From the Vault: Woolly

By Eilene Lyon

Breaking up is sometimes made more difficult by the fact that, just because you want to lose the partner, you don’t necessarily want to lose their parents, too.

I met Doug in the Mountaineering Club at The Ohio State University. By the time I graduated, we’d gotten engaged. It was a spur-of-the-moment proposal that I rashly accepted. Doug wasn’t a bad guy, he just wasn’t quite ready to grow up and be responsible, even though he was seven years older than me.

He came from a family that was self-sufficient in an early-20th-century sort of way–maybe even earlier days. With Doug’s help, they had built their lovely Cape Cod-style home in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Doug and his father hunted to fill the freezer with meat.

His mother canned all manner of food, even condiments such as mustard made from scratch. She carded wool, spun it on an old-fashioned spinning wheel, and dyed the yarn. Then she knit and crocheted sweaters and other items. She was also a tole painter.

Spinning wool the traditional way. (Wikimedia Commons)

Once, she tried to teach me to spin wool, which is much harder than it looks! She also showed me how to make these cute little sheep. I made some myself, but the only one left is the one she gave me.

First you make the legs, head, and tail from black pipe cleaners. Then you crochet a woolly cylinder and stuff it to fill out the body. She made them all sizes and sold them at craft markets. This one is not even two inches long.

Doug and I wound up in Durango together, but our relationship never progressed to marriage. It was over about six months into our residence. Though I had not planned on living here, I fell in love with Colorado and am committed for 37-years-to-life.

But I never saw Doug’s parents again, and that is a shame.

52 thoughts on “From the Vault: Woolly

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  1. That is a shame. They sound like interesting, lovely people. I dated a guy for years and we discussed marriage but could never quite remedy our long distance situation before he got tired of it and ended things. Thanks to social media, I m still in touch with his parents who were always so kind to me.

    I’m glad you have this sweet little reminder of them. I imagine most of the skills of hers that you describe are harder than they look!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s nice that you are able to stay in touch that way. We didn’t have that option, really. I suppose letters, but…eh.

      Yeah, I’ve never even tried canning anything. That looks waaay too hard. I just pop things in the freezer.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I prefer to avoid complicated food in my house.😁 I sometimes miss getting handwritten letters, but being able to easily keep in touch with people is a blessing. Every Thursday I do a Zoom with my mom, who lives in memory care in Oregon, usually joined by my brother who lives in Cleveland. It’s wonderful!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That does sound like a wonderful way to keep in touch. I do still send some people mail the old fashioned way and have fun picking out cards, stationary and stamps. There’s nothing better than finding fun mail amidst the hills and junk mail.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m so glad to hear you do that! I do, too. I try to think of people to send thank you cards or other things to. (I’m terrible at remembering birthdays – and yes, I know there are apps for that.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m not good with birthday cards but will send postcards from my travels, random thinking of you cards and stuff for holidays. I am sending Halloween cards to a few people soon and will send valentines to a few elderly relatives. It makes me happy thinking it might brighten someone’s day.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this story. I get it. I can think of one guy who I knew whose parents were much more interesting than he turned out to be. I wonder about them even now. Hoping they lived a happy life in spite of their son.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Those connections! It can go the other way too, when your son breaks up with the “daughter”of your dreams. Fortunately, after a few questionable choices he found another good one.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. They do sound like interesting people. I remember feeling this way when my daughter broke up with someone (who was NOT right for her) because I’d really liked his parents!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We kept in touch with an ex-brother-in-law for many years, though it had dwindled to Christmas cards by the time he died of covid last year. Still felt the loss though. Everyone lived in different cities, so it made it more discreet somehow. We weren’t rubbing it in anyone’s face.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It seems normal to let those relationships go, but when you really want to maintain contact, it seems we feel it has to be done on the sly. It’s a little weird. Sad for your loss of a friend to Covid.😔

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t experienced this myself, but my husband and his mother stayed in touch with his first wife’s family until they passed away. I know that my parents, my sister, and myself have all tried to make every significant other in the family feel very welcome. We are often sad when things don’t work out. Perhaps they miss us as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is a self-sufficient family to the nth degree isn’t it? They sound like lovely, homespun people – why do I never meet people like that? A fellow blogger lives here in Michigan and they grow enough on their farm to can/”put up” and sustain them until the following year’s growing season. She sews her own clothes, curtains, crochets, makes quilts for the bed … and oh yes, soap. She has a soapmaking business and makes it for the family as well. I was surprised that the woolly lamb was only two inches big – it looked like it was much bigger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why? I think they tend to be few and far between! That’s a lot of work and we’ve become accustomed to easier living. I don’t think they’re the sort who take anything for granted. You want something? You make it or do without.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that is true – lots of work, but nice to be able to know you can be self-sufficient if you needed to be. The fellow blogger from Michigan amazes me with her resourcefulness and it makes me feel, at times, like I am too accustomed to easy living and wasteful. I tell myself when I am no longer working and have more time, I will be more resourceful as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I once saw a documentary about what would be required to restart civilization, in terms of what types of skills and machines. It was a little bit of a wake-up call in terms of how specialized our world has become. They mainly focused on the bare necessities, like making bricks needed to build a house, which was already complicated enough. Imagine what would be required to recreate a smartphone and the entire infrastructure not only needed for its production but to make it… more than a brick? 🙂

    Thank you for such a thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think cell phones would be waaaay down the list of what to re-create! I feel good about knowing edible plants pretty well. Food and warmth are top of my list. Can you build a fire without matches or lighter fluid?🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve watched Naked and Afraid enough to know how little prepared I am for life… Naked and afraid 😀 On the other hand, in our society, it’s more of a balancing act since how much is the skill of starting a fire valued outside of shows like Naked and Afraid? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s always a shame when you fall out of contact with an ex’s family (if you liked their family!). I stayed with my awful ex-boyfriend for years longer than I should have because I liked his family so much (especially his grandparents, who have since passed away), and even though I spent most of my teenage years hanging out at his parents’ house and was very close to them, they haven’t spoken to me since we broke up almost fifteen years ago. At least you got a cute sheep out of the deal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s part of the danger of liking the family so much – staying in a relationship too long. That’s too bad your ex’s family couldn’t still be friends with you, but understandable, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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