Friday, January 26, 2007

Thank You Everyone!

After my last post, I tied my robe belt securely and marched into my work room and planned to do something. First I took Bev's block off the wall and hung up the Crow Quilt (next picture). Then I took the solid fabric corner squares off Bev's block and pressed and straightened everything and inserted pieced corners. We each got four when we divided Bev's fabric. I think it looks kinda "Ocean Waves". Or is it called "At Sea"?

Then I pressed all the small pieces of fabric I had of Bev's and proceeded to cut half square triangles. I needed 24 to make the flying geese triangles to add to the block "on point". So of course I cut 66. I added two fabrics of my own to the selection. Now I have to sew them all.

Here's my Crow Quilt. Well, 50% of it. I made this in 2002 and just love it. A couple asked if they could "try it out" at their house for the weekend. This is the quilt's third weekend tryout. People LOVE it but this is a very strong quilt and it doesn't "fit" in most homes. I also have ambivilent feelings about selling it. So the price is high. Gallery pricing. Which means double what I normally would ask. So I got the quilt back on Monday evening. And I am happy about that. I don't know if a check would have made me as happy.

I also now have two orders (commissions?) for smaller versions of this quilt. I don't know how I feel about making "versions" of this quilt. I have a feeling what they really are saying is "copies" of this quilt. Things are fun to make the first time, but I'm not very good at production line quilting. I like pieced quilts but I get so bored when faced with making even 24 of the same pieced section, let alone 24 of the same pieced BLOCKS.

Diet Update: I'm looking for clothes to try on that I know were tight or too small last time I wore them. But I think I gave everything away in the last closet purge. I still have a garment bag full of the really small stuff from long ago. It will be months before I can see if any of that fits. Swirly wool circle skirts (custom made) that I adore. Till then I will be happy with using new hooks on my bras. And new holes in my belts. Oh! I can try on the red wool blazer with the shiny gold buttons! Bye.


The thing I love most about blogging is the comments from people reading my blog. Sometimes these comments lead to a "conversation". For the past month or so I haven't been able to leave comments on blogs. And if I am successful, I have to use anonymous.

Google has ruined Blogger.

Maybe the lack of "conversation" is the reason I don't look forward to posting anymore.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Made Something

Finally, some creative content. I feel like I haven't "made" anything in months. I haven't written in my big journal since--gosh, it's been a long time. I was writing something everyday and making little drawings and collages. But I stopped. I can't even think why it happened.

I did make 12 little collage trees for Christmas and the little stuffed trees for gifts. And Tuesday I worked on this little paper collage. I got to my usual point of thinking it was finished and then I kept going. And it's better than the others. I'll use more paint on the next one. If you're wondering--it's all stuff people normally throw away. Junk mail, grocery flyer, date due slips from library, Christmas tissue paper, a leaf I ironed with waxed paper in October.

I had a great day at work. A number of patrons mentioned how much they enjoy the little pieced crow quilt I have hanging at the library. One patron, a former art teacher, was listing all the artistic touches she had noticed. Wow. That certainly made me feel like a quilt artist.

Today is day 21 of my new eating plan. I never would have thought I'd make it this far but I've had a whole year to think about changing. I'm tired of this version of myself. I want the other one back. The other Joanne. Small steps.

In three weeks I'm getting my nails painted red again and I'm hoping my rings fit on my fingers by then. I haven't been able to wear my wedding band since the spring. Valentine's Day. Wouldn't that be nice?

It's hard to keep going when no sees any difference. I know there is change. All my clothes fit differently. But people see a large woman when they see me, and that's what I still am. And it will be months before there is enough of a change for people to notice. It will happen. I just know it will.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Six Weird Things

See the little stick man?

1. All my elementary school report cards mention that I do not "participate" with my classmates. I think that's code for "does not play well with others". By junior high I had stopped talking in class. Call on me and expect total silence for as long as necessary. I thought some of my teachers called on me just to rest during class.

2. In college I would wake up and not know if it was night or day. Or what day it was. And I never knew what time it was or what classes I had or my locker combination. On bad days, I relive those anxiety attacks and try to remember my locker combination.

