Tag Archives: Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: June 27, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I’ve been doing a lot of quilting lately and it feels great. I put it off, sometimes, even though I know I enjoy it once I get started.

I think it’s going to be tiring or hot or take energy I don’t have. It gives back, though, like all good hobbies do.

I just finished up a quilt for my older daughter’s graduation. I had made one for her sister, so it’s a bit of a tradition now.  With my second child leaving the nest, though, it feels a more bittersweet.

I now know what it feels like to hear about milestones many weeks after they occur. Stories about the new boyfriend, the big cantata, and the road trip with best friends sound different, like trying to hear the nuances of a loved one’s voice on speaker phone from the next room. You recognize the voice, but syllables are dropped here and there.

You’re not sure if you’re saying “Oh, that’s wonderful!” at the right time. The immediacy that gave living under the same roof all its drama also gave it charm and solidarity. We were family.

When I went to college, I moved in with my aunt and grandmother.  So it wasn’t such a distinct rite of passage for me. We lived just up the hill from where I’d visited my great-grandmother in my youth.

I find myself thinking about her a lot as I quilt. She was a quilter, though I didn’t know it until college. My aunt showed me a trunk that had some of her quilts in it, just like something from Little House on the Prairie.

I wasn’t a quilter at the time so the value and skill of her work was lost on me.

In those college years, my aunt and my grandmother and I would sit around the radio Sunday evenings, listening to Paul Harvey and eating popcorn and homemade fudge. Though great-grandma had died when I was in seventh grade, the folks were just getting comfortable talking about her.

Once I asked my aunt to tell me as much family history as she could remember. She scoffed.  “What’d you want to know that for?” Well, why wouldn’t I want to know? I was the daughter of a history teacher who taught me more about New York State than anyone I ever met. I was taking history classes in college — Russian history, Colonial history, European, history of the Reformation — I couldn’t get enough. Walking past Great-Grandma’s house on my way to classes, I was curious.  I wanted to know more.

 To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397
Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: June 20, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I enjoy creating custom picture frames at the shop where I work.  It’s a pleasure to take an unframed piece of art, figure out what the customer sees and wants to highlight, and make it come to life with mats, glass, and wood.

Recently I measured up three diplomas to make into one picture, a routine framing task.

The customer and I made light conversation, as we often do when precious art and family photos are laid out in front of a total stranger.

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Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: June 13, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

My daughter and I finally got down to the river about a week ago. We got our fishing poles, gathered our gear in a backpack, and walked on down.

The sounds of the early evening welcomed us: lawn mowers buzzed, radio tunes wafted up from the boats tied along the canal, sirens rang and dogs barked. The village was astir.

We felt free and adventuresome, like little kids allowed to stay up past their bedtime. She laid out for me what she was expecting.

“Now you’re doing the worms, right?”

I pretended to play dumb.

“I brought the worms. Did you want to put your own on the hook?”

“No, you put them on for me,” she replied shyly. “I don’t want to see the…you know…“

“Guts?” I offered. She nodded.

“And I don’t want you to kill any fishies. I want them to go free back into the water.”

“Yes, well, that’s the plan. But you know, sometimes things go wrong and one of them doesn’t make it.”

“I know,” she sighed. Silence.

I chuckled. My earth-lover has such a big heart.

“Well, if you don’t want to hurt worms or fish, that pretty much rules out fishing, doesn’t it?”  I kidded with her.

“Mommy…” she scolded.

It wasn’t long before she had a small school of bluegills tapping on her halfsie. She pulled up one after another, swinging them over my way to “Hurry and unhook him, Mommy!”

I’d wipe my hands on my pants and pick up my pole again, only to have her squeal and whirl another in my general direction. I resigned myself to unhooking and baiting, and savoring an evening with my daughter.

I’m sure that’s what my dad went through for us kids, growing up on the river in Fulton. We spent many an afternoon walking out along the concrete retainer to the end, where the churning water lured larger fish.

I think I knew, after awhile, that I could very well bait my own hook. But I still liked to have him do it for me. Maybe it’s the outdoorsman’s version of opening a door for a lady.

One day, I hooked up with a fish that had some serious pull-power.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: June 6, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I was fortunate to be able to attend two Memorial Day parades last week. Both of them left me pensive, agitated, and out-of-sorts. It’s hard to put my finger on any specific reasons.  I don’t want to analyze it. I just know I’m really glad I went.

When I was a kid growing up in Fulton, we went to the parade every year without fail. In those days, the parade was the place to be. People lined up on both sides of East Broadway with lawn chairs, coolers, and wagons. It was a whole-family affair. We had relatives from western New York come up every year for the parade. Our three generations’ worth covered a third of a block at the end of our street.

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Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: May 23, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

Early Monday morning I drove up to the front of a local thrift store, intending to drop off some items I didn’t need in my new apartment.

The whole sidewalk in front of the building was covered with litter: torn black garbage bags, boxes, furniture piled at odd angles. A large truck was backed up to the far right-hand side.

For a moment, I thought it was a garbage truck picking up the trash strewn across the storefront. Then I realized it was a donation truck, there to pick up the larger pieces of furniture for transport to another location.

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Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: May 16, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I’m getting discouraged by all the time I spend out-and-about, doing errands.

I make my lists diligently, expecting to do my errand run and get back in a reasonable amount of time. Often, I do. More often, there’s a glitch at some point, either in my time estimation or the “successful hunt” factor.

A store didn’t open when I thought it did, or when I get in, I can’t find the item I wanted.  I return home, irritable in spite of what I did gather, knowing that sooner or later I have to go back out again. I’m tired and I want to stay home.

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At The Fencepost: April 25, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I tried and tried, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had planned to take down the Christmas tree over the weekend. I warned my daughter ahead of time:

“Now when you come back, the tree’s going to be down.”

“But you said we wouldn’t take down the tree until we move!”

“I don’t want to leave it to the last minute,” I replied stoically.  Then, more honestly, “Plus, it’s going to be sad for me and I want my last night here to be happy, not sad.”

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Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: April 11, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

My daughter is a big fan of mud puddles.

When she was little, she would pray for rain so she could go outside and splash in the puddles.

Growing up hasn’t changed her playfulness any. A few weeks ago we had a drenching rain shower in the night. I had to work the next day.

When I got home, she showed me the sizable puddle where she’d splashed and played while I was gone. It was cute, but I didn’t think much more about it right then.

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