Sunday, June 06, 2010

A LOOOOOOooooooooooooooooong time ago, almost ten years ago, I sat down at our new computer and gave a big sigh. I picked up the phone and called the AOL number and told the nice young man, on the other end that I wanted to stop my service of AOL.

At the time, I didn't realize that AOL didn't handle rejection well and took it out on it's employees. I thought the eager help that I was getting from the young man was youthful enthusiasm not the fear of losing his job or some of his wages.

Anyway, he asked me how I had used all the services of AOL and I said I had done nothing. This was our first computer. I had little time to explore or patience, for that matter.

He asked me what my hobbies were. At that time I was a quilter. I made quilts for beds. I made quilts for charities, lots of charities. I didn't even know about mixed media or art quilts or ever so many wonderful things that I do now.

He told me how to get to the "boards" for quilting. And, that my friend CHANGED MY LIFE.

I could have protested and said, cancel my membership and shut off the computer. Instead, being curious I looked at the quilting site. People asked quilting questions. If I had the answer I answered. I noticed one screen name that had a slightly wicked sense of humor and followed it around the board. I matched wit for wit. Bugged the heck out of her, I think.

Long story short, I managed to get the board managers to open up a section of the quilting boards that was JUST FOR PLAY. A place where we could come as adult women and just have some silly fun. I know I needed it in my life and apparently so did some others because as soon as THE PLAYGROUND opened up, people came.

We had to leave the playground after we were chastised for posting a picture of a Scotsman standing on a hillside with his kilt blowing up, in the wind. Picture was from a newspaper by the way. We were scolded that it was not family suitable. Not knowing any family members at THE PLAYGROUND, just adult women we were confused and decided to leave. We packed up the swingset, slide, giant oak tree where a red wagon full of chocolate was always available, the hot tub, Swen and Ollie the grounds keepers of THE PLAYGROUND, the lobsters that we kept in the hot tub, the baseball diamond and skating rink, and the LADIES of the CORNER that told us scary stories.

Of course, all of those things weren't real but imaginary places and things that all of us had added to the stories of THE PLAYGROUND.

We packed up the whole thing and went UNDERGROUND. We called ourselves THE UNDERGROUND PLAYGROUND and spent the next ten years emailing each other every single day. EVERY DAY. Sometimes more than once a day.

I remember being in Greece and at an Internet Cafe and the guy had to turn on the computer for me and help me get to my screen name. He reared back in horror when he saw I had over 400 emails.

We probably know more about each other than family members do. We have been through everything together. Some have dropped out for one reason or another, our dear Shar from Ovarian Cancer, but we still hold their names in our minds and hearts.

We have met or tried to meet every single year for QUILT CAMP. The first year I invited them all to my house for a week. I had no idea who exactly was going to show up. Maybe we had a dirty old man in our midst. We had a blast. Putting names and life events to faces was wonderful.

We met again the next year and the next, alternating between the East, Middle and West coast.

Trying to make sure that we saw everybody. Some didn't fly, some couldn't travel so we flew back and forth meeting up with each other.
I think they have been to my house three times.

To thank me, they made me the quilt you see in the top picture.
To thank Zeus, they made him the wall quilt of the golfer, for the bedroom wall.

Both of these quilts were just entered into a quilt show, on Long Island and won prizes. BEST OF SHOW for my quilt.

I'm not surprised though. The quilts are stunning. The quilting done on her long arm by Deb is amazing. The applique of the golfer by Sharon. The blocks and settings by group members. Who are extremely talented.
I had no idea that day I called AOL that I would meet a group of women that would be my support system. Sometimes it's the strangest things that can change your life, you know?
:)Bea Creating with people fuels your creativity.


  1. thanks for your visit, bea...i saw my first long arm 2 years ago...i had no idea they existed, as quilting is mysterious, hard work to me......
    but experiencing the creative flow in a shared setting, of any sort, is indeed invigorating!!!

  2. What a wonderful story and wonderful quilts. It's the people that make it all so much fun. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Neva I am amazed at what some people can do with their long arms.
    Some times the quilting can overwhelm the top. These are just perfect. :)Bea

  4. Yvonne, they are a fun bunch of women. I just wish like my blogging buddies everybody didn't live so far away. :)Bea

  5. You are one determined lady and the truth is the quilts are totally stunning. Today is beautiful here and hopefully no big thunderstorms and damaging wild winds. You are always a winner in my heart. How is that new baby? Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  6. What a story. Fabulous, that Underground Playground group.
    The quilts are just wonderful.
    I'd never have the patience, but I really admire those that do.

  7. Another amazing story...the power of womanhood!

  8. Love this chapter in your story of life. The quilts are both beautiful. I hope they are in your home in a place of honor. So lovely.

  9. Wow, what an amazing story. How wonderful that you have all remained friends for such a long while and still meet up each year. There must be a book, or at the very least a magazine article there somewhere. The two quilts are stunning. I knew it was you in the top one. Such talented people.

  10. wow.
    the quilts are beautiful, and so are your stories.

  11. Well, AOL turned out to be good for something - how insane of them to turn you all away.

    I never dealt with AOL, because they tried to control where you went on the Web and now you say they censored you. I like my Internet provider to be like the phone company - hook me up, but don't tell me what I can say.