Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Surprise! Surprise! I'm Still Alive!

Hello everybody! Just when you thought it was safe, I am back. Thanks to everyone who has emailed, asked about handmaiden in classes and called to see how things were going. It has been a busy summer. I haven't been making quilts but have been teaching tons. I also got to spend time with most of the family.

Pictured above from l to r: Jace, Gaia, Jene and Jayden. Gaia is Craig's daughter; the rest of the gang belong to the happy couple below,
Chris and Jillaine. Gaia and I drove to San Antonio to spend a week with another Swain family. We stayed up late, went shopping, painted did I get wrangled into that?

Here I am with the gang. Of course, we are eating. What else would I be doing?

Other points of interest: I found a way to get some time off from a retired husband. Y'all will get a kick out of this one. I stared playing poker. Yep, you got it. NoLimit Texas Holdem.....what fun. Like most people my age, my parents taught me to play cards when I was a child. Gin rummy, 5 card draw, later canasta; in college, hearts and spades, penny ante poker and finally bridge. Sooo, it isn't surprising that I would love poker. Plus it gets me out of the house anytime I want.

Am I giving up quilting to play poker? Hmm, probably not but for now since I am traveling so much, all my creative energy is going to the tables.

Off to California Monday.....hope you had a great summer!
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The "Top of the World, Ma" List

Okay, having dated myself by quoting a James Cagney gangster's a partial list of things to do from my beady, little mind.

If I was on top of the world:

No one would be hungry. There would be food for everyone on the planet.

No one would be thirsty. Clean, pure water would be available from the smallest village to the largest city.

No one would be homeless....self-explanatory.

Now that the big problems are solved....on to smaller things.

Age would be respected...youth is truly wasted on the young.

There would enough hours in the day to do what you want.

Work would be something you do not who you are....and we would do less of it. Time away from work would be just as important as time at work.

No one would be judged by the house they live in, the car they own or how much money they have....but instead by "the content of their character." Thank you Dr. King.

Literature, theatre, art and science would be just as important to society as making money.

There would be 90% less marketing and 100% better products.

The FDA would actually regulate something....strange idea, no?

The EPA would actually do something to stop and clean up the environment.

Our national budget wouldn't be in the red without someone correcting it. Does your bank allow you to over draft billions of dollars? Not that a good shopping trip wouldn't be fun.

On a more personal note:

Sweet Ronnie would be Mr. Fix-It. In my dreams...

My house would magically clean itself. Imagine, some sort of "Bewitched" trick, where you wiggle your nose and the house is all shiny.

Busby would not shed long, white hair on every surface. Found a cat hair on the microwave yesterday...eeuoow.

I could eat anything I want and not gain a pound. Oh, to be a teenager again!

That's partial list...pretty radical....or except for the personal things, fairly sane? What do you think?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Out with the Red and in with the Old

Taking a bold move yesterday, the best colorist in the world, Tanya of Toni and Guy fame, decided that my choice to go back closer to the natural color of my hair was a good thing. After all, change is the only constant. Also, it would be interesting to see just how gray I am.

Certainly there is still some red on the tips, but look at the roots (shown below) and note how brown they are. Tanya is aided by another of my favorite people in the whole world, Belinda, the only stylist who touches my hair. After a new color and a great cut, I fell like a new woman.

Now where is Jack, the personal trainer, when you need him? Too bad, that Toni and Guy doesn't have exercise equipment in the salon. What a concept!

Personal aside: Karoda got it right....also an email from Jan S.....the cliche is Home is Where the Heart Is. I am working on the big "o" and partial big "h" now....still more to come. Thanks ladies!

Also to RealMe....thanks you for the kind words in your comments. I tried to find you and your blog but couldn't get there. My apologies for taking so long to thank you.

Back to work! Son Craig, my resident computer guru, is coming over on Mother's Day to get me out of a jam again. Note that he is not coming to lavish me with gifts for being his mom, but because I am in a desperate situation.....the "can't figure out this @#$% program, why won't this blasted computer just do what is in my head" situation. So glad he was really, love him to little pieces and don't know what I would do without him.

