Monday, October 23, 2023

Quilt Tales for the Heart and Mind Presentation

I  am pleased to let you know that my 'inaugural tour' as Cathy dubbed it, was a resounding success.

Isn’t this absolutely wonderful? This little cushion sign was made by Cathy in Port Perry as a gift for me. 

Here is the other side:
Beautiful work, beautiful message on both sides! I love it so. And she knows me well: in my favourite colour.

I took Cathy a wee gift in her favourite fall colours:

This is the second zipper I’ve used from Zipper Valley, and the first of the three special pulls I bought from them. I’m getting better at installing the pull on the tape but this one made tears come to my eyes: I had got it on quite successfully, sewn on the tab at the far end, inserted the zipper into the bag, but hadn’t sewn the bag sides and lining together yet. I loved the way it looked, all pressed ready to be put right sides together for that final stitching around of all the sides. I zipped it closed and—you guessed it, the pull came right off because I hadn’t yet caught it fully in the side seam! All turned out beautifully as you can see in the end. I love these fun zippers!

I love the lining fabric, one I've hoarded saved for several years, a beautiful Hoffman Fabrics fall print.

So when Cathy had first broached this idea, nearly a year ago, to make it a little more worthwhile for me, she got two other guilds in the general area to book me, and the dates lined up perfectly: October 16, 17 and 18. They, in turn, got quite the deal from me, as they just paid the speaker fee. First time presenter, this was a risk they were taking, and also a great experience for me.

Now if you are thinking of doing something like this, be prepared for a TON of prep work. I had to think and sift back through my memory and blog (yay for this blog) thinking of those quilts with great backstories. I made a list and then started jotting down notes as to their backstories (again so grateful for my blog posts), looking for some cohesiveness. I took my notes and put those into the basic story behind each quilt, and then struck a balance amongst the stories, some were tragic and sad, others were joyful, and others filled with outrage. And then, I put together a slideshow, as several of the quilts had been given away, and others needed a few important points of note. And then, I practiced. I said it to an imaginary audience, and then lined up seven of my sweet friends, all quilters but one, though she is a quilt aficionado, to be my practice audience. I practised it two more times, both for timing purposes, and for familiarizing myself with cuing the slides and props etc. 

MacGyver and I decided to make it a 3-day trip around the Port Perry, Whitby to Brighton area. We love tootling around back roads of a place, visiting small towns, seeing the countryside. Neither of us had been in these areas, just had driven by Whitby this August on our Ottawa/Montréal trip with Brady.
This map screenshot shows you Whitby, northeast of Toronto, and Port Perry, almost due north of Whitby on the shore of Lake Scugog. Way off to the east along Lake Ontario, at the edge of the map, is Brighton, where I presented to the Trent Valley Quilt Guild. 

Port Perry was Monday night, and wow, was I nervous, so much so that I could not eat supper ahead of time, and had to be nearly forced to have a cuppa and a bran muffin after the meeting as I was still so wired and full of adrenaline.

It went so very well, and the ladies were just so very kind and attentive. Cathy had suggested I bring some of my patterns, as they usually have a presenter's table, and do you know all seven paper copies I'd made of Rainbow Neighbourhood as well as one digital PDF sold that first night?! It is the final quilt in my presentation, a fitting one, as it's the neighbourhood I wish we all lived in, one of kindness and acceptance and love for all human beings. Which includes Palestinians, be they Islam or Christian or atheist etc., includes transgender, gay, lesbian, brown or black and on and on. I express this when I’m talking about this quilt’s meaning. Every single one of the more than 8 billion humans on this planet are worthy of love. Every. Single. One.

On Tuesday MacGyver and I tootled around the countryside. Cathy was supposed to have toured us around Port Perry, which has been the setting for several Hallmark Christmas movies, and I can totally see why, such a picturesque and pretty town! However, poor Cathy had landed in hospital on Sunday - of all the worst things to have happened, and after all her work--!

We took the dogs with us, so they enjoyed several walks in all kinds of interesting places.

Xena on the shore of Lake Scugog, Port Perry. More walkies. 

Miraculously, Cathy got sprung for three hours and her wonderful husband brought her to the Kindred Hearts Guild presentation in Whitby, which is her guild!
Thanks to Lou for this photo and the one below.

I was able to give her a gentle but filled with warmth hug and meet my 'imaginary friend' from emails and Zoom live! I'm happy to report that she got out of the hospital on Wednesday and is recuperating nicely. 
Quilts with their patterns for sale at one end, presentation quilts stacked in order at the other! At each of the three guilds, I have them a paper copy of Pop Stars for a prize.

Ahead of the KHG presentation, I met up with Leah, their tech person, and Yvonne, of Sew Yummy for supper! We went to The Copper Branch - how have I not known about this fabulous chain?! So I got to meet another 'imaginary friend' in real life! 

Why did I not think to get a photo of the three of us?

