December 15, 2009: Long Lasting Friends

Recently, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I stood at the hospital bedside of Valerie Fons. Holding hands, we each held the hand of our oldest friend.

Unable to bring along the magic wand that cures miraculously, I came with a quilt, a photo, and a poem.

The quilt now on her bed is big, bright, and, surprisingly, allowed by the nurses. The photo, in black and white, shows us at 19 and 21. We stand in her parents' back yard, a Houston breeze dramatizing our young, flowing hairstyles.

The poem, written by me at my friend's request, goes like this:



A woman such as you, reciever of many blessings,

Can, I know, courageously

Undergo aggressive chemotherapy


Even long term treatment, with grace.


Long, gray, hospital days include

Yearning for distant loved ones,

Micala, Korinna, Kayla, Steven, Josh, Shammond, Joe, and others,

Pressing hard on your heart, and

Hindering other plans, yet at the same time,

Opening waterways upon which you may travel in new


You are mother, wife, daughter, aunt, sister,

Teacher, athlete, pastor, guide, and loyal, longlasting friend, and so,

I say, with hosts of others,

Cancer cannot kill you today.


Let new blood fortify you, medicines

Edge out unhealthy cells, and, as you daily

Undertake your own mindful meditation,

Keep your eyes on the future and

Endeavor to see both sunshine and shadow.

May you rest and heal in the comfort of my quilt, and

In our maker’s powerful and loving embrace.


I dreamed two nights ago of Valerie fully recovered, her hair grown back and in long, dark braids. Standing outdoors in a sunlit campsite by Lake Michigan, she stirred a pot of hearty soup.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will think back years.

Posted on Friday, December 11, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments2 Comments | References9 References

December 10, 2009: Weather Sonata

As a devotee of Macintosh computers and an Apple stockholder, I was proud to be an early iPhone owner.

Now, though iPhone users are legion, and available features multitudinous, my gadget's weather-checking capability, especially in the winter, is still my favorite. The quick tour of locations I view, and the order in which I view them has the structure of a daily short musical piece. 

I start with Winterset, providing the steady note of a small Midwestern town (-6˚ today), then introduce a big-city theme by sliding over to Chicago where two of my three daughters live. The music includes the sophistication of Millennium Park and the Field Museum, but the weather is pretty much the same (2˚ today).

Next comes exotic New York City where my oldest daughter lives. Skyscrapers, fashion, and Rockefeller Center pick up the pace with better, warmer, winter weather (39˚ today)! To introduce a light, ironic note, I slide next to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, where my daughter's husband is in Army Reserve training (sunny and 60˚!).

Bringing back the snowy, Midwestern theme, I check Washington Island, Wisconsin, the location of our vacation home (10˚ today), another rural setting, but with the grandeur of vast Lake Michigan lapping the beach of our property.

To end my little weather symphonette, currently I slide to one more screen, Washington DC, where my daughter Mary is performing in "Too Much Light. . ." this month at the Woolly Mammoth Theater. It's 43˚ and mostly sunny today.

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


Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment | References31 References

December 5, 2009: Serial Quilt Monogamy

Unlike most quilters, I work on one project at a time rather than several simultaneously. Despite my rather businesslike approach, making a quilt, for me, is like falling in love.

A couple of weeks ago, I sewed into the wee hours of the morning to complete my latest, a New York Basket top I had designed and started earlier in the year. It's a charming blend of lively shirtings and tiny black and red prints.

Early on, with only a few of the 32 blocks and some of the sawtooth sashing on my design wall, I could tell the quilt was working. Satisfied, I moved into high production gear, basically creating a kit from the fabrics that made the final cut. In July, with half the blocks finished, I packed my kit into a box, knowing I would be away in Chicago for my daughter Mary's surgery, on a trip to Scotland with my husband Mark, and also at our vacation home on Washington Island, Wisconsin.

