Sunday, June 07, 2009

Friendship and Quilting – a Metaphor

As we disembarked from the Kingston-Edmonds ferry late this afternoon, Elisabeth commented that an entire book could have been written about today.  She’s right but, for now at least, a simple post will have to do.

My dearest friend from my happiest years arrived in Seattle this weekend from San Diego, where our families shared a back fence and a deep friendship.  We stopped sharing a fence 15 years ago, but but our friendship is timeless and when we see each other it’s as if we’d never been apart.  Lisa and I had children within months – and in some cases, within days – of each other and as young stay-at-home moms, we probably spent more time with each other and our kids than with our spouses. Moving away was excruciating for all of us, but I knew we’d keep in touch – and we have.

Lisa, her husband Paul and their daughter Lauren, who is Elisabeth’s age, came to Seattle this weekend for a family wedding, so of course we had to see them.  Unfortunately, their two sons, one of whom is a year older than Elisabeth and one of whom is a week younger than Kat and Aleks (and back then they might as well have been triplets) stayed home in San Diego.

But Kat, Elisabeth and I decided to get on a ferry and visit Lisa, Paul and Lauren at Paul’s mother’s house in Kingston. 

Getting on the ferry in Edmonds is far easier and more relaxing than getting on a ferry in Seattle!  We easily found parking and walked onto the ferry (because driving on is almost $30!).


On board, we did the requisite mother-daughters goofing off stuff. First stop, espresso bar.


We all had to do a double-take.  What?  “Express bar”?  This is Seattle, so that’s just weird!  We need coffee, and fast!


I snapped pictures… but Kat took photographs.


Them’s my happy daughters!

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Dooce and his owner did some over-the-railing flirting…


They have this gig down!  Charming dudes.


It was wonderful to see Lisa and Lauren again and girly connections were instantly rekindled.



We spent hours catching up.  We could have spent days catching up.  Weeks, maybe.  God, I miss them!


Lisa and her family have had adventurous lives over the past twenty years and novels could be written.  In fact, novels should be written.  In fact… if only I had time and if only my creative juices would flow again, I’d write their story.  It’s bigger than a blog post… or ten… or a hundred.  Yes, it’s definitely a novel!  Maybe someday.

The other book that needs to be written is the book about Paul’s sister, Cynthia.  Now there is a truly phenomenal story.

Cynthia makes quilts – the most amazingly beautiful, artistic, genius quilts – each with a heartfelt story behind it.  This is a quilt called “My Mother’s Wings” that Cynthia made for her mother:


I didn’t get a close-up of this quilt, but the stitching is incredible!  On the back, Cynthia describes the meaning behind each aspect of the circular patterns in the quilt:


“I started playing with circles,” she says. “A half-circle forms the letter C, the first letter of my name.  If you put two C’s together, they form as S, the first letter of my mom’s name, Shirley.  This shape also resembles a wing. Two large wings represent my mother and my father.  Five medium wings represent their five children.  Fifteen small wings represent their grandchildren.  The background is composed of ten arcs, each with five fabrics used twice, representing the five children and their spouses.  The ribbon forming the border represents the love that, while binding our family together, confines neither the wings nor the family members.”

Every one of Cynthia’s quilts has a story behind it.  There are many quilts and many stories.

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Look at the detail!


And then there are these quilts.  Oh. My. God.


Look at the detail!


And see these ferns?  They’re made using actual ferns laid on fabric in sunlight!


This quilt is called “A Horse of a Different Color.”  It is sheer genius, I swear.


Look at this flowing mane, intricately quilted!


This fanciful quilt even has “windows” in it – windows with a fairy dust sheen…


And this quilt absolutely blew me away:


See the bird’s wings?  All hand stitches – individual hand stitches!


Can you imagine my awe, looking at these quilts that Cynthia made?  We were mesmerized.


When I was beyond speechless, (OK, that actually never happens, but it was close) this quilt came out:


No, Cynthia didn’t sketch those horses.  She STITCHED them!  No kidding.  Look!

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And now I’d like to introduce you to Cynthia.


The hands that made these astoundingly beautiful and intricately detailed quilts have been ravaged by severe rheumatoid arthritis. 


In addition, Cynthia is totally deaf, a side-effect of her disease.  She can’t hear anything, but she can talk – and she tells beautiful stories about the inspiration behind each of her creations. 


Eventually we had to say goodbye to Lisa and her extended family and get back on the ferry, back to present-day life. 

In the ferry terminal in Edmonds, we noticed that a window had been broken, creating a beautiful quilt-like pattern in the shattered glass.  I took it as a sign.


It’s a sign that creativity must find its way back into my own life.


I need to find the time again, amid all the craziness and non-creativity of my job, to express myself creatively again.


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Anonymous said...

Carol, I'm speechless. I've never seen quilts like this--so creative and artistic, and stitched by such crippled, arthritic hands. Wow, just wow.


Jen said...

What an amazing day, and what truly astonishing quilts. They are among the most beautiful I have ever seen.

Lauren said...

Carol, I am so touched by the story you told. I had such a good time catching up with you three and I am thrilled that you were able to experience my Aunt's talent. We, as her family, get spoiled with her beautiful creations and agree that her story needs to be told. I really feel that your visit was so much more than just old friends catching up, I'm excited to see what the future holds for Cindy.

Give my love to your family, I can't wait to catch up again... sooner rather than later.


Kim said...

What a beautiful post, Carol. I'm just awestruck. I'm a lapsed quilter (that's what I call it when I've just been collecting fabric but not cutting into it and sewing). It's amazing to see all that your friend's aunt has accomplished and what a soulful artist she is. Thanks for posting this.

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