Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mix Tape

The rig: 1991 Trailet New Yorker hooked to 1996 full-size Ford Bronco by way of a fancy load-levelling hitch.

The purpose: To transport one horse and his owner to and from hunt meets.

Average number of minutes spent in rig on the way to a meet, round trip: 50 minutes.

Length of mix tape from the summer of 1998 that is caught in the tape deck and cannot be adjusted volume-wise, fast-forwarded, rewound or ejected: 45 minutes.

Number of embarrassing tracks on said mix tape: 16.
To boot:
1. Summer Lovin' from Grease
2. Passionate Kisses: Mary Chapin Carpenter
3. What A Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong (somewhere in the middle of this one, the tape switches over to the other side, where we find:)
4. D'yer Maker: Led Zeppelin
5. Sunblock: Emmet Swimming
6. Real World: Matchbox 20
7. Just The Two Of Us: Will Smith
8. One Week: Barenaked Ladies
9. Build Me Up Buttercup: The Foundations
10. Pencil Thin Mustache: Jimmy Buffett
11. Love Is Strange: Mickey & Sylvia
12. Pure Imagination (you know, from Willy Wonka): Smoking Popes (this one starts on one side and continues on the other.)
13. She's In Love With The Boy: Tricia Yearwood
14. Train Slows Down: Emmet Swimming
15. Saddle In The Rain: John Prine
16. If I Had A Million Dollars: Barenaked Ladies

Percentage of words I know by heart: 100.

I remember this tape, and even though I can't see it since it's stuck in the machine, I know that it's a pink and yellow plastic thing that used to be a mix of Disney songs given to me by my childhood friend Marion one Christmas. This is probably why I can hear a few bars of The Aristocats in the middle of that last track. I used to record over things all the time.

It's funny how this tape makes me remember exactly how I felt in the summer of '98. I only know that it was 1998 because that's the year that Emmet Swimming record came out--I had to look it up. They played that Sunblock song every morning that summer as bumper music for The Bob and Madison Showgram (back when it was still the Bob and Madison Showgram), and Margaret and I had that temporary job out in RTP alphabetizing all day in a windowless room packed with aisle upon aisle of grey metal filing cabinets. We got the job through ManPower, where either Katherine or Elizabeth worked, and we tried to get there as early as we could each morning, like 7:30, so that we could leave early to beat the traffic coming home. I remember that felt so early and so grown-up.

I guess not all of the songs are so embarrassing. But they feel half a world away from this dirt road.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dear Jane Update

This is D-6, Challenge. The latest pink block-- I'm running out of different pinks in my stash!

And here's the progress chart. Those are tiny wee little pieces of each of the fabrics I've used for the various blocks, glued on to the mock-up from the DJ computer program. They allow me to see at a glance which fabrics I've used, and to make sure that nothing looks too strange. Also it's a good motivation to see all those little squares filling in as I finish blocks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fall Quilt-along: Block 2

Here's my contribution for the second block in AmandaJean's quilt-along. I'm hoping that these will begin to look leafier and more fall-like once there are more blocks. I'm still loving these batiks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Gnome Wife

Every little gnomey needs a help meet, right? I finished this little lady today. Also from
the Wee Wonderfuls pattern. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving (if you're in the US)!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Feeling Gnomey

By the time we get to Thanksgiving, it's always feels like a headlong rush to Christmas and New Years' to me. So this week, I'm having a little trouble focusing on turkeys and yams with this guy filling my brain. This is, of course, the lovely Mr. Gnome from Wee Wonderfuls' great pattern. He's wool felt with a cotton backing made from an old plaid shirt.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fall Quilt-along: Block 1

I have joined AmandaJean's fall quilt-along over at Crazy Mom Quilts. The first block was great fun, and a good contrast from the tiny Dear Jane blocks that I've been working on over the past few months. These blocks came out 12.5" square. My thinking about the color scheme goes like this:

You know that moment in the spring when you step into the woods and suddenly everything is green? And it feels like a surprise because you could have sworn you were just there yesterday and all the trees and paths were grey and dead-looking? Well, for me there's a moment like that in the fall, too.

It usually happens after the first really good, really cold autumn rain storm around here-- the first day after the first really cold, wet night, when all the leaves are guaranteed to be changing. I was walking the pup in the park near our house last week, and the timing was perfect. I looked up to see slick, dark grey tree trunks broken up by bright yellow and orange and green leaves. And again, that autumn light, so clear and sharp, the light that makes the colors glow.

