Here I intend to share things more personal...
January 2010-A big thanks to Jim West of "Sew Many Places" and Luana Rubin of EQuilter.com for hosting a brilliant ten day tour of Japan for quilters. I expected to enjoy visiting Japan, but I never dreamed we would be treated to such an in-depth sampling of the culture in such a short time. I will be posting pictures, if you are interested...click here
Our visit was timed so we could attend the Japan International Quilt Show in Tokyo, which was a opportunity to see the latest trends in Japanese quilting, to visit with Japanese quilting professionals and of course, to shop for unique textiles, both old and new.
The Story of the Dragonfly Nine
I never felt the need to have a personal symbol. I wasn't looking for one, but one afternoon in 1998, I stepped out into the backyard of my home (at the time) in California and my new personal symbol was waiting for me.
The entire airspace above the backyard was full of glittering dragonflies...Tens of thousands of dragonflies. It was a marvelous moment. I was captivated by the sheer number and the way their wings caught the light in iridescent sparkles and the way they seem to bounce on the air.
I don't recall how long I spent watching the show, or why I stopped. It never happened again, either. It was one of those rare perfect moments. And it made a big impression on me.
For the next three years I tried to use the inspiration to create a quilt. I designed patterns, I designed whole quilts, I stamped fabric with dragonflies, but I just couldn't create something that captured the magic. At about that time, the Dragonfly became a popular symbol in the retail world, so I could satisfy my yearning a little by buying the coffee mugs, the wind chimes, the Christmas tree ornament, the fabric, etc. The movie "Dragonfly" was released in theaters. Friends caught on to my fascination and gave me pretty little reminders. And then came a move to Washington State, who's state insect is the Dragonfly!
So the dragonfly became my personal symbol...But that's not where this story ends...
A year after the crushing tragedy of September 11, 2001, I volunteered with a group called "United We Quilt." This organization's mission was to match quilters from all over the world with surviving families to make memory quilts honoring the lost. In May 2003, I was asked to make a quilt for a young widow, Trish.
It turned out that this assignment was even bigger, though, as Trish's husband had other family members and two tiny sons, all in need of the comfort of a quilt made from his things and his story. After a few days reflection, I asked a handful of very special friends to join me in making the quilts and they all agreed to be a part of the project.
A trip to the East coast gave me a perfect opportunity to meet with Jimmy's widow and sons. It was not a sadness filled day. It was a bittersweet meeting. I shared a couple of my quilts and she shared a remarkable love story. We sat on the master bedroom floor together looking through Jimmy's clothes...More stories...More memories. I asked about Jimmy's tastes in food, music, sports...Anything I could think of to inspire eleven quilts.
Eventually, Trish shared a very resonant story. When she was first allowed to visit the freshly excavated footprint of the World Trade Towers, something funny happened. A single dragonfly came up to her demanding her attention...In the middle of this dusty pit...In the middle of New York City. For her this little bug was a messenger. And like me, she adopted the dragonfly as her personal symbol.
As I tried to share my story of the dragonflies in my backyard, I suddenly realized they had appeared in the weeks immediately following my mother's death. Trish actually saw something in my face, as the thought entered my mind.
"You think your mother sent the dragonflies, don't you?"
"I didn't until just now," I admitted quietly.
So the group of friends I gathered called ourselves, The Dragonfly Nine. We worked on the quilts for about 15 months, and presented them to Jimmy's family on September 10, 2004.
Trish's quilt was dominated by a big heart and two dragonflies, one in the heart and one heading off to a star
And the Dragonfly remains a personal symbol...Everytime I see one I take a moment to marvel...
Odd and Useless information about me:
I have Farm-Girl Super-Strength...I have used it to haul injured animals, carry bags of cement and move really big pieces of furniture...I try to use my power for good only.
Sunlight in my face makes me sneeze...My father had the same tendency, so I figure it's genetic.
I adore elephants
I suffer from Gephyrophobia...It's a mild case, but it keeps me from enjoying the finest crab cakes in the world.