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? 🙂

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Patchwork Times–Birthdays, Un-Decorating and Finishes

Since the New Year’s holiday, I’ve been trying to find my motivation. It seems to have gone on walkabout without me. I know this is what happens when I “take a break” from major projects, which is exactly why I don’t do it to often. I find it really difficult to get into the grove again, even after just a day or two of being away from work, whatever the “work” is at that moment. So I can’t say that I’ve been terribly constructive in the past week and a half, partly due to that absent motivation, but also partly due to normal “stuff,” like:

A birthday

LittleOne’s 12th Birthday celebration, and

Patches and XMAS

The Christmas take-down, despite the cats “helping”.

Finished quilt!

I did, however, finish up the last few quilts for The Book, and I mailed them to AQS yesterday.

WooHoo! Now that the manuscript is really finished, I can move on to some other related tasks: creating classes and workshops, programming the website that goes with the book, and programming my online shop so it can open by mid-May. Whew! Stage 2, comin’ up! Motivation, please come home…

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Taking a Breath

The manuscript for The Book is D.O.N.E. Done! I finished writing and drawing diagrams and editing photos today. I do still have to complete three of the quilts (they have been started, but my editor said that it would help them if I finished up the manuscript so that they could get that asap, and the quilts could come later). I also have to separate out the text and pictures and diagrams into separate files and such, so that it’s in the right format to submit, but I’m going to take a break for a few days, and finish that up right after Christmas. I can look at the text one more time with fresh eyes after I’ve been away from it for a few days and give it one more editing run through.

Whew! What this all means is that I really did know exactly how long it would take me to finish all of this. I told the editor around the first of November that I could have everything done by the end of December, and that’s exactly how it’s turned out. I had it figured that there wasn’t a lot of time for anything but working on the manuscript and the quilts; no lunches with ITMan or friends, no breaks for casual shopping, not a lot of reading for pleasure (and I miss my reading!), none of those extracurriculars.

Other than that, it means that now I can take a small breath, try to catch up a bit and make Christmas as close to normal as it can be at this point. ITMan and I are going out shopping tomorrow and Monday to see what last minute small things we can pull together for each other and the kids, and get the food shopping for Christmas done. I might work in some Christmas baking on Sunday and Monday as well, and then I do have to make Christmas Tree Bread dough on Tuesday and shape the loaves on Wednesday, because it’s just NOT Christmas without it.

Right now, I’m headed to bed early, to read the book that’s been on my bedside table since I bought it in Houston. It’s a new book about Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey, one of my favorite authors, and it’s been sitting there calling me since the end of October. I’m sure Shadow will join me there (he’s still doing well, and we’re all looking forward to Monday when he can have stitches removed and get rid of the collar), and Patches may even deign to share me and the bed with him for a bit. *sigh* It’s the little things.

Edit: And for any of you who have been reading since last year, I did (finally) update the Christmas Tree Bread recipe post with pictures of the bread, such as they are. Maybe I can remember to get even better pictures this year!