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50 States, Day 158

50 States, Day 158, around Lowell, Mass. 32 Miles

"The greatest discovery you'll ever make is the potential of your own mind."
~Jose Silva

We returned to Lowell today, as we found its story to be so compelling; a city built to be utopia; the birth of the industrial revolution; disillusionment and unrest and the closing down of all the businesses. And the epilogue, where the city seems to be enjoying a phoenix-like ascension from the ashes, as buildings (the ones that remain) are rented for apartments, offices, storage and commerce.

We also returned for the Quilt Museum. Risking violating some kind of Man Code, I appreciate good art, and the museum delivered. QG recognized peoples' work upon first glance. I just took in quality workmanship and artistic style.

My favorite (I would display a fine photo of this if not for the idiotic rule that no photos be taken) was a seven by five foot quilt of an African boy, sewed by an artist who had worked for the Peace Corps in Africa. Stitched in the quilting were other Africans, so it looked like thoughts, or ghosts of people in his life. Just a really magnificent work. Another depicted twelve meals, and represented last meals that men on Death Row requested before their execution. Another, by Ami Simms (I recognize her name, scary) showed a simple red house, but in the fabric were printed words about her mother's Alzheimer's disease. The roof contained side effects of medications, the background her mother's things she did, the siding contained things Mom said and the end of the house was what Ami said to her mom. These quilts, especially Ami's, evoked emotion, believe me.

We wandered downstairs and didn't escape without fabric jumping into Quilter Girl's hands, shocking.

Braving the (actually very light) rain, we followed canals to the Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit. Way back when (early 1800s) thirty girls made up a boardinghouse section and they slept in a small room, usually four to six in a two bedroom, then all thirty ate in a common room. With working from 5-7 (no, that's fourteen hours), they didn't have much time to hang around the common room anyway. Well, they worked only eight hours on Saturdays and spent six hours on Sundays in church, a requirement. All the rest of the time they could fritter away any way they chose.

Somehow, after awhile they rose up and conducted strikes. Ingrates. Kidding! After a few decades, the mill girls went from 3-4 year stints to six to nine months. The brass turned to immigrants, who would work for less. Then more friction as the locals hated the Irish who hated the Jews who hated the French Canadians and can't we all get along?

Very interesting town. The canals still run through town, and if I were an entrepreneur, I would get gondolas and do tours in them with singing gondoliers. Hmm. Perhaps my next adventure.

We headed back to the motel, but stopped at (PP!) Staples to do a bit of business. They hooked us up with a computer, printer and fax to sign documents and... stuff. A tip of the helmet to Staples! We rolled into the motel and our trailer sat, looking neglected. Too bad. It's wet.

Once again, the expert on Quilt Museums, Quilter Girl!

The quilt museum was heaven, but not enough quilts. The exhibit was of modern techniques with a few older quilts exhibited in side rooms, one made to represent a Victorian bedroom and one to look like a depression era bedroom. There were quilts from all sorts of quilters that I know; I even recognized some of the quilters before I looked at the descriptions. Jinny Beyer, Hollis Chatelain, Carol Doak all have very distinctive styles. There was a piece by Mickey Lawler of sailboats done with her hand-painted fabric that was stunning. I had to walk away from the one by Ami Simms so I wouldn't burst into a puddle of tears. From a distance it looked like a small schoolhouse block with a simple border around it. It is all the words on the quilt that will break your heart. Every quilt was a work of art, so much fun to get to enjoy them all.

We left Lowell at 3 to avoid traffic and came to Nashua where we are staying for dinner. It was a street full of chain restaurants, so we picked one of my favorites, a Red Robin. Familiarity is great sometimes and I wasn't sorry a bit.

P.S.: Every day the autumn leaves get more beautiful. Awesome!

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