Friday, January 3, 2014

Scrapbooks, Stories, & Buttons!

Florence Ethel Conolly Dreyer
from John Conolly's Album

Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Happy New Year!  I am excited to begin this new year by looking back in time as well as forward.  Recently my mother gave me a scrapbook made by her grandfather, and the pictures feel like magic to me.  Simply by turning the pages, I am in a new place, meeting new people who are very much part of me.

To begin this new year, I am working on my family tree, asking lots of questions about the people who came before, trying to let these questions lead to answers about me and our family and children.  Why are we like we are? Who do we come from?

My grandmother Florence (I never knew she was called Dorrie) loved the color purple and loved writing poetry.  In this poem, I imagine what she might say to me.  Of course I never knew her at this young age, so it is very mysterious and wonderful to have silent conversations wtih her in this way today.

Do you have any old photographs or objects from long ago in your home or in a relative's home?  If you do, you might find these are full of stories and questions and writing food.

And now, for a new project...

Button Joy
Photo by Amy LV

Here in 2014, I am beginning a button string, much like the charm strings of Victorian times. I will collect stories (when possible) along with humble buttons. I do not plan to buy buttons for this string, but rather hope to trade and/or receive buttons from friends and family. If you would like to share a button (and a story if you have one), I would be most grateful. If you wish, you can mail a button (and maybe story) to me at 7571 Raiber Road Holland, NY 14080.  I am not exactly sure what else will come of this button string, but from the stories I have already heard, I cannot wait to find out!

In happy news to start the year, I am grateful to announce that FOREST HAS A SONG has been selected as a 2013 CYBILS finalist.  I am among wonderful company and tickled to see my book sitting among ones I so admire.

Betsy is hosting today's Poetry Friday New Year party at I Think in Poems.  Give yourself a little trip to Michigan by visiting her place, and while you're there, find out what's happening on this first Poetry Friday of 2014.

It is great to be back.  Happy New Year to all!

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. How very special to find out these little details about your relatives, bringing them back to life for you in new, fresh ways. The fact that your grandmother loved purple and writing poetry is just perfect!

    Also, I just gave my daughter a button box for Christmas since she, too, has expressed interest in collecting buttons! Have fun with that. :)

  2. Family history is such a treasure trove of inspiration for me. My grandmother had a tin of buttons she kept with her sewing supplies. Having lived through the Depression with 3 small children, she saved everything! Ted Kooser's wonderful poem "A Jar of Buttons" has always reminded me of her. I copied it into my journal as soon as I read it. I can't find a copyrighted version of this poem online to share with you, but if you're not familiar with it, I'll email it to you.
    Thanks for making me think about this today. I have a lot of baking to do, something that always makes me think of both of my grandmothers. Maybe I'll whip up a poem as well as cookies and pies!

  3. Lovely to see your photo of Dorrie, see the poem that 'arrived' and hear about the scrapbook, Amy. I love all the things I have from both my family and Arvie's. I have lots of old buttons, will see about a story for you. What a wonderful idea! Congrats again on the Cybil's honor! Hope you are staying cozy today & keeping the electricity!

  4. Thank you for visiting, baking and buttony friends. Catherine - I found the poem. I am keeping it with my new button stories. Thank you! a.

  5. My brother-in-law gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas, a binder with my genealogy inside. I look at the names and imagine their lives. I do wish I had photographs too.
    Your poem is just right. I also love the button project idea. You must approach your mailbox with much anticipation these days.

  6. I am sending you a congratulatory hug on your CYBILS nomination. Thank you the visit back in time, love the picture and your poem. I think you are right about what she would tell you. We should all listen to her.

  7. But you already DO what Dorrie is telling you! You are her granddaughter in word and inDEED.

    HUGS for Forest on the Cybils shortlist!

  8. Amy, your button project sounds wonderful! I have long been a collector of buttons... have several jars of them. I'm sure of them are positively bursting to share their stories. If I capture one, I will dash it your way! Your Dorrie poem reminds me of a Mother Teresa quote I was introduced to earlier this week and completely love: "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." I bet Dorrie would like it too. xo

  9. Amy,
    Your posts are always packed with so much great information and poetry I never know where to begin commenting. So I guess I'll just ramble about a bit. I hope you don't mind.

    First of all, I love your poem --- and your picture. I've spent much time collecting the stories of my family. As I fill in grids in genealogy software it is the stories I always hope most to find. Photos often help a bit with this. There's something about putting a picture with a name. I couldn't help but wonder if the poems from your great grandma are still around for you to read. Interesting.

    Your idea for button collecting is fascinating. How do you think of all of these things? I will be interested to follow this journey a bit.

    Thanks for sharing, Amy. I always leave your blog with a lot to think about.


  10. Amy, I so enjoy reading your posts because you're always up to something fun and exciting. My grandmother kept a button jar, and I save buttons too. I can't think of any that come with a story, but if I do, I'll send it to you!

  11. Amy,
    Of course I'll send you a button from my button box. Especially since you titled it BUTTON JOY.
    Do you remember button yoyos? My sister and I would always search mom's button tin for the biggest buttons to make our yoyos. A simple toy that would keep us amused for hours--or until the string broke.
    Thank you for sharing DORRIE with us. A lovely poem.

  12. Buttons!! What a wonderful project. I will send you one, Amy - though most of my buttons with interesting stories behind them are still holding clothes together! Here's wishing you a Happy New Year.

  13. Your button project sounds like loads of fun. I have a couple of button jars that were in an old wicker sewing box that I inherited from my mom. Her scent lingered in that box for a long time, and some of the buttons reminded me of her clothing. (I would gladly send a button, but we are away from home until May.)

  14. Do you suppose you will write a scrapbook poem series in addition to your button project? It might happen all on its own...

    My mom has always been interested in genealogy, so I have seen photos of ancestors from an early age. One of them is of a young fellow who lost a leg in the Civil War, then married and started a family. I always thought it was kind of wonderful to emerge from something so horrible and start anew.

    All the best in 2014, Amy!

  15. What a beautiful tribute to Dorrie! And I think that your button collection is a wonderful idea. To me, buttons symbolize a child's imagination, freed from the confines of batteries and controls and wires. Just colors and shapes and textures to dump and arrange and create. And then there's the other side of the button--the one that has a story to tell about where it came from and whose fingers worked it. I love that you are stringing all of this together. Will be looking forward to seeing how your button project evolves and grows.

  16. I adore old photos and buttons too! My nephew did some genealogy research and found some German ancestors: two sisters named Petronella and Apollonia. I've been rolling those names around in my head for months! I'll look through my button jars to see if I can find something fun or something with a story. Congrats on being a CYBILS finalist -- no surprise about this much-deserved honor.

  17. Hi Amy. I love your work and I love you. Your blog makes a difference in my life and I have nominated you for a Sunshine Award. Thanks for all you do with your writing. A link to my blog and your nomination is below.