Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's in my DNA

This is kinda long for a blog but here goes:

                    It’s in my DNA

          I come from a long line of women devoted to fabric and needlecraft.  Some of my earliest memories are of my mom sitting at a small metal black Singer sewing machine, her foot on the floor pedal and her hands pushing fabric along under the needle.  My grandmother seemed to have an embroidery hoop attached to her lap and no daughter or granddaughter married without a hope chest of beautifully embroidered cup towels, table cloths, napkins and pillow cases.

          Mother had a variety of white dainty embroidered bridge cloths which were used to cover the Samsonite folding card table when company was expected or her bridge friends gathered.  On those occasions while the can of sweetened condensed milk  boiled on the stove to create slices of caramel, she would carefully iron each table’s cloth and napkins and place them carefully on the table so that the satin-stitched flowers were visible. 

          My aunt, her sister, did the same and they both created most of their own daughters’ wardrobes.  Mom drew the line at coats and when I was 9 or 10, I remember my first trip into a store to buy a store-bought coat.  For the most part I was very happy with what Mother produced with one exception, the olive green challis dress with the embroidered cross-stitched maroon border along the hem.  I hated that dress with its puffed sleeves.  I hated the icky color and the embroidery…I felt much too old for that sort of thing and was sure I looked really stupid in it, big for my age anyway.  But I wore it or rather, bore it and was delighted when I accidentally got a tear in the bodice.

          Both sisters loved fabric and since my mom didn’t drive, they were thrilled when I got a driver’s license at 14 and could deliver them to the grand opening of Gem fabric store in north Austin, the first store in Austin to specialize in fabric and notions for sewing and needlework.  Previously fabric was only available at Scarbrough and Yaring department stores downtown.  They loved walking among the rows of bolts of cloth standing on end, checking the prices and running attractive fabric through their fingers testing its weight and feel.

          In the days during and following World War II, everyone sewed their own garments and by the time I got to junior high, it was certain that I should sew.  I sat at pattern counters for hours with my mom trying to decide on the perfect dress or blouse pattern.  I grew three inches between 6th and 7th grades which sent my mom into a sewing frenzy.  In 8th grade I was 5’91/2” and signed up for home economics with Mrs. Desta Jefferies, a tiny vivacious woman with sparkly brown eyes whom I grew to adore.  My first garment was a cotton dress of two shades of turquoise, pale for the sleeveless cowl-collared top and darker for the circular skirt with an orange cummerbund.  I really loved the way it turned out and my mom was proud of me.  She even took off work to come to the school for the style show.  I had my first pair of low heeled white shoes to wear with it and my mom loaned me her garter belt to hold up the thigh-high stockings…this was long before panty hose.  The big day finally arrived and I was number 12 to cross the stage in front of an auditorium full of parents and students.  As I began my grand entrance, I could feel my garter belt begin sliding toward my shoes.  The only way I could keep it and my stockings up was to spread my legs wider apart as I sashayed across the stage.  My steps got wider and wider as I hurried toward the other side of the stage.  I couldn’t wait to get to the restroom to take the darn thing off.  Such was my introduction to hose.  Is it any wonder that I hate panty hose?

          I did learn to sew and for a lot of years when I was married, I made most of my clothes but for my wedding my mom made only my veil.  My wedding dress was actually bought under the guidance of Goodfriend’s bridal consultant.  What a thrill it was to stand in front of the mirror on the store’s second floor and turn slowly in clouds of white lace.  I felt like a princess as my mom shelled out $125 for this gown which included the services of the consultant who came to the church to direct the dressing of the bride and her bridesmaids and send them down the aisle.

          When I graduated from SMU, a wonderful Singer machine was a graduation present from my in-laws and it cranked out garments for me and for my children for years.  I loved appliquéing animals and trains on little jump suits and dresses.  When the children were older, I made costumes for the plays that they were in.  The pink and gray mouse costume hung around the house for years along with a pair of gold lame harem pants for an Aladdin performance.  As the children got into their teen years, they refused the idea of “homemade” and went for name brands like their peers.  So the machine grew quiet with just some occasional mending and repairs to zippers.

