Sunday, January 16, 2011

Non-Quilt Thoughts on the New Year

Like my other blogs, Quilt Flap has been sadly ignored for months. But my thoughts today are wide-ranging. Looking through images of antique quilts is a pleasant way to waste an hour or two but it seems that a short message might be in order.

I apologize for not posting more regularly on Quilt Flap and, as soon as I get a better digital camera, I'll do so more often. The picture here was the last good one my camera took before it shut itself tighter than a clam. It's the view looking east on my street in Beaufort and taken early on the morning of January 1.

There are a few topics swirling around in my head but chief among them is that I'm lucky to be a quiltmaker. As one who gleefully combines plaids, dots, and striped fabric patches within the same composition, the lessons of the craft play out in a larger way in my life. Due to being a quilt teacher, I have gotten to travel and meet many different people who only have one thing in common: they love to make quilts. Occasionally I've taught in front of a class where English was not the common language. The solution to that challenge is to ask who is Dutch and who is Belgian in the class. Once hands are raised, I ask these folks to move around within the class. Since Dutch and Belgians are usually trilingual, between English-French-Dutch-German translations, we achieve a mutual understanding.

On very rare occasions, I have had to interrupt a class conversation that has strayed from the topic at hand and redirect folks' attention to their sewing. On two occasions the discussion (politics of course) has gotten downright heated. I hate that. But as the go-between middle child in real life, I've had practice in derailing people's confrontive instincts. Cut to last Saturday afternoon when, like the rest of America, I was shocked and saddened by news of the Tucson shootings And then learned that one of the victims was one of us--a woman who was a quiltmaker. Her name was Phyllis Schneck. I did not know her personally but in my mind she will always be associated with tolerance and goodwill. Ms. Schneck,  a Republican, had stopped at the Tucson grocery store that day to meet Democratic representative Gabrielle Giffords and was shot by the deranged gunman along with 19 other people.

One of the particular reasons I love this craft is that it brings people together for a positive reason. We can forget our differences and together achieve something bigger and better (like a quilt) than any small work we might make by ourselves. I'm hoping that the post-Tucson wave of tolerance and civility that the news hounds are talking about right now won't soon fade away. I hope divisive and disparaging remarks and diatribes by media commentators will pause or even cease. That's probably a pipe dream. But I live in hope. Here's what's on the back bumper of my truck.