Quilting is NOT for the quiet, the quite contrary, or the quavery.

We’ll we’ve found another creative gene in the Mannes family tree today.  About five months ago I blogged about my lovely Aunt Nancy and her mural/museum house and now I’m going to tell you about my cousin (but I will forever call her Caunt) Kathy.  I finally got around to meeting her after avoiding and/or being too busy or too away in Canberra to do so.  I say avoiding, because I’m an awkward person.  I tend to not make conversation well with people I just meet, and I don’t like to be put on the spot and I think meeting people you share blood with, for the first time, at twenty-two can be very awkward.  SURPRISE SURPRISE, it wasn’t.  Kathy is very much like her mother, a social butterfly.  I think Chris put it well when he said “she’s really cool for her age without being a want-to-be cool mom.”  He’s so right, she was dancing and tapping her feet, and snapping her fingers to new Jason Mraz music and ended up being “totally cool,” but mostly because she was being totally herself.  I think I need another lesson on portraying, and putting forth my real, and potentially awkward self in front of anyone I meet.  I can’t be bashful or fear that they may not laugh at my jokes, or they may not like my Elaine Bennis-esque dance moves, but they will still like me, because I’m an actual person, and even though I’m awkward, or weird, or a want-to-be-wit-superstar, I’m still, after all of that, myself.  So, lesson learned already in this blog; always be yourself, even when it makes you blush.

We both admitted to feeling very familiar with each other, and she exclaimed that I, once again, everyone in the family agrees, look just like my Aunt Nancy (my daddy’s younger sister).  I don’t mind the comparison, my Aunt Nancy isn’t only gorgeous, but her house is this immaculate mural that she painted.  So, praise on.

My Aunt Kathy is a quilter, which adds another element to the creative in my families long line.  Thus far I’ve found my Aunt Nancy, the painter and interior decorator, my Aunt Kathy, the quilter, my Grandma and Aunt June both sewers and croshay-ers, and then my brother who plays the guitar.  At first, I thought I must be adopted because I might be the only creative person other than my brother in the family (my brother could seriously be a world famous guitarist but he chooses to play local, he’s amazing).

I’ll stop boring you with family history though and get to my day and the past few days.  Today we went to Bondi Beach, the world famous beach where some random woman ran up to Prince Charles and kissed him square on the lips.  It also houses a million little rascal surfer boys who are tanned, and peeling, and not even four-foot tall yet, carrying their long boards and swimming into the ruthless seas.  They’re like vikings, who try to take on waves instead of dragons.  I didn’t go super stalker and take any photos of them, but I watched them for a while and they might pop into a story or two about the beach.  Unfortunately it was a cloudy day so I wasn’t able to take any pictures to make Americans drool over the blueness of the water, but I did take a picture of all the graffiti on the surrounding beach boardwalk.  You can google image for the shiny beach, palm trees, nude women photos.

Here are just a few of my favorites:

I love this one because people have come and written their initials in the hearts, unfortunately I wasn't aware of this before and didn't have my paint brush handy.

Alice the villain. I quite like this look on her.

Everyone knows I love swirly bird pictures. What else is new?

So, more on Bondi Beach because my lovely mother pointed me in the direction of information (I think she secretly believes my blogs may take off and I will actually have a steady writing career, but that is a mother’s way isn’t it)?  Bondi is named after the Aboriginal word “Boondi” which means “breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks.”  I thought this was pretty spectacular.  If you haven’t already figured out, my children will probably have very strange names because I tend to go after name meanings and not really look at the name, other then the name Octavia, I’m just destined to have that girl-child.  (I think this is in the same vein as my palm reading, tarot believing, horoscope reading activities). I will also have a dog named, Oscar-doodle, at around the time Octavia is born.  I read in a book recently the name of someone with the meaning “fairy-wanderer” and I plan to have that child a few years later. Just a heads up, friends.

And here’s just a quote from wiki because I’m not sure I could say it better:

An ordnance[5] governing the decency of swimming costumes was in force between 1935 and 1961, and resulted in public controversy as the two-piece “bikini” became popular after World War II. Waverley Council‘s beach inspectors, including the legendary Aub Laidlaw, were responsible for enforcing the law and were required to measure the dimensions of swimwear and order offenders against public decency off the beach. The rule became increasingly anachronistic during the 1950s and was replaced in 1961 with one requiring bathers be “clad in a proper and adequate bathing costume”, allowing for more subjective judgement of decency. By the 1980s topless bathing had become common at Bondi Beach, especially at the southern end.[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bondi_Beach,_New_South_Wales

That’s about all I got for ya that I found interesting for Bondi Beach.  It really was kind of a let down, but that might only be because I’m such a Cronulla/South Sydney kind of girl.  I’m not really a city girl at all, or a city beach kind of girl.  I will one day plan to go topless on the beach just to cross that off my bucket list.  I may be seventy-plus when I do this because I’ll be too insecure at any other age, and when can you go wild, if you can’t at seventy-plus?  This might be a before-it-happens warning on where I’ll be at seventy.  How many wrinkles, and how much sagging I can’t really say for sure, but definitely will be topless and wild.  Girls gone Wild that is.

