My favorite song

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My favorite song in the world is The Lonely One (White Hen Version) by Wilco.  That puts me in the rarefied air of true indie.  Flannel, big beards, thrift-store 90s jeans, craft beer, vinyl – all stereotypical Venn diagrams to obscure Wilco songs that are released only through “rare tracks” albums.  I own it on CD – strange enough – but I will own it on vinyl someday.  I read all the liner notes the same day my husband brought me the CD.

I can only listen to Wilco songs in private or in the car with my family.  Because they make me cry.  It is a near Stendahlian experience when I hear some Wilco songs.  Wilco are musical geniuses and always have been – making new things out of tradition, out of curiosity and admittedly, more than a little white-man confidence.  Beyond the genius of the compositions, it is Tweedy’s voice.  To me, it is the most perfect sound in the world.  I do not know enough about music to understand why it is so beautiful.  Why it makes my heart bounce.  I don’t know, and that is ok.  Life needs mystery.

Loving Wilco is my private life.  I was never brave enough to try to break into a “cool” circle of friends.  There are lots of superficial reasons why cool people might not like me.  My “style” has always been basic suburban.  I have never had the interest in expressing an alternative view, or any view, via my clothing, make-up or hair.  I like to blend, blend, blend.  Always have.  No one cool would look at me and think that I have depths.  I am a book constantly judged by her cover.  I think alt-awesomes should reevaluate how they evaluate people.  In my day, I have seen a lot of husks embraced into indie cool because of SUPERFICIAL reasons – tribal tattoo, purple hair, combat boots.  While I was listening to Uncle Tupelo and reading Hannah Arendt atop my pink rose comforter in my dorm room.  I am not cool.  And I am not a husk.

Oh, and I am fat.  Cast your mind back to high school or college.  Were there a lot of fat female alt-awesomes?  Not in my world.  There were a lot of thin girls wearing black and too much makeup or no makeup.  They so hit the bullseye of the white, cis, thin beauty standard that they could reject it and play with it and still have the earnest attention of all the men.  Good for them.  In my day, that was not an option for social success, or even social survival.  Blend, blend, blend. And in my case, maybe more like hide, hide, hide.

At almost 46, I love what I love.  Kendra Scott.  Big, pink roses printed on things.  Louise Penny novels.  And Wilco.  It is a revelation to not have to fit in.  To not care about hiding.  To have nothing riding on my choices other than my own happiness.

Lindy West, Roxanne Gay, Lizzo.  Fat women who are defining cool.  Choosing what they want to wear.  Being the coolest in a room.  In all rooms.  I should have found my voice rather than blending.  Maybe it isn’t too late.  But I will always have my Wilco.  On headphones in the dark reading philosophy books.

ode to Brynn

One of a series of odes I wrote to some friends. I almost never ever post my “poetry”, but these women were so encouraging, I am putting a small toe in. Criticism – constructive or otherwise – not welcome, please. This is something I do for fun – not trying to be a professional poet or writer. Compliments – true or otherwise – very welcome. 🙂

 

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ode to Libby

One of a series of odes I wrote to some friends. I almost never ever post my “poetry”, but these women were so encouraging, I am putting a small toe in. Criticism – constructive or otherwise – not welcome, please. This is something I do for fun – not trying to be a professional poet or writer. Compliments – true or otherwise – very welcome. 🙂

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ode to Hannah

One of a series of odes I wrote to some friends. I almost never ever post my “poetry”, but these women were so encouraging, I am putting a small toe in. Criticism – constructive or otherwise – not welcome, please. This is something I do for fun – not trying to be a professional poet or writer. Compliments – true or otherwise – very welcome. 🙂

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ode to Marsha

One of a series of odes I wrote to some friends. I almost never ever post my “poetry”, but these women were so encouraging, I am putting a small toe in. Criticism – constructive or otherwise – not welcome, please. This is something I do for fun – not trying to be a professional poet or writer. Compliments – true or otherwise – very welcome. 🙂

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ode to Jennifer

One of a series of odes I wrote to some friends. I almost never ever post my “poetry”, but these women were so encouraging, I am putting a small toe in. Criticism – constructive or otherwise – not welcome, please. This is something I do for fun – not trying to be a professional poet or writer. Compliments – true or otherwise – very welcome. 🙂

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Never say never: my adventure with a rag quilt

I love making.  I love pulling stuff out of my brain and onto paper or fabric.  I struggle with requests for specific colors or patterns.  But because I am baby-quilt woman and every new mom wants “something and grey – very muted” for their babies – I try to find the challenge in the restraint – choosing fabrics and patterns that allow me to express my creativity while still meeting the intent of the brief.

