Gary and I have the maps spread out at breakfast and are planning the day. In the small hotel where we are staying, the owners name is Sandip Patel. He tells us, ” I'm fixing to get Y'all another pot of coffee.” It's all I can do to keep from falling off my chair! The mix of India and Southern drawl is so wonderful!
The weather forecast is not good. Over an inch of pounding rain is expected and then a strong cold front to follow with plummeting temperatures. Gary really is a weather wizard and looking at the radar track, he estimates I have a few hours of reasonable hiking.

I set off in full rain gear in just a light mist. It makes sense to hike a four mile bit of Trail that crosses under Interstate 81. Easy flat, low elevation but still beautiful.
I absolutely love bog bridge walkways! They can be really slick though. I once saw Gary do an amazing “Yard Sale!” That's when your feet shoot out from under you, you fly tail over tea kettle and your backpack spews stuff all over the place. Not a pretty picture but fortunately he was unhurt.
Skunk cabbage in the wetlands.
And the first Bloodroot bloom I've seen! These four miles were so quick, after lunch we decide to drive to another four mile section. Quite a bit higher in elevation and much cooler now, Gary dropped me off and I set a brisk pace for myself to warm up and hike to the top of the ridge. Where it is really cold, very windy and sleeting! And I don't seem to have my gloves and stocking hat that were in my pocket. I know better than this… I synch my raincoat hood tight, pull my fleece sleeves over my hands and hustle. Heck, it's only four miles, no stops this time, not even to unwrap a chocolate or for a map check. I just want to get down the mountain where Gary will be waiting for me in a nice warm car.
Partnership Shelter, famous on the Appalachian Trail because you can order pizza delivered by calling from the nearby Mt Rogers Visitors Center. WHAT? I'm not supposed to pass this shelter and headquarters! WHERE AM I?
I am really lucky. The Visitors Center is open and I go in, get warm and look at my map. I have hiked four miles in the wrong direction! To get to Gary, I would have to hike four miles back up the mountain, hike an additional four miles over the ridge, now in the snow, which is coming down hard and at 2:30 in the afternoon. I have no water, no food and not warm enough clothing. Not a good idea. Our cell phones have no service–can't call, can't text. No way to let him know he sent me off in the wrong direction. He's expecting me about 2:30. When I don't show up he will start up the Trail hiking towards me. And won't find me.
Aaarrrghh. The lady at the Visitors Center is very nice and absolutely no help at all because she is totally clueless. She says, why don't I just spend the night at the shelter? She's used to ThruHikers. I have no backpack, no daypack, no sleeping bag. NOTHING at all. It's going to be 23 degrees tonight! Not to mention Gary, frantically waiting for me. She tells me they won't deliver pizza after 2:30. Can't get a shuttle to come for me. Can't call a cab– they don't exist. I consider trying to hitch. I could hike to a fairly decently travelled road but would have to convince my ride (if I could get one) to drive miles into the mountains on the forest service road, if I could even find that road. Of course, I also don't have a penny in my pocket to offer anyone.
I am safe and warm, at least until 4:30 when the Visitos Center closes. I may have to tackle this 80 year old lady–Visitor Center Volunteer, grab her purse, take her car keys, and drive off in search of Forest Road 670. One thing is certain, she will not be leaving here, without me with her. No way, no matter what. I am so frustrated in trying to solve this problem before Gary gets seriously worried about me. Now it is after three o'clock and I am wracking my brains. I see a man driving a white truck up the road and I bolt outside waving my map, an obviously deranged woman. He stops! Warren is his blessed name, and he agrees to drive to the spot where Gary is fishing, find him and lead him back up here. I could cry with relief.
I have so many amazing stories from having hiked the Appalachian Trail. I won't tell this one often. I'm too embarrassed. When Gary finely arrived, he was shocked. He was getting concerned that I was late. He had no idea that I had hiked north instead of south. He had barked at me earlier for questioning a direction on the way to the Trail Head. Truly, this could have ended so much worse. On most hikes, I would have finished my hike in the middle of a vast woods, not at a Visitors Center. If that had been the case today, I would have been very, very cold. I don't even want to think beyond that. I have learned a good lesson. I think Gary has too. Probably not about barking at me, though.


