Bright Lights

deer crossingMy parents live in a rural area in Southern Utah, about 40 miles from…well…anything. It’s a lovely area, mostly nice and quiet, with the expected wildlife like coyote, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, pheasant, elk and of course, the deer that wander all over and sometimes visit the yard. When we lived in Las Vegas (and when I’ve returned to the area on vacation since then), it was always imperative to plan arrival times at their house for the daylight hours, at least for me. See, if I headed for their house in the late afternoon, I was always sorry, because I’d be driving through the countryside on these twisty, curvy, two-lane roads at twilight or after dark, sharing road space with the deer.

If I didn’t time it right, I’d arrive at their house completely stressed out with aching knuckles from gripping the steering wheel so hard, just waiting for that deer to jump out in front of the car from the side of the road. What a great start to a vacation, huh? I never hit one, but I was always just sure that at some point I would, and I’d be facing those scared, shining eyes across the hood of my car as I came around a blind turn and the headlights landed on a family of deer standing in the road. My parents’ house is great, except for the getting there part!

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve felt a strong kinship with those deer though. I remember the talent show in high school, where I stood there with my platter of cookies that I’d baked, because I didn’t sing or dance or act or twirl a baton, and baking was the only thing I could think of as a “talent.” Yep, I’m sure I looked just like those deer as I stood on that stage.

I remember standing on another stage, this time in Lyon, France at the Quilt Expo in 1996. There was a show and tell gathering, where you brought your quilts or wearable art to show to the audience gathered in this giant hall. Anyone could go up on stage and share what they’d brought, all you had to do was fill out a card and stand in line until it was your turn. Judy Murrah, of Jacket Jazz fame, was the emcee, and would read what you wrote on the card as you walked across the stage and showed your quilt.

I’m not sure what convinced me that I wanted to go up there since I’ve always had a major case of stage fright, but somehow I found myself up on that stage showing off my own Jacket Jazz jacket for all of the thousand people in the audience to see. My best friend Dawn was in the audience way in the back in the standing room only section, and even from there she could see that “deer in the headlights” look that I was wearing along with my jacket! I think I literally shook inside my shoes for a good hour after I clambered off the stage and made my escape.

And then there was last Friday. One of the things that happens when your book is published by AQS is that you are expected to teach at one of the AQS shows around the time the book is published, and I guess if all goes well, they’ll have you back for another round (or two, or more). I’ve been talking with the AQS show director about when this might happen, and she originally said that she had me on the schedule for the Paducah show in 2010, which sounded great since I didn’t have to panic about it quite yet. It was sort of “off in the distance”; in mind, but not right up front where I might start to get worried about it.

I mean, I’ve taught classes before obviously, but I think there’s a HUGE difference between teaching at the Gussy Goose in Stuttgart, or teaching for the local quilt guild, and teaching at one of the biggest quilt shows in the U.S! 😯 So yes, I knew I was headed for this major thing, and I’ve been working on developing workshops that are related to the subject material of my book, since that’s what I thought AQS wanted for the shows.

Friday night, I got an email from the AQS show director saying that I’d be teaching at Des Moines in October, 2009, instead of Paducah in April, 2010. Not only that, but instead of 3.5 days full of classes related to my book, the show director only wants 1.5 days of classes related to the book, and will look at other classes that I teach if I submit them. Eeeek! There it is again, that deer imitation that I do so well.

I sat here, staring at the email, truly wondering what the heck I was going to do. Could any of my current workshops be reworked to fit into a national show format? Is there anything else I have waiting in the wings that would be suitable? I want to teach the full 3.5 days, since it’s such a long way to go for me from here, so I needed to fill out my class offerings with other techniques. I tend to teach long classes with multiple sessions which is not what you get to do at a national quilt show. Three hour focused sessions is the mainstay. I’d been developing book related workshops, but now they didn’t want as many as I had, and oh, by the way, they need my class descriptions NOW, since the registration guide has to be ready by April!

Stuff for new classes

Since imitating a deer wasn’t going to fix it, I got to work. I spent the weekend pulling it together, and reminding myself that I really can do this! I worked on a couple of new workshops and reworked some current ones, so I’ll share some pics in the next few days. And of course, I’ll let you know how it all goes with the show director, but at the moment, I’m making plans to be in Des Moines in October! Want to join me? 🙂

Thank You to Friends (the New Year’s Post that wasn’t)

I’ve been meaning to write this post since yesterday, you know, one of those “here’s what was good and not so good about last year, and here’s what’s on the to-do list for next” kind of posts, but to be honest, I’m just not feeling all that introspective at the moment. Introspection requires hard thinking, and I’m still enjoying the (relative) leisure of the holiday for what it’s worth.

I could go back and read last year’s New Year post (and I actually did read it yesterday), and think about the things that I wanted to do that went undone (and eventually got dropped altogether for various reasons), and try to figure out what all I want to accomplish this year, but I’m already down for that runaway train that is the quilt book publication and all the other projects that go along with that, and taking the time to list it all out task by task probably isn’t going to get me anywhere at the moment. That and all the rest of the more personal and family things will either get done or they won’t, as time allows.

I will say this: there’s sometimes a lot to be said for being too busy doing to think too much on what’s happening or not happening in life. Events often happen in a certain order and at a certain time because they’re meant to happen that way, despite the fervent massaging we often do trying to make things happen. And that’s about as far into deep introspection as I’m going to go right now.

More importantly, the point of this “New Year’s post that wasn’t” is that I want to tell you how much I appreciate you being here, reading, lurking, commenting, sharing. I enjoy knowing each of you through our conversations here and on your blogs. Thank you for inviting me to share your life at your blog; I’m glad I get to see the world through your eyes every now and again. Have a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2009, friends!