By the time I returned to my sewing room, a new love interest was on the horizon. An applique eagle on an antique quilt in the International Quilt Study Center collection and a desire to make a donation for the Quilts of Valor Foundation inspired me one day to sketch out a full size patriotic medallion involving stars, stripes, and applique lettering.

With vintage style fabrics on order from Andover, I had to wrap up my relationship with New York Baskets quickly. I lined up a talented longarm quilter early in the week, and sewed for hours every day. The final stitch on the piano key border happened that last night around 2 a.m. Before I went to bed, I tidied up my sewing room, re-stowed leftover fabrics, discarded unneeded triangle squares, and cleaned my machine.

I lay my head on my pillow at 3:00, dreaming of an eagle with gold print talons.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will be twitterpated.




Posted on Saturday, December 5, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments2 Comments | References8 References

November 1, 2009: Not So Plain, Really

At the American Quilters Society Expo in Des Moines this week, I bumped into a longtime friend of mine. She'd come on a bus from eastern Iowa to spend the day at the show. Born Amish, Sara decided twenty years ago at age 50 to become Mennonite. She sold her buggy and her racehorse Henry, bought a minivan, and learned to drive.

At the quilt show, Sara was getting around on a motorized cart. She was garbed as usual in a simple dress of solid color fabric, dark hose, black lace-up shoes, and a small, sheer-fabric bonnet, or kapp.

After bending down for an initial hug, I stood chatting with my friend, both of us catching up on each other's lives. Sara owned and operated a fabric store, and a farm, out in the country for many years, but she's retired now and lives comfortably in town. When I mentioned that my husband Mark and I are thinking about acquiring a dog, she described her two new kittens.

Mozart was rambunctious and overly focused on birds in Sara's feeder outside the picture window, yowling to get out and stalk them, until the arrival of Muffin. Now the two cats cavort happily in the play tube Sara bought for them. Sara tosses catnip toys through a hole in the top of the tube and watches them roll it over the floor for hours at a time.

"I hadn't gotten around to dressing them up until just the other night. My friend Bettina was visiting for the weekend, so I went down in the basement and brought up some doll clothes. Mozart hated it, just hated it, maybe because they were girl doll clothes. But we got some great photos!"

With a hearty laugh and a wave goodbye, Sara pressed a button on her cart and glided smoothly off down the aisle to check out the Art Quilts section of the show.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
Your friends will delight you.

Posted on Sunday, November 1, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment | References5 References

October 18, 2009: Sew Write!

After a week in Houston attending Quilt Market and Quilt Festival, I spent one full day at home in Winterset, unpacking my bag of business-y, city clothes and repacking for a trip to our vacation home in Wisconsin, where my husband Mark awaited me.

Excited by the prospect of a few relaxing days at our newly-rennovated cottage on Washington Island, I focused on packing exactly what I’d need. Because I was flying to Green Bay on a stand-by ticket, I could carry only a small piece of luggage, one I wouldn’t have to check. If I got bumped, my bag might not, and a cruel fate could befall my possessions.

Our little home on Washington Island is an inspiring place to live and breath. The grandeur of Lake Michigan is right outside our door, an ever-changing, always beautiful natural element. On sunny days, light streams through the big windows, bouncing and reflecting on our freshly-plastered walls. Because the the property sits above a shallow cove, impressive, foam-edged breakers roll constantly to shore on days the wind is up.

What would I do with my three days at Sunrise Cottage? Might I feel ready to start the longer work of fiction I plan to write? My laptop would fit in my bag, so any writing projects mundane or magnificent were covered. Would I prefer to sew, sitting at my table on the wide east porch with its nine windows? Just in case, I cut dozens of flannel rectangles in masculine browns, blacks, blues, and tans so I could easily start the Bricks quilt I intend to give this Christmas to a friend.

Concluding my packing late in the day, atop the essentials for my favorite pursuits, I tucked in warm pants, socks, and gloves. Next morning, I’d zip up my bag and go.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will be prepared.

Posted on Sunday, October 18, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References4 References