Conflicting Interests

Work on the bike quilt or go for a bike ride? It’s hard to tear myself away from sewing on this quilt. I’m racing (hehe!) to get it done to show my students at MAQ– Mid-Appalachian Quilt Conference, which is coming up soon. By the way, the website says the Appliqué Quilting in Layers class is full, but there are two last minute spots open. 

I found the perfect fabric for that spoke hub thingy (technical bike term) and I can’t resist sewing the blocks together to see how it looks. 

Boom!  That’s what I’m talking about. No pins, first try. I had to think awhile on how I wanted to quilt the spokes. I knew I didn’t want my usual checkerboard, alternating direction, quilting lines. I wanted the stitching to look like the wheel spokes. I used a Frixion pen and ruler to mark a guideline so the quilting would radiate from the center hub.

This gorgeous June weather is just too nice to stay inside the studio, so when Christine suggested a ride on the C&O Canal, Gary and I joined her and Mark, Elizabeth and Mel and Bill for a ride. 

We rode from Chesapeake City to Delaware City, all along the canal, about 17 miles. 

Oh heck was I ever ready for lunch. 

We always want to sit outside if possible. 

Crabby Dick’s fit the bill perfectly and we had a view of the Chesapeake Bay. I ordered a salad topped with a crab cake. Gary got the crab cake sandwich. We’ve been on a long term mission to taste all the crab cakes, worthy of tasting, in the greater Bay area. No disappointment here– delicious.

We decided to ride back through the town on Clinton street. This might have been a restaurant choice. Lewinsky’s on Clinton. Ahhh…  Oh, I get it. Yikes. Thanks for being the Vanna, Christine! Lucky for my photography, her go-to color is always Kodak Red!

Y’all know I’m a landlubber from Illinois so I am completely intrigued by tugboats pushing barges and seeing all the ships and cargo boats navigating the canal. I really love canals. I like to learn about the history and the construction and hey, they’re mostly flat, which makes riding a bike pleasurable. Still– riding almost 34 miles is far! I’m treating myself to 2 Aleve tonight. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain and storm. Perfect bike quilting weather. 

Steeling the Show 

Lele Galer’s sculpture “Steel Heart.”

Gary and I spent a very interesting and enjoyable evening last night at Galer Winery. “Steeling the Show” was a garden party to benefit the Oxford Art Alliance (OxAA), a nonprofit community organization for advocacy of the arts and culture. Sixteen artists exhibited their sculptures.

It’s always great to hear some live music, provided by Oxford Alliance music instructors. 

Gary really liked the piece “Planting Time” by Rob Sigafoos. This artist was my favorite because many of the sculptures shown referenced botanical themes. (Darn good with the “art speak,” huh!) Unfortunately this sculpture did not follow us home. 

The organizers could not have selected a more perfect night to dine outside in view of the vineyard. We shared a table with Jim and Emily and took turns making forays to the delicious dinner selections provided by Brandywine Prime. I’m so glad the desert offerings aren’t in the photo– I had one of each. 

In keeping with the steel and sculpture theme, the featured artist, Ellen Durkan, showed fashion design, combining the art of metal and blacksmithing. And maybe something else I can’t begin to define…  Can’t say I’ll be hanging any of those “outfits” in my closet any time soon. But how interesting to see how an artist interprets her medium. Kind of Steampunk minus the fabric! 

The artist, Ellen, modeled her own creation. The audience really enjoyed seeing something quite different. Did I mention there was wine available? We certainly availed ourselves and had a fun and unusual evening. 

We Have a Winner!

I’m so excited for my customer, Susan. “My Emily Monroe Quilt” has won first place in the “By Pattern Catagory” Primitive Quilt Exhibit at Quilt Festival in Houston, this fall. When Susan asked me to longarm quilt for her, I was totally intimidated. I had never tried to outline appliqué before and was scared that I would not be able to do justice to Susan’s beautiful and meticulous work. First Do No Harm, is a longarm quilter’s mantra as well as the physician’s Hippocratic Oath.

Luck was with me, the quilting went well and I am so happy to have contributed in a small way. 

Primitive Quilts and Projects Magazine chose 22 quilts to hang in the exhibit. Susan’s prize includes airfare and hotel accommodations. She is going to have a fantastic time, enjoying the quilt show and basking in well deserved admiration. I have a huge smile on my face! Yea Susan!

