The "Maps" Reveal: Full Circle

Good morning, my friends. Finally...it's the reveal for the quilt generated from the "Maps" prompt. I call my quilt "Full Circle," and here it is:

I've adjusted the brightness and contrast a little to make the thread drawings visible. It won't make a lot of sense until you read my rather lengthy quilt tour below. I suggest filling your cup with whatever you’re drinking, and then we'll get started.

This prompt had me going off in all directions (maybe there's a pun there). I considered road maps, star maps, weather maps, and more. In my online wandering, I came across a term I'd not heard before: "Mind mapping." You can click on that link for more information, but in a nutshell...

"Mind maps provide a structured way to capture and organize ideas and information. They help users to understand concepts by breaking them down into their component parts. The technique is used to develop new ideas, or to break down and better understand existing information. Mind mapping is a powerful technique to help you visually develop and organize ideas and information."

Here is an example in visual form:

So I considered what my starting point could be. I thought of "Quilting," and "Cats," and a few other topics of significance to me. They all left me feeling kind of "meh" until I remembered a certain fabric in my stash...this one:

It was left over from a quilt back I made at the request of a Marine Corps veteran friend. It reminded me of a theme central to my self-identity: that of being a Marine Corps brat. From that starting place, the ideas flowed, and I got very excited about making this quilt. (You know you're onto something when you get that feeling.) 

You can think of this quilt as an autobiography in six chapters. Actually, it is an autobiography in six quilt blocks. I'll admit to being a little sheepish about writing this long post about my growing-up years. No hard feelings if you don't feel like reading it, but it's the only way I have to make sense of the quilt. If you'd rather skip the "fluff," you can read the abridged version of my post (without family pictures and accompanying stories) on The Endeavourers website right here

Still with me? Okay. It was a simple concept: Put the Marine Corps fabric in the quilt's center, and then surround it with blocks from the states where I'd lived while growing up. Taking the idea further, I decided to quilt it with "thread drawings" of some unique personal memories of each place. So, let's talk about the quilt. It started with the center block, which is the main topic of this mind-mapping exercise. I added three borders to bring it to the size I wanted.

The nomadic lifestyle of the military brat means lots of road trips. And I guess that makes it appropriate for the prompt in a different way. A road trip requires a map, and at the time we were traveling, paper maps were the only choice. I loved that part of our life. For the quilting on this block, I added this motif. I suppose it has a name, but to my eye, it looks like tire tracks.

Let's start at the beginning when I was born. The first state represented is my home state of California. The quilt block is called "Road to California." The horse and barn fabric you see there was purchased at a quilt shop in Sonora, California. It was quilted with a simple dot-to-dot motif.

I was only three when we left California for my Dad's next duty station. And here, it seems like a good time to mention that I started putting the finishing touches on the quilt…the thread drawings…in April, which is, coincidentally, The Month of the Military Brat. 

Without prompting, I'd already quilted the first thread drawing of a dandelion, the official flower of the military brat.

Just after drafting this post, I found this one on one of the military brat Facebook pages that I follow.

From California, we headed to my dad's next duty station at Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the state quilt block for New Mexico. The petroglyph fabric you see was purchased at a quilt shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We lived in New Mexico for only a short time, and I have almost no memories of our life there. My mother had severe asthma, and she couldn't tolerate the wind and the dust in Albuquerque. It was the one duty station from which my dad requested a transfer for medical reasons. I've been back to Albuquerque several times as an adult. My thread drawings include Kokopelli representing our visit to nearby Petroglyph National Monument and a hot air balloon representing Albuquerque’s annual balloon festival.

From Albuquerque, we traveled all the way to the Atlantic coast for our next home at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. We did all our traveling in this tiny trailer. My mom was a trooper. It couldn't have been easy traveling all over the country with two kids in this tiny camper, and I have very positive memories of those days.

This is North Carolina's state block: 

The blue crab fabric you see there in the middle was some I purchased at a quilt shop in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

It reminded me of the fun we had tying raw chicken pieces with twine, lowering them into the water, and then waiting for the blue crabs to arrive. We simply scooped them from the water with a net.

Here's a friend of the family showing off, holding one by the pinchers. Yeah, that’s me behind him. My mom probably made that shirt I’m wearing.

My memories of North Carolina are these: Behind our house there was some kind of drainage ditch. There, we could catch polliwogs (or tadpoles, if you like). We'd keep them in mason jars or large bowls until they sprouted legs and turned into tiny frogs, no larger than a kidney bean. (Occasionally, they got loose in the house.) Also, we survived a bad hurricane, Hurricane Donna, in 1960. 

