Thank You, My Trip & It’s long!


It is incredibly warming to come home to such support and well wishes. Your emails and comments touched me so much and you will probably never know how much they were, and are, appreciated.   Some of you were astute enough to notice I came home much earlier than I had planned.  Nothing gets by you guys!  LOL

There is one word that sums up the entire experience and has always been the first word to enter into my head and that is: Disappointment.  It was across the board.

It all started going downhill when I arrived at the Nashville airport.  I was assigned a Toyota Prius.  Those of you who own one probably would not have batted an eyelash, but you ARE used to its funky ways.  Me and three other women got to our cars in the rental lot, loaded our bags into each of our Pruis’ and then got into the car to start them up.  Then in unison, all three of us stepped out at the same time, looking absolutely confused at our respective cars and then turned to give each other the same lost look.  How the hell do you even start these things? 

I was busy trying to find out how you get the key out of the “box”.  Well…..there is no key!  It is a small square box thing that slides in like a cassette tape.  Who knew?  Then how do you turn over the damn engine?  We all tried out each others cars to no avail.  One lady went off in search of instruction as the remaining two of us kept trying to figure it out.  Eventually we learned we had to turn it ON with a power button and we were told that we must make sure to push the “park” button or the car would remain in gear and keep going.  Good lord.  We laughed and bid each other a safe trip to where ever we were going.

OK, after 30 minutes trying to figure out the car, I was on my way.  Just one problem, the GPS kept sending me the wrong direction.  I circled the airport for another thirty minutes until I figured out I was to go LEFT instead of RIGHT on a freeway split.  It had been awhile since I had been here and the brain is unfortunately aging.

I had been up since 2:30am my time and by the time I rolled into Paducah around 5:30pm, I was exhausted.  I did pull into Hancock’s to do my shopping for some fabrics.  I realized later I didn’t need to try and avoid the rush because compared to previous years, there wouldn’t be any.  Where were all the people?  I actually had two bored clerks cut my fabrics the second I pulled up to the cutting table!  and I walked right up to the cashier to pay.  No line anywhere!  Huh????   All of this so far should have been an omen about the things that were to come.

I arrived at Trish and Jeff’s and they had prepared the bucket of Margaritas for my arrival.  Just one problem, as Trish tried to pour, NOTHING came out!  It was hilarious watching Trish and Jeff try to figure out why nothing was coming out.  Eventually the self medicating liquid started to pour and well, I had many to recover from the earlier disasters.  Which was probably a good thing because I would not be able to have anymore the rest of the time I was there.  I was the DRIVER!  I had overlooked that fact when I planned my trip.  You can’t be the driver and imbibe Margaritas! <sigh>.  This was bad sign no.3 and I had only just arrived! I had no clue to of the downward spiral of events to come.

We went to check out the museum and for the second year, my quilt was not hanging.  I know they “rest the quilts” and rotate, but —  Disappointment

We leave the museum and I notice something that is VERY ODD for this day before the show.  The sidewalks are EMPTY!  I do mean Empty.  Shirley and I and maybe two other people in the area walking.  Where are the quilters??????

Miss Shirley and I head over to Whaler’s Catch for lunch.  Now normally we would have to wait for a table.  We could have had any table we wanted.  We were the only quilters in there for lunch at that time.  It was 12:30.  It was beyond surreal.

We went to meet our other friend at the prearranged time and place for drinks and a bite to eat before the awards ceremony.  No drinks and Lord have mercy, I had no idea how much I would need one (OK FIVE!).  Actually a bucket would not have been sufficient!  Even though our friend was driving us to the awards ceremony, I didn’t want to drink because I was to drive home.

We arrive at the Four Rivers Center for the Award Ceremony.  I can’t find my glasses.  I can’t see without my glasses.  We seat Miss Shirley and tell her we will come back and get her when the glasses have been located.  I must have left them in the restroom.  The sunglasses were in the restroom.   My eye glasses?  No where to be found.  I am panicking.  We can hear the awards presentation (entertainment part, which was a disappointment) starting and my friend and I are realizing I left my glasses at the restaurant we were at prior to coming to the ceremony.  I figure they will still be there and because my sunglasses are prescription, I can wear those and still see what is going on.  So there I am looking like a stupid Diva sitting in the audience with sunglasses on.  Can you see how the downhill spiral is picking up speed?

