Loretta Ost weaves a fine, white thread through her fingers. Then, with a shuttle, begins to work the thread into an intricate design.
It's called tatting, and she has been doing it for more than 40 years. Her mother taught her the craft and did it for a good 80 years or more after learning it from a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in North Dakota.
Ost turns the fine tatting threads into an assortment of lace pieces, ranging in size from tablecloths to earrings and minute flowers on stationery.
"Not many people do tatting any more," Ost said. "I taught it at a shop in Ponderosa Square once, and I've been asked to give other classes, but I keep putting it off."
She sells her work at the annual craft show at the Payson Community Presbyterian Church. Ost also takes custom orders.
Her tatting work, along with the many other needlecrafts she does is how she keeps up on the property taxes for her Elk Ridge home.
"The house is paid for, but the taxes are really high," she said. Her efforts were successful in 2006. She made enough for the taxes and had a little left over.
In addition to tatting, Ost does both crochet and embroidery -- all extraordinarily delicate.
"It keeps me busy and out of the bars and off the street," she said and laughed.
Ost is very active in her church. She is a member of the choir and serves on two different boards -- the Presbyterian Women's Board and the Ponderosa Voyager Board.
"The Ponderosa Voyager Board started as a couples' group, but as members have lost their spouses, the survivors have been allowed to remain active," she explained.
In addition to the fellowship provided by the Ponderosa Voyager group, the members are involved in different projects. The current one is the Heifer Project, which provides communities in developing countries with either agriculture or animal projects for a sustainable source of food.
Ost has a great love of music. She plays the piano and always has music playing in her home. In addition to being in her church choir, she was a member of the Payson Choral Society for awhile and still enjoys attending its performances and those presented by the Tonto Community Concert Association.
Music has been a big part of her life for most of her life. In fact, she said, she has been singing almost as long as she has been able to talk.
"My sister, Leona and I would get out of school to sing at Women's Club meetings. I was even on the radio -- with a big choir in the late ‘40s or early ‘50s." She and her sister sang a duet in June 2004 at their last family reunion.
Twice widowed, Ost has three daughters and nine grandchildren. A native of North Dakota, she moved to San Diego and lived there for many years.
"I wanted to move to a smaller town," Ost said. In the mid-1980s she came to Payson to visit a former pastor, the Rev. Victor Joe, who was minister of the Presbyterian Church at the time. Payson was perfect and a year later Ost and her husband made the move. That was 19 years ago this month.
Learn more about Loretta Ost's tatting in the Jan. 3 edition of The Rim Review.
Hometown: Kulm, N.D.
Occupation: Bookkeeper (retired)
When did you move to Payson and what brought you here? December 1987, a visit with Victor Joe, then pastor of the Payson Community Presbyterian Church
What's the biggest risk you've taken recently? Staying in this house after my second husband died.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Be truthful in all situations.
Three things you want people to know about you: My faithfulness, my involvement in my church, and the crafts I do.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Not a farmer's wife.
Book: the Bible
Song: "His Eye is on the Sparrow"
Sport to watch: Basketball played by the Suns
Vacation spot: Hawaii
Recreational activity: Crafts
Movie: "Loveliest Night of the Year" with Mario Lanza. It's what I went to see on a blind date with my first husband, William Atwood. He proposed that same night and we were married two months later.