Every Picture Tells a Story Don’t It?

Once upon a time there was a vivacious young girl who dreamed of growing up to be an artist, a textile designer to be exact. Determined, she had the great fortune to obtain employment at a large department store in the city center with plans to obtain a firm foundation in her future career. What was less fortunate was the time and place into which this young Jewish girl was born: Berlin at the precise time the winds of war were gathering over Germany and the evil specter of National Socialism and Adolf Hitler were in ascendance.

Sonnenblume: sunflower quilt

Sonnenblume 10″ x 10,” 2016

Not unlike Oskar Schindler, the owner of the store made up his mind to help some of his young employees escape Germany. With limited resources and so many in need of his help, he devised a plan to assist him with the daunting and nearly impossible task of deciding who would go and who would stay. He announced a design contest. Winners would secure a place on the Kindertranport, a rescue effort that gave refuge to thousands of Jewish children in Great Britain between 1938 and 1940.

Luckily, the girl’s design was one of those chosen and she was smuggled out of the country to live with her new “adoptive” family in the green Valleys of Wales. What became of her parents and the rest of her family is not my story to tell, however, the girl lived on in Great Britain, eventually marrying a British Army Officer who later became Headmaster of a boy’s school. Her dream of becoming an artist was never fulfilled but she became the mother of two lovely children, a boy and a girl.

Her son married my best friend Anne 40 years ago. The “girl” is now 91 years old, but I only learned the basics of this tale a few years ago. The rest of the story was revealed to me just a few weeks ago when I posted an image of one of my latest pieces on Facebook, an art quilt featuring sunflowers. The very next next morning I received an email from Anton inquiring about the availability of the piece which I had just dropped off at a museum rendering it unavailable. His inquiry was shortly followed by an email from Anne informing me that he wanted the piece for his mother. Her winning design, the one created all those years ago, the design that literally saved her life featured sunflowers, Sonnenblume. So this little piece was designed and made just for her and is on it’s way across the ocean to find a new home with woman who has been an artist in her heart for all these many years.

Ohio’s Sacred Earth or You Don’t Always Get What You Want but if You Try Sometime You Just Might Get What You Need, Part 1..

017It’s no secret that I love the art of travel and I have figured out how to combine my love of art with travel by serving as artist in residence at various National and State Parks and other public lands. Now I can tell the story of my most recent attempt at adventure. Last Christmas one of my art friends sent me an application for The Voices in the Wilderness residency and told me I should apply. Flattered, I quickly did some investigating and learned that the program embedded artists in the Alaskan Wilderness, and I do mean embed. Artists were invited to apply to 10 different wilderness locations where they would accompany a ranger or US Fishery and Wildlife employee into the outback. Artists would be sleeping in a tent, hiking through Alaska and finding inpiration to make art, no comfy cabins here.

I spent the month of January lost in research about Alaska and devising a proposal that I hoped would land me the opportunity to really test my metal and kick up the ol’ adrenalin a notch or two. What a relief to find out there are no rattlesnakes in Alaska (see previous blogs regarding this particular reptile)! No snakes in the whole darn state to be exact. Huh. This was quickly replaced with concern that more people are killed by moose and plane crashes every year than those who meet their maker by snake bite in the whole rest of the country. Then there are the bears, both Black and Brown. For those of you needing to know, Brown Bears are genetically identical to Grizzlies, they are just a bit smaller and….brown. Have I mentioned the mosquitos? Before proceeding much further I consulted with my own personal wilderness expert, my brother Bruce. He gave me a brief tutorial on the finer points of bear barrels and the treatment of clothing with permethrin to ward off skeeters.