Sidebar:  I get good practice setting boundaries as craft woman – I don’t make t-shirt quilts or hem anything.  I can’t make curtains or dust ruffles or clothes.  I hate saying no, but I have to in order to protect my limited sewing time.  Most quilters reading have just affirmed with an AMEN!

BUT (there always is one), a friend and cheerleader of my work and her beautiful daughter sent me a picture of the quilt they wanted for her pending bundle of joy.  I, of course, was going to make her a baby quilt.  I am, after all, baby quilt woman. And I made one for her older sister that they gushed over… “How did you do it?”  “I love the fabrics!!”  “The pieces are so tiny!”  And then they texted me several pictures of the baby with the quilt.  Some thoughts…

  • Sorry fabric designers for all the credit I take for your gorgeous and creative designs.  People conflate me being bright enough to buy cute fabric with me designing the fabric.  Again, apologies.
  • Pictures of babies on me-made quilts are more precious to me than gold or donuts.
  • I make quilts so that they are swooned over.  No shame in admitting it.

The quilt I was going to make for Youngest Daughter of Dear Friend had been designed a hundred times in my head.  So I was more than a little sad when they had a request for a SPECIFIC quilt.  And that quilt was <dramatic pause> a rag quilt.  In blush and neutrals.  I don’t know how to make rag quilts, I don’t particularly like them.  Because she had a specific request, she offered to pay me for the quilt.  I don’t think I ever will be ready to take money for making baby quilts – too much pressure!

But I am a nice person or have problems setting boundaries (let’s be honest, it’s the second one).  So I found pale fabrics, read how to make a rag quilt.  2 days before the baby shower I was making, making, making.

Boy to the HOWDY! was I wrong.  Making rag quilts is pretty fun.  And not hard.  And blush and grey make a gorgeous color combination.  I am thinking of SELLING them on Etsy.  There is a lot of demand for them!

Anyway, here is a picture.  And I know there will be more coming with a gorgeous baby perched upon it.  Joy.

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6 weeks

The company I work for has an amazing benefit – every few years we get an extended amount of time to focus on balancing our work and our life, while doing some professional development or volunteering.

This is my third sabbatical – after 19 years.  I chose volunteering as my activity and got to make 9 Project Linus quilts.  It was wonderful.  As overly documented in this blog, I try to make 12 quilts for Project Linus every year, and so I got to pack this activity into my break.

The theme of these quilts is COLOR and scrappiness.  I used lots and lots and lots of orphan blocks and scraps.  And yet my scrap pile doesn’t look any smaller.  Would you like to see the quilts?  Off we go….

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See?  Scrappy? Yes!  Um, bright? Yes.  My grandmother (the other one) was fond of saying that things she made were cheep and cheerful.  She didn’t mean anything negative (I don’t think) – just that particular Midwestern, pioneer spirit of making the best out of what you have.  Like when they printed floral patterns on grain bags so farmwives could make dresses out of them.

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Oh, but I love these two.  Pink and flowers are my favorite.

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Another crazy one.  And two rather more composed.  It makes me so happy to convert fabric to quilt.  Especially when I have so.much.fabric.

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And two stunners made almost completely out of orphaned blocks.  The solid fabrics add a punch to the scrappiness.

Making 9 quilts all in a row is fun, but taxing.  I had to put other crafts and pursuits in my studio on hold for the onslaught of press, cut, sew, press, baste, quilt, bind. Here is a pic of the studio on a rather active day.

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Really looks like I need a system!

I did get into a rhythm of cutting and piecing.  I am thinking of writing a post for how to make a scrappy, constrained improv baby quilt for beginners.  Feels like too much to take on right now… but someday.