Here's to all my sons and their ladies who are mom's. Thanks for being a part of our family. Wish I got to see more of you.
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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Warning! Woman at Work

Spent the better part of the week in the studio...see results above and below. Started on Monday with enlarging the first of the designs for the cliche series...the thing with the hearts and the big "m." Started to work on it that day and have results.

This is a very different series for me but will lead to some more abstract letter forms soon. As a former calligrapher and a lover of all things pen and paper since childhood, this seems a natural progression. I love the lines of letters and the brushstrokes of calligraphy....sigh! To me they are the purest form of language....communication as art.

While I have been searching for the next image that interests me, I have done tons of photography and painted numerable that a word? Of course, as always, the next thing is something you have always loved. You just have to get out of the way so that the message comes through your "little grey cells."

While the "big m" piece may mean nothing to you now, when it is finished I will reveal the cliche....all will be revealed. Or if the title happens to be obvious, let me know. Then I would know the idea is working.

The below photograph is a background I am piecing for the "re-do" of Last Leaf. No I am not in my blue period but searching for enough fabric to do a winter palette. My faithful Viking #1 had to visit hospital while I was gone but is now home resting in place. Fully recovered and ready to go to work.

I would sew today as well, but editing calls. Amazing how an attitude change can also change your energy. I am either going full tilt or not moving at all. Learning to love both states is the hardest thing for a creative person but they are both valuable if you honor them.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Quiltmaking as Art/ Home from Paducah

Finally near the camera cables to post a few of the snaps from Paducah. Please note no quilts....again out of respect for the quilt makers. All of the photos are published in a great catalog from AQS if you would like to see who was in the show.

Being in Paducah was truly an experience of renewal for me. Coming home is good especially if you come home with a great sense of renewal and appreciation for quiltmaking as an art. Truly, it doesn't matter what style, traditional or non-traditional, each quilt carried with it the spirit of the quiltmaker.

We are so lucky to have textiles as an art form. Long associated with women and utilitarian needs, quilts have not just come into their own.....they have always been an artistic expression for women. Now artist in other media are turning to textiles to express their artistic needs and images.

So no matter how you work, bless those who started our tradition and those who are still carrying that tradition into the future.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thoughts on New Rules.....Technique vs. Style

Diane D, asked in a comment on the New Rules post how judging categories based on technique instead of style would effect the judges task. Thanks, Diane, great question.

For myself only, it is good news since I hand quilt. Having said that, there are a few categories that are already judged in this same way. Group quilts and mixed techniques categories both include a variety of styles from traditional to non- traditional. Also currently in pieced and appliqued categories at the AQS show there is no separation of traditional and contemporary styles.

Only the small wall quilts were divided in Traditional and Non-Traditional categories. answer Diane's question: The judges have already been faced with making decisions in very much the same way as they will have to make next year.

From a judges perspective, the cream always rises to the top. A great quilt stops you in your tracks from the very beginning. Visual impact is so important. The next step is there attention to detail, is the quilt well made, regardless of technique?

Letting things shake out and waiting to see what happens.....all comments are welcome.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Rules

This is the year of new rules for both Houston and Paducah. If you are in Paducah, you can pick up the entry form and see for yourself. For those of you who will have to wait, here is a brief synposis.

Large Quilts (called the Bed Quilt Category

1. Hand Quilted
2. Home Sewing Machine quilted
3. Long Arm Machine Quilted
4. First Entry in AQS show...not necessarily your first quilt, just the first time you have entered....any technique
5. Group....any technique by three or more people

Handmade Quilts any technique, pieced or appliqued but the qilt top must be stitched by hand. Long seams, binding and backing may be stitched by machine.

Large Wall Quilts

Same as above with the addition of a Pictorial category...any technique

Small Wall Quilts

Same as above with the addition of Pictorial

Young Designer Quilts

any technique in unique interpretation, open to ages 18 to 35

Miniature Quilts

any technique max size 24" w; 24" l....all aspects of quilt are in reduced scale

Libby Lehman, Mary Sorensen, Yvonne Porcella

January 5 postmark deadline. All entries must be on cd rom

That's it in a nutshell. Complete rules and forms can be received from www.AmericanQuilter. com or by writing to AQS, P. O. Box 3290, Paducah, KY 42002.

