July 14, 2009: A Book's Tale

Recently, before heading for the airport, I looked on my shelves for a book to take along. The volume I selected, 30 Stories to Remember, previously belonged to my mother.

A high school English teacher and, later in her life, a small-town newspaper publisher, my mother loved the printed word. She spent the last few of her 92 years sitting in a comfy chair rereading "Of This and That," the column she wrote each week for her newspaper for twenty years.

Published by Doubleday in 1962, 30 Stories is hard-covered and about two inches thick, not the best choice to haul around airports, but it came in handy. My flights were delayed, and so I enjoyed masterpieces by authors I have read before, such as "Two Soldiers" by William Faulkner and "The Split Second" by Daphne du Maurier. I'd never heard of Karl Decker, author of "The Theft of the Mona Lisa," or Walter D. Edmonds, who wrote the very entertaining "Courtship of My Cousin Doone."

I carted my book (too thick to fit in carry-on or purse) from Iowa to Indiana, where I lectured to quilters in Shipshewana. From Indiana, my book and I flew to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a meeting of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum advisory board, on which I sit. Along the way I read "The Soldier's Peaches" by Stuart Cloete and "How We Kept Mother's Day" by Stephen Leacock.

My husband Mark drove from Iowa to Nebraska to fetch me and, once home in Winterset, I soon realized I had forgotten 30 Stories to Remember!

On Saturday my three best friends and I road-tripped to Lincoln for an overnight stay, to dine, talk, sip wine, catch up with one another, see the quilt exhibits, and bring my mother's book home.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will tell a story.

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

June 15: Tree for Two

Our blue spruce is a magnificent 40-foot tree, 20 feet in diameter, the hands-down focal point of our Winterset back yard. So many species of bird reside in its branches my husband Mark and I call it The Apartment.

Landscaping around our dilapidated cottage in Wisconsin is fairly non-existant. Recently-trained Iowa State University Master Gardeners, Mark and I entertain ourselves frequently by considering the planting possibilties near the house, in the yard, and along the path to the lake. As rennovations on the house continue, we dream of flowers, shrubs, and trees.

On the west side of the cottage, a gravel driveway circles an unkempt, circular bed, enabling drivers to get in and out of the property without backing up. Whatever we plant at the center of this roomy, currently grass-and-weed-filled circle will be an instantly important greeter of visitors to our vacation home.

In a planning frame of mind we ask ourselves, "Flagpole?" "Cherry tree?" "Blue spruce?"

The Winterset spruce went in the ground on Father's Day almost twenty years ago. The little evergreen was shorter than my own waist; I dug the hole, watered the tree, and watched it grow. Eight or nine years later, to make room for an addition on the west side of the house, a professional tree mover relocated my tree, still under ten feet tall, to the back yard. After Mark and I married, the tree was moved ten feet further north to allow space for a garage.

"You can never move it again," commented Mr. Harvey as he climbed back on his tractor.

Mark and I admire The Apartment from the back yard deck, amazed that so large a living thing was ever small, that it ever could have been moved. Gradually, the lawn around the tree has shrunk; a pathway just wide enough for the lawnmower now remains between the tree's lower branches and the deck's edge.

"I've got it," I said to Mark one day. "If we plant a blue spruce just like this one, there will be lots of room around it for perinneals and annuals. By the time we get too old to weed the flower bed, the tree will have taken up the entire space."

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will do long-range planning.



Posted on Monday, June 15, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments3 Comments | References9 References

June 11, 2009: Not Every Idea is Wonderful

My day-to-day mood has improved significantly since I visited my hairdresser last week for more than a trim.

The idea to try a longer style grew out of my extended stay last fall in Rochester, Minnesota, when my daughter Mary was in Mayo Clinic hospitals for many weeks. Having visited the same stylist exclusively for, oh, thirty years, fear of the unknown combined with loyalty kept me from stepping into any of the salons in the underground maze of shops and services in downtown Rochester.

During those low-humidity, late-fall days, my natural curl was absent. "I look like Jay Leno!" I would exclaim to Mary and her husband Steve. "No you don't!" they responded. "Your hair looks good!" Did it? I wasn't sure.

