you want to use one of those on a busy day when you simply don’t have time to write. (Yes, I will be taking roll, and I will be taking stock, and I will be handing out gold stars and dunce hats.)

Q: What if I’m not a good writer?
A: I’ll bet you’re a better writer than you give yourself credit for, and we’ll deal with that later. This first step is about gathering. Only gathering.

Q: Is this a writing class cause I’m kinda’ scared of sharing my work with a writing class.
A: While I will be sharing specific how to information about writing, this is not a writing class. This is about capturing your stories, your memories, on paper (digital or otherwise). If you sign up for the Torch Toter Tribe, you’ll send me 6 pieces on assigned weeks, and I will read your pieces and offer feedback. If you’re in the Path Whacker Tribe, you might want to share your work with others in the tribe, but you don’t have to. So breathe. And go sharpen your pencil.

breadcrumbs

Evidence01feb14i

meet Evidence, the hymn of cloth that documents this year of my life – the year dedicated to building a body that works and a body of work – beginning on 11/15/13. (because every day is new year’s day, right?) it’s color coded by what elements constitute, for me, a day well spent:

red = moving (as in walking, yoga, etc.)
orange = making (stitching, mostly, but also collages and photographs)
aqua = marking (writing, as in journals and books and blog posts)
purple = laughing (as in the surprises and wonders of the day that don’t go unnoticed)

Evidence01feb14m

i was filled with excited anticipation when i started work on Evidence back in november, and decided to use my sewing machine (a christmas gift from my husband 40 years ago, bought and paid for with winnings from a radio show contest) instead of stitching it all by hand as is my standard, my preference, my love. it quickly turned unfun, though, on account of the bulk. and if all goes according to plan, the bulk will become greater and greater.

Evidence01feb14d

today i pushed up my sleeves and set about getting caught up. with the walking foot on the machine, i put an audio book on and started, telling myself that i would not abandon this project and i would make this enjoyable and worthwhile. period.

as i sewed, i noticed that i had a tendency to push and pull the fabric in an effort to speed things up. sewing was much easier and more enjoyable when i relaxed and worked with the machine instead of against it. ditto when i quit disregarding and underestimating the flexibility and forgiving nature of fabric – when i let it be what it is instead of trying to make it something else, like a glass or an egg. this may be a transferable epiphany.

///

later, along comes this David Walcott poem titled Love After Love sent by my friend tom:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

which is what often happens when you capture and preserve your life stories . . .

for yourself and your posterity

Stone8

when you write from life
you sometimes hit pockets of dark

Stone7

and just when you don’t think you can take any more,
you hit pockets of sparkle

Stone5

it is not linear, writing from life.
oh sure, you can start with your earliest memory,
but before you know it,
you’re writing about something that happened just yesterday.

Fragments

there are memory fragments

Cracks

and there are rifts and crevices
in the ole’ memory bank.

Stonecomplete

yet through it all,
writing your life
recording your stories
capturing your memories
is a rich and colorful experience,
just like your life.
and in the end,
you have something that will be treasured
treasured, i tell you
for generations to come.

[ :: ]

Maybe you’re ready to write your autobiography?
As a lifelong personal historian, Jeanne Hewell-Chambers
knows how to navigate through the treasure map
that is your life.
And hey,
even if you don’t become a Keepsake Writer,
(but I sure do hope you will)
promise you’ll carve out some time to capture and preserve
stories from yourself and your family.
You’re the only one who can, you know.

of legacies and living

Rinsecycle4d

The day came when she realized she was no longer just a limb . . .

Rinsecycle4dante

. . . now she was the tree

Rinsecycle4full

The Rinse Cycle 4
made from the back of a jacket that’s now finished

i get lost in the starts and stops of life. interruptions distract and derail me. i devour blog posts, magazine articles, and books that advise me to trust the process, trust the journey, just do what i love and everything will fall into perfectly minted alignment. but that’s all i do: read . . . then get lost some more. it seems to me that at this point in my life, i ought to be able to tell you what my life has been and is all about. but i can’t. is that because i was a career mother and caregiver? did my life get lost under everybody else’s?

doesn’t matter. i’m now the tree, so it’s up to me to decide how i’m going to live my life and what kind of legacy i’m going to leave.

one of the few things i know for sure: how you spend your days is how you spend your life, so i’m creating and practicing daily habits. it’s the only way, really. that’s why i keep my book of amazements to track how i spend my days, and that’s why i created the keepsake writing tribes. perhaps you’d like to join me? it’s gonna’ be three months of creative, productive, legacy-making fun. i promise.

///

my friend rhonda died this week. she had multiple sclerosis which, of course, made it difficult for her to do most anything, but she didn’t let it stop her. she went to graduate school, and she published the book that took her eons to write. she wouldn’t – she couldn’t – she didn’t – stop until it was done. she is a role model for us all.

