Shining Lights

faint aurora over town wikimedia commons

Faint aurora showing over the city.

Living in Minnesota means that we get to see many displays of Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Since I live in a big urban area, I usually see them when camping. But the major solar storm this week gave us streaks of green lights dancing right in the heart of all our light pollution. It was enough to entice Andy, my photographer son, to take a drive north with me on the next semi-cloudless night to see if we could catch some images.

Trekking out just after dark, we drove an hour north of the Twin Cities, dressed for a buggy adventure. We almost turned back on the way up as clouds started to cover the north sky. But the moon and stars in the southern direction could be fodder for photos, and I could enjoy hearing the bullfrogs and crickets if the aurora failed to show.

(c) image courtesy of

(c) image courtesy of

We were aiming for the head of a hiking trail in a marshy area. There are a couple of parking spots close to the road, but if you walk down the trail a bit, you trade the view of passing headlights for an open sky to the north. Andy (@Andorius in IG or at has shot some great time-lapse views of stars there in the past.

Turning in at the trail-head, staring at the cloudy sky, we were totally surprised to find literally thousands of fireflies dancing in the grasses, the brush, and floating up towards the sky. They twinkled far brighter than any stars, and completely ignored us. It was delightful to see–they frolicked and danced as far into the marsh as we could see. Some shone very brightly and floated upwards, then darkened and seemed to float back to the grass. Others danced in circles , and some just flickered on and off as they flew. Sheer magic!

Land of the Fire Flies LONG EXPOSURE © Andor

Land of the Fire Flies LONG EXPOSURE © Andor, used with permission

For every firefly there were 10 mosquitoes attacking the bits of uncovered skin that we had allowed. There were wood ticks in the grasses jumping on socks and legs. But the fireflies won–they had to be enjoyed. Andy set off a ways down the path to set up cameras and shoot towards the north, hoping for a break in the clouds. Rich scents of earth and ripening grass seeds were everywhere. The bright moon behind us cast shadows on the marsh.

fireflies iphone shot taken by the curious quilter out car windowI admit to being driven back into the car to watch fireflies. Mosquitoes always seem to find me delectable. It was still great, the fireflies flew within inches of my head through the glass and landed on the windshield. Then they turned their lights on and floated away,quickly replaced by another, and another . . .

For an hour this magical dance continued. I could see my son out moving cameras. I noticed some brightness to the north that seemed to be lightning beyond the horizon, not Northern Lights. Who cared? How often do you get to dance with thousands of fireflies?

When Andy jumped back in the car, the parts of his face that were not covered by beard were pocked with skeeter bites. He was brushing ticks off his pants. Mostly, he was grinning a huge grin. So was I!


(c) used courtesy of

This was a special sight, and we were both glad to have been able to see it. We share a passion for the woods and trees, high places and waterways, rocks and the changing seasons. We are both late-night people, relishing in the sounds of owls in town, the whir of swallows diving, and the bats flying back to the catalpa trees after a night of roaming the yard feasting on mosquitoes. We shared fireflies on a cloudy night, while the aurora probably danced unseen above storm clouds to our north.

Cars had been driving by all the while, I wanted to tell them to slow down and see what lay beyond their headlights. Maybe they knew, but live near and see it often. For me it was a treat. And great reminder of how many ‘worlds’ there are in our world. Our homes, our yards, our neighborhoods and towns, but always there is a “next door” full of unexpected delights. People, cities, oceans, mountains–so many things to fill our senses and our souls.


(c) used courtesy of

I am a Minnesota girl. I love my town, my garden, and lots more. But I am at home in the trees and waterways. A friend once summed it up well in a simple grace:

Rocks, lakes, trees. Amen!

Add fireflies to that list.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comsignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comAndy aka Andor, AndoriusAll cited photos © by Andorius of, All rights reserved.Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comUS White House Celebrate rights for gay marriage June 26, 2015Love is Love. Thank you SCOTUS, June 26, 2015.

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Baby Quilt Number Two

baby quilt 2

Quilt for a baby girl

It does seem sometimes that things come in threes! Between our family and friends there are three babies incoming in a five-week period, so I have been busily making baby quilts.

This is baby quilt two, for the only girl in the crowd. The topper is made entirely from stash. I picked up the backing at JoAnn’s, came home and remembered that I had one fat quarter of the great Tula Pink squirrels. They were a great focal piece to tuck in on this very simple quilt. Aren’t the colors yummy?

IMG_3265As always, I made it puffy (Minnesota babies need the winter warmth!) and used the Wrights Satin Blanket Binding all around. Babies and toddlers do love that satiny fabric!

