Tag: remembering (Page 2 of 2)

Just Talk Amongst Yourselves


I know we’re supposed to live in the present, period. Not supposed to look back, not supposed to look ahead. Well, pfffft to that. I love anticipation, love to look forward to something. And I have a nostalgic streak in me about a mile wide. I love to remember when . . .

Today I got to thinking about telephones. Mother worked for the local board of education, Daddy designed and built golf courses and was quite active in politics. I am the oldest of three siblings, and yet despite all that community and civic involvement and popularity, we had one phone. That’s right: one single solitary phone. In the house, I’m telling you. One telephone to be shared by five people. It was a white wall-mounted phone with a curly cord long enough for me to take the receiver into the living room where I could talk in what amounted to the only privacy anybody could find in the confines of that house.

We didn’t have options for phone service – for the set monthly price, you got to make and receive local calls. Long distance calls had to be placed collect (as when letting my parents know that I, their college coed, had arrived safety back on campus, for example. Funny how they never – not once – accepted charges.) or it was charged to your monthly bill. We didn’t have caller id or call waiting or voicemail. Not even answering machines. If somebody called while one of us was on the phone, they just got a busy signal and had to call back.

Busy signals is what I was really thinking about today, if you want to know the truth. That dreaded beep-beep-beep sound that lets you know the person you desperately want or need to talk to is unavailable. And of course all phones were landlines – we didn’t have mobile phones or even phones that were wired into our cars. When we were out traveling and something happened – like, well for the sake of story, let’s say we ran off the road and into a ditch – somebody would happen by and help. In this particular instance – I mean story – somebody happened by on a tractor, pulled out my green Mustang, and promised faithfully to never, ever mention this to my parents.

My first car only had am radio – which was fine by me. I was just tickled to get a car, period. I think it cost $1260, this 1970 green metallic Mustang, but Daddy was friends with the car dealer, so I trust he got at least a bit of a discount.

But back to phones . . . as a sophomore in college, I attended what is now called North Georgia College and State University. Yup, it’s a mouthful. We had a bank of phones on the hall – 3 campus phones and 2 long distance phones on each floor. Folks would call into the central reception desk in the lobby, and whoever was on duty would direct the calls to the floor on which we resided then page us over the loud speaker and direct us to go take the call.

When I met my husband, I didn’t know his last name. (It’s a long story.) (I’ll tell you later.) It was definitely a case of smitten at first sight, but when folks asked his name, call I could say was “Andy” then talk fast so they would hopefully not think it odd that, well, you know. We met on a Saturday night, and apparently I made a good impression because he called me the following Tuesday to ask me to go to a hockey game with him. “Jeanne Hewell – long distance. Jeanne Hewell – long distance.” came the page, which I like to think I would’ve somehow magically heard even were I not sitting – I mean studying – in room 319 Lewis. Because he was calling long distance, the conversation went something like this:

Him: “This is Andy. You wanna’ go to the hockey game Thursday night?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Him: “Okay, good.”


Must have cost him the better part of a dime.

I did eventually learn his last name (when he introduced himself to my brother that same weekend), and I’d be happy to tell you the point of this post if only I knew what it is.

amused by the muse

“The muse is the muse in our life. It’s the very creative spirit that we ourselves are. As if our soul came here for a purpose, in order to manifest something on this earth. The muse is that thing wanting to be manifest. The muse is that creative spirit, that voice that’s eager to be spoken through us. The sound that’s eager to be heard through our creations. That’s the muse. Often what we get as a gift from the muse is the little seed to the bigger thing. The muse will not present us with the whole piece. The muse gives us the beginning – a phrase, a line, a title, a chord. So to be open to the gifts of the muse is to be open to the creative voice that’s trying to speak itself through us. Once we open ourselves to that creative voice, we open ourselves to vast amounts of light. To vast and profound reflections, to amazing healing because that’s us making contact with our own soul. With universal mind. With the oneness we’re all part of.” ~ Jan Phillips

cloth is my muse.
softly raveled
unfinished edges.
i love them each.
i love them all.

maybe it’s inherited, my love for cloth.



my great grandmother took in sewing to put food on her table. and when she wasn’t sewing for money, she sewed for love, making me a dress for my baby doll.




my grandmother made quilts, piecing together any scraps of fabric she could save, swap, or barter for.


my mother sewed, too. her patterns are some of my most treasured possessions. i remember her wooden thread box filled with colorful tangles. i remember her sitting at the sewing machine on october 30, frantically finishing up our halloween costumes. i remember the green wrap-around dress with big pockets, big buttons, and white trim.






i’ve sewn and quilted and smocked for my daughter and yes, for my son, too. i’ve embroidered and embellished, done needlepoint and cross stitch and a host of other things involving needle and thread. i’ve marked special occasions with cloth, turned milestones with cloth, committed special events to memory with cloth.