Keepsake Writing Tribes Forming, and You’re Cordially Invited

AuntIreneKeyhole

Okay. so the tree is down, the thank you notes written, and the wrapping paper is neatly folded for use next year. Time to dust your hands off, push up your sleeves, and get to work creating this year’s Christmas presents.

Yes, really.

If you’ve ever promised yourself that One Day you are going to write and preserve your personal and family stories, keep reading because 2/15/14 is One Day. (I’m gonna’ tell you this most important note right up front, though: it is not a quick-and-easy project to add to your already filled-to-the-brim life, so only serious contenders need apply.)

Where most of my friends wore necklaces, I wore a Brownie camera. If you don’t count all those 5-year diaries, I wrote my first personal history in 2000 when I conducted interviews, did the research, and wrote a book about my father-in-law on the occasion of his 80th birthday. That was in late July. When I woke up after sleeping for a week, a little voice whispered “Write a book about your daddy, and do it NOW.”

“You must be crazy,” I countered. It’s August, and there’s no way I can do all the work to have a book wrapped and under the tree by December.”

“Ahem,” the voice said through clenched teeth, “Write a book about your daddy, and do it NOW.”

I learned long time ago that I lose every time I argue with The Voice, so I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and got to work. The leather-bound books arrived on Saturday, 12/2/2000 while Daddy was in the hospital, suffering from complications from a fall he took a week before. I gathered the family around his bed, and we started reading the book to Daddy  at 20 minutes till 1, finishing at 15 till 5. Daddy died at 5 minutes till 5.

After that, I penned 16 more personal histories for various family members and clients, and taught the occasional workshop for the more DIY-inclined. I know what I’m doing – I know how hard it is to add this job to an already full life. I know how deflating it can be to sit with a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen. I know how lonely it can be to write. I also know how exhilarating it is to hold a book of your stories in your hand, and how rewarding it is to have other people smile and thank you with tears in their eyes when they unwrap their very own copy. That’s why I’ll offer whatever support you need/want. I can be:

  • the Trellis that provides the structure for you as you grow and bloom
  • the Drill Instructor who demands more of you than you may have ever thought possible
  • the Fairy Godmother who whispers morsels of encouragement just when you need it.

I can’t do it for you, but I can make it fun and do everything I can think of to help you create this lasting legacy.

The first month, you’ll write stories from your personal history. I have a plethora of kindling should you need it.

The second month, you’ll write stories from your family history, and again: I have kindling. If you want to interview family members, I have questions and information about how to conduct a good, solid interview (complete with a checklist of what equipment and materials you’ll need).

The third month, you’ll write stories about things – family heirlooms (clothing, furniture, household items); personal memorabilia (clothing, shoes, jewelry, tools, cars); photos; documents (letters and such). You’ll be creating an inventory that can be used in a variety of ways as well as a treasure trove of information that might otherwise be lost forever.

It’s a low tech workshop that’ll go like this: every day for the 3 months, I’ll post multiple morsels of inspiration, information, ideas, and encouragement in a private, just-for-us Facebook group, and for those who aren’t on FB and don’t want to be, I’ll post the same thing on a just-for-us page on my blog that requires a secret handshake that you’ll receive upon registration. There’ll be handouts, gold stars, silver stars, badges, videos, audio clips, and more. I’ll provide information and direction for what to do once you’ve ready to move from the gathering phase to the harvesting and preserving phase (that means turning them into a book, though you should hear some of the other things you can do, too.) Shoot, we might even have refreshments sometimes. I’ll respond to comments and questions on both Facebook and the blog, and you’re welcome to read and comment on either or both. I’ll be posting inspirational quotes, writing tips, organizational techniques, book recommendations, and more. Much, much more. Though our focus is gathering, I’ll be sharing nuggets about all sorts of things that will help you when you’re ready to string the stories together to make a book.

I’ve dubbed our group the Keepsake Writing Tribe: Path Whackers, and for those who want more, I’ve crafted a Keepsake Writing Tribe called Torch Toters. Torch Toters will enjoy all the benefits of the Path Whackers Tribe plus send me up to 3000 words every other week (for a total of 6 pieces). I’ll read and respond with general reader feedback along with suggestions for light editing and polish. Torch Toters will, of course, enjoy everything the Path Whackers receive, too. There are only a limited number of spaces available in the Torch Toters Tribe, so don’t wait too long to sign up.

Imagine holding a book of stories about your mother and her sewing machine, for example. Or stories about your dad and his first car. Or about that old rickety chair that has always been in the corner of the kitchen. Don’t let these stories and this information be lost forever. Sign up today and let me help you create something of lasting value, something that will be treasured for generations and generations and even more generations to come.

