My last two weekends are a study in contrasts.

Last week, I went shooting with the hope of ironing out some details about how a character would handle a shot gun. With over 120 acres of targets and woods, shooting at a rural range, in an even more rural county introduced me to a new world.  All the men I met were friendly and eager to share their love of guns with me.  Apparently women almost never go shooting and the men love to see more of them. So, single ladies, get thee to a shooting range.

What you’ll find there (if you find a like the range I visited) is a small building in the center of the acreage. This one was a looked like a home with a sales counter installed in the living room. Behind the counter rows upon rows of rental guns and stacks of ammo waited to be chosen. A wood stove waited to one side, unused in the nearly unimaginable 70’ February day.  Across from it a normal home kitchen waited for any shooters that wanted to fix lunch.

I spent the day shooting at and occasionally hitting the clay targets. In an ironic twist, I do better at ‘rabbits’ – sporting clays that are released at ground level. The spinning disks hop and bounce as they roll across the field. As research went it was a bit more painful than I imagined. A twenty gauge shotgun packs a punch, and when you shoot 150 rounds, it feels  like 150 punches to your shoulder. I didn’t move my arm much the next day.

Seven days  later, I worked those same arm muscles in a different way. Twelve hours of quilting classes and hours walking the floor of the largest quilt show on the east coast. I started quilting in a room full of women when I was sixteen, amazed at finding a space that contained only females. Twenty years later not much has changed. A hundred women to each man, if not 200:1, the handful of men made the gender ratio the opposite of the shooting range.

While my time on the range was spent breaking things into tiny pieces, quilting concentrates on taking tiny pieces and making them into something greater. Even in this old tradition new techniques develop, like the wonderful dragon book quilt, with its strip of leather on one side, and the ‘negative space’ quilting.

dragon quilt
Oscar by Cathy Wiggins, Macon NC
detail of Oscar by Cathy Wiggins, Macon NC
detail of Oscar by Cathy Wiggins, Macon NC
dragon quilt close up 2
detail of Oscar by Cathy Wiggins, Macon NC

Outside the weather barely broke freezing and a major snowstorm loomed, inside this quilt transported me to the best time of year – Halloween:

Halloween quilt large
‘Halloween quilt’ by Nancy Doyle Williams

When I went shooting I was a stranger, welcomed, but not part of the group. The quilt show felt like my world, with Dr. Who t-shirts and Harry Potter scarves, a pair of steampunks wandering the show in corsets and piercings. There was even a nod to the burlesque scene:

Josephine: A Tribute to Josephine Baker by Katherine Wilson, District Heights, MD

Hot and cold, male dominated and female centered, creation and destruction, all in all, a fun pair of weekends.