Especially on Tuesdays I'm apt to stop in at the local Goodwill Thrift Shop just to see if something new and irresistible has come in. Today it was half a dozen sets of Jo-anne's FQs [all the same, so of course I only wanted one] in a little metal contain let's say $7 which is 50 cents each. Ah, but the reason I stop on Tuesday is that it's senior citizen day and there's an additional 25% off. That makes them a little over 35 cents each! Irresistible, don't you agree?
A Sense of Wonder is a movie made from a drama which is really a monologue by Rachel Carson [an actress playing her very well indeed] during the last year of her life. The film was shot at her house in Maine and at her home in Silver Springs, Maryland. It was a moving, meditative piece. The sound track was only birdsong and the adagio movement of Beethoven's ethereal Violin concerto, one of Carson's [and my] favorite pieces of music.
This was shown in the documentary film class I'm taking. It was preceded by a boringly didactic little filmed lecture about "stuff" from an ecological point of view. Both were preaching to the converted; the discussion afterwards was simply a lot of statements about what we all know about global warming, Carson's success and the miserable state of the world today. Even the Gaia theory was espoused by a woman I had thought was a sensible soul. Actually I understand the appeal of the Gaia theory but I do not see, as this woman did, that events like earthquakes, tsunami, avalanches prove it -- we happen to know more about how many catastrophies are happening because of the relentless news media which loves disasters of all kinds. I certainly see the world as one large system but not as one with intent or purpose.
As I just read in a Scientific American magazine this morning, [and have often read] we have a brain that makes patterns, it has contributed greatly to our survival but we also make mad, runaway patterns, seeing purpose in the sets of events and conspiracies in coincidences and comforting intent in serendipitous instances. I was happy to hear a room full of my contemporaries who are fairly well informed about these matters. I'm afraid, like me, they are incompletely informed and are a little too complacent about their being "are of the solution" when they refuse to buy water in plastic throw away bottles.
The Bayberry Quilters are the largest guild on the Cape. I joined in August and attended a new member's tea a couple of weeks ago. The first meeting was yesterday. Being a new member I was prepared to be anonymous, but I found several people were friendly, including another new member who happened to sit near me who remembered me introducing myself at the tea. Very nicely the oldest member of the quilt, who was there and seems to e going strong at 96, came up and introduced herself, said she does only hand quilting and is a charter member of the guild. I heard later she is quite a good quilter and has been honored with one woman shows. People were, in fact, friendlier than expected. I think I'm going to enjoy this group.
The speaker was super quilter Pat Delaney who began making blue ribbon quilts ten years ago and has produced at least one major winner each year since [they win in multiple shows and multiple categories.] The photo above gives very little sense of her quilts. She is very strong on color blending and harmonics, and, of course, is technically a perfectionist -- as was obvious when she mentioned taking out machine stitching on a 10 or 12 inch wide border of a full size quilt. She did it because it could not be awarded a prize as was since the tension had made some puckers on the back. That kind of perfectism it way beyond my comprehension.
Clearly she is very much a professional prize winner. This is no hobby, this is her identity, she works very hard at it and produces spectacular quilts with a traditional/contemporary sensibility. They are heirloom quilts but not art quilts.
The meeting moved along very efficiently, this group was more attentive than I found at Empire Guild meetings. They have my favorite extra that Empire had as well, only it's handled a little differently -- the scrap/share table. I contributed a number of quilt magazines and took several pieces of fabric -- very satisfying. The meeting place is one town further east, easy to reach and a very satisfactory room in a church annex. There was even free coffee! Now that's a lovely addition to a 9:00 a.m. meeting.
If you read my Big 7-0 blog, you'll know that I've fallen in love with an old black duck, a sad fellow [maybe an old lady -- what do I know?] that I see on my walks. So this journal quilt is partly for Duckie. The quilt itself was closer to 10x13 than 9x12 so it wouldn't all print on the photocopy. This journal quilt is especially personal as it contains both the duck and the prayer flags on the dead tree. See my my post from a year ago So this is a very personal journal quilt. The pebble and sea shells are just extra. I have an intense relationship with the beach all summmer, and it's extending into the fall..