Then the announcement of the awards.  I don’t think I need to go there do I?  Wow—DISAPPOINTMENT.  I really wish I had been able to self medicate at this precise moment in time.   My friend Miss Shirley won and because I had lost my glasses and we were late, we were seated way up and in the back of the auditorium.  Miss Shirley is older now and does not walk very easily.  Ask me if I felt really bad as she took great pains to get to the stage.  Then she won another award and I felt like saying, “just shoot me now” as she painfully, due to my stupidity, made her way to the stage again. 

I think this was about the time I knew to cut my losses and the bad juju and get the hell out of Dodge.  But first, I had to go to the Sneak Preview and find familiar faces I rarely get to see and to see what the QUILTERS thought of the quilt since that is the most important feedback. Here is where I was able to get my truly nice positive experience.  My quilt was a hit with the quilters there.  Remember how I tell you I stand near my quilt with no identifiable name tag?  Yep, I wanted to hear and see honest reactions.  Not one single negative, but awestruck (actual mouths hanging open) appreciation.  Usually quilts with no ribbons get quick uninterested cursory looks as people move down the aisle.  They continually clogged the aisle in front of my quilt as though there was a ribbon hanging on it.  That was so redeeming.  Thank you to those people who put the smile back on my face.  You can’t fool quilters, they know. 😉 

It is not the best, but for those who asked here is the full image


And again, a detail since it is hard to see in the full shot. The spoon is not a fussy cut image from a fabric, it is appliqued and embroidered with sewing thread for the handle's detail

 There was one quilt in particular I would have loved to take off the wall and run as fast as I could to the airport with it to come home with me.  It was stunning and so well executed.  It had it ALL.  The Japanese quilters have always been doing visually stunning work, but this one also had excellent technique, which is what has been holding them back in the past (although I don’t think that matters anymore).  The quilt was by Mieko Hara and I am sad that you will never be able to see an image unless someone breaks the rules for posting online (incredibly silly IMO) and you are fortunate enough to see it.  Somehow I doubt you will.  Again I said to myself–Disappointment that one of the best quilts in the show went unrewarded.  The same is true about a quilt made by Julie Yeager Lambert. Julie if you stumble across this, your quilt was AMAZING in its ability to make something so complex look clean and like effortless simplicity.  I know it was NOT easy to achieve that. 

I changed my flight that night to come home Thursday early morning.  It cost me dearly in extra fees etc., but I could see no reason to stay and my friend had decided she was leaving too.  Miss Shirley would be rightly basking in the added duties winning a ribbon would bring, so basically I would have been alone for the remaining days of my stay.  Not ideal if you know what I mean and I am no masochist and spendthrift.  So it was a no-brainer to change my plans and cut my $$ losses.  I would see the show for a half day on Wednesday and then drive up to Nashville in the early evening to catch my flight for the next day.

Parking was a NIGHTMARE for the show’s opening and given I had to park a MILE away after circling every area around the convention center for miles to find something closer.  They had the old Executive massive parking lots blocked off until it became so bad they finally removed the barricades.  Of course I discovered this after walking my first mile back to the convention center.  I certainly wasn’t going to walk a mile back to bring the car closer.  At the time, because I was driving Miss Shirley and I did not want her walking that painful distance, I thought we could catch the shuttle back to the museum area and reduce the distance she would have to walk to the car.  However, compared to previous years, I never saw the shuttles around and it would have wasted a good portion of our day waiting around for one.  Disappointment again reigned as I circled for a spot and I kept mumbling to myself that I was glad I wouldn’t have to go through this exercise again tomorrow and the next day.  I think you could safely say I was beyond frustraton at this point in time.

 Once upon a time, the streets were lined with “welcome quilters” signs and every business (even fast food chains) had something quilt related displayed, there was nothing this year unless the business was directly around the convention center or a show related business.  I did not feel welcome by the town as a whole like in years past–at all. 

As I have said before, travel  is not easy from the west coast.  It is brutal.  I want the destination to be worth the travel and the money spent.  I am afraid this was my last trip to Paducah.  Which, to me, is a big Disappointment. I will meet with my friends elsewhere at quilting destinations and I can always find a Margarita in most any town.  Unfortunately and sadly, there  just wasn’t the same magic at this show for me anymore.

