Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

& her barefoot heart

Page 2 of 93

Envelopes 2, 4, and 6, Please

Block24DeborahMacKinnon copy

Envelope #2
is from Deborah L. J. Mackinnon
who hails from Washington.
Deborah writes:

I began my journey as an artist after retiring from a career in education.
My love of learning combined with a life long love of fabric.
Self-taught, I’m a member of Contemporary Quilt Arts.
My current project is a series of quilted artist’s books.
Additionally, I’m an active Rotarian and a joyful grandmother.
“Making visible the invisible” is what motivated me to create my block.
The red x’s are shadowed with black fabric pen
to symbolize the prejudice
that physically and mentally disabled individuals
still endure.

Thank you for initating this project.

Deborah L. J. Mackinnon

Thank you for participating in this project, Deborah.



Envelope #3 from Georgia contains
a block from Anonymous Maker 2
created in honor of Nancy Chambers


and a block from Anonymous Maker 3
writes “A very worthy project!”
and created this block
in honor of Nancy Chambers

Thank y’all for making these beautiful blocks
in honor of Nancy. They do her justice
in their vulnerability,
in what must surely look to some
like imperfections.
These blocks, like Nancy,
are beautiful
in their own unique way.


Block36DeniseGiardullo copy

Block37DeniseGiaroullo copy

Block38DeniseGiardullo copy

Envelope #6 contains blocks from
Denise Giardullo
who lives in New York.
Denise writes: “Thank you. I am happy to participate.”

Glad you’re a part of this, Denise. Thank you.


It’s fun to go in the post office
and come out with something besides bills.

And what of envelopes 3 and 5, you ask?
Stay tuned.

Perhaps you’d like to:
make some blocks
get blog posts delivered
join our facebook group
like our facebook page

Week 6 in Review


the 70273 project badge

In some ways it seems like I launched The 70273 Project  more than six weeks ago, in other ways, it seems like six minutes or six hours since I launched. From the very start, the response has been phenomenal. So much love has been stitched into the 83 blocks have I’ve received so far. I can feel it when I open the envelopes. I can feel it when I hold the blocks in my hands. I can scarce imagine how it will feel standing in the presence of these quilts.

Not too much to report this week because I’ve been out of pocket the entire week, staying at the side of Nancy, my disabled sister-in-law who’s been in the hospital. I can, however, tell you that I’ve added a translator to the blog – something I hadn’t thought of until a conversation with Chloe Grice who’d translated something into French to help get the word out in her neck of the world.

Terri Belford interviewed me for her Inspired Entrepreneurs series.  (Thank you for having me, Terri.)

I continue to catalogue the blocks and keep meticulous records.

Several more people have offered to piece and/or quilt. (Thank you.)

There are now 51 countries registered.

And there are all sorts of good things stirring behind the scenes.


To keep your finger on the pulse:

Make blocks.

Subscribe to the blog.

Join the Facebook group.

Like the Facebook page.

Spread the word by telling people, posting on social media, writing blog posts. Here’s a link to the introductory post, which is a good thing to include (just copy and paste) when posting about The 70273 Project:

Thank y’all for being a part of the project and helping others become a part, too.

Our Little Houdini


Hospital Room 534
Orange City, FL

Nancy is not as alert today as she was yesterday, though I think her tongue is receding in size. Tired of the catheter, she simply wiggles her way out of it, leaving it on the side of the bed. They decide to leave it out, and I am not sorry about that decision.

I  kick some serious ass today, and I feel really, really good about it. Boot one doctor, despite being told by many that it couldn’t be done. Put others on notice. Have an eyeball to eyeball with one particular nurse, and it goes so well that within 5 minutes of my little treatise about both of us being on Team Nancy, she was wheeling me in a reclining chair, pillow, and blanket. Without me asking.

Undoubtedly the best part (aside from booting the asshat doctor) . . .