          But when the first grandbaby was coming along and I was working full time, I traded the old machine in for a new fancy Bernina that would do all kinds of fun stitches.  I cranked out blankets, crib sheets, burp pads, and curtains and had so much fun doing it.  I even began to sew a few things for me and some curtains for our new home but that was about it for a long stretch.

          Then I discovered fabric as a new art form.  I have used it on canvas collaged into paintings; I have quilted drawings; I have printed photos on fabric; I have painted and dyed fabric; I have glued paper to fabric; I have made a large quilt in an abstract pattern; I have made fabric books; I stitch on paper.  The love of all things fiber has turned into a passion and once again I’m sewing and stitching with abandon.  I even finally finished embroidering the baby quilt I started 10 years ago for my last grandchild now as a gift to my first great grandbaby.  I still have the Bernina and have been told to hang on to it by the dealer as it is one of the last full metal models.  As long as I keep it clean and oiled, it should last me the rest of my life.  Yay!

Friday, October 07, 2011

May 15, 2009 119(2)

May 15, 2009 119(2) by gypsycrone2000
May 15, 2009 119(2), a photo by gypsycrone2000 on Flickr.

Trying to figure out how to get this picture onto my bio page for my book....hmmmmm.....

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Hey,look out...I gonna bitch and whine.   I ain't no graphic artist.  Really!  Why is it that if one can pick up a brush other folk think it is appropriate to ask me and other artists to make posters for the library, for the cub scouts, for the church?
And then I feel guilty if I decline and then I feel bad because I'm not a graphic artist and end up doing a really crappy job of the whole thing and not at all proud of what I've put together.  I just finished a couple of posters for the church and they look awful but I don't want to spend any more time or any more foam core to try again.  AND I didn't even find out what was wanted on it until yesterday and it is wanted tomorrow and that really pisses me off especially since I had been asking about it for the two months since I agreed to do it.  Now REALLY!
So now I'm tired and cranky and should go to bed.  I think I will.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where did they go?

This morning early when the sun was barely peeking at the tops of the trees in my yard, this feeder was humming with dozens of humming birds competing for a place at the table.  The other feeder had a couple of visitors, unusual for this one as one tiny fellow had been spending the majority of this time guarding his territory.
But suddenly as if there had been an announcement from Mother Nature that their flight was boarding and soon to depart, the birds were nearly all gone.  All but a couple hangers-on that evidently had not heard the boarding call or would just rather eat.  I guess when it is time to move on it is time to move on.  But oh my, was it fun to watch them zoom here and there.  It must take an amazing amount of food for them to keep up their frenzy of activity.  So relaxing to just sit on the patio and watch them do all the work.  I will miss the little buggers and look forward to next spring when they return. 
But who knows...maybe they will be back tomorrow and were just invited to a better spread down the street.  Keep tuned in...

Friday, September 09, 2011

10 years ago...where were you?

Ten years Sunday I arose early really excited.  I had packed the night before, wrapped the birthday gift.  Now all I had to do was gather my medications, shower and dress and head for Hobby airport.  I would be on my way to Greensboro, North Carolina via Air Tran's cheap flight for my youngest grandson's first birthday party in Charlotte.  It was planned for midafternoon and my daughter-in-law was to pick me up at the airport. 

But Al Quaeda had other plans for me and even much more devastating for thousands of other Americans.  My son called as we were walking out the door and said, "Mom! Turn on the TV!  Something terrible is going on.  A plane has hit the World Trade Center in NY.  And now another one just collided."  My heart jumped to my throat.  All the previous year my son officed in the World Trade Center and slept in the Marriott Hotel there, commuting to Charlotte on the weekends.  Oh my God.  What is happening?  He said to head for the airport with the radio on which we did.  By the time we arrived, another plane had hit the Pentagon. 

