August 2007

August 2007
The Ami Simms Newsletter
August 2007
Copyright by Ami Simms

Madison hopes you're enjoying the hot summer weather and relaxing in the great outdoors. The photo above was taken during a bike ride around Mackinac Island. His monthly canine report is below.

Madison T. Dog here. The "T' stands for my middle name which is "The." As in Madison The Dog. You can call me "Mattie." If you call me Mattie from the back door, and I was in the yard, there's a 99.875% chance that's I'd come right away. (Sometimes Mom calls when I'm BUSY. Then I come later.)

The big news is that Mom and Dad took me to Tennessee last week. Mom blew up a tire, bought a quilt, and quacked like a duck. Click here to read all about our vacation.

Anita R. shared this one with me. Hysterical! See if you recognize yourself!

Sixteen experienced quilters are needed to create themed Christmas stockings for an elite auction on November 24th to benefit Seattle's Children's Hospital where no child is turned away for lack of financial resources. A basic pattern (12" x 32") and suggested design will be provided. For your generous donation, you will be acknowledged with signage at the auction and in the auction catalog. If you are interested, please contact Linda Wold (206-522-0522) or Anne McCloskey (425-889-8899) at your earliest convenience.

Many of you have seen my red carry-on with the light-up wheels. (In-line skate wheels modified for me at the local roller rink.) On my last teaching trip I had to gate-check my carry-on roller bag SEVEN times. That means the planes were too small to fit it in the overhead bin and I had to leave it on the tarmac for an airline employee to stuff in the cargo hold. I always wonder if my bag (with all my quilts inside) will actually get on the plane.

When I landed in Flint I saw my bag from the window of the plane, yet when I de-planed it was nowhere in sight. I was told it probably got tossed way in the back and would show up on the baggage carousel. Turns out somebody mistook my bag for theirs, in spite of its recognizable stains and the bright red and white fabric tied to the handle. I knew this because I saw the light-up wheels about 200 yards down the concourse. Thank goodness for the light-up wheels! I took off after the "perp" and caught up with them as they were coming out of the rest room (with MY bag---ick!) They were oblivious, yet apologetic. I have a feeling had I not run after them, they wouldn't have discovered it wasn't their suitcase until they got home. Later, I saw them with their suitcase in the parking lot—the one they had obviously checked as it was twice as large as mine!

I'll be sticking close to home in August, with a lecture and workshop on August 27th with the Pieces & Patches Quilt Guild in Jackson, Michigan. No chance of having to "gate check" my luggage— I'll be driving. In September I'll go further a field for lectures and workshops with groups in LaGrange, IL and Mexico, Missouri. For information on these and other opportunities to take a class or attend a lecture, please see my current teaching schedule.

Eleanor Wyckoff's Twisted Sisters has gone to the dogs! Jennine in Brisbane, Australia and Gladys in California share their stashes. And, there's an interesting speeding sign and an odd freeway ramp I found in Memphis in the What Were They Thinking Department?!

Makes me want to slap my forehead sometimes and grouse, "Why didn't I think of that?!" Doug Lansky has written a book called Signspotting: Absurd and Amusing Signs From Around The World. It's page after page of goofy signs from around the world. Published by Lonely Planet, It's for sale on or visit Doug's website.

Many newsletter readers have written recently inquiring about my mom and how she's doing. I continue to visit her every day unless I'm on the road some place. Our interactions have changed over the months. It's very difficult to have conversations. Her short term memory often lasts for only a few minutes, sometimes even less than that.

I grabbed some fast food on the way over a few weeks ago and shared my fries with her. When I asked Mom if she wanted some she asked what they were. I told her they were fried potatoes and they're called French fries. She said that was "cute" and she took one and thought it was delicious. She said she had never tasted one before. When she finished it I asked her if she wanted another French fry. She asked, "What's a French fry?" In the time it took her to eat the French fry she had forgotten what it was!