Around 4 am I sit in my recliner, stitching. My feet are up and my chair is positioned about an arm’s length away, facing Nancy. In one sure and swift move that takes less than 90 seconds, our little Houdini wrestles her hands out of the protective mittens – without disturbing the velcro binding, mind you – and yanks that tube from her nose.

I fetch Nurse CeeCe who comes into the room and takes her position in one side of Nancy while I position myself on the other side.

“Did Jeanne do that?” CeeCe asks Nancy, giving a curt nod in my direction.

“Yes,” Nancy says, waiting a beat before busting out into a full body chortle. She laughs about once every 17 years, and let me tell you, the sound of her laugh spreads to those around her quicker than poison ivy on a hot day in a wrestling ring.

The three of us keep laughing, and every time we stop to catch our breath, I say “You pulled that tube out your own self, and you’re blaming it on me,” and the chortling starts all over again.

Three women, laughing their heads off at 4 o’clock in the morning. It is one of the sweetest moments of my life, one I will carry tucked into my heart forever. The sound of Nancy’s laughter is delightful in and of itself. And the cognitive connections she makes to enkindle that laughter – that astonishing element of surprise because sometimes I  don’t give her enough credit – well, wow.

Week 5 in Review

the 70273 project badge

We’re finishing our fifth week of The 70273  Project – can you believe it?

I’ve heard from 45 different countries.

I have 83 blocks in my hands, and we’ve been out of town for a week, so that number will change tomorrow when we go to the post office, and there are I don’t know how many people making 31 blocks in the 31 days of March.

We have a new Facebook Group that will serve as a campfire for The 70273 Project Tribe to gather round for show and tell, chat and cheer. And what’s to become of the Facebook Page, you ask? It will remain and serve as a bulletin board for folks who just want to drive by every now and then and see what’s happening.

I’m beginning to think about our first quilt, so if you or your quilt guild are interested in piecing the blocks into a quilt top and/or quilting, please let me know.

Last Monday I was downright tickled to tell Kimberly Brock’s Tinderbox Writers about The 70273 Project. What a dynamic group they are, and they didn’t just spout off people I need to talk to, they’re pushing up their sleeves and spreading the word.

I reserved a table for The 70273 Project at the upcoming World War II Heritage Days in Peachtree City, GA. Do you know of any other events coming up this spring and summer I should attend?

I’ve also emailed to ask if the local American Legion group would let me come tell them about The 70273 Project. Know any other groups that might be interested in hearing about The 70273 Project and making some blocks?

Case Hale had an open house block-making party scheduled for yesterday, 3/19/2016. I’ll share bits and photos as soon s I hear from her.

People continue to email and message and post good questions and ideas, and even though I can’t use every single one to them, I beg you: please don’t stop. The idea was pretty complete when it landed on my shoulder, but I’m always open.

Chloe Grice from Normandie, France, wrote me this morning that she’d translated something into French, and that’s when a lightbulb (finally) went off – the blog is in English. So I’m busy researching translation plug-ins and apps and will install something tomorrow. Why I didn’t think of that before, I can’t tell you. Thank goodness for Chloe!

She also asked where to send folks who are interested in The 70273 Project, as in what would be a good starting point. I told her to send them to the blog because that’s The Hub.

Sharon Huisingh Smith asked if it would save me some time if she sewed her blocks together before sending them to me. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Sharon, but I’d rather receive the loose blocks. Why? Because I’m cataloguing each block, one at a time, and because I want to spread the blocks out among several quilts. My plan is that when the quilts are complete, Makers can go to the web site, look up their name, find their block numbers, find what quilts their blocks are in, and see where in the world those quilts are. It’s a good thing my brain considers record keeping, documentation, and organizing as a playground. And yes, I’m busy researching and figuring out how to make that happen now so I don’t have to re-enter all the data a second time. Good idea, huh?

Speaking of spreading the blocks out among several quilts, my Good Idea of the Day (I seem to get them on Sundays, have you noticed?)  is that I’d like to have a block in each and every quilt – and since we anticipate more than 700 quilts,  my hands will be getting (and staying) busy. Soon.

