E is for...
Embroidery; particularly cross-stitch, particularly some sort of sampler, particularly having to do with family.
"Mothers Tree," a design by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum for Lavender & Lace, is right up many of my alleys! It's the genealogical record of the direct family line from the oft-neglected maternal side. It includes the year of birth and full name (maiden name and married name) of the eldest, known, direct, female ancestor, followed by the words "mother of." On the next line is the same info for her daughter, then her daughter, and on and on. This one is for me and I want to include all three of my daughters, so it has me, mother of Katie and Ali and Maddy. I haven't done a bit of family history research in the last few years (or perhaps I'd know Mary's surname -- rumored to also be Bauer, but not fact), nor have I stitched on this project. I was stymied by my grandmother's name for a while -- everywhere I looked there was a different variation of her first name, along with vague attempts at explanation in the form of stories about "too many Marys." In the end, my family historian persona duly recorded all the variations (and even took a favorite) while deciding that for the sampler, the variation that Grandma used herself was appropriate (even if it isn't my favorite).
While the Mothers Tree is folded up and hidden away in my workbasket, brought to mind on rare occasion, "The Dorcas Haynes Christmas Sampler," a reproduction sampler taught by Darlene O'Steen at a "Christmas In Williamsburg Seminar," sponsored by Just CrossStitch Magazine in December 1992, taunts me every single day. I'm taunting myself, of course, in that "stickin' it to The Man/but you are The Man" way; I could stuff it in a drawer or basket, too. It is a very large band sampler and this is all I've accomplished in nearly 14 years. If you've done any kind of needlework, you're no stranger to the idea that "the back should be as neat as the front" (that concept is synonymous in my mind with the grandmother of the troublesome name, above); well, this sampler is actually reversible. You can see that in the stitching of the alphabet letters -- they are full "crosses" on the back, too. Darlene's parting words were along the line of "just do it"; she encouraged us to stitch it however we wished, even in plain, non-reversible cross-stitch, because it was too pretty a sampler to NOT be stitched. That's what I did on the band below that first alphabet.
I had a blast on that trip to Williamsburg -- the first big trip away, all by myself, since I'd become a mother. At the time, Maddy was 20 months old and still nursing a couple of times a day and I joke that I took this trip to wean her or I might still be nursing! We were both ready, really; I certainly was. Williamsburg was absolutely gorgeous -- even the dead gardens were gorgeous -- and everything was decorated for Christmas, and there were fireworks. Really, any guilt I feel when I see that major, unfinished embroidery project on display is completely overshadowed by the good, warm feelings that still come to mind about that trip.