This wonderful group of seniors from Northampton, Massachusetts, is a sings their version of rock. The average age of the group members is 80. And they ROCK!
A documentary was made about them several years ago -- they are still going strong, although members tend to die and be replaced. The film is also called Young at Heart and is available on DVD. It's a great feel-good hour and a half. The music and the people are really wonderful, unsentimental, hard working, sometimes funny. The musical director, younger probably in his 50, is remarkable for his patience and dedicationd and pure joy that is seen in performance. Music keeps people young! Definitely.
I don't like to be a grump but I feel the much younger film director did several egregious artsy bits, really just to show off his inventiveness which I did not like. If he had really cared about showing in his film how vital older adults can be and what music can mean even to people who are literally dying [two people did die in the course of the filming], he should have cut out the fancy cinematography that added little to the film and concentrated on the people. Only a hand full of people were spotlighted, but many others in the chorus surely have important stories as well even if they were not the lead singers. I wanted the film to be entirely about these remarkable people and not about the director's fancy ideas [like hot air balloons, and carousels] which really didn't fit into what little story line there was.
They'll be singing just a few blocks away in a couple of weeks. I will not go. I'm a classicist. I may bounce along with the rhythms, but the music itself doesn't speak to me. Perhaps that is my loss. That is how I relate to music. I would like to relate to film on a more satisfied level -- I don't believe the younger film makers truly had anything to say about these older people except that they sing rock their way and it's fun to listen to and audiences love it. I don't believe the film had a message about the importance of music and of involvement, of personal challenge to people who are older. Those are al important themes. When will the younger become mature at heart?
"Which would you choose, the ability to fly or invisibility?" Rachel asked a couple days ago. Actually I didn't answer. She said, she immediately chose flight. Apparently she had been in a group when the question was raised. People got picky before answering, like "will my clothes also be invisible?" People pondered and when they decided and the conversation turned to "what would you do with your new ability?" most just wanted to enjoy it. But her husband immediately said, "fight evil." Which is what the super heroes do who can fly, except they also have an arsenal of super powers. Of course, "fight evil" is the plot of all the super hero stories that kids grow up with. Apparently the desire to "fight evil" is not a general one.
So which would I choose? While flight would be fun, I think that kind of fun would have a short life span. Boredom would set in before long. So I'd choose invisibility and, no, I'd not be into fighting evil especially as it does not come with super powers. I'd use it for ignoble purposes: to eaves drop, to go to the movies and concerts free. Pretty unimaginative and selfish of me, but really, what else would invisibility be good for? I suppose I could steal things but what would I want to steal? Money? Well, maybe -- I suppose I could work out a Robin Hood Ah, well ....
But, gee, there are so many other things I can spend my time thinking about, perhaps my mental reveries are just as pointless most of the time as the fight/invisibility question but they are connected, however loosely to my real life. Super hero fantasies are for kids reading comic books.
Annie Dillard's novel, The Maytrees, is set, mostly in Provincetown, Mass., i.e. Cape Cod. I am not comfortable with her writing style; it seems to meander like a person in relating a tale while taking a long walk who may or may not get around to finally telling you the story she started with. However, I began reading this because of the locale. During the first half, which describes Provincetown circa 1950, I think, and the main characters as gentle, arty hippies who have plenty of New England restraint. Slowly a love story evolves, finally there is a wedding and a child and peaceful years and then the husband leaves with a mutual friend who turns out to be quite different than she seemed in her hippyish days. I wasn't sure I believed much of what I was reading but it read gently and smoothly like that walk on the beach with the story teller.
Time passes and illness happens and the "runaways" return under dire circumstances. The final third of the book is a lovely, if somewhat unlikely, story of reconciliation and acceptance of life's difficulties and of death, finally. I have never read anything in either fiction or nonfiction that handles the end of life so satisfyingly. There was a Yankee practicality and restraint in this part of the story that I admired very much. Reading the first part of the book was worth the satisfaction I felt at the end. I put the picture above of the seashells, broken, but subtly colored because they seem to be appropriate for this story.
