Sunday, January 30, 2005

Birthday Recap

We survived the birthday weekend. Only one meltdown, tonight just before bedtime...which, as every parent who has hosted a birthday party for a child knows, is inevitable. Excitement, friends, lots of sugar, presents... it's overwhelming and eventually leads to tears.

But everyone had fun, even Roger and me. We got to the hotel at around 4pm...gee, wonder why the hotel folks stuck us way back in a corner? We assigned the girls their "half" of the suite, and received instructions to a) keep the door shut between us as much as possible; b) not listen to them (which pretty much guaranteed that we were going to listen, at least some of the time) and c) pretend that they weren't there and we didn't know them.

I'd have been hurt, if Caroline hadn't asked me just the other day if I would go to college with her, live in her dorm room with her, but not embarrass her by kissing her goodbye in front of her friends.

They immediately set to playing complicated games with their Breyer horses. Interestingly, they play a long, ongoing game ("It just goes on and on, Mom," Caroline explained to me once, "You know, like that soap opera you like to watch?") about the white horses and the black horses shunning each other and feuding and making life difficult for the dappled grey horses who try to be friends with both groups. Fascinating, yes? In their play, they argue over who gets to be the dappled grey horses, obviously the good peacemaker horses. Given that Caroline is Chinese, and Lani is half Japanese, I can't help wonder if their awareness of their skin color has led in some fashion to this game.

While they were playing, Caroline (in the role of a black horse) was describing a white horse as "stupid." But she knows that it's not nice to call someone "stupid" so, in her role playing she said, she spelled it out, very emphatically. "Those white horses are S-T-U-P-E-D!" If I hadn't been pretending they weren't there, I would have chuckled.

The present opening was fun...Caroline got horse related gifts and gave horse-related gifts back.

Here's Sarah, Caroline (aka The Birthday Girl) and Lani look at "Hold Your Horses," Lani's gift to Caroline. (It's a very funny look at life as a horse-lover.)

Roger took them to the pool for a while, which they loved. Me, I got to sit quietly and look at the February Martha Stewart Living magazine and read my wonderful English novel, The Married Man (a truly delightful and witty book). All too soon, they were back dripping and clamoring for food. So, per TBG's request, we ordered pizza from a place that delivered and they ate by themselves while Roger and I ate our dinner in the other room and watched "Shall We Dance" with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Very cute.

Another funny moment...As I served their dinner, I asked "Do you girls mind eating without Roger and me?" "No!" they shouted in unison. "Parents just want to talk about dull stuff," said Sarah. "And we don't get to talk about horses the whole time if parents are here," chimed in Caroline. "And they always tell you to put your feet down," added Lani, rolling her eyes. All of those are true, in our house, but the last amused me because I do say that to Caroline all the time, with a weird flash back to my childhood when my mom said that constantly to me.

Chocolate cake (with a horse head drawn on it, by Caroline) and soda, eaten in pajamas...the perfect birthday slumber party treat.
This may be a bad mommy thing, but seeing as how a) it was a birthday and b) it was a hotel, I let them jump on the beds. That was a big thrill for all.

Three little monkeys jumping on the bed...Wait! How'd daddy get in there?

Sunday brought more horse-play (in the four legged sense of the word), more swimming, more jumping. By the time we left the hotel at about 12:30, they were clearly exhausted. We stopped for lunch on the way home, at a very fun diner. ("It's my favorite restaurant in the WHOLE WORLD!" Sarah said, delighted, as we pulled into the parking lot.) They all brought their Breyer horses in with them, and Caroline set hers on the table. The waitress, breezing by to drop menus with us, said jokingly "No horses allowed in the restaurant!" Caroline snatched her horse, looking mortified and then was so embarrassed that she began to cry. (Yep, overtired.) The waitress was then horrified at Caroline's reaction, which you'd think would have entitled the girls to free ice cream. Which in fact came with the kids' lunches anyway.

So, we're home, we're tired, but we've had fun. Caroline hit her bed early and conked out, and Roger and I will not be far behind.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Gala Weekend

This is what we'll be doing on Saturday. Sort of.

Saturday, January 29 is Caroline's 9th birthday. And to celebrate, we're stealing a page from the party book of our friends Eric and Diane, and we're taking Caroline and two of her friends for a slumber party at a hotel with an indoor pool.

Okay, it's not the's an Embassy Suites Hotel which, from Caroline's point of view, represents the height of elegance. It has an indoor pool, a glass elevator, tv, and a breakfast buffet where she can pick whatever she wants. Can a hotel BE more glamorous?!

So, we'll head down in the afternoon (so Caroline can celebrate her birthday with the ponies at the pony school for her riding lesson), and the girls will probably spend a great deal of time swimming. I did some research on fun places to go for birthday dinner, only to find that what Caroline wants to do is have pizza delivered to the room so she, Lani and Sarah can eat pizza in their hotel room sitting on the floor. There is, of course, birthday cake for dessert.

Roger and I figure we'll watch them swim, and maybe even join them a bit, who knows. I'll probably just stroll around the pool in my bathing suit and high heels, as pictured above.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The vision, frustrated...

I came to a realization today. Here's a common process for me: I have an idea that really excites me, with a pretty clear vision of what I want to do and where I want to go with a piece. I crave the time to get started, and am excited when I finally am able to jump in. I start, and work happily for a while until I'm well into the piece. It starts looking what I envisioned, roughly... but not quite.

Frequently, at this point, life interrupts. The day ends, family needs beckon, "real" work rears its ugly and demanding head, and I have to stop to attend to things. My piece sits, mid-progress, on the design wall. It's enough like what I want to do that it's encouraging me, but it's also UNlike my vision enough that it's vaguely frustrating.

Here's the place where, very easily, I can stall the project. My discipline is variable enough that at times I push on, and I'm happy with the end other times, I'm, well, just stalled. No interest in continuing, the excitement that got me started has waned, and the thing looks plain stupid and uninteresting up there.

There are times when I need to mull things over. A solution isn't immediately apparent, but letting the piece percolate in my mind will eventually give rise to the decision about what to do next. But, at other times, I just lose connection to the piece and don't have much interest in going further.

Sometimes, the basic fact of a deadline for a challenge or specific deadline is what pushes me forward to finish it. And I'm always pleased that I did push forward to do the work to finish it. This middle stage is where things look worst...the piece is well enough defined to vaguely satifsy that initial creative impulse, but it's far enough away so that it's not good.