Fox Creek Gap

Part of the fun in hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections is driving the back roads (really Back! back roads) seeing and experiencing rural America. This was the only establishment of any kind in Fox Creek, Virginia. They had great pulled pork and sweet iced tea for lunch. I love the South!
And I love to hike in Virginia. In this state, they build lovely bridges over the streams instead of expecting you to ford across, like some states I could mention…
I'm headed to Dicky Gap today, over Iron Mountain in Grayson Highlands State Park. Laura and I stopped at Fox Creek Gap two years ago after backpacking over Mt Rogers, the highest point in Virginia. It's a lovey hike today, not quite as hot at this elevation but sunny with a nice breeze. It feels great to be in short sleeves again.
It's a little too early for blooming wild flowers above 4000 feet but I saw this interesting tree, growing from an old stump.
Lovely cascades.
And rhododendron tunnels. I love these tunnels! The Appalachian Trail is sometimes referred to as the long green tunnel because so many of the miles are in deep woods. Gary had a good day fly fishing on the Holston River. Caught several trout over 8 inches. A very nice day for both of us.


Blue Ridge Parkway

I have been saving a section of the Appalachian Trail to hike when we drive down to visit son Tanner and family, living in Roanoke, Virginia. The Trail is very close to, and crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway many times between Black Horse Gap and the James River.
I bet the peepers are going crazy at dusk in this vernal pond. I love to hear peepers! Gary dropped me off at Bearwallow Gap and continued to drive along the parkway as I hiked south to meet him at several overlooks.
I've always wanted to stay at the Peaks of Otter lodge. I thought today would be a perfect day to hike, but oh my gosh, is it ever hot! Just a short 6 mile hike and I underestimated how much water to bring. We missed our rendezvous at Bobblets Gap and my chance to get a cold bottle of water from the cooler in the car.
I saw this just after a deer bounded down the Trail right in front of me, white tail flashing. The spirit of the Blue Ridge Parkway? Someday, definitely when the trillium are in bloom, I'd like to drive the Parkway from beginning to end and stop and picnic and see all the waterfalls and sights. Hopefully I'll get in another short hike on our way back home.



This is always one of my favorite views at Longwood Gardens in the spring.
Tiny geophytes are planted in swaths of color.
These Siberian Squill are my favorites. Of course! My favorite color combination of blue and green.
I tried to piece a small abstract quilt, about 12″ x 12″ with the feel of the meadow colors. I never do very well with this kind of quilting. I love the quilts others do so successfully with this free piecing technique. I think I'll stick to my more realistic style for now.


Tulips at the Library

Where is Avon Grove, Pennsylvania? I don't think there is an actual, incorporated town of Avon Grove, but there is a wonderful Avon Grove Library and lots of quilters that meet to sew there on Mondays. Really, the library is located in West Grove and serves more than 30,000 individuals, primarily in the Avon Grove School District, including West Grove and Avondale boroughs, and the townships of Franklin, Penn, New London, London Britain, and London Grove.

It was wonderful to see the tulip quilts hanging in the library for all to enjoy.
I was so impressed with the color sense and quilting skills these ladies had when I taught the Quilting in Layers Workshop a few months ago.
I can't resist showing a few close ups. I want to gather a big bouquet of these gorgeous quilts! I don't think the ladies would part with them though.


Cover Girl

I've always wanted to be a cover girl. That is, have one of my quilts appear on the cover of a book or magazine. My quilt “Mayapples” was featured in the 2013 Award-Winning Quilts calendar. It was nice to be Ms. March but still–that's not a “cover.”

My quilt “After the Ice Storm,” is included in Joen Wolfrom's new book, Color Play: Expanded & Updated Over 100 New Quilts Transparency, Luminosity, Depth & More” due out in September.

But my quilt didn't make the book cover.

My friend Jane Hamilton is a cover girl. She has two quilts in Shanon Gingrich Shirley's new book, “Celebrate the Day With Quilts.” Fifty three quilt artists created seventy two wall hangings that celebrate lesser known, special days, throughout the year.


This quilt, one of the quilts on the cover, celebrates Down's Syndrome Day. Jane's niece Sadie is a cutie cover girl, too
Did you know June 26 is Beautician's Day? Jane's mother was a beautician and I love how Jane used family photos and memorabilia from her mother's Beauty Shop to create a quilt to cherish.
My daughter Kira is a cover girl. Actually, she's had quite a few “covers” in her career as a professional model.
Kira has a gorgeous fashion spread in Palm Beach Illustrated and Naples Illustrated April issues. If you're in Florida, let me know if you see the magazine!
I'd better get to work. I have lots to aspire to. With quilts, that is!


