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Thank you

Are there enough hours in the day to thank everyone who helps in this community? We held our annual fundraiser for the Historical Village last Saturday.  A lovely five course dinner with a Spanish theme served at a private residence on Dickey Lake.  A cellist played during the evening, some volunteers prepared the food while others served it.  As part of the event, a small speech was made later during the meal to thank those who bought tickets, to those who provided the wine, prepared the meal, those who set out tables and chairs for forty people.  At an earlier pointIMG_1320 in the evening, before the first guests appeared, I took a photo of those wonderful women who served the dinner and helped sell tickets prior to the event.

If I count everyone including the couple who helped move the tables, the man who cleaned the terrace, the woman who brought over forty chairs, the next door neighbor who lent us use of  her oven, the owners of the house where the dinner was held, the friend who gave us green beans from her garden for the paella, it would be over seventy people who participated in some way to make this event successful.  And really this is a fraction of all those who help maintain the Historical Village throughout the year.

We might take it for granted that people help out in a small town.  How else can we maintain the museum and the park, run the Scout troop and Little League, do storytime at the local library and walk dogs at the animal shelter? So much that makes this valley great depends on volunteers. And we realize not all small towns have this wealth.  We are fortunate to have people in this valley who truly care.

Recently there was a wild fire near Eureka.  Some people were required to evacuate their homes.  Neighbors offered housing, storage, and pasture for animals for those who had to evacuate. Others donated water and food for the fire fighters.  There was so much donated that the surplus was given to the local food bank.  For all of this, the generosity offered during the fire as well as the generosity shown towards the fundraising dinner – we offer thanks.

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Teetering on Summer

The current quilt is nearly done.  Last week four women sewed on it while others prepared for the rummage sale that happens on May 19th.  The week following that we convert the space we quilted in all winter back into the museum that it will be during the summer.  From Memorial Day until Labor Day, people can tour the buildings at the Historical Village – the old church, the school house, the first cabin and the various other ones.  The lawn’s rich greenness will beckon children to roll around and young people to sit and talk about life.  Families will gather at the picnic tables and tIMG_0953he cyclists camping in Riverside Park will come over to walk around the grounds.

Yes, this time of year is a clear reminder of why we quilt. To raise funds to keep these buildings and the grounds in good condition so they can be enjoyed and so that locals as well as tourists can learn about the history of our valley.  During the winter it sometimes feels we quilt for our own pleasure as its such a treat to sit around the quilting frame talking quietly with the other women, laughing over Bev’s jokes or smiling when Bonnie arrives with her banana bread.  We are there together on Fridays because it is the ideal place to be for those of us who show up.  But now in late spring when we transition the place we quilt in back into the museum space, its a reminder.  We are quilting to maintain the buildings and the history.  The fact that we enjoy the quilting so much, is really just a perk.

Its finding a balance some of us look for in life.  Giving to make our community (however we define that) the best possible place and at the same time taking pleasure in what we do.  I see Scout leaders in our community give time to do projects and go camping with the boys.  Or the group of people who organize the weekly community soup night, finish up Tuesdays at 7:30pm exhausted.  But these individuals as well as the women quilting, also enjoy aspects of what they give.  The women savor Fridays’ quilting.  The Scout leaders appreciate their time in the forests hiking with the young people.  I watch the soup night volunteers smile at the families and older folks who come through to eat on Tuesdays.  It is giving in a way that also brings pleasure to those who give.  It isn’t drudgery although of course there might be touches.  The Scout leader finding enough other adults to go on camping trips; the soup night volunteers getting enough donations to cover the cost of ingredients.  And for the quilters, there are also harder moments.  How much will it cost to get the old library building painted this year?  Who will chink the first cabin? But in general, these individuals nurture our community and themselves at the same time.

Leaves falling

Yes, we are working on the quilt with the beautiful star.  It is taking time but last week we finally made the first turn.  Meanwhile, Cathryn tied a lovely quilt made of so many different flannel squares. Its a beauty and will certainly find a good home this winter.  Then next Friday we put a second quilt on a frame to sew.  There is a good crew coming on Fridays at this point.  Sally is joining us before she gets too busy with making Cimg_5002hristmas wreaths. No one is traveling so all four sides of the first frame were full of women quilting.  More room is needed so the second quilting frame will allow us to spread out a bit.