February saw the mailing of fat application packets to two carefully chosen wilderness sites and then the long wait for a response. Well, not so long after all. Within three weeks I received a very excited call from one of the sites. We talked at length about my proposal and the details of the potential trip. I would be flying into Anchorage then a pilot would retrieve me in a small float plane and fly me into the wilderness for a two-week stay. Here I would be accompanied by a 70-year-old, gun-toting volunteer whose job would be to keep me from getting lost and to shoot any bears with more than a passing interest in art and artists. To aid in this endeavor I would be provided with a battery operated electric fence to surround my tent, and myself should I choose to sit and sketch or photograph. Bear barrels would be provided as well as three different communication devices including a Satellite phone. Hey! Isn’t that what those embedded war correspondents use in the Middle East? So what was I actually worried about? None of that stuff. I was filled with anxiety regarding, shall we say, the finer points of personal hygiene in the backwoods with no running water or toilets and a total stranger in tow. A third week in Alaska would involve working with Native Alaskan youth on an art project at Culture Camp where Native arts like hunting, fishing and berry picking are combined with science and archaeology in an effort to keep the Native culture alive. Intriguing.

As it turned o014ut I need not have worried. A week later I received a call advising me that the person in charge of the program was accepting a job in another state and that the program would not be going forward this year as there was no one else capable of organizing it on such short notice. Because well…people could actually die out there unless the logistics were done properly. I saw their point. The second venue I applied to did not receive funding from the feds this year, so done and done. This goes to illustrate the fact that often when we are rejected it is not personal in any way. Many times our seeming rejection actually has nothing to do with us, but often artists in particular view such so called rejection as judgement about themselves or their work, making them afraid to take chances in future that might afford them amazing experiences. By the way, if you have been following the news lately, it seems half the state of Alaska has been on fire this summer, and with no roads, fire fighting is an extreme and very serious vocation. Be careful what you ask for.


And….never underestimate the wonders to be found in your own back yard. Part of what I enjoy about travel is the indigenous art found in the areas I visit. Mesa Verde has the stunning Black on White pottery, Agate Fossil Beds, Sioux beadwork and ledger art, etc, etc. Ohio has the Mound Builders, the Hopewell Culture to be exact. I studied them in school, but this summer I have immersed myself in the beauty of their art and the new historical theory gained with advances in science and archaeology.

The summer started off innocently enough with a visit with my cousin to Serpent Mound for a Summer Solstice Supper created with turkey and the three sisters, beans, corn and squash, then a lecture by Dr. Brad Lepper, which turned out to be mostly about the amazing artwork created right here in Ohio. Well, that sent me on a quest and my summer has been consumed with visiting Hopewell Sites. So far I have visited Hopewell Culture National Park, Seip Mound, Spruce Hill, Fort Hill and The Ohio Historical Society to view this unique symbolic and spiritual art which is so skillfully executed, it is much more sophisticated than the Mesa Verde pottery. In my spare time I have also read Dr. Lepper’s book, Ohio Archaeology. Left on my To Do list is a visit to Flint Ridge only about 20 miles away and a source of the colorful flint used to make atlatyl spearheads, arrow heads, knives and other stone implements since the time of the Paleo-Indians, and Tarlton Cross only a 20 inute drive from home. I have had a wonderfully interesting summer so far and in just a few weeks I will be leaving to visit my son in Munich and my best friend in Wales with a side trip to Amsterdam. So if you try sometimes, you just might get what you need (and without being burned to a crisp in the Wilderness.)

Poinsett Ponderings: An Artist’s Life in The High Hills of The Santee Or There’s Snakes Up There

I was both honored and blessed to have served as Artist in Residence at Poinsett State Park in South Carolina last week. I just love this state and their parks are amazing. If you haven’t been you should. I had the privilege of staying in one of the newly renovated cabins built by the CCC during the depression. Blocks of Coquina, a conglomerate of sea shells proving South Carolina was once submerged under a great sea, were used as a building material for foundations, fireplaces and picnic shelters, making the architecture something special.

