Love Letters to Friends, As Well As Very Important Musings on Earth Shattering Matters:
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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stars Fell On Alabama: A Georgia Peach Welcomes The New Guy

….being a wee baby quilt for my college bestie, and the resulting sweet reminiscences.

I had a good long gab with my old pal Mocha last night, who was one of the very first people I met on campus as a Freshman.  I was NOT super-excited to be going to college, because I had sniffily decided I had Bigger Plans, and she had come all the way from Georgia to the midwest for the express purpose, it seemed to me, of making my life bearable until I could graduate the fuck out of there and go explore the world.  We lived on the same dorm floor, and I first saw her at some idiot icebreaker event as we were all moving in, where I was scowling at all the sorority girls I was going to have to live with; she had just leaned over her lap forgetting there was pizza on it and was laughing at herself merrily for the subsequent pizza-shaped marinara imprint on her shirt.  Naturally, I thought to myself: "We are soul mates." And so it came to pass.

Dorm life is basically a psychological experiment in the stresses of group living, but it certainly has its high points. I suppose everyone who ever lived in a dorm has stories that make them feel like their experience was unique, but it hardly matters if they are or not, no? As long as there are late night "study" sessions during which vast quantities of mac and cheese are consumed, earnest counseling over tragic break-ups or scholastic insecurities, catty passive-aggressive fighting with the Others on the floor, the incessant playing of the same song or singing of the same single lyric over and over and over until the death threats start (in Mo's case, this was "SUZANNE THE PLANS THEY MADE PUT AN END TO YOU", in my case it was whatever Trip Shakespeare song was on heavy rotation that week), the endless plotting and scheming of the truly dedicated groupie, drunken wheelchair races down the hall, roommate drama, the group-watching of noxious trash television and associated groans and rude commentary, and, oh! the hysterical laughing fits - the wheezing, gulping, crying, shaking, ab-paining, helpless laughing fits, about absurd and embarrassing situations we constantly found ourselves in or about an unfortunate smell that may or may not have emanated from me (I admit nothing) or about nothing at all - as long as there were all of these things, then I think you can consider your entire college career a success. And by this measure, our Freshman year may have been the pinnacle of human achievement, in particular when it came to hysterical laughing.  Mo and I were gut-busting laughers extraordinaire. Seriously. It was like a super power. We should probably hold clinics.

Just a couple of beautiful, demure ladies with a lot of time on our hands. Yes that is zit cream on my face.
Armed with the friendship of the funniest, prettiest, and most interesting girl in all of Weston Hall, I was much better able to navigate on a campus of merely 35,000 undergraduates in order to seek out and find the larger but still select community of like-minded souls who became our scene. And so she may be hanging with her buddies from her athletics programs and I might be sampling an environmental action group, but no matter what social circles we roamed to or what new music venue there was to check out or what new boy I was pining after, there was always Mo -  in the front row waiting for the show to start; charming the bouncers with her Southern drawl and her big blue eyes; trying to warm up her cold Atlanta bones during midwestern winters by running her hands under hot water until they were chapped, while I sat on the bathroom floor bitching about….something; deciding for no apparent reason to take Italian; confusedly wondering if the restaurant we were going to would still be open if there was an inch of snow on the ground (spoilers: Illinois, yes; Atlanta, no); later, in Grad school, obtaining an enormous Malemute of truly Brobdingnagian proportions, the excellent Marley Dog; and in general hanging out on the Quad and at our local music venue and at Disco Night and on the porches of crappy college houses, and talking and laughing for hours and hours as we whiled away the afternoons of our youth.

Me, Mo, and the butt of Marley Dog at her folks' house in the ATL.

And though Mo has long since left Illinois for various homes in greener pastures - or, at least, WARMER pastures - it doesn't take but a few sentences over the phone to reconnect to those silly girls who might wear a headband spiked with tampons to look like the Statue of Liberty, or stick orange peels up our noses to protest someone else's cooking odor, or cruise down the hall with both arms outstretched, one finger on each side erasing a swath down every single door's dry-erase boards, just to be a dick.  And let us not forget the parade of reunion shows, road-trips, and weddings that enable us every so often to dust off our hysterical laughing superpower once again. (Speaking of weddings, Mo's was a beauty; and ask her the story of how she and her supercool rocker/historian husband Kev met some day, because it is the stuff of Hallmark Television Specials.)

So thank dog for you, Mo.  To paraphrase Kelly Clarkson, because of you, I have a college degree, but also a million hilarious memories from over the last quarter century to bolster me when the laughs are running low.

