Sunday, January 27, 2013

Refresh and Renew: Quilt and Pansies

Dear friends,

I often say, "We're not fancy folk..."  And I mean it.  I'm not into bling.  Just simple and quaint.   I wear very little jewelry (usually just my wedding rings) and very little makeup.

So if I could identify with a lady in a TV commercial, it wouldn't be a Revlon Girl, but one of those gray haired grandmas wearing a straw hat, her vintage bicycle basket filled with flowers that she is about to plant in her cottage garden. Except that I don't even ride a bike.  OK, maybe one in a sloppy bun daubing a canvas with her paintbrush as she extols the healing properties of her new arthritis medicine.  Except that I don't paint anymore. Whatever.  That's still how I see myself.  Eclectic.  Nurturing.  Tender.  Resourceful. Creative.   In my home decorating, I'm funky folksy, but not country cute.  I love old quilts, lace doilies, and baskets, but spare me the wooden geese with bows around their necks.

One of my "old" quilts is not authentically vintage old.  It's one my sister-in-law bought years ago, hand-stitched but not patchwork-pieced, with a soft blue microfiber border.  She passed it along to me with several small holes -- some of them from burns, I would guess from the looks of the curled and blackened edges in the microfiber, which must have a bit of synthetic in it.  

We'd been using it in the cold months only, an extra layer, but I started to like the quirky  dot pattern in its own aesthetic right.  Besides, it's soft and natural, with a backing made of smooth cotton.  Finally, I figured I'd better patch up the holes and prolong its life.


Here we are at last.
A spool of thread, matched at the store 
with a digital photo of the quilt border.
Hundreds of tiny little stitches while listening to my son read Chemistry.
My hands hurt. I need that arthritis cream.  

Not exactly good as new, but it will do.
A happy feeling of accomplishment.
I'm not the most homemaker-y person in the world,
so these little things count big to me.

I'm more like a Black Thumb, with plants or anything else.  This is ironic.  My mother is an excellent gardener.  As a child in San Francisco, under her tutelage, I grew pansies, poppies, petunias in the front yard.  Not just flowers, though.  In the backyard: corn, green beans, pumpkins, blackberries.

But here I am, 50 later this year, always distracted by one thing or another.  I start something and forget to follow through.

The poor purple pansies I bought just before Christmas, gangley enough when I found them on clearance, have been languishing in two planters on my garden walls.  Wilted.  Weedy.  Brown.  Spindly.  Drooping over the edge.  Time for some TLC.  Tender. Loving. Care.

Last week I brought them inside to the dining room table to work on them.   First, I uprooted a prickly and stubborn weed that had rooted deep, taken over a corner. Then I gently pulled each of the dozen or so plants out of the square black pots, separated them, and laid them out.  Could I salvage this one or that?  Is it healthy enough to survive?

-- Meanwhile, a startled black lizard jumped out of one of them and scuttled across the kitchen.  (I'll reckon he finds enough to eat from the crumbs my kids leave out, or a bug or two skittering across the floor in the dark of night.) --

I pulled off the dead flowers, leaves, stems.

I potted a fresh new yellow pansy in the middle of each planter.

I tucked in the ailing sprouts around the edges.

My daughter and I have been watering them, she more than I.  Maybe she will pick up where her Grandma left off in helping me nurture plants.

Still some drooping.  Still some dry spots.  But they are coming along well enough.

I love the friendly faces of the pansies.

I bought some golden poppy seeds recently.  If I can find where I stashed them, they're up next.  Shall I sprout them in a cake pan like we've been doing for the radish seeds in our science experiments?

We'll see if I can recreate the Garden of My Youth.  For now, I'll enjoy my perky pansies and soft polka dot quilt.

My One Word life theme for this year is Refresh.

A time to take something old and worn out,
and make it over again,
almost as good as new.

A time to take an old and worn out Mama.
Lord, make me over again,
maybe even better than new.
There is a beauty in vintage,
a beauty in life experiences,
that broaden and deepen,
even with the pain and scars.


There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.
What does the worker gain from his toil? 
I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 
He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; 
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 
I know that there is nothing better for men 
than to be happy and do good while they live. 
That everyone may eat and drink, 
and find satisfaction in all his toil
—this is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

Or, for a vintage funky musical version....

May you be refreshed and renewed...

Virginia Knowles

P.S. Though I had already planned to post this, the contents were partially inspired by Dan Christensen's blog Diamonds in the Dumpster.

The top photo in this post is my P52 / Sweet Shot Tuesday submission this next week.

You can see my current photo collection here: Sweet Shot 2013.

P52 Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent Weakley

I also link at these other weekly blog parties...


  1. Great choice of a word for 2013. You refreshed me by posting this blog where I could find it and read it and feel refreshed! So glad I stopped by.

  2. Ha ha!! You don't have the geese with the bow around it's neck because that is at my home!! Thanks for linking up over at WholeHearted Home.


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