The Feel of It

by Jill Peters

My Grandma Olga was an amazing lady.  She lived a remarkable life and always had bits of wisdom to share, whether you wanted to hear them or not.  She was the life of the party, a hard worker and a great teller of jokes.  Born in 1918, she grew up on a farm in Williston, North Dakota.  After her husband died, she moved with her 3 young kids to Washington, where her 2 sisters lived.  She was only 28.  She decided life might be easier “out West”.   They got on a train and left the farm behind.  She bought a house, got her kids into new schools and found a job.  I can’t imagine being so brave.  She lived in that same house the whole rest of her life.  I used to spend time with her in that cozy little house and ask her questions about her life.  It was great to listen to her talk about her experiences and adventures.  Her take on things always helped me to re-evaluate my own perspectives.

While she was a very caring person, she didn’t mind telling you things you needed to hear.  I remember one time I was complaining about how much work I had to do and about all the laundry that needed to be done.  She laughed and told me I shouldn’t be complaining.  I had a washing machine and a dryer.  All I had to do was load the laundry, push start and transfer the clothes from one machine to another.  She then went on to tell me how she did the laundry back on the farm in Williston.  I haven’t complained about doing laundry ever since.

One of her sayings was “the feel of it”.  This would be a way to describe how something felt to the touch.  If we were shopping, she touched the fabrics and liked certain things because of “the feel of it”.  I have been a shopper like that myself.  If someone asks if I like something and holds it up for me to see, I have to touch it before I can decide if I like it or not.  “The feel of it” makes all the difference in the world to me…in clothing, bedding, furniture or accessories.  Price, color, material and style are important, but the most important element for me is how it feels.

I started making leather purses from scraps of leather I found at a horse supply place.  They were random pieces that the store owner had thrown into a box and left in the corner.  I went back to that shop to get some more, but the guy wasn’t interested in selling me his leather if it was for purse-making and not for horses.  Then I bought a few pieces of leather online but was never sure what I would be getting.  Next, I was looking for leather at a local fabric store and the lady there suggested I go to a different fabric store that had more leather-working supplies.  They didn’t, but the lady there told me she didn’t know why they sent me to her store, but that I should check out this place in the International District in Seattle called MacPherson Leather.  Sometimes it’s serendipitous how things work out…how one thing leads to another.  How if I hadn’t gone to the first place, who sent me to the second place, who happened to have an employee that went to a design school that sourced their leather from this particular store in Seattle, I might not have found it.  When I walked through the door the first time, I’m sure I heard angels singing.  It smelled wonderful, but the best thing about it was the opportunity to “feel of it”.  I could take out the hides and touch them.  I looked for things like color and blemishes, but mostly how it felt.  And I thought about Grandma Olga then.  How she would have loved “the feel of it” too.