Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A little bit of crazy.


The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the snowflakes blowing from the trees look like glitter.  I enjoyed being outside of my cage for a wee bit at noon. It is 12 degrees which, in comparison, seems warm. 

I love walking across campus especially at lunch time. There are so many interesting sights and so many interesting conversations on which to eavesdrop. Unintentionally of course.  Everyone has a story. And if you listen, you can often hear a snippet of that story.  So many times when walking, I am privy to some very personal phone calls: a girl sharing her weekend escapades with a girlfriend, trying to convince a parent that it is ok that she dropped a course that she really didn't need, about party plans for the evening.  I've listened to conversations that students have had for interviews, with professors, with the financial aid office, with the bank, with girlfriends, boyfriends, friends-in-general.

I also hear crap that I don't want to hear - mainly the folks such as the sidewalk preachers and others promoting agendas which the more unpopular the agenda, the louder the message is shared.  I hear profanity way more than I would like and way more than is necessary. Profanity - by a stretch - has its place. Such as an expletive for frustration, shock or pain. But as a general part of a conversation? I don't think so.  I think a speaker who is attending a University has the creative capacity to think up more words than the same old f@#k time after time.

 So...I don't know why I labeled this post A little bit of crazy. Perhaps because it is crazy that birds are singing yet it is 12 degrees out. Or crazy because I'm a person who is more comfortable outside away from people yet has chosen a career that requires me to work inside and talk to people on a regular basis. Yes, that is crazy.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Cold.

It is cold outside. And yesterday it was pretty damn cold inside. Ahhhhh.....the fun of a wood stove.  I've told everyone to give me a good swift kick in the butt this summer when I start complaining about the temperature.  Because I know I will.

But seriously, it may have been cold yesterday but it was a perfect day.  I did nothing but sit on the sofa with my little dog covered up with quilts.  I watched movies, I read, I did a little handquilting....it was great.  Did manage to get the heat up to 70 inside.  Early in the morning I started a big pot of ham and bean soup, made a pan of brownies (which were devoured in no time).  As I was thinking about how cold I was with my socks, long underwear, flannel nightgown and sweatshirt, I also said a silent thanks that it was 2014 and not 1814.  I don't think I would have fared well in 1814.  Or maybe I would have been a little tougher. 

It was so stinkin' cold out that I seriously thought about bringing Clover and the goats into the basement.  But with the straw and with their cuddling with each other, they are plenty warm.  As are the cats who do hang out in the basement - you know, the cats who refuse to eat the mice.  You know, the mice who nest in my sweaters and jump out when I have the nerve to put the sweater on because I am cold and want to go to work.  And the chickens are warm - both the ones in the coop and the ones in the milkhouse.  And the young ones are still laying.  Faithfully.  Two eggs a day.  I don't know what it is between Thanksgiving and Christmas when I am doing my baking and am using a ton of eggs. I don't know why they don't lay during that time.  They never have.  It must be a chicken thing.

But another few days of cold although tonight will feel like a heatwave - it is supposed to be 10 degrees.  I'll probably have to get out my summer jammies and leave a window open.




Still not perfect.






So maybe this perfection crap is really getting to me.  I guess it is.  Aside from making perfect quilts, making perfect grades, the perfect cup of coffee, the perfect time, the perfect place.........I happen to think it is perfectly acceptable to be mediocre.  And I am damn good at being mediocre.  I do well enough to be proud of myself. I push myself enough that I am exerting some effort while still enjoying what I am doing. For me, perfection is kind of like thinking about infinity.  It makes my head want to explode.  If we are all perfect, well then what? I'm safe. I'll never be perfect and I am happy for it. Besides, I'm not sure who determines perfection. On campus, it seems as if perfection - or is it conformity - manifests itself in a black Northface jacket, partially untied Bean boots and a vague, automaton-like facial expression.  It seems that if you are that doofus wearing his high school varsity jacket or something other than of the moment outwear, you just don't meet the standard of perfection and you never will. 

I feel like I spend a great deal of my time trying to become something I am not, looking for things that aren't there, believing in stuff that doesn't exist and the whole time that I am seeking these things, I'm missing my life. I think perhaps, that I need to focus on what I like, quit worrying about what I don't like and quit complaining.  And be perfectly fine with my mediocre self.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thoughts

Another post that I forgot to publish!


It surprises me how little there is to write about in the winter.  My life has a routine to it: get up, feed the animals, go to work, go home, fix dinner, do dishes, sew. That kind of makes me sad. I’m not sure why – I like every thing that I do.  It is dark when I get home from work so except for on weekends, I don’t get to see my goats, chickens and pony – only their silhouette against my headlamp when I care for them in the morning.  
But there is something to be said about the bone-chilling January February nights. When it is perfectly acceptable to put on jammies, grab a mug of something warm, and cuddle under a quilt with your favorite dog.  There’s something about being safely inside an old, old house with the foundation built of logs while the wind is whistling outside.  Even having to slosh outside in the middle of the night to toss some wood in the furnace isn’t so bad if you know there’s a warm spot waiting for you when you come back inside. 