3. Before I went away to college, I thought the only vegetables in the world were green beans, canned peas, carrots and corn. That's all my mother ever served. My husband was only served canned peas and canned corn at home.

4. I can't wear anything around my neck. No turtleneck sweaters or necklaces. Makes me think I'm choking. Someone said I must have been strangled in a former life.

5. I am deathly afraid of drowning. In fact, I am usually quite crazy if my feet can't touch the bottom. Panic. And ocean water totally freaks me out. Our friends had this huge ocean going boat and invited us on it several times. Stepping off the dock and climbing up the side of the boat was the bravest thing I've done. I would be limp with relief when it was over.

6. Heights terrify me but I HAVE to look over the edge. And if I watch someone jump from a building--like in a movie--my stomach goes up and then down just like I jumped too and I have to cover my mouth to keep from screaming. Anyone with me just looks at me like I'm whacked.

7. I know people's names and things about them and then it turns out I've never met them before.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Today. so far

These are the things I see from the desk where I read and write blog posts. I pinned my art on the wall of my dining room and that's the table I can never quite clear of art ephemera. The chair is full of stuff I took off the table prior to Thanksgiving I think. Boxes of pens and pencils.

My red robe, black sweatpants and slippers. You don't see the white short sleeve tee shirt. My daily uniform. When my husband would be traveling and not home in the evening--I would stay in this outfit, changing to clean tee shirts and sweat pants, for days. It's all purpose. The robe is made of something they call "cozy yarn" which means it's made of chemicals. It is cozy. Warm when I need it to be warm and cool during the summer months. Isn't that weird?

The other view I have-- of the kitchen island. Scissors, pedometer, glass and the big bowl of paper I have collected in the past three days. The only thing I didn't photograph is the ceiling. Now other people's homes are much more "gorgeous" than mine. So enough of this and back to the vacuum. I crawled under the bed with the vacuum this morning and got all that nasty dust along the baseboards and then vacuumed the bottom of the box springs. Now to do the mini blinds. I also just barely missed vacuuming up some of my new socks. That was EXCITING. I have central vac and have to run out into the hall to get it to stop --- and the socks are in danger the whole time of going down into the basement dust container. Wow!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Pants Are Longer

You've probably already seen this picture, but I liked it and wanted to use it again. As to the title of this post--- the only noticeable difference after 16 days of eating less is that my pants are longer. Ever notice that when you gain some weight your pant legs seem shorter? So this is the opposite. I had taken down the cuffs on my cordoroy pants to make up for the high water length, but now the pants are near to dragging on the floor. Fit the same at the waist.

I have also noticed that almost all my socks have holes in the bottom of the heels. I think it's my clogs. I think the socks are rubbing against that little lip on the back of the clog and wearing holes in my socks. What is that little lip for? Safety? So we all don't just slide right out of our shoes?

G is starting to call me Raggedy Joanne. I went to Grand City (a local 5 & Dime) and got 6 pairs of 99 cent socks. Only to discover that two other library workers had done the same. So we are all wearing the same socks. Grand City sells 47,000 pairs of socks a year. I know because the owner told me. I told him his new advertising slogan should read "the place for socks".

We went to Marden's (a salvage store) to get winter gloves. Everyone else is selling flip flops and swimsuits. And I needed gloves. So I now have new ones for shoveling and a pair for driving (which of course I rarely do in winter) and a spare pair in case I loose either of them. Which I have now started to do. For years I wore the same cashmere lined navy leather pair--so warm-- and then one day in the grocery store, over by the grapefruit display-- my right glove disappeared. I spent a good 30 minutes looking for it. I came back each day to ask if they had found it. No. I still have the left (left behind) glove. Waiting for the right (right back) glove to return.

I also got $2.99 good quality fabric for the Grapes of Wrath Depression Era quilting class I am producing for two sets of 15 children in March. They will be making Dresden Plate blocks. So I needed material that resembles old pajamas for the background. Threadbare. Tiny prints. I'm trying to put together three colorways for the Plate pieces so the kids can choose their fabrics and design individual plates. My purchased fabric isn't threadbare but I heard it could be aged by washing it in the dishwasher. Can't hurt to try it.