In exchange for staying in such beautiful accommodations, artists are required to provide the park with a piece of artwork within 3 months of their stay. These pieces are featured throughout the park in various cabins and the park office making it a very artistic place to make art. I had the notion before leaving Ohio that my textile piece would feature a Revolutionary War era figure of some sort, perhaps a certain Levi who apparently ran a mill on what now is Poinsett State Park.

Let’s face it, if like me you attended public school north of the Mason Dixon Line, you had no idea that the South was even involved in the Revolutionary War. All that business took place in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Lexington or Concord, right? That is all we learned about in school. You probably never heard of Ninety-Six, Cowpens, The Battle of Charleston or King’s Mountain. Another reason to get out and enjoy our public lands and learn the real history of our nation. The South is just dripping with history including the prominent role South Carolina played in the birth of our country.

Earlier in the week I learned from one of the rangers that my information about Levi was inaccurate. He did run the mill, but not until the 1800’s. It was Mr. Matthew Singleton, lately of The Isle of Wight, in 1754 that is, who built and ran the mill, the ruins of which can still be seen today at one end of the lake. The lake and spillway were originally built by Matthew to flood the rice fields located between where the current park is situated and his plantation, Melrose,  just a few miles away.

Although the plantation has since burned to the ground, I was informed there was a historical marker and family cemetery containing the earthly remains of Matthew Singleton and his family at the site. I hope you never have the bad luck to be driving behind me when I spot a historical marker. Undoubtedly you will be cursing as I unexpectedly and rapidly veer off the roadway without advanced warning. So I just had to go.

I googled the directions to the Melrose site and headed out. I should mention two things here: get a block off the highway in this neck of the woods and you are on dirt roads, well red sand roads actually, and it had been raining for two days and two nights at this point in time. I headed out and proceeded down the road indicated on the map, it turned out to be red dirt with a few houses on the right. About a mile down the road the houses petered out and the road got narrower and wetter. Now growing up in the 50’s darn near every movie featured someone who had disappeared in quicksand leaving only a hat floating on the surface. I was pretty certain the scientific recipe for quicksand was one part sand, two parts water, which fairly accurately described current weather conditions. Prudently, I decided not to continue on in this particular adventure and drove in reverse a mile back down the road I came in on rather than become the star of my own movie.

Now all week-long everyone kept telling me I needed to meet Zabo McCants the head ranger. The next day I finally did and what a pleasure. I told him about my attempt at exploration and he confirmed my decision to change course as a wise one. He advised me that “they never mow the grass in the cemetery and there are snakes up there, (see my previous blog about snakes)” South Carolina boasts 6 varieties of venomous snakes: three different kinds of rattlers,  Copperheads, Coral Snakes and the notorious Cottonmouth. Point taken.

Zabo is quite a visionary and driven to excellence in everything he does. He takes great pride in his plans to  remodel the park’s cabins, even down to matching the color of the dish soap to the coffee mugs. He is a local boy done good and an authority on local history. Well he should be, he is a direct descendent of Brigadier General Richard Richardson, a Revolutionary War hero and patriot who hung around with the likes of The Swamp Fox, married into the Singleton family and had a run in with British villain Banestre Tarleton (check out the movie The Patriot with Mel Gibson for the gory details). He additionally informed me that whenever he goes up to the Melrose site he kits himself up in full state park uniform, “So that everyone knows who I am and why I am there.” Well if that is necessary for him, considering who his people are, what chance would I have had if the locals had found out that my “people” included a teenaged German private from Ohio named John Ruhl, who tagged along with one William Tecumseh Sherman as he marched to the sea? Another crisis averted and more fodder obtained for the piece I create for the park. What more could one ask for?

Mad as Hell

I admit it. I watched way too much TV as a kid. Back in the fifties, despite the black and white screen, television was a novelty and my parents didn’t really care how much we watched. We were frequently admonished not to sit so close to the screen, but actual viewing time was never an issue. It should be noted here that I’ve worn corrective lenses since 7th grade, so they may have had a point there. Regardless, on Saturday mornings, cereal bowl in hand and face 12″ from the screen, I watched TV nearly all day. First came the cartoons, but around noon the Westerns came on. Cowboys and Indians, the wild, wild, West. You might say my formative years were strongly influenced by this experience.

