I'm here in Tucson as I write this blog this morning. When I checked into the Arizona Inn Friday night, the first thing to greet me by my courtyard entrance was a blooming orange tree. Have you ever walked under a huge orange bush/tree and smelled those blossoms? Like nothing else on this earth. I robbed a small twig, and put it on the bedside table and let it have its way with my muse all night. They had a good time....
There will be more about this in my next newsletter. And we will be giving the quilt I made away to some lucky reader. I hope it's you. I wish I had the fingers and the time to make all of you one, but perhaps in another lifetime. Right now, I'm only given this snippet of time and I'm making the most of it.
Last week I spent from Sunday night to Wednesday at Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, California. Healdsburg is important to me because several of my stories take place here. The Monteleone vineyard is here where Marcus and Ann make love in the vineyards and the bloom of their love lasts forever. Hugh Jett combs the bars in downtown Healdsburg doing security for the Monteleones (a book to come later this year). Daniel and Claire walk the square in Heavenly Lover at Christmas time, and Claire, the guardian angel who falls in love with her human charge, joins the angel display in one of the store windows and surprises Daniel. Daniel signs children's books in the book store on the square. Tyler visits Kate at the family winery here, and they stay at a bed and breakfast near downtown, in SEAL Of My Heart. The town is one of my favorites to write.
Bishop's Ranch is a place of retreat and reflection, run by caring staff who are all about the experience of spiritual and personal growth. I'm going to make it a must-do each month, for a self-imposed writing cave. I think better there, just as a change of pace.
The quilting retreat is the second year for me. My friend Jody comes with me, and I'm always amazed at the beautiful pieces others have done. We "stitch and bitch" as they say, but mostly we laugh, listen to music, and just marvel at the beautiful surroundings. I walked the labyrinth, walked under blooming trees, and in general just watched the countryside just begin to lush up with green grasses and see the vineyards beginning to bud. Almost like mother nature takes a big gulp of air and sighs before the frenzy of the wine business takes over.
We all come together, women from different parts of the state, and share the love of quilting and fellowship. I always learn so much. I bought a craft iron and a seam stick for ironing absolutely flat seams, watched techniques of paper piecing and measuring, learned the power of advanced preparation and planning, and discussed and indulged in all the beautiful colors of the fabric. We are like a quilt of many colors: some red, flowered, striped, patterns of the sunset. The theme for the retreat was the daybreak quilt I show up top, but I had the mission to finish mine so I could do a giveaway on the Newsletter. (Remember, if you're a subscriber, you'll have a chance to get in on the drawing.)
We are the sum total of all our experiences, and like the scenes from my stories, these have either been lived, or imagined. Parts of them are bright, parts sultry and sexy, parts emotional, and some dangerous or fearsome. Homefully all the stories are fearsome! I put myself into experiences so I can call out my treasure trove of many colors and bring them to my books. I'm drawn to the stories of the Underground Railroad and the secret messages contained in the quilts. Even during the Revolutionary War there were messages relayed by the women through quilting, the hanging of laundry beside the house, to give signals to the young patriot army. It is a rich history of this nation. I spoke at length with a woman yesterday who reads mainly black history books, and we discussed these quilts for a few minutes. We doesn't read me, but we have the love of history and the lives of our forefathers in common.
Living a colorful life filled with life experiences is what keeps me young. I hope that as I piece together the fabric of the rest of my life, that my quilt will be as beautiful and colorful as some of these, with stories so compelling, they are difficult to put down. And I'm glad I have you to come along with me. Thank you for that, by the way. Sometimes I don't say it enough.