Father’s Day

It’s nice to stretch Father’s Day into a few days. Our trip to East Hampton, Long Island, began with a trip to see the Montauk Point Lighthouse. This was the first lighthouse built in New York State. During the Revolutionary War, the British occupied Long Island and kept watch fires burning as beacons for their ships blockading Long Island Sound. After the war, President George Washington authorized a lighthouse to be built in 1792 to safeguard ships and promote international trade. 

I love lighthouses! Of course we climbed to the top to see the spectacular view. 

Pretty sweet to have your daughter take you fishing! The chair is for me. Somebody has to do the official watching and I’m the right person for the job. 

This would be the hard, strenuous way. 

This would be the easy, relaxed way.

Unfortunately, neither method caught any fish but who cares. There was time spent with Kira, a gorgeous sunset and a bottle of chilled rose’ wine. Who needs fish?

They don’t give up easily– fishermen…or fisherwomen. A chartered boat trip with Captain Bob the next day increased the chances for success. Striped bass would be a nice prize and the competition for those holding the rods is fierce. I have added referee to my duty roster.

Yea Kira! She caught the first blue fish. 

I reeled in this sea robin. What a strange fish– it looks like it has wings and it makes a grunting noise. We caught too many of these “trash” fish and Captain Bob was kept busy throwing them back. 

We didn’t get any stripers, but two nice blue fish for dinner were delicious on the grill.

Gary is enjoying a perfect start to Father’s Day with an omelette and a mimosa. 

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads! I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable day.  

Good Time Had by All

The quilting getaway is over. I really wanted to sit on this deck all afternoon with a good book and big glass of iced tea. It was peaceful and relaxing and we had such a great time. 

I even got some piecing done. I added to my stack of Bonnie Hunter blocks that I have no idea what to do with. That’s OK, I’m confident that a pattern will suggest itself in good time. 

I also got these blocks done. They will get set together with sashing and borders.

Thanks to our wonderful hostess, Cheryl, and all my Quiltini good friends. I had a great time sewing, quilting and hanging with you all. 

Quilting Getaway

My friend Kelly, over at Pinkadot Quilts, posted a photo on her blog, of her studio in the midst of packing projects to work on at a quilting getaway. I haven’t packed yet because I have been working on my bike quilt– obsessively — there isn’t any room to walk, much less get out more fabric to pack up. 

This is how I organize my fabrics. Yikes! I hope students signed up for my classes at Mid-appalachian Quilt Conference don’t hastily withdraw. I really am more organized than this mess.   

Kelly also posed the question, “How many projects do you bring to work on at a getaway?”

Well, so far, I do have one… Thanks to this cute fabric pack I bought at Quilt Ledger on Friday. I think my grandsons might like a blue quilt with owls. 

What would a quilting getaway be without something chocolate?

We all know it’s essential to have choices. Quilters say, color gets all the glory but contrast does the work. So I brought red and white for good contrast. 

I think I got the important stuff. 

My quilt guild, Calico Cutters, met this week. This is the raffle quilt we will be selling chances on throughout the next year to fund our charity contributions and program expenses. I think Margo and her committee of designers and piecers did a fantastic job.

I was very excited to be asked to do the quilting–ok, completely intimidated is more like it. 

This was my first time quilting a grid when the lines are interrupted by the design– the stars. It was a challenge but I’m happy with the way it turned out.

I love the colors. I think it will do well at the local quilt shows and other venues because it is unusual for a raffle quilt and I think it will appeal to non-quilters as well.

I walked at Longwood Gardens yesterday. The rose bower is in full, glorious bloom. I don’t have a single rose bush anymore. When we took out our raised bed garden last year, the roses went with it. 

I do have peonies though. This white variety has the most heavenly scent. Oh, The Last Runaway, was a great read. 

Don’t these local strawberries look mouth watering! They are!

1. Strawberry shortcake

2. Strawberry milkshake

3. Strawberry muffins 

4. Chocolate covered strawberries

5. Strawberry pie

I pay attention to the food pyramid and during strawberry season, I think it’s important to choose a variety from the 5 Basic Desert Groups.


“Is she ever going to get back to quilting?” Yes! I am in the studio and all I want to do is sew and quilt and play with my fabric. I feel so inspired by my hiking and biking trips. It’s time to get to work on something new. I can’t get these gorgeous phlox out of my mind. The play of light and dark purples against the deep, dark greens of the foliage would make a stunning quilt. 

I even have a head start with a stack of blocks I made at our Bonnie Hunter sewing day. I’m not sure what to do with the lighter fabrics yet, I just know I’m going to need them. Since I sewed the blocks without thinking about a pattern, this is going to require research and thought. 

