Friday, October 05, 2007

Life with Oma & some fabric to dazzle the senses




For anyone who thinks I might have been kidnapped by Gypsies-no such luck I'm still here. It's just been a busy week catching up with stuff that happens when you go away. I also seem to be in a kind of slump mentally and physically. I didn't go back to Curves like I should have and I'm sorry to say that it's very easy to find an excuse. I will go back but just not this week.

I'm working on a couple of things I can't show right now but here's a picture of something fun that I've sort of re-discovered. Many years ago my Oma taught me to embroider. She was very good at it-very good. I think back on how wonderful some of the things she did were, and I wish I had them now. I have no idea what happened to the work she did-it's been lost in the sad history of my family. Oma was tough. Her husband disappeared during the war and according to my Mother-he meant to be missing, having lived long enough with Oma. Her life could not have been easy in post-war Munich, Germany. A single woman with a teenager and limited money-making options-not an easy life. It left her bitter and angry a large part of the time. Oma eventually became a housekeeper for a professor at the University there. She worked for him for many years until he passed away and she eventually came to America to live with us. Coming here was, for her, a blessing, a curse, and culture shock. She arrived in the late 50s about the time I was becoming a teenager and found me used to being pretty much in charge of my own life. Up till then,my Mother was at work from early morning till 6-ish and I was left to fend for myself. I walked to school by myself after making my own breakfast and a lunch and came home to watch T.V. and do my homework until she got home. I was 7 or 8. This seemed perfectly natural to me and in retrospect was probably the most carefree time in my childhood. I loved to draw and watch movies(Million Dollar Movie) and American Bandstand and such so the time was never frightening for me. Having spent some time in an orphanage when we first arrived here and I was about 4, taught me what frightening really was-being alone was no sweat after that. I had learned to speak English but I never talked much anyway. Very quiet child is a term that would appear in all reports of me for all my school years until high school. Anyway-Oma came into my life. She was appalled at what she found and thought it was horrifying that I should be allowed to run free and do as I pleased. She was right, of course, but it didn't sit well with miss independent me and so we locked horns often and loudly. I was repelled by the thought of doing what she wanted and she would find the smallest short-coming a reason for shrieking at me-in German( not a pretty language but somehow well-suited to screaming)at the top of her lungs-and in a veritable frothing at the mouth manner. I suspect now that she was angry at the unfolding of her life and I know she didn't want to be here. She said so often. That said-she did manage to teach me the few things I learned about being a woman and housekeeping. Oma was the Queen of the white-glove syndrome. She also taught me to cook things and sew things and clean house. All of these things are good for a woman to know but it would have been received so much better if not done as if she was a Nun with a ruler in Catholic School. Still, all these years later, it is Oma to whom I refer when I think of these creative things and for all the bad moments we gave each other-it is her lessons that I remember most. In fact, lately, I think it would be so great to have her back to remind me of how important pride in one's home is. Lately, I have become a total slob about things that would have made her shriek with anger.

All of this is by way of explanation for what I'm doing now-embroidery. In the past few months I've noticed on some blogs, particularly the ones in Australia and New Zealand like Cinderberry Stitches(in my links on right) and Leanne's House, such delightful stitchery. It's so pretty, bright and cheerful and I just felt like doing some myself. On one particular site called Turkey Feathers, there are some free patterns she offers. I have been hesitant to order anything like this and kept looking daily and being so dazzled by the wonderful work. The other day I had a brain fart and realized(DUH) that I am an artist and can draw pictures myself(again...DUH)so why not make myself a piece to embroider. Lately there have been a bunch of blogs, both quilting, embroidery and even cooking, that show wonderful pictures of cupcakes-I love how sweet and colorful they are. Treats for the eyes. So I drew some cherry-topped cupcakes and am embroidering them in Christmas colors. Oma would be proud-cranky but proud.

The other picture is of some fabric I bought at Mainely Quilting while we were away. I haven't a clue what I will do with it but it just jumped out at me when I walked in the shop and said take me home. Nothing subtle about this stuff. Not really my usual thing but I'm, frankly tired of my usual thing. We'll see what comes of this. Something bright for sure-where are my sunglasses anyway??

9 comments:

Jane Ann said...

Fascinating story, Dee. I too had a not-so-sweet grandmother, but I was her favorite (a big part of her not-so-sweet aspect). She never taught me anything directly, but I learned by her example. The only thing she seemed to take pleasure in was cooking and sewing, two of my favorites. I don't think that is a coincidence.

Those fabrics would have come home with me too. Maybe they just need to mature a bit on your shelves. Their purpose will come to you.

Hedgehog said...

So homesick from your Maine posts! Love those bright fabrics, too!

Gerrie said...

My grandmother taught me so much. She had fiery red hair and an attitude to go with it. I think I am a lot like her. We will try anything with our hands, at least once. She loved to garden and never had a manicure in her life. Until she moved to NY to live near us, I used to go to PA to spend time with her. I so treasure having her in my life.

I do love the colors in that fabric!!

Terry said...

I too learned to sew from my grandmother. I am convinced it skips generations. My mother, a perfectionist, sewed beautifully but hated doing it. My daughter is not so interested. I think it's just something grandmothers and granddaughters share.

Rian said...

What a story! I can't imagine being plucked from my familiar surroundings and being forced to move to another country. I learned sewing and house-cleaning from my grandma too. We were a three-generation household and my mother worked.

Deb Geyer said...

Thanks for sharing the story about your grandmother. It was so sweet. I've always wondered what it would be like to sit down with my grandmother and talk to her now that I am an adult. Would we get along better? I think that I am probably a lot like her!

I love the cupcakes!

Libby said...

I, too, learned embroidery from my Grandma. She was such a stickler for getting the stitches 'just so.' Seemed like a lot of hullaballoo over nothing at the time, but now I always think of Grandma fondly when I pick up needle and floss.

judy coates perez said...

Hi Dee, what a great story! I love hearing peoples stories. I feel like Deb G, I wish i could sit down with my grandmother again. i would love to talk about knitting with her. She made us the most beautiful sweaters growing up, unfortunately they were made from acrylic yarn. I still have a few.

Rose said...

What a great story, Dee! Isn't it funny the things, people and circumstances that shape us into the people we become. Love the cupcakes!