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About Sandra

I am an Author, Designer, Illustrator and a major international award winning quilt artisan. I love working with fabrics and threads and they have become my medium of choice.

24 thoughts on “Thank You, My Trip & It’s long!

  1. It’s hard to understand the judge’s decision sometimes. I know I haven’t examined every quilt up close, but I certainly expected to see your quilt with a ribbon on it. It is so wonderfully whimsical and beautifully made. I feel certain your work will be rewarded!

  2. This is my first visit to your blog. I am not sure how I found it. Your post was very interesting, and I am sorry you had such disappointment at every turn. I have always heard what a great place Paducah was, and what a fun quilt show, etc. I can’t imagine the nightmare all the parking problems caused.
    I am glad for your insight as a visitor. Our tiny desert town hosts a “Snow Geese” festival each year. I see signs on all the windows of the businesses as well as a banner across the street welcoming the visitors. I always thought it was self serving of the business owners to post those signs, but now I see it as otherwise.
    Your quilt is beautiful and you deserve a ribbon. Right there makes me not want to ever go there. If yours didn’t walk off with Sweepstakes, then they have NO taste.
    Also the stupid rule of never showing what was there? How are we to get excited if we can’t even see what the entries were?
    Oh well, I think sometimes these hosts get a bit too “full of themselves”
    I had fun reading your post though, not at your expense, just learning through your experience.
    I loved the part about the Prius

  3. As someone who’s had her share of heartbreak at quilt shows, I am so sorry to read of your disappointment. Your quilt is stunning, and I hope I can look forward to seeing it in person some day.

    Don’t throw in the towel on the quilt show at Paducah. Living well is the best revenge, and you can look forward to returning again as a winner. You’re too good at what you do not to

  4. Janet,

    I am REALLY familiar with your quilts and have admired them! Thank you for the supportive pat on the back from a fellow veteran. 🙂

  5. Annie,

    Unfortunately, nothing ever stays the same and I suppose the same is true in quilting.

    I still laugh about the Prius. It must have been hilarious to watch us three women as we were just clueless and wandering about absolutely lost and clueless. LOL

  6. Jan,

    It was rewarded when I saw how much the quilters loved it. It sounds hokey, but truly it made me smile and I felt totally gratified by the positive response.

    No one remembers after the show closes who won what, but they do remember the quilts that stood out to them.

  7. I am sorry to hear of the bad time you had. Thank you for showing the quilt. It is STUPENDOUS !!! I went through the list of semi finalists and noticed many famous names. I also note that the top Houston winner only got an honorable mention at Paducah ( if I am correct).
    Did you know that you already won a special award ?: nicest, kindest professional quilter; best, most generous blog for quilters; best quilt teacher; maker of the most gorgeous quilts.
    Now who is Miss D.? I am sure she loved the quilt.

  8. Sandra, I agree with the others that your quilt is truly beautiful and a master work! Thanks for posting the photos for us. I was especially amazed at the close-up of the embroidery on the spoon! Wow! The details throughout the quilt are exquisite.

    Is the Paduca show under different management? It certainly sounds like either new people running the show or someone (many someones) dropped the ball.

  9. Hi Kathy,

    Thank you so much, I have always felt details should be discovered and not punch you in the face and given the status quo in quilting, I will stick to that even if it means last place. 🙂

    It is the same management this year. I think the whole Executive Inn fiasco has done the damage. I will probably be burned at the stake for saying this but, I think it is time to move the show to a bigger city.

    The citizens are NOT happy they had to cough up $2M to pay for a tent that can only be up 180 days. I can’t blame them in these tough economic times especially since they are a small community. They were quite vocal with me that the quilt show money generated does NOT trickle down to them–Ouch.

  10. Hannele,

    It was different quilt than the one showcased in the latest American Quilter magazine (I LOVED that one too). It was called, “Rondo of Roses” and it was a design that was such a fresh take on the Rose of Sharon style block. A completely new interpretation and nothing like what has been done in the past. Just gorgeous.

    Making something look clean and effortless is one of the HARDEST things for an artist to do. She succeeded in spades.

