Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Cowgirl Song. Blog 12.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.


Sisterhood: Tekla in the cowgirl tee with my Aunt Sophie.
The last t-shirt, my favorite one. The vintage hand-painted cowgirl photo re-purposed by the zany Texan artist, Bob Wade, was too large to put on one block so I split the image into two. My last two blocks, done! Whew!

But... wait, we had a moment there, my Mom and I, working through these old t-shirts as if we were together. That emptiness, that ache, that loss... there is no home to go home to where I can rest my head on my mother’s shoulder. I am the wandering cowgirl, doing the rodeo circuit in my dusty blue jeans, singing those lonesome cowgirl blues.

Yeah... I wanted to be a cowgirl. A ballerina. A symphony conductor. A famous painter. A biologist. A yoga guru. A philosopher. A chef. A poet. “You can be anything you want”, she promised and she fed me art, science, nature, music, beauty with a firm and open hand.

The two cowgirl blocks. My last two blocks stitched with a heavy and satisfied sigh.


Some Women Remembered.


The gals on the cowgirl t-shirt always embodied for me the not-so-secret society of women in which I grew up, so lovingly enfolded. With my Mother’s death, I am brought back to remembering two other amazing women in my life who are no longer with us but whose stamp on my heart and psyche remain as fresh and alive as when I was a young toddler crawling on their laps. 
My Mother Tekla, a young me, and Grandma Grace.

My Grandmother Grace: nurse, healer, mother, friend. She was the essence of loving and giving and generosity and, well, grace. Very much a part of my upbringing... from the moment I was born (in the early sixties when breast feeding was, unbelievably, still frowned upon and she staunchly supported my mother in this age old endeavor)... to my troubled teenage years in which she was the solid mast to my youthful tempest. 

And my Aunt Judy who, like so many women, had her life unfairly shortened by breast cancer. She was as much an older sister as an aunt, being born much later than my father and uncle. Judy was smart, funny, solid, a staunch feminist, and an occasional romantic. When my daughter was born prematurely, I was terrified to touch her, so tiny in her incubator. Judy came to the hospital, scrubbed up, and reached in and cradled her with incredible tenderness, showing me how to mother this small, delicate baby. My baby never got to know Judy, she passed away on my daughter’s second birthday, to the day. 

A triumvirate of women leaders. Tekla, Grace, Judy.

My Aunt Judy, lovingly remembered.

All the Cowgirls.


But Aunt Judy introduced me to other cowgirls: Shelley, her life partner, and their most remarkable daughter Amy, my wonderful young cousin, and then Karen, the rock (and the roll). And there is my own little cowgirl, Rachel, the preemie baby who grew up to be taller, smarter, and more beautiful than I would have ever thought possible, she is my most precious buckaroo. There are the girlfriends from one end of this country to the other, and my mother's many friends, my sweet niece Sophie, all the other Aunts and Cousins, my Baba and my dear old friend Diane (RIP).... yessirree, to all the Cowgirls in my life and in honour of my mother: I tip my stetson, hop on my trusty steed, and make a swirl of dust as I sew. Yippeee Ka-yay!

Trotting along.


Some fabrics Mom had kept, my weird batik on the right.
A busy weekend in New York celebrating my birthday (what! another one?) now finds me back in my sewing/ writing nook. Sewing machine oiled: check! All blocks done: check! Fabric, thread for stitching them all together: check! Back of quilt fabric: hmmm... check!... found some pieces of batik-ed fabric, including some that I had done way way back in high school, in my mother’s cupboards. These will form my backing. She kept them for a previously unknown reason. Now we know why.

30 worn t-shirts made into quilt blocks.