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Archive for February, 2011

For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I’ve got the perfect amount of busy going on in my life. A balance between activity and rest, nights out and nights in. It’s the amount of busy that I’ve been hoping for and trying for for so long, but just never achieved. And it’s been years, too, too many years. My too-busy-ness before was entirely self-wrought, I do realise, but still. It’s temporary, I also realise, and all too soon I’ll be right back to too busy again. But for now I’m savouring it. Last semester was crazy, and I barely had time to sleep, but this semester’s workload totally makes up for it. (Funny, now that I’m an instructor I’m like a student again – thinking about the year in terms of semesters.)

So, fortunately, lately I’ve had time lately to:

– Finish that patchwork baby quilt I showed you last post, and now I’ve started on the embroidery for another baby quilt, this time for my sister-in-law’s soon-to-be-released wee one. It’ll be another patchwork quilt, using the most darling charm pack fabric from Moda.

Listen to me: I actually sound like I know what I’m talking about. Really, everything I know about quilting (which is very, very little) so far I’ve learned from the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s online tutorials. Jenny’s my favourite – she’s hilarious and I love her gel nails.

– Take a one-day drawing class on ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ with the Vancouver School Board. Just for fun, of course. I have absolutely no dreams of actually being a good artist – I still draw like I’m twelve, as I’ve mentioned. But it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years, so I was glad to finally do it. But it definitely confirmed the fact that I still draw like I did when I was twelve. My favourite things to draw then were hamsters and gymnasts.

And the class was in a high school science lab, so that was cool.

– Write a new picture book manuscript. Not sure exactly what I’ll do with it, but it’s an idea I’d had for a while, and I sure was glad that I found the time to write it. And last week I put Keaton in daycare for a few hours and worked on the edits for my new novel that’s coming out in the fall. That’s been my dream for a long time, too, to work on creative writing in a coffee shop.

So yeah, I’m enjoying all this extra creative time while it lasts. ‘Cause I know that pretty soon Too Busy will come along and kick me in the ass again. But, for now, it’s all good.

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So, the baby quilt that I’ve been telling you about for, oh, about three months now is finally finished, in all its imperfect, uneven, slightly tattered glory. I may look slightly bleary-eyed here because because I pressed it, topstitched it, pinned it and then tied it all in one sitting (quite a bit to handle for this incredibly novice quilter). The tying happened during an episode of Top Gear, so at least I was able to giggle at James May being taught to drive fast by an old Scottish racing driver while I tied knot after knot with embroidery thread. Actually, the tying went remarkably fast and I am grateful to my friend Robin for suggesting it, rather than actually quilting it. Phew!

I have many friends and family members who could do this sort of thing in their sleep, but it’s one of those personal victory things. Yeah, it’s just a bunch of squares sewn together, but I’m impressed with myself because a) I actually finished the darn thing, and b) it didn’t turn out as horrendously horrible as I thought it might. I expected a total mess, with wrong seams everywhere and absolutely nothing matching up. Okay, so some of the squares do not match up at all, but that adds character, non?

Who knows, maybe next time I’ll sew together some actual quilting squares. Hmmmm…

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“…she asked me if I could maybe pick up a small jar of peanut butter on my way home from work. Absolutely! Before that day, I had never heard her express even a mild interest in peanut butter. I’d stopped eating it myself. I jabbed a tablespoon vertically into the new six-ounce jar I had chosen for her and left the arrangement in the middle of the kitchen table for her to find when she got out of her shower; and then I thought better of this over-preparation and pulled the spoon out and smoothed out its C-shaped intrusion and tightened the lid again so that she might want (as I certainly had wanted years before) the pleasure of being the first to dig into the lunar surface herself. She probably would want to use a knife and make a sandwich anyway, I thought. I put the spoon in the sink. But half an hour later I found her flipping through an in-flight magazine with the jar open on the arm of the couch and a teaspoon upside down in her mouth. Tears came to my eyes. ‘Straight from the jar, baby!’ I said.”

– Nicholson Baker, Room Temperature

Oh yes, I do love de-virginizing a brand new jar of peanut butter. And whenever I do, I think of this passage from Room Temperature. I’ve spoken of my love of this book (here and here), and all of Mr. Baker’s books, before – and I love having these everyday reminders of the loveliness of his writing.

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I really don’t know why I attempted a lame Phil Collins reference there. Oh well.

Moving right along, you can see what falls off of my productivity chart once I start trying to go to bed at a decent hour. Yes indeed, clearly blog posts were something that was part of my late-night creative output regime. I’m still trying to figure out how to still have a decent level of aforementioned creative output while still aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Midnight – 2am used to be my golden hours, people!

That said, there has been some making of things going on in the background since my last, long-ago post. As my post title suggests, I have moved my messy pile of crafty crap from what is now Keaton’s room (also our dining room), and into a corner of our living room. My crafty crap pile was languishing in the dining room, mainly because now that Keaton goes to bed at about 6:30 or 7pm (bless him), well, I couldn’t exactly be in there with the light on, chonking away on my sewing machine.

So, I moved my little table and sewing machine into the living room by the window, and put my fabrics and notions and stuff into a stack of vintage suitcases (two of them picked up at the Fort Langley Antiques Mall on a recent Sunday outing), thereby creating a slightly less messy pile of crafty crap that I will now dub my “studio.” I say “studio” with the quotes around it so as not to water down the term – as studios should really be for artists and crafters who are actually good at making stuff. But maybe I’ll get there one day.

My “studio”

The day I did that, I felt so inspired that I got right back to work on the baby quilt for my black-lovin’, bird-lovin’ friend that I wrote about a couple of months back (yep, not much progress), and started laying it out on the floor. Since this photo I have sewn three of the rows together, and they seem to be coming together fairly well. (It’s true – dining room/baby sleeping excuse aside, I do not work quickly!). I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing – I’m just guessing at basic quilting and doing 1/4″ seam allowances, ironing as I go along, etc. My greatest fear is that when I go to sew all of the rows together, it’ll be a wonky, unmatched thing that will look totally ridiculous. I’ve always had a hard time sewing a straight seam.

Baby quilt layout in progress

I shall continue to post quilty updates as they come. Wish me luck!

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