That’s all I can think of right now. The Engineer and I got home this afternoon after a week away spent helping my daughter with some things, and on the way back up the mountain, we received notice that Nancy is in the hospital. No firm diagnosis yet, but they’re thinking pneumonia. That’s where my heart and head are right now, so if I’ve forgotten anything, I’ll let you know in a future post.

Have you liked the Facebook page?

Have you joined the Facebook group?

Have you followed the Pinterest board?

Have you subscribed to the blog?

Have you told 3 people about The 70273 Project?

Have I told y’all “Thank you” for being a part of The 70273 Project? I have now, and just so you know: I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

It’s a Family Affair


Laurie Dunn has been a vital and vibrant part of The 70273 Project
from the beginning – 2/14/2016.
On 2/22/2016, Laurie wrote:
“I made myself cardboard templates,
in each size so I would not have to measure each block
and they will fit in Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ plan.
So far I have just made the 6.5 x 9.5″ size.
(And I am surprised by how many red and white tools I have.)”


One day Laurie worked on a block while visiting her dad.
He asked what she was doing, and when she told him,
he sang a little song from his WW II days,
then told her “Wait here just a minute,”
and went to fetch a red ribbon from a box of candy.”
“Use this in one of your blocks,” he told her.

Laurie’s dad, who celebrated his 90th birthday in February,
joined the Navy when he was 17 years old,
fought in World War II,
then re-enlistd for the Korean War.

Laurie writes, “My dad was quite moved by The 70273 Project.
He said, ‘That is why we fought against Hitler.'”


This is Laurie’s not quite 3 year old granddaughter, Sophia
using a needle for the very first time,
putting about 6 stitches in this 6.5 x 9.5 block.
Laurie says Sophia did pretty good for her first time with a needle.


Meet Laurie’s 3 busy grandsons, ages 3, 5, and 7.
“These active boys stitched for over an hour this afternoon,” Laurie writes,
“surprising me with their ability and interest in helping with sewing.
Even the 3 year old wanted to do it himself.
I prepared the blocks for them yesterday,
and used that iron on fusible web to hold the XXs.
I was even able to stitch a couple of blocks myself while they worked.”


And last but not least, let’s welcome Laurie’s husband
to The 70273 Project.
“I got my material out. Cut 8 blocks to start.
Thought I would try using a couple of hoops,” Laurie says.
“My husband smiled and said ‘Got your blocks cut?’
I threaded a needle and handed it to him with one of the hoops,
and here he is stitching his block.”
Then our Laurie and her husband laid down a challenge:
“How many blocks is The Engineer going to make?”
(Update to follow, Laurie!)


Would you just look at this beautiful woven block
created by Laurie.
Laurie works at Martha Lloyd Community Services.
And if you visit their web site,
the first words you’ll see are these:
“Where Families Matter”.
Poke around a bit, and you’ll see philosophies
that align with mine . . . with ours . . .
and photos of some of the happiest faces you’ve ever seen.
It’s now officially on My List:
I’m going to visit the Martha Lloyd Community Services one day soon,
if they’ll have me,
and I’m gonna’ make sure it’s a day when Laurie is there.


Have you made your block yet?

Have you like The 70273 Project Facebook page
(a.k.a. bulletin board)
to receive the occasional quick updates?

Have you joined our brand new The 70273 Project Facebook group
to gather round the campfire
and take part in the community?

Have you subscribed to the blog
to receive The 70273 Project stories?

In Our Own Language 16


Usually Nancy (my disabled sister-in-law) draws,
and I stitch her drawings,

but this time we laid the crayons down
and played with bits from my scrap bag.

Nancy placed the bits of fabric on fusible sheets,
and I took it from there


stitching in the car . . .


and under Adonis . . .


and under Mr. God (dog, in reverse) . . .


and under Dante.

