The Quilt

We’re occasionally asked, ‘what do you do all day?’ Well, life aboard for us is filled with activity. We spend a lot of time with our dogs; frequent shore trips prompt walks in the environs we visit; there’s the never-ending maintenance to keep our home afloat – well, afloat! The vision of a life of leisure living aboard is a vision held by those who dream of doing it… folks “livin’ the dream” are more pragmatic; we’ve spent our share of time under the bottom of the boat, cleaning the holding tank probes, polishing, waxing, varnishing, changing the oil (my particular favorite), enough to know that livin’ the dream might more appropriately follow the definition of cruising: fixing the boat in exotic places. Well, some of the places might not be so exotic. Still, with all that said, we simply wouldn’t have it any other way! We love it.

When we occasionally catch up with chores, we enjoy reading, exploring unfamiliar towns, bicycling, I blog (albeit sporadically, of late) and Barb spends time while we’re underway with needlework.

My mom was an avid crafter; she was perpetually making things, her creative outlet. She hand crafted dolls, cabbage patch kids, teddy bears, braided rugs, quilts, clothing, knitting and a plethora of numerous other projects. She did a large quilt for each of 3 kids. Barb chose a quilt shortly after our marriage, and mom  started work on it. Being the perfectionist she was, she was frustrated by the project, intimidated perhaps by the 864 appliques, and not being able to get it perfect enough for her liking; so the project languished with almost 100 appliques attached. The quilt faded from memory, and we never gave it much thought, knowing the frustration it presented.

Years passed, and so did mom and dad. When it came time to clean out their home, Barb found a box in the attic and thought the contents looked vaguely familiar. On closer scrutiny, she realized it was the quilt she chose those many years ago. It was unfinished, but all the pieces were there. We were cruising at the time, so she kept the quilt and brought it on board, thinking she may have time to work on it. She started working on it during longer cruise passages, rediscovering the frustration that stymied my mother. But she persisted, and soon the quilt was a common presence in the pilothouse, the myriad pieces were slowly stitched into place. After a few years, the appliqued pieces were complete. On a stopover at our home, she prepared the backing and the batting, and the quilt returned to the boat for the final hand quilting. On our trip from Ft. Pierce to Ft. Lauderdale, she completed the binding, and the quilt was finally finished! Begun in 1975, now 40 years and countless hours later, my mom’s mantle as seamstress extraordinaire has been taken up by her daughter in law, who quips that my mom got into her head to get that project completed! At the foot of the quilt is stitched RS/BS 1975-2015, a tribute to the makers and the passage of time. The pattern is “Tree of Life”, somehow very appropriate!

A sidebar on my dad is appropriate here, as well. After my mom passed, my dad found a need to fill time he had spent caring for mom. Always industrious and never one to shy from a challenge, he determined that he, too could do needlework. In his late 80’s, he embarked on a few projects. Among those projects was a quilted compass rose. Not the perfectionist my mother was, he was more driven toward results, so the compass rose was the perfect choice given his love of the sea and boating! He did complete his project, a testament to his pit bull determination. We brought his project on board as well, and it hangs at the head of our berth, above the quilt. We joke that my parents cruise with us through their handiwork and legacy of their creativity!

2 Responses to “The Quilt”

  1. Dan & Myla on 23 Feb 2015 at 9:14 PM #

    What a beautiful quilt! Congratulations on your perseverance and sewing skills!

    Dan and I are glad to hear from you – as we shovel 12″ of snow off our driveway and prepare for another 3-5″ day after tomorrow. No complaints, here, though – we could be in Boston!

    Fair winds and following seas,
    Dan and Myla

  2. Lisa on 07 Mar 2015 at 9:01 AM #

    What a welcoming place to lay your head at the end of the day.