California Dreamin’

This photo is screaming Quilt! to me. I love the composition of the leaves and flowers but that orangey-coral color is screaming “shopping trip.” In my fabric stash, the orange and yellow fabrics are totally missing! Still, I promised myself to work in bright colors for my next project.
Vibrant colored flower gardens are everywhere, strolling down the streets in Santa Monica.
My daughter Caitlin takes Ellis on a daily walk on the promenade, just a block from her house.

I miss them so much! What a gray and rainy weekend we came home to. Two to three inches of rain is predicted with a possibility of sleet or wintry mix. The perfect excuse to stay inside and quilt and maybe make some home made pizza.





Have you heard about these Gender Reveal parties? Expecting parents can choose to know the sex of their baby before birth and they think of the most creative ways to “reveal” boy or girl at a fun party. Kira hosted a party for her sister, Caitlin, expecting our darling grandchild number five, in August.

Lots of balloons arrived in aqua and coral theme colors.
Plenty of help available to hang decorations.
Coral flowers in aqua mason jars.
My contribution to the decorations, based on Caitlin’s pregnancy hints.
Festive food and drink, including the best ever cup cakes.
Bow or Beau? Guests had to decide if they thought Caitlin and Danny would have a sister or brother for Ellis. Out of town family was represented in a slide show playing on the television.
Gary’s guess.
Avarie and I, wishing and hoping!
Are the Miller men planning for a basketball team?
Kira showed real talent and engineering skills, also stamina blowing up balloons in the wee morning hours, to rig the surprise box.
It’s a BOY!!! We are so happy and excited!


Farmers Market

I love produce! Especially when it is so artfully arranged as it is at the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday. Gary and I are in California visiting our daughter Caitlin, her husband Danny and our darling grandson, Ellis.
Can you imagine having all this incredible abundance year round?
You can't match just-picked-this-morning at the grocery store.

Or stroll outside in the 75 degree sunshine in March at a farmers market where I live in Pennsylvania. What a nice respite from the winter we've had this year.
The variety was amazing. Goose egg omelet? These strawberries were to die for delicious.
Ellis approved !


I Spy

I've been working on a special quilt for my grandson, Ellis. He's 1 year old and crazy about trucks and cars and I think he's going to going to love playing sports when he gets a little older. I found this great panel and lots of sports themed fabric at Burkholders Fabrics, near Denver, PA.
Jane made an I Spy quilt with her grand daughter's name on it. I loved that idea and decided to do it too.
Lucky for me Ellis is a really easy name! I used 1 inch graph paper to block out all the letters then added the quarter inch seam allowance and cut the fabric to piece into blocks.


Many of my friends in the “Sometimes We Do” and “The Quiltini's” quilt bees are grandmothers. Actually, it's been grand kid season for a few years and we're all hopeful that it will continue for a while! We all donated novelty fabric to make I Spy quilts and we pass the bag around to share as needed. It's a great way to have a nice selection of fabrics. Thank you all! I couldn't have made this quilt without you because I don't stray into that section of the quilt shop very often.


I always like to include photos of lots of people in the family. The little ones really like finding mommy and daddy, uncles, aunts, pets– everyone who loves them–and their own picture.
I collect the photos and crop and size them so they all look just about the same and then print them out on fabric using one of the commercially available printer sheets. I like to piece a border around the photos because I can then trim the blocks to 4 and a half inches.
Uncle Tyler lookin' good! I'll report in soon and tell you how Ellis likes his quilt.


Kindred Spirits

I had a fun day with the quilters of the Kindred Spirits Too guild. Tulips were starting to bloom in the Quilting in Layers workshop.
Carol and JoAnn discuss Karen's dynamic fabric layout. After the winter we've had here in Southeast Pennsylvania, it felt so good to see bright tulip colors and green leaves planned in fabric.


These ladies were so imaginative. This quilter used the brown stripe fabric so effectively to suggest a trellis. I've never seen that before and I can't wait to see this quilt. Actually, I hope I get to see a whole bouquet of tulip quilts!




Enough practice, I've procrastinated long enough. I have loaded my quilt Bloodroot on my long arm frame and I am machine quilting the appliqué. I have already quilted the background squares using my home sewing machine with my Quilting in Layers technique. This is the first time I've used my long arm in this way, so I'm learning on the fly.
Remember the One Year Old birthday shirt? Here is Ellis sporting his new duds.
I just can't wait to hug this cute little guy!


