Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Long Road Home.

It’s a well known fact how much I love mountains.  Anywhere there are mountains, my soul soars with their heights.

I love the farmlands tucked in between the ridges and hollows, fields of green, winding roads and old homesteads, many of which are still occupied and thriving.

I love a countryside dotted with silos and old barns.

Yes, these two lane highways with double yellow lines generally mean you can’t travel as quickly, and the whole road is a “no passing zone."

That can cause a bit of a problem of its own if you happen to find yourself following Farmer Jones as he meanders from one spot to another, in no real hurry to get there – This is, after all, Appalachia.  Folks drive as slow as they talk down here.

This is what we call an Appalachian Traffic Jam:


Hey, Buddy!  You are going 35 in a 55!!

And I think I followed him for about 15 miles this way.  He didn’t bother to check his rear-view mirror, he didn’t pull over to let traffic pass – in fact, I was the “only” other traffic on the road with no one behind me, so he just became the engine, and I was his caboose.

Eventually I decided to relax a bit and play along myself.  It was a lovely day.  Windows were down, and since there was no one behind me, I stopped in the middle of the road and took this photo:


What’s the story of this house?

I bet it was magnificent in its day.  That porch wraps all the way around, the way southern porches from a bygone era tend to do.  Perfect for ice tea drinking and porch rocking.  Who lived here, loved here, made memories here?  And wouldn’t you love one of those upper corners as your bedroom?  Or sewing room?

“Hello old house, nice to be able to appreciate you for just a bit!”  I said as I put my foot back on the gas pedal and played catch up with Mr Pickup Truck just ahead, still rambling down the road at 35 miles per hour.


Peek-a-boo!  I see you!

And in a few weeks I won’t be seeing this at all – the trees will leaf out keeping this beauty behind a curtain of green until fall.  I think I could see some quilting happening on that upper veranda, perhaps?  Maybe some simple piecing, or some embroidery work done by the lady of the house.

If this was the farmhouse, it looks to have been a prosperous one.  I wonder what they grew.  Did they raise cattle or have horses on this land?  There is still a lot of that going on here in the blue ridge.  Further up the road, back where I came from there are Christmas tree farms a plenty, and they are so beautiful to drive past with trees all in rows extending up hillsides where regular crop growing couldn’t happen.

Closer to Sparta,  Farmer Jones takes a turn and just as I think I’m safe from more traffic impediments,  Oh NO!


Double traffic trouble!  And a double yellow line as far as the eye can see!


All the way through town!

And just at the edge of town, traffic has slowed to a stop with a long snake of vehicles waiting to go further down the road.  There are road workers with STOP signs that reverse to say “SLOW” –Road construction has this bit of the soon-to-resume highway down to one lane with a pilot car, letting each southbound or northbound line of traffic take their turns in passing this section.

Not only am I behind Double Trouble, but he is behind at least 20 cars headed down toward the winding bit of mountain road that heads to Elkin down below.

“Oh, THIS is not happening!” I said to myself, and as soon as our line was good to go, I went on a bit, pulled into a Mexican place for lunch, and planned to make my next entrance onto the road with a full belly, and NOT following 25 cars and double trouble hay hauler at 25 miles per hour all the way down the windy curvy do-not-pass double yellow lined highway.


The house on Main Street

This is the house that is up for sale on Main Street in Mouth of Wilson, VA about 4 miles from the cabin.  When I slowed to take THIS photo, I didn’t even notice the mom and daughter playing on the front steps!  I only saw them when I went to edit the photo.  

This big Victorian has 5 bedrooms, but only 2 1/2 baths.  It’s been redone inside.  It would make a GREAT retreat center if not for the fact that it needs more baths if you are going to house enough folks for a retreat.

But every time we drive by it I wish I could see inside –I would LOVE to have a retreat place and have folks come to me, instead of me go to them.

I’ve thought of having SOME weeks as weeks that I would teach, and other weeks that would just be open sew.

It’s a long time off if anything like that happens.  But it’s good to dream, isn’t it?