My younger brother loved the cowboys. For his third birthday he was duly outfitted with a bright red cowboy hat, holsters and two six shooters which he proudly wore over a mostly clean swimsuit. I, on the other hand, much preferred the Indians. As I look back now, I can see that the lead actors were really white dudes decked out in make up and tatty costumes, making stereotypical remarks like “How,” apparently the only word they knew.

When second grade rolled around, a magical thing happened. The Bookmobile pulled into the J.W Reason elementary School parking lot. With great effort I climbed the big stairs and gazed up into the lofty heights of books that towered to the ceiling of the vehicle. For the first time in my life I was able to pick any book I chose to take home and read. I picked a little number on Navajo Folktales from the Painted Desert in Arizona.

I soon graduated to volumes on the Indians of The Great Plains in third grade. We studied the Native Peoples of Ohio. I read books about Tecumseh, Blue Jacket and Little Turtle as well as the Shawnee, Miami and Wyandotte nations. My Dad made a miniature Woodland longhouse created from bent twigs and maple bark from the tree in our front yard. It even had a tiny wooden mortar and pestle for grinding corn. I proudly carried it to school on the bus and shared it with my class, and Mrs. Stanley, our teacher was so impressed she gave my dad and me an A+ on the project.

In 6th grade my Uncle Jim was performing with a group of Boy Scouts that specialized in Native American Dance. With not a drop of Native blood, my uncle had the facial structure to carry off it off. Around the same time my mother was our Campfire Girls leader and she persuaded him to perform at one of our campouts. I can still feel the hair on the back of my neck standing at attention when a warrior, dressed if full regalia, flaming torch in hand, emerged from the foreboding darkness of the woods. I was so enthralled that I never noticed it was Jim whirling and whooping in time to the throbbing beat of the drum.

All very interesting and romantic, but I should point out here that at no time, and in no official textbook did I ever learn anything of the true and shameful way Americans have treated our Indigenous Peoples. I very much doubt that has changed in any significant way since my childhood and it makes me mad as hell.

Promise Kept

Promise Kept

With greed and a desire to own everything in sight, Americans put forth their best effort to wipe The People off the face of the earth. Not succeeding at genocide, we then attempted to steal the culture, art, language and spiritual beliefs of our Native American Citizens. We are still at it. How many of you know that just a few weeks ago Congress took Navajo land in an underhanded land grab or that the Keystone pipeline is slated to pass through the sacred lands of the Sioux in South Dakota? To quote Oglala Lakota Sioux, Red Cloud, “The white man made me a lot of promises, and they only kept one. They promised to take my land, and they took it.” Native Lives Matter.

NPS Artist Residencies, No Walk in the Park

Nope, they are oh, so much more…life changing in fact. While serving as a National Park Service Artist in Residence at several parks over the past year I have lived in a hogan, climbed three stories up the face of a cliff on a ladder, hiked the back country after hours, had a close encounter with a Prairie Rattler, survived the ague and had a private viewing of priceless artifacts locked away in our national treasure chest. I will always cherish these amazing memories but there is more.