It’s obviously a hit with the felines,
and Nancy seems to like it, too.

A Block Making Party with Kimberly Brock and the Tinderbox Writers


Kimberly Brock, author of The River Witch
and a real dynamo creative kind of gal,
invited me to yesterday’s gathering
of The Tinderbox Writing Group,
and guess what we did – that’s right!
We made blocks for The 70273 Project.


MariAnn Stefanelli, a kickass editor
and founder of The Writer’s High Retreat,
put a tear at the bottom of one of her X’s.


Kimberly Brock found it hard to smile
when holding her block.
She made her two red X’s from scraps
that she cobbled together in a
deliberately clumsy way,
saying this is how the doctors’
hearts – at least some of them –
must have felt:
shaky, uneasy, reluctant.
Surely, she said, some of the doctors
went along with the program,
fearing what might happen to their families
if they didn’t.


Karen Filos made a vertical block.
And those flyers in her lap?
She’s got ideas of places she can post those!


Janice Foy, who is surely wearing green this week
the perfect color to go with her beautiful Irish accent,
made two blocks.


Samantha Kendig left space between her
two red X’s, space where a third red X
could have gone . . . but didn’t.


I can’t wait to tell you more about the narrative clay
Pam Arena creates, and I will, too, cause she has an exhibit
opening next month, and I will be there!
I can’t wait to see her flowers that express
her love for her mother
and her grief following her mother’s death.
Yesterday she took her hands out of the clay
to make a block for The 70273 Project,
and I couldn’t be happier about that.




These women are amazingly creative,
their stories enthralled and inspired me.
And as if all that isn’g enough,
they all have people they’re going to contact
to let them know about The 70273 Project.
What a grand way to kick off a week.


And as if all that isn’t enough,
when The Engineer fetched me afterwards,
he came bearing gifts.
“It’s the biggest 4-leaf clover I’ve ever found for you.”
He’s a keeper, that one.


Want me to come to your block making group?
Let me know – we might just be able to make that happen.
Want to keep up with goings-on?
It’s free and easy to subscribe.
Want to become a part of The 70273 Project?
Maybe you want to start by liking our Facebook page
then making some blocks.

The 70273 Project: Week 4 Recap


Blocks made by Barbara Atwell

Week 4. Can you believe it?

We’re still at 41 countries, and we’ve had many more people from those countries become a part of The 70273 Project.

I have 76 blocks in my hand, and I don’t know how many people are in the 31 Blocks in 31 Days Event, so at the beginning of next month when the mail starts coming in, we should see a significant climb on our goal graph.

The 70273 Project Facebook page is currently at 339 likes, so if everybody would invite 1-3  friends every day (or just go through your Facebook friends list and invite everybody at once), that number will climb at a nice clip.

Four women have raised their hand to quilt, when we get to that point.

Three women have raised their hands to piece tops together.

We continue to grow in participants, in blocks, in worldwide enthusiasm.

I spend tomorrow morning with Kimberly Brock, author of The River Witch,  and her Tinderbox Writers Workshop. We’ll talk about The 70273 Project, and I’m taking everything we need to make some blocks.

I reworked the “elevator speech” for The 70273 Project last week: The 70273 Project commemorates the 70273 physically and mentally disabled people murdered by the German Nazis and celebrates the physically and mentally challenge people who live among us today.

Oh, and I had another idea: I think that when the quilts are all finished, we need to hold The 70273 Project Bon Voyage Gathering. We’ll huddle up at the same time in the same place to have the first look at the quilts, meet each other, take a lot of photos, and spend some quiet time to remember the souls we commemorate and celebrate the souls we know and love today.

Thank y’all for being a part of The 70273 Project.

And on we grow . . .

Pop Quiz (but You Get to Check Your Own Paper)


More blocks created by Kitty Sorgen

The bad news: Today we’re having a pop quiz on The 70273 Project. Even if you’re already making blocks, even if you’ve already sent blocks, even if you’re already scheduled to speak to a group – however involved you are with this project, you need to take this test. It’s really important to the success of this project.
The good news: You get to check your own paper.