when i stitch, i entertain a host of visitors: thoughts, ideas, conjurings i wish would become permanent residents. several years ago, i hatched this idea for a book as i stitched, then like the cloth i was working on at the time, i set the idea aside, thinking i’d get back to it one day.

well, one day has arrived.


i’ve started a new blog. it’s called Writing Cloth and there, with the help of my cloth, i’m writing that story. i see these images – sometimes they just appear in a whoosh, a flash – then i stitch them into being. and as i stitch (or sometimes after they’re completed) they tell me about the story, about the people who live in the story, about where to go next with the story.



the cloth tells the story.

and sometimes when i get stuck, i ask for help, turning parts of the journey into collaborative creativity for those interested in participating. prefer to just watch and read along? that’s fine – no pressure, just an invitation you’re free to accept or decline.

because i do so adore tales of women’s creative process – it’s magic, isn’t it. no other word will do – i’m including a backstage pass to my creative process. i’m profiling the cloth pieces, their progress and their revelations. i’m documenting the difficulties encountered, the roadblocks and stumbling blocks as well as the moments of glory when the words flow like warm syrup. when i know it, i’ll tell you where the inspiration comes from, the meaning and symbolism behind certain names, the layers of metaphor (most of which just appear, becoming obvious only as i look over my shoulder.) i’m telling – oh yes, i’m telling all about how the story is coming to life. i am blogumenting my creative journey, i guess you could say, sharing with you the product and the process behind the product. if, like me, you’re the kind of person who likes watching the machines pour sugar onto hot krispy kreme doughnuts that you’ll soon devour or standing close enough to feel the heat as the glassblower twirls melted goo into a glass piece that will eventually grace your walls or watching the potters spin the wheel and shape the clay into a bowl you will eventually eat cereal from, you might wanna’ snag yourself a seat. consider it an ongoing studio tour where the light is always on. or maybe you’d just like to stop by nightly for a bedtime story.

i hope you’ll join me over at my new playground. because it makes me feel safer, i’ve made it a membership site with various bundles of membership goodies to suit your mood. maybe you want to become an affiliate and generate funds to support your own creative habit. and if you want to help some lovely, talented, deserving women in their creative pursuits, join via one of my existing affiliates: my writing partner and friend, julie daley or my friend and lunchmate, angela kelsey.

scoot on over and poke around. and if you have any questions, you know where to find me.

the way we were . . . are


i am honored to have been the entertainment for my high school class reunion last saturday night. now, almost a week later, i’m still enjoying the afterglow. there’s something downright magical about standing before your true peers, leading them on a trek down memory lane – a trek you know from the outset won’t be finished that night. i’ve got enough stuff and enough stories to last at least two more treks, a.k.a. reunions. there’s simply never enough time, is there?

my mother had her class reunion that same day – class of 1945. they get together every october – every single october. their love and support for each other is strong. maybe they cleared the path for us. maybe they set the stage, the example.


a surprisingly large number of us went through all 12 years of school together – that’s really something, isn’t it? we knew each other’s parents and fought with each other’s siblings like they were our own. though we knew there was a mother round every corner making it downright impossible to get away with anything, we still tried. occasionally. the entire village raised us, and i don’t remember one parent ever turning on another with that how-dare-you attitude. they simply thanked each other for caring enough, then resumed the badminton game.

such a satisfying sense of groundedness to be with people you bore witness to and who bore witness to you throughout years of major evolutionary and developmental changes. people who you spent 6-7 hours a day with in class, then several more hours in after school activities, then church and other community events. spending the nights together, partying, talking on the phone. learning, knowing, realizing, grappling, struggling, celebrating together. it was fun to reconnect. to remember. to leave the years and any unpleasant memories far, far away from this gathering. to laugh nostalgically. to note countless times we’ve amazed and astounded ourselves and each other.

only one person asked me the dreaded question “what do you do?” maybe it’s cause nobody’s interested, but i prefer to attribute it to a deeper level of togetherness and acceptance that connects us. a knowing that what we do isn’t who we are, and who we are is what’s most important. there is space in our togetherness. there is love in our togetherness. the kind of space that just happens. the kind of love you can’t buy.




i used to feel most invisible around the holidays, humming the song “cellophane man” from the musical chicago as i scurried about at warp speed. weeks or months ahead, i’d study magazines, take classes, make lists. wanting everything to look amazing, sound pleasant, taste scrumptious, and feel enjoyable. i wanted my family to oooh and aaah over the holiday trappings and traditions, and not just on that particular day – oh no. i wanted to hear rave reviews for months and months after The Big Day. they did pay the occasional compliment, but not nearly enough to satisfy me that they truly appreciated – or even noticed, for that matter – my efforts and energy.