So, here's my revelation. I either have to use challenges or other external deadlines to push me to finish things, or I have to impose the discipline on myself to just keep working on the piece until it's done. I think it's been too easy for me to let myself stall on a project that I liked at the outset, and I have to pay attention and not let myself do that.

This doesn't sound like a major revelation, does it? It sounds like common sense. I know. You're thinking, "well, DUH." Well, today I started a piece I've been thinking about for months. I spent several happy hours working on it, so that it's at a place where it's beginning to look like what I envision. But I had to stop for family life--and I know that it's going to be a few days, at least, before I have a chunk of time to work on it again. I can already feel the excitement starting to fade.

I'm not sure if the solution is to NOT put it on my wall, so I'm happily surprised when I put it up again in a few days...Or if I should leave it up with the idea that it'll keep me thinking about how to achieve the look I want. For now, it's up. And maybe I can steal a few hours tonight to keep moving forward.

Maybe this blog will keep me honest!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Do you reread novels you've already read?

I do, occasionally. I have some books on my shelves that I keep for comfort reading...I pull them out when I'm sick with the flu or I'm in between books and in need of something that will make me feel good. They include mysteries by Mary Stewart (like "Airs Above the Ground" and "This Rough Magic") and , and sweet English stories set in Cornwall by Rosamunde Pilcher. (I'm going to get to Cornwall some day. That's for sure.)

There are times that I decide to reread a book because I just loved it so much and it has more to give me. All time favorites, such as Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies, are in that category. I can also re-read Anne Rivers Siddons novels because the writing is so comfortable and enjoyable and rich.

Well, I think I have a new author to add to my "re-read" list: Elizabeth Berg. Have you read any of her novels? Her most recent is "The Art of Mending," a lovely and beautifully written story of three siblings coming to terms with the death of their father and the realization that they had different experiences of their parents in the same family. The narrator is a quilt artist, by the way, and there are some wonderful passages about her feeling about her work her love of fabric, her studio, like this one:

"Sometimes a dinner guest will ask to see my studio -- it's almost always a woman, although occasionally a man will want to see -- and whenever they do, they stand still in appreciative wonder (the men with their hands in their pockets) and usually say just one word: Wow. It doesn't matter if they like to sew or not, they just appreciate seeing a room so completely stocked, so richly reflective of a person's passion. It's similar to the way a lot of people love hardware stores. Whether you know what the things are or not, they're all there. "

Anyway. I love her writing. All of her stories had an intimacy to them, as if you're talking to your best friend who is very articulate. And her plots tend to capture seemingly small things that, in the context of relationships and families, are huge. I highly recommend her.

Me, I'm going to sit for a bit and re-read "The Art of Mending."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Final Pointless Sisters' Blocks!

The Pointless Sisters met today and revealed our final blocks....Drum roll, please.... (As always, click on a picture to see a larger version.)

Here are the arches, in blue and burgundy.

Houses, in red and black...

Pears, in purple and gold...

Intersecting lines, in turquoise and orange...

Arrows, in black and white...

Spirals, in red and purple...

Squares, in black and white (these are for me!)

Fish, in burgundy and gold...

Curves, in turquoise and bright pink...

Raindrop, in pink and blue...

Trianges, in blue and purple...

Numbers, in turquoise and lime green...

Hats, in rust and turquoise...

Split leaves, in brown and gold...

Ellipses, in rust and blue...

Butterflies, in blue and yellow...

Vases, in lime green and purple...

And, last but not least, stars in blue and yellow. Aren't they all great?!

Monday, Monday

How is it that I start every Monday anticipating a relaxing quiet day after a busy weekend, AND I plan to get all sorts of things done? And neither happens...I seem to skitter around, getting some things done (but of course not all the things on my overly-ambitious list). My dream these days is to sit and watch a movie all the way through, without interruption. Not a big thing to ask, eh? I think I'm going to have to stay up until midnight to do it, though.

Anyway. Today was another of those Mondays. I did get a bit of quiet time to sip my coffee after Roger and Caroline left for school, and I watched Simply Quilts. Ironically, in light of the ongoing cross-blog discussion over "To Challenge or Not to Challenge," the episode featured three quilters who had been challenged by Alex Anderson to make quilt blocks out of the same five red fabrics. It was interesting to see what each quilter did with the same fabrics, and then another quilter put them all together in what struck me as a rather bizarre construction. But it was a fun show to watch for 30 minutes.

Then, I got my last blocks made, with over 24 hours to spare! Sheesh! Plenty of time! I'm looking forward to our Pointless Sisters luncheon tomorrow, when we reveal and exchange our blocks. I'm sure it will be a very fun day.

Then I was off on errands...Dropped in on my friend Jenny to give her a quilt I'd machine quilted for her (an auction item for her daughters' school...a quickie quilting project for me). After a quick visit with her (complete with entertainment: a 3 year old, a year-old puppy and a six-week old kitten, all tumbling together on the floor), I headed off to do a bit of shopping. Then a quick trip to the library for a new stack of books, a visit to my sister's to deliver the mail I'd collected for her while she was out of town...where I detoured to help her put together a cute hutch type item from Ikea. From there, it was time to pick Caroline from school, and then we went to the health club we just joined a week ago.

The health club thing is a new adventure for us as a family. But Roger and I sorely need exercise and we figure it's good to get Caroline in the routine while she's young. One of the best features about the club (and one that balances off the fact that it's 15 minutes away) is the wonderful swimming pools...Three! A kiddie pool, a large general pool for swimming, messing around, aqua aerobics classes etc, and a large lap pool. So, we know that in the summer we'll be there a lot, and Caroline will always want to go to swim. Today, she did her homework in the "Kids' Club" child care room while I worked out on cardio machines, then we both swam and then relaxed in the jacuzzi. A very nice afternoon, although we both wanted to go straight to bed when we got home!

Here's my house block. I was aiming for something simple, sort of "essence of house" without being a cute picture of a house. I adapted a logo I found on the internet and stitched it. As a block alone it's not that interesting, but among the other blocks I think it will look good and be something different.

This was, for some reason, the hardest block for arch in burgundy and blue. I tried all sorts of arches -- eyebrows, window frames, doorways, even a brick-type arch. I finally settled on this Japanese style one, again thinking of having something different among all the other arches.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Down to the last few blocks. Here's my red and purple spiral. I think this will look even better cropped down to the finished size, so that the edges are cut off.

A teardrop, in blue and fuschia. I had gotten this subtly blended fabric a few weeks ago at Pumpkinseed Quilts, not knowing what I'd use it for...but it's perfect for this. It comes in all sort of colorways. See, it was GOOD that I bought it in all different colors! Just goes to show that it's good to buy fabric when you love it, even when you don't know what you're going to use it for at the time of purchase.