Up until now, all of my quilts (and I use the term loosely, as I'm much more interested in the patchwork than the quilting... I'll let you make of that what you will) have had light backgrounds, or have been so scrappy that their general value came out somewhere in the middle. So I was excited to try something with a dark background. The charcoal grey color is actually truer in the first photo, paired with the green batik, but it's interesting how the different contrast colors can play with our (and the camera's) perception of the grey. I'll use all batiks, in greens and golds and oranges, with a few reds and dark blues thrown in as the accent colors. I'm going to make two of each square in the quilt-along, in the hope that I'll come out with a queen-sized sampler quilt.

I'm hoping that I can capture some of that magic that I feel walking into that wet and bright leafy woods each fall.

Friday, November 16, 2007

C-1 Trooper Green's Badge

Another fall-colored Dear Jane block.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Find Yourself In This Picture

In the summer, you're never alone. Birds sing, bees buzz, grasshoppers jump out of the field ahead of you as you walk. The sun is there when you wake up, and with you as you eat dinner on the porch.

Then there's fall. It's windy and the trees seem awfully alive. Raining leaves down on you as you walk under their branches, or dropping them all on the ground in a neat circle while you aren't looking, a discarded summer ball gown.

But winter comes before you know it's here. The clouds get all dramatic and the sky's no longer bright-- now each color you see is tinged with grey. And you're alone. The living things are hibernating underground or underwater, and the wind whips down the lanes moving nothing but the rattling bare tree branches. It's quiet in a way that's unimaginable in the other seasons, and the air is cold in your lungs.

When you walk out into a frozen field full of cows, you feel like the only living thing around even though the cows are there. They are saving up, and they stare quietly at you, willing you not to break the silence. Not wondering who you are. But you know. You are you on ice. You distilled into only you and you alone. Facing the wind and the bright cold sun that will soon set.

I took this photo last weekend. There's a bald eagle that usually sits in a dead tree just out of this frame to the left. When we got out of our cars to take his picture, he took wing and flew across the lake, slow and swoopy and showing off. This photo was an attempt to catch him in flight, but you can see that he's not there.

This seems like one of those pictures that rich people in New York City would blow up really big on one wall of the bathroom in their tiny million dollar apartment. I wish I could reproduce it larger in this space. But look into the eyes of that longhorn in the middle. The only longhorn left after the others were auctioned off. She must have hidden somewhere on market day, when everybody else was rounded up. But that was months ago. And she's still here-- waiting for winter. Bring it on. Look into her eyes. She knows. And somehow this picture lets me know, too, in a way that standing there didn't. The sky and her stare tell me that the lonely ice is just around the corner. She's cool and clear as ice, and I can be, too. I'm ready to find myself again in that cold quiet.

(P.S. I know that I'm talking about the seasons a lot lately, but you'll have to indulge me. It feels like we're at a tipping point here-- things are really changing.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Colors of Fall

My brother Ted was in town this weekend, to help me with some of the tasks that have been impossible with my cracked rib. He helped me mow the lawn, rake some leaves, wash the dog. We've had some really warm weeks here in Virginia this fall. Most of October was in the 70s, and November hadn't been much different. Until this weekend, when I noticed all the fall colors around me. There's really something to that slanting pink-gold afternoon glow--it changes the colors outside and makes me want to change the colors that I work with inside. Yellow crunchy leaves as a backdrop for a white puppy.
Brown nubbly wool as a Christmas present-to-be.And cheery red dots as Dear Jane B-6 Wild Goose Chase. Even the name of this block sounds like fall.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

About My Speed

These little quilt blocks are about all I have energy for this week. This is Dear Jane A-12, 'Framed Fancy'. In reality, the block is about 4.5" square.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

B-9 Tinker Toy

Too bad you can't see the *inset* diagonal seams better in this one. Truly a joy to have it turn out so easily. Such a simple pleasure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


It's been a busy week, although I've had to sit very still. Last Wednesday, a slightly sore Joshua threw me headfirst over his left shoulder, and I landed on the still very hard ground flat on my back. I think I bruised a rib.

So this has been a week of quiet mending: the antique pillowcases that are so soft but are starting to get a few small holes, the old fences at the farm that always seem to start to fall apart with the softening of the ground in preparation for winter's freeze. And now my rib. I imagine it slowly knitting back together inside my back, as I knit together the holes in last winter's handknit socks, sitting on the sofa in the only comfortable position I can find.