There is one in Windsor - yasss! At the guild, Yvonne had quite the surprise for me:

You may recall that KHG used my Smooches tutorial to make several comfort quilts earlier this year, and had sent me a photo which I shared here on the blog. Well! They had these dozen more quilts to show me!! A bubble of emotion welled up inside me. Just wow, I was so touched. The other photo of the rest of the quilts is on my Instagram. 

Cathy gave us some recommendations for our backroads tour, one of which was visiting a little quilt shop in Campbellford. I found some Woolies flannel by Maywood Studio there for my brand new great-niece's quilt back.
Campbellford. No filter. 

Your #1 Sewing Centre is a great quilt little shop with a load of great fabrics, every single one of them $16.95/metre. This quilt shop looks like a hole in the wall, (sorry, didn't think to take a photo) but it's like a Harry Potter or Enid Blyton store: you enter, and it still seems tiny, and then you pass the cutting table and wow, there's a ton more, and then go through another doorway and WOW, there's so much more!

Another of her recommendations was to visit the Ranney Gorge suspension bridge, though the dogs were not keen on taking more than two steps on the metal grating, so we took turns, one crossing while the other stayed back with the dogs, and vice versa. There is a 500 acre provincial park on the other side of the river.

The colours did not disappoint, being just about at peak.

The final presentation was Wednesday at noon, so we took more back roads from Port Perry to Brighton, loving the pretty up and down roads and gorgeous carpeted hills of fall splendour.

We were quite early for the 1 pm meeting, so we had brunch at Lola's, a cute little café with wonderful food, on Main Street.

I had the spinach and goat cheese omelette (to die for), and MacGyver had the breakfast burrito, which he thoroughly enjoyed. 
Brunch view. Gift shop directly across and in the house on the right is a yoga studio! No filter!

Yes, I was able to eat half my brunch, so although I was fairly jittery, my nerves didn't have me as tightly wound as on Monday evening. Good thing I didn't realize I'd be speaking to....
upwards of 90 people! Gulp!

Again it went so very well, and I had so many heartfelt compliments and personal stories shared with me. I met so many wonderful, like-minded, caring people, people who are activists in their own way, who are trying to make a loving difference in this hate-filled, angry, polarizing world. I was so blown away with gratitude and respect that Trent Valley started their meeting (the first one of the year, the first one since Covid, the first for the new executive, and having me, a first-time presenter) with a Land Acknowledgment. I had wanted to do that in each of my presentations, but with all the nerves ahead of and during the presentations, that thought had gone right out of mind. It was one of the best Land Acknowledgements I have heard or read. They have one person, Janet, who is in charge of organizing quilts to send to something I think is just so wonderful! I've mentioned this organization before, and it's where I sent one of my comfort quilts for Hands2Help.
Show and Share - a quilt made by Quilter and Storyteller Bill Stearman. Used with permission.

Trent Valley laid my presentation quilts on two tables at the front so that people could get a closer look at them during the break. All three guilds passed out the PDF for Sandra’s Scrappy Stars quilt which I took so they could see it. I had my patterns at the back on a couple of other tables. They were wonderful, especially Marie, the programme coordinator, in taking care of me.

MacGyver was the best personal driver. Sharing the journey with him made me so grateful than I am married to such a wonderful person who supports me in many ways. Yes, we took the dogs, and they were awesome. Xena turned into a guard dog the first night in the hotel, so none of us got much sleep as she would ARF!!! without warning and we'd levitate... On night 2, same hotel, she settled and we all slept like logs. Rufus was nervous, as he has been since Covid, and didn't eat much, but he was so well-behaved and quiet.

We put just over 1400 km on our EV. Charging stations in most little towns are not plentiful or that powerful yet, and only once did we run into a conflict of sorts: the one charger in a tiny town at a grocery store was being used by a Nissan Leaf. Because of this make's older technology, he was going to be there for a good half hour, so we drove on to Peterborough, where there was good charging facilities. As with gas, when you're on a road trip, you have a basic plan, and you don't run your tank, or in our case, our battery, too low. Two of our Electrify Canada charges were free! Gotta love that. More on charging and range in this week's W-EVdnesday post.

A final note of what I've quilted since I got home. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my heart is aching. Nearly two weeks ago I wrote that, and only yesterday did Israel allow a mere 20 trucks with food, water and medical supplies in to Gaza. The president of Colombia, who I have the utmost admiration for, likened Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto and it hit me that he is absolutely correct. I will not be silent about a genocide of this magnitude and I am sickened that my Prime Minister has not joined President Petro in denouncing Israel's unrelenting bombing of civilians and war crimes and calling for a ceasefire, and that the US is funding this genocide, and has diverted funds from Ukraine and used their veto in the UN to block a ceasefire. Well over 4000 people (as of Oct. 22) have been killed! More than 1400 of them are CHILDREN. It is beyond despicable. I have put some excellent posts in my stories over the past few days, and I have been learning more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 75 years and beyond. Education is always the answer.
You should watch the reel to which she refers. Powerful.