Maybe some day I’ll go knock on the door, introduce myself to the lady I saw on the steps and ask if she would mind if I took a look around.  Dreams have to start somewhere!

FYI –the closest airport to Mouth of Wilson is Roanoke, VA. a 2 hour drive away.  The airport in Greensboro, a bit bigger, is 2 1/2 hours away, and Charlotte NC is about the same at 2 1/2 hours away.


In search of backgrounds!

I’m auditioning background fabrics for my hexie star small quilt project. The center will be appliqued in place, and framed with pieced borders. I'm kind of partial to this aqua batik! I am not sure about borders yet, and this is all the playing with fabric that happened for me yesterday.

I took care of desk work, sitting still.  I got bored and reorganized the stock room as new merchandise came in. (See last night’s give-away post if you missed it!)

I feel like I’ve been hit in the head with a hammer.  It should get better day by day, and already this morning after a good night’s sleep I feel like I’ve rounded the bend.

The incision on my forehead is slowly getting to the point where it doesn't hurt to raise an eyebrow. Try smiling without raising your eyebrows. Try laughing with no facial expression. Weird.

And the numbness continues above the incision to the top of my head. They said they would likely be cutting into some nerves to get it all. At least it is just numb, and not leaving me with some startled expression.

Jeff says the scar does look like Harry Potter as it has a bit of a zig-zag to it. Okay, if you are going to have to have a scar on your forehead, it may as well be a cool one like that.

I am cabin bound today, and have planned a stop off in Wilkesboro for lunch with Mona.  She called to see if I could spare any orange or black 2” strips for her current project:



This woman is on fire.  She is doing all of her bow-ties in orange, all with black backgrounds.  And I am so happy to contribute my oranges and blacks to this project.

My son Jason may be coming up this weekend from South Carolina.  I hope he does.  I’d love to see him and show him around.

Border fabrics are coming with me for the Straights of Mackinac quilt and I’ll set into cutting and sewing for that project, and continue the hand quilting of THIS project in the evenings:


Getting it done.  One hoop at a time!

My ongoing hand quilting project - Orphan Block Sampler, the top was finished in 2007. I pieced the borders after Tonya Ricucci got me hooked on pieced letters long before her book Word Play Quilts was a reality. I just need to finish quilting the center and I will be done!

Yes, it is bound.  I quilt Baptist fans from the outside edge in towards the center, working in a spiral. Once you've gone completely around the outside edge, adding binding is possible, and keeps loose batting from shredding all over the place. I’m getting there.  And I love slow stitching in the evening.


Quiltville Quote of the Day!

Vintage Lemoyne star quilt found in North Carolina.

Thursday morning with a heart full of gratitude.

Life may be stressful, overly full, and deadlines may loom - but I am so grateful.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

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  1. I love mountains and farms too. Old houses are the Bomb! Many years ago we were looking at one and it had a secret entrance up to the attic. It was great to climb up there and look out over the whole town from the window. If it didn't need extensive foundation and shoring up work..... I finished my growing up in an old house and loved the deep windows but as I get older I kinda like the idea of being warm when I want to be warm and cool when I want to be cool. Guess that means I want a new(ish) house that looks like the old ones when they were new(ish.)

    Please, let Mona know that the block 8 in from the right and 9 up from the bottom is flipped the opposite way... She'd probably catch it when sewing but just in case.

  2. I love your comments about Sparta and Elkin! I was born in Elkin and my parents were living in Sparta at the time. Mom used to talk about that windy road down the mountain to the doctor in Elkin. We moved from the area when I was just a few months old, and I've never been back.

  3. I would so love to come to a retreat you host!!

  4. I used to go to a retreat center that accommodated up to 18-20 people and it only had 2 1/2 baths. There was no scramble getting everyone out the door at the same time so it worked; you just stayed in your jammies and sewed until one of the full bathrooms freed up.