I know I mentioned this before but it is true enough and good enough that it deserves to be mentioned again. The individuals who quilt in this group are wonderful individuals.  I listen to them tell stories about grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Joan laments about one of her cats.  Lynda sorts out the business aspects of managing the Historical Village. We ask each other who heard from Cathy who is living overseas this year and who has been in touch with Bonnie.  Is she is Idaho visiting family?  And there is also talk about growing old and who might help Karla who is having a tough time.

Thankfully no one mentions the upcoming election. I know all these women will vote although we don’t talk about it while quilting.  I don’t know who they will vote for but they will each in her own way study the list of candidates and the various ballot measures and issues. They take citizenship seriously.  They won’t listen to a spouse or grown son tell them whom to vote for.  They won’t show up at the polling place unprepared.  These women to the fullest extent take citizenship seriously.   There isn’t a one who doesn’t contribute to the community in numerous ways: volunteering with the library or a church group, making donations to the food bank,  dropping off a casserole to an ailing neighbor, attending local events.  This particular group of women set the bar high.  If everyone contributed as much as these women, sincerely caring about their community and neighbors we would be better off. If everyone seriously studied issues and candidates before voting and did not engage in empty political feuds, we could discuss what matters.

There are Fridays when I feel that these women are maintaining the fabric of our town as they sit around the frames quilting.  Thank goodness they are here.

Thanks

It is official. We have stopped quilting for the summer as a group. Some of the women will imagework on quilts at home though. The other day I visited Cathryn and she nearly has the lovely orange one finished. Bev worked on the binding with Bonnie to compete the other one we had at the old school house. But now the schoolhouse has been decked out for summer visitors, looking like an old school inside rather than a place filled with quilting frames. Enjoying each other’s company though, we aren’t quite ready to stop meeting at least occasionally in the summer. Later in June all the quilters will gather for lunch and then a field trip to see the studio of a local sculptor.

The reality is that even when these women aren’t quilting on Fridays, they are actively giving to their community in other ways. Mary Louise and Bev volunteer as docents at the Historical Village. Lynda commandeers repairs in the Village during the summer –  the general store roof needs to be patched and the old caboose could use some fixing up.  Cathryn was out planting flowers in the town’s park Saturday with the  Weedettes. Judy is busy helping to arrange this year’s Quilt Show (August 6). Joan will help at the library’s book sale in August. It is understandable that not everyone has the time or energy to contribute to their community. But the amount these women give even in their eighties and nineties continually astounds me.  And humbles me.  They certainly set the bar high for what one can do to make a community a better place to live. Thanks. They really are terrific women.

Shakespeare in the Historical Village

I lost the recipes that Cathy had sent me from the dinner. I promised Sally I would post them last week. Today I finally admitted to the loss and asked Cathy to send them again. I hope no one has bought the ingredients already and is waiting impatiently for the recipes to appear on the blog. Remember who you are dealing with here.

Summer in Eureka. Some people drive through and think we are some sort of dusty, boring town. There is so much going on in the summer though that it is hard to get enough sleep. Since the delicious dinner on Dickey Lake, there was Shakespeare in the Parks. If you haven’t seen this troupe perform- you are definitely missing out. Professional and extremely energetic actors that spend an entire summer touring Montana, setting up and tearing down a

sipvillage

a stage every night and putting on wonderful plays for communities like Eureka. Ten actors in this year’s show – we had selected “Henry V” from the two options. The play happens in the Historical Village and the Sunburst Community Service Foundation sponsors it which means finding the money to pay for it to happen as the public gets to watch the play for free.

This year as the troupe was setting up the stage, a PBS film crew was interviewing me in the Historical Village. They asked questions about Eureka and the valley, the Village and Sunburst and such.  As I tried to explain what makes the Tobacco Valley so special, I realized it is the people who give.  There were those who donated to help bring Shakespeare in the Park to Eureka, the women who quilt to help maintain the Historical Village, the volunteers who made box dinners to sell before the show, the young people who offered to pick up trash and this is just the beginning. I knew the film maker wasn’t interested in my litany of volunteers so I tried explaining the idea of social capital and why our abundance despite high unemployment and low wages makes our town such a good place to live.