The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

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    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
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    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
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    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
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    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
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    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Search for quilt gardens leads to cabin of quilts 2010.09.09

Written by David Green.

store_outside.jpgYou can’t have real joy if you don’t understand what real sorrow is.

– Heather Lende, “Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs”


It was going to be a short and sweet vacation. A Labor Day weekend wedding in Milwaukee preceded by a day in northern Indiana Amish country seeking out the 17 gardens of the Quilt Garden Tour.

But we left four hours later than my 10 a.m. goal; two hours later than David predicted. I scaled back our plans. Maybe we wouldn’t see all the gardens laid out in quilt patterns nor all the quilt murals also on display, but surely we’d have time for a few, plus a quick visit to Gohn Brothers (suppliers of Amish goods) for thin 100 percent cotton socks like we’d bought years ago, and a meal at a local restaurant endorsed by Michael Stern of as “Worth planning a day around.” Chicken and noodles and apple pie—I couldn’t wait.

The two businesses are right next to each other in Middlebury, Ind.; it looked like an auspicious beginning to our journey.

Real sorrow

But as much as the salesclerk searched, the socks of my dreams were not in stock. The smooth, soft socks make the best eye covers, blocking the morning light better than any socks either of us own. Even worse, the store no longer wraps purchases in brown paper tied with string—they use ordinary paper bags.

And Michael Stern’s recommendation? Chicken and noodles was not on the menu, and although he especially praised the pie, our choice of apple was...well, it wasn’t deserving of Michael’s praise.

By the time we left the restaurant, filled with disappointment, we both just wanted to get out of town. I quickly looked at the Quilt Garden map I’d printed from “Just go south,” I told David. “Let’s just get out of here.”

We set out for Goshen, home to two quilt gardens, two quilt murals, and the Old Bag Factory which I had wanted to visit for years.

Halfway to Goshen, further perusal of the map revealed the error of my hasty ways. Not only had we just missed four quilt gardens in Middlebury, there were three quilt murals, and if we had gone southwest, we would have encountered another quilt garden.

I sunk into a funk. My attitude went south as I got crabby and short with David, especially when he passed roads I thought he should turn on, sure they would lead us to the 4-H Fairgrounds quilt garden.

We finally found the fairgrounds and searched it thoroughly. We’d pretty much given up finding the garden and were heading for the next one, when David spotted the garden outside in front of the fairgrounds.

On first sight, it looked a scraggly mess with no immediately discernible pattern. It was depressing. I had to laugh to keep from crying.

“Maybe you could come back next year,” David said.

He was trying to cheer me up. It was the end of the season and the flowers were a tad past their prime, dusk was approaching. It was obvious we weren’t going to see many more quilt gardens—and if they all looked like this—was it going to be worth it?

We headed for the Old Bag Factory, site of the other quilt garden, and this one was rather splendid. Sited next to a quilt business in a log cabin, it was well-maintained and the light gray dusty miller set against a rusty orange flower was intriguing.

Real joy

ladyslipper.jpgThe business was closed, but I walked onto the elevated front porch to take a better photo of the quilt garden. And then a man walked out of the store, holding a quilt and asking if I’d like to see the design the garden had inspired.

It was Dave Shenk, co-owner of Quilt Designs, who happened to still be at the shop even though it was closed. He was happy to share the beauty of the quilt his wife, Shirley Shenk, had created based on the design of her quilt garden.

Shirley wasn’t there, but inside the showroom, Dave generously shared many other astonishing quilts his wife had designed. My mouth hung open in amazement as he unfurled each one. I am not a quilter and I am not an artist and I am not a religious person, but I swear the divine is in those quilts—in workmanship, in artistry and in holiness.

Photographs cannot capture the color, the craftsmanship, the genius, the joy bursting from mere fabric. The quilts shimmer with vibrancy. I felt I was in the presence of something holy, pure and good.

Dave was equally delighted as he showed each quilt. He’s proud of his wife’s abilities, no doubt, but his appreciation and admiration of her gifts was a wonder in itself. It’s not just of Shirley’s skill, but also those of the women who piece and quilt and actually put the fabric together.

Shirley doesn’t build a quilt, she designs it. She selects the juxtaposition of colors and establishes the stitching design and figures out how much material will be needed to complete the quilt.

But it’s the very best of the best Amish and Mennonite sewers and quilters who complete the work.

“We’re very fussy,” says Dave about the workmanship that goes into making the quilts. They choose only master quilters to do the work, and thus, the back sides where the stitching is easily seen are as beautiful as the colorful top sides.

The quilts are works of art and the art world is where they are displayed and judged, although Shirley, a former elementary school teacher, had no formal training in art.

“She did what she loved and didn’t care what was in vogue,” said Dave.

Her work was shown to one of the top fashion coordinators in the country, known to be highly critical. He asked if she had gone to art school and upon learning she hadn’t, told her not to.

“You’re putting colors together that should not work, but they do,” he said.

Shirley also bucks tradition with her use of asymmetry and extending elements of her designs out of the usual boundaries. The resulting works of art are pure joy.

Little wonder that she’s known as one of the leading fiber artists in the country. I wonder if she could design a soft, quilted eye cover....

• Quilt Designs is located adjacent to the Old Bag Factory in Goshen, Ind., at  1100 Chicago Ave., less than a two-hour drive from Morenci. The shop also sells a variety of works from other artists as well as quilt related items such as jewelry and stationery. The design studio is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information about the Quilt Garden Tour, visit and click on “Quilt Gardens Along the Heritage Trail.” The tour continues until Oct. 1.

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