Once home in Winterset, a care package for Mary from my daughter Rebecca included fuzzy slippers, comforting tea, activity books, and "The Devil Wears Prada" on DVD. Meryl Streep's chic, platinum grey, slightly bouffant do would be perfect for me! I printed some still photos I found online, took them to my hairdresser, and transition was under way.

As winter turned to spring, Leah and I addressed my hair issues every six weeks or so. We tried to like my longer locks. During TV taping in April, Peg the makeup artist did her best to make it work.

Maybe I will be more ready for a dramatic upsweep of bang when I'm on the eve of my 70th, rather than my 60th, birthday. Maybe Aveda will develop a product that controls longer curliness better than the four or five I've purchased over the past few months. Maybe my face is just too small for larger hair.

For now, the woman looking back at me in the mirror appears happier.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will remember you are no movie star.



Posted on Thursday, June 11, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

June 9, 2009: Start to Finish

Over the past couple of days I quilted a full size top I made many years ago. I loaded it in the longarm machine Sunday afternoon, and, to my own amazement, took the last stitch about 9:30 Monday night. Once bound, the quilt will go to an Iowa couple who made a generous donation to Iowa Public Television during this year's IPTV Festival.

The simple Double Nine Patch was in my short stack of complete but unquilted projects. Just about every top I have finished over the years has gone immediately to a professional quilter because of some looming publication deadline. In my semi-retirement, I have happily gained respectable machine quilting skills. Making quilts entirely myself is delightful.

My now-quilted Double Nine Patch was produced during a series of two-hour lecture demonstrations I did on the East Coast about 15 years ago. For reasons important at the time, I spent three separate weeks making presentations in a regional chain of fabric stores, promoting a group of 1890s-style prints and the just-published Quilter's Complete Guide.

The daily schedule (11–1 in one location, 5–7 in another, with hours of driving between) involved missing both lunch and dinner every day for a week. What kept me going was turning out at least one Nine Patch block per day (while talking), meeting some nice quilters, and winding up with a beautiful quilt top in the end.

Each time I longarm quilt a quilt, I get going at a snail's pace. I'm slow at loading the machine, and the first row of stitching seems to take forever.

Soon, though, I get in the groove. The hum of the needle becomes music. I reach the center row and realize I'm starting to finish! I see that a project I began weeks, months, maybe years ago is about to be transformed into an actual quilt. For my Double Nine Patch, the start and finish dates actually span the turn of a century.

Happily, I've kept back a half yard of the navy blue moon-and-stars fabric all these years, so the binding will match.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will be satisfied with your work.


Posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

June 6, 2009: Yoga. . .Patchwork?

My yoga teacher recently offered a special Friday evening of Yin Yoga with live musical accompaniment. For Yin, poses are held longer to stretch the body's deep connective tissues.

As I walked to the event, mat bag slung over my shoulder, I was apprehensive. The drumming, singing, and other music a fellow student who is also a professional musician was going to provide would be interesting, but I thought the long-held poses might be challenging, maybe painful.

Tia had the hall nicely lit with candles, and Kit was set up in a niche to the side of the room, surrounded by her keyboard, drums, chimes, flutes, and other instruments. I rolled out my mat among the other students, curious and tentative.

To my surprise, I moved from pose to pose easily. My breathing capacity has recently increased, so I enjoyed lengthening my inhales and exhales in each of the asanas Tia chose. All the while, Kit's beautiful voice filled the room. She hummed, drummed, sang, and chanted, right here in Winterset, Iowa, pop. 5000.

I lay on my back during relaxation, feeling satisfied and reflective. Having practiced yoga every day that week, my flexibility was not, after all, surprising. My thoughts turned to the quilt under construction in my sewing room, a project on which I had not taken a single stitch in many days.

I remembered how long it takes to finish a quilt when you're not working on it and made a mental note to return to my patchwork soon (as soon as I find one more red print). In the same way, I thought, physical well-being is impossible unless you do something to gain it.

Eyes closed and mind drifting, I imagined the fabrics of India.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will work on balance.

Posted on Sunday, June 7, 2009 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment | References3 References