Tuesday, August 11, 2020

SOL & #52Stories 32/52: Granny Memories & the Puttering Gene

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

My granny, Ella Duff, lived down the street from us when I was growing up. When she sold the farm at McNally flat and moved to town, she bought the house across the street and two houses down from ours. Our granny wasn't particularly indulgent, not like her sister, Aunt Becky, who moved next door to her. Aunt Becky (who never had children of her own) indulged her great nieces and nephews with treats (candy, cookies, cake, or ice cream), and talked to us, and treated us just like grownups.

My granny often seemed lost in her own world. She could while away a day chasing one of her two favorite passions. Either one would be scattered all over the living room while she hummed and puttered. I think I may have inherited her puttering gene. Several weeks ago while my husband hiked, I puttered. Hard to say exactly what I accomplished, but I did get a walk in around noon. But before then? I meandered through a pile of old newspapers that I've been wanting to read! Granny's puttering was much more productive, with end products (eventually) as a result of her puttering. So what were her two puttering obsessions that could cover every sofa and chair and even the floor?

One was quilting. Every grandchild was given a quilt made by Granny when they married. Everyone in the family gave their fabric scraps to Granny, so looking at the quilts is a stroll through family history. My sister, Kay, knows the origin of many of the scraps in my quilt. As Granny slipped into dementia, she continued laying out fabric scraps to plan her next creation.

I love the idea of quilting, but not so much the actual execution. I still have a partially finished wall hanging from a time when I took a quilting class and envisioned becoming a quilter just like Granny. However, thanks to Ann Frederickson's tutelage of a group of girls from our congregation one summer, Sara acquired basic sewing skills and inherited her great grandmother's quilting gene. That particular gene just happened to skip a generation. I'm amazed by the lovingly constructed quilts Sara creates and shares. Her latest creation? This car quilt she constructed for Jack during the early days of the pandemic. 

But I digress, back to Granny's other favorite puttering activity, genealogy. I still remember the brown briefcase with gold clasps that housed all those long genealogy sheets. And the hours she spent in search of her ancestors. Maybe I have a bit of that gene, although it's been germinating for a long while. When I pull up FamilySearch and begin to look around, it's as if Granny is peering over my shoulder, whispering, "Go, Mona, go!"


  1. I love how you are writing a story a week! What a treasure! Your ancestors sound amazing, especially your granny!

  2. I love that word--puttering. It almost feels meditative, the way you describe it here, like a form of self care. Sounds like it is time well spent.

  3. This is such a special post and a fabulous idea to document this year in stories. This certainly is a year we will never forget. I love how this post compares where you are now to what you remember about Granny and Aunt Becky. This was a pleasure to read!

  4. I love the idea of quilting... oh, I get that. I took a quilting class once, but I never actually made a quilt. I do an awful lot of puttering, though.

  5. How I love puttering - the freedom in it! That's one rare gift from this pandemic. About sewing: I am terrible at it although my mother took in sewing for other people, made all my bridesmaids' dresses, and once made a slipcover for our sectional sofa! My paternal grandmother made quilts - I have two of hers and one of her mother's - they are treasures. I see pieces in one quilt and can remember the outfits that my mother and grandmother made; the leftover scraps went into the quilt. It makes me think of DNA and "scraps" that we inherit from those before us - oh yes, genealogy is utterly fascinating! There are so many stories I wish I knew. How excited your grandmother would be to see what's accessible to us now - and I love that image of her standing over your shoulder. It's so real.