While I was coasting down the bike trail, I was thinking about making a bike quilt using my Quilting in Layers technique. Not much research needed to get a good image.

That super fun bike fabric I bought at Kelly Ann’s Quilting shop in Warrenton, Virginia has been begging to be used. 

Bike quilt wins! There are some design and composition issues to work out, but I’m so impatient to cut and sew, I’m jumping in. Hey, I did test out one block! And there are lots of “plain” blocks to fill in before the more complicated ones. That’s something I love about Quilting in Layers. It can be a linear process, but it doesn’t have to be. I can sew, quilt, appliqué, design in any order. It fits the way my brain works. Open to serendipity!


It’s so interesting to follow a river down a mountain, watching it change and broaden as it flows through different terrain. 

Cyclists used to take a mile and a half detour, following the Casselmann River as it flowed in a tight U shape around the Pinkerton Horn, a huge rock formation. After years of volunteers raising funds and then construction, we get cross the river on a bridge and go through the rock in the Pinkerton Tunnel. This is a great vantage point to watch the kayakers.

The water is fast and the rapids and rocks create hydraulics for the kayakers to play in. I’m jealous! I love to kayak, although I don’t know how to use those sporty little trick kayaks. I’m more of a laze along the river, drifter, kind of kayaker.

Our last tunnel is a modern one. 

The  bike trip ends in Confluence for Gary and I, the start of our journey on the Great Allegheny Passage many years ago. Gary just loves it when the Trail ends with an easy beer!

We choose to sit outside in the gardens and watch the river, pleasantly tired, and wait for our shuttle to take us back to Meyersdale. We rode 65 miles total, Cumberland, Maryland to Confluence, Pennsylvania. Riding downhill both ways from Meyersdale was awesome! There are about 20 miles from McKeesport to Point Park in Pittsburg that I’d like to ride someday, to complete the entire trail. 

Gary brought is fly rod, hoping to get a chance to do a little fishing but there just wasn’t time on the bike ride. So we decided to extend the trip another day and stay a night in Carlisle, PA. Unfortunately he only got a few bites on the Yellow Breeches. 

I spotted a heron, fishing also, no doubt. 

The Yellow Breeches flows from the small lake at Boiling Springs. The river got its name from Brittish Troops washing their white “breeches” and having them turn yellow because of the sulphur in the water. History abounds in Boiling Springs, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, where it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The water doesn’t actually boil, it’s bubbles up from the aquifer, freezing cold. Hey, check out that white blaze on the huge tree on the right. 

The Appalachian Trail goes right along the edge of the lake. Laura and I hiked through here years ago, meeting Gary for a pick-up and dinner at the very delicious Boiling Springs Tavern Restaurant. Biking trails, hiking trails, rivers and mountains; I’ve had a wonderful and quite nostalgic, totaly enjoyable trip.

Going Downhill

It’s always good to start your biking day with a hearty breakfast. The Morguen Toole Company owns this Trailside B&B as well as the Hotel where we stayed, just a few blocks away. Breakfast is served here and we also pick up our bag lunches and drinks. 

I am just blown away by how the Trail is lined with these blooming phlox. My friend Kelly says, always add some yellow flowers to your garden because it makes all the other colors sing. Looks like Mother Nature agrees. 

How about this Salisbury Viaduct we get to ride over! The trestle soars 100 feet above the valley floor and the Casselman River and is 1,908 feet long. The views are awesome.

This old graveyard might be a spot to linger and wonder what stories might be told.

Or maybe sitting on this bench, admiring the waterfall and resting from the ride is in order. 

The small town of Rockwood has everything a biker could need, right on the Trail. The bike sculptures are pretty cool on the roof. The tires turn in the breeze. I guess they have plenty of spare parts for the artwork.

Homage to the railroad as well. 

It’s just lovely to ride past these seeps — a quick blast of natural air conditioning.

I spotted these columbine. 

And I almost ran over this guy, sunning himself on the Trail!  OK, enough. This is my third, and hopefully final snake encounter for the year. 

This part of the GAP is the wildest and least inhabited stretch. I think it is the most beautiful section so far. 

Down to Cumberland, Maryland

Shortly after riding through the Big Savage Tunnel, Gary and I cross over the Mason Dixon Line and into Maryland. 

This is such a nice monument. The granite blocks provide a shady place to rest and have a drink or snack.

