Monday, March 7, 2011

Country Living Series: Thank you, Sylvia and Donald!

Sylvia is my mail lady carrier.

She's awesome because she brings me goody-filled packages on occasion. She brought me one last week, as a matter of fact. Before I show you the contents of the box, I want to go on a long-winded tangent. Humor me?

I feel fortunate to live in a small community for a number of reasons. One is that since there aren't that many of us living here, familiarity is common amongst the locals.

For instance, I know Sylvia a little better than most people probably know their mail carrier.

About two years ago, after she had just delivered a package to my house, and while backing her station wagon out of the driveway, one of the axles on Sylvia's car literally broke it two.

Naturally, it was a cold and rainy afternoon and the sun was close to setting, so I invited her in to make arrangements to have the car towed. One of the other mail carriers finished her route and while she waited for the tow truck to arrive, we chatted briefly.

Among other things, I learned that rural mail carriers have to provide their own vehicles, so the bill for the broken axle would not be footed by the USPS, and that she works really long days six days a week.

In retrospect, I regret forgetting to ask her just how the heck she drives her car from the passenger seat--mail carriers around here don't have cars specially equipped with steering wheels and gas/brake pedals on the right side like mail trucks do, so they operate the vehicles from the passenger seat--as she had to go outside before I could broach the subject. Maybe this is something I should just look up on the Internet and demystify for myself?

Anyway, after that experience I felt, and continue to feel, a special bond with Sylvia, which she probably doesn't realize.  But nonetheless, I'm always glad when she delivers a package, because it gives me an excuse to say hello and ask her how she is.

What can I say? I like knowing and talking to my mail lady. Being in the country affords this sort of connection.

Another aspect of this kinship-with-the-community-thing that I adore is that even in the year 2011, I can reliably drive from from the heart of my one-stoplight-village to my house, located a few miles north, and receive waves from drivers in passing cars.

I may not know the driver per se, and s/he nor me, but we generally recognize the other's car and figure that if we're driving on a tertiary road that leads only to the country, we must live nearby and therefore are close enough to being neighbors that a wave is appropriate and, well, the neighborly thing to do.

I ran across this Web site, ironically from another county in North Carolina, that outlines the phenomenon of waving drivers and the types of waves. Having basically grown up in North Carolina, I find waves from fellow drivers completely normal and rather comforting. Apparently in this particular county, which is near the mountains, many tourists were confused by the waving locals, and even mistook some of these waves for less-than-friendly gestures.

According to this humorous (and accurate) article, there are four types of waves:

The Howdy Wave

The Howdy Wave is simply a big wave to the passing car, usually with a big smile from the driver waving, too.  Hard to miss.  Some people unfamiliar with this usually ask their passenger, "Hey, do we know them?" Knowing someone personally isn't necessary here.  We're just glad to see you.

The Four Finger Wave

This is similar to the big howdy wave, but only the four fingers are lifted, keeping the hand on the wheel.  Again, a big friendly smile can accompany this wave.  The driver waving is simply choosing to err on the side of caution and keep both hands (or at least one) on the wheel.

The Peace Wave

The Peace Wave is a two finger wave.  This is the 'cool' wave.  You'll probably get this one from the younger crowd.  They're still happy to see you, they just have to look good while welcoming you to the area!

And finally...

The One Finger Wave

No, NOT that finger!  The one finger wave is the INDEX finger.  You'll see this wave from the mega wavers.  Those are the ones that wave at every car that passes them.  It's a time-saver (not to mention safer!), and it still looks cool, too. This one is probably most common, as most locals do wave at every passing car.  Unfortunately, this is also the most "misread" gesture by those unfamiliar with the waving tradition.

In case you're wondering, I'm generally a one-finger waver. Sometimes a four-finger waver.

But every now and again, I do admit to using the finger next to my index finger. Rest assured it's not directed at any locals. Rather I direct it to crazy drivers from Virginia who fly like demons down this one particular road, pass on double yellow lines, and generally drive like they don't have sense. (The few readers of this blog that are from around here know what I'm talking about. Amiright?)

Anyway, I'm really taking this tangent to new heights, so let's circle back around.

Plus, you're probably wondering who Donald is.

Well, Donald is one of Sylvia's co-workers, and therefore he works at the local post office. I love going to the post office because Donald, who regularly mans the main window, always greets me by name and takes the time to chat.

I'll add here that he used to call me Mrs. Shepherd, but I was severely uncomfortable with that because: 1) I'm younger than him and if anyone needed to be addressed formally out of respect in conversation, I should have been the one doing it; and 2) even after being married for almost 5 years and having birthed a child, I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a 'missus.'  But that's just me...

Donald now simply calls me Erin. And he's unerringly kind, helpful and friendly. Yes, I know it's technically his job, but how many times have you gone to a place of business and been met with raging apathy from the person "helping" you?

Donald and Sylvia go above and beyond the requirements of their job descriptions, and I greatly appreciate they services they provide to the community.  They are a part of what makes living in my speck-on-the-map part of the country so good.

So, that box Sylvia delivered the other day?

It was filled with beautiful fabrics that made my heart sing!

I need to make throw pillows for the living room set I slaved over the last few weeks. And I've been thinking about making a patchwork quilt this year, too. So I splurged treated myself to many yards of gorgeous floral fabrics.

I ordered the fabrics from Marie Madeline Studio, a family-run business in Missouri that carries oodles of amazing quilting fabrics.

I didn't photo this part, but whomever addressed the box had this fantastic, flourished style of handwriting. I love seeing people's handwriting in this digital age. Am I the only one?

However, I did think to snap this photo as the contents of the box were quaintly wrapped in paper and a ribbon. Nice touch, Long ladies!

Oh, and I definitely squeee'd when I cracked open the box and pulled out this stack of deliciousness.

Because I'm an obsessive nerd, I took several photos of the fabric arranged in neat, little rows--by designer.

First up is of some of Tanya Whelan's Delilah line. Very reminiscent of Cath Kidston, is it not?

Next are a few selections from Flower Sugar by Lecien, which would make the most adorable little girl dresses:

And finally, another Lecien line design in the Old New 30s Collection:

Now, excuse me while I go pet and fawn over my fabric.

I can already tell Lecien fabrics are going to become a problem for me and my wallet. They have another line called Durham, which features muted, shabby chic florals that I can't stop thinking about. Restraint, Erin, restraint!

I will just be happy with my huge stash of new fabric and focus on making pillows, perhaps a quilt, and who knows what else with this great stuff!

Thank you to Donald for handling this box of goodies with care at the post office and I appreciate Sylvia for delivering it safely, promptly and with a smile.

I'll be sure to wave to both of them the next time I see them on the road.



  1. Erin: Being new to North Carolina, I LOVE your finger waving "description"! Yes, I have noticed that one-finger wave all over! love it. But then again, everyone down here is just so....friendly. And I know, they all call me missus, or ma'am. I'm loving it,coming from the unfriendly north!

  2. what happy colors in those fabrics!!! i love the turquoise/pink combos!

  3. Just recently discovered your blog! Love it! I have lived in many towns in NC... Raleigh, Morganton, Winston-Salem (college), Bessemer City, Spindale and Rutherfordton. We own some property in Sylva and one day hope to build a little getaway there!
    We used to live out in the country here in SC and I loved the fact that one day I received a letter in the mail with just my first and last name and the "town" I lived in on it! Everyone knew everyone else and it was no problem for the mailman to get it to me!


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