If you want to learn American History, you will not learn it in public school. There we learned to memorize a lot of dates and were spoon fed a sanitized version of our history as seen through the eyes of the dominant culture. If you want to experience the real history of our country, get out and see it first hand. The preliminary research I undertake prior to each trip ads a great depth of meaning to the parks, the hikes and museum collections. While in the National Parks I like to ponder the thought that I am literally breathing in the molecules of the historical events that came before my presence on these sacred grounds. But there is still more…

The people. On each trip I met wonderful people willing to share their interests, talents and cultures with me. The park staff have been so welcoming and supportive. Ranger Lil allowed me to lay on her office floor for two hours when I became ill and maintenance man Bill gave me a ride back to my park housing and acted as a firearms consultant on one of my quilts. Ranger Alvis threw me a going away party. Interns Marley and Nick generously shared their park home and horror movie collection. Ranger Fred showed me behind the scenes of The Cook Collection and the head Ranger at Mesa Verde spent a half hour of his time personally re-programming my walkie talkie so I would be safe in the back country. The children of The Indian Cultural Center, Lincoln, Nebraska allowed me to lead them in a  group art project. Stuart Proud Eagle Grant generously shared his veneration of Crazy Horse  and thoughts on Red Cloud.


Ruth, 26×17, 2014, Homestead National Monument of America

Serving as an Artist in Residence for the NPS is really so much more than a hike in the woods. It is a gift that keeps on giving. I come home invigorated, head spinning with new ideas, ready to spend many pleasurable hours in the studio making art inspired by America’s Best Idea. And thanks to Stuart Grant, I am now immersed in research on Crazy Horse and thinking about my application for next years adventure.


Remember that little ditty? We used to sing it on the bus, shout it on the playground and yell it out the car windows. It came in handy for spelling tests. I am recalling it now as I had a wonderful afternoon today in Hannibal, Missouri as I travel west to Homestead National Monument. Hannibal is perched on the banks of the mighty Missisip and home to Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. I toured his home and those of his childhood friends who appeared in his books as Tom, Huck and Becky. I am reminded how his early experiences contributed to his creative process in later life I also just love his acerbic wit.

What has this got to do with quilting or anything else you might wonder? Well, obviously I have not turned out to be a paddlewheel captain, famous author, or bankrupt for that matter (thank goodness) like Mark Twain, but my childhood and some good genes has had a definite influence on my creativity. I come from a long line of artists, or perhaps more correctly, makers.  We have wood workers, wood carvers, painters, sewers, knitters a canoe maker and a jewelry maker in the family. With the exception of my graphic designer son, all the rest of us are self taught. When you look up “outsider art,” on Wikipedia, our family portrait next to the definition.

Some of us have been more successful than others in our artistic endeavors. My dad made a living for many years making furniture, and my mother had the ability to knit intricate cable knit sweaters while watching television and without even looking at her hands. My English aunt on the other hand, knit herself a wool bathing suit during the 1920’s so she could be de rigeur. She did in fact make quite a fashion statement when the weight of the salt water caused the whole shebang to stretch down to her knees Typically the water temperature off the north coast of England does not lend itself to topless bathing.

My parents also endured my creative endeavors with great tolerance as I look back on it now. When I used gooey homemade flour paste to adhere images of Twiggy, the Beatles and Stones all over the basement (well cellar, really) walls, they never once said, ” Holy S***! Do you see that two ton coal burning furnace over there? Are you trying to start a conflagration that will burn the house down?” When my cousin and I thought it was a great idea to carry a thirty pound rock two miles out of the woods in order to extract the quartz crystals it contained, my Dad gave me a hammer. Note to self, that job really requires a diamond tipped industrial strength drill. Lastly, after reading Huck Finn, my brother, cousin and I constructed a raft worthy of the mighty Mississippi out of an old door, several Styrofoam coolers and some twine. My dad nonchalantly threw it in the back of his pick up truck, drove it 20 miles to throw it in a farm pond and watched it promptly sink the minute we boarded. Tom and Huck would have been greatly disappointed but my dad never said a word. Good thing my family was instrumental in developing my artistic abilities, because I never would have made it as an engineer.

Mesa Verde Resonates with Art

Here in the arid southwest, where the Ancient Puebloan people must have had to work very hard just to survive during times of drought and overpopulation, they still found the time to create beauty. The place is filled with art, in the pottery, basketry, rock art and wall paintings. They even wove beautiful red and blue macaw feathers into stunning robes.