Baby quilt number three is coming. Not quite yet, but soon!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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A Swapper’s Postage Stamp Quilt Gets Published

Have you traded postage stamp quilt (PSQ) charms with Nina T, one of our swappers from Sweden? I know many of you have, as Nina has taken part in several swaps. She has posted her progress on our PSQ Flickr pages, but this time her finished PSQ got a bit more attention.

The magazine Rikstäcket, published by Swedish Quilting Association, shared this striking PSQ with its members across Sweden. I am so happy for Nina that the magazine chose to feature her quilt!

Nina T quilt as featured in Rikstäcket, Swedish quilting magazine (c)Nina writes, “Quilting is a small hobby in Sweden. We have 10 million residents, but only 2600 members in the national quilting association. But we have many small guilds connected to the nationwide, approx 80.

“It took me 2 years to sew as leaders/enders and quilt and half (1120 pieces) of the charms are from swappers and half from my stash. I couldn’t have done it without the inspiration from your blog and help of my swappers.”

Congratulations Nina–on a beautiful finished quilt, and the well-deserved recognition. Perhaps more Swedish quilters will be inspired to join the next swap.
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Flying Charm Packs Everywhere!

head-full-of-squares2 thinking of swapsWe now have 984 little packets of PSQ charms ready to mail, or in the mail. This is the moment I enjoy the most. Once the matches are all made and sent out, I envision all the participants sending their little parcels out into the world. I see the postal workers sorting them, the parcels being put on to airplanes, and I imagine all the swappers and Newbies opening and sorting through their new treasures.

Getting to this moment I always hit a wall somewhere and say “never again.” But then I see the happiness that this little packets give, and I remained HOOKED!

If you do not hear from your partners instantly, give it a little time. People have lives, catch colds, and just plain get busy. Feel free to nudge them after a few days. If you email me with a problem to resolve, I will, but not until after work that day.

Next round: Sign up will be September 16-23, 2015. Find a friend to join! And start cutting.

P.S.: People ask if they can send me something for my efforts, and the answer is decidedly NO, please! I am trying to purge 35 years of stuff from my house, I am dieting, and I BADLY need to downsize my stash by a ton! The best thing YOU can do is get a friend to join next round, and find more Newbies! – Mary
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Patience Please! Swap Matches are Coming Soon!

PSQ Charms 4Starting tomorrow swap match emails will be heading out (at which point they close my email off for 24 hours.) They will trickle out over a 18 hour period on purpose, as my email provider always seems to think I am spamming people if I send out hundreds of emails at once. They will be coming to you from one of two email addresses: curious at maryeoriginals dot com OR curiousquilter at outlook dot com. Please remember to check your SPAM folder if you do not see it within a day or so.

PSQ CHarms 1When you get your email, you need to send emails to your swap partners and/or your assigned Newbies. Newbies do not need to send emails, just watch for them. Your partners may not have received their email yet, and you might even get emails from partners before you get the swap email. Just hold tight and it will come together as everyone gets their emails. Add to that the time difference between swappers located from Europe to North America to Australia to the Indian Ocean. Sometimes people have things come up in life and just cant write to you immediately. It’s all good! It will happen! In the 8 previous swaps only once has someone totally bombed out, so our track record is good.

PSQ Charms 5As your “where is it” emails pour in this evening, I just have to repeat myself. This is a rather large and complex swap. The rules tell you it will be a week before the matching is done, and that is usually pretty close to correct. Getting 800+ parcel assignments sorted out by size, and trying to honor your preferences for international or not, plus the newbies and donor pairing, then double checking it all–it takes time! I do have a job, a family, and last weekend included a staff retreat that was not planned before the swap dates were set. I ask your patience, and your understanding about why I am not answering all those emails tonight!

I am off to bed. Sweet dreams of little fabric charms to you all!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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Quilt for a Baby Boy

I have a FINISH!  Can you hear me cheer? It has been a while . . .

Baby Boy Block Quilt from The Curious QUilterThere are three babies coming to friends and family in the next two months. So there are three baby quilts, or “comfies” coming up to share with you. But not until they are given to the families, of course.

The first is for a baby boy, and it started with a set of Kona solid charms. Add the delightful Michael Miller Tara’s Fireworks fabric to the back, and you have  a simple but adorable reversible quilt.  Finish it with the silky satin binding that babies and toddlers so love–heavenly!

Flip Side Quilt for Baby Boy from The Curious QullterIn my family we call these Comfies. A Comfy can be a safe resting place on the floor or yard.  A Comfy can keep a toddler cozy right up until they move to a big bed, and beyond. A Comfy can be  a super hero cape, or a tent, or a great place to lay in front of the fireplace or TV.  Roll up in a Comfy, and you can unroll as a butterfly. Comfies are slightly larger than a baby quilt batt, and have lasted decades sometimes, even with regular use.

There will be more Comfies coming in the next couple of weeks.
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.

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