After this lovely little Bondi experience, you can tell I was thrilled, we caught a bus to Circular Quay (pronounced Circular Key) and waited for a bus that never came.  When CK was thoroughly pissed and I progressed to pick my hair out of stress (it’s like when my neighbor, when we were seven, picked all of her eyelashes out as a nervous habit when her mother would go on business trips, except I’m not that manic).  We finally caught the next 506 and made it to Material Obsession, my Caunt Kathy’s quilt shop.  I was, with pride, the first family member that had ever made it to her shop and so I pretty much deserve a trophy.  She did WAY better than that though and started me off with material, thread, a needle, and brief lessons on what I can start with on the plane.  AND a personal signing of her first, out of two – third coming, books.

None of this is the best part.  Not only is she amusing, and so much like my dad’s side of the family in both looks, and mannerisms, but this woman can quilt AND blog.  It’s like my wildest dream. So, in an effort to make you love my family, and just see some damn good quilting, here’s her blog:


We decorated her Christmas tree, which I’ll put pictures of below because it’s a REAL, Australian Christmas tree (that is crooked, and somehow reminded me of a woman’s shaved leg.  There’s pieces of the leg where you miss full chunks of hair and you find this out later, maybe sitting in  your desk at school scratching an itch and you realize you missed a place, three days ago when you shaved – usually behind the knee).  It had places of heavy bush, and places of patch.  Still my first real tree, that smelled most excellent, so I have no bad news bears about that.

We talked about my family which explained SO much.  My daddy never talks about his father (even though from what I understand they’re a bit similar).  I’ll talk to him about this later, since now I need all the information, but I learned some … things about my basically imaginary grandfather.  I always liked to think my Grandma Dolly was a woman of the future, but it seems she didn’t drive, or have money that my grandfather didn’t give her, so that definitely frustrated the inner feminist inside me.  I think my favorite thing that Kathy told me was that the women on my side of the family have psyhic and/or ghost encounters.  If you’ve known me a while, you KNOW I think I see ghosts.  She told me this story about my Aunt Maureen (who from what I know is a real piece of work and NOW after this I know why).  She was in love with this guy (John maybe, or that might have been my Aunt Nancy’s love who my Caunt was secretly in love with at fifteen.  He had flowing gold locks, in the sixties, so you can see why.  Que Dazed and Confused).  and he died in a car accident unexpectedly, Kathy said she’s never seen someone so broken.  But anyway, Maureen was recounting a story about him to Kathy and Connie in Kathy’s room, with tears in her eyes and all of a sudden when she said his name, the lights in the room blinked on and off three times.  He … was an electrician.  I’m telling you, I knew there was a reason for why, until I was sixteen, I slept completely under all my covers, head and all.  My family sees ghosts.  I knew it.  It gets better though, AND the story deepens.  Not really, just a funny add-in.

A few months ago my nephew went through this period where he would sweat really intensely in his crib and hide under the covers, like a little ball of heat and not take his naps when I’d put him down and my mother also.  And if you went to check on him, he’d tell you there was a ghost hanging on his fan.  Obviously, being an adult everyone was like, oh he just heard about ghosts because it’s Halloween time and they’re in the stories (my nephew isn’t related to my dad so his ghost encounters are from the other, also crazy side, my mother’s).  However, I told my mom that I thought he really was seeing a ghost and that society educates these beliefs out of us at a young age and that’s why adults who no longer believe, no longer see.  I might also, still secretly believe in fairies and in Santa Clause.  Not the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy though, I’m not that insane….just a little off my rocker.  And so I think my nephew really saw ghosts.  This is why Ghost Adventures, one of my favorite shows is still on television after five seasons, I’m not the only one as the good ol’ John Lennon would say.

My Caunt (cousin-aunt) Kathy also is a stellar quilt maker, I think I mentioned this once or twice and she owns a shop called “Material Obsession.”  She has an amazing use and talent to work with colors, obviously to sew, and does more contemporary quilt styles.  She also has published two books and is on her third right now.  She also, ALSO, married an Australian and moved to Australia to make her life.

