Looking Back, Visualizing the Future


January, 2020 began with a crowded trunk show at Cuttin’ Up Quilt Shop in Prairie Grove. About twenty-five women squeezed together to view the retrospective of many of my quilts from the last twenty-five years. No one wore a mask. No one could even imagine the need to mask ourselves from each other!

As the new year of January 2021 begins it appears that most of us will still be “sheltering at home” for months or possibly longer. The future is unknown, yet we do have today. We, at Cedar Hill, are lucky to live in the country with a large garden to feed us and keep us exercising. As the days lengthen, our supply of solar electricity may allow me to resume machine quilting the many UFOs I’ve generated since last March.

My interest in writing about my life continues to be strong, although some interruptions and distractions have slowed the process. I appreciate each of you who has let me know that you value my posts. I continue to enjoy the luxury of sitting down to write about what I feel drawn to at that very moment. I know I am very, very lucky.

Writing has become a pleasure and a passion. I’d be writing in peacock blue ink (forbidden to us in the 1950s & 1960s at school) with the Parker45 fountain pen my mother gave me as a high school graduation present if I could still form those curvaceous letters I practiced for years. Because I’ve lost the fine motor skills to write long hand on paper, I’m now typing on this computer. Now I don’t have to worry about using white-out to fix any mistakes.

I hope you enjoy this collage–it’s my tribute to that vibrant peacock blue color!

I’ve not been an early adopter of computer technology or email. I needed to be coaxed into that new world. I’d even successfully avoided a cell phone until late in 2017 when I traveled to Crete, Greece by myself. Several years ago when Jeanne and I were making our living creating custom websites for quilt shops, she trained me to use Photoshop. Learning to resize and to manipulate photos and graphics for that job has made my blogs more fun for me to create and probably more visually interesting for readers.

Quite recently I’ve learned to use Power Point to create slide presentations—again coached by Jeanne. Now I’m learning to add audio to the presentation allowing me to carefully script the entire show slide-by-slide. These are some of the challenges that have kept me focused and busy this year.

My activist self is part of a local feminist group reading the classic This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color first published in 1981. One of the influential contributors to This Bridge Called My Back is Audre Lorde who earlier wrote The Cancer Journals about her experience with cancer and dealing with the medical authorities in the 1970s. Audre Lorde’s writing about her cancer journey, which was full of many challenges, helped give me courage to deal with my own cancer diagnosis in 1985 at age 40.

Our group of women is reading This Bridge Called My Back as part of the anti-racist reaction to current events in the U.S. We meet on zoom to discuss our readings and observations and to promote positive change.

Sewing has been a vital part of my life since I first learned to sew doll clothes circa 1950. Creating with fabric intrigues me and engages all my senses. Quilting was only a dream until 1994 when I met Lila at her quilt shop Quilt Your Heart Out in Fayetteville, AR. My passion for “playing with fabric” has helped me survive the forced isolation of the pandemic.

When I finish one project I rummage through my huge fabric stash to select fabrics I want to play/sew with next. At times, I find myself working on multiple projects–one can’t predict when inspiration will strike!

I play with each new combination of fabrics until I’ve created a “community of fabrics” that seemed destined to go together. Along the way I may modify the combination by adding or subtracting fabrics or by modifying the block design itself. In this way the entire process is creatively engaging throughout.

I’m really hoping we will be able to gather in groups again well before the next new year. Please stay safe.

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2 Responses to Looking Back, Visualizing the Future

  1. Lila says:

    I like hearing about what you are doing at the moment!
    Our lives are really different than they were last year at your trunk show. It is very hard not to be seeing each other and sewing together.

    I too loved peacock blue ink! So rebellious, and delightful!

    I managed to complete 11 quilts ( of various sizes, wallhanging to queen size!) in 2020.
    Sewing is our therapy during good times and hard times!

    I am so glad you came into my quilt shop that day!

    You write beautifully whether with peacock ink, or your computer keyboard!

    • Paula says:

      I walked into Quilt Your Heart Out that day in early 1994 because I had heard a public service announcement on NPR about a free talk you were doing locally. You became my first quilt teacher and an enthusiastic guide to the world of quilting. Twenty-seven years later you are still enchanted with the fun of playing with fabric and transforming bits of color into a whole–truly a blessing.

      Besides make those eleven quilts in 2020, I’m well aware that you’ve made hundreds of face masks to distribute to those who needed masks. Is it 500? Or is it more now? Please take credit for your commitment!

      Therapy does not cover all the benefits that sewing and quilting bring to us. We share an ancient history with millions of people, mostly women, who weave and sew and stitch lives together. We weave the web of life with that most ancient of tools–the needle. Perhaps the first needles were thorns used to stitch hides together. But what a useful tool–now used to sew skin and tissue together. Perhaps the needle was the first “magic wand”.

      Your closing compliment, “You write beautifully whether with peacock ink, or your computer keyboard! is high praise. Thank you for taking the time to make my day brighter!

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