I would like to send a big “Thank you!” to Mariss, for reminding me about the #areyoubookenough challenge. Mariss’ post about her first book, Shelter from the Storm, got me interested in maybe trying this challenge once again. Then, when I saw her Instagram post about her “red” book in progress, I just knew I wanted to make a book. I have spent the day, reading poems and reliving special memories, during the process of making this book.

The challenge theme of “red”, made me think of two special poems. One is the poem, A Lady red-amid the Hill, by Emily Dickinson. The image of red tulips came to mind, and I found the perfect scrap for the hills. Crumb scraps and beads were used to dot the hills with tulips. The other poem is The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos William. This short poem is one of my favorites. As part of my instruction in both fourth and fifth grade classrooms, I included the study of an excellent novel, Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech. This novel is the perfect way to teach students about self-expression and poetry. The novel is written in a diary format and the first line is quite the conversation starter for students:

“I don’t want to
Because boys
Don’t write poetry.

Girls do.”

The Red Wheelbarrow is one of the poems in the novel. I so enjoyed the class discussion of this poem, which resulted in inspiring and creative poems written by my students. And yes, the boys in my room ended up enjoying writing poetry. 😉

Red, of course, made me think of the cardinal. This bird was one of mom’s favorite birds. She embroidered a cardinal that I had framed for her to give to her great-granddaughter. It hangs in my granddaughter’s room.

Red also made me think of my childhood. There was a red wagon with origins unknown, that my cousins (who lived next door) and I used for playing, hauling, and transportation. My sons also had red wagons. I have a very special memory of decorating the wagons for a 4th of July parade in our neighborhood.

Another childhood memory inspired by this color, is that of a popsicle. My cousins and neighbors would drop everything as soon as we heard the cheerful melody of the Ice Cream Truck. We would line up on the street curb, with the coins my Tia Chicha would give us. The big decision was which flavor to choose…cherry red, banana, or root beer. Most times, the problem was solved by each of us ordering one of each and then breaking them in half to share.

Roses come to mind when thinking of red things. My Tia Chicha had a large rose bush by her porch. Mom also had beautiful rose bushes in her yards. My dad used to give mom red roses on their anniversary, and he would sign the card, Love, Chester. His name was Pepe, so this was a personal joke between them.

Red also reminded me of summer fun. My cousins and neighborhood friends and I would play outside all day. There was nothing more fun than to end the day with a cold slice of sandía. My dad would spread newspapers out on the backyard table and cut up huge, delicious watermelons. Dad was an expert when it came to picking sweet, just-right, watermelons. Of course, there were seed spitting contests to add to the fun.

You can’t think of red without including a red heart. The heart reminds me of a favorite Beatle tune, All You Need is Love.

Originally, I was thinking of hand-stitching the fabric book. Instead, I took the opportunity to finally use the extra stitches on my sewing machine to make fancy borders. The cardinal is machine thread-sketched. Fabric scraps were used to make the wagon, and other things. Beads and buttons were added as embellishments.

I have enjoyed this walk down memory lane with the color, red. Thank you, Mariss!

10 thoughts on “Red

  1. It is an absolute pleasure, Chela! I am gratified that I inadvertently prompted you to make this delightful book of red memories. I have really enjoyed reading the stories behind each of the images you have stitched. “The red wheelbarrow” is also one of my favourite poems. The Dickinson poem was a wonderful discovery, thanks for introducing me to it.

  2. That popsicle! Perhaps the simplest of images in your little red book, evoked the largest response from my inner self!
    I, too, have a happy history of summer’s with cousins and popsicles…only ours were Dreamsicles…at the time, a local treat delivered only on the streets of Chicago! Now most of the country has access to them, but not the same.
    As for that watermelon memory-our family’s equivalent was when we got to have Spumoni for dessert and all us cousins sitting along the curb eating it then spitting out the icky citron pieces but taking care to not spit out pistaccio pieces!

    1. It is always the simplest of images and things that evoke responses from my inner self. It seems we share common experiences. Growing up with 6 cousins next door was like having 6 more siblings. There were a total of 21 kids on the street that my Tia unofficially took care of the neighborhood kids as our parents worked. She happily took us all in and kept us all in line. I have never eaten Spumoni…it is now on my to-try list.

      1. Let me know if you find any Spumoni…the best bet would be in fashionable Gelato Shops, but it was more of a ‘poor man’s’ ice cream treat back in the day, not sure if it’s good enough for those gourmet places! HA!
        AS for cousins…it wasn’t until my immediate family moved when I was 14 from Chicago to Boulder that it really sunk in I only had a baby brother…not four ‘sisters’ (I was the eldest with 3 other girl cousins born in each successive month after mine!!!) and all those ‘other (lots!) siblings’! HA!
        Happy for the connection, Chela.

  3. I love this fabric book! There is something special about you flipping through the pages showing us your wonderful work! Cardinals are beautiful birds and your memory about your summer fun was great to read during the cold winter blast we are having right now in Colorado! I will remember it will be summer someday!

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