Anyway, it was in this pleasant stew of nostalgia that I was soaking while I made Mo a wee blankie for her newest little boy, James Winston, who was born in May - welcome James! Or Winston! Or whatever you will end up going by:

Starry, Starry Blankie

Before quilting and binding

Why, only last night she was telling me that so far, her new baby suits his middle name, Winston, more than his first, James:

 Mo's New Bundle of Joy!
…which might make this label a little outdated pretty soon:
He'll probably object to being called a "baby" soon, too.

There's not much to explain about this pattern or anything, just a little whimsical scrappy star quilt of blues and reds.  It's possible I was thinking of the fact that this baby was born in the USA - Mo's first boy was born while she was living in Italy (so I guess those Italian classes had a purpose after all!)  I did often think, while putting this together, that Mo's beloved dad Tom, who was a tailor, was probably rolling his eyes in heaven at my questionable seam allowances and puckering fabric.  But being the good-natured gent he was, I'm guessing he'll forgive me (and the great thing about quilting is that, once everything goes through the wash, lots of little threads get sucked into the inside of the quilt and the crinkly-ness of the fabric hides a lot of pucker. But I'll try harder next time, Tom!)  Here is the extremely complicated drawing that aided my efforts:

Yup, that's about the size of it. Maybe I should have been, like, an architect or something.

I did test something a bit more child-like with the inside borders originally - these monster guys, whom I dearly love, but didn't quite work for me and made this feel weirdly Civil-War-era quilt to me.  (Presumably, there were also monster guys during the Civil War, I dunno):

Monster Guys Test Run

In the end, though, the simple light blue won out. It had a sort of Baby by Ralph Lauren feel to it, what with the light blue shirting in the interior borders and the darker denim-y chambray outside border. Though I like to think that my scrappy baby blanket is a little more understated than those godawful Olympics uniforms we had to wear last Winter Games.  Shebus H. Crispies, those were butt-ugly.  But in any case, it's an apt patriotic sentiment for a baby born into a genteel southern family, away down there on the coast of Alabama.  When he gets old enough, I'll be sending him his requisite "American By Birth: Southern By the Grace of God" belt buckle.

And since I wasn't sure if anyone would require a real quilt in Alabama, I didn't add any batting to this - there's just an extra layer of regular fabric to give it a little heft and drape. And I quilted on the inside and outside of each star and red square, and then did this stripy border quilting which is known as "piano keys" in the biz.

Scrappy, Stripy, Starry, and Dotty on the Edges

Red striped shirting with a strip of blue and white seersucker up there.
The back was a single piece of sweet shirting from the esteemed Vogue Fabrics, which I love for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which being that they have 60" width fabric remnants that can take care of a baby blanket backing quite easily in one piece.  I did add a little hot-weather seer-sucker back there, because even babies from Alabama have to stay cool, and look cool doing it.  If I have a hope for this blankie, it's that James eventually likes it well enough to drool on it quite a lot, and drag it through puddles and make it into a fort or a cape, and maybe use it to hunker down on the couch for some serious cartoon watching with his big brother.

Side note:  Mo is now the only recipient so far of TWO of my quilty things, since I sent her the Rainy Day Picnic quilt that was one of my first attempts at lots of half-square triangles, a couple years back when I started this quilty nonsense.  I wasn't writing up my quilts of gratitude at that time very much, just posting on Facebook, so this is a long overdue blog post for her!

Mo's Rainy Day Picnic quilt, finished 2013

And I wasn't even quilting yet when Mo had her first little dude, but I did go visit her in Italy when he was born, which was a true delight.  I think I showed up like a few days after he was born, kind of randomly, so I sort of barged in on their new family domestic bliss/sleeplessness, but ever the gracious hostess Mo made me feel right at home with some Irish bread and tea, and some late evening cackling that probably woke the poor child, and/or endangered Mo's c-section incisions.  And as always, it was so, so good to see her there, happy, intrepidly navigating the Italian hospital system, and funny as ever.

Just a couple of beautiful, demure girls with one new Italian baby.

I admit nothing. 
So here's to you and your family, Mochicka!  I hope you know how much I love you and how grateful I am to know you, despite my crabtastical interludes; and how little it matters how much time elapses between visits since I am always, in my heart, sitting on the floor of Weston One, singing "Mandy", eating pizza from the Orange, and laughing, always laughing, with you.  I quite sincerely hope we are doing the same thing when we are 80, by which time we'll have another quarter century's worth of stories to tell and retell.

Very Many Besos,


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