It was the first time I was given a kitten. He was a tuxedo cat, and we named him "Boots" for his four white paws. I remember having him in bed with me the night of the hurricane. Sadly, he disappeared the very next day. I walked around the neighborhood for hours calling his name, but I never saw Boots again. Here are my thread drawings for North Carolina memories.

After North Carolina, my dad's next post was at The Pentagon. For that, we packed up and moved to Groveton, Virginia. Here is Virginia's state block, the Virginia Reel. I like this block so much, I want to make a whole quilt from it sometime. 

The ladybug fabric was purchased at a quilt shop in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was a banner year for ladybugs that year and we had a small infestation in our RV at the time.

Virginia was an interesting and historic place to live. Our family made many visits to our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. It was the first time we lived in a place where I awakened to the enchantment of a landscape covered in freshly fallen snow. And it was the one place we lived where I saw fireflies (or lightning bugs, if you prefer). 

Here's an image of my brother and me yucking it up in front of The Capitol.

Here's another from one of our visits to historic Williamsburg, Virginia.

From Virginia, we drove back across country to San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, where we boarded a military ship (the USS Patrick) and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to my dad's next duty station at Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii.

This photo was taken shortly after casting off. After sailing for about an hour, I can recall my mom pointing out land's end. When we awakened the next morning, we could see nothing but the Pacific Ocean in every direction.

When we arrived in Hawaii, we were greeted with alohas and leis made from native blossoms, including plumeria.

While Hawaii has a state block, I liked this "Pineapple Star" better.  I quilted it with plumeria in the corners. I don't have any fabric purchased in Hawaii, so I let the palm trees do the heavy lifting for this block.

My mother loved this place. She could reach out the window of our house in Kailua and pick a ripe papaya right from the tree. We also had a banana tree and lots of plumeria trees. It was fun stringing plumeria blossoms into leis when friends or family came to visit.

I learned to dance the hula and to play the ukelele.

My mother made that "grass" skirt from ti leaves.

Among my fondest memories was seeing the pineapple fields during a visit with my aunt and uncle. The pineapples had been harvested, and they were doing some "grooming" work in the fields when they came across a pineapple they'd missed. A worker handed it to me, and I'm telling you, it remains to this very day the sweetest, best-tasting pineapple I've ever eaten. It made me a life-long lover of fresh pineapple. I'm still searching for one that tastes as sweet.

And that brings me full circle back to California, where I lived out the remainder of my "brat years."

My brother and I were very fortunate among our brat brethren in that we both were able to start and finish high school in the same place. My brother, Richard, was a 1965 graduate of Kailua High School. My dad arranged an extension to stay in Hawaii long enough for Richard to graduate with his class. Immediately following the ceremony, we boarded a ship to return to the mainland and my dad's next post at Camp Pendleton, California. There, I attended the remainder of my school years in the Vista Unified School District, while my dad did three tours in Vietnam, always returning to Camp Pendleton.

There, I learned to play the clarinet, and I was a member of our high school band. I count the band years among some of the best years of my life, and I have many friendships from the band that exist to this day. 

I graduated from Vista High School where I met Mike. We exchanged marriage vows in Vista, California, and then moved to Arizona shortly thereafter, bringing my life as a military brat to a close. My dad retired one year later, after serving in the United States Marine Corps for 32 years.

My quilt was finished with some simple stippling around the open areas where the thread drawings are. I used the same "tire track" motif in the outer border.

Putting it all in context, here is my finished mind-mapped quilt:

Here's how it looks from the back:

It's a little too large to qualify as an "art” quilt. At 48 x 48 inches, it's more lap-sized than wall-sized. I had so much fun making it. My mind-mapping exercise brought back memories of things I hadn't thought of since leaving the place where they occurred. 

So, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down the memory lane of my life as a Marine Corps brat. And I can’t finish this off without showing you one last timely image I saw on Facebook. It fits for this quilt:

And if you read this far and suffered through all that family stuff, then thank you. You're a good sport, and a true friend. To see more "Maps" quilts, please visit The Endeavourers blog, right here.


Barbara said...

For me, growing up felt like a roller coaster ride at times, but looking back, I don't think that it was such a bad thing. It was all part of the excitement of being young. ~ Jameela Jamil

Christine said...

Way to go!! The wait is over! Ta! Da!
That was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing with us about your childhood. So very interesting and I love the way you portrayed the memories.... Well done.


Marianne said...

Wow!! What a story. Thanks so much for sharing it all. I loved seeing how you interpreted your memories and also the pictures of your growing up. I grew up in Rockville, MD, and enjoyed living in the DC area from 6th through high school. We moved a lot, too, because Dad was an academic and liked a change of scene. We had lived in Wilmington, Del., and then when I was in college in PA, we moved to Wisconsin. They continued to move every few years, but I stuck to the northeast.