  5. OMG! What an eye you have All8!!! You made me laugh out loud when I read your note about the block being flipped wrong! I love it!! Last night I was texting a pic of a quilt I was working on to friends for their input. Wish I had you on the that list!!! They were all very kind and said 'Sew it' since I had been playing with block placement FOREVER! I love that about friends! Glad to hear the thing on your head is gone, Bonnie. Wonder where it went. . . Many thanks for brightening my days with your posts!

  6. We just got home last night from a trip to Mountain Quilt Fest and instead of 81 north, we went over Greensboro way and up thru Danville and north. I thought of you looking over at the mountains to our west. It was sad in Gatlinburg looking at some of the fire damage, but new life was already springing here and there. You can see mountain people just don't sit around... they get busy. I was surprised how close (about 500 feet a gate person told us) the fire came to Dollywood. Just drove up that way... didn't go in. We loved driving down thru Virginia the best and seeing all those fields of cattle out feeding, some mamas with little ones. Just beautiful country. I can see why you're in love! Enjoy your day at the cabin.

  7. My Daddy used to drive a CAMPA milk truck to pick up milk from farmers in Arkansas. He always said that he would get behind a farmer in an old Dodge truck and have to follow it slowly. He swore me he retired he would get an old Dodge truck and get in everyone's way. LOL When Daddy retired, my brother-in-law bought an Old Dodge truck and had it towed to our yard. Daddy never drove it, but it was a family story to share.

  8. I love the idea of coming to you! It would be easier to book flights, etc. to one place. You deserve some down time too. You are such a hard worker. I love that we are never too old to dream! It's the first step to reality!

  9. I will drive 4+ hours in May to see you! Sew excited for you to come. A Retreat Center does sound fun, but a lot of work! Yea, Mona, the bow ties was a Favorite Leaders & Enders project for me.

  10. One word for your home tour......Zillow.com!

  11. Your quote today is perfect!

  12. As I admired the first house you pictured, I thought what a great retreat center THAT unique house would make. A retreat center must be in your future. As we say in the South, "I'm claiming it" for you.
    Oh, how I wish I had the money to buy and rehab every old, abandoned beautiful house and bring it back to it's glory!

  13. Those slow-moving "farm" vehicles can stress you if you are in a hurry. So-maybe we don't need to be in a hurry. Part of the life you were looking for - forcing you to slow down, take a breath, relax your shoulders, enjoy. Hard to do when we are on a mission.
    The "farmer" is relaxed, thinking or maybe his load is weighing him down. Can you tell I live in the mountains. Try to drive in Boone where 4-lane widening has swallowed up the hills and homes, and merge into 2. Give me the country roads. Love to you, Bonnie. So glad your "thing" has done well.

  14. When encountering an Appalachian traffic jam, try to remember you are entering their world, a slower pace of living, the thing you are yearning for. As for the buddy doing 35 in a 55, probably so he doesn't spill his load in your path and cause the road to shut down completely. Breath, savor the slow, embrace the peace. Look back and remember the Maryland State Trooper that let you off with a warning not that long ago. wish I had known you were going to travel that section of highway, I live nearby and could have warned you. LOL. I admire all that you accomplish and share with us. I'm light heartedly reminding you to go easy on the treadle to avoid those jams, both traffic and thread. Hope the boo boo heals quickly and thankful they'got it all'.

  15. In my humble opinion those old houses would take way too much work. Just think of what you'd have to do just with the electricity and the plumbing to meet the needs of many people and many machines and irons.

  16. Bonnie, I am intrigued by that huge mansion that u wondered about. Get the address or description, the local courthouse or tax office should have info to find out more, please. It's lovely, I see it as it might have been. There might be an high school auditorium or ballroom or something, motels, you coukd have multiple days of in town classes to schedule from around the country.

  17. Ahhhh! You are in the part of the cpuntry where I grew up! If you go a little further west to Smyth County there is an Octagon house being restored. They have, or at least had, some of the original plaster and base boards that were hand painted and just gorgeous! Maybe you could get inspiration for your octagon quilt from and octagon house? ;)

    Cyndi Parks

  18. What beautiful homes they must have been in their day! Soooo sad to see them empty. Makes me thing of the DIY shows that do all the make overs. Where are they when a empty house needs them? Lol...
    You have soo motivated me... I need to get back to work on UFO projects.
    Have a great rest of the week.
    Jean C.

  19. In many areas especially rural, if you blink your lights at a vehicle going slowly, they will slow down and pull over (usually easy for them) and let you pass. There are areas such as drive ways, mail boxes or maintenance spots on the right that can be used. The farmer probably though you were happily sight seeing since you didn't blink your lights. We always thank someone who does this for us with a polite "toot", a wave, or a blink of the brake lights after we pass.
    I'm really enjoying watching your move and how you're making the new cabin "yours."

  20. My best friend lived in Raleigh, I was in Ohio. Loved the drive down to visit her. Your pix remind me of those times. Love the retreat idea. Don't think 2.5 baths is that big a deal.

  21. I'd say give the house a look. You have plenty of following to make a retreat center work. Add couple more bathrooms in an addition. A two story addition with a bathroom on each floor would be all you need. I'm an Iowa girl and here they say, if you build it, they will come. I believe it. Built it...you'll see. You deserve to settle down and enjoy home life.

  22. I know it may seem counterintuitive, it it might be faster to go east along 58 until it gets to 77 and then turn south. 58 has more 4 lane stretches now and the. When you do turn tomgomdown the mountain it is 4 lane all the way on 77.

  23. Well...I've just fallen in love---just like I have a million times in my lifetime---I LOVE old houses and the one you showed in this post makes my heart flutter. There is just such an essence of "home" in those old houses than isn't found in today's dwellings---even in reproduction houses. Yes---I'd love to know that home's "stories". Thank you for sharing. (...and today's quote was touching...). Thanks, Bonnie. (p.s. My middle daughter, of 3, is a Bonnie Lee; she'll be 34 in May.)

  24. I love your quote for today. It's a great reminder for one to appreciate what she has- be it great or small. And so simply said.
    I love mountains like you do, only living in rural Ontario I have learned to love the rolling hills of farmland or just the greatness around me. Listening to water is also calming. The wind and roar of the ocean is fantastic and so is the sound of water tripping over rocks and stones of a small stream. Wonder all around us! I think your quote has set the tone for my day. Thank you!

  25. Does anyone know the size of the papers for the hexi star block?

  26. Having a retreat center is a 'maybe someday' idea of mine, too. Fun to imagine the possibilities. I can so see you running a retreat center - Quiltvillle: The Destination!

    Glad to hear you're healing well from The Thing. I feel you - I've had several unfriendly 'Things' carved out of my skin, one as far back as elementary school. I'm missing a big chunk out of the top edge of my left ear because of a 'Thing.' None of my scars are as wizard-y cool as yours will be, though. ;) Hang in there!

  27. Ha, ha, ha, that pickup could have been me or hubby. That great big bag in the backend was probably 2,000 pounds of oat seed, (which is in your cheerios) and he may have 1 strap holding it so it doesn't slide and tip over and spill or flip him and the pickup over if he goes to fast. So he drives slower. Now if Bonnie Hunter had that big bag loaded with 2,000 Pounds of fabric strapped on top of her gubber mobile and she was driving slow so it didn't tip over or flip the auto over on top of her, it would probably be ok. Just remember girl, farmer has a wife that maybe buying your books and rulers and taking classes from you. And that great big bag of seed, when planted will grow into a crop that not only feeds you in cheerios, oat meal, and cookies but produces $ for farmers wife to spend on quilt books and fabric and such... just saying....when I drive like that it's for your safety and mine... glad to know how you feel about the farmers who feed you.

  28. LOVE the idea of a retreat center- I have dreamed of having one myself to host any type of group that would enjoy coming, but mostly quilters. Sign me up for your first retreat when your dream comes true Bonnie! My guess would be sooner rather than later! :) I'm IN!


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