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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Restoration, Evolution, and a Review

Years and years ago, perhaps as many as forty  years ago, Rick went to help our brother in law Kip help his sister move out of her small summer home near the shore. She had been in that house every summer for as many decades and had accumulated a great deal of ... some would say trash and some would say treasure. Rick and Kip went to help her downsize and move into a senior housing apartment. When they finished moving her furniture and boxing her treasures, they asked what she would like to do with the two old quilts that had been used to cushion her furniture for the move. She said they could let those go, for a neighbor long since passed had given them to her for the summer house. Kip, never one to throw something away, asked Rick if he thought I would like to have them. And so Rick brought them home.

We were living then in our own small house, and the quilts were very worn and in places tattered. They were summer coverlets, really, with no batting in between the pieced tops and the solid fabric backs. I thanked them for thinking of me, and put them in the entryway room, a catchall-closet type room where clutter accumulated and adopted whatever was added to it. When we moved from that house to our happily ever after home, the quilts came with us and were stored out in the workshop/barn.

But this week, I had a chance to talk with another quilter, one who takes quilting very seriously, and who works at the small quilt museum in Lowell, where they treasure old quilts made here in Massachusetts. Lowell was a textile city in the nineteenth century, and so they are interested in old quilts that may include those fabrics. I told her that I had two quilts that might be interesting but I had no history of them, no labels, no names. She and I are organizing a quilt exhibit to showcase local quilters' work at our local library and so I told  her I would bring them, thinking we might use them if not as local quilts, but perhaps for table coverings.

In my enthusiasm for the local quilters exhibit, I took the two quilts out of the shed. All I was thinking was that they smelled musty and needed to be washed. Now, I know how old quilts must be washed ... they are to be put in a large tub, washed by hand with a gentle soap, rinsed, pressed and rolled with thick towels to remove most of the water, and then air-dried on a clothesline or porch railing. But none of that logical, rational treatment entered my mind. Instead, auto-pilot kicked in and thoughtlessly loaded them into the washing machine!  Only when the buzzer beeped to tell me they were done did it dawn on me. Why I did that, I cannot explain. I guess I would only call this a "senior moment?"

The crazy quilt really took a beating. When Rick and I carried it outside to hang on the line, a few sections separated, and remnants fell free. Humbled, and embarrassed, and very, very sorry, I took the quilt in later and folded it as best I could. But last night, after reading 'week one' in Julie's book*, I took it into the dining room and spread it out on  the table (and on the chairs) and began guessing where the fallen fragments might belong. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the quilt had been pieced on sixteen inch squares of muslin ... and I think that is how I will re-build it. Square by square, oddly-shaped piece by piece, I will have to take the rest of the squares apart and then stitch them back together again. And finished, it will still be odd looking, and faded, and worn. But it will be appreciated by those ladies in that little quilt museum for what it was once, and what it then became, and what it now is.

And I believe that the same can be said for me, and for this blog. There is value in creativity, and in order to have it be appreciated, it must be shared. I'll put more into the blog now and then: some of my quilting, some of my poetry, and some of the beautiful things that Rick builds in the barn. There are still many more books to be reviewed, and some to be showcased.  Stay with me as this blog restoration evolves. I promise it will be, as I used to say to my students when I gave them back a rough draft with notations, "even better."

*****     *****     *****

And now, back to the book shelf:

The Blackmail Club, A Jack McCall Mystery by David Bishop

The Blackmail Club
had a tough bill to fill: measuring up to the attribution of David Bishop, Author. The book succeeds in maintaining that Bishop reputation by sharing well developed characters who have a past revealed through quiet memories of the main character, Jack McCall. Jack, his perky, attractive and intelligent partner Nora team up with a congenial, jovial retired police officer, Max. This savvy trio follow leads up and down hill, bringing both satisfaction and suffering to the characters. The secondary characters are as well detailed, each bringing his or her own back story to the book. Bishop's own intelligence background and knowledge seeps through his characters and makes it easy for readers to admire their strategies and observations.

What Bishop does particularly well in this story is include people who live a mainstream life while managing a fringe existence. Avoiding stereotyping these practices, he includes them in the readers field of vision, and uses innuendo as well as subterfuge to spare the innocent and gently reveal the guilty. Very well done, Mr. Bishop. I am, as always, impressed!

*****     *****     *****

Don't forget, Teaching Vol. I is still on sale today at CreateSpace (see the discount code and url in the sidebar) and Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma is FREE today at Smashwords with the special discount code. The discount code is UN83W. To use the code, go to and enter the code at checkout. I would love to read a review at Smashwords, Amazon or Goodreads for these two books. Thank you for reading and sharing them.
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  1. Love your story about the tattered quilt! It must be a joy repairing it with your own special pieces of fabric that you enter to it's history!! I personally LOVE, LOVE Quilts. I have a few tattered ones in my attic, hmmmmm.....

    1. Hi Faye,
      Thank you for stopping by here to read the blog. Maybe you ought to take one down and make it feel special! (but remember, do not put it in your washing machine!)

  2. What a treasure you have there, Terry! I *love* eclectic, anything to be different and set apart from the norm. That quilt is a beautiful example of how to use whatever we have available and make it our own. Truly lovely! Take care, ~ K

    1. Eclectic would be just the right word for this 'crazy quilt.' My guess is that it was begun but never finished... just closed up without a filling, and no decorative stitches to cover the seams and secure the three layers. I haven't decided yet whether to try to do that, or to leave it as it is (rapairing the damage done) and bringing it to the Lowell Quilt Museum ladies as a donation. Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen!


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