Get those needles flying.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On Being in Paducah

This is a picture-free post since I left my camera cables sitting just where they belong on my desk at home. Having said that, being in Paducah is such a treat. Life is definitely slower here than at home. Almost nothing open downtown on Sunday....not to be deterred, Donna Wilder and I found a great restaurant yesterday. A full bar and good steaks and salads. Ahhh!

The judging went well. Finished yesterday around 3 pm. No information will be revealed. Why spoil the party! Also there will be no pictures of the winners on this beloved blog since I don't have permission from the owners.

Seriously folks, this is an issue. Yes, we all love to see great quilts and blogs are good visuals can you in good faith not honor some other artist's copyright? A good subject for a longer post.

Moving on....another day....looking forward to seeing old friends and enjoying a smaller town atmosphere. While Paducah isn't exactly a small town, it has managed to maintain the small town hospitality. If you are a quilt maker or even just a lover of quilts and you are in town during quilt show week, you can get away with just about anything. The entire town has on its "we love you" duds.

The Schroeders run a hands on affair. The staff at the publishing company is working the show. All the family members are doing a task....with grace, patience and attention to your needs.

My bf, Barbara, had made reservations at our usual hotel. When I arrived on Friday from Nashville, Libby Lehman took me to the said hotel. Oops! The reservations were wrong...not for the correct dates. Therefore, no room at the inn. Immediate panic. The weekend before the quilt show and no hotel room....not a good way to start the trip. On the cell phone to Cathy Dodson, handler of all things teacher,
"Hi Cathy. Gabrielle room at the inn. Can you get me in at the Executive Inn....please....small catch in the voice....slobber, slobber." Five seconds later...."Call me when you get checked in. There is a room waiting for you." Praising her to the high heavens....shouts of glee.

So you get what I can get away with almost anything. Doesn't hurt that the judging started the next morning at 8:30 am.

Friday, April 11, 2008

After the Storm

North Central Texas in spring and early summer can be a rather lively place. Not that many other states aren't in the same weather pattern. This week we have been in the path of the cool air meeting the warm air.....perfect conditions for the dreaded Severe Thunderstorms. The winds really take their toll. The leaf above was blasted onto our front porch. Since the leaf was wet from the rain, it stuck to the least, until it dried out.

The neighbor down the street lost part of the tree in their front yard.

All the sidewalks and streets were covered in debris. We even found two crab apples in the driveway....with not a tree in sight. There is no telling how far they had to travel in the wind to get to us. Two hours west, in Breckenridge, a tornado managed to touch down. Taking away several homes but, fortunately only injuring 5 people. That doesn't count how much was lost due to other winds and loss of power.

We were luck only some shingles were sticky straight up off the rood. Sweet Ronnie climbed on top of the house and repaired them. No photo, as you might well expect. I was forbidden to get near him with a camera. So spring is here....along with the American Airlines debacle.

This isn't building confidence. Recalling all the times, having flown American lots, that my plane was an MD 80 or Super case you didn't realize...they have grounded almost the entire fleet due to bad wiring. Excuse me....ahem...don't y'all do regular maintenance? Thanks guys for all the great regulation of safety on the airlines. Oh, let's see and you gave them all this money to save them and the airlines still want to be bailed out? Oops!
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Allergy Season...Or When Your Body Revolts

For a few weeks I have been noticing the onslaught of pollen...feeling tired...sleeping late...and of course, the muddled brain. Ya know what I mean. You think you are clear headed and then you do something totally whacko. My Saturday in the studio being a fine example. Everything I touched went splat. However, at the time of touching, they all seemed like good ideas.

Please note the ginormus bags under my eyes. Yikes! These aren't bags...they are an entire set of luggage. Thought about dumping my head into a sink full of ice. Brr...shiver...only to realize that Sweet Ronnie is the only person on the planet who is going to be subjected to this view.