with each passing year, i seem to be shedding the desire to impress (some would use the word “control”). i sold the turkey pan at a garage sale year ago. candles surrounded by treasures found on walks make what i now call stunning centerpieces. and i save money and space by avoiding magazines like the plague. i plan the big rocks, as stephen covey calls them, letting the chips fall where they fall.

are the holidays happier? more enjoyable? more memorable? i can’t say for sure, but i will tell you that some of the family legends recently added to our archives are entertaining and hilarious tales of amazing improvisation and resourcefulness. i can tell you that though i still sleep well at night during red letter events, it’s from tiredness, not bone-level exhaustion. and today, when they went for a walk up the falls and turned to smile and wave at me as i sat by the window watching, i felt incredibly loved and visible and fortunate.

the key to thanksgiving 2009


chapter 1:
we leave late . . . which puts us driving on the mountainous roads of western nc through the dense, opaque clouds. 2 cats fight the entire time (loudly and physically) while 1 cat practices his carsickness in my lap. and on my arms. and, when all other appendates seem to be covered, on my chest.

chapter 2:
we arrive at the house only to find ourselves locked out. my key that always lives in the car console is m.i.a., and the fella’ doing work on the outside of the house has apparently taken the (singular, as in the only) spare key home with him. or something.

chapter 3:
the garage door opens, thanks to the cooperation of that programmable thingie in my car, so we shepherd dog and cats into the garage and position a big box in front of the cat door because, at the risk of sounding inhospitable, i’m thinking i don’t want the cats to be inside without canine or human supervision. (surely you’ve heard what the cats will do when the mice are away.)

chapter 4:
we head into town where we are delighted to find the dollar store open and a rack of clothes for sale on the sidewalk. alison and mother have their clothes, but i have nothing save the ones that now smell of eau de cat vomit. i pick up clothes, deodorant, and a toothbrush . . . plus a couple of christmas trees for the front door, 31 reindeer ears, a few presents, holiday greeting cards, dog food, a gallon of water (since the water is turned off at the house), a blanket large enough for all the cats and then some, a bed for the dog, and some dog food (already have cat food). just the essentials, you know.

chapter 5:
we walk to the restaurant and inhale food while they mop the floor under our feed, refill condiments and wish we would eat faster.

chapter 6:
back to the dollar store where i purchase some black thermal pants and a mini-dress to wear over them as pajamas since both mother and alison draw the line at me sleeping naked.

chapter 7:
back to the house to feed the animals and tuck them into bed. as alison and i unload the car, mother slips behind the wheel, prepared to honk and flash (the lights) should cats even look like they’re thinking of running out of the garage. they don’t – just the sound of the door is enough to send them into cabinets, thank goodness. we put out the food and water, spread out the blanks, fluff up the dog’s bed, and leave.

chapter 8:
when mother exits the car at the front door to the hotel that we hope has one more empty room, out falls the fork that she “lost” at the waffle house where we stopped for a bite on the way to n.c. eons ago. don’t ask.

chapter 9:
we turn on television in time to see donnie osmond announced the winner of dancing with the stars then showers and smirnoffs all around (with me in pole position) followed by soft snoring and sweet dreams.

chapter 10:
after the free breakfast, we load the car and head back to the house. seeing the neighbor’s car, we stop and i ask if he knows the whereabouts of his friend who did some work on our house. turns out it’s a case of EX-friends due to the unfortunate fact that workerbee stopped paying rent to neighbor (a.k.a. landlord) which led to the eviction of workerbee. so, no, neighbor doesn’t know whereabouts of workerbee but grabs his tools and vows that he won’t leave till we’re inside our house.

chapter 11:
neighbor can’t find a spare key in keybox open either. doors all locked. windows all locked. he’s checking the last door when i notice that workerbee left a trapdoor open that leads to under the house (i immediately picture me trying to wake a family of bears and ask them to pretty please find another place to hibernate) and i hatch a hail-mary idea: “what if we can get inside by going under the house?” i explain that there are 2 closetesque doors in j’underneath (my n.c. studio) that open to – surprise – the big rock on which our house sits. (it’s eerie and captivating all at once.) the way i figure it, he’s just got to take the hinge off the smaller trapdoor (the larger, open door is a deadend – i already know that), crawl in, and find his way over to one of the 2 surprise doors. it works, and before you know it, i’m standing inside asking how can i ever repay him for breaking and entering.

chapter 12:
the key is now permanently attached to my person, and 4 duplicates are on their way up with hubbie. the animals roam contentedly (if not always peaceably). groceries are put up. yesterday’s clothes are washed, and now – at 3:11 a.m. on thanksgiving day – i prop my eyelids open waiting for hubbie and son to arrive and make the dinner table complete. let the overeating begin . . .

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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