Deliberate Trailblazing 🔀

I started stitching this ‘crazy quilt’ years ago.  All the fabrics are recycled from working as a seamstress back in the States.  Most are scraps I collected from my client’s clothing and home decorating projects.  There’s a pair of my own repurposed jeans in there too.  It was set aside in the busyness of starting a family, though, ironically, it was inspired by those same events as a tribute to the life Johnny and I had started together. 

stars and hearts stitched to

honour children and true love

on their special days

When the idea was conceived, I imagined it like a map of our family with significant moments plotted out in embroidered calendar dates, with plentiful zig-zags and curves, stops and starts, flowers, fireworks, hearts, and stars that represent the highlights and unexpected twists and turns of travelling through life.  Our wedding anniversary, the children’s birthdays, our trans-Atlantic crossing, moving into our home– they’re intentionally not being placed on the quilt in chronological order.  While it is our history, I don’t want it to read like a timeline.  It’s just not the reality of travelling through life.  Or reading a map.  Rarely does one travel in a straight line for very long.  And, honestly, it seemed a bit boring to do it that way.  Since taking it out of storage, I’ve added it to my list of 16 things to do in 2016— that is, to embroider more of the patches.

While writing this, my youngest threw open my office door– ‘Mommy, what is that pot in the sky called again?’ I had only partially answered, ‘The Big…”  when her memory jogged and, listening no further, she spun around and dashed back up the stairs to whoever she had abandoned mid-conversation in need of consulting with me.  

Often my train of thought is knocked off course by these interruptions in writing, but this time it gave me direction–

the skies the limit

for children who’re taught to read

the earth and the stars

When I was twelve years old, my grandfather taught me how to read a road map while I travelled cross country with him and my grandmother to deliver a custard glass collection they had sold.  He stressed the importance of understanding how to get from here to there and knowing what to expect along the way.  My biggest concern– where would we eat and sleep?  And most important, would there be a swimming pool?  I referred to the AAA guide book for that detail, but information about distance, roads, cities and towns, points of interest, etc. was found by referencing the Atlas & Gazetteer.  

It’s a good skill to pass on and possibly is still taught in Girl Guides or Boy Scouts and the like.  While it can be fun to go exploring new places, it’s only nice if doing so by choice rather than from being lost.  By any way of travel, racing daylight to get to a familiar and/or safe place is not enjoyable.  In this time of technology in our back pockets, there are still many remote places where internet access is not available.    

Not too many years after that road trip, I learned more in depth about topography– reading contour lines and map legends and other useful things that would keep me from getting lost in the woods and mountains while hiking.  I loved winter camping, summer camping, any camping.  It’s not something I desire to do as passionately anymore, but I still think there’s nothing that compares to sitting silently around a campfire, listening to the night sounds of nature while staring up at the stars…  

Though I can always spot The Big Dipper, unfortunately I don’t have the same aptitude for the map of the stars as I do for the earth below it.  But then, I’m not planning any trips there soon so, of the two, I perhaps have the more valuable knowledge.

And one last haiku inspired by the same curious little angel…

beaming day and night

little children shine like stars–

 parents, sleep deprived

I wrote the first haiku to accompany my picture that expresses this week’s photo challenge word ‘stitch’.  The haiku challenge words are ‘star & child’ and while I rarely do more than one haiku in a post, the last couple of weeks I’ve had an extra impulse of creative inspiration.

Here are some close-up shots of my ‘crazy quilt’.

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Deliberate Trailblazing

paving one’s own path

means significantly more

when skilled with a map

that directs the way clearly-

ignore it and guide yourself


Happy trails to you, until we meet again.  

Melissa Xx


  1. Beautiful haiku, illustrating life! And “Deliberate trailblazing”. Lovely. As the daughter and sister of quilters, I am taken with the quilt squares. Happy memories of sitting among other quilters while a child, around the gigantic quilt frame, embroidering around the patterns on the nearly finished quilts. I am not yet into quilting, but I continued with embroidery and cross-stitch. Lovely pastime.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I really admire cross-stitch also. As far as I know it’s not mechanized, like crochet, therefore always done with someone’s loving hands. It’s probably more of a blanket than a quilt, only that it’s pieced as a quilt is. I’m embroidering only through the top layer as that is enough of a thickness to tackle–the reason I think it may not be ‘quilting’, no layers stitched together. With the top being so ornate, it is more likely that the layers will in the end be tacked together at points here and there rather than actual quilting. Sorry to be out of touch, computer problems and was working off phone. Hope you are well and we can catch up soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We have several tied quilts made by Al’s mother. You can hand tie a quilt or make a tied quilt using buttons. (Bing search “tied quilts with buttons” should bring up both kinds.) It’s still quilting, just a different style and much faster to finish.