  11. Sarah I was STUNNED how Caryl’s quilt placed. Considering it was really the best of its category and not because she is “Caryl”. I really was in the best of company so I am very pleased with that. Really!

  12. It sounds so corny Jan, but truly I value quilter’s opinions above the judges. They are the hardest judges to impress. If they don’t like it, IMO, I have failed. There are so many forces at work behind the scenes of judging that it is out of any entrant’s control. You can make the best quilt known to man and have it not get anything for one reason or another. But the quilters? the best judges in the biz.

    This is why I hang around my quilt unidentified. I get the honest truth.

  13. Sandra – my first time to your site. WHat a Stunning quilt…such detail…congratulations – its just amazing. The quilting is exuisite.

  14. Sandra, I couldn’t believe it when I didn’t see your name on the AQS website of the list of winners, even ‘though I went through it 3 times just to make sure. Having seen your work it seems incredible that the judges didn’t recognize the quality of design and workmanship. At least we will be able to see it when the book is released, can’t wait. Loved your tales o the Prius.

  15. I am so sorry you were exasperated with your trip to Paducah. I also attended the Tuesday evening quilt show preview. Your quilt was absolutely gorgeous. You may have thought you were incognito, but I am pretty sure you were the gal Diane Gaudynski was hugging and making a fuss over while standing in front of this quilt! What a joyous scene.
    My experiences in Paducah were just the opposite of yours. My girlfriend and I stayed at a hotel that celebrated quilters every evening. They even gave away doorprizes. The highlight of our trip was our visit to the Bryerpatch Quilt Studio. We were allowed into Caryl’s living quarters and upstairs studio.
    As I said before, your quilt is exquisite. Don’t let this disappointment lay heavy on your heart.

  16. Hi Karen,

    I am glad to hear your experience was opposite of mine. You weren’t supposed to see me! LOL.

    What hotel did you stay at?

    Not to worry my heart is not heavy, so no lingering disappointment there and I have moved on. I love this quilt, and it makes me happy. In fact, that was a comment I heard often, “it makes me happy”. Yeah!

  17. You have a brand new follower as of today! I regularly follow Diane’s blog and I was absolutely enthralled with the pictures of your quilt. She clearly said the YOUR quilt was her “treat of the show” and that she admitted her mouth must have been hanging open… I clicked the link to yours and spent a LARGE part of my afternoon entirely fascinated. So, you have another fan and I have already pre-ordered your book.

    My daughter and I went to Paducah years ago. Unbelievable difference in what you found there this year. Perhaps the town is still recovering from all the damage they had last year with the ice storms?

    She is living in Texas now and has my promise that I will finally go to Houston with her. Any chance of seeing you there? I don’t drink margaritas, but I’ll gladly buy you one!

  18. Thanks Mary!

    I might be at Houston this year, I am trying to see if it works out with family obligations.

    I would love to take you up on the margarita offer! LOL

  19. Hi Sandra,

    I’ve just now gotten the time to sit and read you last couple of blog posts. I really enjoyed reading this story. I think this quilt is beyond stunning, as all of your work is! I can not believe that it didn’t get a ribbon. I was recently at our local show here and seen a quilt that was a baltimore album. The work was amazing! The quilt not a winner which shocked me. Some of the quilts with ribbons I couldn’t believe had won they just didn’t hold a candle looking at technique and handwork. In all of the disappointment that you felt I really thank you for sharing your story. This will help some of the others that enter and don’t win. It doesn’t mean that their quilts weren’t show worthy just that they didn’t catch this particular set of judges eyes. You are such an inspiration to me and I thank you so much for everything you share. When I grow up I wanna be just like you!!! LOL

  20. Hi Sandra – I kept checking the AQS site all day hoping to see the list of winners – SURE that your name would be at the top. Dissappointed it not the word – I was in SHOCK. I love your quilt! I pre-ordered your book since the day Amazon listed it. And I’ve made all my friend pre-order it too! You definitely win the Most Talented Applique Artist with the Biggest Heart Award from me!

    Best stitches!
    PS – I’m trying to work out family obligations also so that I can go to Houston this year. Since Mary offered to buy you the first round, the second round of margaritas are on me!

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