I like this photograph of Cathryn showing Nikki how to quilt. A few weeks back, we were finishing up the quilt that belonged to Nikki and before it was absolutely done, she stopped by to do a bit of sewing on it herself. The moment was perfect and the sunlight on the quilt helped to capture the magic of Cathryn passing on the tradition. It seems ideal as we begin the new year to think of new things that we each can learn. Bev is mastering her smart phone. Renata explained how to do ice dying. Mary Louise is bravely taking on a major renovation to her house. I set 2016 as a year I am seriously going to focus on improving my writing.
Nikki’s quilt is finished now so we began a new one. Bonnie pieced it and as always, it’s lovely. We are still discussing how it will be quilted but I have no doubt the final decision will be a good one. In the meantime, we have some items from the bazaar that we are selling and raffle tickets for the floral quilt to those visitors who stop by the old school house. You might think the cold temperatures and snow drifts would deter them, but nope. People still come in to see what we are working on, perhaps pick up a few belated gifts and catch up on news. I could surely relax into the calm pace of our Friday quilting but inspired by the other older quilters, I am determined to improve this year.
It isn’t really midsummer but it feels like that with the heat these days. Thus when I go to quilting on Friday mornings, I tend to forget to take any photos. It feels like enough to just sit there and stitch when it is this hot. And as it is summer, there tends to be a lot of tourists passing through the Historical Village and visiting with us which is another distraction that I could blame things on. Still here I am writing and I did find a photo that I like very much from the spring. Lynda, Carmen and Joan stitching away. Judy going off to find something in the background. A second quilt set up behind her which is the one we are currently working on. Summer. Judy is busy getting ready for the quilt show in August as she will surely enter a lot of pieces that she made as well as helping with the show’s organization. Joan is getting to be a wiz selling books on Amazon and putting up her usual gaggle of summer guests. Carmen has gardens upon gardens that she cares for growing flowers and vegetables. Lynda keeps things straight at the Historical Village (there was a wedding there last week!), goes birdwatching and looks after the grand kids. It does astound me that all these women are so consistently busy, not in a don’t bother me kind of way but with activities that keep them fresh and the community a better place. And there they are in this photo, all in one place looking relaxed.
I don’t do well with summer. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. I moved to Montana because I thought the summers would be short and the winters long which is mostly true. But sometimes even a short summer is too long. The women are quilting. I do believe its the first time that they quilted in the summer. They will keep at it until they get the current quilt done. Its a lovely blue one that Cathryn pieced. We meet on Fridays at 10am but finish early afternoon before it gets too warm in the old school house.
Before it gets too warm today though I wanted to mention some summer events that are actually happening at the Historical Village or to benefit the Village. On July 8, historian Hal Stearns from Missoula will give a talk at the Village beginning at 6:30pm. This event is co-sponsored by Humanities Montana and free to the public. Another free and awesome event is this year’s play put on by Shakespeare in the Park on August 25 starting at 6pm. The talented and energetic troupe will do “Cyrano de Bergerac” in the Historical Village. Box dinners by Cafe Jax will be available to help cover expenses to bring the troupe to Eureka.
On August 8, the annual Historical Village fundraiser, “Dinner on the Lake” will be held. This is a wonderful way to spend an evening with friends having a gourmet dinner accompanied with live music on Dickey Lake – and support the maintenance of the Historical Village in Eureka. Space is limited to forty people so order your tickets soon. Call Lynda at 889-3492 for details.
The Historical Village has officially opened for the season. Everyday until Labor Day from 1:00 – 5:00pm a volunteer docent is there to unlock all the buildings and explain a bit about the valley to anyone who happens to stop by. There are handmade items in the museum shop for sale: quilts, embroidered pillow cases, pine needle baskets and cards. Today when I went over there were a few Canadian visitors meandering through the various buildings and a young child on the swing set. The grass was so soft and green it surprised me. The child looked completely happy urging her mom to push her again and again. It felt like summer had officially arrived although it is still only May. The seasons change. There are things to miss about our regular Fridays in the winter when we mostly had the Village to ourselves. But then there is the child so thoroughly enjoying her moment on the swing. The lawn which was treacherous with ice and snow just a few months ago is now this lovely carpet that begs you to sit down for a spell. Some good friends have left the community. Some new babies have been born. The seasons change.