Arriving at the airport I told my husband to leave my luggage in the car and let me go in and check and see if planes were still flying.  I raced to the Continental counter which was nearly deserted and asked about the status.  Just as I arrived, it was announced that all flights anywhere had been cancelled.  Shaking I ran back to the car to tell my husband and we drove back home listening to more reports of devastation as the Twin Towers collapsed.  Stunned we sat glued to the TV for the next few days trying to comprehend what had happened.

 I got notice from Air Tran that my flight was scheduled again and though security was increased, I had an uneventful trip to Greensboro.  The country was reeling.  How could this happen?  America lost its innocence that day.  And life would never ever be the same.  What a different world my grandchildren are living in!  I grew up in a world where we seldom locked our doors.  They will live in a world where they are hated just because they live in the greatest country in the world.  It was comforting to play Batman's Robin with my grandson, to eat cake and read traditional stories with happy endings where good always conquered evil.

I pray that they will learn to make a difference, to accept diversity, to stand with courage for love and the greater good.  That will make me so proud, not that I'm not already.

Friday, April 29, 2011

History making in Alabama

We are in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama visiting our son for a couple of weeks never dreaming we would experience such weather. Thank God for my new cell phone. Yesterday morning we were awakened about 6 am with incredible wind and stuff slaming against the upstairs bedroom window and the beagle howling. In the backyard we could see a large tree fall just missing the fence around the pool and then the power went off. And it was all least the first round. We drove the kids to school which had no power so all were sent home again. Several houses had trees blown on them. To me, shades of Ike minus the water . The sky cleared as we searched for a battery powered radio to figure out what was going on. Neighborhood kids drifted in and it was party time. My son has the only pool on the block. They went through food in the pantry and fridge like locusts after a few hours in the pool. About 6 or 7 the power came back but no TV or Internet. Then we prepared for the next predicted wave of tornadoes and the sirens went off and we headed for the basement and spent the rest of the evening drinking beer and watching a Bruce Springsteen DVD. Gratefully nothing happened but some hefty wind and we all went to bed unaware of the devastation that was going on in the neighborhood next to us and the tragedy in Tuscaloosa. This morning the power blinked a couple of times and then went out. We found a couple of huge trees uprooted at the back of my son's property and leaving the area, saw houses with lots of damage, streets blocked by large trees and traffic lights out. And then there were areas where there was absolutely no damage. We drove the kids to their orthodontist and it was a regular day in his office...crazy. We grocery shopped on that part of town (nothing open near here), bought Kate a birthday cake, shopped at Belk's and came home to fix her favorite salmon dinner.

Tonight we celebrated Kate's 13th birthday with lights (yay, electricity), TV and now Internet. Family friends who have no power are staying with us tonight along with a kid from down the street who just showed up with a sleeping bag. The girls want to get up early to watch the Royal Wedding at 5 am...I may try to join them. All of you have probably seen more of the incredible devastation than we have bu the stories are everywhere in the people we've encountered, many family and friends touched by this. Recovery efforts are underway and the kids' school is a collection point. We are so blessed in so many ways.

Tomorrow is the real birthday party with more friends in for a sleep-over so I'm off to bed to hopefully get some rest before the bigger batch of giggles and screams tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This beautiful clematis vine is growing up my son's mailbox here in Alabama.  Such gorgeous star-like blooms.  I ran out between sprinkles (yes, it is raining, the wet stuff that we haven't seen in months in SE Texas) to take its picture.  It is very quiet today in this huge house while the kids are at school, son is at his office and daughter-in-law is taking grandson to the doctor.  My husband is buried in a computer upstairs and I am so relishing the quiet along with Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. Oh my Lord, I hang on every sentence for the poetry in his language.  For me, as a writer, it is intimidating and inspirational at the same time.  I want to hold lines close to my chest and neverr let them go.  I want to steal them as first lines of my own work.  I want to soar off to the Carolinas on the wings of his words.  He inspires me to go back and read War and Peace once more, The Yearling and more.
     Conroy always knew he wanted to write.  I'm a late comer to writing and doubt I will ever write anything as lyrical or profound as Conroy but it is only in reading the best that I learn to appreciate the hard work that real writing demands.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This is our bird alarm system...makes no noise at all but cat Slick has taken it upon himself to remind us when it is time to pull the night cover off the bird cage. He also reminds us each evening that it is time to cover them. Go figure!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baby shower

