Clearing the mechanism

I’ve been feeling a bit overloaded and distracted lately, with this nagging, but just out of reach feeling that I’m not quite doing what I should be or really want to be doing. Sometimes it’s easy to get completely sidetracked by minutiae that in the scheme of things means (or will mean) absolutely nothing, and just serves to take attention from the real goals.

I received two quilting magazines in Wednesday’s mail, the final 2007 issue of $100,000 Quilting Challenge, and the January issue of American Quilter. As a perfect example of how distracted and distanced from quilting I’ve let myself become, I put those two magazines aside to read “later.” Later could have been next week or next month, which is sad, considering how good most things quilting related are for my mental state.

After a rather bad day Thursday that started with waking up to a huge, borderline migraine headache and a critical, unconstructive, snotty email from someone who has absolutely no right to be so, I decided that what I really needed to do to destress for a bit was quilt. Just quilt, and ignore the rest, because it’ll either go away without intervention and/or thought on my part, or it’ll all still be there when I get back to it.

So I shoved everything else on the back burner and quilted The Misery Quilt for a good chunk of time on Thursday evening. Friday I grabbed those two quilting mags that I’d set aside and flipped through while I ate my lunch, and finally realized that I’ve been spending too much time on stupid things that I shouldn’t even need to care about, and not enough time quilting and working toward my goals: making that prizewinning quilt, growing in my art, and nurturing my creative side. Continue reading “Clearing the mechanism”

The magic of cookies

I remember when we moved to this house, my girls used to scoot around to the other side of the house to see the landlords. Our landlords are retired and have grown kids and grandkids of their own, but they’ve always treated us almost as their own as well. When my girls would end up in their part of the yard or I’d send them over to relay some message or other, the girls would always come back clutching a few doppelkeks cookies, large round biscuit cookie sandwiches with a chocolaty hazelnut filling:


The girls used to love these cookies, and I must admit to eating a few myself! Today I visited the landlords (to tell him I needed help with an electrical issue in the kitchen!), and I came home with my own “handful” of cookies:

Christmas Cookies

Our landlady wouldn’t let me leave without sharing an entire plate of the cookies she’s been baking. And homemade German cookies are soooo good—Yumm! I couldn’t even get these pics posted before half of them disappeared down the kids’ throats! Time for a coffee and cookie break; add in a couple of quilt magazines, and I’m set.

Movies, but no popcorn

I was supposed to be packing the car right about now to head for the Carrefour European du Patchwork in the Val d’Argent to soak up endless inspiration and hunt for unique fabric and quilty stuff. Instead, I’m sitting here SICK with the flu!! UGH! Sometimes life is just not fair. Yeah, I could have gone anyway I suppose, but I didn’t figure I’d enjoy it much, what with a strange bed, strange food and not much rest.

So while my friends are enjoying the quilts and shopping, I’ll be on the couch with hot tea, Tylenol, tissues and DVD’s to distract my mind from the condition of my head and body. Honestly, I haven’t been sick enough to stay on the couch for days at a time in about five years so I guess it was my turn, though I could wish fate had chosen a better week! Yesterday I caught up on some of the movies that we’ve purchased lately but I haven’t watched: Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (eh, definitely not as great as the first), The Devil Wears Prada (very cute), Just Like Heaven (cute-ish), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (interesting but very strange), and Memoirs of a Geisha (pretty good, and might prompt me to read the book).

Probably all of them but Pirates will find a place in the “too be watched again” category. (As an aside, when is another series like Lord of the Rings going to come around? Those were great movies, arguably my favorite ever, with huge “watch it again” appeal. Even the good movies since then are somewhat pale by comparison.) I like to watch movies while I machine quilt or do bindings, but can’t watch movies I’ve never seen before or I don’t get anything done since I end up paying too much attention to the movie. If I’ve seen it before, I can just listen and look up at the important parts!

Today I’ll scour the house for more movies, but maybe by tomorrow I can get back to quilting, or work which is piling up a bit as well. Since I was supposed to be gone to the quilt show, I’m not feeling too bad about the work part. The worst part: I’ll probably feel better just in time to take care of ITMan and the kids while they’re sick. 😦 I see a trip to the PX for more movies coming on…

We went to Ikea and came home with an English antique

English antiqueThe only thing that makes a Saturday morning visit to Ikea slightly more inviting than something like oral surgery is the lack of a strictly soft diet for a week afterward, but it is indeed a near thing. Saturday morning at the local Ikea is the stuff of nightmares: no place to park that isn’t in the back 40, kids running everywhere with oblivious parents, people milling around dazed looking and paying no attention to anything that might be in the path of their cart, and then there’s the pushy people: after I’d been patiently waiting for my turn at the “find the bin that your get it yourself furniture is stocked in” touch screen while the guy in front of me was using it as a catalog (after I’d already been through the parking lot madness, and narrowly missed being broadsided by carts and flying kids just to get that far), then this pushy woman thinks she’s going to dive in front of me at the terminal. Elbows at the ready, I saw her coming and held my ground. I thought my head would explode before we could get what we wanted and escape the insanity, computer desk in hand.

