Be My Guest

By Carla Kelly

Be My Guest!

I have a quilt guest room downstairs. The newest edition is the baby quilt on the far right, made by my late sister-in-law, and given to me at a recent Kelly family reunion by my niece/her daughter Terri, who is special to me for a variety of reasons. The quilt on the far left is one made by my husband’s Aunt Orpha on the occasion of the birth of our first child. She was an Ozarks hillbilly, resourceful and wise, and blessed with a talent for colors and patterns.

The quilt in the middle is a series of Sunbonnet Sues that my Grandma Thacker did through the years on various projects. My dear sister Wanda extracted them and put them in this quilt of her making. 

Oh, and in the winter, I put a mega quilt on this bed made by a friend whom I first met as a reader of Borrowed Light, and who quickly morphed into a fast friend (and her husband, too). Ask any novelist: The best part of writing are the readers who become friends.

It’s also a photo/art room. The print is “Homecoming,” painted after WWII by NC Wyeth, and given to me by my daughter Liz. I love this print. The little photo farther right is the baptistry in the chapel at Presidio La Bahia – close to Goliad, Texas  – where I’ve spent plenty of time. When I was a senior at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville, Texas, I wrote a lengthy article for the school newspaper about the restoration of the presidio, which today is the finest example of a Spanish fort in North America. The article won me an award from a Texas UIL journalism competition. 

In its own way, that article set me on my writing/history career, along with reading Francis Parkman’s The Oregon Trail. I scrounged up a 25-cent copy of that book and I never forgot it. I have a much nicer copy now, but it was that old beat-up copy that remains in my mind. The nice copy is in the guest room, too.

This past year, my daughter Sarah gave me a guest book. It has a Middles Ages look to it, with a leather cover, key, and deckled pages. It’s also really big, and will likely never be filled, no matter how many guests we have yet to arrive. But the ones who have signed it have put in memorable comments.

It’s a comfortable guest room, with built-in oak cabinets. When I couldn’t find a suitable bed to match all the oak, I asked the cabinetmaker to build me one, and he did. It’ll probably stay with the house. I can’t imagine someone not wanting it. 

We moved here to Idaho Falls eight years ago. Our first company arrived a week later when we were still sorting boxes. Everyone who has stayed here has been welcome. Many have come because of the attraction of nearby Yellowstone National Park. I’m usually available to drive them around the park because it’s been a favorite place of mine since I was a kid. 

It’s grand to have a room with so many good memories. The rest of the house is full of great stuff, too. Note to children: I am still a realist. I am gradually thinning the herd of books I don’t need now. I know you won’t want a lot of this, and I understand completely.

I suppose it’s possible to have too much art and too many photos and books, but not here, not in this guest room. 

One final touch. I found a Gideon’s Bible in a thrift shop and that’s in a nightstand drawer. Seems appropriate for a guest room, my little oasis of calm and history, and soft pillows and quilts. I like it here.