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STARTING OVER AGAIN

When I retired ten years ago from elementary and middle school classrooms, I thought my teaching days were over. With a hundred or so students each year, remembering names and learning styles was imperative. Losing my short term memory and organizational skills was a reality of multiple sclerosis and weakened my effectiveness as a teacher, and so I relented and closed that chapter of my life story.

 

But I found a new occupation in helping children and adults gain familiarity with sewing machines and their manuls, and the teaching resumed.Working with individuals or very small groups eased the need for quick adjustments to changing needs, and coaching people to rely on the manuals rather than on rote memory was something I could do effectively.

I had several young students, some individuals and some in a small group of friends. I also helped adults build their confidence in building sewing skills and sewing machine maintenance, allowing them to save productive time and money.

And then I decided to open a retail shop, buying fabrics and notions at wholesale prices and selling them at a discount to my friends and students. Rick and I ran the quilt shop informally for a few years and then formalized Quilters' Quarters as part of Wooden Toy and Gift. This was when Rick and a work crew were able to repair the deterioirating barn and create room for fabric shelves in the old section while he moved his tools and displays into the recently renovated spaces. For four years we ran the two shops together (Rick had been running Wooden Toy and Gift for much longer, while I was still teaching.) He generously built cabinets and shelving for notions and bolts of fabric, and we helped each other serve customers for both shops. We were very happy in our shared 'retirement.'

When Rick suddenly passed away on a Christmas morning five years ago, I did my best to continue to run the shops.  Wooden Toy and Gift had a proud sign on the front of the shop that read "Buy them all; we can make more."  But I could not do what Rick had so beautifully done, and his work dwindled over the passing years in his absence. I began offering a scholarship award in his name to honor his memory. I began supplying the police and fire departments in town with comfort quilts in his memory. I wanted to keep his memory alive ... he did so much for so many ... he deserved to be honored.

I missed him ... his love, company, kindness and skills. I missed the smell of fresh pine sawdust that his creations provided, the cute little puzzles that he made, the beautiful doll furniture and toy trucks, the furniture he built for customers and for our town hall and police station foyers. I missed seeing the customers' delight in his work, and I missed his delight, too. He had waited so long to become a woodworker with his own shop, and everything was falling nicely into place. And then he was taken away from it all, and from all of us.

For these five solitary years I have continued the shops, eventually focusing only on the fabric and notions.  During these past two years the Pandemic of Covid-19 added restrictive limitations, and the shop was less successful with only one operator.  The utilities' cost was far exceeding any profits from the sales, and I decided to close the retail function of Quilters' Quarters as I had done with Wooden Toy and Gift. 

Wanting to keep the building in use, I will gradually begin accepting new students, clearing sales space in the shop to hold the lessons  there instead of in my home.  I had in these recent years replaced the shop furnace, the front display window, and a side window. I've given away most of the select lumber Rick had carefully shopped for his planned projects, and will move things around to create a classroom space in the shop for sewists and quilters. The rest of the fabric inventory will gradually be depleted for charity projects at the Senior Center, and in time I will feel better prepared to continue downsizing both the barn and the house, accepting the reality of one day needing to sell and move on to the next phase of this life.  But for now, I'm looking forward to meeting a new decade of young and adult students. 

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