How to Make an American Quilt

Book online How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto

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How to Make an American Quilt



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Some have compared/may class this with Bridges of Madison County to some degree and while the "mush" factor is present there is SO much more to it -- and I loved the quilt theme -- like life, bits and pieces joined and changed and growing into a unique whole. I also loved the relationships of the women -- sisters, grandparent, parent and child, friends, rivals, the whole gamut. July 2010 - this has not lost it's oomph since I read it last. I think it is a keeper in the sense that it offers new "ah-ha's" on each return visit. I'm adding some rather lengthy quotes here this time through. I MUST also amend the "mush" factor comment earlier as I found it far less obviously present than my original statement might imply. I also discovered a much wider, deeper range of topicality than I recalled form my previous reading of this book. The range of ages of the characters allows for a broad swath of history to figure in the scenarios of their lives as presented in conjunction with the quilting themes. Very well done. This definitely retains its high marks in my opinion.First: pg.5Then Sam asked me to marry him.It seemed to me a good idea.Yet it somehow led me back to my educational concern, which was how to mesh halves into a whole, only in this case it was how to make a successful link of unmarried to married, man to woman, the merging of the roads before us. When Heathcliff ran away from Wuthering Heights, he left Cathy wild and howling on the moors, I am Heathcliff, as if their love were so powerful, their souls so seamlessly mated, that no division existed for them, save the corporeal (though I tend to believe they got "together" at least once), which is of little cocnsequence in the presence of the spirit.All of which leaves me wondering, astonished, and a little put off. How does one accomplish such a fusion of selves? And, if the affection is that strong, how does one avoid it, leaving a little room for the person you once were? the balance of marriage, the delicate, gentle shifting of the polished scales.Let me say that I like Sam tremendously. I love him truly.Second: pg.11 There is the Civil War, which is a conflict of the blood tie. No one fights dirtier or more brutally than blood; only family knows its own weakness, the exact placement of the heart. The tragedy is that one can still love with the force of hatred. Feel infuriated that once you are born to another, that kinship lasts thorugh life and death, immutable, unchanging, no matter how great the misdeed or betrayal. Blood cannot be denied, and perhaps that is why we fight tooth and claw, because we cannot, being only human, put asunder what God has joined together.Third: pg.12You want to keep these things in mind: history and family. How they are often inseparable. In the twentieth century you may feel that all those things that went on before have little to do with you, that you are made immune to the past by the present day: All those dead people and conflicts and ideas - why, they are only stories we tell one another. History and politics and conflict and rebellion and family and betrayal.Think about it.Fourth: pg.13Anna said, "This house is a strange house, haunted, I think it could be said. But it is an odd haunting, not as if something extra were here as much as something missing; not a void, only the powerful absence of a thing lost."Fifth: p.38Contemplate crumpling the paper pattern of the pictorial quilt. A pattern by its very nature, should repeat. It is your nature as well. To do as your mother did. As much as you hate it, as much as it grieves you.Sixth: p.39 Follow your parents' footsteps. This is what quilting is about: something handed down - skill, the work itself. Hold it in your hand. dondle it. Know in your heart that you long to rebel; look for ways in which you are different from your mother; know that you see her in yourself at your worst times. Laugh as you contemplate the concept of free will, individuality.Seventh: p.40 Once you love, you cannot take it back, cannot undo it; what you felet may have changed, shifted sl ightly, yet still remains love. You still feel -- though very small -- the not-altogether unpleasant shock of soul recognition for that person. To your dismay. To your embarrassment. This, you keep to yourself.Eighth: p.50 One more thing about partings; no two are alike.Ninth:'ve reached the point in your life (oh, too long ago to remember) where you are too angry for "polite" conversation; you don't want to nurture or have your hand held in sympathy; why you even surprised yourself with wanting to rip the world from its axis. you want it to stop rotating one more frustrating day. And you suppose all this makes you not quite a woman and certainly not a man, but a complete outsider. And there you are.Tenth: p.107Waiting. The worst dream of the night, when you are parted from someone you love and do not know exactly where he is but you know he is in the presence of danger. you are suspended in a state of ignorance and worry and fear. It can tear you aprt like the razor teeth of a sudden beast. You are tormented by a desire to keep the one you love safe. But he may be in a far-off land, fighting a good war like Wolrd War II or an undeclared war like the Vietnam War. It makes no difference to you; these conflicts call forth men you have given birth to, men you have married, men who have fathered you. The men fight. The women wait. It takes the patience of Job.Eleventh: p.109,110The newest quilt is the Names Quilt, representing those Americans who have died youthful deaths from an incurable disease. This quilt is eclectic in its beauty (consider that America is the great melting pot and no two deceased are alike), staggering in its implication of waste. It covers nine acres and bears nine thousand names. Say it slowly: nin thousand. .... the quilt weighs tons. Cloth, thread, appliques individually weigh next to nothing but combined, bearing nine thousand patches, it is a heavy burden. It has the capacity to crush, It originally began as a 3X6-foot patch. Wonder at and decry its weight gain and growth; insist that it should have been stopped at, say thirty pounds. Express outrage that it ever grew to one hundred pounds. Be grief-stricken that it represents only 20 percent of htose deceased, does not even begin to measure those aflicted. It is a waiting disease. But all this may be too sad to contemplate if you are a beginner.Twelfth: p.127A Guyanese story says of black slaves that the only way they can be delivered from "massa's clutch" is to see the extra brightness of the moon in their lives. The darkness will always be ethere, but they can use the light of the moon as hope. The light of the moon. the dancing buffalo gal with the hole in her stocking.One can survive without liberation but one cannot live without freedom. You know it is essential to find one's freedom.Thirteenth: p.163Fusion, union, grafting, joining, sex, friendship, love; the difficult combination of disparate elements.Fourteenth: p.176 The quilters accepted Anna and Marianna, and no one ever made the mistake of saying, "We don't even notice color; they are just liek us." It was this recognition of thier differences that allowed the group to survive, not pretending to transcend them. The impulse to unify and separate, rend and join, is powerful and constant.Applicable to quilting and life?

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