I have been so busy hiking, exploring and visiting museums, both the one on Chapin Mesa and The Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado, I finally settled down to making some art of my own today. I bought a few sketch books before I left and have spent some time doing a bit of sketching. I did some quick sketches while on two of my backcountry solo sojourns, another at 7:00 AM this morning at Spruce Tree House and the other day at Long House. I have also done some sketches of the amazing black and white geometric design found on Mesa Verde pottery.

Today I settled in at the picnic table at the rear of my hogan and translated these designs into screens and silk screened them on to cotton fabric I brought with me. It was a lovely day outside, somewhat overcast and a bit cooler, but a gentle wind was blowing that made the screening process a bit of a challenge. I hope to add some detail freehand with textile markers. I really love how the ancient potters did not dwell on perfection and in their imperfection beauty dwells. Another life lesson worth learning.

Entropy Revisited

32W x 27H
Many of you expressed an interest in seeing what became of the rusty train photos I shot a few months ago. Well, they morphed into my first SAQA Show entry. I had already taken these photos when SAQA posted a call for entries for No Place to Call Home, a show with the theme of homelessness. I may have shared that in real life I am a clinical social worker, and as such, I deal with this issue and many others in an all too real way. So, about the last thing I had any intention of doing was entering this show. I do make an attempt to keep my professional and personal life as separate as possible and this felt like it was pushing the boundary. Then I got the bright idea to base my quilt on all the homeless men, women and over 250,000 children that “rode the rails” during the Great Depression. I had heard much about this period from my parents, who both lived through it as children. They had it tough, but were never homeless. I remembered hearing a piece on NPR (my favorite) about the boxcar kids and an author who was researching their plight all these years later. It was a very touching piece, and all of a sudden I was on a roll with this quilt. I tossed all my other work aside in order to get it done in plenty of time to enter.
Detail 1933
I was already in possession of some old quilt blocks I bought at a yard sale 20 years ago that looked like they contained depression era shirting material. So, I used some of them whole and others I cut up and mixed with new batiks. I went down to the Goodwill and bought some old jeans, cords and wool tweed pants and threw them in the mix (my friend Jessica would not let me use the zipper, she said it was too distracting, if you know what I mean). Then I printed out the rust photos on cotton fabric. I bought Photoshop Elements 8 last Christmas, battling for weeks with Walmart and my computer to get the darn thing to work. All in all, it was a great move, but I’ve gotta tell ya, I had to quilt just to calm myself down from the frustration of being so technologically challenged. Thank the lord I’ve got a calling plan that allows me to call my two boys every five minutes asking for help, and two sons who know that their Mom is dunce in this area, and don’t care. Anyway, I’m starting to get the gist of it and it is amazingly fun to play with. So, I altered some of my train photos and printed them out too. While I was doing research for the quilt, I learned that hoboes actually had a whole set of symbols they used to communicate with each other to warn of barking dogs, police and Railroad Bulls or to give each other the low down on a handout. These symbols were hidden in the quilting. I decided on a deconstructed look that would mimic a torn blanket, perhaps carried in a bedroll for warmth on the boxcars. I topped the whole thing off with an old spoon I found smashed in the road this winter. It reminded me that many people found their meals in hobo jungles. Well, technology was used to digitally enter the show today and will keep my fingers crossed, but frankly I’m just too darn busy to worry about it. I’ll keep you posted.

There’s No Place Like Home

Wild Blue Yonder
I have written several posts on the influence of travel on my work. I seem to require the contrast between the exotic and mundane to add meaning to my life and art. However, another event has also informed my most recent work. Just a couple of years ago, I considered a move to Southwestern Virginia, a seriously special place. I thought it was just me, but that is what the local visitors bureau had actually chosen as a tag line for their promotion of the area. The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian culture created a magical lure. After much contemplation and soul searching however, I decided I could not leave Ohio.

