Marcia Somerville on Life After Tapestry
Marcia now, with her dog Cosette
Since this is Marcia’s Birthday Month, I went to interview her about life after Tapestry. I found her at her daughter Charity’s new home, where she was helping to sew curtains and paint the children’s rooms in preparation for their move-in date later this week. Yesterday she wore her “painting jeans” covered with many stains, perching on a ladder to dab bright paint on her granddaughter Victoria’s bedroom walls. Today, we talked while she was working on curtains to shield Hector and Victoria from too much sunlight during their naptimes.
Marcia while she was President of Lampstand Press
Marcia, what do you feel when you look back over your years of running a company?
In one way, after eighteen years of triage, wondering ‘who will die if I don’t get to them next,’ all I can say is that it feels so good when you don’t need to do that! In another way, it’s wonderful to look back over a race well run and be satisfied with the grace that God gave me.
What do your days look like now?
I spend a lot of time with my daughter, Marjorie, who is twenty-five but lives with Scott and I at Storybook Farm as a resident artist. We have set up a studio together and really enjoyed indoor projects all through last winter. She makes beautiful illustrations and Scripture-based coloring books. I make fabric projects. I also really enjoy my agro-therapy.
Marcia on her horse, Gracie
What do you mean by “agro-therapy”?
We live on a beautiful farm (Storybook Farm) in the mountains of West Virginia, which is so remote that we cannot see a neighbor and do not have cell phone service. The biggest thing I notice when I go outside is the quiet. I love feeding my chickens and gathering their eggs. I groom, ride, and pet my horses. I snuggle my dog (Cosette) and look far and appreciate the world that God has made apart from what man has made.
The world of Storybook Farm
Fabric projects, huh? It sounds like you’ve moved from one kind of tapestry to another! What are some of your most recent fabric projects?
I recently sewed a stuffed chicken with my six-year-old granddaughter Emma. She came to sleep over here at Storybook Farm and we made it together. Scott, her grandpa, also stuffed the chicken with wool from our very own lambs, after research revealed that actually lambswool is the best possible stuffing.
Awwww! You said you keep live chickens too?
Yes. I love my chickens. They are funny and sweet and cute, and they make me laugh every single day. Sometimes, one of them “goes broody,” which means she sits on eggs and hatches them. I love to watch the hens be mothers. It makes the Scripture about God “gathering us under His wings” very real.
Storybook Farm lambs
You keep sheep, too. Any Scriptural insights about them?
Just that “all we like sheep have gone astray.” They aren’t as stupid as ducks (which we have also kept), but it’s a near thing.
What is your favorite thing about your new life?
The pace of it. I love the slower pace with fewer demands. I love having time to visit my own mother or my grandchildren, or to spend a week helping out by painting my daughter’s new house, or hosting what we call “Lambfest” for my children and grandchildren.
Do you do less parenting now that your children are grown?
Yes and no. I am no longer the person directing their daily lives, but I still do lots of listening, sharing, and advising. Hardly a day goes by within a phone call from one of my ten children (the six originals plus the four who married into our family). They visit frequently and I go to see them often as well, even though our farm is between 1 and 3 hours away from the places where they live. I love being involved in their lives: I like being able to drop everything and spend a week helping my daughter and son-in-law get their new home ready!
Marcia with (most of) her family
What do you like best about being a grandmother?
Marcia with grandson Hector
I think what I like best about being a grandmother is that I’m not responsible to raise my grandchildren, but I have a unique role to play in affecting them for eternity.
Four of Marcia’s six granddaughters on the trampoline in the front yard of Storybook Farm.
What are some activities that you like to do with your grandchildren?
Storybook Farm was built for my grandchildren’s delight. I keep a pony and I am slowly teaching them to ride. Scott and I built a swimming pond for them, where they practically live during the summer. I buried a trampoline and hung a tire swing, and I’m meditating a tree fort… but I need to decide where to put it. Recently I went on FaceTime with some of my grandchildren so that they could watch our new chicks hatch in “real time.” That was fun!
It sounds like you have plenty going on. Do you think you’ll ever stop doing projects?
Well, maybe, but not any time soon! Doing research and working on projects is an integral part of me. I love them. Last summer I built a guest house and a porch and a barn here at Storybook Farm. I got to be good friends with my contractors and it was a good opportunity for evangelism. Scott and I really enjoy working on projects together.
Scott, who went to Italy three times to perfect his cappuccino-making skills, is in high demand as the Storybook Farm barista
What is Scott (aka beloved author of Pop Quiz, Pageant of Philosophy, and the Government track) doing these days? Is he mostly retired, or does he still use his ivy league degrees in philosophy and law for something?
Scott has such an active mind and a love for people that I think it would be hard for him to slow down completely. He divides his time between the farm, a law firm in our county seat where he can help out people who aren’t otherwise able to afford legal aid, and life as an LSAT tutor for pre-law students. His students adore him. On the farm, he is the builder and tinkerer, the architect of our natural swimming pool and my fabulous chicken coop, and the shepherd of our sheep. Jesus was right when He said that sheep will only respond to their shepherd’s voice: whenever our sheep wander out into the road (as sometimes happens when we leave the gate open by accident), Scott is the one who can reliably bring them back. He also plays with the grandchildren: our grandson Hector follows him around like a puppy when Scott is putting fertilizer in the garden, chopping wood, or collecting eggs. I love watching him with our two grandsons and six little granddaughters. Recently, he melted all our hearts by singing to our grandson Jonah.
Anything else that would be of interest to the Tapestry family?
Well, I’ve recently gone “back to school” to get a teaching certificate so that I can be a substitute in our local public school.
You’re kidding! You, a master teacher and homeschool curriculum designer? Why!?
It started because I live in a rural area where there aren’t many teachers. When one of them, who is also a member of my church, had to go on bed rest for her current pregnancy, there was a need. So I am taking classes to get certified in order to help out.
Wow. Have you discovered anything interesting about life in a classroom while you’ve been working on your certification?
Yes, one thing that is interesting to me is how students who are in classes every day will take class time for independent work. Schools here limit the amount of homework that teachers give. It’s been interesting to observe those classes and I am turning that way of doing things over in my mind.
What are the students like in your area’s public school?
They are well-behaved and respectful. I like them!
That’s great! If there is one thing you could say to the parent-teachers who are currently finishing up another year of homeschooling, what would it be?
Every spring, my own father always gave me the same piece of good advice: “Finish up strong!” I used to say that to my own heart and children every homeschooling year, so now I will say it to you. Finish up strong! Then, enjoy your summer!
The Dancing Lawn at Storybook Farm was designed by Marcia for her daughter Charity’s wedding
What would you say to other mothers who may be finishing up their careers as homeschool teachers and looking ahead to a new season of life?
I would share that it took me awhile to figure out what my next phase of life was going to be, and I probably stressed about that more than I needed to. I’d encourage them to pray about it, talk to the people who know them best (friends, pastors, husbands) and wait to see what God has for them in the next season of life.
This June, we look forward to welcoming Advisors and Advisor-applicants for a weekend of refreshment and encouragement with Marcia at Storybook Farm. Marcia always says that she has no greater joy than to see her children walking in the truth. She considers her time with Tapestry to have been a success if for no other reason than that God empowered her to give her own children a good education. To have helped other parent-teachers on their homeschooling journeys was a surprise, and a labor of love. We love Marcia; we’re so glad to see her receiving the reward of her faithful service!