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The Ami Simms Newsletter
September 2001

The picture on my web page right now was taken at the Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza in Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, just outside the Expo Center. I was packing for the trip when we got a phone call telling us that a plane had slammed into the World Trade Center.

From that point on my days have been much like yours, filled with disbelief, horror, anger, fear, helplessness, and a profound sadness.

Tuesday afternoon it was believed the airports would re-open by noon the next day. I actually thought I could make my 11:55 am flight until I realized I would have to get on an airplane to do it! At that point I knew that I could not fly, even if planes were taking off. I called the show and told them I might not make it.

The other option was to drive. A quick check of the atlas showed me that the distance between the fleshy part between Michigan's thumb and index finger and Philadelphia, which seemed to be smack dab in the middle between New York City and Washington DC, was between two and three inches, depending on which page I was looking at.

That seemed reasonable, but even as an adult I have been known to ask "Are we there yet?" before reaching the end of the driveway. (As you might guess, driving is not one of my “good” things.) I get bored real fast. In addition, my non-existent sense of direction coupled with my normal lack of focus also causes me to drift past freeway exits with alarming regularity. Driving by myself would not work.

While I wrestled between wanting to uphold my commitment to teach at the show and leaving my family, possibly putting my safety at risk and feeling that there was nothing I could do to make things better sitting at home, not wanting to let my students down and voluntarily placing myself inside an automobile for over 10 hours, I scanned the teacher roster at www.QuiltFest.com I saw that fellow Michiganian Sue Nickels was slated to teach as well. Both in the same boat, we could drive together.

The question then went from "could" to "should?" In the aftermath of such tragedy, should I be at a quilt show? I knew the answer when I realized that the single most comforting activity I know, aside from hugging my family, is to quilt. Knowing that there is a limit to the length which even I can sustain a group hug, and that Steve and Jennie would return to work and school the next day, I decided being around quilters would be the next best thing. At least we could all comfort each other with needle and thread.

So, this is a very long-winded way to thank the quilters who came to my workshops and lecture and helped me cope. What began as such an agonizing decision became "the right thing to do" for me as soon as I saw them. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for the purposefulness you allowed me to feel and for the distraction. Thank you for the goodness you showed in spirit, and in talent, and in deed.

(Thanks also to Sue Nickels for her wonderful company, expert driving, and superior navigational skills as we shared a butt-flattening roundtrip tour of almost 1500 miles.)

Now that I am home and the distractions of quilt show are past, I feel an emptiness inside and a craving to "do something" to help. If you feel the same, let me offer a few suggestions:

1. Visit at The Hunger Site and click on the GIVE FREE FOOD button. All you have to do is click. I've recommended this site before and now in an effort to aid victims and survivors in NYC and Washington, D.C., America's Second Harvest and Mercy Corps will use the proceeds generated from The Hunger Site through September 30th to provide relief until the crisis subsides. Funding received after that point would be used to provide domestic and international hunger relief.

These two organizations are working to provide urgently needed food and supplies to relief workers and the families of loved ones injured or killed in this tragedy as well as providing trauma counseling and psycho-social services, especially for children. They are also exploring scholarship funds for children who lost loved ones. For more information see their websites listed above. (Thanks to Marsha McCloskey for passing this along.)

2. Download a free pattern from Janet Jones Worley's website. Janet is the author of Quilts for Chocolate Lovers and is making a pattern from her new book available to you. Use it to make a "little quilt" no bigger than 20" x 25" for the families of the Policemen and Firemen in New York City. Send it and $1.00 to Janet at the address on her web page. She will ship the quilts to the proper channels for distribution. The deadline is Oct 11th.

3. Look for eBay auctions sponsored by Dana Jones' Quilt Index benefiting the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. In addition to bidding you may also wish to donate quilts, quilt-related items, and supplies.

4. Visit the American Quilters Society to learn about their Anchor Project. Make a 9-inch quilt block in red, white and blue by December 31, 2001. AQS will ask volunteers to put the quilts together and they will be auctioned to raise money to help with the tragedy.

5. If the events of the last week have influenced your artistic muse and you wish to create a tangible expression of your feelings in quilt form, learn about the American Spirit Quilt Project sponsored by the Quilt Heritage Foundation. You are asked to make quilts for your local children's charities as well as to create original design quilts symbolic of the American Spirit.

6. If you need a laugh I've reduced the price of one of my most popular books, How NOT To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt by 25% and will donate $1.50 to the American Red Cross for each book sold until the end of September. If fabric will make you feel better, seleted (most) Ami's Mommy's Fabric has also been reduced in price and I will donate $1.50 to the American Red Cross for every yard sold until the end of the month.

Finally, there are two web pages that you might find helpful, each in a different way. The first one came to me courtesy of "Nyecly." You probably won't be able to view it with dry eyes, but it is uplifting none-the-less. Click HERE to see that we are not alone in this.

"Smuchinsky" shared the second web site with me. Click HERE to see an artist's rendition of the "new and improved" World Trade Center. (It may not be what you expect.)

Although Daisy hasn't written this month, look for an update from her in October. She and the folks at Leader Dogs For The Blind are thrilled with the quilts that readers of this newsletter have created for the November auction. There are 27 quilts on the "Help Me Celebrate" page in various stages of completion for you to see. (Can you find the blocks YOU made?) If you have a favorite quilt, let me know. It would help me to know which ones should be auctioned at the Leader Dog event attended primarily by non-quilters and which ones I should put up on eBay.

There are TWO prizes on the "Win Cool Stuff" page that have not been claimed yet. Maybe YOU have won. Wouldn't that be a nice surprise? Have a look and sign up to win the current prize—a DisplayAway quilt hanging system.

Next time I'll tell you a little more about the "Watch Your Step" page and readers' suggestions for my eating while quilting dilemma.

Look for me in your mailbox again next month. In the meanwhile, tell those whom you care about how much you love them. Do what you can to relieve the pain—remembering that what you may see as only a thimbleful of kindness can feel like an ocean of love to someone else.
Ami Simms