Wednesday, 08 October 2019
Andy – The Engineer – created this video minutes after the doors opened. The only sound was the exquisitely appropriate music Cecile Milhau chose for the occasion. Watch it when you can shut the door on the world for about 2 minutes. Let them speak to you, let them sing you a lullaby. Feel it.
25 juin 2017
Katell picks us up at our hotel in Albi, France and off we go to Lacaze with Katell behind the wheel and Kristine navigating.
The air is cool
the sun is shining
and the scenery is exquisite.
About an hour later, we round the curve
and we are at Lacaze, greeted with our country’s flag
I will be writing the only way I can right now: in blurts, snippets, and bits – we’ll call them postcards, why don’t we – that won’t necessarily be presented in chronological order, but as they rise to the surface of my heart. Which means you’ll receive these postcards all out of order, just as if I put a stamp on them and sent them through the postal service. That is how I will tell you about the first major European exhibit in Lacaze, France.
Now if you’d like to know more about The 70273 Project and help commemorate these people who deserved to live, here are some links you might be interested in:
~ making blocks
~ registering quilts
~ making middlings
And if you’d like to read the other postcards from this magical trip, here’s a road map for you:
Under Two Flags
They speak to each other in rapid-fire French. I can’t even pick out an “une” or a “du” or a “oui” – Chantal Baquin and the landlord to the flat we rent in Paris – so I give up trying and just stand there smiling, nodding when they look at me, hoping that’s appropriate. Suddenly the landlord’s face registers something – what? Surprise? Shock? She rubs each arm with the hand on the other arm and continues looking at me. Her eyes fill with tears. Chantal tells us that she’s just told the landlord why we are in France – for the Lacaze exhibit of The 70273 Project – and the landlord says she gets goosebumps and is very grateful for what we are doing.
They resume talking, and this time the landlord says she is so moved, she is doing something she’s never, ever done before: she insists that she will pick us up at the airport in Orly when we fly back to Paris after the exhibit. We thank her, never thinking about how we will be on our own – no Chantal with us to read and speak for us – trying to find her. We are blissfully stupid about this.
On Monday, the day after the exhibit, we arrive at the airport in Orly a few minutes late, fetch our bags, and head to the 10-minute parking lot – something we know to do because the thoughtful landlord called Chantal the night before and gave her instructions, except she didn’t mention where we find this 10-minute parking lot, and of course we didn’t think to ask till this very minute. I count aloud to ten in French – the only way I know to remember the word for the number ten – then scan signs in search of the word. Not seeing it anywhere, I do the only thing I know to do: I stand in the middle of the sidewalk and turn around and around with my mouth open while my face registers worry. Sure enough, before I complete the second turn, a man stops to ask if he can help us. He’s speaking in French, but I’m sure that’s what he asked. Yes, I’m very sure.
“Dix,” I say to him and hold up 10 fingers because I don’t trust my French, being only 4% fluent according to Duo Lingo.
Through hand gestures, he indicates we must re-enter the airport, walk to the other end, exit the airport, and walk around to the left where we will (eventually) find the 10-minute parking. “Merci beaucoup,” I tell him, and when he smiles, I do a little hop, so excited I am that he understood me.
At least, that’s the way I chose to interpret his smile. It could be my accent. I’m told I have one.
Though I feel no panic like I think I should, I have no idea what we will do if Madame Landlord has already come and gone – which surely she has because it’s been more than 10 minutes after we asked Chantal to tell her we would be there. We are outside again on the other side of the terminal. I see the word “dix”, and I’m not sure if I’m happier that my French was correct or that we are finally in the right place. I stay with the bags and send Andy to find a car . . . oh no. We have no idea what kind or color car Mme. Landlord drives. There’s nothing to do but move forward, so I stay with the suitcases and tell Andy to go look for the landlord’s face. He is about 20 steps away, when she pulls up to the curb, leaps from her car, and runs towards us. She is sorry she is late and made us wait. I assure her we just got there ourselves. At least that’s what I meant to say. What actually came out of my mouth could be something totally different.
She has a big bottle of water for us in the car, with the cutest paper cups (bearing my favorite mid-century plaid) I’ve ever seen. I am so touched by her hospitality, I surreptitiously save the cup.
She opens the sunroof so we can see better, and I have to tell you it is the most fabulous sunroof I’ve ever seen.
The Paris sky isn’t bad either.
She tells us of things we are passing, giving us a personalized tour. When she gets to The Bee Hotel, she is concerned that we didn’t understand about the bees that were raised on a floor of the hotel, so what does she do? She dials Chantal to ask for the words in English. Yes, she’s that thoughtful.
We get back to the flat, and Madame Landlord insists on helping us get our luggage into the flat. Once that’s done, we thank her again, to which she puts her hand up and tells us through tears, that she is quite moved by The 70273 Project, and picking us up at the airport will be her small contribution to this projet magnifique.
~ we had only one night between arriving home from France and flying to Florida to visit Nancy,
~ we had no internet in Florida,
~ we got home from Florida and left to come to Georgia where we have been working long hours every day,
~ I am still overwhelmed with thoughts, memories, and emotions from the trip to France,
~ there is so much to tell,
~ I am still processing it all
~ and receiving photos,
I will be writing the only way I can right now: in blurts, snippets, and bits – we’ll call them postcards, why don’t we – that won’t be presented in chronological order, but as they rise to the surface of my heart. Which means you’ll receive these postcards all out of order, just as if I put a stamp on them and sent them through the postal service. That is how I will tell you about the first major European exhibit in Lacaze, France.
Now if you’d like to know more about The 70273 Project and help commemorate these people who deserved to live, here are some links you might be interested in:
~ making blocks
~ registering quilts
~ making middlings
23 June 2017
You know when you are greeted with . . .
Tari Vickery and Katell Renon
a statue listening intently to a bird,
and a dog so tired from playing that he went to sleep with the ball in his mouth.
(That, or the area is known for its dog-on-dog crime.)
it’s gonna be a day filled with fun and love.
And it is.
It really, really is.
Perhaps it’s because we’re two sleeps away
from The 70273 Project Exhibit at Lacaze, France,
that I spy pairs of X’s throughout Toulouse.
at the Orly airport
and light through my upside down glass
that made me think of Nancy’s drawings.
There is a sewing shop
the courthouse where Katell and Patrick were wed,
bicycles that made me smile
shades of blue that come with history and story
(I don’t know why the photo is wonky.
Just turn your head or your computer screen
cause I’ve wrestled with it long enough.
I need to go to bed!)
and real windows and painted windows on the same home
that make me think how some people behave.
And hearts. Oh my goodness, there are hearts everywhere in Toulouse.
on the sidewalk
and in patches of moss.
There are hearts that, if you look at them one way,
might resemble roosters
There are teapot hearts that short and stout,
with feet and handles of love
and spew love out into the world through their spout.
And as we head to the parking lot, I spy this tote bag.
Then we close out the day
at the beautiful, comfortable, welcoming home
of Katell and Patrick Renon.
I am one lucky, grateful woman.
Oh yes, yes I am.
I’m also a woman who’s a day behind with posts
because the days are full here
and when night comes, I fall asleep before I hit the bed.
There will be more photos of Paris and Toulouse on
Instagram if you’re interested,
and I promise to do my best to catch up tomorrow,
even though tomorrow is a Very Big Day, you know.
Day Two is a day of stories, friendship, quilts, and pairs of X’s . . .
This morning, dear Chantal showed up at our rented flat with the first Friendship Block for The 70273 Project. What is a friendship block, you ask? Well, it’s something I’d planned to wait to tell you about till July 1, but looks like I need to go ahead and tell you now since I’ve got and spilled the beans early.
We’re borrowing a page from the history books and creating Friendship Quilts to raise funds for The 70273 Project. You take a red marker and write your name, using your first name as one of the lines in the red X and your last name as the second line that crosses the first line in the red X. For the other red X, you can write the name of the person you dedicate your block to – maybe an ancestor, a friend, a family member, a student – or maybe you do like Chantal did and make a collaborative friendship block. Ask a friend or loved one or even me to use their name to make the second red X. Then you send the block with a financial donation that will be much appreciated and well used, I promise. If you live in the US, you will also receive a receipt for your income tax report. So that, my friends, is what a Friendship Block is. Friendship blocks will be used only in Friendship quilts, too, by the way, and they will be counted as commemorative blocks.
Our first stop was heaven. Or, as some of you might call it, a fabric shop. But not just any fabric shop. This is the fabric store little girl Chantal visited with her mother, and every time they went, young Chantal secretly wished that this would be the day her mother bought fabric to make a dress just for Chantal instead of another hand-me-down dress she would get when her sister outgrew it.
When I heard that, I knew what I wanted – nay, I knew what I just had to do: buy the fabric for Calder Ray’s sleeping quilt. And I did. Found some beautiful soft fabric in the blue that he loves. And what’s in Chantal’s bag, you might ask? Well, she bought herself some lovely fabric . . . to make herself a dress.
I love everything about this shop . . . the quilted floors,
The doll-size mannequins wearing the most smashing outfits. Chantal says she remembers them being here when she was a little girl coming with a special wish.
Though we took our time looking around, it was eventually time to leave, and let me tell youThe Engineer was sad to leave, too . . . because the store was air conditioned.
We visited the Chapelle du Saint-Sacrement, where Chantal was gracious enough to find shady inclines instead of full sun steps.
There are quilts everywhere in that church . . . at the door, I spy borders.
On the floor, I spy quilts..
On the altar, I spy a quilt.
On the floor, I spy a colorful quilt of stained glass reflections appliquéd onto the floor “blocks”.
In the ancient stained glass, I see a 9-block with much color and intrigue surrounding it.
I fall head-over-heels in love with these modern quilts . . . I mean windows . . . and Chantal and I take a seat in front of them and talk about not just the windows, but Nancy and The 70273 Project and quilting techniques.
In the ceiling, I find two X’s, and I imagine they are red.
And on our exit, I get another view of Paris.
On the nearby multi-function place, I see more X’s that, if you squint your eyes just right, can be red.
In the area where artist have long set up stalls, I spy a blue, white, and red 9-patch.
We enjoy a French pancake breakfast for a late lunch. It was delicious, and there was a heart in my sweet pancake. A heart. That’s what this trip has been filled with.
I wish y’all would look at the bottom of the chairs, something I didn’t see till just now . . . two more X’s.
it was cooler today, in part because of the spectacular clouds, in part because of the constant breeze, and in part because Chantal went out of her way to find shade for us to walk in. And it was another lovely day spent with the darling Chantal who gives us time from her busy schedule. I am so very grateful for that and for all she does to commemorate the 70,273.
Three more sleeps till the first major European exhibit for The 70273 Project. How will I manage to sleep with all the anticipation and excitement? Pfffft. I can sleep on the flight home.
A pictorial diary of our first day in Paris . . .
Though it began in a very
stressful adventurous manner, we arrive in Paris on time and even better, so did our luggage!
After leaving the airport, we see . . .
When Germany entered northern France early in World War I, they showed no mercy. The countryside was devastated, and women struggled to survive while the men were off fighting in the war. One way French women put food on the table is through their stitchery – detailed cross-stitch depictions of soldiers, flags, coats of arms, and other representations of the main Allied forces – that was sold in America through the Society for Employment of Women in France, with all the proceeds going back to the French women and their families.
Excerpts from a June 1916 letter from Mercy Richards Essig (Mrs. Norman Sturgis Essig), 1700 Locust Street, Philadelphia that accompanied some of these items paint a vivid picture of the women’s lives and their efforts at survival: “The women sit inside their houses under fire constantly, and embroider. When a shell is heard on its way they duck into the cellars until it bursts, and then come out again at once. The cellars are all marked—that is[,] the safe ones, with signs pointing to them and telling their capacity. The women who embroider are those whose men—sons, husbands, and fathers are at the front or wounded or killed . . .”
And that’s not all . . .
In 1914, Anne Morgan (daughter of John Pierpoint Morgan) spent a week visiting the Marne battlefields in France, and what she was so horrified by what she saw that she created the Committee for Devastated France (CARD) with offices in New York and chapters across the U.S., all dedicated to raising money to provide relief work in France. Activities of CARD were documented in the weekly bulletin called Under Two Flags. CARD offices were located in Château de Blérancourt that was later restored by Anne Morgan and turned into a museum dedicated to the friendship and cooperation between the France and the United States.
Today, The Engineer and I take a seat in the big chair in the sky and make our way to France where we will enjoy a current-day continuation of the rich, long-standing tradition of French and American women working together in friendship and caring. I can’t wait to call many women I already consider friend Sugar to their face and hug them in real – not digital – hugs. We will laugh together, and no doubt shed a few tears together as we attend the first major European exhibit of The 70273 Project in Lacaze, France on Sunday, June 25, 2017. You can read more about the exhibit and what hundreds of French volunteers did to commemorate another day when the United States and France worked together on the blog of my friend Katell Renon, who has worked tirelessly to coordinate the making and collection of the 55 quilts that will be included in the exhibit. Many have worked with great dedication to make this exhibit happen, and I will introduce you to them throughout the week, I am deeply honored and grateful like you wouldn’t believe to the women of France and to the Association France Patchwork for their dynamism, for their obvious deep feelings about the commemorations we undertake, and for the hospitality and kindness they have already extended. These women don’t dwell in the past, but they don’t forget it either, knowing that forgetting is the first paver in the road to allowing history to repeat itself – something that will not happen on our watch.
I’ve been brushing up on my French, and today I learned how to say “Pinch me”, something I expect I’ll be saying a lot to make sure this is really happening.
I’ll be posting from France here on the blog, on Facebook here and here and here, and on Instagram. I will also be taking lots of photos and gathering lots of stories that I will assemble in a catalogue of the exhibit when I get back to the States – a catalogue that will be available for sale to raise money to ship the quilts to their next destination and ultimately . . . eventually . . . here to Heartquarters for photographing for the book and preparation for The Great Gathering and Launch.
Places to find more information about the rich tradition of French and American women working together:
Many thanks to the Smithsonian Institute, to the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and these people for allowing me to use these images and for doing and sharing the research provided on their web site.
We are a group of 14 happy quilters, gathering every Tuesday afternoon, some of us for more than 10 years. We used to have the name of our room, called Les Salvages, indeed we rescue sometimes old fabrics! But our new name, les Can’canettes, is a joke with the French name for bobbin (canette) and French cancan. We live near the birth place of the famous painter Toulouse-Lautrec!
We live in a delightful small town called Castres, famous for their houses along the river l’Agout. Last year we made a collective quilt showing this idyllic scene. It is now displayed in the airport Castres-Mazamet.
We heard about the Project 70273 on Katell’s blog La Ruche des Quilteuses and decided to take part in it. All volunteers decided first to make each 7 blocks, then we were encouraged to make them in two quilts for the exhibition in Lacaze, on June, 25th, 40 minutes away from Castres.
The first one is made of 46 blocks and shows two crosses made of crosses. 8 persons took part in it and one person pieced and quilted it but wishes to remain anonymous. Thank you!
This quilt has Number 44, shows 46 blocks, and measures 1.45 m x 1.38 m.
The second one is more traditional and shows 56 blocks. Ten persons took part in it and Jo made the top and quilting. It is Number 45 and is 1.12 m x 1.29 m.
To sum up our participation, 13 quilters took part in the Project 70273: Yvette DURAND, Carole GIOVANOLLA, Béatrice TAVIRRE, Claudine BIZE, Colette BOUISSET, Dominique MEDARD, Jo DROUET and 6 wish to be anonymous. Our two quilts are here for 102 victims.
We will be so happy and honored to meet Jeanne HEWELL – CHAMBERS on June 25th in Lacaze! We are very proud to have contributed to this tremendous project.
Hello Katell, Jo, Yvette, Carole, Beatrice, Claudine, Colette, Dominique, and others! What a fun group you must be – the name of your group makes me chuckle aloud – and how I would love to sit with you stitching on rescued fabric (my favorite). 102 more people are now commemorated thanks to your generous efforts. I am counting down the days till I stand beside you and gaze upon these quilts from your hands and hearts. It will be a fine day, a very fine day. (And it won’t be long now!) Merci beaucoup.
Other places to gather around The 70273 Project water cooler:
Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.
Subscribe to the blog (where all information is shared).
Join the English-speaking Facebook group – our e-campfire – where you can talk to other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.
Join the French-speaking Facebook group – our other e-campfire – where you can chat with other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.
Like the Facebook page where you can check in for frequent updates.
Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.
Follow the pinterest board for visual information.
Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)
Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.
And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.
Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.
Tous mes voeux de bonne année 2017, hoping you will reach your hopes! We all are in with you!
Do you know what a département is? France has 101 départements, or territorial districts, including 5 outside Europe (Guyane, Martinique, Guadeloupe, la Réunion and Mayotte). Ariège is one département at the border of Spain, including a part of the Pyrénées, beautiful Alpine mountains.
Several groups of quilters from Ariège gathered to make this beautiful landscape in appliqué!
Now these Ladies gave us 89 blocks, they were pieced and quilted by Kristine from Colomiers. Here is the result:
Isn’t it gorgeous? This is Quilt #30.
There are 10 anonymous quilters and:
Thank you all!
Dear Katell, Kristine from Colomiers, and quilters from Ariège,
Merci beaucoup for all the people you have so beautifully commemorated here in Quilt #30. My heart is smiling at learning more about the beauty of France and brimming with gratitude for all of you there who I hope to meet in person one day. Till then, know that I am blowing kisses to you and saying softly over and over and over: Merci. Merci. Merci.