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What a fantastic action shot!  Almost like a real quilt blogger.

Ultimately, the best part of making a bunch of quilts is being able to photograph them in a neat stack.  So I leave you with that.

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the beauty of vintage

My husband and I had dinner with some dear friends last week. And when the conversation started in earnest, one of them turned to me and asked, essentially, why are you selling jewelry?
 
 
 
 
It is a good question. My life was and is full. I make quilts, play MarioKart with my stepkids, have a great and busy job, embroider, paint, even sometimes exercise. In short, there is a lot going on.
 
Thanksgiving of last year, my grandmother was hospitalized and then moved into a skilled nursing facility. She will be there for the rest of her life. And we need to sell her things. Pretty simple.
 
And not pretty simple. My grandmother could be casually cruel to my mother and me in ways that hurt deeply. Complicated.
 
(And the basic truth is that almost everybody I know has a dark relationship with some or all of their family. I am not special or unique in this, I know.)
 
I was consistently told by her that my (in her opinion) lack of beauty and slenderness meant that I didn’t matter. That the rest of the wonderful things that I had to give (short list: generosity, wit, intelligence, skilled Ninja) didn’t matter. I now know…
 
1. That there is more to human existence, female existence, my existence than being pretty.
2. That I am now and always have been pretty frickin’ beautiful.
 
 
 
 
To make a sale, I am trying to do everything right. Gently clean. Photograph. Edit Photograph. Google to find reasonable price. Describe. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
 
 
 
 
Her jewelry means so much. It reminds me of her presence. Her hobbies. Her sound. Her cruelty. I can remember certain things she said to me while wearing certain pieces. I remember the fear of being close to her, of what she was going to say to me, of how I would be hurt – all while staring at her coral-shaped diamond and gold ring that she wore on her right index finger. Complicated.
 
 
My grandmother was loud and beautiful and sparkled and had more presence than anybody in the real world. Like Dolly Parton. She owned a room.
 
And I am reckoning with that. That thread of sparkle and shine and owning a room is in my core. My dad has it. I have it. And if she wasn’t part of me, I wouldn’t have it. And so I am grateful for her.
 
 
 
 
And I am grateful for the process of cleaning and sorting and photographing each piece of her jewelry. I am reminded of my own sparkle. These beautiful vintage pieces will find new life for women who sparkle. Women who own a room because of their wit, intelligence, kindness, Ninja acumen. The beauty of vintage is a new life, new meanings for beautiful things.
 
 
 
 
I do miss quilting and embroidery and reading, quilting, and quilting – all are on hold while I give my weekends to this endeavour. But I know they will be waiting for me when I am ready. And MarioKart and painting and work still are here.
 

from knitting to drawing to…

have always made stuff. Knitting and then jewelry and then scrapbooking and then quilting. Five years ago, I was fortunate enough to get a brief sabattical from the company I work for. I decided I wanted to pick up a hobby that practioners thereof are smitten with. Hobbies that people put bumper stickers on their cars about.
 
I wanted an obsession.
 
I thought about SCUBA, fly fishing, quilting, disc golfing, regular golfing,
 
But I always knew it would be quilting. My great grandmother quilted, my grandmother quilted, my mom quilts. I live in Kansas City, which I claim to be the “Hollywood of Quilting” because we have so many superstars of quiliting that live and work here. It had to be quilting. (btw, “Hollywood of Quilting” has not caught on)
 
(I also picked fly fishing. But the expense of equipment and travel was prohibitive. Kansas City is not the Hollywood of fly fishing.)
 
 
 
Picture of the most recent quilt I worked on
 
The last couple of years I have been trying to learn to draw. It has been frustrating. What my brain wanted, my hands wouldn’t deliver. And then suddenly I could make things that I didn’t hate. Enough classes and practice, and what came from my hands and brain were similar. I still really can’t draw, but I am working around that.
 
 
 
These are some monotypes – one of the first things I did not hate.
 
I am making some sort of art everyday. It is wonderful and fun. And I am obsessed.
 
If you would like to following my drawing adventures, I am paperloveink on Instagram
 
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