Scrabble (the dog)'s Quilt

Back in 2011, when Scrabble was just a puppy, and our hearts melted every time my husband Mark and I looked at her, I gifted her with a Log Cabin quilt I made in 1980—a small wall quilt, hand quilted!

Currently, having recently finished my novel My Life with Shelley after many years of dedicated, daily writing (sorry, folks, you will hear about this, often), I find myself looking for metaphors. Scrabble's quilt is just such a one.

When I made that wall quilt, I was just learning to hand quilt. (Machine quilting in those days was a subject one didn't discuss.) My rookie stitches were crooked and large.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to observe a master quilter—Chris Wolf Edmonds—ply her needle at a meeting of the Iowa Quilters Guild (in Mason City, I think). Seeing Chris rock the needle taught me how to rock my own, and within a few days I had the knack. A person can track my apprenticeship from one corner of that small quilt diagonally to the opposite side. By the time I finished, I had about eleven stitches to the inch.

These days, as I bask in the euphoria of novel-completion, I think to myself, "I learned to write fiction by writing My Life with Shelley" just as I learned to quilt by completing Scrabble's Log Cabin. Giving that little quilt away was easy because, really, I no longer needed it. The quilt was the vehicle of my education, the quilt itself, not important.

I taught Scrabble to fetch her quilt by bribing her with bits of sandwich ham. I'm having bit of difficulty linking you to the video posted many moons ago of Scrabble fetching said quilt. If you copy the url below and paste it in a browser window, you'll be there!

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will feel a sense of accomplishment.



Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2017 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment

Who Did This?

My father James Graham was a skilled artist. As a commercial exhibit designer, in Houston he created displays for trade shows and conventions for clients such as NASA and oil industry giants like Schlumberger. Later, back in Iowa, he turned to painting as a hobby, preferring the transparency and agile brushwork of watercolor to the working and reworking of oils. He was prolific, capturing Iowa in crisp, classic farm scenes and depictions of rolling countryside, his art appearing on the cover of Wallace's Farmer and in other publications.

Often, when he viewed his completed works, perhaps matted and framed on a gallery wall, the one-time farm-boy would inquire, "Did I do that?"

I have asked myself the same question when studying quilts I have made hanging on the set at Iowa Public Television or in a publication—hundreds of pieces coming together with points mostly meeting, dozens and dozens of printed fabrics combined and cohesive, all contained within a binding much like a painting in a frame. My eyes on my work, I repeat my father's question: "Did I do that?"

Now, after four years of concentrated study and hours of writing, rewriting, revising, and editing per day, I have completed my novel about Mary Shelley, author—at age nineteen—of Frankenstein.

Over the past few weeks, as I printed and edited a series of hard copies, questions arose—Did I actually shoot a fictional arrow into the air on Page 1, and land it 98,520 words later, the story arc within its trajectory cohesive and complete? Did I breathe life into a cast of characters—create from scratch their passions, their suffering, and their joys? Did I? Did I do this?

Apparently so.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will surprise yourself.

Posted on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment

December 1, 2011: This Dog's Life

At the Iowa State Fair four or five years ago my husband Mark and I happened upon an agility exhibition sponsored by Des Moines Area Dog Obedience Club. We watched, amazed, as handlers directed dogs large and small, purebred and mutt, through obstacles on the arena floor. Responding to minimal hand signals, the dogs, some barking joyfully, jumped fence sections, scampered up a teeter totter, ran in and out of tubing, and shimmied through weave poles.

We started studying breeds and talking about a dog but waited several years, until our work loads diminished, to acquire a puppy. A miniature golden doodle, "Scrabble" came home with us from her birthplace in eastern Iowa July 7, 2010, at twelve weeks of age.

Scrabble's extreme cuteness helped us endure her chewing phase, her digging phase, and the ups and downs of house breaking. We lucked out on personality—our dog is more interested in people than her food dish, loves road trips to Washington Island and Chicago, and will fetch for a tiny piece of kibble.

I visited Des Moines Area Dog Obedience Club headquarters this past spring, shortly after Scrabble's first birthday, and enrolled her in a beginning class that started in June. Being around other dogs, wearing a training collar, and learning basic commands were stimulating and exhausting for my young dog, and me.

One evening after class I stuck around chatting with DMOTC dog-fancying volunteers. The owner of a standard poodle was a quilter too and recognized me from TV. As the two women answered my questions about agility trials I realized that participating in such competitions involves purchasing a camper, staying in campgrounds, and finding dinner in campground areas.

Scrabble now has her basic obedience training certificate, and we're currently enrolled in intermediate level. She's beginning to understand heel position, and her sit/stay has been praised by our instructor. A class called "Tricks" is coming up early next year.

No matter how well she does, though, there is no camper in Scrabble's future.



Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:

 You will spend time with your pet.



Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment | References19 References

November 9, 2011: Democracy in a Small Place

The only town where I've ever exercised my right to vote is Winterset, Iowa, county seat of Madison County, population 4978. At age 20, I moved here from Texas, where legal voting age had been 21. My first presidential election was in 1972, Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern.

My voting place for local, state, and national elections has been in several locations over the years—the county fairgrounds, VFW and American Legion Halls, the county courthouse—but the voting booths have always been the same. Each time I've voted, whether for President of the United States or on a community school bond issue, I've stepped into a tiny metal-framed cubicle and placed my ballot on a narrow shelf where my instrument of democracy was not the handle of a voting machine, but a thick wooden pencil tied to a corner of the booth with a piece of string.

Many people feel an individual's vote doesn't do much, and that may be true, but I am personally moved each time I stand inside the small square of freedom made private for me by a short, stiff curtain of red, white, and blue striped fabric. The names on my ballot often briefly blur.

Each time, I remind myself that others before me secured the right to vote for women. Others made property-ownership as a voting requirement illegal. Others insisted upon suffrage for American citizens regardless of skin color.

In Madison County, Iowa, I don't risk my life to cast my vote; all I do is pick up a pencil.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will treasure your freedoms.




Posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References9 References

September 17, 2010: My Personal Night Shift

Over the past few months I've been busy traveling, sewing, and doing research for a novel I hope to begin writing next year.

My husband Mark and I visited France and Switzerland in May, and I spent a delightful week in Barcelona, Spain, with my youngest daughter Rebecca in June. In July Mark and I acquired a puppy, and later in the month all three of my daughters joined us at our vacation home on Washington Island, Wisconsin, for a delightful family gathering.

In recent weeks, my oldest daughter Hannah has begun graduate school in New York, my daughter Mary has made three new quilt tops, and Rebecca has fallen madly, and continues to be, in love. As for me, I am more inspired than ever about the projects I have in the works.

Lately, I head for bed a little before 10 pm. Mark and I prop up on our pillows and work on a crossword puzzle for a few minutes before turning out the lights. I fall into an instant deep sleep, but then awaken, feeling fully rested, around three in the morning—that's when my night shift begins.

Instead of tossing and turning, I lie on one side or the other, sometimes on my back, enjoying the comfort of my bed. Mentally, I work on my correspondence and other writing. I create to-do lists, prioritizing the items they include. I take little breaks as my thoughts drift to my family and count my blessings. Though I am physically horizontal between sheets and quilt, in my heart I am a runner, crouched at the starting line, ready to spring into action the moment the "go" shot is fired.

For me, the starting signal is dawn's early light, when it is appropriate to rise and begin my day shift. I make the coffee and take the puppy out. I dress and go to yoga practice. I turn my attention to the papers on my desk and the fabric in my sewing room. Quite possibly, I enjoy a little power nap in the afternoon.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will receive energy from an unknown source.


Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments5 Comments | References4 References
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