I am always amazed by the Community Read choices. We live in Maine. It's cold, dark and already depressing enough and they choose to read Grapes of Wrath. One of the librarians said it was "sort of uplifting at the end". I can think of lots of things that are truly awful and when they are over and done with-- you could say that was "sort of uplifting". Or not.

But my pants are longer.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What Do We See?

I was out shoveling snow and saw these remarkable patterns in the ice and snow left on the asphalt surface. They immediately brought to mind the layered dyeing/painting/waxing that so many quilt artists are doing these days. I also was thinking of the technically superior ones out there using Photoshop to put elements like this on paper and fabric and into their work.

I did a bit of artistic work, myself. Putting a lovely herringbone pattern into my snow removal work. It was lovely out there after the snow. I think I put in about one hour of pushing, shoving and lifting to clear the driveway. Good excercise.

This is my favorite pattern on the driveway because of the real darks and of course--the dots. the dots are from the bottom surface of my clogs--- I never wear snow boots-- and the bottom of my clogs have this pattern of dots. This is so nice I may even be tempted to invest in Photoshop Elements to use this in a quilt. Or I'll just enlarge it and paint it freehand.

There is so much out there in nature and the world to see. If we just take the time to LOOK.

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's Snow, It's Snow...At Last!

I worked on these little blocks yesterday. They belonged to my friend Beverly and she was making something that was 8 units wide. Don't know what. She had a bag full of pieces cut and a few partial strips. So I cut a few more fabrics to co-ordinate. Tea dyed some indigo prints of my own. And then I set to. I plan to make this very long strip of pieces into a table runner for my dining room table. I wanted whatever I made to be used often so I could remember dear Bev whenever I see the fabrics. I think some of the fabrics were from her friend Yuki in Japan. Bev was hand piecing and had marked all the pieces in pencil. It was very nice to run my machine stitches, guided by her pencil markings. Like being together.

I got to spend so much time in my sewing room because I was absolutely furious with my husband yesterday and the safest route for all concerned was me staying away. I made him some cookies today. He really is a nice guy but sometimes........

I had to go out to get my hair cut this morning and I hadn't paid much attention to the weather so I just backed the sportscar out of the garage and into the wintry mess. Now I would usually (8 years) have just driven the car back into the garage, but I have new tires (and a new battery which is why the car even started). Supposedly all weather tires. So I drove down the driveway as a test of said tires. Did okay. So I tried my street--always the deal breaker as they never plow. Still okay. Then the merge from my street to the main street always a bit of a slushy, slidey disaster even in the 4x4 Jeep. I waited till there was positively NO ONE else on the street and pulled out---expecting the rear end of the car to slide across the road independent of my steering. Still okay. So we went to get our hair cut.

Now there WERE moments where I absolutely KNEW that I had no traction. The big SUV's behind me were going all over the road so I had some idea how bad it was coming home, but I never strayed past 30 mph and never slammed on the brakes. Slow and steady. And, of course, the car and I are very proud of each other!!!! Those are some fabulous tires! Michelin.

My husband will read this and say that the SUV's were going all over the road trying not to hit me--as I was going so slow as to be a winter hazzard. He loves to tail-gate even in blizzard conditions. 30 mph is NOT Granny Driving. 5 mph is Granny Driving.

Now I am deciding on what kind of soup to make. Cauliflower Cheese or Winter Squash. Maybe both.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I Think I Can

Day six of the new eating plan. Yesterday I worked two shifts and then was taken out to dinner. A recipe for disaster. I stared at the menu and couldn't find anything that met the calories I had to spend. In the end I opted for a large salad that included fried chicken, cheese and bacon. My self loathing at this point was so great I was tempted to eat candy when I got home. I didn't. And after my internet hunt for calorie content, my salad was only 200 over my limit--still okay. And today is a new day. A fresh food diary page.