The assigned shape here was a split leaf, in rusty-brown and yellow. I fiddled with this block for ages, too.

Art supplies

Another Sunday where my goal was to get certain things done (just 2 more Pointless Sister blocks!) ... and I haven't even started them yet.

But I've been busy. Cleaned the bedroom. Washed, folded, and put away 3 loads of laundry. Went out to the garage to get something, and got sidetracked with rubber stamps.

Yes, that's right. Rubber stamps. I've collected rubber stamps since I was in college, which was (ahem) over 20 years ago. My first stamp was a bolt of fabric! But I became more and more obsessed with stamps, which led me to paper arts and book making, which led me to making and selling and exhibiting artist books, which led me to teach book arts... Somewhere in there, the process of making books to be class samples, to be student tools, and working on books to make money took all the fun out of it for me. I slid back into fabric and haven't looked back.

And meanwhile, all my stamps are out in the garage, unused but not unloved. I've tried to weed out more and more of them to sell them. I hate to think of them not being used, but let's face it, I'm not going to use most of them again. I'd rather they were in the hands of avid stampers who'll appreciate them. I've sold some on Ebay ... and although that was actually pretty lucrative, the listing and keeping track and mailing out was hugely time consuming.

So, my friend Elaine is going to take a batch up to her (and my former) book arts guild, to see if they'll sell up there. That way, I'll get a bit of money for them, they'll get great stamps for cheap, and I'll know that people who'll use them have them. That's the idea, anyway. I spent about 90 minutes sorting stamps, into "sell" and "keep." I have a hard time parting with things that conjure up my past so vividly...where I was when I bought it, who I was with, what I made with it, the studio in my New Hampshire apartment where I made all those books and did so much stamping... I'm getting ruthless about parting with them, but still, there are quite a few I must keep.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Freedom to Stop

Today was Quilt Guild day, and a very good meeting too. Once a month, we have a guest speaker, and today's guest was Cara Gulati. She's a quilter from Marin County who has made some colorful 3-D effect quilts with great success. And she gave a delightful presentation, touring us through her progress as an art quilter.

Seeing the quilts was great fun, as it always is. And, for part of the time, I was one of the "quilt holders" so I got to see them up close and marvel over the clever quilting patterns. (Cara noted that she quilts on a Juki, like me!)

But here's the most important thing I came away with: it's okay not to finish a project.

Now, I know this. In my brain, I know that I can do whatever I want, and if I don't want to finish something, I don't need to. But in some corner of my mind, there's the 11 year old, hearing my mother scold me that I have to finish what I start. So, for each unfinished project I have, there's a bit of guilt floating around my brain.

C'mon, I'm a grown-up. I don't need someone to tell me that it's okay to stop doing something.... At least I didn't think I needed that. It's even what I'd say to anyone else: If you've gotten what you want to get out of a project, then that's it, you're done. No need to go further, if you don't want to. But, on some level, somewhere deep inside, I don't wholly feel that.

But how amazing it is to have someone tell you something OUTLOUD that you already know. (This reminds me vaguely of my experience in therapy! ) I was surprised at the "lightbulb: ON" feeling I had when Cara said, about various projects she held up, "I made this top and I didn't want to go any further, so it's done." What a simple concept, eh? Cara even added that she'd have thrown them or given them away, but they're useful in her lecture.

I thought of the stuff I have hanging around in the closet, mostly projects I started in workshops that I took to learn a particular technique. I've been ambivalent about them...I had a great time working on them, I liked working on a new technique, but I don't have any interest in working on those pieces. (In most cases, they're someone else's design or pattern.) But I've kept them, thinking I SHOULD finish them up.

Well, now I'm done with that. I learned what I wanted to learn from the process and it's okay to let them go. They're served their purpose. I'm done, and I'm free!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Here are the most recent of my Pointless Sister blocks. I was having a heck of a time coming up with a non-trite butterfly, then settled on this close-up of a butterfly wing. I love it, and want to explore this in a bigger format.

A hat, with the specified terra cotta and turquoise. This was a good exercise for me in using color to create light and shadow, and using stitching to blend. I'm happy with how this turned out, especially since it doesn't look like a "cute" straw hat.

An ellipse, in blue and burnt orange. (I didn't think I had any "burnt orange" fabric--this is as close as I could come in my stash. But here's that close-up view again, which I like. Another idea to explore. It'd be fun to do a close-up series.

Finding Myself, Losing Myself

Given that my friend and all-around inspirational person Melody and I have discovered that we have so much in common that we must be long-lost sisters, it comes as no surprise to me that the very topic on my mind for blogging this morning is the one she has posted about today, too. It's the little matter of finding one's own voice in art, and how easily it is to get distracted from the work required to do so.

I'm guilty of this, to be sure. I do not have confidence in myself as an artist, especially in the art quilt arena. I mean, I'm not making art to sell, I'm not trained as an artist, I do this for my own joy and satisfaction and sanity. I don't have a clear, specific direction in mind. I don't have any vision of what I want to create. I don't have any specific concept I want to communicate through art. I only know that working with fabric and color makes me happy, and that the process of creating feeds me in a way that is absolutely essential to my well-being. I'm exploring, playing, learning...and I'm getting a glimmer of a feeling that I'm on the way to finding my style. But it's just a glimmer.

So, it's easy for me to find myself agreeing to participate in projects. A guild challenge? Sure, that'd be fun. A few more workshops? Sure, those would be fun. But what's more, they provide me more opportunities to learn new techniques, work with different images and styles, and they force me to be creative in a way I might not otherwise make time to do on my own. So, there's good there... but suddenly, I have a host of projects to finish and deadlines to meet that get in the way of my exploring the artistic whims that strike me.

I'm quite torn about whether these things help, or hinder. Actually, I think they do both. There isn't any reason that the circumstance of a challenge can't be used to explore an idea or theme or technique that I want to explore for my own purposes. That's my internal rule, in fact: I'll only participate in a challenge or "externally imposed" project if it allows me to follow something I want to do anyway.

And I find that having to come up with ideas and images for a challenge project (as with these Pointless Sister blocks I'm finishing) lead me to areas I want to explore further, for myself. For example, I've been stuck on this one block...a butterfly, in blue and yellow. Ug, I thought, how trite. But as I struggled to come up with something that I wanted to make, and that would express something about me or my vision, I came up with a block I love. The project pushed me to find something I wouldn't have found, otherwise. And I'm planning on turning it into a larger piece, to work it further.