Much to my surprise I photographed this debacle and posted it to you. Again an error in thinking. While I never suffer enough to take any of the much televised medications, a few weeks in March or April are not a pretty sight. Although I do love the high cheekbones, that gaunt look that makes you appear thinner than you really are. Or could that just be a syndrome of "old?"

Today the mission is to stay away from sharp objects, don't speak until thinking, and don't start a major project. Pearls of wisdom during allergy season.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Better Living Through Drawing

Quickly an update on "Last Leaf"...yesterday was so frustrating. Almost fell into the trap of too much color yet again. Finally woke up to simplicity and chose three fabrics. Darkest for background, medium to do the line work in the background and lightest for leaves.

This gorgeous sateen, hand-dyed by my bf Barbara, is just to gorgeous. Great color change....lots of places to cut for leaves.

Busby was exhausted by the time the decision was made.

Woke up this morning firmly convinced that yesterday's disaster was due to my lack of working with fabric. Since I took a sabbatical from quilt making, I have been painting and manipulating photographs in Photoshop. Easy to forget how one has to think for applique.

To solve the dilemma, today was spent drawing with applique in mind. Sorry no pictures just yet....but it was a good day. Last week, my creativity students were posed with the exercise to re-tell a myth. A story we are all familiar with but told in a new way. Think "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" An amazing job of re-telling the story of Ulysses.

With that still in my mind, and drawing on past experience as a calligrapher, I created the first set of sketches in "The Cliche" series. Taking only one word from a cliche and using it as the centerpiece of a design, I managed to get four solid sketches done. The big reveal will come later...when I actually get some work done.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Thankful for Do-overs

Some faithful readers might remember "Last Leaf" shown above. This was the quilt that I slaughtered with color. Way too much color. What was I thinking? Or better yet was I thinking at all? Occasionally, in your quilt making career you will do something so off that you surprise yourself. So be thankful for do-overs. Thank you quilting gods.

So I woke up early this morning with do-over on my mind. I truly like the design ergo the problem has to be in execution. Operator error...fatal error...are you sure you want to do this? I started pulling fabrics only to discover that you can own all the fabric in the world and still not have the one you need. Sigh! Sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Two possibilities finally presented after much digging. Leaving them on the cutting table to see what strikes me and hopefully after more digging finding something else that works. The idea of slightly monochromatic as in the first photo is very appealing....but then again the green next to the rust would be kinda good leaves. Not a problem to figure out just a choice to be made.

Also, a big thanks to everyone who commented on my "Is Blogging Dead?" post. Thank you all for some food for thought and insightful comments. Check the blogs of the ladies who responded...great work.
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spring, Summer, Fall...What Season Is it?

The joys of having an established garden are amazing. Stuff that was planted last year is blooming and thriving. However, there are some plants that shouldn't be. Behind the ground cover are got it. Fall mums with buds on them. Summer temps in Texas are bound to fry them to a golden crispy texture. They have no idea the fate that awaits them. Poor babies.

They are happily growing beside the Snap Dragons that have already bloomed. There are several more Snaps full of buds and about to bloom. This precocious darling decided to get a head start on the show. It has been blooming for about two weeks.

And, of course don't forget the garden favorite...dandelion. Fighting a losing battle with these invading, maurading suckers.
But, I ask you what is going on? Mums, Snaps and snow in March. Texas has weird question. My garden is testament to that fact. Could something more be at play? Could it be a change in the climate? Could the scientist and Al Gore be correct? The last thing Texas needs is more warm weather. You will hear me moaning when summer arrives.

But will summer arrive? For the mums sake, it would be great if we had a mild summer....for the planet? Owwie, my head hurts just thinking about all the consequences.
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Monday, March 31, 2008

Is Blogging Dead?

Okay, I admit the title is ironic since I am sitting here blogging....but let's ponder this for a moment. Everyone is one the internet....YouTube, Blogger, WordPress and too many other places to name. Handmaiden used to get lots of comments; now very few. In part, this is due to my sporadic posting. On the other hand, many of my favorites aren't getting many comments either.

