Because my writing work is so intimately involved with my love of beautiful textiles, and my work with sewing (particularly quilting), I decided to aggregate my essays on this site that deal with the art of textiles. I’ll undoubtedly be adding more penned thoughts as I sew away!
To herald spring this year, I went into the storage unit in the garage and hauled out a box of fabrics that I’d organized into various quilt patterns more than a decade ago. These yardages had been purchased during 2005/2006. I was home-schooling Dear Daughter, but I had begun to look to the future — at least to my future — in terms of picking up threads from my pre-mothering career past.
If picking up threads of the past can pose a challenge, I assure you that lifting entire stacks of fabric from a storage box can result in some rather strong emotions!
The tears sprung forth from several arenas of memory. As I analyzed my intense and impassioned response, I recalled how I’d carefully classified and arranged, by texture, tone, and density of pattern, these fabrics (with the efficient assistance of Dear Daughter). I was quite purposefully putting my quilting ducks in a row. I then safely stored them, before embarking in 2008 upon writing THE DAWN.
That war novel was my first fiction project since I’d written NORTHSTAR in 1993; from that point on, I was off to the races. Actually, I was off to many races, but those endurance laps were vastly unforeseen by me!
While I was delving into those souvenirs that were distant but dear, I realized several salient, but sorrowful facts, about that era of subprime spending in America, and elsewhere. That wantonly reckless period of about fifteen years upended lives around the world. We the People are currently and determinedly dealing with those market forces, attempting to take back the control over our lives that the lying scoundrels called politicians had weaseled from us, in the name of The Children.
I recalled how very frustrating were those years for my children. They were adolescents, and the typically “normal” path of adolescence into adulthood wasn’t feeling “normal” for me. I highly doubt it felt normal for them, but since, ideally, one experiences that growth period only once, and then outgrows it, how were they, or millions of youngins in America to know?
The biggest area of concern for me was the absolute dearth of rookie posts for summer employment. Everyone has to start somewhere to earn a living; there was nowhere for that age group to start growing up by snagging that “first job” that, more often than not, is a daily grind, but that grind teaches lessons for life.
The menial starter jobs of mowing lawns, or cashiering at a small business, or delivery person, or part-time waitressing, or even baby-sitting — those entry-level jobs had become career positions for many adolescents and young adults; or they were filled by undocumented workers, employed by middle-class suburbanites who lusted for the heady, but empty, sense of elitism that so mars modernity.
The Ugly American-snob version of the British servant class is to hire people who do not speak English for under-the-table, under-paid wages.
I felt very concerned that my offspring were not learning the basic personal budgeting practices and the crucial skills of personal discipline that I, and Dear Husband, had learned during our teen years. Each child was nonetheless an active participant in home-budgeting!
The feeling of being productive, and industrious — and capable of earning money, no matter how piddly the amount — that essential aspect of character-building was not even remotely attainable for my adolescent children. Also horribly lacking were the testing and trying income-times that instruct a very young adult how to gauge the market value of her abilities. Ergo, in America we are saddled with a mass, or mess, of university-indoctrinated idiots who possess zilch in real-life practical skills, but they believe they deserve beyond top-dollar for possessing the highest self-esteem known to humanity!
Even their self-esteem is a bubble!
Sadly, when my son received his first job offer and he told me about the proposed annual salary, I advised him to reject it.
“It’s an insult. You start low, you stay low,” were my mother-bear words.
That engineering firm called him back with a much higher offer, one that he accepted. I would have felt more serene about my big bird flying off into the work world, had he known more fully the realities of any employer hiring qualified employees during an endless recession.
Live and learn, I concluded.
And, yet, how can any child capably, or swiftly, grow to mature adulthood without the lessons of remunerated work, the pure and simple labour that I quite naturally took to when I was a child?
At fourteen years of age, I was mowing lawns during the spring and summer, and I might add, for $5 a lawn. I did not work by the hour because then I’d lose money: I was a fast push-mower. I did baby-sit, for a scad of nephews and nieces, but I wasn’t ever paid; such family duties and responsibilities were expected, gratis, of me, and I willingly did so, even as my peers made a racket out of caring for the blood-relations.
By comparison, my growing sprouts relaxed after an arduous year of home-schooling, but they were not experiencing the very vital catalyst of applying elbow grease to complete a job, and then file the W-2 with the Guvmint. “Child-care” had become institutionalized; or the “nanny” came to call, sometimes to play patty-cakes with the daddy of the house. Any seasonal employment was allocated to the unemployed full-time workers from a myriad of professions.
I think that my maturing children felt an undefinable void because of that penury of true work-experience. An uncomfortable absence of opportunity wore at their sense of identity. There’s no substitute for the confidence-building that comes from successfully grasping the savoir-faire of professional interactions in an office setting.
My son did enjoy about five years of doing yard-work and fix-it house repairs for a dear Teaching Colleague; but that personal connection, while richly rewarding emotionally, did not impel him to directly confront the increasingly sordid business of the outsourcing of business in America. My daughter, bringing up the sibling-rear, was unable to find any outlet at all for training her innate skills on an earnings-basis.
Those deficiencies in know-how were more than monetary. I believe they delayed the transition from adolescence to adulthood in highly consequential ways. It’s no wonder that an entire age group is accused of a prolonged adolescence!
It is now 2022 — and it’s become all too obvious — what the heck was going on that ought not to have been occurring; and what was not going on that should have been taking place — during those infernal years in America, and around the world:
The political pigs at the trough were swilling millions of dollars, at the expense of opportunities of all kinds for Our Children, the Peon-Children. Just so that Their Children, the privileged spoiled spawn of The Elites, got their share of the graft. It’s true they had to function as Bag-Kiddies for the Family Trust-Slush Fund, but organized crime can be a family affair.
The Peon-Children are having their revenge. They are slowly, but surely, doling out the comeuppance to the abhorrently corrupt elites who deprived them during their years of maturation. Those “kids” (I abhor the use of a term for a baby goat) formed the first wave of what is now the FJB Generation. And they’re respectfully giving their propers to the adults who have earned respect.
It’s a marvel, how the worm turns!
The cotton is also turning as well.
I’ve donated to Goodwill a considerable pile of Civil-War era reproduction cloth. (How depressing! What was I thinking???)
And I re-configured the quilt cottons for newer motifs. My beloved (too beloved to cut) Paris Flea Market yardages are sailing toward The Lost Ships pattern. “Wuthering Heights” shall become transformed into The Wedding Ring, and not Kings Crown. The regal theme remains!
My receipt, from that year of 2005 for the online purchase of the fabric line called “Wuthering Heights”, was neatly folded among those tactile stacks. At the time, $8 a yard for cotton seemed like a very steep price. And it was. The cost had increased from about $4.99 to $8, almost overnight.
As I sew away, I’ll be thinking of the market forces that force such basics of life to rise and fall, but never disappear. The socialist model of fiber manufacture does not exist, except within communist countries that use slave-labor to warp the human soul.
I’ll also opine from time to time about the inspirations that the manual work of sewing affords me. Affording the basic materials thus becomes a creative trade-off. The correspondences among the arts truly do come alive with the spinning of the spool of thread. The fictional visions in my mind transpire while visions of a graphic design become a reality.
Seeing clearly to the future is part of sewing away the day!