But yes, it's so easy to lose sight of why doing this is important to ME. I love the frienship and community and commraderie of quilting...but I've ventured this far because I'm yearning to create original work that only I can make.

I had an interesting experience a while ago. Through my guild, I met a woman whose art work just bowls me over. She's not a traditional quilter...doesn't even call her pieces quilts, even. But she does interesting things with fabric collage, and I arranged to have some one-on-one workshop time with her to find out more about her process. As we talked, she honed in on one photograph that I'd taken some years ago, and that happened to be among the pictures I had when I was showing her the sort of idea I wanted to work on. It wasn't at all anything I want to work with, and I went in another direction and worked on a piece I like a lot. But now, every time I see her, she says something like "I really want to see you do that other picture..." SHE has this vision of where SHE wants me to go, but I don't want to go there.

So... here is my promise to myself: I'll work on work that fills and enriches me, and helps me grow. I won't sign onto projects unless I truly believe that they'll help me go in the direction *I* want to go. I'll pay close attention to moving myself forward as an artist and to doing work that expresses my own vision. I'll make time to work on MY work, for me.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Peace and Quiet?

It's been a strangely restful 24 hours.

The explanation? Caroline has had a sleep-over playdate at her friend Lani's house. I dropped her off at 2pm yesterday, and Roger picked her up about an hour ago.

It's very disconcerting to have a whole 24 hours without Caroline in the house. She's done the occasional sleep-over (two, to be exact, and for each of those she left just before dinner and returned at around 10 am). Roger and I keep looking at each other with a vague sense of not knowing what to do with ourselves. It was so QUIET without the constant chatter about ponies and cats and Power Rangers and gymnastics and coloring and...well, you get the idea.

So, trying to take advantage of our strange, free time, Roger and I did what any self-respecting couple would do...we went car shopping. I kid you not. (Have you ever tried to do that with a child in tow? It's not fun at the best of times, and take a kid along and it's miserable...although Caroline has given us a reason to escape overbearing salespeople. Anyway, we're starting to think it's time to replace my beloved Mazda MPV. It's been the perfect car...not a van (I refuse to drive a vehicle with sliding doors. I REFUSE), more like an SUV with van-ish interior. So, we looked at Ford Explorers, Nisson Pathfinders, Toyota Pilots, even a weird Cadillac SUV type thing that seemed like a station wagon on steroids. It was our first outing and we just mainly looked at styles and seating and such. It reminded me of how unpleasant car shopping is. Funny, I like shopping, and I like cars...but the two things together are just icky.

Then, we rewarded ourselves with dinner at our favorite local restaurant, Zin. We indulged in a bottle of "Liar's Dice" zin (a great wine from Murphy-Goode) and an appetizer of the restaurant's famous fried green beans. We shared an amazing salad of beets and orange slices and frisee lettuce in a meyer lemon vinaigrette, and then I had a lamb dish with olives and little gnocci and broccolini on the side...very yummy. We ended up chatting with the people seated next to us, who were in Healdsburg for the weekend wine tasting and escaping from their apparently frantic lives in SF. They were amusing, and exclaimed about the wine in the sort of language that one only reads on wine labels. And yes, it sounds even more pretentious out loud and heard from the next table.

Segue to Monday morning, where I would have slept in but for an early conference call with lawyers on the east coast. I hung up with a list of 3 new assignments...good income, bad for play time. Oh well, it all keeps me in fabric.

And, after getting time to do one massive legal project today, I made a few more blocks. And Caroline reappeared, happy and tired and bursting with tales of her adventure at Lani's house. Lani is a friend from pony camp, so they both adore horses and can enact scenes with the Bryer horses for hours on end. Lani has two new kittens, a fact about which Caroline is very envious, AND they got to go ice skating and to a candy shop where they were permitted to share a foot-long gummy worm. Could any girl's 24 hours be any better?!

Here are more of the Pointless Sister blocks. This is an arrow, in black and white. In case you couldn't tell. One result of having seen a lot of other blocks (with a lot of detail) is that I'm wanting to go more toward simple and graphic blocks. That's more my style anyway, but I think it's pronounced as I try to make sure my blocks are different from the ones I've seen.

Here's a pear in gold and purple for Rita. This is unfinished so that bottom quarter inch will come off and the block will look better, I think.

This is a "vase" block in purple and kiwi. (We had quite a discussion over what, exactly, "kiwi" was and how it differed from celery, lime, etc.) Anyway, I chose this fabric.

A star, in blue and yellow. I love Wonder Under. And I think of Jane Sassaman every time I satin stitch to a point and narrow the stitching down toward the point. She made me aware of doing that and although my points aren't as lovely and perfect as hers, I'm improving.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Remember that quilt block project for my art quilt group, the Pointless Sisters? (You can read about it here.) Well, I'm on my way. Here's one...This one is "intersecting lines" in the required colors of orange and blue.

Here's "curves" in blue and fucshia.

This is triangles, in purple and blue. (I love this block. It's reverse applique, then zigzag stitched with monofilament.

This is the number 4, for Gerrie. She chose lime green and turquoise.

I have more blocks done, but I'll post more tomorrow. I'm on a roll now!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Procrastination, It's a Good Thing!

I've always been a procrastinator. Or so my mother tells me. Me, I happen to think that I just use time very efficiently. My sister is the same; we aren't at all troubled by impending deadlines, and in fact find that they motivate us quite usefully. It's a bit odd to find that Caroline, my daughter, is of the opposite inclination. She wants to start her school projects early and get them out of the way, and she hates to have to do anything last minute. She simply can't have learned that behavior from me.

I've come to the conclusion that procrastination, and the resulting need to work under pressure to finish various tasks, is a useful skill. Imagine, if you will, those poor souls who never procrastinated and never learned how to pull of a great project at the last minute. They must fall apart when life throws them those unexpected curve balls! Those poor folks don't know the joy of starting to sew a Christmas gift on December 23 and finishing at 2am on December 25!

No, I've trained myself well. I've been known to hem a dress while wearing it on the way to an event (a feat which made my mom nuts in high school). And I'll note that my life as a litigation attorney didn't help. In fact, the litigation process encourages procrastination. Sure, you can propare your brains out for an upcoming trial all you want, and rack up all sorts of billable hours...but then more often than not, the case settles and all that work is for nothing. And you've incurred all those costs for the client for nothing, too. Those people who never learned how to cope with deadlines? Well, I've worked with a few...and they've been the guys screaming at their secretaries, freaked out by the stress of having to do something right up to a deadline. They just don't seem to learn that that level of anxiety isn't helping anyone get the job done faster.

