Friday, July 25, 2008

Quilt Show – Gent, Belgium

Today I visited a Quilt Show in Gent presented by the Vlaamse Quilters Guilde.  It was just what I needed for some contact with “quiltsters” (feminine form of quilter) here in Belgium.  From the moment I walked into the show I felt welcomed and at home among women who also share my passion.
I began in Nederlands, she answered in English, asked where I was from and took €2,50 (just $4) for the entrance fee.  Everywhere I went, women were smiling, nodding and enjoying themselves.  The show included the largest number of Dear Jane quilts I had seen in one location.  This is probably my favorite Dear Jane so far.    

Both simple patterns, but very red – these two quilts really caught my eye!  Hmmmm, maybe ideas for quick but eye-catching quilts to use up some of my stash . . . ?  

Next I wandered outside to the circus style tent and found my absolute favorite . . . that I liked this very yellow quilt was quilt a surprise . . . not sure why, I’m still exploring that.  But I fell in love with it more and more and more.  
Of course, the best quilts are also best viewed from the back.  The subtle daylight showing through from the front really softened the entire effect – and of course really highlighted the exceptional hand quilting.
There were more – 141 – in all and I could go on and on.  But the highlight of my day was truly visiting with the ladies.  I enjoyed a cappuccino and piece of home-made cake with Loes and Dora.  Then I joined the Open Quilting Bee in the courtyard – the weather has turned warm, but there was cloud cover and a gentle breeze.  This guild breaks for the summer holidays and resumes in September, so many ladies were milling around and catching up with each other, their projects and families. They were all very welcoming and I exchanged small chat in a mix of English and Nederlands. 
But oi vey – I also heard a lot of French – I may need to learn it sooner than I thought.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Dad - My Inspiration

Today is my Dad’s birthday.  He would have been 80 years old.   Dad grew up in a tiny, tiny town in the back woods of Mississippi.  He was the oldest in his poor family and to help the family income planted peach trees around the property when he was 12.  He tended these trees, picked and sold the fruit to the neighbors.  I also remember stories of stealing watermelons from the neighbor and hunting squirrels.  As a young man he helped on his Uncle JR’s peanut farm.   

He was the first to graduate high school.  After which, he enlisted in the Army Air Core (which later became the US Air Force).  He served 20 years, living in five countries while raising six children.  A year before I was born, Dad retired from the service and settled in Everett, WA.  He had flown through Seattle a few times during his service years and had always thought it looked like “a nice place to live.”  He hired on at Boeing but that quickly ended with “the big layoff.”  He then hired on at Everett Community College, beginning as a janitor.  He ended up founding their Audio Visual department – repairing, planning, fixing and locating all AV equipment on campus.  I have fond memories of going to work with him – working at the counter to check out materials to students and falling off the high stool with a huge crash, driving through the library after hours on the electric cart which would only go if your butt was firmly planted on the seat, but then my legs were too short so Dad would stack a pile of books up behind me and of course his desk, a huge pile of tangled wires, parts and tools (but he could always find what he needed, hmmm, a chip off the old block?)
Dad took care of three gardens when I was growing up, the largest was at my oldest sister’s where the corn, beans and who knows what else was.  In our front garden grew peas, strawberries and the biggest crop of chard one year that none of us will ever forget.  I always thought it was spinach but later found out it was chard – that’s why it kept growing back.  One row of this stuff meant it was on the dinner table nearly every night that summer.  Yuck!  I still can’t eat it just cooked – a mess of slimey greens and I’ve learned to cope and cook with it in other ways – but I don’t grow it!   I still have his work / gardening hat …
If Dad was here today, I would take him for a walk in my garden. I think he would be proud of my tomatoes, give advice on my beans (they’re still straggly) shake his finger at me for not eating my peas fast enough before they got too old and bemused by my need to grow so many flowers – no matter how she asked, he would never plant them for mom.      
Dad was a quiet man – unless he had a good story to tell, he was extremely resourceful and could fix anything you threw at him.   He didn’t get involved in the raising of us very much – that was Mom’s job.  But he loved to be around his grandchildren.  He could tell you all 20 of their birthdays and probably even the weather the day they were born.  And he had a knack for settling them when no one else could.  He was also a thinker and had an incredible mathematical mind.
In 1997, Dad quit smoking so he could fly to England for my wedding.  I told him if I knew that’s what it would take, I would have gotten married years before.  A few months after our wedding I flew back to the States and met Dad in Mississippi for a week’s visit.  It was a great opportunity for him to show me around all the old haunts and share family stories.  I’ll always treasure this time spent with him.
Two years later he was diagnosed with cancer and he went quickly.  He was a remarkable man who touched many lives, but none so much as his youngest daughter’s.
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