I honestly haven’t had too many nights where I collapsed on the coach with my little dog and just stayed there.  For the past year, I’ve been working hard on making – and finishing- quilts.  And I’ve been enjoying it.  My latest project with is nearly done, uses colors that are not normally my preferred palette.  But I think I’m going to like it very much.  The next quilt will be for my daughter – an ocean waves quilt. It will be made of memories of past trips to the ocean as well as in honor of the path she hopes to follow in marine science.  I hope that when she looks at this quilt, she will remember all the fun times we’ve had at the beach. There's just something about a quilt.
 
Winter Wonderland

There are strange and mysterious sounds
When the winds of winter blow,
The long nights are crystal clear and cold,
And the fields and meadows are covered with snow.
The stars are frosty against the sky,
And the wind's whistle is shrill,
As the snow blows against the house
And drifts against the hill.
Yet, I like to see during the winter
A white carpet on the ground,
To plod aimlessly in the deep snow,
where deer tracks abound.
I like to feel the stillness
Of a crisp winter's night,
Watching a full moon rise over the horizon,
Exposing a winter wonderland beautiful and bright.
Joseph T. Renaldi

Prep work.

I went to a quilting retreat last November.  The project for the weekend was a bargello quilt - very beautiful and nothing I've ever really wanted to do.  But the quilt included maple leaves which evened out the bargello that I didn't like.  I didn't like bargello because it looks complicated (it is!) and I never attempted one.  So being that the retreat was being held in a most gorgeous mansion with meals included, I felt that maybe making a bargello wouldn't be so bad.

Another reason that I took the plunge was because my mother-in-law showed me a picture of a bargello wall quilt that she really liked.  I thought she wanted to make one but after thinking about it, I figured that maybe it would be nice if I made her one.

So I attended the retreat and found that the bargello wasn't so difficult if one kept track of the rows of quilt blocks.  I felt that my project wasn't half bad.  So I decided that I would indeed make my mother in law a wall quilt like the one she found in the book.  Because I had a few projects underway, I wasn't able to jump into the project.  It has now been 3 months and I've decided to do a quick wall hanging for Valentine's Day using bargello instructions.  We'll see how it goes.  Reading  the instructions makes my head want to fall off.  I do much better if I am able to do and see how things work.

So since I wasn't able to get that photo uploaded in time to post this when I wrote it, I've gone ahead and finished the wallhanging.  Just as expected, it was easy to do once I had the fabric cut out and could see what I was doing.  So there we go......now just to quilt it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What happens at home.

So I've been feeling not so great the past day or two - sick enough that I really shouldn't venture too far from home.  I honestly was concerned as to whether my dogs would allow me to get any rest during the day.  I should not have been concerned. Not in the least.  The photos here show the extent of the canine activity in the house today.

The only thing stirring was the mouse.  The mouse who, despite having six cats, still lives quite comfortably in my kitchen.

So I have figured out how to add new pictures to my blog.  I am thrilled.  For some reason, I hate to write if there are no photos - even when the photos have absolutely nothing to do with the blog content.




Perfection


I belong to a couple of different Facebook groups where members share ideas, provide support and show photos of their finished or in progress quilts.  It is amazing how many - a majority - of the posters preface their message with disclaimers of imperfection.  I cringe when I read "I know this isn't perfect but..." or "try not to look at the mistakes" when sharing a picture of one of their creations.  I am guilty of this as well.  When I think of where we are, the tools we now have in terms of quilt designs such as rotary cutters and computer-aided design in comparison to the cardboard templates, pencils and scissors, I've no doubt where this need for perfection comes.  Which is sad because a person's creation is a work of perfection in itself.  I saw something on TV that showed a new technology that allows a person to draw on paper and have that design appear on a computer screen which allows the design to be manipulated in such a way that it is perfect.  That would be awesome for me considering every attempt i make to draw a person more resembles a chicken.  And that is not an exaggeration.  Let's face it - not everyone is the same type of artist.  If my chicken-people could be computer-adjusted to look like a human, then that unique part of my "style" is gone.  My art is no longer my own - it is just another computer generated design that can be copied by hundreds of other quilters.
I make mistakes.  I piece things together wrong and don't notice until the whole thing is quilted.  But that is the beauty and the uniqueness of my quilts.  For the sake of art, I hope that in the pursuit of perfection - we don't lose our art.