Tag Archives: sewing

Sew and Sew, Part II

SH-guild meetingThere’s nothing like being the Queen Frog in a Small Pond. At least, that’s what G.G. Dieppe believes.

She thinks she has a better-than-average shot at winning the local election to the selectboard where, if successful, she plans to make great changes in the way Carding operates.

So far, she has support from the residents of the Mount Merino Landowners Association, members of St. John Episcopal Church, and the Carding Quilt Guild.

But as John Lennon once sang: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

If you need to catch up, you’ll find part one of “Sew and Sew” right here.

In the meantime, let’s see what G.G.’s up to this week, shall we?


As the afternoon wore on, the ripples in Clark Underwood’s eyebrows became more pronounced as he watched his wife flit from room to room in their condo.

“It’s only a quilt guild meeting,” he reminded her gently. “Not a speech in front of the U.N.”

Brenda stopped, her hands twisted inside one another. “I know it’s silly to feel so nervous but we’re new here, and it will be my first time meeting most of these people, and I’m just a beginner at quilting.”

Clark thought about that for a moment. “Do you have to pass some sort of test to get into a quilt guild?”

“Well, I know there are entry requirements for some high-end art-quilters guilds but not for this one, no. It’s just that I’m having a hard time fitting in here so I want this meeting to go well,” Brenda said as she zipped out of the room again.

His wife’s remarks left the air of the Underwood sun room disturbed long after Brenda departed, and Clark suddenly found himself considering how easy it might be to sell their condo if this experiment in country club living didn’t work out. Then he shook himself, and returned to his book.

But the echoes of the disturbance remained.

There are a few facts about friendship that become apparent with maturity. When you’re ten, friendships form quickly over jump-rope or playing tag or through carefully arranged play dates. At that age, friendships come and friendships go easily.

The stakes of friendship for teenagers are higher and far more explosive. Every living human can relate some horror story or another of being snubbed, excluded or picked last for a team during the acne years. At that age, the arrows of life are many and quite pointed.

Friendship seems to settle into discernible grooves as we age. By then, relationships are most often work- or family-related. Couples with kids make friends with couples with kids. Co-workers socialize before and after work. In-laws become friends.

Or not.

By the time we reach fifty or so, the human resistance to change has kicked into a higher gear, leaving us with a tendency to “dance with the one that brung ya” rather than expend the energy necessary to make new friends.

But of course, life never stands still, and in the Underwood household, life had moved on in the form of grandchildren, retirement, and the desire to downsize.

All of which explains Brenda’s desire to make friends to replace—or at least replicate—some of the good times she had had with the folks she left behind in Boston.

“Remember,” Clark said as she shouldered her purse, “there are other ways to get to know folks in Carding. You’re just exploring this quilt guild. Don’t invest the effort unless you feel it’s worth your precious time.”

“Thanks,” she whispered as she kissed him good-bye. “I’ll try to remember that.”

Information about the Carding Quilt Guild had been hard to come by so far. Someone, she still wasn’t sure who, had forwarded Brenda a “letter from the president” with the meeting time and location, cost of annual dues, and a request “to bring your hand sewing box to the January meeting.”

Brenda’s sewing box was nothing special in the grand scheme of things but she loved it. Inside was a hodgepodge of mementoes, favorite tools, and a couple of handmade needle cases, called etuis, passed down from her grandmother. The box’s latest addition was a small cloth bag, a gift from her daughter-in-law at Christmas, embellished with a quote from author C.S. Lewis: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

In addition to being a sentiment that Brenda wholeheartedly endorsed, the tiny container was the perfect size to act as a thread catcher. It fit right in with all the other oddments cached inside her violet-hued, scallop-shaped plastic box, and every time she saw it, Brenda remembered to smile because her son had definitely married the right woman.

The church hall was buzzing when Brenda opened the door. Some women were setting up chairs around a quartet of tables, and some were busy with food while others chatted near the coat rack. No one looked up when Brenda walked in. No one greeted her even though they’d seemed eager enough to invite her to the meeting.

She stood off to one side, watching the human ebb and flow to see where she might fit in.

Finally, one of her yoga classmates spotted her and waved, indicating an empty chair. Taking a breath, Brenda made the plunge.

But a voice shattered the peace of the chattering mass before she reached the chair.

“What is that under your arm?” G.G. Dieppe asked, pointing to Brenda’s sewing box.

You can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Light in Water, Dancing, will be out in 2018.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

Etui* Brute?

Tomorrow is Carding Chronicle day, and you’re invited along to Brenda Underwood’s first meeting with the Carding Quilt Guild.

This organization has had a rather tortured history in the past year or so, splitting in two when G.G. Dieppe staged a coup to supplant some longtime members who took issue with her meeting tactics.

Brenda’s feeling a little uncertain about this because she’s not a social butterfly or an experienced quilter.

So you’d think that being the guild’s president, G.G. would go out of her way to make sure Brenda feels comfortable.

Or maybe not.

One thing you should know is that G.G. is running for the lone empty seat on the town selectboard. And she’s counting on the members of the guild to put her in office.

