Back in Business with a House Theme
After 8 months, I returned this past week to Gather Around the Quilt, with my senior groups.
Greeting Old and New Friends
I was eager to get back to my Atria gang, but a few didn't recognize me with my short hair. It was sad to learn that some special folks had passed away during my break. Of course, the new residents didn't know me at all. But that was almost refreshing. They all seemed pleased to know we were not quilting.
I laid the quilt and props on the table and we got busy with our theme. The tiny houses and photos and magazines encouraged memory sharing... of favorite front porches and gabled roofs and shutters and chimneys. I asked if anyone had ever been on a roof. E. laughed and told us how her brothers encouraged her to climb on the roof. "They held a sheet below and told me to jump!"
Magazines and Music
The magazines from the 1940's helped us see how house styles and decorating has changed over the years. While we flipped through pages, I asked if anyone knew a song with the word house or home.
E. spoke and didn't skip a beat. "House of the Rising Sun!" She announced. We chuckled about the story behind the song. Then I went ahead and played a recording. "There is a house in New Orleans..." the eerie melody seemed to cast a spell. E. delighted me, as she swayed and sang along. We played just enough before switching to some more upbeat tunes.
Gang at the Center
I knew the gang at M.G. Community Center was expecting me. What a welcoming bunch, with hugs and gentle teasing about my hair-do! It felt good to settle in around the quilt with this eager group that needed no explanation about the Quilt.
I had a lot of mini houses scattered on the quilt, but the "toys" got the most attention. The tiny red house, was my toy as a young girl. "Close one eye and look in the peep hole!" I encouraged. "Top Cat" cartoon images could be seen.
The old "View Master" was from my husband's childhood. The disk with photos of the White House was from 1961. The 3-D images showed Jackie Kennedy's redecorated interior. "It doesn't look like this anymore!" Said R. as she flipped through the photos. "Our new president had Obama's carpet ripped out..." I laughed and assured everyone, that we wouldn't be getting political today.
We attempted a little house building with Lincoln Logs and a deck of cards. As fingers fiddled with slippery cards, I asked who could think of a song with the word house or home. A moment later, we were singing "Home on the Range" as we worked around the table.
What is Home?
We debated about the definition of home. Can a traveling cowboy call the range his home? Even though I was trying to steer away from politics, I cautiously played a recording of Woody Guthrie, singing "Ain't Got No Home".
The harmonica and tempo was upbeat enough to get M. up dancing. But the words were about being poor and homeless during the depression. I decided not to share the trivia that I learned when brainstorming the day before. I learned about Guthrie's re-wording of the song in the 1950's. Guthrie's new lyrics revealed his anger towards Fred Trump... as in President Trump's father! (I'm always learning)
Kids and Houses
We talked about houses kids love, like doll houses, tree houses and playhouses. M. had a memory of hiding underneath the house. "It was always cool under there!" B. told about her brothers helping her climb on the roof... to smoke cigarettes!
And we talked about how we loved drawing houses when we were children. We used our index fingers to draw in the air, the way we remembered drawing houses as a child."I always started with a square bottom and a triangle roof!" "I liked making a chimney and smoke coming out!" M. drew the circular smoke shape in the air. "And flowers in the yard... and a sun!"
Photos and Questions
I handed out sheets with photographs and brainstorming questions.
For a moment all was quiet as the group studied their images. I had planned on taking turns, so each could ask their question to the group. But suddenly the group was discussing with each other, sharing and remembering with those seated nearby. My questions weren't needed. Whether the photos showed castles or huts, mansions or teepees, everyone seemed to be reminded of a place they saw, or a home they remembered. I wish I could have heard all the conversations that went on at once.
Sharing and Comparing
We only had a short time to share as a group, before the clock reminded that it was time for lunch. We sadly didn't get a chance to share about our idea of the perfect dream house.
I packed up my stuff, which as usual, was more than we needed. I headed to the car with their voices an stories filling my head.
Good To Be Back
What Did I Learn? After 8 months away, I learned that I still love being a part of these groups. My little detour with cancer could have given me an excuse to stop planning these crazy themes and toting my loads. But I was glad to be back! It was great to see my Quilt Buddies, again!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.