Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Sampler of Hope

A Sampler of Hope

     In the bustle of a busy week the telephone rang. It was a reminder that someone loved by the Lady-of-the-House was scheduled for “further tests” the next day. Medical exams can be unnerving. By accompanying the patient she would lend support. She would also have a portion of time with nothing to do. She made preparations for it. She supplied her denim bag. A row of strawberries was all that was left to stitch on her “carnation” sampler. Slow and steady is how she stitches. There really is no other way to do it. Little stitches can’t be rushed. Recently, however, time reserved for stitching had vanished into thin air.

     With the linen rolled in a towel, her thread tucked into the pockets of the sewing case, with her smallest pair of scissors, oh yes, and the plastic magnifying lens she wears around her neck to see the stitches, she was set.

     During the test she waited in the car. It was a beautiful cool spring morning. She clung to hopeful thoughts for the patient although the results of the test would come later. Her natural temperament veers toward melancholy. She must be mindful of seeing roses beyond thorns, honey beyond bee stings.

     Of St Paul’s three; faith, hope and love, love is emboldened by feeling. Faith relies on the intellect. Hope involves the will. Hope optimistically reaches out a hand in the dark to turn on the light. It sees the good and the beautiful in the light of the Kingdom of God.

Hope is like the sun, which as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. Samuel Smiles  

     Through car windows the Lady-of-the-House glanced around the plaza. Everything was emerald green. Neatly trimmed bushes and flowering trees bordered the parking lot and walkways. Someone evidently had hired the right landscaper. A fountain was attracting twittering birds but the sound of tweets and splashing water was faint. Here’s why. A young man was mowing and edging the grass. At one end of the parking lot food service trucks backed up to an historic stone house, converted into a fine restaurant. Around the corner of the medical building, out of her line of vision, was the main air conditioning unit roaring low but unendingly. The Lady-of-the-House sighed. “Sometimes this is almost a perfect world,” she thought and twisted to the backseat for her denim bag.

     She unrolled the linen, threaded the needle and made the first pink stitch. It was some minutes before her shoulders begin to soften. She prayed for the patient and remembered to make a calming prayer of appreciation for peace in the midst a nervous, distracting world. Her shoulders softened some more. “I never get tired of stitching strawberries,” she mused soothingly. Vines, however, are another matter. Without accurate counting the picking out of wayward stitches follows.

     On the way home the Man-of-the-House and the Lady-of-the-House stopped at some of the many roadside stands in their neighborhood and filled two baskets.

     Stitching strawberries and eating strawberries made the Lady-of-the-House wonder how many strawberries are on the walls of her house. She has never counted all the strawberries on all her samplers but the number must be high. 

     And for years there has hung a plump beaded velvet strawberry, with satin flower, on the drawer of her desk – made by a friend. Lovely.

     On Saturday the Lady-of-the-House roasted asparagus in the oven. 

     She made her usual avocado sandwich on homemade bread but added strawberries as a lark. Different, but delicious. 

     Then she sat on the patio to stitch her last strawberry. The relaxing moment was worth waiting for.

The Man-of-the-House

     The Man-of-the-House was sitting across from her. He likes to unwind with an mp3 plugged into his ears. He was listening to old radio recordings of the comedians Bob & Ray. 

     “It’s done,” his wife announced.

     “Very nice,” he smiled. She read him the verse. “Very nice,” he said again. He was concise but sincere. 

     While bouncing back and forth in indecision on how to personalize her sampler, she added birds and rabbits from other charts, and eventually settled upon a verse by Emily Dickinson. It is a ponderous reminder. 

     She squeezed in the last two words in a manner done on many a girlhood sampler in days of old.

     The verse replaces Mary Rule’s name and other identifying notes she originally stitched in 1848. But the piece will be remembered as a sort of partnership, past and present, of feminine work and whimsy by the Lady-of-the-House.

     During the week a friendly letter came her way. The young mother had an optimist’s cheerful tone of gratitude in her pen. She spoke of the joy of home teaching and seeing the world through the eyes of her little children – no doubt with newness, a sense of wonder, and with purity. The Lady-of-the-House affirmed this joy in her reply and added, “They’re seeing the world through your eyes, too.” 

