Archive for September, 2008

Raffle Quilt Supports AAQI

Jannett Caldwell’s quilt, “Losing My Mind A Piece At A Time” which appears on pages 34-35 of Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece. She helped make another quilt pictured here.

Shirley Pierce pieced the blocks and Jannett set them together and, with some members of the Kennet High School graduating class of 1963, quilted it.

The quilt was made as a “class project” to honor their teachers, some of whom have/had Alzheimer’s.

Shirley and Jannett took the quilt and sold tickets at an outdoor Farmer’s Market in Kennet Square, PA and at a craft show in Media, PA. Most of the people  knew someone with Alzheimer’s and were happy to buy tickets.  Some of their classmates made outright donations and most bought tickets. The Kennet High School Class of 1963 is sending $1,567 to the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative.

What a beautiful expression of gratitude and generosity. Quilters ROCK!

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September 29, 2008 at 7:00 am 3 comments

Bartlett Pears and Bean Soup: 1962

The best-tasting Bartlett pears are the ones that are a little dinged up and smell as strong as perfume. Their aroma, more than the taste or texture, have always reminded me of something, but I couldn’t remember what it was. It was a good memory,  of good times, but I couldn’t place it.  So, whenever I’d come across a ripe dinged-up Bartlett in the grocery store I’d inhale deeply, smile idiotically, and wonder why I felt happy. This has gone on for decades. No kidding.

I just chalked it up to part of my personal quirkiness and let it go at that. Hey, you get your jollies when you can. I feel rather the same way about bean soup. Navy, not black bean, and only home made. I’m happy to just breathe it in, just can’t figure out why.

A recent bowl of bean soup brought back that familiar wisp of recognition, a remnant of the past that was on the tip of my tongue. Literally. But I couldn’t retrieve its meaning. I remembered that as a kid I didn’t like beans soup, and then it hit me! The smell of the bean soup and the smell of ripe Bartlett pears collided and I remembered why I felt such an emotional connection to them. The time and place had eluded me all these years, and then there it was in a flash: Italy 1962.

That’s where those aromas transported me. Instantly. I was a second grader again at the Parioli International Day School on Via Nomentana in Rome. My teacher,  the beloved Mrs. Pensa, sat at the head of our long wooden table. The lunchroom was downstairs in the basement of the palazzo with high vaulted ceilings and thick stone walls. The whole school ate together each grade at their own table. The cooks, in white aprons, brought out Pasta e Fagoili (bean soup with macaroni) in heavy white bowls. The smell of the hot soup filled the entire room. It always smelled delicious. I remember thinking ‘how could something smell so good feel so bad in your mouth?’  It was a textural thing. And I remember just being near Mrs. Pensa was so wonderful because I was a goody-two-shoes and I adored her. I didn’t want her to like me less for eating the pasta and leaving the beans behind. And she still liked me. And I was relieved when the pears came for dessert because I liked those and I would enjoy every bite even though the juice dripped down my chin. I don’t remember anything else we ate, or any other memory in the lunchroom for that matter.

And you’re going, “this is why people shouldn’t have blogs.” Yeah, you’re probably right. But wasn’t that a nice photo of a pear?

Oh, and one of my classmates at the Parioli International Day School was Chistopher Wilding, son of Elizabeth Taylor. She and Richard Burton were living in Rome while they filmed Cleopatra. And yes, I went to Christopher’s birthday party.  But that seems boring in comparison to the memory of the pears and the bean soup, doesn’t it?

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September 27, 2008 at 7:00 am 52 comments

Trinity Valley Quilters’ Guild Challenge 2008

Trinity Valley Quilters’ Guild of Ft. Worth, TX held their quilt show last week-end. Guild members challenged each other to create Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts for the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. Fifty-nine guild members created 112 little quilts!

The local chapter of the Embroiderer’s Guild (EGA) added 21 quilts that were made by 10 of their members, bringing the total to 133 quilts if my math is correct! What a stupendous effort by organizer Mary Kirwin.

Trinity Valley Quilters’ Guild awarded five cash prizes and ribbons to the winners.

Congratulations to everyone who participated. You are all winners! I appreciate each and every quilt that brings us closer to a cure.