One of 2 shorter tunnels to ride through. Gosh it’s cold in there. 

All along the trail, phlox grow in gorgeous profusion. I know they aren’t a wild flower and some folks consider them invasive. Invaded by beauty! Can’t be all bad. 

I think we are looking down on the little town of Wellersburg, Maryland. Those windmills absolutly intrigue me. There are 68 of them spaced out along the ridgelines. Gary won’t let me stop to read the signs about them because thunder is cracking over our heads. The rain catches us and pours down just as we glide under the pavilion in Frostburg. That was lucky timing!

These little waterfalls have been freshened after the storm. 

The Cumberland Bone Cave was discovered when the railroad grade was constructed in 1912 and is considered one of the most significant deposits of Pleistocene animal remains in the Eastern United States.  Excavation yielded fossils of 46 animal species, 28 of which are extinct, including the Cumberland Cave Bear, the skeleton now on display at the Smithsonium Institute.

I could get used to flying down hill like this! Cranking a pedal or applying the breaks– both totally optional. What an amazing treat to just sit on the bike and admire the mile long gorge called the Cumberland Narrows, a slot squeezed by Haystack and Wills Mountains. 

Too soon we arrive in Cumberland, the southern terminus, mile 0 for the Allegheny Passage Trail and the start of the C&O Canal Path.

Both trails converge at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. There is a Visitor Center, ice cream shops, little restaurants and lots of interpretive signs to read while we wait for our shuttle to pick us up. I’ve arranged a driver from Morguan Toole Company Hotel to take us and the bikes back to Meyersdale. That way we can ride downhill again tomorrow when we bike north to Confluence. Yep, I’m spoiled!

Gary and I rode a small section of the C&O Canal years ago with our 4 kids. And a few miles of the Appalachian Trail follow the path from Harper’s Ferry, that I backpacked. Some day I’d like to bike the whole Canal Trail from Cumberland to Washington, D.C.  

But right now, I am wet, dirty, with a streak up my back, ready for a hot shower, dinner and a glass of wine.


No, not the store. The Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. Gary and I rode our bikes 65 miles over two days, Memorial Day weekend. Warning! Picture heavy posts narrated with crazy superlative wordage. 

Years ago, 2003 to be exact, when my daughters were in college in Pittsburg, we rode the section from Confluence to McKeesport. Since then, the Great Allegheny Passage trail has been completed, 150 miles from Pittsburg to Cumberland, Maryland, where it joins the 184.5 C&O Canal Path. 

I want to remember every mile of this magnificent (I did warn you…) trail so I am breaking our 2 day ride into several posts. 

After checking into the Morguen Toole Company hotel and parking the car, Gary and I rode our bikes about 2 blocks straight up– ok, I walked the bike some… to the start of our ride at this restored train station museum in Meyersdale. I could have spent all day there, looking at the exhibits. The ladies restroom was fitted out to look like the historical rail car. A sign read, “Please flush at stops except when in Depot.”  What!

I am the type of traveler that wants to read every single word of every single interpretive plaque, in addition to pulling out the 2 or 3 Guide books I’m carrying with me. Gary…is not. Can I just say how much I love beautiful old bridges? There are many to ride across on this trip, built by Bollman. 

Does it look like we are riding uphill? Really, it is a very gradual uphill grade for the first 10 miles. The ballast trail is flat and wide and nicely shaded on this hot day. 

Many of the bridges have the bike trail built over the original structure, preserving the iron work while providing a safe passage.

Can I just tell you how much I love trestles?

Especially when they parallel and cross the Casselman River many times. Gary does pause to check out and admire trout streams. 

We reached the top– the Eastern Continental Divide, where the water flows to the Gulf of Mexico or to the Chesapeake Bay. 

That elevation map on the side of the tunnel is so deceptive. Stretch the distance over miles instead of a few inches and the 10 miles of trail we just rode up is a gradual, steady grade. Still– I’m really excited about gliding downhill for 20 miles. 

The Big Savage Tunnell! I have wanted to ride through this tunnel for years. The tunnel is about a half mile long and lighted but I brought my headlamp, just in case. Neither lights did much good. The temperature was about 90 degrees outside and the tunnel is a big refrigerator, easily 20 degrees cooler, creating a thick fog. Wow! Really dark, really cold and spooky scary. I could hear Gary, but not see him or the trail at all.

I could finely see the light at the end. That was AWESOME!

The view when you exit the tunnel just takes your breath away.