My beautiful little granddaughter-in-law.  The shower was lovely and the kids got some great stuff for the coming Sophie Nicolle.  That's her sister sitting next to her and my granddaughter, Taylor, standing behind and helping with gifts.  What a lovely group of young women!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A great grandbaby is in progress

My fingers are sore but late this afternoon I finally finished the baby quilt for Sophie Nicolle who is due in a couple of months.  I started this quilt 10 years ago for my youngest grandson and didn't get very far at all.  I was determined to finish it for this great-grandbaby in time for her baby shower tomorrow.  Whew!  It got pretty grubby by the time I was done so it is in the washer with some Woolite before I dry it, press it and wrap it up.  I so wanted to continue the tradition started by my grandmother, Bonnie, who cross-stitched a quilt for my first child shortly before she died.  I have made quilts for all my grandchildren except the last one who will get his father's quilt.  It is an act of love for sure as there are many, many hours in this quilt...why I ever chose such an elaborate pattern I will never know and never do again.  It has taken several doses of Aleve to get through this one. 
Now back to cleaning house and getting my life back together...some exercise wouldn't hurt.

Cross-stitching a Life

Row after row
Stitch follows stitch
Up, down
In, out
Over, under
Loop, tie, knot
Yellow meets blue
Green greets purple
Needles, thimbles, thread
push images into form.
Crosses cover quilt,
a thousand threads
to keep alive the tradition
of wrapping a newborn
in an heirloom of blessings and prayers
for a healthy life full of joy.

Kay L. Cox    4/11

Friday, March 18, 2011

At last....spring!

But don't tell the tomato worms.  I'm determined this year that those big green bug-eyed creep crawlies are NOT going to tunnel holes in my tomatoes.  You hear that, worms?  No toucha the tomato.  Some guy at the garden center suggested I use Sevin and I said "But I want to eat the tomatoes...not poison myself I'm not crazy about mixing up a bucket of tobacco juice but if it would keep those suckers out of my plants, I'll do it. I also heard that planting marigolds around them helped keep the uglies away.  They'd be pretty anyway.
So what eats squash that I should be on the lookout for?  We love squash and I'm hoping for a big crop.  Sauted with some onion...mmm, yeah, baby.  
Cucumbers will go against the fence in hopes that they will learn to climb which they didn't do last year and managed to hide a bountiful crop underneath big leaves.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


This is Gracie, my granddaughter's female cat who has found her place or should I say places among the male population of cats in our household.  She seems to prefer up high where she can observe what is taking place in the main room of the house.  However, if her owners are out of the house, she prefers the top of the ironing board in the front window where she can watch for their arrival.  This used to be Peanuts' spot but no more.  When my daughter is home, Gracie tags along right behind her wherever she goes and talks to her.  She would like to play with Slick, our tuxedo cat, but he just kinda looks at her and then she chases him.  We were worried about how they were all going to get along when daughter and granddaughter moved in last November but they seem to be fine.  Slick is happy with his toy mouse while Gracie prefers a small pebble from the fire place.  Peanut prefers the outdoors and playing with the ugly cat from across the street who likes any food better than his own.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Late life crisis

Okay, so I was bored with my hair and added a little something.  And no, I was not hit in the head by an axe murderer...It's just hair color and I'm having fun with it.  A little spice for the ol' granny.  Must be a late life crisis after learning I will be a great grandmother.  Yikes!  Oh, well, this too shall grow.