Celtic Thistle said...

I am glad I came over to read the rest of your story Barbara, it makes this quilt even more special. I love how much detail you have incorporated into your quilt and how personal every single aspect of it is. It is a true testimony to your travelling years!

gpc said...

Just amazing, the quilt, the thread painting and the story.

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Wow, fantastic, a quilt full of memories!! Every component, block, thread design has meaning. Surely a quilt to treasure, and a family heirloom for generations to come.

Karen said...

What a wonderful story . My father was a Marine, my husband was a Marine. Went from Vietnam to Kaneohe. We lived off base. I loved it there too. Lots of friendships were made.
Your maps quilt... They say every quilt has a story. This one sure does.
How unique quilters are. You are. Thank you for sharing. Hugs.

Edith said...

What an amazing quilt! How fun to revisit and document all your memories. We traveled cross country twice in a trailer with 6 people so I know how fun that is for kids. My mother, on the other hand, barely survived! I hope we waved as we passed each other on the road��. Enjoy your quilt and your memories.

Christi said...

Wow! What an amazing way to share your memories! This is truly a magnificent piece of artwork. Thanks so much for sharing.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

I loved reading the story of this quilt and of your growing up as a military brat! You turned it into an amazing quilt - the special quilt blocks and thread painting will make this a true keepsake. Beautiful finish!

CarolE said...

What a wonderful story and wonderful quilt. Thank you for sharing. What beautiful memories you have put into this quilt. I think you shared earlier that you were a little bit worried about the quilting, but you did a fabulous job.

Lyndsey said...

An amazing story of you earlier life and of your quilt. I'm not a military brat but we moved around a lot as my dad regularly changed his job to progress in his industry and improve his income. I recognise completely where you are coming from with your map and the quotes. My early life taught me resilience, to enjoy where ever I am and to be non judgemental. A great post that I really enjoyed.

Kate said...

What a great growing up map! The thread art works so well with the blocks. It was a fun post to read. I lived in the same place from the age of 1 till I was 14. Your growing up was very different from mine.

Violet Withey said...

Wow!beautifully told.wonderful line drawings.

Jane said...

This is an awesome quilt, and I loved reading about all of the memories that led to its creation. Your thread painting is so creative; what a keepsake for you!

HoneySue said...

What a wonderful story quilt! I love it! As I am reading your fun memories, I am thinking about how some of those places have meaning to me too...my cousins lived in Vista, my Dad loved Hawaii and in retirement visited the island oasis over 25 times in his 90 years and I have lived in Arizona for almost 30 years. Thank you for sharing!

Donna said...

What a beautiful post. I am an Air Force brat! Reading through your post made me remember all those times we moved and brought back my memories. Thanks….and your quilt is lovely!

piecefulwendy said...

32 years in the military, including three tours in Vietnam - that is quite something. Of all the quilts I've seen you make, Barbara, this is one of the best. So many interesting things in the quilt, from the blocks to the quilting, and the memories. I really enjoyed this post!

Quilter Kathy said...

That is an amazing memory quilt! And such an excellent blog post! I enjoyed reading the memory, seeing the photo, and then how you translated it into fabric and quilting designs...brilliant!

Quilting Babcia said...

Wow, what a beautiful autobiographical quilt! It's absolutely perfect, the fabrics and motifs you chose to quilt it. This is deserving of putting into a Mixbook format with all your family photos and narrative and have copies made for your boys.

MoeWest said...

Well done! Your quilt is a wonderful history of your childhood destined to be a family heirloom for sure! Thanks for sharing the story with us. Kudos to your Dad for his military service!

Sara said...

Wonderful Mind Map quilt. I really enjoyed the whole post.

Mind mapping is a process I used with my English students with writing prompts - helping them generate ideas, and then flesh out lots of details. In later year I used the process in staff development with teachers for organizing ideas for lessons.

Mary C said...

Wonderful quilt and wonderful memories, thank you for sharing them!

Connie S. Wolfe said...

You clearly enjoyed this challenge! Thank you for sharing thoughts, feelings, experiences and photos of your childhood. I can see many of the places that I visited in the thread paintings including the Petroglyphs, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. Great work. Hope you smile each time you look at your quilt.
Connie W.

Leigh said...