Here’s a sample of what’s in store in part two of “Sew and Sew”. I hope you will stop by and set a spell.


SH-guild meeting

Tree Undone—A Carding Chronicle

wq-tree-undoneIn the days and weeks before December 25 arrives, Christmas is all about anticipation for what may be. But such is not the case for the days and weeks after the holidays are over.

Hope you enjoy this Carding Chronicle, the first of 2017. Please share it far and wide and be on the lookout for the upcoming collection of Stories and Tales of Carding, Vermont.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Somehow, the number of boxes designated as holders of Edie Wolfe’s treasured collection of Christmas ornaments had increased since she’d set up her tree on the day after Thanksgiving. She was sure of it. Otherwise, why did she have to make so many trips up and down the stairs?

Her tree was one of the smaller ones grown at the Tennyson Tree Farm, a mere four feet so that it would fit on the shelf in her bay window in the front of the house. She sighed again as she looked at the fully decorated tree one last time, touching individual ornaments with the tips of her fingers. They swung gently to her touch until the whole tree seemed alive with silver, gold, and glitter.

In some ways, ornaments were better than scrapbooks for jogging her memory of people and times past. At least the ornaments came out once a year. Scrapbooks…hmmm…nearly never.

Well, there was another New Year’s resolution for her growing list, Edie thought. Take the scrapbooks off the shelf at least once a year and leaf through them. Otherwise, why bother keeping them?

“Well, it’s the longest job that’s never started. Right, Nearly?” Edie’s cocker spaniel cocked his head at her. The noises that his human just made didn’t include anything immediately recognizable such as “walk” or “bonie” so he was reserving judgement until he had further clues as to her meaning.

“This calls for a cup of tea, at least.” Edie crept off to the kitchen, glad to procrastinate just a little bit longer.

In spite of the fact that Edie had no known religious bend in any direction, she considered herself a longtime Christmas lover. All of the lights on the houses helped brighten the darkness of early winter, and it just seemed so gloomy after they were put away.

And she loved the piney smell of the tree and the wreath on the front door, and the spiciness of cookies made just for this time of year. And she loved singing “Silent Night” in the Episcopal church, the oldest still-standing structure in Carding, on Christmas Eve when it was lit only by candles. For some reason, that song made her cry every time. It must be something about the cadence of the tune, she thought, because “Taps,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Greensleeves” had the same impact on her.

Simple tunes with great emotion.

She hummed while removing the garland, a red-green-and-white crocheted strip that she’d made for her twins’ first Christmas in Carding. Then she carefully lifted the strands of lights from the branches, trying but not succeeding in sending a cascade of dead needles to the floor. No matter how thoroughly she vacuumed, she knew she’d find a few of them hidden in the cracks between her floorboards in August.

Now it was time for the big finale, removing the ornaments collected by generations of the Wolfe family. Edie had long ago realized she just couldn’t take the time to linger over the memories attached to each one when the tree went up because there were always other people around, people who wanted to visit with one another, enjoy the season’s first eggnog, and make plans for the days to come.

But now alone in the house where she’d grown up, Edie could and did indulge herself in a warm bath of pure sentiment.

She grinned over a tiny pair of gold spectacles fashioned by her father and reputed to be the very same ones that Santa Claus wore to read his naughty-and-nice list. There was a set of miniature sleighs, each painted in red that could use a little touch up. Those had been on her Aunt Elsa’s tree when she was a little girl.

There was a red felt heart with a tiny spruce cone attached by green thread wielded by someone who obviously couldn’t sew. That had been her granddaughter Faye’s first contribution to the tree, a gift she’d made when she was only four.

Faye’s sewing made Edie look up to find the ornament that she lingered over the longest, the one she called “Small Boy.” It had been embroidered by her grandmother from a kit. It was a little boy with a blue hat pulled over his eyes, holding a wreath in one hand while waving with the other. Her Grandma Wolfe had taught Edie how to sew, a skill she exercised almost every day. Looking at that ornament instantly propelled her back in time to the room that held Grandma’s treasured treadle machine, and the doll clothes and quilts they’d made together.

Edie cradled the small ornament in her hand, gazing at the tiny stitches that outlined the boy’s mittened hands.

“I still think of you, Grandma,” she whispered, “every time I pick up a needle. Thanks, by the way.”

With another, deeper sigh, Edie carefully place “Small Boy” on the top of the box, shutting it away in the darkness until she could visit her memories once again.


 Thank you for journeying with me to Carding, Vermont. If you subscribe to my website, you’ll find a short story in your inbox every Thursday morning. And new for 2017, there will be weekly 60-second reads from my upcoming book on writing and publishing called What Would William Shakespeare Do?

If you enjoy the Carding Chronicles, please share them and encourage your friends to subscribe to this website. And please review the Carding novels wherever and whenever you get the chance to talk about books. Your opinion matters more than you can imagine. The more folks who share Carding, the more books I get to write, and the more you get to read.

The Carding novels are (in order of appearance):

The Road Unsalted

Thieves of Fire

The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life

Thank you!