It is true that I have a nice, comfortable office, arranged with all a writer needs for inspiration, including French doors that open onto a balcony which overlooks the front pasture. Dixie Dew loves to lie there while I work. I often enjoy standing on it and admiring the beauty of the black Angus cattle as they chomp away determinedly at the grass or lounge lazily by the creek bank.
But the truth of the matter is that I seldom write in my office. I use it for business details only. Instead, I take my laptop to the back porch, settle into a rocking chair and click away at the keys. Many times, I plop down into a chair at the island in the kitchen and there I create much of what I make up.
Now, Dixie Dew being the adoring dachshund, uh, child that she is, insists on being wherever I am. In the office, she’s on the balcony or sofa beside me, on the back porch, she stands guard to chase away any unwanted critters. In the kitchen, she often tucks into the fourth step on the stair case a few feet away and sleeps, content that I am nearby, working to earn a living.
But then there are times when she insists on helping. And, quite frankly, those are the cutest times of all. She stands at the foot of my stool, yelps to let me know she wants my attention then when I look down, she sits up, flat on her bottom, and begs. Smiling, I’ll reach down, pick her up and place her in my lap. When I do, she arranges herself until she has her front paws on the butcher block counter and is sitting straight up as if she is the one who is doing the typing. I put my arms around her, reach the keys and type away as she watches every word intently for quite a spell.
My heart is always filled to overflowing during these moments because it reminds me of a time long in the past, a time that is so precious in memory that it fills my eyes with tears.
Mama made a living with her sewing machine. She put me through college, bought a car and paid for braces with the hours she spent hunched over that old brown and tan Singer sewing machine. She came from a practical generation that learned to make a living with their hands. Shrewd, crafty and savvy — words that they would never use — they dug in and did what it took to get by.
I was around 10 when Mama decided to turn her skill into extra income. She converted a spare back bedroom into a sewing room and determinedly set about bringing in business by sewing for customers. Long before that, though, she had sewed all our clothes, though she drew the line at sewing for Daddy. He bought all his clothes.
When I was just a toddler, I would climb up on the chair where she sat at the sewing machine. For hours, I would stand behind her with my little hands on her shoulders, content to watch every movement as the machine hummed for a bit, stopped then started again. I watched as she backstitched, put in zippers, zigzagged edges and clipped the threads carefully.
At five, I was given my own tiny sewing machine which I used to make doll clothes. At seven, I made five new outfits one summer, using Mama’s big machine. I still sew today - albeit infrequently — but so many times when I zigzag an edge, clip a thread or backstitch, I think back to when I stood in the chair behind Mama.
And, now, when Dixie Dew climbs in my lap to watch as I write, it carries me back and brings a smile of remembrance and appreciation.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should).” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.