One of the happy surprises of Facebook, for me, has been getting in touch with my father’s side of the family. My Uncle Dick had five kids, whom we rarely saw growing up and therefore barely knew. They grew up in Queens, packed into a tiny stand-alone. We grew up in various four-bedroom houses in suburban neighborhoods. We moved every two or three years and thus came from nowhere, while they were rooted to a single block of their borough. I got ballet lessons, piano lessons, skiing lessons, new clothes. They got a lot less.
But how much there is in common! Given what a biological determinist being a parent has made me, I’m not sure why this amazes me. I have been corresponding, in particular, with my cousin Ginny.
In the process of emailing and talking on the phone, I have discovered a couple of things worth sharing — 1) that no matter what one’s means, life’s lessons are dealt and inner resources can be garnered; and 2) that family legends can be pure bunk.
One of my mother’s less generous habits was to vilify my father and his family. A classic statement of hers, which both sums up years of name calling and gives you a pretty good indication of my mother’s capacity for cutting commentary, was: “My family may have been nuts, but his was cruel.” Along similarly insulting lines, it was considered that all the creative talent in my family came from my mother and her side of the family. My father, an engineer, was deemed methodical and persistent, at best, and at worst, a drone.
The creative gene WAS passed to me and my siblings by my mother, there is no doubt, but when I discovered what a talented painter, beautiful photographer and prodigious blogger my cousin Ginny is, I realized I had been sold a bill of goods about my father’s side of the family (although meanness, there, did reside).
This is by way of a long introduction to the photos of the Boro House, above. After I ‘planted’ the house out front near my sedum, I decided to send it to Ginny on Long Island, where she lives and blogs (although I believe most of her writing is done on the train commuting to NYC. It’s worth a look — Life in Crab Meadow). In the meantime, she has sent me a whole package of vintage aprons (!!!) and a set of antique embellished collars and cuffs stitched in Japan.
I love the idea of being connected, now, by cloth and stitches. This house was made in my house and is now planted in HER garden. And, I now make dinners wearing one of the aprons that Ginny gave to me. Cloth and stitches, making connections, even though we haven’t seen each other since our grandmother died decades ago (was I 14? 16?)
Oh, Dee, what a wonderful story. An example of threads literally connecting, drawing people together and stitching the seam. Pure magic.
yes, it is part of why I have so loved fabric swaps and packages — being sent all over the world!
ah, now i see the real beauty of this one! i too have made connection with a long lost cousin, but alas we have little communication….maybe someday
maybe someday when you’re not rocking the internet with all of your connections there!
That is a wonderful connection to make! Love your little boro houses.
What a lovely post! Dee I am so happy to have made your aquaintance all these years later. I am thrilled by your talents, outlook and strength. We always credited our Uncle Joe on my mother’s side for the creative gene in photography, but who really knows where the artistic spirit comes from? I know that my muse would never work for my siblings, nor theirs with me….maybe it is a little genetic and a little fate/destiny.
It is too bad you didn’t have more of my little pink house in Queens in your life growing up, and I would have killed for my own room, but we are who we are, and are most definately shaped by the roads we have travel and “stitches” in time…perhaps we can mend the broken fences of our parents in this next generation. I am glad I have you as a new friend!
a beautiful post connecting thoughts. i love these boro houses. really lovely.
it’s saturday and clean up day here at the manse, and I am a little mute, but thanks for the nice note, Ginny…
and Jude, your comment reminds me of the play on words — “boro” and “borough” — Queens might be another word to play with!
this is how healing happens, stitch by stitch. is a pixel a stitch?
pixels as stitches in pictures — i like the idea… or comments on blogs like strands of silk, making those connections…
Your boro house is charming. 🙂