Bernina 440 – My favorite “feature”

When I was twelve and I asked my mom to teach me to sew, one of the first lessons was how to use her Riccar sewing machine. It was a pretty high-end model, built to last, and as far as I know, still runs great. The only thing I specifically remember from that lesson was my mother’s stern admonition: “Never, NEVER, turn the hand wheel backwards.” She threatened me with death if I did it, and demonstrated how to turn the handwheel properly. She meant that the handwheel on the machine should never be turned away from me as I was seated at the machine, and she explained that that would cause the threads to tangle and possibly break the machine.

Many years later, I was quite surprised by how many people I saw doing just that in classes, and wondering why the threads were all jammed up and they couldn’t get the fabric out of the machine. I guess they missed that part of the lesson? More recently, I’ve (carefully) risked my mother’s wrath by turning the handwheel on my Pfaff backwards just one half of a complete turn, to get the needle to come back up without completing the stitch if I’ve taken just that one stitch too many (or the stitch landed in the wrong place) when I’m machine quilting. (Theoretically my mother wouldn’t care anymore, since it’s not her costly machine I’d be breaking, but do me a favor and keep my malefaction between you and me!)

One half of a complete rotation of the handwheel doesn’t seem to damage the machine, but frequently it will tangle the threads, so sometimes the technique works and other times it doesn’t. If it works, I’ve saved myself taking out a whole line of machine quilting because there’s one wrong stitch at the end. If it doesn’t, sometimes I can keep stitching (and ignore the little jig of the misplaced stitch or try to work it into the design somehow) and other times the threads are so tangled that stopping and restarting is the only option. It’s a 50-50 chance with the Pfaff. Read More

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:

Doppelkeks

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.

Is there a “Turning 40” quilt pattern?

I must be getting old. It doesn’t seem like 40 should feel that old, and in fact it didn’t bother me when I turned 40 in March this year. Of course, to my children, I’m ancient, and to my husband, I’m young. I’m nine years younger than ITMan, which is not so much, until you remember that he grew up in the 70’s and I was an 80’s child, and there are some vast differences in attitude based on that. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective when you’re talking about age. To me, 65 seems old, but now some of my readers may be sending “Who’re you calling old?” comments my way. 😉

Forgetting things almost always bites you in the butt, one way or another…

Whatever your perspective on the age issue, I’m starting to feel old sometimes, like when I can’t remember things. Part of the problem is just having too much creative stuff bouncing off the walls in my head, and the non-creative stuff just can’t compete so it just gets out of the way and then goes into hiding. (As an aside, I don’t have nearly as much trouble in the memory department as ITMan, who seems like he’s battling early-onset Alzheimer’s sometimes!) I write more notes these days, which is a good thing because I absolutely HATE to forget things. Forgetting things almost always bites you in the butt, one way or another, by inconveniencing yourself or worse, someone else.

It’s finally gotten to the point where I write notes about sewing machine settings or other quilting-related tidbits about certain techniques, so that I can remember them when I go to do something again. Only problem is, I tend to lose little bits of paper quite easily. Ok, they’re not exactly lost, just buried under other bits of paper, and sometimes fabric and such. Read More

The 2000 Bloggers Connection

Last month, I heard about a project called 2000 Bloggers. The original idea was the brain child of Tino Buntic. In his words:

55 million blogs…

I’d like to showcase all of them, but I’ve settled on just 2000 bloggers.

Bloggers come from all walks of life! Some are SEO experts. Some are writers. Some are sports enthusiasts. Some are affiliate marketers. Some are business professionals. Some are political. ALL HAVE OPINIONS!!!

Some bloggers blog to make money. Some do it for fun.

I thought, what the heck? Might as well join in. Since then, I’ve had a lot of traffic, of course, and I do hope that the folks who have stopped by have enjoyed, and possibly become regular readers. I think the whole project is interesting, and has spawned another whole “community” inside the blogging community. Speaking of community, I found the 2000 Bloggers project through 9rules, another sort of blogging community, where I’ve been hanging out a lot recently. 9rules is about great content, interesting blogs and fun people. I did submit this site to Round 5 hoping to be accepted as a member, but the jury that is Mike, Scrivs and Tyme is still out on that one. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy 9rules, of course, and I spend quite a bit of time over there lately in the Notes section, chatting with folks from around the world. Who knows, I might be the token textile artist over there.

I’m trying to write the right mix of quilts and quilting, cats, fun, and life. Sometimes those things juxtapose, and, well, sometimes they absolutely don’t!

Back here at home, I still consider myself new at this blogging thing, and I want to get better at it. I’m trying to write the right mix of quilts and quilting, cats, fun, and life. Sometimes these things juxtapose, and, well, sometimes they absolutely don’t! Right now, it’s time for an assessment of where this blog is going, and I’d love to hear comments and suggestions: what is great about this blog, and what could be better? Is it content that keeps you coming back, or could the design be improved? If you’ve been lurking, come out, leave a comment, say hi and share your thoughts. Blogging isn’t just about reading, it’s about communicating, too. It’s a two way street. It took me a while to break out of my lurker status on a few of the blogs I read regularly, but now I “get it” and it’s so much more personal and fun.

At the new home of 2000 Bloggers, Malditang Pinay sums it up:

Once again this proves that the blogosphere is not just about links and content, but about people from all parts of the world reaching out to each other, crossing geographical and communication boundaries, and connecting. The possibilities are endless.

That’s what it’s all about. Make it so.