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January 27, 2005 |

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And one more thing. Wanting to do SOMETHING after 9/11, I made pieced quilts for each of the men at my fire station. Soon after I delivered the gifts, you began railing about the little old women at the Lutheran guild who made quilts for just everybody, including the poor people in the subtropics! So I know how you feel about quilts. If I had your address, I'd be tempted to send you the one remaining North Woods quilt left, so that you would have to face it every day until you made your peace with quilts. Okay, Mr. Keillor, I'm going to go rest.

Judy Sturgess
Independence, MO

Oh dear, Judy, I'm afraid I've gotten on your wrong side, but please reconsider the use of the word "railed". Railing is pretty harsh — I may have murmured, or gently mocked, or nattered, but I did not RAIL at those good Lutheran women. They love to quilt, that's all there is to it, and they crank out a good deal of product, more than there's a need for in Lake Wobegon, so they ship it away to people whether they need it or not. And their quilts are not — forgive me for saying it — all that a quilt can be. My grandma Dora Keillor made a quilt for each of her grandchildren for a wedding gift and I still have the one she made for me, which is very delicate and light and made from lovely faded cotton prints. The quilt of today is often composed of garish materials and can be so heavy as to impede a sleeper's breathing. I guess I am saying that, just as Grandma's baking made me intolerant of all other bread, so her quilt gave me an unreasonably high standard for quilts, and I'm sorry but there you are, that is the price of being a descendant of a good Methodist lady who took these things seriously. She was an excellent baker, a fine quiltmaker, and a former schoolteacher, so we daren't misspell a word when we wrote her a note to thank her for the quilt. She was born in 1880 in Charles City, Iowa, and died in Onamia, Minnesota, in 1962, with me, a college sophomore, sitting in the hallway outside her room and trying to write a poem about her. (I was an English major.) I'm sure your North Woods quilt is a fine piece of work, but I was acquainted with the Elizabeth Barrett Browning of quilts and I am at peace with that.

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