This weekend, partly because of exhaustion after my 'tour' and partly out of needing to do something with fabric and colour for my spirit, I decided to make another gingham quilt for a comfort quilt. I pulled out my stack of 5" squares, many vintage ones, wondering if I could do a gingham quilt in a rainbow. I only had to cut five white/cream squares as I had 11 in my 5" squares stack. If you squint, you can really get the gingham rainbow effect.

It would be better in monochromatic fabrics, and I may just do another one, but working with what was in that stack, and adding a few in from my scraps boxes, I'm pleased with it! It comforted me, and I know it will go where it is needed.

End apartheid.
Free Palestine.
Stop the genocide.

War happens when language fails.

-Margaret Atwood


  1. I call my blog buddies "virtual friends." Join the club: I am liturgist once a month at the church we have belonged to for over 5 years, yet I still get a weak stomach as anticipate reading. Made a very brief presentation at my guild last week and could barely breathe.

  2. I'm so glad that your presentations were well received and you had such excellent concierge support from MacGyver. I'm very sorry to hear that Cathy was hospitalized, but I'm glad you got to meet her and that she was released on Wednesday. And nothing about what is happening in Palestine is okay and I'm horrified by the way the US is supporting Israel. I thoroughly denounce the Hamas attack and brutality on Israel, but the genocide of the Palestinian people needs to end. Sending you love and light. x

  3. I've read that more people rate public speaking as more frightening then death. So congrats on the successful tour. Why does it seem that hate is so much stronger than love in recent times?

  4. I like Yvonne am glad that your first presentations went so well. And yes my heart breaks over the relentless bombing in Palestine. Why can't people just get along with each other?

  5. So glad my fellow guild members were able to hear your quilt stories firsthand! We were honoured to have you speak. Thanks for making the leap!

  6. I'm so glad you trip and all the presentations went well! Your quilts are all so meaningful - I know listening to you speak and getting to look at the quilts in person had to have been a wonderful experience for those quilters, too. Thank you for your eloquent words about the situation in the Middle East. My heart is hurting for our world right now.

  7. Congrats on a wonderful and successful tour! The towns are so beautiful and picturesque.

  8. Sandra, it was so lovely to meet you on your tour. It's nice that you are no longer an imaginary friend! Your presentation was excellent and very moving.

  9. Hi Sandra! I am so glad that your presentation was well received, but I am not one bit surprised. Putting into words the backstory and history of each of your quilts is like writing a book. A beginning, middle, and end that have evolved over time and strengthened. I'm also glad you were able to enjoy some down time with MacGyver and the pups. {{Hugs}} a bunch. ~smile~ Roseanne

  10. Sandra, thanks for taking us along (virtually) on your speaking tour. I'm so glad that everyone enjoyed the experience. You had some beautiful stops along the way!

  11. What a wonderfully sucessful tour you had. I can understand the initial nervousness, but your practise sessions must have really helped you. Many congratulations!

  12. How wonderful to begin this part of your life...public speaking among groups of like-minded individuals. Quilters are usually so welcoming and appreciative (and, if I'm right, happy it is somebody else up there speaking!) Having read your blog for so long, I know your passion for your quilts must come through in your speaking as it does in your writing. I wish we could cover the whole world with the love that we put into our quilts. Peace, not war!!

  13. Thanks rro the excellent summary of your visits to the quilt guilds and the side trips you, McGyver and the dogs were able to enjoy. Your loving kindness shines forth and brings light and goodness to everyone you meet. I despair of the ugliness going on in Ukraine, Gaza, the Mexican border, and so many other places we hear little about. And yet, the spoiled brats in the US House of Representives ignore the sufferings while they air their petty grievances.

  14. I'm so pleased to hear that your series of presentations went so well - awesome that you and MacGyver (and the two boys) were able to make quite a road trip of it. Congratulations on your success. Love the plaid look too!

  15. What a wonderful trip and so many wonderful stories to share and hear. Love your little gift - the inaugural tour pillow! I was wondering about the doggies, but glad they could accompany you!

  16. Hi Sandra, you sound like you really had a great 'tour', I'm glad you had MacGyver and the pups with you, and you had a chance to explore - looks like you had the best of the weather too. I love Cathy's pillow, she did a wonderful job, and glad she is safely back home. You still sound a little surprised about everyone's reactions and support - as if we had any doubt. Lovely to explore all your pics too. And I love the Gingham Rainbow - so pretty. Lastly, I'm with you on the people in Gaza, I keep wondering about all the tunnels under it, the possibility of the hostages being kept there, and Israel bombing everything - how many of their own people have they killed? And the hostages that have been released sound like they were well cared for. I just don't understand, no one is being allowed out, they aren't safe where they are being told to go, and minimal aid being allowed in - not to mention, the hospitals have run out of everything. And we haven't forgotten the Ukraine . . . what is this world coming too?
    Take care Sandra.