My birthday is
creeping, no make that galloping, up on me. Which means that June is breathing down my neck.
Which means I need to finish my nephew Andrew’s quilt in time for his high school graduation.
As you can see, I’m keeping with my odd-block theme. In this context, that means mixing at least two simple blocks with squares in a random color march.
Odd block quilts have at least two definitions. One is that you’re pulling orphaned blocks from your scrap drawer, and assembling them to make a new quilt top. The second, the one at work here, is that you make different types of blocks in a color scheme that has some adhesion, and put them together in a quilt top.
I’ve made a couple of quilts with the first definition, and in some ways, that can be a challenging process, all made easier with a load of coping strips.
The second is a bit easier since all of the blocks are the same size (6 1/2 inches in this case) so there’s no need for coping strips.
This is the fourth quilt I’ve made this way, and I find each one more of a pleasure than the last.
Now I just need to figure out what’s going to back this gift, and I’m off on the next phase.
Twenty days and counting until it needs to be wrapped up for its trip to Martha’s Vineyard.
The Road Unsalted is off to the editor but that doesn’t mean sitting with idle fingers on the keyboard.
I had an epiphany while teaching the Publications Practicum class at Lebanon College: My students needed a workbook, a fingers-on-the-keyboard guide to what to do next when making their way through the morass of publishing options now available to writers.
So I started writing one, and The Workbook for Publishing Your Book, Your Way is now on my very front burner.
Bubbling on the back is Thieves of Fire, the next book in the Carding, Vermont series. And another, unrelated novel that’s still gelling.
I just finished listening to an On Point broadcast of a conversation with Tony Lewis, the CEO of the NY Public Library, the biggest circulating library in this country. It was a great conversation about the future of these significant community assets, and what changes in technology mean for them.
One of the last questions the host, Tom Ashbrook, asked was: What about physical books? Will they disappear?
And Tony Lewis replied: We still have candles. As long as there are people who want to read physical books, we will have physical books.
Personally, I think that books on paper will be a part of humanity as long as there is paper and ink. To me, technology is too fragile, too dependent on systems that are, increasingly, out of our control and out of our knowledge. Ink and paper are accessible to everyone.
Ebooks are fine. I plan to publish The Road Unsalted as an ebook. But you can take it to the bank that it will be on paper as well.
Unlike so many other parts of the country, it’s been exceptionally dry here for weeks.
April showers? Forget about it.
Now being a gardener, I used to root for rain under those circumstances. But ever since Hurricane Irene, I keep my mouth shut and my rainy thoughts un-thought.
Because no amount of pleading changes the weather one teensy bit. But if it does, I want to believe I had no part in making it rain too much.
Yesterday morning, the clouds started their move, lining up to wet the valley. By late afternoon, we had sprinkles and then a deluge and then it stopped.
So far today, we’ve had beautiful blue sky intermingled with those white puffy things, gray matter smearing the horizon, and now BIG drops pelting the earth.
And that lawn I mowed yesterday so that Goldie wouldn’t get lost in the grass?
Forget about it.
I try to not write or edit at night because I figure I’m too tired to make much sense of anything.
But when I stopped for supper yesterday, I had only 30 more pages of The Road Unsalted left for my final edit. And I couldn’t resist.
So I finished it up last night, and just made a copy for my editor. I’ll be driving it up to her house shortly.
Now it’s onto the next project, a workbook entitled Publishing Your Book, Your Way: A Fingers-on-the-Keyboard Workbook for Independent Publishing.
Jay, Goldie and I hiked in a new-to-us place up in Pomfret on Sunday morning, Amity Pond State Park.
Legend has it that two women friends in the area who lived too far apart to visit regularly (back in the days when visiting included a walk or horse ride), made arrangements to meet annually in this part of Vermont.
The two ponds in the park were halfway between their homes so spending the day here with a picnic was a good idea.
And as you can see, it’s a beautiful walk across fields, through the woods, up hills and down hills, and over a brook. And the views on a lovely day in May were exquisite.
I love flowers, love to garden. But I find that my body recoils at all the hard work I know I face this time of year.
In other words, this gardening business is becoming a chore, not a pleasure.
Years ago, I recoiled whenever I heard women older than me talk about taking down their gardens, pulling the plants from the soil. How could they think about doing that, I wondered.