    Post Script

Awaiting framing

     For “hope” in education see “Parents as Inspirers” posted October 2, 2010.

     The chart is by “Lady in Thread.”

Roasted Asparagus 
     For my friends who asked how to roast asparagus when I told them what I'd been up to. With a vegetable peeler remove skin from midway along spears. Place in a roasting pan. With the peeler handy, shave two or three carrots into a pile of strips. Cut a sweet onion into wedges. Add carrot and onion to asparagus. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over vegetables to lightly coat. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender. 

     Remove from oven and season with fresh herbs of choice. Serve as a side dish (as shown) or chopped and tossed with pasta and grated Romano cheese. Try fennel bulb sliced thinly in place of onion. 

     Thank you for visiting,
     Karen Andreola 


  1. Your sampler is lovely. Your comment about the number of strawberries in all your pieces made me remember a conversation I had with my (now) mother in law when I was dating her son. I was admiring all her many stitching pieces all over her house (she is quite an accomplished stitcher!) i noticed the alphabet in almost every single one. I grew up in a very handicrafts poor environment so I had to ask, "do all stitching pieces have to have the alphabet in them?".

    Thank you for the little memory jog and thank you for sharing you pictures. I hope the tests turn out favorably.

  2. Your sampler is lovely...I like the little white bunnies!
    The colors and theme are perfect for this time of year.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe with us...I might have to give it a try. I am hoping to stop by our local fruit stand this weekend.
    Enjoy your day!


  3. Very pretty sampler! I hope your loved one is okay and has gotten a good report from the doctor. I have a plate just like the one in your last picture. I love blue and white transferware and have over two dozen plates plus many other pieces. I love to mix and match it!

  4. As always a splendid post.

    You've reminded me today to stop and slow down a take the time to let those prayers roll off my heart and mind and work their way out of my shoulders to relax me a bit...relax us all a bit.

    All in stitching a simple sampler and the giving of one's self to another in need.

    A true friend you know.

    How timely to stitch colors of creamy pink, green and white. They go beautifully together.

    I'm pondering what you've said;

    " Hope is like a man with a burden on his back ( who willingly shoulders responsibility) AS he walks toward the sun, his shadow is cast behind him."

    I think my husband would like this too. I plan on sharing it with him over a cup of coffee in the morning:)

  5. Karen,
    I've always been sure that there should be a doctor available to read tests and report results as soon as the tests are finished. That kind of waiting is difficult, I think. I am praying for you and yours.

    Your asparagus makes my mouth water! Particularly the part about tossing with pasta and cheese. How delicious.

    Strawberries from the grocery are finally tasting like strawberries this season. I have been waiting for that lovely, sweet smell to announce that they are really ready for eating. Since we had such an early spring/early summer around here, I had expected the strawberries to be ready sooner. It seems that waiting is a part of many aspects of our days, whether trivial or consequential.

    Mister Rogers used to sing a song about waiting and how hard it can be to wait.

    Thank you for the gentle encouragement to wait with faith, hope, and love.

    I always look forward to visiting your blog!

  6. Oh I love that sampler! It is beautiful. Thank you for the recipe, I will have to make that soon. We love asparagus in this home!

  7. I love your comment about faith, hope and love. As always, thank you for the steady encouragement and inspiration to pick up those stitching projects!

  8. Dear Karen:
    I am so happy to see some sampler stitching in your post! Ever since you had given us the name of the shop where you have purchased some of your charts, I have simply pored over the offerings there (Wyndham Needleworks). I have thoroughly enjoyed just browsing through all the many, many samplers and kits they offer - riches! But a bit overwhelming also - so many choices. I am an avid knitter and I also like to sew and to weave. But the call to needlework is very alluring - especially after seeing your beautiful creations. I really enjoy seeing them.
    Blessings and prayers also for a successful outcome of the medical tests for your dear one.

  9. Thank you for your compliments on the sampler. Lots of alphabets adorn my walls, too. I searched my back issues of "Sampler and Antique Needlework" magazine to look for birds I liked better and this is where I found the rabbits.

