Summer endings

I'm sitting on my porch, a place where I have spent the summer watching so many hummingbirds and butterflies that I lost count. Bees are healthy on my property, and we are constantly busy tearing down honeysuckle vines that threaten to strangle my two favorite dogwood trees. Our dear friends have departed over the weekend and many of the summer visitors to Lewes are packing up and leaving to go back to their busy lives in DC or Philly. And I mourn the loss of a summer gone too fast.

I did not accomplish all that I set out to accomplish. I had grand plans for several new compositions and I had wanted to start a new series. Five steps in Morocco dashed my plans but I would rate the summer a success nevertheless. I do not think I am a particularly good patient- basically since I have little patience for idleness. But enforced rest showed me a different side of myself.

I am not to content to rest so I occupied myself with some "fun" projects. I have long had an immense wall of fabric strips and I was bound and determined to whittle it down. That, I found, was an exercise in futility but it did allow me to play around with strip piecing which I found I was able to do with one hand. Ironing was against the rules but I found that I could lift the iron with my left hand, iron with my right hand and then turn it right side up with my left hand... a bit laborious but it worked. I spent many fine hours piecing fabric and assembling scrap quilts. As one fellow quilter said," Quite lovely but nothing ground breaking." I know that. But "ground breaking" was not in the cards this summer and "pretty" ended up being the word of the day. And in the end, I will end up with two nice bed quilts. I worried that I was wasting time, but had to give in to the fact that this was what I could do.
I was able to crop, with the help of my dear friend Robin, a very large piece that I have been working on. I could not pin it together but it waits for me the next time I return. And, I did manage one new composition that is coming home with me with the hopes that I will get the go ahead from my surgeon to do more heavy lifting with my right hand.

I learned this summer that I am totally comfortable being a solitary soul. Maybe I am too comfortable- but I spent days- actually weeks- alone with Barley and made off fine. I am happy in the studio and feel like I am shedding some of the frenetic quality that has dominated my personality for so long. Is that age or just getting comfortable being alone? I worry about re-entry to city life and all that waits for me in DC.

It has been a fine summer although I ate too few good tomatoes, ears of corn or BBQ. I did not put up the bushels of peaches that normally takes us through winter, and I did not make it down to the beach for all the sunsets I promised myself.

I have much to look forward to. A wonderful family bar mitzvah in two weeks, our traditional Rosh Hashana gathering at our house, a visit from my daughter, and hopefully a few details released on my son's engagement and eventual wedding. I love when the family is together, and we have so much to celebrate.

September. Beginning of the school year. Time to buckle down and look back on the lazy days of summer. I have ideas of a new series about my mother swirling in my head- not ready yet for my design walls. I have experiments to do with my indigo fabrics, and more investigation into kakishibu.
I may let my scrap quilts languish on the walls of my Lewes studio- waiting for time when I need to play. But they served me well and I will finish them. The school year is starting and I am ready.

by JudyK


You have to listen to this. Sol Lewitt's letter to Eva Hesse. It says it all.

by JudyK

Cultural appropriation

I am getting adept at working with my left hand with assistance from my right hand. I have been a brave soldier and toughed out 6 weeks with no driving and being marooned at my studio. I want to kvetch and complain and bitch about it... but then there is Houston. The unimaginable happens and everything that happens to you seems irrelevant and easy. The complaints dry up. The irritation subsides. And I realize how lucky I am. Really really lucky and fortunate. And when one realizes that the chaos for the victims is just beginning... well it can make a gal weep.

 I have spent the summer, fruitfully but not as planned. I really can not cut much or lift much right now. So I have been composing some, but mostly making parts for my scrap quilt. I have worked with my Japanese fabrics- which it turns out is a lot thicker and tougher than it looks- so hand quilting it takes a strength I do not yet have. But I am getting comfortable with ragged edges, strange textures, and stiff unbendable fabrics. It is a learning experience.

Along the way I have mused about cultural appropriation. I know there have been lots of chatter online regarding artists that may use items or issues from other cultures in their art. And I do not know which side of the fence I stand. But I do know that I have been thinking about it as I work on some of my new pieces.

