Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Little Bit of Christmas

The problem with setting a goal to write in your blog one time more each month than the year before is that sometimes you have absolutely nothing to say. Fortunately, I haven't set a particularly high bar in that area, so I won't worry that my post today is unexceptional. I bought a little Christmas ornament kit at a quilt shop in Bakersfield called Strawberry Patches a while back. There were six patterns for little appliqued felt ornaments in the kit, but the mittens were the ones that really hooked me. As is often my habit, I never touched any of them during Christmas and was about ready to forget about them until next Christmas when I discovered some more felt kits at Prairie Point Junction Quilt Shop's website. I loved the Easter-themed mats and ornaments, but realistically thought I shouldn't consider buying one if I didn't actually like doing the applique. So, last night I tried making one of the Christmas ornaments and was pretty successful. My work isn't perfect, but it's not supposed to look like a machine did it anyway. Mmmmm, which Easter pattern do I buy now.

It's kind of funny that I stumbled upon Prairie Point Junction Quilt Shop because it's located Cozad, Nebraska, which is in Western Nebraska,  pretty much the middle of nowhere. When we used to drive to see Russ's family during the summers, we'd drive through Cozad and would feel so relieved that it was "only" four more hours to Lincoln. I have a sad reason to remember Cozad too, a reason that I re-visit every year when I teach the play Our Town to my students. In the first act of the play, there's a brief scene with Joe Crowell, the paperboy. The Stage Manager, who  knows the future of every character, interjects, (Yes, I have these lines memorized.)

Let me tell you something about Joe Crowell there. 
Joe was awful bright—graduated from high school here,
head of his class. So he got a scholarshipto Massachusetts Tech.
Graduated head of his class there, too.
It was all wrote up in the Boston paper at the time. Goin’ to be
a great engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died
in France. All that education for nothing.

I went to college with a girl named Julie from Cozad twenty-five years ago. I didn't know her really well, but she came in the library where I worked a lot and was always so cheerful and was an incredible student and go-getter.  I'm pretty sure that she was the valedictorian of the class behind me. The first year that I started teaching in California, I heard that she had been killed on one of her first days of teaching in Oklahoma. She was behind a tractor trailer rig on the way to work, and the trailer came unhitched.  I couldn't stop thinking about her that year, and when I read those lines later in the year in Our Town, I told my students about Julie, making the Joe Crowell connection.  All of these years later, I still think of her when I teach Our Town,  and of her family in that little town of Cozad, and how Thornton Wilder was an incredible writer, except for that weird part at the end where the people who have died are just sitting there in chairs. Sooo, I already buy Wilder's whole idea about the universality of human experiences, but it really hit me that I had just finished teaching Our Town this week, and had recently told my students about how, unfortunately, there are lot of "Joe Crowell stories" around the world; and then I randomly come across a cute, little website from Julie's hometown. The world really isn't that big in a lot of ways, and we are all tied together more than we realize. I'd be willing to bet there's someone who works at Prairie Point Junction who is still sad every once in a while because something reminds them of Julie, just like I am.


corinna said...

those fancy socks are wonderful,
as is the christmas mitten ornament
..... life is nothing but interesting...always amazing how things and people connect over time.

Rani said...

What a sad, but interesting tale. Would you believe I've never read Our Town. Must do something about that.

And I just did some serious damage at Prairie Point, thank you very much. I've never tried that felting kit stuff, but those little candle mats are so cool!

I love your little mitten kit. I think it turned out perfectly!

TheBlackSheep said...

Very cute mittens! I think those turned out real well.

What a sweet story about Julie. It's nice that she's remembered in such a good way.

Willow said...

My first date with The Professor was going to see a production of Our Town at Loyola Marymount College in LA. I think we all have 'Julies' in our memories, people we will never forget even though we didn't know them well.

I've done a quite a lot of felting but not much of the sewing with felt. The kits really do look cute.

Thimbleanna said...

Awww, you made me tear up just a little! And you make me want to go back and re-read some Thorton Wilder. Very cute little mittens too!

Wool Winder said...

Nice job on the Christmas ornament. Looks like you've found another hobby to keep you busy.

When we are young and we hear of someone our age dying, it sticks with us forever.

ompa said...

the ornament is cute Karoline. As always a pleasure on catching up on your blog- I understand your "bad" behaviour in public.... LOL.... sometimes one need to act out.

JayJay said...

What a touching story, and an interesting way to view our connection to one another.

Your mitten looks great, so I think you deserve some more kits!