Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - A Time of Reflection and Remembrance

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember our war dead, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their "last full measure of devotion," in the words of Abraham Lincoln. It is a day for parades, patriotic music, and flags.

U.S. Army Color Guard stands at attention for the playing of "Taps"

We were very lucky in Concord, New Hampshire. The rain held off in the morning and did not start until well after the parade down Main Street was over and the speeches and music were finished. There is something about seeing the flag and hearing patriotic music that brings tears to my eyes. The Concord (NH) High School Band and the Rundlett Jr. High School Band performed wonderfully-well! To see young people exhibit such musical skill is inspiring!

Concord High School "Crimson Tide Marching Band"

Besides the bands, there were many Color Guards and other marchers on foot. "Caring Paws" participated in the parade and I would like to know more about what the dogs do. The Cub Scouts marched - and it was such a long way for them to go. The youngsters looked so cute in their uniforms. Someone put a lot of work into the floats that were present including the "Religious Freedom" float by the Concord Christian Academy. The Marines drove by with a replica of the Iwo Jima statue in the trailer behind them.

Replica of Iwo Jima statue

Someone was distributing free American flags that have the words to "Taps" attached to the "flagpole." When it came time to play "Taps," the bugler first played it loudly and boldly and then played the tune softly, as if heard at a distance.

Float by the Concord Christian Academy

We have not gone to a parade at any time within recent memory and this event was a real treat for us! It is nice to feel part of a greater community of patriotic citizens. I hope that you have taken time today to consider those who have lost their lives while fighting for (your) freedoms! In addition, I hope that you have enjoyed a day off from work and have spent some quality time with those you love.

Wreaths were laid at the monument in front of the NH State House. Photos by James Cummings

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gifts from Germany

Although my birthday is not until June, my friend in Germany has sent early birthday gifts already! While I am delighted with the contents, I was also dismayed to see that the package had been tampered with. She did not seal the package. It was easily opened. I suppose that Customs, either here or abroad, was responsible for tearing the foil off of a chocolate bunny that was hollow and breaking it into little pieces which were then stuffed back into the package.

Plush pig sent by Tamara Shpolyanska in Germany

The good news is that the stuffed pig, that was either sent un-stuffed or had the stuffing removed by Customs, did not get stained by melted chocolate. The package was not crushed and there is no accounting for the devastation wrought to the chocolate (Lindt) bunny other than human interference. In fact, there was a second chocolate bunny in the package that was unharmed except for a little foil being ripped off.

The pig is stuffed via the nose opening so I was able to add polyester stuffing and then sew on the circular yo-yo type closure with silk thread. Luckily, I had thread that matched the silk she had used.

I was going to call the pig "Petunia" but in the meantime I learned that her name is "Lila the Pig." That works for me. Of course, there were other goodies in the package not the least of which was a personal note card that contained a photo of the latest quilt made by my friend who is an extraordinary quilter and a master craftsman in quilting, certified by I.Q.A.

It is very special to receive a gift from a pen pal overseas. We have been writing to each other and exchanging small textile gifts since the 1990s. Tamara is a very special friend. She teaches quilting to a group of eager quilters in Chemnitz, Germany and her work is often featured in exhibits of art quilts. I am very lucky that she is my friend!

Happy Quilting!

Patricia Cummings

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

More Thoughts about Happiness

Awhile ago I published an essay about "Happiness" and what it means to me. Today I came across a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt that says a lot about the subject in just a few words:

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of the creative effort."

In terms of quilting, whenever I have attempted to do something I have never done before, such as making a miniature "Double Wedding Ring" quilt, and have succeeded, there is a certain "joy of achievement." Anything difficult or new is worth trying. We all have our own learning curve and are on our own journeys as quilters.

"Double Wedding Ring" miniature quilt

I was thrilled when I succeeded in making a final quilt for the Embroiderer's Guild of America's "Master Craftsman Program," a testing program, not a class. The creative effort I put forth was great and was a reward in itself for the "thrill" of knowing I did a good job. I was very excited in the year 2000 when I received an e-mail with the coveted word, "Pass" for my quilt "Sunset Serenity at Mt. Fuji." Just one word of praise was sent but that was enough. The long nine year journey toward seeking the title was over!

One does not have to be a quilter to find fulfillment in achievement. Tonight on the television news there was word of an octogenarian who is going to receive a college degree shortly. She had started college but had quit due to becoming married. It was always in her heart to finish and now she will get her wish.

Life is always about starts and finishes. Tonight I am feeling happy to have finished writing a memoir about my own life. There were troubled and turbulent times but I never gave up and never gave in and have had much success in quilting, writing and publishing.

Achievement takes a lot of hard work but achievement is at the heart of happiness. We do not have to measure success in grand terms. Baking a fantastic cake can be as satisfying as climbing a mountain.

Franklin D. Roosevelt knew a thing or two about achievement and the happiness that it brings. Just look at his record of "overcoming" his handicap to be one of the greatest presidents America has ever seen! He lifted America out of the Great Depression in the 1930s and used his creative imagination to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps whose work we still enjoy in the National Parks system.

Doing a good job is what life is all about. Sometimes we are paid for our creativity and work and sometimes we do work just for the satisfaction of producing something tangible that is ours alone.

I hope that you will think about happiness and what it means to you. If you have any ideas you want to share, please feel free to comment!

Happy Quilting!

Patricia Cummings