Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There's No Business Like Show Business

Well, I have entered the world of quilt show business. I have had my "body" of work accepted for a very large fiber gallery show. A one woman show for two months. This is all more than my ego can process tonight. I am having wine and potato chips to celebrate.

Tomorrow, I will wonder about the business cards I need. The post cards I need. The poster the gallery will be making to advertise "my show". All the aspects of this SURPRISING development that was offered to me at 3 pm on Friday. I am having trouble believing all this is happening to ME! ME! ME! Tomorrow I will work on the "price list".

I worked all weekend and called out of work Monday, to keep working. Last night when I went to bed, I was sure it was all for nothing. I had hit the "wall" of complete exhaustion. My dear husband was sure of my success. He is always my best supporter. His job, this morning, was to deliver the works of fabric art to the gallery for examination, while I returned to my job.

The gallery director called me at work, happy. So happy. And I am still in shock. They liked my work. They really liked my work.

So okay. I think maybe my feet will touch the ground any minute now.

Or not.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, Can I Get It All Done?

There was a dog here when I picked up the camera.

We have had our "official" first frost overnight. The grass is white with icy moisture, the dahlias are black and the colorful oranges, yellows and reds of the hardwoods are now all a mottled brown. Soon they will drop all their leaves in big wet piles. The "Dark Times" begin. I have the furnace running but it doesn't seem to be getting any warmer in here.

Today is going to be a marathon of work and frustration. I have been invited to collect all my "stuff" and bring it in for examination (with very short notice) with the possibility of a two month exhibition at a very NICE venue. I was excited. Then I began going through my "collection" and the amount of work needed to get it all ready for Tuesday morning (the call came Friday afternoon) is overwhelming. Add to that the specter of being rejected and you have an event of epic proportions.

Yesterday would have been a good day to work on this but I had committed to a Master Gardener Conference with a friend and just couldn't justify skipping it. We see each other so rarely and had made plans last month for this one day together. So all I have is today. And I can call in sick to work on Monday if things go badly today.

I have work to prepare for hanging. I don't always sew on pockets. I have a quilt to "borrow" from the library and it needs a hanging pocket or something. I have new things which are not finished. No backs or binding or pockets. I have a work in progress (beginning) which I would like to show because most of the work is older and this is new and more in keeping with my interests now. I have two framed pieces which hang in my bedroom which I love and refuse to sell but want to show. If I bind two more pieces they can also be framed and shown and sold.

The shadowbox frames were purchased from Pottery Barn and I kick myself daily for not buying 10 of them before they were discontinued. A gorgeous frame for $59 seemed too expensive at one time and now seems like a really good price. Stupid mistake.

Nine in the morning. I bid you adieu and will check in on Tuesday to let you know if I made it into the gallery or not. Luck will have nothing to do with it. It's all hard work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Week In Review

The days are going by in a "blur" which always seems to happen once fall arrives. From Halloween to Christmas is just a matter of minutes in time.

The days at the green house are full and varied. I have questions to answer, plants to haul to and fro, bugs to fight, floors to sweep and lunch to look forward to. Yes, I admit to having lunch as the high point of my day. See, I get to actually sit down and be still at lunch.

Yesterday I hauled mums, watered the greenhouse, sprayed bugs, unloaded the big truck from Florida (foliage, cactus, orchids), packed up all the cut back perennials (hosta/iris) for shipment back to our solar greenhouses, scrubbed the floor where Maxine the cat peed, helped a customer select a new family member for his household (a kumquat tree named George), potted George, wrapped George in plastic so the car upholstery stayed clean and wished them both a happy and productive life together. While I did all this, George's new owner was texting all his friends regarding his new plant. No pictures. At one point in my day, I punched out and drove into town to pay my real estate taxes. Very patriotic.

On that subject, being patriotic for paying taxes. I wonder how we would all live if no one paid for services rendered and expected? I know Palin doesn't need schools (home schooling), fire or police protection or health insurance. The "government" provides all that for free for it's employees. And, gosh, the "friends" of government also build houses for "free". George Bush (both of them) held "fund raisers" to collect millions in cash for a "new house" for AFTER they left Washington and returned to Texas. Palin got hers BEFORE. Oops.

So what would it be like if no one had to pay taxes? And we still waged war. Well, I think it would be like it has been for eight years. No roads or bridge work done. Potholes everywhere. No Child Left Behind testing rather than any actual teaching. Raises for all government employees. Fantastic health insurance plans and retirement benefits for congress and all the employees in the military. And for the rest of us? Stay healthy. Or die. Makes no never mind to this administration. None of the wealth or benefits will ever trickle down to our level.

So we pay our way. Taxes. Drive on roads that destroy our cars. Pay way too much for gasoline and heating oil so Texas oil companies have "extra cash" to share with George (for his house: they shared close to 70 million $'s with George and Laura this summer so she could go "house shopping"). Have our kids in school learning the answers to the state questions so they get a good score but can't make change or answer simple common sense questions or find states or countries on a blank map. Have government employees who refuse to accept anything but the highest quality health benefits in contract negotiations but refuse to cover uninsured children.