    Oh, I traced back where my thoughts sprang - about the man with the burden on his back. I had to do some digging but finally put my finger on a quote by Samuel Smiles in an old book of mine. Then this morning I reworded it in the post to be exactly his. I feel more proper, now.
    It makes a statement that we do not live by "hope" alone but it does help to look on the bright side of life. We have the light of life, Christ the Son who is our greatest hope - our hope of salvation. To be patient in this hope is a virtue.

    I am happy to know that my writing is giving some encouragement. Thank you, Ladies.
    Karen A.

  10. I have always loved that Emily Dickinson quote, Karen! Beautiful work! :)

  11. Karen,

    The sampler is beautiful!!! And I pray all is well with the test results!! I like your remark about the children seeing the world through our eyes too. I need to remember that with my four little ones!


  12. Another inspirational posting, thank-you Karen. I have never thought about having an avacado sandwich,but it looks divine with those berries.Do you have a bread recipe you would be willing to share?My husband is a diabetic and does not eat much bread,but would enjoy a dark bread.You inspired me to purchase The Rug hook book,also For the LoveOf Knitting.My daughter called Saturday to say she purchased The Charlotte Mason Book online and 2 of your other books also. This was exciting news to hubby and I as she is preparing to home school her 2 year old son.She is gathering all of her tools now, and is ever grateful for the info I have shared as a result of reading your blog.Inspiration for Mothers as we invest in future generations.Also, thank-you for boldly stating your love for The Lord, and not holding back on stating that salvation is only found in Him. Blessings and prayers for you and your loved ones, Dawn E. Brown

  13. In a Chatting Mood

    I use sprouted grain to make my whole wheat bread. I like coconut oil for the fat. I add a couple tablespoons of wheat gluten to make a somewhat softer loaf. But it is a heavy bread - still - compared to the grocery store. It naturally looks brown as you see it but there are times when I use molasses in place of sugar which gives the loaf it an even nicer chocolate brown color. I add caraway seeds, first crushed in my seed grinder (coffee grinder). But it is an otherwise basic whole wheat recipe included with my bread machine. I have a happy relationship with my bread machine.

    Mr. Rogers
    ooh I'll tell you that I am so fond of the songs by Mr. Rogers that I used to sing them to my children. "What can we do while we're waiting" has been a mother's motto of mine. And my children have heard "It's you I like," all through their childhood. "Tree, tree, tree," is a lullaby sort of song for the rocking chair. "Everything works together, because you're all one piece" is a fun song. When my 4 yr old grandson comes here on the week-end I will try to remember to sing him, "I like to take my time because taking time is what I do."

    Antique Samplers
    Samplers verge on being a craze of mine . . . There are "Smalls" - they are actually called - that you can start with. You will not be overwhelmed if you go at a leisure pace. A simple alphabet in red was a common first accomplishment for a schoolgirl age 6-10. A facsimile chart of an antique Small can be obtained by a "search" with the words "reproduction alphabet sampler" or "marking sampler."

    You make it a pleasure to be part of the blog neighborhood. Thanks for walking around the block and popping in for a visit to say hello.
    Karen A.

  14. Mrs. Andreola,
    I just finished Lessons at Blackberry Inn and am so sad to have no more time with my dear friends in the book!! Any chance you are working on a follow up? Oh how I hope so!!!


  15. Ladies,
    Whenever you share with me that you are reading my books I am always encouraged.

    I feel honored to have been asked several times recently about a story to come after "Blackberry Inn." I'd like to write it. The plot and characters enter my mind when the lights are out for the evening and all is quiet 'round here. But stories for teachers are not as popular or necessary as curriculum in the home school. "Blackberry Inn" needs to sell better for my publisher (Dean) to invest in the substantial outlay of printing, etc. If you like my stories (and I am touched that those who do like them seem to have a fond attachment) telling a friend or two will help spread the word. Thank you.

    Dean's test came out okay. He is hoping, though, to avoid shoulder surgery with new and different physical therapy.
    Karen A.

  16. I'm so happy to hear good news!
    Avoiding shoulder surgery sounds like a good plan to me.


  17. I am glad the tests turned out okay, Karen. I so enjoy your inspiring posts. I plan on getting "Lessons at Blackberry Inn" soon.


  18. Hello! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on that long ago day. I thank God for your friendship.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage