Not bad for a fat girl


Alone, At Last

Being alone is a strange thing. We are welcomed into the world with at least our mother near us, and for those of us born in hospitals, many other people as well. We spend much of our early years in the company of others, aside from our sleeping hours, and for many infants and young children, those hours are spent with others too.

When my son was about four he pointed out to me that it wasn’t fair that he had to sleep alone when his dad and I got to sleep together. I wasn’t a family bed proponent, and I still contend that none of use would have ever gotten a decent night’s sleep had he been with us, but he made a point. Why do the most vulnerable among us sleep alone? glacier-national-park---robert-glusic----photodisc-na008587We humans are generally pretty social beings, even the anti-social among us. Complete solitude gets old quickly, even in the most beautiful of surroundings.

My sweetheart used to work for the park service. He had many lonely nights and solitary days in some of the most beautiful country on the planet, but alone is alone. When there’s nobody to share the experience with, it somehow loses some of its meaning. Certainly I would prefer isolation in the beauty of nature, provided I was safe, than in a solitary holding cell, but even solitude in comfortable surroundings would become a burden after a short while.

I’m not talking about that kind of alone. I don’t mean the alone that seeps into your bones and leaves you cold and hungry; the kind of alone that stretches in front of you without an end in sight. I’ve never known that kind of alone. I hope I never do. That kind of alone frightens me. I’m not afraid to be with myself, in fact I think I’m pretty good company, it’s just that I’m afraid to never have anyone to share experiences with. I’m afraid I would stagnate and begin to rot from the inside out.

The kind of alone I’m talking about is a break. A short separation from those I love dearly. After three days cooped up in close quarters with limited diversions, I’m glad that today we’re back to a somewhat normal schedule. After dropping my son off at his volunteer work, I ran a few errands and returned home to an entirely peaceful house. As I released the dog from her kennel I looked around and felt a sense of peace settle over me. She and I have a few hours before anyone returns home, and we’re going to make it count. DSC00002She has already begun her work on a new nap, and I’ve taken to the keyboard. We are both using our talents in ways that we find satisfying. We are sharing the afternoon in companionable silence, aside from the occasional passing comment. We are alone, together.

I don’t feel the need to do the laundry or vacuum or make the beds. I’m okay with letting things slide a little bit today. Today I need to recharge my battery. Tomorrow it’s a trip to the dentist, then a long overdue lunch date with a friend. After that the laundry can have its turn, but not today. Today it can sit in the hamper and just be still. I have peace and quiet to catch up on, and I’m going to make it count.


Going to the Show – The Quilt Show, That Is

When I first moved out west I was working as a substitute teacher. I moved from school to school, grade to grade. I was seldom in the same school twice in a month. This type of existence didn’t allow me to make connections with others. I was a nomad. The only person I knew was my then-fiance, now former husband. I felt rootless, and it made me a little uncomfortable.

I had left behind my family and lifelong friends, and now there was just the two of us. We were more or less broke, so we weren’t exactly living the high life, but that was ok. What wasn’t ok was the sense of isolation that was starting to creep in. In those days the internet was in its infancy, and we certainly didn’t have it. Long distance phone calls cost a mint, and nobody had heard of texting. We were on our own.

I had always liked creating, and had taken an introductory quilt class from the adult ed department of a school district in my hometown. We did everything the old fashioned way, by hand, and I learned a lot. I decided that I would expand my horizons and head out to the local quilt shop in my new town. suzyLittle did I know that I had moved into a quilting mecca of sorts.

I walked in the shop and was awed. The bolts of fabric were proudly displayed around the perimeter of the store. There was display table after display table piled high with fat quarter bundles and baskets of goodies. Stunning quilts lined the walls and hung from the ceiling. I loved it. I was home.

I spent a long time going through that shop. I fondled the fabric, and browsed the books. I examined the samples and ogled the threads. I had been a sewer for a long time, and had all the basics, including a sewing machine, but I didn’t have a scrap of fabric.

Not my actual quilt, but very similar.

Not my actual quilt, but very similar.

As I said, we were on a budget, so I carefully weighed my options and eventually purchased a package of precut squares. They were a nice variety of prints and tone on tone fabrics. I also purchased a small amount of unbleached muslin to patch them together. I was delighted with my choices.

I went home and played around with those pieces until I was happy with their arrangement. I sewed them together with my sewing machine, then headed to the fabric store to find material for the outside border and back, plus some batting for the inside of the quilt. I purchased a deep green tone on tone print that I love to this day.

I quilted that first little quilt by hand, then bound it. I was hooked. I went back to the quilt shop and signed up for a class. It was incredible. My horizons expanded greatly. Then I learned that there were quilt groups that meet all over the state as part of a state wide quilt guild. I looked up my local chapter, took a deep breath, and walked in the door.

At that first meeting I was immediately greeted and warmly welcomed to the group. I jumped in with both feet, joining swaps, signing up for secret sisters, participating in workshops, and eventually becoming the chapter chairperson. I volunteered to serve as a traveling teacher, visiting chapters all over the state to teach them I project I had designed. I also joined the board of the state guild. It was busy and fun and I made so many friends. I also made a connection that led me to a full time position at our local university, which I held for seven years before returning to teaching.

Quilting saved me. It provided me with an incredibly fun and creative outlet, while also furnishing a way for me to connect to many other people. I formed lifelong friends, I took on challenges of organization and leadership that helped me to grow individually, and I made a heck of a lot of really nice quilts.

After my son was born, I had less time for these activities. I was a full time working mother, and I spent more time at home. I also returned to life in the classroom. I did still make quilts on my own, but I drifted away from the busy life of the quilt guild. From time to time I visited, and I was always warmly welcomed. Many of the same friends remained, but many others had moved on, and new friends awaited.

That’s one of the remarkable things about the quilting world. It doesn’t seem to matter where we’ve come from, or what our current situation is, when we get together we have a common love of quilting that bridges any divides between us. We come from all cultures, all different backgrounds, all educational levels. We are young and old and everything in between. We are wild independent spirits or traditional matriarchs. We are a cross section of people, primarily women still, at our best. We are creative, warm, open to learning, and generous with our talents. I am proud to be a part of that community, and today I look forward to walking amongst my fellow quilters, admiring their work.