Sunday, November 30, 2008

Virginia Tears and Lucia In the Rockies

I tried to call my friend Vicki this afternoon, but it seems her number has changed. I wanted to get together with her to shop for fabrics and quilt. We had a blast together years back; we'd make a day of stopping by various fabric shops in Indianapolis and then head to her place to cut all the necessary pieces. The next night we'd quilt, listen to music, drink tea or coffee...maybe gossip ...?? :) She's a lot older than I am, so you could say I learned some life-lessons through the stories she shared.
So far in my life I've completed one quilt. I'm prepared to start in on another, by constructing one from a pattern I've already created. When I lived in Virginia back in 2003 I made a quilt block one winter afternoon and named it Virginia Tears. I think I was crying as I made it. It measures 9" x 9" and contains 100 tiny squares within the center as you can see in the photograph above. The fabrics used are all Civil War era reproductions. I look at ol' Virginia Tears now and recall those long and lonely nights ... thinking of my family and friends back in Hoosier land...while trying to create a life for myself deep within the womb of Shenandoah. I miss that place dearly now, but at the time I was quite claustrophobic in the mountains. As I remember it, I survived my time there by discovering the land around me. Going out on my own, getting lost, finding abandon farm houses, taking pictures. Listening to music in between getting out of my car and walking old civil war trails, or attending service in some tiny church on a hill, knowing it was the first and last time I'd ever sit on the smooth hand carved benches inside.
The train rides from Staunton, VA to Lafayette, IN could take up to 18 hours one way. On one of the trips the train was so cold that my skin was turning purple by the time we pulled into the Hoosier station. The heater had broken in my train car, and even with two shirts, two sweaters and a blanket, I was chattering my teeth to the point of an aching jaw. Which reminds me ...

I recall having read a story once about a Rocky Mountain train crash back in the 1800's. Aboard the train was the circus spectacle and primordial dwarf Lucia Zarate, also known as "The Puppet-Woman". She was all of 50 centimeters tall...and weighed less than a cat. Zarate was the smallest woman ever recorded and it was said that she was fully grown by the age of one year. There are few surviving pictures of her today, and her life was tragically cut short at the age of 26 while aboard the derailed circus train in the Rockies. She died of hypothermia. If only a fellow passenger could have held her underneath a garment or shawl, or against their skin. She was too small to properly regulate her temperature even in "room temp" conditions, let alone in a snow-bath of blustery mountain madness.

I'm such a sissy for complaining about Amtrak's broken heater.

Here's beautiful Lucia. I would have held you little darling dollie!

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