Q: True or False: This is a project with only a few rules/guidelines.
A: True, and here are the few Very Important guidelines.
~ White – just white, though it can be white-on-white fabric, but nothing else – blocks of fabric cut in one of 3 sizes: 3.5×6.5″ or 6.5 x 9.5″ or 9.5 x 12.5″
~ Two – and only two, no more and no less – red X’s laid down on the white fabric
~ Download, print, complete, and use a safety pin to attach the Provenance Form to the blocks, then mail.
~ Email photos (at least 300 dpi resolution, please) and a short bio or a story about why you’ve become a part of this project.

Q: Why does the base have to be white?
A: The white (and it can be white on white prints, it just can’t have anything else on it) represents the paper – the medical records – of the physically and mentally disabled people. The German Nazi doctors were not required to ever so much as lay eyes on the people, just to read their medical records. This is significant.

Q: Why two red X’s?
A: When two of the three German Nazi doctors placed a red X at the bottom of any medical record, the disabled person was rounded up and murdered, often within a few hours. The two red X’s represent the death sentence. This, too, is significant.

Q: I want to stitch more than two red X’s – maybe lay down one big red X then fill the white block with lots of smaller red X’s. Is that okay? It’d be so much cuter, really.
A: Well, um, no. The white needs to remain white – just white – and each white block needs to bear two red X’s. That’s all.
Q: Why?
A: Because when the idea initially came to whisper in my ear, this is the image it brought to show me: 70,273 white blocks with 2 red X’s. The visual impact of 70,273 quilt blocks made of a white base with 2 red X’s is nothing short of powerful – powerful, I tell you – because each block commemorates one of the 70,273 disabled people who were murdered.

Q: How can I be creative with such limitations?
A: Actually, creativity blossoms within boundaries. Get as creative as you want with the two red X’s – that’s wonderful, actually, because no two blocks will be exactly the same, just as no two of these murdered people were exactly the same. And while the two red X’s vary, the white background remains the same  – just white – and that’s significant, too, because these people were not seen as human beings, just a piece of paper bearing their name. You might want to click right this way to get some kindling by looking over the shoulder of some very creative folks to see how they’re making their two red X’s.

Q: I’m gonna’ stitch the name of a student or a friend or a family member who has physical or mental disabilities. M’kay?
A: Well, remember: we want to maximize the visual impact of an unadorned white base with 2 red X’s. Stitching names or words, to use a theatre phrase, pulls focus. I really don’t want people getting distracted by trying to read what the stitching says. Susan Graham and I did hatch a way to include the names of loved ones and remain true to the initial vision. Susan taught special needs children, and several of them claimed a spot on her heart, and she wanted to honor them somehow, so she cut the white base, laid down the two red X’s, then, using a fabric marker, wrote the student’s name behind the red X so that it’s a permanent part of the block but not visible from the front.

There’s also a place on the Provenance Form to tell me that you made the block in honor or in memory of someone. You can give their name, and if you want me to send them a note alerting them to your block, you can give me their address. Provided you don’t request that they remain anonymous, these names will be mentioned on the quilt blocks that will forever accompany each quilt, and to the extend possible, they will be mentioned in exhibit literature that will accompany the quilts. If anonymity isn’t request, they will also be celebrated on the blog.

Me, I’m availing myself of all those options to celebrate my disabled sister-in-love Nancy.

Q: Look, I’m just gonna’ send you a block and you can cut it down to the size you want. How ’bout that?
A: I’m begging you to cut blocks to one of the three sizes – 3.5×6.5: or 6.5×9.5″ or 9.5×12.5″ – before sending. Imagine one woman coordinating this on project top of an already full life. Blocks come in, and I catalogue them in the database, feature them on the blog, keep the facebook page humming, respond to the numerous emails and comments and tweets that come in throughout the day, find ways to get the word out, and look ahead to other things that will need tending. Then think of one woman doing all that PLUS cutting 70,273 blocks to size. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask of me when you think that you’re just one person sending a few blocks that need cutting, but remember that there are actually going to be 70,273 blocks, and imagine doing everything that has to be done and cutting that many blocks to size.

