Musings from MillerQuilts

Archive for April, 2003

April 2003

Tuesday, April 1st, 2003

The airport in Eugene, Oregon is quite a lovely place, as airports go. With only Gates A and B to choose from (rather than a labyrinth of airline terminals, which is my usual surrounding), I am sitting facing a bank of windows watching the sun rise. The view is a lovely expanse of grass and surrounding garden right outside my window, complete with blackbirds doing their dance of food scavenging in the turf…The backdrop to blooming azaleas and geraniums and daffodils is a tall retaining wall, which helps me pretend that I’m not in an airport at all…

En route upstairs, where I went to get a cup of early morning coffee, I was treated to a lovely and impressive showing of plein air painting in The Gallery at the Airport, thanks to founding organization The Arts Foundation of Western Oregon, and the Lane Arts Council (a nonprofit community arts organization). There were more visual delights in store; as I walked down the long hallway to the coffee bar, there was a wonderful installation near the ceiling by David Joyce, called “Flight Patterns.” Mounted in a 3-foot high band near the ceiling were hundreds of cutouts (about one-quarter life-size) of airport passengers and people from many walks of life—all of them flying through the air a la Peter Pan, complete with suitcases, tote bags, laptops, kids in tow, and every other item passengers tend to be laden with in airports!

Those Who Made a Joyful Noise at David’s play…Here my siblings and I are gathered after the performance on the set of Betty’s Summer Vacation, a play by Christopher Durang, directed by David A. Miller. Back row: my brothers Rob and Jim, sister Janet Freiland. Front row: Mother of the Director, and David, the Director.

This piece was installed in 1989—so though the figures are a bit dated, it is fun to see how we airline passengers remain the same over the years! The only figures missing from the tableau were security screeners…

This month it feels like I’ve ricocheted across the country like a ball in a handball court. I broke my extended February home stay with a weekend in New Jersey, attending my son David’s Master’s play at Rutger’s. What a weekend—my brothers and sister and their spouses, plus two of David’s cousins drove up from Maryland to attend Opening Night as well—what a magnificent family gathering that was! This was our first chance to celebrate the accomplishments of our children—I am hoping that we siblings will be getting together from time to time over the years to come, reveling in the successes of the other cousins as well! This is the first time my siblings and I have gathered other than on their “home turf”—in the area in which we all grew up. So this was a special gathering indeed—it was as though, after all these years, we saw each other with fresh eyes.

One of the highlights of this trip was looking down from the plane onto the Great Lakes to see the winter’s ice breaking up; I found myself trying to “find things” in the shapes of the ice floes, as I did with my little boys while looking at cloud formations years ago.

Behind the checkout counter at Quilters Palette. Sharron Evans, owner of Quilters Palette, put on a two-day AnglePlay workshop…I sent her a quilt to promote the class, and in a joking manner, asked her to “be sure to keep an eye on it.” So when I arrived, there was the eye on it, in the upper left hand corner…One must be careful what one says to Sharron, or to Becky, her store manager…

After too few days at home, I was off to Trinidad, CA and a weekend teaching at Ocean Waves Quilts. The view from my classroom window was the northern California coast, and the magnificent coastal redwoods. I had one day off to hide out and work; part of the day’s work was driving down the coast on The Redwood Highway to do a bit of photocopying. How magnificent the view: the ocean lapped almost up to the highway in spots, and everything was awash in bright sunlight.

Then on to Chicago, to teach in Morton Grove at Sharron Evans’ Quilters’ Palette, which is so well stocked and well organized that it looks like Sharron has been in business for years—but her shop opened only a year and a half ago. There were way too many temptations there, especially since I was teaching for two whole days…

The next stop was Naperville, Illinois and an especially delightful annual guild event, known as The Gathering. Over a year ago, The Riverwalk Quilters Guild had commissioned me to put their guild blocks together in the raffle quilt, which was given away while I was there! What a thrill to see the quilt top I had sent magnificently machine quilted by Sherrie Coppenbarger.

The raffle quilt for Riverwalk Quilters Guild, Naperville, Illinois. This guild commissioned me a year ago to put their blocks together to create this raffle quilt, which was machine quilted magnificently by Sherrie Coppenbarger, pictured with me in front of the quilt. Though I was promised that the lucky ticket for this quilt was in one of the books of tickets I purchased, apparently there was a slip in communication somewhere…

In addition to teaching workshops, I was the featured speaker after the luncheon at an elegant banquet center in Naperville. This is the fund raising event this guild puts on in lieu of a quilt show—and what a successful event it is! There are various activities all morning; a few vendors, a few quilts on display, and a silent auction on the most magnificent baskets of goodies I have ever seen! Each basket (and all were very large!) has a theme, (like Christmas, Teddy Bears, Snowmen, Gardening, Picnics, Quilters Delight, and many more!) and they are full of wonderful things; many of them included lovely patchwork place mats, napkins, and table runners; my favorite basket was all in blues, and included a lovely pitcher from Germany and a lace doily from Austria (thanks to one of the members of the small group that put this together). How ironic that the same woman who won the blue basket I wanted, also won the raffle quilt!

One of the most intriguing events at The Gathering was “the bed turning.” Assorted quilts, contributed by guild members, were stacked on a “bed” in the foyer. Two white gloved quilters lifted the top corners of the quilt to display it to gathered onlookers, and a third narrated the stories that went with each quilt. This presentation was made several times during the morning.

The “Bed Turning” event at The Gathering sponsored by Riverwalk Quilters Guild, Naperville, Illinois. This was a wonderful event, in which stacked quilts were lifted up one by one so the audience standing around could see them, and a narrator delivered the stories the quilters had provided to go with each one. What a delight to hear the stories behind historic as well as contemporary quilts; family histories and amazing garage sale finds elicited gasps from the assembled audience!

There were only a couple days at home before I left for Eugene—on the day the war broke out. I was grateful that I was flying to a nearby destination on the west coast, instead of across the country with the world situation being so unsettling. As I gave my lecture the first night I was here in Eugene, I was filled with inner turmoil. It didn’t seem right that on the day my country went to war, I was generating much laughter and delight, filling the hall with color as my quilts were carried around the room, and carrying on with “business as usual“ as best I could. As I delivered my lecture, my heart was full of thoughts of so many thousands of my countrymen who were groveling in the sand, scared, missing their families, and putting their lives in mortal danger on our behalf. But I’ve decided not to give in to despair over all that is wrong about the war in Iraq; but rather to focus on brightening the corner where I am, to pray for those who are a world away at war, and to redouble my efforts to give back to those in need in my immediate area through work with the YWCA of Bremerton.

Until next month—pray for our troops and for those they left behind; reach out to families of servicemen in your area, and to anyone you know who would appreciate a phone call, a visit, a little note from you. I’ll be doing the same.