People Watching


My friend Kelly sent me a link to an article on creativity. Eighteen things creative people do differently and one of the habits was people watching. I think people are fascinating and I love watching them. I just don't know, and maybe the experts don't either, how this people watching trait contributes to making creative art, but I just have to tell this story.


While I was in Cozumel, I was drawn to observing a woman that was in our building unit. She frequently came to sit and visit with her family and friends on the porch of the club house. She was an older lady, quite heavy set. She walked slowly with a cane but she dressed in cool looking athletic clothing, usually all black but accented with bright, colorful sport sandles. I envied her attractive buzz cut hairstyle with artful streaks of gray and wished I could pull off that look.


Clearly she was enjoying a young granddaughter, sitting with the little girl on her lap. I know that some of the people in her group spoke English but I'm not sure if she did. There are many Canadians vacationing in Mexico and some speak French and English, some only French. I spoke to her several times, and didn't get a response. Once, she moved directly in front of me when I was taking a photo of the sunset. Gary even asked her to move a few steps over and she completely ignored him! I was developing a bit of an attitude towards her.


Cozumel is a fantastic diving destination. Several times I saw this lady walking slowly with her cane, in a wet suit, coming back from the dive boat. Her husband, I think, was hauling all her gear, mask, fins, breathing stuff and gages. I thought, how cool. She has such mobility issues walking, she must feel so good and free when she's gliding effortlessly under the water. I said a silent prayer that when my world narrows with the inevitable physical limitations, that I might move and revel in such a challenging and awe inspiring natural inviroment. How I'm going to make that happen, I'm not sure yet…


The porch is a gathering spot in the evenings and one night they had a terrific 3 piece band. Usually the music is Mexican meriachi, of course, in Cozumel. This band was straight from my time, Rock! They played the music Gary and I grew up with. The Beatles! Led Zeppelin! Van Morrison! Queen! They were great. We were all singing along, requesting songs, feeling the beat. The drummer started the lead-in to a Pink Floyd song. The lady in black got up and broke into the most amazing performance of air guitar, played on her cane! that I have ever seen! Oh my gosh. Without moving a step, she rocked that song and brought down the house. It blew me away!


I have no clue how watching this woman for a week will make me more creative. I do know that I still wonder about her and her life and every time I think about her, I smile.




I just filled out a long survey sponsored by quilting companies and quilt museums– HandiQuilter, Superior Threads, Quilt Museum in Nebraska and others. They wanted to know where I get inspiration. Magazines? Quilt shows? Museums? Of course, I know they have an agenda. But where is the box to tick that says, Friends? My BQF’s (Best Quilting Friends) inspire me and motivate me so much!


Don’t you just love this cool tuffet Christine made–inspired by the tuffet Sujata made. I sooo want to make one in all hot pink fabrics for a new granddaughter. Actually, I want Christine to make it for me! If the granddaughter turns out to be a grandson…he’s not getting one– in any color.
I love this colorful quilt Sujata made. I wanted to name it “Pistahios” but they don’t color the shells red and green anymore so nobody would get it! Her exuberant colors and style send me running to pull out my solid fabrics. I’m pretty sure I have the colors needed to make a quilt titled “Walnuts.” I’ve got to work on getting more colorful…
This cute quilt on timtex was made by Kelly. She always does fun stuff and inspires me to play a little. I don’t have those fabrics either…
Humm. Instead of trying to get quilters to fill out a long, boring survey with limited response questions, why don’t the quilting companies invite me and my whole, huge group of BQF’s to a nice info gathering outing, complete with red wine– just to prevent Lint Lung, you know. They would get much, much better market research.


Re Entry

I refuse to put a snow picture on this blog! Mostly because it's to dang cold to even step outside! What a hard landing coming back from sunny and warm Cozumel to yet another snow storm. Seriously, I'm suffering withdrawal from lack of salsa and guacamole
OK, done griping. I am refreshed from vacation and focusd on getting my quilt Bloodroot, quilted. I took my paper pattern and copied some of the appliqué leaves and flowers onto a piece of muslin with a black manic marker. I added batting and backing and loaded the practice quilt on my long arm. This will give me some idea of how the quilting lines will flow without the distraction of the piecing.
I would be really inspired if I could see some bloodroot blooming right now. As there should be in March!