During self-introductions yesterday at the quilt guild meeting one woman recommended joining committees because she said, "I used to be shy but I learned not to be." I have heard older [over 50] women say this every now and then. I have a theory: many of us were taught not to be assertive and many followed the patterns of wife and mother. Even the large number who took jobs mostly did the invisible ones -- clerks, child tenders, teachers or teachers' assistants. Many deferred to husbands and children. Then they joined an craft organization, or perhaps some other volunteer organization doing work they believe is important to their community and are drawn into committees where other women praise their competence and perhaps ask them to take on responsibilities. Self-confidence grows and they learn to speak up. This sounds simplistic but I've seen it happen many times in different variations.
All kinds of things are written about self-actualization but I have not seen anything about it happening to older women. The many women's service magazines gear their articles to the 25 to 45 age group because their sale statistics say those are the majority of readers. Editors seem not to imagine that they might gain older readers if they provided articles that recognize they exist and are still vital parts of their communities. The only publication that appears to address this group is the AARP magazine and it has a young-ish editor who prefers to put 50ish celebrities on the cover and print articles about the health and financial problems of older people. Even that publication propounds the stereotype that no psychological of emotional growth can happen after 50. I'm tired of it. I listened to that woman and was glad she was no longer a shrinking violet and could say so.
Getting acquainted at a new members' tea is an impossible task. But a new members' tea is a friendly gesture that I appreciate. I speak of the Bayberry Quilters Guild which I have joined. They have 230+ members so finding someone compatible is not really possible without joining a committee or subgroup. It was even more difficult to get acquainted in the Empire Quilters Guild in NYC with their 400+ members. Today, I sat at a table with three very pleasant women, two fairly long term members and one a member just since last March. Apparently none of us were on the same level of competence nor interested in the same challenges. No matter, we chatted about various places we have lived.
The truth is, I don't really join a quilt guild to make new friends -- but if I should find a few with like quilting tastes, that would be a pleasure. I like to hear the guest speakers, I like the annual shows, I like the share/free table. That's enough to hold my interest. I prefer to quilt on my own and am not a taker of classes. I learn new techniques from books and the making of a quilt is its own reward -- although I enjoy a pat on the back if I display something at Show & Tell -- and I will. This guild has . advantages a NYC guild cannot have, largely due to real estate. Finding meeting places large enough for over 100 people, preferably with tables big enough to work on with sewing projects, is difficult and very expensive in NYC. Here it is much easier. We met today in a former school house with a large meeting room and available kitchen, their meetings are in a church meeting room and at a tech school. Whatever the rental, it's a pittance compared to NYC.
This group brings well known speakers and had TV personalities Ricki Tims and Libby Lehmann here Labor Day weekend with over 375 people signed up for the seminars -- people came by the dozens or scores from as far away as Canada and even Scotland. They all braved the dire hurricane warnings [which proved over stated] and apparently had a wonderful weekend. I have never seen the pair on TV but disliked one of Tim's books; that was not the kind of program that appeals to me but I'm very impressed that this guild was able to present such a program. Again part of it has to do with real estate -- and the abundance of reasonably priced accommodations in the area.
The picture above was this year's raffle quilt for their show which was held in August an which I wrote about attending.
Finished, totally, including the label. I enjoyed making this approximately 42x42 lap quilt, largely because I'm pleased at how the colors work together [as I so often say, I think they're better than they come out in the photo]. I've been consciously trying to learn to deal with colors for the last five years or so. Looking at several wall quilts I did in that time period recently while I was having a neatening fit, I thought -- gee, so much really didn't work! The input of my artistic daughter helped on this one. Hey! It's okay to ask for help. I didn't have help available previously.
I have three new projects in various stages. Plenty of challenges ahead.
I'm enjoying the 12x12 [see side-bar and click] color challenges. These are accomplished quilters responding to their own challenges -- they give thoughtful commentary as they work. It's an Internet phenomenon, they live all around the globe and had not met one another as a group before they started their group. I don't believe they've ever met as a group. But they showed their work at a major show in Sydney this year and now have a book almost ready for distribution. Currently they're doing a series of color challenges and I find much inspiration and visual pleasure from reading their ongoing posts.
A notice in the recent AARP Bulletin mentioned a call for quilts for volunteers who are helping with a study -- they all have some degree of Alzheimer's and have been very helpful in the research. They are asking for just the size and sort of quilts I love to make so I'll send the one in the picture above and I've got a couple others that are equally colorful and about the same size.