Homeplace III: Farm at Rockmill – Lancaster, Ohi0

Relatives on both sides of my family have called Ohio home for many years, and on my Dad’s side of the family, as early as the 1800’s. They were a family of German immigrants arriving in America in the 1790’s and eventually migrating to Columbus, Ohio to set up their family business, shoe making. They lived in German Village and one of my female relatives was an elementary school prinicipal and another sang German opera in the Dammenchor. My maternal grandparents were both graduates of The Ohio State University in the 1920’s, my own collegiate alma mater.


Homeplace II: Cattle Barn, Lancaster, Ohio
As I was attempting to make my decision, all of these things were running through my mind. I never realized the extent to which I was anchored to this particular place in the world, but I was having a very difficult time when it came to the reality of leaving and not just the romantic contemplation of moving to a “special place.” Once the decision was made, a very odd thing happened. It was like the scales had fallen off of my eyes, and I truly saw the beauty and “specialness” of my chosen hometown, Lancaster and environs.

Homeplace: Winter – Carroll, Ohio
After completing my Toscana series, which explored the joy of a visit to Tuscany, I was searching for a subject for my next body of work. Then I thought, why not express the same joy I experience everyday in my “own backyard?” After all, this is the other half of me. As much as I love to travel, I always find my way back home. I decided this would be the focus of this year’s work. So far, I have completed four quilts and am still working, with a self-imposed deadline of completion set for July. Yes, I’m dreaming of my next adventure, but most days I get out of bed, slip on my ruby slippers and repeat, “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”…. “there’s no place like home.”

Wild, Wonderful…Wales!

Pembrokeshire, Wales

There are those seminal events in life that you never forget, like where you were on 9/11, or what were you doing the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Two such events are forever linked in my mind: Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon walk and they day my best friend Anne walked into my life.

Three Cliffs Bay, Wales

As a junior in high school, my mother decided it would be a great idea for our family to host a foreign exchange student during my senior year. The only problem was convincing my Dad that he also thought this was a great idea. After all, feeding another mouth for a year, and having a person in the house that perhaps did not speak English was going to require some doing on her part. My mother was nothing if not inventive, and like women across the ages, she usually came through the back door to get what she wanted, and she was darned good at it. My dad’s mother was English, and the apple of my his eye, so, my mother suggested we ask for a student from Great Britain. Voila! Mission accomplished.

St. Davids, West Wales

So, on a hot July day in 1969, after staying up all night to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, our family was off to the bus station in Columbus, Ohio to meet our new family member from Cardiff, Wales, Anne. Little was I to know the full impact of this event. Sure, we had a memorable year. I learned to sing a few songs in Welsh, and Anne learned how to eat corn on the cob (food for pigs don’t you know) and peanut butter. We had English tea and took Anne to see Washington D.C. , Williamsburg and Florida. We took her camping and hiking and I sewed her some dresses. We rode our bikes and made Welsh dolls for Christmas, but what really happened is we became lifelong friends and honorary sisters.

Thornhill Farm

I have lost track of how many times I have visited Wales over the last forty years. Anne and I travel together frequently, and she is always willing to indulge whatever weird interest I have going on at the time. She has driven me to Yorkshire to buy textile art supplies, taken me to garden centers when I wanted to see how the Brits do it, followed me through Laura Ashley shops to look at fabric, eaten lunch with me in the crypt at St. Martins in the Field and walked through the Egyptology exhibit at The British Museum to mention just a few. The last time I was there, I asked her to drive me around so I could photograph some trees, “You know, you really have some good ones over here,” I said in my most convincing voice. The majestic oak tree I photographed at Thornhill Farm, not far from Cardiff, was later translated into a quilt. I once asked Anne if there was any of my wacky ideas that she would not indulge. After some thought, she stated that she drew the line at bungee jumping or watching sporting events of any kind. Whew! I’m off the hook there. That’s where I draw the line, too!