I met Pamela Schmidt in my women's Amherst Writers & Artists workshop, "Writing from the Heart," in Purcellville, VA. A passionate, vibrant woman and a gifted writer, her stories are captivating, full of the sensory details that make a piece of writing come alive.
Pamela is a homeschooling mom of three, a quilter, reader, and writer. The farm she writes about below is a small beautiful space in Bluemont, where the animals are happy, the kids are busy, and the floors are always dirty. Her first passion has always been sewing, which she teaches and shares whenever possible. This has included teaching quilting to women in Malawi, Africa, when she traveled there a few years ago with VoiceFlame.
There were many pieces I could have asked Pamela to share, but I requested this piece because it speaks to every woman's longing for a room of her own.
My Room of My Own
When we moved out to the farm, I lost a lot of indoor space. I gained four stalls and a tack room, all of which were very helpful for the critters to come. Nature abhors a vacuum, especially with two 4H kids in the family, and one horse-crazed teenager.
But I lost my quilting room. The one place in my old house where no one was allowed without my say so. No way for my husband to drop off a shirt that needed a button, or a pair of pants needing a hem, “I’ve already turned them up – just whenever you can get to them.” The place where everything had a place. Especially me. I had painted it a light purple color, and filled the walls with my inspirational quotes and postcards, and creative ideas. A very feminine space, with no unused tables or chairs where one might drop down with a computer or a guitar. “Just for a few minutes Mom/Honey – I just need someplace quiet for a few minutes/hours/days.”
I didn’t even need to shut the glassed French doors, as everyone knew not to cross from the hardwood floor onto the white carpet without being invited. From the windows looking out to the front street, I could see neighbors coming to visit, and I could hide, letting them think I was out on a walk with the kids. Once my young neighbor told me that when she was babysitting across the street, she never felt alone, because she could see the lights on in my quilt room, and knew that I was creating.
I didn’t always sew or create in there. I dreamt too, looking at a quilt on the wall. Thinking about how the colors blended or didn’t, wondering why I found such joy cutting up perfectly good pieces of cloth into little pieces, only to sew them back together in a new way. The dreaming came as I followed a path of stitching, wondering if anyone would notice the words hidden in the rhythm of the needle. I dreamt of whom the quilt belonged to. I rarely started with a plan or design in mind, or a need to coordinate with someone’s bedroom rug. Eventually the owner would show up, the quilt would find its new home, and I would clean up my room, sorting out the scraps by color, cleaning the lint from the sewing machine’s crevices, oiling the hard-working joints that kept the whole operation moving.
This is the space I miss the most up on the mountain. While I know the horses won’t come knocking at the front door, Tico, my huge red foster horse, has a way of standing patiently at the water trough, making me lose my path amongst the colors to wonder when the last time was that anyone had filled the trough with water. And because there are no doors on this dining room turned quilt room, the mending seems to pile up on the empty space I had cleared for color ideas and mixing fabric palettes. The greys and khakis of my husband’s neatly turned up pants seem to suck the colors out of the room, taking my creativity and soul with them.
The family printer is in the usurped dining room too, next to the piano that fits nowhere else in this smaller house. Apparently the printer’s output awakens a long forgotten need to practice the same song, over and over, interrupting the soothing whirring of my own well-oiled machine.
This is the loss I mourn the most. I can deal with the cluttered-dumped-on-kitchen-counter, the guitar, mandolin and ukulele cases left open on the chairs or couches, the chickens with their beautifully patterned feathers and silly moods. I don’t even mind how our backyard chickens peck on the glass panes in the door that leads into the kitchen, peering in to see what we are doing and turning their heads, obviously wondering why they can’t come into our fascinating kitchen. But a mom, a woman, needs a space of her own. A space where no one can dump their papers, or plop down on the one chair that is only empty because I am searching for the perfect piece of fabric.
I’ve considered the stalls. But where would the 4H animals go? Nature seems to abhor a vacuum, except in a woman’s soul.
"My Room of My Own" © 2016 by Pamela Schmidt. The quilt pictured is one of Pamela's.