Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Quilting and the Hours

Yesterday, quilting threaded its way through my day--a delightful thread!

I started the day with a Facebook message.  My cousin's little girl went to get a blanket from her closet, and she pulled out the quilt that I made when she was born.  She asked her mom about quilting, and her mom said that maybe I'd show her some day.

I was immediately thrilled and thought of projects we could do, if she asks me sooner rather than later.  I wondered about all the old-timey things that my spouse and I know how to do (sewing, canning, candlemaking, quilting, playing our own instruments, cooking), and I wondered how I feel about being seen as an expert or a resource.

Of course, I'm happy on the one hand, but also sad that so many of these skills have vanished from the larger population.  I thought of the time I asked my grandma to show me how to quilt and she was baffled about why I'd want to do that when I could buy a perfectly good blanket from Wal-Mart for so cheap.

I thought of Alice Walker, the writer who made me want to learn to quilt.  I thought of the quote that I found this morning in an essay* about how she came to write The Color Purple:  "And so, I bought some beautiful blue-and-red-and-purple fabric, and some funky old secondhand furniture (and accepted donations of old odds and ends from friends), and a quilt pattern my mama swore was easy, and I headed for the hills."  And finally, her characters felt more free to speak to her, and she wrote and swam and quilted. 

My spouse was at choir rehearsal, so I spent the evening working on a time sensitive quilting project.  I like to have something on while I quilt, so I popped in my DVD of The Hours.  I did my first big quilting projects when that movie came out; I remember getting the DVD and watching the movie with the commentary off and then with it on, along with every special feature while I made serious quilting progress.

I thought about first reading the book.  I was commuting to the University of Miami and reading it on public transit.  I wanted to tell all of my fellow commuters about the book.  I had just finished reading Mrs. Dalloway, and I was blown away by what Cunningham did.

The movie was an interesting choice, given the amount of death, disease and loss that this year has brought.  I found it hopeful, despite its depressing parts.  Part of the movie was filmed on my street, and it was thrilling to recognize the houses.

Maybe I will read the book again this summer.  Maybe I'll return to Alice Walker.  I've enjoyed rereading some of her essays this morning. 

And of course, both Alice Walker and The Hours reminds me of my own work that I need to get done as an artist.  I want to believe that there will be plenty of time, but this year has shown me that there may not be.

*"Writing The Color Purple" in In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens

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