So, fortunately, I'm not phased by upcoming deadlines, even when they're rushing toward me. Which is a good thing, as I have a quilting deadline approaching now. My art quilt group undertook a very fun group project, and I have to have my blocks done by Tuesday, January 25. I've made 7 of my 18 blocks, and truthfully, I'm not the least bit troubled. I know I'll get them done on time.

The project is this: each participant chose one shape and two colors. I went for simple, and chose a square, and black and white. We have a master list of each person's shape and color choices. And each of us will make a 10-inch block of original design, using the person's chosen shape and made in the person's chosen colors. The goal is to use the experience to try different techniques, experiment with design. And at the end (a week from Tuesday) we'll all swap blocks and end up with 18 blocks with our chosen shape and colors.

We started this project last summer, I think, maybe even March or April. Some people rushed and started making them like crazy. One woman is heard to comment (at almost every monthly meeting) how designing these blocks is taking up all of her quilting time and she can't wait to be done so she can get back to her own stuff. Another friend, a mother of an October bride, finished all of her blocks before October so she could relax and deal with the wedding in peace.

Me, I made a few and had a grand time doing them. But I didn't slave over them, and I certainly didn't spend weeks designing and stitching them. I'll admit to keeping a sketchbook of ideas for them, and I'll focus on one from time to time and jot ideas and scribble design possiblities, but I've not let them get in the way of working on other projects.

See? Here's where my great experience at procrastination will pay off. I'll buckle down, focus on them for a few days, and have a great time getting them done. And if I'm done by 9pm on Monday night, it'll be fine with me! Watch for pictures of them coming (it's been a bit dry of photos here lately, I"m sorry).....

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I made no progress on any quilting today. We'll leave it at that. I did make a great turkey meatloaf for dinner tonight, courtesy of a recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, but I'd hardly call it art.

However, given that we're heading into entertainment award season, I thought I'd recommend a favorite blog: "Go Fug Yourself." "Fug" is apparently derived from "frightfully ugly," and this blog will treat you to very funny commentary on celebrity wardrobe choices. Move over, Mr. Blackwell.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Support Your Public School

I didn't want to go to the PTO meeting tonight. I was feeling tired, and somewhat cranky, but I'm on the PTO board, and there are some big things going on in our local public school district.

Frankly put, the district -- like many in California -- is in a financial crisis. It's not the result of any one problem or mistake or situation. It's the confluence of a host of factors: a dismal state budget, federal "Leave No Child Behind" mandatory requirements that are totally unfunded (thank you, George W.), rising property values in the community so that fewer families with young kids can afford to buy homes here, with resulting decreasing enrollment numbers...those are just a few of the issues. The result is that our district -- smack in the middle of a wealthy community, with luxious homes, successful tourist-based business like high-end restaurants and wineries, and tasting rooms -- is in dire financial shape.

Meantime, there has been a heated discussion appearing in the small, weekly local newspaper about why people choose public school over the various private school options in the area. It has touched a lot of sensitive spots -- and in fact, there have been so many incensed letters-to-the-editor written by friends and neighbors with the result that my next book club meeting (5 private school moms, 4 public school moms) may well be a bit tense. The issues are right at our doors, affecting our children, and they implicate the most fundamental of our values.

Me, I'm a big public school supporter. I was lucky to grow up in California when the public schools were at the top of the rankings, and I attended public schools through college and was able to hold my own when I ended up at an Ivy League, top-10 law school. I got a great education.

But more than that, I came away with the strong belief that public school is a vital element of a democracy. The diversity and breadth of education --not just academic -- is integral to a thriving community. As a result, I spend a lot of time volunteering at the school. I work in my daughter's classroom. I'm on the board of the PTO. I run the school's twice-yearly book fair (which satisfies my fantasy of running a book shop--I get to do it for 2 weeks a year and I'm glad to pack it all up and send it away.) I'm on the school board's communication committee, and I'm active in an education foundation that raises money to benefit all the schools in the district. And, to be honest, I feel like I should do more.

I don't begrudge any parent's choice of school, and assume that they're making the best decision for their child and their family. But I do begrudge people whose kids are out of school, or whose kids are in private schools, complaining that they shouldn't have to support the public school systems with their tax dollars. What about those kids whose parents don't speak English? (My community has quite a few of them.) What about the families who can't afford a private school? What about the kids whose parents, for whatever reason, don't or can't put that much time on maximizing their kids' educational opportunities? Who'll make sure they get the best education they can get? The community must do it, for the good of the community.

Oops. I'm ranting. But here's the district's situation has arisen because of a ton of small things, and it'll be solved by people in the community like me participating in small ways to make a big difference. It's hokey, but I believe that it's the only solution. So, if you have a public school in your community, whether or not you have kids, do what you can to support it. Send $10, even, if you can. There is nothing more important than the kids in our communities. Give them your help, in whatever way you can.

Stepping off of soap box now....

Monday, January 10, 2005

Instant Gratification does not always pay off

So. When I went to bed last night, I had my wedding ring variation quilt on the design wall, with a layout I really like. (I think I"m going to call it "Variation of a Variation," but we'll see.) I concluded I needed a bit more of a lovely, mellow aqua dot fabric to complete my vision, and I was pretty sure I'd bought it at Pumpkinseed Quilts. So, I figured that a trip there today was in order.

But when I woke up this morning, my vision had changed. Instead of using the aqua dot fabric, I decided to piece the bits where I was going to put the dots. Which meant that I didn't need to buy more fabric. (That's one of those thoughts that is sort of a relief and a disappointment, all at the same time.)

I started cutting triangles, and put them up on the wall. I liked it very much. I thought I'd sew a few while Simply Quilts was on. Hmmm, very nice. In fact, I was having such a fine time that I sewed all the way through Eleanor Burns' show, and I can't stand her. (Do you think she talks that way ALL the time? How does she sound when she's cranky, do you think?)

So, no need to drive to Pumpkinseed. But I realized I did need to head south in that direction to do some post-Christmas returns (clothes that Princess Caroline found too scratchy) and to trade the two damaged red chairs for two pristine ones at Crate and Barrel. So, off I went, despite threats of rain.

I will digress here to add here that part of my need to get out of the house was related to the fact that Roger, my husband, is a college professor who has been home on vacation since December 16. I love him dearly. It's nice to have him around. But not ALL of the time. He's well aware (and won't be surprised reading this) that I have a strong need for alone-time, and that I start going stir crazy toward the end of vacations. I think he was grateful for the time alone, too.

