Roanoke River Trail

It doesn't really matter if you're 7 years old or 27 years old. A new bike is really exciting!
Avarie and Mackenzie are excited that Daddy has a new bike. Tanner is so lucky to live along the Roanoke River Greenway multipurpose trail.
I am a huge fan of rail trails and I was a charter member of the Rails To Trails Conservancy, 28 years ago.
I think every bike ride should end with ice cream.





When I started hiking at Springer Mountain in Georgia, years ago, I decided to give myself the Trail Name, “Quilter.” Traditionally Appalachian Trail hikers earn their names on the Trail. Gary's name is Bandelier because he wore a hat from Bandelier National Park and everyone asked him about it. But you might get stuck with something really undesirable so lots of people choose their own names. The idea is that while on the Trail, you leave the “real” world behind and allow nature to sooth your soul, ease the cares of the day, heal your troubled spirit. Or some such malarkey! Anyway, everyone calls you by your Trail Name and the normal names are things like, JetPack, SlowPoke, Rainbow, Speedy, MamaBear, etc.

No one understands the name Quilter. I thought it was meaningful. Hiking the 2125 miles of the AT is like making a quilt. Both endeavors are journeys starting with small pieces and every step and every stitch counts. And you usually learn things along the way. I think of myself as piecing together the many miles of the Trail. This concept is completely lost on my fellow hikers!

This was my last hike for this trip. Gary dropped me off at the base of Glade Mountain and I hiked over the summit to meet him hiking up the opposite side. He carried my lunch so we connected about one o'clock at a nice spot to eat our sandwiches.


The Trail ended today in a mile of rhododendron tunnels. The car is parked at the parking lot of The Settlers Museum and we passed by a small one room school house. A cute young German woman who is ThruHiking was absolutely enchanted to see this bit of American past. I was too!



Trail Angels have again left a cooler of sodas. Gary and I split a cold Mountain Dew, something I'd never choose to drink at home, and it tastes fantastic. There is also a box of toiletries, soaps, shampoos and band aides and things ThruHikers might need. Even some dog food for the hiking canines. How kind and extremely thoughtful people are, here in Virginia.

2,175 Total Miles on the Appalachian Trail
1,277 Miles Hiked
41 miles hiked this trip
857 Miles to Go


A New Day

Three consecutive days hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Day 1 80 degrees, sweating and sun burned
Day 2 AM, humid, mist and rain. PM, sleet, pounding hail, thick snow
Day 3 frigid 23 degrees, bright blue sky, sun, no wind
Ya gotta wonder, what will tomorrow be like!
Gosh, I am loving today! Snappy cold for sure but I have on the appropriate clothing and I'm totally comfortable. I really am a cold weather hiker. I was thinking about this today.
Reasons Why I Like Hiking in Cold Weather. (in order of importance)
1. Chocolate doesn't melt
2. My glasses don't fog up
3. No friggin' frackin' BUGS
4. No sweating puddles into my boots
5. No sweat dripping off my nose or stinging into my eyes
6. Water stays cold
7. I don't have to suck wind in exhaustion and rest every 10 steps on big Ups
8. I don't have to wear shorts
9. It isn't HOT
10. No snakes
I can probably think of more reasons but I am just enjoying my 10.7 mile hike.
Meadows are a treat.
I sat on this lovely style, admired the view, had a snack and drink and was very thankful to be able to be here, living in this moment today. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy hiking. I always feel very “present,” though not always comfortably present, as was true in the weather yesterday. Some hikers report just the opposite. They live in their heads while hiking. There is a good description in Bill Bryson's book, “A Walk in the Woods.” The character Katz asks Bill, “How the heck did you get over that big blown down tree, man?” Bill says, “What tree?” He didn't even notice, he was so in his own thoughts.
I'm always amazed that I can be so captivated and entertained just by the view of the forest floor at my feet! I feel like I am more observant and examine details when hiking. I confess that I do think about quilts I want to make sometimes!
Trail Magic! Some wonderful, anonymous “Trail Angel” has left something for hikers. There is a German ThruHiker filling his water bottles. I'm not sure what else is available in the coolers. I'll leave the goodies for others. I have been a grateful recipient of Trail Magic many times.

The end of this hike at the South Fork of the Holston River, where Gary has been fishing, but not so much catching, today. That's the way it goes!



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!