Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flowers, Process and Commitment

I signed up for quilt guilds to meet people with similar interests and hopefully make a few friends upon my return to Toronto after years on the road, followed by years in the States and those mythical years at home with infants.

Quilters had a (sometimes well-earned) reputation for being inclusive and welcoming. The image of a number of women gathered round a quilting frame comes to mind. Well the guilds I joined were lovely, and I met lots and lots of really nice quilters and learned tons about quilting but I ran head first into my problem with commitment (which I'll get into later).

Through my membership in the York Heritage Quilt Guild I have had the great privilege to join the Squeegees. Squeegees stands for SQGs or Small Quilt Guild. These women have a sense of humour! They're also creative, kind, interesting, knowledgeable and welcoming. The group is also small enough that it involves almost no administration. Everything one could hope for in a quilt guild either large or small.

This little guild of less than a dozen women has been meeting monthly over delicious snacks in one another's homes for years, and I've been part of the group for three or so years now. The Squeegees have lost track of how long it is since they did a group project and there has been much talk about what the next project should be. After taking a look at Twelve by Twelve we were inspired to attempt our own 12 inch blocks on a theme.

Being the first week of Spring we were eager to tackle Flowers as our first challenge.

And now a terrible truth:

I get really enthusiastic.
My head explodes with ideas (which I don't write down).
I say "Let's do it now. Let's have a short deadline. This is going to be so much fun."

And then I forget about my commitment.


Even if it was my idea.

I've started learning to say "No" to things I know I haven't been able to follow through on in the past, like being Board President, and then I feel guilty for not contributing enough to the volunteer run organizations to which I belong, and I quit. Then the phone starts to ring with friends saying "Please come back, we miss your enthusiasm."

Sorry guys, enthusiasm without effort is worthless.

And so I've started working on my Flower Block

I've committed to started by attempting to incorporate some of my latest interests into my design process.

Journalling is a habit I enjoy and am trying to incorporate into my daily practice.

I'm committed to using what I have on hand as much as possible for my projects, so rather than throw out an old bed sheet I've been holding onto it until I could use it.

I cut a square from the sheet, clipped it to a drawing board, grabbed a sepia Prismacolor fine line marker and jotted some words and sketches about flowers.

Next I opened a fabric drawer at random and pulled out a gorgeous faux marbled commercial cotton I've had hanging around for years. It may actually be one of the first fabrics I ever bought.

I cut random shapes out of the fabric and realized that they reminded me of the tulips I have wilting in a vase in my kitchen.

Back upstairs with the sketchbook. This time I drew on paper instead of cotton.

I've started auditioning fabrics right on my journalled background and I'm starting to get excited about this process.

The next question I need to ask myself is:

Why did I feel that I needed to run to the camera and the computer to document my process instead of just staying with the creative flow?

What I need to work on:

Honouring the feeling of excitement I get at a creative challenge, committing to the challenges that excite me, and following through to the bitter end.

Next steps:

Finish laying out the flowers, stems, and leaves and sew down the fabric elements. Figure out how to quilt it, because it's a quilt block, and I'm supposed to be a quilter (but that's for another blog post). Decide if there are any other embellishments to be added and how to bind it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy First Birthday Asher

For all the stress of having an only marginally housebroken Yorkie running our lives, I have to admit that he more than makes up for it with all the joy he brings.

To celebrate his birthday it was time for a nice haircut. Asher has only been to the groomer once and it was a disaster. The groomer was terrified of this little bundle of energy and I couldn't blame her. I vowed that I was going to learn how to do it myself. It would save me some time and money, save him the stress of going to the groomer, and give me the satisfaction of caring for him myself. Piece of cake, right? Unfortunately it is not as easy as I expected it would be. For one thing I've had a bit of a challenge finding pictures of exactly what a puppy cut looks like and advice on how to do it at home.

I'd been experimenting with trimming his coat for the last several months but he was beginning to look pretty unkempt. Today for the first time, he was able to calmly submit to letting me cut his hair, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. And one of the great things about having a little dog is that I can easily put him on the counter any time I want to give his cut a touch up.

I sure wish I had taken a before picture. He was a mess!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

The Singer's Quilting Bee

My sister in law believes that if you make your desires known to the universe you will get what you need, and I figure it's worth a try, so here goes:

I want to sing! And I want you to sing with me. I have a vision of an informal group that gets together regularly to make music. We'll read through choral works, Bach cantatas, operas and whatever else strikes our fancy.

What do I need for this to work? Trained musicians, both men and women, who love to sight read and will make time to get together (preferably on a week day) in my home in midtown Toronto. Know anyone who might be interested?

I'm putting on a pot of coffee and keeping my fingers crossed.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finding the Parrots in Every Day Life

My husband and I once went on a disastrous vacation. We didn't do the research, didn't set our expectations and ended up disappointed. Even though the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed each other's company the resort and its' location weren't what we were hoping for. There was no lush vegetation, and no sign of the bird sanctuary we had been promised by the travel brochure.

We found the humour in the situation and told ourselves that we were probably just a few steps from a tropical paradise. On the next street over there would be so many gorgeous birds that parrots would be landing on our shoulder. We would plan our vacation better the next time around. For now we just had to relax and enjoy our time together.

When we moved into our home we were able to sum up the years and years of dreaming about it and our deep satisfaction at finally finding our dream home by telling each other that we had found the parrots. Conversely, when something we had planned does not turn out to our satisfaction we commiserate with each other that we missed the parrots.

This image has come to have deep resonance in our lives. We've learnt that the parrots are there, if we could just find them. Sometimes we need to prepare a little better, to look a little bit longer, to trust our instincts. Most importantly it takes work. It takes work to find the parrots, and it takes work to make the best of a bad situation when you've just ended up on the wrong street.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel Sometimes a book comes along that takes over my imagination and makes it even harder than usual for me to get any work done. A Discovery of Witches: A Novel is such a book. If you love libraries, scientists, academics and suspense, I can heartily recommend this gentle romance.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Mystery Wrapped in An Enigma

My morning just gets better and better. Yesterday morning I had the thrill of hearing the finale of Brahms Second Symphony as I drove to meet my running crew for our 6am run. I can only trust that the uninhibited way in which I turned up the volume, boogied, bellowed and conducted as I drove the last few blocks was not caught by any candid camera. The joy was compounded when I pulled up a youtube clip for the kids to enjoy when I got home.

When I hear this music I am not just overwhelmed by its sheer exuberance and the little surprises which Brahms seems to throw in every few bars. I am also taken back to my Grade 13 music appreciation class. We had the privilege of studying the score in detail with our teacher Mr. Lehman. It was my first real introduction to the pleasures of symphonic music, score study, and music analysis. A second memory is the delight that Tom Allen injected into his introduction of this music back when he had a morning show on the (what I would refer to as) dearly departed CBC. He envisioned classical music listening car and truck drivers across the country blaring on their horns at the moment late in the fourth movement of the symphony when the trombones finally get to play. Magical!

What could top that start to the day, you ask? This morning I returned from taking the kids to school to discover an unexpected package. Did I order this book from Lark Publishing? Far from impossible that I ordered it (and forgot about it) and it just now became available. It falls so precisely into my recent areas of interest: artistic collaboration and small scale Art quilts. Or could it be that Lark Crafts singled me out as a blogger who might be interested in their publication? Also not impossible.

At any rate I will now read and enjoy this lovely book and tell you all about it later. And wait to see what new happiness awaits me tomorrow morning.

Click this link to order it from Amazon at an amazing price. Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge

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