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September 25, 2008 at 7:00 am 1 comment

I’ve Been Bowling Again

I’ve been playing with Susan Breier’s book, It’s A Wrap, again. I wanted to see how big a bowl I could get and this one made it to about 11 and a half inches. I used gradated fabric. Along one selvage edge it was nearly black, and by the other it was a medium red. I had to strip it on the grain instead of crossgrain or on the bias to get 50 yards of clothesline wrapped so that the color would change from the center (darkest) to the rim (lightest) before the bowl was done. (It’s a little more hairy than the bowls I’ve made with the fabric cut on the bias.) OK, and maybe it was only 25 yards of clothesline. Maybe. It goes fast with that PowerWrapper.

This second bowl is much smaller, only about seven and a half inches in diameter and a little taller. I wanted to see if I could get the bowl to bow out slightly on the sides and then come back in again.

I’m enjoying using up some of the fabric in my stash that just hasn’t made it into a quilt yet.

I wanted to do straight sides on this last bowl. Once it got to the shape it wanted to be I thought I’d see if I could add something along the top. I think it would have been much more effective had I used a solid color. The print AND the curly-cues are way too busy.  I took the picture when the basket was empty. Looked like a big blob. Only after I put the onions in there could you see the actual shape.

The loops of wrapped clothesline on the rim are pinned in place. I tried to zigzag in on, but even with pins it shifted out of position and broke several needles. I’ll just go back and hand stitch the loops in place. Maybe I should take it on the plane for something to work on during my next flight. Since they’re letting us take less and less stuff on board, about the only way I could get it past the flight attendants would be to wear it as a hat! Note to self: take the onions out first.

I’ll be teaching a workhsop on making fabric bowls on Saturday, October 4th here in Flint, Michigan in my @Home Classroom. There’s still room if you want to sign up. Come on over and have some fun.

We’ll be using Susan’s book.


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September 23, 2008 at 7:23 am 4 comments

Thank You For Remembering!

Special thanks to Zach Beane of for creating the picture generator for the Virtual Quilt Patch project. Nearly 1,000 people created Virtual Quilt Patches and displayed them in their emails, webpages, and blogs. The patches were seen by more than 18,000 people!

My thanks go out to everyone who remembered their loved ones in a more public way than usual to help raise awareness on World Alzheimer’s Day. I read every blog and website who  shared a link with me and the stories were so touching and heartfelt. I know how painful it is to watch this disease eat away at someone you love, and how difficult it is to write about this pain. Thank you for taking the time to share with others who may not know. Those who have read your words have grown in their understanding and compassion.  Only by keeping Alzheimer’s disease in the forefront of our national consciousness will we see increased funding for research that seeks a cure and improved public health policies. You done good!

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September 22, 2008 at 7:21 am 4 comments

World Alzheimer’s Day

This Sunday, September 21, 2008, is World Alzheimer’s Day. It is a day to remember the 26.6 million people worldwide who have this vile disease that will eventually rob them of the ability to remember and to reason. It will take from them every skill they ever learned and every relationship they ever held dear. And for most, they will watch this thief at work in their own minds.

I have created a Virtual Quilt Patch to honor and remember my mother on this day. I have watched her fight this disease for seven years. I have tried to fight it with her, but we are losing.

I am asking you to make a Virtual Quilt Patch today because we need a cure. It is too late for my mother, but others are just starting this long good-bye. 

If you know someone who has/had Alzheimer’s please create a patch for them on this day to remember. If you don’t know anyone with this disease, you know my mom. Use her name. Make a patch.

If you have a web site or a blog put a Virtual Quilt Patch there in time for September 21st. Share how Alzheimer’s has touched your life. People need to know. Link to the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative at

If you don’t have a web site or blog, create a patch and copy and paste it into an email. Send the email to your friends and family. Ask them to visit the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. Instructions and more information are here.

If you read other blogs and visit other web pages, quilt-related or not, tell them about it. If you get my blog in your email, forward it to your friends.

My goal is to have Virtual Quilt Patches popping up all over the Internet by Sunday. Can you help me? Comment to this post and tell me where you put your Virtual Quilt Patch and how many people you told.

World Alzheimer’s Day
September 21, 2008
So that future generations may never know this disease.

Thank you,
Ami Simms
Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative

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September 17, 2008 at 7:42 am 9 comments

I Need Help With Excel? X-cell? XL?!

Y’all are GREAT! I got a boatload of emails offering to help. Thank you SO much for such an EXCEL-ent response fo my call for help! Quilters ROCK!

Next step is to download the 27 files and  pick one.

Many thanks!!!

September 16, 2008 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

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