Friday, August 25, 2006

Sunshine and Shadow

Years ago (about 20), at the beginning of my quilting career, I became enamored of Amish quilts—specifically those made in Lancaster county, PA during the first half of the 20th century. After seeing the Esprit collection at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and then a trip to Lancaster County, I made my own version of the "Sunshine and Shadow" design, a particular favorite of mine.

In the book, Plain and Simple, author Sue Bender says, "The Amish love the Sunshine and Shadow quilt pattern. It shows two sides—the dark and light, spirit and form—and the challenge of bringing the two into a larger unity. It's not a choice between extremes: conformity or freedom, discipline or imagination, acceptance or doubt, humility or a raging ego. It's a balancing act that includes opposites." For me it has come to represent the balance of human existance—the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow, and how they are both a part of the whole. It's not a great quilt and the colors are really not what the Amish would have used—too match-y, too tasteful—but the quilt is a symbol and reminder of those ideas.

I have realized that in writing this blog I tend to focus on sunshine and ignore the shadow. When I showed you a beautiful day at the beach I failed to mention the stench of rotting seaweed that finally drove us from the beach. In describing the fun our group had in Seattle at the Quilt Show, I purposely avoided mentioning that between viewing of quilts and exploring Seattle, I was on the phone with my distraught sister and worrying about my nephew's fractured skull and brain injury. And when I wrote about our wonderful party last weekend I skipped the part about my aunt being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and our day, following the party, with her at the hospital which concluded with a pacemaker being implanted in her chest. And today I am a little preoccupied with the news of a lovely friend's metastacized cancer. My life is good, but not perfect. My life is pretty much like yours. No matter how warm and cheering the sunshine is, the shadows are lurking.

I'll continue to focus on sunshine—you have shadows of your own and don't need mine. But, in case you are wondering, my nephew is making good, if slow, progress; my aunt just called to say she is feeling fine and happy and lucky to have her pacemaker. My friend's cancer—well, that is something we just don't know about yet.


  1. Anonymous6:29 AM

    I am thinking of you and your family and saying prayers. It's funny, even though we have never met in real life-your a real part of my day and along with that comes the feeling of friendship. I hope all goes well. I don't know if I mentioned it before but I make reproductions of Amish quilts(many in miniature) and so I enjoyed your post. We go to Lancaster often and now they have the Esprit quilts in the new Museum in Lancaster-it's breathtaking to see them in person.Even my husband was taken back by there beauty.

  2. Hi Terry, love the new header on your blog, it's really nice. Guess it's been a while since I've read blogs, since I'm really trying to get some quilts done in my studio:) Also enjoyed your photos of the kids with the Fimo - I'd love to use that stuff, but tried once and the smell (which doesn't seem to be very strong) made me sick to my stomach! Recently I saw that Sculpty is made in colors now, so might try that since I used the white sculpty and it didn't bother me. I need to make some new eyeballs for my quilts!

  3. You're right - I guess most of us focus on the sunshine, keeping the shadows to ourselves. Good on you for mentioning it.

  4. Me too, I dwell more on the sunshine than the shadow in my blog. I had a diary growing up, and I would write mostly abou the shadow, because I used the diary to vent and to understand and to comfort myself. It also helped me remember other people's misdeeds, so that when somebody treated me badly, I could realize that it wasn't the first time, and maybe that person didn't deserve my trust. Going back to reread it was really depressing, and I wondered what happened during the times when I wasn't writing in the diary. Did it mean that I was happy in between times, or does it mean that I was too upset to even write? Probably a bit of both. So I write everyday in my blog, mostly happy things, and if I don't remember the shadow on my own, it is probably better that I forgot anyway.

  5. I focus more on the sunshine too. I think there's enough shadow in the world. I don't want to make it stronger by giving it more attention.

    Sending good thoughts to your nephew, aunt, friend and you!

  6. My daughter refers to it as her tidy little blog persona. I try to strike a blance but we all want to have our sunny side up, right?

    I've been wondering how your nephew is doing. I'm hoping for lots of sunshsine for you and your family in the days ahead.

  7. I know we sort of hate to focus on the negative--But I appreciate that you mentioned the real life "behind the scenes". My family and I have our own sets of challenges,and even though it is private etc; It feels good to know that others in the world can share similar things, and come through it...In other words; your mentioning it helps me feel less alone in the struggle. And that is a good thing!
    Thank you.