To hear her talk about what quilting does for women, you’d swear I was talking.  I think it’s an understatement to say I’m big into women’s and gender studies, and women’s lives and work and education and equality.  I think it’s a healthy obsession to have.  And not only does quilting have a long standing tradition, but it’s long standing historically.  Women have been coming together to work in quilting circles for ages, I actually don’t know exactly how long, but I know it’s been a while. And as she spoke about it being a creative outlet, and a way for women to express their creativity and most importantly this, “women have been taking care of others for their entire lives and quilting gives them something for themselves.”  I think that, during this talk, not only did the spark of family and familiarity really ignite in me, but she also ignited a spark in me to try and quilt.  My grandmother on my mother’s side (the only grandparent I’ve ever met) quilted and sewed and so I know it now runs in both sides of my families and I’m really into meticulous activities (like jewelry making) and so my Caunt Kathy cut me some fabric, gave me a spool of thread and a needle, and gave me a very quick basic lesson hoping she was creating a future quilter.  And you know what, I don’t want  to let her down.  I want to be part of this long standing quilting group of strong, creative women.  I want to be in the circle.  I feel like I’m saying “Pick me!” on a little league team, but I think this is something I can really put my mind too and start doing.  I urge people to do the same with whatever makes them happy and continues to give them growth.  Here are a few inspiring pictures of both my Caunt, and her store (her “Material Obsession”).

Flowery, colorfully quilt in my Caunt's shop.

Just one room of colorful fabrics, there was about three. I love it.

Another gorgeous little quilt, well the corner of it.

Focusing intently on learning from the master

The one she's working on in her AMAZING newly redone house. Do you see the trees and birds, seriously this woman and I...family, family, FAMILY.

Us on, well basically my dream porch, her actual - newly done porch

My lesson from this blog (other than being yourself in any situation, which I still need to listen to my own advice, damn..isn’t that always the way)?  But maybe not more importantly, but just as important, VISIT YOUR FAMILY. Meet your family if you haven’t, go and visit, seek them out.  You may learn new things about yourself in the process.   You’ll see things in the blood that you never knew were something that you got from a historical gene line.  It’s more important than you think, don’t even avoid the old people in your family.  Go to that old folks home where in girl scouts you used to sing Christmas carols.  Go to that residential, gated community in the middle of Old bastards, Florida.  Road trip to meet your third cousin in the middle of Wyoming.  MEET YOUR FAMILY.  There’s a reason they say blood is thicker than water.  You’ll need them, and they’ll be there.  We’ll we can only hope on that part, but … seriously.  Listen to me for once, even though I’m obviously a crazy person.

I have to add this in, even though I feel like a school girl, but her friend was in town, Bill and he just happened to be Jason Mraz’ manager.  Yep, met Jason’s manager, found out Jason was camping this week on the beach.  Found out some more news I can’t really say, but while I decorated the tree I listened to this man name drop and name all the places he’s been traveling to in the last year. Needless to say I was fascinated, and ready to draw hearts around the Jason Mraz picture in my locker. Bah, I’m a giant dork.  But not only that, he told us this video that he wanted my Caunt to watch that apparently made Jason Mraz call him sobbing.

So, obviously, I googled and wanted to share it with you all.  It’s the author of Eat Pray Love (the only time I felt something during Julia Roberts’ depiction of Gilbert was when James Franco was reciting his poetry and then about four scenes later when she crawled into bed to have sex and he says, “Don’t you want to give me something to miss?” Just recently she wrote, Commited. She gives a speech on nurturing artistic genius.

Then, lastly, I think you all should get to see the glorious end to my day which consisted of a beautiful sunset, and some Australian Christmas lights.  Tis the season, right mate?

Train station sunset, the pluses of public transportation.

I think this was my favorite house, because they lit the grass, but I really can't decide. Check facebook tomorrow (Australian time) for more!

2 thoughts on “Quilting is NOT for the quiet, the quite contrary, or the quavery.

  1. Sarah Dion says:

    I watched that whole video and loved it. Very inspiration for all artists. Loved the whole bit about your Caunt Kathy. So glad you got to meet her, she sounds like an exceptional, creative human being and obviously related to you! I can’t wait to see some future Cassie quilts now, I can only imagine swirly trees and colourful birds and just complete creative insanity.

  2. bea mannes says:

    I just loved this blog. It is one of your best written blogs. Did you misspell “well”….yes you did, but who cares, the blog read well, it flowed well, and I enjoyed it. I laughed a few times. It made me want to tell you about a few ghost stories from my side of the family. I always thought they would scare you. My mother, after my father died and I became fearful of his ghost or a ghost sighting, told me very calmly, “He would never come to you if he thought it would frighten you.” That made sense to me at 18, and so I no longer worried about it. No, that isn’t the family ghost story, I’ll tell you those another time.
    As for the quilting, my Mother was a great quilter as was my Grandmother before her. Michael had my Grandmother’s quilt at his apartment, because it was so warm, and he didn’t keep the heat up to save money. I don’t know what happened to it after that unfortunately. My Mother gave her best quilt to my sister, and I hope she still has it. I can still see her sitting on the couch so intently working on that quilt.
    I am glad you met your “Caunt Kathy”. I hope I get to meet her myself someday. She sounds wonderful. Do yourself a favor, become her penpal. You know how you love to send and receive letters. Daddy is so glad you went to meet your family. So, as you stated above in your blog, seek out that family, there are so many more, (just from my side alone), and you haven’t even met Maureen yet. You have one more sister of Daddy to go.


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