Q: How ’bout I put one red X on each of my blocks and you can stitch them together?
A: I refer you to the above answer and beg you to think how much time it might take to stitch 70,273 blocks together. Remember, there 70,273 of you and one of me. That’s the kind of math that can break a person’s back;)

Q: Why do you want us to mail you our basic info and email you the photo and bio?
A: It already takes several minutes to enter all the basic information into the computer for each block. Imagine, if you will, me scanning 70,273 photos and retyping 70,273 bios. Then there’s the whole handwriting thing to consider.

Q: Why do I have to use a safety pin? Why can’t I just staple my Provenance Form to my block?
A: I ask for the safety pin for several reasons. For one, a safety pin is much quicker and easier to remove than a staple. (Let’s review: one minute times 70,273 equals a lot of time.) Then there’s the fact that I have to find safety pins to replace each staple.

Q: Why are there only three sizes?
A: One: visual impact. Two: It’s the way The Idea wants it. Three: These sizes will fit together nicely to make quilt tops.

Q: How many quilts will there be?
A: It’s hard to say at this point because we don’t know how many blocks of each size we will have, so we don’t have all the info we need to do the math. But The Engineer (my husband) calculates we’ll wind up with at least 700 quilts.

Q: Are you going to quilt them all yourself?
A: Bahahahahaha, no. Pretty soon, I’m gonna’ be asking folks to raise their hand if their their quilt guild are willing to do the quilting. And know this: it’s never too soon to raise your hand for that. Just sayin’.

Q: What will you do with the quilts?
A: The quilts will be sent around and to the far corners of the world to commemorate the 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people who were murdered and to celebrate the countless numbers of physically and mentally challenged people who live among us today.

Q: There’s a lot going on with this good project. Do you post the same thing everywhere? How can I keep up?
A: My brain now jiggles more than it juggles, so no, I don’t post the same thing everywhere cause I can’t remember what I posted where. To keep up, you might want to like the Facebook page, send me a friend request on Facebook, follow The 70273 Project pinterest board, subscribe to the blog, follow me on twitter and/or look for #The70273Project or #70273.

Q: Why do you always put a link to the introductory post somewhere in each blog post about The 70273 Project? I’m kinda’ tired of reading it, myself.
A: I do it because (a) my son tells me I need to and (b) new people are stopping by all the time, and because they’re kinda’ starting in the middle, I like to let them know what we’re doing here. As for re-reading it, try this: let your cursor hover over the words The 70273 Project when you can tell there’s a link there, and if you see a link with the word “introducing” in it, you’ve already read the post. Better?

Q: What if I have another question or an idea?
A: You just holler.

Thank y’all for being a part of this project, for following the guidelines, and for helping spread the word. And pretty please keep those blocks and stories coming.


Wordless Whispers


In the midst of block for The 70273 Project, a box lands
with a return address from Mary Ellington.
It is filled not with blocks,
but with baby dresses


and baby bonnets

and a special occasion baby’s bib.


There are two adult garments
that motivate me to stick to my diet and exercise
so that i can wear them as dusters one day soon.


“i know you’ll do something magical with them,”
her note says.


i have no image in mind yet,


but the tender clothes
already whisper to me
and oh the stories


their vulnerable lace

and tender tucks

and age-old stains
long to tell.


Thank you, Mary, for honoring me
with these special, delicate items,
for trusting me
to hear, transcribe, and share
their stories.

Maybe you want to hear their stories
and watch as their personal histories unfold?
And maybe you want to keep your finger on the pulse
of The 70273 Project?
Here’s one way to do just that.

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