///

Keepsake Writers: Path Whackers Tribe

Class full. Join us next time?

That’s only a few cents/day, and remember: you can compile the stories and make as many books as you need which means you’ll be creating an affordable, invaluable present. (Book production not included in this price, but there will be information about how and where to do that along with a whole lot more information you’ll need to make book.)

Keepsake Writers: Torch Toters Tribe

This class is full, too. Maybe you’ll join us next time?

That’s less than a cup of coffee a day – still quite affordable pricing for an invaluable gift.

///

Refunds: Tribe sizes are kept small to allow ample interaction between participants and me (even though I won’t be reading and editing for Path Whackers, I still offer a lot of personal back and forth), so once you’ve paid for a spot in either Tribe, I am counting on your participation and can offer refunds only if something comes up and I have to cancel the class. Which could happen, but I sure hope it won’t cause I am passionate about this. I really am.

///

41 years ago today, Jeanne Hewell-Chambers met the man who is now her husband. He was a bar tender, Jeanne was a customer. I guess you could say she picked him up in a bar.

featuring phone pranks that don’t involve prince albert in a can

P GenerationsOfBallards11 1979

at the backdoor in grandmother’s kitchen, L to R: Grandmother Ballard, me (Jeanne Hewell-Chambers) holding my daughter Alison Chambers, Kipp Chambers (my son) being held by my mother/his grandmother Ada B Hewell

she was known for many things, but humor was not one of them. to my knowledge, nobody ever used the word “funny” and my grandmother’s name in the same sentence. she did not abide nicknames, was not a prankster, and never told a joke, but there was something about new year’s day that turned my grandmother downright hilarious . . .

HandwrittenAddressBk3

with breakfast out of the way, she settled her short, wiry frame onto the yellow pine telephone chair that was positioned under the wall-mounted telephone, pulled out the baby blue notebook from the cubby, unzipped it, and turned the pages in her handwritten telephone directory until she found the list she was looking for. she cleared her throat then dialed the black rotary phone, the clear plate making its familiar soft clicking sound as it registered the numbers in the order she dialed.

“hello?” answered the (often sleepy) (grandmother was an early riser) (and it was new year’s day, after all. think about that.) voice at the other end of the line.

grandmother sat up straighter. this was serious business, this call.

“is this 2-0-1-4?” she asked, not a hint of a smile in her voice.

“no.”

“oh yes it is,” she said, barely hanging up the phone before erupting in laughter.

(and to think, she’s the one who delivered an emphatic and flat-out NO when i told her i wanted to be an actress. huh.)

[ ::: ]

where cousins wore necklaces, jeanne hewell-chambers wore a brownie camera. her grandmother spent summers preserving food to feed the family, and in her own way, jeanne carries on the tradition by preserving stories to feed and nourish the souls of generations now and later. if you’re ready to do the most important job of preserving stories from your life and your family, stay tuned ’cause jeanne is cooking up a little something special that just might help . . . and she hopes it will be ready by 2/14.

questions and answers of the most important kind: a timed test

AdaQuilt1CU

they (her children) say she went through a spell when she cried a lot. day in, day out, she cried, my grandmother ballard did. one of her children posits that she cried over the possibility that granddaddy had a girlfriend on the side, to which another reminds us that granddaddy was the town’s sheriff and it was his responsibility to make frequent trips to the . . . i don’t remember what they called it, this bawdy, rowdy house out on hwy 54. another child imagines the tears were brought on by the never-to-be-fulfilled life dreams. (grandmother had what we now call a full-ride scholarship to The Piano Conservatory, but after the first year, her daddy snatched her out of school saying girls didn’t need an education – especially one in music – they only needed a husband.) the third living child doesn’t remember her crying and has no earthly idea why she would.

this morning as i interrupt application of my daily facial moisturizer to allow my retired husband access to the bathroom for the fourth time since i started this activity (usually) of short duration, i imagine grandmother crying because she had no alone time and no personal space. no quiet time to just sit and ponder. i wonder if that’s why she made so many quilts – did the constant whirr of the old singer treadle machine provide walls of sound that served to keep everybody out and her in?

it’s what we do, you know: answer the unanswerable questions through our own filters of knowledge acquired through books and life experiences. sometimes it’s as though we gain permission to be ourselves, other times it gives us insights that explain us to ourselves. now would be a mighty good time to ask those questions as you gather round the tree to celebrate the holiday with your family. and hey, don’t forget to take a tape recorder. you can thank me later.

[ ::: ]

While others wore necklaces, Jeanne Hewell-Chambers had a Brownie camera hanging around her neck. Always a personal historian, she’s considering dusting off her old workshops on such things and converting them to online classes. Stay tuned.