It’s a perfect place to stop for lunch. Check out those wind mills– and those dark clouds gathering. We still have about 20 miles to ride into Cumberland. 

Massachusetts Hike Day 4 and Day 5

Day 4

We are walking south today. This is a great thing about section hiking with two cars. You get to choose which way to hike based on how easy or hard it is to position cars at the Trail heads or whether you like to hike mostly down or mostly up. 

First off we cross over the Massachusetts turnpike on this wonderful hiker bridge. It’s fun to try and get the drivers to give us a horn honk. 

Then we have a lovely walk all around the edge of Upper Goose Pond. I really wonder what criteria is used or how large a body of water has to be, to be called a lake in Massachusetts.

I always think about the settlers that built these stone walls. What a hard job to move, carry and stack heavy rocks. They would never believe what bright colored, Lycra-clad, gym goers do to keep fit!

Just one inattentive step and this fellow would have been under my boot–splat. Man, Laura would have heard some serious yelling and squealing!

Yesterday I passed two women out hiking, looking for lady slippers. I think this will bloom yellow. I hardly ever see the yellow ones, mostly pink. Both colors are pretty rare and special.

US 20 to Main Road   8.5 miles

Day 4

Laura and I have decided to drive home after a short hike today. It’s getting hot, rain is forecast and the black flies are starting up. I can’t tell you how much I hate black flies. 

We are on the wet side of the mountain. Lots of beautiful jack-in-the-pulpits, foam flowers, wild oats and geraniums.

We hike up Cobble Hill to a great lunch spot, looking down into the valley.

A perfect end to our hike. 

Beartown Mountain Road to Main Road   6.3 miles

Total Section 41.6 miles

Remaining AT miles 634.1 miles

Massachusetts Hike Day 3

Another day of fairly flat hiking until a long down at the end of the hike. Yea! There are storms forecast for late afternoon so Laura and I don’t plan to dawdle. Note new turquoise hiking poles. 

Of course I have to stop long enough to take a photo. I spotted these trout lilies, Gary’s favorite wild flower. I explained that the speckled leaves look a little like trout and this has stuck in his fishy brain. I’m pretty sure it’s the only wild flower he can identify!

We stopped at Washington Mountain Brook for lunch. PBJ sandwiches and chips have to be the best Trail lunch ever invented. Laura and I both treated ourselves to a bottle of coke today too.

We hiked right along the edge of Finerty Pond. In New England, ponds are what I would call lakes. Pretty sizable lakes. 

What? Beaver gave up on this tree midway through? I have never seen so many beaver lodges and dams as I have seen in Massachusetts. Sure wish I could actually see one of these ingenious nature engineers, their industrious work fascinates me. 

Washington Mountain Road to US 20 Lee, Massachusetts   9.5 miles

Massachusetts Hike Day 2

Laura and I are both driving our cars so that we can “piggy back” up the Trail. On the way through Dalton, I spotted this cafe. Latte for the road!

I have really been looking forward to this hike. The Appalachian Trail is rarely flat but today there are miles of fairly even terrain and then a long, gradual down into Dalton. 

Painted trilliums are everywhere!

I see the red ones (or I probably should call them purple) also.

But the painted trilliums are at their finest bloom today. All I can think about is using some gorgeous King Tut thread to thread paint the deep pink at the base of the petals. And do I have a batik that dark, brownish green for the leaves?

The Trail is a nice mix of open woods and sweet stream crossings. 

This is the most amazing beaver dam I’ve ever seen. There are actually three terraces. 

These bright marsh marigolds–cowslips, make me smile. 

Dwarf ginseng. The regular ginseng was highly prized as an aphrodisiac in China and as a tonic here, and was so over-collected that it is considered endangered. I guess this small version doesn’t have the same effects because it’s all over the forest floor. 

Ahhh. A wonderful day to wander in the woods. Laura and I alternate between quiet reflection (ok, I’m so entranced with wild flowers I’m “mind quilting!”) and animated discussion,solving all the world problems, and some of our own. 

That distant bump is Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, about 15 miles north. You can drive to the top, even stay the night at Bascom Lodge. My plan, when I get there, is to hike down both sides from the top. It isn’t a huge mountain but why not start each day with a latte!

The Trail walks right through residential Dalton. Some of the houses have the milage posted north and south. 639 miles to the top of Katahdin. Interesting– that’s just about the number of miles I’ll have left when I finish this section hike. Thank goodness I’ve already climbed Katahdin. 
Washington Mt. Road to Gulf Road, Dalton   10.5 miles