English deskAfter starting the weekend off like that, it can only get better, right? Off home for lunch, then pack the family into the “not exactly a family vehicle” Mustang for a trip to the PX. Now, lately I’ve started my visits to this hallowed hall of military shopping with a stop at the tapestry shop which recently started carrying antique furniture, which sometimes makes the whole trip worthy of the time it takes and the frustration of shopping at Aafes in general. Before I could ever get as far as the tapestry shop on Saturday though, I was distracted by a new vendor in the mall: an antiques vendor no less. Hee hee, now we’re talking. They were only just unloading a (large) truck full of furniture, and already the buyers were circling.

We did our other shopping inside the PX, and stopped back in to circle the antiques shop some more before we quit for home. And there, sitting off to the side, was this wonderful little desk on wheels with two drawers and drop leaves on each side. No less than three other people looked at this beauty while I chatted up the owner and the sales person, and hemmed and hawed over whether to take it home. They knocked a bit off of the “original” price, and I was sold.

English desk

Sure, it’s probably a bit of overkill for a laptop, especially with the surrounding decor, not to mention harder on the checkbook than the cheapo Ikea solution, but it’s also infinitely classier and I can see lots of other things to do with this piece in future incarnations of our house. It’ll fit just about anywhere (in a decent sized house anyway), work in lots of different rooms, with one chair as a desk or two as a game table, or in any number of other ways and places. I already have a couple of side chairs that will be perfect with it when it’s done doing laptop duty. What’s not to love?? Unfortunately, this really is absolutely the last thing bigger than a bread box that I can buy unless I start knocking down walls, and as I said, I don’t think the landlord will go for that. 😦 And the Ikea desk? Still in the box in the storage room, waiting for a move to a bigger house, where we’ll probably need it anyway. ITMan was glad he skated out of putting it together, albeit temporarily!

Too squashed to quilt!

My quilting room/studio area gets smaller every day, it seems. I fondly remember the days when my kids would leave the house at 7:30 a.m. to get on the bus for school, and wouldn’t be back until 3:45 in the afternoon. Talk about productivity! I had my own room for all my quilting stuff, and I’d spend the day there and it was always nice and quiet. Heavenly!

These days, things are a bit less productive around here. My quilting room is now shared with ITMan’s closets and dressers for his clothes, and two other computer areas/desks besides my own. I have both my girls here for school now, and we’re one big happy family (mostly). We all come down to start the day around 8:00 a.m., school for them and work for me. So much for the quiet! This house seemed huge when we moved in seven years ago, but I think it has shrunk down to Barbie size somewhere along the way. Maybe when we washed it, it lost a size or two?? See I knew cleaning house was a bad idea! Dust is a preservative!

…what we really need to do is knock down the whole outside wall of the house and add about a thousand square feet…

On the calendar for this weekend is a trip to Ikea for another computer desk solution. Yes, I realize that all we lack here in this Barbie house is another piece of furniture! However, it will soon be time to start the machine quilting on The Misery Quilt (finally!), and with GuitarGirl taking up a good portion of my quilting table with the laptop for school, I don’t have any place to machine quilt anything. So off we go to purchase a rolling computer desk thing to add to the already cramped quilting/dressing/computer room when what we really need to do is knock down the whole outside wall of the house and add about a thousand square feet to the whole house. I’m not sure our landlord would spring for that though, so Ikea it is.

When we look for a new house (let that be soon!), it’s going to be interesting when I tell the rental agent/realtor that I need something that has at least five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a den/bonus room type thing, as well as all the usual rooms, super high speed internet lines, and oh, by the way, make sure there’s no noisy neighbors around and it needs to be near ITMan’s office so he has a short commute. Nothing like being high maintenance, right? Do other people have these space issues?

How your location affects your creativity

Do you think it doesn’t matter where you are, you can still be creative? Not so, or at least not completely so. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about your creativity, I’m talking (or grousing, as the case may be) about mine. My creative energy level is heavily dependent on my location. Here’s the vicious cycle: The design and construction process on the quilt is going well, a new idea hatches, experiments take place and the experiments look good, until I realize that I need x, y or z to really make it all work, and I can’t get my hands on x, y or z (because of my current location here in Germany) without ordering it from the States and waiting a week (or more) for it to arrive so I can continue on my merry creative way. Much angst and gnashing of teeth ensues while trying to find a way to avoid ordering x, y or z, but still make the new idea work. No good, and creativity comes to a screeching halt and the energy and enthusiasm levels plummet. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseam.

In this particular instance, x happens to be Sulky rayon embroidery thread in colors that are evidently not sold in Germany. Why this should be since the dang stuff is made here is completely beyond me. Maybe I could try a different brand of rayon, but I already have lots of Sulky, and it comes in spools of a reasonable size for someone like me, who just dabbles in the machine embroidery thing. I have some spools of Isacord, and they’re so huge, I’ll probably not get through them before it rots, and they’re more expensive anyway. And yes, it’s The Misery Quilt, again. If it ever gets to the quilting part, I’ll believe in miracles. I guess I’ll go pack it all up, and try to find something else to work on until my thread gets here. /grousing done now, thank you.