I've been reading the book Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Matthew B. Crawford and so far it's been an interesting read. I gave it to my brother as well, as he also likes to work with his hands. Crawford quotes from the philosopher Alexandre Kojeve:
The man who works recognizes his own product in the World that has actually been transformed by his work: he recognizes himself in it, he sees in it his own human reality, in it he discovers and reveals to others the objective reality of his humanity, of the originally abstract and purely subjective idea he has of himself.Does this idea extrapolate to angel food cakes? Perhaps. I just know that I like items made from my own hand quite well, and perhaps that is the reason that I have one blog dedicated to quilting and sewing and one dedicated to recipes.
furied session of housecleaning that I know will come undone and need to be redone in the future, the things I make have staying power, if only in memory (as in the case of the French Berry Tart, which we are still talking about this week).
I've made quilts for all the grandchildren, although some are kept put away for the future. After reading in this book, I want to say--Take them out!! Let the children play with them, use them for picnics, wrap up toys and dolls and treasures in them, for they reveal me, these things that are "transformed by my work,"and perhaps that is really all I have to give to these children of my children.
While the emphasis of Crawford's book is examining "manual competence, and the stance it entails toward the built, material world," in discussing the idea that things will outlive us, I'm reminded of one of my father's favorite poems by James Russell Lowell: The Vision of Sir Launfal. In this poem a knight who travels the world over looking for The Holy Grail returns home, defeated in his quest. At his door he encounters a beggar, and the knight shares his last bit of bread with him. The beggar reveals himself to be the Lord, the very Christ which Sir Launfall has been searching for in one way or another. The final stanza reminds us that:
Not what we give, but what we share,--I hope that these small grandchildren will remember their grandmother from the quilts I've made them, among other things, much as I remember my Grandmother Sessions by her stories told on her swinging glider on the back porch, and my Grandmother Bickmore by her bent hands teaching me how to knead homemade bread.
For the gift without the giver is bare;