Have we saturated the market? If you are working at any job, do you have time to read multiple sites? The Art Quilters' Web Ring is enormous. This ring is only one of many....there are knitters, embellishers, collage artist,creativity coaches, and whatever you heart desires. But who is reading all these posts?

And if you are reading the posts, how are you getting anything else done? Do you read blogs at night as a form of entertainment? What is going on?

My conclusion, albeit, very biased is that we simply don't have time to do everything. This conclusion is based on my own recent lack of productive. Reading, tv, the computer, NetFlix....all great forms of avoidance. Just ask...there are millions of ways to avoid getting the work done.

There is a deeper question. Have we substituted virtual, digital communication for personal communication? Can you really say what you want to from afar? Possibly I am over thinking this. Nahhhhh, how could that be?

If you want to talk with someone, why don't you just call them instead of texting...blogging....whatever? Good question. You can reach a broader audience with blogging. The texting thing I still don't get. Sorry, my age is showing. The real question is about how we use our time and methods of communicating.

Having posed the question, I will still blog....but the question remains.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why White? Why Long?

After appearing in several dvd's, Busby has acquired a rather large fan club. Many people ask after him when I am traveling and teaching. While I don't want to give him a more massive ego than he already has, I do share their best wishes with him. All that being said I still cannot abide the amount of white hair he disperses around the house.

We don't have dust bunnies. We have Busby bunnies. On any given day I can collect enough hair to stuff a decent pillow. We often wonder why he isn't bald. As you can see he is still as curious as a kitten. His age is a mystery but we can guess. Our son Chris saved Busy from a fate worse than losing one of his 9 lives. He was still a very small kitten and living with a family that had a toddler.

Busby's name back then was "not a toy." Ya see, the afore-mentioned toddler had the habit of carrying Busby around by the throat.....thus "not a toy." Busby suffered this treatment but has henceforth sworn off small children. Just ask out gandkidlets who would love to hug him. Our youngest son Thomas is certain that Busby was the runt of the litter. Busby takes umbrage at that thought. Ronnie and I know better. He was deprived of oxygen at an early age.

For all his cuteness, Busby is as dumb as a fence post. He is surviving on good looks alone. Knowing that there is a camera around usually sends him into posing mode, but today wanting to be coy he turned away almost every time the camera was out. For all the complaining about long white cat hair in the air, on the furniture, dotting the carpet with patterning, Busby knows he is a film star.

He also knows I won't dispose of him because I would have to explain to his public. Oh, the vagaries of having a famous cat with long, white hair.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

The Still Life Around the House

The creative spark class is still going strong. We have covered tons of information and they have done some amazing work. One of the assignments that I gave them was to set up a still life, with or without shadows to help develop composition skills. The great thing about this exercise is it makes you appreciate all the art teachers who set up those stil life compositions for you and artists who work in still life.

The only restriction was that you had to use things from around the house. You couldn't go out and buy anything to put into the still life. In the tradition of Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh and numerous others, painting what you had because you were to poor to afford a model.

I promised I would set up a few compositions and photograph the results for them. Excuse the dust...remember not a critical part of how I spend my time. Oddly enough, I didn't set up anything. I just walked into the living room, office and studio and cranked off a few shots. So here's the question....after you learn something about composition, does it invade your life?

Looking around the house was a real treat, every spot I looked at had something set up in a pleasing composition. Promise, I didn't take the time to compose anything...just photographed it like it was. While two of the compositions are more complicated, they all work for me. Check out your home using the elements of composition. I would bet even money that you have done some composing as well.

Thanks to everyone who commented about your retired husbands. What a hoot! Great stories! Peruse the comments on that post if you have a chance. I knew I wasn't alone, but truly feel in great company. One of my students and I were discussing this week that after you get married you lose the being "In love" during the first year. Then you get about the business of being is still there just different.