I will try to limit the amount of blog time spent on the topic above as it isn't "art" or "quilting". I have been reading my Painters Keys letters with increasing interest in painting something. The picture above satisfied my craving for an "interesting painting subject" and I may use this "live" model and a limited palette later today. But first, I must stretch a canvas and prime it with gesso. And when dry, sand it and prime again. Why not buy them ready to go you ask? Because I don't live where Joann's or Michael's or anyone else sells ready to go canvas. We've got those stores. They just don't carry the things you can buy. The closest art supply closed it's doors for good in December. Now the nearest place is 30 miles south in Portland. That's where I got the frame, canvas and gesso.

I'm off to walk 2 miles and then shower and dress for work. G has Friday, Saturday and Sunday off and wants to "go someplace". I have to think of "where".

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What Does It Weigh

I have been noting what I eat in my food diary and using my European food scale to find out "how much". This means using a calculator to translate grams to ounces. And I have to say this whole exercise in food has been enlightening and depressing.

Reading the serving size on a product and then realizing just what that serving looks like is astonishing. I haven't been making good choices. By 7 pm my allotment of calories is gone and I'm hungry and pining for a snack. So today I will have a smaller breakfast, bigger lunch and a big salad somewhere in the mix. I'm sure I will make a mistake somewhere along the way.

It nice to know that my favorite coffee with one teaspoon of sugar and one tablespoon of half and half is only 35 calories. Tea with sugar is 15. My cranberry/grape juice with tonic water came in at a whopping 250 and made me very sad yesterday. I would have gladly traded that beverage for something more like cheese. From now on I will get the calorie count BEFORE I eat something.

Cooking is no longer fun. Each ingredient has to be weighed, measured and added up and then divided by portion to find the calorie count. I made soup and it was more like a chemistry experiment than cooking. But now I have it done and next time I can just cook Bean and Escarole Soup and eat it. Did you know that the tiny pasta in the soup had more calories than the soup?

Tomorrow I will also check a pedometer out at the library. I have been doing a 30 minute walk and would like to know how many steps that is. My husband has been using a pedometer at work and yesterday he had 14,000 and the day before 17,000. He's lost 20 pounds just by working at Target. Maybe I should apply.

For fabric content: I have been sorting the piles and containers in my workroom and now have about a 3 square foot area in which to stand. Today, after my walk (60 degrees/January/ Maine/ sun) I will empty my bookcase into that clear area and reorganize the books and magazines. I'm only "allowed" one hour of television each day. Got to stay busy. I have also made up bags of fabric to take to the library and give to my quilting friends. I need to do this because another friend is giving me all her African fabric scraps this week.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lost & Found

There are "perks" to having a husband who works for Target. This was headed for the trash compactor when G said "could I have it?". It is now adorning my living room mantle. Thank you, Target.

Last evening the remaining 5 members of the "Quilting Six" met to sort Beverly's fabrics. This is only the first delivery of fabric. And in the sorting we found 6 blocks for an unfinished quilt. We were trying to decide who should "get them" when out of nowhere I said "Let's do it again". The "again" was a round robin using Beverly's blocks as the starting point. And her scraps to make the finished quilts. And we are! My block is on the design wall right now and since Beverly pieced her blocks, the next border will have to be applique for all of us. We are using the "rules" from the first robin. No pieced borders next to each other. No fusing. No strange fabrics. No houses for Donna. No orange for Bev. The no fusing and strange fabrics was meant to keep me in order.

It may sound strange but while sorting fabric, sharing fabric and touching Beverly's fabric, we all felt so close to her and happy. Like she was with us. I hope the round robin process will keep us close to Beverly in the months to come. I know having her block up on the wall and the robin process begun--- has made my heart lighter.

On other news of the New Year. I changed doctors and had a good physical today. I have appointments for blood work, mammogram, bone density, colonoscopy and a directive to lose 4 pounds in 6 weeks. I have to keep a food diary, make good choices and walk 2 miles a day.

On today's walk I found this strand of lovely evergreen on the side of the road and knew it would look fantastic on my girl. I had been calling her a "buddha" and perhaps she is a he and really is a buddha. Whoever she/he is--- my porch has been a more peaceful place with her/him watching over us.

I wish all my readers a Happy and Healthy New Year.