        I don’t know of any method for doing cross-stitch other than by hand. I also did needlepoint for a while, but that was not so fulfilling as either cross-stitch or embroidery.

        Sorry to hear about the computer problems. You may remember that my HP laptop imploded, middle of October, necessitating an emergency purchase of my current Acer laptop. We got another 1TB external HD, and I’m trying to back up all the data files at least twice a month (and my working documents once or twice a week to a flash drive).

        I have SO been writing poems, these last few weeks. Esp. this past week, experimenting with prose poetry/haibun. We are in the midst of foul weather, here.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Computer problems, so inconvenient. Yes, it seems someone in our circle has a computer problem each month, the nature of the beast!

          I’ve never done needlepoint before. No one in my family has, likely why I haven’t either. I did hand tie a quilt before many years ago.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Denis1950 says:

    Great haiku/poetry/images and stories Melissa. You have really immersed into the twin themes of images/haiku this week with exciting results. The skills you reflect on are the basis of parent/children or partner/partner relationships. When we, (my wife of 42 years and I) were first married I helped on a quilt project. I cut the hexagonal shapes out of cardboard and she fitted them into shapes and stitched liberty pattern material onto them. Still a project in progress. Lots of stitched blocks and some bare cardboard and loose materiel. It was a great evening bonding project as we listened to music after a hard day of individual work. The question coming to mind as I write is, where is this project ?? We have a lot of accumulated stuff after 42 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Would be fun to see you and your wife’s quilt! 42 years is a long project, but you’ve got me thinking that if you live a happy and event-filled life together, the quilt might possibly never be finished. Johnny too is quite handy with the various craft projects I undertake. It’s nice to create together. Sorry for seeming remiss in my correspondence…computer problems, ergh!


  3. Roz Hill says:

    Another fabulous post Melissa and so much to identify with. Love your Crazy Quilt. I made a rag rug for my boat using scraps of material found in my loft. I included material reclaimed from an apron my mum had made from a dress I wore as a child and I matched it up to a photo of me wearing the dress.
    My grandchildren are to be home schooled next term and I am looking forward to being involved. There is something rather special when children learn valuable lessons from their grandparent such as first hand map reading. I despair at the ‘sat nav’ system which guides folks to our place and they don’t know the name of the last neighbouring village that they came through, Or the towns they bypassed on their way! Hopefully map reading skills will not die!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jan Schaper says:

      Thank you for the important insight about the value of map reading and staying connected to the physical geography of one’s journey. Reminds me that for all of our ability to “connect” through technology, reliance on technology can also disconnect us from each other and our surroundings.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is a bit disconcerting how much people don’t have to ‘think’ anymore. I also have concerns about the inability to recall any phone numbers, and I have ongoing dialogue with the children about trusting the computer in their heads above all. I ought to practice what I preach more as an adult, but honestly, I feel it comes down to having the choice one way or the other, not relying on these things to be processed for ourselves because we don’t have the know-how to do otherwise. I grew up with no other choice but to do maths in my head or with pencil and paper, write hand written letters, read maps, and dial phone numbers, number by number. I won’t get into the basics like proper grammar, spelling, history and geography. Not good to give our power away, to become apathetic about these very important things. Choice is all I’m saying.


  4. Oh Melissa, a glorious post. Heartwarming. Your quilt has love and history in every stitch.
    Once my children were about 10, I would give them the roadmap when we went on journeys and having shown them the destination, they had to get me there, by telling me which way to go. It was fun! All three have always been good map readers and excellent at giving directions to others, which is a skill not everyone has. Thank you for jogging that memory for me.
    I must remember to do the same with my grandchildren.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sandra. How are your computer issues? Mine were better then bad again. Should hear from the shop any day now… the advice I gave about how I was using my tablet, only good until the tablet started to slooooow down dramatically. It became easier on my phone, which is not easy, for me.

      Anyhoo, I love all the wonderful things you do with your grands. I felt for a long time that home educating my children was the one big sacrifice I made by moving here. It just wouldn’t have been the best choice as they would have struggled to learn Irish and there are no external supports as would be found on the mainland. I will have to get creative on teaching map reading as we are on a 9 mile x 4 mile island and don’t travel the mainland even once a year. I like that you mentioned giving directions vs reading directions. That is a sister skill that should not be ignored either. That may be something I can give attention to sooner than learning a road map with my own children. Thanks for the idea!