I am working with lots of Japanese fabrics- mostly dyed with persimmon and some that have been made into sake bags. Studying how these bags are put together reveals a lot about the hand stitching that was used. And I am keeping some of the repaired areas and incorporating them into the work. This is not a fake boro piece- so I do not feel uncomfortable creating a "boro wannabe." But I do wonder if using the fabrics and some of the stitching techniques is really mine to use. Of course I am putting my own spin on this, and other than the fact that the fabric comes from Japan and China I doubt that most people would identify it as culturally Japanese... but still I think about it.

When does "borrowing" become "appropriation"? When does "influence" become "theft"? No answers here... but something that I think about as I sit in my studio and work.

by JudyK


I have tried to process Charlottesville and have failed. I have cried, read every news article that I have found, read countless posts on FB and still I have no words.

I think the image that took by breathe and energy away was the line of KKK and Nazis holding torches in a processional on Friday night. Evil personified.  I never expected to see anything like that again in my lifetime. Perhaps in the 1950s or 60s. Perhaps in old documentaries on racism in the South. But not in 2017. Not where racist bigots are proudly screaming their vile bile, armed to the teeth with weapons and shields.

And our leadership. Not just the President. Where is the leadership in our country that remains muzzled, afraid of twitter shaming, afraid of alienating their base base? Where are the voices unequivocally condemning what our nation witnessed? Where are the voices in our leadership that should be calling for the end of this buffoon? Why are we putting up with behavior that we would not countenance from a 5 year old?

I was no fan of George Bush- either of them, or Ronald Reagan. I  have had little use for most of the ultra conservative politicians. But I know that while I disagreed with their political stances, they are good men who acted out of conscience. They never incited people to revolt out of hatred and bias. And non of them would have allowed this to happen.

Like so many I have found myself sad and without adequate words. But I know that this sadness and silence can exist no more. I have mourned for a few days and now I have to find a way to translate my feelings into action. It starts tomorrow.


I'm keeping myself busy not using my right hand. My spirits are ok. Stiff upper lip and all. I have invented some activities that get me out of the house- like photographing details around my neighborhood- which gets me walking and looking. I'm hand sewing some stuff with my left hand.

But, and this is a big BUT, I have a sense of dread that I am losing time. I worry about pieces that I have in progress- when will I finish them and will they be old by then? I worry about new work- when can I even think about starting new pieces? I worry about being lost and invisible. I see people moving on and I know right now I am simply staying in the same place. I worry about work I have just sent to the photographer- it is all so different and I am not sure it is any good.

I feel uncomfortable that I am in between several series right now- where my voice is changing and with doubts that I am producing anything worth looking at. I was in the process of moving on from my Conflict series when I went on vacation. Now I am worried that I will either backslide or worse- produce nothing at all.

I hate that I am not 40 years old with my art career spanning in front of me. And I am angry that I am losing time sewing with my left hand to keep boredom at the door. I look at the work I am producing and wonder if I would give it a second thought if I was able to work with two hands. Probably not.

I am being strong and positive to everyone around me, it is just the inner doubts have time to be heard when I am not fully occupied. I do not want to wallow in self pity since I actually think that I am rather lucky to emerged from the fall with just a broken wrist- and this is not a serious problem. But what seems to be broken in addition to my wrist is some self confidence. I hear the hobgoblins of doubt whispering and wondering why I did not receive this prize or get into that show. And usually the sound of my Bernina humming along will dispel these thoughts, right now they seem amplified.

by JudyK

My left hand

So it turns out I have been using my wrist more than I should even though I really have been pretty much pain free. My surgeon told me not to do anything at all for a week although I am quite handy doing stuff with my left hand, and i am typing this with one hand which will explain the lack of capitalization.
surgery went well and the pain has been manageable. Having an arm block was weird...staring at a numb lifeless appendage for 24 hours that would not do anything my brain commanded. it was like having a bologna attached to my right arm. i was relieved when I started to be able to move my arm and wriggle my fingers.
I got the "great idea" to do a piece with my left hand and using the bandage that I get in Fes. It was fairly stinky and actually pretty easy to stitch with one hand. But it proves to me that anesthesia stays in the body for a while and it is important not to make decisions during this time frame. Boy, it is possible to make some really ugly stuff while under the influence.

 The other weird part was being without my wedding band for a few days. I felt positively naked. Dave told me not to get any strange ideas about picking up surgeons since I was ringless.
One does discover the important parts of life when one is forced to slow down. Like family and friends, moderation, simplicity and the necessity for laughter. And so I leave you with a photo of how Dave "fixed" our broken doorknob in the hopes laughter will help
you get through the day.

by JudyK


Graffiti on a wall/Tangier
Over 35 years ago Dave and I went to Morocco for 3 weeks. It was a wonderful trip and when we had the chance to return with our flights paid for, we jumped at the chance.
Morocco is a visual feast and I am going to try and capture our visit in 15 photos- one for everyday we were there. If you want to see more images I posted some on Instagram and on Facebook. But if I had to post just fifteen images here is what I would show.
Our bedroom in Tangier

Blue painted walls of Chefchaouen

Every meal starts with plates of Moroccan salads- usually cold.  Olives and bread are served at every meal.

Where there is no water there is no green.
For the most part the countryside is brown 
except in the mountains that are covered with cedar forests. 
Flocks of sheep and goats are always crossing the highway.

Inside courtyard in Fes. The most beautiful parts of the houses are on the inside. 

A fish lunch in Tangier

Thread market. All the silk thread is hand spun and hand dyed. Each merchant has a small stall in the Moroccan version of a mall. The sewing, dyeing and spinning is done by the men. 

Lush fabrics are used inside the house- not for dresses.

Painted wooden doors- all geometric. There are no "pictorial" scenes on older buildings. 

Narrow "streets" that look plain on the outside mask beautiful courtyards.
Donkeys and pushcarts ferry materials around since there are no cars.
Heavy cedar doors with iron decoration
Fes is the city of fountains. The mosaics are all hand cut and hand glazed. 

Fes- children's game- fishing for soda
Four kinds of figs. $1 buys you a bucket of figs.


The NYTimes today ran a good column in the health section on ways to remain resilient in middle age, and while I probably am over middle age, the column rang true.

The two days before our wonderful trip to Morocco ended I fell down 5 metal stairs. Yesterday I was scheduled to have surgery on Friday for a broken wrist- and told that I would not be able to drive or sew for a month. Right now my broken arm is in a splint and is itching like crazy.

I'm not really that concerned about the surgery- it's fairly common- but not being able to do much with my right hand has me scrambling to figure out how to occupy the next 5 weeks without lifting more than one pound in my right hand. I will be in a cast or splint for that long and it has made me appreciate the small things- like putting on a bra or pulling up one's pants. Cutting food is coming along but using a fork is a ways away.... And Dave has been a complete trouper helping out with everything. Taking a shower without getting the splint wet takes some prep and I have not yet attempted to wash my hair- that's tomorrow's challenge.

I am determined to do as much as I can- and so I started to make a list of the things I can do in the next month to keep myself occupied.
1. Walk- but not with the dog
2. Clean drawers- today I cleaned 4 drawers that really needed to be sorted out. I never knew I had so many nail cutters or stray batteries. I figure this activity could keep me busy for a few days.
3. Sort thread and wind bobbins
4. Read and listen to audiobooks- which I will do but I am not sure I can do that for hours on end.
5. Yoga is out right now- but perhaps meditation might help get through some of the rough patches
6. I am going to see if I can manage hand sewing- if I can- then there are a number of pieces I can work on. But right now my hand hurts just typing this.
7. Binge on pinterest and instagram. After all if not now, when?
8. Read the paper cover to cover (without screaming or crying)
9. Organize my photos
10. Try to blog more.

OK. So there are ten things I can do, and I have to make sure that I do not do them all in the first week before the surgery. Your suggestions are welcome. And I will read and re-read the Resilience column to make sure I do not whine.

by JudyK


I think it is so interesting how certain words get appropriated. A "curator", according to a dictionary definition is:

(from Latin: curare, meaning "to take care") is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, library, or archive) is a content specialist charged with an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material.

n. mid-14c., from Latin curator "overseer, manager, guardian," agent noun from curatus, past participle of curare (see cure (v.)). Originally of those put in charge of minors, lunatics, etc.; meaning "officer in charge of a museum, library, etc." is from 1660s.

I have always held curators in high regard- as experts in their field- whose skills allow them to make a careful selection and assemble a high quality show. In our world Nancy Crow, Petra Fallaux, and Pat Pauly come to mind as three curators whose selections are beyond reproach.  But of late, I have noticed that different kinds of objects can be curated. I remember the first time I read a menu that offered a "carefully curated selection of meat and cheese" or a book club list with a curated selection of the best non-fiction. These are, of course, completely appropriate uses of the word, but more and more I hear the word being used for selections that probably do not merit the label "curated."
Yesterday my son dumped a huge load of t-shirts that he had borrowed from my husband. There were so many that they filled an immense yellow Ikea bag- probably about three or four years of borrowed t-shirts- many of which were easily 8-10 years old. I suggested that the entire bag be put out for Goodwill but that was quickly vetoed. Before I could stop myself I blurted out, "Well at least curate the selection and get rid of the ones that are threadbare."  My comment drew strange looks- and I am not sure if it was my flip usage of the word "curate" or the suggestion that we throw out or donate the t-shirts. The bag of t-shirts sits on my bedroom floor.

I have decided to curate a selection and quietly dispense the balance for donation. I figure that  I deserve the title "curator" since this is clearly a heritage selection saved by a sometimes lunatic who is incapable of throwing anything out. While my selection will never rise to the level of the great museum curators- it will free up floor space. 

Exercise 3 done

Ahhhh- that's a sigh of relief having finished the exercise that I started but did not complete at the Barn. It took me two days to lay in the secondary and tertiary figures and grounds, and sew it up. At first I was not going to construct it, but I am really glad I did. It is the part I like the most and I had fun figuring out which shapes to put together first. And you know I love my curves and circles!
I think it had the added benefit of extending my vacation- postponing my return to the top I have been  working on. It has been a welcome break! But tomorrow it is back to the salt mines.
A couple of people have asked me if I am going to use any of the stitching techniques I learned with Dorothy Caldwell and I must confess that I have been thinking seriously how I might emp
loy some of the more gestural stitches we learned. I really liked sewing blind- it freed me up and I might use it on this piece. I think I am going to quilt this and try combining machine and hand quilting.... I will keep you posted.
I am itching to get out to my studio and the beach- but that has to wait until next week. I hate leaving Dave here alone- so I put off going to Lewes so we could spend 10 days together. It has actually been lovely- I've been relaxed going through these exercises, and we are enjoying some lovely crisp weather.
Glad I am done with my homework. Glad I am moving on. Wondering what will come next....

Ex three, step 3

OK I added a secondary figure in the figure and in the ground with medium tones. The color studies don't look accurate on my iPhone... but they are working. The secondary background is much more pronounced. I'm using scrap fabric right now. The figure is reminding me of Trump.... might do something with this....
Dear blog readers- I know this series of posts must be boring and you might want to skip them... but I am doing penance for not focusing in class.... feel free to ignore!

Mea culpa

Spent the day doing my homework. I did two variations of the same configuration- one in all black and white and another in glowing black and flat black and glowing white and flat white. I decided not to sew these together since I can do that pretty easily. Instead I spent the time arranging and re-arranging the elements. I did it in a relaxed time frame and had fun. Still feeling guilty that I did not do this at the Barn. Mea Culpa. 

Report card- Crow Barn week 2

Some of the sketches I brought from home
If I had to grade myself on Nancy Crow's week long Spare Composition course here is what I think I earned:
Preparation: A+
Following directions D
Design skills C
Artistic merit D
Gets along with others B+
Shares with others A
Shows Confidence C-
Works hard A+
Focus D
Communication skills A

Lessons learned:
1. Prepare ahead of time but do not bring sketches to class. I did produce a lot of sketches prior to class and looked at lots of spare compositions as instructed. But I wasted so much time trying to replicate the studies instead of starting fresh with the design lessons I created at home.
I wasted time adapting previous sketches
instead of creating new configurations. 

An exercise in shrinking figure and ground. 
I know this part of composition pretty well 
so I was able to plow through it quickly. 
It was the only exercise I completed.
2. Follow directions- Nancy gave me a lot of latitude in which parts of exercises I wanted to do since I am fairly practiced at figure and ground compositions. But, I should have chosen to do the exercises in the order they were given. I wasted time flitting here and there instead of focusing on the task at hand.

3. Work hard and focus- I worked as hard as I usually do- opening the Barn in the morning and closing it at night. Short lunches, snacks and dinners.... But I did not focus on the steps in each exercise thinking that I already understood the concept. Big mistake. My focus was off, my work was clumsy, and I earned a poor grade in artistic merit.

4. Enjoy yourself- which I actually did. I spent time socializing and was not completely freaked out about my compositions until the last day. The good news is that I gave myself permission to deviate from the assigned task- the bad news is that I gave myself permission to deviate from the task.

5. Communicate and share- I think I earned good grades on this- I gave a solid presentation and I was willing to share my thoughts and techniques with anyone who asked. And I enjoyed this very much. It did eat up some time but at that point in class I had given up the idea that I would complete mush.

I loved this exercise and wish I had 
had more time to finish it. I learned so much about color.
6. Be realistic about your expectations- I find it much harder to work in a group- especially with many people I have not met before. I am spoiled by having solitude in my studio- free to make mistakes and correct those mistakes without pairs of eyes witnessing my trials and tribulations. And I like it that way. I never really expect to create anything of value but I come away with so many ideas. And this time was no different.

7. Do the work-  I will start going through each assignment and I will finish them in order since there is so much to learn. And I will do it at my own pace. I think having tight deadlines paralyzed me this time instead of energizing me. I was so on task that I stopped thinking once a deadline loomed. Not really characteristic of the way I normally work.

8. Do not default to what you know.  Boy was I guilty there. Instead of pushing myself to work through new problems and compositions I defaulted to the tried and true. I did want to test some different backgrounds so it was not a total waste- and I quickly assembled a figure and spent my time trying out three different grounds. But I should have tried to break through to something different. At this point- day 5 my confidence was shaky and I gave up.

9 Overall grade for the week: A+ I am actually growing up and being honest about what I can and can not do. I gave myself some bad grades but I made some wonderful connections with people that I did not know before- and there was absolutely no drama- which was wonderful.

I am going to take a year sabbatical from the Barn to work more intensely. I had decided that before i went to the Barn and I made this decision with a certain amount of sadness. I love the people, the place, Nancy, Margaret, John and Nathaniel. And I will miss that. But I am in a period of artistic transition and I need the time to focus- to make mistakes and accomplish my goals. So I will give myself and B for self-awareness and maturity...With room for improvement.

QN17: What is old is new. What is new is old.

Taking a break from the hubbub of QN17, I went to see an exhibit of older quilts at the Southeast Ohio Historical Society. The exhibit was almost empty with not many people to view some pretty nice older pieces. It was actually nice to wander around the exhibit alone and I was struck how so many of the older pieces seemed new and how many of the newer pieces at QN17 take their cues from older work. In particular the work of Amy Meissner actually uses found materials that she sources or receives from friends around the country. Scraps of old embroidery, lace, quilts and such make up her strong political quilts. While her work is quiet, it has power when viewed carefully. And she employs many of the traditional techniques found in older work.
I apologize to the historical quilts that I do not have captions identifying the makers- I was so absorbed in the work that I did not take notes.

Detail of Amy Meissner's Fatigue Threshold

Louise Silk's lovely energetic mantle

Judith E Martin
Pamela Fitzsimons

Julia Graziano
Ana Lisa Hedstrom

QN17: A few of my favorite things

QN17- here are just a few of the quilts that caught my eye....
Bravo to all the artists- here and those not shown. So many good pieces. A delight to see.
Liz Axford- amazing color and composition.
Pat Budge's beautiful haunting color palette

Pam Loewen's energetic quilt

Kate Gorman's lovely cicadas

detail, Gerri Spilka's signature color palette and shapes

detail, Joan Schultze's fascinating materials

Denise Roberts, The Japan Prize winner
Pat Pauly's dynamic composition

Marina Kamenskaya- perfect balance and technique

Amy Meissner's powerful feminist statement

Karen Schulz's knock out. Huge scale and perfect composition.

Quilt National 17

How to write this without sounding blase? 
Sue Benner's quilt on left
I am thrilled that my piece was juried into QN17. But nothing matches the excitement  I felt the first time around. The first notice of admission had me squealing with delight. I could hardly contain myself. The second time with the Japan Prize had me bursting my seams with anticipation. This time I was pleased that I got in especially since the show featured a stellar group of artists selected by wonderful jurors. But truth be told a little bit of the thrill is gone. 
I remember the first design award I got for a poster for the National Symphony 35 years ago and how happy I was. Now, after 600+ graphic design awards I barely acknowledged the achievement. I'm not writing this with a swelled head but as an honest appraisal of what excites me. 
Kit Vincent's quilt
So what makes me happy?
As a person who can easily talk to a crowd of 500 I have trouble introducing myself to people at a small cocktail party. Extending my hand is painful. 
At QN17 it was the people. Lovely lively people. Perhaps because I was more relaxed I introduced myself to quilters I had never met before and even went to lunch with four people I did not know. I sat alone at a table at breakfast and invited another Judy from Australia to join me. I introduced myself to another artist who was offsite looking at a traditional quilt exhibit. 
Usually I go to openings with Dave. This time I went alone and was much braver about meeting new people.  Now that's something I am really proud of. 

Gerri Spilka's quilt on right
Good friends. Best part of QN17


Dorothy Caldwell Day 2-3
I have never been one to do lots of hand stitching although I have done some mind-blowingly small petit point. I marvel at the hand stitching of masters like Judith Martin or the kantha quilters of India- but I have never had the patience to sit and sew. After two days of stitching I am a convert. Dorothy put us through a bunch of exercises- we studied exquisite samples of kantha stitching she brought for us to examine and had us start a strip of our own. We also had to sew five kinds of stitches while we were blindfolded. Dorothy read 5 different words and we had to stitch them. What fun- and how utterly different than the controlled kantha stitch exercise.
 I found myself falling into a blissful reverie and enjoyed the quiet time. I now have some ideas of how I might occupy time on long plane rides and when I do not have access to a machine. I do not think I will ever abandon machine stitching to hand stitching but I certainly appreciate it more and look much more closely at how hand stitching is more evocative than machine stitching.

Zen at the barn.

Day one and two Dorothy Caldwell
What fun! A day exploring human marks which translates into a day of pure exploration. We started the day with large sheets of paper and black ink and the instructions to fill both sides of the paper with finger prints from one of our digits. Seems straightforward until you see how many marks can be made with one finger depending on how you touch the paper, how much pressure you use, what part of the finger touches the paper and so on.
After each exercise Dorothy has everyone share their work and it is so much fun to see all the different variations.
The class is made up of 18 women and 1 man and I bet the age ranges from the early 30s to the late 60s. We are from all over from Maine to Alaska and the tie that binds is is fiber.
The day in class was filled with experiments. We painted huge pieces of paper with long sticks that had brushes attached to the ends.. We made stencils and filled sheets with marks made from some wonderful Micron pens. I can tell you I am going to go out and but a bunch of the fine line pens. They are wonderful and so much better than sharpies. And I believe they work on textiles. We also created patterns out of one hand movement. For this exercise I held the pen between my two fingers. It was awkward but gave me a stroke with character.
Then we went outside and painted sheets of paper on the ground with brushes that were on large broom handles. It was interesting to see the different strokes that different body movements produced and lots of fun. I am seeing that I tend towards the space. I like white space and control. Going to work on losing that this week....
Dorothy is a wonderful teacher - very calm, nurturing and non- judgmental. She has a wonderful way of encouraging experimentation and making the exercises fun. I have enjoyed being in a stress free environment this week.
I stayed after class to do some additional marks and cut outs for the book we will be assembling next week. I am using some paper I made about fifteen years ago out of old blue jeans and my kids' homework papers. I have finally found a use for these lovely papers.
Next week upstairs to a totally different vibe. This week the upstairs class working with Nancy is conquering a really difficult design problem and I am kind of glad that I am ensconced downstairs in human mark land. I do feel guilty that I am not getting up at the break of dawn or closing up the barn at night. But for now I will just try and enjoy my freedom.

