Posted by: ktzefr | April 14, 2010

Weekend in Kentucky: Redbuds, Quilts, and Books!

Redbuds and Blue Skies

What a great weekend!  Two days before my Kentucky trip the redbud trees were sleeping.  Everyone was disappointed…a year’s worth of work to put on a festival and the trees were not cooperating.  So I was surprised when I drove across the mountain from the Knoxville airport and saw redbuds blooming everywhere!  Overnight…just in time.  A mix of purple-pink against the evergreens and blue skies.  The weather stayed beautiful — midday sun, morning fog, black sky nights with a million stars.

One of the vignettes in my book, To Come and Go Like Magic, describes early morning in this part of the country: “Light seeps in through the tree branches and melts the fog and moves like a ghost through the valley.”  So, I was pleased to see that some things never change — those otherworldly Appalachian mornings. (Double click to enlarge — otherwise you might not see what I’m talking about!)

Appalachian hills lost in river fog...

Mountaintop floating in sunlight...

I was whisked away before my feet could barely touch the ground — to dinner at La Esperanza (the local Mexican restaurant is no big-city Tex-Mex operation; the cooks here whip it up homestyle the way their own madres cook back in the high chaparral — good eats!), to meet-and-greet, a visit to the local middle school, a reading with the honors students at Union College, tours and interviews and receptions and book-signings.  It was great fun meeting old friends and making new ones.

The Artzy Twins: Lauren and Kristen Pedersen

Lauren and Kristen helped make this quilt in last summer’s art camp at the college.  More than 60 local children participated, crafting stories based on their experiences with quilts and quilt-making.  They learned to make Yo-Yo quilts, a technique based on 1920s to 1940s quilt design.  They designed their own patterns, carved in styrofoam, and did block printing on fabric squares.  What a great idea…and beautiful work!

A huge thanks to Diana Mills who took me here, there, and everywhere, made sure I was well-fed, and never stopped smiling…to Melissa Newman, Meghann Gaunt Chestnut, and Brenna Wallhauser who found fun things for me to do…to Dr. J.D. Smith who invited me to read and provided a wonderful group of listeners…to his students from the honors community, especially Morgan Baker, Nicole Jeck, and Jessica Burke (who selected the vignettes she wanted me to read and made my job easy!)…and to Dr. Smith and his wife Sharee St. Louis Smith for the nice reception and that wonderful little elephant-in-a-rocking-chair, which traveled 500+ miles to move from their mantel to mine.



  1. Sounds like an amazing and rewarding trip! Looking forward to you signing my copy of your book at Artisans on Saturday!

  2. Katie: Thanks much for the excellent reading (and stories about our town) and for giving the rocking elephant a good home in (or near) the big city.

    Give us a shout before you come back to Barbourville next time. You’ve got quite a fan club developing among the students and faculty here at Union College.

    • I had a great time and will certainly be back!

  3. Great…see you then.

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