Don't you wish you could teach your children that..."Teach your children well." Graham Nash

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Tips on Coping with a Retired Husband

Sweet Ronnie's World

I hope everyone had a delightful Easter. Since all our brood was otherwise engaged with family or friends, we spent a quiet weekend with
each other. My only error was going to the grocery store on Saturday...thinking the shopping would already be done and the marauding hoards would be at home. Bad planning on my part. You know you have made a mistake the minute you hit the parking lot. The thrill of it all was that the shoppers were so grim. I get it...Easter is a short holiday with lots to do and no time...but honestly, there were no smiling faces except for the workers. They were delighted that the overpriced good were moving out of the store faster than a dog can trot.

At this time of reflection and grimness, I took a good look at what has been going on since Ronnie retired....since we had to spend the entire weekend with
each other. Don't get the wrong idea...I love my husband very much...not just every single day of the world...with all the hours that entails. Shock, horror!

You see I was accustomed to having hours of solitude in which to do my work....and it isn't like he does anything to get in my way. The simple truth is he is just here...and in his own world...shown above. I am truly delighted that he retired...his job was a monster. My only question is couldn't he have retired to somewhere else?

Two photographs of my or office. Not quite far enough away but better than nothing.....sigh!

Why didn't I listen to my mother in law and all my friends about their husbands? Okay so we all have to learn the hard way...but listed below are a few tips to help you from suffering, oops! to help you enjoy, your husband's retirement.

1. Buy another house near or far away from your own. This is sure to give you or him someplace to know have to tend to the property...or have a quilt retreat with the girls.

2. Get a job. Seriously, my best friend, who shall remain nameless, did this and it worked. She was blissfully happy working part-time to get a few days respite. She had a great time in the real world and loved spending the extra $.

3. Have him get a another job. Something fun that he has always wanted to in a Bass Pro shop...or a bookstore....or as my father in law did open your own company. Anything to get him out of the house so you can vacuum and dust.
Let me extrapolate on the vacuuming and dusting. Neither Ronnie or I suffer from being neat freaks. However, during his retirement I have discovered that his tolerance for dirty and mine are very different. The problem only occurs if they sit in front of the television all the time. Hence, vacuuming and dusting interfere with his viewing pleasure.

4. Buy a second television and procure a cable connection for it. (If you haven't already done this long ago.) Suffice it to say, I watch some pretty inelegant television...but I like it, so there. It is also great to quilt and applique to bad tv because you don't have to watch it...just listen. Sweet Ronnie, naturally, has male instincts regarding Save me.

5. Pretend they aren't there or, if I may be so bold, ignore them. This is an acquired skill requiring the fine art of learning the proper inflection to use when saying, "Yes, dear." Men require a response of some sort because that is what they are accustomed to. A fatal error occurs when you actually forget and start a conversation with them. Soooo...start practicing now to prevent yourself from thinking they really listen or even care what you say. A simple response is all they want or need but it must seem genuine.

Lest, you think that we aren't happy...remember....Sweet Ronnie is still alive, read I haven't killed him yet...and even though baby boy is a lawyer, I am sure I could get off with justified manslaughter....just kidding...seriously...I ahem, mean, really..but now that I have said it in print, it isn't an option. And I am so glad that he is,...see, there is my defense, your honor, she really loved him...and I do...if he would just do something...anything...but be retired.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Fine Art of Piddling

Two posts in one day...I am doing the fine art of piddling. To piddle being the intransitive verb or if you prefer a nice non-committal swear word...Oh, Piddle!
Anyhoo, between calling my creativity students and working in the studio and front yard I found this:

The Recipe For Gabrielle

3 parts Talent

2 parts Ingenuity

1 part Daring

Splash of Intellect

Shake vigorously

What's the Recipe for Your Personality?

Let me tell you how difficult this test is...snork, snork. You type in your absolutely sure you got that right by using spell check....and then you hit the submit button. Magically, the oracle of all things spits out your answer. And while those of you who know me in the flesh and not in the word, probably agree with is an eerie experience. Please leave comments if you go to this test. Can we all be the same and still get correct answers from the oracle?

Back to the phone...and while I fully admit that multi-tasking is the doom of creativity. Creativity being the one thing that really requires all your focus. Piddling between tasks has given me a certain since of easily amused I am.