For as many years as some of these women remember, we have had quilts in the closet waiting to be done in the fall. Some were quilts tops that someone in the valley had gotten from a grandmother or great-aunt that needed to be hand quilted. Others were newer ones someone pieced and didn’t have the time to hand quilt so brought it to the Historical Village for the women there to work on (we recently finished one for a woman in Texas!). Our fees are incredibly reasonable for the amount of work it takes. And our fees are incredibly important because it is by charging for hand quilting that we raise money to help maintain the Village. But this Spring…and yes I know it is still only early April….we don’t have any quilts in the closet for fall and its a bit disconcerting to some of us. We can always make our own quilts to raffle or sell but that usually doesn’t bring in as much money for the projects in the Village. So Lynda asked if I would help get the word out. I am letting all of you who read this blog know and perhaps you will even share with your friends that we are looking for those special individuals who need hand quilting done. In trying to decide which photo to use for this, I opted for the beautiful colors of one that Carmen’s mother donated to us. It was pieced back in the 40s or 50s. We hand tied it because the fabrics and style called for that. And I admit I couldn’t resist and bought it when it was finished. Now it is hanging in my living room as a background for a Derek Trotter painting. But I shouldn’t get sidetracked by the colors…thanks for helping to get the word out that we are looking for quilts that need to be lovingly sewn by this very special group of women.
I know that we are nearly into Spring as Sally brought some daffodils just a week ago. The grass on the Village grounds is turning green and the lilac bushes are starting to leaf out. Surely we have made it through another winter but then last week at quilting it felt like we were still struggling. Bonnie was out laid up with a bad infection. Cathryn was out taking care of her son who recently had surgery. Bev is out caring for her husband. There was a fragile feeling as though we had to talk softly and send our energy out to those who were having a rough time of it. When Lynda left early and then Cathy couldn’t stay, we were down to five of us quilting in the afternoon. There was a certain peacefulness without too much talk and without any visitors. Mary Louise and I both could focus more on our quilting without the social distractions and felt our stitches were more even. But still…we missed those who couldn’t be there. Almost as though we had to quilt harder in their spirit. Almost as though we had to quilt better. I thought a lot about Cathryn who truly is one of the best quilters amongst us. Her stitches are so small and so even and she quilts so fast. I was trying hard to inhabit her mindfulness as I quilted last week, being focused on each stitch but not going too slow. I appreciate the example some of these women give me. Not only the way that they quilt but the way they live their lives. Their generosity of spirit; the purposefulness of their days.
The quilt we finished up for Kathy Ingram came off the frame and we began putting on the next one. This is one that Bonnie put together although many of the women helped with piecing the blocks. Its quite large – some discussion if it was a queen or king size but we all agreed it was large. And Cathy had sewn the back and we have a piece of batting to fit it. Then the question came up as to what should be used for the binding. Lynda got out box after box of fabrics but either one piece was too dark or another too busy. We all liked that particular one but there wasn’t enough of it to bind the whole quilt. Bonnie thought maybe she had some fabric at home that would work. When I left the old school house Friday afternoon, there still hadn’t been a decision made but I know there will be.
Some decisions are a real challenge…what kind of pie to enter into the fair? What to name the second baby? Is the dog in enough pain that we should put him down? And some decisions are easy. Or at least easier. Do I want to quilt on Friday afternoon or do paper work at the office? Should I give Deb something sensible for her birthday – or something fun? I know there are individuals who struggle with making decisions. And there are others who seem to decide in the blink of an eye. The women who quilt on Fridays are a mixture but the pleasure for me is watching how they work together to arrive at a decision that everyone is content with. Lynda can hold up a piece of fabric asking, “Does this work?” and someone gives an enthusiastic “Yes!” while someone else shakes her head in disbelief. And this process continues until there is a decision made for a binding or a quilt design or what kind of pizza to order that everyone can smile about. There are no set rules about this, no bylaws stating this particular system has to be used for making decisions. Its what works and what has evolved over the years as countless quilts were made and fabric selected. Its this group of women respecting each other, willing to take advice or appreciate that Cathryn has a good eye for color. Its a marvel the way they do it. I wish more world leaders could do things this way