      Already working on my ‘zero’ post!! Woo hoo!! Hope you having a great Monday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Still on the iPad with its many restrictions and frustrations , but better than nothing. Giving instructions and directions requires being able to visualise and see the journey or task from another’s point of view- a skill for life!
        My ZERO photo is done, just waiting for the haiku prompt to see how they will fit together.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Not sure about the quality of the haiku, and I’ve stretched the ‘gem’ somewhat, but I do have it all ready to go for tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing everyone’s take on ZERO! Hope inspiration lands with you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I haven’t really given it thought yet but happy that it has worked out for you…probably better than you think 😛 Ronovan never minds a bit of a stretch. Can’t wait to see it.

            Busy week, opening the hotel back up soon, so clean, paint, prepare. The hours are good, but where did the break go?! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • I will look now. I have been doing the minimal. Just today answered blog mail from post three days ago. Haven’t even ventured near Reader, but heading over to check now. I didn’t get a pingback, or notification or anything like that anyway. Will get back to you…


          • I saw it on your page, but definitely didn’t get a notification about it. Presume it was in my Reader, but I haven’t been there so can’t be sure. It is strange, but then tablet is so foreign…you know how these things go– you’ll just get your pc back when the tablet starts making sense to you, fingers crossed anyhoo!


    • Ha, ha, more like spring hurricanes! It has been wild here Deirdre and the other photos had the quilt blowing horizontal. Finally I weighed it down with stones from the nearby wall. The weather has not been great, but I won’t dwell on that. You are right, the children are fascinated with the blanket. Hope your winter is going well (and winding down).


      • yes…winding down… not! As we prepare for yet another (well, in reality only the second, but since the first dumped 3′ of snow it seems like more than one!) winter storm, the ‘reliable’ groundhog said spring would be early. I certainly hope so. I’ve been following your bad weather – quite a stormy spring. Well, it’s an El Niño year…

        Liked by 1 person

        • We are predicted a wet summer again, this by the New Zealand gentleman, Ken Ring, who is very proficient at forecasting our weather. He also says the El Niño hype is ‘misinformed’ and it will be a ‘weak El Niño year’. Give him a Google; he uses astrology to forecast, is remarkably accurate, and it’s a bit of fun. Next hot summer for us is in 2018 according to him. Maybe you will plan a trip for that year! 😉 Please God, there’s a bit of sunshine on the way so we can have tropics in the growing tunnel. It has been scarce these days. Cheers!


  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Melissa, wonderful poems, I have seem your quilt photos on Instagram, so lovely. I’m collecting pieces of fabric for long time now, I want one day make a quilt from them, I had planned to start this winter, but I haven’t. But now you inspired me, make I start this weekend. Kids always making us wonder about the world. Have a wonderful Friday!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love your crazy quilt! Especially that it is from bits and pieces that you saved. Your haikus are both excellent! Before I forget do you still want to write up a small guest post for my Silver’s Tea Party on 2/14/16? We were both thinking along the lines of herbs to grow, etc. for teas. Let me know if you are still interested. Love all the pictures of the kids and your lovely farm. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pagedogs says:

    What a beautiful quilt. Good thing you brought it out to work on again because, believe me, it’s easy to leave an unfinished project for years. I JUST pulled out a quilt that I started, and never finished, when my kids were small. They are in their thirties now!
    There’s something about maps that fire the imagination. Your quilt, too. Just think of someone looking at it years from now and wondering about your life.
    We had a foot of snow here last night after a forecast of 2-3″. Your parents likely are digging out this morning. But the sun is shining and the snow is all glitters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have no delusions that I will finish the quilt anytime soon, but would like to try to keep it current at the least. With any luck, our life will be filled with enough ‘moments’ that it will never quite be completed, or perhaps one of my children will take care of the finishing of it when I am gone.

      The fresh snow is lovely in the sunshine. There is a wee bit of comfort in knowing that most of winter is behind you now, even though it was a rather mild one. Won’t be long, it will be full blown mud season for you!! Happy Monday!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your crazy quilt! It’s the equivalent of the pandora bracelet only for personal, comfier, and less expensive. 😉 I used to be a part of an organization called ‘Pathfinders’ growing up. It was like the boy scouts/girl scouts . . . anyway, I was taught how to use a map and a compass and we were also taught what direction we were going by looking at the position of the sun. As a kid I loved camping too. Now I would probably prefer ‘glamping’ instead. Ha, ha. I loved the haiku, by the way. 😀 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pathfinders should be mandatory in every community. What a gift of knowledge they offer.

      Ha, ha, glamping! I love the idea and am now remembering seeing adverts for luxury sites and trailers here in Ireland. That sounds much more my taste too!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. gaiainaction says:

    A beautiful and colourful quilt which I am sure is lighting up some of the more dreary winter days. Beautiful work, it is nice to do things with your hands, very inspiring for all of us.
    Today the sun was shining and it holds a promise of better days and perhaps some gardening.

    Liked by 1 person


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