Below is information they sent me about what they are looking for as well as the address to which to send them. Quite a few of we quilters who just can't keep our hands off fabric and have more than enough quilts for our own use. There are many charities. This sounds like a very deserving one.
If you are interested in blogging about or donating a new, lap-sized quilt it should be approximately 40 inches wide and 45 to 50 inches long, and made of 100% cotton or flannel. A little larger or a little smaller is fine. You can use any design or pattern. The study participants are both men and women so a variety of colors would work best. Or you can make a "themed" quilt specifically for a woman or a man. We've received very feminine pink and flowery quilts as well as quilts featuring trucks, cars and golfing that appeal to the men. There is no deadline. Whenever you can make and send a quilt will be fine. Some of our quilters have put labels on the back with their name and city or thanking the recipient for participating in Alzheimer's research but that is optional. No label is necessary or required. Should you need more info please see the description on our website: http://adcs.org/Research/Quilts.aspx
We receive the quilts here at our office and distribute them to our research study sites located throughout the U.S. when they notify us of a newly enrolled participant.
Please mail the quilts to the following address:
Jeffree Itrich Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study University of California San Diego 8950 Villa La Jolla Dr, Ste C-227 La Jolla, CA 92037-1712
What to do about about these colors? I like them, but I don't want to make a Halloween-ish quilt. I wanted to make it more general and more modern in feeling. This was a matter of color more than anything else. Rachel is better with color than I am -- after all she has had some art training and I have none. Plus, she can actually paint! I absolutely cannot. I laid my squares out on a variety of fabrics. She didn't like any of them very much, but did like the batik I have for a border -- it's pattern will echo the pattern in the blocks while being quite different. Finally I pulled out my yellow stash [each color is in it's own zip bag]. This one worked, it's actually a favorite that I've been saving for the right project. The right project has arrived.
Then I showed her the new book I just purchased, Claudia Clark Myers, A Passion for Piecing which has many complexly pieced quilts in it -- challenges all! I had immediately fallen in love with one Claudia calls "Macintosh" a red wall hanging inspired by the designs of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Macintosh. Rachel loved it too. "Let's pick out the reds for it," I suggested as I put away my yellows and pulled out the red bag. Playing with my stash makes me as happy as piling up his gold coins made King Midas. We picked out more than I really need. I said, well instead of being 48"x25", it may become 60"x25" -- I have a place it could hang and look quite dramatic, fitting in happily with other red items in the room.
Now for some self-discipline. I really SHOULD finish the paper pieced quilt that started the consult -- no, I WILL finish it first. And then I will do the Macintosh, I can hardly wait. The page with the illustration is at the top of the photo. We'll have another consult when I've pieced the fans and then need to make the central pieced panel which, we realized needs 5 or 6 different fabrics also. No worry -- they're in my stash. And the black for the background is too.
To see the design of this window, click the image and if you want to see it better then click the enlargement. The photo was taken a midday with very bright sun on the trees outside the window.
The window was designed and made by Patrick Todoroff and installed in the library of the Sturgis Charter School on Main Street in Hyannis, Massachusetts. It is a memorial for a teacher who died a bit less than a year ago; she taught English, wrote poetry, was a trained and talented actress and had most resently authored a proposal for and recieved and important grant for the school. Patrick and I, as well as my daughter Rachel as well as a couple of teachers were in a poetry writing and discussion group with Gretchen Bunschen. The glass panel includes a portion of a Stanley Kunitz poem that we discussed [the poem is much longer than this excerpt:
"Live in the layers, not on the litter." Though I lack the art to decipher it, no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written. I am not done with my changes.
Kunitz wrote this poem when he was in his late 70s, he lived into his 90s. It is sad that Gretchen only lived to 71. She was a lovely, intelligent, elegant and fascinating woman. A window in a library that will change with the light, with the seasonal changes of the trees behind the window seems a very appropriate memorial for such a person.
Yes, this is a quilt. I didn't make a note, but I believe it is by the well-known art quilter Barbara McKie and that the bears are thread painted. It seems very appropriate as winter set in around the county.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!