Monday, September 27, 2010

I saw Jupiter

When I was young, I remember being outside a lot at night. I can't explain this. But I treasure the memories. I remember staring at the moon it seems night after night, season after season, noting its progress, its full glory, its poignant diminishment. I loved to watch the stars grow brighter as the night darkened and of course I noted my favorite constellations, Orion and the Big Dipper and Casseopeia. I remember walking home from babysitting at the neighbor's and watching the moon edge out from behind a glowing cloud. I remember sneaking out to the golf course behind our house to see what the greens looked like in the blue light of the moonlit night.

Looking up invited me to dream and because the moment seemed so still and solitary and clear, I tried always to remember what the sky looked like when I wished and dreamed.

More than a year ago, Andrea, Valerie, Jen and I had such a wonderful time our summer sewing camp for girls that we thought we'd extend the idea. We had a lovely church building that wasn't used much during the week. It was located right in the middle of a neighborhood that we thought might enjoy the celebration of creativity. We formed a creativity guild and set up meetings where we could gather together and encourage each other in the things we liked to make. In conjunction with these guild meetings, we organized classes on things like canning food, knitting, crocheting, baking, cake decorating, furniture refinishing, sewing and all the home making skills. We were thrilled and amazed that we knew women who were experts at each of the skills listed above. Val made a website and the year began.
We made this poster to show some of our hoped for and actual activities last year

I asked if the group could be called "Eight Hands Around" like my blog title and after the quilt store I imagined and wrote about in my soon to be published novel.  Eight Hands Around is the name of a quilt block and the reason I chose this name is the suggested meaning in the block title.  It is reminiscent of quilting bees where women would gather to help their friends and family members to finish, by joining the layers of a quilt together with the small and delicate stitches that put the finesse on the artwork in the patchwork pieces.  The idea is that four women sit around the sides of a quilt, four women, two hands each makes eight hands joined together.

A little aside: Because I am also an English teacher, I know that there is a figure of speech called synecdoche that uses part of the thing to represent the whole thing. So when you call for, "all hands on deck" you mean all sailors, bringing both their hands (everyone hopes) to work. The phrase, "get your butt over here," means the entire person (which in most cases is inseparable from his or her butt) should come as quickly as possible. Or to belabor the point, when you give your hand in marriage, your hand stands for your entire life, self and energy. So in this sense, eight hands could also mean eight women or eight groups or eight nations, oh dear... I'd better stop.

This sort of group has been my dream for many, many years. So much so that when I wrote my novel, Solomon's Puzzle, the quilt store rightly became the center of that community represented there. This sort of sewing community exists in many forms in reality and even specifically in Annapolis.  I think of the Annapolis Quilt Guild which is one picture of the store I created in my novel and also Cottonseed Glory an actual quilt shop in Annapolis that served, in many ways as the model for my fictional Eight Hands Around.  It is a place where beauty is created, souls repaired, friendship fostered, inspiration available by the armful.

Problem was that last year the creativity guild struggled.  Two faithful friends from church came to the meetings and we had a lovely time.  Only a few of the planned activities actually happened; a few people did learn to decorate cakes and cookies. This year we weren't sure what to do.

We decided to try again expecting maybe three people to join us we set the meeting at my  house. A few of the women had nursing babies and wanted the option to bring them.

The first meeting was so crowded, we barely had room to set up! It was too crowded, too hot!  We decided to move the next meeting back to New Hope Chapel (they have a nice nursery for any babies who come along) where we gathered in the spacious, warm cafe there! And what fun! How interesting that many of the women knew each other from college associations, or AACS connections, or church visits, or from working together. It was great to hear the conversation draw us together, wonderful to help with projects begun and plan projects for Christmas! No one wanted to leave.

And the next day an eloquent hand wrote an email to say that sewing, as she was learning to do, fulfilled one of her life long dreams.

Another aside: If you'd like to join our creativity guild and sit there and work on your own projects while you visit with us, just plan to come and bring what you need. We would love to have you. People donate lots of supplies to us and you are welcome to rummage through the scrap bag or the button bucket. If you want to learn from the instruction we've planned for that night, contact me. There is a small charge for the instruction part only because we supply much of what is needed to complete the project and I want to pay the teachers a little bit.

I left New Hope Chapel that night with Andrea and Valerie. It was well after dark and the sky was clear.  As we were getting in our cars, Andrea said, "Oh, look up! There's Jupiter!"

I looked up to see the full moon shining its light on us. The moon, the constantly returning one, was not alone. Beside it, glowing with a tint of orange, was Jupiter. I know that I will memorize this moment also, as I'm prone to do; I'll remember it as a moment when the three of us dreamers realized our humble, happy little dream was coming true.


  1. this is wonderful, I'm so happy about this. I may pop in on a night when I can. I love it when dreams like this slowly come to fruition.

  2. I think this is just amazing and magical and beautiful! -J.I