A Quilt, or Two

I couldn’t really talk about these before because they were both gifts. The one above was for my son and his wife. When I made the first round of HUGE quilts, they’d just gotten married and weren’t really sure they wanted a quilt (she told me later her grandma made VERY traditional quilts, and she’s more of a modern gal). But after seeing some of mine, we all went down to the fabric store last Thanksgiving and picked out the pattern and fabrics; I added some from my stash when I needed to broaden the palette.

I gave this to Matthew and Kimberly this weekend, and they seemed happy to have it. I’m sure they’ll send me a photo of it on their bed soon (hint, hint) and I’m happy they like it.

I didn’t really have a name for it when I sent it off with them, but today I had some time to think about it. . . and go through my favorite quote book. I couldn’t resist Marlowe’s verse, from The Passionate Shepherd to his Love:

Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove,

That valleys, groves, or hills or fields,

Or woods and steepy mountains, yield.

While it’s everyone’s mind runs to the obvious (we are so conditioned) I read it on a different level. The quilt has zig-zags, that when looked at from a sideways direction, looks like little mountains, so the name is Steepy Mountains. And for Matthew and Kimberly, who are one of the Most Alive Couples in the universe, they will have lush groves in their life, mysterious woods, rolling valleys, but also the steepy mountains and fields and fields to sow and tend and harvest. Of course, I wish them cuddle time under this quilt, but I wish them most of all, that they live together forever and ever and be each other’s love.

This one, titled Sun and Sand was made in honor of the marriage of my son Peter to his love Megan this past weekend. While they both live in Davis, the wedding was held in Monterey, where a lovely confluence of beach and tide pools and sun and sand occurs. The colors of beigy/yellow of a warmed beach and delft blues of a clear summer sky I thought would represent the world around them on the weekend of their wedding.

It was begun in a class I took last summer, and I wasn’t quite sure about it initially. It’s hard to see the final project when you’ve just spent hours at the sewing machine. I bothered my friend Rhonda in Washington, DC until she said finally: “Get it quilted, and then decide!” I took her advice (she’s an award-winning quilter with impeccable taste), and when I brought it home from the quilter’s, I fell in love with it. I’d already decided it should go to my newlyweds, but boy, did I have a hard time parting with it!

And isn’t that how love happens? We begin, we stitch our lives together, not always knowing how things will turn out, but over time, we blend our hopes and dreams and fears together, and our love changes a few disparate pieces, a lump of wadding and some raw materials into a sun-bursting of a quilt. And we like it, and each other. (Of course, this is all rather cheesy, but hey, I’ve just been to a wedding and I’m all aglow.)

I first discovered this experience when I was stitching a quilt at the bedside of my mother, who had just had a heart attack. I had just pinned the quilt top to the batting and backing and struggled to get it in the hoop to quilt it. I sat there day after day, visiting, working. As I put more quilting stitches in, the quilt sandwich ceased to be three separate pieces of fabric and instead started to behave as one piece.

Enough of the metaphors. . . I just know I send my love to these two couples with my hands and heart and quilts.

Commerce, Downtown LA-style


Between Ssexxy Accessory and TU-TU fashion, I knew I’d arrived in the garment district of LA.

Unlike how I imagine NYCity’s district, with racks of clothes being pushed around by runners between showrooms and ateliers, I also knew I was in LA’s district by the smell of grilled onions, fresh for the pupusa take-out lunches. Other tip-offs are the mannequins, neatly lined up, bottoms-out, advertising their wares in a cheeky fashion, pockets and decorative stitching all in a row. There were also extremely fluffy dresses for First Communion, stacks of white T-shirts and colorful socks, as well as hanging garments lapped shoulder to shoulder so they looked like a headless-legless line of chorus girls, flapping in the hot LA breeze.

I was traveling up Maple Street to Michael Levine’s–any sewer’s mecca. I needed large buttons and Jo Ann’s and Hancock’s weren’t offering anything with any kind of style. Getting to LA is half the adventure for those of us out in the sticks.

Most of us on Highway 60 were pushing 70 miles per hour when a small white car suddenly swerved right, overcorrected, swerving to the left, sideswiping the pick-up truck in front of me, then hitting the cement median wall. At that point, the principles of physics took over, scattering the bumper pieces into the faster lanes, and propelling the car back across four lanes of traffic, where it screeched and crashed into the right-hand wall; several cars stopped to help. We all crept slowly around the debris, then like true Angelenos, picked up speed again. A car with the license plates “Ms. Spedy” swept by me on the right. It was a miracle no one was pulled into the accident. The cynic in me supposed, “texting.”

It reminded me of the pick-up truck traveling next to us when Mom/Dad were taking me to the airport last week. A loud explosion, and the shreds of the tire went flying–one right over our windshield. Dad pulled over to the right to give the swerving truck a chance to maneuver, then we slowly moved back into the traffic and on our way.

Back to the buttons. I crept around the block, looking for a meter and found one! Quarters to the rescue, but it wouldn’t accept them. I pulled forward the next empty one. Ditto. The two shop owners brought me out a bag to put over the meter, and said, in a lilting reggae-ish patois: “Some folks park here free all day.” I hurried over to Michael Levine’s, bee-lined for the buttons, where I found what I was looking for. On the way out, I noticed their quilt fabric section. Another day, I thought, until, walking back to my car I noticed a parking lot right next door. One free hour’s parking with purchase from Michael Levine’s.

I’m not dumb. I moved the car, and headed back into the store.

After a pleasant interlude, I headed home, trying to escape the city. It’s common knowledge that if you’re not out by early afternoon, because of LA traffic, you won’t get home in any timely fashion (as reported on the news radio on the way in: most commuters in Los Angeles spend–waste–70 hours per year in traffic, down from last year’s 72 hours).

No mishaps on the way home. I used to do these little jaunts more often, but work, family and church responsibilities had filled my time. So, a sort of an adventure–silly little one–but a welcome respite from the norm.