Must be that being old gives you the gift of settling for less on the days when you don't have much. Or could it be that after a long day of piddling, I can imbibe a real, virtual alcohol, please...while throwing dinner at Sweet Ronnie.

The Class of '67 and 17 is 58

The year I graduated from high school is long ago and far away. We were told we were among the youngest, best and brightest. Many of us prepared to go off to university. For me, who had just gotten married to the husband "lovingly" referred to as the revolving door, images of being free from parental control loomed large. Having gotten married to get away from my mother, dreams of domestic bliss danced through my head. 1967 was a good year.

A brief re-cap will tell you why I thought my future was bright. My last year in high school was peppered with cheer leading, editing the annual, being a contestant in the Miss Texas pageant, traveling to the Nation Honor Society convention....sorry I was really a different person. My sons always moan with agony at my apparent goody two-shoes past.

Little did we, my fellow students and I, know that all that was about to change. The Vietnam War escalated to unheard of proportions. The summer of love and Woodstock weren't even on the radar. My university attendance started in 1968 after the birth of my beautiful son Charles "Coyote". His birth and attending university had a major impact on who I was going to be when I grew up. In late 1967, first husband and I purchased a home with acreage.....with the help of my parents. By 1969, we were divorced, not amicably and I was on the way to graduating as a dyed in the wool hippy chick. How things had changed!

Okay, things changed but they were for the better. I attended my 10th reunion...everyone was still young and vital. I also attended my 30th reunion. We were older, established, had only lost one classmate. I didn't discuss who I was, why I had changed with anyone at my 10th reunion. Being with my class I became what they remembered. Not hard and made for a fun time. At the 30th reunion, I talked about my career as a quiltmaker. They honored me with the person who had the most unusual career and who had changed the least since high school. This caused me to pause. I knew just how much I had changed but to them I was still 17. Granted, it kinda felt good...but was scary in another way.

Why do I mention this? We were a class of 33 students. You read that right...I grew up in a town with the population of 600. Everyone knew everyone. You couldn't get away with the smallest infraction. Many times my escapades reached my mother's ear before I returned from the experience. With consideration, it was a good place to grow up if not slightly stifling. Now you understand my attempt to be the "good daughter." Being an only child plays a major role in this attempt. During the late 60's and for the rest of my mother's life, she never felt the joys of having a good daughter again. While my classmates might think that I was still the same; my mother knew better.

To the point of the story, when you only have 33 classmates, the loss of every one is a reckoning about your own mortality. The past few years has brought the loss of three more of us. From 17 to 58 has been a great ride. I often wonder what the next bend in the road will be. Even though my path has made me very different from that girl of 17, I must honor who she was and how far we have traveled from that time.

Since I cannot see into the future, I will gladly continue to wait for the road to reveal itself to me. However, I can't help but remember the faces of my graduating class with incredible fondness. Some of us set out to change the world and almost succeeded. Some of gave up;some of us are still trying. My gratitude to all of you for sharing part of your lives with me.

Post Script: Lest you think I had an awful childhood, I have to confess that my early years were idyllic. So the good daughter was an attempt to re-pay my parents for all they had done for me. My Dad was the greatest and always tried to protecting me from my Mom's crazy fears. The major of those fears was I would grow up. Now I see my Mom was a very fragile Blanche Du Bois. I was her "only chick," her words, not mine. Living with my parents was similar to growing up with Lucy and Ricky Ricardo....those of you old enough know what I mean. They were funny, fought and loved me beyond all measure. I give you one story to prove the facts.

