……so we got our grant. And we had mixed feelings about it. We were thrilled that our hunch and the minimal research we had done was proving promising. We felt validated. Others were willing to invest in our ideas. We were excited for the students. Not just the kids in my program, but for our whole school. We were nervous. This was serious and now we needed to make our dream a reality.
Meanwhile serendipitous stuff was happening all around us that invited us to suspect The Universe was in cahoots with us. Like a heavy dose of fairy dust had been sprinkled on our hopes. One of the most important bits of luck happened before the grant was even approved. A parent had approached Wildabest with large bags of new white fitted sheets that had been destined to the landfill. A hotel and ordered the wrong size, had washed the sheets before realizing the mistake, making them unreturnable. This environmentally responsible parent was totally against the landfill idea and scooped them up. She had no idea there was a loom grant in the works. But she knew Wildabest was a creative maker and asked it she wanted the sheets. Wildabest took them off her hands and they were stored in the school basement. Bookmark that.
Since a new loom large enough to make rag rugs and withstand kids and adults who would certainly mishandle it out of ignorance was way over the $1400 we had at our disposal, we had no idea where to start the search for a loom. Serendipity was still helping us along. We had looked on eBay for looms close enough to go get. Shipping a loom of the size we needed would have eaten up the rest of our money. The closest was two states away, but we figured if that is what it took, we could make a weekend adventure of it. Serendipity was still helping us along. We got a lead on a loom in our price range. It was through a long chain of word of mouth involving mostly people we did not know that brought us to Aunt Sally. She was 90 minutes away and she was priced just right. $475.
Wildabest and I believe we rescued Aunt Sally. She was sitting on the enclosed porch of a store all about weaving that was run by a really, really cranky and impatient lady. When we pulled up and saw that loom in all of her glory we were instantly in love. And I mean that. We fell in love.
I struggle to find the words to describe her magnificence. I want you all to be able to touch her, to experience her presence, her warmth and sturdiness, her readiness to get to work. Just to touch the solid front beam that had been worn smooth and shiny by years of use. We could feel the essence of all who had sat at her. We felt her history. We knew she was going to help heal the broken bits of our students and bring our school to new places. She took our breath away.
I was new to this whole weaving thing. I had never sat at a loom. I had no idea what I was in for. But this loom was meant to be in my classroom. We belonged together. She was going to heal some broken bits of my own. And writing this even now, I choke back tears of gratitude for having found her.
Wildabest and I felt deep down in a primal way the healing power of Aunt Sally.
So, we paid the cranky lady and as she tapped her foot and watched impatiently, we removed one large piece of Aunt Sally to make her more manageable, and with the help of passersby, we removed the porch door and carried her to the covered back of The Wildabest Truck. We put the porch door back and drove away like new lovers narrowly escaping a life without one another. We had wrapped Aunt Sally up, tucked her under blankets and we whispered sweet nothings to her as we fled.
With the help of a strong Wildabest offspring we unloaded Aunt Sally and got her up the flight of stairs to my classroom, put her back together.
Now, Wildabest and I had very little idea how to get Aunt Sally up and running. Thankfully she was already loaded with warp thread. She was not ‘dressed’ yet, but the warp threads were loaded on the back beam. Oh, you can only imagine how steep the learning curve was. My vocabulary expanded as did my appreciation for what a loom could do and how very little looms have changed in design from their beginnings hundreds of years ago.
We were in the throws of winter and Aunt Sally was just what we all needed to see us through. The kids were in awe when they each walked in our classroom. While they wandered in at different times most days, once a few had seen Aunt Sally, word spread and all of my students had wandered in within the first hour of the day.
I cannot do justice in describing their reactions. Aunt Sally took their breath away. They could not wait to touch her. They approached her with reverence. They were all calmed in her presence. There was none of their usual overexcited maladaptive behavior. They respected that loom from the moment they laid eyes on her. I believe the remarkable changes in my students began the moment they first saw her. Aunt Sally had come to us and she was here to heal. And as Wildabest stated more than a million times, that relationship between my students and Aunt Sally was pure magic. We had never seen anything like it before.
Tomorrow, in part 3, I will continue the story and I promise there will be more details about the logistics, our philosophy and practice and how we actually got Aunt Sally busy.