Beth Markel

Sometimes in quilting, you take an unexpected left turn and end up in a swamp

Posted on September 15, 2021 by Beth Markel

I haven’t posted much recently, mostly because we had a hell-of-a-month I’m going to call August. Like many other parts of the country, most of southern Michigan has had lots and LOTS of storms this year. Wallopers! So it stormed here and we were without power for 5 days. Five. Days. Unless you have hand-work or slow-stitching ready at a moment’s notice, not much actual sewing happens.

Fortunately, I always do my binding by hand and was working on 2 small crib quilts. I worked on that during the day… when there was light. Sometimes you take the small things for granted – like walking into the kitchen and turning the light on. Again and again. It was probably 3 days before I remembered that no matter how many times I flipped the switch, no power was forthcoming.

So the following Monday morning I went down to my studio, about 5:45 a.m., not just because I like to get an early start, but because the Baltimore Oriole feeder was empty, and the jelly jar had been emptied the day before. The grape jelly is in the pantry on the left directly behind my sewing machine. I stopped on the bottom step for a moment wondering what was happening with the ceiling, but I’m grateful I could flip a switch and lights came on:

What IS happening to my studio ceiling?!

Now bear in mind, it’s not even 6:00 a.m., no coffee on-board, and I’m a huge SciFi fan. Star Trek (Chris Pine, hello?!), Star Wars, yep, all of them; Stargate (movie and 215 episodes on SyFy network)…you name it. Don’t judge. I’m also a huge fan of J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkein, Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, and yes, even War & Peace, although that was a slog since none of the French was translated in the text, but located at the bottom of the page. But I digress. This was like a scene out of a SciFi movie. It took me a moment to orient that parts of the studio ceiling seemed to be peeling off. Like a brain surgeon, I said out loud, and to myself, “Huh. That’s weird.”

Then I stepped off the last step to walk over to see what the deal was when the carpet beneath my feet went SQUISH, SQUISH, SQUISH.

I immediately ran upstairs to grab my DH, who is happily sound asleep on his first day of a vacation, and inform him that there’s water pouring into my studio, and all hell broke lose. Apparently the water line from the kitchen sink to the ice-maker in the refrigerator split and water had been dripping, pouring, running all night long, over my sewing table and iron boards, gel pro mat for standing, the Ott light, pretty much everywhere.

Water running down the interior wall AND coming from the ceiling
Wet insulation, water everywhere, and naked thread. Dang it!
Floor is dry. No ceiling. I feel overwhelmed.

Good news: Bernina wasn’t damaged, although other smaller items were. Yellow Oliso iron I call “Ollie” hit the floor, ironing board won’t stand up, etc. Just discovered about an hour ago that most if not all of my Aurifil thread not still in it’s plastic is covered with ceiling debris. I thought I covered it pretty early on in the process of stopping the damage, but pictures look like it was much later than I remembered. Panic will do that to you I guess.

Bad news: Studio won’t be completed (or even have a ceiling) until after Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, with the pictures I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks from the hurricanes, I know damage in those bigger storms makes my studio disaster just a hic-up, but there have been a lot of tears nonetheless.

In related news: 5 days after the studio flood I started a zoom workshop through the Schweinfurth Museum with the talented Rosalie Dace. So grabbing what I determined were a box of leftovers from Human Form #15, I’m working off the dining room table, mostly using paper but sewing some too, unrelated to the workshop itself. It’s all about design principles, and it’s fabulous to be able to interact with her half-way around the world. She’s a delight.

I would say I’m going to work on ‘Chaos’ now…but then I’ll cry again!

All the best,




Diana Fox on September 16, 2021

Oh my dear! Just oh no and I hope the situation gets resolved soon. As I looked at the photos I could smell what was happening, having been through a similar deluge before. Ugh. Thank goodness it’s a hiccup but also pain in the ass (pita). Sending you a huge hug. Diana

Beth Markel on September 17, 2021

Hi Di, until recently I simply would not have understood your comment about how it smells...but I get it now. Even with two fans running around the clock for a couple of weeks now... that wet smell lingers. It's been a challenge! (((Hugs back to you)))

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