Anyway. Since I was driving by San Rafael anyway, I figured I'd stop at Pumpkinseed and see what they had. (And maybe pick up more of that aqua dot stuff, since I love it and now know from searching the internet last night that it's not available.) I was good and parked 6 blocks away from the store, figuring that the walk would do me good. I hiked up the street, feeling find that Pumpkinseed is closed on Mondays. Sigh. I briefly entertained the thought of walking another block to Dharma Trading, to see the yarn...but I restrained myself. Aren't you proud of me?

Well, I had a good time anyway. Accomplished returns (imagine, a shopping trip where you come home with more money than you started with!) , and even remembered to use my "free merchandise" cards at April Cornell before they expired, so I got a gorgeous scarf for NO MONEY AT ALL.

And I treated myself to a gingerbread latte at Starbucks while I sat and read "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold. (Now, there's an engrossing novel...About a high-school aged girl who is murdered, and narrates the story while looking down from heaven. It's lovely, creepy (for those of us who have kids especially, I'm thinking), poignant, thought-provoking.

I can't wait to sew the rest of my quilt together.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Hunting, anyone?

Can you guess what this is?

I'm rather proud of this contraption, actually. It's a home-made bird-catcher. That big colorful thing? That's a pool-floaty thing. It's crammed onto the end of a collapsing pole (normally holding a duster, for reaching high places). And that's a pillowcase pinned onto the floaty thing.

Why, pray tell, did I construct thing? Well, tonight a bird flew into our living room. It was apparently resting happily in the fresh pine wreath from Maine that has been on our door since we received it from our friends Eric and Diane for Christmas. I had one startling moment the other day, when I opened the door and a bird flew out of the wreath, brushing my shoulder as it headed off into the sky. But tonight, when Roger opened the front door to check that our cars were locked, the bird shot out of the wreath and into the living room. And we have a VERY high living room ceiling.

It was a rather comical scene. First, we tried turning off all the lights and opening the door, thinking that maybe the bird would fly toward the light. No luck. Then we tried turning on all the lights (after running around the house shutting doors...all we needed was for the bird to fly upstairs somewhere, or worst of all, into Caroline's room where she was sound asleep). The poor bird was getting tired, landing on windowsills out of reach, and trying to land in the two ficus trees we have. Meanwhile, our cat Willow followed the bird from the ground, looking rather deighted that wildlife had appeared in our boring house.

So, unable to find Caroline's butterfly net, I made this "net" to try to catch the bird when it landed on upper windowsills. As it happened, this was not the mechanism of capture, however. The exhausted bird flew into the ficus tree and Roger was able to grab it in his hand (gently of course) and let it go outside.

I'm thinking that the poor bird will be resting happily in some tree tonight!

Dotty dots...Where are you?

I've had a happy evening rearranging blocks on the design wall. THIS is much more satisfying than moving piece by piece.

And I have an arrangement I really like...but suddenly I have a need for a fairly large hunk of one of my fabrics, and I don't have enough.

I've searched on the internet. I've found the fabric in periwinkle blue, pink, yellow, even lavender...


...but not the delicate turquoise I need.

I think I got this fabric at Pumpkinseed Quilts, which is about an hour away. If they were open tonight, I'd be headed there right now. But I will contain myself, and call first thing tomorrow. And dash down there tomorrow if they have it.

I am reminding myself that if they don't have it, this may prove to be an opportunity to discover an even better solution. But I don't sound convinced yet, do I? I want the fabric I want. NOW.

I told you I'm all for immediate gratification.

Button, button...

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Mistress of the Curvemaster

Well, I'm pleasantly surprised. About a year ago, during a trip to Pacific International Quilt Festival, I was struck by one of those weird, frenzied buying bursts and I came home with a Curve Master Presser Foot. I was seduced by the demonstration, which made the thing look so dang easy! The idea is that with this foot, you can sew curved seams without pinning and everything magically lines up. I'm willing to believe in magic, and instant-gratification girl that I am, I was eager to try it if it avoided pinning.

Well, I got it home only to discovery that I couldn't use the foot on my Bernina without a special shank. I put it in my drawer and forgot about it.

Some months later, I was at a quilt show and I walked past a Bernina booth. Lightbulb: "I need a shank!" I explained what I needed to the saleslady and why, and she sold me the part. The next day, I gleefully attached the Curvemaster to the new shank, eager to begin sewing curves at will. But wait. I could not get the shank to attach to my machine. I tried and tried. (It was, after all, a Bernina part sold to me by a Bernina person.) I put it back in the drawer and forgot about it.

Then, I took the Einstein Double Wedding Ring Variation class, and it dawned on me that it'd be the perfect use for the Curvemaster. I made a trip to my local Bernina dealer, owned by a veritable sewing machine wizard and nicest-of-the-nice guys, Jim. I showed him the shank I'd been sold by the other Bernina folks, and he showed me that it didn't fit my machine because they had sold me the wrong part. AARRGH. I came away with the right shank, happily.

Then, of course, I got stuck in the land of "put everything up on the design wall before you sew anything" black hole which, as I'm discovering, just doesn't work that well for me. So, yesterday, inspired by having reached a design wall place I could tolerate and by Melody's comments to my whining about the design wall process, I started to sew.

And darned if the Curvemaster didn't do what it promises! It took a bit of trial and error, to be sure. And using it was complicated a bit by the fact that these pieces don't start in a matching position, so figuring out where to start sewing and have them end up right took some fiddling. I finally reached the easy solution of marking the center points, starting to sew at the center point out, then flipping the block around to sew from the center in the other direction and everything lined up perfectly!

So, a lovely time was had by all on Saturday afternoon...while I sat at my machine mastering the Curvemaster, Caroline was at my computer playing games and keeping up her constant stream of chatter, and Roger napped.

And for my diligence, I was rewarded by an evening out! Caroline had a sleep-over date with her friend Sarah, so Roger and I took the opportunity to meet our friends Matt and Laura for a drink at the new, trendy "Barn Diva" (last time I was there, I saw George Lucas). We had Blood Orange Margaritas. Delicious. Then, on to dinner at Sake 'O, our new and excellent japanese restaurant. A lovely evening. And all grown-ups!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Wedding Ring Variation, in progress

I spent some time today putting pieces for the Double Wedding Ring Variation quilt on my design board. Here it is, so far. I'm not sure if I like what's happening or not.