Mom can't remember very much about her life or anything in the past. Her brain doesn't work well enough for her to imagine what the next five minutes will bring. The people she lives with in the Alzheimer's facility and her caregivers are all strangers to her. I can't share what is going on in my life because she doesn't understand. She can't tell me about her day because she can't remember it. (Unless something has upset her. THAT she remembers!)

Miraculously, she still knows me. Most of the time I'm "Ami" but sometimes I'm "Mommy." She knows that I am her daughter, but she isn't always sure that she is my mother.

Since conversation is limited by her lack of comprehension, one of the things we can do is sing together. She's forgotten the words to everything, but she can somehow summon the tune from somewhere deep in her brain. AND, she can sing in harmony! It's astounding. So we sit as close to one another as we possibly can, I put my arm around her and hug her tight, and we "la, la, la" until both our voices give out. That's what we did today. It was a good visit.

  • We've raised and donated $82,217.88 to Alzheimer's research!

  • Enough copies of Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece have sold to pay off the printing bill. Now, when you purchase the book on my website $18 of the $20 price of the book is donated immediately (before you even get your book in the mail) to Alzheimer's research. Know a friend who would appreciate a copy of the book? Have you been waiting to buy your copy? Don't put it off. I'll autograph it if you like, but only during the month of August. Order now and get a gorgeous book filled with quilts that will touch your heart AND help fund Alzheimer's research at the same time.

  • The traveling exhibit of Alzheimer's quilts has been to Vermont and New Hampshire this last month, and it opens on August 10th in Dubois, Wyoming. From there it travels to the Chicago area, El Paso, and Orlando before returning home to rest. More than 175,000 people have had the opportunity of seeing these amazing quilts. Check out the travel schedule to see when the show is coming to your area.

  • If your guild would like to book the exhibit, there are still spots open. See what the requirements are.

  • The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts Auction began this morning with 22 spectacular quilts on the auction block. Bid high and bid often! Your entire bid goes to Alzheimer's research.

  • We're just about half-way to the 1,000 quilts needed for the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt sale at Houston Quilt Festival at the end of October! To give me and my elves time enough to prepare the quilts, I probably will not be able to take quilts that come in after the end of September. Still, I have high hopes that we can get pretty close to our 1,000 Quilt Goal with quilts that will come in during August and September. Not to worry, if you can't get your quilt done in time, this project goes until July 2009 — you can't use Houston as an excuse not to participate. Look at all the quilts I'm hoarding for Houston

  • Charlotte Angotti, Karen Kay Buckley, Susan Cleveland, Melody Crust, Jackie Robinson, and Pat Yamin have already signed up as part of the celebrity sales force in Houston. I'll keep you posted as more sign up.

  • No time for a donation quilt right now? I'm looking for volunteers to print off some return address stickers. They're used at the exhibit as a badge of honor, like "I Voted!" or "I Gave Blood." Our stickers say, "I Saw The Alzheimer's Quilts." They encourage people to muster up their courage and see this exhibit. Can you help me print some? They can be hand-carried to the next few venues or you can mail them to me. If you can, please email me and I'll email back with instructions. We've gone through tens of thousands of stickers so far. With more than a dozen shows to go, we can't have too many!

  • I am also in need of people to print off flyers about the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt project. These are passed out at the Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit. Can you help? You can send them to me when you donate your next Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt or you can hand deliver them to the next venue. Please email me and I'll email the file for you to download and print. (Please print some off for your guild, too!)

Lauren Kessler is a gifted writer. She is has just finished a book about Alzheimer's disease called Dancing With Rose: Finding Life In The Land of Alzheimer's. She describes it this way: "Kind of a Nickel and Dimed meets Awakenings, if those references mean anything to you. It's about the surprisingly vibrant and quirky world of those with Alzheimer's as it intersects with the hard scrabble world of "professional" women caregivers. It's based on my own five-month employment as a bottom-of-the-rung "resident assistant" at an Alzheimer's facility -- the hardest and best work I've ever done. Viking is the publisher." Order it at Amazon.

If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first.

Thanks for reading this,
Ami Simms