Saturday, January 27, 2007


Last week I stopped by my favorite quilt shop. I was the only customer, so I visited with the owner, who I know a little, as I browsed. Making small talk, I asked if she'd had a nice Christmas. "Well," she replied slowly, "did you know my Dad died this fall?" Then the words began to pour out about how hard Christmas had been. How hard her birthday had been. How hard it just was—is, day by day. Her eyes grew moist and her hands shook as she cut my fabric. Then she pulled herself together, squared her shoulders and apologized, unneccessarily. She said, "I just wonder if I will ever get over this sadness." I told her after 9 years I still feel that sadness over the loss of both my father and my mother, but a turning point comes when you remember them, first with good thoughts and happy memories and not just sadness. It happens. With time.

Tomorrow would have been my Dad's 85th birthday. I miss him very much.

Besides being my Dad he was one of the most interesting people I've known. He was a mechanical engineer and you could almost envisions little gears turning inside his head as he worked through a problem or a puzzle or invented a machine to do some mechanized task. He always had a mechanical pencil in his pocket and a gridded notepad on hand and he explained things in intricate little drawings, labeled with his neatly printed text. How I wish I had saved some of those drawings, but I took them for granted. We lived in Idaho and he designed machines for nearly all the potato processing companies. If you have ever eaten a french fry from a fast food restaurant or bought a bag of frozen potatos, it's a good bet they were probably produced by a machine my Dad designed.

Besides his work, he developed all kinds of creative interests—photography and wine-making for starters. The tale of the 20 bottles of wine that all exploded one night in the basement is a family classic. The log cabin he designed and built is still in use for great family get togethers. And every step of its construction was documented by his excellent photographs.

I ran across this picture the other day. At one point in Dad's life he became intrigued with Northwest Native American woodcarving and decided to give it a try. Like nearly everything he did, (with the possible exception of that one batch of wine!) this carved and painted whale is flawless.

And that was just the beginning. You should see the totem pole—really.


  1. Anonymous1:17 AM

    Oh, I bet intricate little drawings on graph paper would be great quilt inspiration! You dad sounds like a fascinating man, and we love the whale :-)

  2. Anonymous3:09 AM

    The whale is great. I know what you mean about the drawings, my Dad ALWAYS used to draw things when ever I asked how something worked. I am sure if I had been a boy I would have followed in his Marine Engineering footsteps. Must be something about engineers hey? :-)

  3. My mom passed away in July and the sadness is such a big part of my life. Thank you for writing that it does get better.

    I know what you dad was like and how special he was. I am married to a mechanical engineer for almost 22 years. We worked together and before I knew he would be part of my life I would watch him and I could see the little gears turning inside his head. It is still that way today and he still is fun to watch.

  4. There are many things that remind of your Dad like crinkle potatoes, nature photographs and thick heads of white hair. In fact, it was some photos of flowers you Dad took that inspired an interest in photography for me. I have never taken this interest very far but if I am standing over something like a patch of grass I like to get closer still. Your Dad inspired the blade for me.

  5. Anonymous10:49 PM

    Love that whale. My dad would have been 90 this month. I do love the memories of both my parents.

  6. lovely memories, Terry

  7. thanks for sharing, Terri. a bittersweet story