Oh My Heavens!! We might have been at Cherry Point at the same time frame. We moved there after school was out in Annapolis MD where my dad was a navy dental tech stationed at the Naval Academy. We had to live in "Cockroachville" off base until housing was ready for a family with 5 kids. We finally moved on base to Catawba Rd. We went to a catholic school until late spring of 4th grade when my dad was transferred to The Navy Yard in DC. Not many memories, but I do remember surviving a hurricane and an ice storm. I remember dressing up as a gypsy for Halloween and winning a TALL doll that I still have. We got ducks on year but lost them to a loose dog that broke the cage and chased the ducks to death. We did get a new dog, a lemon beagle and she was the best family dog. My grandparents would come up from Florida several times!
Now onto your beautiful quilt! What beautiful memories! The stitched pictures are phenomenal!!!! I love the pictures you added. This is truly a family heirloom! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Barbara, I thought I had commented already, but apparently forgot to click on the bar to post it! (It has been one of those days!). I knew you would get lots of comments, and wanted to see what others were saying…that is when I noticed mine wasn’t there. Anyway, I wanted to make sure I let you know how much I loved your Maps quilt, so I am taking another stab at doing this….
Your quilt is amazing!! You clearly knocked this one out of the park!! You have included so many memories in this project, and I thank you for sharing those memories with all of us who follow your blog. And your thread sketches are so detailed…when you mentioned that you are calling the stitches in the borders tire tracks, that seemed perfect given the subject of your quilt. Those tire tracks immediately made me think of how all the components of your quilt represent your travels in your growing up years. As I said already, you knocked this one out of the park! What a treasure you have created!
Thanks again for sharing….this time, I will click on the bar to post it! (If, for some reason, that original comment shows up, please ignore the duplication)
Sandra B.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and touching quilt! Thank you for sharing it's story and the pictures of your family. It was fun to look at the fashions and haircuts of the day.
I too, was a band kid and in my mind, that was a special group of kids with memories all their own.
The thread sketches remind me of our 'Senior Cords' where each person would have colored images of objects, friends, clubs, pets, and experiences important to us during our school years inked on yellow corduroy jumpers for the girls and pants for the boys.

Teresa F.

Susan said...

Nice interpretation of the prompt. I like how you quilted all the memories. Thank you for sharing your story.

Terri in BC said...

Perfect little quilt for a fellow military brat! My old employer had a course on mind-mapping which I still use to this day - it's a great way to get all those thoughts out of my head. Now I'm off to research Canadian provincial blocks and see what I could use to represent my journey as a brat.

Cathy said...

Oh my, what an awesome and meaningful piece. Thanks for the delightful tour. And every time I see a photo of your brother, I think of the wall hanging you made of him holding a snake. That still gives me goosebumps!

Kelly said...

Your quilt is wonderful Barbara, and your story was really interesting. Thank you for sharing.

Karen said...

I absolutely LOVE this quilt, the stories behind each part adds so much to it. And your quilting? I bow down to the Queen! Your interpretation of the prompt is just wonderful.

MissPat said...

What a fascinating quilt and an equally fascinating journal of your childhood. I'm thoroughly impressed with the thread painted quilt motifs you used on the background.
I've only lived in 5 places in my 75 years, all in New York State except for 1 year in Ohio. Your frequent relocations must be why you enjoy traveling so much. I'm not sure how you're going to top this one.

kc said...

Wow, what a tremendous effort yielding tremendous results! You have summed up your entire childhood and represented it well with your interests of today. I love the idea and where you went with it. Incorporating fabric from each of those states along with the official block of those states was ingenious. And your thread painting and pictures are amazingly accurate. My thread painting still consists of squiggly lines and outlines at this time. My hat is off to you! I love that you were able to add old-time family photos to this post, I have absolutely nothing to show from my childhood until our wedding picture. I guess that's partly because I don't want to remember much of it prior to marriage. I probably had the chance to go through pictures and cull the ones I might have wanted when I had to go clean out my dad's house, but I was not in a mental spot to do that, therefore, everything that was not a bank statement or financial instrument was tossed immediately.

Your quilting and fabric choices make everything come together so well. I bet you had fun skipping down memory lane. Thanks for sharing something so personal with all of us.

"Bee" said...

Such a unique and interesting quilt!!!
A Family Hierloom!!!
I love it!!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

This was such fun to read. Thank you for sharing so much of your life and the inspiration behind your quilt. You picked the perfect blocks to include and were lucky to find fabrics that fit the theme as well.

CA Bobbie said...

Oh my, how amazing, your quilt is a treasure! No wonder you were "chomping at the bit"to show this to us. I share some of your memories, chicken neck crabbing the same way on the Severn River, the sweetest pineapple in my life from the fields in Oahu, Dad traveled for most of my childhood , although we moved 26 times before our final home in CA. I honestly believe my Mom was a saint- she always was the one to pack and get the movers and do the actual "move".