Well, now I know. I can’t do the heavy work in the yard for hours on end any more.
And I don’t really want to.
But the thought of an unadorned yard—nothing but grass—is really boring. I truly do love the flowers. And I can’t just let trees grow in the front yard because some of it is taken up by our septic system, and tree roots would destroy that.
But I am taking a few gardens out this year.
Unless I get ambitious.
Or I declare a truce with the weeds and let them have their way in the yard.
Now that’s a thought.
I’m working on a quilt for my nephew Andrew who’s graduating from high school next month. It’s a simple design, similar in concept to the quilt pictured at the bottom.
It’s simple, really, 6 1/2-inch squares interspersed with scrappy four-patch blocks and a third block that includes triangles so the overall effect is one of movement. I used friendship star blocks in the quilt pictured here. Andrew’s quilt includes pinwheels.
Since this is a scrappy quilt, the two fabrics in the pinwheels can come from any of a number of sources so long as the colors aren’t way out of the range set by the squares and four-patch. I like working this way because you sometimes trip across a whole new favorite color scheme that you wouldn’t have pulled out of your stash on your own.
That’s some of what happened in these three pinwheels. The zingy yellow batik really flamed up with the teal fabric up top, and then emphasized the colors of the dragonflies in the second pinwheel.
But the third is the one that surprised me. Who knew that a dark orangey tone-on-tone would look so fine with a deep purple going into brown?
Of course, that purple fabric represents the last scrap I had of that cloth. But still, the color combo gives one pause. That would be such a rich combination for a fall quilt.
I’ll have to remember that one.
Our little girl, Goldie, is now eleven years old, and she’s not as enthusiastic a walker as she used to be. In fact, I have to drag her along if we go anywhere except on our land.
So I’ve decided to make Wednesdays the day we wander down along the river, and I walk at her pace. In fact, if I’m carrying a camera, I walk slower than she does.
Here’s our chronicle for this Beautiful Day in May.
As many of you know, I started a non-profit in 2010 called the Parkinson’s Comfort Quilt Project. The effort is designed to gather handmade quilts to distribute to people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. Many guild members have helped me in this effort, a fact for which I am always grateful.
That effort was temporarily derailed by my experience with Hurricane Irene but it is back on track now, has a slightly different name (the Parkinson’s Comfort Project), and is expanding to include services for caregivers.
I bring this up because of something that happened at a conference on Parkinson’s disease last weekend.
The organizers of this event, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Parkinson’s Center, give the Parkinson’s Comfort Project space to display quilts, and talk about our effort. We often have the opportunity to give away quilts at the conference, and that Saturday was no exception.
A lovely white-haired woman approached our table early in the morning, and tentatively reached out to stroke a quilt recently donated by a member of my guild, Mary Hardy. It was the sweet, scrappy four-patch pictured here. It was obvious the woman was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
I asked if she wanted me to unfold Mary’s quilt so she could see it. When she nodded, I held it up, and she reached out again.
“Are these quilts for sale?” she asked.
“No, they’re made to donate to people with Parkinson’s,” I explained.
“Did you make them all?”
“I made some of them but others, like this one, were made by members of my quilt guild,” I said.
“Oh, you live in quilt central up here,” she said. “I was at this amazing quilt show in Hanover last weekend. Did you see it?”
Of course my face lit up, and I started bragging about the talented women in my guild. Then I asked: “Would you like this quilt?”
“Oh no,” she said. “There are so many people with need greater than mine.”
And then she walked away…until lunch time when she came back with her husband to show him the quilts. It was obvious she had fallen in love with Mary’s quilt but still wouldn’t let me give it to her. Then I had a moment for a private word with her husband.
“She used to quilt,” he told me, beckoning toward his wife. “You have no idea how much seeing your guild’s quilt show meant to her. She was so inspired.”
Well, I wasn’t taking no for an answer after that. The last I saw them, they were making their slow way down the corridor at the end of the conference, the woman hugging Mary’s quilt, and tears in her husband’s eyes.
All of us who share this passion (addiction?) to fabric know there’s something special about a quilt, more than color, more than technique. I think I saw that power in action at the Parkinson’s conference.
You never know who a quilt will touch.