Grandma Walburga: My Roots of Handmade Tradition

I had a memory today. I was using a set of pot holders I made to take some carmelized brussels sprouts out of  the oven (because if you are going to eat brussels sprouts, why not carmelize them?) I was remembering a conversation with a friend about using the "good ones". I do use the "good ones". I don't see a point in saving them for a rainy day - they make me happy every day! And when they've just gotten too singed, frayed and downright loved to pieces, I make more. It's a very happy and fulfilling cycle.

As usual, I digress. I then thought of how maybe I should start making something here or there to save for my girls for when they head off to start their own homesteading. I still have some of my very first belongings that were given to me when I moved into my first apartment: Gramps' screwdrivers, Mom's hammer. I love the feeling I get when I take those simple things out and think of receiving them 20 years ago in my very first home away from home.

And as my internal conversations go... I then thought of my Great Grandma Walburga Baalman, my great-grandmother on my paternal grandfather's side. I have fond memories of my grandma's house. It was bright aqua blue with white trim. She had a chain link fence around her backyard which was bordered with a flower bed on all sides as was the house. My grandma always wore pressed powder and bright lipstick. Her hair was a beautiful silvery gray and then bright white. She had a rock collection in her flower beds that consisted mostly of gigantic crystals and open geodes from her travels. She collected paper weights filled with spiders and butterflies and intricate glass designs. She loved Kewpie dolls and crocheted tiny little intricate dresses for all of the dolls in her collection. She also tatted beautiful doilies.

I didn't really remember how many things I have from my Grandma Baalman until today. I have a large crystal from her garden, a Kewpie in a pink crocheted dress, the baby blanket she made for me when I was born and a set of bath towels from my "hope chest" that every girl in our family received. I've always been a very sentimental person. My youngest daughter Cannon is just like me in that way. I remember even from that very young age of about six years old knowing that my Grandma wouldn't be with me forever. I had a sense that she would leave us before I was old enough to have my very own set of bath towels made for my "hope chest". (I also longed for a Lane Company cedar hope chest to put all of my treasures in.) I wanted a set of those bath towels made just for me by my grandmother so badly.

I think my grandmother must have had the same sense about her time with me. I will never forget the visit to her house when I received my towels. They were just like I wanted too. White with aqua blue trim and a rainbow of crocheted flowers hand stitched on. It is possible my love for aqua blue stems from my Grandma Baalman. It is possible that everyone's love of aqua blue stems from all of our Great Grandmothers collectively.

I have them. I have never used them. They were too precious. And still are. For now. I might see a day in the future where I'll be ready to start enjoying them daily. Until then, I think I'll stitch up a few little traditions for my own girls and stash them away.

Funny thing. As I'm sitting her typing this with the towels sitting next to me at my desk I just noticed the manufacturer label:

Made in U.S.A.


All Cotton

Coincidence? Probably. Am I crying anyway? Absolutely.