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Providing a cushion

When I look at them, I remember what I was thinking when I was stitching, what was happening in my life, and even what was the country was going through.

It’s been quite a week.

Yet I remain calm.



No, because I’m needlepointing. I’m getting through quarantine and the election season by making pillows, one stitch at time.

Plus, when I watch TV, needlepoint keeps my fingers busy. If I’m stitching, I’m not snacking.

Well, sometimes I am.

Nothing like a buttered pillow.

I needlepoint more when I’m stressed, and it generally takes me three years to finish a pillow. Needlepoint is painstaking, and it’s not like it gets easier with practice. It’s always the same pace, requiring care and attention.

Honestly, I write a novel faster.

I have written two novels a year, and enjoyed it more.

My job is like a break from my hobby.

But then came the pandemic, and since March, I’ve stitched eight pillows.

I’ve never stitched pillows at this rate.

I’m like a Zen factory.

Which might be missing the point.

The pillows' designs are a red poppy, a pink quilt, a peony, tumbling blocks, a Turkish teacup, a Mexican rose, and a big red rose. I also stitched a corgi in memory of the late great Ruby to go with a pillow of the late great Bertie Wooster, our old West Highland terrier.

Now I’m working on a needlepoint called Basket of Flowers, and it’s so big that it was sold as a wall hanging.

I’ll make it into a really big pillow.


It will look like an entire garden on my couch.

I’m fine with that.

Usually I stitch the year I finish the design into its margin, but this time, I didn’t have to.

It’s all 2020.

The year that nobody saw anything clearly.

I posted pictures of the pillows online and asked people which one they liked the best. Everybody weighed in, and other stitchers posted their own gorgeous needlepoint projects. Knitters joined the fun, posting pictures of beautiful scarves, hats, and blankets, which was when I realized there was a whole community of women trying to not snack at night.

I loved reading the comments, and a few people asked me if I was going to give any of the pillows away, since I had so many.

It was a natural question, coming from people nicer than I am.

I’m keeping all of them.

I feel attached to them. In my life, I’ve given away only one pillow, to my beloved stepmother, so you have to be immediate family.

Because I get attached easy.

For example, I’ve saved Francesca’s homework assignments from day one, and they’re in boxes we call the archives. I have my late father’s clothes. I have leashes from dogs, collars from cats, and bridles from horses that are no longer alive.

I have more boxes of cremated ashes than most pet cemeteries.

So I can’t help but keep the pillows.

When I look at them, I remember what I was thinking when I was stitching, what was happening in my life, and even what was the country was going through.

All of that gets stitched in the pillow, cushioning me.


It’s like airbags, only pretty.

A buffer from the buffeting.

We all need a cushion of sorts, don’t we?

For some people, it means a certain amount of money in the bank.

Or canned goods in the pantry.

Or hay in the barn.

Or leaving a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you.

Or leaving the house 15 minutes earlier, to avoid being late.

Actually, I do all of the above.

Turns out, I’m a cushion fan.

Another example. I buy backups of things I need, like toilet paper, napkins, and chocolate cake.

(I freeze it).

So I hope you have a cushion of some kind.

If you don’t, make one for yourself.

Because I can’t part with mine.

Look for Lisa’s first historical novel, “Eternal,” coming on March 23, 2021. Also look for Francesca’s debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” on sale now.