I started this project with a fabric I just loved, a vaguely asian print with salmon, mellow aqua, yellow, peach, and deep pinky-red. It's the fabric in the lower right corner, and also in the wide ring piece in the lower left corner block. I've taken more and more of the fabric out as I go. I'm not sure the top will end up with much of what was planned to be the primary fabric.

I'm discovering that I'm not very happy working this way. I tend to admire quilters who can thoughtfully plan every element of their quilt before they start sewing--it seems indicate such restraint, such delicate judgment, such careful planning and eye to detail. When I try to work this way, I"m frustrated. I don't find the design wall work very fun, and so I end up feeling like it's holding me back, even when the quilt as designed isn't "clicking" for me. I think I'm more for instant gratification, and happy accidents. Maybe it's more of a "go with the flow" style of making art. I'm always chomping at the bit to sew, or better yet, to work with larger chunks and assemble that way. But it feels careless. Maybe I should think of it as "artfully carefree."

I made one quilt where I laid every piece out, and on that quilt -- where I was working on a gradation of colors and fabric textures -- it really helped to lay out every piece and see how it all worked. So, maybe it's a question of using that process sometimes, and not when it doesn't feel right.

I'm not sure I"m happy with this so far. I've experimented with lots of fabrics and placements, and this is what I like best so far. Maybe I should follow my instinct, and assemble some blocks and then play further around with those.

Why do I resist my own impulses so much? Now, there's a question.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Guild Thursday

Today was a quilt guild meeting day. (I was gonna take pictures to illustrate how I spent my morning, but dead batteries are to blame for the lack of photos.) I am a member of the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, a pretty active group of quilters which meets twice monthly on thursday mornings. I was reluctant to join a guild, for several years. I couldn't figure what the advantages would be, and I imagined a staid group of little old ladies who would insist that points be sharp, seams match, and everything be hand-quilted.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The SRQG is a lively group of women (and two men, think, who probably unbeknownst to them become the subject of our immature jokes about male members, long arm machines, and the like.) It's an amazing and productive group of really talented quilters. Several members (like Judy Mathieson ) are nationally known quilters, teachers, artists, and judges. Many of them have won awards for their quilting skills. And they're friendly and funny and very welcoming. I was most impressed when I visited the group a few times before joining.

I've discovered many advantages. First, and foremost, are the great friends I've made. It's surprising, at my advanced age of 40-ahem, to find friends who feel like true, bosom-buddy, I can say anything to sort of friends. So the fact that I've stumbled into a nice bunch of them through the guild is a great gift. If not for the guild, I wouldn't know them.

And, finding them through the guild means that they not only understand my obsession with quilting, they share it. They are partners in crime, essentially. When one of us wants to shop for fabric, ALL of us shop for fabric. And they'll talk quilting endlessly. And offer critiques, or kind pats when something goes awry.

The other best part of the guild, for me, is that it connected me to my art quilt group, "the Pointless Sisters." (So named because perfect points simply don't matter to us.) We meet one tuesday morning each month, and share ideas, projects, problems, and other art and quilt related stuff. It's a very fun group. We're about to wrap up a year-long group project which has been a fun stretch for all of us...more on that later, and with pictures. I promise.

Our guild also has an amazing library, with a librarian who seems to know each book by heart. It's been a great way to get to peruse those big art quilt coffee table books I can't afford, magazines from Australia and Japan, and the newest quilt books that I would like to see once but probably wouldn't use much if I bought them.

There are other marvelous advantages, too. Great programs from talented quilters, workshops at bargain prices, a room full of women to learn from or ask questions of if I need help...Plus, the opportunity to contribute to "quilting for good" (versus "quilting for evil" which sounds like the subject of a future blog...). Guild members make literally hundreds of quilts each year to be donated to homeless, children's centers, nursing homes, and other deserving places.

I'm grateful to have the guild in my life, and if you haven't become a member of one, I'd highly recommend finding one and giving it a try. (And if you don't like one, try another... I "shopped" quilds and attended several meetings of a group I didn't find comfortable at all. You just never know.)

Back to Quilting, Again

This blog thing is taking up an amazing amount of time. But I'm reminding myself (here, in front of you all) that the point of starting this was to track my quilting and creative process. Sure, it's fun to talk about other stuff, but the point isn't's making quilts. I seem to have forgotten that lately.

So, my goal is to spend some time every day, even a small bit, doing something that moves me forward as a quilt artist.

Yesterday, (well, today, really, as I haven't gone to bed yet) I set up the Artful Quilters Web Ring. This may turn into a beast, but I like the idea of connecting those of us art quilters who are blogging. We're no competition for the knitters, but they're inspirational! (I want to knit after reading a few of the great knitting blogs, so maybe reading quilters' blogs will push me back into my studio!)

I expect it will be tiny at first, but heck, it's worth a try. C'mon in!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Artful Quilters Web Ring

This web ring is for quilt artists and contemporary quilt makers to share their blogs,
exchange thoughts about the process of art quilting,
and share other bits of life that swirl around (and get in the way of) quilt making.

Do you want to join us?

Member guidelines:

1. You must have a weblog about your art/quilt-related projects, ideas, processes, and adventures.

2. Your blog should be updated 3-4 times a month on average. Blogs that are found to be languishing will be removed from the ring.

3. You need to include the ring code on the blog page, so that visitors can surf to other bloggers' sites. (That's the point, so visitors can find other art quilters!)

4. You must display the "Next," "Previous," and "Random" links for easy navigation throughout the ring. The Join and List links are not required, but you may include them if you wish.
5. You must have at least 5 posts on your blog before you can join, some of which must be quilt related.

6. You must love quilts and quilting!

Click here to join this ring. You must place the ring code on your site before approval, and it must be on the main page of your blog.

Disclaimer: I'm brand spanking new at this web ring hosting thing, so please be patient as I figure out how it all works! Mainly, I'd rather be quilting...or talking about quilting, or reading about quilting, or looking at quilts.....Well, you get the idea!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

359 Days Until Christmas

I saw that sign on the door of the UPS store in town. Kind of makes you want to leave the decorations up, seeing as how it's rolling around again that soon.

But too late--I spent the day putting all of the Christmas decorations away and (as Caroline says) "undecorating" the tree. Not the funnest of jobs, but I put Rosemary Clooney's double CD set "The Girl Singer" on the stereo and sang along as I worked.

Now the house looks bare, but in a restful sort of way. (Except for the pile of stuff still on the dining room table to be dealt with, but we'll pretend it's not there.)

