Quilt Gallery

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Frank Shorter's Wisdom

A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of attending my daughter's graduation from Northfield Mount Hermon School. Having been a runner for nearly forty years, I was naturally excited to hear Frank Shorter's commencement address. Shorter is an alumnus of the school, and the winner of two Olympic marathon medals: gold in 1972 and silver in 1976. I was not disappointed.

In a good natured and folksy way, Shorter shared the ups and downs of his journey to the Olympics and beyond, graciously giving credit to individuals who served as mentors and guides along the way, and making us laugh at some of his high school hijinks.

He touched on his difficult childhood and how it left indelible marks on him. One of the more noticeable marks is how he carries his arms when running, with his left arm close to his side and his right arm swinging freely. To get away from his abusive home, he regularly ran to school. This, of course, was in the days before school children carried their books in backpacks and so he carried his books in his left arm, close to his side.

Though Shorter's advice was directed at the graduating students, his messages resonated with me, and, I suspect, many of the other family members, friends and faculty in the audience. He shared with us his thoughts as he stood on the starting line of the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich, Germany. He told us that he made a conscious decision not to think about the terrorists who, only days before, had attacked the games and taken Israeli athletes hostage. Even though the marathon, by its nature, was the least secure venue, he believed that thinking about the terrorists would mean that they had won.

As Frank Shorter stood at that starting line in Munich he also chose not to think about any "what ifs?," such as "What if I didn't train enough?" Instead he just told himself, "Let's see." In other words, don't undermine your efforts with self doubt. Better just get on with it, do the best you can, and see what comes of it. I can confirm that this attitude really does help in running. My very best races were run with exactly that mind set.

Of course, Shorter wasn't really talking about running when he told this story. He was talking about every endeavor one might undertake throughout a lifetime. That's a point worth remembering every day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Knitter's Project Bag

If I had any doubts as to whether my daughter was a serious knitter, they were banished when I stepped into her dorm room on Monday to find three large cartons filled with yarn and knitting paraphernalia. Not that I really had any doubts. She knit a sweater for herself over Christmas break and for weeks has been dropping not so subtle hints that she could really use a nice project bag in which to carry around her work.

Knowing that knitters tend to work on more than one project at a time, I designed this roomy bag (18” x 12” x 6”) with a middle pocket dividing it into two sections.

The blue canvas came from my stash, the colorful canvas came from The Cloth Pocket in Austin, and the outsides of the pocket were from small lightweight cotton bags. I have quite a collection of these bags as so many stores and organizations use them these days in place of disposable plastic bags.

The polar bears on the inside of the pocket are a nod to my daughter’s interest in wild life.

I’ll leave you with a couple wildlife photos. I spotted these darling little fox kits while out running one morning and went back later in the day with my camera, hoping they would still be there. Their den is beneath an abandoned and condemned old farmhouse and they were playing among the detritus collected outside.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


It is springtime in central Texas and that means wildflowers. Now that the bluebonnets have faded, Indian blankets have taken their turn in the spotlight, filling meadows with waves of orangey red blooms.

This year I've had fun playing with a macro lens and a 100-400 mm lens to zoom in on details. If you get close you can see yellow petal tips on Indian blankets.

If you get even closer you can see who likes to nibble on those petals,

You might also find other flowers, like these tiny mountain pinks, hidden in their midst.

By getting close you can really appreciate how saturated wildflower colors are. This bloom is from a six-foot tall cactus.

There is also a surprising variety of lavender and purple flowers, such as Texas skeleton plant,

horse mint,

American basket flower,

prairie verbena,

and Venus' looking glass.

I've had my share of color in the sewing room too. I stitched up a wall hanging with the blocks I received last year though Barb Vedder's broken dishes block swap. The colors are every bit as varied and saturated as spring-time wildflowers.

I added a sawtooth border,

and quilted it with a simple geometric pattern on the long arm machine. If I were to do it over again I would use red thread on the top rather than white.

Still, I'm pleased with how it turned out and it certainly brightens up my sewing room.

Wishing you a happy spring!