Diversions, distractions and retirement

When will I really learn how to retire? And by that I mean when will I give myself permission to relax a bit more, sleep a bit later, read a book during the day? I find that I am still driven to be in my studio during "work hours" and then some. And, while I enjoy my time I do feel guilty if I do not maintain a routine. I do not think that this is healthy.
I expressed this sentiment to my 88 year old mom who is still pursuing creative endeavors, and her answer made some sense. She told me that retirement is the freedom to decide what it is I want to do- and if I want to be in the studio, so be it.... I like that answer- but I am not sure that I put it into practice. Perhaps that is because I am in the process of endlessly sewing 1/8" rows of stitching on a new piece, and this is not my favorite part of the process.

My diversions and distractions tend to involve either travel or renovation. This spring I redid two bathrooms at our farmhouse. And I obsessed, and I do mean obsessed over every little detail from tiles to fixtures to the right color shower drain. And while the showers are now fantastic- I do know that it was a huge time suck that made me nervous. I ordered samples from Mexico, Turkey, Sand Francisco, and spent way too much time worrying.

Another obsession is travel. Dave and I are going to go to Morocco for two weeks. We were there 35 years ago and had a wonderful time. Now he is being invited to speak so we get free airfare and hotel for one week. But I spent so much time figuring out the right places to stay, the cutest riads, the most value and charm for the buck. I was living on Tripadvisor and Booking.com for endless hours. And while I am thrilled to be going back again, I was not feeling great about the amount of time I spent researching stupid stuff. 

This is the first time that I am accompanying my husband on one of this business trips. I am nervous about that- I am not sure how I am going to feel being the "wife". It is not something I am used to. And I will have three days alone to occupy myself. Luckily there is a large arts festival in the town we are staying at- so that will be fun. And I am hoping to learn about Moroccan textiles.

So this is a foray into one part of retirement that I have not seen. It has to be more interesting than machine quilting endless lines.... perhaps I am ready....

One week and coasting

The Day After No. 3- It is actually squared up but my iPhone photo is not great....
In one week I travel to Ohio for my two week "sabbatical" at the Crow Barn. And as usual, my stomach has butterflies, but for some different reasons this year. For the last several years I have gone to master classes or dyeing workshops- and neither are particularly high stress. Now I am up for a new challenge and will be experiencing the yin and yang of Crow.

For the first week I am going to participate in Dorothy Caldwell's Human Marks class. This is so far out of my comfort zone and I am looking forward to trying my hand at new techniques and working at a different scale. But I also fret at bit.... but that is just part of my DNA. Having met Dorothy before I can feel her sense of calm and non-judgemental nature. And I am going to need that if I ever want to stretch.

Week 2 is harder. I will be taking Nancy's large scale composition course. And I am really comfortable doing large scale compositions. What I am both excited and scared of are the timed exercises. I took this course because I wanted the challenge of timed exercises, but now I am worried that I may fall behind.

My shoulders and wrists are just not reliable right now. Some days and nights they are  great, and some they are not so good. And I know that Nancy does not put up with excuses, so physical constraints are my problem, not hers. I am looking forward to the Crow Barn environment, but I know that I can no longer be the first one in the barn in the morning and the last one out. Physically that is not going to happen.

I should be more grown up and confident in this point of my life. But that is still elusive.
Here's an example. I recently entered "New Legacies: Contemporary Art Quilts  at the Lincoln Center in Ft Collins. I entered three wildly different pieces since I wanted to get some newer work out there. I looked in my email every few hours and finally got a note informing me that two pieces did not get in. And I felt crushed.... which I know is stupid- but it went straight to my sense of discomfort. Then about 8 hours later I got a notice that one of my pieces got in.... and my personal pendulum swung to the other side.

Now this is just stupid. I should have a better sense of my own work at this point, and I know intellectually that competitions are the worst way to measure self worth. I know that I have to start to be more disciplined about getting more one woman shows since that is where my work shines. But that is hard work, and I find it tedious. So for the uncertain future I guess I will just coast.