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…


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!

Quilting: Good for the Soul

Yesterday wasn’t one of the best workdays for me in recent memory. Most of the time, I’m lucky enough that my job is essentially a hobby that I get paid for, but yesterday wasn’t the norm. One of my clients was in assault mode, and inundated me with 20 emails over the course of about 2½ hours, all of them containing requests for updates to their site or questions that needed to be answered now. Then they wanted to know why something they sent me last week wasn’t done, and I snapped a little, and told them it wasn’t done because I’d spent 20+ hours on the weekend working on their new site design and online shop programming, so that all that would all be ready for Monday’s telephone meeting, and since Monday, I’d been working on still other things for them. Sheesh.

By 11-ish, I was done with the day, but unfortunately, it wasn’t done with me. There were still all those updates to do, in addition to the thing from last week that wasn’t done yet. I started in on a fillable Adobe PDF form for the site, and spent more than three hours attempting to figure out how to make the boxes expand with the text. Oh puh-lease. Adobe Acrobat hasn’t ever been exactly user friendly; I mean, come on, how is it obvious that to make a PDF file, you “distill” it with the Distiller?!? Sure, that was version 5, but it’s still not much better in version 8.whatever that I have now, especially when you want to do something weird like “dynamic forms.” Add the LiveCycle forms creator program into the mix and it’s surely a recipe for stress.

I finally threw in the towel at 3:40 p.m. I thought I could see the way forward, but I was hot, tired, grouchy, I’d yelled at the kids when they started the screaming-meme stuff in the kitchen and told them to go outside, and I was just DONE. The way forward could wait for a bit. I grabbed a quilt, and sat down at the machine to try some sorely needed quilt therapy. I didn’t even have to think too hard about the task, since it was basic machine quilting that I’d already planned out, so it was pretty mindless.

Bernina Stitch RegulatorWithin about 15 minutes, I was calm, cool and collected. I spent the time until the dinner hour in a state of quilting bliss, happily creating. I was even relaxed enough to try something new; I removed the Bernina Stitch Regulator from the box for the first time since I bought the machine and used it for some straight line quilting. I’d tried the BSR at the workshop in Paducah with Diane Gaudynski when I borrowed a 440 machine to use, and wasn’t all that impressed, so I’d never tried to get to know my own after I bought the Bernina. I’ll share my thoughts about the BSR in a later post, but for what I was doing yesterday afternoon, I was pretty happy with the BSR, though we still have a ways to go before we are one, if that day ever comes.

The rest of the day was great, and I quilted more after dinner and late into the wee hours of this morning. I did try to keep the frustrations of the day out of my head, but even when I was thinking about them, I could be calm about it. Quilting does that for me most of the time, and today, it was like a thundershower in a desert.

And today? Well, the work is still there, and Adobe is still my nemesis. I hacked away at it again this morning, and finally gave up. Normally, I’m not a “give up” type of person; I tend toward the “me against it” mentality, and I keep searching for the answer until I find it, so that I can win. With this one though, I’ve looked, I’ve searched, I’ve hacked away at it for hours, and I’ve finally decided that it must take someone much smarter than me to figure it out. Never mind. I don’t want to win anymore, I just want it to go away.

I’m going to quit on this one so that I don’t get to the point today where I need a tranqulizer quilt therapy. Never let it be said that I don’t know when I’m beaten. I’m off to do some of the other updates that don’t involve fighting with Adobe, but there will be more quilting thundershowers later today, whether I need them or not!