And wait for another Republican to FINALLY end the Social Security system they absolutely DETEST. See, if you can't take care of yourself, or have friends and family to take care of you, then WHY should Republicans have to help you out???? Just die and save everyone the trouble of taking care of you. An actual Republican said this to me. A sweet, rich elderly woman. Everyone on welfare (social security) would be better off --- dead. As they are are not "contributing" by earning a "taxable" living. And the disabled? Well, you can guess what she had to say about that.

People, we need to vote for the "smart one" this year. Really!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On My Mind

Lessons of the Past
Today began as usual with coffee and toast. But as I dug through the attic storage room, to get to the stored "Spooky House", I was concerned by the "EXCESS" that was stored up there. I took an armload of little children's quilts I had made for my daughter when she had story time at preschool (she was the teacher, not the preschooler). They are going into the washer and then to Linus quilts or to the local animal shelter for the dogs and cats to snuggle into. I also brought down a full size comforter. It's in the washer now and when clean and dry will go into a dog bed cover and replace one of Riley's beds or go to a new home by way of Goodwill.

The lesson: Use what you already have.

When I got dressed this morning, I dug around in the shirt closet (yes we have an entire closet devoted to cotton tee shirts). It could be worse (depending on your preferences) because the closet was built in by the original owners for SHOES. Anyway, after finding a lovely gray long sleeve tee (from Goodwill), I instantly wished I had a second one. Why? I always want MORE. If one is good, two is better. If 9 tomato seeds germinate, I want 12. If I'm scheduled for 8 hours, I want 10 like someone else got. If one Sharpie pen is great, a dozen is better.

Not with everything. I have an old used truck now with no add ons (crank windows). I don't want any other truck or any gadgets. I don't drive my ultra fancy BMW more than once a week, on my day off, just to charge the battery. The truck is what I have always wanted and needed.

Anyway, the lesson for today and for the future. I can only wear ONE gray shirt at a time, so therefore, one shirt is enough. And since I rarely, if ever, wear any of my clothes out, I will probably only need this one gray shirt. This pair of jeans. This flannel, plaid shirt. My outfit. All from Goodwill and all very nice and soft and comfortable.

The lesson: Own only what you really need.

The stock market is going into free fall and people are buying daffodil bulbs to plant this weekend, buying flowers, getting married and having green foliage plants repotted. Life is going on as usual. What am I doing? Wondering how I can maximize this situation: what should I buy? Land, real estate, low priced stocks. I would really like one of those 250K houses in Florida that are selling for 52K. Or the 700K house that sold for 92K with a walk thru double shower. The new owners were jumping up and down and pinching themselves. They had sold their big house in Connecticut and got this amazing bargain in Florida, sight unseen on the internet. A dream house. Built on spec, never sold, foreclosed.

Doesn't this all seem surreal? The economy. Gas and oil prices falling to less than $80 a barrel and $3.17 a gallon so far. The Dow at 8000 down 25%. GM going into bankruptcy with it's stock selling for less than it did in 1929. Ford is failing also. All those BIG, LOADED, GAS GUZZLING, LUXURY vehicles are now going to be selling for nickels and dimes IF anyone wants them, which I doubt. So they will be carted off to the junk yard, crushed and shipped to China where they will be made into some sort of junk and shipped back to us in time for Christmas 2009.

The lesson: Time will tell what we learn from all this.

I was brought up on stories of the Great Depression. I always have ready cash, food stores and the ability to do without. I was born ready for the next Great Depression. I just need to control the "hoarding" instinct. I can't save everything. But I can try to USE what I already have. And today I will be trying to use what I already have. I hope you will do the same.

We are having a "summery" October here in Maine. Warm, sunny days and cool nights with all the autumn colors in the trees against a clean, clear blue sky. It's quiet also. Not much "traffic" noise. Not much traffic. I have daffodils to plant, tulips to plant, dahlias to dig up and store in the cellar. I will "save" a few moments (maybe more) to just sit and enjoy the beauty around me today. Life is good.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things To Do

Roses to plant. Halloween. Gardening. Bills to pay. Airborne to take. I have had a week here that is mostly good stuff with a bit of ICK.

My work days are a bit slow and I have been given the "opportunity" to go home early two days in a row. Now, the first time this happened I was so bored out of mind, I said "YES!" to going home early. Perhaps that wasn't the smartest thing to do? Since it was still daylight when I got home, I went out into the garden and pulled up the bean plants and harvested my shell beans, pulled up my squash vines and picked raspberries (which the dog ate when I was doing the beans). AFTER being on hold with the IRS for three renditions of the "Sugar Plum Fairies". And I still owe a "boatload" of money to them because of a mistake I made. Knew I made. Was waiting. The IRS guy was very helpful.

