Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It Just Comes Naturally (or, I am from a family of liars)

Hello, all!  Last night was my BOM meeting for the Civil War Club.  I had my block done.  Woohoo!!!

Yes, I know my points aren't perfect.  I am not sure I care at this point but may later.  Flying geese are not easy for me.  Surely they will get better before I do the 44 I need for next month!! I also have to do another of this block.  So, I will have 48 of them.  I don't cut off the points.  Mine seem not to meet at the bottom.  Working on it.

Our special project was a set of owl pin cushions.

I am not much into owls or pin cushions.  So, I made mine in the colors my SIL wants and am giving them to her.  All of the buttons are from my stash.  The one poor little owl has two different eyes.  His left eye has some deformity.  It is textured!  If you like these owls you can find the free pattern here. It is very simple.  My mama owl is stuffed with lizard litter and a little fiberfill to make closing easier.  The babies have emery sand and fiberfill.  The lady in our club recommended - and I second - that you baste across the fold before stuffing and that you fold over a scant quarter inch of fabric and "hem" it on the opening.  I felt they were easier to stuff if I put my closing thread in before stuffing.  I used embroidery floss.

In our club we get "scrips" that we can use at an auction held at the end of the year.  They are earned by attendance, bringing our journal, having our block done, special projects, show and tell and CW stories. She said from the beginning they could be truth or fiction.  Last night I went with fiction.

I make soap.  I haven't made any for a few years because my family wasn't using it fast enough.  A friend at work wanted to try making some and that got me to thinking about it again. I enjoy it.  I used soap making as the basis for my story last night.

My family is big story tellers.  Some people would call them liars.  They are good at taking a grain of truth and rolling it around in "details" and things they might wish had happened until it is the size of a hush puppy.  I might have inherited a touch of that.

My family tree has been documented back to the 17th century when immigration to the US began.  We settled in Virginia and then down into the Carolinas and back to Kentucky before my branch landed in Indiana.  During the War of Northern Aggression most of my relatives were on the Confederate side.  I have several ancestors that were POWs.  I took this little grain of truth and my knowledge of soap making and created a story for last night.

This from the journal of a female ancestor who also happens to be named Mary.  I kid you not there is at least one in every generation since our arrival in the US.  I am it for my generation in my branch.

Please read with a soft, southern voice.

The boys have been gone for over two years now.  We still get word that Jesse and Andrew are being held in prisons in the North.  I pray this is true.  The Yankees were through last week.  I tried to be civil.  I tried to remember they were some woman’s son.  Some of them made that a trial.  But, I think of my dear friend Abigail in the north.  I know that she is treating all soldiers whether they be northern or southern boys.  I feel I have to do the same. One day it may be her son in my yard.

We fed them what little we had.  I doctored their wounds.  For some reason what they were most interested in was my soap.  They took nearly every bit I had.  We were left with a few old bars from before the war that had turned yellow.  It is good soap and still cleans.

Before they left they burnt the oak grove that Grandaddy had planted when Mama and each of her siblings were born.  There were 15 great oaks.  One for each child.  Now there are none.  Since they took our soap and left us with ashes, I felt the Lord was telling me to make soap.  I needed tallow.  Nothing around here with more grease than a possum.  We set traps and I caught 15 of them.  We needed the meat.  I cooked them up but kept every scrap of fat and today I used that old possum fat and those ashes to make soap.

It kept us busy and warm for a while.  We had to gather up all those ashes.  Then we boiled them in some rain water.  I didn’t have an egg but little Squire, Claude’s boy, found me a nest of robin eggs. I sure hated to take them but I hope Mama Robin understands we are all sacrificing.  I boiled and boiled those ashes and when they started feeling slippery I let them cool.  I was in luck.  I got the egg to float the first try. 

We mixed that lye with the possum tallow and made our soap.  I didn’t have anything but a few mint leaves left to scent it with but it will clean.  It sure isn’t my prettiest soap but it washes.  I wrapped it in the few scraps of butternut flannel I had and I am passing it out to our boys when they come through.  I can’t bear to only be washing the Yankees!

I pray that someone is giving my boys soap in that Yankee prison.

Abigail is the alter ego of one of the women in charge of our group.  She gives us information about life during the CW at each meeting.  She loved it that I tied her into my story.  I gave each of the ladies a bar of my home made soap after my story. NO, I do not make soap with possum tallow.  I suppose it is possible but don't know that I want to try.  I will stick with lard, coconut oil and such.

I hope my story gave you the same sort of chuckle it gave my "little ol' quilting buddies", as my husband calls them.  Back on night shift tonight.  Hope to get my Fun and Done completed and my Jelly Roll 1600 on the quilting machine this week.  That depends on how much sleep I get.  I have a problem giving up sleep to sew. If I can sleep I am going to!

Keep Stitchin'!


p.s.  I decided to link this post to some of the crafting linking parties.  So far I have been to Sew Darn Crafty and Lady Bug Blessings.


  1. You do spin a good yarn my dear!
    Maybe you should take up writing historical novels (in your spare time - ha!)

  2. Storytelling is a time-honored art practiced in every culture. I, too, am from a family of storytellers. (I told you about Aunt Delilah and the Yankee who swore at her.) According to one of my professors, adding current details to old stories is how you make them relevant in the current place and time. Your story could easily be true.

    1. It could indeed, Sallie. Though my husband pointed out the difficulty in getting standing trees to burn. I told him Yankees are persistent.

      My aunt pointed out to me I had a great-great-great grandfather on my mother's side that was with the Union army. Family lore is he made money gambling with the other soldiers. He invested it well after the war and was the largest landowner in his township within ten years. Unfortunately, he couldn't stop that gambling and had lost it all 25 years later.

      History is so much more fun to study when we get to see the little details instead of just memorizing dates and quotes.


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