I believe I mentioned yesterday that I've spent the last several days looking for a CD of documents from my legal boss, Bob. I'm supposed to read "Power Point for Litigators" and use the documents to fashion a brilliant and enlightening Power Point presentation for Bob to use when he argues a summary judgment motion in February. The disk kicked around on my desk for a week or two while I waited for Bob to send me the Power Point book... then, when I thought I'd start on the project Sunday, no disk.

Well, I hunted everywhere. Through my computer cd box, thinking I'd tucked it in there. Through 2 file drawers, thinking it'd slipped into a file. All over my sewing table, thinking I might of set it there and it was buried under fabric. (Ahem.) Yesterday, I decided I could only 'fess up and ask Tammie, Bob's secretary, to send another disk.

Late this afternoon, during the hour between getting Caroline home and having to leave to pick up my car from the tire place (where yesterday's flat tire was being repaired), I figured I'd actually do something relaxing and read the Barefoot Contessa Family Style Recipes cookbook that my neighbor Julie lent me (and from which I made the wonderful Jam Thumbprint Cookies discussed at the Dec. 23 entry). Hmmm, I thought, as I settled down and opened the book, what's that white thing sticking out of the middle of the book?

Of course. It's the document cd. Marking the cookie recipe place.

Somehow, in some bizarre way, this seems to illustrate my life at the moment.

Monday, January 03, 2005

On the Way to Getting Something Done

Ah ha! Monday, with the child of the house back to school! Seeing as how I've managed to lose the cd containing documents I need for my next work project (which thereby required me to grovel and ask kind secretary to make and send a second disk), I couldn't progress on the "real" work (ie, lawyer work). So, I decided that this state of affairs entitled me quilt! My goal: to make some progress on the unfinished Sylvia Einstein Double Wedding Ring Variation quilt, commenced last October.

I went upstairs, sorted through the bag containing the pieces I'd cut and the fabrics I'd sorted, and put a few pieces up onto the design wall.

Phone call. It's my sister, saying she's going to swing by to drop off a book and do I want to go for a walk around the neighborhood with her and her dog Libby? Hmm, exercise is a good idea. I agree, and off we go.

Back in my studio/office, well exercised, and ready to continue. Oops, the dryer is done. Remove laundry from dryer, load washer with next load.

Back to studio. The combination of fabrics I'd chosen, in an effort to have blocks with alternating backgrounds of aqua and pinky/melon, seems too jarring. Reposition pieces to try two different layouts, one with all aqua background, another with all pink background.

Phone call, again. It's the highway patrol, telling me that they were not able to find the guy who rear-ended me last Monday. (No injuries, just minor dent to bumper. BUT STILL, it really, really annoyed me when the guy drove away, and annoyed me even more that he ignored me as I followed him down the road, honking and gesturing like a Very Annoyed Woman.) The car was sold 2 months ago, the buyer didn't register it, and there's no one living at the address the buyer gave to the seller. Looks like it's an uninsure motorist claim. Sigh.

Back to the design wall. I decide that I like the effect of the mostly-aqua background and decide to try inserting some other aqua-ish fabrics into the background.

This requires digging through fabric to make more selections. And of course, then I need to cut more pieces.

Which requires the dang templates, which I'm sure I put in some Very Safe Place. I dig around my fabric closet and other places where I tend to hide important goodies, for 15 minutes before I find them.

Gee, it's lunch time! I stop to finish off the Oakville Grocery Chinese noodles left over from New Year's Eve, and peel a juicy tangerine from mom and dad's tree. Yum.

Back to the studio. I happily cut pieces for 45 minutes, until I realize that it's time to pick up Caroline from school. But wait, Roger says he'll go, and put gas in my car as well. Lovely man. Return to cutting pieces.

Phone call. It's Roger, down the street. My car has a flat tire. How did that happen? He's bringing my car back, he'll get Caroline in his car, and AAA will be along to change the tire. Sigh. I cut a few more pieces.

Doorbell. It's AAA. (Already? If I were waiting in the pouring rain on the side of the highway, would they be there in 3 minutes? Somehow I doubt it.) Mr. AAA and I trade paperwork and I watch as he changes the tire. Fascinating. Not.

I return to the studio. Have I cut pieces with enough variety to see whether I can get the effect I want? I start placing pieces on the wall...

Oops, Caroline's home from school. She wants a snack. She needs help with homework. She has a few more Christmas thank-you's to write (which requires constant hovering by the Mommy).

I consider my studio time ended, such as it was. No wonder I'm inching along so slowly. (But, I now provide handy visual aides so you can see how far along I am on my projects in progress! The wonders of Blogland!)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Cranky Mommy

There is something about being a parent that brings out the best and the worst in me.

I had intended to spend this week after Christmas, before Caroline returned to school, doing fun and special things with her. I had great ideas: ice skating, visiting the Charles Schultz museum, going to see Polar Express, playing games, doing some sewing together, quiet reading time together...

Instead, Roger and I had terrible colds, so neither of us has been in the best of moods. We discovered that the stable where Caroline takes riding lessons was running a half-day pony camp, which Caroline was desperate to do, so Monday through Friday she was gone from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. She was also eager to see her friends, so almost every day this week she was at a buddy's house or a friend was playing at our home with her. That worked out well for both Roger and me, as he was eager to get to his work, and I just wanted to dose myself with cold medicine and stay home and try not to cough.

Today, the Sunday before school resumed, I figured we had one last day to relax and get some quiet time together. But where did that nice mom I *intend* to be go? With my holiday rose-colored glasses off, the house seemed like a total mess to me, I realized that dirty laundry was bursting out of the laundry room, and I wasn't happy about being the only one involved in doing any tidying up. To top it off, Beth left her purse (containing vital items such as wallet, credit cards, reading glasses, cell phones, office keys) HERE when she and Tim returned to Sacramento, so we agreed that we'd meet halfway in Sonoma so I could pass it to her. This morning found me grumbling as I emptied the dishwasher, cleaned up Roger's weekly Sunday pancake breakfast mess, and picked up toys in the family room. I threatened to put everything I found on the floor into a garbage bag and give them away to some child who would appreciate them and treat them better. I pulled Roger's clothes out of the dryer, flung them at him to fold them himself, and stuffed more laundry in for a cycle. I grizzled at Caroline to stop dawdling so I could get her to her designated playdate in time to get on the road to Sonoma. On the way to her friend Sarah's house, after Caroline asked me why I was upset, I ranted about how I didn't like being the only one in the house cleaning up when three people made the mess.

So today was not a good parenting day. Poor Caroline will probably be happy to return to school tomorrow. Sigh. I guess one of the lessons of parenting is that it goes on and on, day after day, and there's always a chance to do better.

Thank god.