Yesterday I got to drain the water plant pools at work (siphon out all the water the smart Deb way) and dispose of the annual lettuce and hyacinth water plants. ICK. I took a 5 gallon bucket of the slimey things home for my compost. The remainder went into the bucket loader and then into the dumpster. I also helped toss rotten pumpkins into the bucket loader, unloaded new pumpkins and mums and finally helped unload bundles of corn stalks off a farm truck. Good times.

Today I was scheduled for lunch with my walking buddy (even if we have had no time to walk these days) but she called early this morning to report she had "caught" her baby grandson's cold. Just talking to her and listening to the runny nose and coughing led to sympathy cold symptoms --- so I started my day with the Airborne shooter, just in case.

I have a second load of laundry going already this morning and I really should make a batch of peach preserves today. Must find jars and boil them. I roasted Delicata squash and beets yesterday while heating up G's dinner, then baked some pita chips (if the oven is on, use it) for my lunches. I'll have the squash with some fried onion, raisins and steamed kale.

I returned to Big Lots to find that 3 of the 12 inch square stretched canvas had been sold, so I came away with only the last two. I read about mounting small pieces on stretched canvas on Jeanne Williamson's blog. She has cut up unsold construction fence quilts and reassembled them into interesting squares and mounted them on the stretched canvas. I am thrilled to learn that even a world famous quilter has trouble with the "potholder" designation for any small quilted pieces and found her solution a good one.

Another solution I have seen in Natasha Kempers-Cullen's studio is to make a pocket on the back of small pieces and slide a thin piece of wood into the pocket and then stitch the bottom edge closed. These hang on the wall like fabric plaques.

I once stretched an unbound 36 by 48 quilt over stretchers and stapled the edges to the back. It worked quite well and was easy to hang. The problem emerged when I wanted to enter the piece in a show. Had to remove it from the stretchers (no effect on the work) and finally trim and bind it.

Finding ways to make our fabric work look like the art it is, and not domestic linens, is a real problem. Those among us who are working with whole cloth which is dyed, painted or printed are having an easier time, IF, the work is large. Small work will always be a problem unless we all decide to frame it. Under glass. Hard to pull a pan of cookies out of the oven with a framed "potholder".

What's Good Today (or not): Sunshine, day off, G is home. Good stuff on tv tonight. That last debate was so bad. Same speeches and sound bites over and over again "my friends". The world is changing every second and people are scared. Both candidates need to get a clue here and step up to the plate. Now. Not in January. G and I will be working until the day we die. No sweet retirement for us, "my friend". But heating oil and gas are going down. $3.27 for gasoline here in Maine today. And a station locally went to $2.99 already so it's possible they are overcharging. OH! REALLY?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Is It Done Yet?

What do you get when you mix a bushel of Concord and merlot grapes with 20 pounds of sugar, four boxes of pectin, dozens of glass jars (which are very hot), a big canner full of boiling water, and electric stove element (red hot) and a puppy?

So far ......... I have one batch of grape jelly (didn't follow directions), (boiled over all over red hot stove element), (steam burn on hand while removing jars from boiling water). I also have a second batch of grape jelly (followed directions), (no boil over), and (no burns). I am now preparing (boiling for 10 minutes) the last bunch of tiny jars and a few pint jars, the last five cups of grape juice (I poured what was left down the sink because I am SO OVER making jelly right now), and I had to go to the store for lids, pectin, and 10 more pounds of sugar.

The puppy was motivated by his "lunch" to cause problems with the first batch of jelly. After all the DRAMA he decided to take a nap in another room until I was done making a jelly mess. What can I say? He's a genius.

What's Good Here: G is home from work, I got a cool book to read, a friend sent a huge bag of silk scraps my way, the sun is shining and we're having Thanksgiving Dinner for supper tonight minus the pumpkin pie. Tomorrow I'm making the Barefoot Contessa cheesecake with chunks of the super size Snickers bar I purchased today. Carbs Rule!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Friend of Twelve by Twelve

Shelter. Unfinished. So far, I have the shapes and a few lines of machine stitching and I hope to be able to add more stitching by hand later today. I keep returning to this discharged piece of black cotton for my 12 by 12 pieces. I had to really dig around in the piles in my studio to eventually find the remaining scrap -- just big enough for this. I had used some smaller scraps to piece with my own painted fabric (the bottom band) and had to cut that piece in half and piece it again to fit across the bottom.

The shelter's roots are "stretched" across the unknown to reach the safety of the green area. The house/shelter is sitting precariously on a thin strip of safe green. In any other September, I would have made one of my "oh so sweet little houses" sheltered by huge tulips. I do not feel "oh so sweet". I am thankful that our house is paid for, no mortgage, no loans. I don't care that the bathrooms are dated or that the kitchen is not my "dream" kitchen. I'm happy for a roof over my head, the possibility of purchasing enough oil to heat the house (iffy), and enough cut firewood to cook over an open fire in the yard if the economy tanks completely (I like to plan for any future problems - I just need a nice cast iron Dutch oven with lid and wire handle and some nice insulated fire gloves and we'll be ready).

I think it is very interesting that a number of the Twelve have used enduring shelter themes of rocks, caves in this economic crisis.