My father hated food mixed together. You know what that means. His meat and vegetables had to have separate stations on his plate. One evening my mother, knowing my father's pre-disposition, prepared a casserole. I am in the background speculating..."OMG, Mom. Dad is going to go into apoplexy. What are you thinking...maybe you aren't. How many drinks have your had...This is bad...really bad. I am going to my room and hiding in the closet...This is going to be one for the record." Being curious, I peak around the wall...Dad comes in and announces...."Dinner smells good...What is it." He goes to the oven, opens the door, wheels on his boots to the reply, "Helen, you know I don't like this several expletives removed. Without missing a beat, my mom calmly picks up her pot holders, removed the offending, evil casserole, goes to the back door, opens it and flings the mis-aligned food into the yard, dish and all. With great aplomb, she returns to the kitchen, "That was your dinner." Being the All-American male, my Dad picks up his hat and drives to the local greasy spoon for his dinner. I don't remember what we had to eat that night, but I will always remember how gracefully Mom was while pulling this stunt.

While I am not a person to throw things, I must admit Mom pulled this one off with great flare. The casserole dish was still in the backyard the day she died. Never one to hold grudges...right?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Contemporary Quiltmaker Pleads Being Behind

I don't pretend to have an assistant or many assistants. So it shouldn't shock you when I say I am playing catch-up most of the time. Thanks to my loving sons and their partners I have stayed on top of things for several years. Now it is all down to me since they have busy lives also. The nerve of them to grow up and become responsible adults....sigh.

The picture above is me taking a picture of me from the infamous Designing Applique Quilts dvd that was due out last fall. We have edited this film already but couldn't burn it. Problems with Avid Liquid. Got that fixed and reviewed the edit. Decided it wasn't what I wanted so deleted it. Today I started rendering the film to do the re-edit...not too far behind, but enough late to cause me embarrassment.

My dream project, Behind the Seams, a dvd magazine is edited and waiting for production. Why? The famous duplicator story from previous posts. Can't burn if you have no burner...or burn baby burn isn't happening. Why do I bother to share this with you?

Be careful what you ask for you just might get it. Truly my plan was not to go into the film production business. I just wanted to make quilts. Granted I wanted to design my own images and make what I wanted. Granted quiltmaking has been good to me...and I still love it. Somehow through publish books and traveling and teaching, the dvd business appeared and provided me an outlet to share with anyone who would never get to take one of my classes. Also, it helped students who had taken my classes as a refresher.

Like all good things, there is some thorns on the rose. Time management is my biggest hurdle. One day I will have assistants and time to do all the things I want to do. One day I will dig myself out the hole. Until then I am running in place...but I am still running.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

What to Do Until Lou Dobbs Signs Off

Sweet Ronnie is a Lou Dobbs fan; me, I am exhausted by all the political rantings from everyone. So what is one to do until Lou Dobbs signs off for today. One could finish the enlargements for two new quilts. Or get out the design for Last Leaf and start reworking it. Oh, I didn't tell you? I tossed away the finished, layered top even though I had already started quilting it. What? You gasp. Trust me. The design works but my color work had the background competing with the foreground for attention. Lesson learned....don't fall in love with the background design.

Or one could work on the computer while listening to old radio shows on This past Monday, I spent all day at the computer and think I am caught up on the most pressing emails and contracts. Of course, there are still the dvd orders but since my faithful Kanguru duplicator is in the hospital, I am twiddling my the run on sentence.

If so inclined, even a quiltmaker can read. Two books I recently finished....great reads. Or you could update your blog. Now that's a good choice for this time of day....after a wonderful dinner but before the evening starts.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Around the House

Working to stay ahead of my students from the Creative Spark class is stretching me as well. Thanks to one of my design students from Phoenix, I was reminded of the original concept behind my leaf work...take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. This particular student from Phoenix brought a claw hammer as her design element. She had helped build her own studio and this design was to honor her efforts. Keeping that in mind, I have had my creativity students working with common household items...still life designs from only things that are currently in their homes....and then the light bulb went on! This is exactly what I was trying to accomplish with the leaves and the direction I want to continue to work.

With that in mind I got out the camera and took some photos from around my house. While one of these is probably not common to every one's home (a globe with boomerang), these are still fairly common items. Plus this set up has great lines and color to work with.

My idea at the moment is to use items from every room as a series of quilts. The kitchen and bathroom will be fun. Other rooms provide more of a challenge. How are you working? Do you appreciate the daily, commonplace items in your home? Or are you so accustomed to seeing them that they have lost their potential as art?

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