The pillow on the right is made from a tea towel given to me by Dr. Marseille Spetz, who was my neighbor when I lived among the dairy farms in the Arcata Bottoms while attending Humboldt State University in northern California. I was a newly single mother, my daughter and I were sharing a big old farmhouse with another single mom and her 5-year-old son, and my own mother was far away. The day we moved in, Marseille walked down the road to welcome us and stepped naturally and easily into the role of surrogate mother figure and one of the best friends I've ever had. She was in her 70s then, retired from medical practice but not from active engagement in the world around her. She signed up for classes at HSU, where she learned to play the trumpet, studied French and Norwegian, and eventually earned a master's degree in English. I didn't write down her translation of the text on the towel at the time but I remember the gist of it, and after much struggle with Google Translate the computer and I agree that it's something to the effect of "Hepatica (flowers) on the slopes say 'spring is here,'" as indeed it is.
This third piece also has a story: several years ago my mother gave me a set of "days of the week" flour sack dish towels that my paternal grandmother embroidered for her before I was born. I wanted to enjoy them, not stick them away in a drawer (though I'm glad Mom did that, or I wouldn't have them!), but they were too old and fragile to use for their intended purpose. The blotch on the "Saturday" towel on the lower left was already there and I haven't been able to get it out, and some had yellowed with age. I cut out the embroidered sections and added green print strip blocks and solid green strips between the blocks, both because it went with the frog motifs and to honor my grandmother's Irish heritage. Now it hangs on a wall in my north-facing sewing room where it's safe from the sun.
I like to think that Nonni, Marseille, and my Grandma Lou would all be pleased to see these things out in view, where they can be appreciated both for what they add to the decor of our home and as reminders of the remarkable and talented and loving women who added so much to our lives. Maybe some day our children or grandchildren will use the things we've made or given to them and share their own memories or stories.