Yesterday was my youngest daughter's 21st birthday. Unfortunately, she is in the middle of her degree dissertation so we did not go to England to celebrate as she wanted to 'keep it low profile'. Fortunately, she has a great boyfriend who organised some surprises. Her sister and boyfriend travelled up to Sheffield for the weekend and gave her a lunchtime surprise, then they all had a lovely dinner followed by a surprise party in a local bar, where a roomful of her friends were waiting. I had supplied some old photos of my daughter growing up and boyfriend had them enlarged and put into an album for her. We had sent our gift in advance and my eldest daughter delivered some champagne and flowers for us on the day. She was a very happy girl.
All this sent me in a remembering mood - while I was at work yesterday I couldn't help thinking back over those 21 years to her birth and the lovely childhood she and my other daughter had here in Bonn. The only thing missing was not seeing their grandparents (in England and Scotland) enough through those years. What was also pushing my mind back is that I was going to have coffee yesterday with an old friend I had known here when my daughters were small - she was also an expat in Bonn and had daughters the same ages, same class at school, sleepovers, parties, etc. She and her family left Bonn 13 years ago and she had not been back since. She had done a little work here for the first Oxfam charity shop in Germany and they had invited all the people on their books for a 25th anniversary celebration. I only got an emailed request to meet on the Sunday, so my thoughts were naturally focussed on our shared time here, our daughters, reinforced by my daughter's 21st.
Well, we met and hugged and got very emotional - although we had been friends, after a few years' Christmas cards with notes inside, we had lost touch. The expat world is one of constant comings and goings - life has changed very much here in Bonn since the capital moved back to Berlin and the diplomats left Bonn; the expats here now stay longer and the population is more stable because of it. Back then, however, it simply wasn't possible to stay in contact with everyone who crossed your path. It didn't matter, though - we sat and drank coffee and talked non-stop for two hours and had a wonderful, if emotional, time. Thirteen years contained many divorces, infidelities, deaths, illnesses, joys and sadnesses among the group of people we knew and we couldn't catch up on everything. What was wonderful is a very simple thing - that we are both still here, fit, healthy, active and hopefully a little wiser. We felt as though we had only seen each other the week before and both knew that if it is another 13 years before we meet again (I hope this won't be the case), that won't really matter either.
Anyway, I need to get back into the present today and get moving with my quilting before I go to work for the afternoon. Here are today's quilts from the European Quilting Championships Exhibition. Firstly, two very traditional quilts with perfect workmanship:
And as a contrast, here is another astonishing art quilt:
This one was so exciting to see. I almost walked past it but something drew me back and the more I looked the more fascinated I became. The coloured diagonals that look like sticks ARE sticks covered with fabric and they give the most subtle but effective 3D touch to the geometry of this quilt. The connection between the colour points, the effect of the diagonals all seemed to be a growing coherent wholeness that only appeared the more you looked at it. I could have been tempted to steal this by the end of the day when I had criss-crossed in front of it visiting the quilt stalls for the umpteenth time. By the time I left I felt I knew this piece and wanted it badly. I just don't think I have the ingenuity to be able to copy it, sadly.
Right, hoover, change bedding, put some laundry on, then an hour's sewing till I go to work!